Saturday, January 28, 2012

Honing Your Crafts : #4 : L2Professions!

Five Ways to Improve Professions In Game.
#4 : Stop treating Professions separately from levelling.  Encourage people by using them to play better.

It's not hard to get yourself optimised. Really, it's not...

I run a fair few LFG and LFR's in an average week. When I look at some people's gear I get a little sad inside: no enchants, no gems. Lots of PvP gear. Very few people eat any more, even fewer use flasks. Why is this? Are prices really that high on other servers? Those people who roll on inappropriately statted gear, do they simply not understand how to play their classes? I suspect part of the problem lies with the speed at which the average individual can now level: if your only real aim is End Game, then why worry about how to get there? Perhaps it's time to make Professions MORE of a part of the levelling process and not less, and to give people (via learning their crafts) a chance to understand how to use these primary and secondary skills to their advantage:

  • There are two quests for every class at 20 and 50 for weapons. Why not do the same for Armour (with the optimal stats for each class, options for hybrids) to teach people what gear they need to be rolling on? How about quests to make food that when they eat it gives them better stats, in EVERY expansion area? Link these up with professions quests that promote people to make the same food and drink, and comparable armour pieces, and then (gasp!) suggest they visit an Auction House to sell them? There are a ton of 'how to' instructions from levels 1-10 but after that things go a bit quiet: nothing wrong with reminding people what they need to do along the way...

  • One of things I enjoyed a great deal when I was learning Leatherworking the first time around was the prerequisite quests: taking them out made sense when the 1-85 grind became less about hanging around and more about sprinting to End Game. What might help to educate is if those quests were reintroduced but at different levels, linked with my proposed 'Specialisation' quest at L65. This is another great way to teach people about how different stats are required for different classes.

  • I'd like to see more quest rewards of gems, enchants and especially glyphs. This might pique people's interests as to what other 'enhancements' are available for their gears and make them investigate the options. I also think that instead of simply offering raw gems from vendors it might be an idea to provide precut gems (with lesser stats than JC-er versions) instead, actively pushing people onto the path of gemming.

  • On that point, it's probably time to make Faction Vendors easier to find and to send people to them in both Northrend and Outland... ^^ Perhaps wearing a faction's tabard could start a quest line that sends you back to them when an items you could use in a profession is available?

It's often the case that people level themselves first and then go back afterwards to level the professions they're told on the Internet are the best for their class at 85. It might not be an idea to start telling people more in game what is good for them so they can make more informed choices for themselves, and to start that process from the moment they roll a character. After all, every day can be a school day if you're given the encouragement to learn...

I'll Be Back...

with part 4 of my Magnum Opus, after this short break.

There may have been squeeing when this popped... ^^

The last time I saw a Rare Solve in Archaeology it was #20 to give me my Professor title. ELEVEN MONTHS AGO. I have dug every week, without fail, since then and seen nothing.

Seriously Blizzard: FIX THIS PROFESSION.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Honing Your Crafts : #3 : Token Gestures

That's a lot of Cooking Awards. Like you're surprised...

Five Ways to Improve Professions In Game.

#3 :  Standardise the Token System. Points should also equal materials!

When Blizzard introduced the now infamous Badger of Justice system back in TBC, those of us permanently blighted by the RNG breathed a fairly sizable sigh of relief (and were grateful they didn't have to solely rely on DKP any more to gear up, but that's a completely different story for another day) However, the system isn't perfect. When the Dalaran Cooking Award was introduced in Wrath Blizzard showed us that tokens for professions were here to stay, but this has simply made the system look more like a succession of different ideas bolted onto each other, which (let's face it) it is. Tokens have the potential to totally revolutionise Professions and Crafting, but not as they currently stand. It's time for some standardisation!

  • We need ONE KIND OF TOKEN FOR ALL CRAFTING. You earn a Crafting Token from quests from L1 onwards. The same tokens are earned for Daily Quests in Shatt, in Northrend and in Azeroth. If you want to make recipes only usable at certain levels, give them a level requirement. The wonderful Chef's Hat, for instance, locked forever in an expansion zone most people can now level in 48 hours, requires 100 Dalaran tokens. If we had a new system you could simply buy it at L65 if you had the tokens to afford it. Most importantly of all, convert all those spare tokens to the new system. If you're concerned some people might be at an advantage if you do, make it 10 Dalaran Tokens = 1 Crafting Token, so at least those people have some return on their investment. [*]

  • Justice Points and Conquest Points need to buy more raw materials. The introduction of Enchanting Mats for JP's for instance is an absolute master-stroke. I ramp myself up to 4000 JP, go buy 10 Essences @ 400 points each, and off I go again. What would now be great would be to see other materials being available for purchase. As it's also possible to buy these materials for Honor, what might be nice would be to introduce some PvP only items (perhaps to link in with the production of PvP gears?)

  • What happens when you're max level, you've learned everything, you've done all the Crafting Achievements and you start stacking up Crafting Tokens? Let's see the option to purchase some vanity items with those spare tokens. If Blizzard are concerned that people might simply stockpile the Tokens for gain 'down the line' then set a ceiling on the number you can hold at any one time.

  • The Darkmoon Faire's a great model for helping those who have difficulty levelling their professions to do so once a month: how about having the same model in place with professions? Have the option to spend tokens on increasing your skill as well as buying recipes or items you need to craft with. While you're at it, why not make Crafting Tokens purchasable for Justice, Honor and Conquest Points to boot?

[*] So you use the same token for Fishing or Cookery as you'd use for Jewelcrafting? Wouldn't that give an unfair advantage to a JC-er who did the daily fishing and cookery and decided not to spend them on the named professions? I think people should be able to choose how they use their tokens. If they decide to devote extra time to do two daily quests, should they not then have a choice as to how they spend those tokens anyway? If you make it all about a single currency, it gives the individual more flexibility as to how to spend, and they are more involved in the the decision making. I don't see how that can be a bad thing.

In the end, if Blizzard are looking to make the game fun, they could do a lot worse and look at the number of spare tokens clogging up people's banks. Those that have a financial value (like using Crusader's Seals for pets to sell) don't stay in a tab very long. I think it's high time the same was true for Professions and Crafting: give those hours of hard work in previous expansions a real value and make one token fit all :D

Thursday, January 26, 2012

We Interrupt This Blog...

... for a large shouty rant on behalf of the Wee Dwarven Lassie Archaeologist, who joins us live from Uldum:

Current Tol'vir Solves. This isn't fair.


Archaeology can NICK RIGHT OFF. All I want is the CHUFFING PET!!1!!!!1!!1. JUST HOW HARD DOES THIS HAVE TO BE!!!11!!1!!1!111!!1!!


We now return you to your normally scheduled broadcast...

Honing Your Crafts : #2 : The Same Materials

Some of us just don't have the heart to throw ANYTHING away... ^^

Five Ways to Improve Professions In Game.

#2 :  Use More of the Same Materials, not Less. Make them drop where people play most!

If, like some of us, you were crafting in Vanilla, you'll remember the single biggest stumbling block to your task was the materials. If Blizzard wanted to make summat hard to craft, they'd make the mobs hard to find. I can remember the sheer joy when AQ and ZG were introduced for the first time and we were presented with new recipes from vendors that required skinning of specialist mobs to take place INSIDE AN INSTANCE, and then the realisation that I'd have to fight (potentially) 19 other people to get them [*] Striking a balance between accessible materials and rarity is something Blizzard have struggled with over the years, but of all the 'factors' involved in Crafting, this one is actually far better than it was when the system was introduced. I still don't have enough Dreamscale for that hunter chestpiece, even now...

However, especially when levelling, finding the right mats is still an issue, and it's my second issue with the crafting model. Surprisingly, I'm not after Blizzard removing those hard to find items: far from it.

  • A leatherworker's going to need to skin a mob to level: a miner will need to hit a vein, a herbalist pick a flower. Make sure, when they do, that the mob/node drops additional items that are needed by the other professions. It could be a flower part to help level First Aid, for instance: if miners can harvest gems to help Jewelcrafters and that gem can be sold on the AH, the same should be true of all the items you can 'harvest'. Make EVERY item you are able to pick up be worthwhile, and not simply at low levels. I'd like to see stone re-introduced to high level mining nodes and patterns introduced to utilise it, and extra items from skinned mobs.

  • Give professions the chance to use more items in construction and not less. Although I appreciate the simplification of many recipes as areas become 'obsolete' or are 're-imagined' (Strat and Scholo, I'm looking at you) it is a shame to see an item simply taking two herbs to make (plus a vial) or some leather and thread. There are plenty of opportunities in game for items to be purchasable with tokens (see point #3 tomorrow): why not use the model of the Engineering Chopper as a positive example? Place items on vendors around the world for cash, and Crafters could go and buy them: make them class only or BoP if you're concerned they could be exploited via the AH.

  • Anyone fishing in Tol Barad or Darkmoon island right now will tell you what a treasure trove of awesomeness the Sealed Crates have become. I quietly cheered when Freya was given the Alchemists Cache in her loot table: what about more Package Love? If Blizzard can use the Darkmoon Artifacts and have them drop of specific mobs in specific Dungeons (with the addition of your Dungeoneering Guide) what's to stop the same happening for professions? That skinning knife you got when you completed your first Apprentice quest, how about that allows you to collect certain items from mobs you skin in 5 mans? When you mine that ore in the 5 man, you could receive a special Geode... you get the idea.

  • Making the current top end Tailoring Cloth BoP is a blessing for some and a curse for many others, especially if you never get the patterns you need to create updated gears. That needs to change, especially through the process of patches. Although I appreciate the value of making certain patterns only drop in 10/25 man, I think Blizzard might be wise to consider creating an interim level of craftable gear that drops only in LFR. If we're going to be sensible, that would also correspond with an interim level of gems and a 'key ingredient' (Essence of Minor Destruction, anyone?)

  • While we're on Tailors (and Alchemists), I'd like to see a rethink of the way their materials are handled. I'm not sure making Alchemists the only people who can produce Truegold is a good idea, and that it is the backbone of so many recipes seems odd. Is it not possible for ALL professions to get a Truegold-style material, and for patterns not to simply require the same base group of items to make?

In my ideal crafting world, everything would be recyclable. Any item that a crafter made would have by-products, and they could either be re-used on their own or be combined with other items to make materials another crafter could use in a separate profession. The AH would be full of crafters both selling their wares and their by-products. Maybe it would be possible, as we do with leather and metal right now, to make 'thicker' versions or composites of items using those that are more regularly occurring with the rarer drops. Perhaps those giblets that I got from skinning could be used by someone with a Deep Sea Fishing specialisation to catch a special shark. Maybe that plant stem could be crushed by a First Aider to make a HoT Salve.... let's use more materials to make crafting fun, not take them away because people think it's 'too hard' to find them. Just make them drop off the mobs people use most to level. Make them drop from dungeons if people are simply using LFG to go from 1-85, from BG's as well.

Most importantly, if so many people are enjoying LFR as a way to see content, give them some crafting love to go with it.

[*] Okay, so there were never 20 skinners in a ZG 20, but you get the idea. If only the concept of the 'only drops if you have an item in your inventory *thing* had existed back then... ^^

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Honing Your Crafts : #1 : The Same Template

A Worgen's Work is never done... ^^

Five Ways to Improve Professions In Game.

#1 : Standardise the Process.

When you look at your Professions window in game, it all looks rather well thought out, doesn't it? The truth's quite a long way from that, of course, because the sheer amount of information you'd need in one window to accurately represent exactly what each of these skills gives you is staggering, hence the large number of add-ons that have developed over the years to assist any erstwhile Crafter to keep abreast of what they are doing. It would probably be easier if every profession followed the same template too: some have specialisations, some don't. Some Primary professions benefit from parts of Secondary professions and vice versa, but there is a lack of consistency. What is needed as the first step in any reorganisation of the professions is some basic rules, that cover all the professions. There are the bones of this already in place, and this is where we begin.

The seven levels of Profession Mastery!

As we stand, there are seven levels of mastery in all 14 professions: Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, Artisan, Master, Grand Master and Illustrious Grand Master. Sadly, this is where the commonality ends in many cases, and my first desire for improvement is to build on the structure that Blizzard already has in place. Let's use it as our foundation and build upon it. For the purposes of this article I'll use Skinning as an example of what could be done, but I have ideas for all professions in this regard, which I'll list in a separate post.

  • Introduce an 'Assessment' Quest that rewards you with the next level of mastery. For instance, to become a Journeyman Skinner you are asked to track down three specific mobs and skin them for a 'superior quality' hide. Let it reward you with an item that is useful for your profession: maybe a storage bag, in this case perhaps a +5 to skill skinning knife. Make levelling more interesting with incentives that don't need to be bought, but can be earned.

  • Give EVERY Profession Specialisations back, even the gathering and secondary ones. Everyone gets a chance to have a base set of abilities but can further specialise down one of three paths. This will allow for consistency across all 14, and help people understand that when you get to (for example L65) it's time to go see your Trainer to begin your Specialisation training. Make them last a couple of levels too, maybe you won't finish your specialisation training until you hit 70, even 75. Don't make them so people have to go into dungeons, use the Game World as your backdrop, but use the incentive to level as the incentive to keep crafting.

  • Don't penalise people for not rolling a specific class: the Worgen skinning racial is great, but why can't all skinners have it? Would it not be better to offer those kind of 'incentives' to those who complete their training in a particular profession? Perhaps (as Blizzard can track the number of beasts you have skinned) it might be a 'bonus' once you'd reached a specific number of items harvested or crafted?

  • Give Professions the ability to become future proof. My skinning bag I earned when I became a Journeyman increases by 4 slots every Mastery I gain. That knife increases skinning by +1 every X levels I grind. The items I started my life with stay with me throughout my journey and retain their usefulness even when I am maxxed.

  • Give everyone an ability like the one Tailors and Jewelcrafters possess: you gather/create more the higher level you become, you have a chance to gather/create a superior quality item from time to time. Ideally the system that is in place with Scribes and Alchemists for a 'daily research' spell is one that could work for all the professions, allowing the Crafter a chance to learn additional patterns/abilities over time once the 'standard' run of abilities is learnt. Perhaps specific spells could be attached to certain zones: for instance, as a Skinner I could go to the Darkmoon Faire and and learn their method of skinning dragons. This would allow a specific item to sometimes drop from dragons when I did.

  • Give those who have excelled in their abilities titles to show for it. Completing my Specialiation in Skinning gives me the title 'Skinner of Birds', telling other people that I am the person to approach if they are looking for special feathers from rare birds to complete their items. Make every specialisation worthwhile to pursue and with tangible rewards that can be used by other Crafters to create items as good as those you would find in a five man dungeon.

Above all else however, if you give a basic ability to one group of crafters, make sure all of them have the same chance. Make it so if you have to explain crafting to someone the same rules apply to every profession, regardless of whether it is primary or secondary. The biggest single issue in my mind with the system is probably what many people consider it's biggest strength, that it's not sterile and homogenised but each system has it's own unique quirks. Although this is makes things interesting, I think it's only to a certain point, and redesigning the system could still retain this if done sympathetically.

I've got a list of what I came up with as potential specialisations for ALL the professions, which I'll post later to give people an idea of where my thinking is coming from. Needless to say I find this to be my biggest single issue, and the only way I can see to remove it is for Blizzard to go back to the drawing board, in much the same way as they will be forced to in order to deal with stat inflation...

Honing Your Crafts : Five Ways to Improve Professions In-Game

Introduction: Just so we are Clear...

So many professions, so little time... ^^

Before I begin, let's set out what I'm trying to do here. Blizzard's Profession's system's been around as long as the game has, it's become an integral part of the entire experience and, quite frankly, it's flawed. Before we talk about why, let's make sure we know what we're considering as a 'Profession' in context. Blizzard's own profession page (yes there's a professions page!) lists 10 'primary' and 4 'secondary' ones: in no particular order, they are as follows:

Primary Professions:


Secondary Professions:

First Aid

That's FOURTEEN different paths to consider when rolling a new character: why is then that so many people don't even bother with Professions at all?

I think the biggest single problem with professions as they stand is the same issue that still blights the levelling process from 1-85: the issue of  Expansion Fatigue. Every time Blizzard introduces a new expansion the existing systems aren't properly redesigned, stuff just gets tacked onto the end of them. It's easy to understand why this has become a problem as the level cap has increased: Blizzard never intended this game to last as long as it has. The systems that were put in place in Vanilla are now frankly inadequate as we approach Expansion #4. Blizzard have admitted that stat inflation is a major issue: however I'm not seeing anyone admit that crafting systems are also suffering and require an overhaul. They REALLY do, Blizzard, and you need to go back to basic principles in the same way as you will with armour.

There is a bigger issue to consider, however. You do not want to lose any of the positives that Professions bring to the game, and they do. The 10 Primary Professions all have tangible combat benefits for those who practice them, and it's time that this benefit was more widely available (and beneficial) to everyone outside the End Game, that levelling with a Profession could be assured as a way to make money and to help in the process. How do we make that happen with a system which, in some cases, is EXACTLY the same as it has been since Vanilla?

I've isolated five areas I think need to be addressed, and I have ideas on how they could be changed.

The first calls for the most radical change of all: a standardisation of process across ALL of the 14 professions, and that will be covered in the first 'proper' post on this subject. I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys think of my ideas and whether you believe they are practical... :D

Content Advisory!

Yes, it's almost time... ^^

As a rule, I like spontaneity in my work. I think it's best to react to things in a computer game 'as they happen' and not to get bogged down by planning. However, there's one subject that I've been considering for months now and which I realise needs more thought, simply to get the ideas I have out and into the world. Yes folks, the 'What is Wrong with Crafting' opus is almost done.

It took a while for me to get my head around what I really wanted to say, but I'm now confident I can break this down: over the next five days I will be looking at 'Five Ways Blizzard can Change ALL Professions for the Better.' (note: need snappier title)  I've included the secondary professions with this as well, because part of me thinks that if everything could be standardised it would make like a lot easier for everyone. I'm not claiming that anything I'm going to suggest is revolutionary (and if I inadvertently duplicate anyone else's ideas I apologise in advance, I've tried my best not to take in any other professions/crafting rants along the way) but they represent for me a way of making professions both competitive and engaging.

One of the main reasons I have as many alts as I undoubtedly do is the fact that professions offer real benefits for enhanced game play: what I'm hoping is my thoughts can serve as a starting point for discussion, to get other people thinking about what we'd like to see change in the future and how Blizzard could keep the game enjoyable and interesting away from dungeon and instance content. Yes, I KNOW we're talking about only a part of the 'real' Warcraft experience but if the Devs are thinking about Pet Battles as a viable alternative, maybe there could be some professions love too. I can but hope...

Anyway, you have been warned. Large rambling posts are incoming...!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Y Yuu Doo Dat?1!!?1

I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time...

Two entirely separate people asked me the same question yesterday: why do you blog about Warcraft?

My first recorded post in this format was on February 2nd, 2009, which means I'm coming up for THREE YEARS worth of dross quality blogging this year. [I should probably do some kind of celebration event, thinking about it.] Back when I started I'd already failed to keep a couple of other sites active, simply because I could never make the time to fit everything in. The big change came when I started to push myself to write. That was probably the overriding reason for doing this, if I'm honest. It had very little to do with the game to begin with, and everything to do with my desire to communicate better. As Warcraft was a subject I knew a bit about and felt confident discussing, it seemed a great way to distil what I'd learnt about both it and how to write into one place. I've come quite a way in the intervening period. I blog about this game because it makes me happy, angry, excited, disappointed and a thousand more emotions in between. I have a passion, and that fuels the words.

As time has passed I've been aware of other people listening. I think this has been one of the greatest consequences of my writing: interacting with the World. I'm grateful for every person who's made a comment, or who passes by, because it's the stimulus I need to continue. On the days when I don't particularly feel like talking the feedback is the encouragement to keep going, the reminder that every day can teach a writer something about themselves or their craft. For me, the support I've had has directly affected my desire to write in other places, and has served as a much needed kick up the behind to get me working on the more fictional literary forms. As a result last year I started a Creative Writing course, something I suspect I'd have not actively pursued were it not for the time I have spent here. Writing a blog is a long way from a work of fiction but it shares a lot of the same motivation. It's the same words after all, just used in a different way, and the story telling is a means to different ends.

However, I'm not answering my own question: why Warcraft? Well, before this it was '24', and before that it was a rather obscure UK TV show called 'Bugs'... and before that I was wittering about lots of US and UK TV shows on message boards and in groups that were the place to be long before there was a 'proper' Internet to search stuff on. I like breaking things down, de-constructing, understanding why things happen. I gain a lot of enjoyment from mastering, once I've understood. My first blog post gives a potted history of what I did before Azeroth came along and if you needed any indicator of how sadly obsessed I could be about a computer game, there it is. As it stands, I think I 'live' in Azeroth and have done for some time, it's an alternative place to be when I'm not being a Mum or a Wife or any of the other 'jobs' I have. It's a place with it's own rules and it's own personalities, both real and virtual. It's a rich source of inspiration, and it's still (after all this time) a great place to have fun in. That's enough for me to be able to write about, often on a daily basis. I know there's enough people out there who feel the same, and a Community who loves to share what it's doing... another Virtual Networking site to join Livejournal, Facebook and Twitter....

I write about Warcraft because I love it, and it makes me happy. On the day when that is no longer the case I'm fairly confident something else will come along and replace it. Until that happens, this is where I belong, this is what I am, and long may it continue.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Playing Both Sides.

Same Class, Different Race. Likes to Speculate...

I have never gotten the Horde.

Back when I made my first character decisions, the Horde were never an option for me. Not because they where 'the Bad Guys', not because the Alliance races looked better... just because. In a Red v Blue face off, I am going to pick blue, and I'm not sure after six years I could give an acceptable reason for the choice. Needless to say, I have tried many, many Horde characters in the intervening period. Only the Druid made it to max level, and has now succumbed to the call of Elune. This is my only remaining Hordie, and of course she's a hunter. I'm looking at her now because this morning I used her to put a Lunar Lantern on the Horde AH, when I realised that maybe I've never really given the Horde a chance.

A lot of my reticence to Go Red is now wrapped up with being a GM, and the responsibility that holds. It's also tied to my limited game time: if I'm going to play on one side, it's likely to be the one where it's a) easier and b) I have everything I need at my disposal. To give you an idea of how long it's been since my Hunter saw the light of day, I had 2000 Arrows in my bags when I logged her this morning. I needed to scrabble together 250g for my Flight Master's License too, which pretty much cleared me out. If I want to take her out to do anything she's not currently got enough cash to learn her new abilities or indeed to fly anywhere on scheduled wyverns. I'd better hope the Lantern sells: if it does, I think I might start some Pet Speculation. This will be the only reason I keep a Hordie alive, at least for now.

I had promised myself that I'd level a Goblin, but after I found doing a Worgen not nearly as much fun as I'd anticipated, the desire waned. However now I would have the benefit of Heirlooms if I chose to, but again it comes down to the constraints of time, and with the desire to write fuelling blog posts above the need to have ANOTHER 85 to add to the pile... it's not going to happen any time soon. It does make me wonder, however: why people chose the race path they did to begin with. It doesn't matter of course what you are any more, changing is just another paid service if you so desire. However, if you asked me whether I'd go Horde with an existing character... I can think of only one time when I would, and that would be if the people I enjoy playing with the most decided to switch sides. Again, it's not about the pixels, but the people behind them that matter the most.

For now however, E the Hunter's Back from Beyond and getting settled outside the AH for a new lease of life...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Festival Maximisation Gambit...

Dwarves in Moonlight = Profit!

It's the first big In-Game Festival of 2012 (no we don't count New Year 'coz booze is not profitable) and I find myself with an overriding urge to go and discover some Elders. Hang on though, what's the point? For my 84 Bankalt Gatherer, there's the small matter of each discovered spot earning me 31,740 XP, which coupled with the ad hoc Archaeology I'm doing as I go at the same XP rate serving as a decent levelling exercise. However, that's not my real interest. For the first time since the change was announced, I have stockpiled tokens in various banks that can be used to buy Vanity Pets. Pets that are NOT BoP...

Fools and their money will be parted... ^^

For 50 Coins of Ancestry, a Lunar Lantern is yours. I had enough coins in P's bank to pick up two of these when I logged, and the one on the AH sold in under 30 minutes (hence the healthier than normal gold balance above) Needless to say, I think the best plan for the additional coins I pick up from Bank!Druid's explorations will go towards stockpiling these beauties for later in the year, or even better, for the new Expansion. Let's hope that the innocent looking lantern's gonna have a kickass Pet Battle ability, shall we..? ^^

Even if you don't have a levelling toon to benefit from XP, this Festival is an excellent time to combine Coin Gathering with Map Discovering/Achievements. If you're a gatherer so much the better: make sure you pick up stacks of stuff along the way: Outland and Northrend raw materials are great sellers currently and it's a good way to rake in some extra cash in these dark January days.

Oh, and if you're 85 remember there's an Achievement this time around for the Elders of the Cataclysm... :D