|It's grey 'coz it's not ready yet... ^^|
It is with some satisfaction that it is now clear my observations on the Blacksmithing 'projects' buried away in Wowhead's datamaining was correct: there is indeed a major revamp to the profession incoming for 5.2. What makes me more excited, and that is what it is, are the potential possibilities this change has for the entire Professions aspect of the game. I touched on some of the immediate consequences in an earlier post but on reflection these are the tip of a pretty sizable iceberg. The ramifications of this change are significant, and stretch far beyond the auspices of crafting.
The Blacksmithing 'model' follows the Cookery one that you'll encounter in Halfhill pretty closely: however, instead of having to buy your raw materials, you gather them. With a bit of thought we can extend the thinking to allow us to use the same 'tools' to simplify every profession:
- Leatherworking should use Exotic Leather and Prismatic Scale.
- Tailoring should use Windwool Cloth exclusively
- Alchemy should use Pandarian Herbs
- Inscription should use Pandaran Herbs plus additional 'inks' purchasable from a vendor (like cookery)
- Jewelcrafting should use Ghost Iron Ore and Pandaran gems.
- Engineering should use Ghost Iron Ore with additional 'parts' purchasable from a vendor (like cookery)
- Enchanting will follow the Cookery model with new 'dusts' purchasable from a vendor (like cookery)
- Far simpler to learn a profession for bonuses
- Far simpler to swap professions when required
- Only gathering required from Pandaria, forcing people into the current expansion
- People creating 'mules' to make profession alts will be greatly reduced
- No requirement for obscure or hard to find mats from previous expansions
This change will have a direct and immediate relevance to anyone who chooses to level an alt with a gathering profession. In fact, I can see a situation where absolutely no-one will want to level anything other than Mining, Herbalism or Skinning until they get to 85: you'll want to make sure you have a gathering skill that reflects the Profession you'll take once you've finished Cataclysm content and you'll want to ensure you can gather everything and anything the moment to set foot in Pandaria. I suspect there will be a residual market for anything gathered as you go from 1-85: bear in mind that all existing Azerothian patterns can be learnt in the BS model so (for instance) as a Scribe in the new model you'll still be able to mill any low level herbs, but there'll be no need to pay 200g for a stack on the AH when you can get your levelling points simply with Pandarian gathers.
What is not yet clear, and why (I believe) we'll not see every profession instantly converted to the new models, is the effect this will have on the Warcraft economy, especially in terms of AH markets. I'm looking forward to hearing how the community reacts to this: my personal thoughts on this are that this will move a lot of people out of what are (in effect) niche markets, especially with low level mat sales, and into the same basic group of key commodities. It should add value to those materials required to level, and promote more aggressive pricing as a result. On the flip side I also feel that there could be opportunities for the canny (especially the more established players) to start further diversifying into items that will not be readily available if people simply level a profession to get access to the most current items. Consider it the 'Etsy' Effect: hand crafted armour and weapons, oddities from expansions past, especially if these items have a distinctive look. Mogging markets may have been quiet, but I know from the end of the last expansion they have the potential to return with a vengeance.
I was asked by a Guildie today whether they should wait to level Blacksmithing now or carry on with their task: my response was instant. I'd wait until 5.2. The amount of effort it takes to level any profession currently is completely out of keeping with the speed of levelling itself. This new model conveniently simplifies the process and should encourage a whole new generation of people to take up professions for the benefits they provide.
I just hope someone has something lined up for all the L1 bankalts that could be out of a job as a result...