With a slowly expanding family of alts, I’ve over the years levelled every profession to full on my main characters on my main server. If they had their awkward obstructive walls, and I’m sure they did, I got over them. Levelling a character from 1 – 60 took much longer when I first played the game, so professions easily kept pace. It’s only since I started playing around with some old alts on another server, in the lull before Mists, that it’s been brought home to me what a pain some professions are at the moment. This is largely down to how the game has changed and the fact that people level much faster. Professions haven’t kept up, and a couple, such as Inscription, still rely on aspects of progression that were designed solely to be accomplished in Northrend. Some things really need to change in Mists. I’ve noticed a few forum threads discussing this topic recently, so here’s my two pence worth on it all, for anyone starting a new alt and embarking upon a new couple of professions.

I will give the professions a rank as follows:

1. Joy!

2. Bearable

3. Sigh

4. Grumble

5. Uncontrollable sobbing

The Pros and Cons of Primary Professions

Alchemy (joy!)

Cons: Not really a problem, but the Northrend Research will most likely not be completed before you leave Northrend. This will require trips back to that continent to farm the necessary herbs, but only if you’re a completist for recipes. You don’t need these discoveries to level the prof to top.

Pros: Of all the primary professions, Alchemy is the easiest to level. Coupled with Herbalism, it’s no hassle at all. Changes to the game means you can make potions and elixirs for the next expansion up before you hit top level for the one you’re in. There are no obstructive mats walls to get over. The ‘rare’ herbing finds needed for Flasks don’t seem to be as rare as, for example, the hides and furs you get from Skinning. Raid teams always want flasks, so they sell well, and Alchemy also provides much needed Transmuting for materials used in making certain types of high level gear.

Blacksmithing (bearable)

Cons: Most weapons require a large amount of quite fiddly mats to make, so in general, players levelling BS won’t bother with them at all. Levelling with making armour isn’t too bad but you will need a LOT of ore, and I mean a LOT. This is the worst aspect of BS.

Pros: Provides belt buckles for other professions that can be sold. At the moment BS is the only means for Enchanters to get their enchanting rods as well, but this will be going from the game in Mists. Mining nodes are sensibly spread throughout the zones so that getting mats isn’t a chore or means continual going backwards to get the ore you need. I found that the BS prof kept pace with what I was finding in the zones ore-wise.

Enchanting (grumble)

Cons: For a levelling character, acquiring level-appropriate quest rewards and mob drops, disenchantable greens and blues aren’t too hard to come by (especially if Enchanting is coupled with Tailoring). However, you can run into progression walls when you’re in need of a particular essence or dust and you’ve levelled ahead of the zones and dungeons where suitable disenchantables and cloth can be found. If you have an alt who does Blacksmithing, there are a few weapons they can make, which cheaply and easily provide greens that will give certain difficult essences. (Generally speaking, essences come from weapons and dusts come from armour – mostly. Shards come from blue and epic items.) Trying to advance this profession from 1-525 on a level 85 character would take it into the realms of uncontrollable sobbing. Quite honestly I think someone would be mad to try to it. Another downside, happily soon to disappear, is the array of different metal enchanting rods required. In Mists, this will be condensed into a simple Copper Rod. Thank the gods! My Enchanter alt on the second realm can’t say goodbye to the need for an Arcanite Rod quick enough.

Pros: The advantages of Enchanting are huge, because along with Inscription and Jewelcrafting, it provides a service that every player needs continually for their gear, and scrolls can be sold on the AH to provide a good income. Enchanting your own gear will save you 1000s as well.

Engineering: (sigh)

Cons: one of the worst aspects of this prof is that you need to make so many fiddly parts that quickly go grey so earn you no points, (and require low level mats), in order to keep making items that *do* get you points. That really needs to be streamlined. A lot of the cool stuff becomes obsolete as you level up as some items are not upgraded beyond certain levels and become ineffective. The need for particular gems can be a nuisance if you do not also have a Jewelcrafter alt who can prospect ore for your needs.

Pros: A really fun profession that while having certain fiddly aspects isn’t too bad to level. You get really useful items such as teleporters to various areas, the ability to farm for elemental materials in some zones (although not top level sadly), repair bots for teams, portable mail box, mechanical pets you can sell, your own helicopter mount, and more. You can also make scopes for classes that use ranged weapons, which can be sold on the AH.

Herbalism (joy!)

Cons: None

Pros: Quick and easy to level, perfect to team with Inscription or Alchemy. Herbs also sell well on the AH.

Inscription (starts as joy! Ends up as grumble)

Cons: Few to start with. Inscription, coupled with Herbalism, is a joy to level until you leave Northrend. The main problem is that Northrend Inscription Research, which you undertake daily to discover random new glyphs, requires Northrend herbs, and characters level through the Wrath zones so quickly, you’ll barely have scratched the surface of this aspect of Inscription before you head back to Azeroth for the Cata zones. You can use Cata inks to buy the Northrend ones, but the rarer Snowfall Inks require more inks as trade, and it would most likely involve less time and effort to go back to Northrend and farm up a load of herbs to mill to keep you going. Also, at present, a large amount of the best glyphs can only be discovered randomly through ‘reading’ Books of Glyph Mastery’ found in – you guessed it – Northrend. They are thin upon the ground now, in that you might not pick up even one while levelling through that area and the ones on the AH cost risible amounts. Therefore, your Scribe can end up half educated, with no means to finish learning. It’s beyond me why these books weren’t scrapped in favour of the glyphs being transferred to trainers or glyph research once Cata came out, or at least added to current loot tables. It makes Inscription virtually impossible to complete at the moment. It would be better if Inscription research was more like JC, in that you could complete a daily for tokens then choose which glyph patterns to buy. I can only assume the profession will change for the better with the massive overhaul to glyphs in general come Mists. This prof would be ranked uncontrollable sobbing for later levels, otherwise.

Pros: Every character in WoW needs glyphs, and until people stop rolling alts there will always be a market for them. Some are quite expensive, (the ones learned from books presumably), so a good way to make gold, should you want to play the AH to increase your bank balance. Also very handy for servicing your own alts, since some glyphs are so pricey.

Jewelcrafting (sigh, then bearable)

Cons: Jewelcrafting starts off ok, then hits a long sigh stage when you start needing fiddly mats and gems that refuse to turn up when you prospect ore. (Large fangs, ye gods! They were impossible to farm, and yet I’m sure that when I didn’t need them they turned up all the time on dead beasts.) Once you get to Outland things look up and don’t look back. From that day forward, all you need to worry about is gems you get from Mining or Prospecting ore. From Northrend onwards, you’ll do dailies to earn tokens to buy JC designs. Designs cost between 3-6 tokens and you get one a day. The profession clearly isn’t designed for every JC to have all the designs (unless they are utterly assiduous with the dailies, for ever). It’s expected, I believe, for players to select the gem designs most useful for them, their guildies or to sell. A PvP enthusiast, for example, could choose PvP gems over gems more useful for PvE.

Pros: Every player needs gems continually, every time they replace a piece of top level gear. There is always a market for gems, and some are very expensive. As with Inscription and Enchanting it’s a handy profession to have to service your own characters cheaply. JC’s can also make some good top level necklaces and rings that can be sold.

Leatherworking (uncontrollable sobbing)

Cons: I had no problem with this on my first character, but now it’s truly the worst of all professions. You need an unforgiving amount of mats per item and it’s tricky to level up because of the annoying patterns that involve difficult to obtain mats, and rare hides that predictably only appear when you don’t need them. If you couple LW with Skinning (and you should), you’ll advance your Skinning quickly, but with a levelling character you’ll be out of the areas supplying, for example, medium leather, when you still need to make around 10-20 items with it before you can start using heavy leather. With herbs and ore, you can get several per node. Unless augmented by guild perks, skins only come one at a time. Also, those rare ‘drops’ you’ll need from skinning are needed for nearly every mid-range pattern. Some profs get easier at higher level. LW doesn’t. Even in Cata you’ll be making expensive items involving a fair amount of volatiles (feels such a waste of them) that you’re simply vendoring or at best sending to an Enchanting alt to disenchant because there’s no demand for them on the AH. As for the rare ‘drop’ furs and hides needed for many patterns later on (Wrath and Cata particularly), I’ve had only about half a dozen of these turn up while skinning throughout the whole of Cata, with 3 alts who are gatherers and skinners as well as my main LW. Generally I have to buy the Pristine Hides with Heavy Savage Leather, which are time consuming to farm for, and prohibitively expensive on the AH to buy. The sheer amount of leather needed both to make items and buy patterns and hides for them, from 1 to 525, is punishing.

Pros: There are useful items that are always needed by you and other players, leg enchants being the obvious example. You can emboss your own bracers with a very good enchantment. You can make large mats bags for a couple of professions, as well as your own.

Mining (joy!)

Cons: None

Pros: Quick and easy to level, perfect to team with Blacksmithing, Engineering or Jewelcrafting. Ores sell well on the AH.

Skinning (joy!)

Cons: None

Pros: Skinning levels very quickly and leather always sells fairly well on the AH. Perfect to team with Leatherworking.

Tailoring (bearable)

Cons: Outlevelling the zones where mobs provide the type of cloth you need is the biggest headache. You also need a ton of cloth to make garments. It doesn’t require as many hard to obtain mats as LW does but the threads needed to sew the items gets increasingly expensive. Coupled with Enchanting you can disenchant the zillions of greens you make to level the profession. If you do a lot of dungeons, cloth won’t be an issue.

Pros: Bags! This is one of the most useful functions of Tailoring. Tailors can also make large profession bags for herbalists and enchanters. The largest bags sell for a lot on the AH and like with consumables made by other professions there is always a demand for them. Tailors can also provide enhancements to other players to improve parts of their gear. When Mists come out there will be a huge demand for bags for all those new Monks!

On Gear You Make

Generally speaking, most armour and weapons you can make until you get to top level are pretty worthless in terms of actually equipping and using them. The professions haven’t changed at low level since Vanilla and they are simply outdated now. Quest rewards are better than anything you can craft. Probably the major use for crafted gear at the moment is for transmogging, as some of it does look pretty cool and shifts well on the AH. It would be great if the gear-making professions could be overhauled so that the items are actually useful to a levelling character as well. Other professions, which create consumables, have kept up with the game and their products are always useful, but the gear-making ones have been superseded by revamped quest reward items or gear from dungeons.

At top level, crafted gear is very good, even if some of the patterns are extremely hard to come by, being rare drops in raids. They will also require mats from raids. But epic gear can be crafted, of lower iLevel than the aforementioned, that is good for newly-dinged 85s. These patterns are just bought with materials pertinent to the profession.

The main gripe I have about the gear-making professions is the sheer amount of mats they require on the way up, which has contributed to them becoming tiresome to level. That needs streamlining – a lot. But I’ll be really surprised if we don’t see big, positive changes in Mists.