Disposable Professions

As of Battle for Azeroth, WoW professions have become almost entirely disposable.

I noticed this last night as I was puttering around on some of my alts. Three of them wear leather armor, so I was hopping onto each one trying to remember which had Leatherworking. As it turns out, none of them did. So, without much thought, I dropped Skinning on the rogue and then… paused. “Leather is cheap, but those Blood-Stained Bones are relatively expensive.” Then I decided that my druid would likely be more efficient at AoE farming for leather anyway, so I logged onto her and then dropped Enchanting without a pause and gave her Skinning.

If you have not been keeping track at home, Blizzard had been moving towards the Single Expansion Relevance model for a while now. Professions used to start at 1, and you would need to dedicate tens of thousands of gold/hours farming to level them up to 300+ just to get near where current-content gear was. If you kept up, you were sitting pretty, because everyone else just coming back from a break or brand new players had a huge grind ahead of them.

It was not a particularly elegant model, but it still felt… reasonable. Plus, the constant need for old-world mats for newly profession-ed characters meant that lowbies had a good shot at become rich by just gathering herbs/ore as they leveled. There was a whole micro-economy that existed there, including the savvy Auctioneers who were able to throw together a “profession kit” that would allow someone to max out to current content within 30 minutes. The dedication needed to remain in your own professions would inspire people to level alts just to have additional options, who then needed to be leveled and geared and fed a diet of AH materials, and so on, and so forth.

Then things started to change.

The first steps were allowing players to harvest current-expansion nodes even as a starter herbalist/miner. Blizzard made sure that the product extracted was basically junk, or 1/10th of the normal result, but you could at least tap the node. And that was reasonable, especially for the gathering professions, as it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to force high-level characters to be scouring old Azeroth for Tin nodes.

Then came the gimmie recipes for crafters, which allowed them to use current-expansion resources to rank up 400+ levels. One would think that such a feature killed off the old-school profession kits, but all it really did was set a price ceiling at which it was cheaper to just buy new herbs/ore. This was especially true at the beginning of an expansion, when the latest herbs/ore were selling for hundreds of gold apiece.

Somewhere in there, Blizzard also introduced profession books, which would allow you to “relearn” all the recipes you had lost when abandoning a profession.

With BfA, the circle is now complete. Professions are entirely stratified into expansion-specific tiers. Profession bonuses, which were the bane of hardcore raiders, were watered-down and diluted into irrelevance. Once a part of your character’s identity and story, professions are, at most, a (temporary) economic decision. Hell, in the heady days of a new expansion release, it can sometimes be worth the 1000g fee to relearn a profession if you can make ten times that amount in a night of being a temporary whatever. Blizzard helpfully removed most of the dungeon requirements for 3-star ranks, so the barriers has never been lower.

And all of that is probably for the best.

I sat here a while, exploring my feelings on the matter, before coming to that conclusion. I am a huge critic of any game design in which someone can lose on the character select screen, and WoW’s profession bonuses combined with the grind back up to max rank was just another form of that. That is on top of the ~5%/month churn rate which could see your entire MMO population turn over every 20 months. A new expansion is usually released how often, again? It’s just not a good design IMO to require people to pump out thousands of useless pieces of junk to increase a number to a sufficient degree to get to starting line.

Nevertheless, yeah, there is a part of me that had fond memories of the old system. My namesake paladin has been a Jewelcrafting/Alchemist since 2008 and none of that matters. I spent hundreds of hours leveling up a fleet of alts to cover every profitable base each expansion, and now the same thing could be done by one toon and a willingness to drop 1000g.

I am sort of waiting for the day when Blizzard just goes full GW2 and lets you buy extra profession slots for real money and otherwise just be done with the restrictions altogether.

Posted on August 29, 2018, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. There are old recipes to care about. My blacksmith has over 450 or so recipes (from the days addons could properly process other people’s tradeskill links and produce all kinds of statistics). I am a collector. If I unlearn this profession, those recipes will be gone for good.
    A beautiful item.

    Yet I’d love to pay hefty amounts of gold to have three professions or more on my toons.

    Meanwhile, I love making 70-100k gold per day (if I work hard and for hours at a time) by selling herbs and ores on my hunter. Levelling another hunter to skin all those nice bodies lying in WQ areas :)


  2. Unless they changed that, the book only restores the receipts you got from quests. The ones from blueprints are still lost and must be farmed again.


  3. I don’t disagree that the catchup mechanic was kinda awful, but I think they broke professions for a certain kind of player (e.g. me) in Legion – I played since vanilla, and in every expansion I had most of the professions at max level – in Legion I didn’t even come close even on one.
    I’ve not grabbed BfA yet, and I certainly am open to this “This is the BfA tier of professions, let’s start at 0 there with everyone else” – but I think I’ve never ever switched a profession that I had leveled in a meaningful way – my thing is to be mostly self-sufficient and have everything available. I don’t see much difference to GW2 in this – sure, you could get more profession slots, but if you have a few high-level alts, it’s equally fine to have the professions spread over them. So I only hope that horrible gating with dungeon quests is not as annoying in BfA, but I already read where someone wrote about the BoP Mythic drops needed to craft “proper” max-level gear. That’s again a dent in self-sufficiency, needing like 20 Mythic runs for a single piece. Same thing for the inflation with the wow token and the garrison, but I should stop rambling I guess. Short version is that I was not rich, but I guess in the upper third before garrisons, and that was without a lot of AH work (which I hate). Now I’m definitely in the lower third (back when I played in Legion) and I don’t see a realistic chance to catch up again without AH work or hours of grinding…


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