Today, let’s talk professions in WoW.
I have never been a profession geek in the game, but I have usually pursued them and had a lot of fun with them. I look upon them as an integral part of the game, and one of my main goals for alts is to have at least one of every profession. (Except archaeology. I hate archaeology.) My very first character — my now semi-retired hunter — started out with mining and skinning as major professions, because it was easy to sell the product and get much-needed gold. Sometime during Mists I ditched skinning and replaced it with Jewelcrafting. That earned me a lot of gold once I leveled it up, but of course it pretty much came to a screaming halt in WoD, when Mr. Not-Yet-Game-Director Hazzikostas Blizzsplained to us that “Jewelcrafters should not have a license to print gold”. No, of course not, that privilege should be reserved for Alchemists, apparently. Not that I am bitter or anything! 😉 But I digress.
As I accumulated alts, I pursued major as well as minor professions on all of them. I liked both gathering and crafting professions, and I never really minded leveling up cooking and fishing and first aid on all of them. It felt good to have them all maxed out on their professions. Some of my fondest memories of WoW are when I would crank up my music, crack open a beer, log in on my Druid, and gather herbs and fish for hours in Uldum, flying a series of routes over and over again. It was both mesmerizing and relaxing.
Prior to Legion, I avidly pursued professions on all my alts. I liked being self-sufficient for things like flasks, crafted gear, engineering doodads, enchants, gems, and mats. That is probably the largest single gold-making strategy I have had: Make your own stuff and you save a lot of gold. Not to mention, I could always sell the excess stuff for even more gold. I never “played” the auction house, but I spent enough time there to understand how to maximize profits.
Then came Legion, and with it in my opinion the serious effort by Blizz to reshape the entire profession structure. It seems pretty clear that Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas has decided that armor crafting is evil, and armor crafting professions must be phased out. In Legion we saw crafted armor become quickly obsolete because to upgrade it to a viable level required a lot of soulbound Blood of Sargeras, and the gear had to be equipped and thus SB in order to apply the upgrades. This meant that armor crafters could only sell low level gear, and players would have to upgrade it themselves. Even supplying gear to an alt was largely useless, because — at least for the first year of Legion — by the time an alt was able to gather enough Bloods to upgrade crafted gear, they were likely to no longer need it.
This, of course, was also Blizzsplained to us. Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas sternly lectured us on the evils of having alts merely to supply a main. We should turn away from such mortal sins and roll alts only to play them in the approved way — that is, in the same way we play our mains. We should raid and run dungeons and complete every quest line and grind AP on them, just as we do on our mains. In fact, since we players seemed loathe to accept such clearly excellent instruction, the game was structured to “encourage” us to see the light. Leveling professions required the entire gamut of end game activities, thereby forcing alts to be geared enough to do these things. And just for good measure, prior to the start of Legion we were told that anyone not having two crafting professions on a character was doing it wrong, and in fact would be penalized for not having the approved combo of one crafting and one gathering profession.
Thus, I see Legion as the beginning of a major change in professions. Specifically, Blizz began the process of phasing out armor crafting as a viable profession. They also firmly established the mechanism of SB mats to craft most items. This practice had begun in Mists, but in that expansion the specialized SB mats quickly became account bound. In WoD, there were garrisons to produce pretty much any SB mat needed, no matter what our professions were. In Legion, Blizz pretended to give us a perk late in the expansion by allowing a kind of Blood of Sargeras shuffle to transfer them to a Blood-starved alt, but there was an 80% tax on the transaction, so that you had to spend 100 of them to transfer 20. No easy switch to BoA as had been done in Mists, no no no no no!
The planned demise of armor crafting professions continues in BFA. Blizz added a whole series of required SB mats, some of which can only be acquired through raids and/or mythic dungeons and others that are exceptionally rare to get (expulsom, a low-RNG item from scrapping, except if you scrap trinkets, which of course are available via WQs approximately 2-3 time per week).
And here’s the kicker: even if you manage to actually craft a high end piece of armor, it is BoP!
What this means is that armor crafters, alone among crafting professions, are prohibited from selling or transferring their top level products. For comparison, what if Alchemists were prohibited from selling their raid flasks or sending them to alts, and could only use them for themselves? What if cooks could only craft a feast for themselves? What if scribes could produce runes only for themselves, or enchanters could only enchant their own gear? I am not talking about a few low-level gizmos that are useful, like bardings or drums or glyphs, I am talking about the top level items a profession can produce.
There really is no other way to view this trend than that Blizz is phasing out armor crafting professions. Oh, they may remain in name, but they are steadily becoming more and more limited.
Why are they doing this? I have heard an opinion that it is because Blizz does not want certain professions to be “requirements” for members of top end raiding guilds. I think that theory does not hold water. If anything, restricting high level crafted gear so that it cannot be bought or traded encourages requiring certain professions, because only those professions can make and use the gear.
Frankly, I am puzzled by this Blizz antipathy to crafted gear and indeed to the gear crafters. Possibly they think that producing such gear is not random enough (though the random nature of the secondary stats seems plenty random to me). Perhaps they are enraged at the idea that any character might not have to grind for weeks to get a certain level of gear — think of the terrible effect that might have on MAU! Maybe Ion was once overcharged by an armor crafter in the game and now is his chance to get even. I really cannot imagine what is driving this. But I do know the trend is there, and it is pretty damn obvious.
I wish I knew why.