Professionally Speaking

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

Of all the time sinks in World of Warcraft, there remains one that is not only a way to spend lots of time, but also lots of currency as well. People will debate until the end of WoW which is the best, which is the worst, which is the most boring, which is the most fun… which I will give my thoughts as well. I speak of our friends, professions.

There are a good variety of professions, as well as opinions about them. My main character is currently maxed in all of his professions except for archaeology, having: skinning, leatherworking, cooking, fishing, and first aid. Altogether, I have personally found these skills to not be too bad to skill up with, having decent rewards. Going from a pure min/max perspective, they’re not the best ones, but it comes to the laziness factor in certain things.

Here are my thoughts on professions in these categories: best, worst, most boring, and most fun. For this purpose, I’ll be defining “best” as looking at it from min/max standpoint, “worst” being the least beneficial, with “most boring” and “most fun” being self-explanatory.

Best profession: my thought for this is jewelcrafting. There are a great amount of benefits from this, mainly being the jewelcrafting-specific gems that have the bigger bonuses, as well as the bind-on-pickup trinkets that can be used to supplement them. These, along with the incredible resale value of the products made, make a very attractive profession to get. I find that it’s rough to get the skill up to around 300, but after that it gets much easier (or so I’m told, my highest JC is only around 150).

Worst profession: to me, this one is first aid. In the grand scheme of things, a bandage will do very little to help out in a battle. On my characters that have no way to heal themselves except through food and bandages, I still have found myself to rarely ever use bandages. If I’m in combat, I’m being damaged enough that the channeling will be interrupted easily, and if I’m out of combat I have food to heal me more efficiently. I’m maxed in first aid, but this is mainly for the achievements and nothing else.

Most boring: this is a no-brainer, of course it’s fishing. Though there is a great amount of benefits from cooking the fish you get, it doesn’t stop the skill from being tremendously boring. If it wasn’t for the daily quests, I doubt that I would have it maxed yet. The introduction of getting a skillup when completing the Orgrimmar (or Stormwind) dailies made this profession bearable. I’ve tried to watch movies, TV, read books, many other things while fishing to break up the monotony, but I’ve yet to find something that works.

A close second to fishing, however, is mining. It’s almost a requirement for certain other ones, and if you choose double gathering for your professions you’ll be able to make good amounts of cash. Yet, if you choose it along with one of the other professions that needs the smelted bars (blacksmithing, engineering, jewelcrafting) you have to go out and mine the ore, then wait for your character to smelt it. When you’re smelting hundreds of bars, you might as well go make a sandwich.

Most fun: it seems that many people have this same thought, which is engineering. In all honesty, how can a profession that allows you to create explosive sheep not be fun? One downside to this one is the amount of materials that are required to make certain items can sometimes get quite exorbitant. The rewards, however, are worth it – I remember back in Vanilla, many paladins would pick up engineering for the trinkets so they had something ranged. There are mounts like the flying machines and mechano-hog, the various types of engineers’ goggles, and now the cogwheel sockets for engineer-only stuff… among many other really neat things that can be made. It’s one of the professions that I have never maxed, but is high on my list of wanting to do.

The runner-up for this would be alchemy, out of sheer usefulness. Being able to make your own potions and elixirs is a huge benefit for any sort of use, whether it’s in PvE or PvP. There are the alchemists’ stones which are a great addition for any up-and-coming player, and the fun things like pygmy oil which will shrink you and eventually turn you into a sand gnome. Then there’s the pinnacle of them all, the Vial of the Sands – who doesn’t want to turn into a dragon?

Blizzard has done a great job of giving us a choice for things to waste time in. They created WoW in the first place, why not create something inside it to make it even more of a time waster?

Gaming Socially

One of the most awkward things for me is talking about some of my hobbies with real life friends, coworkers, and associates. The conversation inevitably comes up at work, parties, or whatever you’re doing: “So, what do you do for fun?” There’s a little bit of a pause, then I would say something along the lines of, “Well, I mostly play online computer games.”

Depending on the company, there is a good chance for an awkward pause. Yet, there is always the chance that the conversation will continue and you’ll find out that some people, who you may have never thought would, also play online games – or even better, play World of Warcraft. Crisis averted!

I know my first question in this case is always the same: “Horde or Alliance?” That in itself is usually a good icebreaker, since that conversation can go on for a long time debating the merits and downfalls of both sides. The best thing about it is that you found common ground with someone else who enjoys things similar to you. Who says that geeks can’t socialize?

A great benefit of knowing fellow WoW players in real life is that you usually have something to talk about. After the usual talk of the weather and how the local sports team is doing, you can get to the meat of it all. The forums can get quite heated in their discussion, and that’s through faceless walls of text. If you have someone in front of you, that’s where great things happen.

The game also has a great way of introducing people. Back in Burning Crusade, we had a random applicant who was looking for a Band of Thorns guild on another server and found us, and applied. We let the person know that we weren’t that guild, but they sounded like a great fit for us. Sure enough, they applied and were a great addition to the guild. One day, we ended up talking through a Karazhan run, and through a lot of conversation we found out that I knew her from junior high school. Not only that, but she was one of my best friends through those years, and we hadn’t spoken to each other in about eight years. Through random chance, I rekindled a great friendship with this person, her fiancée, and some of her other friends.

Lastly, another fun example is a story that I overheard on Twitter. Fyreuni, one of the people behind the Daily Quests webcomic, was at a restaurant with friends and talking about WoW. The waiter heard this, and at the end of the meal he gave her the leftovers in a container with “For the Alliance!” written on it. She paid the bill, drawing a Horde symbol on it and writing “For the Horde!”

WoW has a great way of crossing all age groups, social groups, stereotypes, races, genders, and so on. There is usually never a lack of topic when you can talk about the game and solve all of its problems. There’s lots of fun to be had discussing the game online, but I think it can be even more fun when you have friends in real life who can do it with you.

Twilight Highlands Roundup

By the time someone reaches Twilight Highlands, they’ve gone through quite a bit of stuff. At the minimum, that person would have completed or at least done part of the zones of Hyjal or Vashj’ir, Deepholm, and possibly Uldum. At this point there is a lot of expectations to live up to, since we’ve seen the new questing and zone design philosophies that Blizzard has implemented in full force. When you’re in Twilight Highlands, you expect to have the best of the best – and Blizzard delivers.

(As always, this is from a Horde point of view, and will contain spoilers)

The lead-up quests to going into Twilight Highlands were really the only part that I didn’t like. Going to the gate in Azshara to inspect the gear that will go with you into the attack and then collecting the gear in Bilgewater Harbour was a little bit boring. I understand that the intent was to show that it’s a big effort and that you have an effect on the big attack. It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Once you step on the zeppelin and head out towards the zone is when it gets fun.

You are on a zeppelin with a fleet of others, along with small fighters to provide escort towards the landing site by Dragonmaw Port. Along the way the fleet gets attacked by Twilight dragons, and Garrosh (strangely enough by himself on his own zeppelin) and his zeppelin go down, and you follow shortly after. The only “friendly” people in the zone for you are the Dragonmaw, which are under the rule of someone who isn’t too fond of giving up his power over the clan. He styles himself Warchief of the Dragonmaw, so being the patriotic Horde member you are, you decide to help lead a revolt that brings the death of the impostor and the promotion of Zaela – the new leader of the Dragonmaw. She is quite a bit more reasonable and is more than willing to help the Horde combat the Twilight’s Hammer in the Highlands.

Throughout the zone, it’s a constant battle: Horde vs Alliance, Horde & red dragons vs Twilight people, Deathwing vs Alexstrasza, lots of fun stuff. Very quickly about each part:

  • Horde vs Alliance: I like the tensions in the zone. Everyone knows that the major enemy is Deathwing and Twilight’s Hammer, but the temptation to strike a major blow at the Alliance is just too much to pass up. The zeppelin gunship battle against the Alliance base was great, along with attacking the Dwarf camp. The dailies are a little annoying, but that’s to be expected with daily quests.
  • Horde & red dragons vs Twilight people: the major plotline of the entire zone. Starting with the Dragonmaw joining the Horde and ending with an assault on the Twilight base camp along the side of Garona Halforcen, it’s a lot of very fun quests. The Isorath questline where you battle inside the stomach of a big “thing” is really neat, especially seeing Deathwing attack people at the Maelstrom and not knowing it isn’t real until the end.
  • Deathwing vs Alextrasza: best cinematic of all quests that I’ve seen so far. Seeing the two of them battle, then following them to attack the smaller drakes was a great sense of accomplishment. I took a great many screenshots, a version of the one above is my current desktop background right now. I really can’t wait to see what the Deathwing raid encounter will look like.

All in all, the zone was incredibly well done. A very fitting end to the questing chain through the Cataclysm zones, and really making me want more storyline through the raids that will eventually be added through future patches. Now, all that stands between me and Loremaster of Cataclysm is Hyjal.

Deepholm roundup

One of the biggest thoughts that I have after going through Deepholm is pretty simple, actually.  Therazane is quite ugly – now I know where Princess Theradras gets it from.  That being said, the zone was awesome.  From the very epic flight in at the beginning to the end where you get to ally with Therazane herself, it just keeps getting better.

As I said, the entrance was something which I had hoped would happen: you talk to Thrall on the edge of the Maelstrom, and he sends you down into the very centre of the vortex to enter into Deepholm, the elemental plane of Earth where Deathwing was licking his wounds.  I was hoping that we could just jump in, but a flight in is a close second.

The story of the zone is fairly simple.  When Deathwing broke out, he shattered the “world pillar”, which separates the elemental plane from Azeroth.  Doing so lets us go in, but also the other stuff like: the Alliance (boo!), fungal spores, Twilight’s Hammer guys – you know, the usual suspects.  We get to fix what was broken.

It’s broken up (see what I did there?) into three parts to get the fragments of the world pillar to make it whole again.  Each part deals with a different group of denizens of the realm, such as the Earthen or elementals, and by the end they either like you or are willing to put up with you long enough to finish up what is needed.

All in all, it was (once again) excellent.  There were some good story driven parts, great characters, and the quests were fun.  The dailies opened up for Therazane at the end aren’t even that bad – not even close to the Sons of Hodir ones.  What makes the rep grind less of a grind is that you can also get a tabard to wear in dungeons, making the time to get the required shoulder enchants not take nearly as long.

I’m now about 40% through level 84, and working on Uldum right now.  Hopefully I can get to 85 soon and join my guild in doing heroics and other fun stuff… like Archaeology!