The one thing that I may enjoy more about this game than leveling toons is leveling professions. While I don’t often powerlevel my toons, I most definitely powerlevel my professions. When my characters reach a level that their professions can be trained to the next level I typically power the profession to the new maximum before I reach the next character level.
My many acquaintances on Twitter are familiar with my habits of deleting max level toons, and have decided that since there are a few others who do the same that there needed to be a name for it. Thus, Psynister Psyndrome was created to describe those who delete and reroll their high level toons. But that’s not the only thing I’m known for deleting at high level. I’m also well known for dropping maxed professions to pick up another, max it, drop it, max another, drop it, and so on.
So, mini-rambling aside, I’m no stranger to leveling professions. For the most part I farm all of my mats myself, though I’ll definitely dip into the AH to fill in any mats that I’ve missed (so long as the price isn’t ridiculous). The purpose of this post isn’t to guide you through leveling certain professions, but rather a general look them and the benefits of leveling them, as well as tips for how to make leveling them easier.
Why Level (With) Professions?
Leveling your professions is something you should do on every toon. If nothing else, you should have dual gathering professions simply for the additional experience and the additional income of selling what you find on the auction house.
Some of the benefits of leveling your professions along with your toon rather than waiting for higher levels include cost savings (from farming mats instead of buying them), increased speed or power while leveling, easy access to gear upgrades, and increased leveling speed in the case of Mining and Herbalism (and Archeology, though I’m not counting that here).
If you’re playing a caster for instance, Engineering provides excellent goggles for increasing Intellect and Spirit. Enchanting and Alchemy can provide a wide variety of buffs for every class. Inscription gives you buffs similar to Alchemy through scrolls, but also gives access to additional “hearthstone” via Scrolls of Recall as well as access to excellent off-hand items for casters. Jewelcrafting is excellent for filling out your ring, neck, and trinket slots at early levels where gear for those slots is often hard to find.
Leatherworking is the single-best resource for Agility gear for any leveling toon as well as a very strong source of caster leather. Tailoring provides great caster gear while leveling. Blacksmithing…well, blacksmithing sucks for the most part, but you do get access to keys that can be used to open locked chests or doors, shield spikes to make your tanks more deadly, and spurs that increase your mounted speed.
There are also three gathering professions that can help you out. Herbalism is the most beneficial as it provides an instant heal that also grants Haste when used, not to mention is the most abundant of the gathering professions which means you can get a significant amount of experience from farming herbs. Mining is next on this list as it provides a decent amount of survivability by increasing your stamina, and also grants gather experience. Skinning is for those of you who like to deal damage as it gives you a boost to your Crit, and while it does not grant gather experience it is incredibly easy to level it.
Resources for Leveling
When it comes to leveling your professions, the single-best resource I’ve found online is by far WoW-Professions. The site has a list of all of the mats you’ll need to level each profession from 1-525, a list of which items to make, when to make them, and how many to make.
I never follow any of the guides 100% because I’m a natural farmer and always end up with additional mats, so I don’t mind making items even when they go green when I’ve still got the mats to make 60 more of them. But, you can follow the guide almost to the letter and get exactly where you want to go with the profession.
The site also lists specific recipes that you’ll want to look for that can be found only from vendors or mob drops that can make leveling significantly easier or more cost effective if you can find them, and gives a link back to Wowhead so that you can easily find where to get the recipes.
Another good resource I’ve found is BankAlt.com. It hasn’t been updated for Cataclysm yet, and I’m waiting to hear back from the author, Darth Solo of WoW Alone, about whether or not he plans to update it. But, even if it’s not updated it’s an excellent resource for crafting everything up through the Wrath expansion. It doesn’t tell you what to make or how to make it, but instead it shows you everything you need to make a specific item, broken down into its rawest form.
So if you’re looking to make some specific items to help you while leveling, and you know it takes crafted mats but aren’t good at remembering or calculating the amount of base mats, then this site is golden. For instance, look at the Frostweave Bag. If you’re not a long-time bag maker, do you know right off the top of your head how much cloth and dust each of those bags takes?
If you go to the site and click on the Tailoring link at the top you’ll be able to type “Frostweave Bag” into the search window to have the item pop up. You can then see the item’s actual mats which are 2 Eternium Threads and 6 Bolts of Imbued Frostweave, just like you’ll see it in your professions window. But, you can click on the Expand button right next to the mats and it will break those mats down to their basic form, showing you what you actually need to get in order to make one: 2 Eternium Thread, 6 Bolts of Imbued Frostweave (12 Infinite Dust, 12 Bolts of Frostweave [60 Frostweave Cloth]).
General Profession Leveling Tips
There are a lot of small things you can find or do to help level your professions. You can find them in the form of in-game addons, online guides, and sites such as Wowhead that offer a searchable database.
In the case of gathering professions there are several different addons that you can get to help you locate nodes. The one I prefer is called Gatherer, though I have several friends and guildmates who prefer GatherMate.
As far as things you can actively do to help level your professions, the first is to be sure you’re throwing mats away. If you know you’re going to level a profession, don’t sell the mats that you find or farm for that profession. For example, if you’re about to roll a Druid with Herbalism and Alchemy, don’t get rid of herbs that you find on your other toons.
If you’re leveling a character with dual gathering professions and have any intention of leveling professions that use those mats on another toon(s), consider establishing a bank alt and sending all of those gathered mats to the bank alt to be stored in their guild bank.
When I’m ready to start leveling a crafting profession on one of my toons I like to send all of the mats over from my bank alt and then use the mailbox as storage. When sending the mail over I like to have each type of mat in their own “envelope” or grouped with other mats of the same level. Doing this allows me to easily withdraw the mats that I need while leaving the mats that I’m not ready for stored in the mailbox, and by doing so it’s completely organized and easy for me to find any item that I might need. Being rather anal when it comes to organization, I also send them in reverse order of when they’re needed so that the earliest mats used show up first in the mailbox, but I’m crazy like that.
Sometimes I like to level a toon with dual gathering professions with the intent of dropping one of them for a crafting profession that matches the one I’m going to keep once I reach a higher level. For example, I might level a toon with Herbalism and Mining, but drop the Herbalism once I’m nearing the end of Outlands (mid-high 60’s) and replace it with a crafting profession like Blacksmithing or Jewelcrafting. While the JC profession can give you rings, necks, and trinkets that are good for leveling, the real draw of the profession is the gems and gems serve no purpose prior to Outlands and Northrend, so I almost never level as a JC. Blacksmithing similarly provides very little benefit to a character while they’re leveling and most of the items that are significant enough to really look into making them don’t show up until Outlands or Northrend levels.
If you’re leveling Gathering professions, be sure to gather as much as you need in your current leveling zones to open up gathering in the zone you intend to move to. A good way to judge those levels is by looking at the WoW-Professions site for your gathering profession to see what skill level it tells you to build up to before moving on to a new zone. If you’re still questing in an area when your gathering skills are high enough to move on, don’t stop gathering but because you’ve reached the necessary level, just don’t stick around farming needlessly either.
Specific Tips: Gathering Professions
For Mining the general rule of thumb is that every range of new mining nodes covers 40-60 skill levels. So if you just learned how to smelt a new type of ore then you know you have about 50’ish skill levels that you need to gain before you can start mining/smelting the next type of ore. Also remember that you can smelt your ore to help increase your skill if you find yourself leveling out of the zones you’re trying to farm in and end up in zones where your skill isn’t high enough to mine.
Smelting turns grey before gathering. If you’re trying to speed your mining skill by smelting, remember to smelt early if you’re farming nodes of the same type. Also remember that you have a small chance of gaining a skill level if the smelting is “green”, but you still have a high chance of gaining a skill point from actually mining a node when it’s “green”. Because mining nodes are in fairly low supply, the chance of skilling up from the nodes is higher than other gathering nodes.
Also keep in mind that while Blacksmithing and Engineering rely primarily on ore being smelted into bars, Jewelcrafting most often uses the raw ore. Smelting requires 1-2 of the ore in question while Jewelcrafting always requires ore to be in stacks of 5 for Prospecting.
Herbalism is similar, but the sheer number of herb types means that you’ll find a smaller number of skill levels between different types of herb nodes, but you’ll find higher level herbs that are 60+ skill levels higher than other herbs in the very same zone. There are many more herb nodes than mining nodes, due in part to the fact that gathering those nodes is the only way to level Herbalism where Mining can be leveled by both gathering and smelting.
There are two crafting professions that specifically rely on herbs, Alchemy and Inscription. With Alchemy you’ll always use your herbs in lots of 1 or 2, so if you’re looking for a specific number to stop gathering at, try to get multiples of 10 of each herb. For Inscription you’re always going to use exactly 5 herbs of the same type for every use of milling. So if you’re about to leave a zone that offers a specific type of herb and the zones you’re moving to do not contain that herb, then farming until you reach a multiple of 5 or 10 is optimal.
For Skinning the best tool is mathematics. The thing to remember about Skinning is that the skill level required is based on the level of the beast. Beast Level x 5 = Required Skinning Level. That restriction doesn’t apply on beasts up to around level 10 or 15, because you don’t generally get the profession until you’re already level 5 or higher and mobs in the starting zones can’t be skinned anyway, so they give you a little room to catch up at the earliest stages. Skinning is similar to Herbalism in that there is no alternative way to level it, you have to actually gather. However, Skinning is also the only gathering profession that does not reward gather experience.
If you’re about to move into a new zone, take a look at the level of the beasts that appear there. If your skill level isn’t five times as high as the beasts then you’re not going to be able to use your profession. Beasts can be found in nearly every zone in the game, so as long as you’re skinning whenever you have the chance you should theoretically never fall behind. Just don’t be in too much of a rush to move forward unless you’re willing to go back to catch up.
While many of the crafting professions make use of leather here and there, Leatherworking is of course the primary one. The LW profession typically uses forms of “leather” in multiples of 2-4, and “hides” in multiples of 1-3. The great thing about LW is that you can combine multiple lower-level leathers to make the higher level leathers. So while your Skinning will typically far outlevel your LW while you level your character, you can always turn the excess leather from lower levels into the higher level versions if you have enough of it.
If you’re not especially good when it comes to math, here’s a quick reference for you to judge how close you are for the zone. If the mobs are between these levels then you know you need somewhere between the two skill levels. Similarly, if you know that your skill level is almost 200 but you’re still in a level 20 zone, then you know that your skill is high enough to cover the entire zone since you can skin mobs that are level 40. And the reverse is true as well, if you find yourself in a level 40 zone but your skill is only 150 then you probably aren’t going to be able to skin a single mob in the entire zone.
||Req. Skinning Skill
[Update: Cataclysm mobs level 80 require 425 minimum to skin, level 81 mobs require 440.]
General Tips: Crafting Professions
When it comes to crafting professions you need to keep two things in mind. First, can you do anything at all with the items you’re crafting besides vendor them. Second, are you wasting mats by making items that aren’t “orange” or are you saving mats?
[UPDATE: And as Khraden pointed out in the comments, save yourself some bagspace and buy a Gnomish Army Knife (or 10), or have them crafted by an Engineer that you know. They count as every form of "tool" that's used in crafting with your professions, saving all the space that those items would normally take up in your bags. If you're not a Blacksmith, Engineer, Jewelcrafter, Miner, or Skinner, then you can skip it.]
Alchemy is a good example of that first question; can you do anything at all with the items besides vendor them? There are a lot of things you’ll make with Alchemy that are great for leveling the skill but that aren’t really all that useful or valuable. You’ll find yourself making all sorts of potions and elixers, and while some of them are really good, others just kind of…well, suck. If you can make items that are useful to at least one of your toons, then it’s not a waste. If you know that certain players would make a lot of use out of your potions, such as twinks or people who like utility potions like Water Walking for fishing and such, then making those types of items can net you a lot of gold on the Auction House. But every now and then you’re going to find yourself making random crap that nobody’s going to want and your only option is to either vendor it or use it yourself.
Blacksmithing is the spaghetti and meatballs of crafting professions. Most of the items you can make are just filler, they’re the noodles and if that’s all you got then it would really suck. Then you have some items that are pretty cool and can help you while you level, such as gear for your class and items such as spurs or shield spikes; these are your sauce that make the meal worth eating. And then you have the fantastic items, the meatballs, that are the whole reason you chose the profession in the first place. These are items such as epic gear, the ability to socket your own gear, or items that sell really well on the auction house because they’re useful for other professions (i.e. Enchanting).
Blacksmithing takes a ton of mats to level up, and in my opinion it’s the second most underwhelming profession in the game. However, there are some really great items you can make with it, and it’s an excellent source of gold if you craft the right items and list them on the auction house. It’s one of the best sources of gear to be disenchanted, and an excellent source of gear for Plate wearers and Melee DPS classes with some good caster weapons thrown in here and there as well. It’s also the only source for Rods which Enchanters require to level and make use of their profession.
A lot of items you make with BS, particularly pre-Burning Crusade, are going to suck to the point that vendoring them or having them disenchanted is about the only thing they’re good for. Once you’ve reached BC level crafting, and especially Wrath and Cataclysm level crafting, there are two primary markets to keep in mind when crafting gear that you’re not going to use yourself. First, Weapons disenchant into more valuable items than Armor. Second, gear for Tanks sells better on the AH (generally) than gear for any other class or role.
Enchanting is a profession that many people hate to level, and it’s my favorite profession. The easiest way to level Enchanting is to pair it up with a crafting profession so that you can easily disenchant the gear that you make to get the mats for Enchanting. Another great way to get mats is to make frequent use of the LFG feature and disenchant everything that drops in dungeons that isn’t of immediate use to you. When you’re questing and it’s time to choose your rewards, take a close look at the items rewarded. If none of the items are a great upgrade to you then choose weapons over armor and disenchant them.
A tip for farming Enchanting mats once you’ve reached a high enough level that you can solo lower level dungeons is to have one of your friends log into one of their alts and form a party with you, and then log out and go back to playing on whatever toon they feel like playing on. By being in a group, any items that drop which can be disenchanted will pop up the loot menu that will allow you to auto-disenchant anything you don’t want to keep and roll greed/need on anything you do want.
If you have a crafting profession on another character and none of the items you make sell on the AH after a round or two, send them to your enchanter to be disenchanted instead. Unless you need the gold for vendoring the item, it’s better to get enchanting mats that are more widely demanded than to sell an item that’s useful to only a few people.
The other tip I want to mention about Enchanting is that if you aren’t enchanting your own gear or those of your friends, don’t waste enchants on crap you’re going to just get rid of. Put them on Enchanting Vellums which you can now purchase from every Enchanting Vendor in the game. Try to sell the enchanted scrolls on the AH and if they don’t sell you can either ship them to a bank alt to then be distributed to other toons you level to help them along, or to be saved for other gear at a later date.
An excellent example of a profession that benefits greatly from making green-level items is Engineering. The most cost-effect method of leveling Engineering through pre-BC content is to rely heavily on explosives. Explosives come from Blasting Powders, which come from the “stone” that you get while mining. Stone is very easy to come by and often very cheap on the Auction House because of it. Making blasting powers is the typically cheapest way to level by making them until they go grey. Once they’re grey you make the cheapest (mats-wise) explosive you can that uses the blasting powder along with some cloth until it too goes either green or grey. You’re not going to be able to level 1-525 on powders and explosives alone, or even 1-300 for that matter, but you can cover a lot of skill levels by doing this.
Inscription is an excellent, though…interesting, profession. You can either make a ton of gold with it, or you can make almost nothing with it, depending on how and when you use it. Inscription got a big change in the 4.0 patch that tripled the mats required to make all of our glyphs. As part of that, we also had the vast majority of our items grant multiple skill-ups if you craft them while the recipe is “orange”. Other professions got this as well, but it’s more apparent in Inscription than any other that I’ve seen.
The big thing to remember about leveling Inscription, because of this, is that the ones that offer multiple skills when orange generally only do so until the next multiple of 5, so it’s best to craft them when your skill level is at a 4. For example, if you are at skill level 150 have an item that gives you 3 or 5 skill points when you make it, you get the most out of your mats if you can get your skill up to 154 before you make the item that gives you the 3-5 points, because in almost every case as soon as your skill reaches 155 the item that gives you 3-5 points before then will then turn “yellow” and only grant you 0-1 skill points when you make it instead. By crafting it at 154 you’re able to jump to 152 or 154 which will likely give you yet another recipe that grants 3-5 points when you make it; effectively giving you a chance to leap frog your way through the leveling profess to the point that tripling our material cost becomes a benefit rather than a big nerf.
The next thing to remember about Inscription is that there are five sources of getting new glyphs. The first is to simple level up your skill as new patterns will open up the further you go. The second is your Minor Inscription Research when you can do once per day (resets at midnight server time). Next you have the Northrend Inscription research which can also be done once per day and resets at midnight-server. Then, there are the Books of Glyph Mastery which drop in Northrend. All of these glyph sources are independent of one another, meaning that none of the recipes discovered from one of them is available from any of the others. If you want to be able to make all of the glyphs then you have to make use of every source. Finally, there are a few recipes that you can learn by purchasing the recipe from an Inscription Supplies Vendor. If memory servers, there are only two of these now.
Jewelcrafting is one of the “most important” professions in the game as end game raiders require the best gems the can find. The kind of Gems I’m referring to don’t really exist until you reach BC content, and they’re not really essential until you reach end game, though they are definitely useful from the time they become available. Most of what you make from pre-BC patterns will be pretty useless save for a few upgrades to your rings and neck slots, and an occasional trinket. Some of the items will sell well on the AH, and others are better disenchanted.
When leveling JC, especially in pre-BC, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether you’re better of prospecting your ore for gems or selling your ore on the AH and instead buying the raw gems for cheaper prices to level instead. Once you get to Northrend especially, you’ll often find that the best source of income for JC is a combination of cutting gems and making jewelry to be disenchanted. Some Wrath gems are still being used today, but that’s quickly dying down as Cataclysm gems drop in price and increase in supply from people leveling their alts or spending time gathering in their spare time between queues and raids.
Leatherworking is the one profession I have never gotten to max level, or even to Burning Crusade level content. I have no idea what the secret is to leveling LW, because I just can’t bring myself to do it. Every toon I’ve tried to level it on has been deleted. What I do know about LW is that it’s a great source of leveling gear for classes that like Agility. It’s also decent for leather-wearing caster classes and Druid tanks, though to a somewhat lesser degree.
The only tip I have for leveling LW is one that I already mentioned in the previous section when I mentioned Skinning, which is to remember that you can turn your lower level leathers into higher level ones. The more skinning you do, the better off you’re going to be, and unlike other gather-craft combinations your low level mats still have at least some value to you even after you’ve increased to higher skill levels. The major obstacle I ran into while leveling LW on my own toons was Hides. Hides cannot be made from lower versions, they can only be skinned off of mobs of the appropriate level.
Another thing to mention in relation to that tip though is that while low level leathers can become higher level leathers, it’s usually faster and easier to just go farm the leather you need off of the appropriate level mobs. If you’re leveling the two professions together while you’re leveling your toon, pay attention to the types of leathers that your “orange” recipes use. If you see that there’s a new type of leather being called for that you’ve never seen before, then you may need to farm in a different location to find the right level of mobs. I often run into the problem where I’m making things with Medium Leather for instance, and I find new patterns calling out for Heavy Leather, yet the mobs I’ve killing at the moment are dropping Thick Leather which is actually above Heavy. Somewhere in my general questing paths I end up skipping the mobs that drop most of the Heavy Leather and I get bottlenecked there because of it.
So if you ever find your Skinning skill jumping ahead of your LW skill as far as what mats you’re receiving, do yourself a favor and go back to farm the lower level mobs that drop what you need. Because while you have that nifty feature of turning lower leathers into higher, there’s nothing you can do to turn higher level leathers into lowers.
Tailoring is the a lot like Blacksmithing except that our spaghetti is now more like lasagna. You start off with some fairly crappy items, then you get some good items, then some great items, then another layer of bland filler, then some more decent stuff, then some more great, then it sucks again and so on. You can get a lot of great cloth gear for your casters, and you can get a lot of random junk that isn’t really good for anything or the mats are insane compared to the little return you get on the item and how quickly you’ll outgrow it in today’s leveling environment.
Leveling Tailoring is all about resources. If you have a character that can easily farm all the cloth you need to level it, then you’re golden. If you don’t, then it’s probably going to suck. Also, once you move into Northrend you’re going to need access to Enchanting mats to level your skill, specifically Infinite Dust. Luckily, with Cataclysm recipes available you now only need a single stack of Infinite Dust on your way to 525 Tailoring. Unfortunately, the fastest and most mats-effective way to level your Tailoring to 525 also requires a bit over 90 stacks of Embersilk Cloth, so I hope you like farming or have the gold to throw away to get it.
While you’re leveling Tailoring, don’t bother making the items that require a ton of obscure mats, especially from pre-BC and BC patterns. Even if they’re upgrades, they most likely won’t be for long and are not worth the cost in mats. Keep it simple. Once you’ve out leveled a certain type of cloth you’re pretty much done with it. The best way to farm your cloth is through dungeon runs, though the I’ll get into that more when I write the specific to Tailoring. And remember, humanoid mobs are where you find the cloth.
Specific Tips: Crafting Professions
Crafting professions are far too broad for me to throw specific details about them into this particular post. Instead I’ll take a look at each one individually in posts to come and talk about specific tips for leveling them, farming mats, and where to find recipes that you’ll be particularly interested in picking up to make the process smoother.
Shall I Continue?
If you’d like me to go on and talk about each of the professions in a more detail, please let me know in the comments as having direction from my readers can really help a lot in deciding what topics to blog about and in what order.
Also, if you have any tips you would like to share about leveling your professions, or resources that you like to refer to when doing it yourself, please share those with us as well.
Shame: I Have None
To finish it off here I’m going to drop a plug here in a fashion lacking in shame. One of the projects I’ve started up this year includes a podcast called The OverLores.
We’re taking five Worgen through their entire storyline, delving into the lore of the race and the events surrounding their reintroduction to the world now that the Greymane wall has been breached and the forces of Undercity seek to wipe them from the face of Azeroth.
As everyone rushes to reach the level cap once again, start up new Recruit A Friend accounts to powerlevel new races and classes to add to their collection of raiders and end game farmers, we’re dedicating this podcast and this project to finding all the lore that people miss while doing so.
Deathwing has emerged.
The great dragon has sundered the world of Azeroth.
Our land has been shaken, burned, and torn open in ways unthinkable.
Five Worgen have left their home of Gilneas to venture out into the world, to learn, to explore, to gain a kingly knowledge of all that has transpired.
Will you join us?