Professions in WoW, as of late, just aren’t doing that great. Gear crafting has always been of limited use, but up through Mists of Pandaria, new craftables came out with each raid tier that could keep 1-2 slots on a character up to the current, normal tier raid level of gear. From Warlords of Draenor onwards, the value of gear from crafting has started to taper – once sockets were no longer a sure thing, Jewelcrafting was of far less value. Random secondary stats on crafted gear made getting an ideal piece a challenge, although WoD at least had the reroll items to fix that. Legion further de-emphasized craftable gear, but also had crafted legendaries near the midpoint, and while they weren’t always great, they at least existed as an option.
Now, in BfA, we sit at a point where tradeskills have never been less valuable as gameplay. Sure, Alchemy, Cooking, and Enchanting are very worthwhile, and armorcrafting professions at least let you make low-level crafted pieces for alts that are very newly at the level cap, or current-tier raid gear for yourself on that one character, but the problems of random secondaries remain, alongside the need for reagents from heroic dungeons and early in the expansion, raiding.
Shadowlands has some promising changes to many of those things, but I’ve read a few posts that suggest some confusion or erroneously project the current state of affairs onto them, assuming that things will be similar or worse and that Blizzard is trying to control the gearing of your alts.
So, based on what we can see today, let’s discuss what actually is happening in Shadowlands in one place and work through the changes!
Secondary Stats: Randomness Remains, With A Loophole: All recipes for gear in Shadowlands have a default of random secondary stats, just as they do today. That isn’t great! However, each profession can craft Optional Reagents which can be used on gear crafts at the time of initial crafting. These items can set the secondary stats, and most recipes have two slots, which allow you to force two (different) secondary stats. These reagents are freely tradeable, and they are also useful all the way up to Runecarved legendaries. This is great because it solves the randomness problem in a way that allows crafters to make money by selling the solutions to the problem, giving skills that have lost that luster over the last decade or so the chance to make more money than they currently can. But optional reagents can do more…
Optional Reagents Add Flavor And Power, Too: Outside of the secondary stat optional reagents, you can add a myriad of modifiers to gear, provided it has the slot. Are you a Scribe trying to get a Darkmoon Deck? Well, instead of crafting hoping for cards in the same suit randomly, you can add a blank card of the suit you want in order to force the card to be that suit upon crafting. Scribes can also create item level enhancements, which, when applied to a valid recipe, increase the item level of the resulting armor from the base recipe. There are a lot of other effects too – flavor like engineers adding swim speed to armor, or leatherworkers giving you a loosened belt to increase Well Fed effect duration, to even a guaranteed socket in an item from Blacksmiths! All of these, from my browsing, are not account-bound or BoP items, meaning they should be tradeable and the market economy for the first few weeks of the expansion will definitely revolve around these.
More BoEs than BfA: So far, from the datamining out there, it seems like most of the recipes at launch are BoE. All of the armor I’ve seen is, and the legendary-base armor pieces are as well. While someone who hasn’t actually read the datamining or changes might jump to suggest that any of the armor save for the legendary base pieces are “worthless” and not to be equipped, early on, players will certainly look for a leg up where they can get it, and with the rare armor from professions being item level 165, it seems that based on what we can currently tell, this will be reasonable raid prep armor. No epic pieces appear to have been datamined, but I would suggest that raid-level pieces are likely – although those may end up remaining BoP, which would be a bad choice!
More Consumable Options, Across The Board: Blacksmiths get sharpening stones and weightstones back, allowing them to provide temporary buffs to melee weapons, and these are not bound items and can be sold. Alchemists have oils, similar to the weapon oils Enchanters got midway through Classic. Enchanters have more slots they can enchant on a character sheet, closer to what they used to be capable of, and then can enchant certain materials for other trades to use in crafting. Leatherworkers get armor kits which offer two-hour buffs and are fully tradeable. In other ways, consumables have been streamlined as well – for flasks, there are now only two varieties, a base-stat flask which buffs your spec’s base stat, and a stamina flask for tanks who want to increase their max health, a strategy which hasn’t been viable for a while. Pre-potting is no more, with potions on a flat 5 minute cooldown and with exceptions carved out for health potions which exist on their own timer, which means that the unintuitive pre-pot is gone and instead, in longer fights, you can use multiple potions with ease. All in all, more professions have access to money than today, with nearly every profession offering some sort of consumable that will be valuable to raiders and Mythic Keystone dungeoneers, and optional reagents alongside as another thing that can be sold.
The Runecarving Legendary System: One of the pillars of the expansion’s reward mechanics, Legendaries are an oft-maligned system from Legion that has some good reworks for Shadowlands. Until this last week, details were vague and often not easy to come by, short of some effects that were popping up in datamined builds.
So, since some people I’ve seen have been opining on the version of the system that exists only in their imaginations, it is worth exploring this in a lot more detail. Per Blizzard, to create a legendary, you need 4 things:
-A Legendary base item: crafted by a tradeskill, not bound so can be freely traded, this is likely to be the biggest seller for crafters at the initial endgame, and the biggest value-add for being able to craft on your own account since you can make these for your main and alts.
-Optional Reagents for Secondary Stats: The word “optional” here is misleading, as for a Legendary, they are required, but they allow you to define the secondary stats of your choice for the item.
And then we get to the two pieces that people are not as aware of – the Legendary power and Carcerus. Legendary powers, as explained last week, are BoA and unlocked through normal gameplay. While not yet implemented, the intention is that these will have an interface similar to Essences from 8.2, showing you all possible powers, and with them being an account-wide unlock, you will only have to unlock each power once to have access to it on all characters. What remains unclear is if this will work for powers across different classes and specs, or just generic powers (ie, if I unlock a Demon Hunter legendary power from doing world quests, do I unlock the same power that would have unlocked for each class from that activity on my alts, or do I then have to do that again for them to get their class specific versions?). This part has the potential to be irritating (some powers are already confirmed as being PvP-locked, which means that if you don’t PvP, some legendary options will remain inaccessible), but overall, is much better than having to unlock every power on every character. It can be targeted, with a potentially clear UI if the implementation matches the stated design intent, and it should be alt-friendly to a point, pending answers on how it would work for class and spec-specific options.
The second and easier part is Carcerus. This is rewarded for clearing sections of Torghast, and is the only thing you must farm on the character you want to use the legendary on. To be frank, I find freakouts about this to be largely unreasonable – if you want an alt at endgame to have a legendary, it is fair to assume they are doing some sort of content, no? Given that Torghast is accessible in solo runs up to 5-player parties and with scaling difficulty built on the (improved from 8.3 launch) Horrific Vision scaling for role, I don’t foresee this being an actual problem, but it also seems to be the one most people have missed. (The post I read that pushed me to write this spent most time complaining that the above items, all indicated by Blizzard as BoE, account-wide, or with no-binding, would likely be soulbound based on nothing, so…). Basically, it is, to my eyes, reasonable to expect that someone playing an alt at 60 in Shadowlands will be running Torghast on that alt as-is, so unless the Carcerus acquisition rate is incredibly anemic or the amount required is incredibly large, it doesn’t seem like a bad system in theory. Execution remains, and I fully expect Blizzard could botch all of these components, but the other parts of this system seem reasonable and fulfilling of a good economic setup, one where tradespeople can profit from a variety of different crafting and not just the base item component.
Cleaning Up the Smaller Notes: Journals and Archaeology: Tradeskill journals have been datamined that appear to offer once-weekly boosts of 5 skill points. You can only use one per week total, not one per skill, so they have limited value, but they’ll offer a boost for alts or a hump-buster in leveling to reach new recipes. It is still unclear as to how these are made or if they are crafted at all, but since they are non-bound, if they are craftable, that would provide another vector for possible profiteering.
Lastly, perhaps the biggest profession news outside of Runecarving from last week, Archaeology, while not dead, is not set to receive any updates for Shadowlands. I’m of two minds about this – the first being that honestly, Archaeology in the current game is a very meh profession and even at its best it was a grindy mess, so I’m fine with leaving it behind. However, the second is this: Blizzard’s justification for this is flimsy as hell because while it is true that the races of Azeroth also occupy the Shadowlands, there are also races that aren’t represented in our normal planetary makeup. I’d be curious to see the artifacts of the Night Fae, the Venthyr, and the Kyrians in particular, and while the gameplay of the Maw seems wholly unequipped to handle archaeologists poking around, it could be really interesting to unfurl the history of the Mawsworn, especially since it seems somewhat important to the other races. The claim that Shadowlands doesn’t contain new races to dig up artifacts from seems easily contradicted by just looking at the story of the expansion! Hopefully, the stories told in leveling make up for any lore we could have had from archaeology – since the lore delivered there is relatively minor, I think it will be fine, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like Blizzard has a coherently-thought out reason for excluding it and has done so solely because they wanted to.
With that all said, I’ve covered everything I could find on professions in Shadowlands!