Tuesday, September 29, 2009
What did I do with the little windfall when my flying mount training was cheaper than expected? I decided to get to work on converting my Tauren into an alchemist. He just hit level 65, which allows him access to the Wrath tier of crafting professions and various self-only perks.
Perks of the Alchemist
The bad news is that I don't get to equip the [Mighty Alchemist's Stone] until level 75. In the mean time, though, I get to amuse myself with two bottomless consumables - the [Endless Healing Potion] and the [Flask of the North].
For perspective, I have about 7K HP at level 65, and the potion restores about 2K HP an unlimited number of times on a mere one minute cooldown (must get out of combat to start it ticking). I.e. I'm now regenerating 20+% of my health every minute, and might as well stop carrying food. The flask is better than Outland-quality elixirs even with my Mixology bonus, and it too is infinite and persists through death.
In principle, some of this benefit is purely monetary. With enough gold, I could buy transmutes and elixirs and health potions (seriously, I click that button every single time my HP goes down by enough that I won't be wasting most of the heal, so you'd be talking about buying a LOT of super healing potions). Then again, I would never spend that much gold, even if I had it, on leveling content where it isn't technically necessary. Instead, I'd just try to push through without, die more often, and generally have a less fun experience.
Meanwhile, this project didn't actually cost me that much - probably around 600-800G total, as I was able to turn around and dump a lot of the stuff I made (e.g. Northrend-quality elixirs) on the AH to recoup some of my expenses. In return, this character effectively won't have any more consumables costs until at least next expansion, and I'm strongly considering leveling at least one of my planned Cataclysm alts as an alchemist.
"Optional" self-only perks
EQ2 offers unique non-combat tradeskill content to get players into the trade game. LOTRO doesn't really offer much, but that also makes tradeskills eminently skippable if you just want to harvest and sell. By contrast, WoW's trade game is pretty boring - buy stuff off the AH, or spend an equivalent amount of time running around to harvest it, click button, watch crafting bar. Despite this, WoW crafting is probably far more heavily used than the systems in other games because you can get things like unlimited healing potions if you craft.
Perhaps there are some good sides to all of this. As Gevlon writes, having informed players participating in the economy is what establishes the market. I was willing to spend money to buy the Northrend herbs I needed to level so that I can benefit from this profession starting at level 65, instead of level 80. I got that money selling herbs that I actually can harvest to some combination of businessmen and other players who similarily value their time more highly than their virtual currency.
Then again, it's also no coincidence that we get gold sellers using corpse spam advertisements in major cities in a game that features mechanics like this one - do something that doesn't interest you (playing the market), as a pre-requisite for doing something that does interest you (having top quality bonuses for raiding/PVP/"coolness"). You have to wonder whether the price Blizzard has had to pay to get players doing this particular part of the game is worth the amount of extra subscriber time they manage to occupy by convincing players to play a crafting game they would otherwise ignore.
One of these days, I'll get to equip this beauty