In the wake of the avalanche of item and crafting tweaks ushered in by patch 2.1, Insider Trader takes a look at the much-maligned Primal Nether. How do you get one? Do you even need one? Should you roll for one?
And keep reading for an Insider Trader tip on a special tactic engineers -- yes, engineers! -- can use to get certain types of motes.
But first things first: Primal Nethers. These glowing globules of crafting goodness have about a 5-10% chance of dropping from final bosses in non-heroic Burning Crusade instances, and they're a guaranteed drop from final bosses of heroic instances. Post-2.1, you can also purchase them for the bargain price of 10 Badges of Justice from G'eras in Shattrath City.
Why all the griping?
So if Primal Nethers are easier to get now and used for more items than ever, why do they make so many players so grouchy? In a nutshell: Primal Nethers are Bind on Pickup, and getting a coveted crafted item made means finding a tradesperson who actually has one on hand. It makes no difference at all if you have one tucked away in your own bank, unless you can create the item in question; it's the craftsperson who needs the BoP primal in order to make the item, which is tradeable to you after creation. (Of course, some items that require Primal Nethers are themselves BoP for use by the craftsperson only.)
For most players, buying a crafted item that requires a Primal Nether to create means paying a hefty fee to the craftsperson. Common prices run about 75g for more common patterns to 200g or more for rare patterns, with an average of 100g or so on most servers. Or you can try arranging a heroic instance run that includes the tradesperson, with the understanding that all groupmates will pass on rolling for the nether to the tradesperson. (Good luck with that!)
All in all, some 89 items now require Primal Nethers as a reagent. Which of your groupmates can you expect to be vying for them? Alchemists and jewelcrafters are off the hook – neither profession uses Primal Nethers at all. Enchanters have only one use for Primal Nethers, a rare BoP boot enchant that drops in Karazhan. Engineers use Primal Nethers for BoP goggles and a brand new tradeable epic gun with tanking stats. The most frequent contenders for Primal Nethers are blacksmiths, leatherworkers and tailors, who all use Primal Nethers for both tradeable and BoP items.
Ok, a Primal Nether just dropped for your group -- what next? The general consensus is also the easiest solution: roll Need if you are crafter with one or more patterns that actually require Primal Nethers, or roll Greed (or pass) otherwise. (You can use the general uses given above to help sniff out the likeliest subjects for a "Need" roll.) If nobody rolls Need, many groups will random it off as a greed item; if you win, you can always hang onto it in case an item requiring Primal Nethers is added to your profession or in case you actually change professions.
Insider Trader tip: mote clouds for engies
What? Engineers actually have the inside track on something – something as desirable and necessary as motes?!? Don't get too excited – extracting motes is hardly a profitable or reliable pastime. But yes, it's actually possible for engineers to use the handy-dandy Zapthrottle Mote Extractor to extract motes of life, shadow or mana from "clouds" in several zones. The drawbacks: these pesky clouds are rare, and the drop rate from them isn't exactly generous.
Look for green clouds of life floating about in Zangarmarsh, sickly-looking clouds of shadow drifting around Shadowmoon Valley and invisible fields of mana in Netherstorm. The Arcane Vortex mana clouds of Netherstorm can only be seen while wearing Ultra-Spectropic Detection Goggles, when buffed with Detect Invisibility or by noticing that you're regaining mana from a nearby cloud. However, several players are reporting that goggle detection is borked post-2.1, so you won't be able to see the clouds with goggles equipped.
So how big of an advantage do engies really have with these tricksy motesy clouds? At present, not much to speak of. Finding a cloud is fairly difficult, and the drop rate doesn't seem to outweigh the disadvantages of carting around the extractor "just in case." Engineers have been asking for more ways to find mote clouds and to get more from the ones they do find. Until then, consider the clouds an occasional sideline benefit in a profession that's currently hard-pressed to find an edge.
Lisa Poisso is a freelance writer when she's not farming motes.