Nothing interrupts a peaceful night of crafting like a lunatic guildmate ranting about learning a coveted new pattern, only to find that it's already green in skill level – nothing, that is, except that sickening feeling in your stomach as you consider what you'll do when your favorite patterns go green. Skilling up a profession can be a rollercoaster ride, if you don't hit the right patterns at the right time. (Of course, all the professions have those infamous "dead zones," when skilling up seems to be based on either unfathomable luck or unfathomable finances – or maybe both. But we'll cover dead zones in another installment.)
Skilling up in a profession can happen when you create an item that's listed in green, yellow or orange in your tradeskill window. Items listed in grey will not give you any skill points for creating them; red listings anywhere means you don't have the required skill level. Just as it does with creatures you fight, pattern color indicates difficulty and skill-up potential. Green items raise your skill occasionally, yellows about half the time and oranges every single time. (The exception to orange skill-ups occurs in skinning, in which successfully skinning an orange creature does not guarantee a skill-up.) As a burgeoning crafter, your goal is to find patterns that are relatively easy to get the materials to make while providing a solid shot at skilling up. While orange patterns offer a guaranteed chance of gaining a skill point, the best bang for the buck is often a yellow pattern.
And that's where things start getting murky ...
The thing you need to know is this: there are yellows, and then there are yellows. For any given pattern, skill-ups become more or less common based on their proximity and position to the skill levels at which they change color. For example, for an item that goes from orange to yellow at 240 and from yellow to green at 255, skill-ups will be almost as good as orange from 240-245, begin falling off from 245-250 and be barely better than green from 250-255. Using this logic, you can see that while you might want to skill up on a high yellow item that uses inexpensive materials, you probably don't want to rely on a low yellow item if you can help it.
The point spread for the skill-up range of various patterns changes from pattern to pattern, too. One pattern might turn yellow at 100 and grey at 120, with a 20-point width, while another might turn yellow at 200 and grey at 205 – a stinkin' 5-point width. The balance point at which patterns turn green seems to be consistent, though, about midway between yellow and grey. Best guesstimates put the yellow-point and green-points in a full orange-to-grey range at about one-third of the full skill range.
You can find skill ranges listed on item lists at sites like Thottbot. See this listing for Linen Boots, which shows that the pattern is learnable at 65 and greys out at 125.
Our best advice? Do your homework before you start farming or bidding on a particular pattern, and make sure it will serve your needs for a particular skill range. It is possible to learn a pattern at the earliest opportunity, only to have it turn out to be green or even grey. Don't get caught with your color down!
Bonus to skill
You can make the most of skill-ups by taking advantage of all the little available crafting skill boosts. Some of these bonuses are, in fact, mandatory, since some skinned and fished creatures require greater than maximum skill in order to catch or skin them. You won't be able to handle them without the right gear!
Racial bonuses Some races receive a bonus to certain professions as a racial trait. This happens at the base skill level – so a Draenei jewelcrafter with a +5 racial bonus to jewelcrafting sees patterns change skill color (yellow to green, etc.) five points later than other players.
- Blood Elf +10 Enchanting
- Draenei +5 Jewelcrafting
- Gnome +15 Engineering
- Tauren +15 Herbalism
- Enchant Gloves - Fishing +2 Fishing
- Enchant Gloves - Herbalism +2 Herbalism
- Enchant Gloves - Mining +2 Mining
- Enchant Gloves - Skinning +5 Skinning
- Enchant Gloves - Advanced Mining +5 Mining
- Enchant Gloves - Advanced Herbalism +5 Herbalism
- Finkle's Skinner +10 Skinning
- Zulian Slicer +10 Skinning
- Goblin Mining Helmet +5 Mining
- Herbalist's Gloves +5 Herbalism
Insider Trader author Lisa Poisso is a magazine editor, when she's not figuring up how many sets of materials she should buy before her favorite pattern greens out.