Insider Trader has a special treat for blacksmiths this week: an inside look at the final stretch of blacksmithing (from 360 to 375) from the master himself, Willhelm of Argent Dawn, author of the official forums' mind-blowingly lengthy and detailed blacksmithing sticky. We asked Willhelm to comment on several pivotal points of the home stretch – and in his indomitable style, he gave us the full monty.
Read on for Willhelm's tips to take you from 360 to 375, plus exclusive insights to guide you through the final stretch with maximum effect.
Willhelm's Blacksmithing 360-375
First of all, let's recap Willhelm's most excellent adventures in skill-capping.
Like most other crafts, blacksmithing hits a wall near the home stretch – in this case, at 360, when the last relatively inexpensive skillups go grey. To advance to 365, advises Willhelm, you need to learn and make the rare set armors, which are either BoP drops or reputation rewards from the Aldor or Scryers.
At 365, you can turn to several of what he calls "nifty" world drop epics, if you are lucky enough to get the plans (and the Primal Nethers); however, you'll most likely still be primarily turning out items from the rare armor sets. What to choose? Figure on these plans turning yellow at 10 points above the skill required to learn them and green 20 points above the skill to learn them. The cheapest plans to skill up on, Willhelm notes, are the Felsteel Gloves, Khorium Belt, Enchanted Adamantite Belt (Scryers) and Flamebane Bracers (Aldor), in that order.
Here are the available choices of plans that fall within the yellow and orange target skill range (not all patterns from all sets are in this range, so some set pieces will not be listed here):
Earthpeace Breastplate  Mail, 652 AR, +16 mana/5 sec. Increases healing done by spells and effects by up to 92, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP drop by High Botanist Freywinn (Botanica))
Materials: 4 Hardened Adamantite Bars,6 Primal Life, 4 Primal Earth
Swiftsteel Gloves  Mail, 407 AR, +10 mana.5 sec., +50 AP, Red/Blue Sockets, +3 Agi Bonus, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare drop by Nexus Stalker (Mana Tombs))
Materials: 6 Felsteel Bars, 2 Large Prismatic Shards, 4 Elixir of Major Agility, 4 Primal Air
Flame Guard Set (Bonus: 3: +20 Parry Rating)(Sold in Aldor Rise, Shattrath City, Aldor Faction)
Flamebane Helm  Plate, 930 AR, +19 Stamina, +40 Fire Resistance, Blue/Yellow/Red Sockets Bonus: +4 Hit, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Aldor Exalted)
Materials: 12 Fel Iron Bars, 5 Primal Water, 3 Primal Fire
Flamebane Breastplate  Plate, 1164 AR, +19 Stamina, +40 Fire Resistance, Blue/Yellow/Red Sockets, Bonus: +4 Defense, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Aldor Revered)
Materials: 16 Fel Iron Bars, 6 Primal Water, 4 Primal Fire
Flamebane Gloves  Plate, 722 AR, +21 Stamina, +30 Fire Resistance, Blue & Yellow Sockets, Bonus: +3 Parry, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Aldor Honored)
Materials: 8 Fel Iron Bars, 4 Primal Water, 4 Primal Fire
Flamebane Bracers  Plate, 497 AR, +15 Stamina, +28 Fire Resistance, Blue Socket, Bonus: +2 Parry, L 69 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Aldor Friendly)
Materials: 6 Fel Iron Bars, 3 Primal Water, 2 Primal Fire
Enchanted Adamantite Armor Set (Bonus: 3: +20 Parry)(Sold in Scryer's Tier, Shattrath City, Scryer Faction)
Enchanted Adamantite Leggings  Plate, 1019 AR, +27 Stamina, +40 Arcane Resistance, Blue/Blue/Red Socket, Bonus: +4 Defense, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Scryer Exalted)
Materials: 4 Hardened Adamantite Bars, 24 Arcane Dust , 4 Large Prismatic Shard
Enchanted Adamantite Breastplate  Plate, 1154 AR, +27 Stamina, +40 Arcane Resistance, Blue/Blue/Yellow Sockets, Bonus: +4 Hit, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Scryer Revered)
Materials: 4 Hardened Adamantite Bars, 20 Arcane Dust , 4 Large Prismatic Shard
Enchanted Adamantite Boots  Plate, 787 AR, +21 Stamina, +30 Arcane Resistance, Blue/Red Sockets, Bonus: +3 Dodge, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Scryer Honored)
Materials: 3 Hardened Adamantite Bars, 12 Arcane Dust , 2 Large Prismatic Shard
Enchanted Adamantite Belt  Plate, 644 AR, +21 Stamina, +30 Arcane Resistance, Blue/Yellow Sockets Bonus: +3 Defense, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Requires Scryer Friendly)
Materials: 2 Hardened Adamantite Bars, 8 Arcane Dust , 2 Large Prismatic Shard
Khorium Ward Plate Armor Set (Bonus: 3: +55 Healing, requires 350 Blacksmithing)(Rare BoP World Drops)
Khorium Boots  Plate, 800 AR, +31 Sta, +21 Int, +26 damage/healing from spells, +8 mana/5 sec., L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Disembodied Protector (Netherstorm))
Materials: 4 Khorium Bars, 3 Primal Water, 3 Primal Mana
Khorium Pants  Plate, 1010 AR, +42 Sta, +28 Int, +33 damage/healing from spells, +11 mana/5 sec., L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Deathforge Guardians (Shadowmoon Valley))
Materials: 6 Khorium Bars, 4 Primal Water, 4 Primal Mana
Khorium Belt  Plate, 649 AR, +30 Sta, +21 Int, +25 damage/healing from spells, +8 mana/5 sec., L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Murkblood Raider (Nagrand))
Materials: 3 Khorium Bars, 2 Primal Water, 2 Primal Mana
Faith in Felsteel Plate Armor Set (Bonus: 3: +25 Strength, requires 350 Blacksmithing)(Rare BoP World Drops)
Felsteel Helm  1206 AR, +27 Sta, +33 Defense, Red/Blue/Blue Sockets, Bonus: +4 Hit, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Cabal Fanatic (Shadow Labyrinth))
Materials: 8 Felsteel Bars
Felsteel Leggings  1200 AR, +39 Sta, +33 Defense, Red/Yellow/Blue Sockets, Bonus: +4 Dodge, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Unchained Doombringer (Arcatraz))
Materials: 8 Felsteel Bars
Felsteel Gloves  892 AR, +27 Sta, +25 Defense, Red/Blue Sockets, Bonus: +3 Parry, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Achenai Monk (Auchenai Crypts))
Materials: 6 Felsteel Bars
Burning Rage Plate Armor Set (Bonus: 3:+20 Hit Rating) (Rare BoP World Drops)
Ragesteel Breastplate  Plate, 1160 AR, +50 Str, +29 Crit, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Astoungue Warriors (Shadowmoon Valley))
Materials: 12 Fel Iron Bars, 6 Khorium Bars, 10 Primal Fire, 4 Elixir of Major Strength
Ragesteel Helm  Plate, 946 AR, +45 Str, +37 Crit, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Anger Guard (Blade's Edge) )
Materials: 10 Fel Iron Bars, 4 Khorium Bars, 10 Primal Fire, 4 Elixir of Major Strength
Ragesteel Gloves  Plate, 728 AR, +35 Str, +27 Crit, L 70 (Rare, BoE)(Rare BoP Drop by Boulderfist Warrior (Nagrand))
Materials: 8 Fel Iron Bars, 3 Khorium Bars, 6 Primal Fire, 2 Elixir of Major Strength
Felsteel Shield Spike  Attaches a Felsteel Spike to your shield that deals 26-38 damage every time you block with it. (Unc., BoE)(Sold at Honor Hold & Thrallmar, requires Exalted)
Materials: 4 Felsteel Bars, 4 Primal Fire, 4 Primal Earth
And where to start? "For myself, I began with the Enchanted Adamantite armors to make myself the set (I had an enchanter alt to provide the enchanting mats)," recalls Willhelm, "and finished with the Khorium Belt (once I got the plan to drop.)"
Insider Trader: From 360 to 365 when you're skilling up on the rare armor sets, do you suggest making certain pieces for yourself?
Willhelm: You should always make anything for yourself first that gets a skill-up in the process. After you make everything you want for yourself that you can get a skill-up from, then proceed to make the most cost effective items to skill up. The best ones are items that sell for a profit. After that come the items that have the lowest net cost (cost of making minus proceeds from sales). For example, I made the Enchanted Adamantite Set for myself and then the Khorium Ward set. After that, I just made Khorium Belts to 375, since I had not gotten the Felsteel Gloves plan to drop. Today, I would finish off with Ragesteel Shoulders, because I am able to sell those for a nice profit.
Insider Trader: Are there any patterns here that make viable resales (even if only to the extent of being able to recoup some costs)?
Willhelm: The Felsteel, Khorium and Ragesteel sets all sell to some extent, although the Felsteel Gloves and Khorium Belt suffer in price because too many are dumped on the market for skill-ups. The other members of the sets can sell close to cost or even make a profit, depending on server. The new Ragesteel Shoulders are a hit item, selling for a good profit. I have sold close to a dozen of them so far at a 50 percent markup. In all cases, only put one of each item on the Auction House at a time and replace it when it sells.
Insider Trader: What blacksmith/other profession combos can you suggest (such as your tactic of using your own enchanter to supply materials for the Enchanted Adamantite armors)?
Willhelm: It helps to have an alchemist to make the Major Strength potions required for the Ragesteel set. Obviously you want a miner for the metals and some of the primals. An herbalist could gather the materials for the Major Strength potions.
Insider Trader: You don't sound as if you're very big on farming for plans. Did you farm for yours? What do you feel are the best candidates for farming and why (drop rate or profitability or cheap mats or ...)?
Willhelm: I did indeed farm for the complete Khorium Ward and Ragesteel set plans, for the Greater Rune of Shielding, and for the Scryers rep to get the complete Enchanted Adamantite set and most of the Wildsteel set from the Cenarion Expedition. My dungeon running time is limited, so I have not gained any of the Felsteel plans.
The easiest plans to get are the Khorium Ward plans, and the Khorium Belt is one of the cheapest to level with at 360. The cheapest at 360 is the Felsteel Gloves plan, but that is somewhat hard to get, as you have to farm the Auchenai Crypts instance. The third cheapest is the Enchanted Adamantite Belt, which is easy to get if you choose Scryers.
All of the rare dropped BoP plans have low drop rates, so each is a matter of farming until it drops. A serious blacksmith should farm them all, as they can be made without Primal Nethers.
Insider Trader: Anything else you'd like to share about this last, horrid little stretch of skill points?
Willhelm: When faced with farming for materials, do whatever makes you the most value per hour, and then use the Auction House to exchange that value for the materials you need. Time is money. Spend the time or spend the money. While you can go out and farm all of the metals and primals needed to make each item, you will likely find it much faster to farm what you can farm the best and sell that to make the money to buy the materials you need.
When buying materials, place minimum bids on any lots of the desired materials that have low minimum bids and buy out those with the lowest buyout price. Often you will get some of those you place min bids on. Do not be in too great a hurry to skill up, unless money is not a concern and you have plenty to just burn your way to 375.
Look at sites like Thottbot to see what the average prices are to make and then sell an item (or its disenchanted reagents), (in order) to predict which items have the lowest net cost to you. Then closely examine your Auction House and record what prices are being asked for each crafted item you can make. Compare that to the lowest prices you see for the required materials. If any item actually sells for a profit above the value of the materials, then make that item, even though it may call for more materials than other items. Otherwise, look for the items that have the lowest net cost.
If you can stand it, you can save some money by offering your services for free (other than tips) in trade chat, to make those items you know that would give you a skill-up using the customers' materials. Any takers for that offer can provide free skill-ups. You can also offer to sell the items made with your materials, waiting to actually make them until you have a buyer. That saves the Auction House fees.
Insider Trader's Lisa Poisso is a writer and editor, when she's not poking around for inspiring skill-up plans for various professions.