Selecting professions for your characters often comes down to a choice of utility; if you have several toons, you may want to make some gather and others be the crafters. If you only have the one character at 80, there is a greater desire to be self-sufficient. Professions are also one of those things that many people feel are a part of their character and help define them almost as much as their class.
If you're uncertain which professions your warlock should take up then this is the place for you, as Blood Pact takes a look at all 14 and considers which are of the most use to the 'lock on the go.
First off, did I just say 14 professions? Yes, not only are there the 11 primary professions, but don't forget the secondary ones as well. I'm a big fan of the secondary professions; being able to fish and cook your own food can be a real money-saver. If you're a raider, then it's always wise to have a stack of buff food in your bags, even if you typically can expect a Fish Feast before every boss. It may seem boring to spend time fishing, but even just the few minutes while you wait for an invitation can stock you up nicely. First aid is of limited utility to your max level 'lock, but there have been times it has proved invaluable. That said, it's a huge boost to the speed of grinding at lower levels as you can tap your mana up and then bandage the difference.
As for the primary professions, you need to decide what you want from your 'lock. If you are a raider or are simply out to maximize your damage potential, then we'll look at which ones help you do that. If your 'lock is an alt, then you may be more interested in supporting your main with gathering professions. You may also simply be drawn to certain professions from a roleplay point of view. The 'lock I raided with in The Burning Crusade had spent a large part of his time prior to the expansion tinkering with engineering in Ironforge. He dropped that for tailoring so he could make and wear gear that was superior to anything in Kharazhan. I never regretted the change but still look back fondly on the old engineering days.
For the most part, each profession has very similar gains for the raiding warlock. The best gain provided will offer a 46- or 47-point boost to spellpower. This will be our baseline as we run through each one.
As a raiding 'lock, I'm a big fan of alchemy. The spellpower gain comes from the Mixology boost to your Flask of the Frost Wyrm. This is the standard 47 points in itself. Given that flasks aren't something you always have active, you can also make yourself a Flask of the North so you have the extra spellpower at all times.
You also gain two other advantages. Crazy Alchemist's Potions act as a mana and a health pot, which can be very useful in a fight with a lot of raid damage or if there is a point in the fight where you want to recover a lot of mana quickly -- tap a few times and then pop one of these to top up both bars. Those crazy alchemists also get a random buff from these potions:
- a crit and spellpower boost similar to Wild Magic Potions
- a haste boost similar to Potion of Speed
- an armor boost similar to Indestructible Potion
- a resistance boost to a school of magic
- nothing at all
None of my 'locks have ever thought about becoming a blacksmith. Frankly, the thought of all that manual labor is pretty abhorrent; that's what minions are there for. That said, there's no reason not to these days. You won't be able to wear any of the BoP items you make, but there are very few of those any more. Also, a good living can be made by selling the crafting of items that raiders have access to.
As for the gain to your abilities, this comes from being able to hammer a couple of holes in your gloves and bracers. These extra gem sockets mean two more epic gems and thus 46 spellpower gained.
There are a huge number of warlocks out there who are enchanters, and with good reason. This is a fine profession for any caster that seems to just fit. Disenchanting is useful as always, and now that you can use vellum, you don't have to mix with other people to sell your wares. Your bonus spellpower comes from being able to enchant your rings, 23 spellpower apiece, 46 in total once more.
Engineers get a plethora of little gizmos and gadgets that make quality of life that little better -- portable mailboxes, Jeeves, an auction house in Dalaran, the list goes on. As for boosting your stats, you can tinker with your gloves and cloak, giving them an improved enchant. The standard enchants provide you with 28 spellpower (gloves) and 23 haste (cloak). The engineer's tinkering will give you 27 spellpower (cloak) and an on-use haste gain of 340 (gloves). Given that this lasts for 12 seconds and has a one-minute cooldown, that works out at a flat 64 haste bonus (with the ability to time it as required).
Looking at the overall flat numbers, that's an improvement of 41 haste and a loss of one spellpower. This is possibly not as good as the basic 46/47 spell power bonus of other professions, although haste is a very powerful stat these days. The cloak buff also includes a parachute, which can be pretty useful.
No doubt someone will defend Lifeblood as a raiding advantage somewhere in the comments, but only take this profession if you want to pick herbs. Great to support a herbalist or scribe, rubbish for raiding.
Glyphs are odd things in that they either sell really well or clog up your mailbox and bank slots. (How many guild banks are choking with generously donated glyphs that nobody wants?) Simply put, this profession lets you add a beefed-up shoulder enchant rather than the Sons of Hodir one. This gives you your 46 spellpower.
One of the best money-making professions around at the moment, but can be a bind to have it (or at least level it) without a miner. The ability to craft and use three Runed Dragon's Eye gems means you have 48 extra spellpower (each 16 spellpower better than the Runed Cardinal Ruby).
Another profession that doesn't lend itself to a bookish, cloth-wearing warlock -- but not because of the stat gain. Fur Lining is 46 spellpower better than the normal enchant, making this profession a solid choice.
While this is a great support profession and a good money-maker, it's right up there with herbalism for being useless to the raiding 'lock. Again, you can argue the benefits of more stamina if you like, but it's just not a good choice.
Rather gruesomely, skinners gain the benefit of Master of Anatomy, meaning you can make sure your hits hurt more. 40 crit rating is nice, but it's not as good as the others and frankly, I would leave being elbow-deep in entrails to your felguard.
Lightweave Embroidery is a very nice cloak enchant, and while I'm struggling to get accurate theorycrafting numbers for it, the impression is that it's sufficiently superior to the normal haste enchant as to be at least equivalent to the other standard profession gains. The downside, of course, is that being proc-based you have less control over it. Also keep in mind that this is a cloak enchant and so can't be used at the same time as the engineering one.
Don't bother with mining or herbalism unless you simply want the gathered items. Skinning is pretty poor as well and frankly doesn't feel warlock-like enough. All the others are fine for raiding. As I say, this is a decision that can at times help you identify more with your character, so choose wisely.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. If you're curious about what's new with 'locks since the last patch, check out WoW.com's guide to patch 3.3 or find out what's upcoming in Cataclysm from the BlizzCon 2009: Class Discussion Panel.