Cataclysm is going to change the world of professions -- so without any further ado, here are the most important changes.
- The skill cap for all professions is now 525.
- There is a lot of content locked behind a phased area you can not unlock until you're level 84.
- The new elemental trade goods are called Volatiles.
- Herbing and mining now provide experience.
- Archeology will be trainable.
- Guilds can see links for all members' available professions.
- The new zones contain new ores: Obsidium is the new common ore, Elementium is the new uncommon ore, and Pyrite is the new rare ore.
- Toughness is upgraded, but it's still pretty terrible for non-tanks.
- The new zones will contain new types of herbs. In order of ascending skill required to gather, they are: Cinderbloom, Azshara's Veil, Heartblossom, Whiptail, and Twilight Jasmine. There are no more super-rare herbs like Frost Lotus; now, that part of the market is being filled by Volatile Life.
- Surprise! Lifeblood went from being a situational (at best) self heal to being a pretty awesome haste cooldown!
- 80 crit rating from the new rank of Master of Anatomy still sucks compared to the profession bonus of every single other trade skill.
- The new leather is called Savage Leather, and leatherworkers can make the heavy version.
- The scraps can be turned into Savage Leather by anyone, but there is a leatherworker recipe that awards skillups.
- The new rare leather, Pristine Hide, is much less rare than Arctic Fur.
- There are new scales: Deepsea and Blackened Dragonscale.
- The new enchanting toy for Alliance players is a Magic Lamp (or Enchanted Lantern for the Hordies).
- Enchanting armor still makes it kick more butt, but weapon enchants are almost all proc-based.
- Cataclysm greens require as little as 425 or as much as 475 enchanting skill to disenchant.
- The new mats are Celestial Essences, Hypnotic Dust, and the Maelstrom Crystal (from DEing epics) and Heavenly Shard (from DEing blues).
- Leatherworking or tailoring look like they will be able to produce the cheapest craftables for disenchanting, unless Blizzard changes the amount they let people vendor green gems for.
- Never short on non-combat pets, engineers get another: a tiny blue fel reaver called the Personal World Destroyer.
- Tinkers stack with enchants, and there are a ton of them.
-  The engineer only epic helms each have cogwheel sockets. This makes the engineering BoP craftable helms better itemized than T11 gear.
- Engineers with a gathering skill (and only those with a gathering skill) can proc free Volatile Air with the Electrostatic Condenser. The rest of us are screwed.
- There are now a variety of cool things we can choose to put on our guns made by engineers.
- You will need to make a High-Powered Bolt Gun to use as a tool for other parts of the profession. It's ranged, it's targeted, and it takes Obsidium Bolts, but I'll be damned if this isn't what makes me level an engineer.
- Oh wait, no, that was the Loot-A-Rang.
- We know that all Cataclysm gems will have a minimum gear level into which they'll be able to be socketed. Also, the cut greens from Cataclysm will have as much itemization as cut epics from Wrath of the Lich King.
- The new JC-exclusive gems are cut from Chimera's Eyes, which are bought with daily tokens from the capital city vendors or randomly dropped when you break a Fire Prism, which is the new Icy Prism.
- There is a ton of blue gear that can be crafted by JCers.
- Cut green gems vendor for 9g. Prospecting and vendoring alone will set a minimum vendor value on a stack of ore, depending on the prospecting average yield. For example: If a stack of ore on average gives us six green gems, these gems can be cut and vendored for 9g each, which means you will only ever find ore for less than 54g if a jewelcrafter hasn't logged in since it was posted.
- There is only one meta gem, and it's called the Shadowspirit Diamond. The only source for them is the alchemy transmute, and at an opportunity cost of 9g per green gem, these will cost 81g each, uncut (before the 20 percent alchemy transmute procs).
- Leveling blacksmithing is going to be expensive. The minimum price for an Obsidium Bar is going to be 5.4g (see above -- 54g per stack of ore, two ore per bar). Nobody's done any research on prospecting Elementium Ore yet, but assuming it's similar to this expansion and will yield the same quantity of greens with a bonus to blue gem yield, it'll have an even higher minimum price.
- Multi-point recipes are important for leveling this profession, unlike many others for which the cheapest path to 525 is with single skill-up recipes.
- Since the cost for ore is probably going to level off higher than the cost for an equivalent amount of leather, blacksmithing has basically lost its position as the trade skill that makes the cheapest gear for disenchanting.
- The new belt buckle is only craftable at level 84 with 525 skill, and the old belt buckle will not work on any gear above ilvl299.
- The majority of new content for smiths is crafting entry-level gear, most of which is locked behind the level 84 phased area of Twilight Highlands.
- Alchemy is going to be a feeder profession for many other crafting skills because of all the transmutes it can do. You can turn Volatile Life into a random other volatile (on a cooldown), you can transmute blue quality gems (currently no cooldown on this transmute, but we'll see what happens after the launch), and you can transmute Truegold on a one-day cooldown and Pyrium bars (cooldown probably 20 hours, not sure whether it's shared).
- You can max out alchemy without getting to the Twilight Highlands' phased vendors.
- Potions and flasks are like the old versions, except more awesome.
- There are, however, a bunch of things that are completely new, like the Potion of Treasure Finding, Potion of Deepholm, and the Big Cauldron of Battle.
- Of course, the one thing everyone already knows about is the mount.
- I've covered this before.
- Remember to do your weekly cooldowns.
- Cloth may or may not fall down in price low enough to be worth using to make gear for disenchanting.
- There's no equivalent to Northrend Cloth Scavenging, and no testing that I know of that demonstrated this the Northrend version works in the Cataclysm zones.
- Apparently, leveling this takes a lot of Volatile Fires.
- Like blacksmithing and tailoring, you will need to get to level 84 to access the final vendors for leatherworking in Twilight Highlands.
- You can make a lot of gear for rogues, shaman, druids, and hunters.
- The new leg armor for agility-based raiders is the Charscale Leg Armor.
- Leatherworkers can turn between seven regular leather and some vendor parts into a low-level green that can be disenchanted. Right now, this is the cheapest way to get enchanting mats, unless the drop rate of cloth is much higher than it was in beta, or unless the vendor value of a stack of ore gets nerfed.
- I've written about this as well.
- When the expansion launches, you'll want to check out this list for the trainable recipes under 450.
- All the new glyphs are now available through various means (as of patch 4.0.3a), so check your book for missing recipes.
- The only thing standing between you and 525 skill for inscription is an absolutely enormous pile of herbs.
- There's all kinds of new goodies from cooking, including a fishing lure, some RP nonsense, and a Fortune Cookie that presumably gives you 90 of your highest stat when you eat it.
- There's a new fish feast.
- Nobody should ever level fishing because of how tedious and ridiculous the process of getting to 450 is.
- Apparently, getting past 450 was only taking 10 casts per point on average in beta.
- There are also fishing dailies now.
- For the love of all that is good and holy, don't level fishing.
Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling subculture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking and the methods behind the madness.