The PTR for patch 5.2 has a real treat in store for people who want to powerlevel Blacksmithing: you will now be able to get to 500 skill without having to wait for those rare old-world materials to show up on the Auction House! If you are level 85 and up, all you have to do is visit your Blacksmithing trainer in your faction's shrine (the same one that sells recipes for Spirits of Harmony), and they will offer you a fast-track path straight to 500 skill.
The way it works is that you will be able to train patterns that take only Ghost Iron Bars to make grey items, and once you get up to 500 skill, there's a quest to make a Ghostly Skeleton Key. At the time this article was written, the data-mined recipes on the Wowhead.com PTR site seem to indicate that it will take a lot of ghost iron to complete. Of course, this might receive a rework before it hits live.
Blacksmithing is the only primary crafting profession to receive this treatment so far, however cooking got something like it in Halfhill at the launch of Mists of Pandaria, and ever since the inscription vendors have been allowing us to trade the current ink in for any of the older ones, inscription has been relatively painless to level. Needless to say, this new system will likely be an extremely popular way to max out smithing. Hopefully, they'll eventually introduce similar mechanics for some other primary crafting professions -- Leatherworking is a particularly annoying and time-consuming profession to powerlevel, for example.
Leveling professions is hard
Right now, leveling any crafting profession other than Cooking or Inscription is a chore. You need tons of materials that are only to be found in zones that nobody spends time in any more, and with all the increases to leveling speed (not to mention dungeon queues), people barely touch a zone before they've leveled past it. Some farmers actively seek out these old items, but they're few and far between. When you can find them on the AH, it's often prohibitively expensive, and you often can't find what you need.
It's so hard, in fact, that some people who are good at acquiring the rare old-world materials needed (such as the newest Call to Auction co-host, Namssob) can make exceptionally good money selling profession leveling kits. Essentially, these people buy, farm, and store the materials needed to level a profession from start to finish. It's a lot more efficient (and less expensive per kit) to make 10 bundles of mats that can max a profession out than it is to make a single one. Also, keeping a stock means that the buyers don't have to wait for someone to post what they need on the AH. I spent a small fortune and almost a week to level JC in Wrath, but if I had been able to buy a kit, I'd have been able to finish the grind in an hour, and possibly not spend that much more money.
Get ready for 100g stacks of Ghost Iron Ore
The effects this change will have on today's market are going to be pretty large. First off, anyone selling materials they farmed in old zones to people trying to level a profession are going to find fewer buyers for ore. Blacksmithing currently takes a lot of ore from a lot of old zones, and while jewelcrafting and engineering will still need them, the loss of blacksmithing will certainly reduce demand.
That demand isn't gone, of course. It's simply shifting. As noted above, this new mechanic takes a ton of Ghost Iron. Instead of low level characters farming in old zones, though, it'll be supplied by MoP level characters farming MoP zones. All this demand for Ghost Iron will probably lead to a short and long term increase in prices for Ghost Iron, as well as anything made from it. This includes: Serpent's Eyes.
The demand and prices for Ghost Iron will probably peak right after the patch. Many people thinking of leveling a smith or halfway finished one will use this new method, each of them consuming Ghost Iron Bars. Also, of course, all the new raids and LFR content will make for lots of people trying to gem and enchant their gear.
That said, unlike the spike in prices we see every patch, this new method of leveling smithing is going to represent a permanent increase to Ghost Iron demand. Every time someone chooses smithing on an alt or decides to switch to it, they'll consume a ton of Ghost Iron. Whatever it costs now, count on it settling higher than that once the dust from patch 5.2 has settled.
Personally, on a realm that's seen an average stack price of 40-50g for the last month, I'm buying anything under 60g on the AH right now. I'm also buying any cut or uncut gems at a price consistent with that ore price, and any enchanting materials below a dust cost of 2g. All of these items will feel the strain in patch 5.2, between all the new demand for item enhancements and all the new smiths buying and smelting ore.
I'm also buying any Ghost Iron Bars I can get for under 120g a stack, and any Trillium Bars I can get for 50g or under. The largest source for Trillium bars is the Alchemist Transmute, which conveniently doesn't have a cooldown.
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