Insider Trader: Wrath alpha edition

Amanda Miller
A. Miller|05.24.08

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Insider Trader: Wrath alpha edition
As Wrath information is leaking from the alpha testing, we are seeing more and more glimpses into the expansion than ever before. This week, Insider Trader will be analyzing some of the changes and new abilities on the horizon for craftsmen.

Because some people would really rather not know this information, I'm placing all of it beyond the break. It should be noted that none of these details are set in stone, and in fact, many will never make the actual expansion, or change significantly before it.

Still, it is interesting to look into Blizzard's process, as they expand and evolve the professions, and create a new one. A few of the changes indicate that they are indeed listening to some of the ideas craftsmen have put forth for what they'd like to see, and I think we should be excited about some of the developments on the horizon.

One of the major ideas that players have been tossing around is the idea that a tradesman could add a socket onto an existing item, and it appears that Blizzard is testing out that idea right now. So far, it appears that blacksmiths will be able to add a socket to weapons.

It is possible that each profession, specifically the armor-crafting trades, will be able to add sockets to weapons and armor. It is unclear whether we'll be able to do this for non-crafted items, although that sounds like something that would be right up the alley for your neighborhood engineer.

Hopefully, the sockets will not stand in place of armor kits or enchants, but rather, add another layer of opportunity for modification and personalization.

The alpha notes also do not indicate whether or not there will be item level limits placed on the socketing process. If there will be none, I think we'll see a huge change in the ability of twinks to tweak their gear. Because many of the Burning Crusade item modification kits, such as those made by leatherworkers, have no item level requirements, it stands to reason that this is indeed a possibility.

In keeping with the theme of frosty Northrend, there seems to be a fair amount of ice-related items, from enchants, to new types of ore. There are also plenty of new types of enchants being leaked, along with upgraded versions of old favorites, with modifiers such as "greater" and "exceptional."

Looking at some of them now, as it was when we were looking at Burning Crusade items prior to the expansion, the stats and abilities added by these enchants seem huge, and your average current raider trying to push their stats all the further would pay hefty sums to get at these pre-expansion.

It does give us an idea, however vague, of how much gear will be upgraded once we enter Northrend. They're also suggestive of the abilities we'll be needing.

For example, the notes include a Giant Slayer enchant, which is applied to your weapon, and gives you a chance to reduce the giant's movement speed, and do additional damage against it. Does this mean we'll be seeing a lot of giants, particularly in dungeons?

Unfortunately, none of the other professions have so far been covered in the leaked information, so we're left to speculate. There are a few enchants that seem designed to help you bite through frost, so it seems logical that crafted resist gear might be frost-specific. Of course, there is also a focus on damage to the undead, which should come as no surprise at this point.

Hopefully, when more information is released, we'll start to see more positive changes to professions as a whole, along with neat new things. I think it's important that the holes and the shortcomings are patched up, rather than simply being given a slew of new toys. The possible addition of the ability to install sockets on items is a step in the right direction.

Still, there are other changes that need to happen. Personally, I found that by the time I had the reputation to purchase a specific pattern that I wanted, I no longer felt that the materials required were worth the effort of a tiny upgrade, if it wasn't already a downgrade.

Another trend that many people have noticed with the Burning Crusade was the lack of useful, sought-after bind on equip crafted items that could be sold to other players. Many of the BoE patterns I've collected were blue resist gear, or required, at the time, that I either be wasting all the badges I could use to buy my own gear, or be running raids, in order to acquire the necessary bind on pick-up materials.

Not only does this hinder players from making money from their professions, it also misses an opportunity to help fill a hole in a class' itemization. For example, if you find yourself gearing up for Kara, with a pair of boots that really don't do the job, and no upgrades realistically pre-Kara that don't require a crazy number of badges, then it would be helpful if there were crafted items that you could find on the auction house, or direct from the craftsman.

I'd personally like to see each and every profession be lucrative, and so useful to several classes and specs, that people start to feel like personally learning all of them. Instead, many class guides will steer you away from leatherworking or blacksmithing, noting that there isn't much you'll want to craft for yourself, and of course, you aren't going to turn a profit after leveling it.

What changes are you hoping that Wrath will bring? If you've looked at the alpha notes, are you satisfied with the profession abilities listed so far, or do you find some of them to be inadequate?
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