Insider Trader: Assessing the gear-crafting trades

Amanda Miller
A. Miller|05.09.09

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Insider Trader: Assessing the gear-crafting trades

Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

In the World of Warcraft, there are three types of craftspeople: those that gather, those that enhance, and those that create gear. They are not mutually exclusive. For example, Scribes can create off-hand weaponry in addition to glyphs and Jewelcrafters can prospect gems from raw materials.

Gathering professions are known to be money-makers, and in addition, when asked, many players will also list the enhancement professions as well:
  • Inscription, although it is currently suffering from a lack of demand created by the introduction of dual-specs with patch 3.1.
  • Jewelcrafting is on the list, not because of its ability to create gear such as rings, but mainly because of the Prospecting and gems, cut or raw.
  • Enchanting is often stated, not only because of the enchants that can be created and even auctioned, but also because of the Disenchanting ability.
To balance this out, one would assume that the gear-crafting professions of Leatherworking, Tailoring and Blacksmithing must be incredibly useful, if not lucrative. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. This week, Insider Trader will be discussing the state of these professions. For a similar assessment of Engineering, check out The state of Engineering in 3.1.

I am especially interested in reader input and brainstorming, so don't forget to read through the comments section at the end of the article!
What makes a profession desirable?

Before we can assess how we might like to change these professions, we need to set up a list of criteria upon which they shall be judged.

For the purposes of this discussion, I will be exploring the ways in which Tailoring, Blacksmithing and Leatherworking are:
  1. Fun and creative.
  2. Lucrative.
  3. Worth keeping.
Leveling your profession
I have personally leveled all three of these professions, and had the most fun with Leatherworking, and the least with Blacksmithing, although this is a very subjective statement.

With Tailoring, I always felt like I had a reason to push ahead 5-15 points, be it to use a new type of cloth, craft a bigger bag, or make myself a Magnificent Flying Carpet. Purchasing some extra materials in order to accomplish this never felt unreasonably expensive.

Leatherworking was my "first" profession, and I had the most fun with it because I was forced to really experience it. I worked hard for each and every skill point, sometimes delaying due to lack of funds, and I spent time farming every scrap of leather, scale or chitin that I could.

I don't know that this could every truly be recreated for those of us who have made our money and tend to "power-level" our alts' professions, although I know that Blizzard has tried. Inscription Research and the Jewelcrafting dailies are examples that attest to this.

I have had the least fun with Blacksmithing because I felt that it is not only expensive to level, but takes an incredible amount of time if one intends to farm most of the necessary materials. As I level Blacksmithing alts, I find that they have to drop what they're doing and spend hours several provinces back, where no experience is being gained, in order to gather the ore.

I also hated to waste good Iron Bars, etc on white quality crafted items. My character sheds tears when she pours auctionables into gear that even the vendors scoff at.

No profession comes close to matching Engineering in the creative department, but flying carpet mounts, drum kits, nets, and other craftables do have their charm. Unfortunately, the drum kits and netherweave nets are now obsolete, and there aren't many, if any, toys or novelty items.

Suggestions have been made in the past to allow these professions to repair gear or recolor it, but implementation seems unlikely.

Constructing a wish list of your own, what would you want to be able to do with your Leatherworking, Tailoring or Blacksmithing?

Making gold
Each of these professions does have their own built-in systems for making gold. Of course, if what you want out of your profession is primarily to make gold, these are not the professions for you.

In fact, you almost have to have certain professions alongside these in order to expect to turn a profit. For example, you will probably want an Enchanter alt who can Disenchant all of the gear that you must make in order to skill up, but that will never sell for a profit because everyone else is making it to skill up too.

Next, you should take the appropriate gathering professions, because not only can this be supplemental income, it can help lower your overhead.

This aside, there are indeed items that can be sold at auction for profit. For example, Leatherworkers can create armor and leg kits, Tailors craft spellthreads and bags, and Blacksmiths can make Eternal Belt Buckles and shield spikes.

Is it worth keeping?
This is perhaps the most important question of all. None of my characters have continued to use these professions once they hit max level, aside from the craftable item enhancements.

My Tailor crafts bags every once in awhile, sells some special cloth occasionally, and once in a blue moon, sews some special thread into a new pair of pants. My Leatherworker too, has a use when new pants crop up, and he can enchant his own bracers.

Why does the only use for these gear-crafting professions at max level seem to be the item enhancement skills? My hunter did appreciate the mail set as he leveled through Northrend, although quest gear was at least as useful. As for my Tailor, when my guild set foot in Naxxramas, I made a set of Frost Resistance gear, and saved a lot of gold. My Death Knight sometimes uses the plate that she crafts, in part, because she hates vendoring it. Other than that, I've never used a piece.

There is always so much discussion flying around about how to improve Engineering with innovative, silly, imaginative, new gadgets, toys, weapons and more, and I'd like to open up the floor for brainstorming about Tailoring, Leatherworking and Blacksmithing.

In a dream world, I would personally love to recolor gear. Whether this would mean offering a service that would allow a player to swap their Ugly Cloak Coloration for an existing in-game cloak model, or to literally change the colors in the design, I don't know. Of course, I would want to be able to do this to any gear, and not just crafted gear, as I don't wear it.

Tailors could handle cloth and cloaks, Leatherworkers leather and mail 40+, and Blacksmiths mail 1-39 and plate. As neat as Tier gear is to own, I do get tired of seeing seemingly everyone in the same gear, and I absolutely loathe it when my latest "best-in-slot" (read: never getting rid of it) is really hideous.

What would you change, and what is your biggest disappointment? Do you find the profession boring, do you wish you wanted to wear the gear, or do you feel that it isn't really benefitting you the way that a different profession could?
Each week, Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling sub-culture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking, and the methods behind the madness. Check out our analysis of patch 3.1 profession changes, or read through our in-depth analysis of the changes to flasks in 3.1.
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