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Insider Trader: Of Arrows and Bullets


Insider Trader
is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products. We'll cover everything from what to use, how to use it, and why you should care.We'll also make brief stops along the way to talk about what's going on among the people who love the crafting aspect of World of Warcraft.

Well, patch 3.3 has hit the ground, and we're all busy profiting from the vast number of people cycling through new characters, the Dungeon Finder, and new instances. Of course, the big news for Engineers is that there's a very significant new pair of recipes: Iceblade Arrows and Shatter Rounds.

These new items aren't without their own controversy, but it might be a little tough for everyone to understand. At least, it would certainly be worthwhile for us to check out the context of the issue. While some might call it a tempest in a teapot, many engingeers are disheartened with these new plans. Let's take a look behind the cut and examine why these arrows and bullets are such a big deal.

Both the Iceblade Arrows and Shatter Rounds use about the same materials and are actually incredibly cheap to make. The Iceblade Arrows take only a pair of Crystallized Shadow, while the Shatter Rounds are created with Crystallized Earth. With only a pair of crystallized elements, the Engineer can create an entire stack of 1000 projectiles. Both earth and shadow is easily farmed all over Northrend, though I tend to prefer to do such farming in Wintergrasp.

While the reagents to make Iceblade Arrows and Shatter Rounds are relatively cheap, you will have to put some effort in getting the plans in the first place. The plans require one Primordial Saronite to purchase, as well as Honored reputation with the Ashen Verdict. Primordial Saronite drops from 25-man Icecrown Citadel bosses, but you can also buy them for 23 Emblems of Frost. If you're a non-raider doing daily random dungeons to pick up the recipe, it'll take you about 12 days of random dungeons to pick up the plans for Iceblade Arrows or Shatter rounds. That's not exactly a huge burden, but it's definitely a base level of effort.

You can buy the plans for Shatter Rounds and Iceblade bullets right inside the instance to Icecrown Citadel. As soon as you run inside the raid instance, run up to the Ashen Verdict's bunker then swing to your right. Alchemist Finklestein is hanging out there, ready to sell you these incredibly useful patterns.

These projectiles represent a 24 paper doll DPS increase over the previous bullets and arrows. And while that's not a lot of damage in the scheme of things, raiders who are scraping for every advantage possible will certainly be eager to buy these items. And since they're relatively cheap to make, there's almost no reason for a Hunter not to use them with abandon.

But the creation of Iceblade Arrows and Shatter Rounds comes with an important restriction. In order to make the Shatter Rounds, you must be a Goblin Engineer. In order to make the Iceblade Arrows, you must be a Gnomish Engineer. This represents a significant disparity between the two engineering specializations, according to whether you're a gun-based Hunter or a bow-toting Hunter.

That means that even if you've always been an Engineer to make you're own bullets, that is no longer be "enough" to create this tier of ammunition. There's been some discussion about that on the forums already, including some folks having asked for a hotfix. The argument, of course, is that if you're an Engineer, you should be able to make your own projectiles regardless of whether you happen to be equipping a gun or a bow. To many folks, that's the whole point of being an Engineer.

I don't think the fact that you can only make one type of ammo is really that big a deal. While it would certainly be more convenient to be able to make your own ammunition, this is in no way the only important item in the game with the "rely on others" dynamic. You can't enchant your own gear, and make your gems, and make your own glyphs, and make your own leg kits, and so on. Heck, even the idea of doing instances is based on the idea that you rely on other people.

When you consider that it only takes a pair of Crystallized Shadow or Earth to make a stack of these bullets, you must realize the materials for their creation will be in no shortage. A successful Wintergrasp and a half hour of farming would probably leave you with enough ammunition to last dozens of hours of raiding. I wouldn't guess at a ratio of time-to-bullets, since everyone farms at different rates. But, really, how hard is it to farm some Crystallized Shadow?

I expect most people who really need the 24 DPS bump in ammo quality will probably be in guilds with an Engineer, anyway. The most likely routine will be for the hunter to farm their own materials, and hand them to their guildmate to turn them into bullets or arrows. And then they both happily go off to Icecrown to raid together. And since the new tier of ammunition is intended for Icecrown Citadel, that seems like a pretty fair exchange.

The Auction House dynamic of these projectiles will be based on convenience. If you were really hoping to gouge the market with these items, you're probably not going to have a lot of luck. You'll certainly reliably sell the projectiles to folks who don't have that engineer guildmate, but probably not for more than a few gold. (At least, not once the plans have more widely spread out among your server's populace.) I'm not sure I'd even pay two gold, personally, in lieu of gathering the materials myself, and tipping someone to take those items, press "Create All" and then go afk for a while.

That being said, it is definitely still a bummer that an engineering hunter might not be able to make their own stuff. That does tend to be why many hunters pick up the profession in the first place, and it's always nice to be self-reliant. Still, at the end of the day, I think Ghostcrawler nailed the issue when he said that if you can't afford these projectiles, you probably can't afford all the other stuff that goes into a raiding kit. In the face of enchants, gems, glyphs, potions, and leg kits, a couple crystallized elements is totally not a big deal. I think it all comes out in the wash.

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.

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