Wrath of the Lich King has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for blacksmiths. It's passed through a few tunnels of high importance, then settled onto a kind of vestigial relevance before finally settling into a kind of usefulness. We'll take a look at that in a little more detail, but the great blacksmithing heartbreak of Wrath of the Lich King was our defunct specialties like Armorsmithing. These specialties were great when we had them, but they never really mattered in Wrath.
Let's start with the one constant benefit of blacksmithing that lasted through the entire expansion. Like its close cousin jewelcrafting, blacksmithing is probably the most flexible craft in terms of profession bonuses. You get two more colorless gem sockets than anyone else. How worthwhile is that, though, really?
In terms of raw itemization points, it's not necessarily a huge advantage. Most tradeskill character bonuses tend to boil down to an additional 80 attack power, 47 spellpower or maybe 60 stamina. These two colorless gem sockets are consistent with that level of crafting bonus. What makes blacksmithing's bonus extra special, though, is that you obtain the crafting bonus by using gems, which means any stat that's available from gems is available to you for your crafting bonus at about the same itemization cost. If raw attack power isn't your thing, you can focus on strength, agility or even haste. It might not sound like a big deal, but it's a nice little side bonus on top of everything else.
So, the crafting bonus for blacksmithing was pretty nice. What was very important at the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King?