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One of the most common questions I get as WoW Insider's (other) resident Auction House guru is this: What professions are going to be the best in Mists of Pandaria? Arguably, there's no absolute right or wrong answer to the question -- after all, each profession is going to have its pros and cons. (I like to hedge my bets by giving different alts different professions to have a max level of each profession.)
That said, one of my favorite professions for the early days of any expansion is alchemy. It's likely one of your favorites, too, and there's no mystery as to why -- transmutes. In the earlier days of Cataclysm, it wasn't rare to see Truegold sell for more than 1,000 gold apiece. That provided a small profit to any alchemist, but for those lucky enough to see bonus procs, a single transmute could turn a 4,000 gold profit or better. Not bad for about 20 seconds' worth of work.
Of course, that was then; this is now. Will alchemy remain as stupidly profitable in the early days of Mists of Pandaria? Only one way to find out -- ladies and gentlemen, it's time to datamine! To the beta!
Before we get too deep into all this, let's remember: All the information here comes from the beta, and some of the conclusions drawn from that may ultimately prove faulty when MoP eventually launches. Take this sneak peek with a grain of salt.
Before we delve into the more dynamic alchemy profession, I figured it'd be worth a few moments to take a peek under the hood of herbalism, since the two are so closely related. There are six new herbs for Mists of Pandaria:
Green Tea Leaf
Pretty standard stuff here -- six new MoP herbs to replace the six Cata herbs. And while drop tables aren't set yet, I'd be willing to hazard a guess that MoP herbalism nodes will also drop Spirit of Spring, one of the new Mists of Pandaria-era elementals. (Rounding out the elementals: Spirit of Winter, Spirit of Summer, and Spirit of Autumn.)
There's also an item located in the MoP files called Spirit of Harmony, which could be one of two things: either the MoP equivalent of BC-era Primal Might, or the MoP equivalent of the Chaos Orb. Right now in the beta, though, Spirit of Harmony drops from random mobs in the wild. It's a pretty rare drop, which suggests the possibility that this is indeed the mechanic by which the item is meant to be introduced into the game.
Oh, and lest I forget, the bonus for leveling Herbalism to 600 is now in the beta. No surprise here -- it's rank 9 of Lifeblood. But instead of the measly 480 haste you get now, Lifeblood is being buffed up to 1,920 haste for 20 seconds. That'll be a nice bonus to get while leveling, especially considering that many will max herbalism by the time they hit level 87 or 88.
Alchemy: New transmutations
In the early days of Cataclysm, alchemy was one of the best professions to have -- not so much for making flasks, but because alchemist had an incredibly valuable transmute available. Creating bars of Truegold was stupidly easy and stupidly profitable. What other professions could make you a 1,000 gold profit just for logging on every day?
Thankfully, it appears alchemists will be able to cash in once again in MoP. The Truegold of MoP is called Living Steel, and it's required to make a slew of epic blacksmithing gear once those customers level their skill to 600. Obviously, you're going to want to level your alchemist to 600 early (as early as is cost effective) so you can start churning out Living Steel right away.
Once Living Steel starts coming down in price significantly (probably around 5.1 or 5.2), alchemists will be able to fall back on gem transmutes to score some quick and easy money. This expansion, it appears that alchemists will be able to turn the green-quality orange gem, Pandarian Garnet, into a blue-quality red gem, the Primordial Ruby. That's a nice mechanic. It frees up the green-quality red Tiger Opal as a lower cost gemming option for more casual players.
Here's something that jewelcrafters will cheer -- the transmute to create the MoP meta gem Primal Diamond uses a bunch of junk gems -- the green Wild Jade, orange Vermilion Onyx, and purple Imperial Amethyst. So long as that transmute doesn't require a cooldown, transmute-specced alchemists should be able to team up with their local neighborhood gemcutter to make some serious bank.
Alchemy: Leveling and the profitability of the profession
The full path for leveling alchemy isn't all laid out yet, but the basic frame is there, and that framework looks an awful lot the way it did in Cataclysm. Alchemists will start by making some basic potions, work their way up to making some elixirs, then flasks, and finally gain access to the key transmutes as they approach 590 and 600 skill.
In the earliest moments of leveling, I'd expect alchemists to focus on the intellect-buffing Potion of the Jinyu. It's craftable at 540 and offers level-ups until 555. Once the initial glut of leveling alchemists move past that 555 mark, I'd expect Potions of the Jinyu to be as profitable as Volcanic Potions were. After all, the potion offers a massive 4,000 intellect -- it's going to be a must-have for raiders in 5.0 raiding content.
Once Jinyu turns grey, alchemists will likely move on to Virmen's Bite (+4,000 agility) and Potion of Mogu Power (+4,000 strength) to level from 565 to 580. Again, both will likely prove profitable for the MoP long haul. It's questionable whether demand for elixirs will materialize, though if healers struggle with mana in the early days of MoP, I could see a market for the 750 spirit Elixir of Peace developing. That similarly offers skill ups from 565 to 580 and may be a good option for someone still stuck with elixir mastery.
Speaking of profitable, once alchemists hit 590 skill, they can start churning out Master Mana Potions. (A healing potion has yet to be thrown into the beta mix.) These tend to be in quite high demand and will be especially sought-after by healers in raids and heroics alike. The early formula appears to be relatively material light as compared to what we saw in Cata -- you'll only need the vial and a lone Golden Lotus flower.
Alchemists will also be able to create flasks at 590. In Mists, flasks will offer 1,000 of your primary stat, up from the 300 offered in Cata. The Flask of Winter's Bite buffs strength, Flask of the Warm Sun gives the user intellect, and Flask of Spring Blossoms offers agility. Healers might prefer the 1,000-spirit Flask of Falling Leaves, and tanks may like the 1,500-stamina Flask of the Earth. I would presume these flasks to be relatively unprofitable for all but those with elixir mastery, similar to how they were in Cata.
Simply for fun
Alternatively, there are a few fun potions in the game for alchemists. The Potion of Plunder will replace the Potion of Treasure Finding and may be a valuable item for anyone who is aggressively leveling.
More promising, though, is the Monstrous Potion, an item that "transforms the imbiber into a hideous beast." A lot of alchemists will skip over them while leveling, thinking them to be undesirable. Those in the AH game will see something completely different -- this kind of fun item will be profitable all expansion long, in part because few alchemists will be creating them. People love fun and are willing to pay loads of gold for it.
Of course, in the early days of MoP, the potions and flasks are just a side show. The real money is going to be made by transmutes, which begs the question: Is now the right time to change your alchemy specialization? Arguably, yes -- materials are cheap right now, and you're going to want to be transmute-specced to take advantage of Living Steel as soon as you can. Take a look at our guide to the new alchemy specialization quests, and start getting ready for the cash avalanche to come.
Maximize your profits with advice from Gold Capped. Want to know the very best ways to earn 10,000 gold? Top gold making strategies for auctioneers? How about how to reach 1 million gold -- or how one player got there and then gave it all away? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.