The recently-released Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes contained a couple notable points about professions.
TL;DR? Here’s the breakdown:
- Herbalism and Mining now will have no skill limitations on what you can gather, anywhere. Walk into Draenor with 1 skill in Herbalism and you can gather new herbs, just at a lower quantity than someone with 600 skill.
- Healing potions will not share a cooldown with stat-boosting potions, but will now share a cooldown with Warlock Healthstones. The “potion sickness” mechanism of the cooldown not triggering until combat is over remains.
- A large number of glyphs will be automatically learned by the appropriate classes at certain levels.
- The direct combat benefits of professions are being stripped out.
Let’s dig into each of these changes one at a time.
Recall that at different points throughout Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard implemented the ability for characters to gather Pandaria herbs and mine Pandaria ore without skill limitations. This didn’t apply to gathering pre-Mists materials, though; the main thing it accomplished was allowing players to level those professions in current content instead of having to go to old content to get them up first. So extending this change to all content means that if you’re leveling up Herbalism or Mining, you’ll be able to do it in Draenor if you want, but you’ll be able to do it anywhere else if you’re picking up esoteric mats for your production professions, or if you want to do it while flying.
Rewards Systems Designer Russ Petersen (@nite_moogle) mentioned that nothing’s currently on the cards for Skinning, however.
Considering the part where Garrisons are going to have a dramatic impact on how we approach professions, it’s possible that the Skinning exception might not really be a problem. If the idea is that having a profession NPC in your garrison won’t be as effective as having the profession on your character, then it’s possible that having a Skinning NPC will be all you need. Or we could see something more dramatic, where Skinning is flat-out removed as a profession and collapsed into Leatherworking, especially since the +Crit bonus that Skinning provides now is getting cut.
It’s also possible that we’ll see similar enhancements given to production professions as well; recall that Blacksmithing got a whole set of recipes that would let you level the profession all the way to 525 using only Ghost Iron. Going back to Petersen’s twitter, he mentioned that the herbalism/mining changes never have to be made again, while production professions would need to be updated every expansion in order to keep the catch-up mechanisms up to date. While not an outright denial that such mechanisms will come into play, it does provide some context for what’s behind the change.
Health Potions and ‘Lock Cookies
There’s not really a lot to say about this particular change; having non-health potions be on a different cooldown broadens the ability to use stat potions in encounters that have a high raid-damage factor. Putting health potions and healthstones on the same cooldown is an interesting change, though, since it mitigates how necessary warlocks will be in raid teams at the top end of progression, since health potions are typically inexpensive to make. Without having exact numbers, it may be that healthstones may still be preferred because they heal for more, but now at least the choice is forced by having both options locked to one use per attempt.
I’ll touch on the other implications of this in the combat perks section below.
Auto-Glyphs and Inscription
El (from El’s Anglin’) has a few posts over on Stormspire talking about the economic impact of the automatically-learned glyphs, but it brings a few interesting details to light: namely, that the 85 identified glyphs represent less than 20% of the total number of craftable glyphs in the game. Some are among the more in-demand glyphs in the game, but that’s arguably why the change is being made in the first place. Additionally, there’s a clear indication from the devs that the totality of changes to glyphs aren’t reflected in the patch notes yet; there are new glyphs in the pipe, where at least some of those will be built to provide functionality that players are losing due to the all the ability pruning.
For example, healing priests are losing Shadow Word: Death, since the self-damage mechanism had value in certain PVP circumstances. Systems Designer Chadd “@Celestalon” Nervig indicated that a new Glyph of Holy Fire will provide that same functionality.
As with everything related to professions, it’s hard to read the tea leaves and see Inscription’s future, but as pretty much has happened every expansion since it was introduced, big changes are clearly in the pipe, and we won’t know the full scope until there’s a playable version available to us.
Combat Perks… GONE!!!
What’s most substantial about this change is how it’ll impact player engagement with professions. Because crafted equipment rarely stays competitive with gear in successive raid tiers, there’s very little permanent reason to stick with a profession aside from consumables, most of which are accessible via the Auction House. If you strip the +Stamina from Mining, though, tanks who took it for that reason alone not only lose that reason but have no reason to replace the profession with something else. So from one perspective, stripping passive profession perks out of the professions flat makes professions an immaterial part of the game.
However, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Stat potions are being put on a separate cooldown from health potions, which the devs wouldn’t have done if they intended to remove stat potions from the game. So Alchemy’s potions business will still have value, since they make a consumable with combat potency. Engineering is definitely in flux at the moment, since the official stance now is that their combat buffs will either be disabled completely or usable by non-engineers.
And moreover, without the implementation of Garrisons and what they’s going to do to change the game for all professions, who can say if Blizzard will even give a reason for players to take a profession? The idea that all professions might effectively become optional gameplay with no combat impact would certainly be a dramatic shift, but there are already players who sacrifice the nominal profession perks in order to capitalize their game time on playing the game.
Keep your eyes peeled, because access to the alpha and the inevitable datamining that comes along with it is sure to start in earnest soon. We’ll do everything we can to keep you up to date with the latest.