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I AFK'ed from WoW 6 years ago and now play again, starting new characters from scratch.

Compared to back then, the material price in AH is magnitudes higher. This makes gathering professions much more profitable, especially for new players. But at the same time, it makes crafting professions much more costly to level, not to mention the intermediate products don't sell at all.

It appears to me that, given the number of players who have already maxed out these professions, buying the final products (even at a sky-high price) is still cheaper than the cost to level the profession on my own.

Is it really so or I missed something?

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Why not just doing the usual gathering/crafting pair? –  deutschZuid Jul 5 '13 at 2:54
    
@deutschZuid Because you need 10x grinding for the materials than simply doing quests/occasionally instances for the character experience. –  NS.X. Jul 5 '13 at 19:01
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think you are missing the whole point of professions on the long run: unique bonuses. Actual crafting products are almost useless today. You either use quest/dungeon/raid gear on your main or high level character(s), or heirloom gear on your low level rerolls.

Losing money because of professions is actually worth it if you manage to level them enough to benefit from their unique bonuses.

And gathering professions' bonuses do not scale well with your item level. On the other hand, Blacksmithing is king: new sockets are worth more and more every time you get better gems.

The best thing to do, if you care about optimization, is to teach your main character professions with the best bonuses (which happen to be crafting professions), and to turn a reroll or two into gatherers to get the mats.

If you don't, well, there is no best thing to do. Just do whatever.

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Thanks for the answer. Do the profession bonuses matter that much? –  NS.X. Jul 6 '13 at 7:07
    
Mining's perk is a steady +120 bonus to Stamina. Blacksmithing provides two additional sockets, which means +480 Stamina with current gems, and it doesn't HAVE to be a Stamina bonus. So YES, nothing matters more on the long run. Remember that money is only a means, not an end. –  Aeronth Jul 6 '13 at 20:57
    
If you follow a profession power-leveling guide, then you are going to end up making bags full of junk which you can only sell to the vendor, because nobody wants them and the AH is full of them already. If you level by making other carefully chosen items, it's quite possible to sell most or all of what you make and recoup most of your investment, or even come out ahead. –  Michael Hampton Mar 25 at 20:56
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(I can't speak to the current state of the game since I last played during the Cataclysm era, but the points I want to make aren't things that can be seriously affected by the usual economic fluctuations so they should still be valid.)

Time is the only real currency that really matters in MMORPGs.

When you have a gathering profession such as Herbalism, you are trading your time spent wandering around picking flowers for gold.

Crafting professions, on the other hand, trade time for gold by only being able to craft a product so many times per time period. For example, Alchemists can only do a transmutation every few days. Crafted products that aren't time-limited are rarely profitable, unless you play the auction house game and know what words like "arbitrage" mean. (This is fun for some people, and there's nothing wrong with that!) Levelling up a crafting profession is break-even at best. (Again, unless you play the auction house game)

Now, let's talk about high-level players. There are tons of them now, there have been for many expansions now, and there will be until the servers are turned off. High-level players earn more money in an hour than a low-level player does, so they'll pay more for an hour's worth of Peacebloom gathering than a low-level player could.

I say that a new player (without an existing pool of money to draw from, like a friend) would be smartest to take two gathering professions. Take advantage of this money gap! If you take a crafting profession, you have to compete for materials with high-level players and their huge wallets. If you take one crafting profession and feed it with the outputs of your gathering profession, you are throwing away money that a high-level player would have gladly given you in exchange for your time.


Other considerations

Money isn't everything. The whole point of playing is for fun. Keep in mind that you may (or may not) find one or more of the following things fun, even though they do not optimally increase your income per hour played:

  • Searching for deals on the auction house.
  • Stat boosts from some professions.
  • Unique abilities or cosmetic items that you can only equip if you have a certain profession.
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You are focusing too much on money. In the event that picking gathering professions made you really rich, you will sooner or later end up spending all that money into better crafting professions, after forgetting the previous ones. –  Aeronth Jul 5 '13 at 7:58
    
Thanks for the answer! It confirmed my understanding for the AH prices and what's the easiest for a new player. It's a hard choice but I picked the other answer because it pointed out something I haven't thought of, which might be helpful for other new players as well. –  NS.X. Jul 6 '13 at 7:11
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