## Tuesday, January 25, 2011

### Counting the Cost (Part 3)

Here's the scenario: you have a character with 450 skill in a profession, and you want to level him/her to 525 skill. What's it going to cost you for the various professions?

In part one, I covered tailoring, blacksmithing and jewlcrafting.

In part two, I looked at engineering, inscription, and alchemy.

Today, we round out the examination with leatherworking and enchanting.

Leatherworking

When skillups aren't assured, assume we need to do twice as many craftings...

• 2020 savage leather - @ 9g = 18180g
• 35 eternium thread - @ 2.4g = 84g
• 42 volatile earth - @15 g = 630g
• 18 volatile air - @ 38g = 684g
• 108 volatile water - @ 18g = 1944g
• 148 volatile fire - @ 25g = 3700g

Total? 25,222g! Blowing the previous leader - inscription - out of the water.

Enchanting

To simplify cost calculations, I just assumed that one greater celestial essence was the same cost as three lesser celestial essences. From what I can see on the AH, this isn't quite true, but the price of 3 LCE is close enough to the price of 1 GCE that it doesn't really matter.

• 460 hypnotic dust - @ 19g = 8740g
• 278 lesser celestial essence - @ 20g = 5560g
• 5 elixir of impossible accuracy - @ 20 g = 100g
• 6 heavenly shard - @ 75g = 450g
• Elementium rod - @ 100g = 100g
Total? 14,950g. A tad bit on the expensive side, but hey - at least it's not leatherworking.

The Final Tally

As a reminder, these numbers are pretty much a SWAG. Yes, they're based on Actual Auction House Prices (TM) for the most part, but they're still going to vary from server to server and from day to day. As a general ranking of "this profession is more expensive to level than another", though, they should be pretty accurate.

The final totals, from least expensive profession to level to most expensive:
• Alchemy - 2,993g
• Engineering - 7,442g
• Blacksmithing - 10,408g
• Tailoring - 11,240g
• Jewlcrafting - 12,615g
• Enchanting - 14,950g
• Inscription - 18,276g
• Leatherworking - 25,222g
And, finally, some thoughts.

Obviously, if you want to level on the cheap, alchemy/engineering is the way to go. On the other hand, if you're a leatherworker/scribe... man, I feel for you. You're burning through enough gold to get you a Vial of the Sands, just to level your professions!

No worries, though. Once you're finished with the profession leveling gold sink, I'm sure that alchemist/engineer will be delighted to sell you a vial.

Each of these figures includes the cost to get to 525 skill. Once you're there, well, you're on your own. Each profession has it's own method of obtaining additional high-end recipes or patterns for use at 525 skill, and the cost to get a complete set of recipes can range from daunting (Jewlcrafting, where it will take you a month of dailies and fistfuls of gems to get 6-7 JC cuts) to trivial (Enchanting, where coughing up a few thousand gold will get you enough heavenly shards to buy a bunch of high-end enchantments all at once). In general, though, hitting 525 is just the start of your profession-related expenses.

Also not included is the cost of training new recipes on the way to 525. Factor in a few hundred extra gold for that particular expense. I'd expect that the relative cost difference for training has only a minor variation between professions.

I'm surprised at how cheap alchemy is, but in hindsight, I shouldn't have been. With most other professions, as you level up, you're generally creating permanent items that will serve a character for multiple levels. Laenshield is still sporting the cloth items he created early on while leveling his tailoring, for example. When those items do finally outlive their usefulness, they can be sold for a small refund, or disenchanted for a larger profit.

Alchemy, though? Everything you create, just about, is a one-shot item that will last for an hour or two at most. The ephemeral nature of potions, elixirs and flasks means that the items you produce via alchemy will be more in line with the cost of buff foods from cooking than with high-end armor from leatherworking or weapons from blacksmithing.

After alchemy, as you progress through the list of professions, you can see reasons why certain costs are lower or higher than the 12k or so "norm" of Jewlcrafting. Engineering requires materials from multiple gathering professions, and the end result of much engineering crafting is BoP instead of BoE, making it harder to make back money from leveling the profession. My guess is that these two factors are why engineering ends up being the second cheapest profession to level, helping to keep it an attractive alternative to some of the less complex crafting professions.

Enchanting and leatherworking at the high end of the spectrum doesn't surprise me. In the case of enchanting, profession leveling materials are readily available in the form of disenchantable quest rewards... generally speaking, any quest reward will give an enchanter some materials, as they can either disenchant the reward itself, or equip the reward and disenchant whatever item it replaced. So while the overall cost is high (in terms of using materials to level), the actual availability of materials to the enchanter is also high.

Leatherworking is a case similar to enchanting, primarily in that leatherworking is often paired with skinning as a gathering profession. Skinners not only have access to their own defeated beast mobs for purposes of skinning, but also any other random beast corpses that others have defeated. Especially early on in an expansion, there are a lot of skinnable mobs littering the ground in some places. Keeping the material requirements (and so, the cost) of leatherwoking high helps balance the availability of materials a bit.

What to say about inscription, though? Not having a scribe at Cata levels yet, I'm at a loss to explain why the cost of leveling inscription would be so high. It doesn't seem to be a cost vs. availability situation, as with engineering/enchanting/leatherworking. I'll have to talk to some scribes and see if there's another reason why inscription is such a money-sucking hog of a profession.

Predictions for the Future

I'd expect that - eventually - the relative cost of enchanting and leatherworking will be brought in line with the median costs of tailoring/jewlcrafting, at about 12k or so to level. Look for a slight reduction in the amount of materials required for trainable enchants, and a pretty hefty (40% - 50%) reduction in the amount of leather required for trainable leatherworking patterns. Conversely, we might see a small increase (10% - 20%) in the cost of engineering materials to help bring it's overall cost closer to the 10k mark.

Other professions I'd expect to stay more-or-less where they're at right now... though I really don't know about inscription. Blizzard has already tinkered with that profession pretty heavily, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it stay at the high end of the spectrum, at least until it becomes obvious that the cost needs to be decreased in order to encourage more people to pick up the profession. Given the explosion of scribes from the Wrath years, though, I think that day - if it ever comes - won't be here for a while.