Friday, June 27, 2008

The Career Fair: Choosing your professions

Everyone in the World of Warcraft has a job. In fact, most people have at least two professions. We're all workin' stiffs, but we have flexible hours and no bosses. Plus, we take home every penny we earn - the only overhead we have to account for are auction house fees for posting our goods and services. The perfect job, right?

Choosing your professions on your Retribution Paladin is tough. Several of the crafting professions (which are composed of Tailoring, Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Engineering, Alchemy, Enchanting, and Jewelcrafting) present excellent items for use in your raiding career, whether they be a sweet set of goggles or a stack of potions to chug furiously. Let's take a look around at the WoW career fair and see what each crafting profession has to offer, shall we? Let's head to the first table...

We here at the Clothier's Coven weave and sew the finest garments to be found in Azeroth! A bevy of bodacious bodices are begging you to bedazzle your foes with... wait, you're a what? A Paladin? Don't you wear plate armor? And get up real close to big hairy monsters that could impale you with sharp pikes? Sorry hun, I think you're at the wrong table.
Tailoring does not have much to offer a raiding Ret Paladin in terms of usable items, either in the consumable realm or in gear. It is suited for the spell-casters only. Don't become a tailor.

Ah, a fresh face! I wish to welcome to you to the Leatherworking Shop. We take the hides and skins of the fauna from both Azeroth and Outland and create an assortment of leather goods with them - from tunics to drums to capes! I know you wear plate mail - not to worry, we have some great options for you, even though you may not want to wear a lot of the armor produced in our shop. Do you consider yourself the musical sort? Here, hold these drums for a bit...
The Leatherworking profession offers one of the most powerful raid consumables available: [Drums of Battle]. 4 leatherworkers in the same group can cycle their drums and keep the haste buff up for the entire duration of a raid encounter. Many DPS'ers, regardless of their armor class, take up leatherworking for drums alone. In addition, you would be able to create armor patches for leg armor that tanks and physical DPS classes will need any time they upgrade their armor. If you're looking to min/max to the fullest, becoming a leatherworker for one of your professions is an excellent idea.

Oi! Paladin! I know you're goin' to like my wares. Have ya ever considered becomin' a blacksmith? Look at all the great stuff we can hammer out from raw metal! I can make you armor so tough you'll think it's made of hardened adamantite. And some of it is! And the weapons! Oh the weapons! Have you ever heard of the fabled mace, Stormherald? I can teach you the secret to crafting it. Just sign right here and I'll open a world of possibilities for you.
Being a plate-wearing class, blacksmithing seems like a no-brainer profession choice. It is a solid option - there are a few bind-on-pickup blacksmithing items that are excellent for Retribution Paladins. The weaponsmith progression for swordsmith and hammersmith yield excellent t5-t6 level weapons at the end ([Lionheart Executioner] and [Stormherald], respectively), and there are a few Sunwell patterns that yield best in slot plate DPS items, like the [Hard Khorium Battleplate] and [Hard Khorium Battlefists]. No one can fault you for hanging out by the ol' anvil.

My, you're a tall one! Excuse me, let me readjust my goggles, you're a bit out of focus. Ah, there we go! Welcome to Tinker Togglecog's Engineering Emporium! We here at Tinker's strive to make the most ingenious contraptions that Azeroth has ever known! Have you ever seen a Battle Chicken stride into battle and peck away your opponents' will to live? Or do you have the testicular fortitude to lob highly combustible detonatory demolitions devices at short range into a crowd? Have I got a deal for you! Here, take my card, and come back later! We'll talk gears and Goblin Sapper Charges.
Engineering is a quirky profession. It has something to offer to every armor class in its epic goggle patterns, creates one of the best tanking guns in the game pre-Black Temple ([Gyro-Balanced Khorium Destroyer]), is the only profession who can enhance ranged weapons through the creation of scopes, and offers a wide range of trinkets and explosives for use. It even doubles as a gathering profession with the [Zapthrottle Mote Extractor]. All in all, you can get a lot of bang for your buck out of engineering. As for raid benefits to a Retribution Paladin, however, the goggle crafts are the only tangible benefit you can reap, and they are often side-grades to raid drops. One thing you do bring that no one else can, though, is [Field Repair Bot 110G] (or 74A, if you like), which can repair and refresh your raid.

A potential brewer! Quick Beaker, bring the flasks! Welcome, fair paladin. I know you're going to like our goods. You seem a bit tired, may I offer you a pick-me-up? Here, drink this potion, I'm sure it'll invigorate you. Hits the spot, doesn't it? That's just a taste of what we can mix! I can teach you to brew the finest flasks, the most potent potions, and the craziest concoctions known to man or Orc! Have some samples - I know you're going to love 'em!
Alchemists are necessary for any raider. They brew up our mana, health, haste, and destruction potions. In addition, they can create a variety of flasks and elixirs to boost our stats and make us harder, better, faster, and stronger. "But Josh," you're thinking, "all of that stuff is transferable between players! I don't need to be an alchemist to use potions and flasks!" You're correct, the base stuff is not alchemist-specific. BUT, there are special alchemy products that only the alchemist can benefit from, like epic trinkets that boost the mana/health gain from potions, alchemist-only potions that grant extra buffs beyond mana/health, and being able to brew your own drinks instead of finding a mixologist to do it for you is a big plus.

Elune guides us, mighty warrior. You have no doubt seen others striding about town with an aura about them, or a glow emanating from their weaponry. That is our doing. We of the Enchanter's Society have the power to imbue weapons and armor with blessings of unspeakable power. That mace you possess? We know the secrets to making it pass through armor as if it were not there, or to granting it the quickness of a mongoose. Do you wish to know this gift? We can teach you the secrets of our trade.
Enchanters hold a special place in the Azerothian community. Their's is the only profession which gathers its own materials. Jewelcrafters require raw gems, which are from prospecting raw ore or mining ore veins; leatherworkers require hides procured by skinners, and so on. Enchanters simply take old gear and turn it into dust and essence, which they employ in their enchants. They also are much sought after, as no serious raider leaves their gear unenchanted if they intend to wear it. What can you gain from being an enchanter yourself that you could not if you got your enchants from another? Enchanters can enchant their rings, something that cannot be done for others. Plus, you are granted the ability to turn your outdated soulbound gear into enchanting materials, which you can put toward the enchant for your new piece of gear. For the min/max'ers among us, the ring enchants alone are reason enough to become an enchanter, as they provide a little extra in terms of stats that could not be had otherwise.

The Jewelcrafter's Guild welcomes you, esteemed Paladin. You have no doubt heard of our services, have you not? We can shape the rarest of gems into powerful foci to enhance your armor. I see that your chestplate has a few indentations in it - what would you say if I told you that I could fit a ruby in there that could make you feel as though you had the strength of 10 men? Okay, not 10 men, but certainly stronger! Come, let us discuss the finer points of gem carving.
The jewelcrafters of Azeroth, much like the enchanters, are in high demand. Any time a new piece of armor is acquired that has gem slots, a jewelcrafter's services will be required to cut, shape, and carve an appropriate gem to fit into the slots. We're not here to talk about the business end of jewelcrafting, however. What can this profession do for you as a raider? Well, bind-on-pickup JC-only gems can be made that are the most powerful single gems in the game, which can provide that extra little oomph to your armor. Several epic trinkets are available, one of which that can boost your attack power and summon a pet to fight alongside you ([Figurine: Khorium Boar]). Not to mention the jewelry that can be crafted from Sunwell patterns. Jewelcrafting is a very potent profession.
So, what can we take away from all this? Well, first and foremost, you can gain a benefit from any of the crafting professions as a Retribution Paladin (except for tailoring). Whatever your fancy is, go with it! You can make it work.

Most players choose to pair a gathering profession (Herbalism, Skinning, or Mining) with a crafting profession. If you choose this route, I recommend taking the gathering profession that finds raw materials for your craft of choice - Herbalism for Alchemists, Skinning for Leatherworkers, and Mining for Blacksmiths/Engineers/Jewelcrafters. Enchanters don't have a gathering profession to pair up with. There is merit to this choice, as it provides a steady stream of materials with which to create your gear/consumables.

If you're looking to become the absolute strongest raider you can be, however, you'll want to take two crafting professions. It becomes expensive to keep going, but such is the cost of being the best! As I mentioned, all the crafts have a benefit in a raid setting, but some are stronger than others. The single most beneficial profession to a DPS'er is currently leatherworking - Drums of Battle cycled between 4 leatherworkers creates 100% up-time for the haste buff, which is a big deal. After that, it is most likely a toss-up between blacksmithing, alchemy, jewelcrafting, and enchanting. The weapon crafts and Sunwell patterns for blacksmithing are very potent, but are rivaled in potency by raid drops. The advantage is that blacksmithing allows a Paladin to craft his weapon instead of cross his fingers for the gods of chance to smile upon him. Alchemy brings the [Assassin's Alchemist Stone], which is excellent for refilling your mana bar when you chug a potion, but there are other trinkets out there that provide very potent DPS buffs, like [Dragonspine Trophy] and [Berserker's Call]. And then there are the small stat boosts from the professional-only gems and enchants. It's wide open, and highly debatable.

If PvP is more your thang, then the crafts you'll want are very different. Most consumables are not usable in the arena, which is the most popular form of player vs. player combat. That makes alchemy and leatherworking a disadvantage for the PvP'er, since the benefits are all consumable based for Retribution Paladins. Blacksmithing, engineering, jewelcrafting and enchanting all have the same benefits they do for raiders, and engineers have the added benefit of grenades for use in battlegrounds (all though using them on a regular basis gets pricey). Blacksmithing and engineering, I think, tend to be weaker choices for PvP than jewelcrafting and enchanting, since the gear you can craft will not have resilience on it, so oftentimes you will end up using PvP gear instead. If you want to min/max a PvP Retribution Paladin, your choice will most likely end up as jewelcrafting and enchanting.

I hope you enjoyed your guided tour of the Azerothian Career Fair! Now starts our question and answer period. Questions, anyone?


Suicidal Zebra said...

I think it's fair to say that right now professions with consumables are where it's at. That may change if at some point all professions get raid-quality consumables (proper weapon stones for Blacksmiths which don't negate Windfury, uniquely useful engineering gizmo's etc.) or BoP crafted augmentations and gear which is a cut above the top-level raiding Tier from which it requires materials, for example Tier 7 raids providing mats for Tier 7.5 quality BoP crafted gear. Until then the major gear crafting professions probably won't seem that big a draw for the cutting edge raiders.

However, there is something looming on the horizon, and that's Wrath of the Lich King. Whilst it shouldn't inform your decision making processes now, closer to the release date it damn well should. If it follows the pattern of TBC it'll push a big reset button, making a lot of current thinking obselete. But in these circumstances Blacksmithing and Engineering start to regain their lustre - the gear crafting professions allow classes with a high gear dependency to steal a march in gearing up for raiding content. With high competition for top-end gear drops in Heroic dungeons being able to craft your own 175DPS 2-hander could make a huge difference to your initial viability in those early 25 and esp. 10-man+5man instances.

Josh said...

Well, according to the news at the Blizz WWI over the weekend, weapon stones and Windfury *will* stack in WotLK, so those Sharpening/Weightstones from Blacksmithing will get a whole lot more appealing. Again, though, just like Alchemy, you probably won't need to be a Blacksmith to benefit from weapon stones.

In the here and now, Leatherworking/Enchanting or Leatherworking/Jewelcrafting is probably the highest DPS combo for a Ret Paladin. With WotLK in mind, it might change. But we can only deal with the information at hand.