Background of This Article
Every so often I’ve been known to post suggestions for improved gameplay on the official World of Warcraft forums. While I have some downtime in light of the coronavirus epidemic (don’t worry, I’m more than safe where I’m at, just stuck at home for a while!), I decided to repost a few of these on my blog here. I’ll be including a link to the original forum post(s) should you want to join in the discussion there, too. Note that I’m not responsible for the moderation or content on the official forums, and that I may change wording of my own posts when re-posting to here (mostly for relevance and to expand gamer-speak abbreviations into their actual words).
This post, “How to Improve Crafting” was first started in July of 2019, during the 8.2 patch for the Battle for Azeroth expansion of World of Wacraft. I posted this after some frustrations with the current state of crafting in this expansion.
How to Improve Crafting
Right now, the state of crafting in World of Warcraft is terribad. I’m going to start with pointing out the main problems of crafting as it stands right now:
- Crafted gear is the same iLevel, or lower, than the loot from the dungeons and raids needed to be run to get the crafted gears’ material components(“mats”). These mats are also Bind-on-Pickup (“BoP”), and the items they make are BoP, so I have to ask myself, what sense is there in even making these items? You are more likely to receive a better drop from the dungeon/raid before coming anywhere close to getting what you need to make the item.
- Crafted leveling gear (aka, gear for players lower level than 120) is (more or less) equivalent to what you would get from your FIRST quests into 110-120 content. This gear is soon outstripped by quest rewards as you level and the quest reward quality goes up. This is coupled with the problem that it takes so many mats to level professions and the reality (not problem, persay) of leveling being so fast, that you are way outstripping your ability to make your own gear.
- Getting the secondary stats you want on a piece is random. You might have to blow through the mats for 20 items before you get that one you really care for.
- Some mats are only dropped in dungeons and raids, where players who hate this content can’t/won’t get to it. Similarly, some recipes are locked behind quests or random procs.
- Recipe improvements only mean the mat cost of crafted items is lower. This is really only useful if you were wanting to produce the items en masse (and there’s very little reason for wanting this, given the uselessness of most crafted gear) or if you wanted a less painful way to grind skill, which…is kind of backwards too, since you out-level the lower-mat-cost recipe or are already at max crafting when you receive these. I feel like they dropped the ball here on the obvious way to build in an upgrade-able system to crafting, but more on that later.
- The stat crunch has broken many old recipes from Classic and other expansions. Example: the dynamite you can craft at level 5 only does 3 damage. (Perspective: Mobs at this level have something like 500-800 health and your abilities do something like 30 damage each if not more.) This is coupled with the reality (again, not a problem persay) that it is not needed to gain crafting skill in all these old areas to level the current content’s crafting. Overall, outside of transmogrification (“t-mog”) or achievement OCD, this makes crafting that’s not for the current content useless, and further compounds issues like lower level crafting mats not being sellable and new players missing out on a potentially enjoyable/lucrative/helpful-to-their-friends part of the game.
- Enchanters have a hard time getting Expulsom. Since they already “scrap” gear for enchanting mats, they then can’t get Expulsom without crafting/finding twice the gear to break down. Expulsom has a horridly low drop rate too, so you are punished by not throwing everything you can into the scrapper when trying to grind this out. Likewise, some professions like Alchemy have little need for Expulsom. Because Expulsom is BoP, they just sit around in these characters’ bags, being useless forever.
- Which professions gives which weapons keeps changing. Fist weapons have flopped from Blacksmith to Jewelcrafter to, now, Leatherworker. Engineers randomly started getting maces instead of Blacksmiths. Off-hand items landed with Inscriptionists even though Enchanter and Jewelcrafter would also make sense for them. Trinkets have hopped around a few times, and Staves have suddenly showed up with Jewelcrafters. To top it all off, not all of these weapons have the latest iLevel version available for them, either. The fist weapons stop t about 310. The problem with this is that some players choose a profession based on what gear they want to supply their characters with on into forever, and if that keeps changing, or stops halfway through an expansion, well, it forces them to have to re-roll professions or miss out, and there’s no warning (and honestly, reason) to these changes for this at all. On a related note, Demon Hunter has no crafted weapon available to them at all, and there are still no crafted bows or polearms. Crafted axes have also disappeared with Battle for Azeroth.
I can’t comprehend how some of these things passed testing because basic math…? But at any rate…we’re going to be constructive here, so here’s some ideas to correct these problems.
Idea #1: Raise ALL the iLevels!
Raise iLevels across the board of crafted gear. A player that spends hours leveling their crafting should be able to compete with a player who spends hours in a dungeon, raid, doing World Quests, or doing PvP (rated or non-). Time is money, or rather effort, that should still be rewarded!
Idea #2: Less Soulbinding!
Make the best gear and most craftings mat not Bind-on-Pickup(“BoP”), or at least Bind-to-Account (“BoA”) instead. Then there is conceivably some use in using crafting to gear alts, if not for your friends and to make some money.
Idea #3: Bind-to-Guild and Bind-to-BTag?
If throwing good crafted gear on the Auction House market is really such a concern (and I’d argue it isn’t: these things drive player economies), then let’s introduce a new mechanic. Bind-to-Battetag-Friends or Bind-to-Guild. Slide in a requirement there that the BTag friends must be your friends for at least two weeks or so, and your guildies must have a rep of at least Honored or something, so its not easily by-passable.
Idea #4: Stars Should = Meaningful Upgrades
Replace the stars-mean-less-crafting-mats-needed with actual upgrades to these recipes. THIS is where you can make getting those stars feel meaningful, as well as give players the chance to make gear that actually matters, in a way that doesn’t trivialize the various other methods of obtaining gear, as time is still necessary to get the goods.
Idea #5: Give Earlier Crafting Tiers a Facelift
Make crafted gear at the lower levels equal or even better than heirloom gear. For better or for worse, twinks will love you. I also do not see this as an imbalance–if a player wants to sacrifice some expensive mats and extra time to get their crafting skill up to par, they should be rewarded for that effort, even if the reward is temporary once they gain a few more levels. It also helps new players to be able to get right into the game as it makes their skills relevant to older players as well. Crafting mats will also sell better for those lower levels, helping the player economy.
(It was also suggested by a reader to have recipes require mats from older expansions. For example, an engineering piece from Legion might need Silver Bars, which are a Classic material. I edit this in for this blog article, because I think it’s a great idea as well!)
Idea #6: More Achievements!
To help make older crafting useful to all players, tie some achievements to getting rare recipes or crafting entire sets. Add meta-achievements to these that further give characters special titles, such as “Master Smith” or “Arcanist”, or that give mounts and pets (always a favorite reward).
Idea #7: Relevant to the Content it Comes From
I’m not actually against the idea of certain recipes or crafting mats being locked behind certain content–this has been a World of Warcraft staple forever, since those Classic-era Engineering and Blacksmithing recipes in Blackrock Depths and Blackrock Spire–HOWEVER I would put an eye towards making these locked recipes and mats most meaningful from the content you get it from. As an example…gear with mats from raids should be equal to or even better than the loot typically dropped from those raids, or at least BoA/BoE so they can be sent to un-geared alts and new raid members. Trinkets with great procs for PvP should have their recipes sold on the PvP vendor. Items that are useful in several modes of gameplay (say, mount speed increases) should then be baseline off the crafting trainer.
Idea #8: Less Random Stats, or Even Single Statted Gear
Instead of random-stat recipes, break these recipes out into different recipes again. For instance, you could craft Monel-Hardened Gauntlets of Haste and Versatility AND Monel-Hardened Gauntlets of Haste and Mastery…and all the others. I realize this would make one recipe into 16+…so you may also consider having crafting be the only place you can get gear that only stacks one secondary stat. (Meaning, raid gear might give you something with +110 Versatility and +110 Mastery…crafting could give you something that is +220 Mastery alone.) This would help to incentivize crafting again for min-maxers.
(Here, a reader suggested that choosing stats could be a toggle ability, and tie into the stars system. One star on the recipe would mean a completely random outcome, two stars means you could pick one of the secondary stats on a piece of gear, and three stars would mean you could pick both secondary stats.)
(Another reader suggested that older crafting materials could also come into play as a way of choosing stats. For example, you could add Eternal Air from Wrath of the Lich King to get a higher chance of getting Haste on your finished item.)
Idea #9: Expulsom and Scrapping Fixes
First, I love the idea of scrapping and hope they expand this across all expansions at some point. It’s more Expulsom that is the problem here, as well as Enchanting’s need to “scrap” their gear specially, than scrapping as an idea.
Expulsom could potentially be fixed by adding a vendor that exchanges crafting mats for this material, in the way Legion’s Blood of Sargeras worked. I am unsure of the need to make Expulsom BoP to begin with, as it forces you to do dailies and such on a character you may just want for a crafting alt, so I would also suggest just making this stuff BoE instead (or BoA or Bind-to-Guild/Bind-to-Bnet, as suggested above).
As far as enchanters go, though, they still have that double-whammy: they can either scrap for Expulsom or disenchant for enchanting mats. Enchanting is frequently paired with Tailoring, which needs Expulsom for its own gear, so simply eliminating the need for Expulsom in Enchanting recipes alone won’t help matters. For Enchanters, then, perhaps an enchanting recipe can be made that makes Expulsom (put it on a daily cooldown if desired), or otherwise give Expulsom a chance to drop from their regularly disenchanted items. Perhaps you must first make an enchantment to your gloves or shoulders that gives this specialized proc. Or vice versa, for enchanters only, the Scrapper could also return some enchanting mats (again, either as baseline or from a special enchantment).
Idea #10: Stop Pruning Our Recipes!
Give Blacksmith back all their weapon recipes, for every primary stat, and then leave it alone! I like being able to craft a lot of things. This isn’t like class abilities where it’s good to free up more action bars!
Also, release more crafted weapons to fill in the gaps: Intelligence axes, Strength maces, Agility swords, warglaives, the whole nine yards. I don’t care if the Agility sword has the exact same stats as the Agility mace and looks the exact same as the Strength sword; I just want some variety, and I don’t want my character looking like he/she suddenly forgot how to make basic weapon types when they’ve been able to for every expansion up until Battle for Azeroth, suddenly and at random!
Idea #11: Standardize Niches Across ALL Expansions
On the other hand, on the off chance these changes to weapons are being made so that Blacksmith doesn’t get to hoard all the weapon recipes, then at least standardize what weapon types go to what professions, and stick to it, going back to old expansions to correct it there, too. Consistency matters!
There’s two divisions you could try to follow here. If you’re going for the angle of certain professions being best for a specific role or class, then I would suggest all Agility weapon types be moved to Leatherworker, all Intelligence weapon types moved to Enchanter (and/or possibly Jewelcrafter), and all Strength weapon types be moved to Blacksmith.
This would still come from some problems. Take for an hypothetical example: Agility swords made by Leatherworkers. Why do they all look like they’re made out of bone? Will hunters, monks, and demon hunters forever have to look like they yanked their sword out of a dragon’s jawbone? Or would we get metallic Agility swords and then wonder forever why some of them look, well, metallic even though they are made by Leatherworkers who don’t work with metal? Maybe this wouldn’t be a big deal with t-mog being a thing, and people wanting metal swords could just buy Strength swords from Blacksmiths to record the looks into their collection journal, but it’d still be a bit…ungainly.
The other division is a more realistic one, and also wouldn’t involve taking away old recipes from players while standardizing across old expansions. That division would go like this: Blacksmiths create weapons with metal in them: swords, axes, maces, polearms, daggers, fist weapons. Leatherworkers create weapons with bone or other animal parts in them: axes, daggers, maces, fist weapons, staves, polearms, bows. Enchanters (or Jewelcrafters) craft items that are favorites of magic users: swords, daggers, maces, staves, and off-hands. All these weapons would be stat-flippers, or have a recipe for each primary stat/role, so you don’t have to wonder why a Blacksmith can make a Strength-enhancing sword, but an Agility sword is just beyond them, even though the enhancements to both are assumed to be magic and not related to the smithing process at all.
And do you notice something? Some professions have the same weapon types as other professions. THIS IS FINE. Again, I don’t really care that much if my Agility sword looks the same as my Strength sword and has the same stats as my Agility dagger. Just so long as I have the option to make it again!
That said, if you wish to make the weapons more unique across either weapon types or profession recipes, then I suggest to give the outlier different t-mogs (my fist weapons from a Leatherworker shouldn’t look like metal claws anyway), different secondary stat combinations, or even start bringing back unique on-hit proc abilities such as the Shivervenom Lance or the Thrash Blade (to take an example from Classic). Unique procs would again add value back into crafted items as some may be particularly prized for raids or PvP, as would secondary stat combinations (as long as iLevel keeps up, refer to my first idea).
Idea #12: Finally, The Woodworker Profession
To go along with the above solutions–not in place of them! along with them!–consider releasing a new profession called Woodworking. This profession could make staves, shields, polearms, bows, arrows, (aka all that gear that keeps flip-flopping from profession to profession or hasn’t yet appeared in one) and perhaps some various trinkets or consumables in the form of totems, which would be along the lines of the old Jewelcrafting statues, figurines, and Engineering bombs. If the devs wanted to bring back how crafters need to work together for some items, then this profession could also make the wood stocks for Engineering guns and Blacksmithing axes and polearms.
The gathering profession for Woodworker would probably need to co-opt Herbalism, and Herbalism would then also include sticks as a possible drop from herb nodes. (However, I wonder if it could be worked into Skinning as a kind of “Forester” profession instead? I mainly say this, not because I think it’d make sense, but because all the gathering professions but Skinning have multiple professions that are fed by it, so Skinning could use some more love.) Alternatively, just create a new gathering profession called Forestry, and start changing some of the static trees of old zones into objects that allow you to gather wood. (Just please, PLEASE don’t go randomly adding oak trees to all zones to satisfy this profession as some MMOs do, because the lack of fitting species for the climate looks really ugly and lazy!)
Additionally, as an idea for a future expansion, Woodworker would also be able to craft portable siege vehicles and items for some sort of player housing (or garrison decorations).