02 May 2007

Leatherworking for Fun and Profit

About a month ago, I made a conscious decision that I was going to do my best to have Alamein use armor that she'd made for herself. A deceptively simple goal, and one that seems exactly where I would think Blizzard would want the professions to go.

Results have been mixed to this point. You can take a look at Alamein's profile and see what gear she's wearing. It includes just two items that she made: the Green Whelp Armor and Guardian Pants. She also made Guardian Armor that she'll wear when melee is unlikely -- as when healing in a group. Each piece has an interesting story.

The Guardian Pants were the first of these she made, and they've been useful for a long time though new gear is starting to look good. These were actually the easiest to get -- the recipe comes from the trainer, and the materials are common (though it's a bit tough to find bolts of silk cloth at auction on Shandris).

The Green Whelp Armor was another interesting story. She saw the recipe at auction for a good price a long time ago, and bought it to hold. As her leatherworking approached 175, these started to look attractive, and like a good money-maker. So I asked Cargarios to help me in the Swamp of Sorrows, and we farmed the green whelps until I got the four scales I needed. We were slightly over our head, and had to be very careful not to aggro more than one or two at a time. But with a bit of hard work, it came out, and the armor is fantastically useful for soloing (and PvP too I think, though I'm not completely sure yet). And she has since sold two or three of these at auction as well.

The Guardian Armor is a recent acquisition. I wanted to make that for a long time -- the +intelligence and +spirit is useful for a caster druid. The problem is the materials, and in particular the Shadow Oil. There's just not a lot of it at auction since an alchemist/herbalist can sell the materials for more than the oil. The Trade channel didn't bring any help, and I was starting to scan the auction house for materials when the oil finally popped up. I bought one and made the armor, but there's no way to sell this for profit, as the oil goes for about 1.5 gold. I haven't used it much yet, but we'll see how it does.

So those are the success stories for how leatherworking should work. You get some good recipes that you can make, and that come at a time when it's useful for you. Some of the better recipes require a lot of work on materials, but that's OK too.

But what about the disappointments? One is the Guardian Bracers that Alamein wears. That's actually a leatherworking recipe, but it requires a skill of 195. The bracers are great, but she still can't make them yet -- and she's had them for a while. So that's disappointing. For a non-twinked character, it's just a lot easier to buy those at auction than to spend the time and money to level the profession so fast that she can use them at level 34.

And those items (chest armor, pants, and bracers) cover it all. The rest are things that Alamein either found or bought on the auction house. I think she found the belt, which is roughly equivalent to the Guardian Belt she could make... if she had the recipe. There are no good leather glove recipes for a caster druid up through 225 skill, other than the Gloves of the Greatfather, and that's a difficult recipe to get. Similarly, there are no good caster shoulders either, no good boots until the Swift Boots, and no good caster head until the Big Voodoo Mask. And she's looking for bolts of silk cloth to make the decent Guardian Cloak, since she just found the recipe at auction yesterday.

So from 9 armor slots, that's 2 that she has made, another 2 (the belt and the cloak) that she could have made... and five where she had no choice. I suppose the situation would be a lot better if she were a rogue or a feral druid; there's good gear for agility and strength. But those attributes have little use for a balance/resto druid.

But what about profit? Leatherworking has been decent for making some cash for Alamein. I mentioned selling the Green Whelp Armor. I set an early goal to track down the recipe for Barbaric Bracers, and those have sold relatively well. Then she went to even greater lengths to get and make the Gem-Studded Leather Belt. (Which is a very cool belt... but not so much for a healing Druid.) The armor goes for about 1.5 gold, the bracers for between 1.5 and 3 gold, and the belt for around 3.5 or 4 gold.

The key is to find the key materials at good prices at auction. Right now I'm scanning for the gems for the belt, and it's a tough job. The gems typically sell on Shandris for somewhere between 50 and 80 silver. So with five gems required for the belt, at that price I'd have 3.75 gold invested, even before adding the other materials. So to be profitable I have to look for auction bargains. It's possible, but citrine and jade are in so much demand for other professions that it just doesn't happen often. When I can comfortably solo the green whelps, I'll farm them and make a few more Green Whelp Armor too. All in all, making those three items has probably made me a net profit of about 10 or 15 gold. Not a ton... but not bad when my current bank is about 30 gold.

So it's a major struggle just to keep leatherworking relevant. I know that making a profit was always going to be difficult. (If I really wanted to make money, I'd farm and sell leather.) But it's disappointing that I have so few chances to make my own equipment.

Hopefully that will get a bit better as I progress. I've got my eye on some Big Voodoo gear...

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