18 November 2008

Leatherworking: time to give it up?

First, the good news. Leveling Skinning is about the easiest thing you can do, at the launch of a new expansion. There's tons of dead animals all over the place, just ready to be skinned. I'm already at 450 skill for that, with probably about 150 Borean Leather in the bank so far. It's nice.

But I haven't made a single new leather item yet, and I'm starting to think that it's time to quit Leatherworking. That's really a shame, because I like it. The irony is that Blizzard has said that the profession changes were designed to route you to something you enjoy rather than something you felt you 'had' to take. I enjoy Leatherworking, but the available items are so bland and boring that I'm not seeing any use from the profession.

Leatherworking has always suffered (along with Tailoring and Blacksmithing) in that many of its products aren't consumable. Yes, you can make armor patches and leg armor. But the bread and butter of the profession — the leather or mail armor — is unlikely to sell for much. People just get better rewards from dungeons, rep, and badges. There are a few high-end items that you can sell, but those are pretty rare. Most things aren't worth the material cost. And the patches, while not bad, compete with enchants and aren't a huge money-maker.

The Bind-on-Pickup leather items used to be great, at least for me. I worked hard to craft my Windhawk set. It was a bit better than T4 and lasted me through all of Burning Crusade. (I didn't get out much.) Raiders got some good BoP patterns too. But it appears that Blizzard won't do anything this good any more, which really kills the attraction and value of Leatherworking for me. Even if there was comparable gear, I took pride in wearing something that I'd made myself; it marked me out as a leatherworker (though the models were crappy) and made me feel that the profession gave me something unique. Without that, my motivation is much less.

Drums were a Burning Crusade addition designed to make Leatherworking more attractive. And they did! The effects they added to battle were great and were a big advantage. Too big. Advanced raiding guilds had many of their players convert to Leatherworking so that they could chain-drum their way through challenging encounters. That is specifically what Blizzard wanted to combat (and rightfully so). So, they changed drums so that all drummers in a party or raid are subject to the same cooldown. Not a bad change, but as my normal party has three leatherworkers, we're really overstocked with drummers now.

So, Wrath has another answer: fur linings. These are crafter-bound wrist enchants, like the ring enchants that enchanters get. They're not bad. Compare Fur Lining - Spellpower to Enchant Bracers - Superior Spellpower. The fur lining gets you almost 125% more spellpower than the enchant. The attack power advantage is about the same, while the Stamina bonus is huge. There are also fur linings for resistances. It's all pretty nice.

But that's what Leatherworking reduces to: +37 spellpower for me. That's it. Beyond that, I've lost my unique (and pretty good) armor; any value from my Tribal Leatherworking specialization, and much of the utility of my drums. It's depressing.

I haven't looked at it, but I suspect that Blacksmithing is in much the same boat. Enchanting is probably about where they were before, as are the consumeable professions of Alchemy and Jewelcrafting. Tailoring at least gets their flying carpets, and Engineering gets their choppers and a host of other unique and cool items.

So will I switch? I'm reluctant, since Alamein has been crafting leather her entire career. I'm still hopeful that I'll see some useful changes with future patches. Besides, I don't have time to level another profession while I'm leveling up. So I'll probably hang on to Leatherworking for now, at least until I reach level 80 and/or the 3.1 patch comes out (and we see more recipes). But if things stay as they are, Alamein may have to become an Alchemist or Inscriptionist.

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