WoW: Learn Alchemy Fast

Questing in low-level areas helps to satisfy my sense of completism: as I’ve mentioned before, each zone of Azeroth has an Achievement for completing a certain number of quests (generally several short of what’s attainable), and at the rate I’m going, it looks like getting all of the quest Achievements for one or both continents is a reasonable goal. But that isn’t my only motivation. When I started doing it, it had more to do with herbalism. Early on, when I was questing in the Northern Barrens (which were appropriately-leveled for me at the time), I found that the place was riddled with a plant called “mageroyal”, which, at the time, I didn’t have enough Herbalism skill to gather. This was frustrating enough that I eventually departed for a zone with herbs I could pick, and didn’t come back until I’d had enough practice to gather mageroyal to my heart’s content. By this point I was too advanced for the quests to be challenging, but I did them anyway, because just picking herbs without any other simultaneous goals is kind of boring.

Mageroyal was plentiful enough in the places that I was going through repeatedly that I accumulated a glut of the stuff, which I stuffed into a satchel in my bank vault. The same later happened on a different continent with kingsblood. 1Pretty much all the herb names follow this pattern of two-word compounds. In fact, the game as a whole is inordinately fond of this formation, starting with the title. I hoarded these things because I had potential future needs for them: Oleari is also a student of alchemy.

My alchemy skill has long lagged behind my herbalism: most potions have two components, and although I have a surplus of some herbs, I have a shortage of others. In fact, that’s more or less inevitable. Practicing alchemy generally means making the most advanced potion you can until you run out of one of the ingredients. But I had something of a breakthrough lately, in that I started finding just the right herbs to let me advance. Partly this can be credited to my finally discovering how to find herbs. An earlier comment mentioned that pickable herbs call attention to themselves by sparkling, which hadn’t been my experience at all. It turns out that they only do this if you have the mini-map set to plot herb locations. (Probably I hadn’t noticed this because the last time I right-clicked on the mini-map was with a different character who didn’t have herbalism and thus didn’t have the option.) And making them sparkle is crucial for some types of herb. Mageroyal and kingsblood are colorful enough to stand out, but fadeleaf, which is used in invisibility potions, is, appropriately, really hard to spot. But I don’t want to overstate the effect this had on my gathering. Mainly I was just exploring new territories, with different distributions of flora.

Now, I’ve spent quite some time speculatively picking herbs that I had no immediate use for. And this means that suddenly being able to practice alchemy had a slingshot effect. Raising my skill a little gave me access to a new potion recipe, one that I could make using herbs that had been languishing in my vault for some time. Making as much of that potion as I could, I gained enough alchemy skill to learn another potion, and so on. For a while I was running back and forth and back and forth between the bank and the alchemy trainer, until came to my senses and just cleared the vault of herbs. (Well, not quite cleared. I’ve still got more mageroyal in there than I know what to do with.) So now I’m considerably more advanced at alchemy and have a great deal more vault space than previously, both good things.

It strikes me that a sufficiently wealthy character could just buy a bunch of herbs at auction and zoom all the way to maximum alchemy skill from nothing in a single day. One could conceivably sell alchemy kits — and tailoring kits, armorcrafting kits, etc. — that contain everything you need for such a purpose. And if I can think of this, there are probably people already doing it.

1 Pretty much all the herb names follow this pattern of two-word compounds. In fact, the game as a whole is inordinately fond of this formation, starting with the title.

1 Comment so far

  1. malkav11 on 2 Apr 2011

    Lower level crafting ingredients are very popular items to sell on the auction house for precisely that reason – people speed-grinding a new crafting skill up to a useful level. I’ve done it myself with cooking and engineering. It’s especially common if people want to do crafting on their death knights, as death knights start at level 55 and have thus skipped 55 levels worth of gathering skill training time.

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