Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Choosing a profession for a new druid on a new server

After a ten month hiatus I recently returned to Azeroth and rolled a Kal'Dorei druid named Brickflank on the same server where Etaiu lives. At this time I have six characters on that server, but Brickflank is my first main ever on the Alliance side. I'm reserving the last two slots for my Troll and Worgen druids when Cataclysm hits. I look forward to bringing more Druid Tank content in the coming months.

Aside from the joys of playing an entirely new race and my first alliance character, I'm really excited to be able to write about the Druid tanking experience that corresponds with the leveling process. With the new dungeon finder, I expect I'll get to do a lot more tanking than I ever have in the past. Some folks grind their characters through the levels as fast as they possibly can. But for new players or first characters on a server, since you don't necessarily have your economic engine up and running you have to make some difficult choices.

First, in order to be the best tank you can be, you will need a stable and reliable income source. Whether you need to pick up potions from the auction house, or new armor as you level, being a flash and swagger leatherbelly is a more attractive proposition than being just another mangy and impoverished furball from Kalimdor. But, endgame tanks are usually very concerned with what advantages their endgame professions confer onto them.

So, when choosing professions for a new character, how do you play it? Gathering professions such as mining, skinning and herbalism will bring in a constant income stream, whereas crafting professions such engineering, leatherworking, and alchemy actually cost you gold as you level. In 2009, Blizzard added new crafting recipes for some of the crafting professions to make them more viable and competitive for leveling. But the common wisdom is to stick with gathering professions for your first character. Getting into a guild can help you gain access to the equipment from the crafting professions.

Finally, druids make excellent gatherers. We don't need to leave our feral forms in order to use skinning or herbalism. When we get flight form, this is even more useful. And, if we are smart about what we sell and what we keep as we work our way through the leveling experience, we can end up with a large amount of the rare and difficult to find items by the time we are high level. At that point, if we want to change a profession, we'll have a stockpile of the items needed to do so painlessly. I had a fully trained miner / blacksmith on The Venture Co and when the time came to level up Engineering on my first druid, Etaiu, I had an alt guild bank full of minerals, stone, and other materials, and as a result I brought him from 0-400 in one night.

Having leveled a few crafters before, I know that the profession grinding process leads to a glut of crafted gear on the markets. Also, it's very easy to find someone to craft an item for you while you're leveling, as long as you have the "mats" or material components. So, I've elected, for now, to level my druid as an herbalist and a skinner. My PvP alt has mining and skinning, so I'll have a big old stack of hard-to-find materials when I reach Northrend, if I should choose to switch to a crafting profession.

As a side note, having gone through the leveling process a number of times before, I'm paying a lot more attention this time through to my fishing and cooking skills. Having buff food throughout the leveling process, and having the extra income from these core professions can really come in handy.

Plus, I like to fish. You can even find some tanking booze from early fishing zones, and having some extra cash to spend on my first dungeon tanking gear will be really useful. Since I just hit level 10 yesterday I'll be working on gearing and leveling up for the Stockades and Wailing Caverns for the next day or two, then plan to spend a little time on those instances and really savor them. Hopefully I'll be able to offer useful tips for others who are leveling up their bear tanks.

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