Throughout the evolution of Homo sapiens, there has been this group of people dedicated to the gathering and acquisition of resources: hunter-gatherers. Originally, the entire human race was made up with these men and women, gathering berries and wood or hunting Woolly Mammoths or various mammals. Present day, hunter-gatherers are all but extinct, due to the progress of agriculture and the domestication of animals which used to be hunted.
This, however, does not discourage the average World of Warcraft player from making big piles of gold from the latest sales of his or her Saronite Ore. It does not discourage them from letting out an exuberant cry as they finally pick up that last Arctic Fur they've needed since forever, or even, when that darn coin finally lets itself get fished.
Yes, the common player in World of Warcraft tends to have at least one gathering skill, either to enhance his crafting profession, or to collect items worth selling. These professions are the most important of all. In fact, without them, the economies on the servers would not function. People wouldn't have enough money to afford to pay for crafting skills.
This article will look at the finer points of the gathering skills in World of Warcraft and how they should be used by a raider. We will also be looking at the secondary professions of Fishing, Cooking and First Aid (which really isn't that useful and I may disregard if I get annoyed with it...)
One of the more gruesome professions, Skinning is the removal and collection of various qualities of leather for use primarily by Leatherworkers and to a lesser extent, Engineers and Blacksmiths. For those who enjoy being elbow deep in bloody strips of hide, skinning provides more than just the resources.
Originally, the skins were the only items of use which could be gathered by Skinners, along with the hides of various qualities. While these items were useful, they were not exactly a good selling point. Of course, in the beginning, the economy was a bit dull. After a few patches and the constant growth of the World of Warcraft community, leather became valuable for those who were either levelling their leatherworking or by those who needed items made by Leatherworkers. Invariably, Leatherworkers were also skinners, so the only real market for skins would be to others. And since every rogue or druid worth their salt would be leatherworkers, this market was rather small.
In Wrath of the Lich King, Skinning hasn't really changed all that much. Only two real changes have come about: the new stat bonus and Arctic Furs.
The new stat bonus called Master of Anatomy, which at maximum level gives 32 critical strike rating, is given as you progress through the skinning levels. This by itself is a 'nice' bonus, not amazing, not wonderful, but it's nice to have. At level 80, 32 critical strike is roughly 0.7% critical strike. This is a very small amount compared to the levels of critical strike percentages out there at the moment (my druid regularly goes over 50% during raids). Arctic Furs are at great demand, where most leather using and some mail using classes need them for their various crafted items. They are, however, very rare, and take a lot of time to grind.
Overall, Skinning isn't that useful as profession for a raider, but it's nice to have if you have the time to grind. Good in conjunction with Cooking, as you can gather meat from the same mobs you skin.
I give Skinning a Raider's Rating of 2/10 - Nice to have, but that's about it...
Pickaxe in hand, the Miners of Azeroth migrate towards the hotspots daily, removing large piles of ore and gems from the ground. In some instances, the areas look like an open-cut mine! The Ore and Gems acquired by those using their Mining profession can be used by Jewel crafters, Engineers and Blacksmiths specifically.
Mining has always been an excellent way to make money, with all Blacksmiths needing it for levelling and for the different epic items from raids. Thorium was always hotly contested and always ready to be camped for hours on end. However, it wasn't as useful as it could be, and in The Burning Crusade, it was given a bit of a boost.
Jewel-crafting revitalized Mining as a way of making money, with many undecided players turning to it to make money. With Jewel-crafters required at least 5 Ore to Prospect for jewels. This means that Adamantite and Fel Iron were in very very high demand, as well as all of the Azeroth ore, as the Jewel-crafters had to level up their craft from level one.
While being a great money making profession, it still had no impact on raiding by itself. Until Wrath of the Lich King, it was just a profession to help other professions. When Wrath of the Lich King hit, a new ability appeared for the Miners of the world: Toughness.
Admittedly, this is a rather 'aimed' ability. Toughness gives those with the highest level of mining 50 stamina, which is not something to be scoffed at. Fifty stamina is a very obvious bonus for any tank or person who has low health (mages anyone?). While this is a rather static bonus, it is always welcome. 50 stamina translates to 500 stamina (more if you're a druid in bear form). This tends to be lost in the thousands of health points that tanks these days have, but it could meant the difference between a dead tank and an almost dead tank (who tends to die pretty quickly anyways...).
Overall, Mining is excellent for those who want to make money, and for tanks as a little boost in health.
I give Mining a Raider's Rating of 6/10 - Good money maker and 50 stamina helps.
Throughout the lands of Azeroth and Outland, small clumps of useful plants can be collected to be used by Alchemists and Scribes (People with Inscription, not inscribers...). These plants are gathered by the green thumbed Herbalists, who ply their trade in the forests and in the open air, so it's probably pretty healthy other than the substance abuse... Wait? Wah? *loud coughing in an attempt to steer the reader towards the next paragraph*
In the past, Herbalism has been the sole domain of the Alchemist, who was the only one that the herbs could benefit. The constant searching for Black Lotus would take up all of their time, but would also be their primary source of income and guild need, as Black Lotus was the rarest herb there was (and is...) and was required for every type of Flask out there. Any raiding guild which wanted to keep ahead of the others on its server would have a couple of good herbalists going around the Burning Steppes, or Winterspring, or the other two zones where the lotus spawned.
Now, in the realms of the Lich King, we find that Herbalism has had a bit of a boost. With the introduction of Inscription, it's found a second Crafting profession which needs the herbs full time. Along with this new boon, came the introduction of two other items: Frost Lotus and Lifeblood.
Frost Lotus, the Lich King's answer to the Black Lotus, can be as annoying as Black Lotus. It does not have a specific spawn, but does drop when pick up other herbs. This, to me, is a great thing. I hated trying to find Black Lotus, only to come across an Alliance picking it, then murdering me in a few seconds (I've never been good at PvP...). I still see a lot of my guildmates complaining that Frost Lotus is hard to find, when my Hunter alt is sitting there with four, waiting for sale. My hunter is far too lucky for his own good...
The other bonus from Herbalism was also added in Wrath of the Lich King: Lifeblood. This, to me, is the great bonus that Rogues, Warriors and Hunters have been crying out for! The ability give yourself a heal without any reagents needed is almost a godsend for the classes who don't have heals. To be fair, the heal isn't that amazing, and is a Heal over Time, so it still takes a few seconds, but it's better than a bandage. The last level of this skill is given at level 55, and is great then, as it heals 2000 health over five seconds (400 per second). This heal is great at that level, but not at level 80. Where players can have well over 13,000 health at level 80, 2000 health is easily lost, and the heal is quickly outstripped by the higher levels of First Aid. The only real reason to continue using it at level 80 is... the flowers you make on the ground when used!
Overall, herbalism is a great help for Scribes and Alchemists, and can be a good money maker. Frost lotus sells very well, and Lifeblood, while rather useless at level 80, is very pretty still.
I give Herbalism a Raider's Rating of 3/10 - Money maker, and helpful, but no real raider bonus.