Sunday, January 16, 2011

Archaeology, the great time waster

Here I am to talk to you a little bit about archaeology, WoW's newest (secondary) profession introduced in Cataclysm.

I'm gonna say it from the start: Blizzard has discovered the goose with the golden eggs a long time ago but they keep figuring out new ways to coax it to lay yet more golden (and shinier) eggs.

One way in which a MMORPG such as World of Warcraft keeps players hooked is to give them stuff to do. Repetitive and grindy but fun stuff seems like a good way to accomplish this.

I was excited by archaeology at the beginning, and still am to a certain extent. I guess this is where the addictive component kicks in. However, I see several problems with this red-headed stepchild of a profession.

1. Archaeology seems to have been designed with a flying mount (and a fast one at that) in mind. If it hasn't, then bummer. I can't imagine trying to level it without one. My newest character, a worgen druid, has learned archaeology, in the off-chance that he'll encounter a site in the zones he is questing in. By level 34 he got exactly 2 sites.

2. Even with a fast (310% or more) flying mount, it still takes an eternity to level archaeology from scratch. Simply flying around from one zone to another takes many minutes. Granted, sometimes you get lucky and sites sprout in adjacent areas but that doesn't happen often enough.

3. The majority of crafted relics are crap. Not only that, but they are worthless. It would be nice if they would at least have *some* vendor value. I hear that in a future patch Blizzard is raising the vendor prices for most of these items.

4. Some of the high-end epics are nice, as well as the mount and the pet. Perhaps some of the other doodads as well. But in order to craft those you *really* need to get your ass into gear and grind those fragments baby!

5. Since the relics you get to craft are random, it might be a long time before you get what you wish for.

6. I can't imagine myself leveling this profession all the way to max on a second character beside my main. That's simply too much work and for what? I did learn it on my other characters but that's just in the off chance that I'll be in the same area where a site is. And that's just for the XP since I'm aware that I won't be able to level it on these alts. I'm willing to bet that I could level any other profession from scratch with mats gathered by myself in the time needed to level archaeology.

There are just a couple of redeeming features that take off some of the sting.

1. The XP from discovering fragments is very good and it scales nicely with your level. Thus, it might be worth the waste of time just for the sake of the XP.

2. The fragments don't take up inventory space. If they did, I'd just say "screw this". Tablets and other green items are ok to take inventory because they can be sold on the AH and that's just what I do.

Conclusion: Blizzard may have had good intentions with this new profession but they screwed the pooch, in my book. Yeah, they did manage to create yet another great time sink so if that was their original intention, kudos to them. Personally, I'll just try to level it whenever I feel like it or when it's convenient such as when sites spawn in close proximity. Otherwise, I just can't be bothered to go out of my way to be an expert at it. Some of those epic items are nice but I guess I'll just miss out on them, unless I get really lucky. I can do more interesting things with my time than to waste it on archaeology.


Echo said...

I leveled Archy with the Vial of the Sands recipe in my mind. I must say that Arch is not that fun, at all. You travel a LOT and waste a LOT of time, instead of actually DO something (farming, running instances, whatever).

Now... the problem of Vial of the Sands is that:

a) you can get it in Uldum only
b) Uldum dig sites pop in rotation with other zones
c) you must clear other dig sites all the time
d) you need to discover Canopic Jar
e) you need to find the recipe in the Jar

Points d) and e) are like a random-in-a-random game. It's absolutely horrible, trust me.

Lugnut Daffodil said...

Yeah I'm almost at 300 on my Archy....ain't fun at all. The only fun has been dreaming about that epic staff I may or may not even get lol. But hey you know, it's there, and some people might dig it (pun intended), so that makes it enough of a success in Blizz's book I guess.

Lugnut Daffodil said...

Oh and there is no possible way ever ever ever EVER I could level this up on a 2nd character. Ever! I'm doing it on my main, and never again lol.

Darth Solo said...

@Echo once I heard about those jars, I decided that I simply wasn't gonna care. Screw that mount. I'm so over vanity pets and mounts, I can't even tell you.

@Lugnut well I learned it on most of my characters but I'm not using it, except when I'm in the vicinity of a site. It gives some nice XP but nothing else. The good rewards are much later and only after grinding hundreds of sites and even then, only if you're lucky.

Pouncealot said...

I have no desire to level Archeology. When I read about it, it sounded way to grindy for my tastes; however,

I decided to check it out before forming an opinion. I hopped on my Tauren Paladin and did about three sites; I haven't touched it again. For myself its way to grindy, and mind-numbingly boring. A few within my group are doing it though so if they do snap up the epic mount I'll be sure to purchase it. Apparently that mount was changed to BOE, so I'll be sure to snap it up one of my toons.

Pouncealot said...

That should have been... "a few within my guild..." ;)

Bloodshrike said...

I started Archaeology on my main Bloodshrike because he is my main, and I try to do everything with him. 12 straight hours of grinding it to level 200 got boring, real quick.

However, it does give a good amount of xp. I'm getting about 36k per fragment pickup at level 84, with well-rested xp.

I highly recommend ONLY doing it on an alchemist, since that's the light at the end of the tunnel, being able to learn the Vial of the Sands recipe. Luckily, my main is an alchemist, and I got the recipe on my first jar, so I've been able to charge between 2-5k crafting fee for making the mount.

Echo said...

To be fair, Archaeology is not a "casual player" profession. It's mostly for "lore-fans" players who actually enjoy reading and understending the story behind World of Warcraft.

Pouncealot said...

@Echo, I love WOW lore. Over the past few years I've read a lot of information about it since I enjoy learning the history. However I'm simply not impressed with Archeology (or at least how it is now) in WoW. My game time is limited and Archeology is too much of a grind -- for me. ;)

Darth Solo said...

I think archaeology is for those who just can't live without those achievements or mount or other doodads. Maybe even for the lore addicts but personally I'm not that much into lore.

Snail said...

Just after Christmas I decided to roll a fresh alt on a new server and see the world from scratch. I put my main(s) on hold, and am Everyquest/Loremaster levelling this fresh alt.

I picked up Archaeology at level 20 and survey in every new zone I come into. Usually I end my play session with a dig or two. By this method I am now level 56 and have 235 in Arch (I did not solve any artifacts until I had 100 skill points).

I think this is one profession in which it is infinitely better to do it as you go along instead of trying to powerlevel.

I tried to dig on one of my main characters, but even with 310 flying, all of the travel time between sites killed it for me.

Darth Solo said...

@Snail I'm definitely an adept of learning Archaeology at level 20 when it becomes available. Just in the off-chance that you're in an area with a dig site. However, I would argue that it's only worth your time after you can get your first flying mount and preferably a 280% mount at level 70. Otherwise it's too painful to contemplate.

Anonymous said...

Hi Darth
I'm been following your blog for several years, and still do. But I don't read all of it anymore since I quit wow some 6 month ago. But I still think a will return to wow some day... Since I quit i'm been playing World of tanks. I'll probably will shift to Planetside 2 when it comes out. I have never tried Diablo, so who knows... :P
I'll think you should start another blog and let this one rest in wait for your (maybe) return to wow. Sticking with this one will probably just feel more and more akward when it's no longer about wow. The fact that you raiced the question just prove it.
Thanks for all nice posts! And see you on your new blog ;)