Out of boredom this weekend I decided to do some gathering studies for my own personal needs. I have maxed characters of all gathering professions so no areas where hard for me so adding a difficulty level was not a factor. I also used my Shaman miner for the mining instead of my druid miner as the druid has instant flight and that could have skewed my results some.
I made a route in Deepholm and traveled for 1 hour. 340 ores collected. (148 O, 192 E)
I made a route in Twilight Highlands and traveled for 1 hour. 161 ores collected. (142 E, 19 P)
I made a route in Vashj'ir and traveled for 1 hour. 244 ore collected (244 O)
I made a route in Uldum and traveled for 1 hour. 233 herbs collected. (225 WT, 8 C)
I made a route in Hyjal and traveled for 1 hour. 190 herbs collected. (16 AV, 61 C, 113 SV)
I made a route in Deepholm and traveled for 1 hour. 212 herbs collected. (157 HB, 55 C)
I made a route in Twilight Highlands and traveled for 1 hour. 110 skins collected. (110 HSL)
I made a route in Hyjal and traveled for 1 hour. 61+ skins collected. ( 28 BDS, 33 HSL, +scraps)
The mining numbers in Twilight Highlands could be off because of the huge, and I mean huge, amount of people farming mines there but the numbers where still respectable even if every node I landed on I landed with at least two other people most times.
I did not try any other areas because there were not enough spawns to make it worth it. TB can offer great gathering as well but being it is not always available I did not include it.
From looking at these numbers I am left to say that leather is, without doubt, the hardest item to gather when it comes to time and effort. Ore and herb nodes where often land and grab. Maybe once every 20 lands did I get in a fight. Skinning is a fight for everything unless you happen to walk up to an area where someone was questing and was kind enough to loot all the mobs.
Looking at those numbers I am wondering why leatherworking seems to require more of each item to make stuff compared to what blacksmiths or alchemy does?
When leveling leather working past 510 you need blackened dragonscale at a rate of 10 per pattern, not to mention 10 volatiles and 8 heavy savage leather per as well. Being in a hour you can farm 28 (lets call it 30) that means you can get 3 (double) skill ups per hour by farming if you also happen to have a stash of volatiles saved up. Basically, it means, even in an hour, you will not have farmed enough to get even 1 skill up for leather working.
When you compare it to alchemy or blacksmiths they can easily get their skill ups, without the need for anything additional in some cases, with one hour of gathering.
When it comes to gathering to level Alchemy is king. The only thing you need to level alchemy are herbs. There are a few speed bumps if you will where you need to do a few minutes of fishing but that is about it. Blacksmiths have it a tiny bit harder but not much. While to skill up faster you can use less ore and some volatiles if you do not have the volatiles you can make some patterns that just require larger amounts of ore to make. Leather working there is no way around it. You need more then just leather to level it. There is no option otherwise.
Those are only three however. There is a forth gathering profession that anyone can do and that is gathering cloth. Tailors do have the advantage of getting extra cloth from mobs but it still seem to be really low drop rates lately and all tailoring patterns require volatiles at a certain level. Whereas you get life from herbalism, some sort in mining and the rare one with skinning you get nothing from gathering cloth except cloth.
I leveled 4 characters to 85 and some others a little here and there and sent every stitch of cloth I found to my tailor and even at that I only just maxed out tailoring.
To even out professions some I think they need to lower the count of "non leatherworking items" required to make leatherworking patterns and the need to up the amount of skins you get from skinning by at least double.
They also need to make sure that every humanoid mob contains at least 1 piece of cloth. Lower the rare mobs they give 4 or 5 or 6 and make sure all give at least 1 and it will even out to be a little more then currently drops and it would make cloth farmable more so then it is now.
The flow of profession leveling does not feel good right now. Just add this to the list of other things that just do not feel right about this expansion so far.
If you are a gatherer I have a suggestion for you right now.
Do not worry about leveling your profession. In two months you can buy all your ore, herbs and leather back for a tenth of what you can sell it for now. The bandwagon is not gone on this yet as some people might suggest.
One example. Whiptail. On my server it is still selling for around 200 gold per stack. Being anyone can farm 11 stacks of whiptail in a hour without even trying you know it will be something that will be over farmed or even farmed for milling because it is easy to get. Kind of like tiger lily in LK but with some actual uses. If you recall how cheap tiger lily got then you will understand what will happen with whiptail. Only difference is that whiptail does still have lots of uses so it will not go as low, but it will be the most abundant herb on the market in no time.
If you farm for an hour and sell for 200 gold per stack I can guarantee you that you that in less then two months you will be able to buy them back for 20-30 gold per stack no problem.
While farming for profit is not the ideal way of making money it is the only way that honestly requires zero skill and only some free time you are willing to invest. So turn on the TV and watch your favorite show while farming and make some easy money now and buy back the materials later to level your professions.
Ores and herbs will go down faster then skins or cloth as they seem stupidly easy to gather. Taking advantage of people with money willing to grossly over paid is always a good business plan.