Monday, March 28, 2011

Alchemy, Herbalism, and Why Flasks Need to be Changed Back

When Cataclysm first came out to make a flask you need 12 each of 2 types of herb and 6 volatile life.  This math worked out near perfect when it came to making flasks. 

As we all know well enough by now, anything that works well needs to be broken ASAP.  With that in mind Blizzard changed the break down to require 8 each of 2 types of herb and 8 volatile life.

Looking at that at first glance does not seem as if that is a really huge change.  If anything it looks better right?  If all thing where created equally it would have been a massive boost to making flasks and the market all around.  Sadly, all things are not created equal.

Lets step back to Cataclysm's release. 

I picked herbs, I made flasks, I had some left over volatile life which in turn got turned into air, water, fire or earth, depending on what I needed.  It was never a huge amount left over but enough that I could do a transmute if I needed some other volatile because there was always a little extra to go around.  I would use all my herbs for the most part.

When all was said and done, the math was perfect.  If I picked herbs until I had 400 volatile life and then started banging out flasks I would end with almost no herbs left and enough volatiles that, should I need some fire for my tailor, I could make some with the transmute.  Perfection.  One of the few things Blizzard got right in what is an astoundingly horrible expansion on every level of game play and design.

That did not bode well for Blizzard.  They could not have one aspect of the game show that they knew what they where doing when they failed so badly at everything else.  So the brain storming began and they came up with a way to destroy what was once the only perfect design this expansion.

I decided to do a little test this weekend while talking to some guild mates and expressing my disgust with Blizzard for changing something that was not broken to begin with.

I put a number in mind.  I wanted to make 50 flasks.  I would collect enough herbs to make 50 flasks.  I would collect them in as close to perfect order so that way I had an even amount of herbs as to not have a ton left over of one or another.

The end results worked out like this.

By the time I had collected 400 volatiles, enough to make 50 flasks, I had 1949 herbs.  This means that when I made the 50 flasks I had 1149 extra herbs. 

Old way, numbers worked about as close to perfect as you could design a game.
New way, numbers are about as horribly unbalanced as they could possible be.

Some might say that with those 1149 extra herbs you can mill them with a scribe, you can make potions, you can do various things.  I agree.  However, they still leaves a huge gaping hole.

In previous expansion you needed inks to make glyphs.  This expansion, once you max inscription you will most likely never go back to it except to make darkmoon cards.  Once the darkmoon cards phase passes, and they will a lot faster then they did last expansion based on the trinkets we see coming up being leaps and bounds better, there will never be any reason for inks.  This means that while now there is a market for the left over herbs in inscription as soon as 4.2 comes out that market is gone, completely.

Making fortune cards for gamblers will be the only thing inscription will be left with.  Inscription, the absolute best designed profession in the game before this expansion is completely useless now.  You could honestly leave your scribe at 450 and never notice the difference.  You would still have access to every glyph you would ever need.

As for the potion discussion that holds no water either.  Sure.  I can make a lot of potions with those extra herbs.  That does not help the volatile market at all.  I still used all mine on flasks.  Not to mention, due to the overwhelming glut of herbs the prices of potions on the market are so low it is not even worth listing them.  At any given moment there are 100 people listing, all undercutting each other, and none of them are selling.  So listing them is a waste of money.

With the previous way you would use all your herbs and all your volatiles to make flasks.  If you choose to make potions you now have extra volatiles which can now be sold to other people that need them for their professions.

Having the extra volatiles made all aspects of the game better.  The market for volatiles before the change was good.  Lifes where around 8g, water was around 13g, earth and air where around 15g and fire sometimes approached 20g.

Now, being the design was changed and there are no such thing as extra volatile life the prices on all volatiles have gone through the roof.  Life is now 15g on a good day, water is still not as bad but up to 25g as is earth, Air is sitting at 35g and god forbid you need a fire they are going for 50g.  (I like fishing them up and selling them on off days for 70g each)

I bet that Blizzard never realized that their little change to flasks would have such a wide spread effect on the market.  This late in the expansion prices should be going down, not up.  They continue to go up more and more as people are farming for hours on end just to get volatiles and ending up with massive amounts of herbs that they have no use for.  The only thing that goes down, is the price of herbs.

So this is awesome for the herb market if you want to make potions because the prices of herbs are already so low they are almost at the level that wrath prices where at the end.  Heck, Lichbloom sold for 30g per stack more (70g) at the end of wrath than Cinderbloom does now (40g).  That is not right, not at all.

They need to change the flasks back and they need to change them back soon.  It was the prefect balance.  We all know that Blizzard does not like balance, they live to make this game as horribly unbalanced as possible it seems, but this is one case where we had a taste of what balance was like and we should not stand for this change and make them change it back now.

The old way was perfect.  If you milled your herbs it worked out that you had enough inks and volatiles to make cards.  If you made flasks out of your herbs it worked out that you had enough to do them in near perfect balance.  If you decided to make potions you had the volatiles to transmute to ease the stress of the market for other types of them that all professions needed.  It was, in a word, ideal.

This way means inflated volatile prices, deflated herb prices, other professions having a harder time getting the volatiles they need and basically breaking a system that seemed to be the only thing that actually worked perfectly right out of the box in this expansion.

Remember the saying, if it ain't broke don't fix it?  Well, in Blizzard they have a saying, if it ain't broke, break it, we can't have people expecting a well designed game now can we.

If one good thing came from it, I made 12K off selling everything when my testing was done.

There are two ways Blizzard can fix this.  Change things back to the way they were or make it that at 1-3 volatile life come with every herb you pick.


  1. "One of the few things Blizzard got right in what is an astoundingly horrible expansion on every level of game play and design."

    So why are you still playing if Cataclysm is so horrible? What's the point in fussing over something if you continue to throw money at it anyway? It's like pitching a fit over a model of a car but still being a hypocrite and driving it. Go play some other game if Blizzard is really that terrible over this one little issue.

    The price of volatiles went up. Boo hoo, go farm your gold to buy them because it's easier than ever to make gold. You already admitted that you benefited from the higher price of volatile fire (fishing it then selling it at a high price) yet you lament it.

    I'm not trying to sound like a troll here, but none of your fussing makes any sense to me. Yes, it's an inconvenience with the change but it isn't a game-shattering change. But maybe to you it is, in which case you're probably better off leaving the game rather than sitting around whining about how much it sucks.

    It's not productive. It doesn't get anything accomplished. It doesn't make the problem change. On the contrary, making constructive posts in the forums (rather than just fussing over something or demanding that it be changed back) can help the devs with suggestions and feedback.

  2. I can feel the anger...
    It makes the post stronger, makes it focused...

    "One of the few things Blizzard got right in what is an astoundingly horrible expansion on every level of game play and design."

    Oh wait...

  3. @Icedragon

    I complain because I like to complain. I know it will change nothing and in the end it really makes no difference what me or anyone else says. The change just makes no sense to me.

    I bitch, complain and rip apart how horrible this expansion is but the fact still remains that WoW is leaps and bounds better then anything of its ilk out there. That does not change the fact that it is bad. It is just better then the stuff that is worse.

    Just because I do not like how things are being done does not mean I pack up and quit. Just like all the fan boys can say how great things are I can complain. It is really a matter of opinion and we are both allowed to voice them.

    At the end of the day, for as much as I complain, I still play. I just vent, it makes me happy to vent, I move along. Such is life.

    I do not think of you as a troll, just someone with differing opinions. We are all entitled to them.

    I would just ask you to try and name one reason why it was changed. One good reason... not one Blizzard reason.

  4. Then it must not be as bad as you make it sound.

    "I would just ask you to try and name one reason why it was changed. One good reason... not one Blizzard reason."

    Blizzard is the one that changed it so how on earth could it not be a Blizzard change? Last I checked it was their game and the devs worked for them.

  5. @Icedragon

    Sorry, must have not phrased that one correctly. What would you think the reason is. I only ask because I can't think of a good reason and blizzards reason of it needed to many herbs makes no sense because it didn't.

    It goes along the same lines of blizzard saying they removed volley because they did not want hunters having a magical spell and then made an entire spec based on magical damage. It makes no sense.

    And you are right, I do not point out all of the things I like about it because I like them. Nothing to say on that point. If I like something the post would be one sentence long.

    I like Uldum. I like HoO. I like harder heroics. I like the singing sunflower, it makes me laugh. I like a lot.

    See how boring of a post that would make?

    Also, there is nothing I would change there so it is not worth writing about.

  6. Y'know, there ARE ways to talk about things you enjoy without paring it down to one sentence, or being boring. And there ARE ways of expressing frustration without making it "All QQ all the time". If you'd written a post about how you were frustrated by the changes, and then maybe came up with a solution other than "change it back", or even a good, rational reason to "change it back", and maybe copied it to the Dev forums... hey, that might have a chance of getting a Dev's attention and making them re-evaluate the changes!

    As it is? Reading this post, all I can see is "WAH WAH BLIZZARD SUCKS THEY RUINED THE GAME I TOTALLY HATE THIS GAME THAT I'M STILL PAYING FOR THEY SHOULD DO EVERYTHING I WANT BECAUSE I PAY FOR IT BUT THEY DON'T SO THEIR GAME SUCKS." Do you really think that? I don't know, but that's the sense I get from a post complaining about this that include things like, "Remember the saying, if it ain't broke don't fix it? Well, in Blizzard they have a saying, if it ain't broke, break it, we can't have people expecting a well designed game now can we."

    If you think this game sucks so much, go play Rift or something. Why would you keep paying for a game you hate so thoroughly?

  7. I'm not going to say that I am as upset by reading your post as others are, but I will say that I had a very hard time keeping up with your line of thinking and that I felt your post didn't stay on one constructive topic.

    You seemed to have a sound argument towards why you felt the ingredients for making flasks were fine the way that they previously were. It isn't an issue that I have encountered and I can be as anal or OCD as it gets! It's a personal issue or complaint that you have and you were voicing it very well and explaining it just the same.

    Then the discussion veered towards how extra herbs could be considered a waste. As a progression raider, I can tell you that there is no such thing as an herb going to waste. You always need flasks or potions or volatiles for something. Someone will always need these things.

    I wish I could look in my bank and see extra herbs laying around, instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel to find the mats to make certain things that I want. I wish I had that problem!

    After that, the discussion turned towards how Inscription is going to be obsolete once certain trends come to pass. How does this have anything to do with herbs? Herbs don't make Inscription obsolete, the Darkmoon Cards going out of style and the availability of glyphs already out there are going to do that. I don't see how the two concepts tie together.

    Then we go back to the economy and at that point you lost me. I really wanted to follow along. I really wanted to see where this would go and it didn't take me towards the destination that I had in mind.

    The only constructive feedback that I would share with you is that if you want to sell people on a concept and you want them to understand how you feel and to possibly feel the same, you need to really sell the concept and really bring out those feelings in the person who is reading your work. If they can't follow along, they are not going to relate.

    Maybe that's not your goal and I understand that. That's just what I would do, if I were in your shoes.

    Please take care and thank you for listening.

  8. @Oestrus

    Thanks for the comment. As for the inscription thing I was going somewhere with that in my head but some how it never made it to the page. Sorry about that.


    It was really just a QQ that rambled on too long. I do not post on the forums. Never have and never will. But your idea is fantastic and even if I write something for my own uses I should consider writing them as if I where writing them directly for the devs. Might make getting my point across, right or wrong, a lot easier.

    As for Rift, I play Rift, I just don't care enough about it to complain about it. I like WoW so I complain about things I do not like about it. If I didn't like WoW I would not feel the need to complain because I would not care.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. :) Glad you could take something from me! I can totally understand the urge to QQ a bit, and that's perfectly fair, and I understand rants that go on longer than they really should, when you get started. I just thought it should be pointed out that the hyperbole was making it a lot harder to see anything other than the QQing, whether you had a valid point or not.

    Take care!

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