In most RPG games, the solo console type or mmo type, there is a collection of grinds. One after another they continue. Some are easy, some are harder but they all lead to an end result. You end up with something you want.
Lets say a new BoE piece of gear came out and your leatherworker/tailor/blacksmith does not have the pattern yet but you want it and you want it as soon as possible.
Enter the grind. Like any half way decent game WoW gives you options on how you would like to handle the grind. In truth, WoW is much better then most games when it comes to this. With the exception of low population servers where prices are oft times inflated and getting groups is sometimes hard the grind will not be hell, so to speak.
You can choose to grind the materials needed should you have the professions needed for gathering or creating such items. This is usually the route the "smarter" (for lack of a better word) people will take. The crafted item will cost 20K on the auction house but only require 8K worth of items should you buy them. Depending on what items they are you could gather them for even less than 8K, assuming that time is indeed money.
Your time is your own and you can divide it as you wish, so that means if you wish to farm the materials they would, in theory, be free as you gathered them yourself. All you invested was time and as many gatherers will tell you, if they where not gathering they wouldn't be doing anything, so at least gathering the items means that is time well spent. Isn't any time out of your home city listening to trade trolls time well spent anyway?
You can choose to half and half it. Gather some materials that are easy for you to get your hands on and purchases some others that you are either not capable of getting yourself or you consider to be to much of a time investment to go after. This is the usual route many people go and is really a smart way to go about it as well.
If the item needs volatile fires and you get them while doing your molten core dailies anyway it is not exactly farming, it is gathering by opportunity. Kind of like being the only skinner in a firelands trash run. Hundreds of pieces of leather for something you where doing anyway. Now that is really free as your time is being spent on getting the rep, the leather is just a bonus.
You could go the route of buying all the items if you wanted to. As I mentioned they are only 8K while the finished item sells for 20K on the market. If you have the extra gold anyway, might as well spend it if you do not have the time to do one of the farming techniques.
Some people just end up with gold on them and are not exactly sure how they have it. I have a DK on one server that I did the holloween boss last year on and it got the pumpkin head buff on it. It still had the buff for the easter boss. I never log on the thing, proof is that a 60 minute buff lasted over half a year. That character has 37K gold on it. It happens sometimes.
If you are one of those gold making whiz kids where gold comes easy to you or you just happen to have a lot of gold and don't know any better maybe you might just buy it straight out for 20K. While I might think that is quite retarded, buy the mats and have it crafted and get it for 8K, why waste 12K when you do not have to, I can understand why some people do that. They just do not know any better. Here is to hoping they read this.
Then there is the cross gathering pay for it way. You have herbalism say and while it is not useful for any of the materials you need for the BoE you want it is something you can use to your advantage. A few passes through Uldum and you could gather up a quick 20 stacks of whiptail, not to mention pick up a nice collection of volatile life. You use what you have, sell what you gather, and buy what you need with that gold, without ever touching the gold you already had.
While in effect you are "buying" the items you really aren't. You gathered herbs and sold them and bought leather with the cash. All it did was add a step to the gathering process. Your herbs are basically crafting the BoE for you. So you gathered the materials, not bought them.
Goes to show that you do not need a profession to gather for that profession, you just need to use the profession you do have to gather and then turn over your items into other items.
Then there is the leg work approach to getting it done. This would require you have a decent rep on the server to do but it is not really that hard. When you hear someone say they want the item but they refuse to pay 20K for it you tell them you can get it for them for 16K.
Some people do not know better and will think this is a great deal. This is where the trust part comes in. You ask them to front you half now, so you can get the pieces you are missing to craft it for them and they can pay the other half on delivery. If they agree you take the 8K, buy the items needed, have someone craft it for you, then trade it to them and get the other 8K from them. Effectively, you how got yours for free, well, not actually free, you have to tip the person that crafted it for you, but you get the idea.
This could also work on a smaller level. You can sell it for 12K and do it a few times to get the gold. You could also go the route of it takes money to make money. Buy the mats and have someone craft it and then sell it through trade. As long as you sell it for anything more then you paid for it, it is a profit. If you do it a few times you could easily make a nice chuck of change along with having one for yourself.
People listing for outrageous prices on the auction house can really help you make money. Do not under cut them, they might make them under cut you. Let them list it high and sell it through trade instead. That way you are making more money because they asked way to much for it to begin with.
Then there is the do it yourself approach. If you are an alt whore like me you have enough characters to have every professions maxed out, a few times at that. You can just go through the effort of getting the pattern yourself. Be it doing a ton of dailies to open the shops in the molten front or joining every rep run for firelands you can even if you already are exalted until you get the drop for the pattern. This could be very time consuming but if you want to roll that way, you have that option.
Getting new gear is a time hog, time hogs are good. They give you something to do in the game.
The beauty of the system is the way it is set up. It is set up that you can go about getting your new BoEs any way you want. It gives you the freedom to invest your time the way you want to invest your time.
Of course, being I am the grumpy elf I need to make some sort of grumpy comment here on the subject so here goes.
That is why I dislike things like the orbs being BoP (soon changing) and the newer craftables needing drops from raids. If the raid drop ones where available for points, even a high amount and the orbs where not BoP it allows you to control your item assembly all by yourself, giving you, the player, more control over your own game. As it is now you either need to pay extra for orb usage or pay through the teeth for a raid only item. Not exactly in the spirit of the build it yourself route if you ask me.
That is one of the small mistakes I think blizzard made this expansion. Lets hope they do not repeat it in future ones.
Giving people the ability to go out and get everything on their own is a good thing. It creates a time hog in the game, it creates something for them to do, something that is suspiciously missing from this expansion as a whole.
I personally love time hogs even if time hogs for gear is one of my least favorite but it is still something that was worthy of playing the game just to do it. I love how it was set up in wrath. When I had a new character hit 80 I could go and gather, or buy, everything I needed and ask someone to craft if for me. I would grind dungeons for points for saronite, I could buy the special cloth from tailors, I could roll on the orbs regardless of my profession and was allowed to trade them. I could invest my time the way I wanted to and get it all on my own.
Now that was good design. I hope we see a return to that sooner than later.
Grinds, or time hogs, are the key to success for any RPG, the more accessible they make the grind, even if they make it take a really long time, the better it is for the game and the people playing it.