Friday, January 14, 2011

Bandage, FFS – the curiously stagnant tradeskill of First Aid

In the month or so since Cataclysm has come out, and over the month or so before that that we played with patch 4.0.1, many improvements have become evident. Questing is more sensible, better organized. Class training, abilities, and talents have been overhauled. Stats have been turned on their ear.

But the lowly trade skill still has one foot firmly planted in the past. This goes doubly so for the secondary trade skills – First Aid, Fishing, and, of course, Cooking.

Lets's have a look at First Aid

3339first_aid_kitThis skill is fairly simple in design, but that doesn't mean its whiskers aren't growing long. Cata added a couple of twists to the endgame with a couple of – no doubt experimental – new recipes. And yet, these new recipes actually highlight the poor design of this skill, rather than improve upon anything.

For an example of this, have a look at Powerful Anti-Venom. The requirements to get this made sense back in Vanilla, as it was an endgame kind of thing. But now it's useless. For a brief moment between levels 58 and 60 it'll be of use to you if you have the misfortune of having no other recourse, but beyond level 60, it's vendor trash.  It might help you skill up your first aid, but then again by the time you get this recipe, you'll have gathered enough Runecloth to bandage all of EPL.

(That's also assuming you didn't run off to Hellfire when you popped 58, in which case, the mats for this recipe won't drop for you!)

So, it is evident from this that Blizz didn't intend to develop anti-venom past the intro of BC, and yet they didn't care enough about it to eliminate it, or its mats (which are essentially vendor trash). Here we are in the third expansion since that decision was reached, and we still have no real resolution to the situation.

Bandages are likewise in a funk. Sure, we have the new recipes for Cata, but when the next expansion comes out, all that work will fall by the wayside as well. Those items will become vendor trash, to much cursing and gnashing of teeth from your frustrated tailors.

This is actually not just a First Aid issue. If you look at tailoring, as well as others, you see the same thing. Leatherworking is the only trade that took a stab at remedying this, by letting you combine two or more inferior leathers to make one of the next higher grade. However, even that was discontinued at the beginning of BC. I understand why – they didn't want people stockpiling Rugged Leather in the final days of Vanilla to get instant piles of Knothide on Day One … but Day One is long gone. So I find it disappointing that this model breaks at expansion boundaries, and was never expanded to other professions.

(I know what you're thinking. "Jas", you say, "expecting rugged leather to morph into a whole different KIND of leather is unrealistic!"  To which I respond – if you already accept that mashing two bits of leather together gives you tougher leather, you're already drinking the kool-aid. Seriously - try mashing two pieces of notebook paper and a crayon together and tell me if you end up with construction paper.)

I think this skill would benefit from a few things:

  • Bring back anti-venoms. Expand them past level 60, and make them part of the typical skilling process. Provide more effective ones as part of a rep grind or something. Rep grinds have improved since Vanilla, no reason we can't put that at the Honored rep point for someone like Therazane or something.
  • Allow upward mobility of products that are not endgame or part of the current expansion. 5 x Heavy Linen –> 1 x Wool, or 2 x Wool to 1 x Heavy Wool, for example.  Because the only thing worse than hearing your tailor weep bitter tears as you turn several stacks of Embersilk in to bandages … is the sound he or she makes when you vendor them after mastering Heavy Embersilk.
  • Add some variety. Surely we can come up with some doodads and gizmos to help out. How about special things that make your party's healer more effective? Maybe interact with other trade skills, such as special drinks that require a certain skill level in Cooking and First Aid to function. Maybe some sort of "first aid station" that requires both Engineering and First Aid skillsets. Surely there's more to this than just bandages.