Recently, my priest hit 85 and I decided it was time to level her alchemy from its dismal state - 120 or so – to max. And this week, I decided my druid should be an enchanter instead of a miner. Yes, I have an enchanter already but first, I wanted to have an enchanter in our raid, 100% of the time, and second, I like the bonus.
For both professions, I had a smattering of materials at various levels – a few stacks of random herbs, handfuls of different dusts and essences – and was willing to spend several thousand gold just to get things leveled up. Both of them were annoying in spots but very do-able; I did my alchemy in two couple-hour sessions, and I’ve spent about 4 hours so far on the enchanting and I’m almost to Cata level.
Materials are definitely the place where you are contrasting time versus money. If you go out on an herbalist and pick the flowers, you can get alchemy leveled without spending more than training gold and money for vials. But it’s time consuming and annoying. An enchanter could go kill stuff for greens – but if you do this, you’ll probably give up after the thousandth time a low level mob drops Melon Juice instead of a green.
I chose to use the Auction House as my materials source. This works better for enchanting than alchemy, because you have fewer components: basically at each level, you’ve got 1 type of dust, 1 type of essence that you use either greater or lessers (three lessers combine into a greater, or one greater breaks down into 3 lessers) , a Shard (larger and smaller), and a crystal. Most of the recipes you use to skill up won’t need shards, and if you are using crystals at any point in power leveling you’re probably doing it wrong.
For Alchemy, however, you have a huge number of plants that are combined in various recipes – sometimes you’ll get a stretch of forty skill points where the only recipes offering a good chance of skill up require, say, Goldthorn. If there’s ample Goldthorn on the auction house, you’re fine. If there’s not much, or if it costs too much, you may have to go pick the herbs yourself.
Some enchanting mats may be on the AH by themselves; check and see. I found that many of them were a reasonable price. If there aren’t enough of a particular mat, or it’s outrageously expensive (someone was selling Eternal Essence for 500 gold a piece on our server), then look up what level range of gear disenchants into that mat, buy a bunch, and disenchant your own. You’ll probably get a lot of dust, a few essences, and one or two shards out of every ten or so items you buy.
The first 100 or so skill points in each seem pretty easy to get. For alchemy you can set yourself making multiples of whatever potion is going to give you a skill up. For enchanting, buy stacks of vellum from the enchanting supplies vendor and go to town – this is so much more convenient than the old “enchant your own bracers 200 times” method! I just destroyed most of the scrolls I made, but a few I sent to my bank alt to try to sell. You do have to click multiple times for every enchant you’re trying to do; once in the book, once on the vellum. Power leveling enchanting runs a risk of repetitive stress injury, that’s for sure.
Both professions have a nasty spot somewhere near the top end of Vanilla recipes, where the mats you need are farmed from level 55+ zones. Maybe you’ll be on a server where there’s a lot of people farming this content, but most likely, you’re going to have to spend time or money to get over the hump. Don’t worry! If you can get through the 270-300 zone, it gets considerably easier. Outlands and Northrend level recipes use fewer mats which drop from more things. It gets better.
A word about Enchanting: somewhere around 300 is where I started running into real rod difficulty. Rod difficulty? What’s that? Well every so often your enchanting rod just isn’t good enough and you have to make a new one. Sometimes you learn the pattern from your trainer; sometimes you have to go get it yourself. If you’re going to power level enchanting, you might go pick these up first. One recipe is in Moonglade, there’s another in Outlands, Hellfire to be precise. Wowhead can give you good directions. This will happen again near max level enchanting, when you have to buy the pattern from a vendor in Twilight Highlands. If you’re not 84 and can’t open the zone, you can’t max out enchanting yet.
The components to make the rods can be… expensive… as well. If you have or know a blacksmith, get him to make you all the rods you’ll need in order to make your runed rod. So far the worst one for mats has been the runed adamantite rod; you need a Primal Might, which may set you back a bit.
Anyhow. An alchemist doesn’t have to bother with any of this, but if you are leveling alchemy, remember your specialization! You can certainly go back and get this one after maxing things out. Google a guide to learn how to gain a specialization. I went Elixir specialization which gave me extra flask procs. To do this I had to make a few flasks and get some weird components that dropped in Caverns of Time: Black Morass. Two clears and I was done there; at level 85 even a shadow priest can solo that place. No big deal.
Back to leveling. When you hit Northrend level, there should be lots of mats on the auction house for you. If you have a jewelcrafter, one cheap way to get enchanting mats is to craft a whole bunch of rings – the Sun Rock Ring takes two Crystallized Earth and a bloodstone. It mostly disenchants into dust but sometimes Cosmic Essence instead and is extremely cost effective.
Either profession is very easy to power level these days, if you invest a couple hours and maybe 2000 gold. Enchanting is slower, and slightly more annoying IMO. Once you get toward max level, you can level your alchemy with transmuting gems but for enchanting you’re going to have to go to Twilight Highlands and buy some patterns – so if you’re not 84 yet you can’t complete enchanting. Alchemy, you can get well before you’re 85, if you’re interested.
There’s leveling guides out there that tell you the “most efficient/cost effective” way to level either but basically those assume that your auction house will actually have the componentst, or that you’re spending the time yourself. I find that the best way to do things is just make what you have mats for. Don’t make green recipes, unless it’s the last skilling-up recipe you have that uses a particular mat. Don’t get frustrated; it’s better to walk away and come back later.
If you’re looking to switch a profession, now is a pretty darn good time to do so. There’s plenty of mats on the auction house, the power levellers have already been past, and – well, it’s cold outside, you probably are spending lots of time on WoW anyway.