So. Archaeology.

I've been meaning to write about Cataclysm's new secondary profession for a while, but at the same time I wanted to give it some time before making a judgement. I do think I've got a pretty good impression of it now.

Basically I went through roughly seven different stages while levelling it on my main:

1. Curiosity

I had read up on it a little, but not much, so I knew that I had to go to one of the dig sites highlighted on my map and do this thing called survey, but that was pretty much it. It didn't take me long to figure out how to work it, and the instant reward of getting a skill-up every time I looted any kind of fragment worked well to make me want to keep going.

2. Boredom

I didn't know that the act of looting fragments would stop giving skill-ups very quickly, so instead of not combining any finds until I'd run out of digging skill-ups, I quickly burned through the first 75 skill points or so both by digging and solving whatever I could find. Of course, once I stopped getting skill-ups from the digging itself, it felt as if the whole thing instantly slowed to a crawl, not to mention that I seemed to get nothing but rubbish for all my efforts. I might have given up at this point if the fact that my boyfriend was working on it too and appeared to be a lot more enthusiastic about it than I was hadn't tickled my competitive side.

3. A rare!

At some point my first rare popped up. I don't even remember which one it was, but it wasn't anything particularly exciting. Still, at the time I didn't know whether it wasn't going to do anything cool, so I felt reinspired to find out. While trying to assemble the countless fragments needed for the rare, I also got skill-ups from making more common items from the other categories. After I finally completed it, I soon had another one pop up, and then another... this kept me going quite well for a while.

4. Yay, Outland! Eh.

Still, once I had reached around 300 skill I was sick and tired of scouring Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms for dig sites, and happily set off to Outland for a change of pace. With Burning Crusade still holding the title of "my favourite expansion" I'm always glad to return there for a while. As it turned out, the place was pretty good for skilling up quickly. The fact that there are only two different types of artifacts in Outland - orc and draenei - meant that individual items got completed quicker than in the old world, not to mention that many times the dig sites were very close together. (Sometimes it felt like I was doing nothing but flying circles around Terokkar Forest.) However, I didn't get a single rare here and quickly started to get doubles of the common items, which made me glad when I hit 375 and could move on to Northrend.

5. Yay, Northrend! Except, not really.

Northrend was actually rather a pain in the backside. Like Outland's races, the vyrkul and nerubian dig sites seemed to offer little of interest, not to mention that nerubian dig sites seemed to be really rare in general. Also, the continent is considerably bigger than Outland, and the dig sites seemed to be spread out in a very annoying fashion. It wasn't unusual for me to bounce back between Howling Fjord, Icecrown, Zul'Drak, Borean Tundra and Storm Peaks simply because that's how new sites popped up. In a way I also didn't make things easier for myself since I decided to save up all my night elf and troll fragments from here on, to combine them once I hit 450 and actually had a chance at procuring one of the really good items.

6. Final disappointment

Getting to 450 felt like quite a slog, but once I finally got there I was hopeful. Lots of combines and only a small amount of skill-ups later, I still didn't have any good items. I then kept digging around some more in Kalimdor, since I was after the night elves' Tyrande's Favorite Doll in particular, but nothing came of it.

7. Acceptance

Once I maxed out the profession, my interest quickly dwindled again. I still wanted to get some of the rare items, but now even the incentive of getting skill-ups was gone. Eventually I found a place for archaeology though - during arena and battleground queues. It doesn't matter how long or short they are, you can always do some flying around and surveying. I have since made several dozen of the common night elf items and keep getting anything but a Canopic Jar from the tol'vir (give me that Vial of the Sands recipe, damn it). However, it's easy not to think too much about it and treat it as something relatively mindless to keep you busy while you wait, similar to mining or herbing.


Since I'm fairly obsessive-compulsive about maxing out my professions on all my alts, I'm thinking about levelling archaeology on them too, but so far I haven't touched more than a couple of dig sites with them. During my first levelling run, simple curiosity was a big motivaton, but that is completely gone now. I know now that the Pendant of the Scarab Storm is really nothing to get excited about. And how many Kaldorei Wind Chimes do I really need?

It also seems to me that archaelogy is also the first profession that really doesn't lend itself to levelling it at all until you get flying. I was thinking about working on it a little on my troll druid in between instances, but when you have to rely on limited flight paths and your ground mount to get to places, it really gets tedious very quickly, even while you still get skill-ups for digging. Considering that it gives very good experience though, it might be worth giving it another go once I can buy flying at sixty, to ease the transition through level ranges where I've already seen the quest content enough times and just want to move on quickly.


  1. Archeology is definitely not my favourite profession. That said, I did max it on my main and have now maxed it on an alt. But I haven't continued much beyond maxing it, though I would like the BoA epics.

    The alt is my Alchemist so that's why she's getting Archeology - I really want the Vial of the Sands recipe. I felt like I was killing two birds with one stone since she was level 72, could fly and get levels (without doing Northrend for the umpteenth time) as well as skill up Archeology.

    I got her to a couple of bars below 78 while skilling Archeology. At that level the dig sites gave something like 6300 XP per dig or 12600 XP if rested (I tried to only do it when rested).

    I've started doing a few quests on her now that she's at top skill though, because I found out that I can't even discover the Tol'Vir digsites until she's 80 - so now I have to do the boring Northrend leveling anyway!

    Leveling via Archeology was surely a lot slower than questing, but worth it since I've seen Northrend too many times by now. I never did Outland and very little Northrend digging unless I happen by one as I level now.

  2. I don't really like Archa, but one of my acquaintances in WoW has maxed it on about 8 alts. Instead of doing Cata levelling. So, I guess as an alternative advancement method, it has its fans, and it doesn't actually hurt me any, so I don't object to it.

    Maybe interest would be higher if you could *work* on a project. Like, become an expert in troll archaeology, and improve your chances of a Zin'Rokh. Or elves, and do that trinket thing. THAT could remove some of the appalling RNG. I have a lot of achievements but I never did the Dalaran fishing achvs because I loathe 1 in 1,000 RNG achvs (and love long grinds where I have a known payoff). The only thing that helped me get Mr Pinchy was that at least I was making money off the crawfish. I just can't enjoy Archa if I know I could put 100 hours into it and be unlucky and get nothing bar some grays.

  3. Well, my lousy loot luck is kinda known I think - and adding insult to injury, I actually did get my first 2 archeology rares (one of them the raptor pet) right before quitting WoW.. >_<
    so no, I can't say I ever liked this profession, lol.

    but if you really want the vial badly, i guess you could ask someone else to craft it for you now that the item is BoE?

  4. I too find archaeology lacks some attractive. Rares and epics are not enough to invest so much time in this profession and cross fingers waiting for Lady RNG to award you with something useful.
    While other secondary professions aren't also that attractive (like fishing or first aid) at least offer a better pace for level up (specially since fishing doesn't require you to travel to appropiate water zones).
    As pointed out, if you could "buy" some kind of project to work on, like the blacksmithing/leatherworking/tailoring recipes you buy in Twilight Highlands, maybe it would be much better, or add some questchain to get that project, ensuring it's not your blacksmith who ends with the Vial of the Sands recipe.

  5. @Boxer: I think they said in a recent developer chat that they'd like to make it easier to work towards something specific in archaeology, whatever that means exactly. Maybe you'll be able to limit what kind of dig sites pop up for you to the races you like?

    @Syl: Nah, a big part of the idea is that I want to make it myself. Just buying one from someone else doesn't interest me at all.

  6. The doll was the last night elf rare I got. It sometimes feels like the system knows what you want and will not give it to you.

    Over 300 troll solves so far and still no sword either. It is still a nice little time sink for when you are waiting for a raid to start or something.

    I just wish I would only get Uldum digs because most of the stuff I want is there. My bad luck means I rarely ever get digs there. At least I got the caster ring from it however.

    As an alt-a-holic myself I have absolutely zero intention to level it on any alts. Not even if I get bored on my main. Not even if you paid me to.