Enjoying Archaeology Changes

Since the last post was a bit of a rant, I thought I'd follow it up with writing about something that I've quite liked in MoP: the changes they've made to archaeology. I really like them.

That's the short version.

The long version is this: I've always liked archaeology. When I made a post about my five favourite Cataclysm additions, archaeology was one of them. (Though looking back, the profession dailies in the capital cities really should have been on that list as well as I absolutely looove them, but eh, I digress.) In one of my posts about levelling this newest set of characters I mentioned that I initially tried to keep up with archaeology as we levelled, but quickly found it to be too much of a hassle as it kept sending me away from where we actually wanted to quest.

I eventually picked it up again when I got swift flight, and I've also been dabbling around on a lowbie alt that I'm trying to level mostly through archaeology. (In short, it's slow and never getting any gear is sad, but the XP from dig sites is great once you actually get to one.)

It's quite amazing how quickly you advance the profession now compared to how it used to be. I'll always remember the way it was at Cataclysm launch, with each dig site only consisting of three digs, and each one only giving you three or four archaeology fragments. I know they increased the number of fragments relatively early on, but it's still nothing compared to now, where each site consists of six digs, with each of them routinely wielding seven to nine fragments. In practice that means that nearly every dig site allows you to create another artefact now.

Even bigger however is the fact that digging never stops giving skill-ups. Remember when that used to stop at 75 skill, and your only way to progress any further was through solving artefacts? Yeah, getting six guaranteed skill-ups per dig site makes a huuuge difference.

To be honest, I never understood the logic behind digging going grey so quickly. I considered it just as much a part of the process as the solving itself. It's as if mining suddenly stopped giving skill-ups completely at one point and your only way of progressing any further was through smelting. I would've understood it if they had done something similar to the way mining works, so that you needed to dig in an area appropriate for your skill level to get skill-ups or something, but everything going grey at 75 just never made sense to me. Blizzard changing that made me really happy.

So with every act of digging giving a skill-up and artefact fragments rolling in at about six times the speed they used to, those skill levels just fly by. I remember circling around a group of conveniently re-spawning dig sites in the Eastern Kingdoms, thinking that I'd just do "a couple more" before stopping for the day, just to find that I was nearly ready for Northrend before I'd even started digging in Outland. Considering that I remember longing for Outland, because skilling up was so slow and I was desperate for a change of pace, that was quite surprising.

I was ready to dig in Pandaria in no time, and that's where I discovered some more pleasant surprises. One of the few remaining annoyances with old world archaeology is the size of some dig sites. Some of them are so huge that - even with fast flying - it feels like a drag to be sent back and forth between their opposing ends. Compared to that, all the dig sites in Pandaria are positively tiny. You literally just have to take a couple of steps to the left or the right between digs, at the most. This makes them very quick to complete. Every now and then a Sha remnant will pop out of the ground too, attack you and drop some extra fragments to spice things up.

In the Seat of Knowledge, there are also some NPCs that give you a daily archaeology quest to do, usually asking you to solve a single artefact, sometimes to just hand them some fragments. And then comes the real kicker: common Pandaria artefacts can be recycled instead of vendored. Brann Bronzebeard is about again, and he'll trade you a boxed up Pandaria artefact for a crate of fragments from any other type. No more flying up and down Kalimdor in the hopes of eventually getting a tol'vir dig site - just keep working on those Pandaland dig sites and trade the results for tol'vir fragments. While the exchange rate means that you effectively trade a whole artefact for one dig's worth of fragments, it's just so much more convenient than doing it the old way that I can't see anyone going back once they've unlocked this feature.

I suppose it's a bit of a shame that they've effectively made one of archaeology's main features - an incentive to go back and see the world - redundant, as you're better off just doing all your archaeology business in Pandaria as soon as you're able. But they've certainly made the profession a lot less of a hassle in pretty much every respect.


  1. I hope that at some point they realize that the Jintha'Alor dig sites in Hinterlands are just trolling. They're very long and narrow, but not so narrow that they only have one axis. Throw in the curve on the upper one and it's a mess.

    There are some reasons to work outside Pandaria. The lower mob level means less distraction. Even with the speed and conversion, if you need a particular type of fragment getting it directly will still be faster.

    1. That one is pretty bad, but the dig site that I've personally found the most annoying to traverse without flying is Nazj'vel in Darkshore. The amount of jumping into the water and swimming around the island to find the one spot where you can climb out again I've had to do there is seriously aggravating...

    2. There's a monster digsite in Un'goro that I always dreaded getting... but yes, that one in Darkshore is evil, too, if you don't know the navigation routes.

      The best use I've found for Arch lately is for high-level leveling... since the dig XP seems to scale pretty well with level, I've been able to pick up most of 2 levels on a L85 toon by leveling Arch from scratch... having quested a bunch of toons to max I'm always interested in new ways to level and Arch isn't bad, it's slower than questing but not hugely with fast flight, probably on par with instance chaining.

  2. I got my 'Seeker of Knowledge' achievement a while ago, and despite I traded in for Tolvir over and over I still got no rares. What is it with the drop rate for Tolvir stuff? I think I have 2 of 6 or something like that.

    My main gripe with archaology remains the same as it always has - why do I have to dig at random digsites in order to spawn the particular race I want? If I want to dig up just Tolvir for the next 200 digsites then I should be allowed to do so.