The Art of the Armorsmith

One of the amazing things about playing Vanilla WoW is being reminded of just how much more involved professions used to be. I mean, as far as I can tell, the system was still primitive compared to any MMO that actually cares about crafting, but compared to modern day WoW, Vanilla WoW's professions are a bloody goldmine of creativity.

Even the secondary professions required a minimum amount of work. I've written about having to trek across continents to buy the books to level my cooking, fishing and first aid past 150, and at 225 a quest awaited for each of them. Who here remembers when Triage was actually a requirement to level first aid? I remember that this was the quest that taught me that you could turn on friendly NPC names in the UI.

However, my biggest profession-related adventure on Kronos has been levelling blacksmithing. I made Isadora a blacksmith because that's what the original Isadora was, however the original Isadora never made it past level 22. I don't think I ever levelled blacksmithing to a high level on any of my alts, but even if I did it must have been very late in the game, by the time they had removed all the barriers as well as everything that made things interesting.

My only memory of encountering the madness that was the original blacksmithing grind is from when my (now ex-)boyfriend rolled a paladin in Burning Crusade and I helped him level his blacksmithing by spending hours upon hours grinding mithril and thorium on one of my miners. (The things you do for love...) But I didn't really know what he needed it for. I'm finally getting an idea.

It started innocently enough: At some point around level 40, I noticed that two dwarves at the great forge in Ironforge were giving me the option to specialise in either armour- or weaponsmithing. I decided to pick the former, which was probably not a good thing from a min-/maxing point of view but I always tend to think defensively when given a choice like this.

Then I immediately felt lost. It might be that I missed something, but I have a suspicion that this is where the Vanilla WoW simulation is imperfect and missing some clues, as I remember that the trainers in original WoW tended to have dynamic dialogue that would change to direct you towards the next trainer once your skill got too high (e.g. "I have noting more to teach you, [name], you should seek out [NPC name] in [zone].") All the armoursmithing guy on Kronos had to say to me after I had picked up his quest was "hello".

I decided to let the internets help me but went about it in a terribly haphazard manner, which would quickly come back to bite me in the butt. The armoursmithing quest wanted me to create some "ornate mithril" thingamabobs. So I googled "ornate mithril" in Kronos' own database and found that a dwarf in Stranglethorn, located just south of the entrance to Zul'Gurub, teaches several of those recipes as part of a quest. I remembered running into him back in the day without really knowing what he was good for.

So off I went... but the jungle dwarf didn't want to talk to me. I did some more research and realised that I had missed a breadcrumb quest from Stormwind. Back up I went to pick up the breadcrumb quest, then back down to STV. Now the dwarf would talk to me... and wanted me to bring him one hundred and twenty metal bars in exchange for three recipes (forty iron and eighty mithril bars). Needless to say... that took a while. I never set out on a single dedicated mining spree, but mostly tried to squeeze some more mining out of my questing experience by doing extra loops around areas where I had seen mining nodes spawn before. You also have to remember that ore nodes were much, much rarer in Vanilla than they became after the Cataclysm, plus they would spawn in wild mix across zones, so you couldn't just go to one place to farm one thing.

Eventually I got there and accumulated enough iron and mithril. At last, three recipes for ornate mithril wotsits were mine! Except... this is where I realised that I had learned how to make the wrong ornate mithril doodads, not the ones for the gear slots actually required for the quest. D'oh!

More research was needed. Apparently, to learn how to make the right items I would have to talk to that night elf guy by the forge in Gadgetzan. I knew him well, because even as a non-blacksmith I couldn't help but notice his popularity back in the day. Nelf guy (also of Troll Temper fame) offered to teach me the three recipes I needed if I brought him some of the orante mithril thingies I could already make (phew, at least that wasn't a complete waste of time) as well as some "heavy mithril" stuff.

Now I had to research where that came from. As it turns out, it comes from a trainer! But not one I had been aware of. I had thought that armoursmithing was intrinsically connected to master blacksmithing, but this was not the case. A goblin in Booty Bay of all people is apparently one of the most accomplished blacksmiths in all of Azeroth and could teach me what I needed to know... if I increased my skill enough. More mining was needed because I needed more mats. (Most items required 10+ bars of anything to make, not to mention additional materials like leather or gems.)

Eventually my regular old blacksmithing was up high enough that I could learn how to make heavy mithril gear. Once I'd made that as well as the ornate mithril thingamajigs, I finally had all the knowledge needed to complete my armoursmithing quest. Only about fifteen levels or so after I'd originally required it.

After I was finally declared an armoursmith... the dwarf had a total of two recipes to teach me. What the hell?

Grasping at any kind of straws in regards to how to proceed, I remembered that I'd heard people talk about using the Imperial Plate armour set to level their blacksmithing at the higher levels (the same set that all the Stormwind guards wear). Once more I had to consult the database for information on how to learn it. First I had to increase my skill by a few more points, which meant more mining.

Then I had to revisit Tanaris, this time to talk to the dark iron dwarf next to nelf boy. Turns out he's willing to sell the recipes for every single piece of Imperial plate gear... for thorium bars, about two hundred of them. This is where I finally had a minor windfall though, because with all the time I had spent hunting for mithril, I had incidentally built up enough of a thorium stockpile that I could buy all his recipes at once.

Now I just need to acquire another couple hundred thorium bars to actually craft the damn things. It's kind of annoying, but also something of an achievement - in Vanilla, professions simply weren't for everyone.


  1. First of all, a factual correction and a bit of an elaboration. The Imperial Plate set requires closer to 300 Thorium Bars, 270 to be exact, and it is available to all blacksmiths regardless of their specialization. Or lack there of. Some readers may believe that it's specific to armorsmiths in the context of this post, but that's not the case.

    Next, there are quite a few items/plans that are indeed specific to armorsmiths, in addition to the two offered by the trainer (i.e. Truesilver Gauntlets & Truesilver Breastplate):
    1. Reputation-unlocked epixxx, namely the two mail ones (Fiery Chain Shoulders & Girdle) and the five plate ones (Dark Iron Leggins & Bracers & Helm & Gauntlets & Boots).
    2. Quest-unlocked, Demon Forged Breastplate & Fiery Plate Gauntlets, and then the Enchanted Thorium Platemail "set" (Breastplate & Leggins & Helm). I suppose one could technically include Storm Gauntlets too, as it's both a random world drop and sold by a vendor which is unlocked via a quest chain.
    3. Random world drop blues, Helm of the Great Chief (*giggle*) & Whitesoul Helm.
    4. Random world drop purplezzz, the (in)famous four (Stronghold Gauntlets & Lionheart Helm & Invulnerable Mail & Titanic Leggins).

    That much said, watch the dress code. =P

    1. Thanks for the comprehensive list of armorsmithing items! I figured there were going to be more, but seeing the trainer just offer me two after all that hassle was still disappointing!

      I saw someone try to sell the pattern for Storm Gauntlets in /world yesterday and everyone was like: "Shaman gear on Alliance side? might as well give it away!"

    2. A proper reward for all that hassle, hm? ETB seems to look absolutely glorious on female characters. =P

  2. I remember Triage, because it was still around back in (early) Wrath. The Triage quest for the Horde was at the Hammerfall hub in Arathi Highlands, and I wasn't expecting to have a timer on.

    I also remember healing Souldat in one of the Blackrock instances, running out of mana, and saying to myself, "Well, hell, I've got these bandages..."

    He about fell out of his chair. "Are you actually using FIRST AID on me???"

    1. The actual quest is still in the game if Wowhead is to be believed. It just rewards a "certification" that is merely vendor trash as opposed to being crucial for skilling up.

  3. These Profession Quests, combined with the Class Quests, gave so much depth to your character, it always astonished me they all-but-abandoned them since TBC, and outright removed them with Cataclysm (the two 'go to this dungeon and get a weak Blue' so-called Quests you have at 20 and 50 don't count).