-- 5.3 Patch Notes
We've already covered the new option to level Herbalism in Pandaria, so I thought I'd run through Mining to see if it works in a similar fashion. I grabbed my premade Mage, trained Mining and bought myself a Mining Pick. Once again I went to Valley of the Four Winds to grab up some of the plentiful ore there.
You can see here that I encountered my first ghost iron deposit and it was orange to me at skill level 1:
I went ahead and gathered from 20 nodes to see what kind of volume to expect. I ended up with 26 ghost iron nuggets, which seemed a bit lower than the herb gathering session. It was close enough to be random, so I'm going to assume they are comparable.
I didn't bother to do a head-to-head this time since I assume the results are similar to our herb gathering test. Once again you can combine 10 ghost iron nuggets into 1 ghost iron ore. And obviously if you mine 20 deposits and you get the equivalent of 2.5 pieces of ore, you're not getting a great return on your time investment.
Instead I tried to visit some of the other nodes types and confirm that they can also be mined. I was not able to find some of the high end nodes on the PTR (not for lack of trying, I visited Kun-Lai twice, Dread Wastes twice and Townlong once) but I did find a few Rich Ghost Iron and some Kyparite. I was able to mine both of those types of deposit and gather appropriate types of fragments from them.
The good news is that this new system works well and should enable players to collect Pandaria nodes even before they reach Pandaria skill levels. If you're questing through Pandaria anyway, this will be a convenient way to pick up skill points at the same time. The downside is that I don't think it's an efficient way to skill up and it's actually quite wasteful of the nodes that are available.
The other major drawback (as one of our readers mentioned on the Herbalism post) is that older materials will be even more scarce on the Auction House for those trying to level other professions. Personally I would still mine the older minerals if I was planning to focus purely on gathering for a given game session. The older ores are going to be much more valuable than "nuggets" of ghost iron, and therefore a more valuable use of your gathering time.
The only reason I could see to collect Pandaria nodes at lower skill levels is when you are questing through an area and just grabbing a few skill points while you're there. Perhaps there are other situations in which this is a reasonable option, if so feel free to discuss your ideas in the Comments section!