MoP Beta Files: Leveling Zen Blacksmithing

Over the past two days I've been working on Zen Blacksmithing. I ran into a troubling snag with motes of harmony, they seem to be dropping at a much lower rate. I'm not the only one having this issue, one of our readers has also reported a poor rate on motes this week. I want to investigate this more fully, but the drop rate currently looks to be around 70% lower than my previous test of 10/hour. Bear in mind that my tests are done in the early zones where most players will be starting out. I will continue to monitor the situation, but at this point we need to consider the mote situation as somewhat unknown on drop rates.

On the plus side, I've finally run into a profession where Cataclysm recipes are a good starter option for Zen leveling. In the Beta there are a number of recipes that are still orange at 525, but most are not the sort of item you'd want to grind skill points with. The Pyrium Shield Spike is a reasonably low cost recipe that is still orange and would be worth considering. On my realm the mats for spikes are right around 20g. Desade has done more extensive testing on this method than I did and he has the spikes turning yellow at 530, green at 535 and gray at 540 (plus all other Cata recipes). If you have a stash of pyrium you don't mind burning through, this could be a good way to knock out the first 10-15 skill points.

I opted to use the new ghost iron recipes so I could document the progression using new materials. Most of the recipes grant 3 or 5 skill points when you make an item, so the leveling process doesn't feel nearly as wasteful in MoP. Blacksmithing has been converted to the new "random" crafting model, where you have one core recipe that creates a variety of stat gear. I took a couple of screenshots to show you some of the items you end up with:

You'll notice that one of these pieces is rare quality. I only got one item like this during my level up process, but it looks like we're getting the random blue procs that Jewelcrafters get :) I'm pretty excited about that part!

So let's get down to the progression path I worked out for Zen Blacksmiths. I'm not entirely happy with this list just yet, there's a nasty patch at 565 that I'd like to smooth out a bit (completed, see "update" section below). I'm going to recopy my Smith to see about making some tweaks. Meanwhile this path will work and it gives you guys something to start planning with:

525-526: 1x Pyrium Shield Spike
526-532: 2x Ghost-Forged Belt | 2x Ghost-Forged Gauntlets | 5+ Pyrium Shield Spike
532-544: 4x Ghost-Forged Boots
544-549: 1x Lightsteel Shield
549-554: 1x Lightsteel Shield | 1x Spiritguard Shield
554-559: 1x Spiritguard Shield
559-569: 2x Ghost-Forged Breastplate | 2x Ghost-Forged Helm
569-575: 6+ Ghost-Forged Shoulders | 6x Spiritguard Shield (made 13x shoulders)
575-600: 9x Contender's Armor (16 recipes to choose from)

Total materials used: 12.5 stacks of ghost iron bars + 1 spirit of harmony

At 565 all of the trainer recipes will be yellow except those that require Spirit of Harmony. As a result, you'll be using yellow recipes to get through the next 6 skill points. This is by far the most brutal portion of the process, using more than a third of the ore required for the whole Zen tier. On average it takes 2 crafted items for each skill point. You may want to try the Spiritguard Shield (9 bars) instead of the cheaper shoulders (7 bars). The shoulders are a lower skill recipe and I suspect the skill points gained from using it might be poor compared to the shield. Use your own judgement here.

Once you reach 575 you can purchase vendor recipes for the final push. Just like Leatherworking, the Blacksmithing recipes are on a vendor in Vale of Eternal Blossoms. You'll need 1 Spirit of Harmony to purchase a recipe and you only need one recipe to complete the leveling process. It may take you 2-3 hours to collect 10 motes if the new drop rates remain as they have been this week.

When you get to 550 skill you'll automatically unlock two new socket recipes. Apparently there are some item level restrictions on the recipe. I don't have the right items to test this, but Desade has indicated that the sockets cannot be added to gear over ilvl 416 until your Smithing skill is above 550.

9/4/2012 Update!
I tested Blacksmithing for a second time and made some strategic changes to the progression list. By adding one Pyrium Shield Spike to the very start, you get a skill point buffer that is carried all the way to 564. At 564 you can make a 5-skill point item that jumps you all the way to 569. All of the trainer recipes turn yellow at 565, so you can skip over 4 of these truly brutal skill points. With this change, we can shave off an estimated 30 ghost iron bars (60 ore) from the original progression list I created. Instead of 280 ghost iron bars, we can complete Zen Blacksmithing with 250 bars.

You can make even more pyrium shield spikes and save yourself more ghost iron bars if you don't mind potentially wasting pyrium. Personally I don't think I'd take it any further than 532 (the recipe turns yellow @ 530). If you decide to work more shield spikes into your plan, just make sure you end up exactly on 544 to pick up the Lightsteel Shield step as described.

If you have any questions about Blacksmithing, feel free to leave a Comment!


  1. Due to it being on an under-appreciated toon, my BS is going for Realm Last.

    So how does mail GI to the level 85 BS, get to 570, do the DMF to 575 (I so hope they don't ruin this) and then it can chill until it gets to 90 and rep grinds for the buckle?

    Or can an 85 even get sufficient recipes to get to 570?

    Iirc you said you were getting a stack every 4 minutes (300 GI/hour ) Even without using cata mats, that means about an hour of mining to level BS? ( Except for the accursed SoH. ) That seems a tad shorter than it took in Vanilla. :-)

    1. I did this leveling test on an 85 toon (well almost 86 after all the mote farming). The recipes needed to reach 570 are on the trainer, so you can do that part from any major city.

      I did say that I was able to get ore very quickly in the Beta, but its certainly possible that they've cranked the spawn rate for us. I can't promise it will remain that high after launch.

    2. @Hagu
      I have run into a problem with the DMF.
      I did all the crafting quests my first DMF on the BETA.
      Since then I have been to 3 more months of DMF and the crafting quests DID NOT show up !
      This was the same across all 10 of my toons copies and premades.
      I do not know if this is intended or a bug I did a bug post but got no Blizz response.

  2. Also are you saying we can get to the recipe vendor to get the recipes at 85? If so do you remember the NPR names for both sides?

    1. Yes, I'm saying you can get to the recipe vendor at 85 :) It's basically the same process I've described in several of my previous posts - get to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Find your faction's city and the vendors are inside the city.

      I have the NPC names entered into my database, so when you research the recipes on Crafter's Tome, their names will be listed as the source. I don't think Blacksmithing has made it onto the live site yet, but it should go up in the next few days. I'll add a link to this post when it's available :)

    2. Thx all.

      I hope when enough people are on, I can get a lock and two guildies to VEB and then allow people to get on their lowbies and crafters.

      One always worries about plentiful ore getting nerfed, especially if the SoH nerf happened.

    3. There's no need to work that hard getting folks to the Vale. Any level 85 can easily ride there on a ground mount. I'll be including instructions in my Panda Noob Guide.

  3. Just a quick unrelated to BS comment: while LW and BS (and possibly tailoring?) all get the random blue proccs, the JC have actually lost them. I made about 200+ JC rings/necks to check out the disenchanting yields, and I had no blue jewelry proccs at all.

    1. How odd! I am gearing up to start JC myself this afternoon. I also have a backup toon that I can level JC with a second time. 200 seems like a really good sample size, but I'll try doing some myself and see if I have the same result. If it's true then that stinks.

    2. ok, I leveled JC again, and Blizzard had brought back the blue jewelry. I only made necks/rings and I was getting proccs of blue 415ILvl as regularly as it was in Cata. I am sure they tinkered with the proccs in the meantime after I leveled my first 2. Good news :)

  4. Little update
    Many patterns for BS have migrated to the Klaxxi faction Quartermaster.
    All at Honored rep.
    Most notably the living steel belt buckle. (used to be on the Loremaster faction Quartermaster.

  5. Can you double check and see if this item x 20 will equal @ 15 skill points:


    1. It's random, so there's no way to guarantee it. Even a hundred times can't guarantee it.

    2. Yes, while these recipes are still orange at 525 on the Beta Realm, there's no way to be certain of their status. Even if we accept Wowhead's data, the only thing we can guarantee is that they should be good for at least 10 skill points. They might be good for 12 points but beyond that is a crap shoot. I believe the official skill up rate for green recipes is "poor" chance of skill-up.

      Just to give an example of how poor a green recipe can be, I leveled Jewelcrafting last night. I was trying to go from 583-585 with a green recipe. It took 15 crafts to go up just 2 skill points and then the green recipe I was using turned gray. Obviously when dealing with trash gems this isn't a huge money sink. If nothing else you might be prepared that it could take well over 20 items to get the last 2-3 points you're looking for.

    3. That makes total sense...thanks. Cheap to pick up mats but doing it your way, just as easy I imagine whilst leveling.

  6. I'm really sad about the new "random" crafting model.
    To this day I craft and sell one Cataclysm Lvl 80 tanking set a day. Even Wotlk stuff is still selling.

    I know there's the gear vendor in MoP, which sells whole sets for every spec, so people won't need it crafted anymore to start the expansion.
    But I feel the fun and sense in having a crafting profession is being taken away by these changes.
    It's like dumping ores in a slot machine. You may get crap all the way, but hey, you're only here for the skill points, right?

    I have no problem with "discovering" recipes, but we should get an entry in our professions book, so we can craft that exact recipe later.

    1. I understand your frustration, but I actually prefer the random gear. It allows me to target multiple classes instead of just one class with a fixed recipe. I did pretty well in Cata with leather gear because some of it was rogue-oriented and some boomkin/heal oriented. For me this worked much better than selling 10 of the same exact piece with the same exact stats. Also, I didn't post pics of the random stats, but they were pretty well itemized to my mind:

      Avatar = STR | STAM | CRIT | MASTERY
      Defender = STR, STAM, DODGE, PARRY
      Hero = STR, STAM, HIT, HASTE
      Principle = STR, STAM, HIT, CRIT
      Sentinel = STR, STAM, HIT, EXPERTISE
      Undertow = INT, STAM, HASTE, SPIRIT

      As for the gear vendor, they only sell ilvl 372 in the first two zones. Our crafted gear is ilvl 384. Not a huge difference, but enough of a boost that some folks will pay for the increase in stats. And after leveling my druid through both of the starter zones, I still had some slots that were not upgraded. That's another opportunity for crafted gear to fill the void.

      Plus, not to prey on the stupidity factor, but not many folks will know about the gear vendor. I'm amazed at how many players on live realms still don't realize that their pets/mounts are being merged today or that the talent/glyph system is being overhauled. There's a certain segment of the player base who doesn't follow the news and won't have heard about gear vendors. They are going to hit the auctions and grab upgrades from there.

      I can understand why they moved to the random model - it reduces recipe glut in our spellbook and it minimizes the recipes that most players ignore after the leveling process. A compromise solution could be to add specialty modifier ingredients to the random recipe that allows you to control the result via which modifier you add. This could be done with motes (water = heals, fire = dps, earth = tank) or some other appropriate ingredient.

  7. Thanks a bunch for these guides, got myself realm first BS and miner, reading here were a great help. Keep up the good work!

  8. I'm happy to help and congrats on the achievement!

  9. well i may have missed read something but i don't think so. First you can not get to the vendors in VEB until you get the quest line Temple of the white tiger and get the gates open, so no lvl 85 "fail" Second the recipes to level past 575 you can not purchase until you reach lvl 90 "fail" that's the problem i have but by the time you read this i will be 90 so maybe let other know by replying