Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Impressions: Archaeology (Telescopes? Why'd It Have To Be Telescopes!) Edition

Today I wanted to talk about how I feel about the new secondary profession in the game: Archaeology. I feel like my opinion on this topic is a good one because I did in fact do it for twenty-two hours straight in order to get the "Realm First!" for it. I'll break this post up into various parts, starting with a quick guide on the general basics of this vanity profession.

Archaeology Basics

Once you train Archaeology you will start seeing shovels on your world map. These shovels represent dig sites. There are four dig sites available per continent. So that means there are always going to be four places you could dig on Kalimdor, The Eastern Kingdoms, Outlands, and Northrend. 

When you click on a zone with a shovel the dig site in said zone is located in the gray or red circle on the map. When you enter this area you'll be able to use your new ability "survey". When you use it, it will drop a telescope looking thing that is attached to a light. If the light is red you are over one hundred yards away from the artifact. If the light is yellow you are between fifty to one hundred yards away. If the light is green you are less than fifty yards away.

Also whenever you use "survey" your "telescope" will also point you in the right direction as well as tell you how close or far away you are. So always follow which direction the big end of the telescope is pointing (as shown in the picture below).

There are three artifacts per dig site. Each artifact is zoned for you, so there is no competition, there is no race. Once you've gotten all three artifacts in a zone a new shovel will appear on your map marking another dig site that just opened up. 

When you collect an artifact in a dig site you will be given two to six fragments. Higher archaeology yields higher amounts of fragments, but you start out at early levels only getting two. If you click on your archaeology profession icon you'll see various races. Clicking on a race option will then display how many more fragments you need before you can make an item. A lot of times you'll only be making "uncommon" items and they are pretty quick and easy to make. Sometimes you will have to make "rare" items. These rare items take a lot more fragments to make but yield a really cool vanity item/mount/pet/boa epic. Once you have enough fragments to make something you can hit solve and it will make your item. Keep in mind you cannot skip items and they appear in a random order. So if you have a rare to make in one race, you have to finish it before you can make any other items with that race's fragments.

The items you make with archaeology will be random, however, you will not get any repeat items until you have already made every single item of that race's archaeology.

Sometimes you'll loot items that are of green quality. These items (for example: Highborn Scrolls or Troll tablets) are called key stones and they can be used to speed up the process of making some items. If an item can use a keystone there will be a slot near the bottom of the archaeology interface that you can put them in. Each keystone counts for twelve shards. If there's not slow available on the item, then you can't use a keystone on it.

That's pretty much all there is to the basics of Archaeology.

Leveling Archaeology

The way I would suggest leveling Archaeology would definitely be slowly. Maybe take it an hour or so at a time. Archaeology is repetitive and will bore you out if you try to do it too much. You get skill points for just finding artifacts from levels one to one hundred. After you are level one hundred you can only skill up by making items. Making items gives you five points regardless if it is rare. You still get five no matter if you make the skeleton mount or the gray vendor trash comb of a thousand hairs.

The best way to level archaeology is to take it slow and casual. Only do it an hour or so at a time. Doing it anymore than that will bore you out quickly. And the expansion just came out, so getting burnt out of anything at this point would spell bad news for the rest of your year. Here are a few tips that will make your leveling quicker however.

  • Use keystones whenever you can.
  • Don't make any objects until you are skill one hundred.
  • When you reach archaeology level three hundred, unless you really want a change of scenery, I'd still suggest leveling in Eastern Kingdoms or Kalimdor (I prefer Eastern Kingdoms though). You still get five skill points an item regardless of your skill level or where you got the artifacts. I leveled pretty much only in the Eastern Kingdoms when I did it.
  • The reason you will want to stay on Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdoms is because the race's on these continents take less fragments to make objects. This in turn means you level up faster. 

I think the main reason people will do archaeology is for the rare objects you can make. These rare objects can be one of many things.
If you like pets this profession is for you. There are about three pets you can make so far from archaeology: The Clockwork Gnome, the Fossilized Hatchling, and the Crawling Hand.

There are also two mounts you can get so far: An AQ battle tank you can ride anywhere, and a skeletal raptor.

BoA items. These BoA items are epic and have a level requirement but you can still send them to alts! They're good too, they'll definitely get put to good use if you get the one you need. 

There are so many cool things you can make with archaeology that I'm getting excited to go survey just typing this.

 Realm First!

Now that I've gotten that out of the way I'll get to my opinion (finally). And first I'll start with Realm First! just to get it out of the way. Yes I did complete my goal of getting Realm First! Grand Master and Illustrious Archaeologist. It took me twenty-two hours of straight grinding archaeology to achieve it.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to get a realm first, I have formulated a way anyone can experience it. To get the realm first treatment is simple. All you have to do is go to your local trade chat and say "Giving away 100g to the first five people who message me." The result will be very very similar to what happened to me.

Oh, and I never want to see another telescope again.

The Vanity Profession

Archaeology to me is a vanity profession. There is only one benefit outside of vanity purposes to the profession (which I'll get to later). If you don't like mounts or cool little silly items you won't like this profession at all. I guess that was the intention, though. I love these items so I feel like this was tailored for the play style I have.
Spawns Are Unforgiving

Unless you are a mage, prepare for a lot of flight time. Because doing this profession is a pain. This is one low point for me regarding it. I don't know how they'd fix it, but there really is no quick way to do this. And maybe that was their intentions. It takes time to do and you have to go out of your way to do it. This was probably how they planned it so I doubt they'll change it.

What Can I Do With Archaeology?

I have an answer. There are two things I've done with the things I have gotten from archaeology.
In every Cataclysm dungeon there is a daily quest inside that only archaeologists can see. When you open the quest it will give you the option to use a keystone. If you complete the quest with the keystone your group will be granted a buff that will last throughout the instance. This can be extremely helpful if you're doing some of the tougher heroics. Especially since the keystones are BoE.

Another thing I do with archaeology is with some of the rare objects I macro them in with some of my cool-downs. Since the objects don't share global cool-downs this is possible. This can make for some fun RP macros. For example: A macro I use has it so whenever I use Gift of the Naaru I yell "The Naaru have not forgotten us." And at the same time use my Arrival of the Naaru rare object I got from archaeology. The ability to do this with my spells is awesome. I highly suggest it to anyone who likes cool stuff!

Final Thoughts

Archaeology is a great addition to the game. It provides us with something that is outside the norm to do when we get burnt out. It's supposed to be just a simple little "hot and cold" type activity to distract us from the normal WoW grind. If you take it slow and do it like an hour at a time, you will enjoy archaeology. As long as you can put up with the flight times, that is. It takes patience, just like real archaeology.

As a huge lover of pets, mounts, and vanity items this profession is right up my metaphoric alley. I can't wait to see what Blizzard has in store for the future of this profession. If you haven't yet tried your hand at surveying I would strongly suggest you go try it. You might be surprised in how addictive it is; or by what you might find!

So, what do you think about archaeology?


  1. Second on the grats!

    I like your writing style XD

    Might have to consider leveling archaeology

    Check mine out,


  2. @ Morituri and Jamin - Thanks!

    I also wanted to add that my server first achievement was a team effort. I had two of my friends Erumaren and Galfrid help summon me to different zones in Outlands! So thank you very much to them! They definitely helped out a ton!

  3. Grats a third time!

    Even if you are a mage, travel times are still horrendous, especially in southern Kalimdor. The only thing that really helps is having either the mage portal ability to Dalaran for the Caverns of Time portal that still exists, the Ring of Kirin Tor for the same reason, or the Gnomish Gadgetzan teleport.

    Have you gotten any BOA level 85 items yet?

  4. Congrats on your Realm first :)
    Personally I had to give up on even thinking to be realm first anything because it took me 1 hour to get through log in server on the night of the opening (there were already 5 level 81 when I got in).

    I find archaeology pretty addictive and somehow disappointing on the fact that they only included nice usable items for melee and caster classes (luckily I have a paladin at least that can get the super sword should I find it). My main is hunter see... Still I love the new profession and it's still exciting to me because of the mounts and pets... even the rares is kind of fun. I'm sure this is a profession that is getting new stuff added over time so I'm not to worried.

    This must be extra exciting if you're an alchemist as they can get the pattern for the drake from the archaeology (and a lot of work so I totally get the only one on my own server that takes 10k just to craft the sucker).

    They buffed the fragments now tho... You get from 3 to 6 fragments for each dig.

    I bet you levelled to 82 just by doing this :P ? Our realm first was that level when he got the achievement and I guess given the time he usued on it, he or she probably didn't have time for anything else.

  5. @Bloodshrike - Thanks! Yeah that Southern Kalimdor part is rough, that's why I guess it'd be easier to stay in Eastern Kingdoms... that continent is much prettier anyway =P.

    I didn't get any BoA 85 items, I did get the level 70 shaman helm though! Oh and just yesterday I got my Fossilized Raptor Mount. For someone who doesn't really play alts, this is a much better prize. Although some healing epics would be pretty nice right now...

    @Silverhawk - Thanks! Yes archaeology is very addicting, I still want to do it despite me doing it for as long as I did when it first came out. I just wish I had more time. I'm very excited to see where they're going with this profession and what kind of things they'll add. Then again I've yet to see all of it. I haven't even surveyed once in Northrend!

    Yeah they did buff the fragments which I was pretty excited about. They also as of me writing this buffed the range of the survey tool of when it turns green, making it easier even more so. So is this the time when I say "Back in my day we had to survey uphill both ways to get to the fragments?" =P

    Yup I was about more than halfway to 83 when I got the server first. It was kinda nice, got to skip straight to Deepholme. But it was kind of bad too, because I really liked Hyjal.

  6. grats on Realm first :) I've started to slowly level it, ( a whole 19 skill points slow) and yes following a pointing telescope is getting rather boring,

  7. @Zahraah - Glad to see another person jumping into the surveying! Keep at it though! It may be rough but the stuff you get is soooo cool. 359 item level epics? I'm in!