Farming. Lot’s of people hate it, many people do it, and few actually like it. And yet it has been the center of debate in WoW since the vanilla release date. There has always been a stigma placed on it, or at least a wary eye, with the concern that the farmer, or bot controlling the character, may be breaking the terms of service rules and in general being a nuisance to the WoW community. Soon after release comes the economic scene – pioneering adventurers that want to find the way to become most efficient at gathering and retaining gold. These pioneers have established the foundation on which we as a gold-making community function on. Back in their day, the tools they had for farming were their mouse, their keyboard and music or movies as a distraction. There were no flying mounts, and only a few zones in which they could get the high demand materials that defined the market in their day. Competing against other entrepeneurs, the going was tough. Today, we have it easy. We have countless addons that aid in making node spotting much easier, and even some addons that allow you to track both minerals and herbs, a breakthrough in leveling farming technology that allows the low-level player to cash out while leveling.
Sometimes, we get so bogged down with all the options that farming becomes just as difficult as it was in vanilla. So what are the best practices when it comes to supplying? Take the jump to find the answers!
To begin with, it’s most helpful to decide on your purpose. Why are you farming? Is it for personal supply, supply for your own crafts to sell on the AH, or are you supplying another crafter who is paying you good money? Whatever it is, every activity is more efficient when you have a goal in mind. Now that you have your goal in mind, the next step is to figure out what you need to farm, and based on the resources available to you (flying mounts, ground mounts etc.) decide on which location will best suit your needs.
For this guide, I’ll assume that you are level 80 and have at least a basic flying mount. If you’re harvesting end game materials, specifically herbs and/or minerals, then your best bet is Northern Northrend. Northrend was built with the resource rich zones to the north. The most popular of these two are Sholazar Basin and Icecrown, however Storm Peaks and Wintergrasp are also viable options. Let’s choose Icecrown for illustrative purposes farther along in the guide, and assume that the desired material is ore.
Now, regardless of your goal and intent, the main indicators of efficiency in a farming run are speed and maximum coverage. In the long run it doesn’t matter who else is competing with you as long as you can tailor your route to hit the nodes that are respawning. If you find that you’re trailing right behind someone on your run or someone is right behind you, you might consider switching directions or cutting across the zone to start at the other side. In Sholazar, speed and maximum coverage is fairly easy as most of the ore spawns on the outer rim in the hills, as well as the 5 pillars. This allows you to go around in circles and cross into the middle at each pillar, or any variation of covering all of those spots. However in Icecrown, the path is a bit more wobbly and sporadic, forcing you to navigate in odd directions. This seemingly inefficient route is actually a goldmine because it deters those that aren’t confident. This is actually one of the faster zones that I’ve farmed in, but you have to know where to go.
You could search online and find one of the many routes drawn on maps, however for Icecrown it’s hard to get the most efficient route by hand. This brings me to the first wonderful addon that I’d like to talk about. That is Carbonite which many know as a quest tracking addon, but it has a really nice map interface that acts similarly to google maps. Carbonite is feature loaded, but the one we want to use is located in the are of the maps. To get to the point where you can use this takes absolutely no configuration. Just install it, enable it and log in. If you want to reduce the memory requirement you could try just keeping the map portion of the addon installed, however I’ve not tried this and I’m not sure whether or not it will stop the addons functionality.
Now that you’ve got it installed, mount up on fly over to Icecrown. You need to be in zone for this to work. Once you get there, do an unaided fly around Icecrown, mining any node that you find. What we’re doing right now is gathering data so that the best route can be calculated. You might want to do ane extra loop. Once you’ve done this, you’ll notice that the map shows saronite and titanium graphics. Right click on the minimap (if the minimap is gone, just hit ‘M’ and when the big map comes up hit ‘M’ again instead of escape) and click “Route.” This will bring up a second menu that will have an option called “Current Gather” locations. click this and voila! The minimap will now have arrows connecting you to the nearest node in your route. Just follow the arrows to each node, checking to see if one is there, and then continue on after it snaps off the node graphic. This works for herbalism just as well as for mining. If this isn’t working for you I suggest you watch these two videos which can explain more clearly, with graphical representation, what I’ve just told you:
This is the best and most efficient method that I’ve found to farm materials.
Another great option, which doesn’t include automatic routing and therefore isn’t listed as the top is Gatherer. This is the bread and butter farming addon that is useful for low levels and high levels both. Gatherer will track each node that you hit (even if you can’t harvest/mine it) and record it into its database (you have to right-click the node and be within range for this to occur). Every time you enter a zone, any database information will be displayed on the minimap and the large map for your convenience. From this data you can formulate your own farming route or use the drawn routes on maps that you can find online. Gatherer also has a HUD that appears below the feet of your character (pretty low on the screen) that shows you which direction to go. The display is rather confusing at first, but if you can get the hang of what it’s showing, you’ll be good to go. If you have friends or guild members on your server that have been using Gatherer for some time, they’ve either imported a database from someone else or harvested enough to get a good spread, you can import their database into your gatherer. This is easily accomplished with configuration menu for gatherer, and communication with the other person. Alternatively you can find the Gatherer_DB addon that synergizes with Gatherer, and work from there.
Of course, there are many options to choose from, but these are the two that I’ve found the most helpful in my farming career. Remember that the best route is fast and covers the most area. It’s always good to make sure you’re covering more area than being fast though, because a lot of times the average low-power farmer that is doing it for personal supply hasn’t optimized their practice, and so they don’t go out-of-the-way. This can leave important things like khorium, titanium or elementium ore in those secluded spots, so it’s sometimes valuable to go a little out of your way. This can also help break following repetitions where you’re right behind someone or vice versa.
If you have any questions, opinions or discussion thoughts, please share in the comments! Happy farming! (See comment 1 for another option that I didn’t cover!)
This post is part of Markco’s Blogging Carnival on gold making guides, tips and secrets. Check out his blog and the wonderful resource of gold making tips on his forums. My blog is mostly about shamans, however I’m a gold making guru and participate on JMTC at least every day as well as leading my own successful micro business on my two servers.