I am not a betting man, but I believe that we can realistically see some combination of ways to obtain epic gems. Let us take a look at what Blizzard has done to see why I believe this to be the case. First, Blizzard is looking to maintain a sense of accessibility for players in WoW. To introduce Epic Gems in a truly rare manner, whether it be a vendor or new rare ore, would be to go back to limited accessibility, similar to the vendor only gems from the Burning Crusade expansion. Also, if Epic Gems were only obtained through defeating raid bosses, then it would limit the availability to raid groups. Blizzard is already making cross-over accessibility with 4.1 in the form of honor-to-justice point (and vice versa) conversions. I tend to believe that if they are expanding end-game accesibility in pve and pvp, they would not reverse that trend to make gemming that gear more difficult with limited supply.
Secondly, just take a look at the growth of Epic Gem accessibility from BC though the end of Wrath. It is again about growing accessibility for players to maximize their gear. The original Epic Gems in Burning Crusade were obtained only through drops in Mount Hyjal and Black Temple raid instances. Slowly this expanded in future patches of BC to inlcude drops from all raid instances, from the unlocked JC vendor on Isle of Quel'danas, and through the Brilliant Glass recipe that was available to jewelcrafters only. At the end of BC, Epic Gems were available to more people, but still gathered in a limited amount of ways. The Wrath of the Lich King expansion saw a greater supply of Epic Gems available than previously, through professions and gathering. The release of patch 3.2 introduced Epic Gems to the Wrath audience. Even at the beginning of this patch , people were able to collect Epic Gems through prospecting Titanium Ore, transmuting a rare gem and an eternal element (on cooldown), found in an Icy Prism created by jewelcrafters, bought with emblems of Heroism, or purchased with Honor Points. Blizzard opened the Epic Gem market with more ways to obtain these gems, and later removed the transmutation cooldown near the end of Wrath to allow for more supply.
Third, an idea that came up from my listening in on the JMTC Weekly Q&A Meeting this past Friday. It was mainly that Blizzard has not made any major changes in the working of the professions. As someone pon the podcast said, "What made you gold in Wrath will continue to make you gold in Cata." The only possible change coming to professions is the addition of newly crafted pvp gear at the beginning of each arena/rate battleground season. The leveling process was similar to the past, with the exception of tweaking recipe materials and the addition of multiple skill-ups on a limited number of items. Blizzard is not known for making sweeping changes to professions in the middle of an expansion. Profession changes have come with the introduction of new professions at the start of expansions (ie., jewelcrafting for Burning Crusade release and Archeology for Cataclysm release) or changing the existing usage of them at the end of expansions (ie., inscription market at the end of Wrath).
Finally, after reviewing the developer Q&A sessions that Blizzard has released recently, I believe that it is not in their plans to tinker with Epic Gems in any major way with this expansion. In all of the Q&A sessions, the answers boiled down to 2 responses by them:
- If it is a yes, "we are looking into it or this feature will be available in patch..."
- If it is a no, "it is something we are interested in, but it is not on our list..."
This leads me to believe that Blizzard will implement the Epic Gems in a very similar way to what they did in the Wrath expansion. They already have a "rare" mining node in place, making it easy to adjust the numbers on prospecting and node spawn rates. I do not think they are willing to spend the time on creating a new ore and place them in unique locations, while creating an entirely new set of prospecting rates. I also do not think Blizzard has plans to release new zones just to have new node spawns for the Epic Gem market. It is possible that they will release a new zone, but I think they would ensure that people have access to that zone and the materials gathered there can be gathered in similar zones throughout the world, even if it is at a reduced spawn rate elsewhere. If Blizzard utilizes alchemy again for creating Epic Gems, I believe that they will gate it as they did when released in Wrath. This gating will be done through a daily cooldown of some sort.
In conclusion, I believe that making investments in Pyrite Ore is a good investment to make, although a still risky investment without clarification by Blizzard. I do not suggest buying all the ore on the market, but I do suggest finding a threshold you are willing to pay for stacks of ore and buy them. I am also planning on keeping an eye out for alternate ways to gather Epic Gems in the future.
What are your thoughts on Epic Gems? What are you looking to invest in for future returns?
Thank for stopping by the Epic Gem edition of the Long, Strange blog.
Time to head out for skating lessons and a hockey game for my son...