Alchemy: A Beginner's Guide
So you want to be an Alchemist?
This is a great profession for any class, but even better for those classes without the ability to buff themselves. This includes Warriors and Rogues, but spellcasters can also benefit from the easy supply of mana potions. Alchemy is a very lucrative profession for those of you looking to make money. Potions are consumable, so you'll have no problem selling large quantities of them. And especially at higher levels, players realize the value of potions and flasks to aid them in their combat efforts and will generally try to keep a handy supply of their favorites.
Alchemy is one of the easiest professions to level up, all that's necessary is to make potions. Since you'll likely be using the potions you've made, it's not hard to progress as a fast pace. You'll probably be restricted more by your herb supply than any true stumbling blocks in the recipe progression. The only exception to this is the final stages of the Grand Master and Illustrious tiers of recipes.
The best complimentary skill by far is Herbalism. Due to the high value of potions themselves, the required herbs tend to be expensive. If you don't take Herbalism it will be quite costly for you to purchase your herbs. Plus, you'll miss out on a secondary source of income since you can always sell any surplus herbs you have for good money, depending on the herb. You should also seriously consider developing your Fishing skill. This is a Secondary profession that does not count towards your two profession limit. Since a fair number of Alchemy recipes require fish, it makes sense to add this to your crafting repertoire.
Now that you'd made up your mind to train in Alchemy, you should find yourself a trainer. Any major city should have one of these, just ask a guard. There are also some trainers located in towns in various newbie zones, so if you happen to spot one you can use him or her as well.
In addition to herbs you'll need vials to make your potions with. These are sold by the Trade Vendors who can be found in most small towns around Azeroth. Make sure you keep a supply on hand! Also, don't forget to check any trade vendors you run across for new recipes. There are a number of NPCs who have a few recipes in their inventory, usually on the last page. Some recipes are available in Limited Supply. If you know a certain vendor has the recipe you want but you don't see it in stock, come back and visit him another time. Respawn times vary on the limited stock items, ranging from 1 hour to 24 hours.
There's really just one quest involving Alchemy, and it can actually be done by any player. The good news is that you need potions to complete it, so non-Alchemists would need to purchase the items for it. The quest is in Teldrassil (Night Elf starting zone) and requires you to bring eight potions to Syral Bladeleaf in Dolanaar in exchange for some herbs as a reward. There are also some specialization quests available at level 68 in Outland, which is covered later in this guide.
Every 75 skill points you'll reach the maximum skill for the current tier of recipes. You'll need to return to a trainer to unlock the next tier, so be sure you take care of that. If you reach the skill cap and keep crafting, you'll get no points for those items. Once you reach 225 Alchemy, you'll get the first set of your Transmute recipes. Transmuting is a very important alchemy skill, and in strong demand with other players. The first two recipes for transmuting are found in Gadgetzan from Alchemist Pestlezugg. He also sells the recipe for the Philosopher's Stone that's required for the transmuting process. The Black Vitriol needed for this recipe is a gem which is mined from Mithril and other high level veins of ore. You should have no trouble finding it on the Auction House at a fairly low cost, since your transmuting stones are the only use for this particular item. Once you've made the Stone, you'll need to have it in your inventory any time you want to do a transmute.
There's not much demand for low level transmutes, but they become more lucrative at higher levels of Alchemy. Other crafters will need to use your transmuted goods within their own profession, so you'll always have a market for them. It's not unusual to charge as much as 200 gold as a service fee for one transmute. Part of the reason that you'll be able to charge so much is because of the long cooldown period on your transmute recipes. Many transmute recipes are on a shared cooldown which resets at midnight every night. On a given day you can only use the transmute one time, which is why other players will pay you for the trouble. There are a handful of transmute recipes which are exempt from the cooldown. These are Arcanite, Titanium, Primal Might, all Meta Gem and all rare gems from Cataclysm. You can make as many of these items as much as you like. Transmute recipes that share the cooldown are all elementals (essences, primals, eternals and volatiles), gold, truesilver, pyrium and truegold. You can only transmute these items once per day.
If you have Herbalism as your other Primary tradeskill, be sure to take advantage of the special Herb bags that are now available. Depending on which size you purchase, they are much larger than regular bags and you'll be able to carry more herbs with you. You can also use Herb bags in your bank slots, so why not get two?
All potions have a cooldown timer when used. This means that another potion cannot be used until the timer is expired. The timer for potions is 2 minutes or until combat ends, players will be unable to use another potion during that time. It's a good idea to use buff potions (Elixir of Wisdom, Troll's Blood Potion, etc) before you enter combat so that you'll be able to use "emergency" potions (Healing Potion, Mana Potion, etc) during combat if something goes wrong. Also bear in mind that some potions have an individual timer in addition to their global timer, so be sure you're familiar with what those are if you plan to rely on them in risky situations.
Alchemy is extremely easy to level up in Outland, once again you'll just be collecting herbs and making potions. Depending on your herb supply you could reach the level cap in an hour or so, it's that simple. One thing to be aware of is that most of the items you'll be making will probably not sell very well. The majority of players will be looking for Cataclysm potions and have little interest in downgrading. It's probably best to focus making items for your own use.
A new addition to Alchemy in the Burning Crusade is the concept of Discovery. Basically this means that any time you're making an item, you have a random chance to learn a new recipe of the same type. If you're making potions, you have a chance to learn a new potion recipe, the same goes for elixirs and transmutes. If you are merely powering through, this may not be of concern to you. But if you're a completionist, be aware that you'll probably need to craft Outland recipes to learn Outland discovery recipes. There isn't strong evidence to support the use of Northrend or non-expansion recipes to discover Outland recipes, but you can certainly try if you wish. If you find yourself making lots of Outland items to get discoveries, you may want to focus on transmutes and flasks. There's a minor market in older flasks for players who use them to save a bit of money on non-progression content. If you happen to discover a flask recipe, you can try posting a few on the Auction to see if they sell. Transmuted primals may also have some value to folks who are leveling other professions.
Once you reach 325 Alchemy skill and level 68, you'll be able to select a specialization for your Alchemist. There are three specializations to choose from: Transmutation, Elixirs and Potions. Each has it's own quest offered by a different NPC in Outland. Your regular Alchemy trainer can point you to them, or you can just go straight to the proper person for your training. To become a Master of Transmutation, visit Zarevhi at the Stormspire in Netherstorm. If you wish to be a Master of Elixirs, you should see Lorokeem in Shattrath. Or you might want to be a Master of Potions, in which case you'd visit Lauranna Thar'well at the Cenarion Refuge in Zangarmarsh. Each will give you a quest to complete, when you turn in the quest you will learn the specialization.
Two of these three quests will require you to visit a level 70 dungeon. The Elixir quest is considered the most difficult because the required items do not always drop in one dungeon run. However, it may be a challenge to get a dungeon group at all given the lack of players in Outland. For those wishing to consider an alternate path, it's possible to choose Transmutation spec, complete the quest, then switch to your preferred spec afterwards. There is no requirement to redo the specialization quests when switching, anyone who wishes to "re-spec" can do so for a fee of 150 gold. So one way of getting around the dungeon requirement is to take the Transmutation quest, which doesn't require a dungeon to complete. You'll be asked to collect 4 Primal Mights, which is very easily done as a solo project. Once you turn in your quest and learn the Transmutation specialty, you can speak with your trainer again to "unlearn" it. Then just visit a different specialty trainer to learn their specialization. You may spend more money by going this route, but it will probably save a lot of frustration. For those who are already level 85 and specializing for the first time, its likely you can solo the dungeon quests if you prefer to go that route.
Alchemy in Northrend
There aren't any drastic changes to Alchemy in terms of the leveling process. A new addition to the Alchemy line-up is the ability to research new recipes. Actually, it's similar to the Discovery mechanic from Outland minus the huge random factor. At 400 skill you unlock the ability to do this and I highly recommend that you do. It's on a 3-day timer and has a steep materials requirement, but you'll be rewarded with a new recipe each time to use it. These dozen or so recipes can't be acquired any other way, so it's absolutely worthwhile.
I would also strongly encourage you to use your new Northrend transmute recipes when you can. You only get one from the trainer, Transmute: Titanium, and for some of you the cost of the materials will be equal or greater to the selling price of the finished product. Despite this, it's still worth doing because this is the only way to unlock all of the other Northrend transmute recipes. A discovery isn't guaranteed like it is with the research ability. It works more like the Discovery process from Burning Crusade. But this is the only way to unlock the dozen or so eternal transmute recipes. Currently there is still a market for Titanium, which is used to make the motorcycle mounts from Engineering. So you shouldn't have trouble selling the titanium bars if you're careful to list them when competition is low.
Once you reach 425 in Alchemy you'll be ready to work on the Cataclysm recipes. You'll start out making the usual elixirs and potions, so focus on items that have value to you. I would like to point out that Deathblood Venom is used to make guild cauldrons, so it should be a reasonable seller to other players. For the most part you can select recipes that appeal to you or utilize herbs you have on hand.
At 485 you'll be able to learn the recipe to Transmute: Living Elements. This recipe allows you to convert 15 volatile life into 14-16 of the other volatile types. If you have the Transmutation specialization this recipe can proc extra volatiles. Generally this recipe will give you a random result, but you can control which volatiles you create. If you'd like to get volatile water, do the transmute in Vashj'ir. If you'd prefer volatile air, go to Uldum. For volatile earth you should be in Deepholm and volatile fire requires Mount Hyjal. Anywhere else will result in a random type of volatiles. The extra volatiles you may proc are always random, regardless of location. I highly recommend you do this recipe every day, it's very profitable. Most Alchemists use either this recipe or the Truegold recipe as their daily transmute. Truegold can't be learned until 525 skill, so for now this is your best option.
When you reach 500 skill you should consider making the Flask of Enhancement. Yes the materials are steep, but you get five skill points for it and you'll probably want this item anyway. You will also unlock some flask recipes at 500, but the materials for flasks are too high for the one skill point gained by making them. At 505 skill you'll predominantly be gaining skill points by transmuting rare gems. This will complicate your leveling process since you'll need to acquire the gems from other players. Many of these same gems are used by Jewelcrafters for their daily quest, so it could be rough to find them at prices you're willing to pay. You might want to consider purchasing some ore and having a friend prospect it for you. Otherwise you should have no problem reaching 525 skill and accessing the best recipes Alchemy has to offer!Good Luck!