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Archaeology is Frustrating

If there’s one thing that bugs me about leveling in WoW, it’s not having my professions trained to at or above a useful level. Maybe it’s because my main is a warrior, and I quickly learned that not having my First Aid trained up meant not getting heals in battlegrounds. Maybe it’s because that warrior is also an engineer, and the rate of obsolescence on vanilla engineering perks is so high that the coolest recipes stopped being useful as soon as you reached a level at which you could comfortably farm the mats. Whatever the reason, as soon as I heard of Archaeology I knew that my first few days in Cataclysm would be spent not questing, not instancing, but grinding Archaeology up to 450 so that I could level it naturally in the course of questing.

I hadn’t accounted for the fact that gathering now awards non-trivial amounts of XP.

At level 80, I was gaining just over 5000 XP per archaeology gather. This doesn’t sound like much until you consider how many gathers you have to make per skill-up. Each gather yields 2-3 fragments, plus a keystone if you’re lucky; and you need 35-100 fragments per artifact. (A keystone counts as 12 fragments, but you can only use them on certain artifacts, and on non-rare artifacts you can use a maximum of one per solve.) After archaeology level 75 or so, the actual gathers stop giving you skill-ups; you’re limited to skilling up from solves alone. Each solve gives 3-8 skillups, leaning heavily towards the lower side. It takes a rare artifact to give a significant number of skill-ups, and rare artifacts require more fragments anyway. This means that for every point of Archaeology skill at level 80, I was earning about 27,000 XP. And XP from gathering scales with level, so at level 81, I’m now making over 6000 XP per gather.

I’m now level 81 and 16%, up from level 80 and 4%, just from leveling Archaeology. And I’m not even to Outland yet. I’m beginning to fear that I’ll be stepping into the Cataclysm zones at level 84, wearing all Wrath gear. I’m seriously considering turning off XP at this point, because it’s looking like that’s the only way I’ll manage to have an organic leveling experience.

It’s important that you not take this the wrong way, because you will get very frustrated very quickly if you try leveling Archaeology as a way of powering to 85. Archaeology takes a long time to level. I played for 10 hours straight to get my archaeology to 213. You need to fly all around the appropriate continent(s), from digsite to digsite; and when you get to the digsite you need to triangulate the artifact’s location to within a yard via a game of Red Light, Green Light before you can pick it up.

Why this sucks

Did I mention that I’m moderately red-green color-blind?

This doesn’t mean that I’m completely unable to see red or green, or that I experience them as the same color; what it means is when people with normal vision see the leftmost version of this dot-circle, the middle version is supposedly how I see it. I obviously can’t see how you see it to confirm that you really are seeing it how I see it. See?


For more information on varieties of colorblindness, see http://colorvisiontesting.com

(Actually, since I’m a girl it’s more complicated than that, as I technically have two different types of anomalous cone, but that’s irrelevant to how frustrating it is to level Archaeology except for one implication: red-green color-blind men probably have it worse.)

I’ve played with color-blind mode on ever since I discovered it, because I sometimes can’t tell whether a drop is Rare or Epic by the color of the text alone. For the most part the devs are pretty good about making the game accessible for the color-blind, though until I got VuhDo I had a difficult time with the Worms phase of Northrend Beasts – yes I know what debuff I have, but on other players, both debuffs were sickening shades of green-brown-orange. Unfortunately for me, there doesn’t seem to be an addon that can help with my Surveying color woes.

This is naturally making leveling Archaeology intensely frustrating. I’m managing it mostly because when you get really close to an artifact the light on the Surveying telescope blinks; but the light is very small and in bright environments like Tanaris it can be hard to tell whether the washed-out yellow-green light is blinking or if it’s a trick of the light – and even harder to tell if the unblinking, washed-out yellow-green light is supposed to be yellow (“getting cooler!”) or green (“getting warmer!”). In dark-green zones like Feralas the red light fades into the leafy background, making me wonder sometimes if the survey even fired off or if I’m lagging again.

tl;dr: It’s a royal pain in the ass.

Tangent: Some people consider color blindness a disability. I think it falls on a spectrum, with all but true color-blindness (complete lack of at least one type of cone) qualifying more as a condition than as anything that would require specific accommodation.

But it’s not all bad…


OK. It’s officially been… 33 hours since I last slept. I think I’ll get on that.

…orrrr I’ll tank Blackrock Caverns. Not really sure yet. We’ll see.

  1. Bimini Asheye
    December 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    One would think that Blizz would include an option for displaying Surveying results in text for the color-blind or those with low graphic settings, etc. <_<

    • December 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      One would think; but colorblind mode doesn’t seem to have been updated at all for Cataclysm. It’s labeling what my friends tell me are heroic dungeon blues as heroic epics, for example.

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