When Path of the Titans and Archaeology was originally announced as features for Cataclysm I was very excited. It seemed like perfect game components for achievement hunters. Eventually Path of the Titans was scrapped due to lack of time for development or just not being able to fit it in the game the way they wanted, archaeology was kept in though.
I was fairly slow to start with archaeology compared to most of my friends and very slow to bring it all the way up to 525 in skill, why? I found it dreadfully boring. Which is odd, it should have everything a crazy achievement hunter like me wants, or does it?
What is Archaeology
Archaeology is the fourth secondary profession in World of Warcraft. Just like Cooking, Fishing and First Aid, you can train this profession without taking up one of your primary profession spots. Unlike The three aforementioned professions, this one makes very little sense to train for non-achievement hunters.
Cooking provides you with health food, mana food, buff food and a way to make gold. Fishing helps you gather materials for your Cooking and is a way for you to make gold. First Aid helps you survive in a tough situation with the help of some bandages (first aid is pretty crap though, but that’s a story for another day).
Archaeology provides you with flavor items, pets, mounts and BoA epics (none for hunters though). You can also get minor buffs in dungeons via daily quest turn-ins. Most of all, this profession provides you with a very big time-sink, just like fishing.
How Archaeology works
You can train archaeology in any major city and once you’ve payed for the skill level, there’s no need further prep needed, no need to buy a shovel or treasure map. It’s time to start diggin’!
To find a dig site, open up the world map for your current continent. On this map you’ll find four shovel icons. Each of these represent a dig site. Travel to a dig site marked by a shovel. Once you get close to it, you’ll see a red marked area surrounding the shovel icon on your map (not the minimap), this marked area represents the dig site.
Start digging in the middle of the dig site by using Survey. You’ll see a survey tool on the ground after you’ve dug, this will shine a light in red, yellow or green and point you into the right direction. Intuitively red means you need to dig far away, yellow moderately close and green, very close. Eventually you hit on a find and you dig up three to six fragments and sometimes a keystone.
You can dig up three finds for each dig site, once you got those three you have to move to a new dig site. There will always be four dig sites up per continent and you can be assured that they are gonna be as far away from each other as possible (sure seems that way anyway). The dig sites are specific to each civilization (or “race” if you will) and each civilization has their own unique artifacts that you can find. See this link for a comprehensive list of the artifacts.
Once you dig up enough fragments for an artifact, you can solve it by opening up the Archaeology window under Professions and going to the civilization you’re working on.
Rinse and repeat from 1 to 525 and long thereafter.
Sources of frustration
There’s a five second cooldown on the Survey tool… why does it have to be there? When you’re within the green range you will find this incredibly frustrating after a while, since you’ll dig… move for one second and then want to dig again… but no, you have to wait. This wouldn’t be so frutrating if it only happened once or twice, but it really happens for every single find you dig up.
You are forced to dig up finds for races you don’t care to dig up, just to free up other dig sites spots (since each continent is limited to four at a time). On Eastern Kingdoms this usually means clearing out four Troll dig sites before getting one Dwarf dig sites, or on Kalimdor this would mean clearing out Night Elf, Fossil or Troll dig sites to get to one Tol’Vir dig site. This gets incredibly frustrating very quickly. Especially if you really don’t want any of the artifacts that that one race provides which you are forced to dig up.
For example, right now I’m digging in Outland for the The Harder they Fall achievement which requires Orc artifacts. What happens? All Draenei dig sites… Every 7th dig site or so is Orc.
Dig sites are miles apart! Sometimes you get lucky and have two or even three in the same zone, but most of the time you’ll have to travel between 5 to 10 minutes to get to a new dig site.
There’s a lot of common artifacts that serve no purpose other than to be an obstacle for you to climb. That’s ok in my opinion, awesome things shouldn’t come easy. But the thing is, you can complete these common artifacts many times over and you are at the mercy of RNG when it comes to deciding what artifact you’re gonna be solving next. You might solve the same crappy useless artifact five times over. Fun? No.
Apart from selling keystones (which aren’t selling at all on my realm), which you probably wanna use yourself anyway there is no real monetary reward for digging. Solved artifacts sell for between 10 silver to 1 gold. Why? Solving an artifact is more time consuming and equally difficult as a daily quest. These common artifacts should vendor for a bit more or be materials for something craftable so that they would have some value.
It’s not relaxing. I say this because Archaeology should be compared to Fishing, the other time sink profession. When it comes to fishing, all you need to do is park your ass near a lake or the ocean and fish away. Chat with your guildies or listen to an audio book and relax. Archaeology on the other hand requires you to move around constantly searching for new diggables, spamming your Survey key in frustration while the cooldown slowly wears off, then look on your map to plan your travel route to get to the next dig site.
How can archaeology be changed for the better?
First off, change that Survey cooldown to an arbitrary 1 second or something similar.
Have dig sites be a certain amount per zone or quarter of a continent rather than a certain amount per entire continent. This would mean less travel time (but not remove it entirely) and would also make you able to focus on one race of your choice rather than being forced to dig up stuff you are completely uninterested in. Looking for Orc dig sites? Go to Hellfire Ramparts. Tol’Vir? Go to Uldum and the surrounding deserts.
Introduce a new kind of item that can be found on every dig that is valuable but has a low drop chance. Let’s say it’s a kind of jewel or diamond from that particular race, several of them available, each vendoring for 100 g to 5000 g (for a very rare one). This would mean that each time you dig there’s a chance of something very exciting to happen which makes the entire experience a bit more appealing.
And similarly, completing common artifacts more than once would feel less painful if there was some sort of purpose to completing them. Like, a gold reward or extra keystones, whatever. Just, something… anything!
And on that bombshell…
As you can see, I’m not all that thrilled with archaeology in it’s current incantation. But I believe with some tweaking it can be a wonderful time sink like it is intended to be. Regardless of if they change anything or not, I will continue with it. Because there are achievements and mounts and I shall have achievements and mounts!
What do you think of Archaeology? Is it perfect and loads of fun or a bag of turtle poop?