I don't often farm but when I do the name of the game is always efficiency. The more efficiently you can farm the more gold you will make from your play session or the more mats you can get for crafting. Arguably the most important thing to think about when looking at efficient farming is your farming location: lots of nodes, easily accessible, not too many mobs, etc.
However there are other things to consider. With that in mind I set out this expansion to build my ideal farming character. Here's what I think makes up the ideal farmer; the more of these factors you have going for you the better off you will be but just having as many as you can should help you get the most out of your farming.
Step 1: Selecting your class.
There are conflicting opinions here. Generally people will opt for either a druid gatherer or a paladin or DK for faster mounted movement speed. I side with the druids; the ability to drop down, pick an herbalism node, and fly away without having to kill that mob standing on top of the node is invaluable and will often lead to a greater gain than moving a bit faster.
Nodes are so plentiful in Mists of Pandaria that it will rarely come down to "time spent finding a node" and more often come down to effort and time put in to actually gather the nodes littering the countryside. While the druids don't get the perk for mining their herbalism perk is top-notch and beats out faster-flyers in my book.
Step 2: Selecting your race.
Horde players might instantly say "Tauren druid!" for gathering and that's certainly not a bad idea. However Tauren is no longer as necessary (see Step 5) and so race choices for Horde are now opened up a bit more. However, War Stomp will still be quite handy to stun an enemy and snag a node if it comes down to it so I would still recommend Tauren over Troll.
Alliance players have a choice between Night Elf or Worgen. For this list I'm assuming we're talking about a mining/herbalism gatherer and so Worgen's racial bonuses to skinning aren't factored in. I love Night Elf because if you grab aggro from a mob while mining, which you inevitably will, you can Shadowmeld and pop Flight Form instantly meaning you can cut down significantly on fighting you'll have to do over nodes.
Step 3: Building your farming druid.
There are a few things to consider when building the character.
- Speed: Faster mounted speed will mean less travel between nodes. Faster movement speed (when not mounted) will allow you to gather faster in areas like Snow Lily Cave.
- Stuns: Inevitably you will pull aggro every once and a while. Being able to stun a mob and gather before killing it or shadow melding will secure that Golden Lotus before someone can come in and take it from you.
- Dazing: Non-tanks can be randomly dazed when struck by an attack. This usually doesn't matter too much if you're flying around from node to node but if you're running through Snow Lily Cave or can't fly yet you may want to consider going Guardian spec to make yourself daze-proof.
With this in mind I'm using a Feral druid (faster cat movement speed) with Feline Swiftness (even faster kitty!) and Mighty Bash for an added stun. Disorienting Roar is another option to distract mobs while you snag a node; it's a shorter duration and will be broken by damage but it's an AoE so it ensures you'll get that node no matter what's beating on you. Glyph of Dash will also allow a more frequent use of Dash, allowing you to move through caves or run out of aggro range more often.
Step 4: Inventory space.
If you don't farm for hours at a time you should be fine with regular bags. However, for dedicated farming sessions or if you're not going to return to a mailbox after each session you should look into profession bags.
Miners will want Triple-Reinforced Mining Bags and herbalists will want Hyjal Expedition Bags. For mining/herbalism druids I recommend one of each profession bag and two "normal" bags of your choice; Embersilk, Netherweave, whatever your pleasure is. This gives you a good amount of space specifically for mats but leaves several spots for catch-all if you gather a disproportionate amount of one resource compared to the other, or if you just happen to loot anything else while you're out.
Step 5: Equipping your farmer.
Here's where things might get a little new for farmers. The more of these items you can get the better, but any of them will help.
- A Gnomish Army Knife held in your bags will give you +10 to all gathering professions. This does not stack with the Gatherer enchant to gloves (+5) so you will choose one or the other, essentially you're looking at +5 more gathering at the cost of one inventory slot.
- An Ancient Pandaren Mining Pick will allow miners to proc Mists of Pandaria gems off of Pandaria nodes. In previous expansions it was a given that miners would sometimes find gems in the nodes but that's no longer the case; now you must have this pick if you expect to see that.
Be aware the proc rate is very low; I've had this pick for a week and have seen two gems. If you want the absolute best out of mining you should have one of these but some people may not find it worth the bag slot it will take. It does not need to be equipped and thus non-axe-using druids can still use it. It's also Bind on Account so you can send it to your other characters to use for it's rather nice 1H Strength weapon stats.To get a mining pick head to Greenstone Quarry in northern Jade Forest. This item is a rare spawn in the quarry and has a fairly long spawn timer so you may have to camp a fair bit for it.
- A set of Forager's Gloves is without a doubt my favorite new item added for gathering. These gloves drop from the rare spawn Korda Torros in Kun-Lai Summit and reduce gathering speed for herbs and mining by 1.5 seconds. (A reduction of 1 second for skinning.) This essentially let's anyone gather herbs as fast as a Tauren and allows you to mine faster than anyone who hasn't farmed these gloves. With these gloves it's usually possible to gather a node between the swing-timer of an attacking mob, making these an invaluable part of your farming arsenal.The mob which drops these has roughly a one hour spawn time so, barring terrible luck, they shouldn't be too difficult to farm up even on an 85-86 with decent gear.
Note: These will only reduce gathering to .5 seconds; this will not allow a character who could already gather faster (Worgen skinners or Tauren herbalists) to gather instantly. Unfortunately!
- A pair of Mist-Piercing Goggles will allow you to see nodes that you otherwise would not be able to see. You needn't equip them; like the mining pick they can sit in your bags. This is great since you can keep them un-bound and send them around if you use more than one farming character. This is a simple situation: Reserve a bag slot (or your helmet slot) and you get to gather more nodes. Easy choice!Engineers make these and they require two Spirits of Harmony, so you may end up paying a bit for these but if you're going to be gathering they will pay for themselves in no time.
These are the steps I've taken to building Thrasymachus, my new farming character. It has seriously kickstarted my farming in Mists of Pandaria and feeling so well-equipped has helped make farming fun for me. I'm not a professional farmer so if you have any tips and tricks to maximizing your farming character's efficiency please share them!