Please read that first.
I actually didn't know how Mixology worked until researching professions. Now that I've looked into it, I feel that alchemy is the most flexible profession since its benefit changes every time you pop a new elixir. Tired of getting a +37 spell power bonus? Pop a mageblood flask and your profession is now granting you additional Mp5. The issue Alchemy faces is that aside from four specific stats granted by flasks, you must pick one offensivee and one defensive stat in which to gain a bonus. Also, if you're not doing farm content and your greatest benefit comes from elixirs rather than flasks, you'll go broke extremely fast popping two elixirs every boss attempt.
Most professions do not scale. Their buff is static, from now until the next expansion. Note that Blizz never added new ring enchants or gave us a different set of flasks; We were basically using the same things at the end of Sunwell that we used learning Kara and Gruul.
The two exceptions to this rule are BS and JC. Blacksmithing grants a bonus proportional to available gems. When epic gems are released, the bonus granted by BS will grow. Right now, BS has relatively equal power compared with other professions, but its flexibility is arguably tied with Mixology. With the release of epic gems, BS will be significantly more powerful than any other profession, and still arguably the most flexible.
JC scales inversely with gem level. When epic gems are released, the benefit per JC gem will drop. However, JC still has the bonus of being able to get you socket bonuses and meta activation for free. With epic gems, JC will most likely grant you equal base power with the other professions, but will be slightly stronger than average because it allows you to stack one stat very high while still activating metas and getting set bonuses.
So, now we have a scale of professions. There are five rough tiers
~~Blacksmithing and Alchemy
Leatherworking, Enchanting, and Inscription
Mining, Skinning, and Herbalism
So, I have two questions and two suggestions
First, my questions--
Is Blizzard happy with the balance of gathering professions being significantly weaker than other professions?
I could see this going either way. Personally, I feel that the external use of a profession should not affect its raid viability but my roommate feels that since gathering professions tend to be easier to level and more rewarding, they should be less powerful in terms of buffs. I will leave discussion of HOW they can be made more flexible for another day.
Which profession is closest to "balanced" in your eyes? Do we want to buff everything up to the level of Jewelcrafting, or do we want to nerf JC down to Alchemy level and buff the rest up to there?
Personally, I feel like BS/Alchemy are the "best" professions balance-wise, as they give you huge flexibility without going overboard in terms of power. It'd be nice to see everything below those two become more flexible, and JC drop down to their level. However, it's entirely possible that JC is the baseline that we should be aiming for, in which case we should crack down and figure out how to buff the other professions to provide equal buffs elegantly. For my suggestions, I assume current BS/Alch are the baseline.
On to the suggestions--
Switch Dragon's Eye gems to standard colors instead of prismatics
If JC gems followed the color of base gems, then we would not have the issue of stat-stacking in JC that we get currently, since JC gems could never give a larger-than-intended bonus. They would also provide no benefit in terms of meta activation, which would also help decrease stat stacking along with the overall power of JC. JC gems may need slightly more stats to combat the advent of epic gems, but if this change does not go through, JC will still provide more stat benefit than any profession in addition to free meta activation (And thus huge flexibility)
This would help decrease stat stacking, since you couldn't place, say, a full stamina gem in both and still get the full effect of your profession. Additionally, it pushes you toward using split-color gems, which helps prevent stat stacking, and with a blue and a yellow socket it gives you viable options without forcing reds everywhere (People might do it anyway, but at a cost.) This gives you the same sort of split that Alchemy does with elixirs where you must choose one offensive and one defensive benefit, preventing you from stacking any one stat really high, except flask buffs.
Make the BS sockets "Tiny" sockets that can only handle rare-level gems
This will prevent BS from scaling while no other profession scales along with it. It wouldn't be too hard to come up with some sort of meta explanation ("The sockets BS can add to your gloves are very tiny. Epic gems simply don't fit") and the transition to epic gems won't cause problems.
With the changes I've presented, all non-gathering professions except Tailoring and Engineering would be on very even footing. Some would be more flexible, some would allow slightly more of one stat or another, but the differences would be minor enough that no profession would be "The Raider Profession."
I haven't studied Tailoring in depth, nor have I taken a significant look into Engineering. I feel that both are weak right now. I know engineering is getting a significant buff. If this thread turns out well, I'll see if I can make comparisons between the effective DPS improvement of Eng and Tailoring vs the other professions, since simple stat comparisons won't work. There are two overall schools of thought regarding these two professions. The first is that they're unique and we should balance them taking uniqueness into consideration. The second is that different is inherently inequal and they should be homogenized into the standard +Stat role in some manner. I'm a bigger fan of uniqueness, but it does make them extremely hard to balance
--I will be crossposting this to the WoW forums to get some feedback on my questions and suggestions, hence some of the wording. Putting it here as a reference to get some feedback from friends first.