Black Iron Ore, Pyrite Ore and the Truth About Epic Gems in Cataclysm

Lately a common mantra has been permeating the gold-making community. “Stockpile pyrite ore. Prospect after the patch. Get rich.”

That seems to be where many players thoughts begin and end on the subject. It's understandable. That method seems quite obvious and logical. I don't believe it's that simple.

I don't believe Pyrite Ore is how epic gems will initially come into the game. I believe Blizzard will make epic gems scarce by  intially placing them behind 24-hour cooldowns.

In this article I will explain where I believe gems will from and what I am doing to prepare.

Black Iron Swan Ore
I was happy to see the speculation about Black Iron Ore this last week. It got many gold-makers stopping for a second and thinking about the possibility that epic Cataclysm gems may not come from Pyrite Ore.

Black Iron Ore was datamined during beta and is now theorized to be a potential source of epic Cataclysm gems. This may be true I don't think players are thinking far enough ahead. What if Black Iron Ore is introduced in 4.3? 4.4? I think Blizzard has things mapped out much further than players give them credit for.

(For more on Black Iron Ore see:

The Black Iron Ore debate got me thinking of how else Blizzard might introduce epic gems into Cataclysm. The more I thought about it the more I realized that making epic Cataclysm gems easily prospectable from Pyrite didn't make sense. It is too easy. What is epic about prospecting such a common ore?

The other catalyst for my ideas was the great post "Epic Gems From Transmutes: But Not How You Think...." by Bones on Alto's Goldish Advice. The part of this post that sparked my interest were the images showing the patterns for the current rare gem alchemy transmutes.

The fact that every color of gem has a corresponding herb that even has the same color scheme is no coincidence. The symmetry is just too perfect to deny. I believe Bones is correct that epic gem transmutes will require herbs. Lots of herbs.

Image taken from Alto's Goldish Advice.

The New Directions
To unlock the riddle of how Blizzard will introduce epic Cataclysm gems I believe we have to look much further than the current (or future) ore types.

We have to look at the changes in Blizzard's over all design philosophy for Cataclysm. We have to look at design trends and how they could be impact the implementation of epic Cataclysm gems.

Epic Needs to Feel Epic
One of the largest changes that the Cataclysm brought was a massive increase in the difficulty of acquiring epic items. Blizzard believed that epics items had became too easy to obtain in Wrath of the Lich King.

Because of the ease of acquiring them, epic items had lost much of the cache. Epic items didn't end up feeling "epic". What's epic about an item you get from your first very first heroic?

This isn't a mistake I think Blizzard wants to make again. Currently in the game epic items are much more difficult to obtain. They are either placed behind expensive crafting materials, long reputation grinds, Valor point farming or raiding.

I believe they have succeeded in restoring some of the luster epics lost ine Wrath of the Lich King. Epics feel epic again.

I believe that Blizzard will continue this trend with epic Cataclysm gems. Epic gems will feel epic. You will make a choice and sacrifice to fill your gear's slots with epic gems. (Think of the cost involved in getting all top-shelf enchants on all your gear now. Do you have the absolute best wrist enchants? If not why?)

You Are Not Prepared
Recent statements by Blizzard stated that one of the major reasons the Firelands raid dungeon was pushed from 4.1 to 4.2 is that they believe that the players aren't progressed far enough in the current raiding content. (See "Firelands raid will not be in WOW patch 4.1" on

"We feel like the player base isn't really ready for the next raid yet,... And that led to some changes where Firelands is now actually going to be in 4.2." 
-J. Allen Brack, Lead Producer, World of Warcraft 
Blizzard is slowing down the content being released to the players. I think this will also be true for epic gems. I believe epic gems will be introduced in 4.2 at the absolute earliest.

Blizzard has said that each raid tier will require more and more hit, crit, expertise (etc.) to stay capped against higher and higher raid bosses. I believe Blizzard may hold epic gems until the third tier of raiding (after 4.2 and The Firelands) and will utilize the epic gem stat budgets to help players reach these new caps.

I don't think Blizzard is in any hurry to get epic gems into the game. There release of content has slowed more and more as Cataclysm has gone on. Whether this is Blizzard trying to "stretch" content or they truly believe that it is best to hold off content due to player's "skill lag" we may never know.

Slow and Steady
Blizzard will restrict the flow of epic Cataclysm gems by placing them behind 24-hour cooldowns. This will be done to help maintain the epic feeling of gems.

I believe the two professions that will initially be able to create epic gems in Cataclysm will be alchemy and jewelcrafting.

Alchemy will most likely produce epic gems via a new 24-hour transmute cooldown which will require rare gems and herbs.

Jewelcrafting will likely produce epic gems via a small chance to be looted from the Fire Prism (24-hour cooldown) and/or a new epic Fire Prism-like recipe with a 24-hour cooldown (perhaps taking 1 of each color of rare gem).

Casual Friday
I believe after the epic gems are utilized by the highest level or players they will be made much more accessible to "regular/casual" players via Justice/Honor points, cooldown removals, etc.

We will continue to see a lowering of difficulty as Cataclysm goes on. It needs to happen in order for Blizzard to maintain its subscription numbers.

Out-dated content is perfect for casual players. They can out-gear it. It tends to require less player-skill. It is enjoyable for those not on the "bleeding edge".

We saw this at the end of Wratch of the Lich King and I believe we will see it again in Cataclysm. Things (whether it be acquiring materials or doing heroics) always get easier over time. Acquiring epic gems will be no different.

Put Up Or Shut Up
What am I doing to prepare for epic Cataclysm gems? The answer is centered around in two main areas: cooldowns and primary stat strength.

I am adding one more transmute specced alchemist which will bring my total to 4. This along with my jewelcrafter should provide me sufficient cooldown bandwidth to maximize mt epic gem making potential.

All my alchemists will be level 84 and have already done the lead-in quests to be able to access the Twilight Highlands vendors as I believe this is where the new epic gem transmute recipes will be purchased.

I should be able to produce 5 epic gems every 24 hours. That is a lot of epics. Lots of epics require lots of mats which leads me to stat strength.

The strength of all of the primary stats (strength, agility and intellect) so far outweigh any secondary stats that very rarely will a player socket anything but a pure primary stat gem. Pure stat gems are red. Any jewelcrafter will tell you red gems always sell for the most.

I am planning to stockpile all the materials that may be involved in red epic gem transmuting. These include Inferno Rubies, Carnelians and Heartblossom.

Inferno Rubies will almost certainly be involved in the epic red gem transmute. They will also be the choke point for any new Fire Prism-like jewelcrafter cooldown that may be introduced.

Heartblossom is used in transmuting Carnelians into Inferno Rubies. I believe it will also be used in the red epic gem transmute.

That is how I'm preparing. Red gems will account for the majority of profit when epic Cataclysm gems are introduced.

I believe that by paying careful attention to how Blizzard has adjusted its design philosophies (more difficulty, epics need to feel epic) is a much better compass to point us towards their epic gem implementation decisions than looking to the past (prospecting epic gems from ore).

Talking Points
  • How do you believe epic Cataclysm gems will introduced? Why?
  • What is your plan of attack for epic gems?
  • Assuming Black Iron Ore is introduced how and when do you think it will be implemented?

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  1. Good post. But even if epic gems wont come from pyrite ore, i dont think you are gonna lose money, you could even make some. With introducing new crafted items and transmuting having rare gem as material, will probably make pyrite still valuable. Atm buying it for lesss than 100g/stack, which is not much. Personally, im not gonna stockpile more than 300 stacks, since im probably gonna have a big undercut war with someone else on my server, if they are prospected from pyrite and assuming i have alot of the gems in stock in that point. Im gonna start with prospecting around 50-100 stacks and see how well im able to make money out of them. If it seems bad i just sell the ore for profit anyways. Im not seeing this as some people ''Fool's gold, you are gonna lose your money'' I dont think pyrite price will be the same that elementium's and Obsidium's price. It wouldnt make any sense since this is still pretty rare vein to find.

  2. Unless they increase pyrite spawn rate for huge amounts, which i don't see to happen

  3. Logical. Makes sense. I'm still skeptical, especially after the head fake Blizz gave us with the "we are removing the epic gem cooldown for Alchemists--er, sorry, no we're not" debacle that cost me several thousand in gold.

    I have 121 stacks of Pyrite, all obtained below 75g per stack. No matter what happens I think I will still earn a profit on this ore.

  4. The whole "epics need to feel epic" policy won't last longer than patch 4.1 when the new heroic dungeons start dropping epics. And in patch 4.2, when the current valor point gear becomes available for justice points, we'll have the same old welfare system as in WotLK.

    Good post though, I'm always partial to well-founded speculation.

  5. It's not that they really changed their philosophy so much, it's just that they changed their color coding system. ilvl 346 items could have easily been made 'epic'. But instead, they are rare. It's really just a label. So yes- epic items do feel more epic, but its just a color. Let me further explain

    In Wrath- there were BoE craftable epics (think of Titansteel Destroyer) were ilvl 200- basically entry level epics. Really, I wouldn't even call them epics, they were garbage. Also (please correct me if wrong) ilvl 200 items also dropped off the last bosses in heroics. So blizzard made these 'epic'. They were mad easy to get, but they also weren't that great.

    Entry level raiding in wrath offered ilvl 219 gear (right?). So these were better epics, and not as easy to get.

    So how do we relate this to now? The exact same thing is happening, except the 'ilvl 200' items are not epic anymore- they are now the 346 rare items. So instead of being equipped with full epics that can be crafted and looted in heroics, blizzard made those pervious 'epics'-Rare. So basically the mentality is exactly the same, but they changed the color coding.

    Understand what I'm saying? The only philosophy change I can agree with is the enchants, which are still very expensive.

    You could be right about epic gems only coming from xmutes- but my only problem with that is how would a JC get epic gems? Are you to tell me the only way for a JC to get epic gems is from a alchemist?

    In BC, a JC could grind rep from SSO to get epic recipies (however, the gems could only be farmed from BT and SW- or bought from AH)

    In Wrath, a JC could prospect Titanium Ore to get recipies (powder) AND gems, not to mention the addition of dailies for even more recipies.

    In Cata? I don't know, but it seems to be getting EASIER, not HARDER, to get more recipies and gems-

    My prediction? Pyrite Ore will yield epic gems OR powder, but not both.

  6. Reader "Slottie" sent me this via email. I thought it would be good to post it here for them.

    "Stupid blackberry wont let me comment on your blog page so just my speculation tossed your way (since I liked your thoughts on B.I.O. And epic gems the best)

    Firelands seems like where black iron ore will come from (return of ragnaros - what was in his last raid? Dark iron ore) So from here it feels like this is the best place to look for black iron to appear. Inside the raid instance. Firelands was originally going to be part of release if i remember correctly, giving us a reason it would have been datamined from beta.

    But from here will epic gems be prospected from it? Probably. Will this be the main source of epic gems once it actually comes out? Not likely. Following blizzard design, they will probably harbor a new faction inside the firelands entrance, who sells new crafted epic patterns. These epics will probably require black ore (along with other raid resources such as fancy corehound leather or cloth only dropped by raid humanoids) to craft. So either it gets hoarded by a guild to craft pieces to be bid on, or in a pug they would probably auction/sell each ore (or maybe in a prospectable stack, though everyone will be bidding to collect for their own gear) Collecting 5 would be a rough way to prospect for epics even if it were 100% chance (damn, another green gem says the rogue)

    Once again just my 2cp. But also. With the thought of a raid resource, simply mining the node may have a decent percent chance at producing an epic gem. I always liked raid resources, vanguard had a pretty nice system. Assembling legendary gear has always been cooler than simply prying it from a farmed boss's cold dead hand.

    /ramble end"