Ghostcrawler: Epic Gems To Be Individual Drops From 4.3 Raid Bosses

It's official (kind of): Epic gems in 4.3 will have a small chance to come from a "geode" individual players will get each time they kill a 4.3 raid boss. This means that (at least initially) there will be no way for gold-makers to "farm" or produce epic gems (unless they are raiders). Chances for epic gems to drop from "geodes" rare enough that it may take all of patch 4.3 to replace a single player's gems with epic red gems.

Read the interview with Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street as well as our initial reactions after the jump.

To The Ground

Below is an excerpt from the interview with World of Warcraft Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street posted by Lore on Tankspot Forums (see "Interview with Greg Street, AKA Ghostcrawler"). (Emphasis added.)

L: Will we be seeing epic gems in 4.3? 
GS: Great question, and yes, you will! The way we're hoping to set it up, and we kind of have this working but things could change before we go live, is when you kill a boss on normal or heroic mode, each player gets a geode, and when they open the geode there's a chance they may find an epic gem inside. If not, it'll have blue gems or something like that. We really want it to feel like an individual reward, and not something that the raid leader gets to have fun in deciding who gets the gems, or they all go to the guild bank or something. We really want it to feel like an individual reward. 
They'll be somewhat rare. It may take the entire content cycle before someone has replaced every red gem they have, but they won't be so rare that you won't see them. 
L: How is that going to work with profession bonuses? Blacksmithing with its extra sockets, assuming that you could get ahold of a full set of epic gems, seems like it would all of a sudden become the best profession. 
GS: I think the epic gems are like 10 stat points over the current ones, so it's a nice boost, but hopefully it won't push everyone towards Blacksmithing. 
L: So you'd only end up with like 20 extra Strength as a Blacksmith. 
GS: Yeah, something like that.

Fools Gold

So what does this mean for gold-makers? For at least the entire patch 4.3 (essentially the rest of the expansion) epic gems will come as individual drops from killing raid bosses. It appears there will be no way to obtain epic gems from any other source.

If you've stockpiled Pyrite Ore in hopes of prospecting epic gems from it you may be sitting on a massive pile of "fools gold". (Fairly ironic that another name for real-life pyrite is in indeed "fools gold".) Now Ghostcrawler stated that things may change before patch 4.3 goes live but I have a strong feeling that Blizzard will go forward with this plan.

Epic gems as raid drops fits into their current philosophy of rewarding those who raid with rewards above and beyond what can be obtained if you don't. It also helps give epic gems a feeling of exclusivity and prestige. A player who has 100% epic red gems has either raided their tail off of has the gold to purchase gems from raiders.

Rare or Well Done?

If you are a raider than you will be obtaining your epic gems slowly over time. If you are not a raider then you will most likely be obtaining these from raiders looking to make money selling them on the auction house.

One thing not addressed in the interview is whether these gems obtained from the "geode" will be raw or pre-cut. I can see reasons for both scenarios. If raw epic gems are contained in the geode then Blizzard would require additional recipes to be added to the game along with a way to purchase them.

This would be the best scenario for gold-makers as we might still get the chance to purchase the recipes and do epic gem cuts to make profit. Where we obtained the gems may differ but at least we would have a chance to make profit.

If the gems are pre-cut (similar to the epic gems that drop in The Burning Crusade heroics) than Blizzard would not need to add any recipes into the game. If this is also the case I would strongly suspect that the gems might also be soulbound. This is the worst possible scenario for gold-makers as it would completely cut us out of any gold-making potential for epic gems at all.

If the gems are pre-cut but not soulbound then some sort of secondary market may exist for buying and selling of these pre-cut epic gems. Gold-makers might have the chance to flip these but I would guess that it wouldn't be as profitable as we would think. In this case we might only end up dealing in the gems with the lowest popularity as all popular epic gems would likely be used by or sold to other members of someone's raiding guild.

Taking The Easy Way Out?

My gut is telling me that, given how strongly Ghostcrawler emphasised their desire to make epic gems "feel like an individual reward", the gems will not only be pre-cut but also soulbound. If not then guilds would simply ask all raiders to give their epic gems to the raid leader to be cut by the guild's jewelcrafter and placed in the guild's bank for use by guild members.

Unfortunately for us this would also be the solution that would take the least amount of effort on Blizzard's part to implement. All they would have to do is populate the loot table of the "geode" with a list of pre-cut epic gems. They wouldn't have to provide patterns for epic gem cuts to the players or implement a way for players to purchase them.

The only downside I see to the above scenario for raiders would be receiving a pre-cut epic gem that was a bad fit for them (strength instead of intellect for example) and if they are soulbound the player would simply have to vendor it. Not much of a downside in a game that relies on RNG and random loot drops to keep players coming back to instances and raids over and over (damn you Heroic Sethhik Halls!).

About The Future

Is there a chance that Blizzard will implement some other way to obtain epic gems in or after patch 4.3? I think that if the gems in the "geodes" are raw that there is a good chance that Blizzard will offer more ways (Justice or Valor points, prospecting, alchemy transmutes) at some point in the future.

If the "geodes" drop raw epic gems then Blizzard will have to implement gem cut patterns into the game. If that happens they will likely offer further ways to get raw epic gems sometime in the future. I don't see this happening until after 4.3 is finished though as Ghostcrawler specified that due to RNG it might take the whole patch for a player to obtain a full set of epic red gems (another reason I suspect they may be pre-cut).

Is There Hope?

So is there any hope for gold-makers to make any profit off of epic gems in 4.3? Perhaps. The following are possible scenarios I can see happening with epic gems in 4.3.

  • Epic gems from "geodes" are raw:
    • Raiding gold-makers could sell epic gems raw or cut.
    • Gems sold by raiders could be flipped raw for a profit.
    • Gems sold by raiders could be purchased, cut and sold at a profit.
  • Epic gems from "geodes" are pre-cut but not soulbound:
    • Raiding gold-makers could sell pre-cut epic gems.
    • Pre-cut gems sold by raiders could be flipped for a profit.
  • Epic gems from "geodes" are pre-cut and souldbound.
    • Gold-makers are screwed.

Which of the above scenarios you think will happen may have to do with your feelings on if Blizzard loves to purposefully "screw" with gold-makers. I personally don't think Blizzard stays up late at night plotting to mess with gold-makers or the economy. I think really for them it comes down to how they want items in the game to be perceived.

A Matter of Perception

If they want players to perceive epic gems as something for elite players who run raids and need the extra boost than I think there is a strong chance we may see the "pre-cut and soulbound" method being used for epic gems. This gives epic gems the most exclusivity and aligns the closest with Ghostcrawler's comment about is taking "the entire content cycle" to fill a player's slots with them.

If gems weren't pre-cut and soulbound than conceivably a player with either a) a lot of influence with their guild or b) lots of gold could outfit themselves with full epic red gems on the very first week of raiding by either a) convincing their entire guild to give them the raw epic gems and have them cut or b) buy them from other raiders for gold and have them cut.

It really doesn't seem that it what Blizzard want epic gems to be perceived as normal or common 9they are epic gems after all). While I'd love to be wrong (as it would give me much more opportunity for profits) I think Cataclysm epic gems will be perceived by players as something that "raiders in Cata worked for but were unobtainable by anyone who didn't raid in patch 4.3". This certainly gives them the most prestige.

Gems For The Masses?

If Blizzard doesn't want epic gems to be perceived as "elite" or "epic" then they may take the approach of simply dropping the epic gems in their raw form in the "geodes" and giving player traditional means to cut them via patterns obtained with the current Cataclysm jewelcrafting daily tokens or some other source.

This would be the more traditional way for Blizzard to implement things. Raw gems would be obtainable only in raids at first but later obtainable by more means like Justice or Valor points, prospecting and/or alchemy transmutes. Eventually all players would have epic gems in all their slots. Epic gems would simply be a (somewhat boring) replacement for the rare gems players are currently using.

This would be the best possible scenario from a gold-making perspective. It would invigorate an otherwise stale gem market and would give us lots more to talk about. It would be business as usual for us. We stand to make the most profit if this is how they implement it.


So we have more information about how epic gems will be obtained (at least in patch 4.3). For those who are betting on Pyrite Ore as the source I think they may be disappointed. I don't see Blizzard making epic gems obtainable from prospecting anytime during patch 4.3 (if ever). This is only my opinion based on what Ghostcrawler said in his interview.

What we really need is more information about what exact gems will come from an individual's "geode". Once we get more information (whether datamined or from official channels) we will be able to tell if gold-makers will have a chance to play in the epic gem market in 4.3 or if we'll be left out in the cold.

We'll be sure to bring you any additional information about epic gems in patch 4.3 as it becomes available.

Further Reading On The Epic Gem News:

UPDATE 1: Tom Chilton 

There is a separate interview by Eurogamer with World of Warcraft Lead Designer Tom Chilton wherein he talks about epic gems. (See "Killing Deathwing in WOW Patch 4.3 - Interview".) Below is the pertinent quote about epic gems.

Eurogamer: Are there going to be new recipes? 
Tom Chilton: There certainly are quite a few new profession recipes. We also introduce the epic gems in this patch, and they'll be available only through the normal and heroic difficulty of the Deathwing raids.
UPDATE 2: The Great Pyrite Ore Sell-Off Beginning?

I decided to take The Undermine Journal snapshots of the current Pyrite Ore supplies from auction houses of both factions on two of the servers I play on. As you can clearly see from the (very small) sample below (the red line indicates quantity available) the amounts of Pyrite Ore available on the auction house has exploded since the epic gem news was released.

Pyrite Ore availability on both factions of two servers. (Red line is quantity.)

It appears that (at least on both factions of these two servers) there was plenty of players counting on Pyrite Ore to be the source for epic gems that are trying to sell off their stocks before the price craters.

While I'm not one to speculate that often If I had large stockpiles of ore that (for whatever reason) I wanted to off load directly on the auction house you'll never find a better time to sell than now and the sooner the better. The more players that read the interviews and think that Pyrite Ore will not contain epic gems the more likely they will attempt to dump their pyrite ore on the auction house thus driving prices even lower.

A somewhat unexpected silver-lining is that if you use Pyrite Ore regularly in your crafting efforts (Truegold transmutes, Ebonsteel Belt Buckles etc.) the next few days may allow you to pick up large quantities of Pyrite Ore at rock-bottom prices. I doubt there will be a similar large sell-off of Pyrite Ore at this scale ever again. (You could pick up enough to do cheap Truegold transmutes well into the next expansion.)

UPDATE 3: Ghost Crawler on TenTonHammer

Here is another interview with Ghostcrawler this time on TenTonHammer. (See "World of Warcraft Patch 4.3 Interview with Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street - Page 2".) The relevant quote is below. (Emphasis added.)

Ten Ton Hammer: So what is Deathwing’s loot table going to be like? Is he the source of the Tier 13 gear? 
Greg: One of the different things about the rewards this time around is all of the tier sets are in the raid itself. Players won’t be able to use Valor Points to buy stuff this time around, they actually need to defeat the raid bosses. That gear will drop on the first couple of bosses and, in the grand tradition of Warcraft bosses, Deathwing only drops weapons and these weapons are slightly more powerful than the rest of the raid tier in terms of item level. 
Players also have a chance to get some Epic gems out of the raid tier so they’ll be able to have some purple gems to replace the gems in their current gear.

One thing I really pick up on from this quote is how clearly Ghostcrawler states that players won't (ever?) be able to use Valor Points to buy armor this time. They will have to be in the raid to get the gear period. To me  this attitude may also carry over into the epic gems that will drop for the raids.

In short if you want epic raid gear you have to actually be in the raid. No "cheating" this time. Why would it be any different for epic gems? If it is the same then I think it just reinforces that face the epic gems will not only be pre-cut but also soulbound.

The reasoning for this "you have to be there to get the good stuff" change may be in place to help encourage players to utilize the new "Looking for Raid" system that Blizzard will be releasing in patch 4.3. The plot thickens. (Unfortunately things aren't looking good for making gold off epic gems in 4.3.)

UPDATE 4: Sell Chimera's Eyes Now?

Ruls brought up a great point on twitter and in the comments below: If gems do end up being pre-cut and soulbound and no new JC patterns are introduced than all of the jewelcrafting daily tokens that jewelcrafters have saved up will plummet in value.

If you are of the mind (like me) that there will not be new JC patterns added in 4.3 I would follow Ruls' advice and turn all your JC tokens into Chimera's Eye's now and sell them before 4.3. After 4.3 all other JC's will realize it and flood the market with their own Chimera Eye's.

If you're hedging your bets you might consider holding onto a handful of tokens (12-15?) just in case patterns are introduced and you want to at least be able buy the 3 red cuts.

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  1. One thing you also need to take into account which we really won't know the effect of is the new Looking for Raid system which is supposedly a new third (and supposedly easier) level of raiding.

    They may be using these gems as a carrot to get people to use it more often.

  2. Yeah, but in interview they said that gems will drop only from normal and HC difficulty, maybe they will add them to raid finder later, maybe.

    It would be cool, if that geode system is some way smart, and gives only gems that are useful to that class who opens it. Like int/haste/crit/mastery gems to casters and no str/parry/expertise.

    I got feeling that gems pre-cutted and BoE, but that's just my feeling.

    Anyway I think that rare gems will sell in 4.3 just good as now.

  3. @11-8 is awesome:
    The new LFR will be a tier between Heroic 5mans and Normal mode raids. Also, in the GC interview "We are doing epic gems this time around as a drop in the raid and we may not have those drop in the Looking for Raid tier."

    Seeing how long into the expansion we've waited for Epic gems it was pretty obvious the cuts wouldn't come from the JC tokens, and if they did they'd costs like 10 tokens. I know I have over 60.

    We'll have to see where the recipes come from and if the Gems themselves will be Soulbound.

    JoshDJX on Twitter

  4. I'll probably be using the extra Volatile Earths on Belt Buckles if this keeps going on. For now I'll continue holding onto my 2 Tab stock and see just how this truly plays out. Perhaps I'm overly optimistic. Either way Pyrite Ore is pretty good to Propect as well so it's not a total loss for me.

  5. I'll add to my Twitter comment - The first thing I thought about was the most effective way to use the Tokens. Some of us have over 100. It is clear now that in 4.3 they will not be used for epics like in wrath. I figure at the start they will not have any integration with JCing and in the final patch (4.4 pre-expac) they may do like in BC and make them available then but that is no guarantee.

    Even if they aren't precut in 4.3 and JCers have to spend tokens to get the cuts - I don't see it being worth it to buy over the cuts you may need personally, GC made it clear these things are rare and the market for people looking for cuts will be small and sellers will be crowded. The very same day there would be people in trade offering epic cuts for nothing.

    I advised if you were thinking of Chimera's eyes as an out from tokens I'd act quickly - if this is the case by 4.3 as people dump hundreds of tokens into eyes they'll be worthless. I'm personally keeping enough tokens on hand only to cover what I may need in cuts as described above, or if they add some kind of 100 token sink like they did for cooking tokens in wrath.

  6. Personally I'm sitting on 10 tabs of pyrite ore and 2 Jewelcrafters with 100 tokens each. While, I am disappointed that epic gems most likely will not be found from pyrite, I am not selling off right now. I will either sit on the ore until the next expansion or a while after 4.3 hits to verify Blizzard doesn't pull a quick one having people to liquidate their stocks only the change minds when the nerfs come. Remember nothing is set in stone with Blizzard, we've seen them flip flop more than one. I'm not hurting for gold I took a gamble and perhaps I lost on the massive epic gem profits but I'm sure I can recover even if I just wait and prospect later. I might even buy up cheap pyrite ore in coming days as other stockpilers unload. Don't forget people will be replacing gear again in 4.3 and not everyone will get epics and will be buying rares! Don't forget past patches and the amount of gems that sold.

  7. I think its definitely smart not unloading Pyrite for basement prices lol.

  8. I think the epic gems will be definitely pre-cut and soulbound, but not like the way the post says. Why not make it a raw gems first, then you can exchange the gems with ur desired stats by the Vendor, like what we do for T12 gear.

  9. Great post - we've featured it on the MMO Melting Pot today.

    I suspect as time goes on we're going to see more and more Jewelcrafters trying to figure out how to deal with the Deathwing Apocalypse, but you've made a great start.

    Of course, a lot will depend on the drop rate of the epic gems...

  10. May's description makes the most sense if they are to be soulbound. Bosses drop a soulbound uncut gem and players go to an NPC to get it cut.

    Raiders are very specific in what gems they want, and there are a few dozen combinations of stats on the different gems. If the gems dropped already cut, then the vast majority of them would just get vendored.

  11. @May and @Ohken I agree that would be a great solution. I wonder if they would drop some sort of "prismatic token" that could be turned in for any color or cut or if they would drop a "color token" that could be turned in for a specific colored cut. The second still means some times you wouldn't get a proper color but the first would make it fairly easy to get exactly what you'd want which would take some RNG out of the equation which Blizz may or may not want. Great idea May.

    @MMO Melting Pot Thanks for the link! Once the geode contents get datamined or Blizz clarifies the contents all we can do is speculate.

  12. I too don't think they'll go with what May said, it is an awesome idea but I don't think from Ghostcrawler's interviews that it is the direction they want to take with them.

    Notice in the interview they didn't say it'd take all patch to replace your rare gems with epics - they said it'd take all patch to replace your RED rares with RED epics. This gives me the impression that they will be preselected and 90% of them you do get won't be the one you needed. Whether this means they will be precut or just have a preselected color and it exchanges at a vendor for the cut you want we can only speculate on though. Im leaning towards it being an uncut gem of a specific color - and either JCers or a vendor can cut them (in the case of JCers I said earlier I don't think it'll be a gold making guild JCers or trade chat JCers will bring the market to free cuts).

  13. @Theruling Yes. I went back through my post and specified red epic gems. That said it lends even more credence to the fact that they might be soulbound in some way. If we have to trade them to a JC to cut then they would have to be raw and not bound. Like I alluded to in the post if that was true someone could fill all slots with bought/traded/begged red gems on the first week.

    After reading Gimp's post I think that they'll have some sort of similar soulbound mechanism for PVPers to get equivalent level gems for PVP perhaps tied to Conquest points but also require some sort of rating or other gating mechanism similar to how other PVP items are gated.

  14. One thing I dint even think about in my own post about pyrite is the price of titanium at the considering stockpiling just a few stacks for the next expansion when players aren't farming it any more but still want those Vial of the sands :D

    worth a little thought