If you are looking to improve your character for Mists of Pandaria raids, going out and getting a stack of +300 food is generally not where to start. Yet in these early few weeks of the expansion, there is an irrational emphasis on cooking. Spending hours to acquire an extra +25 of a stat is the weakest way you can enhance your character–and it also takes the most amount of time. It’s the wrong set of priorities. However, players should be rewarded for choosing to farm top-end consumables, which I’ll address too.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t cook this food under any circumstance, but to put it in perspective–have you done the following?
- Run enough random dungeons to get a significant amount of VP?
- Run specific dungeons to get all possible ilvl 463 drops?
- PvPed to fill in any unlucky drops/well-itemized armor?
- Done daily quests to unlock epic rewards at Honored and make a dent towards Revered?
- Gotten top gems, enchants, potions, flasks etc?
- Poured gold for a Darkmoon Faire deck/BMAH epic?
- Poured more gold into any other 476 BoE?
- Read up on a boss fight, since you didn’t get to test them out since they were open on beta when you were at work?
- Sit at a target dummy for an hour practicing your new rotation?
If so (and you have the time leftover), grats! Farming up those +300 foods is now your next priority. If you haven’t, doing any of these things on the list will increase your output more so than cooking. (A point could be made that Pandaren get +50 from top-level food instead of +25, but that’s still less than the overall benefit of buying a 476 BoE that would at least last until LFR.)
There’s a disproportionate spotlight on needing to max out cooking. There hasn’t been the same general outcry that people feel pressured or stressed that they need to complete epics like a Darkmoon Deck, which has a much larger impact than a stack of food. (There are exceptions–my guild has a long Darkmoon Faire forum thread.) Also, there’s been a general outcry that people “wasted several hours” farming food, but quite frankly, not everyone has that many hours of free time to waste in the first place. Either because you’re busy to the point where your overall login time is hampered (in which case, various forms of raiding may not be for you), or because you don’t have extra time left after the hours spent on more sensible raid prep. Someone prioritizing food over anything else on this list is choosing to buff their character a minimal amount requiring a large timesink. (I realize the time argument is a slippery slope, with “I don’t have time to learn dungeons, give me LFR” at the bottom of the hill, but cooking +300 stat food right now is at the other extreme.)
Cooking is a deceptively-familiar angle for raiders to harp on. We’re used to the pre-MoP model, where Raid Leaders dropped relatively-cheap feasts and you were considered very lazy for not having an extra stack of your own buff food. A lack of having every consumable was considered to demonstrate a poor attitude. Cooking takes much more time now and there are other factors besides a bad attitude that could lead to +275 food, but raiders are trained to point fingers at people in a raid group who seemingly do less, sometimes missing the larger picture of fixing positioning or a raid strat. And nobody needs to feel guilty mid-raid that they ran out of time to fish up an extra stack of food, which then in turn will probably lead to a bad mood or lack of focus. If you are lucky enough to have a lot of time/gold and raid very seriously, then sure, farm max-level food over say, archaeology. However, one should not be considered an unskilled raider because they don’t have enough hours in the day to farm up some extra +25 stat food but are otherwise prepared–especially if your guild does not have top aspirations.
This last bit has focused on perceptions within the raiding community, but we also need to address the the recipes themselves.
Cooking had a lot of changes in MoP–specializations, ingredient turnins, TIller farms for vegetables. These all appear to be beneficial changes: you don’t need to learn useless recipes, you can turn miscellaneous mats into useful ones, and you can get some of your supplies for free. However, the materials needed to complete the best recipes are both difficult to farm and do not reward an appropriately-strong stat gain.
One could argue that these high-end recipes are intended only for cooking aficionados. It’s true that there are aspects of Cooking that appeal to a narrow audience–learning additional Ways for achievements. One could also make parallels between the difficulty of Nat Pagle’s friendship grind and the time needed to acquire many +300 stat foods. However, Nat Pagle’s rewards are fishing/vanity related–where else would you use food besides competitive content? Cooking does have a system in place for people that like to farm up ingredients–the “Tradition of Cooking” series with the Apron, Rolling Pin, and Frying Pan, as well as the Cooking School Bell and the Flippable Table. I don’t think these foods are meant to be a similar elusive reward though. They’re things to eat in raids, not something you can periodically summon for a vanity screenshot.
A bottleneck for many players are the Ironpaw Tokens. These tokens are turned into vendors for things like Black Pepper and Rice–you can’t farm these on your own. These are only acquired from introductory Tillers quests, one daily quest, and by turning in stacks of other ingredients into grocery bundles. Players are both out there in the world farming meat and fish for dishes (a time-consuming process on its own), as well as to convert into tokens. It’s a time-consuming process and the tiny stat gain is discouraging. As players gear up more and their to-do list shortens, they’ll have more time each day to devote to cooking–which coincides with more and more raids unlocking hardmodes. However, having to maintain such a high time commitment for such a small consumable is something that hasn’t been seen for a few expansions.
There is nothing wrong about wanting to enhance your character as much as possible. Throughout WoW’s history, there have been fights where using consumables with annoying farming requirements have been justified. Greater Shadow Protection Potions for Loaetheb, Elixir of Demonslaying for Sunwell demons. This continues in MoP with Challenge Modes benefitting from odd consumables like Invisibility Potions. However, the +300 foods are both annoying to farm and have a very small reward.
Black Pepper Ribs and Shrimp (+300 Strength). 5 servings:
- Black Pepper (requires Token)
- 5 Giant Mantis Shrimp (requires Fishing)
- 5 Mushan Ribs (requires farming mobs)
- 25 Green Cabbage (requires Tillers farm)
For good measure, let’s throw in the Pandaren Banquet, which offers +275 stats to all, regardless of specialization.
Pandaren Banquet (serves 10, 5 charges):
- 100 Year Soy Sauce (from Tokens)
- 10 Jewel Danio (from fishing in Vale)
- 10 Raw Tiger Steak (from farming Meat)
- 50 Pink Turnip (from Tillers farm)
One part of the solution is to have max-level food be both easier to farm (reduce the requirements, change the mechanisms behind acquiring Ironpaw Tokens) and to buff the stat gain. However, the other part of the solution is not to assume someone is a lazy player or waste of a raid spot because they prioritized enhancing their character in other ways besides max-level cooking. (We all know it’s much easier to change some stats around than it is to tell people not to goad each other into being hysterical, though.) Striving to perfect your toon within reason is a healthy goal players should strive for, but the current Cooking system narrows the range of players who can justify farming up stacks of +300 food without neglecting larger upgrades or blowing off real-life time commitments.
A few comments. Firstly, your main thrust here is exactly right. People are making a big deal about this food, because it’s there, when it’s really simply not something they should bother with. Any sensible raid leader is telling their people right now that expected preparation for everyone in the group is a flask and +275 food (really, the guild should be organizing feasts anyway). Just to attach a few numbers to what you point out–going from 1 green gem to 1 blue gem gets you +40 of your main stat. That costs a few gold and is permanent. Upgrading one item by one tier (13 ilvls) should get you about 100. But anyway, you’ve made that point already.
What I really want to get into is that this reveals something interesting: people don’t really understand min/maxing. I see a lot of people making a lot of noise about how they feel compelled to get this food–as though if they don’t, they’re failing as a player, letting down their teammates, compromising their goals. To me, these people don’t sound like serious high-level players who are trying to min/max their characters to the highest degree. They sound like they’re going through the motions, imitating an certain image they’ve seen of top-level players, without understanding why they do what they do. To put it bluntly: posturing about how you’re the kind of player who needs to farm this food because you pursue every possible avenue of optimization does not impress anybody. It makes you look clueless.
Actual serious high-level raiders understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and how much benefit it gives. The way you would show a better understanding of the game is by showing that you can compare all the various ways to advance your character and prioritize the more useful ones. This has come up a lot in situations other than food/consumables. For example, it’s always been a big red flag for me when evaluating guild applicants if someone enchants DPS stats on their boots instead of run speed. Some of them would argue vehemently about their commitment to min/maxing their character, but in fact it just revealed a lack of perspective on the big picture of what was important in the game. This is similar. If you claim to be someone who takes every possible DPS increase, you’re revealing that you’re not even bothering to actually optimize your play–you’re just pretending to do so.
People have long made a big deal about ensuring that their raiders are always impeccably gemmed/enchanted, brought consumables, and similar. What I think a lot of people gloss over is that much of the value of that is signaling. A guild applicant with perfect gemming is showing off that he knows his class very well–in fact it’s one of the best ways to show it. Similarly a guild app who brings the raid preparations that everyone’s expected to bring is showing that he’s someone who cares enough to do so. A person who doesn’t do all those things perfectly isn’t going to wipe you due to the miniscule loss of DPS, but they show you that they might be not be as likely to be the sort of dedicated player you want. In this case of cooking, no properly-informed raid leader should conclude that from a player using 275 food. Honestly, even if I were in the sort high-level guild that I used to raid in, if I saw an app using 300 food for every generic pull, I’d ask, “why?”
P.S. One topic neither of us has gotten into at all is that it still is a bad idea for this food to exist in the first place. I don’t understand why they put it in. I just wanted to at least note that, even though the main point of the post is that players are being irrationally affected by it.