One thing that WoWHead could do1, but does not, is report on herb milling yields. So the best you can usually do is comb through comments and hope they’re accurate.

The problem is that without accurate yield information, the enterprising Scribe cannot accurately forcast what her needs will be from day to day, and that makes for a sloppy business model. Whether you are buying off the auction house and need to know how many stacks of X to buy, or harvesting in the wild and just want to know when you can safely stop, it’s kind of a big deal.

Not only that, but different herbs yield different results. Logically, they seem to group thusly:

  1. Lower tier – Cinderbloom, Stormvine
  2. Middle tier – Heartblossom
  3. Top tier – Twilight Jasmine, Whiptail, Azshara’s Veil

The assumption is that the higher the tier, the more valuable it is for alchemists, therefore the better the pigment yields.  But there was no solid evidence either way.

To get that evidence, then, I set out on a several-week study. Many high-end herbs were sacraficed in the cause of science – or at least, solid statistical data.

Here is the fruit of my labor.

Herb Yields

You can see the raw data in this spreadsheet.

HerbPigmentEmber
Azshara's Veil10.01.1
Cinderbloom10.01.0
Heartblossom10.21.1
Stormvine10.01.1
Twilight Jasmine12.12.1
Whiptail12.12.1

When you look at this you immediately see that there are, in reality, only two tiers. Moreover, they don’t fall out the way we first expected. Azshara’s Veil, a high-end herb for Alchemists, is actually lower-tier in yield.  And the two tiers are incredibly consistent within themselves.  Basically:

PigmentEmbers
Tier 110.11.1
Tier 212.12.1

Methods

Simply put, I gathered herbs as needed and ground them up, counting the yields per stack and recording each one. For each herb I acquired 100 samples. For Cinderbloom, I acquired 200 to check for consistency (the first 100 is not there, don’t look for it).

And we conclude

So, what lessons have we learned?

Lesson 1: Tier 2 might be worth a premium

At a 12-10 advantage, Tier 2 can deliver Ashen Pigment at a 20% improved rate.  If the premium for a Tier 2 herb is less than 20% over a Tier 1, you’re better off buying the Tier 2.

Better, Tier 2 offers a 2:1 advantage for Burning Ember. If you’re making decks, the gains will likely far outweigh the cost of the premium.

Lesson 2: In Tier 1, it doesn’t pay to be fussy

No matter what you buy, all Tier 1 herbs will deliver approximately 10 Pigments and one Ember. So, shop smart and don’t get too worried about “brand name” on these.

Lesson 3: If you’re not interested in Embers, Tier 1 is probably the best buy

As 4.3 hits the downloaders, the products derived from Burning Embers (T11 products) are becoming less interesting and not much in demand. A glyph proprietor will find them to be less attractive than Pigments.

True, that 20% boost to Pigment yields is a boon, but if the cost of Tier 2 outstrips Tier 1 by 20% or more, and all you care about is pigment, go cheap. It’s just math.

On the other hand, if 4.3 brings out some new gear to make with the embers (do they ever?), then Tier 2 will be very valuable to you should you choose to exploit that market.

Lesson 4: If you can get Tier 2 for about the same as Tier 1, jump on it

Despite its higher price, there is no denying the superior quality of the Tier 2 herbs. When opportunity knocks, don’t hesitate to reap the benefits of a fickle market.

On my server, Whiptail routinely falls below any Tier 2 herbs. On the other hand, Heartblossom rarely falls below Tier 2 herbs in price.  Knowing what I know, I will always buy in the case of the former, and never buy Heartblossom unless it is a real bargain.

Lesson 5: Within the two tiers, things are incredibly consistent

You will hear anecdotal evidence, nearly religious-fervor sales pitches, and just plain assumptions that have never been born out. But this you can take to the bank. These are statistics, taken from live samples.  100 samples of each, which I believe to be statistically meaningful2 and which have yielded remarkably consistent numbers.

Lesson 6: Unless you’re an alchemist, Azshara’s Veil isn’t worth it.

The scrawny herb population, awkward movement mechanics, and hordes of ninjas and cheaty druids make Vashj’ir a wretched experience, doubly so for farming herbs. Alchemists have no choice, they have to go by brand and no substitutions.

Stop throwing things, Flora!

Lesson 7: When farming, don’t let herb type be the deciding factor

Unless you’re hot for those Tier 2 yields, you’re better off choosing based on comfort, enjoyment, population, and presence of asshats. On my server, if I need a LOT of herbs, I’ll hit Deepholme, which as about twice as many nodes as any other zone at level 85. For my daily needs, I usually go to Uldum and get some tasty Tier 2s in there as well.  I almost never go to Twilight Highlands because the cheaty druids pick it as clean as possible.

Conclusions

Whether you are farming or buying, knowing the yields for real gives you an advantage when it comes time to do the deed.

While it is true that price per stack will vary from realm to realm, the yield will be consistent across all realms. The former is based on player needs. The latter is simple game mechanics.

This late in the expansion, knowledge is power. You need every advantage you can get in a competitive market.


  1. They have an addon that automatically harvests data for them. If they tracked this, they could provide some great statistics. []
  2. In that, if you plug in a big number into any one cell in that spreadsheet, the other 99 keep it pretty well in check. Freaky yields do happen, but it all averages out. []
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