5.2: Darkmoon Catches Vary by Skill

5.2: Darkmoon Catches Vary by Skill

Another variation to the role of fishing skill has emerged on Patch 5.2's PTR, in addition to Pandaria's junk changes: On Darkmoon Island, the entire set of fish caught is determined by your personal fishing skill. Update: This change did go live.

Context: An Explanation of Catch Tiers

Old Azeroth's open water catches are grouped into tiers. The Gazetteer identifies 6 specific Zone Groups - sets of zones with the same set of catches. Each Zone Group has separate coastal and inland catches. Two of those groups define their catch further, into four 6-hour time segments. Many named fish appear in more than one zone group, typically with different catch rates in each group. Each Zone Group has the same Zone Base Fishing Skill. There are a few exceptions to this pattern, like Northern Barrens' Deviate Fish, but generally Old Azeroth's open water catch adheres to these 6 tiered Zone Groups.

The new lands found in The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria are organised slightly differently: Each expansion has one or two common trash fish, such as Golden Carp, which can typically be caught in every zone in their respective expansion's waters. In addition to the common fish, individual zones, or sets of zones, have different more valuable fish in their open water. There is a strong correlation between these groups of catches and base fishing skill of their waters, as in Old Azeroth. There are exceptions, and a few quirks, such as Northrend's coastal fish only appearing in coastal waters named something other than the zone name. But generally expansion waters adhere to this principle.

Now, it happens that (almost) all coastal waters in each expansion contain precisely the same fish. So for coastal waters we can construct a simple 10-tier structure of catches, where the first 6 tiers are Old Azerothian Zone Groups, followed by a tier for each expansion. Only the most common catches are listed below:

  1. Zone Group 1: Raw Slitherskin Mackerel
  2. Zone Group 2: Raw Rainbow Fin Albacore and Raw Slitherskin Mackerel
  3. Zone Group 3: Oily Blackmouth and Raw Rainbow Fin Albacore
  4. Zone Group 4: Raw Rockscale Cod and Raw Spotted Yellowtail
  5. Zone Group 5: Raw Glossy Mightfish and Raw Spotted Yellowtail
  6. Zone Group 6: Darkclaw Lobster, and Raw Summer Bass or Winter Squid
  7. The Burning Crusade: Giant Sunfish
  8. Wrath of the Lich King: Imperial Manta Ray, Moonglow Cuttlefish and Rockfin Grouper
  9. Cataclysm: Deepsea Sagefish and Murglesnout
  10. Mists of Pandaria: Giant Mantis Shrimp, Golden Carp and Reef Octopus

Outland has no coastal water, but Isle of Quel'Danas (added in the final patch of The Burning Crusade) does have coastal waters and fish.

Application: What's Happening on Darkmoon Island

When fishing open coastal water around Darkmoon Island, your personal fishing skill determines which tier of fish catches the water contains. The first 6 "Old Azeroth" tiers increment every 50 skill points (until 300), with each of the final 4 "expansion" tiers covering 75 skill points. All the coastal fish contained within the groups outlined above are possible to catch at their respective tiers, but only the most common catches are listed in the table below.

"Darkmoon" Skill Tiers and Common Coastal Catches
Fishing SkillTierCommon Catch
1-50Zone Group 1Raw Slitherskin Mackerel
50-100Zone Group 2Raw Rainbow Fin Albacore and Raw Slitherskin Mackerel
100-150Zone Group 3Oily Blackmouth and Raw Rainbow Fin Albacore
150-200Zone Group 4Raw Rockscale Cod and Raw Spotted Yellowtail
200-250Zone Group 5Raw Glossy Mightfish and Raw Spotted Yellowtail
250-300Zone Group 6Darkclaw Lobster, and Raw Summer Bass or Winter Squid
300-375The Burning CrusadeGiant Sunfish
375-450Wrath of the Lich KingImperial Manta Ray, Moonglow Cuttlefish and Rockfin Grouper
450-525CataclysmDeepsea Sagefish and Murglesnout
525-600Mists of PandariaGiant Mantis Shrimp, Golden Carp and Reef Octopus

Further notes and observations:

The way in which rare and conditional (such as quest-only or unique) fish appear when caught has changed a couple of times over the last 7 years. Notably at the start of the Wrath of the Lich King, when the loot system was quietly overhauled to enable progressive de-randomisation for quest items. Historically El's Anglin' has not documented whether a rare or quest fish is caught alongside another fish or separately. While the Sea Pony and Mimic Octopus observations above may suggest a pattern, be wary of drawing definitive conclusions: The Tiny Carp catches added in patch 5.2 are caught individually, in spite of being "very rare" and (in the pet journal, if not the caught item) unique and not trade-able once learnt.

Implication: Another Change to the Role of Skill?

Some aspects of this new Darkmoon approach to the role of skill are incomplete or buggy. The change only appears to apply to Darkmoon Island, a rather private location for most of each month. All that suggests the programming and design is still evolving, and/or that we might never see this change on live realms.

If applied universally, the approach is flawed: There is no way to reduce an angler's personal fishing skill, but highly skilled anglers might sometimes want to catch lower-tier fish. One possibility is that the system will only apply up to a zone's native tier. For example, Outland waters would never yield anything higher than the Outland tier, so anglers could always return to Outland if they needed to catch Outland fish.

The main advantage of the change would be that new anglers could catch a wide variety of fish as they improved their fishing skill, without moving between different zones. Catching 1,500+ Golden Carp by developing skill in Pandaria is ruthlessly efficient, but exceptionally boring! Unfortunately while the Darkmoon system makes that training process more interesting, it doesn't fit with MoP's changes to Cooking, which allow new (high level) cooks to train their Cooking skill from 1 to 600 without using ingredients from previous expansions.

So perhaps any major re-working of pre-MoP fish catches also requires an overhaul of pre-MoP Cooking? There are no tangible changes to Cooking on test realms yet, but there are some oddities emerging: For example, over the last week characters' Cooking skill has been reset to 1. That could be an innocent bug, or it could point to something else being tested in private. Crafty, isn't it?

Update: When asked what the odds of a "revamp for fishing" were, designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street replied, "Odds are high, but not for 5.2." However, major changes to fishing were first discussed almost 5 years ago, so it may still be too early to gamble on something big in patch 5.3.

For the latest explanation and analysis, read Darkmoon Skill Tiers. For more on the fishing changes we are expecting to see go live in this patch, read Patch 5.2. To understand how skill influences catches before patch 5.2, see The Role of Skill (Revised).

  • 10 February 2013
  • Patch 5.2, Skill

Comments about 5.2: Darkmoon Catches Vary by Skill

Below are readers' comments about "5.2: Darkmoon Catches Vary by Skill":

5.2: Darkmoon Catches Vary by Skill

  • Jaeger, March 2013

    I was just surprised by this on the live servers. So it's being applied to Darkmoon Island as of Patch 5.2. Just caught some Reef Octopus and Giant Mantis Shrimp.

    This concerns me about the effect on the ability to catch Steelscale Crushfish. I assume they can't be caught at Darkmoon Island anymore. It seems the odds for getting One That Didn't Get Away just got reduced.

  • el, March 2013

    As things stand, Steelscale Crushfish and 103 Pound Mightfish/22 Pound Lobster should be possible to catch only in their appropriate skill tiers (100-150 and 250-300 respectively), because those catches were originally part of the regular catch table.

    The Sea Pony is different, because it is a bonus catch (caught with another fish), specific to Darkmoon Island. We know that can be caught in a range of tiers, not just the tier (100-150) that Darkmoon Island used to belong to. However, I haven't managed to catch a single Sea Pony at 600 skill, from around 4 thousand catches, which is deeply suspect.

  • mtzgr, April 2013

    el wrote:

    However, I haven't managed to catch a single Sea Pony at 600 skill, from around 4 thousand catches, which is deeply suspect.

    I caught my first Sea Pony on my 5th cast in the underwater cove at 600 skill.

  • Phrin, April 2013

    My blood elf caught the sea pony with a fishing skill of between 75 and 100. I know this because she was on a trial account at the time. Can't get the quests below 75, and trial accounts won't let skills go above 100. She was probably about level 12. Even though it was a trial account, it was linked to my battle net account, and the pony migrated to all my other toons.

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