If you're an alchemist, you either love the discovery system – or you despise it and wish to blast it back to the depths of Developers' Hell (that's one of those rock-and-lava zones, right?). Implemented with The Burning Crusade expansion, the discovery system gives alchemists a small (err, very small ... ok, very, very small ... ok, infinitesimally small) chance of discovering a new recipe every time they make a potion, elixir or flask. Players seem split between considering it a creative new mechanic or an annoying contrivance and roadblock, but after several patches and adjustments, the system seems here to stay.
Let's jump right in with your most burning question: Just how small (err, very small ... ok, very, very small ... ok, infinitesimally small) actually are your chances for making a discovery? Pretty darn small. Prior to patch 2.1, the most commonly cited figure floating around was 0.01%. (Discoveries were disabled via hot-fix for a short time just before patch 2.1, reportedly to prevent an exploit in which alchemists who repeatedly tried to create potions with no bag space could make discoveries without actually creating a potion or using potion ingredients.)
In patch 2.1, Blizzard noted that discovery rates were increased "significantly," but nobody seems to have performed (or published) an extensive enough analysis to pinpoint an honest number. One popular guesstimate puts the current discovery rate at 0.1% -- but really, your guess is as good as any. (Cauldron discovery rates are on a different table and run much higher than the general rate. Players report making cauldron discoveries, estimated at about 30%, as frequently as every one to five batches.)
The magic of discoveries
You can make a discovery any time you perform a BC-era transmute or make a potion, elixir or flask. (Yes, the general wisdom and experience is that it must be a Burning Crusade recipe or must use materials found in the Burning Crusade expansion in order to proc a discovery.) If you strike a "Eureka!" moment, your character will perform an animation and nearby players of both factions will see a message about your discovery. The newly discovered recipe will be learned automatically – no need to poke about for it in your inventory.
Many alchemists believe that transmute discoveries are made when performing transmutes and that potion and flasks discoveries are made when making potions, flasks or elixirs. It ain't necessarily so! It's worth noting that there have been reports of transmute discoveries while making elixirs or potions, and vice versa. There seems to be an increased chance to discover recipes similar to the type of item you're making, but there may be no connection at all. In general, though, don't count on a connection. You won't increase your chances of discovering defensive flasks, for instance, by making guardian elixirs. (Cauldron discoveries work differently and do actually relate to what you're making; we'll get there in a minute.)
What we do know is that you don't have to make a certain type of potion or elixir in order to discover the related flask recipe for the same type. For example, you don't have to grind out Major Shadow Protection Potions or Elixirs of Major Shadow Power if you're interested in discovering the Flask of Shadow Fortification.
Cauldron recipe discoveries, on the other hand, are most definitely linked to the item you are making. In this case, grinding out those Major Shadow Protection Potions will position you to discover the Cauldron of Major Shadow Protection. (And remember, cauldron discovery rates are relatively brisk.)
Increasing your chances
You read the subhead for this section and thought this was going to be a list of things you can do to increase your chances for a discovery, didn't you? Sorry, but there are no special tricks to getting discoveries. In fact, our list here covers factors that have absolutely no bearing at all on discovery rates:
- You don't have to physically be in the Outland
- You don't have to have 375 Alchemy skill (although you must be a Master Alchemist to be able to learn Burning Crusade recipes)
- You don't have to be level 70 (although you must be at least level 50 in order to become a Master Alchemist to learn Burning Crusade recipes)
- You don't have to have an alchemy mastery
- You don't have to use a green, yellow or orange recipe (yes, grey recipes can trigger a discovery!)
- You can't get a discovery from drinking a potion (yes, this was actually possible at one point; it was a bug, and it was fixed)
- You do not need to have your Philosopher's Stone with you
- You do not need to be near an Alchemy Lab
Discovery recipes are truly able to learned by discovery only; there is nowhere else that you can buy or loot them. This means that all Burning Crusade flasks are available only through the discovery system.
There are currently a dozen recipes available through discovery.
Transmute Primal Earth to Life
Transmute Primal Life to Earth
Transmute Primal Fire to Mana
Transmute Primal Mana to Fire
Transmute Primal Water to Shadow
Transmute Primal Shadow to Water
Flask of Blinding Light
Flask of Pure Death
Flask of Fortification
Flask of Relentless Assault
Flask of Mighty Restoration
Super Rejuvination Potion
Insider Trader's Lisa Poisso is a magazine editor, when she's not crossing her fingers for a discovery.