Inscription: A look at pigment drop rates for Milling

We had a question on the blog yesterday regarding the drop rate of uncommon pigments when milling herbs.  The thinking behind this is whether or not you can stockpile more common herbs to mill and avoid destroying more difficult herbs from the same “group” when collecting a specific type of pigment.  In my example, I’m using Felweed as the baseline herb and then comparing the drop rate to more high-end herbs like netherbloom and nightmare vine.  If we can get by with milling a bunch of felweed (which isn’t as valuable) then we can save our netherbloom for something else.

Why would you care about drop rates?  Well the uncommon pigments are used for the more interesting recipes like off-hand frills and Darkmoon cards.  If you plan to make any of those, you’ll need uncommon pigments to do it.  While this may not be an issue during the leveling process, towards the end when the nice items start to kick in you’ll probably care.  I conducted my test with Outland herbs – the best I could get my hands on from the Test Realm.  Each herb had a least three stacks, maybe not a huge sampling but enough to see some trends.  I noted what level the herb is (Herbalism required to harvest it), how many I milled, how many common (nether) pigments I got and how many uncommon (ebon) pigments I got.  From this we should be able to calculate a rough drop rate for both pigment types.

Milling Chart

Herb (Skill) Quantity Nether Pigment Ebon Pigment
Felweed (300) 170 81 (47.6%) 11 (6.5%)
Ragveil (325) 60 32 (53%) 6 (10%)
Ancient Lichen (340) 120 72 (60%) 14 (11.6%)
Netherbloom (350) 80 44 (55%) 12 (15%)
Nightmare Vine (365) 100 56 (56%) 14 (14%)

As you can see, the drop rate of Ebon pigment was about twice as high on the better herbs than on the lower end herbs.  My ragveil sample is a bit small, so it may just be off.  Overall I see the drop rate for Ebon pigment going up as we move higher in the food chain.  I also see the drop rate for Nether pigment increasing on high-end herbs by about 10%.  My observations of the milling process support the calculations.  When I was milling the netherbloom and nightmare vine, most of my milling actions resulted in an ebon pigment.  But when I milled felweed, less than a quarter of my milling actions resulted in an ebon pigment.  I also noticed that I was much more likely to get 3x or 4x nether pigment from a milling action with better herbs than I did with felweed, which tended to be mostly 2x with some 3x pigment drops.

In conclusion I believe the better herbs drop more uncommon pigment and slightly higher quantities of the common pigments.  As I mentioned in the beginning, you probably won’t care about this when you’re powering up to 300 Inscription.  Once you reach the Outland and Northrend herbs, it will start to matter how much uncommon pigment you get.  Blizzard’s concept of uncommonality seems to follow more closely to their Herbalism level charge than our in-game perceptions of rarity, so you might want to review their skill list when deciding what mix of herbs to stockpile.


12 Responses to “Inscription: A look at pigment drop rates for Milling”

  1. Tony Says:


    Thanks for investigating this. Your conclusion is what I was anticipating. The trend is similar in my “current” favorite crafting profession, Jewel Crafting. Milling, like prospecting, has greater benefits when processing higher-end materials.

    So with your calculations, here is my 2 cents for those who inspire to pick up this new and exciting profession.

    Start shopping now for high-end outlands herbs that are not near the top spectrum of the price range. This will exclude Netherbloom, Nightmare Vine and Terocone on most servers. I spend a great deal of time working my craft and the economy on 2 different servers and it’s my judgment that our readers here should take a good look at Mana Thistle if the yields are similar to Netherbloom, which logic says they should be. On my servers Mana Thistle goes for 15g-20g a stack and the top daddy herb Netherbloom goes for 35-45g a stack. Felweed can be shopped for 9-13g if I wait for the supply in the AH to build up.

    Mana Thistle 375
    Nightmare Vine 365
    Netherbloom 350
    Ancient Lichen 340
    Ragveil 325
    Terocone 325
    Dreaming Glory 315
    Felweed 300

    Now, with that I don’t think felweed is going to be the primary herb in my opinion. Like JC-ing, Adamantite is where the money for prospecting is made. Yes you pay more, but the better designs benefit from more of what it yields. The margins for profit will be greater when your milling yields more and better materials for the better designs. Now lets just hope we have more herbers plucking flowers for us to keep the market stable. Otherwise, Inscription is going to be expensive, at least for the short term. So start shopping now for the best deals on the higher-end herbs. And I would dare to guess this is going to be true for the other pigments and their respective group of herbs. An example of this is the following:

    Violet Pigment is milled from: Firebloom, Purple Lotus, Arthas’ Tears, Sungrass, Blindweed, Ghost Mushroom or Gromsblood

    Gromsblood 250
    Ghost Mushroom 245
    Blindweed 235
    Sungrass 230
    Arthas’ Tears 220
    Purple Lotus 210
    Firebloom 205

    While milling Ghost Mushroom would be insane when it normally goes for 5-8g a piece, Gromsblood or Blindweed may the way to go. So if the yield trends holds true for the other pigments groups, then start shopping on your server for the highest herb skill to pluck at the best price.

    In closing, Inscription opens this game up like no other profession has done. Lets just hope the alchemists don’t go on strike on us ☺

    Keep up the great work Kaliope.

  2. Alex Says:

    If you recalculate percentage for stack of 5 herbs, you will get 33% uncommon drop for Felweed, 50% for Ragveil and Ancient Lichen, 66% for the rest….

  3. El Says:

    Interesting numbers. Were they all using the same PTR build, or does the sample span several builds?

    I suspect a similar pattern, but cannot prove anything! This is where I disagree with the conclusion: I do not think anyone has enough numbers yet to draw any conclusion. In this case we’re comparing 11/170 (Felweed) to 20/180 (middle 2) to 26/180 (top 2), on a process that is inherently highly random: If just a few of your millings had produced 3 instead of 0 Ebon Pigment (or vice versa), your conclusion would be completely different!

    Reality is, as you say, this will not have any impact on any one Inscriber leveling the profession. And anyone buying materials should still stick with herbs like Felweed at the moment, due to significant price differences. Of course each person will have to find a way to deal with the random nature of milling anyway – for example, stocking up based on 2 primary pigments per milling (because you cannot be sure of anything more), vs stocking at around the average, vs understocking because you assume everyone else overstocked and will be selling their excess.

  4. kaliope Says:

    Hey El :)

    Yes, I did this all on the same day: this past Tuesday (10/7) I believe it was. I agree that this is a small sampling, but ’twas all the herbs I had within one family. I certainly wouldn’t consider this gospel by any means, but if folks want to roll with preliminary numbers that’s fine. It’s always possible that Blizz with tweak things before they push it Live, so there’s really no way to be sure of anything from the PTR.

    I’ll be very curious to see what kinds of numbers we end up with once Wowhead starts tracking the data. Right now on my server all herbs are cheap (strangely) so I’d probably hedge my bets and get a variety just to be safe. I opted to overstock on herbs myself, under the assumption that herbs will be worth more after Inscription goes Live. I’d rather have too much and sell them off, versus running out and having to duke it out with the other herb farmers who didn’t plan ahead :)

  5. Tony Says:

    While I agree Blizz could tweak the numbers on us at the last minute, I believe there is enough data floating around that is similar to Kaliope’s findings. I found this recent sampling on Blizz’s forums:

    ” One thing I’ve noticed is that rarer herbs seem to produce rare pigments more often. For example, I milled 20 stacks of Felweed and got 19 Ebon Pigment, but milled 7 stacks of Mana Thistle to get 18 Ebon Pigment. Also, Icecap and Plaguebloom seem also seem to make Sapphire Pigment twice as often as Mountain Silversage or Golden Sansam. I didn’t notice much of a difference in lower level herbs, but I also leveled through them pretty quickly. ”

    Again, these yield numbers are similar to how Fel Iron and Adamantite work.

    If Mana Thistle does not yield more Ebon than Felweed, I will be very surprised. But i’ve been wrong before. /wink Nevertheless, i’m gobbling up every Mana Thistle I can get my hands on at 15g a stack. I have tons of Felweed just in case.

  6. El Says:

    I think I’ve cracked the basic pattern, but again I do not have sufficient data to understand the detail.

    I believe the explanation lies in the item level of the herbs, not the gathering skill. I’m working towards a theory that says something like:

    Primary pigment chance = 2.5+f
    Secondary pigment chance = 0.2+f

    Where f = ( itemLevel – baseLevel ) / 25

    Expected values of f would be between 0 to 0.4. I’m not sure what the baseLevel figure is. Each set roughly groups over 10 item levels, so the base may be the bottom of the 10 set, of may be the value of the lowest herb in the set, or something else quite similar based around the range.

    I really need lots of data, spread across all herb types – both to improve the factors, and to confirm the pattern. If anyone has recorded their data electronically (ideally milling by milling, but averages with precise sample sizes are useful to), I’d love to see it (el at

    If correct, this would not make much difference to the primary pigment, but would alter the secondary pigment chance quite a bit.

    As an aside, we are unlikely to gain this information from the database sites: Wowhead, for example, lists “100% 2-4” for primary pigment: Their data structure is designed for dungeon loot.

  7. kaliope Says:

    What sort of information would you require to solidify your calculation? I’m happy to contribute if I can and possibly other readers would be willing to share their numbers if it helps.

  8. Raima Says:

    Hey El, I’ll definitely round up those numbers for you when I power level my inscriptions when the patch goes live. I’ll make it into a list, like:
    Herb Common Uncommon
    Felweed 2 0
    Felweed 3 1
    Felweed 2 1
    Ragveil 4 1

    Is there any formatting you would prefer? (Like, tab separated columns, or space separated, if you are going to be running it through a script)

  9. kaliope Says:

    Raima: I just checked El’s posting on this and that sounds like exactly what he would need. I’m going to do a post later today and encourage our readers to help out.

  10. El Says:

    As Kaliope says, your list is perfect, Raima. Simple formats work best, but I’ll work with almost anything.

  11. Aurdon Says:

    I should have enough to power level to 350 tonight as well…I’ll post my “live numbers” as well.

  12. Tony Says:

    When I start milling i’ll share my results. For now i’m waiting till the servers are more stable.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: