I’ve made some changes based on the comments, and may continue to do so.
As I worked up my Hunter’s Engineering, I got to the point of choosing between Goblin and Gnome Engineering. I’m doing this with an eye towards Cataclysm. I found very little help in several web searches, so I thought I would use my own reasoning as a guide to others who might be facing this choice.
There was some talk about removing specializations from professions which would remove the choice entirely. I actually hoped this was route the developers would take. The profession specializations have been removed from Leatherworking, Tailoring, and Blacksmithing. They have NOT been removed from Engineering or Alchemy. Jewelcrafting, Inscription, and Enchanting never had specializations to begin with.
As of this writing (11.27.2010) Goblin and Gnome Engineering are still in play. However, there are no known Goblin or Gnome specialization recipes for 80 to 85, and if you base it on the materials needed the last Goblin recipe is from Burning Crusade and Gnome has only one recipe from Wrath.
There is always the option of not taking either choice, but I believe this is a poor choice. You give up the Level 85 benefits, and the specialization changing process is far less difficult in Cataclysm than before. You simply need to read a book and do the quest for the other specialization. Previously, you had to relearn the entire profession, but that is no longer the case.
Let’s now examine the Level 85 benefits and how I am going to make my decision. If you look at the Level 85 benefits, it really boils down to the teleports. The only two items that aren’t a teleport that I’d consider at Level 85 are both Goblin. The Goblin Mining Helm gives you +5 Mining which could be very useful during the initial leveling stages as you could mine higher level ores, but once you max out mining, its usefulness would be gone. The other item is the Goblin Sapper Charge which can do siege damage. This means it can damage walls in places like Strands of the Ancients, Wintergrasp, Isle of Conquest, and Tol Borad.
But this decision should really be about the Teleporters. Goblins get teleports to Everlook in Winterspring, and Area 52 in Outland. Gnome gets teleports to Gadgetzan in Tanaris, and Toshley Station in Outland.
The two Outland teleports are so close as to be a draw. What really matters at that point is you are in Outland, not exactly where you are.
So this whole discussion comes down to which zone, Winterspring, or Tanaris, would be more convenient for you to port to. For my Alliance friends, either portal provides access to Kalimdor, and most will have their hearthstones set in Eastern Kingdoms in either Stormwind or Ironforge. Most Horde players will have their hearth set to Ogrimmar which is about equidistant between Winterspring and Tanaris.
Winterspring is very close to Hyjal, the Level 80-82 zone. Tanaris is very close to Uldum, a level 83-84 zone. I think this is what tilts the scales pretty heavily to Gnome Engineering with the Tanaris portal. In Wrath of the Lich King, even after the advent of LFD, I’ve needed to get to the upper level zones (Storm Peaks, IceCrown, Shoalazar) far more often than I’ve needed to get to the lower level zones (Howling Fjord, Borean Tundra). Furthermore, Uldum is home to one of the Raid instances where Hyjal is not right now. According to my buddy, @FiesttheRogue, in 4.1, Hyjal will get a major raid zone.
On top of that, the Tol’vir are a friendly faction the players need to raise their reputation with.
They are the ‘Sons of Hodir’ of Cataclsym and hold the shoulder enchants. There will probably be daily quests to raise your rep with them like Sons. They are located, you guessed it, in Uldum.
The one fly in the ointment is that apparently the Caverns of Time portals are still working in Dalaran, which means that if you have easy access to Dalaran, as nearly every Engineer will, Tanaris is just a portal away. Blizzard could always remove those portals, but I believe in making the best decisions based on information today. If I can get to Tanaris easily, Goblin and their portal to Winterspring might make more sense.
What do you think? Agree, disagree? Let me know in the comments!