[Archaeology] Farming Tol'vir fragments as fast as possible
In this guide I will help you to do Tol'vir archaeology as fast as possible. This will give you a significant boost on your hunt for the alchemy recipe or a rare Tol'vir artifact.
This guide will NOT include the archaeology basics (Check wowpedia for that). Note: This guide is for the fastest way, not the cheapest, so this will be expensive. If it seems too expensive, skip buying the keystones.
To follow this guide you must have the following:
450+ Archaeology: This is a must to unlock Uldum, which is the only place with Tol'vir spawns. Master Riding & Flight Master's License: Travelling is a huge part of Archaeology, and even the slightest speed increase will reduce the total grind significantly. Potion of Deepholm: This potion can be expensive - it depends a lot on the server economy, but it is an essential part of this guide. If the price is too high see if you can get them crafted as the materials is easily gathered. You will need a lot of these. Make Thunderbluff your home: Hearthstone should be set to Thunderbluff (Alliance alternative: Dreamer's Rest in Feralas). Buy Tol'vir Hieroglyphics: This is the keystone for Tol'vir artifacts. All keystones are tradeable, so I suggest you buy them as all Tol'vir artifacts allow keystones. Guild level 8+: This will reward you with Hasty Hearth, which reduces the cooldown of your Hearthstone by 15 minutes. If you are already in a beloved guild and it is not level 8 you can skip this, but it significantly reduce the speed.
I also recommend the addon Archy as it contains a much better interface than the original archaeology interface. It will tell you when an artifact can be completed, and lets you right click on a icon to solve artifacts with keystones.
The following picture is a map with all digsites including an illustration of your teleports; Hearthstone and Potion of Deepholm.
If there is a digsite available in Uldum, go there immediately unless you have another digsite within a few seconds reach.
The reason you go there immediately is because the chance of getting another digsite in Uldum diminishes if you already have a digsite available in Uldum (I will explain this in the Q&A section).
If there's no digsites available in Uldum, go where the available digsites is close together (Example).
How does Uldum digsites "diminish" ?
It is commonly known that digsites can not stack on each other - they can however spawn right on top of the digsite you just finished. It is also known that there are fixed positions for the digsites in the game. There is a total number of 62 digsites in Kalimdor where as 8 is in Uldum (data taken from wowwiki). There will always be 4 active digsites in Kalimdor and any other digsite continent.
This mean that with no current digsites in Uldum you have a 8/59 ~ 13,55% (62-3 because 3 digsites is taken, and the 4th you're digging in can spawn again at the same place) chance to get a spawn in Uldum.
If you have a spawn in Uldum, the chance is 7/59 ~ 11,86% to get another spawn in Uldum i.e. it diminishes. With two spawns its 6/59 ~ 10,16%. With three spawns 5/59 ~ 8,47%.
In conclusion this means that you should not try to "stack" Uldum digsites, but instead you should go there as fast as you can once you see just one.
Tol'vir Hieroglyphics are expensive. Are they really necessary?
They can be very expensive indeed, and you should expect to pay between 200-500g each. They do however also increase the speed like nothing else in the game does it.
Unlike other types of artifacts in Kalimdor, every Tol'vir artifact allows you to use keystones; 2 in each common and 3 in each rare. This means that instead of you having to gather 45 fragments for a common artifact, you can cut more than 50% (~33% on rare artifacts) of the work by using keystones. This will essentially give you a 40-50% increased speed. If you have the money, are willing and able to purchase them, you definitely should.
What about other keystones for Kalimdor?
I recommend this if you're hunting other rares, especially Night Elf rares. Troll and Dwarf rares are better to gather on Eastern Kingdom.
They do, however, not increase your speed in terms of Tol'vir fragments as you will need to dig 3 times to finish a digsite no matter what.
How does Potion of Deepholm increase my speed?
Potion of Deepholm will teleport you to Deepholm. Inside Deepholm there's a portal to Orgrimmar/Stormrage which then allows you to take the portal to Uldum or Hyjal.
As the potion only have a 1 minute cooldown you can spam this teleport method. It also allows you to use your Hearthstone at a more central position to cover most of Kalimdor.
Why Thunderbluff and not Stonemaul Hold (or another town around it) ?
Thunderbluff is the best choice as it already is at a respectable height, allowing to you fly straight right away and not having to fly up first.
How long will it take to obtain the alchemy recipe for Vial of the Sand?
The alchemy recipe for Vial of the Sand is gotten from Canopic Jar (a common Tol'vir artifact). It will take you ~997 digsites excluding rare artifacts and use of keystones. It all depends on your luck and the rarity of the recipe, which is currently unknown, and will probably also remain unknown as most data collections is spoiled due to many non alchemists looting the Jar. It took me 5 Jars to obtain it, so I will use that as data (please note this is just to give you an idea and may be very much different in reality).
If we assume that you have a 20% chance to loot it from a Canopic Jar, you will have to loot 5 of these to get the recipe. There is a total of 9 common artifacts from Tol'vir, which you then need to collect 5 of to get 5 Canopic Jars. That means you have to gather 45 common Tol'vir artifacts to get this, which means you will have to gather 2025 Tol'vir fragments. Each digsite contains approximately 15 fragments, which mean you'll have to do 135 Tol'vir digsites. As said previously, there's a 13,55% chance to get a spawn in Uldum if you follow the guide, which all in all means you will have to do 996 ~ 997 digsites.
The calculations also assume that you're 450+ archaeology, so if you start at 1 you will have to do well over 1000 digsites.
Credits wowdigs.com - I used a map there with all digsites on it to illustrate how the range from teleport locations wowpedia.org - All data was obtained from this site.
I hope my guide will speed up the long grind for the awesome Tol'vir rewards.
Thanks for reading my guide, and good luck getting the recipe or rare artifacts.