After MoM, crafting was in a pretty grim state. Weaponsmith and Woodworker took a hit from the introduction of legendary items. The quality of crafted items in general was way behind anything that could be obtained running the various instances in Moria. The only crafts remaining truely useful were cook and scholar purely because food, potions and scrolls always come in handy.
Then, with book 8 they introduced the Galhadrim recipes for jewellery, armour and weapons. These produced some very nice stuff, in particular for characters who hadn’t been able to get items from radiance runs; my hunter is more-or-less fully kitted out in the armour set with a dagger thanks to kin generosity and now feels on a level with her radiance-equipped kinmates.
However, the flip-side is, the recipes can only be crafted by higher level crafters who can obtain sufficient Galhadrim reputation. This means that those low level crafting alts that many people have, have a bit of a problem. My level 30 supreme tailoring captain is a bit stuck.
Now, we hear that with SoM, only crafters will be able to make or have access to the top level greater relics; there is a rumour that cooks obtain their relics through making the relic master a tasty snack. And it is pretty obvious, I think, that creating/accessing these relics will only be possible by high level crafters.
To be honest, Turbine has always been consistent in it’s encouragement to level crafters. The craft quests increase in level for each tier and resources are found in progressively higher level areas. As a result, this is not a surprise.
In fact, despite the now increased pressure to level up my captain and to work on my other two higher level characters’ crafting, I like the idea of there being an alternative aspect to the game. People will now have an incentive to work on crafting. And finally to accept that those lower level crafting hobbits may have to leave the Shire (this may be more of an issue on a role-playing server).
Crafting can be a grind, as can grinding instances for radiance gear. At the end of the latter you get some nice shiny radiance armour. It’s nice that now, increasingly, you can get some nice shiny crafted gear at the end of the crafting grind.