Consumables - A beginners guide
Which consumables are essential?
As an absolute minimum all players should carry a stack of the highest level bandages and healing potions that they can use. Casters should also carry at least two stacks of the highest level water that they can drink and a stack of mana potions. Melee classes should carry a stack of sharpening or load stones to improve their damage. Rogues should carry a stack of swift thistle tea. So now that I have given the basics, why and how should you use them.
Bandages - Just as in real life, first aid is a skill everyone should know. If you don't know it, learn it. Make sure your character picks it up in WoW too. The two times to use these are in a fight when the enemy is stunned, sleeped or feared or after a fight before another fight. In the middle of a fight it is better to use a bandage if possible than a healing potion since a bandage costs so much less. However you should use it only is you believe it will make a difference in you surviving the fight.
Healing Potions - Healing potions should only be used in a fight as a last resort, or when fleeing a fight and you need that extra few seconds to get away from them. Healing potions are extremely expensive, and even if your an alchemist they should not just be thrown around and wasted. Only use one if you are SURE that it will enable you to last through the fight and win it. If will very likely die regardless of using it, save your money, your already going to be paying a repair bill, why pay for potions too.
Mana Potions - Mana potions are very much like healing potions in that they should only be used when you know it will make a difference. Many times for casters there is also the choice on what will serve them better, health or mana. This can be a difficult decision. Most casters have some form of fear or trap that they can use to enable them to use both a mana potion for mana and a bandage for health. Consider using both, but it is even more critical to know that you will survive.
Sharpening and Load Stones - Both of these are very underrated and underused, however really should be used all the time. They generally add about 5-10% to your damage at any given level which can make a huge difference. Most of the time they are also very cheap to get. Think of it this way 10% extra damage, means 10% less time to kill something, which means a 10% increase in experience and gold when grinding and 10% less damage being taken! All in all a good thing!
Swift Thistle Tea - This is a must for Rogues, but due to the pain of gathering or the expense of purchasing should be conserved as much as possible. As with the others use it only when you know it will make a difference.
Which Consumables are nice to carry?
PvP Healing and Mana potions - These are easy to get potions that cost one honor and are available from the officers lounge. Since they are cheap to get they are easier to justify using, so always worth carrying a stack.
Elixers of Defense and Fortitude - These are almost a must if you are a tank as they helps mitigate some damage and allow you to take additional damage. This is especially important once you get into instances where you will have multiple MOBs beating on you at any given time.
Elixer of Agility - Almost a must have for a rogue and hunter as agility plays such a big part of your damage and critical hit rating. These can come in handy in instances or when grinding for maximum experience in the shortest time possible.
Switness potion - These are great for all those classes that don't have an escape trick, which means most of them. It is also really good for almost any class in a PvP situation where you need to put some space between you and your opponent quickly.
Rage potion - Another great potion for tanks (in this case just Warrior tanks) is the rage potion. It allows you to pick up rage quickly in an emergency. I only consider them nice to cary though as they cost quite a bit and they are a single limited shot item.