World of Warcraft: Legion is all about your Artifact Weapon and making it stronger. The Artifact Weapon is supposed to reinforce your class identity, take over the function of talents in making you feel stronger and adding something new to you class and spec when compared to the previous expansion.
If you wished to completely max it out, you would have to spend a very long time on it. How DO you make it stronger, though? By spending increasing amounts of Artifact Power to unlock and level traits in the Weapon. After the 13th Trait, the 14th point will cost more AP than the first 13 put together. Keeping in mind that you might have spent a week or more getting there, progress would be very slow if your AP gains didn’t scale somehow. Well, that’s where Artifact Knowledge comes in.
First things first, though. You should know that you will be able to get Artifact Power by doing practically anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if dancing in the middle of Dalaran would reward you with it if you did it on Friday the 13th, precisely at dawn. Dungeons, quests, PVP, Class Hall missions, sources of AP will be aplenty.
Artifact Knowledge, however, will be increased in one way. You will have to place a work order for it in your Class Hall. It will cost you Order Hall Resources and will take several days to complete. At Knowledge level 1, you will get +25% more AP when you activate an item which rewards it. At Level 5, it will be up to +200%. This will scale even more with later levels, with +24,900% at Knowledge level 25.
The timings changed a lot during the beta, we will have to wait for the expansion to go live to see how it works precisely. Still, it appears that Artifact Knowledge Research Orders take 5 days to complete. There might be a way for you to catch up if you start an alt later in the expansion, with them taking a couple of days or even less if most people on your server are vastly ahead of you. Assuming they take 5 days on live, you should be able to get AK level 5 before Mythic Emerald Nightmare opens. Obviously, you should make sure that you can start a new work order as soon as the old one completes. Don’t miss out on them. They are extremely important to your progress.
The last matter that needs to be talked about is the whole matter of holding off from doing content like Suramar, which awards you with a lot of Artifact Power, until you have a decent Artifact Knowledge level. A case can be made for saving it or doing it as soon as possible, however, I believe that you should just do the content as soon as you unlock it. Blizzard agrees. The current system, which scales Suramar rewards to your Artifact Knowledge, is set up in such a way that no matter when you complete Suramar Chapter 3, its reward will be equal to approximately 5 World Quests.
Artifact Power and Knowledge are the two things you MUST keep on top of if you don’t want to fall behind your peers. A good chunk of players’ time, mine included, will be spent doing any content I can get my hands on, which awards it. I wouldn’t surprise myself if I set my alarm clock to wake up at precisely the time when my Artifact Knowledge order is supposed to be complete, to immediately make my peeps for on the next level. In the grand scheme of things, the several hours you might miss might not matter much, but I find the whole thing very intriguing. I will try to make my Weapon awesome as soon as possible.