Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Slice of the Pie

A week away from the game for the holidays and I return to an economy in crisis, lol. No sooner had I logged in, than I get bombarded with guild messages about how the AH has gone crazy in my absence. I didn't think my slice of the pie was that influential, but coupled with the holiday influx of players... I'm sure it was out of whack.

It did bring up an interesting question though. Just how big of a slice do I have of my faction's AH? You can easily determine the number of auctions up at any given time by doing a blank search and looking at the total in the bottom right corner. For my realm, the average I calculated (read 3 times a day over 4 different days in the same week) was 15650 auctions. My Horde are a minority of course. The Alliance AH has roughly 27000 auctions at any given time it seems.

I did the same readings for my posting toons and came up with 1170. I could take it a step further and look at total sell price percentage since I believe the majority of my items are 'big ticket' auctions such as epic gems, crafted epics, enchants, leg armors, spellthreads, etc. All of these are over 200g each with some significantly more. In any case, it looks like I have a 7.48% share of my Auction House. It's quite larger than I expected and puts a few things into perspective.

It is entirely possible for one person's absence to leave a posting/undercutting /crafting void if the time period is greater than 48 hours (longest posting period). Not only was I not crafting items and posting them for direct sale, but I wasn't here to help farmers unload their stock and disenchantable greens were piling up. Nor was I here to flip products, keeping the median sale prices where I like them.

For example, when clueless Player A comes along to post his Icescale Leg Armor at 1pm at a deep undercut, not only does the lowest price drop from 200g to 150g, but it generally won't sell either. Player A doesn't understand market timing and will be undercut for 149g by Player B. The average price has now tanked and will continue to be undercut until the golden hours of raiding which are statistically shown to be 7-11pm, depending on your server. That's when the huge traffic spikes occur from players.

Now imagine if a goblin was around, keeping an eye on the AH occasionally. He/she'd know to snag that 150g item, not primarily because it's cheaper and to flip it, but to nip the habit in the butt and stop any undercutting chains from beginning so low. Undercutting will always occur, but when you can control it's pace, you at least have a semblance of control and better profit margins. If Player A is not removed from the adult's table, the crazy train will keep gaining sheep, content in their conga line of mediocrity. Leg Armors would end up 90g each - which is where I found the market on my return, along with other similar items.

A little time away is always a good thing but I've learned that it can be informative too. Now I have a better understanding of my grasp on certain markets after seeing where they stand without me for a while, especially after witnessing immediate profit once I jumped right back in. Some were untouched while others were taken over by other goblins or ruined by overposting.

Your 'Slice of the Pie' is a quick test, so try it out yourself and see where you stand.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Character Setup

These professions could all be their own posts, so I'll just gloss over them for now.

80 Tauren Druid - Moonkin/Resto

Tailoring 450 - Spellthreads are the obvious moneymaker but with the abundance of Frostweave Cloth from 3.3's heroic runs, Frostweave Bags very cheap to make.
All raiding patterns. These are a great source of income whether you set a crafting fee (I enforce 5% of mat costs - example ToC bracers on my server would be 200g, chest 400g) or craft them yourself for a 1000-2000g markup and wait a few days for a buyer. If you choose to craft your own epics, the trade channel is the best choice as you can avoid the 5% AH cut and large listing fee for such high-priced items. You'll also have a better chance of luring a potential buyer that didn't know they wanted it, as opposed to the very few people that will search for such an item on the AH.

Jewelcrafting 450 - The level 70, 73, 77 green jewelry are obvious choices for the Prospect>Craft>DE chain gang. The level 75 blues that yielded 25g Dream Shards used to be great but with 3.3's increased Heroic runs, they aren't worth it since Dream Shards tanked to below 10g each.
A careful balance of expanding your Epic Patterns and getting free Dragon's Eyes is a good approach until you have 3-5 of the best selling cuts for each color. Any more and you generally won't have the stock available to meet the demand per day for each cut.

Cooking 450 - +40 Agility, Strength, Expertise and Hit are the best sellers in my experience, especially Hit and Exp during new patches since new upgrades come often and constantly maintaining the raid caps becomes a juggling act.

Fishing 588 - I never fish, but if I did, it'd be all Dragonfin Angelfish for raiders and Darkclaw Lobster for cooking levelers.

80 Orc Death Knight - Blood/Frost

Inscription 450 - All glyphs discovered. Still an enormous money maker but it's profit is very proportional to time invested if your server has AH campers like mine does. The Snowfall and other Inks can often sell for far greater profit than the glyphs they're used for, so make sure to find your server's saturation point for each Ink's sales. Vellums and Runescrolls sell consistently for a 300-500% markup. Make sure to vary your stack amounts to appeal to raiders, casuals and crafters.

Blacksmithing 450 - Same as Tailoring above with all raiding patterns. I produce Eternal Belt Buckles in bulk and generally sell 6-8 per day. Titanium Weapon Chains are a high profit percentage as well, but sell much less frequently.

75 Blood Elf Mage - Frost/Arcane

Enchanting 460 - All first and second-tier enchants for each slot are produced in bulk on vellums and posted two at a time. Additionally, most Agility twink enchants, Fiery Weapon and Crusader are all constant sales.

Engineering 450 - Ammunition is the only constant income stream for me and very self-explanatory.

17 Troll Shaman - Enhance

Leatherworking 90 - Currently have to rely on guild members for Leg Armors.

Alchemy 90 - Currently have to rely on guild members for Flasks, Potions, Transmutes.

Next up... Real-Time vs. Turn-Based Strategy

Sunday, December 20, 2009

There Will Be Profit

If you haven't experienced the film yet, There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson is the blog title's inspiration. I had seen it for maybe the fourth time on HBO while I was initially delving into the Auction House and the theme fit so well. There is a scene where the protagonist, an oil man, explains very dramatically and viscerally, that he will utilize someone elses commodity to make his money - by drilling diagonally for oil into another property.

This notion of capitalizing on the resources and ignorance of your neighbor is the very essence of being a WoW profiteer or goblin. Why spend your primary resource - time - doing dailies or farming mats when there is a population of thousands already doing it for you? When you can capitalize on their shortsightedness, mistakes and laziness, you allow yourself the biggest profit of all. More time.

There have been countless others that have explained their AH User Interface far better than I could, so I'll just point out the benefits I find most helpful or unique.

Postal - Make sure to customize options on what to open. I choose to exclude mail with item attachments so I can safely Open All and only fill up my bag space with gold and items I know I will be re-listing immediately. The 12-stacks of items that were mailed between characters can then be distributed, returned like a ping-pong ball to save on bank space or opened at your leisure once all important mail has been taken care of.

Auctioneer Suite - I really only use Snatch and Disenchant features under the Search tab. I have combined the themes of Snatch and Vendor to look for profit a step further than most do. While the Vendor feature just looks for items below a vendor's buyback price, you can add anything to Snatch with a threshold you set.
Let's take Dark Jade for an example. If we merely used Vendor, we'd only see these as profit if they sold for less than 25 silver each. However, if we take into account that any cut version vendors for 50 silver (100% markup!) and any Perfect cut sells for 1 gold(400%), then we can include it and any other green quality gems into Snatch for a threshold greater than 25 silver and still make money.
We can then apply this to any simple-crafted item(single reagents) for quick crafting profit that you can schedule in bulk and do while scanning the AH or marketing yourself in trade to save on time. Forest Emeralds are 3 gold, but cut they are worth 4 gold 50 silver.
This all assumes you have a crafter in the respective profession and an excess of stock that allows you to liquidate through a vendor while still having enough to meet the demand for crafted items that use these resources.
Make sure you update your price thresholds on everything often enough to not miss out on market fluctuations or get burnt by a tanking item that you continue to buy in bulk.

Quick Auctions 2 and LilSparky's Workshop - These are most valuable to me because of their ability to save the crafting queue by account, not character. I can do a summary on each of my posting toons that sells in a certain group, glyphs for example, and my lvl80 scribe retains the QA2 crafting queue for all of them.
I find using Groups is essential for effortless posting and canceling. While it can take a significant amount of time to setup, it becomes priceless in the long run. Just like with Snatch though, update your settings whenever the market changes so you don't miss out on trends.
I set up multiple Groups for my glyphs so each posting toon can have their own unique schedule, fallback, undercut amount, etc. This helps to distinguish them as seemingly different sellers and makes it harder for others to effectively shut down my slice of the market.
I have Groups for: enchant scrolls at or below 200g, 500g and 1000g values, dusts, greater and lesser essences, small and large shards, each Northrend Darkmoon Card variety, vendor pets, each color of cut and uncut gems at green and blue quality levels (epic gems listed individually to maximize current market value), Snowfall Ink, all other inks, Runescrolls/Armor/Weapon Vellums, etc. Basically each category of items that you want to share a certain value and item-per-post amount.

Saturday, December 19, 2009



First and foremost, this will be a blog centered around not just gold-making strategies (every goblin has those), but the reasons behind those strategies and ways to pre and post profit from those situations. Over the last two months I discovered a passion for gold making and challenged myself to hit the cap after reading a few prominent blogs. Two things happened - I easily hit the cap in six weeks and found a lot of the blogs lacking in clarity and depth.

A beginning tycoon will recognize that prospecting his Saronite Ore will usually result in more valuable gems than ore sales. But, he or she probably won't take advantage of evaluating the market on: when this might not be true, when cutting those gems is better, what to cut them into, which to leave for further crafting into metas, engineer mats, DE greens, when to bulk sale, where the overstock point is, how to input this commodity into your add-ons for best effect, how to streamline storage/crafting/posting of the item, when to use the AH versus Trade, Alliance versus Horde markets, etc.

When we understand the Why of a profit, we can take advantage of the Who, What, When and Where to much greater potential. This blog will attempt to discuss the Why and cleanly extract from it - the How.

I've been playing for a little over a year myself and never hurt for gold. This came from a very simple understanding of a couple markets that fit my two crafting professions. I earned more than enough to splurge on things and still afford a heavy raid schedule and help out guild members. During a slow period in raiding, I started seeing the real potential and challenges the economy offered and was quickly hooked. I immersed myself in a few blogs and flung myself into the learning process. Here was an entirely new skill set WoW could offer a challenge to. I found it the perfect counterpoint to the fast-paced environment of raiding and allowed me to skip the grindy aspects of dailies and the rare occasions of farming very specific items. I now have three characters with six crafting professions and am slowly but surely leveling a fourth with the last two crafting professions so I don't have to be dependent on the schedule of others.

While I have no end-game goal for the gold, much like WoW itself, I want these posts to focus on the journey itself, rather than the finish line. Funding the guild's transition from 80 to 85 would be a great sink though... If/when I hit a million gold, I have been toying with the idea of a sever cap - a notion brought up by a guild member that I haven't seen claimed yet. Since you can only have ten characters per server, this would be roughly 2.147 million gold. If I kept my rate, that's still 18 months and not a duration I'd like to lock myself into.

Next up...
Addressing the blog title choice for those that haven't made the connection, as well as go over my main toons, their professions and add-ons.

Final note - the new epic ammunition and ammo in general has been a hotspot for profit lately with different stacking amounts. Many will either not notice or misinterpret a stack of 100 for the normal 1000. Some take advantage of this and have made insane profits, even if they are short-lived. I wanted to take it a step further with the mad dash for the new epic ammo by posting as SINGLE arrows. They're not even a stack if you want to be technical :)