Saturday, January 30, 2010

Greed/Disenchant Options

If there is an enchanter in your group, everyone has the option of Greed to receive the item as is, or to Disenchant and get the item's respective worth as Dream Shards, Abyss Crystals, Greater Cosmic Essences or Infinite Dust. I've come across too many instances, excuse the pun, of people misusing the Disenchant option during LFGs that I thought it's worth going over.

I've witnessed all range of players choosing to Disenchant items that Vendor for significantly more than the enchant mats are worth. Personally, I'd rather pocket the vendor price of 14g on a green weapon than the 5 dust I'll receive that isn't worth more than 6g.

These are the excuses I've heard so far when I point out that they're better off paying attention to the vendor price for an item before blindly clicking Disenchant...

"Oh but I'd still rather have the enchant mats." - You could buy even more enchant mats by vendoring for better gold.

"Not on my server. They are worth more." - Prove it. I have yet to see a server where Dust is still high or Shards are above 10g.

"It's easier to just always click Disenchant." - So be it. What else do you do because it's easier but less efficient in life?

"I get lucky on Disenchanting procs." - The human mind exaggerates probability in memory. We remember the highs but not the lows or vice versa to fit our own current delusion. Everyone's probability is the same over time.

If you're only doing a single LFG run a day for your Emblems of Frost, this may not add up to much. However, if you're ever running more Heroics, you'll want to change up your routine.

While everyone's server economies are different, there's a general range that most items fall into. On my server, Dust is 1.2g average, Shards are 6g, Essences are 14g and Crystals are 28g. This will fluctuate based on your AH but not by a percentage great enough to justify losing money. On most green/blue/purple quality items, Disenchant IS the superior profit option. But most always.

Items vendor for significantly more based on the item type and armor class. Plate vendors for more than cloth, weapons more than waists, etc. There are many addons that can give you a breakdown of an item's AH history, vendor value, disenchant/mill/prospect percentages are and more. They will tell you probability of an item turning into any of the enchant mats and how many of those items will proc on average as well. Use one and you'll never be guessing which option to choose during your runs.

The only situations that require a careful decision are those items that have a chance to proc both Dust and Essences. Since the price of these two items are so drastically different, you'll want to weigh the probability of getting Essences against both the Vendor price and Dust probability and proc amounts.

While less frequent, some people still don't pay attention to Bind on Equip rare items and choose Disenchant or even Greed followed by Vendoring the item. These should always be listed on the AH for a much higher profit. I generally get 25-30g for blue-quality BoE items and up to 100g for sought after pieces that are superior to others while leveling. Check out your AH for lvl70-80 rare BoEs and take note of those that sell well.

Shady Behavior
When items like Damaged Necklace(350g) or Book of Glyph Mastery(30g) drop, you can wait until the rest of the group has selected Greed and then Need, claiming it's for your profession. Unless they are looking up your profile online, they can't dispute otherwise.

On the end boss (or earlier bosses if you're confident you won't get vote kicked) you can just need on items that aren't worth Disenchanting since the consequence of being called a ninja post-run is minimal.

Depending on the price of Abyss Crystals on your server and if you are able to Need on an epic, you make slightly more gold over time. Being a group of 5, you have a 20% chance to win the roll on the item. Since Abyss are 28 on my server, (28g x 20% = 5.6g) I would make an average of 5.6 gold per run on the final epic. For those items that you can Need on, just check if the vendor price is more than 1/5 of your server's Abyss rate. If so, then Need if you're willing to risk a ninja reputation in your Battlegroup.

If you want to be even more shady, always Vote to Kick the lowest damage member of the group before pulling the last boss. There is no Heroic run where having only two dps is going to hurt your chances of success. This allows you a 25% chance to win final loots instead of only 20%.

When it comes to Heroic Trial of the Champion, Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection, it's important to note that loot is higher in item level. The epics are lvl219 and 232 in these Heroics. Since vendor values are based partly on item level, expect to see tighter margins here between the Abyss Crystal or Vendor choices.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vendor Pets

After seeing early on what vendor pets are capable of selling for, I created an exclusive toon to sell vendor pets from. This took quite a while to set up, but once finished, provides you with a steady income. Or, if you're a goblin it can be a nice supplementary profit to your other markets. I don't bother much with crafted pets from Engineering since the whole concept of this AH alt was to profit purely from vendor-available pets.

Why would someone buy a pet available from a vendor at much cheaper prices? A toon is lazy and knows they're available or they're ignorant of it's location. Either way, you profit.

There are eight Horde pets, ten Alliance pets, one limited supply Alliance pet, two at Booty Bay, five in Netherstorm and three Dalaran pets available from vendors. It's important to note that all of the faction pets are accessible by a lvl1 toon. It's just the Netherstorm, Dalaran and Booty Bay pets that require a little travel.

Cheap Pets
Black Kingsnake (Org)
Brown Snake (Org)
Crimson Snake (Org)
Red Dragonhawk (Fairbreeze Village)
Golden Dragonhawk (Fairbreeze Village)
Silver Dragonhawk (Fairbreeze Village)
Prairie Dog Whistle (TB)
Cockroach (UC)
White Moth Egg (Exxodar)
Blue Moth Egg (Exxodar)
Yellow Moth Egg (Exxodar)
Rabbit Crate (Ironforge)
Cat Carrier Bombay (Goldshire)
Cat Carrier Orange (Goldshire)
Cat Carrier Cornish Rex (Goldshire)
Cat Carrier Silver Tabby (Goldshire)
Cat Carrier Siamese (Netherstorm)
Hawk Owl (Darnassus)
Great Horned Owl (Darnassus)
Parrot Cage Senegal (Booty Bay, limited -- Netherstorm unlimited)
Parrot Cage Cockatiel (Booty Bay, limited)

Expensive Pets
Albino Snake (Dalaran)
Calico Cat (Dalaran)
Obsidian Hatchling (Dalaran)
Red Moth Egg (Netherstorm)
Brown Rabbit Crate (Netherstorm)
Blue Dragonhawk (Netherstorm)
Mana Wyrmling (Netherstorm)
White Kitten (Stormwind, limited)

Personally, I stock 50+ of each 'cheap' pet in the mailbox of my alt. Having 12 pets in a single mail, with 50 mail items visible at a time, allows for a huge storage space and easy restocking between cancel/post sessions. Just make sure to return and mail back a batch before they expire every 30 days.

The cheap Horde pets are all put into a Quick Auctions group with a set fallback and threshold. I use 15g fallback and a 1g threshold with two of each posted at a time for 24-hour posts. This allows for huge percentage profit without flooding the availability.

The Alliance pets I set into a second group that has higher margins since they're harder to acquire by my fellow Horde. Fallback prices are set at 75g and thresholds still quite low at 5g.

The expensive pets fall into a third group with a much higher threshold so I don't lose any gold on a transaction, but the Fallback is significantly higher at 300g since they aren't seen often on the AH. Many first-timers will be more inclined to make the purchase if the price is high versus more affordable. If it costs hundreds of gold, it must be a rare drop right? :)

There is no Refund button on the Auction House and you should always take advantage of that lacking feature.

I've made over 7k gold from vendor pets since starting my gold-making run to a million. It's not a huge slice of my pie, but it's steady and a very fun category to profit from. I've only recently brought over Alliance pets in bulk and as you can see...

it's made quite the difference in sales. I've cleared more than 2k gold in the last week alone on pets.

My next step to advance this category is bringing my first bulk batch of Horde pets to my Alliance alt. Not only will I be doubling my presence on Auction Houses, but the Allies are the large majority on my server.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Second Gold Cap

It took me six weeks to hit the first gold cap and only four weeks, Dec. 19th to Jan 17th, to hit it again. I had a lucky flip on a Battered Hilt that pushed me over the mark yesterday.

Herbs have been pretty nonexistent on my AH so my glyph production has completely halted. Saronite Ore however, is flush. My blue-quality gem cuts have been flying off the AH because of epic cuts remaining too high priced for many consumers.

Next up... Vendor pets and the consistent profit they can provide.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Another minor milestone. I should reach a second gold cap in a few more days and a half million by early February.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hot Dog/Bun Theory

There's a phenomena that happens in real life markets that I like to call the Hot Dog/Bun Theory. When two items are meant to be used together, they can be sold in contrasting quantities so you're forced to buy more than you need. With hot dogs commonly sold in packs of six, the buns are found in packs of eight. This means you're buying two extra buns or having to buy four & three packs of each to come out with even pairs.

Stacking Strategies
As this applies to WoW, it assumes you can either coordinate the market so everyone posts the same, or control it individually. A prime example of this is green-quality gems. Both the daily Jewelcrafting quest and the Icy Prism cooldown require these items.

With the Jewelcrafting daily, I make sure to buyout all the affordable single-stacked gems of the day's required colors and post my own in stacks of two.

With the Icy Prism mats - 3 Chalcedony, 3 Dark Jade, 3 Shadow Crystal - I post in stacks of four or five, depending on what the demand allows for.

I've gotten Chalcedony and Dark Jade prices up to the 13-15g range on my server. These pay for all of my Saronite Ore prospecting, allowing any green-quality and blue-quality cuts to be pure profit.

This method is applicable to other markets as well:

• Tailors need Eternal Life, Earth & Shadow in pairs. You can easily manage your own three-stacks to be the best deals.

• Arctic Fur is now accessible with a Dalaran vendor trading for 10 Heavy Borean Leather. Stack more than 10, less than 15.

• Herbs are milled in stacks of five, but bought in large quantities so you might only benefit from those buying for flask mats.

• Inscription Inks require multiple pigments so sell these in odd quantities.

• Six Snowfall Inks are used for Darkmoon Cards of the North, so sell in stacks of 5 during Darkmoon Faire weeks.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Single Iceblade Arrows

When the initial hype was released on Greedy Goblin about selling arrows for 100 as opposed to 1000 per stack, it drew a lot of controversy. I decided to take it a step further. The original method relied on an inability of the user's interface to display the different stack sizes correctly. This opened the debate for whether it was a scam or not and talk of ethics, morals and colorful adjectives were thrown about the gold-making community. However, what if we remove that handicap to the argument and leave no doubt, no matter what UI the player has, about the quanitity of the product?

Could the customer's mistake be taken to an extreme and have profit not rely on the visual similarity of 100 vs. 1000?

The Experiment
I created a stack of arrows from 1g worth of mats - two Crystallized Shadow. These 1000 arrows were then posted as singles, up 10 at a time. The goal was to get through as many SINGLE arrow sales as possible before the average population caught on. Just how much could I turn 1g into by merely relying on my customers assumptions?

I had to adjust my prices to undercut what full stacks were going for, so prices fluctuated from double to single digits as December turned into January. BeanCounter kept track of my sales for the item which just passed the 2k gold mark. I recently started this on the Alliance side as well. I plan on alternating each faction, where the presence of single stacks are there one week, gone the next. This should give the short-term memory players a chance to reset their gullibility.

The best recorded data has been the return customers. These same toons have come back to purchase more single arrows. I currently have about a half dozen of these and am keeping track of their names for a Hall of Fame. The thrill of seeing your chat window fill up with sold messages is priceless.

Hello and Goodbye

Hello to Shadow's Edge and congrats to my guild member for completing it this week. Goodbye to my 25,000g in Primordial Saronite to help complete it, lol. I would have broken 400k today otherwise. Guess I'll have to wait until next week to hit my second cap.

Here's a gold-making idea from the same player that nets him a few hundred extra gold when he's already tanking heroics.

Trade Macro
"HEY DPS! Sick of waiting in queue for your Daily Random for 20 Minutes? For 20g, we can party up and skip the queue! If we don't get an instance in 30 secs, your money back!!! MUST BE A RANDOM QUEUE! 20g PST"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Real-Time vs. Turn-Based Strategy part 3

Trade Chat
Now if the AH is turn-based, then the Trade Channel is its real-time counterpart. Gone is the quiet speculation of 12-hour auctions and scanning. This is the home of trolls, flame wars, spam and quick sales.

The first benefit of using Trade over the AH is the lack of listing deposits and 5% sale fees. While these are nice, the real benefit is an audience that might not ever see your item in the AH. You have the potential to catch the eye of an impulse buyer that didn't know he even wanted those Saronite Swordbreakers until you linked them, let alone if he even needs them.

First you need to decide what toon(s) to use for Trade Chat advertising. Do you want them to be the same toon that made the item or unrelated? Using the same one might generate some name recognition from all your sales in the AH of similar items. Using a different toon and advertising lower sales than YOUR OWN AH items from a different toon might encourage the notion that it's a deal.

Do you want to respond to trolls that flame your prices in Trade? Do you have the quick wit necessary to diffuse their attempts while still coming out looking like the good guy? If not then just stay silent and wait for your serious replies. If you do have the talent to grammatically wrap a troll around your little finger, then you can gain a lot of good will from Trade Chat because they're probably sick of him as well.

Since you're saving 5% from the Auction House cut of a sale, what discount, if any, do you want to offer? Is it acceptable to go lower in favor of quick cash to you? I personally don't go below the 5% reduction. This is still cheaper than what is available. If you start a little high, you can afford to agree to people's counter offers while still getting the price you had in mind originally. I like to advertise for 2-3% off AH prices and have a little bargaining room with those that whisper me.

If you treat the Auction House as real-time strategy, you'll end up with high blood pressure and a lot of wasted time. It's not a viable strategy, nor can it be maintained. It, by nature, has timed intervals between choices that each person makes. Stick to this format and make the correct decisions here. If you just camp the AH and cancel/post every time you're undercut then you're losing out on a lot more than deposits.

Similarly, don't treat Trade Chat as turn-based strategy. If you think you can afford an experiment on how to respond to someone - think again. The temperature of the population can go south quicker than you can imagine and you'll draw more attention to yourself and lose out on the chance to sell that item anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Real-Time vs. Turn-Based Strategy part 2

Subjective Perception
Some aspects of WoW will be seen as real-time or turn-based depending on who you ask. For example, if you're in ToGC25 and a snowbold lands on you, causing you to begin a mad dash to the melee for help in removing the smelly, teabagging rodent - you'd perceive this as a real-time strategic move.

Your raid leader however, would see this as turn-based strategy. How did that ranged DPS react to the situation? Was the response time adequate when he got to the right location? Did he let the raid know of his situation? Would that player improve better with a brief comment on the performance, a whisper or a private talk between attempts? Each attempt on a boss is a Turn to a raid leader. Choices and changes are made behind the scenes each and every attempt to compensate or enhance past performances.

Raiders can start taking this same approach. Not necessarily in the same depth or level of responsibility, but reviewing their own log of the attempt, what they can improve on, who they can coordinate better with, etc. If everyone just tries the same thing each attempt, your only hope of success is very, very good RNG, if you were even close to being with.

Auction House
The Auction House is easily the purest form of turn-based strategy WoW has to offer and the potential for reward is endless.

If you can recognize the time between opening your sales and posting a new item as a Turn, you can start changing your business for the better. It's easy to get caught up in the habit of a cancel/post routine. Instead, use that time to do a little research before blindly posting again. If you got product back in your mailbox, then you're wasting deposits and not reaching your target consumers. Something can be done to improve your turnover.

The same as the raider that doesn't improve his performance each attempt, you don't want to be a goblin that throws his inventory at the AH and hopes for something to stick. You'll still probably make profit or kill the boss, but not as effectively as you could have. Acceptable is not a goal.

Keep track of the quantity and pace of your sales in each market before just posting another batch blindly. Maybe there's too much returned inventory each time you open your mailbox, indicating that you're flooding the market or being continually undercut. Maybe you always sell out and there's room for expansion. This would require you to beef up your production or purchasing of that item or it's mats though.

Use Turns to evaluate who your competitors are, what quantity they're posting in and undercutting values. Get a sense of how often they are refreshing their postings and come up with a competitive counter-schedule.

A main advantage of a Turn-based philosophy is that trial and error is encouraged. It's alright to make mistakes so long as you're aware of the risk involved and keep track of the result. With your progress broken down into little turns, each step along the way affords a learning experience.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Real-Time vs. Turn-Based Strategy part 1

I grew up playing turn-based games like Civilization, Heroes of Might and Magic and Sim City. They evolved into a profitable poker hobby. I never felt the pull towards first-person shooters and real-time strategy games that mostly stressed hand/eye coordination.

With turn-based games, the intentionally slower pace allowed for real introspection between strategic moves. Greater importance was placed on each decision. Actions and reactions could be determined many steps in advance. An environment of trial and error was encouraged, allowing you to experiment with new approaches to challenges.

Then came a casual recommendation from a friend to try the WoW free trial. Gone was the dislike for real-time combat and I found myself hooked right from the start. I'd bet that most people view WoW as purely a real-time game and less actually see strategy beyond maybe their spec and rotation. That doesn't mean it isn't there though. Far from it.

WoW's Duality

While I don't think I realized it consciously in the beginning, my draw to WoW was largely due do it seamlessly combining these two gaming styles. There are countless aspects of the game that should be treated as turn-based decisions. Gear progression is probably the most common for raiders. Balancing hit, expertise and defense caps, as well as soft caps for many specs in haste, crit and armor penetration.

Not only do you need to balance your current stats while maintaining the highest combination of gear, but you should be planning several upgrades in advance. Where do these items drop? How large is that boss's loot table and what is your chance to win the item in your group composition? Taking it a step further, responsible raiders will take their competitors into consideration and balance their choices on their teammates situations as well.

Planning your emblem purchases over time based on your rate of acquisition is also turn-based strategy over a period of days. As the weeks progress in patch 3.3, more and more Frost Emblems are available with the release of gated ICC wings and a new VoA boss. 41 were available the first week, with 35 the following 3 weeks. Starting Jan. 5th there will be 47/week until a minor patch for the new Arena season, and on and on. Will going for your two-set tier bonus be more beneficial or is there a relic slot item or trinket that is best-in-slot for your spec?

More importantly, is there a 'best' order of purchase that you can deduce that allows you to get all your wish list before a new raid night? You don't need everything by the earliest possible day (unless you really want to dominate in your Heroic run). You need it by the next main raid night. Taking into account that ICC takes less than one night to clear, you have an entire week between each progression raid to collect Frost Emblems. Not to mention more flexibility in what to purchase and when.

Most importantly though, is the notion of time management as a turn-based aspect. Everyone that plays WoW makes these decisions from the character screen until you log off. Which toon needs attention first? Do I need dailies or crafting or raid time or social interaction first?

The Three Ps

For goblins, time management is the key to watching your coffers rise at rates that keep you hungry for more. Being able to streamline your Production, Posting and Purchasing all depends on making calculated moves to compartmentalize your process. Just because you have a system in place doesn't mean it's optimized either. It's a good idea to review your process every once in a while to look for flaws or new ways of doing things that hadn't occurred to you before.

Sometimes it's the scale of your operation that will be the catalyst to trying something new. I didn't feel a need for multiple posting toons until I had branched into enough markets to really start stressing my time and patience. Once you are getting several hundred items in your mailbox, it's time to expand...

Having Quick Auctions 2 for specific posting groups helps to keep your process organized. Being efficient with this saves time and each toon should only have to mail, craft, cancel/post their inventory once.

Keep track of your farmers and suppliers with notes on your friend's list that tell you how often they're on and what they have to sell. I even rank them with a self-made 1-10 scale on how well they understand their own value. This helps me to determine an offering price for their items.

There is no rush with the AH, so make full use of your 'turns' to evaluate your progress. Be as hard on yourself as you can too. There's no point in justifying mistakes or covering up losses to yourself - it will only hurt you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year - 300,000g

As odd as the timing was, I hit 300k right near the stroke of midnight with an epic sale that pushed me over the mark.

I started on Oct. 25th, making it 68 days for this little milestone.