Thursday, 24 July 2008

Saving for the expansion

Been getting a lot of replies and emails from you guys over the last 2 days, I'm very overwhelmed and have to say thanks to all of you for helping me out so much. I'm trying to reply to each one, but apologies if it takes a little time.

I thought I'd have a nice light hearted post to follow some of the more serious ones. I'm interested to know what you guys are thinking in terms of the expansion, where you want to spend your money and what not. Do you want to have a base amount of money going in? Personally I've set my goal to have 13k gold going into the expansion, which I feel is a nice amount to get my main anything I want on release. This is an overly self indulgent amount, but I'd rather put in some work now and not have to think about money later; I just want to level in peace. I only have one level 70 to think about, so I'm lucky I don't have to worry too much about treating one character and leaving the others behind. I'll be able to level professions and buy rep items with relative ease. Overall I'm looking at my costs like this

- I want to get my engineering up to the cap as soon as I can. This will probably be a large money sink, but not too bad thanks to my mining. I'm guessing 1-3k gold.
- If I can buy reputation items from the auction house, I always will, because grinding them on my own is a bore. I'm guessing 2-4k gold on these items.
- Unrevealed gold sink; Burning Crusade had the 6k to spend on flying, and Wrath's most likely going to add passenger mounts & maybe even faster ones. One thing we do know is that there will not be a massive 5000g gold sink as previously, but smaller ones, so expect maybe four or five gold sinks costing 1-3k each. It's possible some of the siege weapons and vehicles for PvP might cost money.
- My level 36 druid who I primarily use as a disenchanter will have to level to 50 so she can step up her skills to disenchant level 71-80 items. I will probably spend a bit leveling the enchanting skill, but overall I have a huge stockpile of materials, so costs might be manageable.
- The Death Knight could end up costing a bit. I'll be training inscription and herbalism, and if I manage to level it up, a few mount training skills. This is more long term (6 months into the expansion) so I'm not too worried about these costs.

For most players I think 5000g will be a reasonable amount of money, as long as you're prioritising one of your characters. This is fairly easy to achieve and not taking into consideration the amount of money you will be making once you are actually playing in the new continent. One thing that will probably throw these estimates off track is that we're more than likely to see inflation. We all know a thousand gold today is worth less than it was before the Burning Crusade, and the same will happen here. I'm hoping auction house prices do not rise so much and the removal of daily quests at level 71 could help; educated guesses suggest current daily quests will reward more XP than gold, although I've yet to see evidence of this from the Beta (anyone playing it let us know!).

If you do focus on one main, now is a good time to make that final push for you epic flyer. It's never been easier to get, and once the expansion will come you can enjoy saving for fresh new things, instead of worrying about old world content you wish you had. We won't be able to fly until level 77 in Northrend, but the last 3 levels will be the easiest of your life with an epic flying mount. Don't worry about the cost of training falling, in a year 5000g might be as easy as making 1000g today!

Let me know what you're saving for, or if there's anything from the Beta thats already tempted you.

Auction House: Consumer Psychology

Members of my family have always owned retail stores, ranging from fast food, toy shops and even Pound shops ($1 stores which you get over in America). Although these shops had nothing to do with me, I noticed that the vast majority of the items they sold were never a round figure. I carried on this approach to how I've done business on the auction house, and for me it's been very lucrative. While browsing online I came across this article today from the BBC, and if you're new to this theory, it should explain things very well (note; we use Pounds and Pence, instead of Dollars and Cents). Some key points in the article:
- A French study has shown that "lowering the price of a pizza from 8.00 euros to 7.99 euros boosted sales by 15%".
- "In 2005, Britons discarded or stashed away £133m in unwanted coppers", i.e. There is £133 million in waste 1 and 2 pence coins in the UK.
- Consumers "tend to put numbers in categories like under £5".

So how does this apply to you within the World of Warcraft? I'm sure everyone would welcome a 15% increase in auction house sales, which in my experience as a trader was very easy to tap into. I would often visit the auction house and see silver bars listed for 1g, list mine for 99s 99c and sell them out...return to the auction house to see the 1g priced bars still unsold, list some more of mine, and then instantly see them sell whilst the 1g ones remained. Sure that does include the element of undercutting, but usually that was not the case and using the 99copper charge has been an old tactic of mine even when no one else had a similar item listed. Its worth noting in our e-currency we can use this tactic on coppers, silvers and gold, depending on the value of the items we're using. Furthermore, I found that using the 89 silver/copper charge at the end can help even more; not with sellers, but avoiding undercutters. For some reason your usual undercutter will be a mere 1copper under the price you listed. So if your selling something for 20g, he will sell for 19g, 99s, 99c. But if I list mine for 19g 89s 89c, he's far less likely to undercut me, and just set his own price or wait out for my auction to sell. Of course this is purely anecdotal evidence on my side, and could be plain old lady luck.

Using this method is even more useful when it comes to selling those everyday items you come across, stuff like Primal Earth, which is not worth a huge amount but you'll have a large supply off and be able to sell regularly on the auction house. Primal Earth usually fluctuates in price day by day, but within a range. If the average price of Primal Earth is 5g on your realm, you will often see them for 4g and 6g also, depending on rise/fall in demand on any given day. However, using the 99pence method, you can encourage impulse buys. A buyer might see you selling 4 primals for 4g 89s 89c and quickly buy all of them in the fear tomorrow's price will be 6g. In reality he might make a saving or loss tomorrow, but certainly not enough to celebrate/commiserate over. But you've sold your primals and that's the bottom line, whereas had you listed them for 5g the buyer might not have been tempted. The theory apples more so in Warcraft than it does in real life. We all know how much an iPod costs, and the price will be the same tomorrow so I'll hold out till I get my montly salary. In our WoW Economy however there is awlays a fear of rising prices and in a volatile market this psychological trick plays even better.

I never use dubious trading methods in Warcraft, and I despise scammers/hustlers. This trick is useful because it doesn't make me feel bad about the way I trade. The buyer has specifically searched for an item, and you're just helping him make his mind up.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Ask WoW Trader: Buying & Selling before Wrath of the Lich King

I thought it would be a nice idea if I shared the feedback in an advice type column, because I'm guessing many of us have the same problems within the economy. Today I'm going to answer some feedback Zadieyek left for me, because (s)he comes up with a very good question about the expansion. You're all welcome to email me at for you to be featured in any future Ask WoW Trader blogs.

Zadieyek says;
I just wanted to say hi and let you know that I think your blog so far is great. I'm not that good at working the WoW economy but I'd like to be. What I am good at, however, is saving money and really weighing 'need' over 'want' and being a pack rat. Do you sell things like primals; gems; ore/bars; or herbs on the AH? Do you hold on to them? I have my own guild bank with 3 tabs. I have stacks of primals; gems (green and blue); high end herbs; ore/bars and stone; and lower level leather (was thinking about leveling an engineer). Recently, however, I've starting thinking that with WotLK in Beta, its time to start offloading some of my stash, I don't want to get stuck and miss out on the opportunity to sell these items. What do you think the best route is? Selling when you get things like a stack of primals or holding on to them until have 2-3 stacks and then putting 1-2 on the AH? I've bookmarked your blog and will be coming back often. I'm really looking forward to your future posts.

Thanks for the kind words Zadieyek, but don't be so down on yourself, because you already sound like a very sensible trader.
What do I sell on the auction house? Certainly most of the stuff you mentioned I do sell. As an engineer, I can make great money selling primals. Engineering really is the unmentioned "gathering" profession post-TBC, and possibly the most profitable. Although I'm not a Jewelfrafter I have often spotted cheap purple gems on the auction house, and sold them on. Most of the Shattered Sun vendor epic gems that 2.4 brought can be sold for 350g, but sometimes a JCer will put them up cheaper, so its a great way to make money. However, you really should be aware of what epic gems are in higher demand. I've been a miner since I started playing the game, so I do sell lots of ore & bars. Quick tip; Adamantite should always be sold as ore because JCers use it to prospect. Its worth experimenting with each metal to see if it has more value as ore or smelted. I have to admit my experience with herbs & alchemy is probably weakest as I've tended to play leather wearing classes. I hope to change this with my Death Knight who will be a inscriber/herbalist.

In the past I tended to sell things very fast, usually at the end of a days play. However as guild banks came into place, I've generally hoarded a lot of stuff. I tend to keep tons of engineering materials in my personal guild bank slots for future use. On the other hand I usually wait for my Fel Iron and Adamantite to gain a few stacks before selling them on. However, its usually best not to sell more than 3 stacks at once. Not only is the deposit very high, but putting too many stacks on encourages others to under cut you heavily, and you could end up not selling any. Five unsold stacks could mean 10g down the drain.

The most interesting part of Zadieyek's post was concerning selling of items before Wrath of the Lich King. If you tend to keep stuff for ages, like Zadieyek and me, you should now be considering what you need to keep and sell before the expansion. Certainly the price of some items will plummet, and seeing as you'll need every copper you can get come expansion, now is the best time to get rid of some items. Still many items will go up in price, so be careful on what you sell. I'll give you a quick run down on items you may or may not want to keep. Keep in mind this is all my humble opinion, so don't call your lawyer's if my advice sucks(!)

- Herbs. If there is one type of item you want to keep, it's this. The new profession, inscription, requires herbalism to level up your skill. This should include the lowest stuff you'll find in Elwynn, to the highest in Outlands. So if you have stacks of herbs lying around with no use for them, do not sell them! Everyone and their mother will be taking up inscription, so the prices of herbs are going to be ridiculous. If you have no intention of becoming an inscriber, you could still make a killing collecting herbs now ready to sell when the expansion is released. Also if you're planning on power-leveling inscription, you should start gathering (or ever buying) up herbs now. Either way, you will make or save a great deal by being aware of this.

- Metals. I think in the first few months after release, the Outlands metals will be worth much less than they are now, so its best to get rid off these now. Most of the characters left in Outland will be Death Knights, and many of them may actually become miners; mining is set to get a new health buff which will encourage tanks to pick up the profession. Not only will demand be lower for Outlands metal, but theoretically the supply could be massive due to many DK's being miners. There is potential for a 50% or worse drop off in prices.

- Primals and Outland leather should also see a drop off in price.

- Enchanting materials on the other hand should remain fairly stable. With less people in Outland, the market will see less supply, but at the same time low level enchanting materials usually keep a robust price. Anyone who has level'd up enchanting recently would tell you the Azeroth items are often more expensive on the auction house than Outland ones. On my realm Large Prismatic Shards are only 15g a pop usually. If your realm still sees them being sold for 25 to 30g on a regular basis, you're far more likely to see a bigger drop off, so you might want to sell them now. Furthermore, the Outland enchants have less twinking potential, so maybe the gems could drop off in price more than I expect. It's hard to say in all honesty. My enchanter only has 300 skill (she's only level 36), and I do plan on moving her up to 375 (by getting to level 50), so I'm going to be hoarding my disenchanted materials, as the amount you need to get those 75 points is insane.

- As for level 60-70 weapons and armor, really just get rid of them.

There are certain factors you should take a note of though. With an influx of Death Knights, many players will be hoping to power level their DK's professions and thus there might still be solid demand for items. Metals may be popular for any DKs leveling Blacksmithing but unless they're after the new Drums of War, leather might be in less demand as leatherworking is not hugely useful for a plate wearing class. Furtheremore, there will be a point where Outland becomes deserted, and the items found within those zones back in high price. Mithril, Iron and Copper have never been as expensive on my realm as they are at the moment. This point could be a year or 18 months away though, so I personally wouldn't bother saving items for then.

Thanks for you questions Zadieyek, hope that helped you out a little with your dilemma. Do you guys have any advice on what items you think might be worth saving or dumping? Or anywhere I'm off the mark? I'm sure Zadieyek would appreciate anymore hints from you.

Essential Add-Ons 1: Igor's Mass Auction

Been over a week since I last posted. I've managed to write a series of articles about how to use the Auction House, however I'm pretty stumped on which order to publish them. Also I don't want them to come off too meaty, which at times they are. Hopefully I can edit them over the next few days and start to release them. In the meanwhile, I'm going to get started with one of the regular features I hope to have on the blog, this one is for the Add-Ons I use to help me make money.

At times using the auction house can be a pain, especially when you have large quantities of the same item you want to sell. Posting each one separately is time consuming and frustrating, and Igor's Mass Auction has been the answer to my prayers. It allows you to post different items, different quantities of items, and can also maintain the prices between different stacks sizes. You can post a maximum of 18 auctions at once.

This image I took from Curse should gave you a basic idea of how it works.

When i was selling lots of copper bars last year, I would use it to put up stacks of 5, 10 and 20. By setting the base price for one bar, it would calculate for me what price to sell the larger stacks. It would also work the opposite way, by setting a price for a 20 stack, it can calculate how much to sell the lower quantity stacks for. For people selling trade items on the auction house in huge quantities this is a massive time saver.

There are a number of bugs and issues you should be well aware of before you start experimenting with the add-on. The add-on itself is no longer updated, in fact its been close to a year since it last was. So you will have to activate load out of date add-ons on the Log In page to use it. Fortunately it works the same as it always did, although that does include certain bugs. In my experience it's best not to overly confuse the poor fella, so avoid putting 20 different types of item on. If you want to sell 10 stacks of light leather, this will usually do the job perfect. On the odd occasion however it will freeze, and give you an error message. When this happens I have two bits of advice. First, check that it put you auctions up at the correct price, because when it freezes, it has the habit of mispricing them (especially when you've been selling stacks of different sizes). Secondly, any time you get an error message a log out from you character will get the add-on working again. 95% of the time it works perfect, however I always check if it's listed them correctly, otherwise you could be in for an expensive mistake. It's a shame this add-on is no longer in development, because come Wrath of the Lich King we might have to do without.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Patch 2.4.3: How to save & waste money

As far as minor patches go, I've been pretty excited about Patch 2.4.3 which will be live within a day or so, depending on where you live. So I thought I'd post a quick note on what to look for in terms of buying and selling;

- If you're about to buy a mount for a level 40 character, stop right now. You can now buy them at level 30, but equally importantly save yourself about 60g in the process. I'm pretty happy about this as I can buy my level 36 druid a cheap mount, and my sister who just ding'd 30 will be getting herself one too. One of my guild friends is an altoholic with too many characters in the 30-40 range, so he'll be saving a huge amount hopefully. You might want to think about how to invest your savings, or just treat yourself at the same time by buying bigger bags.

- Arena players will be able to buy epic gems with Arena points now. For strict PvP'ers this is a great way to save potentially thousands if you're yet to buy epic gems for your Season 4 gear. Although most of you will still be trying to save points for the gear itself, the best news is that these gems are not unique-equipped for you. So be patient and you could save yourself a bundle, as well as destroy anyone you see in Alterac Valley (most likely me).

- Haris Pilton in Lower City will be selling some ridiculously stupid and expensive vanity items for your bank alt (in the 1000-2000g price range). I've pimped out my bank previously with the usual junk of Wedding Ring, Tux set and Monocle, but even I'm not gonna spend that much on a bank. On the other hand she'll also be selling the first 22 slot bags in the game for 1200g a piece. If you already have an epic mount, these might be worth buying. My advice? If you already have 20 slotters give it a miss unless you have too much money, but if you're still holding 18s (or worse) pick one up. Think of it this way, if you have 20 slot bags, you're paying 600g per slot, but if you only have 16s its a mere 200g per extra slot. Also keep in mind that Wrath of the Lich King will most likely introduce 24 slot bags, so you might want to hold off. You're call at the end of the day, but I'll probably get a couple if that's worth anything to you.

- If you're already exalted with Sha'tari Skyguard, and have a penchant for non-combat pets, be sure to check out the Nether Ray Fry. You deserve to treat yourself for all the money you made getting to exalted!

- Mining nodes will once again drop green gems, which is pretty useful as they've gone up in value.

- On the professions side, you tailors out there should be most pleased. The cooldown for Mooncloth has been removed. Also you can now make 28 slot herbalism bags, but you'll have to get exalted with the oft-ignored Sporeggar faction first. Don't worry though, it should be fairly easy for you to get exalted but you might want to grab some Fertile Spores & Sanguine Hibiscus off the Auction House before prices sky rocket, with other tailors hoping to get exalted quickly. This recipe could be a nice little money spinner for you, just don't flood the AH, or you'll regret it. You might also want to head down to Steamwheedle Port (Tanaris) to pick up some new Tailoring recipes, I think they're vanity items which might eventually have some demand on the AH.

- Magister's Terrace (normal) has been heavily nerf'd if you're after some quick reputation (the Exalted Jewelcrafting recipes are a big money maker).

- On the use interface front, a new useful feature is Report Issue function to GM's, which means you no longer have to talk to a GM after reporting an issue. Why is this useful? Well if you see a bot ruining your farming spot, you can send a quick ticket without having to wait for the GM to respond. Hopefully this will encourage more people to quickly report bots and gold farmers, and Blizzard will be able to respond faster.
Also a new stopwatch has been added within the game, so now you can time how long you spend farming spots and maybe try to control you growing addiction to the game (doubt it...)

Let me know if I missed anything and have fun with trying some of this stuff out.

Warcraft Trade Terms of Service

Before I get back on topic, I thought now would be a good time to tell you guys about my rules within the blog. The three blogs I frequent most often are WoW Insider, Tobold's MMORPG Blog and The Many Relms of Relmstein. I'm also a big fan of many WoW Podcast's, however my lack of confidence meant I stuck to the blog format. I enjoy great articles within WoW Blogs and hopefully I might contribute one someday. Tobold has a Terms of Service over on his blog, which is basically a promise on his part to speak his mind whilst respecting the opinion of his readership. My goal on this blog is to speak to you guys & get feedback and ideas from you. I was encouraged that my first article got atleast two readers, however in the spirit of the WoW Blogging community, it would be great if you guys shared links to your blogs too.

So here is a list of what I want this blog to be, I'll probably be editing this throughout the lifetime of the blog.

1. This blog is all about sharing ideas with the Warcraft community. I love reading any feedback you have on my articles, good or bad. So please don't hesitate to make any comments. I don't claim to know it all, so it's important for you to correct me on any errors I make, as long as it's done in a polite manner.

2. After you leave your comment, I also hope you can leave a quick link to your WoW/MMO related blog. Hopefully me and other readers can see what's happening in your WoW life. Please don't just spam a blog link at the end of every post, but only if your adding feedback to the article.

3. I swear like a sailor in real life, but that doesn't mean its a good thing. I promise I'll refrain from curse words as much as I can, but I hope you guys can too. I don't see what place they'd have in a blog like this.

4. Gold-spammer/hacker links will not be tolerated. On my side, anytime I post a link I promise to do my best to check its a reliable site/add-on.

5. From time to time, I may get ideas from other blogs or sites, and I will do my best to mention from where I get my inspirations. I would appreciate if you link my blog if the reverse happens.

6. At the moment, I have decided to keep my characters and realms anonymous. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly I'm paranoid about getting hacked. Secondly I don't want to come of as arrogant (which I think I may have in the initial post) or face any beggars in game. Hopefully I'll lighten up in the future. I don't mind divulging this information with any friends I may make on the blog, or with people I already know in game (I'll probably share this blog with my guild once I've established a little more).

7. As a reader of the blog there are certain aspects of the WoW Economy you have to understand and keep in mind when reading my blog;
My opinions will be formed by the economy of my main realm and how I've traded within my realm. Luckily, my realm is largely populated and has been around since the EU launch of the game. So it's fairly typical of what you might expect, and has generally normal prices facing most realms (taking into account the usual anomalies). When I talk about facts that may vary due the differences in realm economies, I will try to leave a note mentioning so. If you're on a low popularion economy, it's worth keeping in mind that many of the situations mentioned may be different on your realm. If you have any specific questions on this, feel free to contact me.

8. If you have any topic ideas, or just want to contact me privately, email me

This post will be edited regularly, thanks for reading guys.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Making money with gray items and big bags

My first post is going to deal with gray loot, having big bags & making the most of your limited game time (yes, these things are linked together). I've always been the type of player who looted every item that dropped, and was ready to vendor it after a play session. It was a habit I always had. So when grouping with people in my guild recently, I was fairly shocked to discover many of them never looted gray items. I also noticed in PuGs that many players would leave gray loot, which I would then scoop up.

Typically, if I'm reputation grinding Netherwing or Shattered Sun for an hour, I'll get a couple of gray items at least which could add upto 5 or 10 gold. Now say if I spend 2 hours a day on dailies (or even better leveling in Outland), that's potentially 140g a week. It could be significantly more if your spending time questing in Outland. That's a huge amount of money to be throwing away long term. It's certainly a nice way to cover your repair and other maintenance costs at minimum. Personally I find it a great source of income, as I don't spend all that much on repairs.

Asking people why they don't loot gray items, I'm often faced with the same answer; I just don't have the bag space. The same people however often have 16 slot bags, which for anyone level 70 is a poor effort. Having large bags for me is an investment every WoW player should make. Earning the 40g to buy an 18 slot bag off the auction house, is about 30 minutes worth of dailies. A small price to pay for something that will make you time and money. If you upgrade from a set of 16's to all 18 slotters, thats 8 gray items you may have previously left unlooted. Vendoring these items soon adds up, and soon the 160g spent on the 18 slot bags has turned into hundreds more.

I carry 20 slot bags with me, which set me back 400-500g each, but I feel it was money well spent. Looting everything you see is not the only way you're making money out of having large bags; you're actually buying time. Say you spend 2 hours a night questing or farming, and you have a set of 16 slotters. 30 minutes in your all out of space and you have to run back to town to vendor your trash, or mail stuff to your bank alt. Meanwhile the extra 16 slots I have mean I've gone uninterrupted for the entire 2 hour session. Again this time all adds up.

The next patch update will see the introduction of 22 slot bags priced at a massive 1200g. I'm probably going to buy at least two, but most likely I'll get four for my main. That's 600g for one extra slot, so it will probably take a long time to make any return on that investment (if at all, Wrath of the Lich King will probably introduce a 24 slot bag before I get the chance t0), but I have the funds to indulge myself. However, this post still serves as a useful tip for lower level players. You might be new to the game, in your 30's and still carrying 6 or 8 slot bags. You can buy 14 slot bags on the auction house for just a couple gold, which really is not a huge amount of money, certainly achievable. Soon your first mounts will be available at level 30 for a mere 40g, and maybe the 60g saving will encourage you to spend money on 14 or 16 slot bags, which will certainly make your leveling process towards Outland more enjoyable, easier and maybe you'll end up a little richer along the way.

Learnin' the hustle

Why should you care what I have to say? Well I could tell you how I managed to make (at least) 35, 000 gold in my first year of playing the I had over 8, 000 gold before I even hit level I was running around with 20 slot bags by the time I was in my mid I bought a Zul Aman bear mount despite having never stepped into Kara, let alone ZA. But really none of this matters, and I only tell you these facts because maybe its grabbed your attention. I'm just an Economics student at University, who somehow found a game which has actually made my education interesting. I never knew when I first installed this game that I'd get so much enjoyment out of making virtual money. Having made my "fortune", I no longer care enough about keeping my secrets. I have enough gold to last me the next expansion, or maybe even two.

In all honestly, making money shouldn't be difficult for any level 70 player. But not everyone is level 70, or has the time (patience?) to do 25 daily quests everyday. Nor does this consider your raiding/arena commitments, whilst holding down a job and family. Or the fact you may have a couple level 70s with no realistic chance of ever getting that epic flyer for all of them. However, there is a severe lack of basic knowledge amongst much of the WoW community on how to achieve balance between making and saving money, whilst still keeping the game fun. Do you buy that epic gem you need off the AH, or that Orb of Deception you've always wanted? Most players are constantly facing a battle between buying stuff they need and buying stuff they want. I managed to find this balance for myself easily and this blog will hopefully help you find it for you.

The blog will talk about ways of making money, saving it...and sometimes I'll go a little off topic.

I'm not for one second claiming I know it all. I learnt about small parts of the WoW Economy to make myself some money. But there are hundreds of other avenues that I either don't have the time for, or just don't know about. Hopefully my ideas will blossom ideas for you, and you'll find your own niche. Some of these suggestions will seem very basic, yet I can assure you a lot of people will not know about them. I'm also sure there are plenty of things I don't know about, and you'll fill me in on them. Hopefully you'll enjoy my articles, and leave feedback (positive and negative). Let's get to work!