Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gold-Making News from the Warlords of Draenor Alpha

Hey there, everyone. I realize I've been pretty scarce lately. Diablo 3 managed to suck me back in with Reaper of Souls, and I've also been playing some Infamous: Second Son on the side. I don't think I've actually logged in to WoW since at least the Reaper of Souls launch, and I need to do so soon, to keep from losing my stock, if nothing else.

Still, we got the first big WoW news in a while today, and I wanted to make a quick post about it before bed. Warlords of Draenor has officially entered the alpha phase of testing. While this testing is obviously very limited, Blizzard chose to share with us a wealth of information today in the form of patch notes, which you can read here.

Unfortunately, while we know there are likely plenty of changes coming to professions, there isn't much that's been shared with us at this point. Given Blizzard's history, this is hardly surprising. Profession changes are usually one of the last things tested. In fact, we've even seen changes in the past that didn't make it onto beta or PTR at all, but were in a patch at release.

Still, what we do know is interesting, if brief. The first thing that immediately caught my attention is the removal of any sort of combat-based perks for professions. In the past, things like Jewelcrafter-only gems or a Blacksmith's extra sockets meant that any raider who wanted to be considered anywhere close to "hardcore" had two maxed professions, and usually crafting professions at that.

The removal of these bonuses may mean that we see fewer people, particularly among raiders, bothering with leveling their professions at all. A reduction in the amount of people who are competition, or who are at least partially self-sufficient instead of being buyers, seems likely to be a positive change overall, for those of us still willing to put in the work.

Secondly, Blizzard apparently felt that certain major glyphs were too expensive for leveling characters, while presumably also being essential parts of the class and/or spec. To that end, certain major glyphs will be learned automatically at levels 25, 50, and 75. The list of those glyphs can be found here.

It's hard to say what effect these changes will have on the glyph market. On the one hand, it flat out reduces the number of glyphs available to sell. On the other hand, these certainly aren't always going to be the exact glyphs someone wants, and it may be that getting these certain glyphs automatically will cause a new player, or someone leveling an alt, to start thinking about glyphs earlier than they might otherwise.

One thing's for sure, though. You don't want to be caught with a large stock of those glyphs when patch 6.0 launches. Now, assuming the patch launches about a month before the expansion, we've still got a good 5 months at even the most hopeful estimates, so you certainly shouldn't go out and have a fire sale right away. If you're someone that's making a stack or more of every glyph, though, you may want to consider gradually cutting back on your restock quantity for those particular glyphs.

Lastly, we'll be seeing a slight change to the way Herbalism and Mining work. You can read the official notes here, but the long and short of it seems to indicate the catch-up systems implemented in Pandaria for those professions were successful. Currently, no matter what your Herbalism and Mining skill, as long as you have those professions, you can gather in Pandaria. Below 525, you'll see a reduced output, generally in the form of "fragments" of the ore or herb in question. In 6.0, Blizzard will be adapting this mechanism to work for Mining and Herbalism all over the world. Any herb or ore in the game will be able to be gathered at any skill level, with a reduced output if your skill level is less than what would have previously been required.

It's a good system, in my opinion. With the increased speed of leveling, trying to keep pace on a profession as you leveled was a daunting task, and often a waste of time. The Pandaria changes were good, but often meant that if one wanted gathering professions, the best thing to do was just ignore them until Pandaria. This probably wasn't what Blizzard wanted, and may have reduced the already unpredictable supply of old world ore and herbs. Ideally, this change will help keep those supplies from dwindling too much.

Hopefully, there will be much more in profession news to come, as we progress through alpha and into beta. I'm particularly interested to see how they interact with Garrisons (another feature with very little news, as it isn't yet being tested). For now, though, all we can do (again) is wait.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nothing Ventured - Hardened Obsidium Set

Greetings, gold makers. I hope you've all been having a great week, what with the unexpected boon of WoD pre-orders, and the boosted 90s that come with them, going live. I've definitely been having a good week. Glyphs have been particularly productive, but everything's been selling more, even some of my crafted PvP gear.

I have to admit, I'm a bit stumped at that one. The 476 gear I can understand, especially if someone wants to actually PvP with that boosted character. It may be slightly lower item level than the 483 gear they start with, but it's blue instead of green, it's got sockets, and it's got PvP Power, plus PvP oriented set bonuses. What I don't really get is why the 458 gear's seen an upswing. Maybe people who want to get that character into PvP, but don't have the gold to fork over for the 476 items? I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth; I just wish I knew the logic behind why it's selling.

Still, even if existing markets are doing better than they have any right to be at this point in an expansion cycle, it's still good to branch out. Finding those extra little niches can help sprinkle a little bit extra on top of the bounty we're already getting. Most crafted items like this, especially, are hard to argue against, since the time investment is minimal. Set them up in a TSM group, assign crafting and auctioning operations, and they pretty much take care of themselves in the course of your normal restocking routine.

So, you know what that means. It's time for another part of my new series:

Nothing Ventured

Today's Item: Hardened Obsidium Set

For the second installment in this series, I really wanted to find something for my Blacksmith. It's arguably one of the less inspiring professions, having less non-gear options for high sellers than its armor making siblings, Leatherworking and Tailoring. With the crafted PvP gear no longer selling nearly as well as it had prior to 5.4, my Blacksmith was hit the hardest.

I was having a conversation with my partner the other day, and he mentioned that back around the end of Cataclysm, he used to make the Hardened Obsidium set for leveling tanks. He wondered whether or not there was still a market for them, and I'll admit that I started out skeptical.

Now, I know leveling gear still works as a market. Even with the boosted 90s available, there are still plenty of people leveling the old-fashioned way. Jim over at Power Word Gold is known for doing a bunch of business in the 77-80 Catacylsm greens market, for example. The Hardened Obsidium set, however, all requires level 80, so it can't be used to blast through the last bit of Wrath content. It's a perfect starter tank set for Cataclysm content, but the gearing landscape has changed since then, right? After all, we've got heirlooms that go to 85 now. We've also got vendors at the start of the Cataclysm zones that sell level appropriate gear, a la Mists of Pandaria.

Those are both true, yes, but there are some caveats. Many people haven't bothered to upgrade their heirlooms, so for them, the party still stops at 80. For another thing, particularly for a tank, dungeons are definitely the quickest way to go. Cataclysm dungeons are likely the first area where a leveling player will hit a roadblock, as they require a certain item level to queue. Not only are there likely to be gaps in a  person's current gear, but heirlooms count as item level 1 for these purposed.

Of course, as mentioned before, there are the vendors in the Cataclysm starting zones that sell starting gear, of item level 232 (actually the exact same gear given to Scroll of Resurrection 80s). Now, that's super and all, but the Harden Obsidium set is 289 (and the helm and shoulders are 308 blues). Definitely a much nicer starting point, and if the tank buying them does have heirlooms that scale to 85, these pieces are much more likely to let him keep some or all of them while he queues up for the initial Cataclysm dungeons.

Now for the best news. There's no reason you can't start making these immediately, because they're all trainer patterns. The whole set can be easily learned from any Blacksmithing Trainer, and in fact, is probably sitting in your profession tab unnoticed.

Here's exactly what to look for:
The materials are pretty straightforward, with all pieces taking Folded Obsidium (made via your Blacksmithing with 2 Obsidium Bars). Some pieces also take Elementium Bars. In addition, the bracers require an Elemental Flux. This is a vendor item, but be aware that it is only sold by Blacksmithing Supplies vendors, not general Trade Supplies vendors.

Anyway, that's going to do it for today. Give a try, and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Warlords of Draenor Pre-Orders are Here!

Just a quick post to make sure you know that today marked the start of pre-orders for Warlord of Draenor. Those that pre-order (as well as those who purchase one separately) get their level 90 boost right now.

What does this mean for us as gold makers? Start pumping out those gems, enchants, consumables, and even glyphs. Also, be prepared for tomorrow to quite possibly be a bit heavier in the gear enhancement markets than even a typical Tuesday.

That's all for now. Gotta get working!

Addendum: Just to be clear, the boosted 90s will receive a set of 483 gear and Embersilk Bags, so don't bother pushing bags or crafted PvP gear.

Nothing Ventured - Royal Scribe's Satchel

As gold makers, our biggest threat may not be what you think it is. It's not competition. It's not markets collapsing. It's not a bot constantly undercutting. It's the threat of stagnation, of getting into a rut where once we find something that works, we put our blinders on and zero in on that specific routine.

Now, don't get me wrong. You can still make gold that way. Diversification, though, is definitely your friend. A profitable market that you're not in is money money left on the table.

To that end, I'm starting what I hope to be a new series, called Nothing Ventured. It's a shorter segment that I hope I'll be able to add more often than a standard blog post. It'll feature a quick suggestion of an item you may not be making, usually something I just recently added or re-added to my routine. You may or may not already be making it. It even may or may not be profitable on your server. I obviously can't make any guarantees, but hopefully something in this series will spark an idea.

Today's item came from the fact that one of my banks has dozens of stacks of Inferno Ink sitting around. It's the Royal Scribe's Satchel, made with Leatherworking. Introduced in Cataclysm, it's still the largest Inscription bag at 36 slots. Anyone who makes a lot of glyphs can tell you exactly how useful it is to be able to store more of them, so these bags are a hot seller to those wanting to enter the glyph market.

Now, with this and many other Cataclysm recipes, the blessing and the curse of it is that it's gated behind the Molten Front dailies. For those of you who may not have been playing at the time, the Molten Front was a daily hub introduced with the Firelands raid in patch 4.2. Each daily completed there gives you a Mark of the World Tree, a currency required to unlock further quests in the chain. Unlocking further parts of the chain would unlock new daily hubs, one-time quests, and most importantly for our purposes, vendors.

It's a blessing for gold makers because gated content like this means that not many people stuck with it through the month or so required to unlock everything. It's a curse because, well, it takes a month or so to unlock everything. The vendor you're looking for is named Ayla, and requires you to have unlocked both the Druids of the Talon and Shadow Wardens quests.

This recipe is Bind on Pickup, so be sure to do these quests on your Leatherworker. The last thing you want is to spend a month doing this, only to realize you're on the wrong character.

The materials required for the bag are 3 Inferno Inks and 3 Pristine Hides. Be sure you save everything you can on mat costs by checking your different options for obtaining them. In addition to buying them straight from the AH, Inferno Inks can be bought from the Ink Vendor for 10 Ink of Dreams each, and Pristine Hides can be purchased from the Leatherworking Supplies vendor for 10 Heavy Savage Leather, which can in turn be created from 5 Savage Leather each. Looking up Royal Scribe's Satchel on your realm on The Undermine Journal will usually give a good idea, at a glance, of which is cheapest, but keep in mind that market price doesn't necessarily tell you what the lowest priced good is.

I hope you've enjoyed this new segment. Hopefully I'll have something for you next time that doesn't require a month-long grind of dailies, but this was the first thing I pulled out of my head. If you found this helpful, or have a suggestion for a future Nothing Ventured segment, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The More Things Change...

So, as many of you know, it's been a while since I was last active in gold making. When I left, the game was still in the doldrums of patch 5.3. Throne of Thunder and the Thunder Isle were getting a bit stale, Battlefield Barrens wasn't having the longevity the developers hoped, and patch 5.4 had yet to grace us with its presence.

Even though it was only one patch ago, quite a few things have changed, both in the landscape of the game, and thus the overall landscape of gold making, and for myself personally. Things aren't what they once were, and that's required adjustment, for good or ill. So, what exactly has changed, and how have I been dealing with it?

Timeless Isle

My nemesis

One of the biggest features of patch 5.4 is the Timeless Isle, a new "free-form" exploration experience using what Blizzard learned from Battlefield Barrens, with item level 496 gear (and 535 if you're lucky) to be found therein. It's a big change in the non-raiding experience of the game, and most players either love it or hate it.

Personally, I'm pretty firmly on the "hate it" side of things, both as a player in general, and as a gold maker in particular. As a player, I'm one of those that needs some structure in my play experience. It's the reason I struggle maintaining interest in games like Minecraft and Terraria that have no real "goal" other than what the player decides their goal is. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a fan of too much linearity, either (Final Fantasy XIII, the interactive cutscene). Something with a balance is best, and grinding mobs while rushing from rare to rare (only to find them dead long before I get there, unless I'm very close when they spawn) is not my idea of a fun time.

That wouldn't bother me, however, if it weren't for the effects the Timeless Isle has on the gold making game. First and foremost, its easy access to item level 496 gear, along with the lack of new crafted PvP recipes with the new PvP season in 5.4.7, has taken the crafted PvP gear market out back and put it out of its misery. Hell, I just got through saying how much I hate the Timeless Isle, and I still take my alts there for some easy gear.

The crafted PvP gear was never an amazing market. It certainly was no glyphs or gems or enchanting. It made a decent, predictable profit, though, and with very little effort needed to maintain it. That's not to say that the pieces never sell now, nor that they aren't necessarily profitable. What it does mean, however, is that they sell infrequently enough that I've had to drastically cut back on my stock. Without doing that, I'd be losing money on, of all things, posting fees.

However, Blizzard's decisions are not the only things to which I've needed to adjust. Some come from the community itself.

TSM 2.0

When I left, TradeSkillMaster 2.0 was in beta. I'll admit, now, that it would have probably been beneficial to participate in the beta, to learn how to adjust to the changes sooner than later. At the time, however, I told myself that I didn't have the time. Of course, I don't have any more time now, but it's not like me of last year could have possibly known that, right?

There are definitely some things I like about TSM 2. I can use things like percentage of crafting cost or market price without having to put each individual item in its own group. Retrieving mats I need from the bank is often a matter of a single click. Pricing has a bit more flexibility.

So what don't I like? The new design just seems to add a fair amount of extra complexity for the sake of complexity. TSM has never been the easiest add-on to simply pick up and use, and it often intimidated many people, but it was still straightforward enough that with enough practice and reading of tooltips, it wasn't that difficult to learn. Now, so many functions are different from what they used to be that when I first opened up TSM upon coming back to the game, I literally could not figure out how to make it work. I'm very thankful for the video guides Phat Lewts has made, and with those, I've managed to get settled in, but I still feel like it shouldn't have been as difficult as it was.

Personal Changes

On a more personal level, it's been a bit of a struggle getting back into the gold making game. Back in 5.2 and 5.3, in an attempt to give our struggling raid group whatever help I could, I was watching the Black Market Auction House like a hawk. I bought a few pieces of gear from there, not only for me, but for some of our core raiders as well. That took me from comfortably over gold cap to about 300k gold across all my characters on my main server...and all for a raid group that ended up falling apart anyway.

Now, I don't necessarily begrudge the expense. All of the people I actually bought for were people I'd consider friends still, despite the fact that we're not raiding. And at a certain point, making gold starts to seem pointless if you don't spend any of it. It's just that looking at where I was then, compared to where I am now, it seems like an awfully long climb to get back there.

What didn't help matters, either, was that I was gone long enough for my entire stock of goods on the AH to not only expire, but disappear from my mail. Getting my stock back to reasonable levels was a costly investment, and one that I've only started to recover from in the last week or two.

I also have, for whatever reason (likely shuffle related), a bank full of enchanting materials. There were about 5,000 Spirit Dust in my Enchanter's bank, along with proportionate amounts of Mysterious Essence and Ethereal Shards. It would be tempting, seeing as I'd completely forgotten about them, to see them as a windfall, but if I'm going to be honest, they're a loss. I presumably got them from disenchanting the jewelry I produced when shuffling Ghost Iron Ore, back when DEing those made sense. Nowadays,at least on my server, you're far better off vendoring everything but the rares, given how far enchanting mat prices have fallen. Still, looking at the bright side, at least I don't foresee having to buy more enchanting materials for quite a while, which saves time, if nothing else.


Despite all of this, though, I'm still plugging away, not spending too much time with it each day, but still turning a decent profit (currently about 7.5k a day, according to TSM Accounting). I probably could be doing better, and plan to look into some less obvious markets as we get further into the end-of-expansion lull, but given the minimal amount of time investment, it's not bad, either.

For all that the changes since I left have required adjustment on my part, and for all that I've felt the need to rant about said changes, the basic premise of my gold making remains the same. Find things I can make at a profit, and make them consistently. Expand as more sells. Always keep looking into new or underexplored markets. Make profit, and reinvest that profit.

In the end, it really is like the old saying goes. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Long time, no see, gold makers. As I sit here writing this post, I'm painfully aware that it's been almost 8 months since I last wrote anything on this blog. That in itself isn't so remarkable. I took a break from the game, and honestly, I wasn't even sure if I was coming back. What's less understandable, I would even say inexcusable, is that I never told anyone reading this blog that I was going.

I'm almost as sorry as my Paladin's transmog (and couldn't think of another picture to use)

There was nothing dramatic or earth-shattering about why I left. After playing almost uninterrupted since late Burning Crusade, I was just tired of the game. Nothing was necessarily wrong with it, but my life was changing. Hell, I was changing. When I left WoW, for once I meant it when I said "It's not you; it's me."

Things with my guild didn't help either, but it was nothing any of them did. We'd transferred from a dying server to one of the biggest PvE servers, hoping it'd be easier to recruit there. What we actually found was that, especially after falling behind due to our various issues in the previous tier, no one wanted to give us a chance. This meant it wasn't at all uncommon to end up pugging the last two or three slots in a 10-man group. Our other tank and I were solid, so at least we only needed DPS and occasionally a healer, but it still wasn't fun, and made progression difficult, to say the least.

At the same time I was getting tired of WoW, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was nearing launch. I'd played some beta, and was interested enough to pre-order for early access. I actually didn't stick with that game for long, but it distracted me enough that when I logged on one raid night and only half our group was online, my partner and I both finally said "screw it" and started our break.

If you're still reading at this point, you may be happy to know there's good news. I've come back to the game, albeit in a much more casual, limited capacity. There were quite a few factors: BlizzCon, a glut of unexpected free time around the holidays, the fact that I still follow a few gold makers, etc.

Still, I initially didn't know if I wanted to continue with the blog. I'm just getting back into things. I'm playing on a more casual basis. There are plenty of times I just don't have much to say.

Two things influenced my decision the most. Firstly, one of my favorite gold bloggers, Faid, returned from quitting the game. She's also taking a much more casual approach, not just to her playtime, but also to her blog. Frankly, I like her new attitude on blogging. It's something she does first and foremost for herself now, and if someone is helped or entertained by reading it, more power to them. I highly recommend you give her a look at She's a very intelligent and entertaining person, and someone I admire very much.

Secondly, I've been listening to quite a few podcasts on the subject of gold making (and there are certainly many more than there were even a year ago). Things have changed enough since I left that I sometimes find myself floundering, and ideas are always helpful. Jim Younkin of Power Word Gold has a relatively new side venture called The GLDMKR Podcast. It's produced daily(ish), but each one is very easily digestible at about 5 minutes. I was getting caught up on that, and got to Episode 9. It was definitely different, with Jim launching right into a lengthy list of names for almost the entire episode. Near the end of it, I was surprised to catch my own name. Only at the end did he finally explain that this was a list of all the people who have started gold blogs in the last 3 years. Jim, if you end up reading this, I just want you to know that hearing that meant a lot to me.

In the end, I decided to shake the dust off the blog and continue it. What does it matter if my posting schedule is inconsistent, if I get busy sometimes, or don't have anything in particular to say? It's not about making someone else happy or living up to their expectations. It's about me, reflecting on my journey. If someone finds any information in it that helps them, that's great. If they don't, they don't. In the end, it's not about them.

This is my story.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

(Now I want that FFX HD remaster. Is it March 18 yet?)

Friday, July 19, 2013

20 Days of Gold Making, Day 4 - The Cautionary Tale of the Neglected Alt

Evening, folks. I apologize that it's been longer than expected since my last post, but you know how that pesky "real life" thing can get. My time for WoW in general got sporadic for a bit, and when that happens, the attention I give the blog also tends to suffer.

Anyway, I thought I'd finally dive back into Nev's "20 Days of Gold Making" topics. Why, then, did I skip from day number 2 to day number 4? Well, first of all, day number 3's question is about strategies when first starting out, which I plan on discussing further when I get into some "Back to Basics" sort of posts. Secondly, I had a...learning experience today that related to day 4's question.

So, without further delay...

4. Do you use a banker alt/guild? When did you start doing that & why?

When I first started out, I used my main, my Druid, as a banker. I had things down to a general process, for each day, which would go something like this:
  1. Use any daily cooldowns on crafting alts
  2. Check Druid's mail
  3. Post anything that had expired
  4. Queue up the various professions' Restock queues in TSM
  5. Shop for all the mats
  6. Send the mats off to the various crafting alts
  7. Hop onto each crafting alt and do the actual crafting
  8. Mail everything back to the Druid
  9. Have the Druid post everything
That actually wasn't as much work as it seems. Steps 6 and 8 were also made much easier than they would otherwise be by the use of TSM Mailing. Still, not everything was perfect there. Step 6 in particular became much more complicated when two of my crafting alts needed the same mat. Herbs, ore, and especially the various Volatiles (thankfully gone in MoP) were common offenders there. I couldn't set TSM Mailing up to mail some of an item to one alt and some to another. (At least as far as I know. If anyone knows differently, please let me know.)

The other problem was the sheer amount of mail for the Druid to sort through in steps 2 and 8. Postal helped with that, of course, but bag space was still an issue, not to mention that only 50 items can be displayed in the mail at once. I would spend very long stretches of time going between long stints of mail opening and long post scans on TSM.

In addition, the fact that my Druid was the one with 99% of the gold wasn't ideal. The crafting alts may not have been really interacting with the Auction House at all, but many of them still needed vendor mats. Most notable was my Jewelcrafter. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Jeweler's Settings add up, and the vendor value of cut Zephyrites wasn't cutting it. Having to send more gold his way every so often was a bit of a pain.

There were other, more subjective problems with the arrangement, as well. Most notably, I just felt like I was spending so much time hopping between characters as opposed to how much time I was spending actually doing something. Granted, this was before I got my first solid state drive, so load times were longer, but the feeling likely would have been there regardless.

All in all, I like the way I do things now better. Almost everything is handled on the character that crafts it. Mats a character acquires that they have no use for (like cloth on anyone but my tailor) gets sent off to the appropriate characters, but otherwise, each character is mostly independent. Each handles his or her own mail, buying, crafting, selling, etc.

Honestly, it solves most of the problems of the other method quite well. Each character's mail load remains relatively small (except my Scribe, but that's the nature of that profession, really). I have TSM set to not count any other character's inventory, so it doesn't matter that, say, my Scribe and my Alchemist both have herbs. Each character handles their own gold, and is thus quite unlikely to go broke. (In fact, it often makes it much easier to get an at-a-glance idea of whether a segment of the business is profitable.) I probably spend about the same amount of time "toon hopping", but it feels like less, because I'm stopping and doing quite a bit between each hop.

It should be noted, however, that this system is not without its drawbacks. Unfortunately, I discovered one of them the hard way today. In cases where you just plain get very busy for a while, it can be surprisingly easy to leave a character alone for too long.

Under the current system, I'll start at the top of my list of characters, finish all of that person's crafting and posting needs, then move on to the next. Time has been limited lately, so I haven't always been making it all the way down the list. Still, I'd start from the top each day. I figured there would be so little needing to be done on those characters near the top that I'd still make my way down the list in good time.

I was corrected today, when I finally logged onto my Death Knight, who happens to be my Tailor and Enchanter. All of the greens I had sent from my Jewelcrafter recently were there in his mailbox...but nothing else was. It took me a while to realize what had happened, but finally, I figured it out. It had actually been more than 30 days since the last time I had logged onto that character to check his mail. As a result, every single mail message, whether it be gold from auctions that had sold, or items from auctions that had expired, was gone.

The tailoring stock wasn't a big deal. Cloth is still dirt cheap, for the most part, so I was able to restock fairly easily. Enchanting was another matter entirely. I don't exactly mass produce the high-end weapon and bracer enchants, since they're fairly slow sellers, comparatively. I usually only keep 3 of each in stock. Still, restocking those all at once meant needing almost 150 Sha Crystals, which are currently running between 200 and 300 gold each on my server. I was honestly tempted to wait until 5.4, when they would be much easier to mass produce (more on that in a future post), but ultimately, I decided to take the chance at profit now, particularly since we have no idea when 5.4 will actually go live.

Was it something I could afford? Yes, of course. Was it something I was happy about? Absolutely not!

Still, there's nothing to be done for it now. No amount of fretting will magically bring back what was lost. I just have to move forward and take it for what it is: a learning experience.