Monday, November 25, 2013

Why grind it if you won't spend it?

One of the interesting things about 5.4 is that the brakes were sort of hit when it came to just making truckloads of gold on a daily basis off the staple markets.  That is if it's me and my overpopulated server where everyone is doing the basic markets.  I know lots of you are still getting great numbers on gems and enchants, which are staple products for most AH farms.  I have characters on other servers, and yes, 200g for a gem makes my mouth water.  Amusingly, my staple products (non-gems, non-enchants, non-glyphs) are still selling quite well.  But reality is, the more populated your server the more downward pressure there is on pricing of most everything. 

This is not an unusual phenomenon, since in the real world, whenever there is a free market that is also free of price fixing (cartels conspiring to keep prices at an artificial level), you will always see a race to the bottom as people try to make their products as cheap as possible.  Eventually, the raw material suppliers determine the price of goods as VARs (Value Added Resellers) take a smaller and smaller cut off the top.  This is where certain traders I know take over the entire AH's supply, making the AH their personal guild bank because the money is better in volume than in one time sales.

Are you unfamiliar with who you are in this situation?  If you're buying ores/herbs/cloths/reagents, the seller of those products is the material supplier.  You are nothing more than a VAR.  Ultimately the only value you are adding is your time converting those products into end goods.  The more you control the channel in this situation, the better your profits will look.  You are merely trading your time to do it, so it's not free. 

I tend to command a minimum of 50% ROI on a finished product before I'll make it, and 20% for products that are a bit exceptional.  The reason is I'm a Power-VAR, I buy so much in raw materials on a daily basis that my time is best spent only working with those products that will net me the highest possible return (on the day), rather than just take the shotgun approach and make every flipping thing TSM says to make.  Again, I still use my spreadsheet over anything TSM or Auctionator says, I utilize fixed costs so I can keep from selling myself broke and running out of materials and hitting a dry streak and it enables me to do some very interesting calculations you won't find in your local addons.  For example, I hit a dry spell here on well priced cloth.  It took me a week to get back into the market because demand was higher than my supply.  I sold everything at standard margins but costs rose while mat supply was down, so I found myself not making anything in one market until I could rebuild an inventory.  Right now I'm overstocked in that same market, but you have to make hay while the sun shines so to speak.

So for all of you people who are playing on soon to be fused realms, this is the economic phenomenon you need to become familiar with.  Right now on the low/med population realms, you have people running sheer monopolies, or competing with only 1-2 people daily.  People on these realms talk about "friending" competitors.  That doesn't happen over here, I'd run out of slots in just one category.  If they fuse them right, you'll see prices drop because there's more supply, more people will be interested in farming when there's not just one guy buying all the ores, and you'll need to track the other stuff just like me.

And as they fuse servers, guess what probably will start cropping up on your otherwise dead server?  A better way to spend those millions and not at the BMAH.

I know you have millions laying around, but...

This drives me nuts, but much like the pandapeople ask "Why do we fight?" every person who grinds gold needs to ask "Why do we grind?"

It comes down to:
1) To be Scrooge McDuck/Walter White and count it up so you can leave it to your heirs who will be ungrateful and spend it for you, or to let it rot.
2) To play the meta game and play Gordon Gecko, spending it on lavish things that you want and others can only dream of having
3) Security, having enough to do what you want in the game
4) To fund the efforts of everyone else because you are the only one in the guild who has an IQ above 'talking monkey' and can push Craft Next and Post Auctions in rapid succession better than them (also making you the white knight and everyone in the guild beholden to you!)
5) Nefarious reasons
6) To buy the services of others, giving you purchasing power.

I like #2 and #6, and it's really the reason I grind.  Let's go with that.

If you're me, the idea of not spending your in-game gold is ridiculous.  I'm always on the lookout for new gold dumps.  I hit the 1 million mark at the conclusion of Wrath, and since that time have made and spent millions on both worthy and frivolous things.  I have to say that spending gold is far more fun to me (I get a bigger thrill out of spending 300k than seeing a 50k auction sell).  You see the fruits of your labor pay off.  It brings a smile to my face when I'm rolling around in something new.  Just like real life, it's nice to save money, but even more fun to have the excess to do something fun.  I could wax about how you can't take it with you, but I won't.

I have spent several weeks waiting my turn to go into a GDKP run hosted by my server's top guilds.  I know I'm normally critical of high end raiders for not hiring me as their financial adviser but I got my vindication.  I got to go in and have my way with the loot and the competition, and it was yummy.

GDKP runs, for those who have been under a rock since about Wrath, are simple:

* Top players want your gold and invite you to spend it on gear, mounts, and achievements in current or recent content while raiding with them.  The money spent goes into a pot and the pot is split at the end.  Everyone wins. *

The GDKP runs use gold as your currency.  Not loot rolls, no MS>OS bullshit, not attendance, nothing more than the coin in your pocket determines if you are entitled to that gear.  That's the fairest and most capitalistic system in the history of MMO gaming, and the Koreans were the ones who started it way back when and it took a long time to really catch on in the US servers.

They are mostly meant for gearing up alts, or retaining certain items you can't normally get like Heroic pieces or mounts.  Conversely, if you don't regularly raid or are having problems getting into an adequate guild because of gear (and don't feel like wiping on Immerseus with the (Raid With Friends) guild), this is your golden ticket.  There's nothing wrong with raiding the AH weekly and then getting the stuff you want in one night.

For someone like me, the feeling I get in runs like this is sort of akin to hitting the lottery and heading to the nearby Ferrari dealership - "Hell, I can't decide!  I'll take one of each!"  And you get all the red carpet treatment, especially from the otherwise pompous salesman who will gladly arrange to carry your wallet to the management office.

I can live out my lootwhoring fantasy because I'm richer than 99.999% of other players and gold to me is at a point of being pointless because I have so much sitting idle - and I am WILLING to spend it.  I'm a GDKP RL's dream customer.  And yes, I said it, I'm part of the 0.001%.  Now get those protesters off my lawn.  You too, cute Night Elf, I know you're really a dude.

In the past few months I've dropped a million (easy) on battle pets.  I bought some stupid mounts I didn't feel like grinding out off the BMAH (I don't even use the things... I like the Ashes that dropped for me on kill #3).  I have every TCG mount.  I now have 17x 90s all with their 310 flying and some nice gear, and I still have a warchest that will never spend itself in 10 more years of playing WoW.   I also have the capacity to replenish whatever I spend in a reset or two (maybe three, depending how bad I get).

It's mindblowing to me (see a previous post on Gold Cap and why it's full of shit) that people still think 250k or even a million is a lot of gold right now.  At this point, acquiring 100k is not too hard.  Getting to 1 million can take a little while and a friendly market, and getting to 10 million or more is merely a matter of time, patience, and being able to punch yourself in the head.  Note: I do not have the 10 million mark liquid, yes I suck, I know, I keep spending it.  But I'm saying, they throw the stuff at you.  If you do 25 dailies per day at 90, after 100 days you will have 100,000 gold.  Not even joking, there are people that do this.

I got to go last night, spend several hundred thousand, and walk out a better man for it.  It's been a while since I got to go hogwild in a GDKP run, but dammit I got up this morning feeling much better.  Sadly, not everything I wanted dropped.  Doesn't it suck?  Rich enough to buy all of Azeroth, but still not richer than the RNG gods.

GDKP Etiquette (From My Perspective)

I had a brief chat with the raid leader last night, and honestly, it appears people need a good talking to about how to act in these things.  If you're invited to attend a GDKP raid, to make it fun for the people running the show and to encourage them to continue the runs, you should always follow some basic rules.

* The run is not a free carry.  Unless you're in a top guild on your server or there to put up top 5 DPS and take a cut of the pie, your role here is to buy gear.  Not bidding or taking gear is an insult.  You won't be handed any gear that nobody wants, those become shards.

* The bankroll you state and show is on the table.  If you tell the raid leader you are bringing 250k/500k/1 million, you are expected to use it.  Further, you are expected to bid it.  Don't say "I am looking to spend 500k" and then bid 5k and stop.  That's just being a jerk. When you want something, man up and put up a bid.  Knock the others in the teeth with big, fat increments.  Own that gear.  Show off when it comes to bidding, the raid leaders will appreciate that and want you to come back again because they aren't here for their health, they're here for their wealth and they are watching you.

Example of how to bid (sorry, screenshots would be awesome here but meh):

Raid Leader:  [Piece of the Awesome Awesomeness], 10k minimum, this is BIS!
Raider 1:  10k
Raider 2: 11k
Raider 3: 13k!
Raider 4: 16k
Me:  50k
Raider 4:  Fuck, not getting that one I guess.
Raider 5: 51k
Me: 65k
Raider 5: Pass

Bam, just landed a BIS for 65k.  Did I overpay?  Hardly.  It's worth every copper to me because I don't care about gold.  A night's worth of AH sales gets me something that could take weeks of raiding and a possible spot in a regular run with a guild.  For sure, they may be getting you to bid more, but who cares?  If you have the problem where you might run out of money because someone bids you up, you don't really belong at that table in the first place, right?  Further, you could always stick them with it. 

* Realize that gold is just pixelated money.  It's not REAL.  To paraphrase Warren Beatty from Bugsy, "Who cares?  It's only dirty pixels, I'll make more".  Like professional gamblers, have a healthy disrespect for the value of gold.  If you're someone who says "that's too much gold", you're not doing this right and GDKP may not be up your alley.  Be known as the guy with too much gold and a psycho bidding style, you'll get invited back to get everything you want.  Remember, it's just a game, not like you have to go home with these people.

* If you can't afford to blow your gold like a champion, then you're in trouble.  Sure, you can make it like a champion, but can you spend it like one, too?  I take a percentage of my wealth to these things, and if you're bringing your entire net worth, you're playing scared.  It's very much like poker, and you have every right to buy the pot and bully the weak.  Trash bids are for wimps.  Who do you think the raid leaders cheer more?  Some coward that pulls back after 20k or the guy who opens everything they want at 50k?

* Play your class optimally or as optimally as you can.  Don't play like you just picked up the game and haven't read anything.  See "Not a Carry" above.  Don't make them kick you or cut your share for being a hindrance.  Being at least competitive with DPS is good, being consistently at the bottom with 80k is bad.

* If you are unfamiliar with a strat they are using or need to know your duties, ask.  Don't cause unnecessary wipes because repair bills for the leaders are not why they are there.  Have a good idea of the fight mechanics before going.

* Have Ventrillo or Mumble installed and join the server and channel you are asked to join.  Don't be that shy asshole who "wasn't in vent".  Along those lines, keep communication clear and concise.  Don't troll or spam vent.  Be respectful of the raid, these are people trying to provide a service, not babysit.

* Tears for losing gear are not appreciated by anyone.  Proclaiming that others are taking your gear is something best left for a PUG Master Looter MS>OS run.  Spamming winning bidders is also not a good idea unless it's a simple "grats".  I know if you piss me off in a run, you will never get another piece we both want.  You know the consolation prize waiting for these people?  "Sorry you aren't rich, bid more".

* Make certain that if you are on a wait list, that you follow up with the raid leaders.  Ask why you are sat.  Is it gold?  Experience level?  Class?  Role?  Are they gearing their alts so they can do more runs?  Update them with how much you are bringing and when you get your shot, hit the gas and leave a trail of fire in your wake.

* Do your best to get invited back or to better runs.  How do you do this?  Play well, bid well, take home gear.

Tip for the week-
"Gear is temporary, gold is forever if you know what you're doing, and pride is not just for Shas."

I hope to see you again sooner rather than later, things are rather busy around these parts between work and new content.  Hopefully we can discuss Blizzcon and what it means sometime, I have lots of things I saw there that I hated and liked, and we need to hammer them out before they patch this thing and release Warlords.

Thanks for stopping in!

- Zerohour

Sunday, September 8, 2013

5.4 Release Notes

Those of you that endured the summer of discontent and got to see a long summer where there really wasn't any massive goldmaking to be had have been waiting for Tuesday.  Before I share my thoughts, a quick aside.

Back in late June, I really got into pet battling.  So much so that as of this writing I'm #25 on Illidan on Warcraft Pets.  Notice I don't collect trash pets like the majority (trash being poors to uncommons just to have them), I collect rares or those pets that are very desired by breed, thus making me a true blueblood pet breed snob from hell.  Part of the beauty of being someone with truckloads of gold across multiple servers and not giving a crap anymore is that I can shop bargains for Battle Stones and build a stable of pets that I really want!  Additionally, I love leveling them.  And thanks to Battle Pets I now have:

* 4 more 90s leveled for a total of 15 (started pet dailies at 85-87, amazing easy xp)
* Several characters on my main server with over 1000 lesser charms.  In fact, in total, I'm sitting at over 3000.
* Something fun to do between queues

The lesser charm one I thought was amusing.  I have enough charms to do Greater Charm turn-ins for 20 solid weeks.  That's 60 bonus rolls in the upcoming raids.  I stopped at over 1000 on each just because the number sounded good. 

I figured out the majority of the mechanics behind PvE, and have some very interesting information I haven't seen elsewhere with readers.  I just have to actually do it - and between my new job and doing everything I like to do when I'm not working, honestly the last thing I think about is writing anything.

So...  5.4 comes out Tuesday.  Garrosh finally goes down, and he's only been hated since every Horde player hit Nagrand over 6 years ago.  I hope he dies well.  That is, you see him explode into bits and pieces and Thrall takes a piss on his ashes and Jaina launches the rest of him into the sun with a cannon as payback for Theramore.  I would demand playback on that cinematic for a month.  I haven't really been reading patch notes, I like surprises.  But if this happens then I guess I think like a Blizz dev.

Something all of you should keep in mind:

* Littering the AH the minute the servers come up with PvE gems and enchants is probably stupid * 

No, it IS stupid.  Even dumber will be camping the AH cancel/reposting.  Just like 5.2 release, there is no LFR until week 2.  And even more similar, the LFR is staggered again over 6 weeks.  The audience in the first week will be those people who are raiding the very first tier of the new content, so unless you're trying to sell to guilds like Blood Legion or Method or Midwinter or other major progression guilds (who probably all have their own people lined up to supply them within their own guilds), there's really no target audience the first week.

LFR is huge business.  The vast, vast majority of players in game today are using LFR as their chief source of "raiding".  I don't care how you feel one way or another about the mechanic, it's here to stay because it's the best possible method for Blizzard to offer content to everyone, offer effective catchup mechanics, and make people feel like they are progressing.  Therefore, this is the target for all gold makers because they are probably only running with one 90, no JC/Enchanter, and are working on mining because they need money.

PvP will be a different matter.  Players that are still into that aspect of the game will probably be cashing in Honor the first week, so these are going to be your real focus.

I say all this, and I know everyone reading is probably mindlessly clicking Restock/Craft Next without paying attention to what the actual prices or opportunities are.  Be smart, make more.

I personally hope everyone that doesn't have 2 brain cells to rub together posts everything and sells out the first week and either breaks even or worse (while they destroy another keyboard with all the drool), the real gold is going to be made in weeks #2 and #3.  Hope you have a stockpile like me!

If anything, you should have a nice Sha Crystal stockpile set up.  Unless there's a cheese mechanic to get them for free.  And then you're screwed!

Stockpiling for 6.0

How long will 5.4 be around?  This is the last tier of this expansion, right?  Sure, they may do a minor patch in between now and next release, but the assumption right now is that we'll see the expansion announcement at Blizzcon and then within the next year we'll see the next expansion. 

What this means to you is that there's a window that we'll have to guess at as to how long to be selling and then how long to hold onto things for the next expansion.  Nobody really liked talking about Cata stockpiling, but who today would like to have purchased all the Hypnotic Dust in existence the week before MoP came out?  There are a few things to keep hold of, and we'll figure all that out in the coming months.

Unanswered Questions for 5.4

Are we at a point yet where we can make feasts profitably? 
Will 5.4 give all the cooks that opportunity?
Is anyone still using the Black Market Auction House?
Where the hell are the epic gems?
Is Caverns of Time really finished now?  I mean nobody's said anything since Cata!
Why didn't we get a Pet Battles PvP rating system or ladder?  Seriously?
Are Pet Battles the future of the most rewarding dailies?
How long before they release fused realms and will they finally put the bullet in the head of the worst invention in the history of Warcraft by removing it entirely forever - CRZ?
Why is the item level difference between Heroic and LFR practically in a different expansion tier?  I know, they're gonna "smoosh" stats sometime.
Is anyone interested in teaming up (Horde side) and knocking out previous raid tier achievements?  I was looking at my achievements on my main and got kinda sad!

Have a nice patch!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer sucks

Ok, yeah, those of you who are beach bunnies disagree.  It's a great time to hit the beach, get some rays, take the top off the convertible (yeah, I had a Vette once, I get it), and go outside.

But really.  This is Warcraft.  If 8 years of this crap has taught me anything, it's you may as well go into autopilot when school lets out, because frankly gold grinding at this time is really pretty crappy.  Not only are your guildies out of school, many of your guildies are parents with vacation time saved up.

Bothering to raid or PvP during the summer isn't a bother either.  Blizzard never releases any new "real" content during the summer, which some exceptions:

Patch 1.11 - The original release of Naxxramus, released on the first freaking day of summer.  Really great when you think about it since it was 40 man and in the end gave people 7 months to get everything done before TBC release back when WoW was a real MMO and KT wasn't exactly downed by every top guild on every server.
Patch 3.3.5 - Ruby Sanctum, again 2 days after summer start but a VERY minor patch giving 272 epics to people who replaced them a few months later within 8 hours of playtime.
Patch 4.2 - Firelands release.  Ahhh, yes, the patch that killed my Cata guild because everyone under 23 decided it was "summer break man!"  WoW raiding became dead for me, I went completely PvP for the rest of the expansion.

We are now in 5.3, which means we are in Part 2 of 5.2 which was released in March, which means most "raiders" have really finished the content they want to see.  Those that didn't complete most of Heroic mode by at least late May gave their guys the summer off to go get some sun.  No offense or anything, I was just a hardmode raider when I raided, so I can only believe that anyone who is sitting on 1-3 bosses of ToT in Heroic is probably behind the curve.  How you could stand raiding (since March 5) the same bosses and not able to get Heroics down at this point - what the fuck man?  Seriously, Heroic is the new Normal mode raiding, has been that way since Ulduar.  Just throw in the towel, because really, it sounds like a guild I was in during Molten Core.

Sales of items for alts is obviously the in thing to do.  I've worked this market now for months, and it's produced "decent" sales.  I'm not the most happy, but when 5.4 kicks off I'll have a helluva stockpile ready to go.  Remember, it's all in the stockpile.

For those wondering

I haven't quit, I just stopped giving a shit.  And by that I mean, giving a shit about communicating what I know with the populace.  Total PMs/Emails since May: None.  Yeah, fuck you too.  I go afk for 2 months and nobody asks where's a post?  Guess I don't matter, and that's a good thing.  The feeling's mutual.  Why care?  This game's always gone on summer vacation every Children's Week.

What I have been doing is continuing a project I started last year prior to D3's release.  I'm enjoying it so far.  I'm not going to be talking about it because that would just create competition, but it's producing several hundred thousand per week.  I enjoy doing it.  And that's all that matters.

I'm predicting that this post will be my last for a few weeks, so until then, enjoy the sun.  Get out of your caves and go get a tan.  Life's too short to waste it sitting in front of a monitor when you don't have to.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Experimentation, Another Lost Art

I'm the archeologist of WoW gold making.  Zerohour and the Baddies of the Lost Art.  I'm the guy curating the museum of long forgotten habits and methods.  I had a talk with Profitz this last week and it reminded me that I've been around so long, I should get a PhD in WoW Auction House history.

Something I usually talk with in my circle of gold-making friends is an extremely important aspect of the game - Experimentation.  This is an art, and usually one of the hallmarks of a stellar gold maker. 

Those of you that are looking for techniques usually follow blogs out there that show you a variety of methods; usually cutting gems, flipping xmogs, making and selling glyphs, setting up TSM, your basic BS that everyone does.  Real low information stuff and meant for those that are looking for solid ways to join the herd.  But everything required some experimentation to get to that point, someone got their hands dirty and did some digging, which is essentially research and development.

The process behind the delivery of a technique:

* Selection and analysis of a market (philosophy, creativity, and critical thinking)
* Experimentation (research, problem solving)
* Refinement (development)
* Delivery of the technique (application)

Generally, the vast majority of people trying to learn about gold making are only interested in the last part.  There's two camps in the gold making world - Homo Erectus and Modern Man.  Homo Erectus had the distinction of picking up the stone hand axe and thriving with it, he learned it from his predecessor Homo Habilis, and then proceeded to use it for the next 1 million years without improving it.  He had no imagination, was trapped in the literal world of his own mind and needs, and never thought "What if I was to somehow attach a handle to this thing?"  For him, his life was a daily grind doing the same thing day in and day out because that's what he was taught.  Could you imagine 1 million years of no new or improved technology?  Of course not, it's in our nature to be curious and creatures that want to experiment with building a better mousetrap.  You have an imagination that took millions of years to develop, so don't be a talking monkey.  If you aren't experimenting, then you're not using the best tool set nature gave any animal on earth.

I love finding new things out, and I find them out all the time.  From Vanilla through about Wrath I relied 100% on my own discoveries.  I didn't participate in forums, I didn't read blogs, I just looked up everything on my own and tried and failed many times before I got something to work.  This is why I don't discuss techniques much, and I can assure you that there's a very solid reason why.  Of the things I'm doing today, nobody blogs about them, and I never will because I put the time into finding them out, and why would I want to share a competitive advantage with you?!  I think anyone can respect that, techniques are only good for a short period of time before they become common practice.  If all I did was explain techniques it would be a boring "what will everyone be doing today" blog.

Experimentation keeps the gold engine humming, since it means you're constantly seeking new markets and advantages that are hidden from the general public.  If all you do is wait around on others to pay the freight, you're always the 12th man on the deal team, and you will run into constant competition and be forced into spending abnormal amounts of time in front of the auction house.  Experimenting is essentially what any entrepreneur engages in regularly, looking for little niches that offer the opportunity to make a profit.

A little tangent:  Over on The Consortium, we have an application process for Wind Trader, which is our elite membership rank.  My favorite applications are usually those where the person explains how they've made all their gold with jewelcrafting, glyphs, enchanting, making DMFs, or other such nonsense.  I guess they're equating the rank with total gold earned, because honestly, we don't give a rat's ass about how much gold the person has, only that they are a creative person and can come up with the techniques that everyone will eventually be using ahead of everyone else.  Here's how I handle these apps before letting them know they should continue grinding -

"Please explain to the group here at least one technique or process that you've come up with in your WoW career, how you came up with the idea, and what did you learn?"

This question generally chases them off pretty fast when they realize that we're looking for brains, not a resilient mousewheel finger.  Hell, I don't even care if it was profitable, what I care about most is that the person at least TRIED something different from the pack of talking monkeys who haven't a creative cell in their brain.  For certain, I use my gold to keep score like about anyone else, but if you really want to be cutting edge, you don't do what others do and you delve into the caves that no spelunker has ever considered.  I do it all the time, especially with my multi-server project where I'm fighting all the major auction houses in the US.

This does go back to my spreadsheet argument, where I advise ANYONE looking to make the real gold in this game to learn how to develop one, and then utilize it to locate niche markets.  But this isn't the ONLY thing you should do in the way of experimentation, so let me give you a quick story about when MoP dropped and what I did.

One of my good friends online is Z-Man (or Zamboni).  For weeks after patch, we were sharing information back and forth in-game about things we found.  Neither of us were in the beta, so we were hitting the ground fresh and with no real information except what we saw before us.  For several weeks all we did was experiment with various mob drops, investigate Wowhead, level characters, watch the auctionhouse antics and find out where we needed to be killing certain mobs to get what we were after.  Since both of us are notorious for farming mats for ourselves when we need something, we knew the approximate price and ease with which certain things were available.  One of my favorite things I figured out was that I needed ZERO spirits of harmony to get to 600 on tailoring, leatherworking, and blacksmithing, and in the process discover a lucrative market for the expansion.  I re-leveled skinning on my Jewelcrafter and sent him out on a mission to check leather skin rates and collect meta cut recipes (today that JC is a Blacksmith, too).  All of the little finds we shared back and forth, because we are both heavy into experimenting with things.

Keeping yourself only to MoP content is also not really a good idea, things are constantly being changed and discovered in the game all the time.  The people that investigate different places in the game and think the most creatively are generally going to have an advantage for quite some time.  And to clue you in here - this is a huge game, and was rebooted in Cataclysm which changed almost the entire first incarnation of the game, and there are lots of things to figure out even to this day.

So what's the process for experimenting?

Usually I pick a particular market that I'm working, and see a potential profit to be made in a certain area.  Let's say tailoring, since cloth is generally the most needed.  Can you name for me the best possible areas in the game to locate Linen, Wool, Silk, Mageweave, and Runecloth?  For certain you can buy them off the Auction House, but what if Silk is sitting at 5g a piece?  Are you going to give someone 100g a stack for it?  I know I wouldn't.  What if you want to reset this market?  Is there an easy way for it to be replenished by a farmer who could crush you after you decide to buy everything?  What if you were trying to make a particular idea work, how much farming on your part might be involved?

I do a lot of pouring over Wowhead information and comments, and I treat this information like anything else - I trust but verify.  In the silk example, the top rated comment today still gives one area top billing, but if you go a little deeper it names another place to go look in later comments.  If it's me, I get on my horse and go out and check for myself.  I found that the top rated areas mentioned on Wowhead in the Silk example were completely bogus compared to the later comments that didn't receive as many upvotes.  True story:  This is the case for MANY things on there.  Now that I know, I can develop an entire market model around what I now know.

Many things I do in-game are probably published in some places, but most things aren't.  I don't work markets like everyone else, I have processes in place to get to the end result in the lowest cost manner possible while maximizing my fun.

Have you ever read anything about the Vanilla shuffle?  No?  That's because the people that developed it aren't saying anything about it.  What delivers you the best possible results in prospecting?  Enchanting?  Engineering (of all things)? Are these markets even viable?  Are people buying these materials?  How long since you leveled a profession JUST TO SEE the difficulty of certain points?  How many different ways can you arrive at the same end result?  You won't know unless you try for yourself.

How about acquiring materials and selling crafted goods?  Have you every checked various times of the day and times of the week?  What if you were to look on the AH for materials at 5am or in the morning before you leave for work?  Got access to Remote AH?  Ever look around lunch time or while on a break?

Have you ever experimented with the demand of certain items in the game?  There are hundreds of items weekly that fluctuate, and many that are great for making quick cash.  The opportunities are almost endless.

When was the last time you checked for a new addon?  Maybe played with an existing addon's settings?  TSM and Auctionator aren't the ONLY addons available, though you would almost believe they are if you read blogs.  I've discovered several other addons that improve my QOL and efficiency, and nobody else really talks about them so I guess I'm the only person using the things.  Thank goodness they keep updating them. 

Step outside your comfort zone and invest in yourself.

This is all the difference between someone that is just interested in making some gold, and the person that's in it to hit homeruns everytime they step to the plate.  And this is what's missing.  The innovators are slowly retiring from the game as we move forward, and unfortunately many of you are going to be stuck in the future with just the basic professions that everyone knows, and everyone engages in.  Streams will all talk about the same things, blogs will all post the same patch notes information, gold guides will be sold by bloggers and will be terrible.  Actually, I think we're there already.  I don't know how you people stand it.

Learn how to experiment and take some time out to discover something new, because the future belongs to those people.  If you want to be a 10k a week back-of-the-class-gold-guide-buying-leeching-complaining-stream-watching-terrible gold maker, I guess that's fine, too, it is your $14.95 and 24 hours in the day.  I just don't like to waste my time, and hopefully you're not a person interested in wasting yours.

Margin Call - Week of May 5th

What a great week coming back after being ill.  I paid more attention this week to cross server projects than I did my own auction house.  I was also more interested in getting RL things done since I'm behind on all of that stuff.

What's depressing is watching Sha Crystals crater further in price.  Oh well, live and learn, right?  This is why I have my fingers in other markets, because I'm half tempted to just blow that market out this coming week and eliminate them from the stock.  5.3 doesn't look to be very promising to help get those back on board, so why hold onto them?  If anything, they're an uphill battle right now that probably won't recover.  Kinda fun knowing I invested roughly 500,000g in them prior to the crash.  Like I'll never make that back, right?  Here's a saying you should learn - cut bait.

How about Diablo 3's debacle?  That was amazing.  Dupes don't exist people, Blizz has stated this many times and it's impossible for there to be holes in the code that would allow duping in any of their games.....  oh wait.  What we saw this last week was clear and present proof that Blizzard is full of shit when they say it's impossible to have anything like that happen in WoW as well.  People should be linking the blue response to blue posts that say anything about this in the future. 

They're worse than a political public relations team - deny, deny, cover up, deny the cover up, proof arrives and gloss over it, point out how awesome they are for doing anything about it.  Truth be told, there are holes in WoW's code as well.  All it takes is someone with a little knowledge of how to make it happen and you can make all the Haunted Spirits, Epic gems, Deathcharger mounts, and Vial mats you want.  They've been doing it for years, and hopefully the general Blizzard gaming public has figured out that they are being duped in more ways than one someday.  At least they cleaned up most of the mess this time, I remember February 2003 when D2 got a public dupe and they did absolutely nothing about it except shut it down 48-72 hours later.  They didn't even acknowledge it existed even then.  Yes, I do hold grudges.

Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Do You Really Need a Bunch of Alts?

Not really.

I talked a while ago about my alts, and just to reiterate I happen to have a bunch of them.  Not just on my main server, but also on other servers.  For the most part, my alts were made because I enjoy leveling characters and doing the quest lines over and over.

You only need 1-2 characters to make gold on any server, and in any given expansion they've never needed to be max level except to enjoy certain reputation/raid drop/dungeon drop recipes.  In all fairness, unless you are building an Alchemy/Inscription farm or just wanting to go nuts with making Epic 522 BS/Tailoring items, the actual number of alts you would need to have all the bases covered would be a whopping 3.5 characters, which would be at minimum 1x90 and 3x80*.  Thanks to professions being completely trainable at levels far below the level cap, you don't need to invest a ton of time.

For MoP, it merely requires level 80.  This is hardly something new.  Even during Vanilla, many of us that were raiding were running around making level 35 Alchemists, because that was the minimum level you needed to hit level 60 elixers/potions.  Today, the magic number is 80 to be able to partake in most markets.  Getting to 80 is rather fast in comparison to the days when it was 2 weeks played to 60, I've been normally hitting 80 with 4 days played with no BOAs and just a guild bonus.

The reason I'm writing this is I'm currently working another realm, and the question of what to take without transferring characters is something I'm pondering.  You read this blog because you want to know how the people who count WoW gold in units of millions think, so here's my thought process on how I go about building my golden engine.

Here's a brief cheatsheet for you at 80:

Enchanting - All recipes except Sha Crystal enchants available
Alchemy - Everything is available to you, retaining the Vial of the Sands recipe may prove interesting
Engineering - Everything is available that doesn't require SoH
Inscription - Everything is available to you
Jewelcrafting - All cuts except metas are available unless you get someone to help, cannot get rep to make flying mounts
Blacksmithing - All recipes for 384/415 gear, no access to Lightning Steel, rep, or SoH recipes.
Tailoring - All recipes for 384/415 gear, no 28 slot recipe or leg enchants, cooldown will require a port and avoiding the wolf but give access to 458 PvP.  Access to 496 and 522 epics.
Leatherworking - All recipes for 384/415 gear, access to daily cooldown for 458 PvP gear, no access to leg enchants.  Access to 496 and 522 epics.

Of these, there's flat out no reason to take an Alchemist, Engineer, or Scribe past 80, so these should be default tertiary profession choices - with the exception of Engineer, because there's really no reason to tie up a character with this when you have limited alts on the server.  Only take Engineering if you are after the profession benefits, because making gold off it is going to be dicey, and painful at best.  Engineers also require too many SoH to make anything current, and that requires grinding on your part just to make something that's priced worse than competing professions.

In the Words of the Great Gold Philosopher, Jules Winnfield, 

So let's say you're rerolling on a new server, and you're going to take one character to 90 and a DK to 80, which professions would/should you choose?  Further, the server is raid oriented, a modest number of PvPers, and it's a high population.  What would I do if I just wanted to make a gold making machine?

For the 90, I would pick the professions that offer the most consistent gold for the server, and that means a trip to the auction house to do some analysis.  The first thing you want to do is go to The Undermine Journal, and take a look at the profitability of the different professions, and how close to certainty the various items are.  Check the big boys first (BS/LW/Tailor) and see how pricing and costs look for those recipes.  Since you are going to be a 90, this means you will have access to SoH through Tillers/Dungeons/General mob kills and this 90 is probably going to be your main.  Check PvP recipes - are there a lot of posters, how close to the vest are they selling, and at what volume per day?  Leg enchants and buckles?  Epics?

The standby go-to professions for a 90 are usually Enchanting and Jewelcrafting.  The reason for both is that you can retain all recipes for both, and participate in the Sha and Meta gem markets upon getting the recipes and this would net you a consistent and easy gold engine.  The problem is however that grinding reps for bracers and weapon enchants takes more time (about 2-3 weeks if using the rep bonus), and Meta recipes will require you to go kill some mobs until you get the ones you want.  You can however be making gold within that time and are not completely shutdown.  The armor crafting professions have ramp-up times, which means it will take you a few weeks before you can actually post anything current in volume, and will require you to acquire the raw materials to perform the cooldowns and then ultimately craft the gear.  If you have no miner, Blacksmithing can become expensive unless you contract it out.  One major problem with all three armor professions is that tier to tier, you will be hunting down new BOE recipes for epics and PvP depending how they introduce it.

There's a lost art in armor crafting - that being the level 70, 80, and 85 pieces.  Most people look at Jewelcrafting as the perfect profession for enchanting mats, and that's what they've been taught by most every single blog, podcast, and stream for a very long time.  I'm going to be the person that tells you to do some homework, whip out your spreadsheet (you do have one by now if you're reading this blog, right?) and do the math before you proclaim perfection and look at the profession as a whole first.  For my reroll project my priority profession is an armor profession to go along with Enchanting because the numbers are precisely where I need them.

Jewelcrafting has a ramp up time, and will be costly to learn the various cuts.  While it's possible to just use the cheapest gems (typically blues) to do your research, that means you'll be waiting several weeks to get all the cuts you really want.  Blue is the best color to level with, because it's both the cheapest gem to buy, has the fewest discoveries of any color, and all four cuts sell on the AH with ease so you're not stuck with trash cuts like Expertise, Dodge, or Parry in the yellow and red research.  Doing research with desirable colors (Green, Purple, Orange) many times results in trash cuts, which even the vendors don't really want.  That's the big problem with the profession initially.  After you have the cuts then it's all gold income as you aren't throwing money away.  It feeds Enchanting really well, provided enchanting is a more profitable market than Jewelcrafting and allows you to sell through the bi-product quickly.  This is something you MUST analyze for some time prior to jumping into it.  Also take note:  Meta gems are not exactly the most profitable thing you can make with your purples/oranges/greens as well.  The saturation of the profession on most servers also make flipping-uncuts rather difficult.  Acquiring the lesser ores to engage in previous expansion materials is also challenging at times, as pricing of these have escalated over time.  Frankly, it's not consistent!

Getting to the 80, that would leave either Alchemy or Inscription, or Enchanting if you have no desire to make Sha enchants, and possibly Jewelcrafting since you can do it without Metas.  I personally hate inscription, but you have several options here.  Alchemy would give you a simple cooldown once per day, while also allowing you to convert other items such as Truegold and Titanium Bars, which no longer has a cooldown and is still desired by a few people.  Trillium Bars are heavily needed for alchemy cooldowns, so it is possible to convert GI Bars into Trillium Bars completely as a profit center with high demand.  You also have access to converting the other materials, raid flasks, potions and elixirs.  The margins on the latter options are generally razor thin, but when worked properly can return a nice ROI.

Inscription should NEVER be on a max level character since there's no redeeming value for having a level capped scribe unless you're after the profession bonus.  You can make your daily scrolls for decks, shoulder enchants, and (god help you) work the glyph market.  Inscription is a very passive income, and requires you to log in daily to make Scrolls for your decks.  Only about two days of the week offer consistent profits for shoulder enchants and the other days see the prices drop like any other enchant.  The cash cow of the profession (glyphs) require way too much babysitting because the profession is highly competitive and often preached as an entry level profession.  If you have lots of time during the week to play with it and do the reposting that is necessary on most servers, then by all means go for it.  The common reason people like glyphs is they can post dozens and dozens of different glyphs and eventually something will sell, even if it's only a few each day.  Sort of like firing a 12 gauge from 30 yards, some will hit the target.  For myself, I want consistent, low maintenance, high inventory turn, and high profit return - since I'm not into preaching the benefits of wasting your time in the day camping some Auction House UI for a minimal amount of gold, unless you're into that sort of thing, and if you are I question why you're reading my blog.  Between Alchemy and Inscription, I like Alchemy mostly because my inventory needs are predictable.  I would take Inscription only if I had proof the market would support it, and it's extremely long ramp up time makes it subordinate to Alchemy for me.

I'd also check into Tailoring pre-90.  You won't have access to the new bag, nor the leg enchants, but you will have access to the other bags, but if you're going to 80 and can get a port and a flight you will have a ready source of disenchantable blues for cheap Ethereal Shards, and can make PvP gear with the daily cooldown that only takes 40 days to learn all recipes.  Upon learning the epic recipes, you can then sell 522 BOEs with Haunted Spirits since no SoH are required, and purchase the 496 recipes which are in demand by fresh 90s.  Leatherworking would seem a decent choice, but between the two, Tailoring wins purely because of the number of things you can do with the profession and it's ease in leveling.  Every humanoid drops cloth, while every beast requires either skinning or purchasing lots and lots of leather.

My priority in profession choices:  (High Population Only, Lower Pops YMMV)

1)  Enchanting
2)  Tailoring/Leatherworking/Blacksmithing (90)
3)  Jewelcrafting
4)  Tailoring/Leatherworking (85)
5)  Tailoring (80)
6)  Alchemy (80)/Inscription (80)
7)  Mining - Smelting is extremely important to have to defray costs as it works best with Blacksmithing and Alchemy cooldowns IF you already have them both
8)  Engineering (90) - For pets and scopes, but honestly unless you're raiding/PvP/want toys, this is extremely pointless for power grinding gold, and I would rather take other more creative routes if I need engineering items.  Note that I have a gnomish and goblin engineer, both are PvP characters
9)  Skinning/Herbalism - included only if I want to have a gatherer, useless because these are horribly time consuming

As you can see, I'm a big fan of a certain profession - Tailoring.  For my money I would go Enchanting, Armor Profession for the first character, then take Jewelcrafting and either Alchemy or another Armor Profession on the second character.  If Blacksmithing was taken for the first character, I would definitely consider mining to help with the costs of materials, but it's a low priority since I could probably find someone to outsource to.  Of these, the only non-ramp up would be Enchanting and Alchemy.  That's just my opinion, if you like Inscription, by all means go that route if you have the time to dedicate to it and don't mind the frustration that often comes with it.

FFS Zerohour, how would you pay to level all this crap?

All this is fine and good, but how would you get the seed money to do any of it without having to waste dozens of hours of time farming the mats since you're starting with nothing?  Well, glad you asked.  One of two ways...

Process One:  The Broke and Tightfisted Method
During the leveling process you're going to score a ton of materials you will probably need later, especially if you're going 1-80 fresh.  Personally, I start with a DK, which nets me flying within 5 levels and for a joke of a price today.  Loot EVERYTHING that drops, down to the gold, silver, and copper trash.  Plan ahead - what are you going to roll and what aren't you going to roll?  No tailor?  Fine, auction ALL cloth.  Going to be an enchanter?  All quest rewards and green BOEs go into the bank or the mailbox rotation.  Find a possible good Xmog item?  To the AH with it.  Going to need bags?

That DK qualifies for Outlands inside of 45 minutes of quests, which means you will be collecting stacks of Netherweave in no-time.  Find a tailor to help you out for a small tip - each stack of Netherweave is a bag in your inventory (hey, it gets you started and you can hold more junk).  Join a guild where people have tailor alts and play the guildie card - hey, they probably spam invited you so paybacks are in order.

Get to 80 as fast as possible, quest the whole way when you can to collect the gold rewards and junk drops.  If you're going to go JC, Alch, Scribe, or any profession that requires gathered materials, you should attempt to level herbalism or mining at 60 when you can fly and try to keep up with them.  This helps nullify the overall costs when you'll eventually have to buy some of the mats.  Having an 80 on any given server qualifies you to be able to collect all the mats you need and level most all professions easily to about 450 only trading your time for the gold.  While headed to 90 on your main, you can fill in the gaps.

Process 2:  Uncle Zerohour's Preferred Method
Let's put the brakes on here.  Just kidding about that trading your time for gold bit there.  I know you thought I lost my mind for a second.  This above advice regarding farming is, of course, for the uninitiated and total bullshit.  You can get that advice anywhere and from about 99.9% of the Make Gold NOW guides.  I didn't review the best profession, but I would definitely call Flipping my real first profession of choice in a reroll situation.  If you know what you're doing in this arena, you're already working the AH as soon as you hit the server, and your alts on any server should be nothing but consistent assembly line workers that you are busy assembling.  The brains behind the show (you) should be at work collecting some quest reward gold to get to work immediately and if not sooner.  I'm not a big fan of discussing techniques (because I always come off sounding incredibly elitist, so sorry, but not really), but let's take a look at a particularly good market with excellent cash flow and mo' money.

OH!  Hi there, Epic Flying Mount Money should I find a reason to leave town...

Phew, took 3 days and 3 clicks of 'Post'!  Break my finger why don't ya?  High impact mouse usage this one.

Jeannie, I need some profession leveling money to get me started, please...




I love the 3.2k inside of an hour for hitting Post pic, the buyer was an hour late in saving that amount...  wish I could do this all day.

... and maybe I could use some 22 slot bags while I'm leveling...

... I mean, it's just a crappy blue that nobody would want for more than 100g, right?  Right...

Get the idea?  Don't waste your time farming mats when the 'tools' are already there doing it for you.  All names were removed to protect the innocent from themselves and no tools were harmed to their knowledge.

*You only really need one character of any given level and a little bankroll.  'Tis true!

Where the hell you been, Zerohour?

Well, the past week I've been shaking the worst cold I've had in 5+ years.  Last Sunday I didn't think much of the sore throat, by Monday I was in bed immediately after getting home from the night gig.  Fun stuff!  Some people call into work if they just sneeze, I call in when I'm dying.  Killed two boxes of Kleenex, a bottle of saline, NyQuil, and untold amounts of cough meds.  Nothing beats not being able to get any rest because you wake yourself up sneezing or coughing every hour.  It got to the point where I thought I had pneumonia and almost dragged myself to a doc-in-the-box, but thankfully it got better midway through the week and I only suffered from no sleep.  I did however watch almost the entire Battlestar Galactica reimagined series on Netflix again while I was dozing in and out, so the week wasn't a complete waste.

Outside of that, I just couldn't get the time to edit my blog posts so I decided to just hold off from the week before.  Prior to that I was more focused on other endeavors in my life.  When you have real life responsibilities, your hobbies tend to take a backseat.  Although I've wanted to get this post finished for about 3 weeks now.

Margin Call - Week of April 28, 2013
I did get a few posts in during the week, but put up a pathetic 154,000g in sales.  My laptop from the bedside was good for something at least last week.  Sha Crystals really have taken a dive lately, haven't they?  If you haven't seen a drop, consider yourself lucky.  I've got about a half million gold worth of the suckers to dispose of.  Logic tells me that people are overhunting the rares on the Isle and certain raiders are disposing of previous tiers, the supply is crushing the demand causing prices to crater...  no matter how hard I tried to keep the market pushed, it just wasn't enough.  Being sick this week didn't exactly help with it, since I didn't get any posts up on the best nights!  Poor me, right?

Also, thanks to Rez and Cold over at EGP for having me on their podcast the other week.  I think they did a good job, well Rez did a good job of editing, we originally chatted for over two hours.  If you want to hear what I sound like, take a visit on over there.  It's a bit of good discussion.

Thanks for stopping in!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Timing Market Entry and Knowing When to Walk Away

This was the post prepped for this last Tuesday.  I hope you have taken the time to look into another person's situation and learned some things.

Here's some strategy for those of you wondering how to keep from spending all of your evenings grinding out the wins like some Blackjack junkie convinced you'll eventually hit a run.

If you look at what I sell, it's basically a list of everything in the game.  Of course, I could tell anyone to make X, post X, and pray they make a decent return.  I'll leave that for the people dispensing bad advice and the crowds of people thrilled they've got 10k gold in their pockets for the first time ever.  I deal in millions, not thousands; my time is worth more than to sit around playing leap frog with people who haven't got the slightest clue what modeling a well run virtual business is about, and worse have no concept of efficiency and time management.  These are your competitors, and hopefully since you're reading this stuff - not you.

If you've ever sold anything a day in your life, the first thing you learn is "who is my market?" and "why would they buy?"  In WoW gold making, your life is merely a series of 7 day events that go from Tuesday through the following Monday, and in between you monitor your activity.  At least you should be.  Without telling you exactly what I post on certain days, I think it's MOST important that you have the frame of mind during the week.  You should know what is going on each day of the week, and make market entries and market retreats based on this information.  That's if you want to maximize your efficiency and go do other things besides hang out at the AH all day.

I like to think of it as "having my server clocked".  I know what's popular on each and every single day, and who I should be appealing to.  Each server is different, but they all tend to have similar life cycles.  So think critically...  What should I be selling?  Who is my market?

Tuesday - This is the reset day for US servers.  If you're playing EU, just add a day here.  On Tuesday, everyone's valor is reset, LFRs/Raid IDs reset, and people can begin collecting more Conquest points.  This is generally always my biggest profit day of the week since demand on this day skyrockets to what will be the all time high for the week.  You should be monitoring exactly what guilds are progressing on, what new items will be available with respect to their slots.  Macroeconomics day.  On this day, you want to focus on what will enhance the pieces people will be retaining.  PvPers especially go hogwild on Tuesdays, since they generally will hit their cap for the week and make a purchase decision on this day, especially those saving for weapons.

Wednesday - Or Tuesday Lite, as I sometimes refer to it.  You should still see heavy action like Tuesday, as most progression guilds begin hitting their progression fights.  Generally those doing LFR hit the last half of their grind tonight.  When it comes to gear collection, the first two days of the week are always going to be mains, and people spend the most gold on mains.

Thursday - Now the week starts to peter off.  Raiding guilds start hitting bosses they can't down yet, PvPers are still active but not so much in the buying side (they're usually going for rating before the weekend and not so much for points), and those not raiding begin playing their alts again.  Prices drastically start to return to earth on everything enchanting or gem related and it's probably time I retreat from this market.

Friday through Monday - Alts.  Thousands of alts awaken from their weekday slumber to start looking for minor upgrades.  They're looking to level easier, or they've just hit 90 and want to look into getting into LFR as fast as possible.  Or they want to begin grinding honor points in battlegrounds and aren't interested in being the typical baddie getting 2 shot by rogues.  Many casual guilds finish their progression raiding for the week.  Some are even looking to improve the pieces that they've retained, but I wouldn't go overboard and post for a measly 5% profit.  Close price analysis and setting your mods accordingly will prevent you from taking losses at this time.

Does any of this look foreign to you?  I hope it doesn't, it's common sense. But like I told a coworker of mine this last week - Common sense is actually uncommon.  Sometimes a person needs to have the obvious pointed out to them.

During the week, I have certain price points for all of my pieces of gear.  Some items I post every single day of the week, some I only post one or two days.  It really depends on profit opportunity.  BOEs tend to sell better on some days, so I don't have those set up in any group and post using Auctioneer.  Many items I specifically place on different banks that are weekend specific posters.  During the weekdays, they never get logged into.

Here's a good example:  Gems.  I hate the hell out of having to cut and post these things, some people do it every single day of the week and I wonder how they can stand it.  What generally happens is the demand for them is enormous on Tuesday and Wednesday, and you'll sell through your entire stock at heavy premiums.  Other days, you get back 90% of them.  Why?  Because the demand isn't there.  As demand is lower, prices start falling down as people fall over themselves to undercut each other.  Meanwhile, if you stay in this market, you 1) spend money on deposits and 2) sell them at reduced profits and 3) cost yourself more money if you play the undercutting game thus contributing to the problem.  Of course, I still post a few during the week, but I also renegotiate my floor prices.  If I'm not getting at least Wednesday prices on a cut, it's not going up and it stays in the bag for next week.

Quick Rant:  People do this because they're told the shuffle makes you gold no matter what and just by cutting gems.  The shuffle however is in a bastardized form today because most people doing it don't realize that the shuffle was created originally as a means to making enchanting highly profitable, provided your server has a demand for enchanting, and not to make all of the the profits in gems.  I wonder why people got this strange idea and bought into this bizarre fallacy.  Who could possibly have told them it was all gems?  Hmmm.  People do half the shuffle, overload the AH with cheap gems, and then sit on the green gems or something.  Maybe they're vendoring them.  Either way, bad form.  Moving on.

I demonstrated for you the idea and rationale behind why you should have a spreadsheet in place and further, why you should be in the habit of stockpiling in lieu of going Just In Time.  The people that roll JIT are buying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then trying to squeeze a profit out.  Meanwhile, they're doing nothing the other days of the week.  Conversely, there are people that sell no matter the prices.  There's no reason to sell your stockpile for the sake of selling your stockpile.

Retaining well priced materials is an art, and it's not always easy to get certain things for below market value and it's not always easy to replenish your stock.  Story time!  It reminds me of a time I wanted to sell something to a customer when I was just starting out in my sales career and a young buck know-nothing 24 year old.  We were making a whole 8% profit margin off the item (and my paycheck would look better), but we were coming into the busy time of the year and to replace the item in our inventory had a lead time of 3 months.  But, after a begging and pleading session with my boss, I had to turn the person away.  You know, having to do that and tell a buyer they're too freaking cheap is never fun.  The good news was, I located a buyer at 17% just 2 months later and scored twice the commission.  If I had sold the item initially, I would not have had the inventory to sell to the customer and would have had to wait a month, and the company would have lost out on future opportunity should my deal not arrived.  When a buyer is hot, you don't ask them to wait, you deliver immediately, unless you are not in a position to immediately sell off your inventory.  This was a lesson that I learned early on, think long term and don't sell just to sell.

Selling mats off at 10% margins when you could sell them at 100% makes very little sense, but people are happy beating their heads against the keyboard to do it.  If you understood what I was talking about in my earlier posts on this blog, then what I've explained here will be absolutely second nature. 

As prices ebb and flow during the week, your buying and posting patterns should directly mimic them.  I'm fairly certain that if you were to look at the prices on your server, and then weighed them against the events of the week, you would see that supply and demand essentially flip upside down during the week at some point.  This is a simple market phenomenon, and makes the difference between someone who posts everything during the week and hopes it sells (a sale is a sale, right?) and someone that calculates their moves and makes more profits with less effort.  Think of it like having spring sales and winter sales.  As the seasons change, you always rotate your stock around and sell certain things at higher pricing during the year.  Except our "years" are merely 7 days long.

So my keys for successful profitability and less camping:

1) Know your server's week with respect to demand
2) Sell high on proper days
3) Buy low during the week
4) Don't sell just to sell, think.

Margin Call, Week of April 7, 2013

It was quite the struggle this week, I honestly am finding myself hitting that most horrible of horrible walls.  Ever wonder why prices sometimes go off the charts or strange things happen in your AH?  It's probably because one of the leaders dropped out of the market.  For me this week I was far more motivated to play D3 than to even bother logging in to Warcraft (although I did, habits are hard to break).  Most people on my friend list, or more specifically my Battletag list, are not even bothering right now.  I didn't grab a screenshot of it, but this last week snagged a measly 343,000g in revenues.

A tip for your week - Consider your actions before posting, you directly affect pricing.

Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I interrupt the normal goldmaking philosophy post...

I have 2 solid philosophy posts ready in the hopper, but you know what?  Let's put goldmaking philosophy on the back burner for the time being, I'll post something later in the week.  For me this is the 800lb gorilla in the room, and if I was to post something besides this to raise some awareness, I would definitely not feel like I was doing my part as a community member. 

This story is extremely moving, and if I can potentially help this young man with my forum of over 1500 readers a week and bring some awareness to the cause, I'm going to do what I can.

Richard Harlow
Warcraft player
Going completely blind

His background is simple, he was diagnosed with a very rare eye condition.  He's losing his sight completely because his optic nerves are degenerating.  He has a chance to see the world again, but it requires expensive medication, and frankly I've seen these things before where the person just accepts their fate and goes forth with the hand they were dealt.  Thanks to those around Richard, the cause was taken up and people have put forth lots of funds to assist, and he's extremely close to the goal.

Blindness is not something I would wish on anyone.  Two of my grandmothers suffered from complete loss of vision later in life.  I remember my paternal grandmother attended my graduation from college (the first in over 40 grandchildren, yes, a huge family) and the one thing that stuck with me was she could not see me walk across the stage.  Directing her to her chair, she felt her way, and then sat there vacantly not able to see even her hands in front of her.  Being able to see brings lots of joy in our life, think of your favorite memories, and most of them are attached to something you visually recall.  Having the ability to see is something we definitely take for granted.

Humans are different from any other being on earth.  We protect our own, we fight for life, and we accept challenges and hurdles and overcome them.  We don't accept defeat easily, and we rely on one another to thrive as a society.  While the world may seem screwed up everyday that you wake up, it's nice to know that one person can make a difference and change the outcome of another human being, if not an entire world.  Richard's situation is no different than what I'm talking about here, he's in a bad spot.

He's very close to reaching his goal of the funds to provide a sight-saving medication that could help to restore his eyesight.  I would hope that there are some people here that could possibly help him put that number over the top, or at least get him closer to the goal.

Please set aside about 36 minutes to listen to the interview and discussion on Eviscerated Podcast if you are unfamiliar with the situation.  He sounds like any other person in your guild.  Except he has lost the gift of sight.  You can also see all contact and donation information there as well.  I would encourage those of you with a spare 5, 10, 20 or more laying around to click the links.  You may know I'm big on the kitties and doggies, but realistically, this is so close we should feel badly if the goal isn't raised.

Out of respect for the topic, I'm going to heavily moderate comments made.  Please be respectful when making comments.  Thank you in advance.

Margin Call is going to be delayed this week until the next post, out of respect for this exceptional topic.  I hope your week is going well!

Also, giving everyone involved in the Boston incident on Monday my thoughts!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bart, Sapu, You Win This Round

Ok, back on track.  If I'm not roasting the gold bleggars I'm roasting Blizz.  I'm pretty sure most of the readers believe I do nothing but complain about things I don't like.  Well you would be right.  I'm not writing this to gain a huge audience, a large readership was never what I wanted.  See my Bio - dedicated to everyone that cares.  Not those bored enough and looking for something to read.  Like people keep telling me about the donation sites - if you don't like them, don't read them.  Well, I don't.  Except to find material.  Do stuff with a purpose, I say.

Also, yes, I am that grumpy old dude.  Oh, hi there, Clint.

So what should we talk about today?  How about a history lesson/opinion?  I'm thinking I should first explain the poll that was up the past week - what was the best Auction House addon of all time?  With nearly 2000 visitors during that week, all 25 or so of you voted.  I'll take that as a good sample.

Of course TSM was going to win.  I'd wager most people working the Auction House today never even used Auctioneer, and I'm betting many have never even heard of it.

The backstory:  I was in IRC, as I usually am in the evenings and Bart39 popped in again.  For those of you that don't know him, he's Sapu's counterpart on the TSM development project.  Lots of things have been implemented purely because of him, so everyone owes him a big hug and kiss.  He's always there but usually AFK sleeping.  Not sure if he ever eats or anything.  I digress here, but one thing led to another, and I only remember saying something like "We'll see about that".

My personal favorite Auction House addon is actually Auctioneer by Norganna.  TSM is great, but this was the first real addon for the AH which replaced the stock UI entirely, which Blizzard spent an alcohol fueled weekend making and about 20 minutes updating since Vanilla Beta.  It also allowed mass posting, undercutting, snatching, and some other toys that TSM still doesn't offer (although Sapu assures me 2.0 will have them).  The worst part of the addon - it is far too cumbersome for the layman to set up.  You needed to know what you were doing in order to squeeze the power out of the addon.  This happens to also be the best part of the addon.  Essentially, talking monkeys need not apply.  If you implemented the full suite, you could make an unstoppable gold making machine.  For years this addon served me really well.  I was even an early donor on the project, since good coding is definitely worth rewarding.

The problem came for me during Wrath when they implemented those stupid glyphs.  I still call them stupid, I dislike this market with a passion.  The only way you could cancel your auctions that were undercut was to run through with a macro one-by-one, or cancel them all in one shot and repost.  Talk about cumbersome.  That's when I started looking around, and Shadowed put together the first real tool for mass posting and mass cancels - Quick Auctions.  Those of you around at the time in early Wrath who adopted this early on quickly saw the power of this with glyphs and gems.  Not only that, but gold making from Vanilla through early Wrath was a relative odd-hobby, only a very small playerbase really engaged in it except a few tycoons and they were getting almost all of their information off sites like JMTC.  Today it's a pretty common thing to do, since people are looking to buy things from guilds, the BMAH, or generally improve their character.  But back then, it was practically carte blanche.

I never really abandoned Auctioneer, it's always been in my list of addons to use.  Whenever TSM requires a new group, or I have to make an exception to some floor price (BOE epics come to mind), I hit the Appraiser button and manually undercut by 1 copper.  Further, nothing beats it's ability for buying in mass quantities.  Hey, didn't think you'd read anything useful in this post?  Well there it is.  Fogies like me and Z-Man still use the thing.  (In fact, Sapu asked me to check something in it a few weeks back, call me honored to help out)

Up until Boub at MMOC really made the utility of QA mainstream by actually talking about how auctioneers everywhere were cashing in on the general public, it was pretty much a hidden addon except within the gold community.  Further, the addon was so easy to setup that anyone could do it.  It wasn't like Auctioneer, which required weeks of scans before you could get appropriate pricing data.  You just followed the herd and posted at whatever someone's addon was setup at, poorly or otherwise.

Unfortunately Shadowed abandoned the project before Cataclysm, and fortunate for the general public Sapu and Co. picked it up and improved on it to what you have today.  Today you have automatic price scans from API downloads, automatic queuing, and so many toys that are really QOL improvements.  The downside here is that it doesn't necessarily make a person adept at philosophy, economics, or techniques, but it definitely makes it faster to get business done.

I think it's worth mentioning, but it's amusing that TSM has become nearly as complex as Auctioneer in terms of what you can modify within it.  I say nearly, because you guys still have a little ways to go to make it as complex.  Just to let you know, Sapu has said to me several times that he's not interested in making money off the addon, and he derives extreme pleasure in making it the best possible addon.   Let's call it his legacy, I would call it a line on a resume.  Give him some props here for being a super guy for donating so much of his time to make the Auction House something anyone can make a fortune at.

Also, you two may have won this round...  where's 2.0?  Hrm?

Why write something like this?  Wait for it, I've got an article in the works.

Margin Call - Week of March 31, 2013

Here's a lesson for you for later, it's a bit late to have learned it now, but goes in line with my logic for keeping Sha's in stock.  The vast majority of players in WoW today are not raiding with an organized guild, they are opting to do LFR.  LFR has the big benefit of not having to deal with scheduled times, performing to the requirements of the guild, being awake during encounters, and rewards practically free loot.  LFR's downside, at least here on the US servers, is having the fun of pantomiming instructions in game to those that cannot speak the language.  "Don't dps the boss, kill adds".  "No speak engish".  Regardless, it's not really raiding, but offers free gear and rep for the unwashed masses that you'll never see again, hopefully.  Amirite?

The other big benefit is knowing what drops in the various wings - specifically weapon upgrades.  Because I was bored, I decided to break out my Boy Scout uniform and go on a camping trip on Tuesday just to push the envelope.  First time since patch release 4.2 that I've actually done that.  I threw down just over 400k in sales, with margins in the 50% range.  If I only had more stock, I would have made more.  Yes, I blew through a week's stockpile of high end enchants in one night, and ran out before the end of the night.  I figured the demand would be high (per my MC last week), but every last crystal high?  I learned something important - I still hate camping.

The rest of my week was spent playing Diablo 3.  So how did I compare?

It's also nice at this point to have virtually every crafted pvp item in the game... except Blacksmithing.  I've got every epic craft now, and duplicates of most other recipes.  So I got really lucky with tailoring, but Blacksmith paid me back.  Hmph.

Thanks for stopping in!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

More on Diablo 3's Auction House

Today's "bonus" opinion article is all about Diablo 3, just fair warning in case you're looking for anything WoW related, it's not in here.

Per my Tuesday post, I poked a little fun at Jay Wilson's comments at the GDC last week.  I found them amusing because to be totally and brutally honest, I'm not a fan of his and the comments seemed sort of like thumbing the nose at a feature many players today enjoy and even asked for during D2.  Why was he allowed to say anything remotely close to what he said?  I felt like Bizarro Blizzard was in attendance, given they've long had a good solid track record of believing their own press and propitiating the kool-aid drinking masses that believe everything they say.

Just as a commentary on this situation, I want to give you some backstory about myself:

* Installed Diablo 2 in July 2000
* Installed Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction July 2001
* Played this game almost exclusively until 2006
* Expert in all facets of trading in that game, including RMT, lobby trade, game trade, and forum trading.

I was one of the biggest fans of that franchise, anxiously awaiting D3's release last May.  I proudly saved my Beta invite email from November 2011 and showed it off to all my guildies.  What I was not a fan of was the inclusion of the RMAH the way they were implementing it.  Having lots of non-WoW AH experience, the rule is simple:  When everybody plays, nobody wins.  And if Blizzard is going to handle it, you're playing with fire because they'll flat out not put much into it.

Wilson says that prior to release, Blizzard had expected only rare and valuable items would be listed, but in reality many players put "nearly everything" up for real-money sale because "there's no reason not to."

Exactly.  During the time Ebay allowed virtual item sales, they had a clear and present cost system that was once entertained by Blizzard, and then completely abandoned.  If you were looking to buy some pixels for cold hard cash, you found nothing but the best quality items (dupes, but go with me here) and lots and lots of legit items being sold that were definitely the best items you would ever see.  And they sold for lots of money.  If you wanted to sell an item, you were going to pay a fee to even list the item, and pay a final commission to Ebay when it sold.

Even from the very beginning of D2's launch, back in the great cash rush of 2000-2001 when people were calling in sick days for several weeks and even quitting their jobs, they were posting only the best possible items on Ebay and selling them for several hundred dollars a piece, even in the thousand dollar range.

So why didn't this happen in D3's RMAH?  Why was it littered with crap, even today, and the average person has to wade through a sewer of $100-$250 items that we used to send to Charsi?  Easy.  They changed the deposit requirement that they initially talked about implementing, and instead they only charge you if the item sells.  So it's a no-lose proposition, and with only 10 slots available at any given time, it makes no sense to keep them not full with postings at all times, because someone may buy the item.  And if they don't?  You lose nothing but the time during which the item was listed.  So your end result is an AH with thousands and thousands of items that require detailed and knowledgeable searches to get through.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this model was flawed from the start.  I have a pet theory that Blizzard researched this Auction House model like most large corporations would do it.  They bring in experts in the field, maybe even pay some Ebay personnel to come consult for a few days (after all, they were the ones who were making bank on their virtual items for almost a decade).  The consultants put together a list of things that Blizzard needs to do to make it successful, and just like Lumberg from Office Space, totally shit-can the ideas of the consultants because they have a deluded god complex from selling millions of copies of games.  Having been around corporate America most of my life now, these are exactly how decisions are made - spend a ton of cash asking consultants, and then write that expense off because it just won't work, in management's opinion.  Then when the project doesn't work out as intended, blame the overall idea, and not blame the implementation.  And heaven forfend if you point any fingers of blame, someone's bonus may not come through and you can't have them running off to upper management telling them about your stealing of office supplies and inappropriate use of company internet resources when they fire them.

The answer should have been:  Listing fees to be applied on all items that were in the RMAH

People who engaged in RMT were completely used to them before, and anyone new to it would get used to them.  This prevents a lot of clutter, makes the system easier to use, and a person can locate what they're looking for instead of seeing listing capped results and not finding exactly what they want.  People listing items would think twice before posting something for an unreasonable amount, and you wouldn't see a million people a month posting every flipping rare and bad legendary that they find.  The biggest thing - if your goal was to only see the best possible pieces on the RMAH, people will definitely post it for money with the listing fee just being a minor annoyance.  It's like they never learned a freaking thing from the Warcraft Auction House, something else they happen to not pay any attention to.  You either run a good business model, or you don't.

Wilson now freely admits it was "the wrong solution" to the problems Blizzard was trying to solve. "It's not good for a game like Diablo. It doesn't feel good to get items for money, it feels good to get items by killing monsters," he said, echoing the complaints of a vocal group of fans.

In most well run corporations, everyone knows you don't make even the slightest resemblance of an apology, that's for press releases and the PR department to decide.  You don't "freely admit" anything unless you're waiting on your severance agreement ink to dry.  In one company I worked for, unless you were the Chairman of the Board or in the PR department, making any comment to the public was grounds for immediately packing your desk.  I saw one Divisional Vice President get stripped of his security access within 30 minutes of reporting to work one morning because someone identified him on a talk radio show and he was merely commenting on an incident that was in the news.

Was Wilson's comment merely a talking point he went armed with to the GDC?  The guy isn't even on the project anymore, but he's making comments like this?  Someone's either playing apologist or rebel, and given he probably wants his 10 year ring, I'm going to guess it was planned.  Blizzard has a pretty good track record of firing employees for slight infractions, coming out and talking down about a major revenue source of a title that was possibly going to have a subscription (Blizzcon 2010) would probably rank up there with a punishment between burning at the stake or the pear.

This comment is also very subject to interpretation - was he saying it's better to invest thousands of hours to get that one item that's a top tier item rather than trade maybe an hour or two of your real life paycheck?  What would feel better?  Waiting for Christmas or slapping down the plastic, getting the instant gratification, and being able to go to MP10 faster?  For me, I like finding items, but I'm also familiar with the game's mechanics, and have been for over a decade. 

I know that trading is one of the only ways you're going to improve your character in the Diablo universe, and the AH (gold or money) was the next evolution.  During Diablo 2, gold was absolutely useless.  You were then left with farming up chips or Pgems, or items to trade for Pgems, or trading for SOJs (Stones of Jordan, heavily duped), and then later high runes.  If you wanted to trade, you were then stuck for hours spamming chat channels hoping for a buyer to appear, or waiting in a trade game, or reaching out to the community via forums.  The AH makes it very convenient to put buyer and seller together, without demanding hundreds of unproductive hours on the part of the players.

Now, if you're talking about an MMO, where loot properties are usually fixed, and retaining them only requires a group that is capable of killing a boss, and who has a guaranteed loot table and very predictive odds of dropping an item - then this comment is very apt.  Having spent weeks trying to get certain drops off bosses (and get the kill) it feels really good to acquire the piece, rather than just toss some coin to a bleeding edge guild who can walk you through the entire fight.  But Diablo is NOT an MMO.  It's an Action RPG.  Specific loot is not guaranteed. 

Alternatively, maybe he was actually talking about the business of RMT in general being handled by them?  Blizzard's entry into it was definitely precedent setting.  They were merely trying to protect the playerbase by preventing third party sites from possibly hacking accounts.  Of course, this was a strawman argument, most sites retained no entry to your account, they merely delivered items to you in-game or by a mule account.  Sure they could send a trojan in emails, but those were very rare cases.  If anything, most people familiar with account hacking that occurred during D2 got their viruses almost entirely by the number of hacks that were available on the internet.  That's right, people would install them along with the hacks that Blizzard aggressively cracked down on during the first 5 years of the game.  /snicker  Now, credit card fraud, that's another matter entirely.  That was very, very rampant and it's good they chose to protect the banks.

Another interpretation - for a newer player, getting the best possible gear at this stage of the game means you're fighting an uphill battle, or you're going to have to dip into your personal bank account.  It's very, very difficult to collect millions of gold in the game on your own.  And by millions, I mean hundreds of millions, lest you be stuck with an MP0-2 budget character for a very long time.  I know this would not feel good - having to buy your way purely because you're not very good at the economic aspect of the game. 

The answer to this problem was to control inflation, which the wizards of Blizzard did a fine job.  What are we at now?  50 million for an item that was 1 million 8 months ago?  I heard through someone running bots that he hasn't seen a ban in months, and he's running multiple accounts almost 24 hours a day, every day.  Why?  Like the RMAH, there's no reason not to.  This simply fuels the exponential inflation, and definitely hurts the legit new players.  Who's fault is this?  Someone wake up the crack team of anti-hack security professionals that bust their butt everyday, make sure their eyes aren't painted on.  Ironically, this article came about 2-3 weeks prior to the last massive bot ban they had.  Maybe the team had their future freed up for them after the job was done.

And finally, maybe he meant they should guarantee loot in the future?  If they went the MMO route, they'd destroy the game's legacy of RNG and enraging players for hundreds of hours of frustrating play.  Guess what?  Diablo was always this way.  Did you even play the franchise?  Maybe the complete randomization of loot (class specific legendary gear having not-that-class mods on it, what in the hell were you thinking) is more of an annoyance and issue and what he meant. 

If you're a D2 player and I tell you I have an Occy, TGods, and Eaglehorn, you pretty well know what I have as the mods hardly vary on those.  190 Eth Titans, 8/8 Gaze, 148 UNID Stormshield and 141 Shako, or even a 390 Eth BOTD, you know that I'm carrying some highly desirable items.  Now take a look at any one of the new legendaries and set items in D3 - every single mod on them is usually within a range of variance.  So if I tell you I have an Echoing Fury, the odds of it meeting expectations or your needs, or coming even near them are very, very remote.  Only specific mods are desired or else the item is trash.  Further, it requires the average player to have to completely understand the mechanics that are best for them, rather than build around cookie cutter pieces to enjoy the game.  While this isn't too bad a thing, it is frustrating for your average player.  And average players are the market for trading or buying items via the RMAH/GAH.

But why would you feel the need to remove the feature, much less make that comment?  If you removed the Auction House, there's an army of third party sites waiting to start selling the best possible items and lots and lots of in-game gold.  Mark my words, the second the lights go out in the RMAH, it will take less than 24 hours before you start seeing game spam for items, dupe techniques will be heavily sought after and exploited by them, and Blizzard will be highly successful at accomplishing almost nothing (yet again) to counter it.  Further, this is the world you would be in today had you never implemented the AH to begin with.  The players that decried the AH before will then proceed to scream about the additional spam, account thefts, and other shenanigans the sites develop all in the name of chasing the almighty pixelated dollar. 

Count on it.  It's a no win situation.  At least Blizz has some control, right?


For me, I like Diablo 3.  I invested several hundred hours of play time before I left last summer sadly.  I knew it wasn't going to be Diablo 2 with better graphics since I played the beta, but I still wanted to see it succeed.  Lately I've returned to the game and am working my Paragon levels, and to be honest, the game is way more fun than when I left it last year.  Something they definitely did do correctly was make the game more interesting, add a little more depth, and match the end game to your equipment and allow you to potentially locate good pieces rather than require specific gear to proceed.  For example, I'm no longer being one shot by certain mobs just because I'm melee and didn't have 50,000 hit points or the armor requirements.  If I want to improve my character, it will take a while, or I can visit my friendly neighborhood auction house and improve the performance of my character that way.  Of course I don't mind twinking, I'm not that hardcore a purist.

Thanks for stopping in!