Montag, 2. Mai 2011

Over before you know it

A veteran blog reader probably knows what six weeks without posts on a fairly new blog mean. "He's a goner." Weeks of business travel, a vacation and an intercontinental move took a lot of tolls, but one of the first was WoW. My account expired three weeks ago and I already hadn't logged in for two weeks prior to that. Since most of my assets were in goods being auctioned, all of them are gone now. That bundled with me not having a WoW-capable laptop and the prospect of living in hotel rooms for the next two months means I will have been away from WoW for more than 3 months should I decide to get back into it.

If 4.2 is out be then, that means I missed two content patches, loads of stuff stowed away in my guild bank that would have made me a nice amount on the patch days and no gold to start with again.

Starting all over again and re-learning to walk after getting my legs broken after the first few steps is nothing I am looking forward to right now. Not with living in a new culture and starting a new job on my back. I'll re-assess this once I have a new gaming machine, but right now, that's it.

I guess this means goodbye.

Freitag, 18. März 2011

Old world cloth shuffling

As mentioned a couple of times before, I am still working with toons of level 60 and below only. I also decided to not bother talking about my "old server" anymore, because most of it would only be my side of the popular strategies many other blogs cover way better. And since I wouldn't want to read about the same things over and over again either, I'll not waste your time. In addition, it's a vicious place with half a dozen 24/7 AH campers/botters, which I can't compete with time-wise.

Today I want to give you a short overview over a nice niché I am currently using to make money. As covered before, a good chunk of my money comes from selling Enchanting materials. The problem is, just snatching low-priced greens from the AH won't yield that many materials, even on the weekends. And even if the supply is nice, I'll have to scan several times with changing iLvl ranges to avoid the "bad materials" (more on that in a minute).

When I started leveling Enchanting and Tailoring on my toons, I stumbled upon this little guide on Being surprised that I actually made a plus from selling the leftover Strange Dust, I thought to myself, "I wonder if this kind of shuffling of cloth to dusts and essences works up to Runecloth?" I had read recommendations about turning Netherweave into Arcane Dust via Netherweave Pants, but the in-between was missing. Long story short, here are the results of my homework.

Brown Linen Pants
81% chance: 1-2 Strange Dust
19% chance: 1-2 Lesser Magic Essence

Double-Stitched Woolen Shoulders
74% chance: 2-6 Strange Dust
16% chance: 1-2 Lesser Astral Essence
10% chance: 1 Small Glimmering Shard

Silk Headband
75% chance: 1-5 Soul Dust
20% chance: 1-2 Lesser Mystic Essence
5% chance: 1 Small Glowing Shard

White Bandit Mask (recipe is a random world BOE, so add it to your snatch list)
75% chance: 2-5 Vision Dust
20% chance: 1-2 Lesser Nether Essence
5% chance: 1 Small Radiant Shard

Runecloth Headband
74% chance: 1-2 Illusion Dust
23% chance: 1-2 Greater Eternal Essence
3% chance: 1 Large Brilliant Shard

The clear star in that line-up definitely is the Runecloth Headband, because it yields the three most rare and thus very high demand materials. A lot of the BoA enchants require at least one of those. But don't ignore the other four. Leveling Enchanting from 0 to 300 requires 125 Strange Dust, 122 Soul Dust, 155 Vision Dust, 230 Dream Dust, 10 Illusion Dust and dozens of different essences (source: Why not be the one to supply those and make some gold in the process?

You may have noticed that I left out an item yielding Dream Dust. That's because on my server the market for that is moving between decent and horrible. By the number of Dense Stones being bought and sold (The Undermine Journal hooo) and checking a few names, I can tell that at least two people are doing the price ticket thing, exchange them for greater Darkmoon prices and DE all the greens. If your server's Dream Dust market looks healthy, try Black Mageweave Headband or Runecloth Belt, depending on the prices of each cloth.

Another point are the Small Shards. You can try and scrolls with the respective weapon enchants which are using Glowing and Glimmering, but sadly this isn't Classic or TBC anymore, where people went crazy when their level 20 sword was glowing red. I mostly AH them for whatever low price they're on there or just trash them. Has anyone had different experiences with Lesser Beastslayer and such in recent history?
The Small Radiant Shard you should definitely keep and use yourself for Fiery Weapon and Boots - Minor Speed.

Dream Dust, as mentioned, and Soul Dust are dirty cheap on my server in quantities larger than I feel comfortable in stockpiling, so I just re-post cheap Silk Cloth back into the market and use the others to fuel my material supply line. You should check the prices of cloth and Enchanting materials on your server, you may be pleasantly surprised to find a "market ready for the taking".

As a last point of order, here's how I went through my check list for entering markets.

1.) What's necessary?
295 Tailoring and 200 Enchanting. Steps are acquiring the cloth, turning it into bolts, crafting the items, mailing them (happens at the same time thanks to TSM), disenchanting them, mailing of the mats, post them.

2.) What's the profit margin?
On the one hand, cloth gets dumped on the AH relatively cheap all the time. Most of the resulting Enchanting materials on the other hand are rare or listed in way too small quantities. The sky is the limit. I've sold Greater Eternal Essences for 50g per and a stack of Vision Dust for 40g.

3.) Who am I selling to?
Leveling enchanters and people looking for BoA enchants. The numbers of people doing either each week should be low (1-5 day) and stable in the long run.

4.) What about the competition?
Dream Dust and Soul Dust are a mess, but the rest is very healthy. Surprisingly even Strange Dust. Level 85 players probably won't bother with this, since it'll look like "nickles and dimes" to them. Cloth is also mostly needed by Tailors only, so no other profession should come in my way.

5.) Can I afford to do it?
Buying the cloth daily or bi-daily and crafting only once or twice a week should suffice. From a money perspective, we're talking a low four digit investment per week, which by now shouldn't cause me sleepless nights anymore.

Verdict: Jump in!

Samstag, 12. März 2011

Entering new markets - How to make the call

Long time, no post. I've been fairly busy at work over the last week, because the deadlines of some major projects came faster than I could expect. I am also arranging a long distance relocation at the moment, so that ate a lot of time as well. The remaining few minutes of free time I spent with re-stocking and re-listing with my auctioneers and cranking out the occasional dozen tradeskill points.

As I am currently attending a conference in Asia, I'll have the time to write a few pieces this week. The downside is, this and the following posts will have to be released after my return home, since Blogspot is blocked by the local ISPs (wanna take a guess where I am?). Enough chit-chat, let's get to business.

In my last entry, I talked about exploring new markets. The topic of the March issue of JMTC's blogging carnival was diversify or specialize and provided a lot of very interesting insight from all experience levels with regards to goldmaking. The general consensus seemed to be, "FOTM (flavor of the month) markets can make you a lot of money, but it's the investment in multiple markets that'll keep your gold growing consistently, no matter what". Consequently, every AH player should enter new markets regularly.

A lot of times, this will be made easier by other players from the goldmaking community, who document their favorite or successful tactics. The Obsidium shuffle, the Mysterious Fortune Card lottery or the new 4.0.6 meta and enchanting recipes are well-known examples for this. But even the most well documented market strategy should be researched a little before being employed on my own server. At least I should check TUJ or my Auctioneer history to see if the prices on my or the original author's server aren't way off.

But what if the blog post suggesting a certain idea I want to try out is a few weeks or months old? What if it's from the last expansion? What if I have a trading idea of my own and can't find any evidence of it having been tried before? I'll have to do some research. Or what a lot of the elder bloggers refer to as "doing my homework". But what facts need to be checked, what questions to be answered to be able to make the call whether or not you want to invest into a market? Because I keep pondering these exact questions over and over recently, I'll try to assemble a little checklist of questions.

1.) What's necessary?
Know what I'm getting yourself into. Which preparations have to be done beforehand and what actions have to be performed on a regular basis? "Doing the Obsidium shuffle" sounds a lot easier than getting Jewelcrafting, Enchanting and Alchemy up to Cataclysm levels as a prerequisite and then spend at least half an hour daily prospecting, crafting (cut gems, make jewelery, do transmutes), mailing and listing it on the AH.

2.) What's the profit margin?
Is there money to be made with this? Buying uncommon ores (e.g. Silver, Gold) and melting them into bars may make you money on some servers and lose you gold on others. If I assemble a DMF trinket for 10,000g, how much will I be able to sell it for? If I buy Netherweave and craft cloth gear to disenchant, will the Arcane Dust earn me money?

3.) Who am I selling to?
Selling Flasks, raiders will probably make up 95% of my customers. Classic Dusts (Strange, Soul, Vision etc.) will mostly be bought by other people leveling Enchanting. Hybrid glyphs (e.g. Paladin, Druid) will have a higher demand than "pure" class glyphs, because they are more prone to switch their main talent trees and there are generally more of them, since they are more popular. Do I want to sell to the one guy crazy enough to pay 200,000g for a Crimson Deathcharger or the thousands needing Enchants on a daily basis?

4.) What about the competition?
The best strategies and ideas can go bust pretty quick, if one ore more other players are already doing it. Do I want to be in the Glyph or Gem market on a server where half a dozen guys are fighting over each of those markets? Can I co-exist with the other guy selling metal rods to leveling Enchanters without one of us starting a price war? And how high is the probability of someone noticing that this market can be exploited or tanked?

5.) Can I afford to do it?
This question actually divides into two aspects. The obvious one is the amount of liquid gold itself. Would I have been able to flip ores, bars, cloth and leather up to Cataclysm level when I had less than 1,000g? Probably not. I was pretty sure, 300 Inscription and Enchanting would be steady money makers, but before I had sold a few dozen stacks of low-level ores and herbs, there was just no way I could have afforded the initial leveling costs.
The second aspect is often neglected by myself and, from what I could gather at the Consortium and JMTC forums, a lot of other less experienced goldmakers. It's time. Or, how the elder goblins call it, opportunity cost. If I only have one or two crafts and strategies, which are making me gold, this is a small issue. But doing a 100 stack Obsidium shuffle takes the better part of an hour and re-stocking and re-listing 400 glyphs, gems and enchantment scrolls with the common 80 slot inventory does as well (although APM/TSM helps big time with the latter). If a strategy is earning me less gold per hour than I would earn doing daily quests (at max level) or spending the same time farming ore and herbs in Elwynn Forest, is it really worth my time? But it doesn't stop there. How much attention will this strategy take? If I would need to check up on my cut rare gems regularly during the day to be able to sell some of them, isn't that the wrong market for someone with a day job? And how much of my 1-4 hours daily do I want to spend on goldmaking instead of leveling my toons, running heroics or otherwise advancing them?

I think by going through these questions when evaluating a new strategy, I'll gain a pretty good understanding of the respective risks and rewards involved. In addition, they should also prove valuable when re-evaluating my already employed strategies, in case one of the factors has changed, both in a positive or negative way.

Note: I intentionally left out a question regarding risk, because each of those five questions provokes a certain risk evaluation already
"What's necessary?" makes me consider how probable it is, that my supply won't run dry or that Blizzard will mess it up in a patch (e.g. Disenchanting Alchemy trinkets).
"What's the profit margin?" should cause me to consider how volatile a market is or if sudden or gradual changes are to be expected (content patches, gear progress etc.).
"Who am I selling to?" requires me to find out if, how many and when people are willing to pay the prices I am intending to charge.
"What about the competition?" questions not only the situation in the foreseeable future. I need to at least be able to make an educated guess about people entering and leaving that market until I make back my initial investment.
"Can I affort to do it?" as the last question is a sanity check for me as both the executing and investing entity. Only because I have 10,000g doesn't mean it's a good idea to invest 8,000g into single level 85 DMF cards to collect and sell an assembled deck or trinket.

What do you think?

Freitag, 25. Februar 2011

[Low] Hitting 10k Gold and exploring new markets

I wasn’t really prepared for it, but when I checked the remote AH this morning, I found a whooping 1,000 Gold of sales in my inbox. I knew I was somewhat over 9,000 Gold yesterday, so I swiftly logged in and Auditor confirmed it for me: I reached the 10,000 Gold mark. Now, I know where last night’s profits came from. I am constantly keeping 5 Arcanite Bars for 100 Gold posted, because I figured if one of those rich level 85 guys gets the Thunderfury or Sulfuras quest item, they want their legendary and they want it fast. So that’s 500 Gold on top of the daily 300 to 500 Gold I am making through Enchanting materials and glyphs. So while those 1,000 are accounted for, I am still somewhat shocked that it took so little time to get from 5,000 to 10,000 Gold. I’ll have to consult MySales tonight to check if I am not missing something here. Anyway, 20,000 Gold – here I come!

Hitting my second milestone has made the second topic of today’s post all the more urgent: diversification. I actually see operating with low level characters only as a great chance to learn something here. I can’t rely on the popular steady earners that level 75+ characters have access to yet. Both because none of my characters is even close to that range and because I don’t have most of the professions covered yet. So what this does is it causes me to be creative on a more basic level.

Because I can’t cater to the max level players directly (safe for some vanity items maybe), I’ll have to earn their and everyone else’s money through other means. What does every character have or need? Glyph slots (covering some of that already), talent points (no money to be made there), equipment (largely not available to me and to be covered later), equipment enhancements (same as equipment) and professions. The latter are what I want to be focusing on.
I have already partially catered to that market through disenchanting cheap items from the auction house and selling the resulting materials. While I sooner or later want to stockpile some of that and start selling twink and heirloom enchants, I am fairly sure, this will always be a somewhat profitable market with some foreseeable ups and downs. With the accumulation of more and more Gold, my ability to reinvest some of this also becomes better. So 2 to 4 weeks ago, the following would have been impossible or at least a bad idea for me to do.

I will start flipping tradeskill materials. Enchanting rods and pearls are nice and dandy, but I want to have such gimmick sales to complement more reliable and higher throughput markets, not the other way around. Over the next weeks, I am planning to set up snatch lists for all common types of ores, bars, herbs, cloth and maybe even leathers. I want to add those markets one at a time and get a feel for good absolute or relative price limits for the snatch list, how much of a given material can be moved on an average day, how prices vary over the course of a week or month and how much demand there is for each kind of material. So while I am not be able to make money crafting Mysterious Fortune or level 85 Darkmoon Cards, I may be able to take a few Gold per stack from the people doing so. I think I’ll start with the metal market, so expect a first update on that over the weekend.

In other news, my Hunter is now level 30, a blast to play and only 5 levels away from being able to be powerleveled to 300 Enchanting/Jewelcrafting. I foresee that character becoming the first one to enter Northrend. Also, I am seriously considering getting Embersilk Bags for my trader. I am still working with Netherweave bags, so the improvement would be 24 additional slots, that's half a mailbox of ended auctions or two letters full of items more. The improvement on posting and re-posting auctions should be noticeable.

As the closing paragraph today, I would like to pose a question. Have any of you experienced the bug in TSM, which causes the addon to not remember the characters and banks you selected to be included in the inventory check of TSM_Crafting? And if yes, how did you fix it?
It’s very annoying when I restock on Glyphs that my trading character still has plenty of in his bags, because TSM refuses to include that character in the inventory check.

Donnerstag, 24. Februar 2011

[High] The Mysterious Fortune Card switch-a-roo

While I do focus what little playtime I have on my low account more and more, I would like to cover the version of the Mysterious Fortune Card (MFC) lottery I have been experimenting with on my high account. If you have for some reason not heard of this very lucrative market yet, Cold of Cold's Gold Factory has done a couple of very excellent pieces on this (Edit: the most recent one even today). Go read up on it.

On my high server, I have the very fortunate situation, that although people are crafting these cards, no one is barking in trade chat to advertise them. What basically happened is that I created the market. Two to three weeks ago, I dropped a redundant Tailoring skill on one of my chars and spent roughly 6,000 Gold to powerlevel Inscription to 450. I felt I didn't have much to lose, since I never saw anyone advertising the MFCs in trade chat and my sales in other markets were picking up slowly, so I would have recuperated from a disaster in about a weeks time.
That weekend I made back my leveling cost and roughly 1,000 Gold on top only through the power of advertising in trade chat. I sold 400 cards between 25 and 30 Gold each. About half of those I made myself, the other half I picked up at the then average price of 15 Gold and below. The higher priced ones I just barked out of the AH. So far so good.

The interesting part was that before long, the vultures started swooping in. There are half a dozen of those in the Glyph and JC market on my server, so it was to be expected that they would start undercutting me as soon as I would be advertising regularly for more than an hour. Using Autioneer's Appraiser, I monitored what glyphs were being bought up. People tended to buy the cheapest single auctions first - regardless of who was selling them - and largely ignored the stacks of 5 and 10 cards.

So I made the decision to stop for the day for three reasons. One, I didn't want to sell below 25 Gold and secondly I didn't want my potential customers to think 20 Gold are an appropriate price for MFCs. The third reason was kind of a gamble. I put in my last 30ish cards at 19 Gold and stopped barking. My competitors of course had been camping the AH and promptly re-listed their dozens or hundreds of glyphs below my price. Not a single one of mine and maybe a dozen of the other's MFCs at maximum was sold following that.

The really interesting part is what happened during the week after that. Without anyone barking, the cards started collecting dust on the AH shelves. I kept relisting my few cards every 24 hours, always undercutting the lowest price and the other guys followed suit. To them it looked like the market had dried up and that I, just like them, was desperately trying to sell my cards. Long story short, last Friday, the prices were somewhere between 10 and 12 Gold per Card, partially due to me driving the price down and partially due to the Whiptail spawn rate bug that had forced prices down to 60 to 90 Gold per stack the weekend before.

I bought up all of them safe for the ones at the lowest price (leaving some food for the chronic undercutters) with one of my inactive characters and sent them to my trading character. Since the Whiptail fix had hit live servers a few days before that and I had picked up the last 100 stacks below 100 Gold per, I was pretty sure they wouldn't be able to restock the MFC market at this low of a price.

So last Sunday I sold 500 cards at the same price again, netting a few thousand Gold. That time I tried the 10% bonus incentive (thanks Cold) and sadly, there was no winner. The nice thing was, the extra incentive made people ignore my opponents cards and even go for the 10 packs directly. At the end, I drove prices down again and the same downward spiral happened over the following days.

This week, I have bought up 150 cards at 10 to 15 Gold so far and I am still sitting at those 100 stacks of Whiptail, which will net me 600 MFCs and 100 Inferno Inks (25,000+ Gold compared to the 15,000 Gold of selling them raw). Luckily, my competition hasn't caught up to the fact that the cards only sell when being advertised in trade chat and the prices for herbs are fairly stable (resulting in at least 15 Gold material cost per MFC), so I am looking forward to another profitable MFC madness this weekend.

Since this was a fairly long post, here's the take away point for you: if you are the only or maybe one of the two people barking the MFCs in trade chat, but not the only seller, try driving down the price followed by radio silence in trade chat for a few days to pick up cards at prices below material cost. Of course this won't work and shouldn't be used every time, but it's a nice tactic to make the market unattractive to some competitors. Hope some of you can use this or some version of it to squeeze some more milk from the MFC cow.

Mittwoch, 23. Februar 2011

[Low] The story so far

While my Auctioneer scan is happily buzzing through 500+ pages of auctions in the background, I am sitting down to count up what I've achieved on my low account so far.

I started out with a Druid and got him Herbalism and Skinning right at level 10. Happily cruising through Darkshore, I was contacted by a Scribe after posting my first herbs on the auction house, who was interested in buying my Midnight Ink yielding herbs for 20g a stack. This made me my first 200+ Gold. I then dropped Skinning, because leather prices just weren't worth it at lower levels, and picked up Enchanting. While Disenchanting itself has been a nice moneymaker (always reinvesting money to keep my Enchanting skill maxed), my herbs soon started fueling my Paladin's professions (Alchemy and Inscription) instead of ending up on the AH. Since the number of glyphs became to much at about skill 225, I opted for a separate trade char, who is now the single hub of my AH shenanigans. While none of my characters has reached level 60 yet, all of them are sporting Netherweave Bags, which I got for material price thanks to the high level characters in my guild (I donated about two NW bags per one bag used by myself to the guild bank as a thank you for all the nice guild perks like Working Overtime).

My first goal was the 5,000 Gold mark, which I hit about a week or so ago. Took me long enough, but my focus was on my other account and equipping my main char over there. I am now sporting 8,000 Gold liquid and about 2,000 more in wares in the auction house. My two major markets have been enchanting materials and glyphs. Occasionally I sell some Arcanite Bars or am lucky selling some vanity pets (White Kitten for 5g or getting the Leaping Hatchling on the way to tame Echeyakee), but those sources of income are nothing reliable yet.

The first of my next major goals will be the 10,000 Gold liquid mark, which may take a while seeing that 2-4 of my characters will be in need of the various level 60 flying skills and the second round of Prime glyphs pretty soon.
The second one is more important to me and it's basically diversification. Having two fairly stable markets (glyphs have finally gotten back to reasonable, but not crazy profitable levels) is nice, having five or more is better. I already have a couple of ideas I want to try out. Some are fairly well known, some are fairly new and I just want to see if there's some money to be made there. So stay tuned for my future dabbling.


The Apprentice Trader

Dienstag, 22. Februar 2011

[Low] Class setup - doing it right from the start

So my "low" account is my fairly new one and the one at which I am forcing myself to play economically smart from the beginning. Today I'll cover what characters I am planning to have and what professions I have assigned to them. My plan is to have 5 chars down the road, with 10 of the profession present. I want to have as much synergy as possible (e.g. having the crafting professions which need level 84 to gain access to Twi.Hi. patterns on as few chars as possible).

My first character is a Druid. Due to flight and aquatic form, this is the superior farm class. Currently I have 360ish Herbalism and 300 Enchanting (so there's my first mistake). I plan on dropping Enchanting for Mining as soon as possible. Though disenchanting and reselling has been one of my two major money makers on this server, the cost to relevel it on another character shouldn't be too high. My Druid is four levels away from Flight Form and once he gains that, I want to use that to bring Mining to 300 before heading to the Outlands. Ultimately he doesn't need to hit max level that badly, since I could start gathering in the Cataclysm regions with level 75.

The second character is a Paladin. He sports 300 Alchemy and 300 Inscription. My reasoning was having all herb processing jobs on one character. Since he's a Dwarf (Archeology racial) and already 40-50 days into Minor Inscription research, there isn't much to be changed here. He's only five levels away from being able to level to 375, so that will be my highest priority, since Glyphs are my second money maker and opening up the market for processing TBC herbs will increase the potential profits for him. Also, Primal Might transmutes are waiting. So hitting level 75 sooner or later would be a good idea both for MFC shenanigans and all sorts of transmutes.

It gets kinda blurry after those two. The professions I haven't covered are Skinning, Tailoring, Leatherworking, Jewelcrafting, Blacksmithing and ultimately Enchanting again. I am left with three chars. One of them will be a newly created Worgen Deathknight, who'll take care of Tailoring and Skinning. AoE farming of both cloth and leather should never be passed up on (and my Paladin is fairly set in his stuff) and the racial will make the latter more efficient.

This leaves two characters, a Warrior and a Hunter, both around level twenty right now. At this point, I am unsure how to split the remaining four professions. Jewelcrafting and Enchanting have nice synergy when doing the Saronite or Obsidium shuffle. With Leatherworking and Blacksmithing on a single character, two of the Twi.Hi.-dependant professions would be on one character. Does JC/Enchanting on the Hunter and the other two on the Warrior sound like a good idea?

You'll notice I left Engineering out of the equation until now and I'll continue to do so. While being a fun and useful profession, it doesn't offer as much as the rest with regards to making money imo. And being honest, bringing 5 characters to level 75+ and 10 professions to the useful maximum will be a lot of work already. Maybe if they bring in epic gem transmutes with a CD timer, leveling a 6th character will be justifiable.

Any thoughts?