Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Profession How To Part 7: Alchemy

Even if you're not an alchemist and have no interest in flasks I still suggest you read today's post because the tactics and methods mentioned apply to every profession. You just might learn a thing or two to help with your personal markets.

At long last, the day has arrived! After my many posts about alchemy, gold spent and gold earned here is my final installment of the "Profession How To" series. In case you're joining us late, here's the bullet points of what's been going on in my world.

  • I recently power leveled alchemy for elixir mastery. I have never worked in flasks before.

  • I discovered that the top dog herb supplier is also the number one flask distributor.

  • The UF spends all day either farming herbs, crafting flasks, or posting auctions. Probably only sleeps 3 hours a week.

  • I started with a 4k-ish deficit which I managed to make back in the span of a single week.

  • AH PvP is good fun.

Also in case you haven't already, check out my first month of posts to see the rest of this series where I cover every other profession that I work with. Now that you're moderately up to speed here's how to work the flask market.

Flasks are by far the easiest profession to work with. First thing to do is make sure you're an elixir master. If you are NOT an elixir master don't even bother crafting flasks, just don't. If you really want to compete you'll need the bonus procs to make a noticeable profit in the long term. Ok now that you've double checked that you have the proper mastery, time to make some stuff bubble and explode.

As with any profession you want to get a decent supply to begin your entrance into the market while starting up small. You start with a average sized supply so you can get a legitimate feel for the market, but small enough so that if things go south you won't be so deep in the red. Luckily there's only 4 flasks that are worth crafting:

Pure Mojo
Endless Rage

I recommend starting off with two stacks of each flask which, baring procs, will require the following materials:

80 frost lotus
80 imbued vial (make sure you're exalted with the vendor's faction)
380 lichbloom
60 pygmy oil (crafted from pygmy sucker fish)
6 eternal life
60 gold clover
240 icethorn

Now with all of those mats that should make at least 50 of each flask after you get a handful of procs. Next thing to keep an eye on are the herb prices and definitely watch the price of frost lotus. Remember the rule of "where there is one, there are many." When you see somebody selling a ton of cheap herbs they're probably selling cheap lotus also. Make absolutely sure you don't pay the market price as profits will likely be very thin depending on your server.

One important thing to keep in mind while working with flasks is the perspective on it. I try to think of them as just expensive glyphs that sometimes give me extras. They will sell just as fast in just as large amounts as glyphs and the profit margins are about the same. On average, I'm making about 3-7 gold profit per flask, but if I'm on a hot streak of procs you can imagine how much extra you can get if luck is with you.

This is one of those professions where you can sell so much so fast that a huge stokpile is of the utmost importance. Once you get the ball rolling in the market start buying up every last lotus you can find at your price because I promise you'll need them three days later. Also with you stokpiling a lot of cheap lotuses you also have the potential for flipping your own supply. If the price of lotus goes up to double that of a single flask, go sell the lotus and enjoy much easier sales.

Obviously timing is important with flasks as they are a PRE raid consumable as opposed to gems and enchant scrolls which are only bought AFTER raids. So you need to keep an ear next to /2 to find the general starting time of most raids that are pugged and when other guilds typically start at. Post your flasks about 30 minutes before then and watch them fly off the shelf. Also I don't really bother posting them during the early afternoon or ANY time at night or morning. There just isn't any buyers around usually and that just lowers the price. Pointless undercutting is pointless. One last tip for ya is that it will pay to pay attention to who's buying your flasks. If you see the same person always buying a ton of your flasks, wait until the market price on them has gone up a bit and send them an offer. Tell them that you'd like to CoD them X flasks every week or every so often for X gold each. Saved them a trip to the AH and save you a despot fee and AH cut.

Ok that covers that, now for the important part: tactics. From what I can tell there are several viable ways to work this market. They all have different levels of involvement and their own sets of pros and cons so we'll go through them one by one. It is very important that you look into the market before you decide which route you want to take with selling because they are HIGHLY dependent on your servers demand, material prices, and the type of competition that you will have to deal with. Personally I've come to always assume that my auctions will be camped, but that's probably because I'm rather unpopular amongst every other AH player on my server.

Hands Off.
With this method you treat flasks no different than any other market really. You set up your QA3 thresholds and prices and just cancel post to your heart's content. Here's the catch though: QA won't always post if your threshold is the same as the lowest price on the AH so be sure to lower the biding price % so that if your buy out is the same as somebody else the one with the lower bid will be listed first and thus get the sales. Also of note is that you don't need to be the lowest price to get a ton of sales. So the trade off is zero thinking for a very large loss of potential sales. Your call.

Wall of Bubbles.
Another set it and forget it style. This one doesn't allow you the potential for higher profits but it does guarantee you consistent profits. Basically you just make a metric ass ton of every type of flask, something like 50 of each at least. Tell it to have a post cap of 50 auctions in stacks of one. Then you set up QA3 to have your threshold at 20g, your fall back at 20g, your max price at 100% of the fall back, and set it to auto fall back. What all of that gibberish means is that whenever you hit the Post button on your flask banker you'll post your load of 50 flasks at 20g each no matter what the prices are of every other seller out there.

The theory behind this method is that since flasks always sell in large amounts during the same time frames every day, you're promised to get a bunch of sales no matter what. It also forces your competition to either lower their profits to almost nothing or buy up all of yours, thus giving you some easy money. If they insist on selling at a loss you can take a chance to buy them out allowing you to raise the iron curtain so to speak of the price wall. After that you can make some serious money because you just out played (and out bought) the competitors. In which case they have to either buy more expensive materials (good for you) or farm the herbs
themselves (even better for you). Time spent farming is time they won't be angrily camping you.

This was the initial method that I used with flasks and worked out very well for me. I managed to make enough sales at this small profit to get me a nice 7k income over the course of a week of which 4k covered my initial 2k worth of stokpiled materials and 2k power leveling cost. This was my preferred method because if you remember I had a MEGA competitor that was a the absolute definition of an UF. So my only option was to frustrate them so much and buy up their stuff to literally force them to spend more time farming and not going to the AH. It takes a hell of a long time to farm enough mats to make 3 stacks of flasks even as a birdie druid.

Just what you'd think, sorta manual sorta automated. You use auctioneer to post things for you while you check the prices of the competition and set yours all by hand. Granted this takes considerably more time and effort than the other methods, but will promise that you never miss a chance to sell for a much higher price than you normally would. I only recommend this tactic if the flask market on your server is extremely volatile and tends to change VERY rapidly without notice. When a market is in flux that often it's always best to keep a close eye on things, especially when they sell as much as flasks do. But since there's only 4 flasks to check on prices the required effort isn't nearly as much as you might think. But alas, extra effort is still extra.

Keep in mind though if you happen to find yourself in a situation where there isn't a few major suppliers, campers or UF's, this method is preferred by far. You can easily increase your profits three fold or more just by keeping tabs on the changes in price and supply.

One other thing you can keep in mind that I was reminded about in a comment on my Closing Thoughts entry is that if you happen to have a ton of mats, you can just pay your alchemy mastery trainer 150g to change your spec. If you don't feel like power leveling another prof or just don't have an extra spot open this is a viable option. Remember though that if you're serious about the flask business this will eventually cost you more gold than just leveling another alchemist. It isn't a GREAT use of your money but for those of you with a limited number of professions wanting to work flasks it is 100% a viable option. Certainly worth filing away in the back of your mind.

I figure I should list the popular potions as well if you happen to be on an odd server where the market is profitable. For the most part the lichbloom would be better spent on flasks, but hey different servers are different. These are the ones that progression raiders or those that just wish to preform their best will be using:

Potion of Speed
Potion of Wild Magic
Runic Mana Potion

You can also consider armor pots here, but since they're crafted in large numbers by leveling alchemists, it's rather unlikely you'll be making a profit crafting these. But there's always the option to flip them.

Ok that basically covers all of it. If you're wondering about the thinking behind any of that that I didn't remember to spell out check my previous posts on entering this market. My final tip for all of the alchemists out there is simply this: don't you dare trade in frozen orbs for frost lotus. Bad goblin, bad!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thanks for this, I found it to be very interesting even though I'm not in this market. I have a maxed out jewelcrafter and am currently leveling an herb/alch toon for transmute mastery. I realize the gem market is crashing but oh well. Looks like I'm going to have to level another herb/alch for flask mastery in the near future.

    BTW what is a "UF"?

  2. Hi Stokpile, I have a question regarding stockpiling mats before Cataclysm..

    I currently have 2 guildtabs full with Saronite ore, all bought for Max 15g per stack.. Do you think I should keep stacking up more Saronite Ore or should I stop now?

    I think they will raise in price in Cataclysm, just wanna hear your thoughts :P.

    Love you!

  3. @ iceveiled
    UF = Uber Farmer. A person that spends every hour of every day farming. AKA moron. Also, don't lose hope on the gem market as it's still strong. The massive price crash doesn't mean it's a dead market, not by a long shot! Besides the new raid is about to be on the PTR so another large flux of gear is coming and with it a fresh demand for gems.

    @ Anon
    There's definitely going to be a big increase, though you won't see it right away for NR materials. You'll be seeing an immediate demand spike for low level stuff, 1-30 or so, and that'll be sustained for a long time. It's not until the rush of new players and new goblins/worgen get to their low 70s before the demand for those mats will go up. I'm sure that two tabs will be plenty enough to make up a significant profit.

    If you use saronite in your normal AH business I'd definitely suggest buying more. I myself can go through an entire tab in a week or less sometimes. Though I'd focus more on iron and mithril personally as there will be many more needing it at the same time which will increase the prices even more than saronite.

    TL;DR: yes, but mid level mats would be better.

    Long winded sure, but hey that's just how I roll.

  4. Stok, good guide. After perusing your entire blog, I assume you are on a high pop server given the sheer amount of volume you're doing. On a medium pop server where progression raids are limited therefore a limited base, the strat changes slightly.

    Camping is high on flasks at the peak pre raid hours (4pm-6pm, T/W/Th) so posting 50 of each is going to result in a lot of mail attachments. Personally, I like auctioneer because people routinely post below cost just to buy/repost (spoilers). I can visually identify this and determine if I want to buy them out as well.

    The only downside to flasks on my server at the moment is that the progression guilds have gone to supplying them for their raiders as a standard practice. Most guilds have 2-3 herbalists saved to multiple Ulduar instances where the dedicated are busy tag team farming everyday. Kinda sucky but I grind out my profits regardless.

  5. @ Darren
    I'm not entirely sure just how populated Ysera is. We have 3 guilds horde side that have downed 25 LK and a handful in the 8/12 range. Naturally server pop is a factor because more people = more raid guilds. But like I said in the post, different servers are different.

    Being a good AH player is more than just following a guide and people need to do what you're doing; be observant of your market and make personal changes accordingly.

  6. Oh I haven't given up on the gem market, it's just the uncommon market is dominated by somebody who seriously camps it 24/7 and is always undercutting. I have a job and a life so I can't compete with him. I added him to the friend's list of all my alts to monitor his activity and try to re-list my gems after he signs off, but 20-30 minutes later he's back on and undercutting me. that's what prompted me to level an alchemist and try the epic market, which seems much less camped.

  7. Hey Stok, another great post. I'll probably put off alchemy until after my DK blacksmithing/tailoring project, but still a good read.

    If I may be so bold as to pick your brain some more (mmmm brains...), I'm curious as to how you have QA3 set up. I'm assuming that you have a different profile for each banker, tailored to what markets they cover. What I am wondering is how much do you have it set up to undercut your competition? Do you change this from time to time, based on whether or not you are dealing with campers in that market? When Boub from MMO-Champion wrote his guide about setting up QA for enchanting scrolls, he said he set his undercuts for 10s. I've seen some people undercutting by just 1c or 1s, but sometimes, like you've said, you have to do more deep undercutting to attempt to drive away the 24/7 campers. Some of the campers I've undercut by 10g or more, which often tends to go beneath my thresholds, at which point I sometimes get bought out by the camper (which makes me lol irl sometimes). Do you have a general rule for undercutting, or do you make certain exceptions based on the market or whether or not you're dealing with campers?

    A little off-topic, but I've done some research into the campers I've been dealing with on Alliance-side. I was quite amused to find that several of these tent-pitchers have very little knowledge of their classes, what gear they should have, and how to enhance with gems and enchants. I'd assume by looking at their armory that they're below the tanks in dps in their "heroics". They sure know how to stare at an auctioneer all day, though! Makes one wonder what they are using their "hard earned" gold for, if they're even making much.

    One particular camper I've noticed likes to rotate his camping toon every week or two, I'm assuming to throw his competition off from his camping scent. But since they're all in the same guild (solely for his toons) it's not hard to do a /who to find out which one he's camping with this week. He's dual-boxing, as well, with his main usually in a BG or crafting things right next to his camper. He thinks he's clever by making his names short and with "special" characters, but he's not fooling anyone.

    Thanks for all of your posts! I figure if you want to be the best, you should learn from the best! =)

  8. @ Charlie - haha, that reminds me of last year when I was doing glyphs and cornering the market. My camping buddy would UF all day and when I'd log he would immediately hearth or blow a scroll. I finally checked him out. Bad guild, Bad gems, Bad enchants, everything. The reason to get all that gold is simple - to have it and brag to friends. You may not play well but you sure know how to push Cancel and Post!

    The wealthiest person I ever knew on the server couldn't dps for spit but he had the best of everything. My guild took him in not knowing the level of fail he brought, and gkicked him soon. He was quoted as saying "But I have almost a million gold!" shortly before his kick. That’s great, I have half your gold and twice the brains. I see it time and again, gold skill is not game skill. But…

    I made the mistake of sharing some of my secrets with a guild I was in (was a top 50 world guild) but with only 1 person in the guild and I swore them to secrecy. That person told another in the guild, and they shared with 2 people, and on and on and even the GM began camping glyphs and gems because he is on all day. Camping was never in my instructions, but whatever.

    Thankfully Boub made his posts and this killed it for everyone but I made a fortune before the mess I made, but I had my monopoly on the info for the past 8 months prior. Since then, none of them can figure out how to make big gold and are back to manual farming, working for tips, and whatever else they were doing. So the converse may be true here, too. Incredible skill at the game doesn’t mean creativity or a head for business acumen and vice versa.

  9. @ Charlie
    I don't have specific QA profiles for bankers, just item groups. Some item groups only have one thing in them, like buckles. Takes a bit of extra set up time, but I find that it's worth it if I find the need to fine tune my setting fro a particular item.

    As for udnercutting it all depends on the market and the competition. My standard "nobody is around" undercut is 3g, if I smell a camper I'll set it to 10g. Though I don't see how you're going under your thresholds with high undercut values. If a buckles's lowest AH listing is 30g and my threshold is 25g with my undercut at 10, when I go to post QA posts my buckles for 25g even though it's set to undercut by 10g. It always obeys your thresholds, at least for me it does.

    I also have somebody that rotates their camping toon every other week or so, always with gibberish names. They're always guildless, but post the same 3 macro's every day all day "WTB...X" and it never changes.

  10. @ Daren
    I see the same thing all the tiem as well, people with a bike and traveler's mammoth, primo ICC gear, 3k dps. It is truly astounding, especially whern my DK was still in T8 pushing out 5.5k single target dps in a raid. Makes me feel a bit proud (in a spiteful sort of way) that not only can I break 8k dps, bring my tank face first into festergut and take it like a champ. And eventually, I hope, I'll be able to heal a green keyboard turning tank in ToC.

    It's just a desire to succeed for the sake of being successful. That mentality is important to EVERYTHING. AH playing, raiding, and anything you look to do IRL. Those who try, usually do.

  11. Yeah the "under my threshold" thing seems to happen more with the enchanting scrolls. No deposit, so the camper will just cancel/post all day long. I was doing just 10s undercuts at a time on those, but it didn't really seem to deter him at all. 10g is more like what I've been doing with the campers, and it does seem to be working a bit better. Though sometimes they'll just cancel and undercut by a silver again. Eventually, it's near material cost and then QA won't cancel anymore.

    So I'm guessing you set up QA groups like this: Ametrine cuts, etc. in their own group, individual groups for each enchanting scroll, separate groups for each flask, and so on. The initial setup actually isn't too bad, once you get used to doing it. Once you get into changing your thresholds, however, I'd imagine it gets a little more annoying, but damn it's a great addon.

  12. @ Charlie
    You hit the nail on the head. That's basically how I have it done, but I have all the flasks in the same group as their material price is almost identical with my server's herb prices. As far as changing thresholds goes, it's only annoying when it comes to enchanting because I have like 50 thigns I need to look up material needs and price checks etc on. If I'm changing thresholds on ametrines, it's one group, one item, one price. Bam done.

  13. Most of the simpletons that have super items and gear didn't actually earn the money to buy all that uber gear and actually just bought it from gold sellers right?

    You think someone with the common sense or intelligence to earn many tens of thousands of gold for top tier gear and misc. items doesn't have the smarts to pull over 3k dps in said gear?