Friday, January 7, 2011

So sayeth the Stokpile

In every game and facet of life there are certain constants that you can rely on. By that I don't mean rules per-sé as rules have generally negative consequences. I mean things that just don't change, or if they do, so little it's barely noticeable. The auction house is certainly no exception to this fact. While playing the AH there are several constants that you always have to keep in the forefront of your mind and always reference them anytime you think about a market. That being said, here are the constants that I've noticed in the long time that I've been in the AH game.

1. Nothing is forever
Every new fancy niche that comes in will at some point disappear or changes enough to make it entirely different. The life span of every one is different of course, but don't expect it to be around forever and make it your sole source of income. The best example of this is the glyph business and how it changed so much during wrath and needs an entirely different MO in cata. So always be aware that things can change at a patch's notice. You can also interperate this as how all prices fluctuate daily by either a few gold or a few hundred.

2. Everything burns
There is not a single market that has not had a huge crash in prices or sales due to one reason or another. The farmers could have dissapeared for a few weeks and made LW pointless or a patch can be coming where you can get epic gems from common ore. Or the honor cost of them is removed or drops to almost nothing. Simply put, shit happens. So when you're being a good little goblin and stokpiling like you should be, always bear in mind that something could happen and make it all worthless. Be sure to balance your investments in your stokpiles with how much you can afford to lose. Also bear in mind the time frame between now and when the next patch is supposedly going to come along with the likelihood of any destructive hotfixes.

3. Materials are heavier than gold
There will -always- come a time where the prices of raw materials will plummet and along with them, the prices of everything they're used for. When this happens one of two things will happen to those working with them. You'll lose a ton of money as the prices normalize at the new low prices leaving you with a ton of over priced goods that you'll have to sell at a loss. The other possibility is that you can make a killing by buying them all up and resetting the prices if they aren't going to normalize. The best example for this is the crazy high prices of everything when cata came out. Some things stay high, others fell like a rock. By keeping track of this you could stand to make an enormous profit.

4. There is no such thing as a monopoly
The one thing that you'll never get rid of is competition. Be it other upcoming goblins or the casual sellers or people leveling professions. How you deal with each of them is entirely up to you. The goblins you can out play or force out through sheer muscle, but the others will never go away. People are always leveling or clearing out inventory. By knowing this you can take advantage of the leveling people and inventory clearance sales. And if you want to own an entire market, you'll be pushing prices up which will attract more people to the scent of easy money which brings them back down and the cycle continues.

5. Chance favors the prepared mind
Sometimes people get lucky and make a ton of cash in a single night. But if they weren't doing their homework and looking into that market, they would never have gotten "lucky" at all. Even if, for example, you never ever work black smithing it will still pay off to keep track on a high level at least of what is going on with it and how people are working it. By doing so you may find that some materials are flooded by a farmer and you can pick them up to craft X item and sell for a huge profit margin.

6. Experience is your best teacher
Try as I might, I can't teach you everything there is to know about the AH game. There will always be some small subtleties that cannot be put into words. Things that you may not even realize that you even learned them until much later on. All of that can only come from playing the AH often. Experience is absolutely the most important thing to have on your side.

7. Good things come to those who wait
Every big market requires time and patience. And with that comes investments of both gold and your time. Don't expect to make thousands over night, you have to invest plan and research. Only after you've done all of this will you start to see the fruits of your labor as it were. It will take time to secure a solid part in a market or build up a significant stokpile, but once you do the good times will roll.

8. When quality is irrelevant, apply quantity
The most recognizable example of this is glyphs. Just because something might not be selling for 1023040g profit over material prices doesn't mean that it's not a big money maker. More people have gotten rich from glyphs than any other profession (maybe aside from JC) simply because of the sheer volume of sales that it allows. So don't dismiss something because profits aren't huge. If something like bags are selling several a day everyday it's worth staying with it just due to the consistency of sales.

9. There is no escaping ignorance
Every day you'll come across something being sold for absurdly low prices by people that just don't know any better. Or you'll have a market such as vendor pets that sell to people that are too lazy to search wowhead. Always look for an opportunity like this as you can make a killing in no time, -especially- when it comes to special events. You can make gold hand over fist by selling ice cold milk for 4g each after buying it from the vendor for a few silver.

10. Knowing your competition is half the battle
Once you get head on into a market you'll easily start to identify who the other big sellers are. Find out if they're a camper or casual seller and act accordingly. Try and juggle your post times and/or undercutting strategies accordingly.

11. Knowing your market is the other half
Are you selling gems and enchants or other item enhancements? Watch trade and talk to peopel and find out when raids generally start/end on your server. Once raids start to end, that's when you want to list your wares. Are you selling gear or other leveling luxories? Sell them during peak hours like early noon or any time during the week ends. This is when most people are busy playing their newest alt and are looking for something to give them a little boost.

12. A simple thank you can go a long way
When you buy a ton of mats from a farmer in trade or the AH, be sure to thank them either in a whisper or in game mail. People like to feel and know that they are appreciated. Don't look down your nose at the farmers if that's just what they like to do. Unless of course they just think that's the best thing ever or think the AH game takes longer than farming, in which case feel free to point and laugh. Besides if it weren't for them, you wouldn't have your AH empire. Also being sure to thank people and be polite, that goes a good distance in talking them into being your personal farmer and business supplier. And believe me having a private supplier is a god send.

That's all that I can think up right now, but I'll add in more as I think of them as usual. Any time you're entering a new market or are reading new patch notes and getting all excited, never forget these constants that I've mentioned today. They can make you and they can break you.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Great post, great read, great content. I always look forward to reading your page.


  2. Outstanding post.

    There is knowledge of the AH that only comes from playing there over time. Instinctively, you learn what things are really worth, and you can see flipping opportunities, as well as assembly line ones. You're busy buying and selling, buying a selling... hours or days of slow progress go by, then before you know it, you realize you're 10K up over your recent tally. All those profit pockets bloomed while you were busy playing the opportunities.

  3. @ Altolycus
    I absolutely love the name!

    @ Midas
    That's exactly what I mean about experience. You just won't know until you know basically. Only by being active and wanting to learn more will that knowledge ever come to you.

  4. A+++ post, very well written. It is getting bookmarked now.

  5. Great post :)

    I'll just add a few things to the points you've made for my own amusement (they are not necessarily relevant :p

    1. I've dropped glyph business when I couldn't be bothered to camp the AH as the prices dropped from 50 to a few gold (call it a too high opportunity cost for me). I've kept hundreds of glyphs lying dormant in one of my AH toons. Every since Cata I've been drip-feeding the "wasteful" glyphs back onto the market...they sell from 50-250gold. I don't sell 50glyhps or more per day like I've used to but I make up to 2k easy money with glyphs that cost me 2-3g to make. Sometimes it's just about patience and the best thing is I haven't even restocked in half a year.

    2. The same thing I've written above applies here as well. I've also bought shitloads of Saronite Ore and while the prices pummeled at the release of cata due to the "bank clearing" as you've mentioned it I knew the prices will be just as high as Fel Iron Ore during Wotlk. The demand dropped enormously, but by selling smart you get 300-400% investment return over time (from 12-13g per stack to 60-80g per stack on my server). And the list goes on.

    3. At the moment some of the crafted goods are probably cheaper than the price of mats if you crafted it and it might stay so for a while longer. People are also not quite used to the inflation Cata brought so buying Epic BoE World Drops for 10-20k is really cheap. If you're in a root and don't know which BoE to buy aim for the Chest pieces since they are usually the biggest bang for your buck.

    4. Buy cheap enchanting scrolls that people are dropping on ah from 10-30g from leveling Enchanting and wanting "just a bit of the costs" refunded. I've got bags full of Enchant Cloak - Intellect and - Greater Spell Piercing, Enchant Gloves - Strength and Enchant Boots - Greater Agility. I hope I'll get at least 100% from this in a couple of months time when the leveling frenzy dissipates. Don't take this for granted though...I just might be terribly wrong.

    5. & 6. I'm not doing any hardcore preparation, I guess the "gut" feeling has to come from working the AH for a long time for some of us, but if I weren't as stingy with investments and if I'd read blogs like yours more I'd be a millionaire now.

  6. "7. Good things come to those who wait
    Every big market requires time and patience."

    I've stressed this many times in the above points and it IS the golden rule. The other one is be persistent and don't be afraid to either take up on new goblin ventures or adapt to the old ones.

    8. Glyphs, Belt Buckles, Leg Armours and in the early stage of an expansion - Jewelcrafting. Getting Rare Gems (which are as good as Epic Gems before those are released) from prospecting the commonest of Cataclysm ore and with the Alchemy transmutes being of CD this market is just golden. If you were smart and bought "obscure" cuts before the Inferno Ruby cuts you made a killing out of it. Don't neglect the Meta Gem market, that's a gold laying basket. My first cut was Ember Shadowspirit Gem - sold 2-3 per day for just under 1k gold. I sold less than I would Inferno Ruby cuts, but the profit return was just out of this world. At this moment the rule you've mentioned a lot and contantly by lower profit margins. And don't stockpile Ore, buy it at peak hours while it's cheapest, but only an amount that will last you until the next peak hour, since the prices of ore and herb tend to drop with time (most of them at least).

  7. 9. There is no escaping ignorance
    You can make gold hand over fist by selling ice cold milk for 4g each after buying it from the vendor for a few silver. In my case (Ironforge AH) the Vendor is just next door to the AH. But Milk? Cookies were a killer, I didn't make a lot since I couldn't be arsed, but did a little experiment nontheless, bought Small Eggs for 2g/piece (300-400% margin at the time) and then sold Cookies in batches of 5 for 40-45g...ignorance is bliss I suppose, what the people who bought the cookies don't know won't hurt them I suppose.

    10.&11. Cataclysm has been the Money Making Mecca thus far. I like my goldz, but I'm not greedy. Enough money for anyone who's smart enough to take it, no need for going for the throat approach at the moment. On my server at least. Everything sells sooner or later, and sells for huge profits.

    Jewelcrafting is nice, Engineering is as crappy as it was and even less useful for PvE, goggles are nice, but the tinkers fell flat. Why they took the ability to extract Volatiles is beyond me. Alchemy is the most OP profession at the moment, the daily transmute, whether it be Truegold or Transmute Living Elements is priceless. And the extended duration of flasks at the prices we're seeing now is a huge money saver...the chance at the Archaeology recipe is kind of neat too, if you're into such things. LW transformed from the cheapest profession to level into one of the most expensive ones - Pristine Hides going from 500-100g? Absurd. I have no clue what good is leveling Inscription from 450 to 525. You learn absolutely no new glyphs and the new Decks are very underpowered in most cases and herbs, with the price of stacks being what they are, is just a waste of money.

  8. @ ThRiNiDiR
    "I'll just add a few things to the points you've made for my own amusement (they are not necessarily relevant :p"

    A few things?! You have just taken posting a COMMENT on another persons blog to a whole new level. As in turning a comment section in to your own personal blog. There is much to be said for blogging etiquette. =)

    As always Stok, excellent post! You have a way with writing your blog that reaches ALL walks of WoW players and keeps them all coming back for more. NO other WoW blog accomplishes this.
    Fickle Little Riddle