Monday, February 28, 2011

Specialize in Diversity

If there is ever a question between whether you should specialize or diversify in a particular market or just in general, the correct answer is to specialize in diversity. A lot of AH advice is sort of wishy-washy "do what feels right for you" but this is one of the big, unequivocal no-brainers. Diversify, branch out, get your thumbs in as many pies as you can.

Only have two thumbs? Not a problem! Nobody wants to eat a piece of pie that has had a stranger's thumb in it*, especially if that thumb is already dirty from being stuck in other pies.

Think for a moment about markets that really require specialization. Like... uhh... yeah, exactly. Glyphs would be an actual example of "requiring" specialization, and a perfect example why you shouldn't be doing that. If you set up three bots alts and a cascade of addons and automate milling/crafting/posting/mail-collecting, you can make a lot of gold every day. Unless there is someone else doing it, out-botting-addon-ing you, while a couple of bozos are randomly tossing up high-priced glyphs at 80% or less of their current going rate. Will you still make a lot of money overall? Yeah, maybe. But I can probably make 50% of your profits with only 10% of the effort, while actually deriving enjoyment from the pie-thumbing in addition to the successful auction thrill.

When I talk about "specialization," I am not talking about "leveling that profession." Some people may consider Jewelcrafting to require specialization, for example, as if you have not hit 475 JC and been doing the JC dailies everyday for the last three months then you would be way behind the JCs who have "specialized." You will have less cuts, sure. But your Bold Inferno Ruby will be just as valuable as anyone else's Bold Inferno Ruby. Expanding your selection is not what I would term specialization, and it seems a bit silly even typing that out. To me, specialization is focusing on 1-2 markets to the exclusion of all others.

My question: if there is low-hanging fruit two steps to your left, why climb the coconut tree?

All that said, there is a finite level of mental bandwidth a person can devote to pie-thumbing, not to mix metaphors. You can over-extend yourself and it will lead to burnout. Diversifying is not about being everywhere, but rather about being ABLE to be anywhere. Imagine waging a guerilla war against the AH and you can kinda get the idea - get into a market, get paid, and get out when the heat turns up. Sure, it is not as glamorus as being a Captain of Industry or cornering a market. But if that is what you are after, you may need to come to the realization that getting paid is no longer your primary goal anymore. 

Here is my routine:
  1. Log onto Alch/JC, do JC daily, collect mail, browse AH prices of herbs and ore. If herbs are cheap, make flasks. If ore is cheap, prospect and cut.
  2. Log onto Enchanter/JC, do JC daily. Check recipe, dust, essence, shard prices. If enchanting mats are high, sell enchanting mats. If enchant mats are low, check scroll prices. If scroll prices are low, log out.
  3. Log onto Scribe. Check Inferno Ink and Darkmoon card prices. If herbs and Life are cheap, make cards. If Ink is high, sell Ink. If cards are low, buy cards. Log out.
  4. If prices have been all wrong, log onto Tailor/Leatherworker, check prices of leg enchants, make/post, log out.
The fundamental argument against specialization is that it is entirely possible your market could simply tank and you would be left with a basket full of broken eggs. Meanwhile, my market spread generally cushions me from bad news unless everyone is having bad news. In which case, it's not really bad news anymore, is it?

So, basically, diversify. It is safer, (generally) easier, and probably just as lucrative as specializing.

*Unless it's Thumb Pie, in which case that is the point.


  1. Mmmm pie!

    I like to ride my cash cow on a daily basis. Which of my cows is my cash cow changes. It used to be glyphs. Now it's prospecting. I feel safe riding these cows. I am, however, always on the look out for new cows because (like you said) you never know when the milk may dry up.

  2. What's with all the metaphors? Lol. Nobody has mentioned a surfing metaphor about riding the waves, yet...

    Thanks for the post, though, Azuriel. It's good advice. The other thing about diversity is that it keeps things interesting, prevents you from stagnating - or even worse, resenting your routine

  3. Dude! What kind of pies are you selling? I can't even sell Flasks! And Cataclysm cooking recipes? Man, those markets are all hit or miss. But pie? Genius!! Is that a zone drop recipe or what?

    All I can add to the post itself is that having more maxed profs give you more flexibility to move when it makes sense.

    Playing the synergy between profs is helpful. Mine your ore or buy it, prospect it, cut gems or craft items, DE them, make scrolls--and you can sell any of the above at any point on the supply chain if it is more profitable than the end item.