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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

OT: Four Point What

Patch 4.1 is hitting the PTR Soon™ and in the midst of flurry of blog posts about it, let me be the first to say: ZA & ZG what?

We had gotten hints at the beginning of Cataclysm that ZG/ZA might have merely been a setback with all the chatter about the Tome of Polymorph: Turtle and the vague gesticulations concerning the ZG mounts. The literal revelation that these are coming back though leaves me a bit floored. To a certian extent you expect a bit of redundancy within MMOs, for several reasons. For example, can you imagine 120 different Fire Elemental models? It would be absurd, a huge drain not only on development time but also taxing on players' mental bandwidth. The other reason why you should expect redundancy within an MMO is simply because of player churn. For however X number of players remember going through ZG and ZA back in the day, there are Y players who never did... making the content new to them. If recycling content gives the designers space to make all-new content, that is an acceptable trade-off.

That said, it remains to be seen whether we will be, in fact, getting gameplay returns for developer recycling or if Blizzard is simply repackaging our shampoo into a "new and improved" 9 oz bottle (down from 12 oz) while charging the same $15. Revamped Onyxia was better than no Onyxia in Tier 9 content, unless we could have had Completely New Boss X instead. Blizzard promised Throne of Tides - Abyssal Maw in 4.1 though, so unless that makes it Live in addition to the other two, it is conceviable Blizzard is peddling some Adjustable Rate Mortgages our way.

Ultimately, the above kind of gut reactions miss the PVSAH mark. The only relevant aspect is: are these heroics/boss fights fun? If Blizzard makes them fun, what does it matter if in patch 4.2 we see 5-man Karazhan (hopefully with Chess Event and the legions Malchezaar commands intact) or even the ultimate slap-in-the-face Magister's Terrace revamp? Fun is fun. And while that may seem like a tautological cop-out, at the end of the day it is the only thing that really matters.

Edit: I wrote the above a few days ago when the changes had just been revealed. Since then, my feelings have shifted more towards Acceptance. The Deadmines revamp was essentially an entirely new, innovative instance wrapped in nostalgia packaging. The same could sorta be said about Shadowfang Keep, but I hate the place honestly. I don't like running Deadmines either - both still take even a guild group close to an hour to finish - but if the ZA & ZG heroics turn out like Deadmines from an innovation standpoint, it's win-win for everyone.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

That Which Has No Life

The other day I noticed I was undercut on cut gems within approximately 30 seconds of posting. Could be a coincidence, right? At the time I was talking within guild about The Undermine Journal and the voyeuristic possibilities ("Hey, your sister posts auctions only between 7pm and 11pm Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat"), so I decided to go ahead and eyeball my competition:

Err... WTF?

I actually knew about this guy for a while, as he is "that guy" on my server who has 3+ different toons with slightly different spellings who runs a Glyph racket. This particular specimen is in the blood diamond gem market and appears to be ran by a bot - even if he was unemployed, there simply is no way that he would be posting ~40 auctions every hour on the hour, seven days a week.

The question becomes: short of acquiring the Sword of A Thousand Truths, how does one compete with this?

Answer: the only winning move is not to play.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rare Spawn Profits

Did a bit of raiding the other day and ended up having to switch out of my usual MT role into Ret DPS for the Double Dragons. As it turns out, my Ret gear was pretty abysmal with some imminently embarrassing greens. After being shown why Theralion is his mother's favorite child, I started going through AtlasLoot and Wowhead for possible upgrades. One particular weakness I wanted to stamp out was plate bracers - ilevel 318 greens seemed pretty bad. Doing some Wowhead database magic resulted in this list, which basically indicated I would be stuck in 318 greens unless I did Halls of Origination (yuck) or BRC on heroic. Or bought a pair of BoE bracers off the AH that dropped from a rare-spawn with a ~8-15 hour respawn timer.

Wait, what?

Terborus's Rotating Bands is a BoE 346 blue wrist that drops off a rare spawn in Deepholm 100% of the time. It is more or less identical to another blue wrist that drops in heroic HoO, and the two of them are essentially pre-raid best-in-slot for both plate tanking and DPS. At the time I discovered this, there was one pair on the AH going for 3100g, but The Undermine Journal indicated that this was somewhat of a low-ball estimate across most other servers. Being the miserly auctioneer that I am though, I decided to finish up some Therazine quests on an alt while keeping an eye out of Terborus myself. About an hour later, the big yellow worm was dead and I looted the equivalent of several thousand gold.

As you know, I usually do not advocate straight up farming or camping rare spawns - in most cases you can leverage the Transitive Property to farm something worth more, and just buy what it was you needed to buy. That said, if you happen to be in the following areas, I recommend stopping by to case the place:
Clicking on the mob name will take you to Wowhead's maps with their exact location(s). There are some other rare spawns out there, but only the above ones drop 346 BoE gear. Anecdotally, any one of those items should fetch 2000g minimum.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Art of Haggle: Haggler

Last time we talked about getting haggled. Now let's look at doing some haggling.

Fundamentally, haggling is a tug-of-war battle between two people with imperfect information. As the seller, you do not know how much the buyer is willing to pay - as the buyer, you do not know how low the seller is willing to go. Even if the buyer/seller tells you exactly how much they are willing to accept, there is no real way for you to know if they are telling the truth or whether it is merely a gambit on their part. In fact, it's entirely possible that the buyer/seller does not even know the truth of their own statement.

Within World of Warcraft however, there is one piece of information you do know when it comes to people selling items through Trade Chat: they are desperate.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Art of Haggle: the Hagglee

Last night, as I was collecting the spoils of sold Darkmoon cards, I noticed an established raider saying in Trade chat "WTB Darkmoon Card: Volcano." The first thing I did was head to the AH to check if I had been undercut on my own Volcano deck. Seeing that I was the only seller up, I quickly canceled my current auction with it's 18500g buyout and relisted for 22000g. Smiling to myself on a job well done, I prepared to check in on my other alts. Before I could log though, I got the whisper.

...the dreaded, dread whisper.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

OT: LFD and Difficulty

OT = Off-topic, e.g. no AH advice.

Chances are good that you have at some point been exposed to the debate still consuming the WoW forums in regards to the recent nerfs to heroic difficulty, the buff to Luck of the Draw, and the overall "Wrathification" of Cataclysm. The arguments are pretty rote by this time, usually coming down to "morons/bads should L2P and not have faceroll epixs" and "back in my day we wiped and liked it" and possibly "the elitist no-lifers just want exclusive content for themselves" or "my $15/month is just as valuable as your $15/month."

All of that kind of debate is besides the point.

The point is two-fold: the DPS queue for heroics is north of 45 minutes and the completion rate of LFD groups was garbage. Period.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cataclysm Thus Far

Based on some of my prior posts, I would probably have to describe myself as a Fairweather Auctioneer. Based on my realm's markets thus far in Cataclysm, I would probably describe it as containing fair weather. A visual aid:

In short: 137,811g over 71 days or just shy of 2.5 months, averaging 1,941g a day.

Tragically, I only downloaded MySales in the past few weeks so I don't have as much hard data as I would have enjoyed browsing. Generally speaking though, I do not pool the gold across my various toons as you can see; by keeping it separated, it gives me a way of judging how profitable and/or self-sustaining certain individual professions can be.

In essence, this is a personalized recap episode for my time versus the Auchindoun auction house thus far. Feel free to keep right on browsing if these aren't your thing, although I would like to think I can make it somewhat entertaining for the both of us.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

4.0.6 Primer

MMO-Champion is reporting that 4.0.6 will be dropping on Tuesday, and I tend to believe them.

There have been a lot of posts around the blog world after each PTR build, but some of those have been weeks (or months) ago, and it becomes pretty easy to lose track of the changes that should pique your interest. What follows are the top three things I think are important to keep in mind in the days before the patch.
  1. New BoE patterns. Three new JC metagem random world drop recipes, all of which are going to be unbelievably hot commodities for the rest of Cataclysm - Wowhead is showing that they are +54 Agility/Strength/Intellect with the +3% crit damage, making them strictly better than the Chaotic meta, in every possible way. So stop making Chaotic cuts immediately, and you may want to consider dumping your remaining stock as well. It may be a while before the new metas saturate the market, but you don't want to be left holding bag either.

    Enchanters are getting three new +50 Agility/Strength/Intellect wrist enchanting patterns, which are also BoE world drops. The demand for the patterns themselves will probably be high, but since all three require two Maelstrom Crystals to enchant, I would not expect high demand until after 4.1 (when I expect the new 5m to drop epics on heroic).
  3. Expect a surge in herb/Volatile Life prices. The number of herbs needed to make flasks will be reduced by approximately 33% across the board (8 of two kinds instead of 12). This reduction in mats should correspond in a surge of demand because now A) making flasks is closer to being profitable, but more importantly B) getting the guild achievement Mix Master is now within (easier) reach. To get some idea of the scope of the change, the herb reduction means a guild will go through 400 less stacks of herbs. Yes... four-hundred stacks. These aren't 400 stacks of Cinderbloom either (for the most part). The Volatile Life demand will come as a consequence of the quantity of flasks being made, especially since each flask will take two more Volatile Life each, basically creating an extra 2,000 Life demand per guild.

    Also supporting the extra herb/life demand will be the new Alchemy trinkets, like the Vibrant Alchemist Stone, which are amazing. Whether the alchemist never made one before or if they made the +Stamina version, chances are good that every Alchemist on your server is going to spending 50 more Volatile Life and nearly two more stacks of herbs each. 
  5. More people will be running heroics. Not only have almost all the heroics been targeted with some precision nerfs, the recently announced broad-spectrum, ICC-esque 10% buff to players using the LFD tool will mean more successful heroic runs are being made. More successes mean it's more likely that individuals will queue again, which means more cloth, more enchanting materials, and ultimately more demand for enhancements like gems, flasks, and even enchants as players more quickly replace their old gear and perhaps move on into raiding.
Two more things to keep in mind that are not necessarily patch-related, but will impact us nevertheless. First, the Darkmoon Faire is rolling back into town on Sunday. I fully expect the competition on the Darkmoon trinkets to be particularly fierce this go-around, so just keep in mind that you don't have to undercut everyone; if your competition is going for a scorched-earth, fire-sale strategy, just hold onto your trinket until next week. If you have extra cards laying around or the mats to make them, the opposite is true: sell those to desperate players trying to find that one missing card and willing to pay a premium to avoid sitting around for another month.

The second is that Love is in the Air holiday is also starting on Sunday. It remains to be seen whether or not there will be any explicit money-making schemes like there was last year (Lovely Charm Bracelet fiasco anyone?), but it has been "confirmed" on Wowhead that the holiday boss drops ilevel 346 necklaces this year, some of which are strict sidegrades to the crafted JC ones. So if you were prepared to put down the cash for one, you might want to slow down. And if you were planning of selling some, well, you still might, but I would not take any undue risks attempting to do so.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cataclysm JC Rings and Necklaces

[Note: Other blogs have talked about this topic already, a fact I was only made aware of about 10 minutes ago. However, I think I'm bringing a bit more beef and original research to the table, so just hang with me till the end]

There is a general sense on the WoW forums - something I read regularly as a sort of barometer for AH behavior "in the wild" as it were - that the crafted JC rings and necklaces are terrible, a waste of time, "should be epic 359s" and so on. For the most part, such lamentations are besides the point. Whether something is objectively good or not has no bearing on its marketability, as any Mysterious Fortune Card or cigarette seller can tell you. These JC items being remarkably amazing would certainly help things along, of course, but it is not strictly necessary.

But are they actually any good?

The short answer: Sure.

The long answer: Ehh... some of them, yes.