Sunday Blog Post Roundup Vol. 5

What a week — the blog-o-sphere is on fire with good stuff to read.  Hang with me to the very end of this list, they are all excellent.

The Gold Queen posted a tip on how to “shuffle” leather.  It’s actually a type of currency arbitrage, and a good, easy tip.  Check the prices on your server before you jump in.

Croda at marketsforgold had two really good posts — one on how to get a guild bank (which actually points out there are some downsides to it) and one that shows exactly how they evaluate items for flipping potential, step by step.

Jim Younkin from Power Word: Gold posted a list of exactly what money making professions he’d recommend you have depending on how many characters you have to work with.

Mommar from Just My Two Copper didn’t use the words “business process” in his post, but that’s exactly what he was talking about when he posted about keeping a list of daily activities.

Faid from clockworkriot wrote two great inscription related posts.  The first was on preparation for MoP, and the second was on tactics for dealing with competition in the glyph market.

Staying on the topic of dealing with competition for a moment, on Phat Lewt’s Gold Blog, Mr. Lewt’s wrote a simple post about the basic ways gold earners track the activity of other sellers.

On ALT:ernative, The Godmother posted an excellent take on Blizzard’s new guild mentoring program.  I, however, took something else away from the post — her list of questions used when interviewing potential guild members.  I always say when I’m looking for people to work with, the only two really important qualifications are that they are cool and smart — most of the rest you can teach.

Focushot from Hunter Mastery shared a list of 10 gold making tips.  They are specific ideas for products you might not have considered.

Finally last but certainly NOT least, Cold from Cold’s Gold Factory gave his opinion on why the old gold earning cliche “buy low, sell normal” is a joke.  Also make sure to check out all the great posts that were entered into Cold’s Gold Blogging Carnival for July.

 

Mail Basics and Using CODs

I think it was on a recent episode of Call to Auction that the hosts discussed the fact that a lot of players don’t understand how the COD mail system works, and therefore they are afraid to use it.  (By the way, Call to Auction is fantastic — I’m so glad they are back and I really hope they stick around and keep the ‘casts coming).

I’ve noticed this as well.  I don’t generally buy or sell in trade but occasionally I do respond to people selling things there.  And if I suggest a COD more often than not the person doesn’t want to do it.   Even though we’ve been playing the game a long time, some things have changed over time and we forget the details.  So I thought I’d provide a quick overview/review of the mail system basics, including how COD works.

In-Game Mail Basics

The exact size of your mail box “behind the scenes” is unknown outside of Blizzard best I can tell.  However many pieces of mail you have, a maximum of 50 are displayed at a time.  To see messages beyond the first 50, you have to remove (read and delete) some of the first 50 to make room, and re-open or refresh the mail box.

Unlike a lot of mail systems outside the game, you do not retain a copy of mail you send.  (There is no “sent items”).  There is also no way to recover deleted mail.  The system is designed for mail to serve its purpose and be removed promptly thereafter.

Mail Expiration Times

  • Normal mail expires in 30 days, after which the message is deleted
  • Mail with attachments expires in 30 day, after which the items are returned to the sender
  • COD messages expire in 3 days if not paid for, after which the items are returned to the sender
  • Returned messages and items will expire from the original sender’s mail after 30 days and be deleted.  (In other words, they will not bounce back and forth.)

Delivery Times

  • Text only messages with no attachments arrive immediately
  • Mail sent to a character on the same account as the sending character will arrive immediately
  • Any mail, including those with attachments or money, sent between characters in the same guild will arrive immediately if the guild has the guild mail perk, awarded at guild level 17.
  • Without the guild mail perk, mail sent to a character on a different account from the sending character with items or money attached will take one hour to arrive.
  • Items purchased from the auction house arrive immediately in the buyers mail.
  • Money received from the auction house to the seller of an item takes one hour to arrive.
  • Returned mail arrives immediately
  • Money received from COD sales arrives immediately.

Cash on Delivery (CODs)

When you send mail with items attached, you have the option to require the mail recipient to pay an amount of gold for the items by selecting the COD check-box and entering the cost of the item or items.  You enter one total amount for all the items attached to the mail.

When a mail recipient opens the COD mail and attempts to take any of the attached items they will get a dialogue box asking them if they agree to pay.  If they do, the money will automatically be withdrawn from their gold total and sent to the sender/seller.

CODs are convenient for many uses.  Not only can you buy something from a seller in trade without either person traveling, you also don’t pay any auction house deposits or fees.  You can set up an ongoing deal with a materials farmer to send you everything they farm for a set price, and then not even be online at the same time.  And in conjunction with the guild mail perk, it’s a very convenient way to do business with guild mates since the mail is delivered immediately.

In the past there were issues with CODs being used in gold scams or for other under-handed purposes.  I’d rather not outline the tactics here.  But there have been changes made that make it pretty hard to take advantage with someone using COD.  As a seller you can be assured that you will either receive payment for your items or you will receive the items back within 3 days.  And as a buyer, you need to carefully review what is attached to the mail and what price the seller input before you accept the item — that dialogue box appears for your protection, so use it and don’t just click blindly!

 

Reward of the Week: You Can Totally Afford All Those Recipes

I’m not much of a pure recipe collector.  I tend to buy what I need to level and then buy just recipes I’ll definitely make either for myself or to sell.  But after I reached my first gold goal I realized that I could afford to splurge on recipes, and it was fun to have them.  And the more recipes you have, the better the chance you can respond quickly to a money making opportunity on some obscure item should that opportunity arise.

If you decide to treat yourself to some shiny new recipes, be aware that many if not most of the recipes listed on the auction house are available from vendors and are being “flipped” by your gold earning counterparts.  You can decide to either run around and get them all from the vendors or pay a premium price to avoid all that work.  After all, this is a reward, so you’d be justified to take the easy way out.

A few addons will help your recipe collecting a great deal.  The most important one is Ackis Recipe List (ARL), which I wrote a brief guide about here.  This will show you a list of all the recipes you don’t have and let you filter it by a whole bunch of different criteria.  In this case, where you are buying recipes as a gold earning reward, you probably will want to only list those recipes that you can purchase from a vendor or from another player, therefore excluding the BoP ones.  And if you decide to be a bit frugal and go to the vendors instead of the auction house, ARL tells you the exact location for each vendor.

Ackis Recipe List

Another useful addon for recipe buying is Altoholic.  After you install it and open your tradeskill windows on each character, it remembers what recipes you know and displays “could be learned by” and “already known by” information in the tool tip when you mouse over a recipe.

Tool Tip

Even the standard auction house UI has one very nice feature for recipe collecting — the “usable items” filter.  By selecting it you’ll only see recipes listed that you can learn. (on the character you are on — it doesn’t know about your alts like the Altoholic tool tip does.)   So if you want to go nuts you can just select “Recipe” on the left, click “Usable Items” near the middle top, and start buying!

Standard Auction House UI

 

Did They Ruin Fishing?

Mists of Pandaria promises exciting and sorely needed additions to fishing.  Looking over what we can expect at El’s Extreme Anglin’ and Wowhead makes me reflect on the state of fishing today and its evolution over the years.

A lot of players complain about fishing, but all the complaints basically boil down to the fact that its core mechanic is a bit mind-numbing.  You cast out your lure, wait for a nibble up to 20 seconds, you click on the bobber and loot your catch.  As far as I know the very very basics of this have not changed over the years.

The “waiting for the nibble” mechanic is annoying because you have to pay at least a little attention after you cast in order to catch the moment to click on the bobber.  It’s hard to type in chat when you fish, or even really watch TV in the background.  (By the way, for those who play with the sound off, sound helps a lot with this, the nibble makes a splash noise.)  And have you ever tried to fish with extreme lag?  Not fun.  Having to loot what you catch is a bit annoying but this can be addressed using auto-loot in the interface options.

What has changed is what can you catch, where you can fish, and the math behind gaining skill from fishing.  They’ve also added quests (darkmoon faire and dailies) some of which reward fishing skill points upon completion.

Fishing in Stormwind

The absolutely fastest way to level fishing skill now is so simple that you can write a fishing leveling guide in one sentence — stand by the fishing trainer in your capital city, catch fish, and train the next level as you need until you hit max level.  You gain skill points based on the number of casts you perform no matter what you catch or where you fish.  If you fish in water with a higher fishing level, you lower your chances to catch something interesting, but you don’t lower your chances to gain a skill point.  And you can fish in pools anywhere at any level without catching junk ever.

Fishing while levitated

By streamlining fishing’s leveling process they took away lot of the profession’s “flavor” without addressing what most people find boring about it — having to wait for the nibble.  I’ve always maxed fishing on all my toons, and enjoyed it actually, but even I find it a bit boring when the incentive of the skill point, mini-ding is gone.  So if I race to max level without experiencing different fish or locations, there is never really any incentive to do so other than farming fish for profit.  They basically ended up making fishing even more boring, something most probably thought wasn’t possible.

I’m sure the game’s design team has looked at the core “nibble” mechanic a great deal and it seems like they are pretty set on not changing it.  They could take away the need to click on the bobber altogether, and that doesn’t seem any more radical than the change they made to mining where now you only have to strike the node once to get everything in it.  They could allow you to click on pools to cast into them as well.

In the absence of making changes to the core mechanics of fishing, which I predict won’t happen, I’m hopeful that the addition of new rewards and reputations and quests for fishing in MoP will refresh the profession for a lot of us older anglers.  Making things too fast or too easy takes the fun out of them just as much as them being too slow or too difficult does.

Not Stocking Up: Enchanting Materials and Scrolls

I’ve been following the tide in the blog-o-sphere lately and writing a lot about stocking up for Mists of Pandaria.  It’s almost dishonest of me, because it’s not in line with my normal gold earning philosophy.  So I thought I’d write today about my reasons for not stocking up in general using the example of enchanting materials and scrolls.

Enchanting scrolls have become my main source of gold income lately, not by design really — it just naturally happened after I hit my last gold goal.  I eased back the intensity of my market presence and it just turned out that scrolls took less time to keep doing.  The glyph market on my server goes though periods of heavy competition. I had been shuffling ore but that business suffered from the introduction of epic Cata gems, plus it’s just plain a lot of work to do correctly.

Given that enchanting is a main money making market for me right now, you might think I’d want to stockpile materials or scrolls as a way hedge against anticipated demand driven price spikes.  I have to admit that perhaps I could make money doing this.  But my business process for enchanting is set up as a lean manufacturing operation, and building up inventory is against the basic principles of lean — it is in fact considered one of the “eight wastes“.

I use a pull system with one piece flow for my enchanting process.  To start, I maintain a list of possible scrolls to make.  Once a day or so I scan the auction house and identify the scrolls that will make a minimum profit based on the materials costs and market price.  From this list of potentially profitable scrolls, I plan to make one of each only if I’m currently completely out of stock.  (Make sure there aren’t expired auction scrolls sitting in your mail box when you determine what you are out of.)  This is called a pull signal.  Being out of stock on a profitable scroll “tells” me to make one, otherwise I do nothing.

Based on this production plan, or queue, I purchase the materials I need.  I don’t maintain any inventory of materials beyond the inevitable few leftovers.  I use TSM: Shopping, just like I do for herbs, to get the lowest materials prices.  Often I can get the materials for below my scan-based cost estimate because TSM allows me to find good deals to disenchant, and my guild has the perk bountiful bags.  This creates a profit estimate cushion.

Then I simply make the scrolls and post them at a moderate undercut to the current lowest price.  Of course I also repost any auctions that have expired or have been undercut.  I can increase my profit by restocking and reposting more often.

The frequency of sales determines a natural “heart beat” for each scroll’s pull signal.  To maximize my profit in theory, my process needs to match that “heart beat” as closely as possible.  In reality my process frequency is determined by my time availability and an average market “heart beat”.  You can adjust to a higher stock level to partially compensate for outlying scrolls that sell much faster than most.

I find it hard to anticipate exactly what will happen as we approach and experience the expansion, and this means that stockpiling creates risk.  On the other hand, my process pretty much guarantees I won’t lose money — I’m paying a potential opportunity cost to buy that guarantee.  But mostly my reason for not stockpiling boils down to the fact that I like this process.  It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s proven over time to make gold.  I’ll be the first to post here when/if I end up regretting my decision to stay on the enchanting stockpiling sidelines.

Stocking Up: Ink

This topic has been covered at length by a number of bloggers, but they each take a slightly different approach.  I thought I’d let everyone know my thoughts and what I’m doing regarding preparing for Mists of Pandaria and Inscription inks.

For those who don’t remember or who didn’t go though it, ink trading undergoes a transition around the time of the big pre-expansion patch.  Now you can trade in blackfallow ink for all the lesser common inks used to make glyphs.  However in Mists blackfallow ink will be replaced as the “currency” with ink of dreams, which is created from new herbs. Right after MoP goes live, ink of dreams will be scarce and expensive.  So if you don’t have some of all the inks you need for glyph making stockpiled, you will find them hard to come by.

So what inks will you need?  Looking over what Wowhead knows so far about inscription, most glyphs in MoP will be created either from ink of dreams, or from the same set of inks used now, namely: ink of the sea, ethereal ink, shimmering ink, celestial ink, jadefire ink, lions ink, and midnight ink.

Currently, blackfallow ink is only used to create one glyph, and it doesn’t seem like that will change in MoP.  Its other uses are limited.  If you sell mysterious fortune cards, of course, you will need it.  But I don’t sell mysterious fortune cards, so I have to be more careful about how much blackfallow ink I stockpile.  (One important detailed note: Wowhead currently doesn’t show that you can trade ink of dreams for blackfallow ink.  I’m going to keep my eye on this, not sure if it’s just not there yet or if you really won’t be able to get it.)

Storage space is of course another issue.  My general stance against stockpiling in the past means that I don’t currently have access to a private guild bank for my main server/faction.

One option if you have a lot of storage space would be to stock herbs themselves.  This would give you the ability to use the herbs in other ways later, like for alchemy.  However, remember at some point you’ll lose the ability to use blackfallow ink to trade.  So if you stockpile thousands of whiptail, you will no longer be able to create lion’s ink from it at some point around the pre-expansion patch.  You would have to stockpile the lesser herbs to guarantee the later ability to make the lesser common inks.

Taking all this into account, here’s my plan.  I’m creating a stockpile with a smallish fixed amount of blackfallow ink, probably around 200.  Then I’m building up roughly equal supplies of the other  7 common inks used to make glyphs, with some extra ink of the sea and ethereal since they seem to be most widely used.  I’ll stop when I’m out of storage space.  To ensure I make all this ink for the lowest possible price, I’m using the process outlined in my recent post about how to use TSM: Shopping to buy all my herbs.

I’m also keeping my eyes open to any new news regarding MoP inscription because things always change as the release date approaches.

 

Quartz Addon for Professions?

I’m sure you could do this with the cast bar addon of your choice, but I just happen to use Quartz.  Purely by accident one day on my scribe I had quartz activated and I noticed that it performed a very useful function.

When I’m making a lot of ink using the “Create All” button, Quartz lets me know how long it will take in total and displays my overall progress along the way.  Simple, and very handy if you are someone who likes to multitask.

Now I’m off to make more ink!

Sunday Blog Post Roundup

Part of the process of jumping into blogging for me has been to subscribe to and read as many other related blogs as I can.  Every Sunday morning I’ll highlight some interesting posts from the past week that relate to gold earning, professions, or addons in WoW.

How to set up your alts for gold making by Basil Berntsen on WoW Insider

My GPS is “THIS” Big by Mommar on Just My Two Copper

NBI Award Winners by Syp on Bio Break

Addon Wars: AdiBags vs ArkInventory vs Blizz Bags by Aunaka on Aunaka Heals

Glyph thresholds by Foo on Foo’s WoW musings

Can’t Wait by Matticus on World of Matticus

Archeology Leveling Secondary Profit Sources by Cold on Cold’s Gold Factory

Five Fast Gold Making Tips : June by Farli on The Overcut

 

Stocking Up: Dreamcloth

After thinking about it, and blogging some about it,  I’ve decided to dip my toe into the Mists of Pandaria stockpiling pond.  I have a few ideas to try, the first of which is dreamcloth.

There are six ways you can create dreamcloth, and five of them are on a once per week cooldown.  Dreamcloth is BoP, so once created by the tailor it can only be used to craft other items, it can’t be traded or sold in its raw form.  While this may be less than ideal in terms of options down the road, it means that only tailors can have a ready supply when demand jumps.

The way I’m approaching building up a ready supply is to set a ceiling crafting cost based on the materials required to make dream of destruction, which is the method that has no cooldown.  The materials required for this method are 8 x bolt of embersilk cloth and 4 x chaos orb.  Based on the advice of others, I’ll hold onto these materials in their raw form, and I’ll be able to make the dreamcloth on demand later as needed.

I’ll use the other methods only when their material costs less than my ceiling.   Each of these other methods require 30 volatiles instead of the 4 chaos orbs, so when I can get volatiles for less than 1/7.5 times my ceiling cost for chaos orbs, I buy them and produce dreamcloth whenever that cooldown is available.  In other words, to get the lowest overall cost for my dreamcloth stash, I’ll have to hold some of it already made to exploit the cooldown availability.

When Mists of Pandaria starts I’ll need to be able to craft and sell items that use dreamcloth for my investment to pay off.  Of the 17 items crafted with dreamcloth, four require living embers, and four require essence of destruction, so I may pick up some of those when their price is low.  But there are eight items that require no additional materials, including the illusionary bag, the luxurious silk gem bag, and the two spellthreads for caster pants.

This all makes me nervous.  I’m just not sure if the demand for the items I’ll be able to craft will really be there.  At least I’ll have some of the materials saved in raw form if there is not a huge demand.  I’m going to be conservative and see how it goes.