Playing the AH: The Economic Game in WoW

The main game I play in WoW isn't PvE, or PvP, or lore, or exploration, it's economic. I play the Auction House. I buy things at low prices, and sell them higher. I stockpile goods when I think the price is going to rise, I dump them onto the market if I've a surplus and the price is going to fall. I make predictions to myself about which way the market will go. I look at a sudden flood of herbs on the market and try to work out where it's coming from. This, as far as I'm concerned, is a far more interesting game than any other part of WoW.

In Cataclysm, it's been very interesting indeed. In the early days, the price of herbs, ore, and leather was ludicrously high. Stacks of herbs changed hands for 800g or more, when the same stack is now available for 150g. That lasted less than a week, of course, but there've been some interesting things since. These apply to Horde-side on Argent Dawn, Europe. Your server will almost certainly vary.

Volatiles: Volatiles are high-end crafting components. They come in five varieties: life, earth, fire, water and air. An alchemist can transmute life to any of the others, 15 at a time, once a day. This should drive the prices of life up, and the others down. It doesn't. Part of this is a supply thing; volatile life is more common than the others, with water being the next most accessible. Air is relatively hard to get. The other part is that this transmute cooldown is shared with other cooldowns, and so the conversion doesn't happen often enough to steady out the market. So for now, volatile life is cheap, and if you have access to an alchemist, you can make a 400% profit, but only on those 15 per day.

Of course, there was also an incident where people were trying to make money from a BoP Alchemy trinket which could be disenchanted for Vast Profit. This got hotfixed, since BoP Alchemy stuff shouldn't be disenchantable, but some folk had already acquired vast amounts of volatile life, which they put back on the market at bargain rates after the hotfix. Some of us may have stocked up a bit.

Herbs: The herb market is very volatile. I think what's happening is that people are collecting herbs as they level, getting to 85, levelling Alchemy, and then having some over. Or possibly there are a few people who find herbalism a pleasing way to spend time in the game, and just produce loads - but they're not on all the time. At any rate, for two weekends in a row, the market has been flooded with cheap herbs - down to 55% of the normal price - and then the price shoots back up during the week. Naturally, I buy cheap and release them over the week at higher prices.

BoE ICC Epics: Icecrown Citadel has a wide range of epic drops which were bind-on-equip, not bind-on-pickup. They all went straight onto the auction house. Toward the end of Wrath, and in the early days of Cataclysm, they were available for small enough money - 300 and 400g. Before that, they'd been selling for ten times that; more in some cases. I took a risk and bought about a dozen of these. They're not flying out, but they are selling - maybe one a week, and they're bringing in upwards of 2000g. Obviously, AH fees cut chunks out of the profit, particularly after you re-list every two days for a month, but it's still clear profit. I can't think who's buying them, though.

Jewelcrafting Recipes: To a lesser degree, this is true of other tradeskills, but jewelcrafting has a wide array of BoE recipes from the Burning Crusade days. People who are levelling occasionally get them as drops, they take a look at the AH, see no other examples of them, and price to sell - usually around 60g, it seems. I grab these when I see them, because jewelcrafters, even more so than other tradeskill players, are completionists. They'll happily pay 400g for that recipe. There are also a good load of BoE recipes in Cataclysm, but they're much more reasonable in price - usually around 200g - and much more common. They're still worth keeping an eye on, though; I got one for 10g on Saturday, and sold it on within ten minutes for 200g.

Posted by Drew Shiel at January 24, 2011 1:11 PM

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