Thursday, 21 July 2011

Firing up for another daily grind

A look at the new shape of Firelands dailies 

daily-questOnce again I’ve been struggling to find much time to play WOW over the past few weeks, when I’ve managed to get on, even if it’s just been for 10 minutes my first priority has been to carry on with my auction house experiment; my second task, time allowing, has been to work through the new Firelands dailies. I wrote a brief post just before the Firelands patch asking what the casual could expect from the new content, in particular looking at the more ‘personalised’ dailies.

Firstly, the way the new dailies works is a little different to that of other ‘rep’ type dailies, you don’t directly gain rep by doing x, y and z, instead you collect tokens. Mark of the World Tree to be precise; in order to get anything from these dailies you need to collect 150 of the little buggers, at which point an NPC will become available from whom you can buy goodies from. Further NPCs turn up varying number more, according to Wowhead a total of 695 will currently unlock all of the available NPCs.  Now I like this idea, in some respects, and hate it in others, as a casual you are at no more of a disadvantage than raiders (other than perhaps they have more time to play), as you can only get the marks from dailies, you can get a maximum of around 12 per day (it varies according to how many NPCs you’ve unlocked) after the initial introductory quests which give a few extra, so you’re going to be grinding for 33 days completing each quest to unlock everything (again according to Wowhead). There is no tabard so it’s not like you can hit a few instances over the course of a weekend to max your rep out like the others.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s not all about the gear; gear is a means to and ends, my primary goal is enjoyment, so what about the quests? I’m not a big quester if I’m honest, they’ve been a means to getting to the top level over the years, and nothing more, yes there's been the occasional chain to get an item, or that really are fun, like the crucible type chains, and then the horrible Onyxia and molten core type key chains which are occasionally fun at first but a complete pain in the proverbial when you come to run alts. On the main part, I’m not one of the people who’ll just churn through them for the fun of it. I’m not interested in the lore, or the ‘story’ (I know it floats some peoples boats, just not mine.) in fact the second I discovered the macro to speed up quest text in Vanilla it was a permanent resident in my macro book; click the NPC, hammer accept, and jog on, that’s me. I’m not a fan of the cut scene for the same reason, but that’s a different story (pun intended).

On the face of it the Firelands quests are a bit different from the norm; rather than, say, the Jewel crafting dailies, where if you need to inflict stardust on ten different people, every other jewel crafter on the server will be doing the same, the Firelands quests are randomised for you, there are a pool of quests from which you get a random selection to do each day (the numbers vary again depending on how many NPCs you’ve unlocked). One of the reasons I’ve never been so interested in the MMO story element is that they never felt that, well, epic. “you young Troll! Go kill MEGADRAGON the undefeatable beast that’s been stealing our carrots and has slayed every Troll before” only if you don’t mind waiting in line for the seventeen other peeps who got there first to finish killing him it’d be appreciated, ok, thanks, bye…. Not for me thanks. With the randomised aspect, you AND ONLY YOU, are on that particular quest chain. RIGHT! Wrong. Whilst the quests are essentially randomised from a pool of possible quests, there's so many people wading into the new content at the same time, that you’re still competing for the same mobs as everyone else. Yes there’s improvements, all of the big mobs are killable by the same people concurrently; they can’t be tapped, so you only have to hit it once before it dies to get credit, so there’s not as much of the listless hammering of the /target megadragon /cast <instant spell> macro to tap monster before that nasty Paladin gets there first. When it comes to punting bears onto trampolines, or reviving exhausted allies (who look shocked for a few seconds, before stumbling round a bit and then falling over again) you’re still essentially grinding stuff and competing with everyone else on the server.

It’s a step in the right direction, don’t get me wrong, but so much more could be done. I’d like to see more in the ways of phasing being used so that when you kill MEGADRAGON, you and you alone are fighting it, you’re already zoning into Firelands for half the quests, which would suggest it could be on a different instance server, so why not ensure there’s only one character in each ‘instance’ on each particular quest, or at least only a few. I like the combination quests, the ones that aren’t party quests, but several people can kill the same hard mob. I like the ‘different’ quests of punting things into the water, although the stupid bear-up-a-tree quest is already doing my nut. Actually it would probably require far more quests to choose from in the random pool to make it viable, that and enough server power to accommodate the extra phases and instances. All of which means cost, and cost means less profit, so I doubt we’ll see anything like. For the moment I’ll continue grinding coins, at least until I get to 250, just so I can say I gave it a fair crack, doubt I’ll go much further though as chances are I’ll be ready to strangle the developers by then.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Glyphs are back on the menu, ish.

How did the aggressive under-cutter fair?

menuiconA couple of weeks ago I wrote about the bottom falling out of the Glyph market, this was entirely down to one individual who was selling just about every glyph possible at a knock down price of 25g.  I managed to catch up with him via in game mail and he was kind enough to explain is reasoning; briefly he was trying to force new entrants out of the market by removing the profit for them, thus increasing his profit in the long run by reducing competition, the full post is here. Anyway, it seems the day has come where the glyph embargo has been lifted, and to my surprise it seems to have worked! perhaps not as well as may have been intended, there’s still a fair bit of competition about, but the prices seem to be higher, or at least there seems to be more highly priced (200g+ glyphs) on the market.  I have to admit, I was a little sceptical, mainly based on the fact that people can’t go bust in WOW, so they could simply stop selling for a while and come back to the table when the prices increase (I suspect they still might). 

For the moment the ‘lesser’ Northrend and older glyphs are generally going for around the 100g mark and the newer and more in demand ones for anything up to 300g.  This is far above the prices seen before the undercutting, though there are still the glut of pointless or underused glyphs and the ones that are commonly used to level the skill that skulk around in the sub 30g category.  I suspect the undercutting had some effect, and some of the sellers have taken a break from selling glyphs, as I did, and simply haven’t noticed the prices have gone back up yet;  I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Firelands patch has something to do with the price increase - people suddenly realising, as with flasks, that they need a few glyphs and ‘panic’ buying.  That said, the glyphs don’t seem to be flying off the shelf at the minute, trade is steady, I generally sell 1-2 per listing where as I used to sell 2-5.  It may also be that the sellers prior to the patch had gotten bored of the raiding content and were spending their time crafting and selling, now there's new stuff to do they’ve dropped the crafting to wade into the new content. 

I’ll be mailing my friendly seller to see if I can get his take on proceedings, I’ll also be taking the time to relist all the cheap glyphs I accumulated over the last couple of weeks, having had 2 shots at listing so far, I reckon I’ve made about 1k of the 2-3k I spent having sold only 5 0r 6 of the 80-90 I bought.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Gold Rush!

Has the patch breathed new life into the flask economy?
gold_fever_minersSo with the Firelands patch about a week old, has it made a blind bit of difference to the Auction House prices?  veterans of the AH will know the answer already; of course it has, as with every other content patch in WOWs history, consumable prices have shot up, and the items which used to be pretty pricey, like valour boots, (which are now justice boots) which are now more obtainable are now at rock bottom. 

My previous potion industry which was returning a modest profit at best, is now returning at least a 100% mark up on each pot, even ignoring the crafting procs, and taking into account the slight increase in the price of herbs.  Its as if half the server had no idea the Firelands were coming and suddenly realised they were going to need to panic buy enough potions for the next decade.  You can see from the graph below showing the price and volumes I’ve been shifting flasks of Steelskin in for the past few weeks, I was getting 40-70g, depending on the time of the week and the flask.  In the last week I’m regularly getting 100-135g now, and selling in far larger numbers; you can see from the graph the lull which occurred just prior to the 4.2 patch and the explosion in sales and price as soon as it hit.  I’ve also changed my selling strategy subtly, I now don’t always try to be the cheapest seller for flasks, instead I list at a rang I’m likely to sell at, yes I may sell a few less, but I’ll make a far bigger profit on those I do sell. I do this when there are a small number of ‘cheap’ flasks listed, but the bulk are at a higher price.  The 4 or 5 lower priced flasks will obviously sell first, but I’ll also sell mine at a better profit.  imageI sometimes will list some at a lower price and then some higher, that way I’m guaranteed to sell some and make some profit, and if there’s a buying spree then I’m positioned to take advantage; looking through my beancounter logs, there's a repeating pattern of people buying in bulk, yes there are a few instances of people buying singular pots, but of the 17 different buyers for this flask, 10 of them bough more than one, 6 of those bought 5 or more.  This tells me that people tend to ‘panic’ buy of sorts, I’d guess someone gets tasked with sorting the pots pre-raid for cauldrons and then heads off to the AH to fill in the blanks to purchase on behalf of the raid.

For the moment flasks are reasonably profitable, I doubt it will last, as people start to clear the content in Firelands, and get better gear the raiding attendance will wain and thus demand will drop lowering prices once again, but for the moment I’m planning on cashing in.  I spent upwards of 10,000g last night buying herbs and volatile life making 25 ish of each flask so I can have a proper go at listing and get some more statistically significant figure to share with you.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A big ‘F’ all in Firelands?

Is there anything in the new content patch for us casuals?

LEISURE RINGSWith the much awaited release of the 4.2 patch today, Firelands has opened up a whole host of new content to the raiding level 85s amongst us, but is there anything in there for the casual gamer?  On the face of it, not much, the Firelands is seemingly a raid area aimed at the harder core WOW players with no additions on the 5-man heroic front; whilst the prospect of once again being able to smash Ragnaros in the face is an alluring one, I simply don’t have the time (even less than I used to have) to get my act together and start raiding again.  Pretty short post this then… the F in Firelands does seem to be a big F-all for the casual! Not so at all!

If you skip through the content of the Firelands information pages on the Blizzard website you’ll see a section titled Content for the Casual 85, this links to one of the Dev Blogs where ‘Fargo’ talks about what's in store for the casual at 85.  Clearly there’s a whole host of trade skills, and a good few heroics, but they get a bit stale after a while, there’s only so much trade-skilling one can take in a given session, and with the rise of the, errr, Rise of Zanzilar instances the ‘old’ heroics have very little draw as there’s very little reward in it.

Quest, for me, have never had that much draw, even (especially?) the dailies, they’ve been a functional means to an end over the years, you chop your way through them, either to level up or to grind rep.  Occasionally doing a quest chain to get an item, more so on the latter since the iLvl requirement.  Occasionally there were some particularly enjoyable chains, like the various 5 man crucible type fights, that I’d go back to and do even if I had no reason to, but on the main I don’t quest purely for enjoyment, i don’t know why, it just seems a bit pointless, and repetitive if you breed alts; I suppose there just doesn’t seem to be much ‘questyness’ to it – the fact that every other player on the server is, has, or could do the exact same chain, in the exact same order doesn’t set my world on fire – how many of you went to the cinema and watched some short arsed hobbit wait patiently for three other short arsed hobbits in roughly the same clothes stab a few orcs before handing a ring in to get their reward?  It just doesn’t happen like that outside of (I almost said fantasy) MMOs.

Now once again I’ve wandered off into ramblings, and you might ask what the hell I’m on about, well here it is.  Well here it is, the developers seem to have realised the same thing, and gone some way to try and introduce a little bit of randomness in there so tat there's more of a feel that you’re embarking on your own adventure, which comprise of your own quests, with their own challengers.  And not that you’re just re-treading the footsteps of a thousand people before you the same day:
There's also a story here, a chronicle of a vicious, knock-down, drag-out fight that begins in Hyjal and progresses -- over the course of weeks -- across the mountaintop and then into the Firelands themselves. Along the way, major characters are going to get rocked, you'll meet (and destroy) a few new villains, and you'll earn yourself a small heap of nice rewards. The druids are establishing a beachhead in a hostile world, starting with little more than a pile of rocks and ultimately erecting an enormous otherworldly base.

The progression is personal: you won’t see it happen until you make it happen.
The whole post is linked here, and I’ve got to say I like the sound of it, I suppose at the end of the day, it’s just dailies, but the fact that people will be doing stuff along different ‘routes’ will mean that there’s less contention for particular quest items or mobs, there’s some better differentiation (at least in the early days) between characters and the gear they can achieve, and you’ll have less of a feeling that you’re just slogging through the same linier story in the same way as everyone else on the server.  I’m keen to see how the party dynamic is maintained in this, hopefully it wont be a simple case of you go do your quests and I’ll help, then we’ll do mine.

elementalgooI’d like to see these principles extended to the daily quests, Jewelcrafting in particular is a  particular bugbear of mine, you have a selection of a handful of quests which may crop up as he daily, everyone else on the server gets the same daily, which simply means either the price of nightstone rockets for a day at a time, or the elementals in Mount Hyjal get beaten up and their dinner money stolen again.  I’m currently on the train home and might get an hour or so this evening to try them out, that is as long as the patch downloader doesn’t take its usual half day to sort its shit out.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Austerity Measures

economic-recessionAfter penning a begging letter to my competitor who’s been artificially holding the glyph market so low for a while now that there’s no longer any profit to be made in it, as I set out in my last post, more in hope of a reply than expectation; I received a reply!  I’d like to report that my guess as to what he was up to was spot on, and I called it; but as it happens, I was half right.  The glyph market has been dropping on my server a little recently, nothing substantial (since I got involved, but I can’t really comment on the prices before that) but I’ve noticed (now I think about it) that where glyphs would regularly go for around the 100g mark, I quite often see them slipping down to the 75g level, not all, just some.  This when you consider I have around 100 to 150 glyphs listed at any one time, and (used to) sell up to 10 of those per listing session can equate to quite a drop in revenue.

glyph letterNow in my mail communication with the seller (I explained that I write a blog, and he’s specifically asked not to be named so I’m assuming he’s a ‘he’ and will be referring to him as ‘the seller’ from this point onwards) he set out the reasons why he’s doing what he’s doing.  The full text of the letter is shown to the right, he talks about the glyph market being “hugely profitable for months” until recently when the “new guys” (do you think he means me?) have come along increasing competition and thus lowering the prices and the profit to be had.  By setting the prices low, he’s trying to price the other sellers out of the market, by taking away the profit margins, hoping that he has deeper pockets (and more patience) than they do.
This sort of competition is quite a common occurrence in real world economics; a new market comes along, lets say selling trolls tusks.  Someone has spotted a niche for tusks, makes an investment in the R&D of developing a trolls tusk for the market, setting up a selling infrastructure and taking the tusks to market.  All is fine, there's lots of profit to be made an no real competition to speak of, everything is going swimmingly.  That is until one day someone else spots that you’re doing nicely for yourself with you big house and new car and decides they’d like a bit of that pie too.  This isn’t a problem initially, yes your sales take a hit at first as customers can now chose your tusks or someone else's, in the long run the added competition has actually helped you as there are actually enough customers to go round, and you’ve taken another look at your operation and realised that you can save money by streamlining some of it, thus making more profit per tusk.  Even though you sell less tusks, you make more profit per tusk.  All is great until, over the months, ten more tusk sellers come into the market all wanting a their own slice of the shared troll tusk-pie; and what's more, they didn’t bother doing their own R&D, they just copied yours so saved on the costs, meaning that they can sell at a cheaper level that you to such an extent that there’s no longer any profit in the market for you because everyone is undercutting you. 

At this point, something called consolidation will normally happen, either companies will aggressively buy out their competitors or merge, chose to move into a different market, or go bust.  This isn’t always enough to reduce the competition to a level to achieve a stable, sustainable, profit level for all involved.  So other avenues need to be taken, either by differentiating yourself some way(adding tassels to your tusks for example) so that people will pay more for them even though they’re a higher price.  The only other option is to compete on price alone, this is generally accepted to not be a nice place to be – someone will eventually fail if more than one seller attempts this as there can only ever be one lowest cost seller.  Very occasionally, dirty or extremely aggressive tactics will be employed; smear campaigns, aggressive undercutting and much much more can happen, the aggressive undercutting is just what we’re seeing on the glyph market.  In real world economies, the undercutting seller will generally sell their wares at an unsustainable level, either at a loss or at such an insignificant profit they may as well not bother.  This is a brinkmanship game, hoping that their competitors go bust, go away, or sell up before they do.  Once the competition is gone, the prices can be artificially inflated to far higher levels and more profit can be made than was previously possible as there is no longer any competition.  The way this is normally stopped is through legislation by governments and regulation, the government specifically stops companies doing things which will harm competition unfairly, and  ultimately raise prices or lower service levels for the end consumer.

Winding our example back to the Auction House and my current predicament, there are a few differences between real world economics and the WOW economy; Primarily, you cant go bust, you can’t buy other peoples business, and there’s no regulation, and you can’t compete on anything else but price.  People can go away, but not for the same reasons as you’d see in business; The only reason that others will stop selling, is that there is so little gold to be made, it’s not worth their time to play in that particular market.  For example if I only make 1g per glyph in profit, but each glyph takes 2 minutes to create (picking herbs, milling, inscribing the scroll), I might chose to go and make potions at 10g profit per pot for a similar effort.  Additionally, different people will have different thresholds, a school kid with an abundance of time on his hands might accept a relatively low profit, someone who has a full time job, family and drinking habit to sustain, on the other hand, may only have a few hours a week to play and decide their fun is better had elsewhere in the game.

My friendly sellers strategy is brave, but I fear may be misplaced for the reasons I’ve set out above, we’ll see, and hopefully he’ll be kind enough to tell me how he thinks his endeavours in artificially revitalising his market have gone.  I suspect some of the competition may disappear, but as soon as the market goes up they, or other new entrants, will reappear.  He also may be creating a rod for his own back, glyphs are now at such a cheap level that it’s more profitable to farm something or quest for gold and buy them, instead of going out and picking herbs to make the glyphs yourself, potential customers may just buy up all of the glyphs they’ll ever need for them and their alts, and never need to buy a glyph again (until the next WOW expansion is released) thus decreasing the demand.  I know this is happening, as it’s exactly what what I’ve done – it’s not worth my time grinding herbs and creating the glyphs at this price, so I’ve filled out all of my empty slots for every character over level 70.  He’s also running the risk that the competition will simply buy the glyphs at 25g, wait it out and undercut him at the higher levels in a few weeks time; I know this is happening already, it’s exactly what I’ve done.

As for my glyph selling antics, I’m pretty much waiting it out, as I say, I’ve bought a good few glyphs at the low levels, about 3k worth at 25g, which equates to 10-20k at previous prices (whether the market will ever recover to quite this level I’m not sure).  I’m absolutely fascinated by the effect on the economy, I’ll be monitoring the sales closely, and I wish him every success in inflating the market, if it works, it’ll benefit my sales massively.  I’ll also be monitoring the related item sales.  I’ve noticed inferno ink sales, which previously sold like hot cakes, have been slow.  I’ve also noticed that the price of potions has increased slightly, this may be coincidental, or it may be that he’s bought herbs for ink from the AH, pushing the price up.  I’ll have to write and ask…

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Financial Crisis

What do you do when the bubble bursts and someone ruins your fun on the Auction House? – PANIC!

black_tuesday_2Dealing with a competitive market environment on the Auction House is a topic which comes up a lot in the various blogs and sites which look at how to make gold in WOW.  It’s something which I’ve had to deal with on numerous times over the past few weeks and poses a constant dilemma.  Do you undercut other sellers, if so by how much, at what point is it not worth your while to undercut?  do you undercut aggressively (i.e. by a large margin) or do you stick your items up for a few silver less.  Or as I’ve been doing with potions do you go for the mid price, knowing that unorganised panicking raiders will probably buy them.  Do you just back off and leave it for a few days if there are a lot of low priced items in your area, or do you go on the offensive and actively buy up low priced items and relist them at a higher price?  The trouble with WOW is there’s no real way to differentiate your wares, its a fact that there can only ever be one, and no more than one, lowest cost operator in a (real world) economy, all the other operators operate, for whatever reason, at a higher cost level so, if competing on price alone, would either have to accept lower profit margins or go bust.  What actually happens is people compete on other things, why are Audi’s more desirable than Volkswagens? which in turn are more desirable than Skoda’s – they’re all made by the same company, surely they’d sell for the same price? things like brand perception, value added services, addons which are over and above the basic needs; in WOW the only thing you can compete on is price.  This means you’re valuing your time in terms of gold, how much gold is half an hour of your time worth? What’s the most profitable way of farming gold?  If playing the Auction House becomes so unprofitable that you can make more gold per hour than grinding then why bother at all?

Where am I going with all this I hear you ask? well, a strange thing happened on the AH last night, someone listed a job lot of glyphs for 24g99s, in stacks of 5, I don’t mean just a few of the cheaper levelling Glyphs, I mean pretty much every glyph possible.  Now on my server the median average (i.e the most common) range for the higher end glyphs is 85-100g, the lesser glyphs tend to go for a bit less, some go for upwards of 200g all depending on the current supply.  As a rule I don’t sell for less than 50g, I always undercut by 5s for anything less than 100g and always by 25g for anything over 100g up to 250g – on a rare occasion you’ll see a glyph listed for a silly amount, I won’t just undercut that by 25g because 5 minutes later someone will come along and undercut me.  On a daily basis I sell between 5-10 glyphs and bring in between 500-1000g which isn’t too bad at all, I’d estimate about a 75% mark up if I were to have bought the mats, but as most of them are collected it’s pure profit.  More often than not, the glyphs which don’t sell are the ones which someone has undercut you on, not a problem, you just relist them using the rules you’ve set for yourself when the auction expires.

Now the same guy has listed hundreds of glyphs, all at 24g 99s, some will cost far more in terms of mats, so he or she would have been better off listing the raw mats on the AH and selling them.  So I can only assume that they are farming the mats and listing them, so on the face of it they are making 25g profit per sale, but actually I could make far more from questing than they could possibly ah pricesmake from grinding herbs, milling them, making the glyphs and listing them.  This got me thinking, what are they trying to achieve?  they’ve listed 5 x every glyph at the same price, in a normal (real) economy you might use this tactic to force the competition out of business (assuming your pockets are deeper than theirs) and then once they've gone bust, artificially inflate the price of your goods to make more profit in the long run.  This is WOW, people don’t go bust, so it can’t be it.  This has me puzzled, I can’t for the life of me think what they are trying to achieve.  My only guesses are, they’re a Chinese gold farmer and have far too much time on their hands, but as their aim would be to make as much gold as possible, this doesn’t wash;  they could be setting out in the glyph business and not understood how the market works, but again given they’ve clearly gone to a lot of trouble to build up the profession, used a decent addon to pick all the glyphs priced over 25g and listed their wares this doesn’t make sense to me either.  The only plausible answer that I can think of is they’re happy with a reduced profit level and going for mass sales at a low mark-up rather than profitable sales.  The only two remaining options which are less likely that I can think of are worrying; either it’s a fellow blogger doing an ‘experiment’ like myself and trying to steal my thunder, or they have more gold than sense and they’re just doing it to upset other sellers.

I’m actually planning on mailing the guy tonight and asking what the hell he’s playing at he’s trying to achieve, I’m genuinely curious as to his motives, and it should make for an interesting blog post.  I’ll let you know if I hear back (I suspect I wont) In the mean time, I’ve bought one of every glyph and banked them, I’m going to be largely retired from the glyph selling business for the foreseeable,  until the market returns to normality that is.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Pot luck with flasks

Is there a profit to be had from selling flasks and potions on the AH?
Two weeks into my Auction House experiment and I’m still pulling in the gold on the milling front, I’ve got more Blackfallow ink than I know what to do with, but the Inferno Ink is flying off the shelves.  Whilst I’m selling the more Blackfallow ink by volume, it’s not as profitable as the red stuff and I get far more of it per stack of herbs.  Currently I’ve 334 pots of it sat in my inventory and more on the Auction House.  I’m considering going to the Ink Trader and swapping a load for Inferno Ink; it’s not as profitable as selling it, but gold tied up in stock is dead gold, I’d rather take the hit, and get a reasonable profit from trading it in and then be able to reinvest, I think.  Anyway, enough of that, that's for another blog.  Today we’re talking potions, and a little bit of enchantment, but mainly potions, well flasks actually, but you get my drift.

Where as with Glyphs, your customer base is the whole server, flasks are a little more specialist.  You won’t often see a random in a PUG flasked up, however you’ll invariably see them with a full compliment of glyphs.  This means my target audience is restricted to raiders, and possibly the occasional PVPer.  The introduction of the Guild Cauldrons and double durations, I suspect, has also had a detrimental effect on potion traders, as they have both lead to a reduced need for the vialled goodness.  I also have an creeping suspicion that I chose a bit of a poor time to investigate selling potions on the Auction House on my server, most of the flasks on the, for whatever reason, most of the flasks on the AH were slightly below the 50g mark, some of them far lower and all of them pretty much at cost or selling at what seemed to be a loss.

Not wishing to report back that I took a quick look, decided against it, and went down the pub instead; I decided to take a punt on the two best looking marked up flasks, which were Steelskin and Four Winds.  I bought mats enough for 25 of each, and set my alchemist off crafting.  Very quickly it became obvious that my initial assumption that I was only going to break even was a little flawed, the procs on alchemy basically account for the profit to be made – with 25 casts of each I mustered 27 Flasks of Four Winds and 30 Flasks of Steelskin.  It’s worth noting that I’ve only made 50 flasks in total (plus procs) thus far, I’ll be expanding my range and making more in the coming week, a stag do got in the way of my investigations this weekend which understandably took priority.

So how did I do? well, of the 57 flasks, I’ve sold 50 of them, the Steelskin ones going better.  After a slow start at the beginning of the week, selling only a handful, things suddenly went crazy on Sunday and Monday evening (my auctions had expired on Saturday night and I was in no position or state to relist them..).  As I suspected, it seems that potion sales are hugely raid dependant, I know a good number of the guilds on my server raid on Sunday and Monday evenings.  Here’s the P&L for my efforts

mats Ave. cost per mat total cost of mats ave. selling price Net Profit per flask total profit inc procs
Flask of Steelskin

Volatile Life 8 2g 76s 67c 22g 13s 33c
Cinderbloom 8 0g 85s 91c 6g 87s 30c
Twilight Jasmine 8 3g 59s 00c 28g 72s 00c
57g 72s 63c 57g 33s 33c 0g 39s 30c 276g 84s 25c
Flask of the Winds
Volatile Life 8 2g 76s 67c 22g 13s 33c
Azshara's Veil 8 0g 98s 85c 7g 90s 77c
Whiptail 8 2g 05s 92c 16g 47s 38c
46g 51s 48c 48g 65s 00c -2g 13s 52c 296g 62s 89c

Not a bad return for my efforts, but not great either, I suspect making things in bulk will aid things as I can just set my trade skills mod off creating stuff and click on process queue every now and then.  Clearly from my experience, there’s a little more going on than meets the eye, most of my sales were not one-offs, they were bulk purchases, so people coming into the AH and buying a job lot, whether this be enough for a guild cauldron for a raid, restocking their own flasks for the next weeks raids, or simply just spotting a good price and taking advantage.  I’ve also noticed the number of flasks listed varies vastly, dependant on who’s come along and made a bulk purchase.  This means that it’s not necessarily the best idea to be the cheapest vendor, if the cheapest (say) 50% of flasks listed always tend to sell, you simply need to make sure you’re in the cheapest half, rather than the lowest price.  This is in stark contrast to Glyphs, where unless you’re the lowest priced, you’ll rarely if ever sell your wares.

I suspect there is money to be made from flasks, I further suspect a good knowledge of the raiding times of the guilds on your server may have an influence on their price and sales.  I’d also guess that the impending content introduction in 4.2 will boost the demand and thus price as people rush to do the new content.  I’m not so sure about the Elixirs yet, I’m planning to have a dabble in the current week or two and will let you know, but as they’re low value and even less widely used than flasks, I doubt their viability.  Next up for later this week / next week will be a look at enchanting, if I can work out how to automate the procedure of working out what each vellum will sell for before creating it.