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.