So I rolled a worgen -- no heirlooms, no gold from outside sources, just me and the quests, like the old days of vanilla WoW. The most important part to me was that I was going to forgo buying any upgrade gear from the Auction House, instead using only what dropped from quests or instances. Call it a moment of vanilla nostalgia if you will, but that's exactly what I had to do on my first character back in 2004, so I was going to do it again. I expected it to be tough; I expected it to take a while before I could even afford a mount at level 20.
I was so, so wrong. By the time I hit level 30, I had a little over 3k gold on my random alt, with little to no effort on my part. And I'm going to tell you exactly how I did it.
It all started with a pair of boots.
Two hours later, I was collecting gold from my mailbox and marveling at how quickly that had gone over. I checked the Auction House again, and all of the 600g pairs of boots were gone, too. In fact, there was just one pair there for 2g, which I quickly bought out and relisted for 350g. They sold in an hour. And this is when it occurred to me that I had hit upon a gold mine that I'd never really considered, and every ounce of useless info about armor sets and colors and what was cool and what wasn't was now going to work for me in a way I'd never imagined possible.
I continued questing and continued collecting low-level greens and continued listing them on the Auction House, and by level 30, I had 3,000 gold under my belt -- and that was after paying for that level 20 mount. So much for the difficulty of making gold! Keep in mind the gold numbers may vary from realm to realm depending on population, but here is what you want to look for if you want to turn transmogrification into a profit.
- Sell anything black. For some reason, there are an awful lot of people out there who want to dress their characters up in dark gear. Bandit Boots, gear from the Scouting set, the Ebonhold Mail set -- and if you're lucky enough to happen upon a set of Black Velvet Robes you've hit an inadvertent gold mine.
- Sell anything white. Conversely, there are players who are dead set on standing out, and they'll deliberately choose all-white gear. That's fine and also plays well into making a profit. Look for Aurora Robes, or simply keep an eye out for pieces from the Aurora set. There's also the Ghostwalker or Boneshredder set or the Alabaster Plate set.
- Chests, legs and shoulders matter more. Don't knock the power of a good pair of black boots, but generally, you'll see that chestpieces and legs will sell much more quickly than anything else, especially if they are aesthetically pleasing. When you're looking at shoulder pieces, anything with a small model generally sells better than large models, with very few exceptions. This is because people don't really want to show off the shoulder pieces. Belts? Not so much, although your basic black or white belt will usually sell pretty well, but nowhere near as high.
- Helms and cloaks aren't important. Most people will simply forgo turning on their helm or cloak option and won't bother using them for transmog. There are exceptions; if you find a headband like the Scaled Leather Headband or the Stonecloth Circlet, it will generally sell because it doesn't block the model's face. If you can make the Imperial Plate Helm, craft one and put it on the Auction House to see if it sells. There are always people out there looking for Stormwind guard helms, but it may vary from realm to realm. With cloaks, simple black or white cloaks tend to sell all right but not with the frequency of other pieces of gear.
Less is more. This is going to sound terrible, but if you are lucky enough to pick up a plate thong from somewhere, bless you, you've just won the lottery. There is one basic rule of thumb for determining the aesthetic value of a piece of gear -- if you put it on a female model and there isn't much there to look at, it's going to sell. Immediately. This isn't to say it's all plate thong sets, mind you; Black Mageweave Leggings and Elegant Leggings will sell just as well. Female off-the-shoulder robes like the Astralaan Robe will also sell, and two-piece robe sets will also sell quite nicely.
For plate, there's the Lofty Plate set, Glorious Plate, Vanguard Plate, Bloodfist Plate, Boulderfist Plate, Darkcrest Plate, Warlord's Plate, Revenant Plate, Templar Plate, and the ever-popular hot pink Bloodscale Plate. For mail, sets with shorts like the Battleforge, Glimmering Mail or Blood Knight Mail do really well.
If you're wondering how to make all of this work for you on your main, go kill low-level mobs. If this sounds like a boring prospect, do the quests in the appropriate areas and kill mobs for those. There's no guarantee on any of these drops, but if you're out in the world and doing amusing quests, the drops are bonuses to the amusement factor. Don't vendor that gear -- check the AH to see if it's a viable piece, and put it up there instead. Make those silly green items work for you. It obviously worked for people like the Mogfather, who we interviewed earlier this year; there is no reason why it can't also put some gold in your pocket as well.
For my little alt on my random realm ... Well, she's completely set for gold. A random chance drop of a Hyacinth Macaw in Stranglethorn Vale took care of the rest of that. I don't have to worry about paying for flying now, nor do I have to worry about repairs. I could probably buy my gear upgrades on the Auction House now if I wanted to -- but I'd much rather play the game of transmogrification profit and see where it takes me. 100k by level 85? I don't know if that will work or not, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
Patch 4.3 lets you transmogrify your gear to look like any other gear your class can wear -- but you have to collect it first. Check out our coverage of transmogrification and start running those old dungeons!