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Gold Capped: The Undermine Journal

Basil Berntsen

So you want to make gold in WoW? Basil "Euripides" Berntsen is here to help! Auction house PvP is the only true PvP: There are no relevant racials, all classes are equally balanced, and the only differentiators are knowledge and guts. Gold Capped can help with the first one, and if you can make it through a whole article's worth of my typos, bad puns and feral druid jokes every Wednesday, you're guaranteed to have the second one.

There's a new tool in my kit. The Undermine Journal, whose alpha was just recently launched, is a site that lets you see data from your auction house live from the internet. My realm was recently added, and when I searched for Eternal Belt Buckles, it showed me a convenient Google Finance-style graph of the price and availability, as well as the mats needed for it, and a list of my competition!

Words fail me, so hop past the break for a screengrab.

My goodness, was I ever excited when I saw this! Combine this with the remote auction house, and you have a recipe for a disastrous amount of AH camping at work. Don't say I didn't warn you!

How it works

On the surface, it's quite simple. You select your realm, search for the product you're stalking and it will tell you the market value for the product, what it costs to make and the quantity available. Interestingly, the developers have put quite a bit of thought into their definition of "market price." They've given us the average cost, assuming we were to buy the cheapest 15% of the stock available. This is, in my opinion, an extremely good idea. The market price for many types of items isn't what you have to sell it at in order to be the cheapest on the AH; it's going to be essentially what price you could list stock at and expect it to move. Of course, listing at lower prices will lead to faster sell times, and if you have the production capability to match that, larger volumes. That said, their rule of thumb is a good one.

Another interesting mechanic is their calculation of the price of the mats. You'll notice on the above image that they show a materials price of 33.64g for a belt buckle. This number is achieved by searching for all the mats and summing up the market price for them. It doesn't assume that you can make your own mats, however, so be aware that some of these market prices are inflated. In the above example, I can buy ore and smelt it myself to save 25% on saronite.

How it really works

I haven't the faintest clue about what happens behind the scenes here. All I know is that it's scarily accurate and up to date. I don't believe Blizzard has released an API for the mobile AH, but I'll bet there's a connection somewhere. The selection of realms is quite large for an alpha project, but it's not a complete list by any means. They're taking requests for realms, though.

Use this for good, not evil!

One of the most interesting features I found was the ability to drill down to see what your competition is involved in. If you search by name for one of your competitors, you'll see all kinds of valuable information:
  • what time they've been posting, historically
  • a bunch of pie charts showing what markets they're involved in
  • a list of all their current auctions
This can be very useful when you're researching new markets. When I searched for a product I'm selling and clicked on my biggest, most undercut, trigger-happy competitor, I saw a complete list of all the items he's currently selling and realized that I could probably make some cash in those markets too. Clicking on any of his inventory will tell me whether there are any profits to be made in there.

Remotely e-stalking you competition is, of course, a bad use of your time; however, strategic information can be gained by looking into what they're doing. Check this out with enough competitors and you will see where all the profitable markets are.

Industry snapshots

The last killer feature they've implemented so far is something I am calling an "industry snapshot," for lack of an official term. If you click on one of the industries they list on the realm pages, you get something like this:

This tells you the costs and recent price fluctuations of the materials for most markets. Some of the links are still empty but will probably be filled out soon. I get the sense that they want to start putting trade-specific news on these pages; however, I haven't seen anything in that section for any realm/trade skill I've checked. The raw data is helpful, though. Checking this before bothering to log into the game or the remote auction house will let you decide what to buy before you start searching.

The long and short of it

This is all information. Very detailed, accurate, hard-to-manually-compile information. It's not going to destroy any markets, but it will level the playing field a touch. Making this kind of information this easily available will mean more efficient competition, which means stronger supply and more undercutting.

If the profits you lose due to smarter and faster competition are more than the extra profits you make by using this information, then you're one of the unfortunate few who has nothing to learn from this type of data aggregation. For the rest of us, however, this will free up a nice chunk of time that we used to spend poring over spreadsheets and doing research.

bringin' sexy back!Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped, and be sure to catch the Call to Auction podcast. Do you have a question about tactics for selling, reselling or other ways to build your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is now taking questions for a special Gold Capped series, "Ask an auctioneer" -- email

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