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Gold Capped: WoW Prospector and mailbag

Basil Berntsen

Every week, Gold Capped (from Basil "Euripides" Berntsen) aims to educate players about how to make money on the auction house. For the inside line on crafting for disenchanting, transmutation, cross-faction arbitrage and more, check in every Wednesday. Also, feel free to email Basil any comments, questions or hate mail, as well as check out the long awaited 11th episode of Call to Auction!

I got an email from the creator of WoW Prospector asking me to cover it. After he assured me that his servers are housed in a fire proof room lined with asbestos and at least 300 meters from any residential zones, I agreed, mainly because it's an incredibly useful tool that has saved me a bunch of spreadsheet time. Essentially, the tool will tell you how much money you stand to make prospecting various ores, given the price of ore and what you can sell the raw gems for.

Here's a screenshot of it in action:

All the prospectable ores are listed. The example prices I put in up here are simple guesses, so do your own research. Anyone can search for their own market prices via the mobile auction house in the armory for free, and if you're lucky enough to have The Undermine Journal covering your realm and faction, that will let you get a historical perspective on these prices. Go reread the prospecting section I put into my Jewelcrafting guide. Then go melt some unsuspecting servers over at WoW Prospector!

Mailbag this week

I got a metric buttload of email since I did my last mailbag, and some of them were pretty good questions. Will wrote:

Sometimes some jerk posts a hundred single-count infinite dust auctions for a single copper each. We all know they are worth much more and will eventually sell for much more. What is the quickest way to bid 90s on each of them? The way I've been taught to use Auctioneer (thank you!) would have me bid on each by the smallest possible increment, thus filling my mailbox repeatedly. I'd like to skip that part and get to a reasonably low yet real price ASAP.
Sorry to say this, Will, but Auctioneer is built from the ground up assuming you will always bid the minimum amount. I don't know of any addons that would let you bid higher than that en masse, however I'll bet there's a way to do it with a macro. Unfortunately, I can't write it. That said, try to time it so you can drop in and check on these just before they're due to sell, and try and pick them up that way. I've long held that the AH could use some major changes to the buying interface, and grouping all similar sized stacks would be a step in the right direction.

Simon writes:
I too noticed when the herb supply dried up, and I instantly assumed there had been a drop in the number of botters, as I would regularly see giant batches of herbs, competing against each other. Then suddenly I'd see a total of 2 stacks of Lich Bloom, for 2 days!

I've seen a few start up again, one at a time, dumping enormous amouts of herbs at cut rates. Should I be buying these up still? Or leave them be? I normally wouldn't have thought twice, but your comments about the current market disappearing with the next expansion are haunting me.
I suspect that the new supply is "organic" player farmed stock. A lot of the people I used to buy from have come out of the woodwork of late and are back farming. That said, I'm still in liquidation mode for Cataclysm. I'll buy farmed goods that I feel will retain their value in the expansion; mostly items that are used to level tradeskills.

John writes:
Recently I have run into a frustrating problem on my server. I have made a good amount of gold with my blacksmithing until recently another player has been undercutting all my blacksmithing auctions by 10 silver. This particular player is constantly online 20 or more hours a day on his numerous level 1 characters. He/She/It quickly undercuts any blacksmithing item within 5 minutes of posting. I have complained to Blizzard and due to privacy reasons they could only tell me that they will investigate. Well that was about 2 weeks ago and still the same things.

How do you deal with people like this who basically monopolize a whole trade skill market? I even purchased the remote auction house to keep tabs on my auctions no one but him can keep the lowest buyout at anytime of the day for any longer than maybe an hour.
First off, I'd recommend that you evaluate your logic about whether this is one person. Put all the suspected alts on your friends list and really watch to see if only one of them are ever on, and whether they're really camping, or just logging in every hour. Secondly, AH grinding undercutters are a very hard problem to deal with, no matter whether it's one person, a group or, much less likely, a bot. The way I see it, you have three options: attack their supply, undercut deeply or try to beat them at their game.

If you attack their supply, bear in mind that you're going to raise your own cost at the same time as theirs. In order for your buying to have any effect on their cost, you need their direct sale farmers learn that they can get a better price on the open market than they can from your competitor. This is a very risky, very expensive, and usually unprofitable plan. A much less risky, but less effective plan would be to sell your items at or close to your cost for a few weeks, or until this person gets tired of watching a screen for 12 hours a day to break even. Lastly, if you try to beat them at their own game by logging in every hour to undercut them, you need to know their schedule. If they always log in at the same interval, you'll get a good market coverage by logging in almost as frequently, but just after they log off. This can't be maintained by any reasonable person for too long, though.

Sogo writes:
My question is, do you think the Christmas pets are going to be valuable in Cataclysm? I had a run where I set the price at 50G a piece and people kept undercutting me, so I just bought all the competition that was listed, I now have close to a hundred of each of the four Christmas pets, I really didn't think there would be that many out there when I started buying them up, considering they are only available once a year and this was in may. What's my best bet for unloading them? Or would you just wait? I'm a little nervous that Cataclysm may not be out before Christmas, and I'll end up losing out.
This is the problem with trying to monopolize a market. You can contribute to demand and try to be a long term market-maker, but you can't force the natural balance of supply and demand in the direction you want. The classic monopoly scheme is to buy everything under a certain cost, and ensure that you're always the cheapest option. The two problems with doing this are:
  • If you're selling the product for more than the old price, there'll be less demand. Especially on vanity items.
  • As the raw producers of your goods discover that you're paying a premium and buying out all stock at the old price, the supply goes up. If it's easily farmable, they'll farm more, and if it's not (like in your situation), they'll still tell their friends and guildies, who will list their items if they have them.
More supply, less demand, and you're looking at an extremely long time to make back your money. There is no easy way out of this situation. Things that might help are reducing your AH price and advertising in trade.

Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped, plus the author's Call to Auction podcast. Do you have questions about selling, reselling and building your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is now taking questions for a special series, "Ask an auctioneer," at

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