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In the game world, just as in the real world, prices of even the most basic of materials fluctuates based on your location. A hamburger in Beverly Hills costs more than a hamburger in Milwaukee. Heck, just about everything costs more in Beverly Hills -- that's just the way it goes. Your dollar is simply worth less there.
But what if we were going to move from Milwaukee to Beverly Hills? We could just brace ourselves and accept that we're going to have to pay more for hamburgers. Or, we could load up our car with hamburgers and resell them for a profit when we arrive.
That concept is probably a bit disgusting -- I wouldn't recommend a cross-country trip with a car filled to the brim with ground meat. But when it comes to realm transfers, the idea's right on the money. On some realms, gold is worth more. On other realms, the stuff you buy with gold is worth more. Making the most out of a server transfer (or indeed, making a realm transfer with the goal of making in-game money from it) is a skill that could make you rich overnight -- literally.
Make an initial assessment
Before you file your change of address forms with the post office, you need to first do a basic assessment of your current realm's economy and the economy of the realm you're going to move to. This may sound difficult, but it's really not. All you have to do is compare prices.
Make a small list of items that you frequently buy on the Auction House. There's no right or wrong way to do it, just be sure to prioritize the expensive purchases -- that is, the 100g Inferno Rubies over the 1g Cinderbloom. Try to incorporate good from a few different professions in your list to ensure variety. Once you're done making the list, go to the The Undermine Journal or AHSpy.com and compare prices on the two realms.
For the sake of example, consider a proposed server transfer between the established realm Proudmoore (US) and Sisters of Elune (US). I found the following prices (effective March 20, 2012):
Flask of the Draconic Mind 76g Proudmoore; 240g Sisters
Inferno Ruby 110g Proudmoore; 228g Sisters of Elune
Maelstrom Crystal 185g Proudmoore; 225g Sisters of Elune
Now obviously, we could go on with this list, but it's pretty clear what's going on after looking at just a few items. Sisters of Elune, a smaller, less established realm, has a less developed economy. And that seems to result in higher prices across the board. Sisters of Elune is the expensive realm. Its inhabitants probably won't agree with the assessment, but it's our Beverly Hills.
From Beverly Hills to Milwaukee ...
Now, if you're moving from Sisters of Elune (a more expensive realm) to Proudmoore (a cheaper realm), you don't have a lot of options so far as making money goes. Instead, your main operative is avoiding taking a loss.
Since gold buys more on Proudmoore than it does on Sisters of Elune, you're going to want to bring over as much gold as you can. Easier said than done, sure, but all I really mean here is that you want to sell off all your inventory and stored goods. Got 400 Whiptail in your bank? Sell it. That Mammoth Mining Bag filled with ore? Liquidate it.
Unfortunately, there's a limit here -- you're only allowed to realm-transfer 50,000 gold in raw currency. If you're looking to move more cash, you still can by filling your bags with items that show the smallest price difference between realms. Using the data we collected, it seems like you'd be taking the smallest hit by ferrying Maelstrom Crystals.
Of course, alchemists and engineers have another option. They can fill their bags with the incredibly expensive raw materials needed to craft Mechano-hogs and Vials of the Sands. There's literally no difference in prices for vendor goods between servers. Exploit that fact.
From Milwaukee to Beverly Hills ...
If you're moving from a Proudmoore-type realm to a Sisters-of-Elune-type realm, there's a lot of room for money to be made. After all, everything is cheap where you are now. Everything is expensive where you're going. Your tactic is somewhat straightforward: Fill your bags with items that show the highest price discrepancy, in terms of percentage.
If you're going to transfer large quantities of goods from one realm to the next, it's important to keep in mind that your actions can have a massive impact on the economy you're transferring to. This is especially true if you're moving from a larger economy to a small one or if you're seeking to transfer a high net-worth character.
How? Well, consider this: You're transferring to a new realm, and because the price of Inferno Rubies are far lower on your current realm, you decide to purchase a supply. So far, so good -- it's a smart move. But what if that new realm only sees 10 or 20 Inferno Rubies change hands in any given week? What is your stock of 2,000 Inferno Rubies going to do to that market?
The answer is pretty plain and simple. Flooding the market with that much supply -- more than the realm would be able to consume for the entire rest of the expansion -- would destroy any semblance of price equilibrium that had been established on the new realm. If you're going to ferry items from one realm to another, be smart about it, and ferry a mix of (non-hamburger) items.
Maximize your profits with advice from Gold Capped. Want to know the very best ways to earn 10,000 gold? Top gold making strategies for auctioneers? How about how to reach 1 million gold -- or how one player got there and then gave it all away? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.