WoW Gold – Milling

Continuing on the previous post about Glyphs still turning in a crazy profit, I wanted to see if there were ways to improve that process. The process I have right now has some simple rules.

  • It has to turn a 500g profit from the crafting cost
  • Crafting cost = market rates of base materials, not the price of herbs

I originally had a simple 30% profit margin, which was really quite decent to get started. But making 30g on a 100g craft… I can loot 1 grey item in SL and get a better return. I decided to boost the base profit margin to something worthwhile, and 95% of everything in that area is a Legion glyph.

If you’re not aware, Legion glyphs have some really weird ink requirements, at least compared to the rest of the others. You don’t actually use inks, just the pigments that come directly from crafting. The ratios are also quite a bit higher – sometimes 50 per craft. It means that each crafted glyph costs about 1k on my server (sometimes a lot more). Anything with a high base costs naturally has less competition.

Now the wrinkles. Milling Legion herbs gives Roseate Pigment and Sallow Pigment, at ratios that differ depending on the herbs. And some herbs give more than these, like Yseralline Seeds (which you can also mill), or pods which contain more pigments and seeds. This adds a level of RNG to milling in Legion that only really normalized at high volumes. So let’s look at the numbers.

The Market

Roseate Pigment goes for 25g and Sallow Pigment goes for 75g on my server. That’s the highest price I will pay to craft a glyph. Anytime I get a lower price, I am saving money and therefore making more. Sometimes there are stupid crazy deals found, like seeing large stacks at silver level values.

The Mill

Mass Milling crushes 20 herbs and gives generally 8.5 Roseate Pigment and 0.85 Sallow Pigment – but not all of them. You can also collect Yseralline Seeds (which mill to Roseate), and either Gem Chips (for cooking, therefore useless) or Nightmare Pods (for more seeds/pigments) when milling Dreamleaf. You get 1 Pod per Mass Mill. Each Pod = 8 Roseate, 1 Sallow, 2 Seeds.

Mass Milling is really fast. Each mill is 2.5s, so that’s 2 minutes for 1000 herbs. Any additional pods is maybe an extra 30seconds.

It then gets into spreadsheet town – pods are not included.

HerbValueRoseate/Mass MillSallow/Mass MillCost/RoseateCost/Sallow
 Yseralline Seed33.970.03152000
 Aethril88.610.8219195
 Dreamleaf811.761.1714137
 Felwort1508.544.535367
 Fjarnskaggl99.030.8220220
 Foxflower78.981.0616132
 Starlight Rose1723.540.7714442

The Math

The ceiling value is 25g/75g, and every mill gives me both pigments, making the math a tad harder to figure out on the outset. Another way to look at the table above is to based it on 1000 milled herbs and potential profit.

HerbCostProfit% Profit
Yseralline Seed3000207569.17%
Aethril8000583872.97%
Dreamleaf800011088138.59%
Felwort1500002750018.33%
Fjarnskaggl9000536359.58%
Foxflower70008200117.14%
Starlight Rose170001531390.07%

While all of them an turn a profit, the ratio of Dreamleaf is the highest and it still doesn’t take into account Pods. Of course, this means nothing if you can’t actually sell. Sallow is only used for Glyph makers, and it’s not like 2000 are sold a day. This is however a great way to save money in crafting, with the inverse of profit relating to savings. I could buy 1000 Dreamleaf for 8k, and it would give me nearly 19,000 worth of material. That’s 11k MORE profit in selling the Glyphs.

The Result

It’s a fun exercise to try and find the easiest way to make some gold. And I do mean easy. If I’m making 11k in profit for 3 minutes of work, that’s a hell of a deal. So right now it’s a daily login, to empty my mailbox, craft any glyph with 500g profit, and milling the Legion pigments to cover the my inventory shortage. That’s maybe 5 minutes total, and I’m getting between 25-30k in the mail per day.

Solid.

BlizzCon and a Pandemic

Like the boogeyman, the pandemic continues to loom over everything. Last year’s con was cancelled and this year’s was quite a bit more subdued. I have to compare to Nintendo Direct, where they are brief and focused on getting as much information out as possible. BlizzCon tried to give that con vibe, but without the people there as a backdrop, it looked more like a weird Twitch stream. Large speeches to empty rooms don’t pack the same punch as a LoreCast or one of any of Warframe’s video updates. So mechanically, this was a weird one.

Also, next to nothing on Kotick’s push for mobile games. Smart, since this is not the right audience for it.

Top it off that these devs are working in a pandemic too, making any progress an achievement in itself. D2 is being remade (we knew this). D4 has a rogue (the game looks more like PoE every time I see it), nothing on Overwatch of note, HotS was absent, Hearthstone appears to be a balance sweep, and WoW, well.

Any X.1 patch will naturally bring about large balance changes, few system changes, and some flavour on content. This is when the product should just work. Of the expected items:

  • Flying: pretty much as expected, within a single zone. Will still need a FP and funnel through Oribo (of which, only 1 per zone actually links).
  • Anima: seems the volume of it is intended. I’m inferring from the ‘there are no plans for extra customization’ that what we had in 9.0 is pretty much all that we’ll ever see in terms of things that cost anima.
  • Covenants: they are merging for a forward base of attack in the Maw. While expected, the timing is much faster. Curious if the covenant restrictions will remain, or a new joint faction will be created.
  • The Maw: Anyone will be able to mount, and there’s a new subzone coming into play. I dislike the Maw in almost every possible way, but am thankful that only 1 character needs to gain rep here to unlock the account-level boosts. Kinda defeats the purpose for Twisting Corridors though.
  • Torghast: new wings… which I’m curious as to what purpose that brings. More floors and anima powers too. The only reason for Torghast today is Soul Ash, which few people actually need now. I didn’t see any news for new pets/cosmetics.
  • New raid: This one is in Torghast, which automatically makes me think about anima / RNG in a raid. Curious.
  • Mega-dungeon: This does sound quite interesting, similar to Return to Kara / Mechagon. Wonder what will be in it to have it compare to the M+ dungeons.
  • Story: Right. Anduin being possessed was expected. The Archon getting stabbed (and surviving) was cathartic. Sylvanas having doubts, not so much. We’re all expecting a redemption arc here, but if there was ever a character in WoW that didn’t deserve one it’s her. We also know there are 4 keys within the 4 leaders to free the Jailer (and it looks like he has 3 now). So I guess this puts a giant target on the Winter Queen.

Of the unexpected/surprises… I think it has more to do with the fact that this seemed like 9.2 content and not 9.1. Means that the fight against the Jailer should be in 9.2, and that there’s a new setup for an even bigger baddie in 9.3? Dunno…

It’s certainly more content than I was expecting given the real world around us. Players will be able to reach Renown 40 on March 5th, and we know there’s a 9.05 coming too. Speculating, 9.1 won’t be around until May.

Artificial Value – Gold Making

Most people are under some sort of weird concept that the price of an item is somehow regulated. In some cases that is true, but in the wide majority the market itself defines the price. The price of a car is determined by the price of other cars. Something is only a deal if you are aware of the true market value.

As a consumer the most powerful weapon you have is knowledge. This is also the inverse for a seller, you want to have more information than your client in order to maximize profit. Now in the real world, few people actually understand this model – we are all consumers. (The stock market as a whole takes advantage of this.)

In online games with auction houses, we can all be sellers and consumers. And information is the true weapon in that battle.

I mentioned in the previous post about a Cloth shuffle. Lightless Silk and Shrouded Cloth are traded on the AH, made into bracers, disenchanted, and the shard/dust is sold again on the AH for a profit. At “standard” market rates, you make ~25g per craft, which is decent.

But what if I don’t want standard rates? I change the market value.

Regular rate for Shrouded Cloth is 1.7g. If I can cut that down to 1g, I make an extra 7g per bracer, or a 33% increase in profit. How? I post a single item at 1g. If it’s a single item, bots won’t pick it up and 95% of player will try to undercut me. If I keep on the AH and simply buy everything that shows up at 1g (keeping my 1 item on sale), I can make a killing. I did this the other day for 5 minutes and picked up 2000 cloth at a much better rate.

Lightless Silk goes for 22g. I can cut that to 15g and turn my bracer profit up to 41g. I could go lower, but I need to stay within the default TSM4 value (25% of market rates). That means a potential floor of 50s for the Cloth 5.5g for the Silk and a per profit take of 66g.

This only allows me to change value down. To change the value as an increase, I need to buyout everything. This is ok in low volume markets, but in the Cloth/Dust market, that means spending 100k+ to create a new value. Instead I simply need to wait until the market corrects itself based on time of day. Late Saturday or early Sunday gets the most bang.

Buy low and sell high…certainly helps when you can decide what is considered low.

FF14 Design Philosphy

Well, some bits into the overall space. WaPo has an interview with Yoshida about FF14 design challenges and it’s quite interesting. It’s hard to articulate the size of FF14, mainly due to the way it reports financials. Over 20m paying users is nothing to sneeze at, but the apples to apples on WoW just really is two bits. One, they are both extremely large and dwarf the 3rd place. Second, FF14 appears to have a growing user base, as compared to WoW’s which is diminishing.

A further interesting point is that the game director has been consistent since the re-launch of FF14. Yoshi-P has lead that ship for 8 years, and nearly every single design decision has been consistent. There is no A team or B team. There are no objectively ‘bad’ expansions.

Why though? Why is the overall quality in FF14 so high? This is one

when planning expansions, about 70 percent of the work is already expected to be done, and the team leaves 30 percent of its energy to devote to different or innovative feature sets.

This is architecture 101, with a solid foundation you can innovate and create some crazy stuff. If the foundation isn’t solid, you have to continually rebuild as you go. It also allows you to plan things more effectively, as it’s known variables, such as

For creating our instance dungeon, we would need our game design to come up with the actual content of the plan and that would probably take about 10 business days, and then we would report that for proper approvals which cost another 30 days, and then we’ll route that to the programmers, which would take them about two weeks to program in the mechanics. It’s very clear as to how much cost and time we’ll take with each component of the package that we have for our planners and the management.

I’m not in the know for Blizz, and I’d have to assume that WoW has this as a principle, if not a goal. It would take some convincing that this is actually applied in any reasonable measure though. And as a person in a position of leadership, when shit goes sideways, it’s my fault because I approved it. And when it does happen, I’m also accountable to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

This post (and SL in general) are making me wonder why I play WoW when in most measures FF14 is a better fit. I think it has more do to do with the second to second experiences being more enjoyable in WoW than FF14. And that WoW is effectively free to play with tons of tokens and over a million gold in the bank. Still, I think FF14 deserves to be re-explored to see where it’s at today, and see if I do want to take a trip on a space whale in a few months.

Not like I don’t have the time to try it out.

WoW Covenant Campaigns

Spoilers, obviously.

I’ve completed the full campaigns for all covenants now, and have some specific and general thoughts on them. At a higher level, these campaigns are a close 2nd to Legion’s class hall storylines. I’m quite hopeful as the expansion continues there’s more to this, and that would give players some reason to bother with increasing renown.

A particular note is that of all the covenants, ONLY Kyrian requires you to do any group content (a normal dungeon run). Every other one can be done solo.

First the mechanics of the campaigns. You need specific renown levels, and the catchup mechanics + Threads of Fate leveling mean you can reach lvl 22 in 2 weeks. Completing all the quests gives you a full set of gear (no jewellery or trinkets) and an LFR weapon. You’ll be tasked with completing a wide range of quests that bring you across the various zones, and give you a concept as to what’s going on in the other covenants. Each individual set of quests is straightforward enough to complete, with the Night Fae going into non-SL zones for some busy work steps.

In terms of ranking of personal enjoyment of the campaings, I would go Necrolord, Venthyr, Night Fae, Bloodsail Buccaneers, Kyrian.

Necrolord

This storyline focuses on the power stolen from the Primus, the dirty deal made with the Jailers and the cleanup of traitors within Maldraxxus. You build power over time, steal a Ziggurat, and then end with a big fight against Kel’thuzad. It does a great job of explaining why the faction exists, the various sub roles, and who’s who in the zoo. It ties in very neatly to the Venthyr campaign at the end, and does a superb job of providing ‘shades of grey’ to Kyrian. Each step builds on ther former and is sufficiently different. By the end you gain a customizable costume for a KoS zone in Maldraxxus, allowing for safe harvesting. It ties in to the WoW storyline all the way back to W3.

The abomination crafting mini-game is really underused and not terribly enjoyable.

Venthyr

This storyline concentrates on building a resistance coalition of the various sub factions to regain control of the zone, through the collection of medallions. You close out with Kael’thas Sunstrider’s redemption arc, which never really comes to closure. It explores the entire zone and the principles behind cool looking vampires. You eventually come to terms that this faction is what everyone assumed Kyrian would be – the ability for evil characters to find redemption by accepting their sins. The final bit goes into Maldraxxus (time-wise same as Necrolord) to battle Kel’thuzad. This storyline only loses points for lack of orginality, as the middle part is just the same thing for 3 sub-factions.

I tried the dinner party mini game once and never went back. It just takes too long to see any progress, feeling more like a dating sim that takes days to see random results.

Night Fae

This is a really weird faction that I simply do not understand. Every other faction the souls land, go through a trial of sorts, and then just exist. Night Fae, you enter as a seed and with Anima are reborn… or not if the Winter Queen deems your energy is best used elsewhere. The Arbiter has nothing on this lady. The story itself is bound to the Drust somehow invading the zone, and Bwonsamdi’s mentor causing havoc. That particular storyline is really confusing and not interesting. The cool bit is the laying of the conditions to cure Tyrande of the Night Warrior status. The final battle clears out all the bad guys and ends on a sort of cliffhanger that to cure Tyrande, the Night Warrior will need to be spread across multiple characters.

The garden tending process is weird and simple. Reminds me more of the garden in MoP I guess.

Kyrian

This faction is convinced that your memories prevent your true self to be good. At nearly every point, you’re fighting against the concept of free will or the fact that you are the sum of your experiences. This is explored through the Mawsworn (Lysonia) trying to break the process of Kyrian, and using Uther as a pawn to accomplish the goals. Uther turns face at the end, for no real good reason that I could figure, and by the end the order of Bastion is restored. At no point do the Kyrian accept that their methods are flawed, and I cannot see any purpose to the Kyrian in the larger scale of the afterlife – aside from guiding the dead to the Arbiter. They are mindless husks, and by the end of the campaign you really are rooting for the Jailer. It has no tie ins to the Night Fae, next to none with Maldraxxus, and only a few bits with the Venthyr.

These guys have the coolest mini-game, which is a sort of Brawler’s guild in itself. The downside here is the tokens required to take part are hard to find, and the anima costs to open all options are insane. It’s the best content that no one is playing.

Overall

In all honesty, the campaigns themselves are really quite good, I’d argue even better than the main questline from 50-60. I may not like Bastion as a faction, but it’s consistent and mostly character driven rather than plot. The storylines in one faction don’t conflict with another, and in the case of the Necrolord/Venthyr, they actually merge for a time. This isn’t Shakespeare. Blizz continues to use the same techniques for creating interesting characters – primarily by putting them through insane trauma. There are other methods to get a monomyth to deliver.

I realize people don’t play online games only for the story, but it’s fair to say that in a themepark MMO, the story is foundational to the larger enjoyment. Given the ‘blank page’ of Shadowlands lore, Blizz has done a really good job here.

BlizzCon Speculation

The interesting bit about conventions is that most of them today have nothing to do with celebrating the culture, and more about pushing stuff into consumers hands. ComicCon is a solid example. There are certainly exceptions, where there’s this weird balance at hand. PAX fits in this weird space between geek culture and corporate involvement. EvE has it’s own convention with next to no corporate, same with Warframe.

BlizzCon was originally launched as a celebration of all things Blizz (90% WoW culture) and over the years has morphed into a sort of hype machine. Still quite focused on the gamers, and at a price point where there’s a large swath of more casual players that won’t bother. The Diablo Immortal announcement was not the first faux pas, but certainly the most notable. Are there mobile gamers out there? For sure! Are they at BlizzCon? Nope. Where the people at BlizzCon expecting some PC Diablo news? Yup. Ensuing “Do you not own phones?” comments came out and the rest is written down.

This year is a weird one. There’s no scarcity to tickets, and the whole thing is being streamed for free. The potential audience is now in the millions. Sure this is a deal for everyone that used to pay, and Blizz is certainly still eating a few dimes to get it through. And yet Kotick ain’t no fool, and he’s never missed an opportunity to make a buck. And he is smelling blood in the water something fierce now.

What impact does that have? It means that the largest driving factor for any game is going to be daily average users (DAU). This will certainly manifest through an any device, any time, any game model where you are incentivized to always be p(l)aying. It means multiple mobile game launches that interact with their PC environments. I am still amazed that we don’t have a WoW Pet Battles mobile app.

And yet, Bobby is Bobby, and he will copy every bad habit out there (hence owning King) to make a buck. These will certainly have the worst aspects of F2P mobile games as an underlying feature – with a solid gameplay on top. They will not be marketed at the existing client base, but at the folks on the edge. The existing clients are ALREADY paying, and the odds of nickel and dimming them are pretty low.

WoW

If I was to look specifically at WoW it seems the larger items on hand would include

  • TBC launch date for Classic. This seems easy, but recall this is when flight was added to the game and the “world building” part really went on a different tangent.
  • Details on patch 9.05 which currently seems like the balance patch launch should have brought had the devs enough time to do their work in the pandemic.
  • An overview of 9.1 in which we see the external factors cause trouble (my money is on Tyrande) and hopefully some Maw tweaks. Maybe solve the whole Primus/Runekeeper dilema.
  • A re-jiggering of Torghast rewards. More floors seem the simple choice, but save points in Twisting Corridors would be nice. From my alt leveling experience recently, there are very few people who bother with this place now.
  • New legendary levels, which would give some purpose to excess Ash. I’d expect the ability to equip a 2nd legendary to come along as well.
  • MASSIVE tweaking of the anima/cosmetic reward structure in each covenant. The 1K weekly anima quest is currently the only reason to even bother with this system.

Tin Foil here for a last bit. Bastion is the weirdest of all covenants, as it essentially memory wipes you to get you down to base. Sylvanas is foundationally a good person, and under insane levels of trauma has reached insane levels of evil. Clearly the devs want her to have a redeeeming arc, and I’m betting dollars to donuts she gets converted through the same mechanics as Bastion to get her back to her original state.

So yeah, mechanics of BlizzCon are about pumping more money out of the consumer’s pocket, and WoW is going to focus on balancing (rather than rebuilding in 8.1).

Volume vs Margins

In my current mini quest to update my knowledge of the WoW Auction House (and speed up time to get a token), I’ve tried to fit things into one of two buckets. Sales where the margins are high, and sales where the volume is high.

As with all simplifications, the devil is in the details. High margins are useless if the items only sell once a month, and high volume is painful if the gains per item are too small. So I’m looking for ‘perfect’ items with a minimum gold per sale AND a decent sale rate. I am clearly not the only person doing this, so that specific market is already quite aggressive.

So let’s cover the various markets.

Flipping

This is all but impossible to do without TSM (or similar). You need a list to work from, and then you need to filter that list to only look at items with a certain value (I put mine at 1.5k), and that can actually sell (TSM rate 0.05 is my cut off). I focus on transmog, but pets can also be good. I run a scan for 10 minutes every 3 days, pick up the deals that will turn a 1k profit, and then just keep them posted until they sell.

Harvesting

Skinning, Herbalism, Fishing… all of them turn some profit. Herbalism is by far the easiest (hence the bots) but you need to be moving to find things and follow a decent path. Skinning requires an AE tank, so either a Monk or a Druid, with decent gear to sustain massive pulls. Not really made for an alt, yet more profitable than herbalism. Fishing… well I’m glad you can make money with fishing but it should not be the goal.

Leatherworking

The money here is in transmog. All the other mats are going to legendary gear and the margins there are too thin. Pandaria has Magnificence of Leather (dont use Scales, same effect) on a daily cooldown to get a recipe that turns a decent (1-5k) profit.

Tailoring

I’d like to say that Tailoring has transmog, but not so much. Bags are not profitable. What it can do is support a cloth shuffle. Cloth –> blue tailor items –> disenchant –> shard. This can be profitable since cloth drops for everyone, you don’t need a profession.

Blacksmithing

There’s mount equipment that can turn a profit, but that’s a few expansions back now and base mats may be a challenge. I would not recommend this for making gold in SL.

Alchemy

This is a bread and butter profession with crazy volumes. There is some major volatility, and server reset days often have massive spikes. I craft anything with a 25% margin on crafting, which is 3-5 pots depending on the day. The DPS boost pot shot up by 100g this week, and I ended up clearing something like 10k profit on that in a day.

Enchanting

There are two paths here, shuffling and crafting. Shuffling is a math exercise, extremely dependent on the value of base mats. Some factions provide rebates on necessary crafting materials (like flux) that can save you 25g per craft.

Crafting is more complex. Enchants sell if people swap gear often, which was certainly applicable in the loot pinata of BfA. There’s money to be made here, but it requires the highest core investment of all the professions.

Jewelcrafting

Honestly, you should only have this to prospect and then flip. There are more gem slots in gear now, but the profit margins here aren’t much.

Inscription

This market is still amazingly profitable, but the sale rates are much lower than others. The downside is that the crafting cost of some are over 1k.

Farming Rares

Right, this deserves some comment. There are 4-5 locations in SL that are prime farm locations, with drop rates that are simply insane due to super fast spawn times. Boomkins dominate this space. It’s heavy on RNG, but 10k/h is a reasonable expectation if you’re just vendoring. BoE drops can get you 100k+ though.

Callings

This is 2K per day, for about 10 minutes of work. Best to save up 3 days, as often callings overlap. You shouldn’t really bother with the AH if you can’t make similar amounts in similar timeframes.

Is it Worth It?

Unless you really like spreadsheets, honestly I would avoid this entirely. The game is already ultra generous in gold drops, and there are no purchases so far out of reach to bankrupt anyone. In terms of gold/real hour, you figure 1 token = $15. 1 token is around 120k gold. So for near minimum wage at 1 hour you can pay for a token.

Valor is Back

Color me surprised. Blizz is brining back Valor points.

Recall Valor tokens is a system that every other MMO has, and that Blizz has spent 10 years trying to avoid with more RNG (see the advent of coins way back in MoP) to provide ‘bad luck protection’. Tokens provide a focused bad luck protection system, but really made no sense once ‘-forging’ took place. While there’s no RNG in the rolls on the gear, the nature of M+ means that the maximum level of an item will depend on an achievement related to M+ runs. That system is sound, and since it’s variable based, it can be tweaked with a hotfix if need be. Plus, it can scale as more dungeons are released (???) and the general ilvl of the game goes up.

I am really trying to avoid being a cynic here. Blizz’s pattern for system design has been rough to say the least these past years. Few of them ever seem to survive a content patch, let alone an expansion. The mechanics of M+ and Raids have been relatively stable, but those are not power/reward based systems. I cannot think of the last time that Blizz actually deployed something that worked out the gate – there’s always a massive balance change downstream (if not outright removal).

That said, conceptually this design appears to be as complex as a lay-up. One where everyone expects this to be easy, and if you mess up, that comes with ridicule. Blizz is not inventing something new here. They’ve done this before, and there are dozens of WORKING models on which to refer. A roundabout way of saying that I have hopes this works.

Covenant Abilities

9.05 will also come with Covenant ability balancing. Size is relevant. It’s hard to properly articulate what large patch notes mean as a development team. These aren’t flat passes like we’ve seen of ‘all Rogue damage is increased 5%’. These are clearly thought out and have been on the lines for some time. It will impact simulations, certainly. But I doubt this would be enough to actually have people change covenants as mechanically few changes are taking place. Single target skills are staying single target. Kyrian is still going to own tanking, Night Fae on AE, and Venthyr for single target.

Well, Fleshcraft is the outlier. The most useless skill in the game now has a larger damage shield and reduces damage taken by 30% while channelling. Changes like these are somewhat worrysome, as any tank worth their salt is not going to take 2 GCD to stand somewhere and facetank. Maybe as a prep to a large pull in M+ with a 40% shield?

Legendary Abilities

There are no details on the tuning pass, so this is just assumptions here. Multiple specs have a clear best-in-slot legendary. A few have options, but only in regards to some weird variables. BM Hunters are a good example, the trap legendary is the best one by far but it’s a horribly complex/painful one to use, so quite a few folks opted for the passive legendary instead. Curious as to if this is a mechanical pass or just balance. Hope it’s both!

Swapping legendaries is a weird process, given the method of which you acquire Soul Ash. I’d expect a catch up mechanic to accompany any tuning phase.

WoW Tinfoil Hat

Who doesn’t like storyline speculation? Rather long post and naturally some spoilers.

For this I’m going to time travel a bit. Mists of Pandaria started as a faction war that spilled over into new lands. What we saw was relatively new content in relation to the previous lore setting, though it was framed within the Alliane/Horde war. It wasn’t until the tail end of the expansion that the story went full circle and had Garrosh become the big bad guy (which is on-par with wrestling heel turns).

WoW typically follows a 3 act storyline per expansion. The first arc introduces the new world and the players are meant to address an existing problem in that world. This act elevates the players to champions of the land, which starts the 2nd act. This typically focuses on an external problem that the players have brought to the world, and by the end the world questions if the players are the good guys or bad guys. The final act is then the expression of that question where the internal and external factors meet, and then set up the next expansion as a boil-over to that conflict. I say typically because there are often small nuances to this arc, and WoD simply skipped the middle part.

Blizz has been upfront about their storyline development process. They are always 2 expansions ahead, so they are already building the expansion after Shadowlands, and have a general idea of what comes after that.

Further, Blizz has long struggled with character developed storylines rather than plot-driven storylines. This is why we see characters do things that are out of character based on their previous actions (again, Garrosh, but Sylvanas was the real blowup). When Blizz adds new characters, that provides them the flexibility to push the plot as those new characters have very little lore conflicts. These new characters have to be tied into existing storylines, and that itself is a hard thing to sort out. This is how you get everyone figuring out the Old Gods were the bad guys on day 1 of BfA launch.

Tangent in this space for a bit. Wheel of Time applied this model of arcs, and avoided character conflicts by adding new characters. Yet those characters all shared the stage, and became a miracle and a mess to keep straight. Game of Thrones does the exact same thing, but kills off characters to avoid this problem.

Shadowlands Reboot

SL has a neat approach here. Every single WoW character, alive or dead, is available to pick from – every covenant focuses on one. Every being that has died, on any world, is available too (see Aliothe). Rather than only having good and bad people, there are instead 5 factions to manage. Those factions themselves each have a duality to them, and they have all existed since before Azeroth existed.

In that sense, everything in WoW so far, scope-wise, can be considered Chapter 1 of a larger world building. Or, if you want, the universe within a universe model. This is cool a it gives tons of flexibility into way forward. If the door from Azeroth to Shadowlands is now open, it bears that the door from Shadowlands to elsewhere is also open. The challenge then is that the established lore can become meaningless as there are no stakes. Ysera, Draka, Vajsh, Kael’thas, Kel’thuzad… you name it, they are most likely in SL now. Every dungeon and raid boss is likely ‘alive’.

This turns all sorts of sideways when you start looking at the covenants. So the Arbiter picks where you go, according to some set of criteria. For Maldraxxus, Revendreth, and Bastion you just ‘plop’, show up and then get initiated by the local faction, and then maybe get ‘corrupted’ by the 2nd faction that is aligned with the Jailer. Anima is used less to live, and more so to give characters magical powers. Ardenweald, not so much. You show up as a spirit and need anima to be reborn. From that point, it seems that anima is only used by the Queen. I’ve completed the Night Fae campaign… the Drust are the bad guys and they have no link at all to the Jailer. It’s the only covenant like this. Side note – Night Fae explain that to cure Tyrande, they need to ‘share’ the night warrior spirit across multiple people.

Venthr have you build a rebellion core, but there’s no true final act as there are missing at least 2 key components (you can see this in the faction hub). Necrolord has you wrest control from Kel’thuzad, put some gear on a statue (no lie) and then that’s it. Maybe it can be seen as building forces to eventually attack the Jailer. Kyrian is a ‘repair the thing’ quest that ends up with Uther moving out of the Forsworm but not back into the Kyrian. They are not in a position to attack the Jailer, they are simply back to where they were when the expansion started.

So Venthyr and Necrolord are amassing forces. Kyrian are rebuilding, and Uther is effectively a 3rd faction (cause Kyrian are borderline bad guys), and the Night Fae are just plain surviving.

The Ben Howell Problem

Kyrian Chapter 3 identifies a very odd space. You re-live Ben Howell’s life and death. For some reason you send his soul to Oribos, where there’s no Arbiter, and he gets sent to the Maw. When you ask why this is, the leader of the faction effectively says ‘we know, do it anyways’. To be clear, they KNOW that the Jailer is building an army and they are actively building that army for him.

The Maw Problem

How does the Maw normally work? How do people go from any of the 4 covenants into the Maw in the first place? Is the portal out of the Maw something only the Primals can use, and if so, how do the players end up with that power? As the Night Fae story goes, how did the Loa end up in the Maw? If this is the spot for the ultra damned, would that not be a landing spot for the old gods too?

And since the Lich King’s helm is a Jailer artefact, that means Arthas was supposed to lead this a while ago (Nerzul before him). So where are all these guys?

And when someone has a true death in Shadowlands, what happens? They are out of the larger thread of life?

Guessing Game

If Act 2 is the meeting of external factors to internal success, then it bears to reason that Anduin and Tyrande will be either a raid boss, or the key goal of the raid. The Jailer wants to ‘use’ Anduin, so that’s a heck of an indicator. Tyrande can only be healed with multiple people. It’s pretty clear at some point, either act 2 or 3, that we’re going to attack the Maw. And we know that there will have to be a battle between Tyrande and Sylvanas.

But let’s take a step back on other parts too. The Arbiter is offline (who looks suspiciously like the Jailer what with a hole in her chest) and there’s no real indication of how. Why is clear, the Maw needs the souls to build an army (which is its own tin foil hat story). The other big mystery is the Primus in Maldraxxus. He’s just gone, and beyond all the other faction leaders, is the only one who ever refers to Shadowlands as a whole instead of their own covenant.

Then there’s the actual Jailer. There’s no clear goal here. If he wins, then everything becomes the Maw. That’s not really a goal. He’s in control of his domain, he can make it whatever he wants. And there’s no criteria as to what actually goes to the Maw if things were working normally.

Maybe, just maybe, the Jailer is looking to open the door of Shadowlands outwards. The Maw is more numerous than the Burning Legion, and we still haven’t found the void. Could be we have a corrupted Primus who is being used as a power source for a portal out. And then we get a true battle against the Void.

/tinfoilhat down

TSM Examples

So you wanna learn to flip. Let’s take a look at the data set available in TSM to make better decisions.

What I’m looking for here is the 10% in blue in the top right. That’s the posted cost vs. the relative cost of a given item, and where flipping can work. Now in this case there are many items for sale, and at quite a few different price points. What makes this a good idea to flip is that there is only 1 item at 25g, the next one is 190g. So buy this one, post it for 189g and you make the difference. This is the simplest example, and there are quite a few.

Let’s look at the fundamental data next.

This is a more typical view of any AH posting. Lots of an item, and someone is trying to dump stock. 21g is all from the same player, and then prices jump up to 191g. Theoretically you could buy the 10 items and flip them all for 190g. But…

Look at the data highlight. The TSMAuctionDB data is the important one.

  • Min Buyout is the cheapest item on the AH
  • Market Value is the value across AH, on YOUR server. On high volume items, this is the number to look at.
  • Region Market Value Avg is specific to your region, and the average posted value. Region meaning, US, EU and so on.
  • Region Sale Avg is the recorded sale average in your region. The is what people are buying for and not terribly useful unless you’re talking about things with low volume. For BoE this can have some use as they are often low volume.
  • Region Sale Rate and Avg Daily Sold are metrics to see how much volume is in the market. Low numbers means that it can take a while to sell.

So in this case, while people are asking for 191g, the reality is that on my server the avg sale price is 115g and very few are sold on any given day. It would not be a good idea to flip here. To simplify, you want something that is low relative buyout compared to it’s true value, and where either you are the ONLY poster, or the difference between your buy and your post is meaningful (e.g. 150g or more).

Bots a Lots

So let’s see what the AH looks like now that a few bot bans have come across. This is just a dip until the next bot software comes about…

The reason the % are all above 100% is because there was a massive glut of herbs a few days ago. Bots were just flooding the market, and Death Blossom in particular was really hit. 2 weeks ago it was 20g, now it’s 7g. As the market normalizes, it will be interesting to see where this all goes.

I’ve personally set this metric to only buy at 80% of market value (which is higher than the overall market value). If herbs cost too much, then there’s no profit on alchemy. With some herbs still going for 30g, I can blow through 10k in gold without really trying.

Crafter View

This one can be a right pain, as the items that post the largest profits are often the ones requiring the most grind. I don’t mean effort to get mats, or expensive to make. I mean GRIND, as in behind a faction or some sort of super random drop.

The basic crafting window is like this. If it’s green, you make money assuming you buy stuff at market rates. You can see that the flask would cost me 722 to make, and would give me 61g in profit. That’s about 8%. I can make more per craft on other items.

Here’s a high value Transmute.

I could make this, and maybe turn a profit. As much as I’d like to make 10k, the odds are better than I’d make 5, and it would cost me 2 per day to make. There are quite a few transmutes out, and very few of them actually turn a profit. Even more so if you can’t get the mats at a good deal. In this example, Primal Fire is supposed to be 500g, but on my AH it’s 1800g.

The larger point I’m trying to make is that the base UI is not one that’s made to make money. Even TSM is only a tool, and unless you know how to use it, you’re odds better at losing money than making it. I’ve got a fair chunk of optimizing I can make to speed up the scanning and posting. I enjoy the optimizing much more than the actual profit making.