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Wildstar Housing, Balance

This Penny Arcade is pretty much spot-on.

I have not personally succumbed to the housing endgame, but I absolutely see the appeal. My present domicile is named Function Over Form, and is primarily centered around having my own Mining and Garden nodes for resource gathering. Any decor that isn’t worth vendoring is placed as amusingly as possible, scaled up to the maximum. As it turns out, the scale on most of these items figuratively and literally go to 11.

I enjoy the view from my 30-ft couch.

The view from my 20-ft couch.

If you were looking for more serious housing endeavors, examples abound. I especially enjoyed seeing the DIY jumping puzzles. The craziest, most underrated part? You can visit other peoples’ houses. You don’t even need to know them in-game; as long as they have opened their house to the public, you can stop by, and perhaps harvest their resource nodes (more on that in a sec).

Here is the method to do so, and please pass it along:

Won't you be my neighbor?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Wildstar is by no means the first MMO with player housing. I was questing with a few friends on Vent the other night, and one friend actually complained that EQ2’s housing system was more intuitive. I’ll, uh, take your word for that.

Carbine has done something really clever here though, in elevating the Show & Tell aspect by combining it with Challenges and resources. I have my low-effort housing solely to be able to low-effort mine resources every hour or so; the Shardspire Canyon FABkit in the back similarly allows me to complete an easy challenge for a shot at additional goodies every 30 minutes.

But see, you can get a list of a few dozen people who have opened their houses to the public and check out their setups. If they too have resource nodes or Challenges on their property to complete, you have an incentive to essentially cold-call them to become Neighbors. Collect a big enough list, and you can probably farm all day just in other peoples’ houses.

Maybe that doesn’t seem all that social. I will tell you though, that it got me to add a random stranger to my Friend’s List so I could talk him into letting me farm his creepy, albeit very committed Plushie-themed house on the regular. I’m already trying to come up with a naming convention to indicate people willing to 50/50 their nodes into a… well, a “neighborhood,” to our mutual benefit.

The fact that there is a Zone Chat specifically for people in their houses is goddamn brilliant, by the way.

_____________

Having said that, I now have a 2nd character parked at level 15 with very little impetus to move forward. It is difficult to shape into words why that is the case, as I even enjoy my Medic main. As others have mentioned, by level 15 you will have unlocked your house, your mount, and will have opened up enough abilities to get somewhat of a grasp of what buttons you’ll be spamming for the next forever.

Part of the problem is commitment issues. Mobs don’t die in 2-shots anymore, so you better like who you’ll be grinding with. Is Medic really the best for me? In trying out the other classes though, let me just say that Carbine is going to seriously need to work on the ESPer and Engineer (I’d say Warrior too, but I’ll give it another shot first).

The Engineer problem is pretty straight-forward: the bots suck. Not only do the bots suck damage-wise – which is a big problem when they constitute 2 of your very early ability selections – but they have pathing issues too, which can lead to aggro issues. My Engineer is level 8 and it just doesn’t feel fun, and none of the upcoming abilities sound like they will be fun either.

The ESPer problem, on the other hand, is a complete breakdown in the class design. I can’t speak for it’s endgame performance, but there is almost nothing I like where I’m at. It is currently the ONLY class to have it’s “primary” builder require being stationary, which makes it worse than useless in PvP. Flag carrier running away? GG. Target runs out of your telegraph? Now they’re 35+ yards away and you’ll never hit them with anything. GG. Then you have it’s R ability with its… stay stationary to gain an absorb shield, interrupt armor, and PSI points? Only useable in combat? Let me just say that using that ability in PvP just leads to pretty much instant death, even in the lower brackets.

Medic was more fun, but PvP is a crazy mess.

Medic was more fun, but PvP is a crazy mess regardless of class.

I’m mentioning PvP a lot with the ESPer as that is largely how I leveled with that toon. The Aurin/Mordesh starting area is abysmal, and meanwhile PvP is pretty outstandingly rewarding and fun. It takes around 3-4 games per level, and you pretty much consistently get 300-400 PvP currency per battle. The PvP gear has some “useless” stats to make it weaker in PvE, but you can unlock usable shoulders that will likely last you a half-dozen levels or more with pure PvE stats. Otherwise, you must rely on opening the PvP loot bags rewarded at the end ala GW2, to similar effect (read: none).

My goal with the ESPer was pretty much to heal exclusively, and in that area it is kinda okay. Most of its healing abilities are actually targeted (and stationary), which reverts the game back to WoW-mode; I moved the team window down to the center of the screen and basically used it like Healbot. I ended up unlocking a standard telegraph heal in the teens though, so I was able to be a bit more mobile as a healer.

So, yeah, ESPer, Engineer, and likely Warrior are about the three weakest classes at the moment. Carbine is on the record for saying that classes will be buffed up to the top level rather than top-tier classes being nerfed, so we’ll see exactly how they plan on solving this balance issue. I don’t see any way out for the ESPer other than making the level 1 ability a mobile cast though.

Raid Finder: Day One

I used the Raid Finder for the very first time on Monday night. It was an… instructive experience.

Dogpile.

Dogpile.

One thing that I learned about myself is the fact that I felt compelled to seek out raid videos/strategies even for LFR difficulty. It is not (just) about insulating myself from group embarrassment, it is about mitigating that awful feeling of not knowing what I am doing. I hate that feeling. At first I believed the feeling to be unique to multiplayer games, as I certainly do not hit up GameFAQs or Wikis the moment I get to a boss fight in a single-player game. Indeed, wouldn’t that be cheating? Or, at least, cheating myself from the actual game.

But you know what? I hate that feeling even in single-player games. If I am dying to a boss repeatedly and have no idea why, or there does not seem to be any clues as to different strategies I could try, I most certainly hit up Wikis. I enjoy logic puzzles as much as (or more than) the next guy, but I must feel certain that logic is applicable to the situation. With videogames, that is not always a given: quests that you cannot turn in because you didn’t trip a programming “flag” by walking down a certain alleyway or whatever. There was a Borderlands 2 quest that I simply looked up on Youtube because I’ll be damned if I walk across every inch of a cell-shaded junkyard for an “X” mark after already spending 10 minutes looking it over. Playing “Where’s Waldo” can be entertaining, but not when you have to hold the book sideways and upside down before Waldo spawns… assuming you are even looking at the right page.

I digress.

Hey, it could happen to anyone!

Hey, it could happen to anyone!

Things got off to a nice start in LFR when the dog fight consisted of just tanking all three dogs in a cleave pile the entire time. The second boss seemed to have an inordinate amount of health, but he too dropped without doing much of note. I died twice to some insidious trash on the way to the troll boss; those bombs are simply stupid in a 25m setting, as I found it difficult to even see them among all the clashing colors and spell effects. Final boss dropped pretty quickly as well, although I almost died a few times towards the end once people stopped coming into the spirit world with me.

By the way, the queue for the 1st raid finder was 15 minutes for DPS. Might have been a “Monday before the reset” thing.

I joined a guild healer for the 2nd raid finder immediately afterwards, although the average wait time of 43 seconds was a bit off. Was killed by a combination of friendly fire and damage reflection during the first boss, but he otherwise went down quickly. I managed to avoid falling to my death during Elegon (thanks Icy-Veins!), but was killed by an add the 2nd tank never picked up; that will teach me to do something other than tunnel the boss. The third boss… made little sense. I spent a lot of time killing adds, as I could not quite understand what was up with the Devastating Combo thing other than I must have been doing it wrong. Eons later, the bosses died.

It is becoming somewhat of a running joke for my guildies since coming back on how much random loot I pull in. The prior week I got ~8 drops from my first 5 random dungeons, for example. This time around I got three epics from my first two LFR forays, all three of which came from the bonus rolls. I was not around for the Cata LFR days, but suffice it to say, I would not have likely came away with that much loot in a more traditional PuG.

Overall, LFR was a pleasant experience. While I can certainly empathize with the criticism of LFR – it was pretty ridiculously easy – I can definitely see the logic behind Blizzard’s moves here. Some raid is better than no raid, low-pop realms like Auchindoun-US wouldn’t support a robust raid PuG community, and to an extent even the “nothing ever drops!” LFR sentiment encourages organized guild raiding in a roundabout manner. Whether this remains satisfying in any sort of long-term manner remains to be seen, but honestly, it is better than the alternative of… what else, exactly? Running dungeons ad infinitum?

Achieving Zen

So I warned you about certain crafted BoE epic gear and how the new Firelands dailies would essentially obsolete them entirely. At the time, I was under the impression that the vendors with these 365 epic gear would be gated behind 25 days worth of dailies. That is not entirely the case, as you undoubtedly witnessed yourself on Thursday if you have been doing them daily.

Our good friend Zen’Vorka here has some goodies for anyone who fights their way into the Firelands. The items themselves are Matoclaw’s Band (Agility ring), Nightweaver’s Amulet (Intellect necklace), Fireheart Necklace (Strength necklace), and Pyrelord Greaves (Tanking Plate boots). I knew the Pyrelord boots were going to obsolete the BoE JP boots, but I thought that was going to happen closer to the end of August, not the beginning of July. Speaking of surprises, though…

Blizzard snuck in a stealth hotfix allowing you to unlock Firelands on Day 1.

What ends up happening now is instead of ending up with 8 Marks of the World Tree when you get to the point of unlocking the “outside” dailies, you have 16. After doing a single set of dailies, you will end up with 4 more Marks, unlocking the Firelands portal after one more quest. At that point, you are a mere one elite mob away from unlocking our friend Zen’Vorka and his goodies for your alts. The entire process takes ~35 minutes from zero to epic 365s depending on the dailies you get stuck with.

It is an open question as to why Blizzard made this change, and it will be even more interesting to see whether they end up doing something similar once “phase 3″ starts being unlocked by people. And that is on top of the question as to whether or not it will actually take another month to unlock all the vendors or if they will be more like our friend Zen.

In any event, if the thought of doing 50+ dailies a day was stopping you from pimping your alts, the way has officially been cleared. Get out there and get geared.

Fate of Crafted Epics in 4.2 (and more)

I talked about about this subject in a general sense with Fire(lands) Sale where I pre-lamented the death of the Darkmoon trinkets in the face of easy-to-acquire alternatives. Due to a reader’s request, I have decided to focus more on what crafters can make right now and whether it might still be a good idea to make post-4.2.

Chest/Legs

This is perhaps the most obvious category of crafted epics at risk in 4.2. Players will be able to purchase T11 chest and legs for 2200 Justice points on Day 1 of the new patch, and I find it very likely many will do so immediately with whatever amount of JP they have stockpiled. Do not forget that you will (still) be able to turn Honor points into Justice points, easily bypassing the 4,000 cap if you choose. Three weeks of ZA/ZG runs later, they will be able to further purchase T12 (same slots) with their Valor points.

Belts
The situation with belts is more complex. Players will not be able to purchase any belts with JP nor VP this patch. Instead, there are two other sources of belts: a small sample from the Molten Front dailies after ~25 days, and a complete set after hitting Honored with the Avengers of Hyjal.

The three belts in the Bad category are Elementium Girdle of Pain, Light Elementium Belt, and Lightning Lash. All three have ilevel 365 analogs available after unlocking The Armorer in the Firelands dailies. The rest of the belts will not be replaced until you get a raid drop or hit Honored with the raid reputation. Last time I checked, the word on the street was that you could hit 11,999/12,000 Honored with the Avengers from farming trash – how difficult this will be or even if it is possible will remain to be seen. I find it likely however, that someone farming Firelands raid trash will probably want to do it with a purple belt in the meantime.

Trinkets
Already talked about this before, but…
 

The Darkmoon trinkets have given me a lot of AH mileage so far this expansion, but I stopped making the cards a few months ago. Players logging in after 4.2 will have the option of getting 359 trinkets immediately for 1650 JP and/or doing ~25 days of dailies for the 365 trinkets off of the vendors there. And if they hit Revered with the raid reputation, hey, more trinkets.

That covers the crafted BoE epics, but why stop here?

Cloaks
There are no crafted epic cloaks, but I am referring to any BoE epic cloaks from T11 content and/or ZA/ZG drops you may have in your bags. Sell them. Sell now.

Although I missed the chance to warn you before the Midsummer holiday arrived with its free 353 cloak giveaway, the 353 and 359 cloaks were still technically as good or better than what you could get stolen by a scrub for an off-spec they will never use from Ahune. This all changes in 4.2. Namely, every single player will be sporting 365 epic cloaks for completing the Thrall Got Zapped quest-line. Price your antiquated 359s to move, lest you get stuck with a 12,000g+ “investment” that you will have to dupe people into buying for even 800g. Indeed, I recently sold a Drape of Inimitable Fate and Zom’s Electrostatic Cloak for ~6,000g each and the buyer immediately relisted for 12,000g. If he can snag a sell between now and Tuesday, more power to him. Meanwhile, I just made nearly half of his possible profit with 0% of the risk.

If 365 cloaks from a quest chain was not bad enough, you also have Valor cloaks for JP and 378 cloaks after however long it takes to get Friendly with the Avengers of Hyjal. Move those capes like they’re hot.

Boots
Specifically the BoE epic boots you can buy with Valor today, and Justice on Tuesday. Seems pretty obvious that these would be bad deals to get, yes? Well… not quite. Ask yourself if you would be willing to buy Justice points for gold at, say, a 1:2 ratio. In other words, imagine spending 8000g to get 4000 JP. Would you? I would. You cannot get 4000 of course, as the boots are the only items that work this way and they cost 1650 JP. Point being, even though I can grind up the 1650 JP and get them “for free,” I could also simply buy them off someone who values their time less than I do and spend those same JP getting something else. Similar to belts though, there is a small kink in the plan: boots from dailies.

The three boots in the Bad category are Boots of the Perilous Seas, Rock Furrow Boots, and Moccasins of Verdurous Glooms. All three have 365 upgrades available after a scant 25 days worth of dailies. The other boots will not be replaced outside of raid drops so you will probably be able to sell them on a decent basis. Of course, so will everyone else capable of running heroics/grinding BGs but if you have nothing else to buy with those currencies, it is better than buying and vendoring Wrath epic gems.

Rings/Necklaces
Is anyone still making this garbage? Please, stop, what are you doing?

The mat price for the 346 rings/necklaces was ridiculous even on Day 1, but there were still chances at sales and (low) profit margins. Generally people will tell you to make the Elementium Moebius Band because it’s the cheapest but actually pretty good for any tank. Problem is that there is not one, but two epic tanking rings from the Firelands dailies. From the same vendor! I guess Blizzard’s thought process was that since the one ring had Parry on it, that a 2nd one was necessary for the Feral tanks. Except now if you are a Plate tank you have easy-street access to both. Did I mention they are on the same vendor? Non-casters are in the same boat with two separate Agility rings AND two separate Strength rings… on different vendors this time, but still. Spellcasters and/or healers got the shaft though, with only one ring.

So you have the option of the Valor rings being bought with JP, the new Valor rings bought with actual Valor, the crafted blue PvP rings having a difference of a whole 90 stats for the equivalent of ~1500g in mats, the 365 rings from the Firelands dailies (which covers every spec), and eventually the 391 rings at Exalted with Avengers.

Necklaces are in a mostly similar place as rings. Spellcasters get a Firelands daily option as do Strength DPS however. Missing here are Agility and Tank necklaces, which means you may have a market for Brazen Elementium Medallion (assuming people didn’t just get the Hyjal reputation neck) and Elementium Guardian. There are Valor necklaces available post-4.2, but I doubt the neck slot will be at the top of peoples’ lists to replace for quite some time.

Conclusion and Caveats
The mark of a good goblin is being able to make gold when it is not especially obvious that it is possible. Although I am labeling some items as Bad and Fire Sale and so on, it is entirely possible that you or someone who likes to sweat by the AH will make money where money ain’t got any right being made. Maybe that dude who bought my cheap cloaks will move both by Tuesday and laugh his way to the bank. That’s fine, I’m already at the bank giggling myself. The only real loser is whoever gets stuck with the item when the music stops, and presumably that person paid for the privilege so I guess everyone wins… until that guy does those 10 quests and replaces it.

So, yeah.

If you are looking for some quick and dirty advice, I would say: clear your stock, stop making/buying more BoEs. Worst case scenario you will still have your mats, and can go back to ignoring whatever I say on Wednesday. Goblins strike it rich all the time by taking on risk that no one else does. Goblins like myself also strike ~80% of the richness of the other goblins, with 90% less effort and less than a quarter of the risk. Do what you like, and we’ll all see how it pans out next month.

Crafted PvP Comparison

As you may or may not be aware, when patch 4.2 rolls around all the old crafted PvP recipes will be going from their current ilevel 339 states to a much beefier 358. The material costs will also be the same, but just keep in mind that already crafted gear will not be upgraded. In other words, do not pre-craft this gear.

What interests me in this interim period though, is the question about whether or not the current crop of Honor Point gear is worth purchasing in the days before 4.2 compared to what you can get crafted post-4.2. Obviously the Conquest Point epics will be purchasable after 4.2 with Honor and be much better than either, but as someone who enjoys getting their BG on the Honor cap is still 4000. For example, I have a warrior in the current crop of crafted PvP blues with about 2500 Honor accumulated. Would it be more “efficient” to hit the 4k Honor cap and stop playing altogether? Or would there be some benefit in buying the current Bloodthirsty Gladiator pieces while still aiming at capping out before June 28th?

A couple quick notes about the above picture. First, the stat gains along the bottom of the page does reflect my adding of gems into those eight sockets. Basically there are three Bolds, two Resplendent, and two Rigid gems in there along with the meta. Secondly, I am only comparing the five “tier” pieces at the moment because I have no idea how to add items to item sets on Wowhead, only how to remove them. Finally, if you want to look at the comparison yourself or perhaps change the gems around, you can use this link here.
What we can see about this at first glance is current Bloodthirsty Gladiator gear > 4.2 crafted gear, even without considering glove and 4-piece bonuses. Wowhead’s comparisons are not 100% accurate though, as the Bloodthirsty set does not have a 400+ resilience gain over the crafted gear – the discrepancy is likely from the crafted gear’s 2-piece +400 resilience bonus not being properly coded into Wowhead. Taking that into account and then manually plugging in the full Bloodthirsty Gladiator set, we get a comparison like this:
4.2 Crafted Bloodthirsty Glad Difference
Stamina 3,311 3,135 176
Strength 2,206 2,314 -108
Mastery 225 153 72
Armor 19,644 19,301 343
Resilience 1,873 1,930 -57
Critical strike 449 -449
Expertise 393 257 136
Haste 336 173 163
Hit 519 238 281

Note: the Difference column is focusing on the crafted gear. Looking at it in this perspective, Bloodthirsty Gladiator looks less obviously better. Indeed, the crafted gear has +146 stat points and +176 Stamina vs +108 Strength… and the existence of a metagem, a glove bonus, and a 4-piece bonus. Generally speaking, primary stats like Strength are valued at least 2:1 against combat ratings like Mastery, so the tradeoff becomes nearly ~2k HP against +3% crit damage and whatever goodies are on your gloves and 4pc bonus. Bloodthirsty Gladiator gear retains the advantage.

In an interesting twist, the crafted PvP accessories are unequivocally better than the current Honor ones:

The take-away from this is three-fold. (1) You should still be banking some mats to pump out the upgraded PvP gear for when servers come back up. New players and alts will still be hitting level 85 after 4.2 all the time and want something to cover their nakedness (or ‘sploit them into ZA/ZG queues). (2) The Bloodthirsty Gladiator non-accessory pieces are still worth getting, assuming buying them does not impact your ability to cap out on Honor by the 27th. Speaking of which, people with Bloodthirsty Glad gear will not be buying your non-accessory crafted PvP gear post-4.2. In other words, the markets do not overlap. Sorry, crafters. (3) If you have a JC toon, expect a rather nice post-patch payday. Your rings and necklaces will straight-up replace any non-epic piece of PvP gear. The healer pieces merely requiring Amberjewel and a smattering of Volatiles is especially win.

P.S. If you are a JC still making those 346 rings, you might want to stop. Resilience is a dead stat for PvE, of course, but you have to start asking yourself whether ~90 stats makes this comparison make sense:

     VS

Fire(lands) Sale

[Edit: Avenger's of Hyjal as a rep is from the Firelands trash up to the tail end of honored (11,999/12k) and thereafter rep gains come solely from boss kills. When I wrote this post I was assuming said rep came from the dailies even though I should have known better already. The rest of the points still stand.]

So… yikes. I was all prepared to write about my weekend cross-faction AH shenanigans when I realized something startling: we may see a cratering of Darkmoon trinkets and other BoEs soon. As in, within two weeks or so. It seems so obvious in retrospect with 4.2 coming out, but if the full scope of the changes slipped my mind, it is possible it slipped yours as well.

  • Everything on the Valor Point vendor will now be purchasable with Justice Points.

Duh, right? But consider what this means, slot-wise. T11 can cover chest, legs, and hands. Then you have cloaks, wrists, and feet (still BoE by the way). There are also rings, relics, and trinkets. When you look at what BoE 359 epics are available, they come in these slots: cloak, chest, feet, finger, head, off-hand, weapon (all types), neck, shield, shoulder, trinket, and belt. Or after you remove the redundancies… head, off-hand, weapon, neck, shield, shoulder, and belt. Maybe this comes across as more obvious than I originally thought (liquidate 359 gear before the new hotness of 378 comes out), but if you are still holding out hope for that Blauvelt’s Family Crest to sell, you might want to reconsider a lower price-point before potential customers simply buy Band of Bees.

  • The Avengers of Hyjal faction offers amazing 378 gear at each reputation level.

You can see the actual rewards on MMO-Champ, but what I want to get across again are the item slots covered: cloaks at Friendly; belts at Honored; trinkets at Revered; ilevel 391 rings at Exalted. Following me so far? No one will be hitting Revered with the Avengers overnight, of course, but given time every endgame player raider will have access to trinkets for both slots (and see below). As a person with gold, I have no particular compunction against twinking out a toon or two – who really wants to grind out heroics and weeks of dailies with green trinkets from questing, amirite? – but the simple fact that said “twinking” would have a shelf-life of however long it took me to do dailies farm raid trash to 11,999/12k and get one boss kill and/or get 1650 JP dampens how much I would be willing to spend. To other more frugal players, it may straight-up remove them from the market entirely.

  • There are other Avengers of Hyjal vendors that offer even more gear than normal.

First off, why doesn’t MMO-Champ have a single location for all this 4.2 stuff? It’s dumb. Anyway, you can check out the specific vendor lists in this post. You should already know about the Blacksmithing weapon patterns that covers everyone. What you might not know is that belts, hands, feet, fingers, off-hand, relic, and goddamn trinkets again are also covered, depending on class/spec. Actually, only plate-wearers get belt options for example, but that is a rather huge market share cut out of what would otherwise be a very nice empty crafting slot.

  • Don’t forget about all that lovely new 378 Valor Point gear and new BoEs

Slots covered by VP this time around are the standard chest/legs/hands, followed by Thrown weapons, wands, relics, rings, neck, and wrists. In the updated MMO-Champ list, it appears that wrists are the only definitively BoE item. I would talk about the BoE raiding drops, but it will absolutely be profitable flipping them no matter how many comparable items exist. I will also pass on talking about the crafted profession items to much, considering they require Living Embers which are likely raid drops. That said, they appear to cover boots and hands.

Summary
There will be three two reasonably easy trinket options (and a third for raiders from rep) for players to choose from without even considering Darkmoon trinkets: one from Justice Points and two from the Avengers of Hyjal faction. Even worse for Scribes is the fact that someone doing the Avenger dailies will likely get access to both rep trinkets simultaneously – I imagine grinding 125 Marks of Lazy Design will easily get someone to the start of Revered. What plate DPS* would give a second look at Hurricane when they can get Dwyer’s Caber and Essence of the Eternal Flame from dailies? Nevermind License to Slay.

As for the other items/slots? It appears Blizzard is doubling-down on the “tier helm/shoulder being drops” design, so I fully expect epic BoE helms and shoulders to retain and/or increase in value heading into 4.2. Of course, with T11 content being nerfed by 20%, this otherwise consistent demand may be tempered by a new supply of farming guilds/pugs churning out BoEs, so keep your head… or sell it, as the case may be.

*I understand from the forums that some of the T11 trinkets are better itemized than the Avenger’s trinkets and even trinkets from Firelands itself. My point is less about raiders in the market for BiS gear (who likely already got it months ago), and more about the people interested in getting epic trinkets right away.

When To Expect Epic Gems

Are there really people still talking about epic gems? Apparently so. Let me make it really easy for you: epic gems will be released when all the profession bonuses are updated.

The stat bonuses from any one profession is around ~80 extra stats above what you could otherwise attain. As you can see from the pictures above, a Bold Chimera’s Eye grants +67 Strength vs a Bold Inferno Ruby with +40 Strength. (67 * 3) – (40 * 3) = 81. Mixology from Alchemy increases your flask strength by +80 stats, Synapse Springs gives a 480 stat bonus for 10 seconds every minute which is a ~16.66% uptime that averages into 80 stats, and the wrist enchants such as Major Strength were expressly added into the game to counteract imbalance that came with Leatherworkers having Embossments, such as +130 Strength, when everyone else had to settle for +50 Hit or +50 Haste (nevermind how much better primary stats already are from secondary ones this expansion).

If epic gems were added to the game, the profession bonus for JCs would diminish from 81 to 51, assuming that epic gems are +50. Simultaneously, the profession bonus for Blacksmithing (two extra sockets for +40 gems currently) would outpace everyone else as they are able to fit in two extra epic gems. Clearly, this would be bad design. The imbalance was fixed in Wrath in patch 3.2 by increasing the stats on the JC-only gems, keeping them proportionally as good as the other professions, which were similarly boosted to account for Blacksmiths.

Yes, I know 4.2 sounds like 3.2 + 1, but it does not work that way at all. If you will recall, 3.2 was released as the third tier of raiding. Meanwhile, 4.2 is merely the second tier of raiding this expansion. We cannot rely on patch numbers anymore given Blizzard’s new policy vis-a-vis “smaller, faster patches” (which I find unlikely will continue past 4.2, else we should have been hearing about 4.3 already, yes?), but it is safe to say that whatever patch will contain the third tier of raiding will also contain epic gems. But even more specific, epic gems will be in whatever patch includes updated profession bonuses. It has to, by design.

So until you start hearing about a stronger Mixology, Embossments, or Chimera’s Eye cuts on some PTR, feel free to continue speculating on Pyrite and/or making bank on rare gem cuts.

A Question of Ethics

One of the downsides to a small-pop server is that there are fewer things to spend your gold on. More people equals more AH competition, of course, but it also means more volume of BoE epics and other goodies. Having already hit my goal, I am more interested in perhaps seeing another Fury of Angerforge or basically new BoE epics instead of the tired 353 and boring 359 crafted pieces. After another day with nothing new, I lamented in Trade chat one night “WTB more interesting BoE epics” in an effort to shake something out of the tree.

The problem with shaking the tree is that sometimes hairy things actually fall out.

Vitreous Beak of Julak-Doom is a BoE epic drop from an elite mob in Twilight Highlands, and basically requires a raid group to kill unless you want to fight for half an hour. As you can see from Trade Chat however, the item itself is allegidly hot, e.g. the result of a “ninja.” The question then becomes: do you care?

Scenario 1: You find Virteous Beak on the AH for 7500g buyout.

Scenario 2: You haggle someone selling Virteous Beak in Trade Chat down to 7500g.

Scenario 3: You win Virteous Beak in a raid, but don’t equip it right away because you lack the enchanting mats to put Hurricane/Power Torrent on it. Two weeks later, your raid team collapses. You sell the Beak for 17,000g on the AH.

Scenario 4: You low-ball someone selling Virteous Beak on Trade Chat in spite of a random person going on about how the seller is a ninja (in a non-Master Looter situation).

Scenario 5: You buy 105 stacks of Elementium Ore for 24g/stack from someone who is clearly a bot.

Among the five scenarios, which ones are ethical and which ones are unethical? I think we could all agree that Scenario 1 is pretty straight-forward ethically… but does the difference between 1 & 4 really come down to ignorance? As long as you do not know the sweat shop conditions of the Malyasian plant that manufactured the shirt you are wearing, it is ethical to purchase said shirt? And what does it say to us as AH barons to flagrantly purchase bot-gathered Ore off the AH (or even barter directly with said botters!) when our actions directly affect the gold-selling trade?

Would you have bought the Vitreous Beak from the guy for 7500g (assuming you had a caster who could use it)? Would you have bought it and then resold it for, say, 17500g? Does any of this sort of thing phase you in-game when it comes up vis-a-vis ninja/bot-farmed goods? How goblin is goblin?

Let me know in the comments below.

A Tale of Two Economies

As I may have mentioned before, every single time I log into WoW, the first thing I do is collect the sales from my JC business, cancel any undercuts from the day before (I list for 24 hours, but I don’t log in exactly at the same time every night), relist unsold goods, and then see what is profitable to craft based on that day’s prices. Just because three Purified Demonseyes sold during the night does not mean I will cut three more – if the price of uncut Demonseyes is higher than what Purified ones are going for, I will toss up 3 more uncut Demonseyes instead. If uncut Demonseyes are lower than some arbitrary number that feels good to me, usually ~20g, I will buy them all out to restock my supply.

Otherwise I allow the other JCs to do the legwork of clearing out the garbage when certain cuts tank the market, as opposed to being the fully-engaged goblin who buys out the entire market of thirty 15g-20g Pussiant Dream Emeralds in the hopes of reseting the price. To me, 15g-20g means the gem is not selling, and thirty of them means the price has not yet hit the floor. This sort of dovetails nicely into a reader email I received:

[...] My problem that I am currently having is that while I hear that JC is a fantastic profession, I can’t seem to find what is so lucrative about it at the current moment.  I am aware of the 4.2 lull that might be hitting along with some people, so gems are not in as high demand, but my server (Blackrock… where everything is worth pennies) seems to have no demand for cut gems at all.  I scour over my Undermine Journal on the jewelcrafting page, and the scene is pretty stark.  Almost nothing seems to be moving right now.

 

Should I be cutting my losses at this point and stockpiling rare gems for 4.2, or am I missing something here?

The unspoken preface to every gold blog post out there is the same as the ending to any fast food restaurant commercial: “Local participation may vary.” Surely, I said to myself, things could not be that bad on other servers. Assuming that this gentleman is a proud member of the Alliance (as all gentlemen are wont to be), I walked doe-eyed into… a mental landmine.

The TUJ image on the left is from Blackrock Alliance, the imagine on the right from Auchindoun Alliance. So… yeah. I can see how – perhaps – someone might be questioning the lucrivity lucrativeness of the JC profession in the face of those post-apocalyptic figures. Bold Inferno Rubies selling for 25g apiece? Gazing deeper into the economic abyss reveals, if not why, at least how it is Blackrock maintains such absurdly low prices.

The above is number of auctions posted for Bold Inferno Rubies in the last 96 hours, or four days. You can see me on the right, plodding along with my 3 Bolds per cycle, just as described. Conversely, we have this Athenae character on Blackrock posting an average of 32 Bold cuts every twelve hours. At around 25g apiece. From my prior experimenting with TUJ, we all know that TUJ counts canceled auctions as “sales,” so it is possible some portion of that number represents vaporware. Regardless… that is pretty absurd. Where were all these Inferno Rubies coming from?

Well, good sir, if you were curious as to the cause of this market collapse, look no further than what appears to be the bank alt Stillfurious. Four-hundred and fifty-seven uncut Inferno Rubies in the last 96 hours. Stillfurious only auctions gems, and ironically, red gems like Inferno Rubies apparently makes up only 18.7% of the colors of warez he has available; granted, he posts in the neighborhood of 800+ gems a day. I remain baffled as to where all these goddamn Inferno Rubies are coming from, though, especially considering Heartblossom is 100g/stack, Carnelians are at 9g apiece, and Elementium Ore is at an eminently reasonable 26g/stack, but still relatively cost-ineffective in terms of 26g Inferno Rubies. Then again, TUJ is indicating there to be over 8,000 auctions of Elementium Ore at various times in the last few days…

So I suppose the answer to the implicit question of “what is so lucrative with JC?” is… well, it is clearly not lucrative at all on your server, unfortunately. Or, at least, not any of the Inferno Ruby cuts. Some random smattering of other cuts like Defender’s Demonseye appear to be going for 75g apiece with uncut gems at 9g. The formal question of “should I cut my losses and stockpile for 4.2?” would be a definite maybe.

Here is the thing. I named this blog Player Vs Auction House because my first choice was taken I reject the notion of PvP combat via the AH. Does PvP happen? Yes. Would crushing Stillfurious beneath your righteous boot-heel for making the cut gem market less profitable than selling Linen Cloth (no, seriously) feel good? Sure. Does it really accomplish anything in the end? Probably not. Stockpiling gems for 4.2 is not a bad idea at all, but it depends entirely on whether this supply glut is going to be maintained into the future. If it is, you may be kinda screwed by stockpiling. That is not to say that you should abandon JC entirely though.

It may be tough to read without clicking on it, but according to TUJ an Elementium Moebius Band worth 3299g only actually costs you 644g and some change to craft on the same server with those 25g Inferno Rubies. Blue 346 gear may not be as in season as it was a few months ago (and perhaps even less so moving into 4.2), but if your server is sufficiently large to support 8,000/day Elementium Ore stockpiles and 25g Inferno Rubies that depress prices for weeks, then it’s likely enough newly dinged 85 toons are available for you to hawk your warez upon. Even “fire sale” prices like 1000g each is still nearly a 400g profit margin. It is risky this late in the tier with new patterns coming out and not being able to fall back on cut gems, but it is an option if you do not have another profession to easily fall back upon.

Good luck.

500k

After being stuck at ~435k for what felt like forever, I finally cleared the hump and sped past the 500,000g finish line this weekend.

My normal revenue is around 3k a day with just gems, but it is amazing what you can pull out of your hat when you know you can (finally) go back to not caring about hitting arbitrary goals if you just get that last little bit. That last little bit came partly from not re-investing my capital for a whole weekend (and there were some nice deals like fifty stacks of 30g/stack Azshara’s Veil that will probably pop back up to 80g-100g in the next few weeks), and also cashing out some investment material like ~14 bars of Truegold. I had a few Darkmoon trinkets up on the AH too, and it was sorely tempting to fire sale them on Trade for 10k when I knew they will go for 16k-18k eventually.

The interview with WarcraftEcon is done and will be posted sometime in the coming weeks. In the process of writing the interview, I happened to look at the MySales data that has been captured since Cataclysm:

Minus the BoE epic flipping (Fury of Angerforge, etc), my top 5 revenue streams this expansion:

  1. Darkmoon Trinkets (169k)
  2. Flask of Draconic Mind (33.8k)
  3. Volatile Air (28.3k)
  4. Inferno Ink (21.5k)
  5. Enchant Weapon – Landslide (20.6k)

One thing that floored me right away was the Volatile Air. Obviously MySales does not differentiate stack sizes as it states I only sold “40” when I have basically been selling 13-16 Air stacks * 40, but damn. Hope you guys have been doing your daily transmute in Uldum on a regular basis! The Inferno Ink was another head-scratcher up until I realized that my average Volcano sale was 20,000g when that card has been below 10k for months now – in the heady days of the new expansion, I must have been pushing inks out like crazy. Oh, wait… I was. Finally, I am happy to see that the Maelstrom Gambit so far has been paying out some healthy dividends.

Incidentally, still have not sold the Windwalk scroll from before and Power Torrent is barely profitable. If there is one piece of sage advice I can offer people though, it would be this: bet on 2H Strength classes. In my experience, either more people have 2H Strength classes or 2H Strength classes are more willing to pay their dues. Or maybe it is harder (or easier!) to gear. Or something.