What WoW Economy?

It has been about 20 days since I’ve been mainlining WoW again, and I have yet to get a handle on economy. Not that I anticipated being some AH genius within a week or two, but I don’t even seen the contours of this beast. And I am beginning to doubt they exist.

Way back in the glory days of Wrath, there was the Saronite Shuffle. This was when you could take a stack of Saronite Ore and – through brilliant AH scheming and a stable full of max-profession alts – turn those 20 pieces of ore into damn near anything. The Shuffle was a cornerstone of my gold gains through Wrath, Cataclysm, and even when I came back to Mists.

In looking back at posts like this, I damn near had to wipe a tear for the nostalgia:

Right now, for example, I buy Ghost Iron Ore at 4g apiece (and below). This ore ends up being:

  • Smelted into Ghost Iron Bars –> Transmuted into Trillium Bars –> Transmuted into Living Steel
  • Prospected –> Rare gems cut for >60g minimum
  • Prospected –> Uncommon gems turned into necks/rings –> Rare necks/rings procs sold for 300g, uncommon necks/rings Disenchanted for Dust
  • Disenchanted Dust –> Enchanting scrolls and/or sold for mats

Near as I can tell, the Shuffle is dead in Warlords. At least, if it once existed, prices have warped so much since then as to make it unprofitable.

What’s worse, Blizzard made a number of changes in Warlords that, in retrospect, were probably rooted in heading off PR problems with the eventual WoW Token rollout. For example, players are limited to wearing three (3) crafted pieces of Warlords gear. You know, despite there being enough patterns to completely outfit someone. Why do that? So that someone couldn’t drop $400 in WoW Tokens and be decked out in ilevel 675+ gear at level 91. Unfortunately, that makes the likelihood of someone buying your crafted bracers or whatever pretty remote, unless said person already has better gear in other slots. The sanest path would be to upgrade the most impactful slots such as weapons and the like.

Compounding this issue is the way Blizzard is handling professions in general this expansion. Profession bonuses are gone, which is… understandable in a way. When raiders are willing to spend hours farming mats for a +20 stat boost, having professions grant many orders of magnitude better buffs forced people to make unfortunate decisions in which professions to pick. This also meant opening up profession-specific toys to the general public as well, a direct nerf to Engineering. Then the Stat Squish (and a desire to have raid drops be useful immediately) turned gem slots into extra-rare occurrences, a direct nerf to Jewelcrafting. I don’t even want to get into the problem with opening profession buildings up in Garrisons did to everything else.

The bottom line is I have no idea what’s going on in the WoW economy anymore. I was looking to see if there was a point in doing my Alchemy daily cooldown on Azuriel, and saw this today:

Does not compute.

Does not compute.

Let me save you the math: the higher-level Strength flask sells not only less than the mats (18g vs 33g), it’s selling for less than the lower-level flask. I had already long-since dropped my Alchemy Shack for a Salvage Yard, but this is making me want to drop Alchemy altogether. Remember those Alchemy bonuses that have been in-game since Burning Crusade? Don’t work for Draenor goods. This is just a class-A market failure. Why is the Alchemy cooldown item tradable whereas nearly all the others are BoP? Because fuck you, that’s why.

Near as I can tell, we are living in the age of The Drop Economy. In other words, you don’t make gold from crafting or shuffling, you make gold from farming drops and selling that to people who don’t want to farm. I have little doubt there are some arbitrage opportunities – the Garrison AH robot parts seem to be going for insane prices considering you can just AH on an alt – but most gold seems generated from one’s Garrison. Which… isn’t unworkable, it’s just unfathomably less interesting to me.

The Shuffle was engaging. It rewarded outside game research, learning in-game mechanics, leveling multiple profession toons, and kept the gears of the economy moving. What we have now? Farming raids and vendoring all the things? I would almost rather farm ore. If, you know, there was actually any gold in doing that. And to an extent, the problem no longer exists under the WoW Token paradigm. Spending $20 on 23,000g is a bad deal IMO. At the same time, I’d prefer not spending hours soloing old raids each week.

I have made around 15,000g so far this expansion. Want to know how? Selling Living Steel and Arcanite Bars. I shit you not. And I will continue doing so until I run out of old-world supplies, grow bored with the current AH nonsense, and “unsubscribe.” I love what Blizzard has done with the Garrison generally, but everything outside of it? I’m missing goddamn Cataclysm over here.

If I have missed anything big out of the above picture, let me know. Otherwise this is just depressing.

Posted on April 27, 2015, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. The big money in WoD comes from time-limited resources, of which the Alchemy one is the absolute worst example (I have 3 alchemists, none has an alchemist building).
    The biggest time-limited resource you can think of is Savage Blood. A running level 3 stable is a major money maker. This is compounded by the profession-specific (and bound) resources, which you add to savage blood to create the upgrade tokens. These are similar to the old “epics crafting” market, which was high-profit and high-risk. But with the token being applicable to ANY epic-crafted piece of a given profession, the risk has gone a lot down, and the profit has remained.
    As in previous expansions, there was also big profit to be made before everyone had leveled the army of rerolls. As enchanter: temporal crystals were selling very very well. Inscription: the Draenor cards for the trinket were another big money maker. Jewelcrafting: the base gems were cheap, but the upgraded ones were 2k each. Again, time-limited resources at work.
    It’s a big shift from the “old-time” crafting and interconnectedness of the professions, but I’m not sure if it’s really a negative thing.


    • I have no problem with time-limited resources per se, but in the case of JC, I literally don’t see that profit potential anymore. Even when it looks like a gem or two might be worth crafting, looking at all the incidental mats necessary to get the BoP components, it becomes less clear. Enchanting still applies to many pieces of gear, and yet gem sockets are rare bonuses. At this point, I keep the JC shack around just for the “turn 60 ore into ~200g” daily.

      As for Savage Blood, ugh. Instead of an intricate, interconnected system of things, everyone just gets a level 3 Barn and rolls the dice, once per day. Judging by the patch notes, nothing changes in 6.2 either.

      I miss the Shuffle. :(


      • Honestly the profession thing really looks like it was hacked together at high speed just before release, without deep thought and testing. Even if I’m not sure that I miss the shuffle, the unbalance across professions is enormous (as you correctly wrote).

        Alchemy…. let’s just skip this. The big problem with JC is that since you’re limited to 3 crafted slots, you can bet that people will NOT choose neck/rings, because they have less stats than the other pieces. With stats rerolling being cheap, the standard approach is chest/legs in addition to the trinket. This makes the crafted JC pieces second-rate and less sellable. Same with the upgrade: for the same cost you can upgrade a chest/leg/trinket.

        Needless to say my main is JC/Alchemy…. all my money comes from the ench/inscription rerolls.

        At the same time, AH has always looked like a “side effect” for Blizzard, and they worked hard to kill dependence on old-expansion mats, reduce interdependence, and make it similar to a single-character activity, so I’m not really surprised by the direction of the changes.


  2. I wasn’t aware of the limitations on number of crafted items, or the removal of profession buffs and Engineering restrictions. I haven’t played in at least a year and with WoW Insider gone I’m really out of the loop.


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