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Recap of Alpha Competition December 2010

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Tol Barad Herbalism Route - Farming Path for Azshara's Veil / Whiptail Map

Tol Barad isn't accessible until level 85.  Of the two regions, Tol Barad and Tol Barad Peninsula, each offers unique opportunities with the Herbalism gathering profession. 
The main drawback of Tol Barad is that you can't fly.  This drawback, however, creates a situation where many farmers will shy away from the zone in favor of other Cataclysm zones where they are able to fly.  Also, the herbalism and mining nodes in the zone are densely packed, so if there aren't other players farming here, it can be a good alternative to the over-farmed areas in other zones.

The diagram shows two areas that can be especially fruitful:  The first is the canal running through Tol Barad Peninsula.  This is a fantastic Azshara's veil route that can net 6-8 nodes per trip if nobody else is farming.  If you have a swim speed potion or seal form, this is a great Azshara's veil farming spot, though you will need to find other things to do while waiting for the nodes to repopulate.  Also, beware of Tank at the top of the Azshara's veil path.  He is an elite Shark that occupies the water where you'll be swimming.

The second decent spot in these two zones is in the PvP area of Tol Barad.  There are many Whiptail nodes in a small location indicated on the map.  While only 3 or 4 nodes will be up at any given time, if there aren't other players farming in Tol Barad, it can be an easy half-stack for a minute run-through while you are running a route around the zone looking for other things.  The crocolisks that inhabit this area have a small aggro range and are very slow when running, so you typically don't need to fight them.



Beside Azshara's Veil and Whiptail, Tol Barad has a lot of Cinderbloom in standard Cinderbloom-growing areas, which are fairly evenly distributed throughout the zones.  If you happen to be a Miner and an Herbalist, the Tol Barad Map can almost make up for not being able to fly.  You just have to think of things as condensed, so while you may not be riding as fast as flying, you also don't need to go as far to get to the next node.  Elementium, Rich Elementium, Pyrite, and Rich Pyrite Ore nodes are plentiful throughout each zone.  A good farming option in the zone is to farm Embersilk cloth from the many groups of humanoids that inhabit the zone.  This along with the daily quests makes Tol Barad Peninsula an excellent all around choice to pad your World of Warcraft gold coffers at level 85.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Non-crafted Rare and Epic items 80+ for Flipping

Now that the commodities markets are cooling and the Cataclysm expansion starts to shake off its fledgling exuberance, I've started to turn back to the Auction House to supplement my strategic gold reserve.  A great source of potential profit is level 83-85'ish gear that is *not* crafted.  In other words, world drop gear that doesn't compete with an affordable crafted item for a given slot.

Players tend to throw these items onto the auction house for a couple hundred gold when many of them are still able to be sold for a couple thousand gold.  The margin won't be there forever, but many players are still in the process of leveling their characters, be them main or alternate, and to enable them to participate in the item-level dungeon requirements for the Random Dungeon tool, and just to get a firm footing with above-average gear, they are willing to pay well.

Also remember that there is a lot of new gold floating out there for those who found their niche to fill at the beginning of Cataclysm.  This economy is not the same as it was a month ago, and prices are all over the board on a daily basis.  Don't be afraid to let something sit at what may be a borderline outrageous price.  You might be surprised when it sells.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why Do Players Buy Gold in World of Warcraft?

The biggest reason players buy gold in World of Warcraft is because making gold in WoW is often tedious and job-like compared with Player vs. Player, Group, and Raid experiences.  The simplest way to explain it is by using some basic math.

Say you are an adult with a decent job -- maybe you make $30 per hour.  If you were to take that $30 and buy WoW gold with it, you could buy between 10,000 and 15,000 gold pieces.  Now, say that you you had to farm that gold yourself.   How many hours would it take to make 10,000 gold?  Not too many if you are at the beginning of an expansion cycle and you have a high-level character.  Or, if you know your way around the Auction House, it doesn't take too long either.  Realistically though, for an average player with a max-level character mid-expansion, they aren't going to be making more than 500 gold an hour, which means that it's going to take them 20 hours to make that 10,000 gold.  And then you do the comparison:  Would you rather work one hour at your job or work twenty hours in game to reap the same reward.  For the vast majority of people, they'd rather work the hour at the job, then spend those remaining 19 hours in-game doing what they really want to do.

So, why doesn't everyone just buy gold in World of Warcraft instead of going through the tedious farming process? The biggest reason is the Terms of Service which state that it is against the rules to buy WoW gold and that you risk having your account banned if you are caught buying or selling gold.  A second reason is that not everyone has a job, so in terms of economic efficiency, spending twenty hours to farm 10k gold isn't as big a cost.  Another reason is that many players view it as "cheating".  For the good of the game, they choose not to buy money in WoW.  Still another reason is that they don't know where to buy the gold or they don't trust the companies who are selling the gold.

Even with all of those negatives, a lot of players are still buying gold in World of Warcraft.  And it is nothing new in the MMORPG world.  Many games have legalized the practice so that they get a cut of the enormous virtual-goods pie.  Everquest 2 and Eve Online are two well known games that have developed models that allow players to buy currency.  And while these games weren't wrecked by it, they did suffer a lot of criticism from a vocal minority among the player-base--the minority who believes that MMORPGs are competitive enterprises instead of cooperative.  These vocal purists believe that a virtual economy must be protected at all cost, when the reality is pretty clear:  most players just don't care about what other people are doing in an MMORPG as long as things don't get out of hand.  They worry about their fun and they stick to their business.

So, are gold-buyers lazy no-good cheats who ruin the WoW economy?  It depends who you ask.  I think it'd be great if nobody ever bought or sold gold.  It'd be very interesting to see how the economy would change without the insidious botting/farming/market-crashing activities of gold-selling companies.   But then there is the reality, and in reality, there is an insatiable demand for gold in World of Warcraft, and for some individuals who work long hours in real life, it is a no-brainer to try to find a way to cram as much fun into their limited free time as they can.  Farming gold isn't fun.  Making gold in World of Warcraft isn't fun.  It's a necessary time sink to keep us subscribed and to keep us toiling toward our "goals".

The solution to the problem for the average player is not to buy gold.  Nobody ought to risk their account unless they are very confident in the discretion of their gold-supplier or unless they are willing to get into the black market for WoW accounts as well.  The better model for a lot of players should be to maximize gold-making profit in the time that you devote to it by being ruthlessly efficient, cunning, and focused. There are a lot of ways to make gold quickly in World of Warcraft.  Better to learn how than to risk your account and end up having to start from scratch if the black market turns on you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

World of Warcraft Addiction - Time to Take Stock

I was walking through an airport a few weeks ago admiring the many accomplished, professional-looking people who were traveling.  And I wondered how many of them play World of Warcraft -- or, how many of them even know anything about World of Warcraft.  And I couldn't imagine that many of them had the time to spare on anything as inconsequential as a video game.  Surely some of them were players.  WoW is too popular to find a gathering of people without a few who have played.  But even if they had played, the thought that these were the individuals spending every spare moment grinding toward better gear, more gold, more status -- it didn't seem like it was a possibility.

I'm writing about it today because the World of Warcraft Cataclysm expansion is about two weeks old and I'm betting there are a lot of players who are feeling some WoW fatigue for having played so much recently.  And I even wonder if that fatigue is what others might refer to as a World of Warcraft addiction -- that you know you shouldn't be playing so much, but something in you keeps pulling you to it.

I think one of the saddest, most humbling websites on the internet for a gamer is WoWDetox.  Basically, it's story after story of broken relationships, broken promises, and realizations of the enormous time-loss that comes from allowing yourself to be *too* involved with what should be a fun diversion.  After reading some of the entries you begin to wonder:  how many children don't have parents because one of their parents couldn't pull themselves away from the game?  How many girlfriends are now alone, shocked that a game became her boyfriend's whole wide world?  How many Yo-Yo Ma's will never find their cello?

All that said, I'm not suggesting that World of Warcraft is evil.  But, I am saying that it brings out the worst in some people, and before they know it they've lost years of their life to something that they aren't able to build on, that they aren't able to carry with them with any pride or satisfaction.  The moment that World of Warcraft is used to fill a void in your life is the moment you've started down a slope that is very difficult to climb back up.

With the arrival of the holidays, maybe it is time to do a reality check and make sure that World of Warcraft hasn't become more than what it is supposed to be for you.  Is it still fun?  Or do you feel like playing is a necessity?  Is the sense of awe and excitement that you had when you first played still with you?  Does the game help you relax and provide the down-time that makes you better in the things that count in life?

World of Warcraft is always going to be here.   It will be, or something even better will be.  It doesn't need to be beaten tonight.  And it can't be.  You can't "win" at World of Warcraft, much as power-gamers might argue otherwise.   In the eyes of Blizzard, a player with ten level 85 characters is as much a winner as someone who has one level 25 character.  They pay the same price, though, I would contend that one of them pays a much bigger price than the other, and that's something that Blizzard, as a business, doesn't have the power to recognize.  World of Warcraft addiction is as powerful as any other addiction.  Now is a perfect time to do the math and make sure you haven't stumbled down the wrong path.

Cataclysm Mining and Herbalism Guide

Two great things happened for those who have Mining or Herbalism (or both) as a profession as we shifted from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to the Cataclysm expansion in World of Warcraft:
  • Gathering at an ore or herb node gives experience, which provides an alternate advancement path
  • Both Mining and Herbalism can be simultaneously tracked


It is yet to be determined whether these added benefits to gathering professions will cause the price of raw materials to reach equilibrium at a lower point, but, if you can get in on the farming during the first few months of the expansion, you ought to be able to reap decent rewards for your efforts.

Cataclysm Mining Guide

The three types of ore that you will find in the Cataclysm expansion are Obsidium Ore, Elementium Ore, and Pyrite Ore.  These correspond to Wrath of the Lich King's Cobalt Ore, Saronite Ore, and Titanium Ore.  In any of the ore nodes you can find uncommon or rare uncut jewels along with Volatile Fire, Volatile Water, and or Volatile Earth.

Zones with Obsidium Ore
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route

Zones with Obsidium Ore and Elementium Ore
Deepholm Mining Route


Zones with Elementium Ore and Pyrite Ore
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route
Tol Barad Mining Route

Cataclysm Herbalism Guide

All herb nodes in Cataclysm can produce Volatile Life. Also, there are several zone-specific herbs such as Twilight Jasmine in Twilight Highlands, Whiptail in Uldum, and Heartblossom in Deepholm. Azshara's Veil is almost unique to Vashj'ir (there are a few nodes in Mount Hyjal) and Cinderbloom is found all throughout the Cataclysm expansion zones.  The final herb, Stormvine, is found commonly in Vashj'ir and the lush areas of Mount Hyjal.

Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route
Tol Barad Azshara's Veil and Whiptail Herbalism Route

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route - Farming Stormvine and Cinderbloom in Mt. Hyjal

Mount Hyjal is probably the worst zone in the Cataclysm expansion for farming Herbs, though, depending on prices at the Auction House and the number of farmers on your realm, you may find that the lack of a "unique" herb in this zone makes it so that the common ones aren't farmed nearly as frequently. 
More nodes per hour means more Volatile Lifes and even if the price per stack isn't what you want on the Cinderbloom and Stormvine found in the zone, the quantity will make up for it.  Basically, Cinderbloom grows anywhere east of the black line on the map in the blighted areas of the zone.  Anywhere that there is fire is especially fruitful for Cinderbloom.  Conversely, Stormvine grows in the lush grassy areas of the zone to the west and north of the black line.  There is no true herbing route in Mt. Hyjal as the herbs seem to be dispersed.  Like always, look for flat land and avoid the hills when looking for herbs.



If you can't find an herbalism path that suits you in Hyjal, you could pick up mining as a secondary profession.  If you stick to the blighted area of the zone, you could farm a lot of Obsidium ore and Cinderbloom in a quick amount of time.  Simply following the blue line on the map will cover many of the Cinderbloom nodes along with the Obsidium nodes.

Keeping an eye on the Auction House market will enable you to put your WoW gold-making efforts to where they are best suited.  While Mount Hyjal doesn't offer the same opportunities that other zones do in the Cataclysm expansion, each realm is different.  Trying out various areas and seeing which works best on a gold-per-hour basis is usually better than insisting that one place is the perfect spot.  It usually isn't, and if it is, there's a good chance that many people know about it and will turn it into an over-farmed frustration before you can blink.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route
Tol Barad Azshara's Veil and Whiptail Herbalism Route

Mount Hyjal Mining Route - Obsidium Ore Path in Mt. Hyjal

Mount Hyjal is probably the easiest zone to farm Obsidium Ore if there aren't too many other players farming it. 

The highest concentration of the ore is found in the blighted area to the southeast (right of the black line on the map).  The ore is typically found where the hills meet the flat land.  Though the south is certainly the best area, you can extend your mining route to other hilly areas of the map.  The optimal mining path for Obsidium Ore is represented by the blue line on the diagram.



Because Mt. Hyjal is the best zone to farm Obsdium Ore in the Cataclysm expansion, you'd do well to spend some time here if Obsidium follows the same path that its Wrath of the Lich King expansion counterpart Cobalt Ore did.  Cobalt Ore held at a higher price than Saronite Ore (Catacylsm's Elementium Ore equivalent) through most of the expansion cycle because farmers were after the rare Titanium Nodes.  Whether Pyrite Ore lives up to the prices that Titanium Ore saw throughout much of the expansion will only be known in hindsight, but there is no reason to suspect World of Warcraft game designers will change what works.

If you also happen to have herbalism as a profession, you can find many Cinderbloom spawns in the blighted area of Mount Hyjal and many Stormvine nodes in the the lush grassy area.  While neither herb is unique to the zone, in combination with mining, you can make a lot of gold for your World of Warcraft piggy bank.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route
Tol Barad Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route

Deepholm Herbalism Route - Herbing Heartblossom in Deepholm

The Deepholm Herbalism path is a function of the geography of the zone more than anything else. 

There are two small concentrations of herbs in the yellow circled areas on the map.  Beyond that, the herbs in the zone -- Heartblossom (which is unique to Deepholm) and Cinderbloom -- occur relatively dispersed throughout the zone in any area that has flat surface.  The only area that possesses fewer nodes is the lowest central area, and should usually be avoided in your flight route.



Deepholm has three tiers, a low tier, middle tier, and highest tier.  Given the extreme elevation change between the tiers, it makes sense to fly in a circular pattern around the zone as represented by the blue line in the diagram, weaving at the same relative height so as to avoid major elevation changes while farming.

Depending on how the Cataclysm expansion economy shakes out, Deepholm may be a very profitable zone for herbalism because of its unique herb:  Heartblossom.  As it probably isn't the "best" zone for either Herbalism farming or Mining farming, it may become an under-used and therefore not-as-contested zone.  Part of finding the optimal spot to farm is not just finding the materials that sell for the most gold on the auction house.  The other important factor is how many of those raw materials can you acquire in a given period of time.  Deepholm has the potential, especially if you have mining as your other profession, to be a forgotten zone for finding a lot of non-farmed nodes ready to be gathered.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route
Tol Barad Azshara's Veil and Whiptail Herbalism Route

Deepholm Mining Route - Mining Elementium Ore and Obsidium Ore in Deepholm

Deepholm is a decent mining zone, even after the initial nerf at the beginning of Cataclysm that removed over half of the mining nodes. 

The entire zone is made out of rock, so, nodes can be found just about anywhere.  The blue line in the map shows an optimal path for mining Elementium and Obsidium in Deepholm for hitting as many nodes as possible, though, more than any other zone, you shouldn't be afraid to veer off the line.  Nodes are literally everywhere.  Basically, you are looking for fissures, pinnacles (nodes are often found at the base of tall narrow rock formations), or elevation change.  The zone has three "tiers".  The lowest tier, a middle tier, and a high tier.  A lot of the ore is found in the transition between these tiers, which is why it makes sense to fly in a circular pattern around the zone.  The other reason you want to fly in a circular pattern is that the elevation change is significant between each tier, and just from an efficiency standpoint, you don't want to be having to change elevation too often.



Another nice feature of the zone is that it is the only zone that you can mine both Obsidium and Elementium ore.  You can even find Rich Obsidium Ore nodes here, which can produce double the amount of raw material as a normal vein.  The drawback to the zone is that the Elementium nodes can't produce Pyrite Ore.  How much gold can you expect to add to your World of Warcraft gold pile farming in Deepholm?  It depends.  It is always a good idea to know how much your raw materials will fetch on the Auction House before you start a farming expedition.

If you also happen to be versed in the Herbalism profession, Deepholm possesses a unique herb:  Heartblossom.  Currently, it is second only to Twilight Jasmine in terms of value on the Auction House, which is of course subject to change as the Cataclysm economy matures.  Farming any of the Cataclysm zones with both Herbalism and Mining will lead to a lot of WoW gold in your account.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route
Tol Barad Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vashj'ir Herbalism Route - Herbing Azshara's Veil and Stormvine in Vashj'ir

Azshara's Veil and Stormvine are the two herbs found in Vashj'ir, Azshara's Veil being (almost) unique to the zone. 

The herbs can be found through all three sub-zones, Kelp'thar Forest, Shimmering Expanse, and Abyssal Depths and mainly occur on the sea floor, though occasionally you will find them on elevated mega-plants, structures or ledges.  The red line on the diagram shows the optimal Azshara's Veil and Stormvine herbalism route.  Notice that it only winds through Shimmering Expanse and Abyssal Depths.  While Kelp'thar Forest does contain herb nodes, it seems that there is a higher concentration of them in the final two zones of the undersea world.  Also of special note to those who have both Mining and Herbalism as their professions, the optimal Obsidium Ore route in Vashj'ir is also represented by the red line in the diagram and coincides almost exactly with the optimal herbing route.



Vashj'ir is a special opportunity for raw material farming because there are certain barriers of entry that prevent players from just diving straight in and farming.  If you don't have seal form as a druid, it is necessary to obtain a Subdued Abyssal Seahorse mount for greatly increased swim speed.  You'll need to complete the first half-dozen (or thereabouts) quests in the zone until you get to the seahorse quest.

The other opportunity in Vashj'ir is that it provides a unique herb that may retain its value at the auction house much longer than other herbs in the Cataclysm expansion because of it being a low 80's zone and because many players shy away from gimmicky zones that require something like a seahorse to get around in.  Many players will skip it all together in favor of Mount Hyjal and Deepholm, which means more opportunity for the savvy farmer to make more WoW gold per hour spent farming.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route
Tol Barad Azshara's Veil and Whiptail Herbalism Route

Vashj'ir Mining Route - Mining Obsidium in Vashj'ir

Obsidium Ore can be found in all 3 subsections of Vashj'ir, though the most profitable route runs through Shimmering Expanse and Abyssal Depths. 

There are certainly nodes in Kelp'thar Forest as well, so if the route through the two other sub-zones seems barren, you can try your luck with a swim around Kelp'thar to supplement your farming.  The red line on the diagram shows a path that covers many of the nodes in Shimmering Expanse and Abyssal Depths. Unlike other zones, the ore nodes don't necessarily occur in the hilliest areas and are more dispersed here.  Of special note to players who have both mining and herbalism: the optimal route for each profession is nearly identical.  You will find many Azshara's Veil and Stormvine to go with the Obsidium ore.



Vashj'ir is unique because the majority of it is underwater.  Unless you are a druid and have seal form, you need to do the first half-dozen quests (or thereabouts) in the zone in order to get your Subdued Abyssal Seahorse mount, which helps immensely for farming porpoises purposes.

It seems that Vashj'ir is one of the least farmed zones, so it is possible to find a lot of nodes up and ready for farming.  This might also cause prices for the two herbs that are unique to the zone to remain steadily high for a longer period of time.  As time passes, there is a good chance that Obsidium Ore will follow the same trend that its Wrath of the Lich King counterpart Cobalt Ore followed:  That it will attain a higher sustained value than Elementium Ore because it is farmed significantly less frequently.  The small barriers to entry to the Vashj'ir zone may keep certain dedicated farmers away, though it is difficult to predict where the equilibrium will eventually be reached.  Each realm has its own foibles, and also much will depend on the production side of the professions to see if Obsidium or Elementium is more profitable.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route
Tol Barad Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route

Friday, December 17, 2010

Uldum Herb Route - Whiptail Route in Uldum

Whiptail is one of the high level herbs from the new expansion that continues to sell well into the second week of the expansion. 

Whiptail can only be found in Uldum and only along the shoreline of the river and canal system through the middle of the zone.  All else equal, farming Whiptail is probably inferior to farming Twilight Jasmine unless there is a significant price disparity between the two.  Firstly, the Whiptail route is more easily monopolized by farmers because it is very distinct and straight-lined.  Secondly, Crocolisks guard many of the nodes, meaning you'll need to be of appropriate level and ability in order to kill them.  The red pathway in the diagram shows the optimal flight path for farming Whiptail.  Unfortunately, you'll notice that it is rather short, which creates another problem:  it's possible to out-fly the respawns, and nobody who is spending time to farm gold in World of Warcraft wants to sit idle waiting for a node to repopulate.



The other Herb that can be found in Uldum is Cinderbloom.  It is dispersed evenly throughout much of the rest of the zone.  If you combine Herbalism with Mining, Uldum becomes a potent WoW money-making spot.  With only one or the other as a profession, you are at the mercy of other players and whether they've chosen to farm at the same time you have.  Too many farmers and the pickings get very slim and frustrating, especially on a non-pvp server where there is no way to inhibit the opposing faction's flower-pickers.

Also, in case you decided to skip the Uldum experience (as it seems a lot of people are apt to do), go check it out!  I think it is one of the prettiest zones in the game.  Great Egyptian feel to it along with a nice flow of terrain and spectacular buildings.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route
Tol Barad Azshara's Veil and Whiptail Herbalism Route

Uldum Mining Route - Elementium Ore Route

Uldum possesses the best Elementium Ore mining route in the Cataclysm expansion. 

  About one in every fifteen nodes produces a Pyrite Ore node.  The success of this route will entirely depend on how many other players are running on it.  Node locations are plentiful and predictable, which means if you can get the timing down, you can be hitting nodes almost as they respawn, which can drive other farmers away if you are persistent.  Unfortunately, this area is destined to likely be the new Scholazar Basin for gold-farmers, which may make it unserviceable for players just looking to augment their bank account.  Uldum was fortunate not to be hit with the nerf of mining and herbalism nodes that Deepholm and Twilight Highlands suffered soon after the launch of Cataclysm, which means that mining and herbalism nodes are plentiful.



As you can see from the WoW map of Uldum, the optimal Elementium Ore mining route is represented by the blue solid line.  If the zone is being heavily farmed, you can choose to swing south on the optional route (blue-dashed line), which holds about a third of the nodes per distance traveled as does the optimal route.  The map also shows the route for the herb "Whiptail", which only grows in this zone and may rival Twilight Jasmine as one of the most sought after herbs of the Cataclysm expansion.  If you can combine mining with herbalism, there is a fortune waiting to be made in Uldum.  As it stands, if you can catch this zone at an off hour, it is probably the best zone for making money in WoW by mining, and perhaps runner-up for herbalism.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route
Tol Barad Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route

Elementium Ore Route in Twilight Highlands

Twilight Highlands is probably not the best place to farm Elementium Ore, but, it isn't terrible either, especially if you have Herbalism to go along with your Mining profession. 

Zillionaire has also put together a Twilight Jasmine Route if you are looking to combine Herb-finding and Ore-finding, or you can consult the map included with this article.  The map has the Elementium Ore route and Twilight Jasmine route on it.



Of the several zones that you can farm Elementium Ore, Twilight Highlands probably ranks near the bottom for expected WoW gold profit when your ore has been placed on the Auction House.  Twilight Highlands suffered from the same nerf that Deepholm suffered at the beginning of the Cataclysm expansion.  Essentially, more than half of the nodes in the zone were removed.

When you have an ore or herb that can be farmed in multiple Cataclysm zones, it makes sense to pick the best and stick with it.  Right now, Uldum is hands down the best zone to farm Elementium ore (and sometimes Pyrite ore).  The only thing holding Uldum back is when there are too many other players running the mining route, which is when you can look at Twilight Highlands as a viable alternative.  If you have both Herbalism and Mining, it is difficult to say whether Twilight Highlands or Uldum is your best choice.  You should probably consult the auction house and see whether Whiptail or Twilight Jasmine is selling for significantly more than the other and pick Uldum or Twilight Highlands respectively.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route
Tol Barad Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Twilight Jasmine Route in Twilight Highlands

Twilight Jasmine continues to be a top seller for the Herbalism profession in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion. 

You can only find Twilight Jasmine in the Twilight Highlands, typically in "grassy" areas toward the center and upper areas of the map.  While not inclusive to all spots that Twilight Jasmine grows in this zone, the red route outlined in the diagram should cover 75% of the nodes.  Also note that the map includes an Elementium Ore route for Twilight Highlands, denoted in the blue color.  About 1 in 15 Elementium Ore nodes will spawn as Pyrite ore, which fetches much more gold in the auction house.



The other herb that you will find commonly in Twilight Highlands is Cinderbloom.  In the yellow shaded area on the diagram, there are multiple nodes.  It is also dispersed throughout the zone in non-grassy areas, such as the purple fissures located in several locations along the Twilight Jasmine route.  Even if Cinderbloom doesn't currently fetch the same amount of gold as Twilight Jasmine does at the auction house, it's still worth it to stop for them too, especially given that they produce Volatile Life at the same rate that Twilight Jasmine produces it.

The majority of nodes along the flight path do not have creatures to battle, though a few do.  It will be difficult for players lower than level 81 to kill the mobs in these locations given that most monsters in the Twilight Highlands are level 84 or 85.

The big wild card in determining how much gold per hour you can make here is how many other players are also flying around and trying to gather these commodities.  If you get lucky and get the zone with only a few other players farming, there are plenty of nodes to keep you busy.  If it seems that you are fighting over every last node, you may want to consider heading to Vashj'ir or trying your luck with farming Embersilk cloth from some of the good humanoid concentrations in the zone.  And, again as a refrain, having both Mining and Herbalism as professions is now viable (both can be tracked simultaneously), and will make any zone worthwhile to farm in.  Until the roaring hot economy of early Cataclysm simmers, this is an easy means toward building a considerable amount of WoW gold.

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route
Tol Barad Azshara's Veil and Whiptail Herbalism Route

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Opportunity Cost, or, why are you throwing away gold?

At this point in the expansion cycle, it's always interesting to look at the various ways players like to throw away gold.  Here's a good example:  Cloak of Beasts .   On my realm, the cost of the components of this item, if you were to parse them out and sell them, equals about 600 gold.  Yet there are no fewer than 20 Cloak of Beasts sitting on the Auction house for under 150 gold.  It's one of those bizarre moments where you have to look at your chosen profession and say:  is a skill-up really worth 450 gold?  Or should I wait a few weeks, let the market find its way closer to equilibrium, then finish out my profession.  For a few players, it might well be worth that much if there is some other item they are trying to get to in order to recuperate their losses. For most, however, it is just throwing gold away.

The common retort heard over and over again:  But I farmed the components myself, it actually didn't cost me anything!  Anyone who made it through two weeks of Econ 101 can tell you that this individual is making a costly mistake.   If you can go to market and sell those components for 600 gold, it doesn't matter how you got them, you are still throwing away 450 gold if you choose to use the components to make something worth 150 gold instead of selling them for their full potential value.

So, this begs the question, should a savvy reseller be looking to buy out the inventory of Cloak of Beasts on the market?  No, they probably shouldn't, which is one of the big failings of the World of Warcraft economy:  the supply of raw materials is *far* too plentiful and easily obtained which leads to persistent downward pressure on price, especially after the "rush" to complete trade-skill paths has subsided.  The point being, in a few month's time, Cloak of Beasts may actually be worth making to sell for 150 gold because the cost of the raw materials has come down, which should (not coincidentally) coincide with the let-up on the rush to complete professions.   The fact that this item falls on the skill-up path means that a lot of players will continue to make bad economic decisions in making it, which should keep price on it unnaturally low given the abundant supply.

Raw materials are king right now unless you find that one niche market where you can actually take the over-priced raw materials and create something even more profitable.  This is usually the time in an expansion where you can hold a monopoly on a given in-demand item for a while and reap enormous profit.  However, unless you have this goal in mind (to find an in-demand item that can be priced well above its raw material value), it probably isn't wise to try to level a profession right now.  Go farm embersilk cloth or herbs/ores/leathers or any number of other in-demand raw materials and sell them to players who are willing to trade a few levels of their profession for too much gold.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stacks of 20 : Profit in the Presentation

In dealing with the scorching hot economy at the beginning of the Cataclysm expansion, there is an easy way to make a lot of gold : reassemble odd-shaped stacks of products into the standardized stacks of 20.  For some reason, players seem to think that adding 150 individually priced herbs or ores to the market is a good plan.  At this point in the expansion, it isn't.  Maybe a few months down the line (or, occasionally on specific items for specific reasons), breaking stacks down to individual components can be profitable.  But right now the big spenders are spending.  And what do the big spenders value?  They tend to value their *time* as much as anything else, and many are willing to pay a significant premium to buy in stacks instead of individual (or other odd-shaped quantities).

The best market to take advantage right now is the Volatile Earth/Fire/Water/Life/Air market.  Scoop up the 100 individually priced Volatile Fire that are selling at 15 gold a piece and put them in stacks of 20 for 450 gold a stack.  That's a 50% mark-up, and players are willing to pay it.  This applies to all tradeskill items.  There is a ravenous demand for them, and getting a large quantity of them at a reasonable price quickly is just as important to many players as finding the absolute lowest price.  Also, most players don't use Auctioneer and most people are terrible at math.  Make your stacks look "close enough" to the individually priced items and you'll lure in the non-mathletes along with the streamliners.

When buying many individually priced items, be sure to use Auctioneer's snatch feature.  It turns three clicks in different spots into one click in the same spot(when you use the ctrl-alt-shift command when clicking the purchase button -- though, this is sometimes buggy, which can be fixed by simply clicking to one of the other search functions in Auctioneer like "resale" and then back to snatch again).  This adds up to heaps of time and energy when purchasing large quantities of commodities.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

World of Warcraft Gold! or, Money Growing on Trees

I've just about wrapped up a marathon session of leveling via mining and herbing.   I'm nearly level 85 on my druid, I've made 100,000 gold (yes, the comma is in the right spot) from about 25-30 hours of /played time since Cataclysm went live.  I can't say it was particularly fun, though in a way it was good to build up a bankroll so that I don't really have to worry about gold again on my primary server.

I would suggest that if you want to cash in on some of the farming that still needs to be done, consider picking up Herbalism and Mining as a Profession pair (if you aren't already heavily invested in other professions).  It took me about 3-4 hours of /played time to level herbalism from 1-525.  Though this may seem fast, remember that 310% flying speed in the old-world zones makes leveling a gathering skill go very quickly.  When you've got both working for you and when stacks of raw materials are selling for 200-600 gold, it doesn't take long for things to add up to a small fortune.  Find a good Herbalism Guide or Mining Guide and reap some of the profits, but you have to act quickly.  The opportunity to profiteer is gradually going to wither away. 

If it is January of 2011 or later and you are reading this post, it probably doesn't make sense to make any exceptional effort to switch to a gathering profession.  I doubt that stacks of Twilight Jasmine will be selling for 600 gold at that point.  And I'd be surprised if they were even a third of that.

I've also managed to flip some items using Auctioneer.  My big score so far was buying out all of the Heartblossom below 100 gold a stack soon after they announced the nerf to herb and mining node distribution in Deepholm.  Given that Heartblossom only grows there, I (correctly) figured that it would quickly shoot up in value.  I've already sold about half of the stacks at between 200 and 250 gold, so profit could end up being in the 10k-15k range just for using some common sense.

What I wish I'd followed through on is buying up all the Pyrite Ore that was priced below 250 gold a stack for the first three days.  I kept saying to myself:  this stuff is going to shoot up in value when players start to actually craft things with it.  But for some reason I didn't pull the trigger, and overnight it shot up to 700-800 gold a stack.

I'm a bit surprised that Obsidium Ore is already looking to dip below 100g a stack.  It was also surprising to see several players with 50-100 stacks of it on the Auction House.  I wonder if the macro-farmers have started in force, especially given the choice of name that several used for their auction postings.  Like I said, if you want to get on the money train (and level one of your high-level characters at the same time), you better get in on it now if you have an interest in farming ore and or herbs.  With natural production of a gold-hungry player base plus the illicit production of the gold-selling player base, prices are probably at their peak a few days in and will decline gradually over the next few weeks to the point that only the real-money traders will be out doing the dirty work.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mining Nerf and Herbalism Nerf for Cataclysm

Per Blizzard's patch notes: 

The tradeskill nodes were too dense in Deepholm and Twilight Highlands for Mining and Herbalism. Several have been removed.

And by several, they mean 75% of them, which means that Elementium Ore and the Herbalism equivalent should double or triple in price by tomorrow.  If you see any stocks sitting on your server at under 100g, I'd say buy as much as you can.  No longer is it feasible to level by mining/herbing.  This is a good change given how many nodes there were and the reality that it had the potential to ruin the economy.  It is a great short-term opportunity to profiteer, but you are probably already too late if you have a few shrewd investors on your realm.

However, they didn't touch the mining route in Uldum, which I'm going to run until there are a few other people doing it thus ruining its value.  Another thing to look for:  All of the Volatiles should increase in value between today and tomorrow.  There just aren't nearly as many nodes out there, and supplies are going to get scarce really fast. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where to mine? Uldum or Deepholm?

Mining
Mount Hyjal Mining Route
Vashj'ir Mining Route
Deepholm Mining Route
Uldum Mining Route
Twilight Highlands Mining Route

Herbalism
Mount Hyjal Herbalism Route
Vashj'ir Azshara's Veil and Stormvine Route
Deepholm Heartblossom Route
Uldum Whiptail Route
Twilight Highlands Twilight Jasmine Route

Upon reaching level 82 earlier today, I took the ride to Deepholm given rumors of it being a miner's paradise.  Indeed, it is probably the superior spot between it and Uldum given that the one mining route in Uldum is already getting clogged with farmers.  The mining spawns are everywhere in Deepholm with the added bonus of having some isolated Obsidium nodes to go along with a plethora of Elementium nodes.  One notable difference between the zones:  I don't think Pyrite spawns in Deepholm, whereas it spawns about 1 in 20 nodes in Uldum.

The real reason to be mining in Deepholm right now are those Obsidium nodes, given that Obsidium is going for three times what Elementium currently fetches on my realm and that they are a pain to farm in the starting zones of the expansion.  It's going to be interesting to see if there is an absolute over-supply of ores/herbs given Blizzard's decision to make gathering a viable way to level your character.  Though it is slower than questing, the money is better, which could lead to an oversupply...which, of course, would lead to gathering being not as profitable which would lower the number of players who chose to do it.  Such is an economy.  Still, gathering skills just got a lot more viable with this expansion, and given the general lack of depth in the World of Warcraft economy, I'm hoping Blizzard didn't overlook the possibility that it made some professions irrelevant with the complete glut of farmed items possible on the auction house.

I'm burnt out on mining though.  I much prefer to be an auction house player, but I like to get out and about at the beginning of an expansion and see what it has to offer.  Really, just pick something for the next few days and go farm it.  Cloth, herbs, ore, leather, other specialty farm-ables.  It's quick, easy money if you've got a character that is at 80+.  Even green items are going for 100g or more a pop at the moment.  Of course, if you have a web of professions set up, be first in time to the stuff players really want and you can retire to a nice cottage in the Hinterlands.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farming Riches in early Cataclysm

Farming isn't typically my game, but I want to get my main character to 85, so I may as well do it with some economic efficiency.  I regret that I didn't pick up herbalism to go with mining because in about 5 hours of play time today, I made 22 bubbles of experience simply by mining Obsidium Ore in Mt. Hyjal and then Elementium and Pyrite Ore in Uldum.

There is an absolutely fantastic route in Uldum along the Northern and Western walls of the zone where you just rake in the experience and ore at an incredible rate.  I had the area to myself for a few hours this afternoon and I ended up with a huge number of stacks of Elementium, plus about five stacks of Pyrite(this expansion's equivalent to Titanium Ore).  Additionally, I had over 100 Volatile Water/Fire/Earth to go along with a smattering of uncut gems, several of them rare.  I'd say if you can get this spot to yourself within the next day or so, don't leave.  It will never again be this good. 

Obsidium seems to be selling at a higher price right now on the AH, but I would expect Elementium to hold steadier when enough players get to higher levels and begin to produce the items players truly want.  I also realize that this magic spot won't be there forever, and if you put two or three players flying the same route, it will go from fantastic to pathetic very quickly.  The plan is to move to Deepholm when I make it to level 82.  Supposedly it has a lot of great mining too.

As for the Auction House, twink-blue items are selling like hotcakes.  I'd stocked up on about 100 of them, and they are selling for triple or more what they were just a few days ago.  Expansion fever has hit, and I've probably made well over 10,000 gold since this morning on just the twink gear plus a bit of my mining efforts.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Historic Sneak Attacks on December 7th

It might make a conspiracy theorist wonder why Blizzard would choose to launch their expansion a few weeks before Christmas on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  For many humans, not to mention gnomes, elves and other yuletide fauna and flora, the next few weeks comprise the busiest, most hectic, most stressful days of the year.  But, it is the holiday sales season, and what better way to distract its user base from any possible competition than to give them a huge dose of fresh content.

The anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack is a bit more curious.  Is Blizzard suggesting a hidden agenda with its choice of release date?  If we learned anything from James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy, it was that we ought to look closely at what may otherwise seem to be a coincidence.  Given that I am merely a World of Warcraft gold blogger and not a spiritual guru, any attempts I make to decipher this code should be viewed as "half-assed" at best.

Firstly, in order to decipher a riddle this confounding, I knew I needed some help.  So I messaged my pal Nicholas Cage and asked about the preparation he did for filming the National Treasure movies.  And while he failed to return my urgent request for an interview, I did think about the methods he used to decipher those clues that twice led him to glorious treasure and worldwide admiration.

It seems that Nick was book-learned -- a scholar.  But, he was also a man of the world, as evidenced in his previous car theft proclivities before he became a treasure hunter.  And it always seemed that ten pounds of zealotry dangled in front of him like a carrot on a stick.  "Come this way" it would call to him.  "Come this way and use your genius to save our history".  Which got me to thinking, why *did* Blizzard remove the Carrot on a Stick trinket from the game?  Was it to prepare us for an unforeseen collision with history?  That suddenly the rabbit down the hole has disappeared and we must confront what stands immediately before us: an expansion so bold, so wide-eyed and brazen, so irascibly innovative that a solitary kitten rolling a ball of yarn past a humming sewing machine could reflect the totality of Blizzard's hubris if it was in the nature of a kitten to pause and ponder such things?

What I'm trying to say is this:  Blizzard has changed the world of the World of Warcraft just like Japan changed the world by bombing Pearl Harbor 69 years ago.  Nostalgia will drip like the untapped wells of the Arathi Highlands once we realize that we have no time machine to go back to the world of the World of Warcraft before it was smote by Deathwing, that we now dwell in a different world, that we share it with different creatures, and that we fight a different enemy.  Those wells will drip with no pools beneath them and they will resolve into nothingness.  It is the nature of time that the past blurs, the present congeals, and the future effervesces.

In late 1941, America was looking back over its history, the glowing warmth of the Great Depression plump in its cranium, the very real possibility that most of them would need to brush up on their German if they were going to cut it in the new world order.  What they didn't see was the resolve of a nation to undo evil, the resolve of a group of people to move past the way things were and move toward the way things ought to be.  And as we look at the December 7th launch of World of Warcraft Cataclysm, perhaps we see what Blizzard was saying:  Sometimes Deathwing mounts a planned sneak-attack, tosses the world into chaos, and though we may never be able to experience the joys of the Great Depression again, we can move forward with the military industrial complex nipping at our heels, prodding us toward the riches and fame of a distant, reality-tv laced future.

Final word of wisdom, especially if you are a college kid:  Don't blow your exams in favor of epics.  Blow your epics in favor of exams.  Really fun games will always exist.  Really important opportunities to do good for yourself are harder to come by.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Playing the Auction House at Cataclysm Launch

A lot has been written in the gold-blogging universe about preparing for Cataclysm.  The most consistent theory is that the Cataclysm launch will be an opportunity to make a small fortune by farming tradeskill items from new content and selling them for exorbitant prices.  The second most espoused theory suggests that if you can beat your competition to manufacture the new must-have widgets and wendigos with your profession of choice,  you could enjoy several days of monopoly pricing.  What I've not read much about is whether there will be opportunities for speculators to flip items.  My thoughts:  Absolutely!  And it will be the wild-wild west(fall?) where if you aren't watching your back, you may end up naked by the horse trough.

Volatility in a market is created by many factors.  One of the big factors at the beginning of a World of Warcraft expansion is that a whole new set of items hits the market that nobody has a solid idea of valuation.  For a shrewd investor, this is the classic opportunity to buy low and sell (ridiculously) high.  Player's heads will be spinning with the various opportunities in the new expansion, and anyone with gold in their account isn't going to be afraid to spend.  The problem is that you can get burned very quickly in a market like this, especially given that prices on most items absolutely will fall with time.  It's the natural progression of an expansion cycle.  Anything you buy for resale on day one better be off the books by day two or there is a good chance that you are going to be standing naked by the horse trough, as mentioned earlier.

And remember, even if you do find a can't-miss, ridiculously under-priced item on the Auction House for just 5g that you expect should sell for 500g, don't sit on it!  You may think that because you found it for 5g that you could sit on it for a month, sell it for 250g, and have a 245g profit under your belt.  By the books, you do.  But economically, you just cost yourself 250g by holding an item that could have sold for 500g today.  It's so hard to do, but what makes a trader truly great is the ability to throw away the "purchase price" and only look at an item's inherent present value.  Yeah, you purchased it for 5g.  But it is *worth* 500g.  500g is its economic value.  Don't let its economic value slip like the sands through the hour glass of the days of our lives.

My plan in tinkering with the new economy will be as follows:

  • Don't be afraid to take some risks
  • Watch closely for trends, buy for the purpose of testing markets to see just how liquid they are
  • Snag any Blue or Purple non-profession items if they fit the "this helps to level" paradigm
  • Do homework on finding "chokepoint" and "niche" items.  For example, Nerubian Chitin was very easy to farm and sold for incredibly high prices at the beginning of the Lich King expansion due to its niche use in Nerubian Leg Armor.  What's more, many players didn't realize its value, so it was constantly priced very inexpensively on the Auction House.
  • Use 12-hour Auction postings to save on Deposit fees.  Things *will* be changing that fast.

Friday, December 3, 2010

World of Warcraft Gold Challenge: Alpha Competition - Recap

Ironforge, Inn - (Note: Scroll to bottom for complete list of entries in this competition) At the beginning of this competition, my goal was to reach 10,000 gold on a random realm from scratch in under 30 hours of /played time.  I beat that goal by a full 5 hours and 12 minutes, ending with a /played time of 24 hours, 48 minutes.  If we don't include my non-gold assets at the moment of victory, this means that I made on average 403 gold per hour.  If we include my gold total plus the estimated value of the assets left over (approximately 2000 gold worth), this means that I made about 483 gold per hour simply buying and selling in the Auction House.



To further put some perspective on how successful this competition was, if we remove the first 3 hours of /played time and just assume that I started with the 170 gold (in estimated assets) I had accumulated by that point, my gold rate per hour increases to 542 gold per hour.  Finally, if we discount the first 10 hours of /played time from the competition and assume that I had started with 2800 gold (in estimated assets), my gold rate was 621 gold per hour.

To put that in some real-world dollar terms, and I am in no way advocating trading World of Warcraft money for real money, it looks like 1000 gold sells for about $2.50 on the open (black) market.  So, if I were to sell this gold (which I will not), I would have been making $1.55 per hour for my efforts, about 5 times less than minimum wage.  Assuming that the house of my dreams sells for approximately $800,000, I would have to work approximately 516,129 hours to pay for it free and clear.  Regrettably, this would take 58.9 years of /played time to achieve, and that just seems a little unrealistic.

It took about 17 days of real life time to make the 10,000 gold pieces for an average of  588 gold per day and an average /played time per day of 1 hour, 23 minutes.  Again, if we add in the value of the non-gold assets left over at the end, I averaged a little over 700 gold per real-life day during this challenge.

The method I used to achieve success in this challenge was very basic.  I did a quick scan of the Auction House using the Auctioneer add-on (I didn't do a full scan, just a /get all scan which can be accomplished using the >> fast-forward sign on the front of the Auction House ledger).  I made the majority of my gold simply buying items that were under priced and posting them back on the Auction House at roughly regular market prices.  I wouldn't have thought that there would be that much opportunity to flip items for profit, but people just kept putting stuff on the AH for nickels on the dollar.

The most commonly flipped items were Blue Rare items.  I probably made 40% of my gold simply buying blues that people posted to the AH for 10-20g and posting them at 40-60g (and sometimes higher depending on the item).  For example, weapons tend to get priced a bit higher due to demand.  Wrist-slot items tend to get priced a bit lower due to abundance of supply at most gear levels.

I'd say the next most commonly flipped items were Purple Epic items.  I had a couple great finds along the way and probably made close to 2500 gold of my profits flipping epics.  If the challenge had been more of a marathon -- say, how fast I could get to 100,000 gold, I probably would have looked much closer at this market, but I was often afraid to get too committed to a high-priced item and have it stuck in inventory at the end of the competition.

The final 35% of my gold came from all the rest of the items.  I got into a groove flipping Frostweave Cloth from 7g to 12g, plus I hovered close to the herb market due to the relatively low deposit to place herbs on the auction house compared with other tradeskill items.  A special note of success goes to reputation-grind items such as Relic of Ulduar, Arakkoa Feather, Coilfang Armament, and Sunfury Signet.  These are fantastic items to resell for the fact that purchases are inconsistent.  Let me explain:  Runic Health potions have a fairly consistent demand.  Say that 1000 of them get sold in a given week.  It's unlikely that any one day during the week saw more than 200 of them sold, or fewer than 50 of them sold.  This allows for stable pricing where suppliers can predict demand and account for it accordingly.  Conversely, take the 1000 Relic of Ulduar that get sold in the same week.  It is *very* likely that they get sold to one player in one buyout swoop.  During the rest of the week, nothing sells, which causes prices to be continually undercut.  This is where the savvy reseller comes in, snatches them on the down tick, and waits patiently for the next player with lots of gold who is eager to finish their reputation grind.  The huge bonus with these items:  They stack in size up to 200, so you can hold a ton of them.  Given player zest for achievements, there is absolutely no reason to believe that these items won't consistently (if erratically) sell through time.

I do believe that this competition could be completed in under 15 hours /played time.  And maybe even a heck of a lot faster by someone who was a true expert.  I came into this competition having some knowledge, but nothing astounding.  I knew that twink blue items are coveted.  I knew that Golden Pearls go for a lot.  But really, I taught myself how to use Auctioneer's search function, set it at a reasonable return, and basically shot some ducks in barrel.

World of Warcraft Gold Challenge
Rules
Prelude
Hour 1
Hour 2
Hour 3
Hour 4
Hour 5
Hour 6
Hour 7
Hour 8
Hour 9
Hour 10
Hour 11
Hour 12
Hour 13
Hour 14
Hour 15
Hour 16
Hour 17
Hour 18
Hour 19
Hour 20
Hour 21
Hour 22
Hour 23
Hour 24
Hour 25
Inclusive Recap