Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Changing Tactics With Inscription

There was a time before that infamous mmo-champion article (I won't even link to it :) that scribes were making a very decent living from Inscription. I would easily pull 1000 gold a day without stressing too much. Glyphs would sell for anywhere up to 50 gold or even more but I usually didn't bother with anything less than 15 gold. I would undercut for a few silver and probably relist once or twice a night. I would also craft a maximum of 2 of each glyph and post only 1 at a time. Noobish, what can I say.

Today, things have changed. Although my server was slower to catch up to the new-found knowledge, it eventually did and all of a sudden 5-6 major competitors came out of the woodwork and started undercutting each other. I continued undercutting them but dropped my undercutting to 1 copper. The new strategy worked for a while until I realized that there were simply too many competitors and a few of them were AH campers and I had no chance against them because the moment I logged off, they would undercut me.

By this point I had moved up, from 2 glyphs to 6 glyphs. I didn't dare craft more because certain glyphs simply reached such low prices that they weren't worth crafting. The campers were still at it and it had become stressful to watch the AH like a hawk for hours on end.

During this period I did some more research, particularly on Gevlon's and Markco's sites. These two guys are real goblins, in the sense that they truly live for profits and also have vast knowledge to back it up. I admit that in comparison to them I was clueless about handling such competitors, particularly in the glyph business.

You see, the glyph business is unlike any other. Sure, there are similarities but Inscription has certain particularities that will allow a knowledgeable player to make massive amounts of gold. I've stated time and time again that Inscription has been the single biggest money-maker for me in WotLK, by far. I would estimate it has earned me at least 60K gold. My only regret is that I didn't learn these tactics sooner. Little did I know back then. I'm far from being an expert now but my knowledge has increased and I am better equipped to profit from Inscription as well as from my other professions.

Getting back to why Inscription is so special, the basic idea is this: you can make a profit from selling a glyph no matter how low your price is. You can go as low as 40 silver (the price of Resilient Parchment at Exalted) and you would break even. Anything above this amount is pure profit. I'm not counting the price of Ink of the Sea because... it's free. How so? Once you get into this mindset, you will become free of prejudice and start seeing the reality.

To ensure that your glyph manufacturing costs are almost zero you should start from a very cheap supply of herbs. There are only 3 types of herbs worth considering and out of those you will only actually purchase 1 or 2. I'm talking, of course, about Lichbloom, Icethorn and Adder's Tongue. Out of these 3, I'll never buy Lichbloom for milling. If I ever find it at a low price, I would rather flip it than mill it. Lichbloom is the rarest of these herbs and also has the highest level. The second rarest, but a lot more common, is Icethorn. Adder's Tongue is the most abundant. The beauty of these 3 types is that they all yield the same amount of inks when milled, meaning that in terms of obtaining the best returns, you should always go for the cheapest herb, whether it's Icethorn or Adder's Tongue.

Milling a stack of 20 herbs yields on average 6 Inks of the Sea and 2 Snowfall Inks. The Snowfall Inks are the key. Using prices from my server, I will typically buy a stack of herbs for 10-15 gold (50s - 75s apiece). Snowfall Inks currently sell for about 13 gold each on the Auction House but they used to sell for a lot more, over 20 gold. At any rate, even if I were to simply sell the Snowfall Inks for 13 gold each, I would earn 26 gold from each stack of herbs, meaning a profit of anywhere between 11-16 gold per stack. After all this, I'm still left with a shitload of Inks of the Sea. And that's where I get my "free" Inks of the Sea.

I won't typically sell Snowfall Inks but instead I will craft other things from them, thus moving down the manufacturing chain and increasing profits by selling a product with a higher added value. Such examples are off-hand items and Darkmoon cards.

Having become tired of camping the AH and undercutting by 1c, I decided to try some new tactics.

For a day or so I posted all my glyphs with a massive undercut of 10 gold and a threshold of 50 silver, meaning that I wouldn't go lower than that. The plan backfired because by this point there were already very few glyps on the AH that were selling for more than 20 gold.

The next day I lowered my undercut to 5 gold and increased my threshold at 99 silver. I kept posting as usual, for 12 hours. Things started going slightly better. I posted 6 glyphs at a time but in spite of all this I was still undercut. I felt ok because even if the days of 1000+ gold per day were gone, I was still making 300 gold or so, without too much stress.

What brought me greater satisfaction was the fact that my competitors were starting to notice the effect of my undercutting. One guy in particular buys all my glyphs around 1 gold, to repost them, no doubt. Which is great for me because I can just make more of them and force him to buy greater and greater amounts. Furthermore, an added benefit is that my competition is kept busy trying to manage their competition, essentially wasting their time, while I am simply ignoring them and posting at my leisure.

I had also read that Gevlon was undercutting by 40 silver in an attempt to drive the competition out of the market. I'm now trying a similar tactic. I dropped my undercutting to 50 silver and I'm watching how things are going.

Currently I'm not even selling glyps for profit. I'm just doing it for fun and to piss off my competition. I have more than enough inks in stock (and funds to boot, as well as other sources of income) that I can afford to sell even at a loss. Good times ahead. My plan, no matter how evil it may seem, is to drive all these guys out of the market. Yep, I'm becoming a real goblin, following closely in Gevlon's footsteps.

If you are in the business of selling glyphs and suddenly come across someone who undercuts massively and daily, my word of advice is don't get mad. He's either a clueless noob, in which case his stock will quickly dry up and he will exit the market on his own, or he's a seasoned seller with massive funds that doesn't give a crap for how much his glyphs sell and his only purpose is to become the sole vendor of glphs on that server. If it's the second case, you might as well try other means to make gold if you don't have the funds to match. Don't embarrass yourself by sending the guy reproachful mails.

Personally I would really enjoy some "carpet bombing". This is another of those terms that I love so much. In case you're not aware what carpet bombing means, it refers to flooding the AH with goods that undercut everyone else at a very low price, causing competitors to either leave the market in disgust or else attempt to buy the low priced products and repost them at the "normal" price. Of course, if you try to flip them the seller will simply post more. It's a dirty trick but almost guaranteed to work. Unfortunately I don't have the time to craft dozens of glyphs because I would do this in a heartbeat.

I hope that this article hasn't created more problems than it has solved and I hope you glyph sellers who are reading this won't hate me too much for my "dirty tactics". Even if you do, that's life, kill or be killed. I won't lose any sleep over it, you can be sure of that.


Anonymous said...

You actually get about two icy pigments per stack of herbs, which creates 1 snowfall... So, you're not making an profit from just milling herbs and selling snowfall, unless the price of snowfall is greater than a stack of herbs. On my server snowfall goes for around 13-15g, and herbs go for 18-20g so Ink of the sea ends up being around 1g or so, give or take. You *can* make a profit milling and selling inks, but the market isn't as robust as the glyph market. Most of the time if you can sell glyphs for over 2g, you should be making a profit of some sort.

I don't really reccomend that though if you want to make money. ignoring the glyphs that people are undercutting aggressively on, and concentrating on the profitable glyphs is a better tactic, especially for someone breaking into the market. Myself, I have some loss leaders, that are common frequently used glyphs which I keep posted at a very low price to keep someone who hasn't really done thier homework from making a quick buck by undercutting on those.

Vikt said...

Wow - I apparently really need to finish leveling up Inscription on one of my alts.

And I'll admit, I was largely a noob on making cash until I started reading Markco as well ~

Geforce said...

I mostly quit playing the AH now, Glyph market is destroyed: the glyph pages went from 54 pre mmo post to 94 now -.-, most are below 10g aswell.

I thought that the mmo post only destroyed that market because the entry cost was so low, so I figured giving JC a shot...

my DK got 80 few days ago and I maxed JC only to find out via spreadsheets to check profit that the only things profitable are with very low profit (54G on 5k invest for doing the prospect + DE trick) and titanium stacks going for +300g while the epic gems are 150-200g.

I think I'll quit with making money until there's a new way not so common.

Darth Solo said...

@Anonymous I'm using Wowhead numbers and my own statistics prove it.

Taking Icethorn as an example:

100% chance for 2-4 Azure Pigment per mill (5 herbs), average is 3 Azure Pigment per 5 herbs or 12 per stack of 20 which translates into 6 Ink of the Sea.

50% chance for 1-3 Icy Pigment per mill (5 herbs), average is 2/2 Icy Pigment = 1 per 5 herbs or 4 per stack of 20 which translates into 2 Snowfall Ink.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but like I said, even if I interpret Wowhead's numbers the wrong way, my own observations confirm these rates.

@Vikt it's not that easy to bring Inscription to a pro level and I will tell you why in a coming article.

@Geforce it's not that bad actually. There's still profit to be made but at a lower rate.

Anonymous said...

Wowhead is telling you that 100% of the time milling icethorn will get you azure. Every time azure drops you get at least 2 and as many as 4. 50% of the time you'll get an icy, but you'll find that the multiple drops are rather rare, and statistically don't really change the rate at which you get icy from milling.

Take a look at the comment on Wowhead by Killerpet. What he has found is that there's an average of 3 azure and .5 icy per mill. He's taken a pretty decent sample and tracked it.

If you're seeing differently, I'm happy for you, but I've milled a lot of herbs and sometimes I'm at 1 snowfall per stack, sometimes not quite, and sometimes slightly more. When I mill 15-20 stacks at a time I can definately say I've never seen icy drop at an average of 4 per stack on either adders, icethorn or lichbloom.

Anonymous said...

Shoot, forgot the wowhead link. The post from Killerpet is here:

Anonymous said...

The average for snowfall ink is definitely NOT 2/2 pigments. Are you even looking at the results you're getting while milling? You only rarely get more than 1 icy pigment when milling, it's like 95% only 1 icy pigment, 5% two or more.

Furthermore, inks of the sea are not FREE. You are making the worst M&S mistake imaginable. If inks of the sea sold for 3g each on the AH, and you're posting glyphs for 99s, you are LOSING money. You would've been better off just selling the inks.

Darth Solo said...

@Anon I was milling herbs last night and getting 1 Icy per mill. 3-4 for each stack. Icethorn and Adder's. I will do further tests but like I said, my own numbers match the ones inferred from Wowhead. I could always be wrong, of course. Needs more testing...

Inks of the Sea sell for around 2G on my server. Problem is, they don't sell very well. I tried that in the past. It doesn't really matter to me if I'm losing money by selling glyphs at 99s because I'm simply trying to screw with the competition. It's no longer a question of money. In fact I'm stocking up for a carpet-bombing mission as we speak :)

Anonymous said...

I just milled 20 stacks of herbs (Adder's Tongue) And it yeilded 229 Azure and 45 icy pigments.

By my maths, thats about 2.86 azure per mill and .56 icy. 11.5 and 2.25 per stack. If you do this experiment yourself, you'll probably find results within a reasonable margin of error.

Sure you'll get some stacks where you're hitting icy all the time, heck, I know I've seen 5 icy come out of one stack before, but I've seen no icys come out of a stack more often.

Rob Dejournett said...

I guess I'm one of those MMO champion guys. I had two inscriptionists at 430 or so (horde/alliance), and never really made much money, and I found that manual posting was too much of a pain. So i stopped and did something else for a while. Since now I know how to config ATSW and QA2 my life is 100-fold easier with regard to glpyh making. So, I started with some very seasonsed inscriptionists, that's key. The second key is to buy every single book of glyph mastery you can get a hold of. I just bought 30 yesterday, and am close to the inscription limit on one toon.

As an initial experiment I focused on just DK and druid glyphs, and started selling at very typical levels (50g max, 2g min, 10s undercut, 2 per posting). I made 2500 gold in about 10 days. Thinking that was so succseful, I am now branching into other classes (and just server transfered to boot). I'm making 1000g (for one day) but I'm not sure what the long range is. I am getting ready for 3.3 and I expect a TON of people to come back to the game because of the new IC dungeons and the improved LFG. I want to be there to capture it.

Anyway, my point is surprisingly even for very normal tactics on two different servers there is still quite a bit of profit to make. And nowadays I really just login to make money. Wierd isn't it? The AH game is just as fun as the PVE game to me. (I also have a 450 JC, and made a ton on that as well)

Anonymous said...

My server is currently controlled entirely by one guy. This guy has kept glyph prices under 2g50s for at least three months, and is only now starting to let up. I sell a few glyphs each day, and would sell more if only he didn't camp the AH 24/7 (seriously, he does. I alway see him /afk when I login, *always*).

There is no way you can beat a no-lifer who are willing to step down to ridiculously low prices. I guess it should upset me, but if he's spending so much of his time trying to earn virtual money then I say, let's not fight with that guy. It's not worth it. :)

Darth Solo said...

@Gibbiex I have 99% of all glyphs, except some very common ones sold by the trainer that I never bothered to get because either they don't sell or are useless. That means I have exhausted both types of research and I've learned all the books. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be around for 3.3 because I'm planning to take a longer break but I do recognize the opportunity. I'm sure a lot of money will be made with inscription.

@Anonymous some of these 24/7 campers could be kids and/or they might have a second account where they are always logged in. The best you can do, i guess, is to try and undercut him and force him out of the market by driving the prices even lower. However this approach can be difficult due to the fact that he may have a lot more funds and patience than yourself, or he may be willing to sell at a loss just to see you fail, or he may have a very cheap source of herbs/inks and he'll afford to drop his prices even lower. Have you tried finding a herb farmer who's willing to sell to you for very low prices?