Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flipping epics is risky but potentially profitable

Flipping epics is not for the faint of heart or for the empty-of-purse. What's this "flipping epics" I hear some of you asking? Simply put, it means buying epic items from various sources, like the Auction House, trade chat or directly from players, with the intent of selling them at a later date for a profit.

This is inherently risky because epics are very prone to devaluation. Today's "1337 epix" might be just trash tomorrow. A simple patch, not to mention an entire new expansion, can make certain epics obsolete.

I decided to try my hand at flipping epics all the way back in October during Brewfest. I wasn't the only one, of course.

The epic item in question, as you might have guessed, is the Tankard O' Terror which drops only during the holiday from Coren Direbrew. Because during this holiday there were hundreds and thousands of Coren runs, this awesome weapon was flooding the AH and it was easy to get one for a good price.

So what's so special about this weapon? Well, for one thing, its item level, which is 226. Back in patch 3.2, a 226 weapon was pretty damn good, especially for a BoE. This meant a fresh level 80 player could get themselves an amazing weapon for a very reasonable price. The Tankard has some very nice stats, including a slow speed of 2.6, and plenty of agility, crit, haste and AP. Stats galore, in essence. It makes an awesome weapon for enhancement shamans, dual-wielding frost death knights and combat mace rogues. It so happens that these classes also dual-wield so they can get 2 Tankards for double the fun. Oh, on second thoughts I guess feral druids can also use them. I'm not very familiar with druids so please excuse me if I missed something here.

Due to the over-abundance of Tankards, their prices on the AH dropped like a rock during Brewfest. I decided I would exploit this and buy as many I could under a certain price threshold, with the intention of selling them a couple of weeks after the holiday was over, for a premium. Needless to say, many other people had the same idea.

Here are some stats.

I bought a total of 22 Tankards for a total of 15,300 gold.
Average price: 695 gold
Minimum price paid: 550 gold (this one I bought COD from a player who was advertising it in trade chat)
Maximum price paid: 800 gold (this was toward the beginning of the holiday when prices were still "high")

I sold all of them for a total of 20,000 gold.
Average price: 909 gold
Minimum price sold: 800 gold
Maximum price sold: 1300 gold

Total profit: 4700 gold <-- not bad

It took me a month and a half to sell all of them. There was very high competition during this time. At any point there were at least 4-5 Tankards on the AH, but usually more. Today, the price remains low: under 1000 gold. As you can see, I made a hefty profit, but... There's usually a "but" in these situations.

In order to reach this profit I had to invest 15,000 gold and it was a risk, although a calculated one at that. I had enough "capital" to afford making this experiment. I knew that on a high population server as my own there had to be lots of other people who saw the same opportunity. I also knew that these people were smart enough to be patient and wait it out, until the price was just right, before they put their Tankards on the AH. Another looming problem was patch 3.3. It would bring more powerful items, up to ilvl 277, which meant the Tankard could suddenly lose a lot of its value.

After Brewfest ended I didn't know what to expect in regards to AH price. I sold my first Tankard for 1300 gold but from there on it all went downhill. Prices were dropping and people were undercutting each other. Luckily they didn't like selling at a loss, so they kept the prices reasonable. With patch 3.3 on the horizon I knew I had to sell my Tankards quickly.

I had seen people on various forums talking about this, saying that they would wait months, if they had to, in order to sell the Tankards for at least 2000 gold. Well, I decided I wasn't going to risk it. After all, waiting for a few months and hoping for the price to go up, in other words waiting for the competition to liquidate their stocks, might well render the Tankards obsolete due to more powerful items being introduced to the game. And one more thing: I figured that less profit in my pocket now is better than more potential profit who-knows-when in the future. Hence, I sold my entire stock and the profit wasn't bad after all.

I did risk a few things here. I couldn't predict how prices would evolve after Brewfest. I had no way of knowing how many people had also done the same thing. I also didn't know how many Tankards had been bought by these people for the purpose of being flipped. There was also no way of knowing how obsolete the Tankard would become and how soon that would happen. In addition, the Tankard event was unique in WoW (although similar events have taken place in the past). As a result, the entire venture was on the risky side.

In conclusion, if you don't have a lot of cash to burn, be very careful when attempting something similar. I wouldn't even think about trying this with crafted epics or epics that are regular drops from a dungeon/raid, unless I was very familiar with prices and I could snatch a severely underpriced one. I call the Tankard O' Terror a "one-shot epic" because it only drops for a week once a year and then it's gone forever. If you can take your chance with such an item, then try to calculate all the associated risks and go for it. It might be well worth it.


Anonymous said...

I've been doing some flipping with [Primordial Saronite]. On AH it goes for 2200-2600G a piece. Sometiems I find players willing to sell 2-3 pieces for a good price. Buy, split, resell, profit.

Darth Solo said...

Primordial Saronite is not an epic crafted item and that's a whole different story. Essentially it is the higher version of Crusader Orbs, which is the higher version of Runed Orbs, which is the higher version of Frozen Orbs. If you know the market, flipping mats is always profitable, with the caveat that at some point even these very high level mats drop massively in price so you have to watch out for that.

Anonymous said...

Not an epic but the principle is the same. Buy for lower price, resell for higer... while keeping an eye to market and possible incoming patches.