New players often lament not having enough gold to buy what they need. They sometimes beg in trade chat. We all know how obnoxious that can be. I strongly suspect that pressures for gold lead some players to resort to ninja tactics to get upgrades or to "help themselves" to items in the guild bank.
My theory is that if a new player can earn 100g in the first day playing, he will be more able to enjoy the game without the hindrance of always being broke. Teach a man to fish.....
Here is my very recent experience with detailed steps to follow if you wan to replicate my strategy.
Level 1-10 (first 3 hours): Gold in hand--0g to 10s
My new Blood Elf Hunter began in the starting area of Sunstrider Isle and proceeded to do all the starting quests. From level 1 to level 10 took a total of 3 hours 9 minutes. ((many props to ReadySetDing v0.76 for this information)).
On the way to L10 I equipped the cloth or leather gear that was better than my starting gear and vendored the rest. I did receive one BoE drop, a Gypsy Buckler of Stamina, which I wanted to list in the AH. Since I had to leave Sunstrider Isle for Eversong Woods anyway I made it a point to get to the AH in Silvermoon City before I did anything else. I listed the shield for 3g even, and left to do other quests.
Tip: For my experiment this shield selling gave me a nice boost of starting gold. If you are not so lucky, the principles used below will still work--buy underpriced items and resell them. You can find items for as few as 5s that will be worth a lot more, or you can run an AH search for vendorable items that are listed below vendor prices.
When I hit L10 I had a whopping 45s 71c to my name. I had not trained any professions. I didn't leave Sunstrider Isle so had not been to the Auction House. I did buy a white bow from one of the vendors, but other than that just sold all my whites and greys to the local vendors. I also had my starting backpack, two 4 slot bags and one 6 slot bag from random drops and quest rewards.
Oh, and as I ran through SMC, I scanned trade chat for any ads for guild sigs but there were none--it was Wednesday night after all. Not prime recruitment time. I also trained fishing, first aid and cooking, and bought a fishing pole. I was now officially very broke.
As I left SMC to continue questing, I had about 10s left over.
Levels 10-15 (2 hrs 30 minutes): Gold in hand--from 10s to 3g 66s
It took me another 90 minutes or so to get to L13. My only purchases were for training new hunter skills and repairs. I vendored all my whites and greys, used all my linen to train first aid until linen was green, fished for a bit, and cooked any recipes I had materials for.
As an aside, it doesn't look like Blizzard updated the starting level cooking recipes for TBC. Besides the bread, all the other starting recipes required meat from mobs that don't exist in the area. Boar meat and wolf meat are farmed in Silverpine Forest, not Eversong Woods. So I had a few stacks of Lynx meat that I couldn't use--stored safely in my bank, tyvm.
At this point I decided to log another character. When I returned I had mail from the AH. My Gypsy Buckler had sold! Now I had 3g 66s!! I'm rich!!!
Tip: This is the point at which my play most severely diverged from most starting players. Instead of buying some cheap gear upgrades, I bought the best bag I could find for my 4th (empty) bag slot, a nice 6 slot Small Black Pouch for 3s 75c. I then scanned the AH for cheap deals that I could flip. Here's what I found:
- 1 Mote of Mana for 12s 43c
- 4 Silver Bar for 2s 92c ea (8s 78c total)
- 1 Tigerseye for 5s
On the way to the AH I trained two gathering professions. Skinning is a great low level money maker. Herbalism should be better for making gold now that glyphs are selling so well. All the mats are selling great too, so I thought this would be better than mining. Off to the herbalism trainer I went.
After training Herbalism I turned to the nearby vendor to empty the trash from my bags, and what did I find? She was selling 2 Mageroyal, 2 Earthroot and 1 Peacebloom for 8c to 13c. I bought them all and quickly hustled back to the AH.
I listed all my new purchases at market value. I didn't undercut anyone though there were some stupid high prices for the herbs, 250% and higher. I left the city and went back to questing.
Since all the mobs in the Ghostlands were too high for me to skin I stayed near Silvermoon City and killed a ton of Crazed Dragonhawks and Springpaw Stalkers to advance my skinning. When I saw the fantastic drop rates of Small Eggs from the Dragonhawks, I eschewed the cats altogether.
Tip: Know the value of items you find when questing. These small eggs will likely have great value during Pilgrim's Bounty and Winter Veil for the quest recipes that have to be completed. Last year they were selling for 2.5g each during the first couple days of each event. I now have 65 eggs in the bank.
Once my skinning was of sufficient level for the Ghostlands I made one more trip to the AH to post my new leather scraps and light leather. Then, back to questing. After I dinged L15, I logged for the night.
Levels 15-18 (5 hours): Gold in hand--from 3g 66s to 33g 22s
Imagine my surprise when I logged back in the next day and saw that all of my auctions had sold! Total gold earned was 15g 72s, for an investment of 40s (or thereabouts) and the time spent farming the leather. That brought my gold total to over 18g!
Again, my next decision is one that many new players would not make--avoiding the purchase of new gear (though I did bid on a gun, but it was really cheap, 5s I think), I purchased two Journeyman's Backpacks for 1g 55s each, and got rid of my two smallest bags.
Tip: Bag space is as good as gold. Total cost for the backpacks was just over 3g for the pair--an excellent deal. It was so good (100% value would be around 4g each) that I considered flipping but finally decided in favor of utility. The more you can carry, the less time you waste traveling back to sell off stuff, so the more you can earn for your time invested. When experienced players start new toons one of the first things they do is get them Frostweave bags, or Netherweave bags--for this exact reason.
Tip: My strategy for flipping at this level is simple: risk only 50% of my total gold and only on very sure flips. I don't want to have to turn an auction twice, and I only want to buy and sell items for which there is certain demand and little supply at the time.
I reinvested about 7g in some undervalued Crystallized Life, Medium Leather, Bronze Bars, and a Primal Life. All of these were re-listed for significant markups but only up to market value--no undercutting. I also listed the additional leather scraps and light leather I had gathered, along with the herbs from the herb vendor (again) and ones I had picked the day before.
Tip: Here is an example of the buy price/list price so you can see the flipping values involved.
- Bought 8 Crystallized Life at 22s 50c each, 1.8g total. Re-listed at 1.59g each in stacks of 4. Each stack was 6.03g. Profit potential 10.32g.
- Bought 2 Medium Leather for 3s total. Re-listed for 87s. Profit potential of 85s.
- Bought stack of 20 Bronze Bars for 20s ea, 4g total. Re-listed at 63s 63c ea, in 2 stacks of 10, 6.36g per stack or 12.72g total. Profit potential of 8.72g.
- Bought a Primal Life for 1.2g. Re-listed at 9.26g. Profit potential of 8g.
- Total investment of 7.03g. Profit potential of 27.89g.
There are not many auctions involved here for a couple reasons. First, you have to find severely undervalued items with high demand. For trade goods that can be tough. I recommend bidding when possible and only buying at 25%-40% value. You want to make the most you can in the shortest time.
I returned to questing. It took me over 5 hours to get from L15 to L18 for a few reasons. I made three trips back and forth to the AH to list BoE greens that had dropped and to train my professions; the quests are all over the map and running (instead of riding) from place to place just plain SUCKS; and I got distracted by a L80 Shaman who invited me to his guild after randomly just offering to help with Wanted: Knucklerot and Luzran .
After I dinged L18, I logged off this toon and played a few hours on my other alts.
Level 18-19 (2 hours 30 minutes): Gold in hand--from 33g 22s to 62g 51s
When I logged back in all the above auctions sold, netting another 26g on the investment of 7g. I also still had 18 active auctions for BoE green drops, some leather I skinned, herbs I picked, and Crystallized Life that I am flipping. Total value of current active auctions is 34g.
I made sure to update my scan for the day and then searched for value items to flip. There were several good deals.
- 4 Elemental Earth at 30% value, no others in AH.
- 3 Truesilver Ore at 20% value, all others at 90%+ value.
- 4 Mote of Fire at 25% value, all others at 100%+ value.
- 2 stacks and some single Mageweave Cloth at 33% value.
I now had over 40 active auctions with a total market value of around 125g. It was time to return to questing.
The Ghostlands quests in this range are fairly well grouped but the areas are all in different quadrants. It takes time to travel place to place, but I now had additional bag space so this was much easier to accomplish. (see post Pay It Forward for details on this).
After I dinged 19, I retired for the night.
The next morning I went straight to the AH to check my mail to find many auctions sold. I now had over 80g. Reinvesting in good values again, I spent quite a bit so I am left with just over 62g on hand. I also did a search for vendor values and found some stacks of Dense Stone that was AH listed below vendor value. I bought those and just went to the closest vendor to sell for a couple gold profit.
I now had over 65 auctions worth 225g in value and was only 11 hours or so into this toon's first day. Here are some of the items and values to help guide you on how profitable some things can be.
- Ruined leather scraps, 15s 50c each, 3.1g per stack. (gathered 2 stacks), 7.2g profit
- Mageweave cloth, 10.44g for 52 units (2 stacks + 12), avg 20s per cloth. Re-listed at market price, 91s per cloth, 47.32g, or 36.88g profit
- Wool cloth, 90s 56c per cloth, 18.11g per stack. Gathered 66 during questing, listed at 100% market value, 59.77g profit
- Silverleaf, bought 1 stack for 13s 36c each, or 2.67g. Added 30 gathered during questing, and re-listed at 100% market value of 63s each. Total profit of 28.88g
- Light Leather, 25s 88c each. Listed 43 gathered while questing, total profit 11.2g
Level 19-21 (4 hours 10 minutes): Gold in hand--from 62g 51s to 105g 83s
The quests in my book at this point were all in the Ghostlands. Again, all over the map, but still--nice opportunities to continue gathering leather and herbs as I traveled.
Once I hit L20, I quickly headed back to buy my mount and training for it. I also had to train a bunch of new skills. I was concerned that doing this would make the time much longer to reach my goal. I went back to continue questing. Another couple hours and I dinged 21.
I logged off for lunch.
When I returned, I checked my mail. Over 41g in my inbox from 22 auctions! I had hit my goal, reaching 105g in 17 hours 10 minutes, well below the 24 hour deadline I had set for myself!
I was able to reinvest in more AH deals, and I did splurge on a new bow for 4g that doubled my dps. I know, I said don't buy AH weapons and armor, but it was 20% value and my gun was really low. I had started taking some serious damage while questing so I figured upping my dps would help quest faster.
I don't know if this qualifies as a "guide" per se, but from the illustrations I provided, I'm very hopeful that new players will be able to mirror some of these strategies and earn the gold they need to enjoy the game more.
- Buying low level gear on the AH is a waste. I have purchased no gear from the AH for this character except the bow I got after reaching my goal. I am clad in a mish mash of greens and whites. Slots with greens are cloak, bracer, gloves, legs and feet. I have cloth boots because they had a +3 agility boost. My sword is green as are my chest and belt. Oh, and thanks to the benevolence of my new Shaman friend I have a nice ring. I have died a few times but the cost of new AH gear isn't worth the return.
- Get two gathering professions. The ore, herbs or leather you get as you level those professions will sell in the AH. There isn't really a down side since you need to kill the mobs anyway for quests or experience. Even if you only make 50s per stack in profit you will gather a few stacks, which translates into several gold.
- Flip for profit. There are always deals in the AH that are undervalued. Using Auctioneer or another AH addon you should be able to identify which products are there for the grabbing at bargain basement prices that you can flip for big profits.
- Know your limits, and stay within them. If you only have 20g to your name, why would you want to buy an 18g item to flip? You tie up all your working capital in an item that may take 3 or more days to sell. Why handicap yourself? My rule is 50% investment limit when under 100g capital. I then get less risk tolerant as my total gold goes up--in other words, between 100g and 500g, I will only risk 40%, between 500g and 1000g its 25% and over 1000g my limit is 10%. And if at any point I have two days in a row where I lose money in the AH, I stop buying until I recover my losses.
- Avoid weapons and armor, and gravitate towards trade goods--cloth, ore and leather are best, and elemental is close behind. You may find lower margins, but if you are making 1g per stack and selling 25 stacks of something a day, I think that is more stable than selling one stack at 25g that may not sell for a day or two. If someone undercuts your 25g sale by a copper you may not sell it today. But there are so many people buying trade goods that even if you are slightly more expensive than others in the market you will most likely still sell.
Level 21-24 (24 hours 2 minutes) 241g 6s
As an epilogue of sorts, I thought I would show where I ended up after 24 hours. I am really shocked that I have been able to earn almost 2.5x my goal! And, this is after I repaid the kindness of a stranger with a 20g tip via mail. ((see Pay It Forward for the details))
I have not changed my principles and have found a couple of markets where buy low sell normal (thank you Markco) works great. The advantage of having more gold on hand is that you can spend more on goods to resell, thus growing your net worth geometrically.
I hope you find this information useful. Feel free to comment on what you think would work for you or that you tried and didn't find to be a good strategy. If you have suggestions you want me to try on this toon, let me know.
And thanks to Markco for the space to guest post. We all appreciate your leadership in the gold making community.