Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When Does Herb Farming Makes Sense?

If you are one of the four or five regular readers of my blog then you know how much I hate to farm anything. Herbs have to be the worst though. For whatever reason I find the mechanic of clicking the flower much less appealing than the other animations. Miners get to swing a pick axe and skinners get that cool sound of flesh being separated from hide. Herbalists? They just kneel in the mud.

But the question remains: when is herb farming a good choice?

The short answer is that it might be tempting to farm Cataclysm herbs now, but if you are interested in making any gold in the Flask and Potion market the time may not yet be right. Don't get fooled.

Looking at prices for the best flasks and potions will make any goblin want to sell them. These Flasks are in high demand for raiders. More guilds are becoming active in raiding now. Potions of Treasure Finding sell just about any time.

Figuring out how to earn a profit on these items becomes the challenge. They are material-intensive to craft, and Cataclysm herb prices are through the roof. (my server info used below)

                                               Sales Price     Mats Cost       Profit/(loss)

Flask of Steelskin                     254g                256g                (2g)
Flask of Flowing Water            210g                200g                10g
Flask of the Draconic Mind      301g                264g                37g
Flask of Steelskin                    118g                202g                (86g)
Flask of the Winds                  175g                208g                (33g)
Potion of Treasure Finding      245g                132g                113g

This set of circumstances comprises the 'perfect storm' that can make it appear profitable to farm herbs and make Flasks, especially for those Alchemists who look at the sales prices of the flasks and think 'hey, I'm gonna go farm some herbs'. 

However, the sheer volume of herbs required to craft even a half-stack of Flasks and Potions makes this a daunting task.
If you set as a goal making 10 of each item above, total material needs are:

I put the AH values per item and total for the required amounts needed to craft the list. Despite the great appeal of 250g Flask sales, this appears to be a money loser or close to it. Based on the data above it will cost roughly 12,600g in materials to craft 13,200g in potions. Factor in time to gather the items and it looks like you would do better to gather and post the raw materials since there is greater fluctuation in that market segment, or find some other way to use 12,600g that will show a better ROI.

However, some factors can make the lower than expected ROI worth it to you:

  1. You may already have a bunch of Volatile Life, accumulated by hoarding Vol Life procs when herbing or by purchasing cheap from the AH.;
  2. You may need the skill ups offered by these Flasks;
  3. You might be doing quests in these zones, making negligible the incremental time required to farm a few nodes;
  4. You may feel you can 're-set' one or more of the Flask markets and push those sales prices way up;
  5. You may be a  Potion Master thus giving you an extra 15% or so in Flask procs.

Maybe some combination of the above factors applies to you. If so, then farming could be a great deal. If not, then I submit that farming for hours to gather materials and craft a break even product line is a poor use of time.

With the Whiptail spawns sufficiently nerfed in 4.0.6 and the horrible spawn rate (and competition) for Twilight Jasmine, the allure of high value sales may fool some people into farming these herbs now, despite the evidence that Flask prices are still 15% to 30% too low or that herb prices are 20%-30% too high. Maybe both.

Don't get fooled by high sales prices. Be sure to do your research.


  1. Great post as ever Kamm but,the prices for that same herbs in my server are way lower than your i will post some picture of it in my blog that will just make you cry,they did that o me to all my 3k gold spent in whitails.

  2. The herb prices on my server are hella load lower than yours, holy jeez.

    What server do you play on,if you don't mind me asking? :)

    Great post.