Monday, May 6, 2013

Do You Really Need a Bunch of Alts?

Not really.

I talked a while ago about my alts, and just to reiterate I happen to have a bunch of them.  Not just on my main server, but also on other servers.  For the most part, my alts were made because I enjoy leveling characters and doing the quest lines over and over.

You only need 1-2 characters to make gold on any server, and in any given expansion they've never needed to be max level except to enjoy certain reputation/raid drop/dungeon drop recipes.  In all fairness, unless you are building an Alchemy/Inscription farm or just wanting to go nuts with making Epic 522 BS/Tailoring items, the actual number of alts you would need to have all the bases covered would be a whopping 3.5 characters, which would be at minimum 1x90 and 3x80*.  Thanks to professions being completely trainable at levels far below the level cap, you don't need to invest a ton of time.

For MoP, it merely requires level 80.  This is hardly something new.  Even during Vanilla, many of us that were raiding were running around making level 35 Alchemists, because that was the minimum level you needed to hit level 60 elixers/potions.  Today, the magic number is 80 to be able to partake in most markets.  Getting to 80 is rather fast in comparison to the days when it was 2 weeks played to 60, I've been normally hitting 80 with 4 days played with no BOAs and just a guild bonus.

The reason I'm writing this is I'm currently working another realm, and the question of what to take without transferring characters is something I'm pondering.  You read this blog because you want to know how the people who count WoW gold in units of millions think, so here's my thought process on how I go about building my golden engine.

Here's a brief cheatsheet for you at 80:

Enchanting - All recipes except Sha Crystal enchants available
Alchemy - Everything is available to you, retaining the Vial of the Sands recipe may prove interesting
Engineering - Everything is available that doesn't require SoH
Inscription - Everything is available to you
Jewelcrafting - All cuts except metas are available unless you get someone to help, cannot get rep to make flying mounts
Blacksmithing - All recipes for 384/415 gear, no access to Lightning Steel, rep, or SoH recipes.
Tailoring - All recipes for 384/415 gear, no 28 slot recipe or leg enchants, cooldown will require a port and avoiding the wolf but give access to 458 PvP.  Access to 496 and 522 epics.
Leatherworking - All recipes for 384/415 gear, access to daily cooldown for 458 PvP gear, no access to leg enchants.  Access to 496 and 522 epics.

Of these, there's flat out no reason to take an Alchemist, Engineer, or Scribe past 80, so these should be default tertiary profession choices - with the exception of Engineer, because there's really no reason to tie up a character with this when you have limited alts on the server.  Only take Engineering if you are after the profession benefits, because making gold off it is going to be dicey, and painful at best.  Engineers also require too many SoH to make anything current, and that requires grinding on your part just to make something that's priced worse than competing professions.

In the Words of the Great Gold Philosopher, Jules Winnfield, 

So let's say you're rerolling on a new server, and you're going to take one character to 90 and a DK to 80, which professions would/should you choose?  Further, the server is raid oriented, a modest number of PvPers, and it's a high population.  What would I do if I just wanted to make a gold making machine?

For the 90, I would pick the professions that offer the most consistent gold for the server, and that means a trip to the auction house to do some analysis.  The first thing you want to do is go to The Undermine Journal, and take a look at the profitability of the different professions, and how close to certainty the various items are.  Check the big boys first (BS/LW/Tailor) and see how pricing and costs look for those recipes.  Since you are going to be a 90, this means you will have access to SoH through Tillers/Dungeons/General mob kills and this 90 is probably going to be your main.  Check PvP recipes - are there a lot of posters, how close to the vest are they selling, and at what volume per day?  Leg enchants and buckles?  Epics?

The standby go-to professions for a 90 are usually Enchanting and Jewelcrafting.  The reason for both is that you can retain all recipes for both, and participate in the Sha and Meta gem markets upon getting the recipes and this would net you a consistent and easy gold engine.  The problem is however that grinding reps for bracers and weapon enchants takes more time (about 2-3 weeks if using the rep bonus), and Meta recipes will require you to go kill some mobs until you get the ones you want.  You can however be making gold within that time and are not completely shutdown.  The armor crafting professions have ramp-up times, which means it will take you a few weeks before you can actually post anything current in volume, and will require you to acquire the raw materials to perform the cooldowns and then ultimately craft the gear.  If you have no miner, Blacksmithing can become expensive unless you contract it out.  One major problem with all three armor professions is that tier to tier, you will be hunting down new BOE recipes for epics and PvP depending how they introduce it.

There's a lost art in armor crafting - that being the level 70, 80, and 85 pieces.  Most people look at Jewelcrafting as the perfect profession for enchanting mats, and that's what they've been taught by most every single blog, podcast, and stream for a very long time.  I'm going to be the person that tells you to do some homework, whip out your spreadsheet (you do have one by now if you're reading this blog, right?) and do the math before you proclaim perfection and look at the profession as a whole first.  For my reroll project my priority profession is an armor profession to go along with Enchanting because the numbers are precisely where I need them.

Jewelcrafting has a ramp up time, and will be costly to learn the various cuts.  While it's possible to just use the cheapest gems (typically blues) to do your research, that means you'll be waiting several weeks to get all the cuts you really want.  Blue is the best color to level with, because it's both the cheapest gem to buy, has the fewest discoveries of any color, and all four cuts sell on the AH with ease so you're not stuck with trash cuts like Expertise, Dodge, or Parry in the yellow and red research.  Doing research with desirable colors (Green, Purple, Orange) many times results in trash cuts, which even the vendors don't really want.  That's the big problem with the profession initially.  After you have the cuts then it's all gold income as you aren't throwing money away.  It feeds Enchanting really well, provided enchanting is a more profitable market than Jewelcrafting and allows you to sell through the bi-product quickly.  This is something you MUST analyze for some time prior to jumping into it.  Also take note:  Meta gems are not exactly the most profitable thing you can make with your purples/oranges/greens as well.  The saturation of the profession on most servers also make flipping-uncuts rather difficult.  Acquiring the lesser ores to engage in previous expansion materials is also challenging at times, as pricing of these have escalated over time.  Frankly, it's not consistent!

Getting to the 80, that would leave either Alchemy or Inscription, or Enchanting if you have no desire to make Sha enchants, and possibly Jewelcrafting since you can do it without Metas.  I personally hate inscription, but you have several options here.  Alchemy would give you a simple cooldown once per day, while also allowing you to convert other items such as Truegold and Titanium Bars, which no longer has a cooldown and is still desired by a few people.  Trillium Bars are heavily needed for alchemy cooldowns, so it is possible to convert GI Bars into Trillium Bars completely as a profit center with high demand.  You also have access to converting the other materials, raid flasks, potions and elixirs.  The margins on the latter options are generally razor thin, but when worked properly can return a nice ROI.

Inscription should NEVER be on a max level character since there's no redeeming value for having a level capped scribe unless you're after the profession bonus.  You can make your daily scrolls for decks, shoulder enchants, and (god help you) work the glyph market.  Inscription is a very passive income, and requires you to log in daily to make Scrolls for your decks.  Only about two days of the week offer consistent profits for shoulder enchants and the other days see the prices drop like any other enchant.  The cash cow of the profession (glyphs) require way too much babysitting because the profession is highly competitive and often preached as an entry level profession.  If you have lots of time during the week to play with it and do the reposting that is necessary on most servers, then by all means go for it.  The common reason people like glyphs is they can post dozens and dozens of different glyphs and eventually something will sell, even if it's only a few each day.  Sort of like firing a 12 gauge from 30 yards, some will hit the target.  For myself, I want consistent, low maintenance, high inventory turn, and high profit return - since I'm not into preaching the benefits of wasting your time in the day camping some Auction House UI for a minimal amount of gold, unless you're into that sort of thing, and if you are I question why you're reading my blog.  Between Alchemy and Inscription, I like Alchemy mostly because my inventory needs are predictable.  I would take Inscription only if I had proof the market would support it, and it's extremely long ramp up time makes it subordinate to Alchemy for me.

I'd also check into Tailoring pre-90.  You won't have access to the new bag, nor the leg enchants, but you will have access to the other bags, but if you're going to 80 and can get a port and a flight you will have a ready source of disenchantable blues for cheap Ethereal Shards, and can make PvP gear with the daily cooldown that only takes 40 days to learn all recipes.  Upon learning the epic recipes, you can then sell 522 BOEs with Haunted Spirits since no SoH are required, and purchase the 496 recipes which are in demand by fresh 90s.  Leatherworking would seem a decent choice, but between the two, Tailoring wins purely because of the number of things you can do with the profession and it's ease in leveling.  Every humanoid drops cloth, while every beast requires either skinning or purchasing lots and lots of leather.

My priority in profession choices:  (High Population Only, Lower Pops YMMV)

1)  Enchanting
2)  Tailoring/Leatherworking/Blacksmithing (90)
3)  Jewelcrafting
4)  Tailoring/Leatherworking (85)
5)  Tailoring (80)
6)  Alchemy (80)/Inscription (80)
7)  Mining - Smelting is extremely important to have to defray costs as it works best with Blacksmithing and Alchemy cooldowns IF you already have them both
8)  Engineering (90) - For pets and scopes, but honestly unless you're raiding/PvP/want toys, this is extremely pointless for power grinding gold, and I would rather take other more creative routes if I need engineering items.  Note that I have a gnomish and goblin engineer, both are PvP characters
9)  Skinning/Herbalism - included only if I want to have a gatherer, useless because these are horribly time consuming

As you can see, I'm a big fan of a certain profession - Tailoring.  For my money I would go Enchanting, Armor Profession for the first character, then take Jewelcrafting and either Alchemy or another Armor Profession on the second character.  If Blacksmithing was taken for the first character, I would definitely consider mining to help with the costs of materials, but it's a low priority since I could probably find someone to outsource to.  Of these, the only non-ramp up would be Enchanting and Alchemy.  That's just my opinion, if you like Inscription, by all means go that route if you have the time to dedicate to it and don't mind the frustration that often comes with it.

FFS Zerohour, how would you pay to level all this crap?

All this is fine and good, but how would you get the seed money to do any of it without having to waste dozens of hours of time farming the mats since you're starting with nothing?  Well, glad you asked.  One of two ways...

Process One:  The Broke and Tightfisted Method
During the leveling process you're going to score a ton of materials you will probably need later, especially if you're going 1-80 fresh.  Personally, I start with a DK, which nets me flying within 5 levels and for a joke of a price today.  Loot EVERYTHING that drops, down to the gold, silver, and copper trash.  Plan ahead - what are you going to roll and what aren't you going to roll?  No tailor?  Fine, auction ALL cloth.  Going to be an enchanter?  All quest rewards and green BOEs go into the bank or the mailbox rotation.  Find a possible good Xmog item?  To the AH with it.  Going to need bags?

That DK qualifies for Outlands inside of 45 minutes of quests, which means you will be collecting stacks of Netherweave in no-time.  Find a tailor to help you out for a small tip - each stack of Netherweave is a bag in your inventory (hey, it gets you started and you can hold more junk).  Join a guild where people have tailor alts and play the guildie card - hey, they probably spam invited you so paybacks are in order.

Get to 80 as fast as possible, quest the whole way when you can to collect the gold rewards and junk drops.  If you're going to go JC, Alch, Scribe, or any profession that requires gathered materials, you should attempt to level herbalism or mining at 60 when you can fly and try to keep up with them.  This helps nullify the overall costs when you'll eventually have to buy some of the mats.  Having an 80 on any given server qualifies you to be able to collect all the mats you need and level most all professions easily to about 450 only trading your time for the gold.  While headed to 90 on your main, you can fill in the gaps.

Process 2:  Uncle Zerohour's Preferred Method
Let's put the brakes on here.  Just kidding about that trading your time for gold bit there.  I know you thought I lost my mind for a second.  This above advice regarding farming is, of course, for the uninitiated and total bullshit.  You can get that advice anywhere and from about 99.9% of the Make Gold NOW guides.  I didn't review the best profession, but I would definitely call Flipping my real first profession of choice in a reroll situation.  If you know what you're doing in this arena, you're already working the AH as soon as you hit the server, and your alts on any server should be nothing but consistent assembly line workers that you are busy assembling.  The brains behind the show (you) should be at work collecting some quest reward gold to get to work immediately and if not sooner.  I'm not a big fan of discussing techniques (because I always come off sounding incredibly elitist, so sorry, but not really), but let's take a look at a particularly good market with excellent cash flow and mo' money.

OH!  Hi there, Epic Flying Mount Money should I find a reason to leave town...

Phew, took 3 days and 3 clicks of 'Post'!  Break my finger why don't ya?  High impact mouse usage this one.

Jeannie, I need some profession leveling money to get me started, please...




I love the 3.2k inside of an hour for hitting Post pic, the buyer was an hour late in saving that amount...  wish I could do this all day.

... and maybe I could use some 22 slot bags while I'm leveling...

... I mean, it's just a crappy blue that nobody would want for more than 100g, right?  Right...

Get the idea?  Don't waste your time farming mats when the 'tools' are already there doing it for you.  All names were removed to protect the innocent from themselves and no tools were harmed to their knowledge.

*You only really need one character of any given level and a little bankroll.  'Tis true!

Where the hell you been, Zerohour?

Well, the past week I've been shaking the worst cold I've had in 5+ years.  Last Sunday I didn't think much of the sore throat, by Monday I was in bed immediately after getting home from the night gig.  Fun stuff!  Some people call into work if they just sneeze, I call in when I'm dying.  Killed two boxes of Kleenex, a bottle of saline, NyQuil, and untold amounts of cough meds.  Nothing beats not being able to get any rest because you wake yourself up sneezing or coughing every hour.  It got to the point where I thought I had pneumonia and almost dragged myself to a doc-in-the-box, but thankfully it got better midway through the week and I only suffered from no sleep.  I did however watch almost the entire Battlestar Galactica reimagined series on Netflix again while I was dozing in and out, so the week wasn't a complete waste.

Outside of that, I just couldn't get the time to edit my blog posts so I decided to just hold off from the week before.  Prior to that I was more focused on other endeavors in my life.  When you have real life responsibilities, your hobbies tend to take a backseat.  Although I've wanted to get this post finished for about 3 weeks now.

Margin Call - Week of April 28, 2013
I did get a few posts in during the week, but put up a pathetic 154,000g in sales.  My laptop from the bedside was good for something at least last week.  Sha Crystals really have taken a dive lately, haven't they?  If you haven't seen a drop, consider yourself lucky.  I've got about a half million gold worth of the suckers to dispose of.  Logic tells me that people are overhunting the rares on the Isle and certain raiders are disposing of previous tiers, the supply is crushing the demand causing prices to crater...  no matter how hard I tried to keep the market pushed, it just wasn't enough.  Being sick this week didn't exactly help with it, since I didn't get any posts up on the best nights!  Poor me, right?

Also, thanks to Rez and Cold over at EGP for having me on their podcast the other week.  I think they did a good job, well Rez did a good job of editing, we originally chatted for over two hours.  If you want to hear what I sound like, take a visit on over there.  It's a bit of good discussion.

Thanks for stopping in!


  1. Great post. I think I roughly followed it when I was starting and absolutely took advantage of lowbies being able to craft MoP items. While I slowly brought them to Max.

    One thing to note is that toons can now gain rep for Panda factions regardless of level thanks to the Stolen Insignias from Warbringers and Warscouts. I'm not a fan of farming anything, but a few friends, some laptops and some booze make for a fun evening if that's your sort of thing.

    My enchanter was banging out Sha Crystal enchants at 89 and my 86 tailor is finally making use of 4 or 5 months of Imperial Silk by making leg armors and is 8 tokens away from Royal Satchels.

    1. A good point, the only thing is it would require some farming on the isle. Still some rampup, so maybe an appendment can be added.

  2. Another thing to note is that you can get motes of harmony fishing in the darkmoon fair if you happen to like that sort of thing or really need some on a lower lvl alt. Also has a decent droprate of windwool and Pandaren ore, so can be a decent, albeit seasonal, moneymaker.

    1. Problem being, of course, you're waiting once a month for mats. As you said, seasonal, but clarifying. If people like fishing (I know I do), here you go.


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