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postheadericon The Elite Guide Continued R.O.I

Measuring your turnover, and return on investment – this involves more maths

First consider your turnover,

How much money did you decide was your working capital.
Lets assume 100 gold as it makes the sums nice and easy.

If you keep this cash separate (perhaps you put it into your Alliance and Horde guild banks and do not touch it so you can keep tabs on the amount.

Every  week, check your cash. If at the end of week one you have 180 cash then your return on investment is 80% per week. Simple
However, you then need to factor that in the second week your working capital is 180 gold, so to achieve the 80% growth again you need to finish week two with 324 gold.

At first this will just be a case of buying “more” of each item from your existing portfolio. However, soon you will be restricted by the market. You will run out of stock to buy, and your own actions will start to affect the price of the stock – causing it to rise as you increase demand.

After a few weeks you will need to drop some items from your portfolio and take some higher value items to replace them. But to keep the 80% R.O.I you need to make sure these items are as profitable as the original items, and you can “turn them over” as often

Eventually you will “peak” and be buying and selling the top level items. This may well take some time – but it will happen.

So your R.O.I will be based purely on your ability to spot individual bargains. This is where the data you have collected and populated your “material master” with is invaluable. With this you will be able to read the market.
You will then be constrained by something other than your cash….Your storage space.

If you followed our tips you have an Alliance guild,  Horde Guild, decent bags, and all ten toon’s active with bag space available. But if you are going to make tens of thousands of gold, you will still need to use this effectively.

Towards the end of our record attempt, storage space was the one constraint we had. We had two guilds all with maximum guild tabs available.
Between all the members over 160 normal bank “accounts” (16 members with all ten ‘toons each active)
And we still only just had enough.

Advanced Gold Guide Banner 

Measuring inventory costs

We started to measure our turnover in terms of bank slots. So here’s some more maths
Say we have 100 slots (you will have far more – but again 100 is easier)
Single market strategy means holding stock , waiting for the market to rise. However, every day that the stock is held is costing us profit potential. It is preventing us from buying other stock as we would have no-where to store it.

Suppose we spend 10,000g to fill these slots  -  an average of 100g per slot – assuming we decide we want 80% R.O.I per week.

Altogether we have 100,000g (but have no room to put anything else we might want to buy)

To get 80% ROI on our total working capital not just our invested capital per week we need to turn each storage slot over 8 times a week at 100% profit per time. OR accept that we simply cannot invest all our gold.

Each slot needs to generate 800g this week. Almost impossible.

So, every time you buy and store items,  run this calculation through.
What fraction of a week will I need to store this item, and what profit will it offer at the end ?

You are looking for 100g in 1/8th of a week. You are very unlikely to achieve this, but the closer you get (to whatever your desired R.O.I is the better.

This is where you need to be very careful what you buy. Good long term investments have to be very good.

Lower percentage short term investments will bring you more profit – but require a lot of work on your part rushing to and from the auction houses across and possibly across the factions.
A cross market approach will remove most of the storage bottleneck problem, the items will be in transit for minutes, mostly in a characters backpacks. Don’t do cross market trading unless you can make a profit straight away.  Cross market trading is profitable when it is straight to market.

A quick note : Rarely during our record attempt  did we run out of profitable “stock” to buy.

On a full server with literally thousands of level 80 characters it is unlikely to happen. But if it does get tight don’t buy rubbish just to “keep it moving” Impatience will cost you money.

postheadericon Warcraft Advanced Gold Guide – Profit Profiles

Earlier we discussed normalizing the prices of items across two markets. It is worth mentioning now that you can index or normalize the price in a single market place. There are many ways to do this, but for example  – take three  separate median asking price for an item over a period of say a week. You will then have three “median” prices. Average these to find a “mean mean” and give that figure the index of 1.0.

Every other price can then be rated as a ratio of this 1.0. Look back at the last chapter for more information on this.

Price indexing can, at first glance seem a waste of time. It comes into it’s own when you are comparing the profit profile of several different items. It allows you to graph item that are of a very different price on the same scale and just compare how profitable they are as a percentage.

Is Swifthistle more profitable as a percentage than a Titansteel Destroyer or would Netherweave be a better investment, Using indexing you can compare these side by side and get a true comparison

But something is missing. Profit is measured OVER TIME.
Swifthistle might sell for you at 30 stacks a day at the auction house, 2 gold a stack. 60 gold turnover. If you bought for 1 gold a stack. Discounting the Auction cut for now, you have made 100% profit PER DAY.

Now the Titansteel destroyer might be bought (or made) at a cost to you of 800 gold, you put it on the market at 1200 gold – but it takes 4 days to sell.
In this example  – again discounting the auction house cut you have made a 33% profit over 4 days – or an un-compounded 8.25% per day.
Now this is where you need to make a couple of decisions regarding your trading. Are you a busy day trader – or a long term magnate.

If you play regularly, and quite like to dabble in the market every time you play, there is often more profit in buying lots of lower value items – and selling them on quickly. If you log onto Warcraft only a couple of times a week “go long” with higher value items.
If you choose the quick route, but miss a few days every week, you will find that you are making less money than someone who only logs on now and then and trades slowly.

Why waste your time ? There is a subtle choice between turnover and profit – decide what kind of investor you are, and make sure your portfolio reflects that choice.

While we are on the subject, we have already looked at the issues of copllecting your sales data through an add-on like Auctioneer. The problem being.

Auctioneer does not collect sales data!

That’s a pretty big problem. It can keep a record of what your characters sold items for, but for the rest of the servers population (that being 99.997% of the data then) it only collects the ASKING price, and that can be nothing like the selling price. On some servers almost 50% of auctions don’t sell at all.

Secondly it does not take seasonality or trends into account (at least not very well)

And thirdly it is skewed by rogue prices.

As we mentioned before the practice of putting a low level item, like a piece of copper ore, on for say 1000 gold pieces happens. Annoyingly it happens quite a bit. This skews the averages a lot.

arcraft Auctioneer Addon

Which brings us nicely to how YOU get around these issues. Well you filter them out. We use what is known as a “pareto” or “80-20” rule. We take our averages from the middle 80% of all prices offered.

So if ten prices were showing for an item  say 1, 3, 5, 5, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, and 4000 we would not put the “1” or the “4000” into the equation.  The 4000 is clearly a rogue price. The 1 probably isn’t , but not including it does not slant the average much.  The difference is one will give you an average price per item of 405.3 gold. The other 5.5 gold. One is hopelessly wrong the other nearly right.

Back to an old point, Indexing also lets you compare prices between factions and across servers – allows you to filter out rogue data, takes seasonality into account and ensures you yourself keep an eye on your portfolio. Auctioneer -  while a very useful tool, does not do this.

postheadericon Warcraft Advanced Gold Guide – Single Market Approach I

Unless you track the prices of an item over time, you cannot really tell if you are getting a bargain or not.

So it’s a five stage process.

  •   Decide which items have the largest price variance
  •   Decide which subset of these items are within your effective price range
  •   Track these items over a period of time to establish trends
  •   When confident that the price is low – buy a mix of items (mix to minimize risk)
  •   Store in the most effective manner possible.
  •   When the price is high – sell

Most of that is common sense. However, actually achieving this in practice can take a long time
If you don’t approach the tasks in the right way and with the right tools.

An easy (but slightly inaccurate) way of doing this is to check each item from your portfolio on your server every day. List them in price order (“Auctioneer” allows you to do this)  then record the highest asking price, and the lowest asking price, taking a mean average of the two as that days figure.

Do this over a period of time. A bare minimum of 8 readings. (include weekends) to check the variance.
However, there is more to it than this. You see Warcraft prices are also very seasonal.
The seasons Warcraft follow do not correspond to “real “seasons.
Here are a list of Warcraft “seasonal” factors

  • Weekends
  • School holidays
  • Real Winter
  • Warcraft holiday seasons
  • Major patch time (leading up to and immediately after)
  • Expansions (leading up to and immediately after)


Some might quibble at the word “seasonal” in this context, but this phrase allows us to relate these events to the real world, because our responses need to be the same as the real world.

Our subset of items is the list of items that you can afford to speculate in. As mentioned before the Material Master has over 150 items. Unless you have a remarkable memory, and a lot of time on your hands, you are not going to master the seasonal subtleties of all these items. Nor should you.

Early on in your game some are going to be far too high a value for you.


Even if you can afford a couple of pieces of Titansteel at level 22. You really shouldn’t. Don’t over-reach yourself. Look at the list in the previous chapter and the tips on how to specialize in a portfolio.

Likewise when you are level 80 and have a couple of thousand gold, then dabbling in Ruined Leather Scraps is probably a waste of time .

We will come to “Return on Investment” later. Your time is a major investment, we don’t want you to waste it.

Pick a subset of items appropriate to your level (oh and include the appropriate cloth items)
Tracking items over time.
With a single market approach tracking the average cost over time is vital.
Have a look at this graph for Felweed prices over a two week period.


Warcraft Price Over Time

Above is a graph showing the price of 20 Felweed, from Terrokar in February /March 2010.

The time period shown on this graph range here is 28 days

The issue you can see with a single market approach is that, although Felweed has a decent price variation, you would really need to buy, then hold on to your stock for several days before reselling. This means you need to store it, and profit cannot be made straight away. A cross market approach, properly researched, gives you profit much more quickly



In general, school and work holidays in the real world seem to trigger a “feeding frenzy” .. but not straight away. A few other people seem to sense the tide, and look to offload straight away (within 6 hours of getting home from school or work). These characters have been getting a nice stash of stock together, they are vaguely aware that it’s now a good time to sell..then they generally mess the whole process up by flooding the market, and pricing too high at first..then too low.

Why does this happen?

This seemed odd to us, until we realized that it was caused by FEAR!

People understood the seasonality, had managed to gather loads of stock, went to the Auction House on the day the “real” holiday started, saw a couple of others doing the same, and panicked.

Within that first couple of hours, you might even be able to get items CHEAPER than they have been all along. But a weekend is longer than that. If you have the gold – and the confidence BUY
Judge the best time to re-market your new items – probably late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
Look to use the 12 hour auction option (it is cheaper if it fails)

Overall we wouldn’t try and “buy out” the market until you have a feel for it. Other guides prompt you to do this, our evidence suggests it should only be done when you are supremely confident, but it is worth bearing in mind now and again.

Patch 3.4 seemed to shake things up a bit. We will keep this guide updated for Gold consortium members and try and predict the effect that upcoming major patches and updates may bring.

For now, it is key to understand that markets are primarily driven by emotion. In the real world AND in Warcraft. Whether that emotion is greed, fear or apathy, the prices charged and accepted are, to a larger degree than most would realize, a product of how people feel. You want an example ?

Imagine Gromdor has just been farming for Titanium ore – he has managed to get 12 pieces. He is only 75 gold short of the 5000 he really wants for his Epic training. He wants to train NOW.  He looks on the auction house and sees Titanium is 9 gold per ore – but he wants 80 REALLY quick.

What’s the betting he puts all 12 on for 75 gold – because he is simply impatient ? It’s that certain I wouldn’t even give odds. You buy it. You are sensible and patient  – you make (after AH cut) almost 30 for just stepping to the post box and reselling.

postheadericon Warcraft Advanced Gold Guide – Starting Portfolio

What Items should you concentrate on when starting out?

    We STRONGLY recommend you concentrate on a subset of items that you are familiar with. The Materials Guide lists over 150 items. It covers just about every material required to craft in the game.

    We recommend you specialist. Make a list of a minimum of 12 items – a maximum of around 25 and make these items your "Portfolio". These are the items you will specialist in.
Over time you will instinctively know what is a good price – and what is a bad price on these. But for now – using the material master to help you, updating the data on more than 25 items can be quite time consuming, and will    not give you a good enough return on your time spent.

    Which items should you specialist in ?

    Cloth – all cloth. Cloth of some type is used by everyone at every level, it levels First Aid, it is a "hand in" for reputation quests (in huge quantities in some cases), it makes bandages, it is the staple resource for tailoring.

Linen Cloth

Linen Cloth

Wool Cloth

Wool Cloth

Silk Cloth

Silk Cloth



Mageweave Cloth

Mageweave Cloth

Frostweave Cloth

Frostweave Cloth

It’s your choice, but we recommend taking the items on the list above appropriate to your level and adding them to your portfolio (if you are just starting in the game – and have character below level 20 stick to Linen and Wool – move up as you feel comfortable)


Copper Bar


Copper Bar

Tin Bar

Tin Bar
The ore’s for copper and tin are what the bar’s are made from in a 1 for 1 smelting process. The prices for these vary wildly. On one server they can be 3 silver per ore one week (60 silver a stack) then up to 30 silver per ore the next (600 silver – 6 GOLD a stack)
        These are great items for low level characters to start a portfolio with – particularly on a single market strategy.






hese are the low level herbalism items. Used by Alchemists and Inscribers. Again very variable rates at AH. There are other low level herbs – but these two tend to sell the best.

Light Leather


Light Leather

Medium Leather

Medium Leather

The low level skinning items. There are "Ruined Leather Scraps" however these rely on the buyer having the skill to convert them. By all means have these as well, but the market for your sales may well be lower


      Finally – Whatever you gather…

        Now you did choose at LEAST one gathering profession didn’t you?

We recommend 2 gathering professions – but one is a bare minimum. If your first character or "main" does not gather at all (except cloth as we discussed above) you have lost a very major value stream. Keeping up with the materials you need to advance 2 crafting professions will take an age and add considerably to your levelling time.

        It’s not the end of the world – but you will make so much more money during your normal playing time (levelling, PvP or Instance runs) if you gather while you play.


With your gathering profession/s you should have 10 – 12 starter items in your portfolio.

If you are new to the game, stick to the lower level cloth, leather, herbs and ores. We suggest  sticking with the cloth appropriate to your level all the way through the game.

Note. Every 5 or 10 levels that you progress..or every time you double the gold in your capital, consider moving your portfolio on. Dropping some low level items and replacing with some higher level ones from    the material master

Of course, by dropping we mean "Selling for the best price to clear your stock space"..but you know what we mean.

Now if you become familiar with other items during the course of a game, and you see an absolute bargain outside your normal field of expertise. By all means snap it up. Do your research first (check it’s not about to get nerfed by a patch.

Google the "Level 69 Riding Crop" scandal if you want to see an example of a patch nerf that cost unprepared players a fortune. Blizzard implemented a patch which affected an item that wasn’t usable before level 69 …. would become unusable again at Level 70.

This caught a lot of people out – and the item became pretty valueless – but not before a lot of crafters who had seen the pre-patch notes had unloaded there stock in a largely unsuspecting auction house.

        So if you are confident, and happy (and can afford it) feel free to go outside your portfolio for an obvious bargain – but check first!

postheadericon Warcraft Advanced Gold Guide – Your Current Status

There is no other way to put this. "If you don’t understand how the economy on your server works, you will not make money on it – the more you understand the more money you will make"
    So here is a tick list of what you need to know, easy stuff first.

  • What can I farm myself at my level ? 
  • Important note. Selling materials for other people’s professions is probably THE most solid way of making money., and anyone can farm for cloth for tailoring. We are not fans of going out farming for farmings sake, but if you have a couple of gathering professions, you will always have items to gather during your normal every day leveling and questing 
  • Where is the best place to farm appropriate to my skills and level ? 
  • How much working capital do I have to start ? 
  •   Ok, not all your gold should be thought of as "working capital", but if you have a decent amount of gold  – enough say to buy 4 or 5 new level appropriate "stacks" from the AH – or more – then MOST of it should be working capital.
            Think in terms of putting aside enough for 5 BIG repairs of equipment  – replenish ammo a couple of times and gold to buy enough potions/bandages to last a day or two of normal leveling/PvP or instances.

             The rest of your money is your investment. You could start with as little as 10g. Though the more you have, the quicker you will make it. 

  • What sort of time investment am I prepared to make? If you only log on a couple of times a week then you will be looking to trade on single market longer term investments. If you are playing WoW every day, then you will probably make more gold hitting lots of smaller margin short term investments.


Do I have the manpower?

Did you follow the guide and get a character to your own and a neutral Auction House? 
Do you have a second account or a guild friend to “go into business” with?

Yes – great – All options are open to you.

No – No problem,

It rules out cross market trading for now, but until you are confident – and     have a buddy with a character in the opposing faction you can trust, then it’s best to leave it for     now.

    Do I have any relevant professions other than harvesting?

    The most relevant profession for gold making without grinding is Enchanting, (or more specifically disenchanting), Alchemy is next because the key items you make are consumable – and therefore need replenishment often.

    Blacksmithing might be next. Warriors are VERY gear dependent, and to level quickly have to change gear more often than other classes – and Blacksmith’s make some of the best warrior gear.

Advanced Gold Guide Banner

    However – at Level 75 or better the best for all classes is often from instances. Leatherwork, Tailoring, Jewelcraft and Inscription (in roughly that order) Though jewelcraft really comes into it’s own at high levels.


While it is very possible to make money without farming (once you have a decent starting capital) we have included farming because it will just happen naturally. If you are a skinner, miner of herbalist then it stands to reason you should just take the items presented to you during the normal course of play. This being the case, you need to know where the places are that are right for your level to farm.

However, we re-iterate. Once you have a starting capital (or STAKE) then if you wish, you can stop farming all together. We don’t advise it, but it is a real option.

postheadericon Warcraft Advanced Gold Guide – Server Dynamics 4

These are ways to spend small – and sometimes massive – amounts of gold in a permanent way (i.e the gold is not just transferred to a different “real” character, it is removed from circulation from the server altogether.

    Here is a list of a few “Gold sinks”

    Soulbound Gear.  – Warcraft is a game primarily about “improvement”, and much of this improvement comes through upgrading your gear. However, as soon as you put on your “Bind on equip” Champion’s Helmet of the Upturned is worth nothing to any other player. When you upgrade you will get the bare minimum value from an NPC merchant. So you buy an item for 50g from the Auction house..equip it, and the most it’s worth now is 1G 20S to an NPC vendor. The server has reclaimed 48G 80S

    Auction House Cut. – When you auction something there is a levy placed.

  •     15% of the merchant sale value in faction houses.
  •     75% of the merchant sale value in neutral houses.

    However, the merchant sale value is often far less than you will get AND you get this refunded if the product sells. The merchant sale value for Knothide Leather is 12 silver 50 copper, however the
    average auction house price for a successful sale is 66 silver 42 copper.  The percentage you pay is based on what an NPC would give you NOT the price you are likely to get at AH.

    WARNING – Some items (Saronite for example) have decent sales value to NPC’s..and subsequently very high levy’s. We have seen people put Auction’s on for less than they could    get just straight selling to an NPC..risking most of the value in levy if the item doesn’t sell and….

    Paying the House cut for a successful auction.

    Yes, if you are successful then the House will give you back the levy. but then a cut of the sale price. Your sale price.

  •   5% at a faction house
  •   15% at a neutral house



Mounts and vanity items

    This is where the server takes Gold off you in great big chunks. Epic Flying Mount training is 5000g. That’s a LOT of gold, and that gold goes straight to the server and is “lost” to the economy. Every mount, vanity item, talent respec and paid flight costs gold. And that gold is lost to the server.

    Ok so money is made, and money is “Lost”.

So why are we telling you this ?

Because this ebb and flow is where you make the money.  Players are always saving and spending.
Gold is always moving – and in very large amounts. This means :

  There is waste (and where there is waste – there is opportunity)

  There are changes (and where there are changes there is opportunity)

And finally…..

  There is IGNORANCE ( guessed it)..where there is ignorance,       there is opportunity

A volatile and flowing market is a mass of opportunity. A stagnant market offers none.

You generate wealth.

    Yes you (well your character) generates wealth. Just by doing what you do, you make gold. Every kill makes gold, every loot, every lovely find of a green (or sometimes blue) item adds the potential for a tidy sum of gold.
    You are a value stream. Here’s our point “Every player is a value stream, but only a tiny fraction understand the value they are creating” So…

You can use other people’s time to MAKE GOLD FOR YOU!

    There are three player-controlled markets in Warcraft –  Alliance, Horde and Neutral. They are never in balance – and the balance from faction to faction, item to item changes all of the time

    That is to say. On all servers there is an imbalance between the activity in the Auction Houses between the three markets. The prices are different on almost every item all of the time

    Even within one faction, the prices vary wildly over time. Friday markets are very different from Sunday night Monday Morning markets. High level instance loot rarely turns up in any quantity midday Wednesday afternoon during the working week..but at 2:00 am Saturday or Sunday morning there is often a lot more, and some competition in the market will be driving the prices down !

    During holiday times (especially in the Winter) The markets pick up hugely. People want to play  – they may  not however want to grind for materials – often characters will pay over the odds just to get the equipment or materials they need to level up a profession or go raiding with.

     In an ideal world you would be the supplier of these items. Making a nice stack of gold in the process. To do this you would have to have prepared well in advance, and have the stock of items ready to go to market.

So to sum up – pick a server with the game-play style you like. Check out a couple of servers with both Alliance and Horde characters, get to the auction house and see how busy it is. Make a note of how much a few items cost at each factions auction house and compare. If there is a healthy trade at both auction houses, and a noticeable difference in prices – you are on to a winner.

postheadericon Why Bother Levelling Now?

With Cataclysm on the horizon you might be tempted to pack in the levelling. I know that many players in my guild are certainly having some summer “downtime” and looking forward to the update and patch 4.0 before they kick off again, but there are reasons to get levelling – and get some gold tucked away

You want to go straight to the new high end content? Better be level 80 then…

There are two schools of thought here, and maybe like me you are torn between what to do when the game comes out. New content, or levelling up a Worgen or a Goblin.

You can’t do both.

Many will want to get to max out a character or two early. To do this you will need to be level 80 when Cataclysm hits, and I seriously recommend having a draw full of gold to get you there.


Expect gold sinks to be coming at you left right and centre.

Boxshot 2

New Cataclysm Illustrious professions – Crafting up to 525 is going to cost you BIG. Note to enchanters. Remember how much your titanium rod cost you (it cost me almost 2000g) expect your rod ALONE to set you back between 4000 and 6000 gold pieces

So flying around Azeroth… cheap? – Ha ha, yeah REALLY cheap. Expect some new talent, profession level or device to allow you to fly over Azeroth. And expect that to cost three times more than your epic flying training.

Equipment – Do you buy gear? I know I shouldn’t, and when I’m going through a zone I’ve hacked through a hundred times before I trust whatever reasonable gear I happen to be wearing, but for hacking through from level 80 to 85, I’m thinking I need some serious duds. I’m going to be doing many quests for the first time. Blizzard reckon each level will be as long as 78-80 was as a minimum.

I don’t know about you, but I’m expecting certain quests to require the “new” flying ability. I’m anticipating that the best time to sell the massive 525 enchants will be in the first 3 months after the expansion hits. I want to be level 85, and have the gold to do that without grinding away and wasting time. I want to be equipped to go into the brand new instances!

Having level 80’s with pockets full of gold ready for when the chequered flag is dropped on Cataclysm’s release day is pretty much a must for me. I’m taking no chances.