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Insider Trader: A disenchanted profession

Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

Back in the early days of the Azerothian economy, enchanters performed enchants with their own mats. You didn't sell anything you didn't have all the mats for, with the exception of special items such as Righteous Orbs for exclusive, high-end enchants like Crusader. When you were out of mats, you closed up shop for the day. Players laughed in your face if you asked them to provide their own mats, and anything for sale on the Auction House was overpriced to the nth degree. Enchanters developed relationships with crafters in other professions to create items that disenchanted into useful components. Players who leveled enchanting purely to disenchant items and sell the resulting reagents were frowned upon and hid their identities behind banker alts and mules.

Today, it's a disenchanter's market. Disenchanting has become a profitable "gathering" profession in and of itself. Groups expect enchanters to "shard" items on the spot during instance runs so that members can choose a more valuable shard instead of an undesirable BoP drop. Disenchanting is a whole new "profession"! Read on for Insider Trader's look at disenchanting as a money-making venture in its own right.

Disenchanting is the simplest "gathering profession" of all. You never need to set foot outside town. You collect BoE greens and blues to disenchant through your own farming and instance runs or by mailing them to yourself from other characters, as well as by buying underpriced blues and greens off the Auction House.

Becoming a disenchanter
Disenchanting makes a solid choice of profession for an alt. Training is a cinch, there are no recipes to farm or travel for, and if you're content to stick with the lucrative low-level item market, you don't need but a handful of levels under your belt. Especially if other primary professions offer attractive BoP advantages for your high-level characters, relegating enchanting to an alt parked back in town can be a profitable and convenient solution for making money off your BoEs.

If you run a lot of instances where BoP blues can go to waste without anyone around to disenchant them, you may want to pick up enchanting on your main. Enchanting also provides some nice enchanter-only ring enchants -- a worthwhile consideration for some classes.

A few things to keep in mind when creating a DEer:
  • Your ability to disenchant high-level items is linked to your enchanting level, which is in turn linked to your character level. You'll need an enchanting skill of 275 to disenchant Outland BoE greens, so you'll need be at least level 35. If you're content to DE old-world items of level 60 and below, you can get by with a skill of 225 – and even less, in many cases, since items in still lower level brackets represent one of the most profitable niches for DEing.
  • If you're making a DE twink, don't choose a Draenei. Draenei are the only race that cannot train their enchanting skill in Shattrath City due to faction concerns. (Find out why, and learn how to get to and get trained in Shattrath, in Insider Trader's Uldaman or bust!) (Edit: As of patch 2.3, you can train up to 300 in old world cities, so this is no longer an issue. Thanks, Zoltan!)
  • Disenchanting itself will provide skill points during the early levels, but you can't go all the way on DEing alone. If you're aiming for a higher skill range, read various enchanting guides to find cheap and easy enchants to level up on. If you have the entrepreneurial energy, you may want to make or buy and re-sell equipment from the Auction House to enchant, which you can re-sell at a marginally higher profit. If you have cash to spare, pick a cost-effective formula in a good skill range and simply enchant and re-enchant a single piece of gear to get the skill-ups.
  • Park yourself in the capital city of your choice (not Shattrath City – you want to be near an Auction House) ... and prepare to reap the profits!
Setting up shop
Because DEers make their money by selling enchanting reagents on the Auction House, you'll want to familiarize yourself with how the Auction House works and the process of competitive buying and selling.

There are several UI mods that will simplify your life as a DEer and seller of enchanting mats.
  • Auctioneer, the king-daddy of auction add-ons, helps you search and suggests prices for your items based on a database of other items in your server's AH.
  • Enchantrix tells you what items are disenchantable and what disenchant into.
What comes from what
So how do you figure out what will disenchant into what? The type of dust, essence, shard or crystal you get depends on the item level of the item you disenchant. Although what you get from any given item is always somewhat based on chance, there is a general method to the madness.
  • Dusts most frequently DE from green (uncommon) armor (75% chance, vs. 20% chance from uncommon weapons).
  • For essences, it's reversed – DE green weapons for the best chance of getting essences.
  • Shards come from blue (rare) items of any type, purple (epic) gear with an item level of 55 or below, and very rarely from green gear.
  • Crystals come from item-level 56+ purples, or very rarely from blues.
Other observations and general rules of thumb:
  • Disenchanting results are determined by item level, not required level (the level required to wear or use the item). You may want to load a mod that displays so-called "iLevels" so you can better judge what you'll want to DE.
  • The higher the item's level within a level range, the more dust or essences you're likely to get. (For example, a level 35 item might yield 1-2 dusts, while a level 37 item might give you 3-4.)
  • Blue items almost always provide a shard. Greens DE into shard only about 4-5% of the time.
  • Nexus and Void Crystals come from epics. The chance of getting a crystal from a blue is less than 1%.
  • Some green items are not disenchantable at all – notably, quest items, replaceable quest rewards such as Zul'Gurub armor sets, vendor-purchased BoP gear including PvP and faction reputation rewards, Twilight Trappings pieces from Silithus, enchanter-made wands and ammo.
Visit the wowwiki.com disenchanting tables for detailed percentages, quantities and iLevels for disenchanting materials.

Buying and selling
Whether you get your DE items from yourself, other characters or in the Auction House, you'll want to compare the AH sales value of each item against what you're likely to make from selling what it DEs into. (With Auctioneer and Enchantrix installed [see above], this is easy as pie.) If the item value is less than those of the expected disenchant materials, buy it and DE it!

Remember, disenchanting is a game of averages. You might get one lousy dust from an item one time but two phat essences the next. You'll make a solid profit in the long run, so don't let short-term setbacks take you by surprise.

A few tricks based on market demand:
  • Low-level dusts and essences (up to level 40) are usually used by other enchanters who are skilling up. Because they're buying in large quantities, you can sell in full stacks. Low-level shards are harder to sell, because nobody wants to skill up on more expensive materials.
  • Past level 40 or so, you'll begin running into customers who are looking to buy just enough reagents to cover an enchant they need. Singles and small stacks are often in higher demand and sell for proportionately higher prices. Lobotomy on Blizzard's EU forums suggests setting stack sizes to the amounts commonly required by individual enchants: Dream Dust: 1, 2, 5, 10; Illusion Dust: 1, 4, 6, 15; Greater Eternal Essence: 1, 2, 4, 6, 10; Large Brilliant Shard: 1, 2, 4, 6; and so on.
  • There's no deposit required for enchanting reagents in the Auction House. You can use the longest buyout period without fear of losing money if the auction expires without a purchase.
  • Because players are looking for reagents for their personal enchants, the value of individual lesser essences is often higher than a flat one-third of the greater essence they're derived from. (A greater essence breaks down into three lessers, and three lessers combine to make a greater. Same principle for large and small prismatic shards.)
Insider Trader's Lisa Poisso is a writer and editor, when she's not standing in front of the mailbox DEing endless stacks of BoE greens from non-enchanting guildies.

Filed under: Enchanting, How-tos, Guides, Making money, Insider Trader (Professions)

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