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Insider Trader: Inscription and glyphs in Cataclysm

Insider Trader is a column about professions, written by Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, who also writes Gold Capped. If you're looking for general auction house advice, you'll find it in Gold Capped; Insider Trader focuses on specific trade skills.

Glyphs and inscription are getting a serious overhaul in Cataclysm. I read an excellent write-up of the new system on my friend Kraklin's blog and realized that I haven't yet posted an Insider Trader on the new system! This will have an impact on people who make their money with inscription, as well as be a nice quality-of-life change for people who find themselves changing their spec and glyphs a lot.

As soon as the pre-expansion patch 4.0.1 launches, we're no longer going to have to buy glyphs more than once per character. Once you learn a glyph, you will always see it in your spellbook and will be able to switch between your known glyphs with a Dust of Disappearance, made by scribes from the same ink used to craft glyphs. While this won't mean much if you tend to stick with a single set of glyphs, if you change them around a lot, you will find it easier to manage and less expensive. On the live servers, every time you make the change, you often end up paying enormous markups on glyphs -- there can be sporadic supply due to the massive number of auctions that need watching if someone is selling glyphs. After 4.0.1, assuming we know the glyph already, we'll just have to buy a single dust, and every scribe in the auction house will be competing for that business.

Your glyph tab is going to look a little different too. We'll be able to learn and use three types of glyphs: minor, major and prime.
  • Prime glyphs are going to be the new major glyphs; however, since our major glyphs currently seem split between min-maxing and stuff that doesn't change our raw numbers, Blizzard decided to put all the min-max type stuff into the prime category. Anything that directly makes you better at your job (more crit on an attack, added healing efficiency, defensive cooldown reduction, etc.) will probably be a prime glyph.
  • Major glyphs will be everything that raiders typically pass up in favor of min-max glyphs now. This is where they're going to put stuff that can make you better at your job but isn't the blindingly obvious best and only choice. There is supposed to be room for personal preference in this tier.
  • Minor glyphs will be similar to what they are now -- mostly cosmetic and fun, some minor utility, but it'll be rare.
In addition, Blizzard is completely rewriting many glyphs to fit with the new talents, spells and abilities we'll be getting in Cataclysm. There's a great deal of it datamined already, but since we're still seeing changes on a regular basis, I'm not going to talk too much about the specific glyphs. Some glyphs are going away, and a lot of them are being completely rewritten.

The glyph market

How does this affect the glyph market? Obviously, everything's conjecture at this point. In fact, that's the hardest part about writing about the virtual economy: When there's a massive change like what we're expecting in Cataclysm, almost everything in the economy is going to be a toss-up. This is the one part of the game that we, as players, are mostly responsible for shaping.

The biggest shift is happening to one of the components of glyph demand on the live servers: people who reglyph. Whether it's because they're so hardcore that they min-max based on the content they're doing, or just because they bought sub-optimal glyphs that are being replaced, people change glyphs, and it's a significant part of the glyph business. This will change in Cataclysm. This demand will now be for dust, and you can't gain a competitive advantage with a one product market by having the best addons. This is a win for the game designers, who I suspect were never happy with the way the glyph market forced people to use addons to have a chance to compete.

Before all you glyph hawkers start dropping your profession for engineering, though, remember that there's a huge amount of business that comes from people buying glyphs for the first time on a character. Lots of people roll alts, and these alts usually get glyphs. The glyph market will be far from dead in Cataclysm. It will simply become one of those markets that caters to new characters only. In a way, it will be similar to the bag market: Netherweave Bags sell as well as they do because of all the new characters who need them. In addition, there should be a surge of demand for glyphs when 4.0.1 drops as people buy up all the glyphs for all the characters they plan on playing.

Of course, I imagine that there will be new cataclysmic versions of all the other revenue sources that scribes currently enjoy: trinkets like the Darkmoon Card: Greatness, off-hands like Faces of Doom and Iron-Bound Tome, as well as, of course, weapon and armor vellum.

Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling subculture of professional craftsmen and auctioneers, examining the profitable, the unprofitable and everything in between.

Filed under: Economy, Insider Trader (Professions), Cataclysm

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