The Darkmoon Faire comes to town once a month, and if you want to get one of those amazingly good darkmoon trinkets, you're going to need a fairly large pile of gold. There are a couple of ways of going about it with varying levels of cost and effort.
Interestingly, our own Fox Van Allen became a "Darkmoon Mogul" last expansion when he made his first million gold. At the time, you could simply make as many cards as you were willing to mill the ink for, and people willing to make those cards could profit in spades. There's still money to be made in this, however don't walk in with your eyes closed -- the system has changed, and there's more risk now than ever.
Getting one the hard way
Getting a deck for yourself can be expensive and simple, or cheap and complicated. You basically have two choices: hustle for cards to make your own deck, or buy a finished deck or trinket.
Hustling for cards is usually the cheapest way to get a trinket, but is certainly the most time consuming. If the words "Time is money" fall on deaf ears, then here's what you need to know:
- Each card is completely randomly crafted. Any time any scribe creates a card, they have the same chance of getting a worthless Two of Oxen as something like an Ace of Serpents.
- The reason some cards are considered worthless is that the number of, for example, crane cards produced on any server will average out to be the same as the number of oxen cards, but there are a lot more healers willing to pay for a good trinket than there are tanks. The suits from "best" to "worst" in order of average price are: Crane, Tiger, Serpent, and then Ox.
- The materials to make a card are 10 Starlight Ink and a Scroll of Wisdom, which takes three Ink of Dreams and is on a daily cooldown. If you want a nice round number that excludes leftover cards, making a deck takes about 64 stacks of Fool's Cap or 103 stacks of any other herb. The cards can often be found on the AH, sometimes for much less than the mats it takes to make one.
- During the Faire, people are constantly trading for cards in trade chat. Trading between "suits" is usually going to be multiples, depending on the value of what you're trading. Cards for the more desirable trinkets can be worth several cards of lesser "suits".
You might also be able to "tip" a scribe you find in trade to make you a card for the mats. The non-cooldown materials are 10 very expensive Starlight Ink, and most scribes make a Scroll of Wisdom each day, as it is also our glyph research. This is a straight-up gamble, though. Starlight Ink can go for 150g on the same AH where you will find Oxen cards for 500g
Lastly, remember that sometimes, a card that's expensive on your faction might be cheap on the other faction. When I was building my first deck, someone was holding out for 10k gold on the two, so I had a friend help me move a couple of twos I found on the Horde AH over to the Alliance. I used one, and sold the other on the AH for a lot more than I paid, even after the hassle of moving a card across the neutral AH.
Getting one the easy way
If card trading is too time consuming for you, you could simply buy a deck or a trinket. Decks vary in price, but on most servers, you're looking at between 15k and 40k. The decks start a quest which you can only turn in for a trinket during the Darkmoon Faire, on Darkmoon island. This means that buying a equipable trinket after the Faire might cost more than it did during. On top of that, one of the decks can be turned into either a strength or agility trinket at the time you turn in the quest -- the untraded deck is potentially valuable to more people until it's traded in.
If it's between Faires and you don't want to have to pay that premium, remember that the prices for these decks are going nowhere but down. By the time the next Faire comes around, there'll have been that many more days for scribes to create Scrolls of Wisdom and stockpile or mill herbs. Also, if you're willing to wait a few weeks, you can also sometimes get a really good deal on an untraded deck between Faires.
What about the supply side? What if you have a scribe and you want to get in on this market? First off, as soon as the serious scribes saw the data-mined cooldown on this, they replaced all their alchemists with scribes. I know people with more than 10. That's 10 scrolls per day, assuming they can mill or buy enough ink. And let me assure you, that's no easy feat.
The supply for cards is limited by this cooldown, but is also limited by the crazy amount of ink it takes. Now that we can trade Ink of Dreams in for Starlight Ink, the ratios for milling a stack of herbs is 1 Starlight Ink per stack of everything except Fool's Cap, which is about 1.6 Starlights per stack. Earlier I said that a deck made of 10 cards takes 103 stacks of most herbs (including the 3 Ink of Dreams needed for the research), or about 64 stacks of Fool's Cap. This was calculated by assuming that there were no leftover cards. Of course, you're not likely to make 10 cards and be lucky enough to have them make a deck. In fact, unless you make trades, it's going to take you 52 cards to make your first deck, on average.
Early last expansion, I posted a table explaining how many cards you'll need to make to craft your first, second, third (etc) deck:
|Finished Decks||Average Cards Created||% of Cards Used||New Cards Made for This Deck|
This does not assume you're trading. Every time you trade to fill a hole in your inventory, you'll be able to increase the efficiency of the system and produce more decks for the same cards. The more trading you do, the more likely you are to be able to average 12 cards crafted per deck. When it comes to trading, all the advice I gave to buyers in the first part of this guide applies to scribes too. Look for underpriced singles and hustle for trades in trade chat.
What are you giving up?
Scrolls of Wisdom are not only used for Darkmoon cards. They're also used to craft BoE caster off-hands and BoA staffs. The staffs are nice entry level epics that can be used by any caster on your account, but can not be sold to another player. The caster off-hands sell fairly well on the AH, so depending on the prices for decks and cards on your realm, you might be better off using a few cooldown scrolls on these than on Darkmoon cards.
Maximize your profits with advice from Gold Capped. Want to know the very best ways to earn 10,000 gold? Top gold making strategies for auctioneers? How about how to reach 1 million gold -- or how one player got there and then gave it all away? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.