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Gold Capped: Inscription gold-making guide

"Every" week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Basil "Euripides" Berntsen and Fox Van Allen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Check out Basil's re-reboot of Call To Auction, and email Basil with your questions, comments, or hate mail!

Have a scribe? Need gold? Look no farther. Inscription is one of the best gold-making professions in the game. You can make glyphs, Darkmoon cards, and all kinds of other odds and ends. Each of these markets has a characteristic time investment requirement and potential profit. Each realm is going to be different, but in general:
  • Darkmoon cards: Scalable time investment, massive profits
  • Glyphs: Massive time investment, low profit
  • Odds and ends: Minimal time investment, medium profit
Darkmoon cards start off simply enough: if you do your daily research, you can make a card a day. Different cards have different values, but on average, you'll make back way more than the value of the inks. You can trade cards, and the more cards you make, the better efficiency you'll have making decks. Assuming you can make a full deck for every 12 cards you produce (which is the ratio you see if you trade really well and/or produce a lot of cards), it'll cost you 120 stacks of any herb but Fool's Cap, or 75 stacks of Fool's Cap. At 40g per stack of, for example, Green Tea Leaf, that's 4800g per deck. Some decks can sell for over 20,000g.

"Going big" increases your production and decreases your waste. How does one make a lot of cards, though? Since they're tied to a daily cooldown, the options are to buy the cooldown from other scribes, or to have multiple scribes. This is why I call the time investment "scalable". You'll do perfectly well making a card a day and trading when you can, even if you only sell the single cards on the AH. If you plan to step it up and make decks, though, you'll need to either develop a network of scribes willing to sell you their daily cooldown, or make a bunch of alts into scribes.

Glyphs are a whole other beast. I've said a few times that this market isn't worth pursuing, and to some extent, this still holds true. The main reason I'd advise against trying your hand at the glyph market is that everyone else disagrees with me, and that the profit per hour in this market is purely driven by competitors' willingness to spend more time cancelling and relisting.

Glyphs are an odd commodity in this game. There are hundreds of them, and people only need to buy them once per character. There is constant demand for new characters, and it's pretty stable and inflexible. Lowering prices drastically on a glyph doesn't result in a large increase in sales, and people are willing to spend several hundred gold on something that costs under 30 to craft.

The way the glyph market works on most realms is that there are a couple of people willing to put in the long hours who will have every available glyph posted profitably, and undercut within minutes of being undercut. They all reduce the price very minimally when undercutting, and the "competition" isn't about price, it's about who can relist more frequently. This is a very expensive way to compete unless you have unlimited playtime and have already done every other profitable action you can take. Every hour I waste relisting glyphs is an hour I can't spend managing the rest of my businesses or trying to catch up on my valor cap.

Of course, since people only see a gold loss when they lose gold they had in their hand rather than when they lose gold they could have had in their hand, this type of camping and undercutting is rampant across every realm I've heard of. One fallacy I hear a lot is that people believe that if they do it for long enough, they'll push people out of the market by making it unprofitable. Well that is certainly possible, but anyone can make glyphs unprofitable any time they want by simply undercutting heavily and crafting (and milling) a lot.

I like angry letters, so when I have time to troll my esteemed competitors, I'll go and post a "glyph wall" of 3 of each glyph for triple the materials cost. This is just expensive enough that it's not worth them buying me out, and cuts the high end of the market (the 300g glyphs that cost 15g to make) out from under them. This can be fun, not unlike popping bubble wrap. I still get undercut within an hour, but since this doesn't really drive demand up that much, I don't end up selling anything more than I would have at the high prices. That's generally when they'll mail me letting me know this.

In the end, though, I can't spend all day trolling -- they just wait for me to have better things to do and then go back to their old ways. If you're going to disregard my advice and try to get into the glyph market, the best advice I have for you is to make sure you have the most efficient possible setup, and undercut really frequently.

Odds and ends are where I go second, after selling the one Darkmoon card per day that I make. The big sellers here are the BoE shoulder enchants, but I also sell a lot of Runescrolls of Fortitude, and a couple of kites. You can use your Scrolls of Wisdom to make 476 off-hands, but they're generally worth more as single Darkmoon cards. Making Spirits of Harmony into the blue staves might be worth it, but they don't sell on my realm.

The shoulder enchants come in blue and epic versions. They're both very popular, but remember that some sell more than others. In my experience (and this holds true across both the blue and epic quality inscriptions), for every Ox inscription you sell to a tank, you'll sell:
  • 3 Tiger Claw inscriptions to a strength DPS
  • 3 Tiger Fang inscriptions to an agility DPS
  • 5-6 Crane Wing inscriptions to caster DPS and healers
For something that takes so little space on the page, this is easily one of the best money makers, in terms of gold per hour.

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 fox@wowinsider.com and basil@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped, Mists of Pandaria

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