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Gold Capped: Tracking the most frequently bought and sold items

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or constructing a multi-million dollar video wall for his benefit.

One of my favorite topics here on Gold Capped is World of Warcraft's problem with inflation. If affects just about everyone in a very negative way, regardless of whether they're an Auction House maven or a casual player. Inflation makes any gold your character is holding worth less and less by the second, making work you do now far less valuable than work you do later. It even affects the way developers approach the economy, from the amount of gold you get for finishing a daily to the creation of new gold sinks.

By most anecdotal measures, in-game inflation is wildly out of control. And that's one of my problems as WoW Insider's other market follower; the only evidence of inflation we have is ancedotal. There's no real solid way for us to measure inflation in the game and understand what's working to control it and what's not.

The question got my mental gears turning. In the real world, inflation is measured using something called the Consumer Price Index. Creating an in-game version of the CPI intrigues me, but to figure out the best way to construct it, we need to first figure out the answer to another difficult question: What do people buy the most of in-game?

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

The Fastest Way to 10,000 Gold: The Fox Van Allen counterpoint

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Basil, you ignor... Kidding.

Last week, I found out that my Auction House teammate Basil Berntsen was writing an article for WoW Insider titled "The fastest way to make 10,000 gold." Before I even read the first word of the column, my first instinct was that it was a great idea for a column. My second instinct: I'll bet my idea of the fastest way to getting 10,000 gold is different than Basil's idea of what's fastest.

To be sure, Basil has some good ideas. Ore shuffling. Converting herbs to ink. But I've got my own ideas as to the fastest way to earn money.

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Filed under: Gold Capped

Profiting off the Darkmoon Faire

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first born to him.

Hey everyone, great news! The Darkmoon Faire is back in town! From now until Saturday, Jan. 7, you can play some games, eat some carnival food -- and oh yeah, make a ton of money off it.

Usually when new content is released, it's only the level 85 characters who can make money hand over fist. But the coolest thing about the Darkmoon Faire is that you don't need to be a level 85 character to participate or even profit off it. A level 20 character can have just as much fun at, get just as much benefit, and even make as much money as a level 85. It just takes the right amount of knowledge.

And, oh yeah, it also takes a Darkmoon Adventurer's Guide. You're carrying one of those on you at all times, right? Right? Well, according to Wowhead, most of you sub-level 85 players aren't. And that's a gigantic missed opportunity for a lot of money -- thousands upon thousands of gold. The kind of money that's just unheard of at lower levels.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: The art of negotiating for luxury goods

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

As someone who greatly enjoys getting presents, I love Christmas. But the truth is that I love the day after Christmas just as much. On Dec. 26, all the stores know you're loaded up with cash and gift cards from your relatives. It's the one day of the year where I get to shop for luxuries as if they're everyday purchases.

The urge is there in World of Warcraft, too. I've worked so hard all year long to make money. You have too. But you can't just sit on those millions forever. Money in WoW is a tool -- it's pointless if you don't spend at least a little bit (or, in the case of today's column, spend a lot of it just to prove you can). I'm not just talking Mechano-hogs and Vials of the Sands here, expensive though those purchases may be. I'm talking about the true World of Warcraft luxuries -- your Magic Rooster Eggs and Swift Spectral Tigers, things only a true Auction House maven will ever own.

When an item is being sold in absolute minimal quantity, it's simply impossible for markets to do what they do best. You can't get the opinions of hundreds of sellers, cross-matched against the opinions of hundreds of buyers, to get one reliable, stable market price. You get the opinion of one seller (if you're lucky) cross-matched against your own senses. If you think this is a simple market to play in, you're wrong. It's the elite level, like a game of Jeopardy! where all three contestants are Watson supercomputers. And because it's the elite level, tactics can get (and are almost expected to get) real dirty, real fast.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: A tailoring leveling guide

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Here at WoW Insider, we've been on a beginners' class guide kick. But after taking the time to put together my shadow priest leveling guide (and after reading the warlock leveling guide written by my less talented coworker), I realized that we didn't have any kind of leveling guides for professions. Time to fix that! After all, you need professions to make money.

But first, the most important question: What professions should your character choose? The best answer is always going to be "whatever appeals to you most" -- but if you're a magic-using, cloth-wearing class, I'd recommend you at least take a look at tailoring. By leveling it, you get access to Lightweave Embroidery, one of the best level 85 buffs in the game for casters.

Of course, you can level tailoring on any character, and a lot of the craftables you make can be sold at a profit. But if that character can't use the buffs from the profession, you're missing one the key benefits to max leveling a profession.

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Filed under: Economy, Cataclysm, Gold Capped

The post-patch 4.3 rare gem market

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Some things in life never change. Heart will always be the best band of all time. Tyler will always be dangerously underweight. And gem prices will always spike after a new content patch, often by 100% or more.

The best way to profit off of (relatively) short-lived price increases is to stockpile ahead of time. While it's clearly too late for that, there are still plenty of opportunities to profit off the rare gem market before demand dies down. It's not too late.

Regardless of whether or not you're a jewelcrafter, you've probably noticed that the market is going crazy. The red gems everyone wants are scarce enough to result in doubled (or even tripled) prices. And because people aren't gemming red because of the cost, more folks are buying orange, purple, and to some extent even blue, green, and yellow gems. Why? Socket bonuses are pretty attractive, and if you're expecting to have a piece of gear for only a week or two, why spend 300 gold, especially when you can get a decent boost out of a gem that costs a tenth of that?

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: The future of Chaos Orbs

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

When patch 4.3 first launched, the market price for Chaos Orbs on my server was about 400 gold. It didn't take long for the price to fall, though -- as of Dec. 4, the average market price is about 56 gold. Frankly, that's much lower than I'd have expected them to get so soon.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not complaining. Quite the opposite: I'm excited. That's because low-priced Chaos Orbs are a tremendous opportunity out there for crafters of just about all stripes.

The current supply

Do you have a large supply of Chaos Orbs sitting in your bags? You're not alone.

As things currently stand, most Auction Houses seem to have a surplus of Chaos Orbs. This shouldn't be too surprising. We've known for quite some time that Chaos Orbs would be going BoE in patch 4.3. A lot of people who didn't have immediate profitable uses for the orbs (such as tailors) saved them up. And now that they can sell the things, they're trying to do just that.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

New craftables and valor BoEs for patch 4.3

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him.

With every new patch comes new opportunity. And when patch 4.3 goes live today, there will be plenty of opportunity in the form of selling new i397 gear.

But what's the right route to maximizing your profits? Tailoring snazzy new pants for the fashionable mage? Sewing wristpieces for all those boomkin who are really into leather? Or maybe you're going to trade comfort for fashion and have your blacksmith hammer out a pair of Truegold pants?

Let's take a look at all your options, both crafted and BoE.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: Why Mysterious Fortune Cards will always be stupidly profitable

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first born to him.

Last week on Gold Capped, I discussed how to make money playing the glyph market. It's hands down the most popular way that scribes try to make money. Problem is, it's probably the hardest route to riches I know. Glyphs tend to fester on the Auction House, and most go unsold. And yet despite this, no single profession has made me more money over my WoW lifetime than inscription has.

Confused? Don't be -- I'm about the blow the lid clear off the most profitable aspect of inscription: Mysterious Fortune Cards. Yes, seriously. They're still making people boatloads of money.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

How to make money playing the glyph market

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first born to him.

Glyphs are probably the most common way scribes try make money. Really, it's no secret why -- every new character needs to buy three glyphs at level 25, another three at level 50, and yet three more at level 75. Demand for glyphs is almost always there -- or at least, demand for useful glyphs is almost always there.

On most servers, the glyph market on the Auction House is absolutely cutthroat. Players who are leveling inscription always have a boatload of glyphs to unload, and many are content to sell these at fire-sale prices just to be rid of them. On the other end of the market, you often have glyph salesmen constantly undercutting each other by one or two copper on a 50 gold item.

How do you compete against these people?

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Survey reveals player wealth disparity

Have you wondered what the distribution of (in-game) wealth is like in WoW? Don't worry; it's much more evenly spread than in real life. A week ago, we ran an advertisement for Xsinthis, who was conducting a survey about gold-earning habits in WoW. The results are pretty interesting.

The top 1% wealthiest players control a mere 24.25% of the game's gold. Half the people who answered the survey had at least 35,000 gold. However, the bottom 75% of players controlled a mere 14% of the game's gold. This describes a huge disparity between the top gold earners and the bottom.

This isn't really a surprise, though, when you think about gold in game. In WoW, you are perfectly capable of running out of things to buy. There comes a point where additional gold no longer serves a purpose; unlike real life, where you can always buy bigger, fancier, and more expensive things, WoW has a high-end value cap. Gold becomes a goal all on its own. If you've got 35,000 gold in your pocket and you've already bought everything you want, what would you do with still more gold?

The survey results are interesting to read and definitely worth your time. But keep in mind that that roughly 2,500 people responded. The total number of players is more than three orders of magnitude greater; be careful about what conclusions you draw.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

Gold Capped: Alchemy specializations overhauled in patch 4.3

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first born to him.

I love playing the alchemy market. It's proved profitable for me all expansion long. Part of the reason why its been so profitable is a general alchemy specialization imbalance; almost no one chooses Potion Master on my server. Why? Part of the reason is that a lot of people choose Transmutation Master. The other, more important part of the equation: Few casual players know that specializations even exist.

Come patch 4.3, though, that's about to change -- new alchemy specialization quests are being added in your capital city.

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Filed under: News items, Economy, Cataclysm, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: What we didn't learn at BlizzCon

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or by making him a festive fall cookie platter.

Honest, guys, I tried my best. I was there at BlizzCon 2011. I got up and in line at the Q&A panels, determined to ask the Blizzard development team questions about the game's economy.

Ultimately, I was foiled by a bunch of dudes who wasted our time offering shout-outs to their guild (and by my own poor planning of not getting in line two hours before the panel started). But I digress. The fact of the matter is that there's a lot of stuff wrong with the World of Warcraft economy and Auction House. Issues that need to be addressed in the next expansion to promote a fair and level playing field, something WoW has lacked ... well, something the game has lacked for years.

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Filed under: Economy, BlizzCon, Gold Capped, Mists of Pandaria

Gold Capped: The epic gem market in patch 4.3

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or by participating in your city's Fox Van Allen 5K Walk to Support Leg Tension (details coming).

We've known for quite some time that epic gems would be coming with patch 4.3. It was obvious extrapolation. It's the last major patch of this expansion, and we didn't have access to them yet. The last major question was how we'd learn the cuts, and just yesterday, we got major news on that front: Patch 4.3 is bringing new jewelcrafting vendors loaded with epic cut patterns. Each of the patterns can be bought for five Illustrious Jewelcrafter's Tokens -- yes, a work week's worth of dailies. More thrifty folks can roll the dice and buy a Tome of Burning Jewels to learn a random cut, as that method will only set you back four tokens.

Without a doubt, this new vendor will have a tremendous impact on the jewelcrafting profession -- and, with any luck, a tremendous positive impact on your in-game bank account as well.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: Making gold on a high-population, high-competition server

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or by showing up in Los Angeles next weekend to give him some IRL love.

One of the most important points to remember when reading this or any other Gold Capped article is that advice that works well for one server's economy won't necessarily work for another. I can make money all day long selling Mysterious Fortune Cards on my server, but on your server, you might find that there's just no profit to be had in selling them -- if they even sell at all.

Certainly, there are a lot of factors responsible for this. Individual sellers have individual personalities and individual strategies. But beyond this, whether or not you're playing on a high-population server has a major effect on strategy as well. On one server, there may be 10 different people regularly trying to sell Flask of the Draconic Mind. On another, there may be no sellers -- because there aren't any buyers. Server choice matters. A lot.

We'll discuss the in and outs of both the low-population server and the high-population ones, because there are so many different strategies that work on one that don't work well on another. This week, though, we'll start with the most common scenario: The seller who find himself playing on a bustling server with what seems like an infinite amount of AH competition.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

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