Saturday, September 04, 2010

Winning with Skinning :: Vanilla Farming Made Easy

Gotta love a huge sparkly pile of corpses... :D

Have I told you lately how much I enjoy skinning?

I feel it's often regarded as the least-appreciated gathering profession, because it hinges on you killing large amounts of mobs which, as a rule, never drop anything particularly good. However, with the improvements that Blizzard have made to Leatherworking, it's now a pretty simple way to make lots and lots of money with, in many cases, extremely little effort. This particular grind, which is my second current favourite next to the Nagrand Runs, is quick and simple and gives back a very decent return. I've even mocked up a guide for this one, using one of the new Cataclysm Instance maps. I'm sending you to what will be known in Cata as the Gordok Commons, but which I know as as Dire Maul West or the Tribute Run...

I ran this instance a great deal back during my grind to The Exalted and I said I'd never come back, but the lure of the Gordok Mastiff was really too great to resist. He's one of these lovely creature that when skinned has a chance to yield 2 Rugged Leather, and with a stack at 40g plus on the AH... we should get started!

A: First Courtyard.

Back in the day this area used to give people nightmares, but as an 80 it's a glorious opportunity to gather and nuke for maximum return. There are 26 dogs in total, spread around the edge of the green area. Depending on your class, spec and persuasion you can pick them off in packs of four or gather them with Guard Mol'dar and the Brute that sits with a pack of three dogs in the top left hand corner. The Mastiff Jawbones and Gordok Chew Toys sell for over 3g a stack of 20 too, so remember to check your bag space beforehand.

There are also dogs around the outside of this area: a patrolling Gordok Brute with 2, a Brute with 1 and another with 3, so make sure you take out these last 6 dogs before moving to the next courtyard.

B: Second Courtyard.

There are 21 dogs in this area but they're sadly not as well placed. Needless to say a methodical approach will make short work of them all. Spread around the outer ring of the courtyard are Brutes with packs of 3 dogs, with a couple of roaming patrols. In the inner courtyard there's a pack of 3 dogs top right. Make sure you pick up the Gordok Courtyard Key from the chest in the middle of the courtyard if you want to exploit the presence of Knot Thimblejack in the instance...

C: The Leatherworking Cache.

A & B on an average run take 15 minutes, that's a total of 188 mobs an hour. If, when you've killed ogres along the way you've been lucky enough to loot the Gordok Shackle Key, then you have the added chance to pick up some extra leatherworking goodies and the opportunity to loot a rare or epic pattern from the cache. Add to that 350 reputation across the entire Steamweedle Cartel for freeing Knot and this is a pretty decent bonus for your farming efforts. The downside of course is that it adds time to your farm, so I'll leave this one up to you.

I got two keys in my four sample runs, which means my actual farm time was 70 minutes and not 60. The extras however more than made up for the overrun:

At my current AH prices, this bag is worth a minimum of 500g, quite aside from the 120 Runecloth from the ogre kills and the three books that dropped, plus sales of grey items and sales from DE-ing green items. This farm of course carries the benefit of no-one else to bother you at all when you're working.

I'm in the process of compiling a list of what drops from each of the Classic Instances which I will post in the week, so you can tailor your farming experience to fit whatever's not on sale at your AH. There's never been a better time to capitalise on Vanilla Farming!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Out Here In the Fields :: TBC Farming Made Easy

The subtle act of mote extraction, Nagrand Edition.

Having told you about what I do before I go and farm, it's time to see the process in action. The skinners have been spending most of their time (on both sides of the Faction divide) in Dire Maul, and I'll be telling you why it's such a great place to farm over the weekend. For my miners, there's a great deal of action currently in Nagrand.

There are a phenomenal number of people levelling a trade right now. More importantly, as information slowly leaks regarding what changes we can expect to professions in Cataclysm, there's a lot of new Engineers on the block. G my BM Hunter has been an Engineer since just after TBC hit, and as he demonstrates so ably above perhaps the most useful gadget he's made in his time is the wonderfully-titled Zapthrottle Mote Extractor. Forget portable mailboxes and Personal Repair Robots, this is the one thing I'd never ever be without on my travels. It's a veritable licence to smelt gold.

Nagrand was, back in the day, a cutthroat place to farm. Fel Iron and Adamantite, plus the random chance of Khorium were nothing compared with the boundless wealth to be had from the Windy Clouds only engineers could 'mine'. Primal Air was a staple for levelling Leatherworkers, Miners, Engineers... I spent a great deal of time there. When I was looking at possible raw materials to farm I was initially reticent to return, until I saw the prices of Adamantite and Primal Air, which are now higher on my server than they were back when these items were essentials for crafting. The weekend may be an awful time to farm but it's an excellent time to get your items on the AH (I can normally make 10-15% more on items than I can during the week) so this morning I set out for sixty minutes of concerted effort. No dot was safe. When I finished, I was pleasantly surprised at my haul.

I was also able to mine enough clouds to make up six Primal Air. The two Fel Iron bars came out of the occasional chests that are dotted across Outland (Dwarven racial Find Treasure ftw!) and I even managed to pick up a couple of decent greens from Ogre casualties. What struck me immediately from farming was just how few people were doing the same: having started early there were myself and only two other Alliance levellers in the Zone, and I saw only one Horde player in the entire time of my labours. When I got the spoils to the AH, Adamantite was listed for 40g a stack, Fel Iron 30g and the Primal Air a massive 70g each. The Khorium was 50g for two pieces ^^ I'm not a greedy person, and I think my pricing was more realistic, which will mean I will earn 500g for 60 minutes work. That seems more than reasonable.

Now I just have to hope it all sells... ^^

Goldz iz Srs Bsns! :: 5 Rules To Maximise Farming.

Azeroth can often be a Troll eat Gnome World: everyone's trying to make a quick buck with the minimum amount of effort. With Cataclysm mere months away (well it is, we just don't know how many) and with what is, let's be honest, a VAST army of alt mouths to feed, a girl puts a fair bit of thought into the business of money, and having enough to make ends meet. To this end, I've been playing around with alternatives to the Tournament Dailies or questing to pull in a quick buck, and I'll be discussing some of my forays in the next few week.

To prepare you for the process of successful farming you don't need to change your name to something that has no consonants in it or learn Mandarin, you just need a brain and a plan. Here are my five rules to maximise your gold-making potential whenever you choose to farm in Warcraft.

#1: Time is Money, Friend!

The biggest single issue for me when making money is when I can do it: I have limited hours in the day, so I need to make the most of them. To that end I always put aside a set period in which to farm: 60 minutes is my limit. By setting a cut-off point you will make the process of farming less of a chore, plus you don't allow the process to consume anything else you plan to do. It normally takes me about an hour to do Dailies, so this seems an appropriate amount to put aside.

#2: The Right Time to Begin.

The weekends suck for farming. Trufact.

If you can only farm on a weekend, I strongly suggest you pick an instance to do it in. As I have several skinners, Dire Maul is always a good place for me (as my current item of choice to farm is Rugged Leather: see 3) and because it's just you in the instance there's never an issue of there being no mobs to kill. You can do five 'clears' of any instance in a 60 minute period before being locked out by Blizzard's Dungeon Limiter, by which time your bags are likely to be full anyway (assuming you cleared them, see 4) which fits into the one hour window of opportunity pretty well.

If you want to farm ore, by far the best times to do this are early morning and late night during the week.

#3: A Little Knowledge...

Knowing how long you will farm and when to do it, the next question then has to be what you will be farming. As the Blood Elves delight in telling me on a regular basis, everything has a price. The key to consistently making money using the AH it seems to me is to be the only person selling your item, and to be selling it at a reasonable price. There are many guides out there by far wiser people than me on how the AH is the path to riches and glory: I like to think of it as just one way to sell my product.

Using my alts gathering skills, my main forms of cash generation on the AH comes from ore, herbs and skins. Before I farm I'll always check the AH for the current lowest price of the item I intend to farm: if I think there's too many people selling the same thing it's time to find a new raw material and move on. If I've forgotten to do this and I have a load of stuff in my bags that's currently cheaper on the AH than I would consider selling it for, I'll always advertise for a lump sum in Trade. Assuming I can be seen in the pages of spam and gold seller adverts, this is a pretty good way of shifting my wares, and avoiding AH fees to boot. It's amazing the number of people who will buy like this in Trade, but the canny farmer remembered to check the AH before she went out. There's no substitute for planning.

#4: Come Prepared

Speaking of planning, have you looked at your bags lately?

You want to make money, you need better bags. Consider them an investment if you haven't already upgraded, but you will need 20 slotters at minimum if you're going to maximise your golds. If you're a skinner, a miner or a herbalist and you intend to farm those items I'd say investing in the maximum-slotted speciality bag is pretty much a given. Remember you can store it in your bank when you're not farming and swap it with a normal bag if you're one of those people who likes lots of space for questing. If you're not lucky enough to own a mammoth with a repair guy, are an engineer with repair bots or have an Argent Squire you will not have a chance to repair and sell lower quality items 'on site' as you work in an instance. You'll need all the slots you can find as a result. You don't want to throw anything away. No really, you don't.

#5: Everything Has a Price!

I'm going to say it again: anything that you can pick up in Warcraft that's not nailed down has a value. I know many people think it's a massive inconvenience to have to pick up all of that grey crap that mobs drop, but if you're farming a stack of that crap soon adds up. Blizzard put it there for a reason: it's to make money for you! If you choose to farm in an instance this could also mean patterns, books, recipes, armour, rares and (if you're having a good day) an Epic. Purple is pretty much a guaranteed seller where ever it comes from in-game, and it's a bonus you should be ready to accommodate as well as anything and everything else that drops. It's the extras in any farm that make a good day into a great day: learn to love your Gorilla Fangs and Gordok Chew Toys, because they're all adding to your overall funds.

Be aware also that some items that you might not think will be worth much actually have a value: the books that drop in Dire Maul for instance are required reading for anyone currently farming for The Insane title on your Server. Outland Primals are required mats for anyone levelling any of the professions pre-Cataclysm. Just because you're not using something doesn't mean it's worthless. Knowledge again is the key.

So just how much money is out there to be made? A great deal if my server is any indicator, and you don't need to be farming Northrend to do so. Watch this space for some number crunching after a morning's farm in Outland...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Fear and Loathing on the Neutral AH

Beware the perils of Cross-Faction Auctioneering...

Sometimes, something happens that makes me stop and think about why people play this game. This is the story of one such episode.

Having established a viable Horde presence on my server, I decided it might be nice to transfer a few items from my Hunter leatherworker to my Horde hunter to help her level via the wonders of the Neutral AH. It's a standard procedure: list them on the Booty Bay AH for a few coppers, grab them with my Horde AH watcher (also in BB), avoid excessive AH fees, job done. I've done this on many occasions over the years, but for the first time last week I fell foul of a trend that's becoming increasingly common: the Neutral AH Sniper. As I listed my two items they were bought before I could reach over to my second PC and buy them myself.

Establishing the identity of the Sniper (on the Horde side), I decided to have a chat. I wasn't rude or offensive, I decided to open with a genuine question: how much money had the guy made like this? It became immediately very apparent that my sniper had little or no interest in the gold at all: he was more interested in seeing 'how you will react' to the snipe. This struck me as odd enough a reaction to raise a ticket on Blizzard's Customer Service Forum. Being well aware that I'd lost my items (sniping like this of course is not illegal, you list at your own risk, and if you want to avoid losing your items the only safe way is to list at a sensible price.) I wondered where Blizzard would stand on what had transpired. This is a guy who clearly wasn't interested in the cash, he just wanted to wind people up. He also had the balls to turn up on the alt that sniped my items in the Customer Service Thread. This was someone who clearly loved the spotlight. Blizzard's response was, given this and my explanation of the problem, a decent one:

An interesting discussion and I can see where you are coming from.

In terms of what actions we would take against the behaviour of the player, it would depend on what was said at the time, but we would certainly investigate if you were to report them for harassing you after taking the items.

For more information about how we deal with harassment, please take a look at our policy spot light here.

09/06 Policy Spotlight – Harassment

I appreciate that you are frustrated there is no "safer" option to allow trade between your horde and alliance characters. If you feel that there should be a service implemented in order to facilitate this, then you are very welcome to post your ideas in our

Suggestions forum.

I would agree with you that the best thing to do would be to advise other players who participate in the transferring of items across neutral auction houses to carefully consider their actions. Placing items for very low prices will seem like a bargain to many players and as you quite rightly pointed out, once a transaction has been completed, sadly we will not be able to reverse it.

However should you find players abusing the system through exploits or unauthorised 3rd party software that is against our Terms of Use, please do report them to us so that we may take the appropriate actions.

Armed with this I duly raised a ticket the following morning (in the vain hope that my sniper's behaviour might be considered as harassment) and chalked down the incident to experience. However, today I discover there is more to this story than I was first aware of.

My server has an 'independent' forum (run by one of the bigger Alliance Guilds) onto which I thought it sensible to post details of this guy's actions after the incident in order to warn other people of the issue (as Blizzard do not allow the process of naming and shaming on the official forums). Ironically it transpires that another sniper had done the very same thing to someone else via the Tanaris AH on the same afternoon. I assumed that the two were probably connected and put my information with the original poster. I also speculated that this was probably how my sniper knew about the Customer Service Thread I'd posted in.

Having checked back on that Forum post I made this evening, it appears I was correct in my assumption. My sniper has a website, which a 'friend' helpfully posted on his behalf. It makes for very interesting reading. It appears that this guy has a plan:

Send me your stories how to piss people off legally and make gold.

He lists transcripts of conversations of people who's items have been sniped. It occurs to me now, looking back on all this that there is nothing to stop people playing like this. What I consider as unacceptable could easily be viewed as entertainment, especially as there are no rules against what's being done here. The question then becomes: when does this kind of behaviour become unacceptable and how does one deal with it as a result?

I am considering my options on this one. Watch this space.

In the Red Corner...

It's high time I came clean and introduced my Horde Family :D

This is E, my Druid (Balance, AH-specced with Skinning and Herbalism) who hit 80 last month. She was born for a couple of reasons, the main one being PvP. Being Alliance on my Server meant a lot of losing, so I decided that having a Horde character to do battlegrounds with might alleviate some of my frustration. Note the use of the past tense there because (ironically) as soon as I had a Hordie at 80 my luck as Alliance in BG's improved. The amended plan therefore includes taking part in the Tournament Dailies (so I can sell myself the Horde Pets via the neutral AH) and preparing to help reclaim the Echo Isles pre-Cataclysm. I also suspect she'll form the basis of a Horde presence come the Expansion as I fully intend to roll at least one Goblin, who considering the utter lack of potions on the Horde AH is likely to be kitted as a JC-er and an Alchemist so I won't have to ferry gems and potions across faction.

Needless so say the Horde experience on my Server is a vastly different beast to being on the Alliance side. Randoms are a great deal more frustrating, for one thing, but despite this fact I've managed to pull together a not totally useless set of gear which should serve me well for soloing come Cataclysm. I've done virtually no raiding (with the exception of the Weekly when it's an easy boss or VoA 25 when the Horde get themselves organised enough to hold it) so I still only have a L200 weapon, but I hope to be able to run a Heroic FoS or two to correct that before the end of the month. My current pet project is running all the Classic 5 mans before Blizzard go and change them all forever: today I was King of Dire Maul (albeit briefly) to see how much money could be made from killing every Gordok Mastiff in the Instance. initial reports look as if this could be a rather profitable enterprise, something I'd like to repeat Alliance side... except it appears the Login Servers are broken :(

When they're working again, I must go take a picture of my Horde Hunter as well...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The End of an Era

News reaches us at Alternative Towers that Zul'Gurub is to be removed as a Raid Instance in Cataclysm.

ZG was my first Real Raiding Experience, and it was the site of my first ever Epic Loot win (with accompanying Drama), and as a result it holds a special place in my heart. Along with AQ20 it's a place I also spent an inordinate amount of time in back when no-one had even heard of an Expansion pack, back when I only had two alts (hunter and warlock) Oh, they were wonderful nights, and days, and when TBC came out and we all went back as 70's and blitzed the place it was still awesome to revel in the sheer range of different encounters you could do. There was a Fishing Quest!!! It had optional bosses!!! Most of all however the final fight with Hakkar really did have EPIC written all over it. I can remember the total elation I felt when we finally killed him, and the quiet satisfaction when the Gurubashi Dwarf Destroyer dropped and I won the roll :D

Ah, they were simpler times :D

There is a fair deal of speculation at this point on the Official Forums as to ZG's fate: having been removed from the Guild Classic Raider achievement there is debate as to whether ZG will be returning as a 5 man instance, as there is currently no indication that ZG's two mount drops will be removed from the game. There is a bigger picture to consider: at it's heart is a complex reputation hub linked to the instance itself, which (at the time) could be considered the forerunner to the now-familiar reputation grinds for factions like The Argent Crusade and the Wyrmrest as we see them in Wrath. On consideration I think it's not beyond the realms of possibility to see the Zandalar Tribe linked into the game far earlier than the current level you encounter them at: there's been a Zandalar Emissary in Booty Bay for some time, after all. This would allow Blizzard the opportunity to effectively recycle the entire content, re-invigorate the class set rewards (plus low level shoulder and head enchants) and give the entire area a much-needed face lift.

If ZG were to become a five man (and as we're seeing epic versions of The Deadmines and Shadowfang, who's to say we couldn't have a five man L85 version of this as well?) I think you'd see a lot of people heading to Stranglethorn for another chance to take in this classic instance, or perhaps discover it's awesomeness for the first time. Certainly if this is the case, and it's successful, I wonder if it will open the floodgates and we'll see more and more of the 'classic' content being revamped as time goes on. It's undoubtedly cheaper for Blizzard to do that than code from the ground upwards... and as has been the case with Onyxia, it's very popular.

I for one however am a little sad. I'll be making sure everyone in the family who can gets their ZG achievement before the doors close on this version of the instance. After all, it's the place where I learnt to raid, and as a result it will always be somewhere to remember with fondness.

Back in Business

It's been over a month, I'll admit, but having said that I managed to pack in both a holiday and a bout of the Plague [*] during that period, so it was hardly without incident. The kids return to school tomorrow, so when all is said and done there really is no excuse to stay away any more. I r returned!

In my absence four people in Guild have been given the nod to test the Beta. I'm digesting as much information as I can on that front and the more I read, the more it occurs to me I'll need a fairly serious wodge of cash to cope when it finally hits. As a result, the free time I've had to game in the last four weeks has had a lot to do with making money. That and quietly levelling on both sides of the fence.

I have a confession to make at this point: I've got a L80 Hordie on my Server. It's taken five plus years admittedly to do, but in the end it was the only way I figured I would ever get to see victory in certain BG's: as it turns out, as soon as I get a 80 to PvP with, the Horde on my Battlegroup start to learn how to lose: maybe there's some deeper meaning in that, but as it stands I'm now working on my second Horde project. Yes, it's a Hunter, I am that transparent and as I type I'm about to capture the Stadium in Hellfire... she's almost 61 and I'm looking forward to the AV Weekend with enthusiasm. I wonder just how many levels I can put on...

The Cast List will be updated shortly as a result :D

The Wonder Pally Healer's not been neglected either, ans is sitting happily at 74 building up his next chunk of rested: even my Priest has been taken out and dusted down and is not very far from 77 at all, and I'd hope by the end of this month to have two more L80's to add to the list. With 310% flying now priced at 5k on Beta I realise it's going to be an expensive task to upgrade everyone to be mobile and fast in Azeroth, hence I started my Financial Plan this week to ensure I'm at least able to cover some of their needs. Watch this space for more details.

For now however, I am happy to be back and look forward with enthusiasm to the months ahead. We REALLY need some new content soon...

[*] Not the Real Plague. Though it did feel that way for a few days...