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Friday, January 31, 2014

Late Nite With Stede Goldmaking Podcast - Episode 017

Kathroman and I get back to basics, but not before we talk about the news this week, including PvP participation in Warlords of Draenor & Season 15 as well as the foreshadowed profession boosts for those folks who take advantage of the L90 character boost on toons L60 and above.  Then we discuss our basic, fundamental tips that every goldmaker ought to at least think about and wrap up with our favorite goldmaking addons before fielding a great question from our listeners about how many markets can a person reasonably participate in at once?

Hope you enjoy the show!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Jewelry to Vendor & AH for Dust

Today's post falls squarely in the 'quick tip' category, and it's probably something you'll hear me talk about on the podcast if you haven't already.  As you may or may not know, I'm in the Convert to Raid guild over on US-Aerie Peak, and prices on the AH there can be a bit - wonky.

Lets look at Spirit Dust on TUJ:

Very cheap right?  Yes - in fact it's so cheap that it makes you wonder - is it worth the trouble to shuffle for dust?  Among other fantastic shuffle questions, my spreadsheet answers this question - and if you haven't already checked it out, then give it a try by clicking the sidebar and checking out my signature tools page where you can download it.

But for this question, in particular, I can give a much more illustrated answer.  We only need to know two things.  What are they?

#1 - The yield rate of dust from uncommon level jewelry. That is about 2.2 dust per disenchant.
#2 - The vendor value of said jewelry.  That's just under 9 gold at 8g 97s 82c.

With some simple arithmetic, we see that the vendor floor for shuffling for dust is 8.9782g / 2.20 = 4.081g.

Which is pretty far up there, in relation to where my market is.  What that means is that if dust is below ~4g, I'm better off vendoring my 384 jewelry and buying that dust off the AH.  So before you shuffle, make sure you look through my spreadsheet or do some quick napkin math and figure out what the most gold-efficient path is.

And the next time somebody tells you nothing is changing in goldmaking - ask them when they last ran the math on their markets was ;)

Editor's Note:  Since this post went live, I've had some great feedback in the comments regarding the yield rate of essence from disenchanting these pieces of jewelry from UtesDad.  On average, you get about 0.3 essence per disenchant.  On the high end, you could count an essence as being worth 5 dust because we know 5 dust will make 1 essence.  That would give another 1.5 dust per disenchant on top of our standard 2.2, for a sum total of 3.7.  Now, if you include the 20% bonus that comes from the Bountiful Bags guild perk, that comes to an effective yield rate of 4.44 dust per disenchant.  Now, if we repeat the division in the post above, we have 8.9782g / 4.44 = 2.0221g.  

Which is why I personally look for dust when it's below 2g.  As you can see in the figure above in the original post, those are prices that I'm now seeing very regularly.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Late Nite With Stede Goldmaking Podcast - Episode 016

Twitchie, the Gnome Warlock joins the show as our first Trans-Continental guest.  Together with Kathroman and myself, we chat about the news, take reader questions on undercutting & bidding, and interview Twitchie for the longest show we've ever recorded.  Turns out once we got on a roll, there wasn't much reason to stop!

To listen in, you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or just use the Stitcher App in the sidebar!  Or, check out the new episodes index just above the Stitcher App!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Fate of Crystals in Warlords of Draenor

Speculation posts are always dicey, but the best ones make you think about how and why things work.  Today, I'd like to talk about crystals - those rare-ish enchanting materials you usually only get from disenchanting epic gear.  In Mists of Pandaria, Enchanters were given a daily cooldown where five shards could be combined to make one crystal once per day.  This helped circulate more crystals.  It also helped that the enchants that used the crystals were gated behind a reputation grind - allowing some supply to build up.

This was in contrast to Cataclysm, where crystal enchants were purchasable using shards as currency on day one.  The dungeons, and the raids proved to be more challenging than Mogu'shan Vaults - and with no LFR, the amount of spare epic gear, and thus, crystals, was very sparse.  So we understand how the availability of crystals has behaved in the past at the launch of an expansion.  And we also have a good idea of why.

In Warlords of Draenor, we will see many changes.  But, as far as Enchanting goes, we've already seen a fair bit of changes.  The upconversion and downconversion of materials has helped a lot.  The scaling of enchants has also been another change.  There's certainly room left for further changes, but I doubt we'll see anything revolutionary - to do something like that so soon after re-vamping a lot of the profession would just seem like a waste of effort.

But enough preamble - the point of this speculation is that I think that, at this point, crystals will be less available in Warlords of Draenor's early days than they were in Mists of Pandaria's.  With Normal and Heroic raiding both allowing the Raid Lead to choose whether to adopt a LFR-style of loot or a more traditional style like Master Loot, many will invariably choose it.  The allure of this option is that it bypasses loot drama, and ensures that loot that drops is at least usable by someone even if it isn't an upgrade.  The downside is that there will be less extra loot that isn't needed - and gear that drops that isn't needed will be soulbound, and won't be able to be disenchanted by another member of the raid - as with Master Loot.

There are of course, potential work-arounds to this that Blizzard can build into the game design.  And if we see those, we'll have to take another look at this.  But all else being equal and going off what we know for sure via blue posts and tweets about the loot options for Tier 17 raiding, I expect that crystals will be more rare in the early days of Warlords of Draenor than we've seen in Mists of Pandaria.  Plan accordingly - keep your eyes open for new info.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Inscription Module and New Features Added to Stede's Spreadsheeting Sandbox

Hey there folks!  Today's post is more of an announcement about some updates I've made to my spreadsheeting sandbox.  The biggest update is the inclusion of an Inscription sheet that has every glyph in the game (all 444), organized by source from which the glyph is learned.  This is important  because trainer glyphs are, for the most part, posted much cheaper than the others.  In a future post, I'll talk about optimizing Inscription in more detail - Selltacular over at the Copper to Gold blog did a great post to get you started thinking about what I'll discuss.

Included in the sheet are the TUJ Market Price and Average 14-day Market Prices, as well as the number posted.  In addition, you can see the average Market Price by source.  Most of you will be able to clearly see that trainer glyphs sell for less.  Interesting sidenote - Erorus, the creator of The Undermine Journal, added the glyph heatmaps on the Inscription page based on the research I did on how learning source affects the Average Market Price of glyphs.

On top of all that, you can now also use itemids in place of item names on the spreadsheet.  This is useful when items in the game have the same name - like the Strength and Agility versions of the Relic of Xuen.  Just type in a number rather than the name and you're all set to do business as usual!  Hope you enjoy!

You can download the latest version of Stede's Spreadsheeting Sandbox and find tutorial videos by clicking on the "Stede's Signature Tools" link on the right.  

Late Nite With Stede Goldmaking Podcast - Episode 015

Kathroman and I welcome our first guest of 2014 as WowDotBen joins the show to talk about his own goldmaking in the gap between 6 & 7 digits of liquidity.  We cover the news - including the latest Warlords of Draenor news about instant level 90 toons, with our usual goldmaking perspective & bent.  We touch on the latest blog topics, including an updated Inscription model to the Spreadsheeting Sandbox & some great tips for maximizing RAF levels before moving on to our topic for the evening of 'Conscious Goldmaking'.  We wrap with an email question from Twitchie, the Gnome Warlock to me asking how being on the same server as the Convert to Raid guild on US-Aerie Peak affects the markets there.

To listen in, you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or just use the Stitcher App in the sidebar!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making the Most of RAF

We've all heard the goldmaking advice that accompanies the end of every expansion: level your alts in time for the the next xpac. A lot of folks are doing just that. A couple weeks ago, Jim Younkin of The Power Word: Gold blog and podcast had a nice post on levelling up alts via RaF chock full of neat tips - some obvious, some I wouldn't have really thought of.

He wrote about one of the neatest features of using The RaF system on yourself: granting levels. Here's how it works: characters your recruited account can grant 1 level to characters on your main account for every 2 levels they earn. The twist: the characters must be on the same server, and you cannot grant levels above the level of the character doing the granting. Of course there's all that 90-days business so your RaF still needs to be active.

This sounds simple - and most folks love being able to level a couple toons on their RaF acct to 85 and then turn around and get another "free" level 85 alt by granting levels on their main account. But I want to show you how, with a few minutes of math and planning, you can save yourself hours of levelling.

Jim had a method of doing this that he called "Leap-Frogging".  What I'm going to do in this post is build on that idea in a slightly more complex way that turns out to be much more efficient.  But that's okay, right?  Because you're pretty savvy, and I'm pretty good at explaining stuff - and we ALL like to save time.  Before I go too far, though - I want to thank Jim for a great post that inspired me to finally write about this idea - it was something that I originally posted last year on the Consortium forums.

I call the method the reverse stairstep.  It is based entirely on the premise that as you level, each successive level takes more time to get through.  This makes sense - particularly in the aggregate - 1-20 takes less time than 20-40, which in turn takes less time than 40-60, and so on. When you combine this premise with the rules Jim so clearly outlined in his own post - that the RAF-ee can grant 1 level to the RAF-er for every 2 levels gained by the RAF-ee.  And, the toon granting the levels cannot grant levels above his own level.

Basically, we want to grant the harder levels.  For reference, Jim levelled 5 toons to 85 with his RAF partner, then another five to 43 with his RAF partner.  Then, he had his RAF partner grant 42 levels from each level 85 toon to each of his own level 43 toons to bring them to 85.   This gave Jim 10 level 85 toons, after levelling five toons to 85, and five more to 43.

With my reverse stairstep method, getting ten Level 85 toons looks like this (everything from this point forward presumes you are levelling with your RAF partner):

The idea is that we will, of course, need to level at least one toon to 85, but that toon's levels are best spent equally (inasmuch is possible) among the remaining 9 toons we'd like to level.  From there, we go about doing likewise for the remaining toons.  The division is not always clean and balanced, so at each step we try to even things out with regards to the total number of levels granted for the remaining toons.

There's no "magic" here - you still have to level toons to 16, 31, 42, 50, 58, 64, 70, 76, 81, and 85.  That's 573 levels.  Jim's method is 640 levels.  But if you're following me still - the point isn't so much the total number of levels you're left having to get through, but how easy it is to get through them.  Jim has you taking five toons all the way to 85.  I only have you taking one toon to 85 - and only three into Wrath of the Lich King content.  On the other hand, Jim has you only taking five toons beyond level 43.  I have you taking seven toons past level 43.

But in the end, I feel my way is quicker - so long as you accept the premise that each successive level takes longer to level through.  In the screenshot above is a spreadsheet that I am going to make available for you to play with here.  You can download it and open it in Excel or you can open it online in Google Sheets if you can save a copy for yourself.  If you're not planning on doing the full 10 toons to 85, you can always blank out the later toon slots and the method works just as well - just play around with it until you get a plan that you like.

Now - you could be wondering, "Dang Stede - that kinda smashes what Jim was saying - why would I bother with what he was saying?"  There's an answer to that.  The reverse stairstep requires you to pre-plan your RAF levelling plan and it requires you to STICK TO IT.  If you don't finish all the levelling, you won't be able to grant all the levels.  In fact, unless you fully complete your levelling plan, you won't get more than 1 level 85 toon - because my method requires you to finish ALL of your levelling before granting any levels.

Jim's Leap-Frog method is very modular.  You can level one toon to 85, and the next to 43 and grant the remaining  42 levels to give you two level 85 toons.  You can do this sort of tick-tock or Leap-Frog approach in pairs - so if you get sick of levelling after the third toon, you still have 3 level 85s.

But there it is, folks - updated for the new level 85 RAF cap and ready for you to tear into.  Best of luck to all you RAF'ers out there, and one last big thanks to Jim for inspiring the the post!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Late Nite With Stede Goldmaking Podcast - Episode 014

Kathroman and I get back to it our 14th episode covering some recent big news items about the new PvP season coming in MoP and Jewelcrafting gems and cuts.  The we get to talking about Armory AH API data that's used in places like The Undermine Journal and Wowuction, as well as their respective data exports.  We then move to the main topic of spreadsheeting using sold auction data and demand-based rebalancing to accurately calculate profits.  As always, we tease at future theorycrafting beyond the scope of current data exports and introduce our first guest of 2014 who will be joining us on the next show - Ben (@wowdotben) - don't miss it!

To listen in, you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or just use the Stitcher App in the sidebar!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why Spreadsheet - The Sharp Edge of Aggregate Analytics

I talk a LOT about spreadsheeting.  It's one of the things that I tend to do a lot.  And I'm not alone in this.  My buddies Zerohour, Kathroman, and Zamboni - all three of them world-class goldmakers - all make liberal use of spreadsheets.  One of the things that we often take for granted are the reasons why we spreadsheet.  It's easy enough to say, "Because we're rich and know it works."  But how?  What is it, specifically, about spreadsheeting, that allows us to be so much more lucrative?

Well, there are a few things.  So let's get right into them.  The first advantage of a proper spreadsheet is that it is often, for many of us, our own custom-tailored TUJ Profession Page for all professions we have, at a single, condensed glance.  All of us have used TUJ on the web, and as big time goldmakers, we all use that same data in our spreadsheets - without the loading times and the extra fluff that's not part of our routine.  So, if you don't bother with Netherweave Bags - fine - don't include em in your spreadsheet.  In this manner, we build a spreadsheet that's restricted to the markets we're in.  We can fit much more of our interests on a page / sheet, and don't have to wait on loading times.

Some folks even draw on both TUJ and Wowuction data, when it's available, to look at not only the current market value and materials value of an item, but also to look at the 14-day median market value and standard deviation of the market value, to understand the degree of volatility involved.  Some even go so far as to setup conditional logic that generates a quick Go / No-go recommendation. 

There is a second advantage to all this: you catalogue all the possible markets you're able to enter.  A market that's not profitable this week might become profitable next week.  It's easy to forget markets like Jade Owls or Sapphire Cubs or Enchanted Lamps / Lanterns - but if they're there on your spreadsheet, staring you down every time you glance at your markets, they become very difficult to overlook.  In this way, a spreadsheet becomes an organized digital notebook.  And it's useful - even if you stick to just your factory professions or your niche markets and rarely venture outside them, a good goldmaker does not shun information - so it's very useful to see it, even if you don't act on it.

But the biggest reason why we spreadsheet is because it allows us to do things that we can't find on TUJ, in TSM, or on Wowuction.  It allows us to explore data in novel ways.  We see this a lot in aggregate markets.  It starts with base materials, like ore, and proceeds down several possible paths - like a shuffle.  Want to know what the most profitable transmute chain is for your Golden Lotus, including the option for making meta gems?  Want to include that transmute bonus?  Or maybe you'd have better luck using it to make flasks.  Or how about Ore?  Is it better to shuffle, make PvP gear, or Belt Buckles?  In that shuffle, is it more profitable to disenchant jewelry or to fish for perfect cuts?

We all have limited time to play.  We all have limited materials available to play with.  Being able to choose how we spend each in an efficient manner that balances them against the enjoyment we get from playing is an important part of being a well-rounded goldmaker.  Not everyone will nerd out to this degree, though.  These might not be things you think to do on your own.  I definitely hope that the blog and podcast inspire some new ideas, but there are a lot of times that others will beat us to it.

For instance, GoblinRaset, a past guest on the podcast, has a very under-rated post on The Consortium Forums about crafting green-level Blacksmithing gear as a way to fish for Blue procs.  If you're not familiar, there is a full set plate 384 gear that Blacksmiths can make, and 10% of the time, you'll make a rare-quality ilvl 415 version of the item.  These are ideal for folks who want to level their alts as painlessly as possibly while not breaking the bank.  GoblinRaset in that post, suggests how to setup TSM to handle this - crafting the greens, fishing for blues, and De'ing / vendoring the Greens that didn't proc.

And this is a cool idea.  On many servers, it's an untapped market.  But I'm gonna pick on GoblinRaset for a minute here because he and I bros, and suggest a potential improvement.  I call it demand-based rebalancing.  Often, in stable markets of items that share a set of materials, some of those items still have a higher market value than others.  Usually this is because these sell more often.  If we were to take a raw average of all these items to calculate our profit potential, then, we'd arrive at a conservative estimate.  This is because the higher profit items sell in greater volume than the lower profit items.  If you were crafting once and leaving the market, a raw average is fine.  But if you're there to stay, you'll be restocking, hopefully with TSM, as needed, up to a set stock threshold.  The items selling faster will be restocked more often - you'll make more of them because you'll sell more of them.

Then how do you account for this?  TSM has some neat functions that leverage your TSM accounting data, but that's only useful if this is a market that you've blanketed for some time.  But, since these recipes and items have been in the game since MoP launch, they're also within Wowuction's data.  There are, of course some limitations to using Wowuction's old auction data, but it is generally safe to use to evaluate the relative speed at which items in the same market sell.  With a spreadsheet, we could use the Demand #s from Wowuction to figure out what percentage of sales out of items in this market we can expect to see for each individual item.

For instance, we might see numbers like 0.10 for 7 of the 8 item slots, and 0.30 for the 8th (let's say - boots).  Then we know that boots are selling fast.  If those 7 yield a 40g profit, each, and the 8th yields a 160g profit, then we can figure the average profit for this market, rebalancing for demand is:

7*(0.10*40) + 1*(0.30*160) = 76

That is, you can expect to make 76g per piece sold, in the aggregate.  This may seem misleading as no individual piece will yield a profit of 76 gold, but aggregate profits are very useful when we consider advanced AH strategies, including vertical monopolies - a topic that I will address in detail in a future blog post.  In any case, this type of analysis is not available currently, outside of a spreadsheet.

Hopefully, this has given you an idea of the kinds of things you can do with a spreadsheet and why the best goldmakers use them often.  It's possible to arrive at the same actions blindly via luck, faith, gut feelings, or even stubbornness, but you can arrive at them more quickly, more efficiently, and more confidently - with a spreadsheet.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Late Nite With Stede Goldmaking Podcast - Episode 013

Kathroman and I kick off 2014 with an awesome show as we talk about which Winter Veil pets you'll want to snag to flip later in the year, our thoughts on paid level 90 character boosts, general thoughts on duplicating a profession on a single server, my own progress into new markets on my new server in an effort to diversify into glyphs from the constantly camped / botted jewelcrafting market, and finally the latest TSM module, TSM Sniper - billed as the replacement for Auctioneer's Real-Time Search.  We also tease at future episodes and topics, including the return of guest interviews, and the yet unharnessed power and potential of Auction House data - Enjoy!

To listen in, you can subscribe or just use the Stitcher App in the sidebar!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

UPDATED! Stede's Spreadsheeting Sandbox - Now with BOTH Wowuction & TUJ data!

Hi folks!  If you read my post earlier this week about the current state of Wowuction data, then you probably already had an idea that I would be updating the spreadsheeting sandbox I had made.  The new sandbox allows you to pull in BOTH Wowuction & TUJ data for your realm with a single click.  It also gives you over a dozen custom functions to use to grab all the data from each source and plug into your own calculations.

I've also uploaded a new tutorial that walks through how to use the sandbox and some of the basic functionality that's offered.  You can now spreadsheet prices and profit margins and more with ease!  I'll have more posts in the next week or two that talk about spreadsheeting - why it's important and what you can do with it.  So grab a copy, start playing around, and don't go too far!

Download the updated version of Stede's Spreadsheeting Sandbox here.

The Video Tutorial can be found here.