***Thread approved by moderator Elementium***
Preface: This article was written exclusively for the MMO Champion community. Its purpose is twofold: educate readers on WoW entrepreneurship, and subtly plug The Consortium, a free gold-making community. I selected material that will hopefully cater to the typical user dwelling these forums. If you require further clarification, do ask - I'm here to help! Please note; this article may not be re-posted without permission at sites other than MMO-Champion itself.
I realize that the average user here is probably not a "gold baron", although a handful of you may be very wealthy. Some of you may painstakingly farm your gold, or run daily quests religiously to cover your raiding, PvP or other expenses. You've heard of the enigmatic "Auction House farming" scheme some players employ to become rich - but nobody is willing to come up with a definitive guide and concrete examples. In this article I will cover the basics of Auction House entrepreneurship, and will touch on some advanced topics that even experts can learn from. Depending on how well this article is received, I may write a follow-up.
Table of Contents:
- Getting started.
- Auctioneer searches.
- Realtime searches.
- Advanced: 24/7 TUJ Realtime search and email notifications (SEE NOTE BELOW)
Note: TUJ has encountered difficulties due to blizzard's new software infrastructure. To support TUJ's quest to re-open, see this thread.
1. Getting Started
The first thing you need to do is grab Auctioneer.
Where the entrepreneur is concerned, Auctioneer is an add-on that records historical pricing data for all Auction House items. It comes with a comprehensive set of tools that allow you to analyze this data and make purchases accordingly. It is a very powerful and often overwhelming tool, but its basic features allow even a casual player to generate profit from its use. If you find the add-on a little heavy at first, you can disable several of Auctioneer's modules, and activate them one-by-one once you're comfortable moving on.
One of the very first things you need to do is collect data. You'll need 1-2 solid weeks of data collection before you can trust what Auctioneer is telling you. Some players will intentionally or inadvertently list worthless items at the AH for absurd prices (also known as poisoning), effectively throwing off Auctioneer pricing and incorrectly flagging some items as "deals". This is why it’s important to build a solid price database. Use discretion and common sense when buying based on Auctioneer recommendations - that 3500g Mutton Chop might look like a good deal to Auctioneer, but we know it isn’t. Conversely, Auctioneer could flag Kang the Decapitator ast "above average" even at 30g - but we know this is a good deal.
Auctioneer can actively collect data through Scan or through Getall. Scan checks every page of the AH one-by-one, and is very time-intensive, and I can't remember the last time I ran one of these. I recommend Getall, a function that allows you to download all AH data at once. To run a Getall search, speak to an auctioneer and type /auc getall. The process can take up to 2-3 minutes on slower machines, and well under 30 seconds for fast machines. You can only run a Getall search every 15 minutes, unless you log out and back in.
Running 2-3 searches per day for ~10 days should provide you with an accurate database of most item prices. Database in hand, you can now start looking for items to "flip".
2. Auctioneer Searches
2.1 Resale Search
Auctioneer offers several search modules that look for items fitting certain criteria specified by the user. The simplest is Resale. This search module compares current item prices against recorded item prices. When configured improperly, it can return hundreds - if not thousands - of items. Our goal is to configure the search parameters to return items that have a high resale value, high margins and a low purchase price.
To access the resale search, go under the search tab, expand "searchers" and click "resale". There are several configuration options available to you:
Hit search, and Auctioneer will pull up a list of items that fit your criteria. Here, you can sort by profit or by PCT (percent). I recommend sorting by profit.
- Minimum Profit: The minimum margin you wish to earn on a purchase. 150g is a good number.
- Min Discount: The minimum discount off the original item price you will accept. I set this to 65%. For example, if you're willing to buy an item for 9kg and flip it for 10kg, set this to 90%.
- Check Seen Count: Ignores all items that have not been "seen" this many times. I use 3, but I'm also very familiar with all items in the game. This option may help avoid the poisoning problem mentioned earlier.
- Enable Individual Maximum Price: Sets a maximum amount you are willing to pay for an item.
- Price Valuation: How Auctioneer will source item prices. Market Price generally does a good job.
- Allow Buyout, Allow Bid, Fees Adjustment: Self-explanatory.
In this trial run, Auctioneer has found several items that may be resold at profit. 17 Pound Catfish and Rough Dynamite are clearly the result of data poisoning. I also know that ICC BoEs are quickly dropping in value, so I will avoid these for the time being. There are several epic recipes on the list, these might be resellable, but they do take a while to move. There was a Cat Carrier (Black Tabby) on this list for 325g, but I was very quick to buy it!
TIP: Avoiding data poisoning takes a bit of upkeep. You have several options. First - you can hit "Ignore Price" as seen in the above picture. This will completely ignore the item if it's above the listed price. If you want to ignore an item altogether, such as Linen Cloth, hit "Ignore". The item will never be listed in any search. In some cases, you'll feel that an item's price history does not follow a sensible trend. This happens when few players control a certain market and artificially inflate prices. Granted, this can't go on for ever, but if you happen to start recording at the wrong time, it's a good idea to erase data for specific items and start anew. The can be done with a simple command; /auctioneer clear [item].
Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing what you’re buying before investing. If you don’t recognize an item, WoWhead it before buying.
The Resale search has one shortfall: it will not bring up very rare items that can be flipped for astronomical amounts. It will completely overlook beauties like Schematic: Lifelike Mechanical Toad or Recipe: Elixir of Dream Vision because these are seldom seen. The solution? Snatch search!
2.2 Snatch Search
Snatch is a search that checks for specific items under a certain price threshold set by you. For example, you could tell Auctioneer to "snatch" Schematic: Lifelike Mechanical Toad at 3500g and under. If this schematic is found at the AH, Auctioneer would recommend that you purchase it after running a snatch search.
Configuring a snatch search is quite simple. Click Snatch under the search tab, and drop an item into the empty box that appears in the Auctioneer UI. Specify a price, and hit "add item". Building a comprehensive snatch list is an integral part in becoming a successful entrepreneur: if you're looking for some items for your list, look here.
Some players make several extensive snatch lists for literally everything, but I prefer to use it for rare items, letting resale pick up things like epics and crafting materials. Where enchanting materials are concerned, Auctioneer already has a searcher that allows you to find all enchanting materials at the Auction House. You can also make separate snatch lists to suit your needs; one may be for gems, the other for raiding consumables and a third for flipping valuable items.
Snatch searching is relatively straightforward, and if you’re familiar with Resale configuration, setting up snatch should be no problem.
2.3 Arbitrage Search
Cross-faction trading is the act of purchasing items from one faction, smuggling it through the neutral AH, and selling it at the opposing faction’s AH at (hopefully large) profit. Cross-faction trading is one of the most profitable and effective ways to earn gold. There are several disadvantages to x-faction trading, including the risk of having your items “sniped”, and the double-account requirements. It has become very commonplace over the past 2 years, but there is still some great profit to be made in these shady markets.
Configuration is, again, quite similar to Resale, but with a few additional settings:
- Search against: Specify which set of data you’d like to compare your Auctioneer prices.
- Search type: Select cross-faction. You can select cross-server if you’re transferring and would like to know which items to bring along.
- Cross-realm additional settings: No need to play with this.
Hit search, and Auctioneer will pull up a list of items that should be profitable when sold cross-faction. As always, be wary of poisoned data;
Auctioneer is showing a commonly flipped pet: Cat Carrier (White Kitten). This item is unavailable to horde players, which explains to the profitability of this flip. Interested in more profitable cross-faction items? Check here.
3. Realtime Search
There is one big problem with Resale, Snatch and Arbitrage; all three searches use data that is “old”. The real deals only sit at the AH for seconds before they are snatched up. Once again, Auctioneer offers a solution; Realtime search. Realtime search is simple – it refreshes the last page of auctions, and scans newly added items against your price database. When a deal is found, Auctioneer notifies you, and all you need to do if press a “buyout” button. It uses the same criteria you set for all searchers, including Snatch, Resale and Arbitrage. Using this feature, you can grab auctions within seconds of their listing at the AH. You might even have players accuse you of “botting” if you’re quick enough.
[I]Note: Realtime search is the bread and butter of neutral AH snipers. For a full guide on protecting your cross-faction goods and deterring cross-faction competitors, click here.
Again, Realtime search uses the parameters you’ve previously set for all searchers. If your Resale search has a 150g threshold, Realtime search will “hook” items under this criteria as well. I recommend disabling most searchers, and using only Resale, Snatch and Arbitrage. You don’t want Auctioneer bothering you whenever it finds a “Bright Belt of the Falcon” that can be disenchanted for a 30 silver profit.
To configure Realtime, go to the search tab -> Options -> Realtime.
- Search while browsing: Will hook items that you might encounter while browsing the AH.
- Enable automatic last page refreshing: Allows Auctioneer to refresh the last page.
- Reload interval: Interval at which the last page will be refreshed. I set this to the minimum of 6 seconds for a better chance at striking gold.
- Pause after manual search: If you happen to run a manual search for whatever reason, Auctioneer will wait before resuming automatic last page refreshes.
- Alert settings: How you want Auctioneer to notify you of deals.
- Show alert in chat window: Allows Auctioneer to put notifications in the chat window. Optional.
- Show searchUI window: Not sure what this does, but be sure to check it and select a sound to be played when a deal is hooked.
- Power user setting – one click buyout: Check this if you want to buy items with 1 click upon notification. Highly recommended.
- Searchers to use: Uncheck everything but Resale, Snatch and Arbitrage (unless you’re familiar with the other searchers).
Once everything’s configured, initiate the Realtime search by pressing the small magnifying glass in the Browse tab. Auctioneer will start looking for deals and will notify you whenever an item matches the criteria you have specified.
You’ve probably got better things to do than sit in front of the computer and watch Auctioneer cycle through pages. The good news is that you can minimize WoW and Auctioneer will keep running. Set WoW to windowed mode under game menu -> video -> resolution. You’ll also need to enable background sounds, so that you can hear the Auctioneer notifications when a deal is found.
Realtime search is one of my favorite Auctioneer features. I enable it while watching movies, talking on the phone or during lunch. It’s actually running right now, and I just snatched a full set of Argent Tournament pets for 300g each. Sometimes, I’ll set my price thresholds to 5000g and go to sleep – I don’t mind the sound of solid gold waking me up!
Tip: Reduce Realtime Search Reload Time To 1-2 Seconds
4. Advanced: 24/7 TUJ Realtime Search and Email NotificationsOriginally Posted by Sinshroud
This section remains part of this thread in the event that TUJ is re-opened.
I’ve done my fair share of PvE and PvP. I was server first on all Naxx and Ulduar kills, and have hit 2400+ with different comps throughout season 1-4. Lately, my play time has been limited, so I have shifted most of my attention to WoW entrepreneurship. The problem with my schedule is that I’m only around a computer 4-5 hours daily (much less sitting AT the computer), so I end up missing out on a large number of AH deals (boo-hoo, right). It's times like these that I wish someone could scan the AH for me 24/7...
Enter The Undermine Journal!
The Undermine Journal (TUJ) is a tool that persistently scans AH data 24/7. It uses “crawler” accounts to accomplish this, and stores all item pricing details in a central database. This information is then presented to the user through a web GUI found online. Users can request critical information such as detailed profiles of competitors, historical item data pricing, current and past item availability, and other very useful reports. TUJ is only in its beta stages (or alpha?), yet it is already the most powerful tool of its kind.
The most interesting feature offered by TUJ is market notifications. Similar to Auctioneer’s Realtime search, this feature notifies you when an item is found to match criteria as set by the user (likely price or availability). Raiders might use of this feature to find out when flasks are under a certain price range, or by Jewelcrafters seeking cheap Saronite Ore. As an entrepreneur, I'm more interested in when certain rare and lucrative items appear at the AH at price X. In a way, this is a secondary snatch list that is being searched against 24/7.
Market notifications can be sent through email, and soon enough through SMS (text message). If you have access to WoW at work, you can set up notifications through email, and pick up items from your workstation on the go. Most of us can’t access WoW from work, so the other alternative is to use the remote AH for all our buying needs ($2.99 monthly).
Here’s I’m adding Azure Whelpling to my TUJ snatch list, buying at 2500g and under (arbitrary amount). Setting up notifications can be done in 4 easy steps:
- Register at TUJ.
- Set up your account in controls (top left)
- Search the item for which you want to add a notification for.
- Fill out the notification box.
In my case, WoW and the remote AH are inaccessible from work, so an alternative plan of attack is needed (and I have one). You will need the following tools:
- An authenticator.
- A remote auction house subscription.
- An iPhone or Android platform smartphone.
- Consistent Wi-Fi access, or even better, a data plan.
First, register an authenticator to your WoW account, otherwise Blizzard won’t allow you to sign up for the remote AH. Next, install the mobile Auction House app onto your smartphone. The idea is that you can still receive notifications through your phone, and make purchases from this device.
Using the above system, you can make purchases from literally anywhere, at any time, provided you have a data plan or Wi-Fi access. Earlier this week, I was rescuing a child from a conflagration down the street, and simultaneously used my phone to purchase a Teebu’s Blazing Longsword (300g) thanks to TUJ notifications. Life is good!
The only shortfall of this method is that notifications aren’t instant. So far, the “reaction time” of the system is between 10 and 45 minutes, so there’s a good chance someone else will snatch up deals before you do. Remember that the tool is still in its infancy – this reaction time will probably improve greatly as the coders fine-tune the program.
I should probably point out that TUJ does not yet have crawlers for all servers. These are added in batches, and the remaining 136 realms should be added within the month.
And that’s it for now! If you have any questions at all or require any clarification, go ahead and ask. I’m quite familiar with all of this and might have inadvertently skipped important parts. So feel free to shoot me a PM if necessary, no question is out of bounds, and I enjoy feedback. You can also contact me by email. Please do keep trolling to a minimum; I won’t be answering to unintelligent posts.
Oh, and don’t forget to check us out at The Consortium for more awesome gold tips!