Anyone who has seen my blogroll may have noticed I have Gevlon’s blog, Greedy Goblin, listed there. Granted he is full of a lot of hot air a lot of the time. Sometimes he makes sense and sometimes he presents quite the “WTF?” moment. Still entertaining to read when he doesn’t get too philosophical (which is often).

Having read his blog it gave me the inspiration to try my hand at playing the AH a bit. And I have read a bunch of scattered pieces of wisdom around the web about playing the AH PvP as it is known. Since I have been trying it out myself I thought I would share my own little insights to any prospective AH goblin out there, but first, let me briefly cover the basic aspects of a good AH player that you will consistently see around the web:

  • Know your market: Vital! You need to know the going rates of the raw materials and items you want to sell on your server, when to buy in bulk, what your buying thresholds need to be and when to weather the storm of price spikes. Once you understand your materials market this will dictate what your items can sell at. Obviously you want to sell crafted goods for more than you paid to produce them.
  • Deep undercutting works: There is no point undercutting your closest competitor by 1c. All you are doing is encouraging them to undercut you by 1c. Then you undercut again, they undercut again etc. This means that you need to essentially camp the AH 24/7 to ensure you are 1c less than the next guy. By deep undercutting (on the order of gold) you make it less likely that you get undercut again. The importance here is the step above. Knowing how low you can go before it becomes unprofitable is important.
  • Farming is NOT free: If you think farming for those herbs or ores is the best way to go you are unfortunately mistaken. By the time you have farmed enough ores to create enough items to sell on the auction house, your competition who buys his materials, has already sold a bunch and posting even more on. Also, if you think you can push them off the market by selling your crafted items really cheap because you “farmed for free”, a good AH player will just buy you out. I know I would. If an item I am trying to sell is being sold already for cheaper than it costs me to craft, why thank you very much for more stock! And besides, if you are that much cheaper you may as well just sell your farmed materials; you’ll make more.

Those are some basics, but I have hit upon other not too often mentioned tactics that can help. Remember, to truly become strong in a market it means you need to dominate that market and push others away from it. This means you need to make the market not worth the effort for others to bother with, either because they cannot sell because of you or they just cannot keep up. Eventually, they will move off. With that said….

1. Selling at (or slightly below) cost isn’t always bad

If you are new into a market trying to dominate it, as said before, you need to prevent others from being able to sell at all. This does mean that you may find an individual selling items that are slightly under your preferred selling price, and not low enough to buyout. If this is just one or two items, well, don’t worry about it too much, they are probably farmers who think “farming is free” and won’t be able to keep up the rate of items you can on the AH. However, if you see someone consistently pushing 4,5 or 6 items slightly under your lowest price threshold, undercut them anyways. Even if all you cover is the cost.

Bear in mind that you should have many items for sale (as the next point will go into greater detail on), so temporarily making no profit on an item in order to push someone away from the market is worth it because your other items will be making more money for you anyways. Usually these people will be casual AH sellers or someone trying out making gold on the AH and if you deny them the opportunity they will inevitably go back to farming dailies or whatever it was they were doing.

2. You need breadth not depth

People seem to think that in order to sell lots on the Auction House, you need to list pages and pages of items. This is not true. Most markets do not sell single items in huge quantities to justify that. What you should rather focus on is 3 to 4 of each item you can sell (profitably, some are some just junk that no one buys which goes back to know your market above). This way you can be selling 3 to 4 of 20 different items rather than losing a 2G listing fee because only 5 of the 25 items you posted sold.

Hell, if you are just starting out and only have enough cash and/or materials for 5 items, make it 5 different ones. You have a far larger chance of everything selling if you try to tap multiple item types as opposed to sticking to just one.

However, there are some items that sell like hotcakes. Identifying what these are is important because you want to make sure you always have plenty of stock for that item.

3. Automating

A lot of the blogs about playing the Auction House seem to like advocating automating the listing, cancelling, mail collection and materials buying aspects. I have to disagree slightly with them. This is very open to personal choice. Add ons to automate collecting post to me is a godsend. There is very little value you can get from opening all your mail yourself. Using Auctioneer and the Snatch tool to grab cheap mats is also a great idea, simplifies things a lot there too. But its the use of Quick Auctions 3 that I don’t necessarily agree with.

Quick Auctions 3 is a great add on, whether you use it as fully as most suggest you should, or you only use a subset of its tools. For those that don’t know Quick Auctions 3, its an add on designed to help you quickly add many items to the AH based on values you give it for your lowest price, how much you undercut your competitor by and cancelling auctions you have been undercut on.

Personally, I find QA3’s auto post/cancel features too impersonal. I was using it for a while and everything kind of happened slowly. Sales weren’t huge and often my posting thresholds were hit so that items I wanted to sell didn’t get posted because someone was currently selling those items cheaper than my threshold price. This probably has a lot to do with the market I chose to get into (Enchanting), and also the fact that setting up QA3 properly for Enchanting is especially painful.

I now use QA3’s summary feature that will quickly show me all items I can make, how many there are on the AH by my competitors, what the current lowest price is for that item and if I have any of that item for sale flag it in red if I have been undercut. This means I can then use Auctioneer’s Appraiser feature to list each scroll by hand after seeing what my competition is posting for and cancel -> deep undercut the items that I have been undercut on.

Basically, automating means cutting out a lot of grunt work but can mean you lose perspective on who your competitors are, what the market is looking like, etc. Its a judgement call you will need to make. And I am not talking about AH camping 24/7 to ensure you don’t get undercut. I check the AH maybe 2 to 3 times a day (if that) and relist what I have been undercut on. In total I would say I spend about 45 minutes to an hour at most on my Enchanting business, and that includes the unable-to-automate crafting of scrolls.

So there we go. My insights into playing the AH a bit. Its been interesting and oddly exhilarating so far doing this. And no, Altaholics Diary will not become a goblin/gold blog …. don’t worry about that.