In this chapter, we will be exploring how to lay the groundwork for your gold-making empire; just as you can't build a house without a foundation, you can't start making gold in earnest without the proper support. When we are finished, you will be ready to dive into the wonderful world of gold-making in World of Warcraft. In this chapter, you will learn:
How to set goals for yourself
How to focus your activities through one central character for easier management
How to set up the central banking character
How to set up your other characters and their professions
How to avoid breaking the Terms of Service
While many players will have set goals for themselves before starting on the path to riches, an unfortunate number of players start making gold with the sole aim to be "rich." I, however, have some news for you; you'll never be rich enough, and there will always be somebody out there richer than you. Not setting yourself clear goals can lead to burnout and your premature exit from the gold-making world.
Buy a Grand Expedition Yak
Get a hundred thousand gold in your pocket
Participate in a Gold DKP run (more on this in Chapter 2, Earning Your First Gold)
Acquire a million gold
When it comes to gold-making, the sky is the limit for the goals you can set for yourself. As the game progresses and more content is released, not only do more and more big-ticket items get added to the game, but also more gold gets added to the economy, devaluing the gold you've already made.
The reason for setting goals for yourself is that goals give you an end-game; they create a finish line in an otherwise endless race to riches. Clear, defined goals keep the end in sight and can keep you from burning out. Start with smaller goals and build your way up from there. You should keep setting new goals for yourself even if you're comfortable with the original one; you don't need to stop at the first goal.
This, however, doesn't mean that you have to think of gold-making as a job; in fact, the most successful of gold makers are the ones who simply love the rush of a big windfall, lording over giant metaphorical piles of gold and trying to stay ahead of their competitors.
A bank alt is a character that you will be using, while on your quest for riches, to conduct most of your business. A bank alt's main purpose is the storage, sale, and purchasing of the materials and goods you will be handling. While your other characters will be working behind the scenes, crafting goods for sale, your bank alt will be the public face of your enterprise and, as a result, is usually used much differently compared to your other characters. Bank alts will generally be low-level (typically level 1), have the best bags and banking available, and spend nearly their whole existence within several yards of a mailbox, an Auction House, or a bank.
While your bank alt will generally be a throw-away character (one you don't bother leveling, getting achievements, and so on), you want to give the selection of your bank alt some thought. Here are some important attributes to think about:
This simple aspect of your character may not seem important for a bank alt but can have some influence on your future gold-making opportunities. Choose a name that you will be able to remember (not as important as it used to be, thanks to the advent of mailing add-ons; but worth attention nonetheless) but also one that won't stand out to your competitors (and I assure you, there will be some). Avoid pun names, such as ones with "bank," "gold," and "liquid" in them, that will give hints of your alt's purpose. Also avoid nonsensical names or names with odd letter combination as they stick out in a player's mind more easily than you think. I've had players approach me years later because they recognized my apparently unforgettable name. Remember that you will want to fly under the radar, at least in the beginning, to avoid unwanted attention from competitors.
Most players choose their bank alt's race based on which city they're going to be operating in, which is further determined largely by which faction the player mainly plays in. Each faction has its own financial hub, a place where most of the trading goes down, be it face-to-face trades or auctions. For Alliance the current hub is Stormwind, home of the Humans, while Horde is served by Orgrimmar, home of the Orcs. I mention the associated races for these cities for one reason: it's easiest for these races to get to those cities as a fresh, level 1 character. While any city with access to banks, mailboxes, and Auction Houses will do for most of your business, it helps to be in the main hub for your faction in case you ever need to meet another player for a trade.
Worgen, Goblins, and Pandaran can't leave their respective starting zones until a certain amount of quests have been completed. Typically you won't be able to leave these starting zones until you are well past level 15, so keep this in mind when creating your bank character.
Stormwind is the capital of the Alliance and the financial center for its factions' players. In Stormwind, you will find a pair each of banks and Auction Houses, one in the Trade District and one in the Dwarven District. While the Trade District's location is more traditional, the Dwarven District's bank and Auction House, having been added in the Cataclysm expansion, are preferred by many players because of their location in a low-traffic area (and thus easier on a player's computer) and because of their proximity to the portals to Pandaria and the Cataclysm zones.
As the financial hub for the Horde, Orgrimmar is a popular location for Horde bank alts. Like Stormwind, Orgrimmar has two Auction Houses conveniently located in the Valley of Strength and the Valley of Honor. Many players prefer the quieter Auction House in the Valley of Honor.
The new hubs added in Mists of Pandaria have a lot of amenities, including access to Trade Chat, that make them popular with players. There is no Auction House unless you are an Engineer. However, only basic engineering is required to access the Auction House, so if you want to put in the time it takes to get to level 5, the level requirement for all professions, it can be a convenient location, especially since the mailbox, bank, and Auction House are all just steps away from each other.
If you are not worried about having to conduct face-to-face trades (because you can get everything you want at the Auction House), you might want to consider a more strategic location, such as the bank on the Terrace of Light in Shattrath.
This bank offers both Horde and Alliance Auction Houses, mailboxes, vendors, banks, and guild bank access, all under the same roof. As an added bonus, Shattrath is almost deserted now that its expansion, The Burning Crusade, is over. So those with computers that have trouble with heavily populated cities will find it much easier to operate here, as less-populated areas tend to be easier to handle on old or underpowered computers.
This final attribute isn't as important as the others if you aren't going to level the alt, but it's still something that should be kept in mind. Many players are completists and will want one of each class; such players should opt for a class they know they don't like playing and likely wouldn't want to level.
On the other hand, if you are going to be leveling the alt or retiring a character that has already been leveled, some classes have advantages over others in the gold-making game. Mages can not only create portals to other capital cities in their faction, they can also get Blink, an ability that transports you a short distance fairly early on and can be used to shave those precious seconds off your time. Hunters get Disengage, a similar ability. Rogues and Druids not only get Sprints (Worgen Rogues and Worgen Druids get two each) but they also have passive speed increases (in cat form for Druids) to make the trips between the Auction House and the mailbox shorter.
There are two schools of thought in the gold-making community with regard to whether you should remain anonymous or associate your bank alt with your other alts. Basically, you have the option of either keeping your gold-making life separate from the rest of the game (raiding or pvp, for instance) or to mix business and pleasure, so to speak.
Remaining anonymous simply means keeping the identity of your banker separate from the identity of your main characters; you can still build a name for yourself while remaining anonymous, though admittedly it's harder to balance. There are many benefits to maintaining separate identities or anonymity:
You can conduct business as ruthlessly as you want, without risking backlash in other aspects of the game. You're going to make enemies in this business; no sense letting them interfere with the rest of your game.
Another issue that could arise if you don't maintain anonymity is the issue of your friends / guild mates / fellow raiders, or whatever, begging and freeloading from you once they find out. People will also use your wealth as an excuse to try and rip you off, deny you of loot in raids, and more.
If you keep your bank alt out of your main guild, you're free to create your own guild for extra storage space via the guild bank (more on this a little later).
Before the advent of Battle.net and battle tags, you couldn't be found on alts unless you wanted to be found. Now, however, you can be followed not only across toons but factions and servers as well. While remaining anonymous can no longer totally prevent intrusions from your social circle, it can cut down on them significantly.
If competitors know your other alts, they can add them to their friends' list and see what you're doing elsewhere. If they see you going into a raid, they know they have several hours free of interference from you on the markets.
Keep in mind that some players might not only find they don't need anonymity, but also that it might work against them. Here are some reasons you might not want to—or be able to—remain anonymous:
If your banker is also a crafter (that is, you've leveled him and are actively using him to produce goods), being in an active guild with full guild perks can mean increased production and thus increased revenue. Your competitors are definitely going to pick up every advantage they can find; you may as well, too.
If you want, or need to be, reached at all times while you're in the game, even to those not on your RealID friends' list or battle tag, you may need to have your bank alt's name available to them.
Obviously, if you feel the need to have your identity in the financial world linked to whatever other activities you partake in, you won't want to hide who your banker is. It is possible to gain a great reputation on a server, and you can use this to your advantage.
Finally, here are some tips to keep your bank alt identity a secret. Some of these tips are more extreme than others, so feel free to follow them at your discretion depending on your security needs.
Don't give your RealID or battle tag out like candy. The more people who can track you, the less secure your identity is. Best practice here is to add only the people you actually know in person.
Don't flaunt your gold-making activities; this will only incite curiosity and potentially lead them to start sniffing around and identifying you. Similarly, don't flaunt how much gold you have.
Remember that, just because you recognize them, it doesn't mean they recognize you. Keep up your cover when doing business with players you know.
Avoid doing your crafting or other work while grouped with others, such as between raid pulls; this will tip others off that you're a potential competitor.
Don't announce when you're switching to your bank alt; this makes it harder for them to confirm who you are.
If you have a second account, place your banker on this account. If you can be logged in on two characters simultaneously, they'll have no way of proving who you are.
Break naming conventions when naming your bank alt. If you have the habit of keeping alt names similar (having "Lec" or "Morbid" in all your names), avoid doing this for your bank alt.
Once you have your bank alt selected and run to your city of choice, it's time to get the character ready to handle your future gold-making enterprise. Since bank alts are mostly used for storage, mailing, and posting auctions, we will be focusing on ways to optimize these aspects.
Since most of your bank alt's time will consist of carrying goods around (mailbox to Auction House, mailbox to bank, and bank to Auction House being your most frequent trips), being able to carry more items at a time can drastically cut down on the number of trips needed, thus saving you time. Each character's backpack starts with a base, 16-slot bag with 4 additional bag slots. Assuming you use the Royal Satchel, a 28-slot bag, you can potentially expand your carrying capacity to 128 general-purpose slots. However, using the top-end bags can be costly; so when you're starting out, you can use the much cheaper 16-slot Netherweave Bag or the 18-slot Frostweave Bag, giving you 80 and 88 slots of carrying capacity respectively.
Players who tend to move from bank alt to bank alt (abandoning one and setting up shop on another) like to use bags that don't become soulbound on being equipped, and so can be sent from character to character, saving you the cost of replacing the bags each time. The largest of these bags are the Traveler's Backpack that has 16 slots and the Journeyman's Backpack that has 14 slots. If you find these bags during your adventures in Azeroth, be sure to hold on to them as they may come in handy.
It's recommended that you stick with using Frostweave Bags until you find that your storage's carrying capacity has reached its limit. Generally, this will happen once you've started using your third or fourth profession to full effect.
The following screenshot shows the bag bar:
If you find yourself tight on space but storing a large amount of a certain type of material, you can opt to use profession-specific bags. These offer increased space in exchange for limits on what items you can place in them. Currently, the largest bag for most professions has 36 item slots. The bags for each profession are as follows:
Of all the primary profession-specific bags available currently, only the Leatherworking Bags do not have a 36-slot variant. The largest Leatherworking Bag, called Trapper's Traveling Pack, has a capacity of only 28 slots. So if you do a lot of leatherworking, it would be most beneficial just to stick to the Royal Satchel, which has the same capacity but lets you place any class's item in it. Additionally, the only Cooking Bag, the Portable Refrigerator, has only 32 slots to store your cooking materials in.
Beware that not all items involved in a profession can be placed in the bag dedicated to that profession. There are items, either by design or by omission, in several of the professions that cannot be placed in their proper bags. This, however, is more of an inconvenience than anything since the items are usually vendor items or other parts that you will not need to keep in stock anyway.
As the name suggests, a bank alt does a lot of banking; this in World of Warcraft means holding items until they are needed (either for use or for sale). Every character gets a bank accessible from any city that features a basic 28 slots of storage; this can then be expanded with up to seven bag slots (each unlocked for a relatively small fee). Assuming that you opt for the largest all-purpose bag, which is the Royal Satchel with a 28-slot capacity, and fill all seven bag slots with them, your bank capacity is expanded to 228 slots of general-purpose storage.
Banks as storage are an excellent use for profession-specific bags since they are typically used for the long-term storage of multiple items. Consider arranging your storage system so each character takes on a different class of items; this lets you fully make use of the extra storage granted by profession-specific bags.
It's not uncommon for players to make use of every single character on their roster for extra banking space and, in fact, it is recommended as it is an excellent, cost-effective storage solution. Many players have alts that they don't do much with anyway, and thus they have smaller storage requirements for their day-to-day activities; this means more storage space is available for your gold-making enterprises. Assuming that there is a maximum of 11 characters per server, this means you can store 2508 items in banks alone.
When you find that one bank can't hold you any more, you can seek alternative banking options, mainly guild banks. For a bit of gold, you can quickly get enough signatures to form your very own guild. If you are unsure about the process of forming a guild, you can find a guide at http://xsinthis.net/guides/creating-a-guild-in-world-of-warcraft, which will walk you through the process of creating a guild.
From there, you can immediately start buying bank tabs; you can buy up to 6 tabs without unlocking guild achievements. Each tab has 98 slots; so with 6 tabs, a fresh guild bank can expand your storage capacity by 588 item slots, bringing your grand total of storage capacity to 816 item slots of general storage on one character—certainly a fearsome amount.
When worse comes to worst, you can resort to leaving items in the mailbox as a pseudo-storage. Standard mail will wait in a character's mailbox for up to 30 days before it will be returned to the sender, at which point it stays there for 30 days before finally being deleted. This means that, in a bind, you can store items in a mailbox for up to 60 days before you have to do anything with them, and usually you can just mail them back and restart the 60-day process. Since the mailbox has infinite storage (you can only see the latest 50 items), you can theoretically make use of unlimited storage for next to nothing.
It's easy to forget about mail on a derelict alt. So make sure you check your alts at least every 30 days! Certain add-ons, such as Altoholic, have features that will remind you of expiring mail.
There have been reports of items (in mailboxes) being lost, usually on patch days. Try to get all your items into proper storage whenever you can, and use the mailbox only as a last resort to avoid any mishaps with disappearing items.
As in any business endeavor, chances are if you do well you're going to tread on some toes, intentionally or otherwise, and make a few enemies. These enemies will, obviously, take a dislike to you and will, from time to time, express their displeasure with you via in-game mail or even whispers.
When this happens, it is suggested that you remain cordial with them at all times. These players are angry; if provoked, they can be problematic for you. While it's a big server with lots of players, certain individuals will take it upon themselves to try and destroy you. Just remember to stay calm and in most cases you can go about as usual.
Remember these guidelines while dealing with competitors, at least at the beginning as you're getting your bearings straight:
Be as polite as you would be in the office
Don't wage your own wars against anyone
Avoid any malicious actions against the market
If you stick to these guidelines, you should have no trouble dealing with other players.
Your most valuable resource when it comes to gold-making will be what professions you have available. We'll be discussing how to use these in detail in later chapters, but for now we will quickly go over what the best professions to pick up are so you can hit the ground running.
If you already have leveled professions, keep those and work with them at the start; it will be much cheaper and less of a hassle!
Again, if you already have these professions on characters, you don't have to worry about rearranging them and the small benefit you gain from pairing them isn't worth it for most people to completely redo their professions:
Jewelcrafting and Enchanting
Engineering and Blacksmithing
Alchemy and Inscription
Leatherworking and Tailoring
Mining and Herbalism
These pairings are recommended but not required as they are set up to reduce the amount of mailing you will have to do between characters, and also reduce the amount of switching between characters. If you already have max level or near max level professions, it might be easier for most players to leave them as they are and work around what they have.
You don't necessarily need the gathering professions associated with your crafting professions to use them effectively! Later on in the book, we will be discovering how to use the Auction House to supply your crafting professions, so feel free to dump your gathering professions until you have more room.
Professions, such as Tailoring, Blacksmithing, and Leatherworking, that craft a lot of armor are best placed on characters; you will be spending a lot of time in Player versus Environment (PvE) content. Blizzard has a tendency of making a requirement of many of the crafts in these professions' items that are Bind-on-Pickup, so you will have to gather them yourself.
There are three main classifications for items that determine who they can be traded to:
Bind on Equip: These items can be traded to any character, assuming it hasn't been used yet. Many crafting materials are considered Bind on Equip despite the fact that they can't be equipped since there are no trading restrictions.
Bind on Account: These are items that can be traded (via mail) to any character so long as it is on the same
Battle.netaccount; that is, they can be traded to any of your other characters but not to someone else.
Extra Alchemy transmutes
Buying Enchanting materials
Engineering mounts and goggles
Purchasing extra herbs
Purchasing rare inks
Making extra Jewelcrafting discoveries
Keep in mind that, while everything in this list is strictly optional, having access to these can be a huge leg up over competitors that don't have them.
At the time of writing, the Spirit of Harmony items are Bind on Pickup only but Blizzard is discussing making them Bind to Account so that they can be traded across characters on the same
Battle.net account at a future time.
You will be doing a lot of work in a process called shuffle; we will get into more detail in Chapter 3, Exploring Your Major Income Sources. In this process, certain professions are more important than others. So, if you are missing professions, I suggest you prioritize them as follows:
This list prioritizes professions based on which professions are typically most useful, and is designed to get you making as much gold as you can as soon as possible.
The gold-making opportunities for the secondary professions (First Aid, Cooking, Fishing, and Archaeology) are slim, so don't worry about leveling them so far as gold-making goes. Secondary professions are best on main characters as they benefit other aspects of play, such as raiding or PvP, more than gold-making.
Mists of Pandaria, like all expansions before it, introduces new levels in each profession. In Mists of Pandaria, the new 525-600 skill range for each profession requires Zen Master training in that profession to reach (this can be taught at 500 skill by any profession trainer). Unfortunately for those who have a hard time leveling new characters (for reasons such as not having the time, no patience for leveling, or whatever the cause), Zen Master requires a minimum level of 80 for a character to learn. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can employ to speed up the leveling processes if you don't have the time or will to do it the old-fashioned way:
If you only level while you have rested experience, you can nearly halve your leveling time.
Death Knights, while limited to one per server, start at level 55 (58 by the time you leave the starting area). Use a Death Knight to skip the first half of the leveling processes and skip right to the fun part of alts.
If you have a derelict account, you can use Blizzard's new Scroll of Resurrection to give the account 7 days of free play and a free, level-80 character. If you don't want to continue maintaining a second account, you can pay to transfer the character to your main account.
If you refer a new friend, you can make use of the Recruit-a-Friend's 200 percent experience bonus for characters that you level together! If you're willing to spend some extra money, you can run an extra account (or four!) and dual or multibox for the same experience-boosting effect.
Some holidays, such as the Midsummer Fire Festival, can grant you buffs to experience.
While you are leveling a new alt, don't worry about leveling a new crafting profession at the same time. In fact, you should pick up dual gathering professions for the duration of the leveling process. If you pick up Mining and Herbalism, you get experience for each skill-granting node you gather; plus you can store the materials (that you gather) for leveling up professions at a later date. Another popular option is picking up only one of these professions (Mining or Herbalism) and then picking up Skinning as your second profession. Skinning has the benefit of not requiring you to go out of your way to collect materials; most of the time, you'll be skinning mobs you have to kill anyway.
Once you reach a certain point leveling alts, you will find that you have more spaces for professions than there are in the game. If you reach that point, you should consider stacking multiple copies of certain professions for extra benefit.
You can't put the same profession on one character twice; keep this in mind when planning professions!
Some professions traditionally have a cooldown on crucial items, so you can only make a set amount of the said item each day. Currently the professions with cooldowns are:
Alchemy with its Transmute cooldown
Tailoring with Imperial Silk
Blacksmithing with Lightning Steel Ingot
Leatherworking with Magnificence of Leather and Magnificence of Scales
As mentioned earlier, some professions need certain Bind on Pickup items such as Spirit of Harmony, so it could be beneficial having multiple copies of these professions on toons if you play them frequently (or even semi-frequently):
Finally, Jewelcrafting also takes some time to research all the end-game cuts. So if you have multiple Jewelcrafters, you can get a leg up on the competition when new cuts are introduced (such as new expansion releases and patches when epic gems are introduced).
Once you've decided which professions you want and have the space on a character to learn it (remember that each character can only know two primary professions at a time), it's simply time to dive in. If you leveled with gathering professions, you should already have most of the materials required to level; if not, a trip to your friendly neighborhood Auction House can quickly remedy the problem.
Use resources such as the profession-leveling guides at http://www.wow-professions.com/ to help expedite the leveling process and reduce the amount of materials you will need.
Along with the primary professions (limited to two per character) discussed so far, each character can pick up secondary professions: Fishing, Cooking, First Aid, and Archaeology. Unlike primary professions, a character can have all four of these professions at the same time.
While generally not involved in gold-making, these professions do have some limited use with certain markets, niche markets if you will. Because of this and the nature of the professions, you only need one set of these per server. So it's suggested that you place these on your main character or the character you spend most time with outside gold-making, as many of the benefits of these professions don't strictly have to do with gold-making. Several of these professions also do better on characters that have more time logged on them, so you're killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, by placing them on your main character.
The Terms of Service, the large unavoidable wall of text every player just skips through (and agrees to!) is very important for making gold if you don't want to have your account taken away. While it would be unrealistic to expect players to read through it in its entirety, it is highly recommended. In lieu of that, however, here are some important things you should avoid in your quest to make gold if you value your account.
Chances are if you are reading this book you have already decided this is not an option, but it warrants a discussion either way. Gold-buying is the process of paying real currency for in-game gold and is against the Terms of Service and possibly illegal in some areas as the gold is Blizzard's property and is not for sale.
While many players buy gold with impunity and never get caught, there are consequences if you do get caught, ranging from the less severe removal of gold and items to the much more severe action of your account being banned. This also undermines the legitimate World of Warcraft economy and hinders your legitimate attempts to make gold. Besides, isn't making the gold yourself much more fulfilling?
Botting is the act of using third-party software, or bots, to perform in-game tasks for you and is against the Terms of Service. These pieces of software are usually used to automate tedious parts of the game that are sometimes required but not necessarily enjoyable. One of the more common uses is to "farm" or gather large amounts of base materials, such as ores, herbs, and leather, used by professions.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to avoid dealing with people who bot and with the goods they produce since they don't look any different from the average player and the materials they produce aren't marked in any way to indicate they are contraband. The best route to go here is to avoid dealing with players who openly admit to using bots and to stick to buying off the Auction House if you're unsure, as the Auction House is generally considered by Blizzard to be safe.
If you are unsure whether or not an add-on or software is against the Terms of Service, there is a checklist you can run through. If the software or add-on does any of the following, it is against the Terms of Service:
The software or add-on generates events in the game without the player having to do anything
The software or add-on generates more than one hardware event in the game (per instance of the game running) for every hardware event the user generates
The reason for this checklist is that there is software that allows players to multibox—this clones hardware events to each copy of the game you have running, but only in a 1:1 ratio, and that is the key.
From time to time, changes in the game's code allow for less-than-scrupulous characters to trick the game into giving them extra items. As with the previously mentioned activities, this too is against the ToS and can get you banned if you participate in it. If you knowingly buy duped items, you can have the items taken away from you without any refund of your hard-earned gold. The rule of thumb here is: if it's too good to be true (say a sudden spike in the supply of a super rare mount at rock-bottom prices), it most likely is; so proceed with caution.
Selling arena rankings
Selling character levelling
Basically, if it isn't covered in this book, it's likely that either it's against the Terms of Service or the method just plain doesn't work.
In this chapter, we have discussed setting up your bank alts, choosing professions, setting up your other characters, and setting goals for yourself; additionally, we have discussed the hazards of activities against Blizzard's Terms of Service. You should now be prepared to get your feet wet and start making gold!
In the next chapter, we will discuss ways to make gold that you can use while you're still laying the groundwork for your gold-making empire. And remember, "Time is money, friend."