Cold wanted to know what used to sell well, and now doesn't, and what we could learn from it, over at Cold's Gold Blogging Carnival.
Long ago, my mage banker Fuill spent most of her time at the auction house, buying a bit of this, selling a bit of that. Well, after a while, she got bored and started running around Elwynn Forest and Westfall like anyone else would, levelling. But she had to keep going back to the auction house, and that severely cramped her levelling. So she decided to take up PvP, once she got to level 15 and qualified for Warsong Gulch. She collected some gear through questing, but quickly realized that if she was to take PvP seriously, she really had to stop levelling at level 19: a level 19 PvPer was at the top of her bracket, a level 20 PvPer was at the bottom.
Since she hadn't set out at level 1 to be a PvPer, she hadn't optimised her levelling for collecting the best PvP gear, and since in those times you couldn't switch off XP gain, then she could no longer go questing for new gear - from that point on, all her gear would have to come from the Auction House.
I helped her out. As a tailor, I was able to find two important pieces of gear that were excellent for level 19, the best you could buy: Spidersilk Boots and Spidersilk Drape. I quickly found that Fuill wasn't the only one who wanted this gear. There were plenty of other cloth-wearers who found themselves in Warsong Gulch and would pay top dollar for the best gear they could get. Of course, the Spider's Silk was expensive at auction, and rare, because people in Duskwood often didn't realize how valuable it was, and wouldn't bother to loot it. More than once I spent a half hour in Duskwood myself, killing spiders for their silk, and advertising in general chat that I would buy any spider's silk that other people looted.
The market was great for me, though, because few other tailors were making Spidersilk gear. They either didn't notice that these low-level pieces sold at such a great price, or they didn't have the materials needed and weren't about to go and spend time and money on getting them in case the items didn't sell; and on the face of it, it looked like a price-fixing scam rather than a genuine sale price. Only Fuill's fellow twinks knew why they were so expensive.
That whole twink market died years ago. Ironically, it was killed by a twink: Besten, the twink rogue who will allow you to switch off XP. At the same time XP-locked twinks were put into twinks-only battlegrounds.
The first of these changes allowed genuine twinks to go out into the world again and do quests and kill mobs without fear of levelling. That meant that they could go out and get BoP gear that was previously unreachable to people like Fuill who became twinks by chance, and hadn't planned their levelling 1-19. For instance, they could now go out and get the Engineer's Cloak from Stonetalon. This was on a par with the Spidersilk Drape, and was free. Or they could go and run Wailing Caverns over and over until the Feyscale Cloak dropped. Similarly, they could go out to the Stranglethorn Vale and try to get Nat Pagle's Extreme Anglin' Boots. In other words, they were no longer limited to equipping themselves with what they could find on the Auction House.
At the same time, twink-only battlegrounds meant that twinks were having a harder time getting into battlegrounds, because there were relatively few of them. In turn that meant that fewer people started new twinks. Patch 3.2 knocked the heart out of the market.
As elsewhere in life, we have to expect change, and they have unexpected side-effects as well as planned effects. Luckily, I never stockpiled spider's silk, but this example and my frozen orb fiasco has convinced me not to bother stockpiling mats beyond the needs of the next few weeks. In fact, when I read gold gurus suggesting that we ought to stockpile this or that for an upcoming patch, I sometimes conclude that I ought to be dumping those same items in the run-up to the patch.
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