Recently a guildie asked me if I would help him farm the materials for a new crafted item he wanted. Now, it’s a fairly common occurrence in World of Warcraft that crafted items are often worth less than the items required to create them. However, early into an item’s availability (new recipe in the game, or expansion just released, etc.) the crafted item is often at its peak price due to limited supply (a smaller pool of people that can craft the item) and significant demand (lots of people that can, or would like to, use the item- including the crafter himself). Thus, if you want a crafted item for yourself at a time when the item is worth than the required materials the best thing to actually do is sell a few of the item. That’s right… even though you want the item for yourself the best way to get it is to sell it. Let me explain:
In this case, the crafted item desired by my friend was the Moonshroud robe. A nice robe for any level 80 caster but a huge upgrade to my friend in this case. The robe itself has been selling for about 1900G on my server which he considered too expensive. In his opinion, his only hope to obtain the robe would be to farm 1900 gold and purchase one outright or to farm the raw materials and have one crafted. He decided to go the route of farming mats and drew up a plan about which to attain the basic items he required:
60 Frostweave Cloth (to create 12 Bolts of Frostweave)
12 Infinite Dust (to turn the 12 Bolts into 6 Imbued Frostweave)
8 Moonshroud (requiring an additional 8 bolts of Imbued Frostweave and 16 Eternal Life)
1 Eternium thread
1 Frozen Orb
My friend’s plan was to run approximately 5 heroic dungeons to attain the frozen orb (assuming a 1 in 5 chance to win the orb per run). During the runs he figured he’d attain enough green item drops to cover the infinite dust and the required amount of Frostweave Cloth from mobs. Eternium thread is available from vendors and the tricky item would be the Moonshroud as that’s on a tailoring cooldown timer of four days. Even if these calculations were correct, he’d be looking at a significant time investment to attain the materials.
So, while he was busy trying to get a group together for some heroic runs to get started, I decided to hit the auction house. The first item I scanned was the Moonshroud which was selling for an average of 120 gold each. The Frozen Orbs go for 100g. The Frostweave cloth was priced at about 1.5 gold per item and the infinite dust was about 5 gold each but I was able to avoid this expense and save a few gold by buying already crafted Imbued Frostweave at a cost cheaper than the materials required to make the bolts.
All said and done the materials to craft the robe broke down as follows:
6 Imbued Frostweave @ 25G each= 150G
8 Moonshroud @ 120G each= 960G
1 Frozen Orb @ 100G
1 Eternium Thread @ 3G
Total cost to craft the item = 1213G
Using only items from the auction house, I would be able to craft one and sell it for 687 gold profit. Using that as a metric it would mean that if I invested the required 1213G upfront and had one crafted I would only have to repeat the process twice to afford cost of the materials to make one myself using only the profit from the previous sales. And that’s exactly what I did. While my friend was busy planning our heroic dungeon runs and getting a decent group together, I purchased all of the materials and had a tailor craft me one for a 25G tip. I put the robe up for sale at a buy out of 1899G and it sold later that night. The next day I repeated the process (I would have done it the same day but the required materials are still in somewhat limited availability and buying them all at once would drive up the price) and sold another. So far, I had made 687 Gold on each item. This price doesn’t include crafter tip, auction house cut, the 1 G less that I priced the item or, most importantly, the cost of my time investment so a rough estimate of final amount of profit is about 620 each or 1240 profit in total. On the third day I repeated the process a final time; only this time I did not sell the crafted item and instead gave it to my guildie. He was quite happy (so far he’d only attained about a third of the items he needed) and I still made about 30G because the mats for the one I game him still cost about 1213G and I had made approximately 1240G in profit from crafting and selling two of them previously.
The moral of the story is that, for crafted items that you desire, sometimes the cheapest place to farm the materials is the auction house. By being patient and selling the initially crafted items we can profit enough to afford the item at no cost to ourselves. Even better, in general the cost of crafted items only goes down with time as more and more people both attain the capability to create the item (driving up supply) and more and more people get the item (driving down demand). Thus, if you really want to profit, just craft and sell the item until the price drops to the point where the materials cost more than the crafted item. At that point is the exact moment when the crafty WoWeconomist should know to hold on to it, but prior to that it’s sell, sell, sell.