HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Inscription and Demand

Xata in an (empty) Inscription shop in Dalaran

Xata in an (empty) Inscription shop in Dalaran

Right before I transferred my Shaman, Xata, back to Barthilas I dropped Skinning for Inscription. I leveled it to 415 in about 24 hours. Inscription is a strange profession. I chose it for Xata for several reasons:

  • As a herbalist, she has easy access to the raw materials required for Inscription
  • Scribes are relatively thin on the ground on Barthilas
  • There is only 1 Scribe in my guild and he’s often not online
  • If I was going to get serious about raiding with Xata I needed secondary professions, not two gathering professions with mild passive bonuses
  • I didn’t want to redo the Sons of Hodir grind

Those reasons remain true and valid (except for that last one now that the shoulder enhancements are Bind to Account). But now that I can make a whole bunch of glyphs, Darkmoon cards, vellum and junk a part of my brain still can’t quite adjust to this profession. And it’s the part of my brain that wonders how it’s possible to make gold out of Inscription.

I hope it doesn’t sound too greedy, but really, if I go to the effort and expense of maxing out a secondary profession I’d like to know how to get some of that investment back. I know what you’re thinking. It’s what I used to think too:

Just make a bunch of every type of glyph, get some AH addons that do all the listing and sell them all for 3g 99s each.

I’ve read Tobold’s article that compares the successful glyph seller to a bargain basement pencil seller. I didn’t like it even though I understood his argument. I’ve skim read some of the How to Make Gold type stuff posted on MMO-Champion. It’s good to know that even extremely smart players trolling the Auction House need Addons to manage their goods. But neither point of view sounds quite right to me.

They write about Inscription as though there is constant and continuous demand for glyphs from players. I don’t think the market feels like that at all.

First off, let me explain the first ummm, lets call it a discrepancy, that my brain struggles to get past: demand. Where is the demand? Who buys glyphs? And how often? There are three types of players and their glyphs as far as I can see it:

  1. Buys glyphs suitable for leveling, while leveling. Changes those glyphs for something more suitable when they reach max level. Never changes their glyphs again.
  2. Bought the “best” glyphs once. Never changes their glyphs again.
  3. End game raiders (or PVPers, I guess) who will replace their least beneficial major glyph with a glyph that will help them for just one fight – then change back to their standard major glyph immediately afterwards.

Until recently I was definitely in group #2. When we reached Algalon I moved into group #3.

Cassandri, my Shadow Priest, has had the same 6 glyphs since the week/month that Inscription was first introduced to the game. My 3 minors are all suitably helpful: Levitate, Fortitude and Shadowfiend. Occasionally I consider replacing my Glyph of Shadowfiend (since Blizzard have made him near invulnerable to AOE damage) but I’m content with this choice for now.

I also have 3 major glyphs and I consider the weakest to be the Glyph of Shadow. For Heroic Anub’arak and Algalon I would replace my Glyph of Shadow for a Glyph of Mind Sear or Glyph of Dispersion respectively. So now I carry a couple of each of these “short life” glyphs in my inventory. Alongside some spare Glyph of Shadow so I can swap back to my standard setup afterwards.

Even so, at the most I was purchasing 2 glyphs per week. During the slow progression weeks, I buy zero.

For my Shaman and Rogue? I never deviated from the standard “cookie-cutter” glyphs that I bought them at level 80. I couldn’t even tell you what glyphs they are.

Other Secondary Professions and Demand

Blacksmithing, Leatherworking and Tailoring remain relevant as armor recipes are introduced into the game with each patch. Tailors can make spellthread. Blacksmiths can make belt buckles. Leatherworkers can make leg patches. Armor crafting, as far as I can see, spikes in demand when the materials to craft the newest, latest armor items are affordable to many. Usually several weeks or a month after new raid content has been released.

Enchanting and Jewelcrafting are always in demand when new gear is introduced, when bosses are dropping upgrades for raiders. You need Black Magic and a couple Haste gems for that new sword? No problem. The demand for item enhancement increases when a large proportion of the realm are receiving new gear: it peaks not long after new raid content is released and then slows down as raiders stop progressing.

Alchemy will always have demand in that serious raiders will consistently attend raids and use a flask throughout the course of a Patch. Even when they stop progressing, stop getting gear upgrades and have their crafted armor they will still raid and still consume their flask of choice.

I won’t comment on Engineering. Don’t they make bullets or something now?

Inscription and Demand

Now lets consider Inscription.

The Darkmoon cards that you can craft in order to form an epic trinket (for a hefty materials cost) were very valuable at the release of Wrath of the Lich King when the Darkmoon Faire trinkets were on par, or in many cases superior, to trinkets from raiding. Now these cards/decks have very little value at all. The materials to craft these cards have not reduced in cost.

Scribes can create various Armor and Weapon Vellum used by Enchanters to put their wares on the Auction House. But on most servers, players (now spoon-fed Enchanting mats right into their inventory), perfer to tip a fee for the services of an Enchanter rather than pay a flat fee (and more expensive fee, once the Enchanter has added in the cost of the Vellum) and buy a Enchant Scroll on the Auction House.

And the demand for glyphs? I still don’t see it.

For any given class/spec, even if you narrow down to the small band of players who fit into Group 3 (the group willing to consume one glyph for a single fight) at the most you’re looking at potentially 3 or so major glyphs that will be on their shopping list.

Alternatively you can hope to sell 6 glyphs to every single character that reaches maximum level. And hope that there are lot of players creating alts instead of spending time playing just 1 character.

Or you could trawl through future patch release information and hope to cash in on a brand new glyph or a change to an existing glyph that might increase demand among existing level 80s.

15 Responses to “Inscription and Demand”

  1. And this is the same problem I’ve found with Inscription. I’ve read all Gevlon’s stuff, and I do try it out, but I just don’t make money. I have glyphs that sit forever on my bank, because they just won’t sell. I don’t know all the classes well enough to know which glyphs will be best for them, because there are a lot of bad glyphs.

    Where are the random raid drop recipes? The rep recipes? Inscription just isn’t fun. I know lots of people make tons of money from it, but TBH, for most of them, I think if they actually kept track of what they spend on it, and what they get back, it really would not be that impressive. For some, they just have a great server for glyphs. And for others, maybe there is a different level of competition. Or maybe I’m just stupid, I dont know, but I cannot for the life of me make money with Inscription, except possible by selling the best ink.

    I made this whole post on the forums about why Inscription needs some serious work, and everyone told me to stop QQing. I’m not whining about it, but it just seems… seriously unfinished. Like they put it in, and then got distracted by other things, and forgot to complete it the way they did with other professions.

    One thing they are starting to do write is make raid-wide scroll buffs. I hope they bring some more in later.
    .-= Miss Medicina’s last blog … Miss Medicina’s Best of ‘09 =-.

  2. Without changing the main point of your article, there is a fourth category of glyph buyers: experimenters who are trying new talent builds either because a spec has been recently buffed (Destro in 3.1, Affliction in 3.3) or because there’s not a clear best choice for a given spec.

    That said, the glyph business looks like a ruthless business to be in. Margins are very low, competition is high, and demand IS limited. It is highly popular due to people like Gevlon and the abundance of gold-selling articles about it, as well as the easy availability of the required tools. It’s hard to establish a competitive advantage over someone when everyone is using the same tools and strategies. You have to be extremely diverse in your product and willing to move huge numbers of glyphs around to make a large profit.

    Selling inks seems to be a more consistent way to make money for most scribes. I think it’s because the demand is less spiky – the people competing in the glyph business are more reliable customers than glyph buyers – and because it’s based on adding actual value to something, turning something with low value (herbs, pigments) into something more specifically useful (inks).

    I agree that the offhands and trinket market is basically gone. Your only market is the fresh 80 who has money but no guild connections to run a lot of instances, and with the new DF even that market is gone. (Though I hate to admit it, I still use my Ironbound Tome. I haven’t gotten a replacement offhand since I dinged 80).

    The final part which I think you glossed over is how poorly Inscription fares at the lower levels. Many of the other professions either give you great benefits while leveling (Engineering) or let you create items that are valuable while leveling (Tailoring, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, etc). The only thing Inscription offers is glyphs, which, aside from being a terrible market to try to break into, has very few purchases as people level. You’ll buy a total of 6, maybe 12 glyphs if you dual spec, over the course of leveling to 80. Players buy much more in the way of gear and enchants as they level.

    Inscription is tough.
    .-= Cynwise of Stormwind’s last blog … The Christmas Truce =-.

  3. PapaNastyNo Gravatar says

    Now I don’t have inscription, but I’m relatively sure that it should be a pretty profitable profession. Although I think that yes AH mods + a milling mod are ment to be extremely helpful.

    Darkmoon cards, in particular nobles decks, are always going to sell very well. I’m not sure on current prices, but I think they still go for around 4k, when I had ppl mill herbs for me to make a few which I sold, I think it cost me around 3k in herbs to make each one (Herbs are cheaper now tho). And you get all of the additional cards / decks to sell aswell.

    Runescrolls are something you forgot too, not sure what the margins are like on them though. But they are super handy for 10s.

    Some glyphs do have good margins too, I know some of the ones I need to occasionally buy when I’m swapping glyphs for Anub etc are around the 30-50g mark, likewise if I swap my dualspec to holy (That’s only going to apply to tri spec hybrids tho)

    Anywho, just my 2c, again, I don’t have inscription, but I’d assume theres good gold to be made. In saying that, I still think it’s crap tho lol. Since the ingame benefit isn’t that good anyway.

  4. ChristineNo Gravatar says

    Off-topic: Just browsing and came across your lovely blog site. and read a few of your topics very nice! keep it up. and Happy New Year to you! Take care hon <3
    .-= Christine's last blog … First Day of the Year 2010! =-.

  5. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    @Cyn You’re right of course, I did kind of gloss over experimenting… except that’s largely due to Patch changes. In the last Patch released they introduced 3 or 4 new glyphs. And I think some Hunters were looking for the Glyph of Aimed Shot due to a Patch change. You’d think these would sell very high by but peak raiding time that first night after Patch the market was flooded and everything was down to standard pricing.

    As for Inscriptions usefulness while leveling? I doubt there is much. But that’s true of the armor crafting professions too really.

    @Papa I don’t know what kind of cards you sold but the three that I ended up with sold for about 25g each. And it took me over a week to unload them.

    @Miss Medicina I still think the profession is flawed in that it doesn’t tie into gear and gear upgrades. It’s a talent change.
    .-= Cassandri’s last blog … Inscription and Demand =-.

  6. BerryNo Gravatar says

    Ahhhh you missed the actual profit :)

    Armor vellum
    weapon vellum

    I am not a major mover and shaker in my market, but I sell armor and weapon vellums every single day.

    I sell every single one I list every single day

    Now, I don’t list vast numbers, but they _always_ sell.

    Sell weapon vellums in singles. They are significantly more expensive to create. Sell armor vellums in a mix of 1s, 5s, and 20s. Some people want them to send an enchant to an alt. Some people buy them and then use them to list scrolls on the AH. (also profitable) Some people buy them in conjunction with leveling enchanting.

    Your server may be different, but I made my money back from leveling the skill, plus enough for dual spec, then cold weather flight, then epic flight…

  7. SorceNo Gravatar says

    Since the margin on glyphs is so small that you are weighing volume vs. return as well as timing at this point. If you flood the market right after a patch you can see a significant return on investment as players upgrade/change/experiment. That will peak rather quickly, of course.

    I think that the money-making in this profession is in keeping the AH stocked and not focusing on big returns. Keeping a steady supply of glyphs in the AH captures all 3 (or 4) categories you list. It’s akin to have a Super Wal-Mart in your neighborhood (at least in the US).

    They sell a wide cross-section of merchandise in one location which satisfies most consumers. They also undercut prices to drive out local competition. This serves to ensure a baseline supply of constantly in-demand merchandise/ They also don’t cater to the expensive or high-end items of specialty stores; therefore they milk the most of their margin.

    So … keep the AH stocked with the most common glyphs and you will make a moderate return since you are stocking the shelves and avoid a large loss by not focusing on specialty or high-end glyphs.

  8. PaininaboxNo Gravatar says

    Selling glyphs is profitable; it just depends on the conditions on your server. Rest assured, there is a demand for glyphs despite your misgivings. I regularly have about 500 glyphs up most of the time on the AH on my server and 96% of them fail, which is fine considering the deposit is miniscule. Despite that, I can easily rake in several thousand gold a week from glyphs alone. The average price to make a glyph on servers is around 3 gold, but you can easily sell many for 10-30 depending on competition and demand, which equates to large profit margins. The key to why it works is that there are too many glyphs for 90% of people to produce and maintain stock, thus if you can develop a workflow with mods and the like to overcome the hurdles of large scale production, then you’re golden with a cash cow that runs itself.

    You underestimate the number of people constantly leveling up on your realm, plus people that just change their glyphs up now and again for whatever reason. There is a demand, evidenced by the many people how make tons of money off of them (Gevlon). It just requires patience, an efficient work flow, and the will to stick it through the first part when competition seemingly shuts you out. Eventually they will recognize you’re there to stay in the market and you won’t be discouraged by their camping the AH and undercutting you by a couple silver.

  9. nadirNo Gravatar says

    Everything Paininabox says is exactly correct. The demand is there, even though it may not seem like there should be any. How well you do depends on how much competition there is and how good you are at managing thoushands of items of inventory and auctions. Personally, I make between 200g and 3kg per day form gylphs, vellums, and runescrolls. Since LK came I’ve done especially well (15k/week), just because there’s a lot of player activitiy in general.

    Beware though, you might get demoralized if you don’t know what you’re doing. Glyphs is srs bizness :)

  10. ArgonNo Gravatar says

    I didn’t have any success making money off of glyphs (the huge number of things you have to keep track of was too much for me without any automation), but I will say there is a huge market for leveling up. I made lots of money by selling level 78 blue PvP gear during the first 6 months of Wrath, which was presumably being bought by fresh 80s looking to gear up for Heroics pre-3.2. This suggests to me that there’s a fairly huge market for categories 1 and 2. Although at this point in the expansion cycle there are far less people hitting 80 than there used to be!

  11. TyphusNo Gravatar says

    Papa was talking about the nobles cards, these are used to get the greatness trinkets and they do still sell for alot, and are the only cards really trying to make. The next best deck to try and make would be the Undeath deck, which that sells for ar0und 1k+ on barth depending on the time of the month. I can see that there would be away to make lots of gold out of the sale of the fort scrolls, last time i check i think they were selling for 5g each. The thing that i mind most handy with inscription on my pally is the Shoulder enchants they are much better then the sons of hodir ones and the scrolls which let u hearth, when i was lvling my herbing i would cast a lower scroll on purpose so i would end up in some random place to just farm some herbs, plus its always fun to try and guess where u will end up.

  12. OleanderNo Gravatar says

    I recently bought 3 each of all my tree, bear, and moonkin glyphs so I could switch my specs around as any particular raid night demanded. That’s the first time I’ve bought glyphs in six months. 9 glyphs in six months isn’t much… until you multiply it by the zillions of people on the server. So there should be a steady demand, but it’s probably not anything like the demand for Cardinal Rubies.

  13. NatarumahNo Gravatar says

    I make little profit off the glyphs my inscriptor makes – however, they are essentially “free”. What I do is buy stacks of herbs placed cheaply on the AH (say 10-13 gold each on my server’s AH) and mill them. I generally get 1-2 snowfall ink out of each, which sells for 14-17 gold average. My stacks just paid for themselves, plus some parchments.

    Glyphs go from anywhere 2g to 12g generally, and I undercut by enormous margins; this way I am guaranteed to sell at least 10 glyphs a day, with minimal effort. It’s not a huge profit, but it’s some.

    However, compared to a transmuter turning 40 gold worth of mats into a 150 gold epic gem, it’s peanuts. Without the advantage of the shoulder enchants’ rep grind avoidance, Inscription’s not very shiny.

    Runescrolls of Fortitude do sell, but my profit on those is at most 1 or 2 gold each. I could max out my profits by selling snowfall inks and runescrolls, roughly 100 gold a day I would estimate.

    I generally avoid experimenting with selling the common Ink of the Sea, since the prices are huge one day (10 gold per ink) and bottom low the next (1 gold per ink) and it’s thus a very risky investment. The moment you list them, prices could have halved.
    .-= Natarumah’s last blog … Happy holidays! =-.

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