HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Inscription: The Production Line

Xata's collection of Inks, Parchments, Glyphs and Herbs

A collection of Herbs, Pigments, Inks and Parchments

What I really want to tell you about is my small business venture into the cutthroat world of glyph selling! But having first discussed the demand for glyphs I think I’d be missing a serious step if I cut straight to sales and ignored the actual crafting bit.

Inscription is all about the production of glyphs. Sure, scribes can make other stuff, but our bread and butter is glyphs. Consider the general steps you take from raw material to finished product:

  1. Herbs (gathered using Herbalism)
  2. Milling into Inks (using Inscription)
  3. Glyphs (using Inscription)

Seems pretty straight forward. But glyphs are one of the few, perhaps the only, finished product from secondary professions that we are quite happy to buy directly from the Auction House instead of shopping around or finding a reputable crafter and pay a service fee.

I believe that there’s just enough steps in the glyph creation process to turn off most non-scribes. It’s confusing at first glance, and to be totally honest, I didn’t understand the milling/ink system before I took up the profession myself. Even when I had friends who were scribes, I would still happily pay outrageous prices on the Auction House for the glyphs that I wanted. 

Lets consider the professions from a customer’s point of view – how I looked at glyphs prior to starting Inscription myself.

I bought most of my glyphs when Inscription was a new profession and prices were dictated by a grossly out-of-wack supply/demand situation. I mean, the entire server wanted glyphs. And the brand new scribes were struggling to level their profession to reach demand and then you reached a point where most of the desirable glyphs had to be discovered – one day at a time. The first scribe to discover that glyph definitely had a monopoly.

I paid anywhere between 50-80 gold per glyph at that time. And didn’t change them again.

Then, nearly a year later, I wanted to try out a different glyph for just one fight. The Glyph of Mind Sear was listed on Auction House for 20g. I asked a guild member, who I knew to be a scribe, if that was a fair price and, if not, would they craft it for me? I decided to buy the raw materials and send them to my guild mate.

Wowhead lists the materials for Glyph of Mind Sear as:

I clicked through and discovered that Resilient Parchment seemed pretty commonplace and easily purchases for a low, flat fee from vendors in Inscription shops. But how to get Ink of the Sea? Wowhead lists the materials for Ink of the Sea as:

By now I was getting a bit frustrated – I’d never heard of Azure Pigments either. More research shows that Azure Pigment is “commonly found when milling herbs native to Northrend.” I thought about buying some herbs from the Auction House – but I just wasn’t sure what herbs to buy, and in what quantity, to be guaranteed 2 Azure Pigments: milling produces a random result.

I bought the glyph on Auction House.

Random Procs and Milling

From Herbs milled into Pigments (proc), Pigments scribed into Inks, Inks + Parchment scribed into a Glyph

From Herbs milled into Pigments, Pigments scribed to Inks, Inks scribed to a Glyph

It takes a bit of knowledge, clearly more than I had at the time, to break down the production of glyphs in reverse. If you could mill a stack of 5 Icethorn and produce 5 Ink of the Sea I think Inscription would be quite a different profession.

Smart scribes will know the going rate for the commonly farmed herbs. For example, on my server, Lichbloom sells for approximately 25g per stack of 20, Icethorn only sells for about 18g per stack of 20. Herbalists tend to gather both herbs at the same time, from the same zones in Northrend.

Both Icethorn, Lichbloom and Adder’s Tongue mill to produce the exact same rate of pigments (eventually to become inks).

If you had 10 stacks of Lichbloom and wanted to produce Ink for glyphs you’d be better off selling your stacks of Lichbloom as is and buying up cheap stacks of Icethorn or Adder’s Tongue. Of these herbs, always mill the least expensive. And that’s even before we consider milling lower level Northrend herbs like Deadnettle, Talandra’s Rose, Tiger Lily and Goldclover.

In hindsight I can see that milling 5 Icethorn would have been enough to create 1 Glyph of Mind Sear. At its lowest proc rate milling a stack of 5 would return 2 Azure Pigments which is exactly the amount needed to create 1 Ink of the Sea.

The randomness of milling, a skill available to scribes not to herbalists, puts control back in the hands of the scribe.

Other Professions

This can be seen in other professions too. Consider the cost of producing Flask of the Frost Wyrm – which Alchemists can produce in batches of 2.

  • 5 Icethorn
  • 5 Lichbloom
  • 1 Frost Lotus
  • 1 Enchanted Vial
    68g (for 2 Flasks of the Frost Wrym)
    34g per Flask

So you would be right to think that an Alchemist would add on a small profit margin to cover their time (a crafter’s fee) of say 4-5g before listing the Flask on Auction House. Perhaps they would list the Flask for 38g.

But Flasks don’t work like that on Auction House. They are almost always exactly priced at half the cost of producing 2: there is no crafting fee or Postage & Handling mark ups.

An Elixir specialised Alchemist will occasionally produce 3, 4 or more Flasks for the cost of producing just 2 and that’s where the Alchemist makes a profit. Flasks are priced by Alchemists as though procs didn’t exist. If procs didn’t exist? I imagine that Alchemists would be listing their Flasks, undercutting their competitors and slowly dropping their profit margin from 4-5g per Flask into 40-50 silver.

/cheer for crafting procs!

15 Responses to “Inscription: The Production Line”

  1. TyphusNo Gravatar says

    When i leveled my Inscription on my pally on the first day it was released i got minor glyph polymorph for mages, which changes the sheep into pigs on the day there was only 1 other person who was lucky enough to have researched that glyph on the server, so we were selling them for 200g each.

    Oh Cass i would also like to add that adders tongue also has the same amount of chance to produce the same amount of Azure Pigments per 5 stack as what Icethorn and Lichbloom do

  2. nadirNo Gravatar says

    Adder’s Tongue is generally the best herb to mill. It’s usually the cheapest and produces the same amount of pigments as lichbloom and icethorn. Also, the main reason to aim for these 3 herbs is that they produce more than 2x as much snowfall as the cheaper herbs. The snowfall itself often covers the herb cost.

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      @Nadir and @Typhus Thank you for the reminder about Adder’s Tongue – have amended my post to include it. At the moment I have tons of Snowfall Ink so I’ve been buying up very inexpensive Deathnettle and Talandra’s Rose (at around 5g per stack) and milling that instead. I’ll have to keep an eye out for cheap Adder’s Tongue now too.

  3. PapaNastyNo Gravatar says

    Also your comments regarding flasks are pretty much on the money soto speak.

    Alchemists do usually run at a pretty solid margin on flasks, since most alchemists buy wholesale soto speak, rather than from the AH, and so get significantly cheaper prices than in the AH.

    Which is why it’s usually not profitable to list flasks unless you’re buying large amounts of herbs cheap, particularly as the bigger players often watch the AH like hawks, and if anyone undercuts them they will just undercut the person back. They’ll then continue to undercut their opposition even if they are making a loss by doing so, just to drive the competition out of the market.

  4. NatarumahNo Gravatar says

    In my personal experience, Adder’s Tongue is one of the best herbs to mill. It may be a folk tale, but it does seem to product lots of Snowfall Inks and the like. I also found it is often more profitable to sell the inks rather than the glyphs, since AH Goblins buy it to mass-produce their glyphs from.

    My Alchemist hasn’t sold a flask in months. If I go and herb enough (including the frost lotus) it is so much more profitable to sell the mats and buy flasks…I even specced my alchemist for Transmutation and do a single gem transmute every day. I consider it a free 100-125 gold for 5 minutes a day with hardly any movement (since that is the profit even after buying a base gem and an eternal, if I’d have to).

    I found that the Glyph market is run by bots, since they undercut all day long, and the cut gems are as well. So my main line of profit (rather than raiding) is raw epic gems, herbs and the occasional glyph that slips by the bots.
    .-= Natarumah’s last blog … 3.3.3 Profession ho-down =-.

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      Hmm I must look into buying Adder’s Tongue. If it’s so good, is it really the much cheaper than Icethorn?

  5. NatarumahNo Gravatar says

    Edit: My statements on Adder’s Tongue were obviously not needed – it was already mentioned above, doh!

    As for the inks, check if lower-level inks sell for more on the AH – you can convert inks at the Glyph trainer in Dalaran and sometimes make a weird amount of profit from this. (As Gevlon stated multiple times)
    .-= Natarumah’s last blog … 3.3.3 Profession ho-down =-.

  6. AnalogueNo Gravatar says

    My baby pally is trying to get into the inscriber business. My server is weird – many glyphs sell for 4-5g, others sell for 45g. The key? Who knows the recipe. There are certain scribes who obviously have a bit of a monopoly on some glyphs. I seem to be able to make a few of those monopoly glyphs so I’m trying to undercut.

    No profit on Snowfall ink at all – it sells for 8g while Ink of the Sea sells for 5g.

    Not sure about the bots but there’s definitely one sniping bid-only herb auctions, no human player could time things as beautifully. Going to try contracting a particular farmer I noticed selling herbs fairly cheap to provide me with some, not sure it’ll work.
    .-= Analogue’s last blog … Compulsive liars and RankWatch =-.

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      I think the glyph selling business is definitely unique depending on which server you play on. Although you’re right about the 5g vs 45g glyphs – I have a different theory about that, but that’s for another post!

      If you still need/want Snowfall Ink for Major Glyph Research I’d suggest trying to buy cheap Adder’s Tongue. If you don’t need Snowfall Deadnettle and the other lower level herbs sometimes sell for next to nothing (like half the price of Adder’s Tongue/Icethorn).

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