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:
- Herbs (gathered using Herbalism)
- Milling into Inks (using Inscription)
- 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:
- 2 x Azure Pigment
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
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.
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!