Its the inequitable truth that gold is much like the spice in World of Warcraft. The gold must flow for the games economy to remain healthy. WoWs economy operates on a constantly inflating fiat currency known as gold which is different from many trade based economies where resources (such as phat loot) have an intrinsic value for other resources (i.e. more phat loot). Since all loot binds to a character then there is little more to drive the economy than gold.
Gold itself comes from non-playable characters. Every PC in WoW is a sort of for-hire hero vigilante with a fistful of letters of marque that allow them to slay every evil-doer out there. These NPCs contain copper, silver, gold, and/or items that can traded to vendors which stack up gold. Quests (repeatable or not) also offer a secondary method for gold to enter the system. This gold is then moved either back into the game into meatsinks (such as mounts, reagents, vanity items, repairs, etc.) or moved through the auction house in exchange for goods.
See all of this amazing gold? Yeah, from farming herbs, doing dailies, and not spending any. Raiding too, of course.
The basic financial infrastructure of WoW requires that adventurers are constantly farming gold while the very same adventurers spend their money back to NPCs in order to balance out inflation. If there wasnt another outside variable, then every server of the same age would be about even in terms of whats what and how much gold is in the system. Of course, the cabal of gold sellers add in the Y factor that involves pulling more gold into the markets while putting none of it back. This inflates prices, increases the amount of available gold, and makes each server like a separate country.
If you understand all of this then you should have a basic grasp of how money is made and how it is spent. The only question now is how to best capitalize on the system to get the gold following into your coffers instead of being in someone elses pocket. Thats simple.
Basic Gold Farming
Gold is farmed in four different ways: farming NPCs for drops that sell on the auction house, farming herbs/ore/skins/shards and selling them on the auction house, playing the auction house, or doing daily quests.
Lets look at gathering first.
Gathering & Professions
Gathering is a very simple way to get gold. You basically just need a flying mount, level 80, and time. Mount up and fly around gathering herbs or ore. Skinning requires the death of animals, which takes time, but involves little searching. Take these items and sell them on the auction house on Tuesday (when demand is the highest) for whatever the going rate is on your server.
Of course, there are tricks to get more money out of your resources. You can convert the resources into items with your professions and get more money out of them. Darkmoon Cards sell for a ton and require you to simply mill your gathered herbs and add in some parchment. Glyphs, especially in demand ones, can sell for 20-30 gold while selling the herbs would get you nowhere near that much.
Milling, prospecting, and enhancing some resources can produce higher prices as well. For instance, a stack of 20 Goldclover can go for 15g. You can mill it and produce 8 pigment which might sell for 25g. You may also get a rare pigment that will sell for 15g by itself.
The only profession that cant generate income is Engineering because the only BoE item anyone wants is the motorcycle. That thing takes so much to put into that its not worth the time to even try to sell.
It is a method, but not a productive one. Some NPCs drop items that are needed for quests, that are vanity pets, or just items that are in demand. Each server is different. Youll need to look on the auction house for items that are selling for a lot and are easy to get then go out and farm them. Its a simple method that can be combined with gathering to produce some money. In modern times you may not find easy gold this way.
A good example is cloth. On some servers wool cloth goes up to 20g a stack. Farm up 10 stacks and youll have 200g. Pretty easy right? Remember to investigate the prices as much as possible. Easy to kill enemies that produce a lot of items are good, but enemies that are harder to kill and have a chance to drop a mega expensive item can be good to. Look at the risk and reward before setting off to go farm.
In total you can do 25 daily quests a day. Which daily quests are profitable is all dependent on the expansion and the patch. The Sunwell daily quests used to be very profitable netting in nearly 200g a day. With WotLK it came to whatever faction you need reputation for is what quests were considered profitable. With the next path it became the Argent daily quests. So its all about what patch youre on and whats profitable. You want to do the quests that take the least amount of time, give you reputation for a faction you need to grind, and supply with you a gold reward.
You can also go back and repeat quests at level 80 to get the gold rewards from them. This is especially useful in zones like Ice Crown where you can advance the story and unlock new areas while getting gold and loot to sell. This can equate to about 20g a quest (if the quest has a weapon reward). Very profitable.
The Auction House
Farming herbs and doing daily quests is good enough for most people. Thatll earn you about 200 gold an hour thereabouts if youre good. You can make thousands of gold on the auction house with little startup cash but you can also lose your entire fortune. Its like playing the stock maket.
Here is the basic principle. Spot something that is selling for less than what players will pay for it then buy all of that item up. Relist that item at a new price. You can now profit. However, you have to be careful. The AH takes a cut from your profit AND people will not always pay the new price.
Lets say you take and buy 40 stacks of Elite Dwarven Brew. This item (which doesnt exist) is needed for a popular quest right now and is going for 10g a stack. You buy 400g worth of it and relist all of it for 20g a stack. You sell 30 stacks making 600g and are stuck with 10 stacks left over. You can sell them are whatever the new price is at to break even on them.
You just profited without doing anything but risking your cash. However, lets say the gold farmers move in and produce 40 stacks at 8 gold each. You just lost a ton of gold. Lets say a patch hits right afterwards removing the quest. Again, you just lost your gold.
Remember the basics of supply and demand. Anything thats hard to get but needed will sell for a lot. Anything thats easy to get but not needed wont sell for much. Look at this basic principle. There isnt a cheat sheet for it. Each server is different. Some servers have very few herbalist making herbs very expensive or some servers have very few raiders putting shards and crystals in high demand. Each micro-economy dictates whats needed and when.
Well that is all there is to gold farming. In reality there isnt a lot of tricks or tips to it. Its either about farming resources, doing quests, or playing the virtual stock market. The only difference is the amount of time you have each day to snag the gold.
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