Thursday, January 6, 2011

Limited Time Only: Working Smarter

     There’s a phrase where I work that gets used often; “Work smarter, not harder.” We do a ton of software installation and configuration and to do it all manually for a few hundred computers would be impossible. Instead of wasting every moment of every shift endlessly tweaking things we create a script. The way it's used in this case is to automate the process of installing and configuring software on a computer. It's "fire and forget" as the military folks say.

So how does this apply to WoW?

Teaching you to farm smarter is the purpose of this article. The most efficient way is to automate. Before anyone gets the wrong idea let me emphasize! DO NOT USE BOTS, CHEATS OR "HAXXORZ!" If you use a bot not only are you violating the EULA but you’re taking some of the life out of your game. Even if you don't get caught you've cheapened your experience and unbalanced mine.


Farming, for most people, is a pain in the butt. Endlessly flying around TH looking for ore or going up and down the river in Uldum picking Whiptail isn't what most people call fun. Fly, click, fly, curse at player who "stole" your node, eat sandvich, fly, click, swear some more and finally hearth. Grinding up a gathering profession isn't hard and should be done while leveling but once you've reached the gathering cap it's time to stop farming.


Yup I said it's time to stop farming and automate. 
"How can I do this without a bot?" you say. 
"Well listen here and I'll tell you." replies the incredibly handsome blogger.

Getting a supplier:

I have two words for you: Contract Labor. I do not mean hiring some Chinese gold farmer to mine ore for you. Hire someone in-game, with game currency (gold), to do your farming for you. At the very beginning of the expansion this was impossible as the price of mats were outrageous. There was no real way to turn a profit this way and most farmers weren't willing to set up deals yet as they could turn a big profit by watching the AH closely. Now that things have stabilized somewhat you can find people willing to send you a portion of their farming gains for a steady supply of gold. To clarify further here's what I did:

My shaman, Cthulhus, is a jewelcrafter/miner. If worse comes to worse I can go out in the wide world and plink on some nodes but I'd rather be running heroics or leveling an alt or... well doing just about anything else. So to satiate my hunger for ore I watched the market for a few days. I noted who sold large quantities of ore, who sold reasonably but most importantly who was consistently putting up daily auctions. I contacted the seller via whisper, I was lucky they were on but this can be done via mail if necessary, and made a proposal.

I opened up with an offer to buy 5 stacks daily guaranteed at 65% AH value. This of course was a bit of a lowball, as it's not all that profitable for the farmer, but it leaves room for negotiation. If you don't believe in negotiation then you're really shooting yourself in the foot. Someone who feels they have negotiated a good deal is happier with the arrangement and more likely to be a long term partner than someone who has the terms of an arrangement dictated to them.

The Deal:

  • 4 stacks minimum 7 stacks maximum (Elementium) sent by C.O.D. daily
  • 2 stacks minimum 4 stacks maximum (Obsidium) sent by C.O.D. daily
  • 1 stack (Pyrite) sent by C.O.D. every Monday
  • Price for elementium/obsidium at 75% of lowest AH buyout determined every Monday
  • Price for Pyrite at 80% of lowest AH buyout determined every Monday
  • Free JC services (mats not included) for the miner
  • Free Alchemy services (mats not included) for the miner
  • Evaluate contract every 30 days
Now I have a steady ore supply. I can prospect the ore, sell the gems and make a profit with no farming required. As the gem market fluctuates my profits will increase and decrease but, in my experience, it is almost always possible to, at the very least, break even. My DK is a blacksmith and sitting at 495. I can now chose to divert some of my profit margin to upping his BS. Once he is maxed I'll have another possible revenue stream if the gem market dries up for a bit. The most important part is I no longer have to spend time mining ore. Just a few minutes per day processing the raw materials and setting up auctions to keep the cash flowing take the place of several hours of farming per week. This is a great arrangement for me.

Keeping a Supplier:

Don't go thinking I'm taking advantage of the miner here. Aside from the fact that taking advantage of someone is wrong; if you don't treat your new found partner well you'll be looking for another partner soon. It's extremely important for the deal to be beneficial to both parties. The basics of it are I get a steady supply of ore at a discount price and he gets a steady stream of gold for dropping a few items in the mail C.O.D. I'll also break down some of the bullet points above to show how we keep things fair.

First and foremost everything is spelled out clearly, simply and objectively. You have to have an easy to abide by agreement. Price, quantity and delivery are all spelled out. As long as the supply is met and the proper price is charged we have a continued relationship.

Second you need something to sweeten the pot a little. I used my Alchemy and Jewelcrafting. Little “Fringe Benefits” will go a long way to helping keep a supplier. It is very important however to specify the terms of the benefits. If I hadn’t made it clear that the offer was free services with his mats then it could have caused a problem when he asked for a bunch of flasks gratis.

Finally you must leave a way to renegotiate or end the contract amicably. I’ve found 30 days is usually a good time frame for this. If you need to adjust prices or your supplier is unhappy with their end you have a time set aside to keep things current. It provides a level of fairness to each side that enhances the feeling of security in the arrangement.

Now as you know none of this is binding in any way and is based completely on the word of both individuals. I have found, however, that a person is pretty well inclined to stick to an agreed upon deal. You may have a bad experience but don’t let that ruin you… there are plenty of good honest farmers out there who will see the benefit in a relationship like this one.

A few helpful hints:

·         Be Honest – Morality aside honesty builds trust and reputation
·         Be Fair – No one will stick around in a lopsided agreement
·         Be Courteous – No one likes a jerk… Jerky McJerkerson
·         Be Open – If your partner wants to discuss the terms of the arrangement be open to hearing what they have to say
·         Don’t be afraid to walk away – If your partner acts in bad faith or if the arrangement is no longer profitable don’t be afraid to end the agreement. Do what you can to preserve the relationship but do not continue with a bad deal.
·         Uphold your end – Always abide by what you agree to. If you have to take a hit to your pocketbook one week don’t worry about it. If it becomes an ongoing thing see the above bullet point.
·         Cultivate Relationships – If you’re short a player for a random give your miner/herber/skinner a shout. Think of it like playing a round of golf with a business partner. It’s not exactly business related but it helps cement a positive working relationship.
·         Keep your eye on the profits – The entire purpose of an arrangement like this is profit. If there is no profit then the arrangement is useless. In my case if raw gems aren’t selling well I find which cuts are. If those don’t turn a profit I check what BS stuff I can make. There’s always a way to turn a profit it just takes a little work (much less than farming though.)

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