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Economy of Warcraft

As some of you may be aware, for several months I have been engaged in the activity which is known as World of Warcraft. If you don’t know what that is, do a Google search and then come back after you are educated, but in short it’s an online game set in the fantasy genre. In any case, I have been struggling and fighting to accumulate experience and power, completing quests until 2 or 3 in the morning some days, ‘grinding’ on mobs to gather that extra amount of experience, and working my skills up so that I can keep up with my party members and perform well on our group jaunts. But amusingly, do you know what I’ve been pushing hard on over the last few days?
Buying and selling handbags.
“Wha-wha-what?!” you exclaim? Isn’t this supposed to be a game about hacking and slashing and vanquishing the enemy you muse? Let me tell you what’s up…
Recently I’ve cleared the high water mark of 40th level, which means amongst other things, I can finally acquire a mount, which when you’re forced to walk from town to town across several continents, with only the occasional assistance of a flying griffin or a sailing ship (or in the case of a mage, ye good ole teleportation rune), it gets to be pretty damned exhausting. Now your average horse costs you about 10 gold, which in WoW is a lot of cash, but not too much to break you. In fact, most characters have that kind of gold hanging out in their coin purse (unless, that is, they are a mage tailor enchanter, but I’ll get back to that later) — the thing they don’t tell you, that which is in the fine print, is it takes about 90 gold to TRAIN to be able to ride said horse. DAMN! SMACKDOWN!
Okay, fine, breathe. It should be easy enough to get that kind of gold over time, right? I mean especially since I’m 40th level, I should have gold falling out of my bung hole, right?
Well, that may be the case for many of the class-skill combinations, but for a mage tailor enchanter, this is definitely not the case.
First of all, being a mage is VERY expensive. I mean it. To train for each spell you cast costs anywhere between several silver for the lower level spells, to several gold for the spells at the range I’m hovering now, and that’s not to mention the teleportation and portal spells which cost extra. Okay fine, so there’s costs involved with running a mage. That’s what you get for being able to immolate your opponents at a distance. Problem is, it’s very hard to solo adventure when you’re a mage, because you are, using the technical parlance, ‘squishy’. Being ‘squishy’ means you get a) no armor to speak of, b) about 1/4 the hit points of other classes, and c) no good hand-to-hand attacks. So, if an enemy closes with you, you’re hosed. Of course, I shouldn’t complain, because Priests have it even worse off than mages, but at least they can heal themselves. A mage must rely upon… healing potions, and those healing postions costs $$.
Okay, so costs for spells, costs for healing potions… okay. well, we get lots of dropped gear from our enemies that is magical and which can be sold in town either at the local merchant or in the auction house, so I should be able to acquire some quick cash just by liquidating my assets, right?… Well, not if you’re also an enchanter. You see, enchanters can only enchant if they have reagents, and the only way to get reagents is to… disenchant magical items. So, anything that might normally be sold for gold has to be destroyed, blocking off yet another avenue of income.
So don’t you have any other talents that can make you money, you ask? Welp, if I had chosen alchemy I might be able to make some money on potions, like my good friend Jason has done. He’s making bank off of folks like me that can’t heal themselves and need the sweet elixir of life to keep us going. No, I chose tailoring as my second skill (you only get two professional skills in the game), which means I can make… cloth items. Well, the only people in their right minds that wear cloth items are mages, so the population of potential purchasers goes way way down. The only thing I find I can make that everyone needs is bags. Bags are the means by which you can carry things on your person or store them in the bank. Without a container, you can’t carry it. Problem is, you only really need to buy a few bags and then you’re done, but hey, it’s a market and I’ll try to make some cash at it.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. Making handbags for adventurers. What’s interesting is, the mechanism by which you sell things in the game is the auction house, so I can’t just set up shop and expect people to come and buy directly from me. I have to put everything up into the communal store and hope that I’m selling my products at a low enough price to entice purchase, but high enough to make a profit.
In order to make the best sorts of bags, I need materials of the highest quality. Right now I am specializing in ‘enchanted mageweave pouches’ which hold 16 items (this is a lot, trust me), and for these bags I need to have 20 pieces of mageweave cloth, 2 spools of heavy silk thread, and 4 portions of vision dust. The mageweave can be acquired through adventuring, but it takes a long time to accumulate. The spools of thread have to be purchased through the NPC shopkeepers (I can’t make it), and the vision dust is an enchanting reagent, and must be, that’s right, found through disenchanting. Problem is, you never quite know what you’re gonna get when you disenchant, so it can take a long time to get what you need.
So, instead of trying to find everything on my own, I find I’m now buying raw materials, calculating the margins, and selling bags at a modest profit, but not at the rates that is going to make me rich any time soon. In any case, I’ve got the capital reinvested every 8 hours or so, and I’m starting my factory. I’m practicing economics and mercantile arts in my FANTASY ESCAPE GAME! But it’s kinda fun, in a twisted sort of way. Today, for example, I found someone selling a couple of bags of the type I sell, for under the profit margin of what it takes on average to make the things. This of course, pissed me off because by selling the bags below margin, the joker is setting up expectations in the community as to the occurrence of bags ‘on sale’, and upsetting my income stream. So, having some capital on hand… I buy out the guys stock, and put the bags right back up on the auction house for the rates I normally sell at. if I sell the bags, I’m actually making a better profit than what I would be making if I made them and sold them, so I’m feeling pretty good.
I am starting to understand what happens in the real world every single day just a little bit too well.
Hopefully soon I’ll have enough gold to buy a horse and ride around the countryside with my pals, but I have a feeling that I’m not going to allow myself the luxury until I get my economic empire well under way. It seems that it takes gold to make gold.
Maybe I should have taken alchemy…

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