WoW: Advanced Pricing and Costing Strategies for Mists of Pandaria Inks to Maximize Inscription Profit

Another expansion, another revamp to glyphs and inscription. Lots of things have changed between Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, but many have remained the same. Glyphs are still highly profitable and the ink trader can still trade down the highest level ink to any other. As well as convert 10 common ink to rare ink. However, there is a new twist in the mix.

There have always been certain floor price mechanisms in play, but this one is a doozy: Ink of Dreams should never be less than 6g 25s. You can make shoulder enchants with 3 inks and a 3 copper reagent that vendor for 18g 75s, so if you aren’t internally pricing your Ink of Dreams at this price or more, you are losing out, my friend.

Even for non-scribes, this is a big deal. Any glyph that uses Ink of Dreams (which a lot of the new ones do) won’t be sold by savvy scribes for less than the price of 3 Ink of Dreams, or 18g 75s. I am constantly surprised by people not knowing about this or the details of the ink trader. I took up someone on trade selling stacks of Ink of Dreams for 120g/stack (6g per), and I instantly told them I would buy their entire stock of 2,000. It’s certainly easier than milling my own, and worst case scenario, I make 700 shoulder enchants while AFK and make 500g.

As for the rare ink, Starlight Ink, we know that we can buy one for 10 Ink of Dreams. With herb prices on many realms plummeting, likely thanks to bots, everyone is swimming in a sea of ink. Should you cash in all your Ink of Dreams for Starlight Ink?

My answer is: probably not!

Since Starlight Ink and its products (namely, Darkmoon Cards) are in much higher demand (proportionally) than Ink of Dreams products, you probably end up with lots of extra Ink of Dreams that you might be tempted to convert to Starlight Ink. Not so fast! How much do you value Starlight Ink? If the answer is less than 62.5g, you are losing money. You should sell the Ink of Dreams and just buy more herbs to mill for Starlight Ink.

Consider a market where the only herb is Green Tea Leaf and you can buy near unlimited quantities of it at a certain fixed price (not completely unrealistic). Green Tea Leaf milling gets you 5 Ink of Dreams and 0.5 Starlight Ink per stack. If you value your milling time as free, consider the following scenarios:

  • Green Tea Leaf costs 70g/stack. You decide that the Ink of Dreams are worth 7g each and the Starlight Ink is worth 70g. The values add up (70=5*7+70/2) and you can trade Ink of Dreams into Starlight Ink no problem.
  • Green Tea Leaf falls to 66.25g/stack. You decide that since you have so much Ink of Dreams laying around that you convert to Starlight Ink, you price the Ink of Dreams at its floor, 6.25g, and leave Starlight ink at 70g. Again, the math checks out and you can trade up, no problem (though pricing Starlight as 10 times Ink of Dreams might be better if you do a lot of converting)
  • Green Tea Leaf falls again to 62.60g. You keep Ink of Dreams at 6.25g, since lowering it further would be nonsensical, and Starlight Ink is now at 62.5g.
  • Green Tea Leaf bottoms out at 56.2g. You have to keep Ink of Dreams at 6.25g, but you drop Starlight down to 50g.

Let’s consider that last scenario since the all-realm average is already well below that.

Let’s say you have 5620g to spend on buying herbs in order to mill for ink. You buy 100 stacks and get your 500 Ink of Dreams and 50 Starlight Ink. You use the Starlight Ink and need more. Do you go over to the vendor and trade in your 500 Ink of Dreams for Starlight? NO! You make 166 shoulder enchants and vendor them for 3112g. Then you go buy 55 stacks of Green Tea Leaf. Milling again, you get 275 Ink of Dreams and 27 Starlight Ink. You have 225 less Ink of Dreams, but 27 more Starlight Ink, effectively getting 4.5 extra Starlight Ink for free as opposed to using the trader. Its magic! (In actuality, if you used the trader, you’d be getting 100 Starlight Ink total for 5620g spent, really costing you  56.2g per Starlight Ink).

This might seem like a lot of time for small gains, but consider that those 4 inks you gained are worth 200g. If you do this on the scale of even more gold spent for even cheaper herbs, the gains are tremendous. Let’s consider the all-realm market price as of this writing of 44.75 gold per stack of Green Tea Leaf. You get 5 Ink of Dreams worth a total of 31.25g, leaving an internal price of just 13 gold per Starlight Ink! The all-realm price of Starlight Ink is currently 113g. If that doesn’t scream free money, I don’t know what does.

This time, consider buying 1,000 stacks of herbs for 44,750 gold. Straight up, that’s 5,000 Ink of Dreams and 500 Starlight Ink. If you traded them in, you’d walk away with an additional Starlight Ink. If you vendored shoulder enchants, you’d get about 31,200g back. That buys you about 700 stacks of Green Tea Leaf. Let’s look at a chart of what happens when you iterate this process:


AH Trip # Gold Spent Stacks of Herb Bought IoD Starlight Ink Shoulder Enchant Revenue
1  44,750  1,000  5,000  500  31,237
2  31,250  698  3,490  349  21,813
3  21,813  487  2,435  243.5  15,219
4  15,219  340  1,700  170  10,625
5  10,625  237  1,185  118.5  7,406
6  7,406  165  825  82.5  5,156
7  5,156  115  575  57.5  3,594
8  3,594  80  400  40  2,500
8 2,500  56  280  28  1,750
8  1,750  39  195  19.5  1,219

Using the Ink Trader, you would walk away with 1,000 Starlight Ink. Using this method, you walk away with 1,628. Here is a spreadsheet you can download and modify with your own herb prices.

Of course, every goblin knows that time is money. It takes time to mill, buy herbs, and use the mailbox, even if you use (mostly green-lighted by Blizzard) multiboxing software and addons to automate much of the work. There is a certain amount of time that you spend to do these tasks that you shouldn’t price as free, and handling it in these calculations isn’t entirely straightforward.

Personally, I bake it right into my ink pricing: I estimate the amount of time I spend handling each stack of herbs and my cutoff gold per hour that I want to earn. Then, I’ve converted my time to gold and can add it right into the price of herbs. For example, if I determine that I spend 10 seconds handling each stack of herbs (360 stacks handled per hour) and I don’t want to earn less than 3600g/hour, I need to add 10g to the price of each stack of herbs. So, to price Starlight Ink, if I think I can get as many herbs as I want for 50g/stack, that’s -10g allocated to time and 5*6.25=31.25g for Ink of Dreams. My price for Starlight Ink is then (50+10-31.25)*2= 57.5g each, as opposed to just (50-31.25)*2=37.5g each if I valued my time as free.

Careful goblins might note that this doesn’t actually change anything in our model, but since it does change how much you are willing to sell a Starlight Ink or associated product for, the higher prices should lower sales such that a higher time-cost per stack raises your product prices and either lowers the amount of work you do or increases your profits.

In the next part scheduled to come in a few days, we’ll look at older inks for glyph production.


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