I’ve long known that Jana has a horrible addiction. She’s spent hundreds of thousands of gold on it at the auction house. Poor Traxy has been worked to the bone feeding that addiction. Yet it is ceaseless, never satisfied.
I thought it might have been cured a while back with the introduction of Dragon Soul. “No more!” I said, refusing to dump gold into what I thought then was a lost cause. And indeed, she had been addiction free for months on end.
Pandaria screwed that all up. Pandaria introduced Jana to a newer, more powerful version of her addiction, and it is back with a vengeance.
I am referring, of course, to her insatiable appetite for prospecting ore.
It started innocently enough. On the first day of the expansion, Jana saw a bunch of Ghost Iron Ore on the AH for what seemed like the reasonable first-day-of-the-expansion price of 150g per stack. She bought a bunch. She bought enough to get her jewelcrafting up enough to do her first research. 600 came soon after; she wasn’t the first on the realm to hit that, and probably wasn’t anywhere close, but it was quick for me.
Then Traxy started mining and the ore started flowing in. Instead of directing Traxy to quest, I sent her off in search of this ore, and she returned in bundles. The ore was plentiful, but it was not enough, and many a time I returned to the auction house to purchase ore for 120g a stack, 100g a stack, 80g a stack, and 65g a stack, each time thinking the price reasonable.
The result has been a lot of gems, and I thought I’d detail the process of how I use them, how I expect to use them, and whether it’s all worth it in the end.
The first step is getting the ore. There are two ways of doing this. One, I could simply buy the ore from the auction house. I typically do not go to the auction house set on acquiring ore, though. Instead, I take a peek and see how much ore is available and for what price. In the past I have bought probably a hundred stacks of ore at a time, but that was when ore was selling for 25g-35g a stack. Now I tend to limit myself to 25-30 stacks of ore, and only if it’s at a “good price”. What a “good price” is fluctuates daily, but essentially it’s the price at which I look at the listings and say “Wow! Ore for Xg a stack? I’m buying!” Right now it’s around 80g or lower. I will also typically wait until there’s a fair amount of it available at a low price. If there are only five or six stacks, I usually don’t bother.
The other way to get ore is for Traxy to mine it. I follow a path starting at the southern part of Kun-Lai Summit, right at the gate to Vale of Eternal Blossoms. I then follow around the edge of the zone up to the Ox Gate, where I cross over into Townlong Steppes. There I follow a counterclockwise path around the zone until I arrive back at the Ox Gate. From there I follow a clockwise path around Kun-Lai Summit, sneaking in along the Burlap Trail to scout the mountain range there. This nets me a lot of ore. Depending on how much competition is out there, I can get between 15-25 stacks of Ghost Iron ore per circuit. A couple circuits of this and here’s what Traxy’s bags look like:
Once I’m done, I mail the ore to Jana, and the time begins to prospect it. Usually I run into the problem of bag space. Unlike Traxy (who doesn’t carry any extra stuff with her anymore), Jana doesn’t have enough bag space to hold fifty stacks of ore. The prospecting process also requires a total of thirteen empty bag spots at the start, one each for six colors of uncommon gems and six colors of rare gems, and one for sparkling shards, which are used to create Serpent’s Eyes. As ore is being prospected new bag spots open up so technically you could get away with less than thirteen, but I don’t like the idea of completely full bags.
Once the ore is in my bags, I begin the prospecting. Here I use a combination of an out-of-game keyboard macro and an in-game macro. The out-of-game macro directs the computer to “press” a key sequence every five seconds. The in-game macro is this:
#showtooltip ghost iron ore
/use ghost iron ore
I also use a WeakAuras text aura to update me on how much I have left to prospect. I then let it run. There are two annoying aspects to this, which I just deal with. First, it makes it difficult to talk to anyone when the macro is running, because the key sequence will be pressed and inserted into the text field. It’s a control sequence, so it really doesn’t put any text, but it does negate other letters so I find I have to retype things often. (Yes, I could just turn it off to send a message and turn it back on after I’m done, but that has other problems.) Also, I have to leave Warcraft as my active application; if I try to switch to a web browser to surf while I’m prospecting, the key presses will be active in that application instead.
The results of the prospecting, done in the quantities I do it in, are relatively predictable: I get about one of each uncommon gem per stack, one rare gem of any color per stack, and about five sparkling shards per stack. Obviously the exact distribution of the colors can vary wildly on a given prospecting session but I have faith that they eventually even out.
Then I have to figure out what to do with all the gems. Over time I’ve gotten a lot of uncommon gems, which I had been sending to my personal bank alt to pop in one guild bank tab. That has gotten rather full:
There are a few things I can do with uncommon gems. The simplest choice is to make Ornate Bands and Shadowfire Necklaces. Collectively these will consume one of each color of uncommon gem. The interesting thing about these designs is that about 90% of the time the item created will be an item level 384 green, but 10% of the time it will be an item level 415 blue. The blues can sell for between 75g to 300g on the AH, while the greens are fodder for disenchanting. (I’ve ended up sending so many greens to my raid lead to disenchant that I’ve felt guilty enough about it to level my own enchanter. Her name is Yonten, and she’s a level 24 pandaren monk, but more on her later.)
The other thing I can do with it is to craft item level 450 blues: Golembreaker Amulet (red), Tiger Opal Pendant (orange), Widow Chain (yellow) and Roguestone Shadowband (purple). Each of these takes six of the relevant uncommon gem and six Serpent’s Eyes. The Serpent’s Eyes are definitely the limiting factor here. In my experience these items don’t sell all that well on the AH, but you can DE them for an Ethereal Shard, which again is useful for accumulating enchanting mats.
That leaves the rare gems. In an ideal world, I’d be using the rare gems to take over the auction house and make tons of glods to buy more ore to get more gems to laugh maniacally. Alas, I can’t do that, part of which is almost certainly due to a mistaken decision on my part.
Jewelcrafters get rare designs now by research. Research can be done once a day. It requires three rare gems of the same color. The research results in learning a random design of the color gem you chose, two random cut gems of that color, and a vendor item (or small stack of a vendor item). My strategy was to do research until I got the gems that I needed (brilliant primordial ruby, potent vermilion onyx and veiled imperial amethyst) and then work on getting a salable gem of each color.
All was well when I got the brilliant design after two days. The potent design has been more elusive. There are twenty three total vermillion onyx designs, and I now have eighteen of those designs after two and a half weeks. The potent isn’t among them, and this has resulted in a shortage of orange gems relative to my other gems. It’s also very annoying. By sheer exhaustion I will get the cut within the next week, but it has meant that I can’t do anything with my blue, green, yellow and purple gems. I think if I had to do it again I would make sure to get a salable gem of each color before going for my own cuts, but that’s a lesson that will likely have no future value.
The orange gems I have gotten through the research process have sold reasonably well for random cuts, so I think the cut gem market is viable now. What I’ve decided, though, is to put off a plunge into the cut gem market until 5.1 hits. By that time I should have most if not all of the valuable cuts, and with everyone upgrading gear at the patch there will be a rush for gems as there was before. I suspect if I play that right I could make a couple hundred thousand gold in a few days, as long as I have the supply. Thus, I’ve focused more on building a supply than on cutting and selling gems.
So that’s Jana’s addiction in far more detail than anyone would have probably wanted. If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations.