Monday, November 09, 2009
The number of people trying to make money with inscription has increased a lot since MMO-Champion posted a guide on how to get rich quick with glyphs. Basic economics tells us that this should cause the price of glyphs to go down, and the price of herbs to go up. While the former is certainly the case, the herb price has remained remarkably stable. Why is that?
It turns out that the Northrend herbs most often used for making pigments and inks for inscription are actually a byproduct of herb gathering. The main source of income for somebody farming herbs is frost lotus, which is needed for all level 80 flasks. With raiding now being accessible to far more people, the demand for raid flasks has gone up, and so has the price for frost lotus. While pretty much everything else in Wrath of the Lich King has suffered from deflation, the price of frost lotus went up from around 25 gold to around 75 gold. As there are very, very few pure frost lotus nodes, the only way to get more frost lotus is to gather lots of various high-level herbs, because each gathering has a small chance to net you some frost lotus as well. That is somewhat annoying, because getting frost lotus that way is so random, and on some days you get a lot, while going empty on other days. But the consequence is lots of Northrend herbs being gathered and being sold for around 1 gold per herb. Basically those herbs are just a side-product, who cares for the price of the 1-gold herbs when he is trying to get the 75-gold herbs?
Right now this is more or less balanced, as the excess herbs are being used for inscription. When the glyph market cools down, there is a risk that the continued search for frost lotus will make the prices for other Northrend herbs crash. Already now some mid-level herbs sell for more than most Northrend herbs. Will be interesting to watch how this develops further. It's the law of unintended consequences that tells you that linking different production chains together isn't really a good idea, because it is unlikely that demand for both productions will always remain balanced.