Tobold's Blog
Monday, November 09, 2009
Frost Lotus

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.
I have recently started selling both glyphs and flasks on a medium population server. The price of Frost Lotus is rising steadily - a couple of weeks ago it was fairly common to see them on the AH for 40-45 gold, now the price is 55+ gold. Herbs on the other hand are becoming cheaper and cheaper. The exception used to be Lichbloom however I am now often seeing this on the AH for 16 gold per stack.

What I am not seeing, although it may happen, is an increase in the price of flasks. This may be because most people selling them are collecting their own Frost Lotus and so they regard them as "free". What I do notice is that there are quite a few sellers who post their flasks cheaply (28-32 gold) but who only seem to have around 10 or so to sell - once those are sold they don't post any more.
With the new LFG tool, I think it won't be too smart to keep any money in cloths or anchant mats either... once the patch hits. Someday.
A big part of the reason mid-level herbs are so pricey is the cost of gathering them. Because you have to travel by land at 100% speed, you gather far less herbs/hour than Outland or Northrend herbs, where you can travel in a straight line between herbs at 280%/310% speed. Outland herbs are the cheapest of all, being both in low demand and easy to gather.

The low- and mid-level resource market will change dramatically with Cataclysm, and specifically with the ability to fly in Azeroth. You're going to see a normalization of all resource pricing.

I'm fairly certain I read somewhere that flying in Azeroth won't be available until level 85. Combine this knowledge with the fact that it's the "alt expansion", and I can see prices for low- and mid-level resources skyrocket for the first few weeks of the expansion as people level tradeskills with their new characters, yet gathering won't be super-efficient yet.
Maybe I'm drunk or something, but didn't they decrease the drop rate of Frost Lotuses? That would be a pretty obvious cause of prices spiking that doesn't rely on new raiders.
Welcome to my profession. As I watch the AH and trade channel for people trying to strike it rich with the Inscription game I've been able to make a ton of gold with the Frost Lotus....and basically through herbs, and flasks.

For about 3 weeks now I've been consistenly farming herb for an hour per day. I do this doing Icecrown dailys. After an hour I normally have a bag full of herbs, 5-10 frost lotus, and about 100g from dailys. I convert all the frost lotus into flasks and sell the remaining herb to an inscription friend. All herbs sell for 26g. A good price considering my servers market for herbs varries between 17g-40g for icethorn and lichbloom, and is most often lower than 30g.

I'm an elixir master and I normally post between 10-25 flasks per day depending on how lucky I got with frost lotus drops and elixir procs. I always undercut by about 5g on the flasks(around 30g) as I want them sold. I also sell an epic gem transmute(125g), and a dragon's eye(100g) I send over after completing the JC daily from my JC alt.

Bottom line is that I tend to make 1k gold per day. I only "farm" for about an hour per day. On weekends I farm more and make more. It is a very consistent way to make gold as opposed to running a gamble with inscription....which is so highly fought after these days.
As a raider I am upset by the price of flasks. If you recall, flasks were changed to last 1 hour instead of 2 hours. At first, the price of these new 50% flasks for half mats was half that of the 2 hour flasks.

Now, a 1 hour flask costs 40g, same as a 2 hour flask used to.
This is really putting a dent in my pocketbook. I used to be able to pick up a stack (20) of Flask of Stonebloods for 200g, now I'm paying almost 100g PER FLASK just to cover the price of the Frost Lotus alone.
The relationship between frost lotuses and herbs is mirrored in the other gathering professions as well. Saronite is cheap because people get it while looking for Titanium, and Borean Leather is cheap because people get it while looking for Arctic Furs, although I'm sure this varies to some degree by server.

Any byproduct of profitable activity at the level cap has its value depressed because people are getting a surplus of them anyway, rather than taking your 80 (or even an alt) and tromping around the Hinterlands or flying around Borean Tundra gathering.

The challenge for Blizzard then is balancing the drop rates/node spawns of the rare items (Frost lotus, Titanium, Arctic Fur, etc) with the more common, so that neither gets grossly undervalued. In BC, for example, Fel lotuses were probably too common, and ended up a negligible element of a flask cost.

At least there is always the baseline price of vendoring the common element, or crafting lower level recipes to vendor or disenchant.
The price for Frost Lotus is ridiculous, not balanced.
Before I moved from a low population RP server to a more busy PvE Server, I would always stock up Frost Lotus to make my own raid consumables, for just under 30g. Now on the new server I have to get lucky to get the herb for under 60g.
The weird thing is, one Flask of the Frost Wyrm sells for 30g on the AH. So we are nearly at a point where it is cheaper for me as Alchemist to just buy the flasks I need for raids, instead of trying to get cheap herbs and make them myself.
How is that balanced? :(
I think Blizz should increase the availability of Frost Lotus. At Thrall Server, alliance AH you get find it from 45g up to 72g per Frost Lotus. It's insane.

It's a pain to gather one, unless you have a lot of time to look for it.

I hope Blizz change this a bit and make it more afordable to the regular player.
Agree with your analysis, disagree with your conclusion that it's "bad." Those players who take the time to learn the intricacies of the game's economy deserve to have a competitive advantage at the AH. If everything were "balanced," it would make for a very boring game for those who like to "play the AH."
"Now on the new server I have to get lucky to get the herb for under 60g.
The weird thing is, one Flask of the Frost Wyrm sells for 30g on the AH.

You get 2 flasks for the frost lotus plus the other various bits that are relatively cheap. So cost of production on single flasks is already pretty close to the 30g. An elixir master will proc an extra pair of flasks once in a while, I think about 17% of the time. That brings costs closer to 25 (plus the "extras"), so I could believe that 30g is a slightly profitable price for flasks when frost lotus is 60g.

The folks producing flasks for the AH are also somewhat more likely to have a standing deal with herbers. A lot of folks will give a slight discount to skip bothering with the AH, and to avoid the AH fees. So the frost lotus may be 60g each in the AH, but the elixir master might be paying 1000 to 1100 per stack COD in mail to them from on or more herbers that don't like messing with the AH. That cuts the costs down some more, in fact to where 30g is a clear profit.

You may also be seeing other effects. Maybe you only play on weekends, so you don't see the weekday herb prices are 10% lower (they are on some servers), so the flask sellers may well "buy on wed, sell on sat", or some other schedule on your server.

It is also possible that the folks posting for 30g don't know what they are doing, or are leveling their skill, or something else is going on.
Either that or its basic supply and demand. Lots of players in Northrend mean lots of herb supply. Far less players in Outlands and Old World means less supply.

Sometimes the simple answer is the best one.

Gobble gobble.
you make 2 flasks with 1 frost lotus, plus the chance for elixir spec to proc. Where do you think the flasks on the AH come from?

It's a market, with prices driven by supply and demand. Balance is irrelevant: we have no right to make money from any given tradeskill, because the price is determined by other players, not Blizzard. If other players don't want your product, go make/sell something they do want.


If frost lotus sells for more than the potions that are made from it, sell the lotus & buy the flasks.
My suspicion is that something happened to the drop rate on frost lotus of regular nodes, and this explains the huge price jump. Raiders can't seriously be using that many more flasks now than at the beginning of wrath, can they?

Also, frost lotus jumped pretty quickly, going from consistently 20-25g to 30-40g and then higher wthin a few weeks on my server, and around the same time many other people noticed a price jump. These were weeks during which no obvious change happened which would affect demand for flasks. No recipes changed, no new dungeons came out.

But if you talk to herbers, a lot of them report seeing fewer frost lotus recently. I've seen enough reports of 3-400 pick dry spells to think the rate has to have gone below 5% at some point.

This would explain why the other herbs have stayed constant during the inscription rush -- in order to meet the demand for frost lotus, many more lichbloom, icethorn and adder's tongue are being picked, which would drive the price down if there weren't the counterbalance of glyph makers.
100g per Frost Lotus? Wow! Here I was annoyed at the prices spiking up to 50g on my server.
My server: Bleeding Hollow US.
Frost Lotus sells between 38g-100g. Most often the price is 50g. As an elixir master I make a good deal of income from making flasks. I used to make a lot more income from flasks months ago before the drop rate on the lotus was nerfed. I know there is no absolute proof of this nerf, but I farm herb as well and I used pick up a frost lotus every 5 minutes. Recently I'm lucky if I get a few an hour. As of last tuesday I seem to get one every 10 minutes so I think they may have over nerfed the drop rate and re-adjusted it. I still don't think the frost lotus drop rate is close to what it was before. If you don't believe me based on my "experience", just look at AH prices. I used to get frost lotuses for a little over 20g.

Depsite the lack of frost lotus, flasks normally won't sell for over 30g. This means I make less flasks, and make less money from each flask. I'm okay with this because I still do alight, but all I can say is I used to do a lot better.
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