While in High School I participated in after school activities which led me to having to walk to the local public library every day and wait for my parents to get off work and pick me up. As then went on for 4 years, I had plenty of time to stop and read the books as the case may be. One such book explained probability and gambling. It broke down each game and explained why gambling was always a bad idea. Lotteries, casinos, poker, it was all stacked against the player. I resolved to never gamble, or if I did, only with small amounts of money that didn’t matter.
Many years later, I learned the truth of probability through WoW and it’s item drops. I understood that having a 1 in a 1000 drop rate didn’t mean I had to kill 1000 things to get it, but rather that each time I killed something I had a small chance of seeing said item. After 161 runs to get Baron’s mount, I was pretty sure I understood chance and probability.
Then with Cataclysm, a new item was introduced that peaked my interest.
The Mysterious Fortune Card. (MFC, henceforth.)
What makes them so mysterious? Once Cataclysm hit, I found out they were essentially “gambling” in WoW. They are an item made by inscribers that a player can flip over and receive an white card that sells for some value between 10 silver and 5k gold. I checked the “drop” rate on the 5k card and it seems to be around 1 in 10k. Yeah, so not worth it, I thought, and moved on.
When I leveled my scribe, I herbed, milled, and started making inks. Only to realize that Cataclysm had only added about 20 glyphs total. In fact, there only seemed to be two items worth making, Darkmoon Cards (a combine set can be turned in for a trinket, which is very very good) or these MFCs.
To explain a bit, Inscription, a profession, allows a player to take a stack of 5 of an herb and “mill” them, turning them into powder. Any mill can produce Ashen Pigment, which makes Blackfallow Ink and rarely Burning Embers, which make Inferno Ink. Generally a single mill of the high end herbs produces 2-4 Ashen Pigment, and 1-3 Burning Embers.
The Burning Embers and subsequent Inferno Ink are used to make the very valuable Darkmoon cards. Because the recipe to make them however requires 10 Inferno Inks and is random as to which of the 32 cards it drops, anyone trying to make full decks will need a huge amount of ink.
However, the Ashen Pigment and Blackfallow Ink are practically worthless. They aren’t used for anything other than trading down to lower inks to make glyphs, and even that, is a risky market at best as anyone trying to sell those glyphs will be competing with leveling scribes. So I decided what the hell, I’ll make MFCs.
I checked the auction house, to see how well these cards were selling. 15 gold EACH. Wait. What? Yep. 15g Each. Okay… So it takes 2 pigment to make one card. I get 2 pigment from a single mill generally. So that means, as long as I buy the herbs at 2g each, I can spend 10g to make 15g. I like that return. So I bought down 400g worth of herbs from the auction house. I processed them (by milling them) then spent another 600g to buy volatile lifes (which are used to make the Darkmoon Cards). 1kg spent.
I ended up with around 250 cards, plus two Darkmoon Cards. I banked the two Darkmoon Cards to make my trinkets, and listed all of the MFC. I listed them in stacks. 5 stacks of 20 cards selling for 14g. (Discount for bulk!) 5 stacks of 10 for 14.5 g. 10 stacks of 5 for 14.75g. And finally 50 stacks of singles for 15g each.
Three hours later, I logged back on to the character to find: ~3000g. HOLY FUUUU. *ca-ching* And note this is completely WITHOUT ANY PROFIT from selling the Darkmoon Cards!
So I of course dumped most of that money back into buying more herbs. Process. Make cards. Sell cards. Loot gold.
The price fluctuates, generally ranging from 12g to 15g. The stacks always sell, many to the same player. I also enjoy watching two or three sell, then about 15 minutes later, watching 3 or 4 more sell. I proceeded to do this for the next week or so, spending a great deal of time milling herbs and making cards.
BLAST. Now everyone would understand MFC were a TERRIBLE investment. I mean, people understand if a slot machine has a 5% house advantage, they aren’t going to buy the cards that have a 98% house advantage! That would be idiotic. Sure enough, the market tanked instantly. Not only because people stopped buying, but also suddenly it went from me and one other player listing to 50+ listers. In addition the cost of herbs skyrocketed. Bah. My money making scheme gone. Oh well.
Several months later I was leveling my herbalist mage and got a rather huge stack of whiptail (one of the best Cataclysm herbs for milling for ink). I had learned the MFCs could be turned into food and had been using that on my warlock for a while. I figured my mage could use a darkmoon trinket, and so started sending her the whiptail to process for Inferno Inks. She processed, then made her cards. Over 200 MFCs. Man, that’s alot of cookies, I thought. I wonder how the AH prices for these are.
Did everyone FORGET? Do they seriously sell again? No, I thought, surely there is no way. People aren’t that dumb…
Or maybe they are, I thought less than an hour later when all my cards sold at 14g each. True the Darkmoon cards sell for half of what they used to, but then, so do the herbs.
I can generally get them between 1-2g each now. This past week I process thousands of herbs, and made over 1k cards, which I then turned around and sold for about 15k, so about 5k worth of pure profit. The best part is, I can barely keep stock up on the AH. I buy ALL the whiptail below 2g each. I process it all. I put cards up and usually they sell out before more whiptail is available. I am contracting specific farming players to farm for me. I have an alt named Bellagio! I camp the AH at work to buy more Whiptail. I got an addon that allows me to click mill and walk away.
Turns out, I am not the only one. Well, I guess I have a goal now.