- Author: centurion
- Date: April 4, 2019
- Updated: December 9, 2020
- Expansion: WoW Classic
The purpose of this guide is to help both new and old players think about how to make gold in Classic WoW. Gold is much more valuable in Classic, and earning it will be much more difficult than it is in the retail version. This general guide will cover making gold, saving it, and trading items. Because I want it to stay relevant for a while, I won’t go into great specific detail, but perhaps it will give you, whether you’re a new player or veteran, a better idea or strategy to make gold in Classic WoW.
Every one of us will be starting out with nothing, and we’ll all have to start thinking about gold for our mounts. Gold was far harder to acquire in older versions of WoW, and the value of 1 gold used to be far more. Most people chuckle at 1,000 gold today, but 1,000 gold in classic is no laughing matter.
You will not make the same gold as you currently do in retail, not in amount or in in respect to Classic prices. Leveling in retail is easy, and gear is thrown your way from every direction. Not only that, but you can even easily afford to buy gear from vendors in retail. You will not be doing this in Classic, at least not until you’re leveling an alt that you’ve sent gold to. If you’re not familiar with Classic or it’s been a while, just because you were making far less gold doesn’t mean everything cost less, because it didn’t. Copper, Silver, and Gold was not an afterthought in vanilla like it is in retail. Collecting copper is actually something you will not only want to do in Classic, but it is something you’ll need to do especially in the early levels.
I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, but I do hope this guide can at least give you some ideas and help you in some way, because if you want to be able to afford things like mounts and gear in an adequate time, you’ll need to give some thought to your character’s wealth.
Why do I need to worry about Gold?
As they say, money buys you happiness. Or wait, was it that money doesn’t buy happiness? Regardless, gold buys gear upgrades, materials, recipes, mounts, bags, and so much more. You’re going to need a lot of gold for your first riding training at level 40, and a ton of gold for your epic mount at level 60, not including the honored and pvp rank discounts you can acquire, or if you are a paladin or warlock.
Not only items, but we’ll be having to buy all of our abilities and spells from trainers again, and chances are you’ll never have all the gold you need to get them all as you level. Plus as I already mentioned, you’ll be making far less gold than we do nowadays in retail, so you won’t simply be able to buy whatever you want whenever you want. You’ll constantly notice your gold constraints in the beginning.
Staying Frugal – Saving Up
One of the easiest ways to save gold is by simply saving it. Ask yourself: do I really need this piece of armor? This bag? Do I need to fly here and spend coin? Etc. It’s always tempting to buy that piece of armor that adds a slight bonus, but this is usually unnecessary when you’re leveling.
Unless you’ve got some sort of special goal you’re trying for, I’d recommend holding off from buying armor from the auction house while you’re leveling unless you can absolutely afford it. Starting out, none of us will truly be able to afford it. Questing and dungeons are a good solution for acquiring armor as we begin to level.
A wide variety of bags can also be found via questing if you want to save gold that way. This video I watched a while back stuck with me because I never realized how many bags you could acquire for free if you took the time to do their respective quests or farm certain mobs.
I remember the initial struggle for bag space when I started playing during BC back in the day, and getting free bags via questing is something I’m looking forward to in Classic now that I know about them. Unless you’re absolutely dying for bag space immediately, wait and get a bag somewhere else. Buying them from vendors isn’t the best idea considering the cost.
Flight paths are another good source for saving money – /u/malagus’ saving money guide on reddit explains how you pay more for the convenience of a direct route. By taking shorter but more numerous flights to your destination, you’ll actually save on silver. Getting into the habit of doing this early on will benefit you greatly in the long term.
Just because it would feel great to level up your crafting profession quick by buying materials, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
WoW does not have resource scarcity. In the real world that describes the fact that we have limited resources and limitless wants. Technically, unless something is removed from dropping in the game, you can always go get the item yourself if you really want it but don’t want to pay the gold for it. For almost all items in the game unless something odd happens, there is no set amount, and you can get it yourself, so if you’re saving maybe it’s worth the extra attempts if you’re trying for a rare item and want to save gold. Unless it has to be bought from a vendor, you can always grind for it yourself.
Besides spending on items, consider your spending regarding class spells and abilities. If you’re new to Classic or don’t quite remember, you don’t automatically unlock spells. You have to buy them from your class trainer for a noticeable amount of copper, silver, and gold. Not only this, but you buy and can access all ranks for certain spells. When leveling, you won’t need every single level of every single spell. You can easily cut corners here and save some gold using that slightly lower tier spell, or leaving an unnecessary spell locked until a later time.
Plus there are also very niche arguably temporarily useless spells – one example that comes to mind is Unending Breath, which you really don’t need to buy to level (but might be helpful if you need to swim to the bottom of a lake for a quest or herbs). Again, very situational. You’ll have to constantly weigh your needs vs wants, because every piece of copper you spend on something is copper you’ll need to replace if you want to buy something bigger like that mount. Planning out a build ahead of time is a good idea as you will already know what you do and what you don’t need and will keep more gold in your pocket.
The Simple Economics
You don’t need to be an economist to understand supply, demand, and opportunity cost. These are basic terms thrown around in every economy, whether real or virtual. As every economist / investor has always said forever, buy low and sell high. Simply put, supply and demand is a term used to describe how the price of various items / goods are valued. If something is high in demand in low in supply, its price is will be higher. If it’s low in demand but high in supply, it’ll be cheaper.
You can use supply and demand to your advantage if you decide you want to farm items while making gold. In every economy, real or virtual, some items are common and some are rare. Some items have many uses and some are far more niche. If you play retail you will know that some important crafting materials like anchorweed fly off the proverbial auction house shelves.
Furthermore, even the lowest tier of material like copper ore can often be found selling for an absurdly high price in retail, meaning that it’s not always the higher tier material that will sell for more. I know I’ve made a lot of gold in retail buying all the copper in the auction house and flipping it for a bit more. However, that oddity came about in retail due to how professions scaled, how high they went, and how people collected. This will of course be different in Classic, but chances are there will eventually be some sort of gap in the market where a lower quality item will have a high demand and high price.
I don’t want to speculate on how the economy will look, as I think there are things that may surprise us. While high level items will obviously start out expensive, they certainly won’t always stay that way depending on rarity. Certain low level items may also be expensive depending on the demand and rarity. It’s always a good idea to do research into what’s hot as the economy of every game experiences some sort of change in some area of it.
Just because it’s a higher level or rarer according to the game doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more sought after. In the end, only the demands of the market create the price. A good example of that in retail is transmogrification. Obviously transmog plays an important role in the economy of retail, and it’s something we won’t have in Classic. I’m not sure if people will buy items simply for the fashion of it, but regardless transmog farming won’t be a lucrative thing like it is in retail because it itself won’t exist.
Opportunity cost is basically what you’re giving up to pursue what you’re currently doing, or what return you are giving up by putting your gold in a specific spot. This usually comes off a bit extreme, as you essentially question every action you take and consider if it’s more beneficial. For example: what is the opportunity cost of you deciding to run some dungeons with your guild? You could be out farming materials instead, and how much more or less gold would you be making by doing that?
Another example of opportunity cost: you have 10,000 gold sitting in your backpack. At this point, you’re not saving for anything particular but you’ve had your eye on a couple of items you like. Perhaps buying these items will make running a dungeon or raid easier, which in turn will give you more gold an hour. However, you could also invest this 10,000 gold by flipping items in the auction house. You’d need to consider the opportunity cost of your gold’s allocation. Of course, thinking like this is a bit extreme, and can often lessen your enjoyment of the game. But if you truly desire to make as much gold as possible, you must always think about whether or not you can be doing something more profitable, or whether your gold is better off elsewhere.
Where Your Gold Will Come From
Gold itself is introduced to the economy through certain core player interactions. Quest rewards, looting gold from enemies, selling items to vendors, and trading with other players via a direct trade or auction house is how gold directly enters and trades hands. Equipment, consumables, and materials are what make up these trades. Let’s look at the more common ways to actually make noticeable gold. In essence, you can farm materials, trade items, utilize your crafting professions, hunt rare items, or offer some sort of service.
Farming materials is by far the most simple way to earn a decent amount of gold in WoW. All it takes is the small fee to learn the gathering skill from the trainer (and the proper gathering tool if required) and off you can go. I feel as though the most common gathering professions I hear people toss around are mining and skinning. You definitely can’t go wrong with both, especially skinning since you’ll be killing many beasts you’ll be able to skin.
I imagine that at the beginning you’ll be better off selling some gathered items to vendors, as the auction house will likely be bombarded with people undercutting each other and driving the price below vendor level, but always check before you sell, as the market will eventually stabilize. Herbalism is also great for making gold as potions have an important role in Classic WoW. Fishing is also useful, and the Oily Blackmouth comes to mind as it is a fish used in alchemy for potions like water walking and has a greater value and will sell faster because of that. You’ll also have to plan out your farming routes, which will likely be crowded with other people.
Trading your items is not always as easy as it sounds if you desire maximum profit. First of all, never sell an item to a vendor if you can get more from the auction house. But, there are a few times where an extremely common item will yield you more from a vendor. Just keep an eye out. When selling your items at the auction house, try not to undercut other players, at least don’t undercut by more than a single copper.
Chances are if you undercut somebody, somebody else will undercut you. Eventually this can lead to a small price decrease for that particular item, or you would’ve sold that item for the identical amount as the lowest player. This may take a little longer to sell at times, but generally undercutting by a lot is detrimental to the economy.
Sometimes, especially with more expensive items, it’s better to just sell the item directly and avoid the auction house. Advertise in trade chat a bit, as sometimes somebody will see your ad and want to buy it spur of the moment, and you’ll avoid auction house fees. This is especially recommended for very expensive items as you’ll really feel that auction house fee with those items.
Crafting professions such as blacksmithing and leatherworking are great ways to make a great profit later in the game. They’re typically not advised to take when leveling as a new player, as trying to level the profession will slow you down and not give as good a return as two gathering professions.
However late in the game there are plenty of items in every crafting profession that sell well. Professions like alchemy tend to give you a more steady income as potions are always needed and not too costly to make, while certain gear in a profession like blacksmithing will earn you a lot of gold, but might take longer to acquire materials for and longer to sell. I won’t go into detail about the specifics of each profession, as there are already guides and videos around for that. Choose the one that best suits you, but be prepared to invest in leveling it or spend a lot of time gathering for it.
Hunting rare items is a more difficult, RNG based way to potentially make a large amount of gold at once. The first item that jumps to mind and is seen on WoW box art is Teebu’s Blazing Longsword. There’s other very rare items with low drop rates that you can attempt to get, and selling those will yield you a mountain of gold (if someone else can afford to buy it).
I’m sure there’s many YouTube videos regarding such topics. But you have to remember that unloading rare items almost always takes longer than less expensive items. Unless someone with gold burning a hole in their pocket is actively looking for an item, there’s a good chance you’ll be listing your item a few times before it sells. This will be especially true until players start to actually have a steady stockpile of gold. However, you’d have to consider the opportunity cost of attempting to farm a rare item vs an easier more stable way of making gold. Certain items involved in things like class quests can be good to farm too.
The Pristine Black Diamond comes to mind as some say it sold for over 1,000 gold back in vanilla as it was required for class mounts. Various profession recipes can also fetch you a bit of gold, as the drop rates for some can be low and the items themselves are important. In fact @fendor has some rare blacksmithing recipe drops listed in his great blacksmithing guide on this site. As he also says: there’s too many recipes to list in one place, so try to find the ones that sell the best, or maybe the ones that nobody seems to collect as often. Flask recipes will also sell well as consumables play a huge role in Classic.
Offering some sort of service is an interesting way to make gold. Whether it’s something small like offering teleports in a capital city and hoping for good tips, or running players through dungeons in exchange for gold there are many miscellaneous services that could yield profit. Of course, these are niche, and usually aren’t a stable source of income unless you’re part of a guild well known for offering runs. I would also consider high level cooking a sort of service, as I don’t think many people will likely make it all the way to max. Good food is very useful for dungeons and raiding.
Dungeon keys will be a valuable way to make some gold in Classic. If you are not familiar, some parts of dungeons and entire dungeons are locked behind a door that only opens with a specific key. A good example is the Workshop Key for Gnomeregan, and Skeleton Key for scholomance. If you’re not a rogue, it can be a good idea to collect as many keys as you can so you can offer to unlock these various areas for groups. Plus, they’ll be far more likely to choose you if you have a key. The Scarlet Key is arguably the most popular key.
Playing the Auction House
Buy low and sell high. Chances are, you’ve heard someone refer to someone else as a “goblin”. Aptly named after the race itself, Goblins are those guys and gals running around with the most expensive mounts and armor in the game. A lot of them make a lot of gold in the auction house. Playing the auction house is not risk free, and not something you can do without already having enough gold to make it worthwhile.
First and foremost, always do the math out ahead of time. Between the deposit fee and auction house cut, you want to always make sure you’re making a profit. Nothing’s more embarrassing than trying to flip a ton of materials then realizing you either calculated your return wrong or didn’t bother checking at all. Remember too that auction houses are faction specific in classic, and neutral auction houses are accessible for both and take a slightly higher cut. However you will of course reach more people with a neutral auction house like the one found in booty bay (assuming people look there).
With the large amount of items in WoW, there’s almost always something that can be flipped. Consumables, equipment, bags, materials, always look and see if there’s something that you could potentially make money on. It will change over time, so keep an eye out. You can start small with single items, just seeing if you can turn even the smallest profit off it. Eventually you can experiment if you have the gold, buying entire item types and seeing if you can sell them for just a bit more.
Diversifying your trades is always a good idea as well, because the uncertainty of markets can bite you if suddenly one of your most traded items prices was to tank. Although this is more of an issue if you’re hoarding an item in anticipation. Sometimes it is better so buy and hold items if you think their value will increase for some reason. With the way classic will be rolled out in phases, there will definitely be times where certain items prices may spike in anticipation of these phases.
Sniping, Addons, and Ethics
In retail, there are a plethora of addons for working the auction house. From simple ones to give you price estimates, to cleaning up the U.I., to helping you snipe items. If you haven’t heard the term sniping before, it’s a simple concept. Sniping is a term used to describe a player that buys underpriced or incorrectly listed items as fast as possible. With sniping addons, a player that forgets a 0 when listing an item may find their item has already been sniped before they can cancel the auction.
I have no idea what sort of trading addons we’ll see for Classic WoW, nor do I follow any updates on them. Personally, I don’t use many addons in retail or other games like ESO besides a couple core trading addons, and even then I don’t always use those. I tried my hand at sniping with the assistance of an addon last year for a time as I hadn’t really before and found that it was rather effective. I definitely made gold, as some people list unknowingly rare items for cheap, undercut normal items, or make a mistake. I didn’t enjoy it too much and didn’t snipe for too long, but many people still do regularly.
However, this is where ethics comes into play. There is no right or wrong answer, as it is one massive grey area. WoW is simply a game, but at the same time it isn’t just a game. Sniping someone who has made a listing mistake might be beneficial to you, but might hurt them a bit. I won’t try to pretend I know the definitive answer here, but remember that every action you take has a consequence, even if you don’t see it. The same can be considered when price gouging via buying all of one item in the auction house and relisting it for a ton.
The Future of the Classic Economy
Given that the majority of players who will be playing classic are veteran WoW players, I’m interested to see what the economy will look like. There aren’t really any secrets left to discover, or strategies to formulate. Because we’ve all played it at some point or another, we all know what to expect from Classic WoW. However this attitude in itself provides us all a chance to make a lot of gold. If you want to get a head start, read other guides for levelling, questing, dungeons. raiding, and figure out ahead of time what the needs of the market will be.
Chances are you’ll see items on these guides you’ll be able to profit from, as everyone else reading that guide will need them. It’s because we all know what to expect that certain items will be more important, and certain ones won’t. Because we know all of this ahead of time we can plan our trading. But as always with every market, you can’t ever fully predict what could happen. Just buy low, selling high, and find your own way of making gold and you’ll eventually reach your goal.
I hope I was able to help you in some way through this guide. Sometimes thinking outside of your typical mindset can help you come up with a better strategy. In the end, you’ll be the only one determining how you make your gold. It’s up to you how much or how little you want to grind, and how you’ll go about making gold. Hopefully though I’ve given some sort of insight, as we’ll start all over as poor, copperless noobs in a matter of months. See you in Classic!