World Of Warcraft, WoW Hand Armor

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Who is "The Mogfather"? Alto's In-Depth Interview!

Transmog. Mogging. Transmogrification. Whatever you call it, it isn’t our “little secret” anymore. And neither is The Mogfather!  

Keel has been busy. Really busy. Did you know about his interview at WoWInsider? Maybe you saw the PCGamer post, or even the WiredUK article on him? Or maybe you just knew Keelhaul from the past. Keel was, is, and has defined himself as a major staple in the Gold Blogging Community. You can see his work on his blog, DE Azeroth or over at the PowerWord:Gold Hatchery.  See what I mean with being busy? Even with all that happening, he still took some time away from his appearances to go through some killer details in a well detailed interview(s) for us. Why is that plural?

I will be breaking the interview into mainly two parts, the first one below and the second one that covers more in-depth on his “how to’s” of Transmogging (you don't want to miss that one-stay tuned!). Enjoy!

How did all this start? Did you rub a crystal ball and it told you how profitable Transmogging would be? Or was it a shot in the dark?

     It initially began just prior to the official announcement of Transmogrification in patch 4.3. I was listening to TheInstance podcast and the hosts were taking shots at what they thought this “transmogrification” feature was going to be. At that time, everyone knew transmogrification was coming, but nobody really knew for sure what it was. One of the hosts guessed that it would be a feature that would enable you to make your weapons and gear look like others. 

     At the time I was mastering the art of flipping high price weapons and gear (Ward of the Red Widow, Spire of Scarlet Pain, etc.) and I thought the hunch of The Instance crew was spot on and I started picking up a few weapons that I felt I could flip for a profit. So I was picking up marquee items like Teebu’s Blazing Longsword, the Blade of Wizardry, the Singing Crystal Axe, the Skullflame Shield, etc. The general idea I had was to take those few items I picked up and if Transmogrification was, indeed, something that would enable the use those legacy looks, I might be able to make a few thousand gold off them.

     Only when they officially announced the feature did I really go into full swing and dive deeper down the rabbit hole of Transmogrification. The path began from a gold-making perspective, but it quickly turned into something much bigger because I was able to leverage my professional experience as a designer to quickly discern what weapons and gear were really going to strike a chord in 4.3. So my insight on the topic actually became valued by a broader audience as players began to follow my blog, Disenchanting Azeroth (, and the discussion became less about “what items should you target to make gold” and more about “what not to wear”.

     From there I found myself buying up all sorts of BoE green armor items and a variety of weapons and shields that I was planning to use for my own characters. It was then that I realized my behavior was outlining how the target customer for transmogrification would act. Know thyself, right? So my hypothesis was if I was willing to spend thousands of gold on some of these items that I had sought after and treasured, surely there were others like me out there that I could construct a viable market upon.

     And so it began. Piece by piece, prior to the release of patch 4.3, I was securing a massive inventory of items with which I could deluge the shelves of the AH come patch day. I just didn’t realize how big it would actually become.

Those that follow you on Twitter (@DEAzeroth) have seen screenshots of your sales, they have seen and heard your tales of extreme mogging. You have stepped up and even visited folks severs and assisted them in setting up a “store” of mogs. 

    What made you decide to do that? How did you choose who and when?

   Yeah, this is a part of the story I’m really proud of and few have really asked about it. For some readers, it was enough to listen to the podcast Jim Younkin over at Power Word: Gold and I put together and to follow me on Twitter, taking note of various lists and items I was posting. But for others, it wasn’t enough. Some players on Twitter reached out and basically said “I don’t think my realm is into transmogrification, I can’t seem to do what you’re doing – help.” And at the time that the first of these pleas came in, I was honestly a bit fatigued of the rinse and repeat aspect of what I was doing so it presented an intriguing challenge. Could I hop over to a realm where I had no presence or experience with the local buyer population and repeat the same methods with success?

     The first realm I did this on, I believe, was Stormrage. I linked up with the player who was there and they spotted me 50g to test their market. The thing I really enjoyed about it was it was a pure ‘can I pull this off’ challenge, it was under the spotlight of Twitter so expectations were realistic and I knew the experience would also help me better understand the nuances of the transmogrification market simply by getting exposure to a variety of realms other than Proudmoore, Earthen Ring and Moon Guard where I had initially began my efforts. 

     I watched on my iPhone, checking in from time to time to see if any marquee items had been posted to the AH on Stormrage, and within 24 hours I’d acquired about 4-6 ideal items to start with – I forget what they were, but they were probably top 5 tiers from my lists. Long story short within 3 days I had flipped that 50g into 5,000g and an inventory of about 50 pieces. It was a great story for the Twitter audience, provided some hard data to the intangible of equation of transmog and I’d helped someone kickstart their market.

     Well when the story about that realm hit, I was quickly tapped by a number of other players who expressed concerns about their realms as well. So off I went. At one point I had my own auctioneers maintaining my 2 primary realms of Proudmoore and Earthen Ring, in addition to about 6-8 others on a variety of realms within the US region. In every case it was the same scenario, too: with the right items, the right prices and a bit of patience I got results. I was able to flip each one of those initiatives into a bulky profit for the player who invested in me as well as a substantial inventory to play with. In the case of the Scryers, a low pop RP realm that initially gave me some trouble, within a week the local buyers finally cracked and began paying the prices I wanted.

Upon doing that, you had the chance to visit a wide array of servers and see their economy. Did one server net more than the others? Why do you think that is? Did any "not" show a market for mogging yet?  

     So in all, I think I’ve frequented over 14 different realms and the real value has been knowledge and experience to build on the theories and methodologies I already had in my head. I can now speak from an informed angle about the challenges various auctioneers face now on their realms because I’ve touched so many different scenarios and overcome them. And really there’s only one scenario that has proven to block the success of my strategy, and that’s one where there isn’t any new inventory of relevant pieces being cycled onto the AH. 

     It breaks my strategy which is entirely based on a low-effort model of scan and flip. When there’s nothing there to scan for and flip, it forces the player into farming and that’s not something I have time to do. So in the case of that particular realm, I had to bail on the player and with them the best of luck farming. So I’ve seen the realms where it’s like Babylon and I’ve seen some where it’s a barren wasteland. 

It’s given me a baseline with which to talk to new players I meet and advise them accordingly about how to set the market up on their realms.

And based on what I learned, when someone hits me up on Twitter and they express concern about their realm or their inability to repeat my success, the first questions I ask them are:

1)   What is the size of the realm?

2) What is the faction?

3) Have the items been up for at least a week and seen at least one weekend?

     Based on the responses to these questions I can quickly determine the proper strategy to break through the challenge of the scenario. The ideal scenario is Mid-High population Alliance with at least a week of relevant items up on the AH. The reason for this is high population nets you higher frequency of relevant items posted to the AH, as well as a larger disposable income among buyers. 

     Alliance nets you a broader buyer base with character models that really highlight the aesthetics of armor (Human, Night Elf, Draenei) whereas statistics I was pulling from Horde sales showed there was an insanely overwhelming majority of items being bought and worn by Blood Elves. Undead, for example, just weren’t showing up in my sales logs. And lastly, those items have to be up on the local AH for at least a week, and preferably over two weekends at the high price ranges I specify. 

     When someone complains to me that they’ve not had any sales in 2-3 days, I just tell them to be patient and wait at least a week before dropping their prices. And 9 times out of 10 so far, around day 5 or 6 I get another reply from the same player saying I was right and the windfall hit. My theory behind this is you’re creating a new store front on these local auction houses and buyers (like me) have to get accustomed to the fact that high fashion that is desirable isn’t going to come cheap. Just like everything else on the auction house, it has value. 

     It’s a bit of a game of chicken with your buyers, really. These buyers of the high priced items are smart, they’re educated on the items, they know the rarities and they know how much they value them, personally for whatever their reasons are. If you budge within the first few days, they’ve won and they’re going to stalemate you. However, if you wait it out for 7 days, they’re going to start worrying that if they don’t act soon, they may lose the item(s) they covet. Again, confessions of a transmog buyer, myself here right? Know thyself and you’ll know your customer. If my logic wasn’t spot on, I wouldn’t have had so much success on these unknown realms as a series of startups, let alone the success I had on Proudmoore and Earthen Ring.

Did you run both Horde and Alliance? Any Neutral AH? Was there a difference in sales you noticed on either faction?

     One thing I will note on Neutral auction houses, it’s a bit time consuming to hop over on there but I have, indeed, found a number of gems just sitting there collecting dust. I don’t think they were being cross-faction traded, because their prices didn’t really reflect that sort of behavior. I think they were just forgotten. But yes, even just recently I’ve picked up items from the Jade plate, Saltstone plate, various robes of high value and even a leather Swashbuckler’s Eyepatch (ssshh, it’s the only leather item I deal in).

You priced your items in what I thought originally was outrageous, but you have since convinced me otherwise. What makes you decide the prices on “x” item? What about “y”? Do you change prices at all? Weekday versus weekend?

So I initially began basing my prices on a few factors:

    How rare was the item? 

      In other words, was it a drop from Scarlet Monestary? Well that’s run commonly by levelers. Was it a drop from BWL? Well, that’s certainly less common but with transmogrification having been announced, players are running it again so items like the Hyperion plate set do tend to show up more often than they probably would had transmog not been such a draw. What about items from AQ20/40 like the Exalted plate chest? Now there’s an item that’s going to have significant value. Have you ever tried to get out to AQ20/40? It’s out in the middle of NOWHERE. Have you ever tried to form a raid if you’re alone on a realm, guildless and not knowing anyone? It’s actually a PAIN! So unless you’re resourceful and you’ve got time on your hands, the pieces from AQ20/40 are a miserable grind to obtain. Cue the bell /ding! The more difficult something is to obtain, or the more rare it is, the higher I valued it in terms of hierarchy.

    How well did it rank, aesthetically, in terms of visual uniqueness? 

     This is where I leveraged my knowledge of the design methodologies my readers on Disenchanting Azeroth have become accustomed to. I can look at a spread of outfits and pick out the things that are really going to differentiate a player from everyone else. I did it with weapons and shields on my blog and told the story. The same process was calculating in my head for armor, I just never had the time to build the tools and walk players through it on the blog once my son was born. Priorities!

    And lastly, how much would I pay for it if I wanted it for my own character? 

     Here is where the real leap of faith came in, and I had to trust my instincts. I had to be honest with myself as a free spender with a disposable income, what was my maximum that I would pay, and what prices would I respect and still pay them if I saw them? That’s when I knew I could draw up to 5,000g or even 10,000g for a green set of legs.

     And you know I do change prices, actually. Probably about every 10 days or so I’ve found myself re-evaluating the value of certain sets. As time has gone on, I’ve found myself raising the prices of things like Sentry and Steadfast mail because they’re so rare, raising the prices of Tyrant’s and Saltstone plate because they’re selling so well, and conversely lowering the prices of Bloodfist plate because it’s so damn common with so many players returning to Outlands content right now between levelers, DKs and transmog runs through BT and Sunwell.

Anytime someone sees a UFO, they are skeptical. When folks hit the cap, and they are out in the public like you are, they need proof. To those that do not believe you made a million gold in 43 days, now is your time to prove them wrong.  Show us the money!


Oh geez, this will just have to be a series of screen shots I guess of the prices and various bank tallies that have been posted to Twitter. I mean most of the “documentation” or “proof” has been in the giveaways, the screenshots of sales, the bans, etc. So whereas some players have a single screenshot of 1,000,000g in their bags, mine is probably a different type of proof in that I’ve got hundreds of witnesses, the police chasing me with the ban hammer, tons of screen pics documenting these obscene sales, the WoWInsider article that was just released and then months of backstory dating all the way back to August of how I built up to this.

 I think Judge Judy would call it overwhelming evidence, ha. But no, you’ll not see a pic of 1,000,000g in my backpack because I’ve given it out along the way. But I mean I posted screens of the 400,000g handoff I did that netted me my first of four bans, screens of 15,000 given out here, 5,000 given out there. 100,000g sitting on this toon on Tichondrius, 100,000g sitting on this toon on Earthen Ring, over 60,000g sitting in Power Word: Guild on Lightbringer. It adds up to over 1.1 million now that I’ve made just flipping items on the AH since patch day.

That is truly insane! Not only did you make a million gold off selling transmogs, but you gave it all away!? Well done, sir, well done indeed! However, you ran into some issues along the way....

Those that have followed your progress know that you have received multiple bans throughout your quest in mogging, and they seem to have come from giving away the gold...

     Yup, but I will say this. I think I’ve got some fans over at Blizzard customer service. I’ve been getting some really fantastic messages back from them saying things like “Love what you’re doing”, “You should be good to go”. And leading up to my fifth major giveaway in which a single night I gave out 250,000g across Proudmoore, Earthen Ring and Tichondrius, I didn’t receive ban #5. So I think I’ve got some folks watching over me, which is pretty cool. 

     I have two more big giveaways coming up on Friday 27th on Lightbringer and Earthen Ring and I’ve already notified the local authorities that I’ll be pushing my giveaway total to 1.1 million with another 50,000g handed out on each realm to players who have adopted fabulous transmog outfits. So we’ll see, will I get banned a fifth time? Or has the Mogfather earned a pass from the warden, haha.

 Does it make you look at WoW and Blizzard Devs in a different light? Did you feel like you were in court pleading your case?

     I definitely had to plead my case with bans #1-3. I mean I supplied data from Twitter, my blog, the podcasts I’ve done with Jim, and more. But since then I’ve tried to be proactive and submit tickets beforehand so people are aware. And they seem to be aware of who I am and what I’m doing with my persona of the Mogfather. I think initially with the first ban it was a major buzzkill, and I was really disappointed in Blizzard. But since then it’s turned into something special, and I think it’s actually made me appreciate Blizzard, the devs and customer service more. I’ve said it before, it feels a bit like the Mogfather’s playing poker with the prison guards and the warden at this point. I don’t know how long I want to lean on that analogy though, those scenarios never end well in the movies. Somebody always gets killed.

What would you recommend to someone entering the mogging game? Are too many already doing it to be profitable?

So my first rule is this: Don’t listen to reason. Listen to me. You’ve got to take a leap of faith with this market and approach it differently. But I think I’ve been able to bring enough logic to the table where it’s made entry into this market more tangible and easier to do. Rule number two is listen to the community voice that has slowly embraced this. Certainly the tools that others like yourself, Jim over at Power Word Gold, Twitchie, Faid (and I know I’m forgetting others) and others that have contributed to the conversation to make it more relevant and actionable by the gold-making community either through lengthy blog posts, tools for enabling mods to work in this market, etc. 

     It’s all become a valuable network to be a part of. Follow the people on the front lines on Twitter like I do that constantly post updates to what they’re selling, what pieces are going for and frequency (players like @khalior @farli_wow @goldenllama to name a few).

     And regarding is it too crowded yet? I would say no, and I’m a pretty valid case study of that being over on Proudmoore. I spear-headed the market earlier than anyone so we’re ahead of the curve in terms of things leveling out and becoming a more traditional market with lots of competition. The trick is the prices of the marquee items haven’t come down. 

     They’re so rare and desirable that they’ve maintained their value. That said, some of the more common items like the Heavy Lamellar set and the Conqueror’s plate have continued to drop in value because there are just too many world drops occurring out there, so the AH is getting flooded. So yes there’s room, but you’ve got to be selective.

     If you’re entering a market that is already well occupied just stick to the top tiers I’ve listed over at the Hatchery on Power Word: Gold and you should do fine. I emphasize that you’ll do fine because I’ve been able to test this theory out on a few major markets that are showing signs of a deluge of competition. If you try to push average items and you only allow yourself a few days before you panic and drop prices, you will fail. I’ve seen it.

What does the future hold for transmog? 

     In my opinion, transmog is here to stay. The prices on the majority of items will likely level out and it will become a market that a number of auctioneers continue to fight over just like any market. But it’s not going away. Personalization is too stable a trend and for certain players it transcends most of the reasons that would drive that player to the auction house. Marquee items like the GloriousExalted, etc., sets I’ve mentioned a number of times will continue to maintain their value because they’re so rare and desirable. 

     I wouldn’t be surprised if six months down the road I see another Glorious Breastplate sitting on the AH for 10k. But would I be surprised to see some Conqueror's Legplates for more than 500g? Absolutely. And of course much of this is dependent on your realm size, which faction you’re on, all the factors I mentioned earlier. There are going to be variants of the results here over time. But in general what I’m saying is the transmog market is something you should be able to continue with just as you would a standard market. 

     The adjustment that you’ll need to make over time is you won’t be getting 1,000x the value of what you flip, it might be more like 100x or 50x. But I mean geez! Think about that, up until now gold-makers got giddy when the equation was 1.5x or 2x. The other thing to keep in mind is there is a stability of randomness underneath the market that’s pretty intriguing. It can’t be crafted, it can’t be mined, herbed or disenchanted, and it can’t be farmed (with a guaranteed rate of return anyway). The stability of the market is going to be based on world drops and what becomes available. That means it’s anyone’s game, and when a Jade Breastplate drops onto the AH for 5g who can get to it first? It’s not a market you can use some of the classic tactics on, you've got to rethink the equation. So because of the draw of personal'ization and because of the instability of resources I think this market is here to stay.

Thank you for taking the time to give us some insight. Any last words?

Yeah, if I get time to do some cross-realm raiding and you roll with me you’d better look good. ;)

Will do sir, will do. I am looking forward to it!

There you go folks, absolute proof that The Mogfather is the king of Mogging. So to all you nay sayers be gone! This man is not a myth, he is real. He is not an imposter. He knows every who/what/when and why of Transmogging. This man is a legend. Stay tuned for the follow up interview when Keel divulges his secrets!

Follow The Mogfather on twitter: @DEazeroth


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