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  1. #1
    Sterling's Avatar
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    Mysterious Fortune Cards... What's the Deal?

    There have been very interesting discussions concerning the new inscription item, , and given that I'm a total stats/psychology junkie I can't help but weigh in on this. First things first, read the following 3 articles and get up to snuff about the topic:

    Cold's preview: Cataclysm Item Preview: Fortune Cards & Fortune Cookies.
    Wukam's response: Reader Submission On Fortune Cards by Wukam.
    Gnomeozurich's response to Wukam's post: Fortune Cards.

    Essentially, scribes can now produce , which requires 1 and 1 . When used, the card randomly produces a vendor item worth 10s, 50s, 1g, 5g, 20g, 50g, 200g, 1000g or 5000g. The item is not a container, so "drop rates" cannot be datamined for the vendor cards.

    Immediately, goblins want to know the drop % denominations for each prize card, in hopes of giving it absolute value. Let's call it X for posterity. Wukam argued that when the production cost of the card is below X, production is risk free and should be carried on by anyone with the crafting opportunity. Gnomeozurich countered, saying that any investment carries a certain risk, and with these cards, there is still a chance of being "unlucky" and striking only low-value cards. Fair enough, I can agree with both Wukam and Gnomeozurich here, but I'd like to think that most users frequenting these forums have enough gold to eliminate a lot of this risk. Using the aforementioned of 1/1000 for 5k, we know that with 1000 trials, there's still a 36.7% chance of not getting a 5k prize. However, with a 3/1000 chance to win 1k, there's only a 0.2% chance of not striking a major prize through 1000 trials. Not to mention, if minor winnings are "re-invested", the risk is further reduced through additional trials. Of course, the risk is still there, but I think 100,000 trials to eliminate risk is exaggerated.

    Regardless, I don't think X really matters that much. If X was set too high, it would fully govern the price of inks and herbs. I don't think this is something blizzard would overlook. That being said, will most likely carry an absolute value of 3-4g. Even if X is 5g, and production cost is 4g, there is probably more profit in selling the cards at markup to foolish or stupid players.

    What has been overlooked so far is the psychology behind the cards. I used to work at a small casino and witnessed the behavior and mindsets of thousands of gamblers firsthand. In my 2 years at this casino, I observed some pretty concrete trends and gambling behaviors and I guarantee you that these apply (at least partially) to s. Let's make a comparison with Nevada (aka pull-tab) tickets.

    Nevada tickets are the best real-life comparison to Fortune Cards. Gamblers purchase a ticket for, say, $1 and run a chance at winning prizes ranging from $1 to $500. Where I worked, the prize denominations for a 2000 card pack worked something like this:
    • $0: 1526/2000 (76.3%)
    • $1: 400/2000 (20%)
    • $5: 50/2000 (2.5%)
    • $10: 20/2000 (1%)
    • $100: 3/2000 (0.15%)
    • $500: 1/2000 (0.05%)

    So the average return per ticket (to the customer) is $0.825. The pack sells for $2000, and the total payout is $1650. So, if the average customer approaches with $2000 to spend, how much can the casino expect to profit? $350? Nope. Correct answer: $2000. Though it may look like the average profit per pack is $350, it's actually closer to $1900 (95% or so). The vast majority of gamblers will keep turning in their winnings until they are completely broke. I suspect the same will apply to fortune cards, albeit to a lesser extent.

    The second important point I'd like to touch on is the perceived odds for the cards. It doesn't matter if players know there is only a 0.05% chance to win the 5k jackpot. For gamblers, anecdotal evidence is the most important data. That being said, WoWhead comments will play a huge role in influencing gamblers to purchase these tickets (that's a hint). Since nobody will search for these at the auction house, your best bet is to sell through trade. A seller was doing just this on Thunderlord last night, and every so often, a "winner" would follow up with a link to . You guessed it, both were in the same guild and the "winner" was only there to plant optimism.

    In the end, this is a very strange item and I'm surprised that blizzard even implemented it. A new form of addiction has officially been added to an already addicting game (in before Xzibit reference), and I wouldn't be surprised to hear of extreme cases where players would spend real money for gold to buy fortune cards. Whether fortune cards will be more profitable than say, potions, flasks, or glyphs, I don't know. It may simply become part of the "herb shuffle".

    I know that you stats robots and psychology gurus lurking here will probably pounce at this article, whether you agree with me or not. Either way, I'm eager to hear what people have to say.

    Sterling beaming out!

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  2. #2
    Undine's Avatar
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    From a lazy goblins perspective, I see these cards as no different than any other commodity. If I were to scribe these cards for sales, I'd ensure that I could obtain the mats for a cheaper value than the market value of the finished product. Then I'd gauge demand vs whomever else is selling and go from there. Ultimately this market will be a wild tangent in terms of buyers, no one needs these items, it's just a matter of who 'feels lucky'.

    I'd say the best way to get sales is to drum up your stock over /trade and make the high-end rewards a clear and baited factor for your potential buyers. Sure, they may not buy a lot, but if the supply of these cards is low, the novelty value to someone could make them worth a substantial amount more than you paid to craft it. It could very well be only 4g in mats, but if competition is low you could price higher and fetch 30-40g a card. To a goblin this expected profit seems dream-like and almost unobtainable. But we have to remember, we're in a market where the context of the demand is slightly different. No one needs these items, it's all about potential luck and star-struck buyers seeing that 5k carrot on a stick.

    I think a better question of profitability with this item would be; How far can you string them along?

    ;D

  3. #3
    Athkatla's Avatar
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    You might be able to AH the 5k card for a little more than vendor price - it's the most reliable way to transfer excess gold across servers.

  4. #4
    Zerohour's Avatar
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    @Undine: Answer: Forever. Human nature takes over, which is why gambling is such a profitable business.

    Maybe a contest here, see how many you can sell to 1 individual, post your results.

    Let us try an experiment, a la carnival barking. Toon 1 is your Scribe, spamming trade. "Hurry, Hurry! Step right up and try your luck! The store is open for business! 10g per card!"

    Toon 2 is your second account, who will be a random character that you spam something like (forgive the low browness here), "I'm rich, bitch! !!! 5k!"

    Toon 1 should take the credit immediately for selling it, "Another winner! Get your !"

    Be prepared to answer tells where you got them on your low level alt. I hate to scam people, but with this thing it kind of requires you to puff it. "How many tries?" Like 22. "What are the odds of the good one?" Like 1 in 52, I'm pretty sure.

    Like a real casino, you will probably have better luck in the later evenings when people are drunk or stoned and can easily get hooked into shoveling their gold over.

  5. #5
    Aeg's Avatar
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    I strongly disagree that this is a good item to AH as an easy way for people to move gold across servers for a number of reasons.

    First of all the AH deposit cost is based on the vendor cost and a 5k vendor card would be expensive to keep on the AH for the occasional times when people will be looking for it.

    Secondly the limit was recently raised to 50k gold for a transfer and as such it is less needed. Also the new alchemy mount would be best value per bag slot for moving cross servers (similar to the way people used choppers to move cross server).

    I do however think there will be the random trade person looking to buy these to transfer servers with and as such if I do get involved in this I may hold a couple 5k cards just for that purpose. (Assuming I have no need for the gold elsewhere).
    Last edited by Aeg; December 16th, 2010 at 03:03 PM.

  6. #6
    I'm not so sure how feasible will be to turn this into a profit oportunity. But, on day 1 of Cataclysm i made an experiment:

    Crafted 3 cards, keep 2 and put 1 on the AH for 250g (to cover the cost of all)

    From the 2 ones i keep they turn into the 10s vendor ones, booo!

    Fortunately the one on the AH was sold the next morning, so no loss.

    Now, I cant assure if the card on the AH was sold because of an interest on the gambling matter of the item or because it was a brand new item on the very first day of the expansion.

  7. #7
    drockrock's Avatar
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    This brings up some very interesting ethical issues. How far are you willing to go get the most out of the buyer? Is it wrong to misrepresent the likelihood of hitting it big by having another player link an item that they don't have? For me the answers are very obviously yes, and they are things I wouldn't practice in real life ever. In the context of a game however, with pretty rigid rules on what's against the rules and what's not, I can't say how I would act. Barking in trade to whoever will listen is way different from high pressure sales (like if I hounded someone in whispers).

    Also as it's been said already, there's a very good chance that the people who would buy these frequently aren't the kind of people who would do research to figure out it's probably a -EV situation. They've made up their mind that they're going to play it, the only question then becomes how much will they pay?

    /goblin Then again if an item has value to a certain person who are we to deny that person the item they desire for the value they desire it for?? As a goblin that seems unethical in itself

  8. #8
    @Aeg

    I think if you are putting the Mysterious Card on the AH, its using the vendor price of 2S for the Deposit. At least that is the listed sell price on the Tooltip. It's only after you 'Consume' it that the true value becomes revealed.

    When it comes to ethics, I don't see anything wrong with creating the Lottery ticket and then posting on the auction house. Its only when you Plant someone in the trade chat to "Create Optimism" that it's actually wrong in my opinion. Sellers will get buyers without resorting to cheap theatrics.

    I would like to think guilds doing this as a guild fundraiser or even a toon fund raiser. I don't mind people trying to make money, I just resent lying to do it.

  9. #9
    I highly doubt these bottom out at 5g for a reason no one in any of the blogs has taken into account: these cards are the principal mat in Fortune Cookies.

    Given that the buff the Fortune Cookie gives (potentially) displaces more expensive mats for similar buff food - and can be used by every class/spec - I would imagine the price would be buoyed by the utility + novelty. Keep in mind you get the "flipped" card after eating the food, so the Fortune Cookie is technically always worth more than just the card.

  10. #10
    Sterling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drockrock View Post
    This brings up some very interesting ethical issues. How far are you willing to go get the most out of the buyer? Is it wrong to misrepresent the likelihood of hitting it big by having another player link an item that they don't have? For me the answers are very obviously yes, and they are things I wouldn't practice in real life ever. In the context of a game however, with pretty rigid rules on what's against the rules and what's not, I can't say how I would act. Barking in trade to whoever will listen is way different from high pressure sales (like if I hounded someone in whispers).

    Also as it's been said already, there's a very good chance that the people who would buy these frequently aren't the kind of people who would do research to figure out it's probably a -EV situation. They've made up their mind that they're going to play it, the only question then becomes how much will they pay?

    /goblin Then again if an item has value to a certain person who are we to deny that person the item they desire for the value they desire it for?? As a goblin that seems unethical in itself
    Agreed. I would say that straight-up lying is where the line is crossed. If a player asks you "did that other buyer just win 5k?" you should tell the truth.

    The way I look at it, the player will be spending his/her gold on something stupid and I might as well be the one receiving it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Azuriel View Post
    I highly doubt these bottom out at 5g for a reason no one in any of the blogs has taken into account: these cards are the principal mat in Fortune Cookies.

    Given that the buff the Fortune Cookie gives (potentially) displaces more expensive mats for similar buff food - and can be used by every class/spec - I would imagine the price would be buoyed by the utility + novelty. Keep in mind you get the "flipped" card after eating the food, so the Fortune Cookie is technically always worth more than just the card.
    Fortune cookies are covered in Cold's Blog, the first one linked in the article named Cataclysm Item Preview: Fortune Cards & Fortune Cookies. The buff is +stam and +prime stat, I doubt this will take precedence over pure +dps food, especially at 5g each or more.
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