Now that that's out of the way - let's get down to business. This guide will cover the new group/sub-group/operation relationships you will find in TSM 2.0. We'll start with a little theory, and then we'll follow up with some practical "live" examples.
Why Groups? (and what's changed)
Groups have always been one of the primary features of TSM - offering goblins a way to sort and categorize their wares into collections of items, rather than having to deal with every single item on an individual basis. Groups help to save time, effort, and resources in order to help maximize your AH business. In a nutshell, groups are amazing.
Now that we've set the stage here's the kicker: TSM 2.0 Groups are even better!
More flexible, more powerful, and more profitable. Yes, the downside here is that this also comes with a little bit more overhead in terms of setup - but that's what this guide is for, right?
Let's quickly highlight some of the key differences between TSM 1 and TSM 2.0.
With TSM 1 - groups were primarily an Auctioning feature. A means of creating collections of items with similar posting/cancelling/resetting specifications. Crafting settings were handled on a profession level. Mailing had it's own set of settings, and shopping/dealfinding lists were their own thing as well.
With TSM 2.0 - groups and settings are united, via Operations, and while it might take some getting used to, it's a welcome change, and one that we'll be better off because of it. Groups have now been streamlined, and really only should be thought of as a means of grouping items. Operations are the settings that actually get things done. The real power of TSM 2.0 is the ability to combine the 2 pretty much unilaterally.
Groups vs. Operations
New to TSM 2.0, and replacing many of the old settings process are Operations. Every major facet of TSM will allow you to create operations (Auctioning, Crafting, Shopping, Mailing, Warehousing). The purpose of groups, is now ENTIRELY in sorting/categorizing items. It's very important to understand this distinction, because it opens up a whole world of possibilities, when you start to consider how many different ways you can sort a group of items, and how many different things you can do with them, and then realize how many more opportunities open up when you combine the two.
This is the new relationship between Groups and Operations. Now let's figure out how to get them working together and do so as efficiently as possible.
How to use Groups
Your first thought may be to simply import your old TSM groups. The TSM 2.0 download page recommends AGAINST this, and I'm going to strongly agree. Your second thought may be to dive in and start creating a whole bunch of groups and operations. Resist that urge, finish this guide and then move forward with a plan, instead.
Long gone are the days when your TSM groups had to configure ALL their settings before they resembled anything functional. TSM 2.0 is lean and powerful at the same time. Each of your groups/sub-groups can be assigned as few or as many operations as you like. With this in mind, it's essential to first consider EVERYTHING you'd potentially like to do with each group of items, and how you'd like to do it before you get too far. The ability to cascade various operations throughout an intricate group configuration might potentially save you hours of processing time down the road.
One of the primary distinctions between Groups and Operations (IMO) is this: Operations are easy and well-suited to being micro-managed and tweaked when necessary. Groups are not. This is why I believe it's so key to plan and prepare your group setup from Day 1. If you have the right Groups, then swapping in 3 or 4 completely different Operations until you find the one that works the best is a breeze. Recreating Groups will be a chore - one that I, personally intend on avoiding wherever possible.
Consider this: Let's say you wanted to split a group of items into 2 sub-groups for mailing, then 3 different sub-groups for posting, and maybe even another 2-3 groups for crafting so that you can control which quantities were being restocked. Without a proper plan, you can end up with a powerful, yet impossible to manage setup that you'll either be stuck with or facing the daunting task of recreating those groups from scratch. If done properly, on the other hand, you can walk away with a lean, flexible, yet extremely powerful collection. I bet you've never seen someone get so worked up over Groups before, have you?
Here's my 3 Step approach to creating effective and functional Groups and Operations.
1) Pick your market and then write down/brainstorm every single thing you'd like to do in that market and how you'd like to do it. Who will you be mailing the items to and which items? How would you like to store them? Will you be restocking different items in different quantities? Will you be posting items in different amounts, or at different prices? Every single operation and possible breakdown of grouping should be considered - again, it's probably going to be a lot easier to accommodate extra groups in the beginning than it will be to fit more in down the road.
2) Find opportunities to streamline and consolidate. Are there operations that will remain consistent between multiple group configurations? Plan out your group hierarchy to avoid redundancy and to suit your needs. IE - If you have a set of 3 groups and then 2 sub-groups and then 1 further sub-group, you'll need to actually create 15 total groups, but if you were to rearrange them to be one group, with 2 sub-groups, and then 3 further sub-groups, you'd only have 9 groups to handle. With Operations handling all the actual work, you'll probably notice the exact same performance with nearly half the upkeep.
3) Expect the unexpected, and try to plan ahead. Don't just think of how you'll be doing things now, try to figure out how you'll be doing things moving forward and build the infrastructure to support it. In the example I listed above, I showed how it might be most efficient to arrange your groups from smallest to largest, in order to reduce the total number of groups you'll need, but if those set of 3 groups are ones that you'll need to be readjusting often (changing operations and such), if you have them at the primary level, that's only 3 sets of settings to change instead of 6. The deeper your pyramid, the more work it will be to manage the bottom level, so definitely consider maintenance and long-term goals when you decide how to arrange things.
Alright - that's enough with this theoretical stuff, let's get to an example. For this, we'll turn to where else, but glyphs.
Scenario 1 - Glyphs
For Step 1, let's go through each of the different Operation Modules and see how many different ways we'd like to sort our glyph business.
This is a good module to start with because it's usually the easiest. Most of the time, you'll be sending wares to 1 or maybe 2 toons. The most common operation here would be mailing finished products to your posting toon. Some people might use 2 posting toons, or in some markets, you might send goods off separately to be processed by different professions (gems to be transmuted, for example). In this case, however, we'll keep it relatively simple and use 1 posting toon, so let's note that for our first operation.
- Send glyphs to posting toon (ALL). We'll only need a single group to cover this.
Another relatively straightforward module. Glyphs are a great market to make use of TSM warehousing, though - since there's so much inventory to manage. I personally have still been using the Glyphinator Addon to manage all my glyphs on a single toon (I'm a creature of habit and have really become reliant on those macros ), but I'm sure that TSM warehousing can fill the need here as well. In order to accommodate ALL glyphs on one toon, I've got them split into 3 nearly equal groups here. The grouping for this is essentially random, but if you end up with 3 nearly equal groups somewhere else, you might as well consolidate.
- Grab glyphs in 3 equal batches from bank. We'll need 3 groups for this.
Chances are, this will be where you'll end up finding the majority of your group diversity, especially in a market like glyphs. There are a lof of pretty obvious groups in this market, naturally. Ink type, source (trainer, research, etc.), so let's try and think about some of the less obvious ones. Maybe you split this group by class, or by high vs. low sellers - it really depends on how you'd like to MANAGE the groups afterward. A sub-group for high selling glyphs might not seem like a big deal at first, but think about some of the more advanced group structures we've proposed and having to add/configure that sub-group underneath 5-6 other sub-groups, or even worse - having to reconfigure 8-10 sub-groups underneath it, if you'd like it to be higher up the chain. If you plan ahead for some of these potential re-configurations, you'll save yourself a LOT of time and frustration down the road. Even things like a patch day/week group, or new glyphs group - consider them, and if you think there's even a remote chance that you'd like to micro-manage your settings on that level at some point, add them to your list - we'll be trimming it down anyway. So, let's take a look at our auctioning list:
- Source. We'll need 5 groups for this (Trainer, Minor Research, Northrend Research, Book of Glyph Mastery, Scroll of Wisdom)
- Ink type. We'll need 9 groups for this (Midnight, Lion's, Jadefire, Celestial, Shimmering, Ethereal, Ink of the Sea, Blackfallow, Ink of Dreams)
- Sell rate. Let's just split this in half for now. High selling, and low-selling.
- Patch day. We'll assume that this group will be used to unilaterally adjust prices on all our groups, so we'll only need one here.
- New gylphs vs. old/current glyphs. 2 groups here.
You could also add a tier for class-breakdown, but I'm not going to list it here because that would involve 11 additional sub-groups and is overkill, IMO. If your setup benefits from it, by all means - include it in your's though.
This is where things are potentially going to start to get redundant, but I'll concede that it MAY be due to the market we've chosen for our example, so let's walk through the process nonetheless. Whereas, with Auctioning, we examined how many different ways we'd like to PRICE/SELL our glyphs, crafting is about how we'd like to RESTOCK our glyphs - how many total we'll want on hand, how many we'll restock at a time, etc. We'll probably want to consider Source and Ink type again, and high vs. low selling also makes sense - especially if you don't carry a large ink stockpile or don't have the ability to process large batches of herbs on a session by session basis. In that case, you'll want to ensure that your best glyphs get restocked first, but you might want to tweak how many to ensure you can at least get one round of the others. I'd also ensure that you have at least 1 singleton group for restocking, just in case you ever want to make some changes across the board (ie. setting up a base inventory, or stockpiling for a big xpac /event). So, let's see what we've got:
- Source. 5 Groups
- Ink type. 9 Groups
- High/low selling. 2 Groups
- ALL gylphs. 1 Group
This is going to likely be the area that divides most of your AH groups, since you'll probably this module as an either/or scenario with crafting. It's not usually as common to be both crafting AND purchasing the same items, but our Glyph example again offers a nice opportunity to theorize, so let's not waste it. If we were to purchase any glyphs, we'd probably be doing it to either circumvent our crafting/restocking process (which would probably utilize the same groups) or if we're looking to reset cheap auctions for a profit. With the resetting, we'd probably go with our big 3 here - Source, Ink type, and High/Low selling, so let's throw those onto the list.
- Source. 5 Groups
- Ink type. 9 Groups
- High/low selling. 2 Groups
- ALL gylphs. 1 Group
TOTAL NUMBER OF GROUPS PROPOSED: 57 unique groups across 15 different sorting categories. If we were to simply implement this without trimming anything back, even with the most optimized configuration possible, we'd probably need to create SEVERAL HUNDRED sub-groups in order for this to work properly. If you're feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of configuring and (perhaps even worse) maintaining the sheer volume of that many groups I can't blame you. And, if not for this guide, you'd probably either go with a far simpler, far less powerful setup simply to preserve your own sanity, OR, you'd opt out of TSM 2.0 altogether. Instead, let's embrace the chaos and move on to Step 2 - Streamlining and Consolidation. (My personal favourite )
First, we'll want to take a look at redundancies between the various modules and find ways where we will be able to stack operations on a specific set of sub-groups. One of the really powerful aspects of TSM 2.0 is that it really facilitates operation stacking/sharing. Because each of the operations are a separate entity, and because each group can have as few or as many operations as you like, watch how we whittle down hundreds of sub-groups to something far more manageable, and yet equally powerful. AKA. the "magic".
The obvious candidates will be ones that are seemingly identical. While this may seem like an obvious step, in order to preserve as much functionality as possible, you'll want to consider whether sharing operations from different modules within a set of sub-groups is REALLY the most effective solution for you. If we look at our list above, we can see that we've got a few sets of groups that pop up in several areas, notably - Source, Ink Type and High/Low Sellers. So, let's consider - are there any scenarios where these groups might not be able Shopping, Crafting and Auctioning settings? In our case, (and most cases, TBH), probably not. The distinctions will likely be made between the actual sub-groups themselves, and not between the sorting categories. IE. Let's say you want to adjust the fallback price on Trainer glyphs - even if the Trainer group holds Crafting, Auctioning and Shopping operations, we only need to tweak the Auctioning operation to achieve the desired outcome.
The other major opportunity for consolidation would be with the singleton groups. IF POSSIBLE, it can potentially save upkeep time to combine them into a single group, and then just tweak the operations. The singleton sub-groups that we've identified for our Glyph setup are 1 for mailing, 1 auctioning for patch day/event settings, 1 for mass-crafting/inventory buildup, and 1 for shopping. So, can these be combined without loss of performance? Well, the crafting, mailing, and shoppiing ones are probably fine to fall under the same group, but I'd personally keep the patch day group separate. Big events are hectic enough on their own, so you don't really want to have to worry about finding all of your TSM settings when there's profit to be made, right? If we leave this one as its own separate group, we can setup and adjust our patch day settings as effortlessly as possible, which will give you a leg up on your competition.
So, where has Step 2 left us? NEW TOTAL NUMBER OF GROUPS: 23 groups across 7 sorting categories. We've effectively cut our setup in half, and due to the exponential nature of having to properly cascade groups in order to retain functionality, we've reduced our total overhead by even more than that. I told you this step was magical!
The last thing we want to do before venturing over to our friendly neighbourhood auctioneer is to plan ahead and anticipate potential changes or pitfalls. We've already made some allowance here, with our New/Current glyphs sub-group. Remember earlier, when we talked about how you'd need to replicate the sub-groups down throughout each level of sub-group to ensure that we didn't lose functionality? Well, this would be one exception to that rule of thumb. Our "New Glyphs" group is essentially going to serve as a temporary group. For most of the time, it will actually remain empty, so there's no real reason to bother putting anything else beneath it, but we also don't want to leave it at the bottom level, since we'll need to make multiple changes whenever new glyphs are introduced. So, we'll put it up towards the top, but we'll also not bother branching any sub-groups off of it. If new glyphs are put into the game, we'll throw them into this New group, adjust any settings we need to , and then when the "hype" dies down, we can move them into the other branch ("Current Glyphs" and distribute them into any applicable sub-groups from there (Ink type, Source, etc.). These temporary groups are another great candidate for consolidation - just make sure that you won't need a temporary group to serve 2 purposes at the same time, though. Or, if you do, remember to keep them high enough up in the sub-group hierarchy that it won't take much work to add another branch.
We also want to consider "group coverage". Have we covered every LIKELY scenario with our master list? A good example would be if we had omitted our Ink type sorting because we don't think we'd ever use it. That's fine, but what would happen if Blizzard decided to rework the ink requirements for a whole bunch or even ALL of the glyphs? This is something that could potentially impact demand and pricing across the board. If we don't have the sub-groups in place, that's probably going to be as much work as it seems. If we do, however, we simply need to move the items around for the sub-groups on our Ink type level, which is nearly pain-free, all things considered.
Finally, we need to think about how we're going to MAINTAIN and/or micromanage our sub-groups. There's not much sense in having something occupy the bottom level of our hierarchy and have it repeat itself across levels above it if we're going to end up tweaking it the most. We could potentially be making changes in 5 or 6 places if we're not smart about this. Singleton groups and temporary groups (like our "New Glyphs") are fine to go at the top, since they won't have any repetition below them, but when we look at our multi-layered hierarchy, we need to try and guess which operations we'll be using the most and move them up as high as is feasible. Traditionally, warehousing and mailing groups will probably change the least, so those are probably safe to occupy the bottom levels. With glyphs, I'm also not expecting to make too many shopping changes, and my auctioning operations will probably change more frequently than my crafting ones, so I'm going to optimize for Auctioning > Crafting > Shopping > Mailing > Warehousing.
So, there are our groups. The only thing left to do is to take a look at our final product:
NOTE: (I've omitted those 3 Warehousing groups to keep the image from overwhelming the page. I also think that they'd be optional, since I'm relatively certain you would be able to split one of the other categories into 3 fairly even parts to serve the same purpose.)
Now, it MAY seem like overkill to you to have 150 individual groups just for a single market, and you MAY also think I'm crazy for duplicating those Ink Type groups 5 times over, and the High/Low groups 45 times over, but here's where the true power of TSM 2.0 comes into play, IMO. Let's say for example, that something changes in the game that causes Ethereal Ink glyphs to double or triple in value - maybe some bug or change that prevents Outlands herbs from being farmed easily, or the ink trader from functioning - who cares. If you've only got a few groups setup, you'll probably have to create a whole new sub-group for those glyphs, and you'll either need it to be a top-level one and readjust everything underneath, or you'll need to go recreate it a few times anyway to ensure you catch all of your current sub-groups. On top of that, you'll either need to modify existing Operations, or you'll need to create a whole, new set. With a setup as we've worked through above, all you'll need to do is adjust the Auctioning Operation that's associated with the Ethereal Ink groups. If you only want to target Ethereal Ink glyphs learned via Book of Glyph Mastery, then you can create a new operation to override that SPECIFIC group's settings (under Books > Ethereal Ink). Never recreating or reorganizing any groups, simply tweaking and fine tuning your settings.
In the past, it has been both cumbersome and counter-productive in most cases to send too much time micro-managing large amounts of inventory in this way. With TSM 2.0, it is both trivial and (I'm willing to bet) profitable.
NOTE: If you'd like a more visual representation of setting up the groups in-game, check out this post: GUIDE: TSM 2.0 - Groups/Operations
Since I'm an EXTREMELY nice guy, and you've been good enough to read through this entire guide, I thought I'd also go ahead and save you the trouble of tracking down all those item ID's as well. Here are import strings for each of the major groups listed in the guide.
Book of Glyph Mastery
Scroll of Wisdom
Ink of Dreams
Ink of the Sea
So what are you waiting for?