• Monitor Your Competition's Cross Faction Trading Activities (And Stop Them)

    A fine gentleman by the name of Sinshroud appeared on the forums and wrote a very nice guide in response to last week's article about cross-faction trading. You know, I play this game a LOT, and it's not too often that I learn so much from a single post. So check it out fellas - this one's definitely worth a read.

    Before you run off, make sure to leave Sinshroud some well-deserved rep (clicky).

    Without further ado, the goodies:


    Hey guys, I have been lurking for about a week and decided today is the day that I will start posting helpful stuff. I might apply for a Wind Trader position later on if I feel it's necessary. This is my first guide contribution to The Consortium Forums and it was inspired by your Shady Business - Cross Faction Trading! post on the homepage.

    [Note:] This guide is going to teach you three different things, even though I'm only want to teach you two, it cannot be done without teaching you the other. One of the lessons in here can be considered unethical so read it for educational use only and it is up to you on how you use it. Keep in mind though nothing in this guide is bannable or against Blizzard's ToS or EULA in any way.

    Lesson 1: How to Monitor your competition's cross faction trading activities. (main priority)
    Lesson 2: How to "snipe" or "steal" people's cross faction trading goods. (ethical theory only)
    Lesson 2 will also cover how to stop your competitors from transferring goods cross factions.
    Lesson 3: How to protect yourself from falling prey to those stealing and sniping.

    As you most know, Cross Faction Arbitrage and using the Neutral Auction house as your own personal trading system is very common amongst most serious gold makers. It is also very common amongst players who play both factions and simply want to transfer gold or items to their other characters. There is actually a lot you can learn from this, however this guide is mostly aimed at played who want to begin cross-faction arbitrage since the more veteran gold makers will already have a good idea of what sells and what doesn't sell etc.

    Bob has two accounts (account A and account B). He mainly plays on his alliance characters on Y-realm on account A, but he also uses account B to keep an eye out on the horde auction house on Y-realm.

    He sees that Primordial Saronite is selling for 500g each on horde side, but only 180g each on alliance side (because alliance on his server have a bigger population and a bigger supply).

    He buys 10 PS on alliance side, goes to the Neutral Auction house, puts them up for 1 gold each and buys them out on his horde character on his other account and then resells them, making ~ 320g profit from each.

    Imagine Bob is your main competitor and you know he does a lot of cross faction arbitrage, but because he sells so many different items and they go through several manufacturing processes, you not entirely sure what all he is buying and selling between factions. He clearly is being successful so you want to start competing with him or even beating him at his own game.

    Most of you successful gold makers will have more than 1 account, it just makes life so much easier doesn't it? The problem is you don't always USE all your accounts at the same time. So here is what you do when not using your spare account(s).

    Run an alt to a Neutral Auction house (I prefer Booty Bay - and for those that didn't know, there are 3 Auctioneers spread out all over in Booty Bay).

    Make sure you have the latest version of Auctioneer installed (at the time of writing this guide I am using the Beta version available from Auctioneer's website since the released versions are somewhat broken from 4.0.1 patch.)
    Open the Auction House window and go to the "Search" tab at the bottom of Auctioneer.

    Create a new profile on your Auctioneer and setup your Searchers Section tabs to look like this: (anything not shown under the Searchers Section can be disabled / "unchecked")

    Setup your Filters Section tabs to look like this:
    ItemAuctionHistory - leave everything blank / unchecked.
    ItemLevel - leave everything blank / unchecked.
    ItemPrice - Enable, and check Arbitrage and Vendor (could probably ignore this tab but I'm not 100% sure).
    ItemQuality - Enable, and check Arbitrage. Scroll down slightly and setup your Ignore item quality by type to what ever you want. Usually I choose to ignore all Poor quality, as well as common and uncommon weapon and armor. Ignore projectile because it's obsolete now. You can tailor the rest of those settings to filter out everything that you are not interested in seeing. If you not interested in seeing what glyphs your competitor is transferring, then choose to ignore all glyph types, etc.
    Timeleft - uncheck / disable it.

    Setup your Options Section tabs to look like this:
    General Options - uncheck / disable it.

    [Note:] by default you can only make your Reload Interval a minimum of 6 seconds. You have to edit a .lua file to change it to 1-2 seconds or what ever. If you REALLY want to know you can PM me and I will show you but for what we doing here it isn't necessary.

    Leave your Settings (and Global Settings sub-section as it is).

    Now go back to the Browse Tab of your Auction House window and click the small magnifying glass icon at the top (this starts the Realtime Search function).

    I'm going to explain to you what the Realtime Search Function does, because every time I get this question from people. Once you activate the function (click once on icon to start, click once again to stop, simple) Auctioneer then starts scanning the Last and Second last page of the Auction House over and over again. This is NOT automation and is NOT bannable in any way, I will explain why in a second.

    [Note:] When it starts scanning, you will see the Auctioneer Scan results in your chat window and they will look something like this:

    "Auctioneer scanned 40 auctions over 1 Secs before stopping:
    90 items in DB at start (90 matched query); 90 at end
    40 unchanged items
    (Incomplete scan missed 50 items)"

    PLEASE do not worry that it says "missed 50 items" or what ever your number is. This is because it ONLY scans the last and second last page of the Auction House. Why? Because any new items that get put on the AH will go straight to the last page.

    When someone tries to trade items on the Neutral Auction House while you are scanning (let's say they put up 10 gems but individually for 1 gold each

    Well there we go, anything your competitors try and trade across the Neutral Auction House will pop up on your screen and you can see what they are trading with ease.
    You can then click Yes or No.

    This brings us to our ethical dilemma and lesson 2.

    Lesson two is the ethical theory on how to steal people's neutral auction house trades. There can be several advantages of doing this.

    1. You could buy their cheap auctions and make yourself a quick nice bit of gold. Though this can be seen as a very "low" or immoral thing to do.
    2. You could buy their cheap auctions then send them a whisper saying you will give their items back for free, but if you see them trading again you will keep their items. This way you can eliminate your competition by scaring them off or allow them to do is less often at least.

    [Note:] For this to work properly I would suggest having multiple characters at different Neutral Auction Houses that you regularly switch between otherwise they will simply add you to friends, wait until you log off and then try trade.
    [Note2:] I would highly recommend using an anonymous alt which has no guild affiliation or link to your main in anyway because it can cause you to become hated very quickly.

    Here is a tip to make purchasing the items quicker by using a macro which clicks the YES option. Alternatively you can modify it to click NO instead.

    /run if (AucAdvancedBuyPromptYes) then AucAdvancedBuyPromptYes:Click() end
    [Note3:] The reality is that you are going to upset quite a number of people, and many of them will threaten to report you for "botting" or "hacking" because they do not understand how you managed to buy their auctions so fast.

    You CANNOT be banned for this as long as you do not break Blizzard's ToS or EULA by automating this process (aka getting an autoclicker or bot to click yes / spam macro). As long as you physically click yes/no or click the macro by hand, you cannot be banned.

    Few Blizz posts confirming (and almost supporting this)

    Quote Originally Posted by Blizzard Poster
    Given the preface you've provided, Frugal—that is, a lack of automation programs and currency acquired legitimately—p​urchasing such items from the Neutral Auction House is completely benign practice. As your fellow posters have noted, the Auction House system is considered a form of free market, so players may price and purchase items however they please.

    It's also important to note that using the Neutral Auction House to trade items cross-faction or otherwise liquidate assets is not supported by Blizzard Entertainment. Players are welcome to use the Auction House in this manner, but should anything go awry, our In-Game Support staff is unlikely to intervene.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blizzard Poster
    We will be more than happy to look into this as a possible bot, Wildbloom, but you already know this is not a supported transaction. You put up something for 1c and it's fair game, first come, first serve.

    Transferring that way isn't prohibited, but it's not supported either.

    Honestly, it's best to pay a bit in the AH fee and not low-ball an item to try to avoid it. Far less chance of it getting scooped up.

    There are 3 neutral AHs, it could have been a player at any one of them looking for just such an opportunity as you presented.

    If you think you've noticed a 'bot' however, we do appreciate those being reported and will look into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Customer Service MVP
    Just realize that everything on the AH is for sale, and it is also perfectly legitimate if anyone else buys it first.

    Just do a google search and you will find hundreds of people complaining about their items being stolen, and Blizzard telling them it's their own fault for putting items up for so low on a public auction house.

    Now you know how to scare off your competitors and this brings us to lesson 3.

    In this Lesson, I'm going to give you a few tips on how you can transfer items across factions WITHOUT falling prey to those who sit all day and snipe auctions.

    1. Test the waters. Let's say you want to transfer 20X Bold Cardinal Rubys. Put one up and see if anyone snipes it. NEVER put more than 1 valuable item up at a time. So often while I monitor the Neutral Auction House do I see people absolutely LOADING it with like 60 Primordial Saronite for 1gold a stack before actually trying to buy it out. This is just plain stupid...
    2. Do a background check. Type /who Stranglethorn Vale, /who Winterspring and /who Tanaris. This is where the Neutral Auction Houses are located. If you see a level 1-10 in any of those zones you should be VERY suspicious and careful because most likely they are there to steal your auctions.
    3. Check your forums. Check your realm forums to see if anyone has complained or sent out a warning to other players on your forum about such sniping activities. Many victims to this sort of thing will go and post on the forums to prevent others from falling victim to a similar sort of thing.
    4. Run a few scans with the settings that I provided above, just to check that no one else is also trading at the same time. If you are both trading Cardinal Rubies, there is a chance that they will buy your auction without meaning to.
    5. Trade at different times of the day and with different characters. If for example you fall prey to someone sniping your auction, that person will often add you to their friends list so they can see when ever you come online and where you are. If you lose your auctions at say 10pm at night. The sniper then knows you trade at 10pm at night and will most likely be waiting for you there the following night just incase.

    I hope you all can benefit from my guide in some way or another and that you use the information provided in the way that most suits you. I am in no way promoting sniping or stealing items from the Neutral Auction House nor do I support botting or any form of breech in Blizzard's ToS and EULA.

    If you are looking for items to add to your list of "what should I arbitrage" I highly suggest taking a look at Sterling's: Shady Business - Cross Faction Trading! Thread.

    Please note that this guide was written only for forums and may not be reproduced in any way on any other website without my permission as well as The Consortium Forum's permission.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Monitor your competition's cross faction trading activities [and stop them] started by Sinshroud View original post
    Comments 187 Comments
    1. Meyer's Avatar
      Meyer -
      I have moved a lot of materials cross faction, and i ALWAYS have used the remote AH feature.

      2 x accounts + 2 x remote subscribtions =

      When i move very large amounts of goods (like worth +10.000G) i even use 2 computers. I don't have any toons at Neutal AH eighter.

      Logged in to both acounts - and search ready on the buyer side. The second i click "post" i click "search - and then buyout" on the other PC. The vauable auctions are only live for 1-2 seconds.

      I have never yet been caught moving goods - except in the weekend where i moved 100 stacks of runecloth. 20 of them where sniped (my first time). But i postet the 100 stacks from one pc. Logged out, and logged in on the other and started buying. I guess the auction was up for like 5 min, something which would never happen with auctions of value.
    1. Khra's Avatar
      Khra -
      This is a wonderful post! I can't wait to get home from work tonight to try this. I have absolutely no problem snatching things from people they are trying to transfer... is that bad?
    1. Zerohour's Avatar
      Zerohour -
      If you are sending something through the Neutral and someone takes it before you get it, then it's GG Them. There's nothing immoral about doing this to people, it happens to me every so often, I like 1c posts. Too bad, so sad, get mad.

      I got sniped last week for a stack of Eternals. Lost 240g to that. I've already forgotten about it because this is a cost of doing business. I'd do the same to someone else if given the chance but I make far more money doing something else to where this does not make a difference in the end. You'll never scare a person off with threats of keeping their stuff, most people keep it anyhow.

      Just like you should re-pin your ATM card from time to time, it's a better idea to change up your Neutral AH alt every 2-3 months or immediately upon getting sniped. A person will /friend you and be there whenever you're posting. My AH alts use Mooncloth bags, so I send those to the new guy and delete. It's a semi-long run to Booty Bay, but for Humans, Undead, and Orcs the run is not that bad.

      Definitely don't guild them. If you see someone guilded that's 1-20 sitting in BB/Tanaris/WS you should friend them immediately and see if they are just posting pets or what their game is. A quick scan of the AH will tell you.
    1. Zenit's Avatar
      Zenit -
      I approve of this merc trade on neutral AH. Its neutral and its free for all. People perform scam business everyday in real life, why should WoW be different. It is still a real person with real life behavior operating that pixelated toon, be it equiped with purple gear or grey gear. Don't like your items being sniped? Get out of playing the gold game and hide under your mommy's skirt. This is where the big girls and boys play.
    1. Balazar's Avatar
      Balazar -
      I personally will disagree here. Being sniped sucks, being friended and repeatedly sniped sucks in a personal, targeted way. Yes, it's a free for all, and yes, it's not against the TOS. You certainly should be mentally prepared to lose whatever you put up on the Neutral AH. Be that as it may, I play WoW for fun. Getting ganked in PvP for me is not fun - hence, I don't play on a PvP server. I have in the past. I can recall being quite - errm, frustrated - when being corpse camped, but all I lost at that time was a perhaps a half an hour at most.

      A Neutral AH sniping can nab days worth of time from someone in a second. I know how I would feel if my account were hacked and Blizz didn't restore it - I'd likely stop playing. This isn't quite that extreme, but I don't want my fun to come at the expense of others. YMMV.

      Yes, folks can - and should - take precautions. List at higher prices for high ticket items, use two computers. Mind you, I've been sniped while doing both those things, as the method in the article would allow you to do.

      That's just my personal view.

      For the record, love the article. Tracking folks for the info is brilliant. I had wondered on the specifics on how folks were able to snipe so quickly, and this does a fine job of explaining it. Much like John Scarne's books on how to cheat at carts, I think the best way to know how to defend against something like this is to know how to do it, so you know how it works and what to expect.
    1. Mornia's Avatar
      Mornia -
      I'm also not a big fan of sniping auctions from the neutral AH, but for more practical reasons. I don't want to have to keep creating new alts to use on the neutral AH. As soon as you snipe someone's stuff, they're going to be angry and friend you straight away. This means you have to change the alt that you use for your own cross faction trading, which for me is a pain as mine are used for storage so it means transferring their guild bank and bank items to a different character. Unless it's a very valuable item that you're getting, it's not worth the hassle. It's all about time vs profits - in the time it takes for me to set up a new alt and run them to Booty Bay or Tanaris, i could have made more money in other ways. I'm not overly comfortable with the stealing aspect of it either, but that's the risk you take when you post something for 1c, although as I said earlier in the thread, why anyone would do that when they could post for a few silver and lessen the risk is beyond me.
    1. Khra's Avatar
      Khra -
      I never realized how horrible it is to run a level 1 character from Stormwind to Booty Bay!!

      What are the best times to do this? I'm guessing the weekend would be more beneficial. Last night the neutral AH only had 1.5 pages of stuff and it was mostly Stranglethorn Papers. Is that normal for neutral AH? I'm guessing mine does not get a lot of activity.
    1. calianna's Avatar
      calianna -
      That's mostly what I see as well. There is generally no more than 2 pages and I'm on a fairly high population server.
    1. Mornia's Avatar
      Mornia -
      The best way to run a low level character to Booty bay is this:

      First, get a mage to port you to Dalaran and set your hearthstone there so you can easily get back.

      Then, return to Stormwind and run south towards Stranglethorn vale. As soon as you can, engage a mob and let yourself die. Run the rest of the way to booty bay as a ghost. You can run over water so don't feel you need to follow the road. When you get to booty bay, take the boat to Ratchet. When there, visit the graveyard and resurrect. Take the boat back to booty bay and you're in business. NOTE: Do not resurrect at the graveyard just outside of Booty Bay - this returns you a graveyard near Stormwind and you'll have to do it all again.

      The best way to run a low level horde character to Gadgetzan is this (this one takes slightly longer as the trip south is further):

      Get a portal to Dalaran and set your hearthstone there. Return to Orgrimmar and head east until you meet a mob. Again, let yourself die. As a ghost, head east to the coast and run south over the sea, taking care to not get fatigued. When you get to Tanaris, deliberately run out into the sea and let yourself fatigued until you die again. You'll reappear at the graveyard near Gadgetzan. Resurrect and run to safety and the neutral AH.
    1. Zerohour's Avatar
      Zerohour -
      You can also locate people with Choppers or Mammoths and tip them for the help. It's best to have a Paladin do it for Crusader Aura and at the very least have someone that can rez you (you will pull everything along the way).

      Normally I'll get on my main account and head to over to the new character (which is always on my other account), whip out the chopper, and head whereever I'm going, avoiding mobs as much as I can. A level one will pull a level 20 mob from about 30 yards. For a Stormwind to BB run, pop a waterwalking elixir and take the water all the way down from Westfall, just watch out for those annoying Murlocs. If your new mule gets owned along the way, rez and continue.
    1. Ayo's Avatar
      Ayo -
      Nice info. I often watch the horde/ally pairs in bb and write down their names just to check out their ah transactions and understand my competition a bit more.

      However, in regards to lesson 2 and the discussion involved, I don't agree that being a sniping thief is fine. I've been sniped but wouldn't do that myself. I'm an ethical person in RL and certainly wouldn't change that for some pixelated numbers on a screen.

      When I see people being jerks in wow, (sniping, ninjaing, trolling etc.) I often shake my head and wonder, if they do that in a video game, what kind of crap do they pull in the real world when real money is involved?

      On the other hand, on my server the people who are completely ruthless in their gold pursuits are gold sellers so there is a monetary gain involved. I guess I can understand it a bit more if you are trying to feed your family by ripping off wow players.

      But ripping people off for pretend gold when its not that hard to make it honestly... umm no.
    1. Mornia's Avatar
      Mornia -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ayo View Post
      Nice info. I often watch the horde/ally pairs in bb and write down their names just to check out their ah transactions and understand my competition a bit more.

      However, in regards to lesson 2 and the discussion involved, I don't agree that being a sniping thief is fine. I've been sniped but wouldn't do that myself. I'm an ethical person in RL and certainly wouldn't change that for some pixelated numbers on a screen.

      When I see people being jerks in wow, (sniping, ninjaing, trolling etc.) I often shake my head and wonder, if they do that in a video game, what kind of crap do they pull in the real world when real money is involved?

      On the other hand, on my server the people who are completely ruthless in their gold pursuits are gold sellers so there is a monetary gain involved. I guess I can understand it a bit more if you are trying to feed your family by ripping off wow players.

      But ripping people off for pretend gold when its not that hard to make it honestly... umm no.
      You make some very good points Ayo which stir up a whole can of worms.

      On the one hand, we have the idea that anything goes in WoW and it's a free market. So if we can rip people off, why shouldn't we? You know that when someone lists a really cheap item on the neutral AH, they are transferring it, so by taking it from them you're simply playing the game. Their feelings are unimportant as it's just business.

      Taking this logic further presents problems though. Just how far should we go? Listing items in such a way as to fool people into buying them (the old iceblade arrows trick) or deliberately mispricing items in the hope that someone makes a mistake and buys them by accident? I've never been a fan of those methods as they just seem wrong. Importantly, they are NOT against the terms of service so you're not breaking any rules if you do these things.

      We would all be outraged if these strategies were practised in RL as they would probably be against the law and we may fall victim to them ourselves. Vulnerable people would be affected by them and they would prey on the naive. But if they weren't against the law, would we be okay with them? Should Amazon be allowed to list items at silly prices so that foolish or absent minded people buy? Should Wal-Mart be allowed to sell beer in such a way as it looks like your buying a case and when you get home you realise that you've only bought a six pack? You contact their customer services and the only response you get is 'Tough luck buddy - you should have been paying attention???'

      If they weren't against the law, i still wouldn't agree with them because my conscience tells me they're wrong. Does my conscience become irrelevant when I'm playing WoW?

      Furthermore, if we don't care because it's only a game, then why don't we buy gold? Because it's against the terms of service, but it's only a game right, so if we could get away with buying gold, why don't we? Afraid of being scammed or caught? What if you had a sure-fire way of doing it safely - would it be OK because anything goes, or are the terms of service a moral code that we follow because they are right?

      And if we do have this 'take whatever you can' attitude, what are we doing here posting information that could benefit other AH players? Why don't we just lurk and use the strategies but not share them? It seems strange that some posters are saying that anything goes and then they'll post some advice to help out others that may be their competitors.

      Converse to all of this is the idea that we are already ripping people off on a daily basis anyway, as that is what capitalism is all about. The other day i bought a pet for 1500g. I put it on the auction house for 5000g and it sold the next day. Is that ripping people off? When I buy all of a particular commodity and relist it for double the price straight away, is that not ripping people off? I regularly do those things and don't feel bad about it.

      I'm not trying to criticise anyone, as I'm not sure what I think about this whole issue. Where do our morals start and end? Are RL morals completely separate to in game morals?

      Was Gordon Gekko right when he said "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."
    1. Ayo's Avatar
      Ayo -
      Yes, I agree, its all a matter of degree's in gold making. Although most of the ways we here make gold are fine with me and just a part of the game, sniping does cross the line.

      I see no problem in buying underpriced items and reselling them. I think that many people don't want to spend a lot of time buying and selling on the ah and need some quick gold and that's where I come in. I provide a service, liquidity in a market, and my fee for buying their items is my time and deposits in reselling it and my hard earned knowledge of my realms market.

      Also, we are taking a risk in that we may be wrong in our assessment of its actual value and the seller gets out of his position.
    1. calianna's Avatar
      calianna -
      Personally, I would say that buying something that someone else has underpriced is a different thing entirely. If they price something low, then they did not make the time or effort to find something's value or didn't care/believe that price. On the other hand, sniping something someone is trying to move stuff across the neutral AH is taking advantage of a vulnerability. Not to mention, it's a vulnerability that really shouldn't exist. With all the other changes to the game and the ability to move items between characters, we should be able to move items without exposing ourselves on the neutral AH. But, it's a small enough issue and affecting few enough players, that I can understand why it hasn't been fixed yet.
    1. ruby's Avatar
      ruby -
      Thanks Sinshroud, great post!

      I play Horde, and set up as specified in your post using a Horde alt in BB. After a few realtime scans, the first thing I noticed is that that when I tooltip over an item (eg. Nexus Crystal), it shows that only 1 item seen. What appears to be happening is that the market prices are being taken from the X-faction scans, rather than the Horde auction house data which would have shown 1000's of items seen. How can I get the listed prices in the x-faction AH to compare to the market prices from my Horde side AH data for the Arbitrage scan?


    1. Balazar's Avatar
      Balazar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ayo View Post
      I see no problem in buying underpriced items and reselling them. I think that many people don't want to spend a lot of time buying and selling on the ah and need some quick gold and that's where I come in. I provide a service, liquidity in a market, and my fee for buying their items is my time and deposits in reselling it and my hard earned knowledge of my realms market.

      Also, we are taking a risk in that we may be wrong in our assessment of its actual value and the seller gets out of his position.
      Excellent point, and I do agree. Reselling is more of a value added transaction in my mind. When you put something up, you are trading off some risk - either in time spent (or not) researching it's price, risk that you'll price it too high, or risk that it will take longer to sell (and more re-listing fees and effort) than you would care to put into it. Even when someone puts up an an item like a for 20 gold, the bottom line is they didn't take the time to research it. You did, you're being rewarded.
    1. Sinshroud's Avatar
      Sinshroud -
      I'm a meany :P

    1. Namssob's Avatar
      Namssob -
      Great post - I love it - thanks Sinshroud!
    1. Sterling's Avatar
      Sterling -
      Quote Originally Posted by Namssob View Post
      Great post - I love it - thanks Sinshroud!
      Make sure to use the +rep function if you really want to thanks someone. Not trying to pick on you, you just happened to be standing there .

      And welcome to the site!
    1. Funkwich's Avatar
      Funkwich -
      So a while back I read this thread and started camping the neutral ah. I've bought a few small things out from under people but nothing too wild. Today I'm messing around on my main in one monitor and camping the neutral ah on my other account in another monitor. I catch a glimpse of purple out of the corner of my eye when a scan hits and I see "Reins of the Swift Spectral Tiger" flash and disappear. Obviously I nearly have a heart attack. Then I nearly have one again when a magic rooster egg shows up in a search and im too slow to grab it and the addon wont snatch it. At that point I just filtered to mounts and kept refreshing manually until...

      And only for 1 silver! Any hints for me to avoid missing any spectral tigers that flash before me in the future?