Last month, I began exploring the ramifications of the City of Heroes consignment system. The common wisdom on the forums was that it was incredibly easy to make money (well, influence) in the game via the market, so I decided to see how long it would take me to reach the influence cap based on doing nothing but playing said market. Stipulations:

  • I would use one character (no help from alts); very quickly, limitation on personal storage slots on the auction house and in inventory becomes a limiting factor on this, so I didn’t want to “cheat” by having other characters help with their own slots.
  • I would start with almost nothing; I began with roughly 500 influence (via selling a low level enhancement) vs. a currency cap of 2 billion, and, given the ease at which common salvage can be bought for next to nothing and vendored for 250, I could have started with literally 1 influence and it wouldn’t have slowed me noticeably.
  • I would not actually play the character during the time; all currency would come directly from playing the market, rather than by getting and selling drops from game opponents.
  • I wouldn’t spend a ton of time working on this; on weekdays, I planned to check in after work and before bed, with more times checking in on the weekends. Since most of the time spent is just waiting for listed items to turn into sales, it’s not really necessary to micromanage your auctions unless you’ve identified a product that’s turning over very rapidly.

Completely Broke in Steel CanyonEnter Jenny Gamma, one of my alts. She’s a Force Field/Radiation Defender, which means she’s somewhat painful to solo even if I wanted to try to farm influence. But she does have most of the crafting badges, which gave her above-normal storage capacity for her level, the ability to make generic enhancements cheaply (which made a small difference early on, but not much towards the real money), and can summon a portable invention station (which I wound up using not at all, because it’s perfectly easy to jump over to the regular crafting stations).

Let’s say she had a rough weekend in Atlantic City and came home broke.

Week 1

Day 1

Day 1 is the biggest example of how quick even a low level character can work the market to get money quickly. The game tends to give out lots of “junk” salvage and recipes in the course of play: because of the variety of powers in the game, there are a lot of enhancement types that are in low demand. For example, pretty much anyone has at least one power that can make use of improved defense, but almost no one has use for improved intangibility (it’s like a hold, only you can’t hurt the target and have to wait a fixed time for it to wear off; almost no one takes intangibility powers). However, the less-in-demand items still sell to NPC vendors at a standard rate. However, either because they want the badges for selling lots of stuff at auction, or they just don’t want to bother finding a vendor, a lot of people will throw low-demand stuff on the consignment house for far less than it will sell for at a vendor.

So you can make a killing buying items off the auction house just to turn around and sell them to NPCs.

I buy over a hundred Kinetic Weapons for 10-20 influence each and sells them for 250 influence each. After this, I have enough money to start speculating on recipes. Generic Ranged recipes turn out to be listed cheap, and I wind up getting over 50 for 150 influence each and turn around and vendor them for a average of about 5,000 each. At this point, my time invested is mostly in how long it takes to jump over to the vendor from the market. Jenny has 351,638 influence. That’s enough to begin part 2 of the plan.

Becoming a millionaire is fun and easyDue to her crafting badges, Jenny has “memorized” a lot of generic enhancement recipes, so doesn’t have to pay to buy them from the crafting station. The crafting itself is half cost. So she can craft, for example, level 35 Recharge generics for about 30,000 influence each. These enhancements also require Spell Ink and Circuit Board components, which are, at the time, going for 40,000 and 10,000 each. So, for roughly 80,000 influence, I can make level 35 Recharge generics. They sell for 300,000-500,000.

So, after three of them, Jenny is a millionaire. It’s taken a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.

I spend the rest of the day stocking up on further Spell Inks and Circuit Boards, and crafting enough to fill my auction slots with Recharge generics, and I’m done for the day.

Day 2

When I log back in, all of the recharge enhancements have sold, and Jenny has 6,608,414 influence. I craft some more of them, and also begin speculating on yellow set enhancements. Set enhancements are where the real money in the market comes from: some of the better commonly available sets provide very significant bonuses, and each enhancement in the set will sell, crafted, for at least 10 million influence. Some enhancements are so good that each one of them sells for over 100 million influence (and this is before getting into the ultra-rare level 50-only purple enhancements or PvP-drop enhancements, that sell for even more).

Interestingly, there’s a lot of difference between the price of a recipe and the price of the crafted enhancement. Even though there’s no barrier to crafting in this game, many people will sell off recipes on the market rather than assembling the components and selling the finished enhancement. Meanwhile, even with all these recipes on the market, many players seem to be impatient enough to just buy finished enhancements; even a 50% or more savings is not enough to make it worth it to them to buy a recipe and make the enhancement themselves. So there’s tremendous money to be made from buying recipes and salvage and crafting them into enhancements for sale.

Tremendous money.

At this point, I’m mostly looking at yellow (uncommon) recipes. While the orange (rare) recipes tend to have better sale prices (few yellow enhancements sell for more than 10 million), they also tend to require rare salvage for at least one of their components. Nearly every rare component in the game auctions for 1-2 million influence, so it’s a bit early for Jenny to start speculating on those. Yellows, though, tend to use much more cheaply available salvage. I get a couple from a melee damage set (Smashing Haymaker) and craft both for under 300,000 including all costs. By the end of the evening they’ve both sold for over 3 million each. With the sale of these plus the generics, Jenny has 16,991,103 influence.

I grab a couple more yellow recipes (Decimation, a ranged damage set) that seem to sell for a decent bit, craft them and put them up with some more recharges, and go to bed.

Day 3

I return to everything having sold, and Jenny’s up to 22,181,440 influence.

Today brings full on experimentation with yellow recipes, and I’m moving away from generics. They have a consistent 400% profit margin, but my 18-auction-at-a-time limit is already becoming a problem. Essentially, limiting to generics means I will turn over around 5 million influence a day unless I constantly log in to turn over sales. It’s good money, but it would take over a year to reach the influence cap at 2 billion that way.

I put nearly all of Jenny’s ready cash into a variety of Luck of the Gambler (defense) recipes and Numina’s Convalescence (healing) recipes; these are from the same set as a couple of the enhancements that sell for over 100 million each, and my hope is that someone dropping 100 million will not worry about more dropped on the rest of the set. Nonetheless, I’m probably dipping into orange recipes a little sooner than make sense. I also grab some yellow Efficacy Adaptors (endurance). All of it gets crafted and posted.

Day 4

It's starting to get labor intensive to get richThe profit margin wasn’t as good as I hoped, and all of the previous day’s work only increase Jenny’s liquid funds by 50% to 36 million. My rate of increase is slowing down as I begin to make huge amounts of influence; but it’s still better than selling generics.

Another mistake I make today is continuing to speculate too early on orange recipes. I hope for a big payday and invest most of my money in a more expensive Luck of the Gambler enhancement. It won’t sell for several days. I begin to learn that big money sales are for the weekend, when lots of people are playing; it’s a better idea to stick to cheap and reliable sales to the weekday crowd.

Day 5

It’s another very slow day. Jenny’s now poorer than she was on day 2. I start trying to flip orange salvage.

Flipping is the process of putting in lowball bids for items with the intention of immediately listing them for enough to make a profit. The CoH forums tend to explode about flipping in a way they don’t for buying and crafting cheap recipes, as there’s the intuition that people flipping are adding nothing to the game, merely making money by making things more expensive for everyone.

The counter argument is that flippers stabilize the market and maintain supply of necessary components: since flippers are buying things people are listing 1-2 per auction slot and re-listing them 10 to a slot, there’s more space for stuff on the market. Additionally, anyone is guaranteed a quick (if small) return on listing components that they might otherwise vendor as worthless.

Nonetheless, I feel a little dirty as I begin buying orange salvage at around 1 million to sell at 2 million. I’ll have to assuage my feelings with the sweet, sweet profit.

Day 6

Hey, it’s Friday, it’s free reactivation weekend, and things are picking up.

My flipped salvage has come through nicely, and I’ve sold a couple of yellow recipes. I begin to realize that yellow recipes are the safe bet. I buy a bunch of them and post them.

Day 7

Saturday is pretty much the busiest day of the week. My stuff sells, I pick up some more items to flip for cheap, and the lead weight around my neck that was the expensive Luck of the Gambler I made earlier in the week finally goes. By the middle of the day Jenny has nearly 56 million.

Feeling a bit saucy, and more confident of a sale on the weekend, I jump back into orange recipes, picking up a Numina’s Convalescence: Heal, a Performance Shifter: Endurance Mod/Recharge, a Performance Shifter: Chance for extra endurance (a big favorite to slot into Stamina, which everyone has), and a Blessing of the Zephyr: Knockback Reduction (an enhancement that goes into any travel power and makes your character resistant to being knocked back by attacks; another big favorite).

100 million is nothing to sneeze atAll these sell overnight, and I’m happily sitting at over 100 million influence.

But, things slow down a lot from here…

Part 2