A constant topic of discussion in Clan chat the last few days has been the crazy swings (escalations) in prices for commodities. Everyone is a part of the Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls economy, or soon will be and it’s interesting to see how it’s been evolving of late. Prices for some things, especially flawless square gems, are much higher than they’ve ever been before, even though all current gems will become essentially worthless the moment Reaper of Souls launches, since Marquise gems drop in the end game the same way Flawless Square gems drop now.
Once I saw that in the RoS beta, and the new tiers of crafting materials (all current materials are as worth as little as as Flawless Square gems in RoS), and the fact that the Auction House was shutting down before Reaper’s launch, I cam to two conclusions and took action back in December: 1) All current items and materials would be obsolete and worthless in Reaper of Souls, and 2) I should therefore sell them ASAP since they were sure to lose all value as the expansion came closer.
I was 100% correct on point #1, and almost entirely wrong on point #2.
Why? What’s happened to item and material values? What’s valuable now to save and what should you be selling or hoarding for Reaper of Souls? This article covers all that on the click through, but here’s a quick comparison to show how much the game changes have altered the value/cost of things.
I took several surveys of the gem prices in the Auction House for Hardcore and Softcore on the Americas and Europe servers this afternoon. There was some fluctuation between each time I checked, but the prices were fairly stable on the whole. (The most changes were between the last 10 sales and last 24 hours sales. There you’ll often see considerable short term swings, as people game the market to create very short term shifts in price.)
Amusing the differences in gem values between HC and SC, eh? That Topaz price is my favorite, since there are just as many Wizards and Witch Doctors in Hardcore, but the priority has to always be staying alive, not just dealing more damage. We won’t have an AH in RoS, but if we did I think the difference in Topaz prices between HC and SC would lessen, since the highest level gem, a Flawless Royal, yields 280 Mainstat in armor. That’s amazing for damage, but it’s also a considerable 28 All Res bonus, which really benefits Wiz/WDs, since an armor gem is giving them almost half the bonus of a Diamond on top of their 280 mainstat benefit.
On the developer live stream last week I brought up the disparity in secondary properties of the mainstats, and how in RoS with such huge stats (8000+ mainstat on a well-geared lvl 70) it’s really a substantial advantage to have INT or STR for a mainstat, compared to DEX which only boosts Dodge, and not even that very much. Happily he agreed and outlined some ideas he’s had about boosting the value of Dodge to make it more comparable to the Defense and ResAll secondary bonuses.
The other end of the Auction House gem price scale is the Radiant Star gem. That’s the 2nd highest level gem available in D3, and the highest level that can be sold on the AH. (In D3 a Marquise is made from 3 Radiant Stars + 20m, and is Bound to Account. In RoS Marquise drop constantly from lvl 65+ monsters, which makes any gold you spend on a Marquise today purely 3-week rental.)
The price of this gem varied quite a bit in D3v1, since there were substantial multipliers. It took 729 flawless squares + 1631 Tomes of Secret + 15,400,000 in gold to create one, and the price was therefore more determined by the value of the gems and the Tomes of Secret than the 15.4m Jeweler fees. The cheapest type were always Topaz, and the least I ever saw them selling for was around 18m in Softcore, which was actually less than the price of the materials and the crafting costs. More popular gem types like Rubies and Emeralds (and Amethysts in Hardcore) sold for much more, 30-50m depending on the current value of their ingredients.
Here’s what they’re selling for now in D3v2, with prices averaged from several checks I did on the AH over the course of the day.
As stated above, the cost to craft up a Radiant Star is much lower in D3v2 than it was previously. The current costs are just gold and gems, and it costs 729 Flawless Stars and 3,090,000 gold to make a Radiant Star. That’s down more than 12m gold from the D3v1 price, plus those 1631 Tomes of Secret are gone entirely. (Those often cost 10k or more in HC, adding 16m or more to the total cost.) And it’s even cheaper to make a Marquise now, since the crafting cost just for that gem used to be 20,000,000 and it’s now 100,000 gold.
First of all, I should make one key point again. All of these gems are going to be worthless in 3 weeks, for anyone who upgrades to Reaper of Souls. Assuming the devs don’t entirely change the drop tables and gem qualities from how they were during the entire Beta test, every player who gets past lvl 65 in RoS will start finding Marquise gems like they were candy falling from the sky.
Thus the idea of investing 20-30m to obtain a Radiant Star gem is insane long term, as you’re spending that for 1/3 the price of a gem that you’ll get for free in 3 weeks. That’s a pricey rental, but if you’ve got the gold, or think you can use it a bit and then liquidate it, who am I to stop you?
So, what does this math mean? Do gems of low and high level cost what they *should* cost? The price of Flawless Squares is the one that’s open to debate, since all four (five, but Diamonds can’t be listed in the AH now, and are selling for vastly more than the others in non-AH transactions) drop at exactly the same frequency. Thus there’s no scarcity reason that any should cost more or less than the rest. The value is entirely derived from desirability and utility, which is shown clearly via the difference in price of Amethysts between softcore and hardcore.
The price of Radiant Stars and other higher level gems is just arithmetic, though. Add the Jeweler costs to the cost of the gems required. That was a little more complicated to figure in D3v1 since you had to factor in the Tomes of Secret as well, but those are gone and the whole thing is simplified. You can work it backwards too, and compare the price of the Radiant Star gems to the flawless squares that create them.
For example, a Radiant Star Topaz costs 27m in the AH on Americas softcore. Using whole numbers, you subtract the 3m upgrade price to get 24m, and divide that by the 729 flawless square topaz = 32,922g per FS amethyst. Those gems are selling for almost exactly 30k, but remember the 15% fee for all sales on the AH. So if you’re planning to upgrade all the way and then sell the Radiant Star, that’s .85 x 27m = 22,950,000 gold to you. Which divided by 729 = 31,481g.Thus there’s the potential for a small profit if you buy the flawless squares for 30k, then sell the Radiant Star for 27m. And every flawless square you found would boost your profit by a little more than 31k. Or you could just sell them one at a time for 30k, which would net you 26.5k a piece. (With the benefit of a certain sale, since people are buying Flawless Squares like mad, while very few Radiant Stars are being sold.)The potential profits are much higher in Hardcore, where farming can’t be done as quickly and relentlessly, and where gems sometimes leave the economy (embedded in the equipment of dead heroes).
There appear to be considerable profit margins available in HC. One example:
Radiant Star emeralds on US Hardcore are selling for 39-40m in the AH. So do the math: 40m – 3m = 37m / 729 = 50,754g. Yet flawless square emeralds are selling for 34k. Thus the price to create a radiant star emerald in US HC should be around 34 x 729 = 24,786,000 + 3.1m = 28m vs. the 39m sales price.
Even after you factor in 15% for Bobby, but that’s still a big profit: 39m x .85 = 33,150,000. Not bad for an investment of around 25m, plus however long it takes you to set the Jeweler to upgrade all those gems. Which isn’t very long these days, thanks to the ability to stack up mass crafting queues, which can run while you’re Alt+Tab’ed out watching porn checking email.
(Obviously this assumes that people are actually buying Radiant Star gems for a 3 week rental, which is kind of insane, for reasons explained above.)
Here are all the numbers, for easy reference.
D3v1 cumulative gem upgrade prices: (Not the current values.)
Something I forgot to include in the first draft of this article is the bright future. The gem upgrade ordeal in D3v1 was clearly meant as a very long term grindy thing that would probably require the Auction House to complete. The gold costs are very high for self finding, and the materials are even worse. 2143 flawless squares and 4893 Tomes of Secret? Imagine picking up that many on your own, and that’s just for one type of gem.
It’s possible that someone has self found up to a Marquise — it’s been 21 months since launch, so say you’d played D3 on 500 days; you’d have had to pick up and save up 4-5 of that type of flawsie, 10 Tomes of Secret, and 132k gold per day, to accumulate enough materials to make your one Marquise gem. Man, it sounds grim when you put it in those terms, doesn’t it? Like Andy Dufresne tunneling through that wall out of Shawshank, one spoonful of crumbling concrete per day.
Happily, your Marquise efforts were not enlivened by prison sex.
The above said, Marquise were not part of the gem system at launch. That level of gem was added in a patch to give AH-rich players something to gold sink on, and except for the bonus to weapon damage, all the other improvements from the Marquise were tiny, compared to the marginal cost.
That is not the case with gems in Reaper of Souls. The d3v2 gem rebalance cut crafting costs greatly, lowering the gold fees and removing the Tomes of Secret and not replacing them with any other material. But you’ve still got to accumulate an amount of gems that’s basically impossibly without the Auction House.
Reaper of Souls gem upgrade prices:
Marquise Gems — Drop freely.
Imperial Gems — 3 Marquise + 200k gold. (This level of gem occasionally drops in Master and above. For every one you find subtract 3 Marquise and 200k from the costs for higher level gems.)
Flawless Imperial Gems — 3 Imperial Gems + 1 Death’s Breath + 300k gold (cumulative cost: 900k, 1 DB, 9 Marquise gems)
Royal Gems — 3 Imperial Gems + 1 Death’s Breath + 400k (cumulative cost 3.1m, 3 DB, 27 Marquise, .)
Flawless Royal Gems — 3 Royal Gems + 500k + 1 DB (Cumulative cost: 9.8m, 81 Marquise, 9 Death’s Breath.)
The highest level gem in RoS requires 9.8m and 81 Marquise gems, or a bit less if you find some Imperials. That’s not a lot, especially compared to D3v’s gem cost and quantities. Over the last couple of months of the RoS beta I accumulated several hundred of each type of Marquise gem, literally 300-500 of each, and picked up 1-2m gold per hour of playtime on Torment 1. There’s no Auction House and gems are all soul bound so you’ve got to find them yourself, but the system is designed for an average player to be able to trick out their main character with half a dozen Flawless Royal gems after a few months of play time.
One additional detail; towards the end of the Beta the devs began moving gems into the crafting and enchanting costs. Lots of the better legendary/set crafting recipes required 1 Flawless Royal Gem, which was much too expensive in the opinions of every fan I talked to, and which the devs said was subject to change.A more common and more reasonable expense was the price to enchant legendary/set jewelry. That was initially just gold and materials, but near the end of the beta it changed to cost one Flawless Imperial gem, + some materials — but no gold. That gem cost 900k and 9 Marquise to make, which shifts the economy long term, since many players would find Marquise gems, rather than gold the bottleneck to that enchant.There’s no telling if we’ll get further tweaks to the price of crafting and enchanting at RoS’ launch (I’m sure we’ll see some) but the overall goal is clear; players will be able to self find the gold and materials, will be able to achieve the highest quality gear via their own finding, and bringing over a lot of gold from D3 isn’t going to make things all that much easier. Gold certainly helps in Reaper of Souls, but with gems required for crafting and enchanting, gems you can only self-find, the devs are clearly limiting the value of gold and requiring play time, not just riches. (The same philosophy they emphasized with the BoA Demonic Essences added for the v1.07 crafting recipes.)
Are you guys buying gems? Selling them? Enjoying upgrading them for such a low price? I’m torn; the gold you can make selling just flawsies is crazy, but they feel so cheap to upgrade, compared to how they always were previously, that I want to do that too. Now if someone on US HC would just buy the Radiant Star emeralds I made to test prices and the sales market, I’d really be happy.