In the recent weeks since patch 1.08, the hardcore community has been experiencing a renisance. Xanth has written about it in several articles to this point, most recently in “Death Takes a Holiday”. When the group play incentives were introduced on top of the monster density changes, HC players found themselves living longer, having more builds open up as viable and experiencing a new freedom of gear selection. These changes are unanimously (or as close to unanimous as is possible in the Diablo 3 community) regarded as positive and have revitalized the game for many and brought others into the HC fold. However, as the community has had time to adapt their collective playstyle to the new environment, the HC game has begun to change. The largest area I've seen, and the area I'd like to focus on, has been the economy. This change is neither good nor bad, just different from pre 1.08. In the diii.net HC forum across all threads posters are commenting about how the price of the good to godly gear has been rising. Balancing this, the lower end but viable items haven't been selling as well or at all including set legendaries. Flux commented in a recent podcast that he was having a much harder time building up a stash of gold with his 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] monk. The prices of Tomes of Secrets has been dropping steadily since the patch, as of this writing hovering around 9,100. It was closer to 7,000 over the weekend. If you've been following along, you may notice that the HC economy is starting to resemble the SC one. Why? Xanth touched on the obvious reason in the title of his article, people aren't dying as much. The one rule change that separates HC from SC is the tiny issue of death. If people aren't dying as much, items aren't being removed from the economy. The biggest cash sink in HC is death, including the cost of buying and crafting a new set of gear, as well as time lost farming in inferno. If they're not dying as much, they're achieving higher Paragon Levels, which innately increases their Magic Find, causing more items to come into the economy. If they're playing in a group, then the amount of experience to attain higher PLs has been decreased, so higher PLs are being attained with equivalent pre patch survival durations as well as more MF bonuses. The longer character lifespans and increased accumulation of gear has many players crossing the threshold of being able to craft a hellfire ring in HC, which further accelerates leveling and therefore item accumulation. As players are living longer, the need for lower end items, other than reduced level requirement, are going down. However, since they're living longer, when they die, the lost items are going to be better. We can kid ourselves all we want, but in HC, all characters have the same end. That's a sink the SC community doesn't have, although infinitly escalating gold in SC looks similar to only good items being removed from the economy in HC. Psychologically, this can work against the community, as with a higher percentages of deaths being well geared and leveled characters, the frustration to take a break or quit may be higher than before. What does this mean for the new player or player new to HC? First of all, there has never been a better time to dip your toes in. As gear inflation drives the price of entry level mp1 inferno gear down, it get easier and easier to assemble something that can farm in a group. Finding a public game is rarely an issue. From there, it's up to the RNG how quickly you progress, but it has also never been easier to stay safe so higher PLs and better drops has never felt more inevitable. As for the higher level items being out of reach, there is a change to the itemization system in the works. The change will inevitably shake up the economy. Leveling up safely now will help build liquid currency from when the change is implemented, and there's hopefully a shift in the better gear through either drops or crafting. Having cash in hand and a character ready to go and take advantage of the change is a much stronger position to profit than starting out. The last point is speculation on something that's still very much in the works of Blizzard's saturnine iterative development process, but a safe bet. Now isn't the best time to add a disclaimer, but I'm making these points in general based on observations of the forums here and elsewhere and things I've noticed in the HC AH. I tried my best to avoid relating personal experience, because there's few things less convincing than a sample of one. I would like to hear what you guys think about these points and anything I missed.