Well, we finally have our first solid information on Epic Gems in patch 4.3. In an interview with Greg Street, lead systems designer for Blizzard, on a question about the new "Looking for Raid" tier of difficulty:
What achievements will be granted in the new Looking for Raid system and are they similar to existing ones or any new rewards?
Ghostcrawler: We are very concerned about preserving the sense of accomplishment for the Normal and Heroic tier. We don’t want to over reward Looking for Raid. It is really there for people who want to see the content and want to feel like they’re raiding, but we don’t want it to be more attractive than traditional organized raiding.
We will offer some achievements; they’ll be very simple, nothing like you’ll be able to get in a Normal or Heroic. For example, it might just be “Kill the first four bosses” as one achievement and “Kill the second four bosses” as another achievement, something like that. We won’t, for example, put the legendary in the Looking for Raid tier. We are doing epic gems this time around as a drop in the raid and we may not have those drop in the Looking for Raid tier.
How does this impact our gold-making business? Find out after the break.
- What will be the drop rate? This post from TankSpot suggests all bosses will drop a "geode" that has a chance to contain an epic gem. Blizzard believes it will take people most of 4.3 for raiders to replace all of their red gems.
- Where will the patterns come from? Also raid drops? Or will all Jewelcrafters (not just raiders) have access to them? Will they be purchased with existing tokens? Or new ones?
- Sell, Sell, Sell!
This is actually my least favorite option. Some people (and most non-JCs hoping to capitalize on the speculation) will try this first and prices will plummet. In the short term, this could be good for a flagging ore market to prospect thanks to recent botting bans. When others are in "sell, sell, sell!" mode, I'd consider buying and using them profitably now.
- Prospect, Prospect, Prospect!
Of course, some will prospect. This will lead to a glut in raw gems from both the common and uncommon (green and blue) tiers. Cut gem prices will drop through the floor in anticipation of the new patch. You might try keeping prices high by purchasing low-priced stock, but beware sinking a lot of gold into the process with no hope of maintaining the high price level.
Most of the price drops will be from people panicking about the lack of epic gems in Pyrite Ore. If epic gems are as rare as Blizzard is suggesting, however, we'll see the prices settle back into their normal range once the backlog of Pyrite is cleared from people's banks. While raiders are getting epic gems, they'll likely only be placing those in Best-in-Slot or near-BiS gear. Another factor to consider is the news that your Tier 13 gear will only be available from raiding, and not from Valor Points. There will, however, be VP gear for those slots, it just won't be BiS. Will a casual raider, not competing for world or server firsts, really waste their epic gem on their VP chest when they know their tier chest will drop eventually?
There will also be a large influx in gear from the 3 new 5-man heroics being released in 4.3. The gear is expected to be better than the 353s that Zandalaris give, but won't warrant epic gems. We'll also have a level of gear that is above those dungeons, but below the "normal" raid level from the Looking for Raid feature that's coming. This uptick in gear acquisition will help keep prices high for rare (blue) quality gems.
The final option for your Pyrite Ore is to unload it through other products. Oh, wait. That's really just Ebonsteel Belt Buckles and Truegold. While this might be useful for a small portion of your stash, I suspect many who went all-in on the risk won't be able to use this method alone to get out.
What are your plans for exiting the Pyrite Stockpiling Club? How do you feel about the change in epic gems for this expansion? What advice would you offer your fellow gold-makers?
I consider myself a somewhat casual auctioneer. I can be found via Twitter @Aleithia3. I also like getting email at Aleithia AT jasonthedce DOT com. Send me your questions and I'll try to write about them on the site.