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A Comprehensive Guide To The Elder Scrolls Online Economy – Part III

Making Your First Five Million Gold

Editor’s Note: This guide was written, in its entirety, by Ixtyr, a long-time trader who has served as a Guild Master or Senior Officer in three high-end trade guilds on the PC North American megaserver since the game’s launch in April 2014. He currently actively manages two major trade guilds, The Ska’vyn Exchange (Rawl’kha) and The Ska’vyn Bazaar (Belkarth), and holds an honorary Senior Officer position (retired) in Sabre Trading Company (Belkarth).¬†If you would like to learn more about his guilds (and possibly join), you can visit their website here.

Foreword

Over the course of the past several years, I’ve been approached by an overwhelming number of players, both new and old, who ask me a wide variety of questions regarding the Trading System in ESO, how to make more gold, and different tips and tricks to make the entire process easier. Many of these are questions I’ve answered multiple times over the years, as a Guild Master and Officer in multiple high-end Trade Guilds on the North American PC megaserver – but as time passes, I’ve found that I’ve had fewer opportunities on a day-to-day basis to proactively help everyone with tailored advice or one-on-one trade lessons.

Because of this, I’ve decided to sit down and write this “ESO¬†Gold Guide” to help everyone grow their wealth, improve their trading tactics and strategy, and find greater success in the ESO economy. If you have any questions, or would like to voice your opinion regarding anything in this guide, please feel free to leave a comment below!

I’ll be splitting this guide into a few parts, each linked below:

  1. Overview Of The Elder Scrolls Online Economy
  2. Useful Addons For Trade & The ESO Economy
  3. Earning Your First Five Million Gold
  4. Amassing Your Fortune And Wealth

Your First Five Million Gold

Yes, I said “Five Million” – not one. Stick with me, we’ll get there.

Making your first few million gold in ESO is not difficult. It’s just time-consuming. Luckily for you, you’re reading this guide – which means you’ve already taken one of the most important first steps – you’re researching. That’s a good thing.

Now – I should also mention at the top that, while everything you’re about to read can provide you with learnings that are applicable in many forms, I am writing this guide under the assumption that you, as the reader, have already joined at least one good Trade Guild. I discussed Trade Guilds in a previous chapter of this guide, in the event that you need a refresher on the importance of their role in the Elder Scrolls Online economy – with that said, let’s jump into it:

Farming Versus Flipping

There are two basic ways you can make gold in ESO – you can farm, or you can flip. Flipping generally requires some amount of capital up-front – as the saying goes, “you need to have gold to make gold”, and buying in bulk at a discount to turn a strong profit requires patience, diligence, and, of course, enough gold to buy the items in the first place. Flipping also requires some degree of savvy and understanding of the different markets in ESO’s diverse economy. For that reason, I have always, always recommended farming as your best way to begin the journey to amassing your fortune.

Farming has a number of advantages – for one thing, it’s easy, and you can do it basically at any level (though max-level master crafters tend to have the best results, depending on what you’re farming). Farming also requires an extremely minimal up-front monetary commitment – the right gear and an ideal character build can help, but you really only need access to the right Wayshrines and adequate time. Finally, and most importantly – farming yields you a 100% profit margin. Everything you collect and sell is pure profit, meaning you literally can not lose gold, something that is always a risk with flipping. This is the biggest reason why I push players to farm their first few million – losing 200K on a bad flip will sting a lot more if you only have 500,000g to your name, rather than 5,000,000g.

The HarvestMap Addon

First things first – if you’re going to farm, you’ll want to decide what you’re going to be farming. I’m going to spend most of my time talking here about farming materials – as it’s generally the easiest, most accessible, and most consistent avenue for a consistent revenue stream. Assuming you choose to farm materials as well, and if you play on PC, you’re going to want to install HarvestMap. It’s an extremely helpful (if somewhat memory-hungry) addon that marks every node on your map that you’ve collected in the past, making it easy to identify effective farming routes.

What To Farm

There are a variety of different things you can farm to earn gold – what you choose is up to you. I’ll be focusing on open-world raw material farming, but you can also choose to farm high-value weapons and gear from world bosses and chests (more hit-and-miss) or Imperial City Tel Var farming (requires a strong build, good knowledge and skill with your character, and ideally some level of PvP prowess so you can defend yourself).

I personally don’t care for gear/weapon farming because I’ve found it to be more inconsistent than material farming, and there are a fairly limited number of sets and items that are actually worth a significant value. I do, however, quite like Tel Var farming – I usually recommend running with 1-2 friends for both safety and increased speed, though, and not all players will be able to find success with this method due to the competition from enemy PvPers. Keep in mind that both can also be viable options depending on your skill and your goals!

Building Your Character

As I said above, farming for materials can technically be done by pretty much anyone, at any level. That said, making a few optimizations to your main farming character can really help you improve your effectiveness.

To understand why you may need to make some adjustments to your farming character, you first need to understand how ESO’s material nodes work: 50% of all raw material nodes you find in the world will be determined by your character’s level, while the other 50% of nodes are determined by your character’s craftskill level.

If you are playing a Level 5 character with no craftskills, therefore, you’ll only find Iron Ore – if your character is max level, but has no points spent in craft skills, you’ll find 1/2 Iron Ore, and 1/2 Rubedite Ore – and if you’re max level and have your crafts maxed out, you’ll find 100% Rubedite Ore. Max-level materials always sell for more gold than lower-tier materials, so it’s helpful if you can do your farming on a max-level character with their crafts maxed out.

In addition to maxing your character and crafting levels, you’ll also potentially want to build your character to have a faster (or more sustainable) average movement speed. After all, the faster you can move, the more nodes you can collect in the same amount of time – and that means more gold in your pocket.

In general, stamina characters make for the best farming toons – Stamina Sorcerers and Nightblades in particular (Sorcs have faster passive movement speed from Hurricane, while Nightblades can avoid enemy monster aggro by cloaking). If you choose to farm with a Stamina Character, look into grabbing sets like Jailbreaker, Fiord’s, Darkstride or Coward’s gear – and run seven pieces of Medium for the bonus sprint speed and improved stamina regen.

If your farming character is Magicka based, that’s okay too! You might not be able to move as fast, but Sorcerers and Nightblades again both have some nice movement capabilities in their toolkits that can make them fairly respectable options. Regardless, however, the important part of your farming success has more to do with your craft skills and character level, and a good farming route – even a sluggish Magicka Dragonknight can pull a decent haul while farming if they know their route and stick to it!

Finding Your Route

Once you have your character set up and ready to go, your next step is to determine when and where you’d like to farm. To best decide, you’ll need to weigh a few basic considerations:

Understanding Node Density

Not all zones are created equal! ZOS allots a certain number of crafting nodes to each zone – and while these node quantities aren’t necessarily fixed, they do tend to disproportionately favor smaller zone sizes. What you should care about as a farmer is the relative density of crafting material nodes in each zone – the closer your nodes are to one another, the faster you can collect them. This means more time collecting, and less time running around.

In general, the smaller the zone, the more densely populated the nodes. The following zones are generally the best zones in terms of pure node density for farming purposes:

  • Hew’s Bane
  • Khenarthi’s Roost
  • Bleakrock Isle
  • Betnihk
  • Gold Coast
  • Stros M’kai
Zone-Exclusive Materials

Some zones have materials that are unique to that zone, and because of that, those zones can provide an additional boost in profitability despite lower node density. Some exclusive materials, like trait stones in DLC maps like Vvardenfell, Wrothgar, etc., aren’t particularly compelling – but the elephant in the room, Nirncrux, actually makes farming Craglorn an exceptionally profitable area despite much lower node density compared to areas like Hew’s Bane. You might be able to farm an extra entire stack of Rubedite Ore in Hew’s Bane in an hour, but just one lucky Potent Nirncrux drop can more than make up for it in Craglorn – so if you’re willing to entrust your time to the RNG gods, you might want to keep Craglorn in mind.

Zone/Instance Population

A farming route is only good if you can actually farm it – and sometimes, you might find one or two other people farming your route. That will cut into your profits, since nodes cannot be shared, and you’ll be competing for every material node. Consider, then, finding a few routes you like – maybe you have a loop you enjoy in Upper Craglorn, but when that’s busy, you can always dip out to an ore route in Betnihk or Khenarthi’s Roost. Hop around until you find an instance where your route is uncontested for the best results – and then take advantage!

Be sure to keep in mind that finding a good farming route can take you some time – especially if you don’t have any HarvestMap data. You can use the HarvestMap addon to run a script that will download a master file that contains all node data, however – so if you’re lacking ideas, give that a shot! Your goal when figuring out a route you’re comfortable with is to find something that can ideally be run loosely in a circle – you don’t want to have to turn around and go backwards over where you’ve already farmed, as that wastes time.

Get yourself a loop, and just make sure it’s big enough that you can run around it quickly, collecting each node along the way, and have those nodes you collected already respawn by the time you arrive back at your initial starting point.

So What Do I Do With What I Farmed?

Well, you sell it, duh! It’s entirely up to you whether you choose to sell your materials raw or refine them to sell the tempers and refined materials. Generally speaking, the market values for sales through either method will be relatively close in the aggregate. I personally have always preferred the security of just selling my materials raw, rather than risk refining and get a subpar Temper haul, but some players prefer to refine and take that risk. It’s up to you! Just be sure to price your materials fairly based on your guild’s Master Merchant data, and you should be able to start seeing your revenue building.

I’m Earning Some Gold Now! What Do I Do Next?

DO NOT SPEND IT!

Seriously.

I know, it’s tough. You get that first few hundred thousand and realize you can afford that cool motif you want, or upgrade your gear, or buy your sister’s cousin’s friend a Manor house. Just wait. You’ll be able to do all that soon, but the more you spend now, the longer you’re going to have to continue farming and the longer it’ll take you to reach that critical mass where you can really begin to flip for profit effectively. Flipping is generally less time-consuming than farming – and before you burn yourself out from collecting materials all day, we want to make sure you’re able to transition and sustain that wealth you’ve been working so hard to build!

That concludes Part III of this guide. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading thus far! If you found this at all helpful, please consider sharing. Otherwise, check out the links below to read more:

  1. Overview Of The Elder Scrolls Online Economy
  2. Useful Addons For Trade & The ESO Economy
  3. Earning Your First Five Million Gold
  4. Amassing Your Fortune And Wealth
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Ixtyr

Long-time gamer, podcaster, writer, and digital marketing geek. I currently focus most of my time producing content for Ixtyr.com, moderating the /r/elderscrollsonline subreddit, and playing The Elder Scrolls Online, where I run a number of different in-game guilds.

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