BOE Shields - An Analysis Of What Might Sell Post Patch 4.3

Today's guest post was written by Keelhaul (@DEazeroth). If you're interested in writing a guest post for Power Word: Gold please contact us at

So I did a little perusing of the Shields category, and this is what I came up with.  First off, a summary for the TLDR audience:

The market for BoE Shields for transmogrification is going to be slim.  Find my recommended top 5 BoE Shields to target/craft for resale for transmogrification after the jump.

(For more detailed images of these shields see the related post "Illustrated Analysis of BoE Shield Looks" on Warcraft Looks.)
1) Skullflame Shield
2) Force Reactive Disk
3) Northern Barrier
4) Titansteel Shield Wall
5) Aegis of Stormwind

Next, a few disclaimers:

1) Since this was an exercise for gold making, I've only focused on BoE's.
2) I haven't seen confirmation yet on whether or not green items can be transmogrified, so for now I haven't included them.  That being said, if they can, then something like the Bloodspattered Shield could be interesting.
3) Bear in mind this is a qualitative analysis.  Shields placed on the charts below are done in such a fashion so as to identify deltas between other Shields, rather than their exact, microscopoic placement.
3) This is going to look like I dove into the weeds on this, but trust that this analysis didn't take more than a couple of hours.  I do this sort of thing for a living, so it's a pretty straight-forward exercise for me.

With that said, here are some interesting findings if we take a look at the opportunity for serving up BoE Shields in 4.3 for potential transmogrification:

1. With personalization becoming so valuable in 4.3 with transmogrification, we'll see over time that a player's ability to stand out among their peers will likely become highly desirable.  So what can we do from a BoE seller's standpoint?  The answer is rather than wait to see what's unique, let's analyze it ahead of time and plan ahead.

Shields:  Visual Positioning Analysis (Click to Enlarge)

Shields:  Visual Positioning Analysis

2. This chart is what we call in my professional field (design research), a visual positioning exercise.  You're analyzing form, not color or iconography, on a 2 x 2 axis.  Players making decisions entirely based upon color or iconography will likely be a smaller audience.

The vertical axis is a continuum of Introverted forms (singular, quiet geometry) to Extroverted forms (multiple, intersecting, loud geometry).

The horizontal axis is a continuum of Linear forms (static, rectilinear, predictable geometry) to Organic forms (fluid, multi-transitional unpredictable geometry)

Let's go quadrant by quadrant and see what's happening.

TOP LEFT:  Interestingly enough here you get your rustic forms from Wrath, like the Beneficient Bulwark, as well as a piece that you could argue is a transitional design from TBC, the Titansteel Shield Wall.  You've also got items like the Bulwark of the Scorned Man, which is a Cataclysm piece, but visually more of a transitional design from Wrath due to its rustic nature.

Conclusion: Not much standing out here to target.  With everyone in Cata and Wrath just behind us, I don't forsee any interest in most of these looks.  That being said, keep an eye on the Crystal Pulse Shield and the Titansteel Shield Wall because there is likely to be a surge of interest in TBC gear, of which both of these items have a similar look and feel.  Also of note is the Northern Barrier.  With few souls running Ulduar, the raid having such popularity among players, and the fact that it stands out from the crowd of Wrath and Cata BoEs, it should be one to watch.

TOP RIGHT:  Geez, think Blizzard's art department found the consistency button?  Spikey, spikey, spikey.  Most of the BoEs here are Cataclysm, with two exceptions:  the Skullflame Shield and the Jagged Obsidian Shield.  And they're ALL epics.  So interestingly enough, if someone were to pick up and run with the Skullflame Shield, they'd generally fit right in with the current art style - especially with the flaming skull.

Conclusion:  With mostly Cata gear here ($$$), you're not going to find many steals for resale, and the Elementium items are too ubiquitous as it is to drive interest.  But if you come across a Skullflame Shield and it's a good buy, put it in your list for consideration because it clearly has a place in today's themes, and has strong potential to be an eye catcher.  The Jagged Obsidian Shield is unique, but you may find that the investment to craft it far outweighs what you would get in return.

BOTTOM LEFT:  Hello vanilla WoW!  Here's where it all started.  Lots of parity here with the quiet, basic geometric shapes of old school designs.  The Green Tower really stands alone here, from a visual standpoint.  But you'll see below why you generally want to avoid attempting to resell it.  The Aegis of Stormwind, while potentially appealing to some, from a form standpoint blends in with a lot of other items.  And omg, forget the Blackskull Shield and the Wall of the Dead, though they're epic, they both look like a number of other BoEs in the same area of the chart.

Conclusion:  Avoid attempting to resell the majority of items in this quadrant, there's just too much parity.  That being said, Zom's Crackling Bulwark and the Force Reactive Disk offer a unique look that we'll revisit again below in a moment.  Keep an eye on them.  Interestingly enough, some items from the troll empire hang out on the fringes of this quadrant as well.  The Zulian Swirling Shield is one of those rare BoEs that is kind of a perfect blend of everything, enough so that it really stands out on its own.  The trouble you run in there, is it's a Cata item, and its unique visuals may not be enough to compete with the fact that it's a current item and others will be wearing it for actual gear purposes.  Which leads me to the Troll Protector, because you never know.  It's unique enough that somebody might just pick it up, though you're probably looking at a minority customer.

BOTTOM RIGHT:  Wow, barren wasteland down here.  Very few items fall in this territory, which logically would tell you this is where you can really stand out if you pick one of these items up.  The problem is forms down here are inherently pretty quiet and don't carry much identity.

Conclusion:  The Draenei Honor Guard Shield is probably your only potential option here for resale, and with it being so close to the circular forms on the left, I don't reckon you're going to draw much attention.

Shields:  Differentiation Analysis

Shields:  Differentiation Analysis

3.  This next chart takes the same items as above and filters them through another set of continuums.  The goal here is to further determine differentiation and a player's ability to stand out using BoEs from the auction house.

The vertical axis is a continuum of Unique models (no other model like it in-game, truly unique) to Common models (10+ other models like it in-game, not unique at all).

The horizontal axis is a continuum of time, from Present (Cataclysm models) to Past (Vanilla WoW models).

Let's go zone by zone and see what's happening.

TOP LEFT:  Man, those Cataclysm Shields stick together.  The Ward of the Red Widow and Blockade's Lost Shield really stand out here, as there are no other models like them currently in-game.  But they're also the most current, so a number of other players are likely walking around with them.  Some confidence to those interested in the Zulian Swirling Shield, there's only 1 other item like it in-game.  Shifting back in time to Wrath, the Titansteel Shield Wall further convinces me that we may see this item on more mogged players over time, as it's close to the TBC era and there's only 1 other item like it in-game.

Conclusion:  The majority of items here are too pricy, given their Cataclysm status.  Keep an eye on the Titansteel Shield Wall, and given Zom's Crackling Bulwark status as having only 1 other item like it in-game it's worth watching to see if people look for it as well.

TOP RIGHT:  Here's where things get really interesting.  Here you have some old school items that have been able to maintain their unique looks over time.  The Skullflame Shield gets points again here for only having 1 other model in the game like it.  The fact that it's from Vanilla also gives it points because currently nobody's wearing it.  The most intriguing item here? The Force Reactive Disk.  Nothing else like it in-game, and it's so old school that most have probably forgotten it.  Not only that, you've got to be an Engineer to wear it.  Lots of potential here.  Also of note is the Aegis of Stormwind, where though 5 other Shields carry the same model, only 3 actually have the Alliance crest.

Conclusion:  If the Skullflame Shield isn't on your watch list yet, get it on there, because that's two tests it has passed as part of this analysis.  Also, if you've got an engineer and have been through Molten Core and picked up the Schematic:  Force Reactive Disk, you might want to pick up some mats and craft a few... see what happens.  It's pretty much one of the most unique Shields in the game you could put on the auction house for engineers that are looking to do some transmogrification.

BOTTOM LEFT:  Lots of Wrath items here, and the Bulwark of the Scorned Man from Cataclysm.  Yawn.

Conclusion:  Stay away.  These models all have multiple brothers and sisters that look the same.  With the Bulwark of the Scorned Man  you're also competing with others looking to sell the shield for stat purposes.

BOTTOM RIGHT:  Loads of vanilla WoW items, and it's a bit scary just how widespread these models are.  Some have upwards of 25+ similar models in-game, making these extremely easy to replicate with greens and other drops.  I threw in the Bloodspattered Shield for giggles, and with only 4 other models in-game, meh, maybe there's opportunity to make a few gold on it, but I doubt it.

Conclusion:  No rarity here whatsoever.  Stay away, and avoid trying to sell them to moggers searching the AH.

So based on what I see here, the Shield market is NOT going to be great for transmogrification sales.  That being said, my top 5 recommended BoE Shields to target/craft for resale to moggers are as follows:

1) Skullflame Shield
2) Force Reactive Disk
3) Northern Barrier
4) Titansteel Shield Wall
5) Aegis of Stormwind

Hope that helps!

UPDATE: See the post "Illustrated Analysis of BoE Shield Looks" over at Warcraft Looks for images of many of the shields linked in this article.

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  1. My Warrior still has his Skullflame Shield in his bank and I'm looking forward to using it again. :D

  2. Isn't the Force Reactive Disk BOP and Engineer only?

    Excellent Infographics Though!

  3. @Cold the Disk is BOE but does require Engineering of 300.