Transferring? How To Choose A New Server For Gold-Making

It seems that a lot of people have been transferring or looking to transfer servers lately. When I asked why on twitter and Facebook the majority of the responses tended to fall into a few main categories including looking for a fresh start or wanting to "change things up" to add life back into the game.

Another common reason seemed to be a desire to leave a server where the player was having difficulty with making gold (often attributed to either a very high or very low server/faction population).

While I've been happy on the same server for the last 8 years (and have no desire to transfer) the reasons above are very valid. When Selltacular suggested writing a guide for gold-makers looking to transfer and I thought it was a great idea.

The following advice is for players looking at a server transfer as a way to improve their gold-making situation. Read on past the jump for more.


I'll be outlining a few things that might help someone that is considering a server transfer but doesn't  know how to pick a new server/faction.

Server population will be the main consideration along with evaluation of the server economy. We want to give ourselves the best chance of finding a compatible realm before any money is spent on the server transfers.

While all the advice below is solid please know that transferring servers involves real-world money and that the decision to do so should be your own decision. I'm not responsible if the server you transfer to (and spend real money doing so) turns out worse than your original server.

Population Size

The first thing to take into consideration is what your current server/faction popultion size is.

If you're on a low population realm and want to transfer to a high population realm it would be nice to have a baseline on how low your server population really is. The same goes for people looking to transfer from a highly populated server.

For low population players I'd look for realms where the faction populations is 1.5 to 2 times the size of your current realm. For high population players I'd look for a server no more than 50% as populated as your current server.

The best tool I know of for checking server size is Realm Pop by the creators of The Undermine Journal.

Select US or EU on

Once on Realm Pop select US or EU realms.

Pick a server.

Once there scroll down the list and select your server. (For the following examples I randomly picked Aerie Peak US.)

Mouse over the pie charts to get faction populations.

Once you are on your server's page you will see lots of colorful pie charts. (If you mouse over the charts you'll get more detailed information.)

Pay particular attention to the total number of player listed on your faction. This is your server population (unless you play both factions heavily).

In the above example of Aerie Peak US there are about 69K players on the Alliance (72%) and 25K on the Horde (26%) for a total population of around 95K.

Raider Markets

If you are going to raid on your new server or work in markets where you sell to raiders (like flasks, gems, enchants, etc.) you may want to limit the results to the level 90 population alone.

Level Range slider (left handle moved to the far right).

To limit the results to level 90 characters look for the "Level Range" sliders and slide the left handle all the way to the right.

Level 90 only.

As you can see above the level 90 population is around 9K on the Alliance (82%) and 2K on the Horde (18%) for a total of  level 90 population of around 11K.

(An interesting note on this server is that the Alliance gain about 10% more population at level 90 as compared to all levels.)

Once you get an idea of your current server size (both total and level 90 if you serve raiders) you will have a baseline population number to judge future server transfer candidates against.

Beginning The Search

The next step in the search is to go back to the main Realm Pop page that lists all the servers and start looking down the list paying special attention to the "PvP", "RP", "Alliance", "Horde" and "A/H Ratio" columns.

These columns will help you start to pick some potential servers. (Also you can sort the columns in either ascending or descending order by clicking on the column header.)

The PVP and RP columns will help you if you are looking for a particular type of server. I only play on PVE servers (Carebear Stare!) so I would disregard any PVP servers. (The same thing goes for your choice between an RP (role playing) realm or normal realm.)

If you are on a low population server, keep an eye out for servers that have a higher population. For people looking to transfer off a high population realm look for a lower population.

Servers and sortable columns.

For this hypothetical example let's say that we are a Horde player on the Aerie Peak server that feels our server population is too low.

We also don't want to play on a super-high population realm (hyper-competition is not fun) or one that has severely imbalanced faction population (huge faction imbalances can often make the lower population faction feel like a ghost town).

Digging Deeper

Our current server's Horde population is 25K. We are then looking for a PVE server that has a Horde population of around 1.5 to 2 times larger (around 37K - 50K) with a relatively even amount of Alliance players.

Server sorted by Horde faction size.

In the image above we have sorted the server list on the main Realm Pop page by the "Horde" column (player population) and scrolled down to the area showing populations in our desired range.

Now we start looking at the A/H Ratio column (second column from the right) and looking for something near "1.0". (We can also just look for Alliance population numbers that match the Horde but but I find the A/H Ratio column faster.)

We are looking, then, for PVE servers that have an even faction balance and population size to our liking.

In the image above the  PVE servers that seem to match our criteria are Rexxar, Trollbane, Shu'halo and Turalyon.

Sending Out The Scouts

Now that we have a few server transfer candidates the hard part begins.

We are going to be building level one characters on each of these servers and heading to the AH to check on our favorite markets.

For Alliance the easiest way I've found to get a level one to a major city is to create a human and run them to Stormwind.

For the Horde I've found it easiest to swim a level one troll to the mainland and hop on a free flight path to Orgimmar.

Now that you have your new level ones at the auction house you can start using your normal gold-making addons to search and study the markets you will most likely use to make gold.

Enjoy flipping 77-79 and/or 83-84 items? Check those markets. See if anyone is selling them. Check for cheap inventory. Check for players selling multiple items in that market. (This is often a sign there is already a major player and there may not be much room for profit.)

If you're into Jewlecrafting or Enchanting check those markets. Look at item prices. Look at mat prices. See how many people are selling them.

Act as if it was your home server and see how it compares to the markets you're used to on your home server.

You won't be able to get a complete feel for the server but you should be able to get a rough idea for the feeling of the server's markets.

Advanced Tactics

Once you've done your initial on-server reconnaissance you can get even more advanced by looking up the potential server on The Undermine Journal.

Once on the potential server and faction's page look up a market page (such as "Enchanting" under the "Crafted" menu item) and use the "Compare [Realm/Faction Name] with another realm:" drop down near the top of the page.

The Undermine Journal server comparison.

Above is the comparison page for our fictional example of Aerie Peak Horde Enchanting compared to Rexxar (one of the servers we picked above) Horde Enchanting (here is the direct link).

As you can see this gives some really great information for those who may be deep into markets and who want to really dig in and evaluate how their gold-making may go over on a new server.

What's The Scuttlebut?

So you've narrowed your choices down. You've been lurking on the potential servers for a week or so, listening to trade chat and watching the auction house.

You may even want to whisper people you see talking in trade chat and ask them how the economy is on this server. (Just don't expect these people to actually know anything but it may give you a little insight.)

You may also ask them how the server is in general. (Again don't expect anything really useful but you are really just getting more data points and don't have anything to lose.)

Testing The Waters

Now you may want to start trying your hand at a few markets before you commit to paying for a server transfer (a transfer fee that you'll have to pay again if you decide to move off the server).

If you have a few battle pets you are willing to part with (or that you've purchased and learned specifically on your old server for this purpose) you can cage them and sell them in trade chat. this should net you a few thousand gold in starter capital.

Selling in trade chat requires no up-front gold (for things like posting fees, etc.) so you can do it very early after reaching the server once you decide to research more.

Once you have this starter capital you can start dipping your toe lightly into flipping markets that don't require professions or pick up a few profession items (glyphs and gems work well) to test the undercutting waters.

Purchasing some sacrificial glyphs or gems that you then post on the auction house simply to see how often you are undercut is a good investment and will teach you more about the market then simply searching the auction house for prices.

Making The Move

So you've settled on a new server and you're committed to transfer. How do you best prepare your character for the transfer?

First off you will want to decide which of your characters you want to transfer and with what.

Faid over at Clockwork Riot recently made a switch like this (see "Illidan: The First Days") and she chose to bring 50K, a load of heirlooms and a Scribe with 100% glyphs.

I'd take into consideration not only what professions the character may offer but also how much you like playing them. You'll be playing them a lot on your new server.

If you are abandoning ship for good and have a large amount of gold and items to transfer you may want to consider transfering a guild.

You can do this by making your character a guild and leveling it to level 2. As long as your character has been guild master for 7 days (See Blizzard's official Guild Services FAQ for more specifics about the requirements and how to transfer a guild.) you can pay additional money to transfer the guild to your new server.

This would allow you to move 50K on your individual character and up to 999K in the guild bank along with the items in your personal and guild banks.

Guild transfers are kind of a big deal so you may want to transfer a "second in command" over to the new server first to test the waters before committing to paying extra to move a whole guild.

Setting Up Shop

Now that you are on your new server you should be able to get adjusted to your surroundings (unless your faction changed, in which case good luck finding anything) and markets relatively quickly.

If you've spent the time to do the things I've mentioned above the you should already know (more or less) what to expect from the new server.

(While you're at it create a Death Knight and start leveling them to become your herb and ore gatherer. They do a great job at it and are nice to have on new servers to provide addition income from gathering as well as supply materials to any new alts you will create.)

An Alternative

Might I offer an alternative that I've found to be fun. Make a new character on a new server and start from scratch. No server transfer required.

I've done this on multiple occasions and I found it challenging an also quite rewarding as a gold-maker. Using all the built up knowledge I've acquired while running multiple markets on my main server makes gold-making on a new server feel turbo charged. When all that experience is focused down to a single character on a new server it can be quite an experience.

You could even do this on a potential server transfer destination. Let your new character build you a little beach head in the server and get a real feel for the everything while having adventures along the way.

Is A Transfer Really The Solution?

Any way you slice it server transfers are a big deal. I often feel that many players that are considering a server transfer might simply be inexperienced or inept at learning the markets well enough on their original server.

They may be placing blame on "the server" for why their gold-making isn't going as well as they'd like.

While there are certainly cases where server population and economy act as gold-making deterrents (mainly in extremely low or extremely high population server/factions) I think those are the exception rather than the rule.

I think many players see gold-making bloggers, podcasters and/or livestreamers making gold and get frustrated when they don't seem to match up (in their own estimation) after just a few weeks of trying.

Those who have been making gold for a long while often have years of experience and practice in making gold. They may seem to make gold effortlessly but they've often spent a tremendous amount of effort getting to where they are gold-making-wise.

I firmly believe that if most players wanting to server transfer for gold-making reasons had stuck it out on their current server they would have eventually learned their server/faction well enough to make decent amounts of gold.

On the other hand I do believe there are cases where server transfers have given players the chance to blossom as gold-makers and in doing so made the game more enjoyable. I fully support that.

Enjoy the Ride

If you do transfer be sure to enjoy the new beginning. Enjoy your new-found anonymity. Nobody knows you on the server and you can be whomever your want to be.

Most of all enjoy yourself while playing the game.

Server transfers can be a scary thing especially when it costs real-world money to do them. The money, however, is likely secondary.

In many cases people's desire to find something on a new server that they couldn't find on their current server is much more valuable than the money involved in making the transfer


Over the years I've done all sorts of things to keep the game fresh. I've faction changed, race changed (some characters multiple times), server transferred (always as alts though never as a main), started numerous alts (I hit my 50 character limit the other week). Anything to chase away the doldrums.

(I once leveled a Hunter to 72 using only melee attacks. True story. While he is technically holding a bow he grudgingly had to start using ranged attacks in Mists of Pandaria when they took away Hunter's melee attacks.)

If you're set on transferring please put some thought into it (you may be there for a while) but most of all do what you feel in your heart will make you happy. (Whether it will or not remains to be seen but you never know until you try.)

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  1. One further thing to consider before spending hard-earned money on transfers is that Blizzard announced (Q&A) last night that they have a plan to resolve the issue of low population servers and faction imbalances. This is very likely to be a game-altering solution so might be worth waiting to hear more.

    1. I wasn't aware of this thanks for sharing. I wonder if they will ever intermingle the economies of multiple realms.