I'm curently lvled to 26 as a run-keeper and i have never used the AH. I always just use what i get from quest's and sell stuff i dont need to vendors. When should i start primarly using the AH to buy/sell, at what lvl? Should i have been using it this whole time? Seems like a waste of time to use it but idk, you get so much free stuff from quest's.Even all my spells i just buy from a trainer, seems like ther's not really a reason to trade with the community so far.
You might use it more depending on what craft vocation you choose. At your level, you might not find much use for it, but you'll likely go through more consumables as you get to higher levels.
I wouldn't worry too much about it right now--you'll likely be using quest armor and weapons for awhile, and a lot of it is pretty good. But get an idea of how it works, you could make some good money.
In pursuit of knowledge, for knowledge is power....
AH is not only about gear, there are lots of other things you can find there: Consumables (Food, Potions, Tokens), Craft Ingredients and Tools, Class Items, LI support, Rep items, rare items etc. Almost all of those are obtainable in game by normal means (except Store and Lottery items), but until you have all 7 craft professions covered, you'll have to resort to AH eventually. Armor and Jewelry you can get from quests, sure, but what about class items? Food and Potions? Scrolls and Hope Tokens? Of course, at level 26 all that matters not - up until level 35 you shouldn't worry about your gear anyway, only later does it last long enough to be worth investing in.
Nothing in LOTRO requires you to use the AH. Just like nothing in LOTRO requires you to use Turbine Points, or quest, or skirmish, or raise your character's traits, or have one or many mounts, etc. And, you don't even have to train all the skills for your class!
Many MMOs have one or two classes, or specific gear, that you HAVE to play and have if you want to be a success in the game. IMO, these game are poorly balanced in that they force you to have or do something to be a success in the game, e.g. if you aren't playing the right class, or you don't have the right gear, you can't and won't be a success. This is bad design/implementation.
Most well-designed and well-implemented MMOs are games of balance, and the accumulation and growth of small increments. LOTRO is one of the well-balanced MMOs; not perfect, but better balanced than most. For example: every class in the game has a role to play in the harder content, all classes are wanted. And, all classes can solo well enough to be effective soloers. The issue for most players that do fellowships and raids in instances and elsewhere is how well you play your character and how well you have prepared them for the battles.
So, in preparing your character, it's largely about the increments: if you do not advance your character's traits, you can play them, but they will be more or less gimped. If you do not have appropriate consumables for your character's level, you can play them, but they will be more or less weakened. If you do not have gear appropriate for your level and class (and role, if you play in fellowships), they will be more or less gimped. And the increments and how to grow them go on ...
The higher the level your character gets, the harder the content you try to play, the more important the increments get.
To address these and other related issues, Turbine has several game sub-systems: the AH, the Turbine Store, loot drops and quest rewards, the crafting system, kinships (to get help from kinshipmates), skirmishes and skirmish traders, etc. and etc.
So, you are the only one that knows what is satisfying to you as you play the game. You are the only one that can determine what you need to do to accomplish what you want to accomplish in the game. LOTRO gives you a lot of flexibility in making your own choices about all that, including whether or not you use the AH.
You can sell on the AH at any level really. You just have to find what sells well, that is what people are willing to buy that they'd rather not just go out and get themselves. Mostly that'd be crafting comps, especially at low levels. What sells depends. Watch the market, look at the craft vocations and see what they need, find your niche.
If you like merchanting in game, this is a route for it. It's not quite as much fun as running your own shop in some games, especially since it's literally an auction system, with only a two day max window. However, it's easy enough to dabble in it, if you're just after some quick cash, or don't want to full-time merchant.
Before they changed the resource drops from NPCs for things like scholar items, quite a few things sold quite well - I'm not 100% up to date on what is the current hot items. Watching trade channel can help with that, but also things like hides and ore, especially tin, can be good sellers.
And this is not even getting into buying low on the AH and reselling high.
Or you can simply make money doing skirmishes, quests and selling vendor trash and leave all the crafting stuffs go. It's just up to what you want to do.
Heck you don't even need the AH, you can simply sell on the trade channel if you really want.
Wingwoz (on hunters in LOTRO), "I prefer to think of them more like Elvis or James Dean. Terminally self indulgent but their presence in a party, nay, the very fact that they ever existed, makes the world a cooler place."
'Zairente hums, "Little rabbit Poo-kie / running through the Di-res / scooping up the Mon-archs / and BANGING 'em on the head."' The Antics and Ramblings of Family Nenaelin
You can also get in to a Kin that has all the professions covered and they can help you with Gear etc. what I did was get Kindered with a faction than farm those rep items and turn and sold them on the AH and made a killing.
So with every faction that I got kindered with I would farm a level or 2 worth of Faction items and turn and sell them due to most are lazy and have gold and dont care to spend it.
Worth it in my opion.. I keep all crafting items I come across and wait till I need something made and lots of times the people that make them ask me if I have the mats and whammo its done for free.
One thing is for sure, if you ignored the AH and just sold all those recipes you found to the trash vendors. Then you lost a PRETTY damn penny already.
Also even at low levels it´s pretty noticeable when you use a properly (critical)crafted weapon, instead of the quest trash. Though one can get away with it as others already explained, but the really useful consumables are going to become your problem here.
Have you ever actually used enamels? I´d advise you to make your Runekeeper a Historian so you can at least make that yourself. Incidentally you could make a second alt a Tinker and produce all the foods, Rune-stones and Jewelry you´ll ever need on your own.
The AH is actually an integral part of the game for me. I buy and sell at the AH daily. When I am out questing I am always looking for things that will sell at the AH. This adds another layer of excitement for me otherwise some of the grinds start to wear on me. Definitely recommend using it.
More often than not, no, the items sold in the Auction House are not worth the asking price, which are usually inflated beyond any semblance of reason. Occasionally, however, a bargain may be found. Spend wisely!