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I'm on Smacht(enligh PvP), when I started diamonds, in AH, were anywhere from 2k to 5k each, now I believe they are ranging quite drastically, but if you use the advancedauction addon to get averages from different days, and different times of days, I noticed them jumping within the 10k to 15k price most often.(yes ppl will try to sell for anything-I saw 1 deer antler being sold for over a million gold once).
As for the cash shop, I still haven't used it(been playing 3 months). I'm naturally a realy slow player and also spent a lot of time focusing on lvling my craft skills, so I can't really comment too much on time to get endgame. But I'm lvl 49 on my knight and am doing fine with raids and instances.
I've constantly scrutinized the Item Mall(I think it's wise to be cautious and learn as much as possible before throwing money at anything, in a game or in real life), but what I notice about the Item Mall is that everything just let's you do things faster in the game. There is nothing you can do in the Item Mall, that you can't do by playing it free.
The only thing you can do for an argument is create a never-ending debate based on only one thing, How fast something can be achieved, in the game.
I do love the game, and I'm sure it fuels a certain amount of bias in my argument, but even so, I think it's a much better argument than people who base theirs on a game being "unfair" because you happen to have a short attention span and want instant gratification. Personally a game that can so fairly balance gameplay that is fun(and let's face it, we all know RoM is the best free2play on the market right now, hands down-if you feel like disagreeing with that statement please tell me what you think is actually better), and lasting, is alright in my book.
Too many ppl make an argument that is little more than saying I want a better tasting cookie, and I want it now, and they gobble it up, but then it's gone? Nobody seems to want an everlasting gobstopper.(which I think RoM has done a good starting job with and I'm looking forward to what they keep adding)