Alchemy was my favorite profession for goldmaking in WoW classic, but in TBC I have not really dived as far in. My initial thoughts a couple of weeks after release was that specializations might make it impossible to compete without them, but recent sales might suggest otherwise.
20% is huge
The alchemy specializations in TBC have a massive effect. On average they will give you 20% extra items for the same cost. In a market like Alchemy were the margin is typically 15-30% getting 20% extra when you click craft can often be decisive. My initial thought and impression was that this would drive the prices down low enough that even with my usual overcutting approach I would not be able to compete without the correct specialization.
My approach to alchemy in TBC and Classic has always been to post in a wide variety of stack sizes at a price 20-30% above the cost of materials. I don’t really care what the cheapest other auction is. The logic is that someone will come along that wants to save time buying just the quantity they prefer and they will be willing to pay a premium. This has worked in every expansion of WoW where the stack based AH has been a thing, and it still works in TBC.
I was wrong?
Today I collected a surprisingly large chunk of Destruction potion sales. I do not have potion mastery, so me selling them means they were profitable even according to my more expensive crafting cost. My alchemist is level 60, and thus doesn’t have any specialization. I have had less success with flasks, which might be logical as they have a larger total volume.
Which specialization should you choose?
It’s between elixir and potion if you ask me. Transmutes have always been profitable even without the specialization, and getting extra on a daily cooldown is so much less profitable than 20% on every flask you craft.
I would go with elixir as flasks seem more competitive, and also have the higher total volume, making them the top choice.
You can compete without them
I have gotten sales on all types of consumables even without specializations, so it is possible, but harder. I would definitely suggest getting at least one specialized Alchemist if you can, even if the leveling process will take a while if your alchemist is not already level 70. Keeping some at 60 for easy Earthstorm Diamond transmutes and some crafting is also a great idea.
If you need a setup for posting your alchemy crafts you can get mine below. It includes settings for all craftable and sellable recipes.