Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Friday, February 18, 2005

In My Recipe Book

Today, the day after the latest big patch, there is are 3 recipes for making iron bars in my recipe book. The first one is from the book scholar essentials 10, requires an ironcluster, eolith temper and a lump of brown coal, and uses the skill Artificing, which I happen to be quite good at, being a Jeweler. The second one is from craftsman essentials 10, which I purchased from another player, and has the same ingredients. It uses the skill Metalworking, which I'm not so good at, but I've been practicing it. The third one is from Geomancy Essentials 1, and has the same ingredients, and uses the skill Geomancy. After the patch, my Geomancy skill was 45.

Which one did I use? The Geomancy version. Why? Well, at tier 3 I have a Metalworking-based recipe for carbonite bars, but not an Artificing one. I have only one set of reaction arts for Metalworking, the ones you get when you first become an artisan. These arts give you no way to boost durability, only progress. But boosting durability is the key to making high-quality results.

In contrast, I currently have 3 tiers of Geomancy-based reaction arts, just as I do with Artificing. So, to fill in the gaps, I plan to skill up in Geomancy, and refine all my metal using it.

Also in my recipe books are two recipes for Carbonite Studs. One uses Artificing, and the other uses Geomancy. But the Geomancy-based one requires 2 units of fuel instead of the one unit required by the Artificing recipe. That means that a Jeweler is always going to have a competitive advantage price-wise on producing these items. As it turns out, several other tradeskills have need of these components and other subcombines that Jewelers can make.

With the introduction of the subcombine skills such as Geomancy (We'll get to Thaumaturgy in a second.) those tradeskillers now have the option of making their own subcombines, at an extra cost. They must buy the appropriate Geomancy books, and skill up in Geomancy. And they must absorb higher costs. But they can do it.

What this means is that the price of these subcomponents will drop, but remain profitable for jewelers. For players that have developed stable supplier relationships, probably little will change, though the price may drop some. Should market prices reflect a shortage of components, or perhaps a cartel of producers, it is possible for the consumers to develop their own sources, and continue to level up, perhaps after a detour into skilling up. And nobody will need to create and alt just to make WORT (Wash, Oil, Resin, Temper).

That's because Thaumaturgy works much the same. The base level recipes, including those for WORT, do not put the Thaumaturge at a disadvantage to the Chemist. But the intermediate recipes do. Of particular importance there are the combines for ink. Alchemists will always have a competitive advantage in producing ink. But it isn't absolute, higher prices will allow sages and jewelers to compete effectively.

But Alchemists have no competetive advantage at all in producing WORT, other than starting out with high skill. The high price and shortages of these basic components, which are needed, either directly or indirectly by every other tradeskill, should abate quickly. It's the end of the gravy train for alchemists, who were clearly hurt the most by this change. It's even more clear when you look at the price structure for a basic WORT refine.

At tier 2, fuel now costs 14 copper, and liquid can be had for 6 copper. Using a tuber which you gathered yourself, you can then make 4 doses of Stroma Wash, if you are good at it, at a cost of 5 copper each. They sell back to the vendor for, guess what, 5 copper each.

It gets worse when you look at tier 3, because the fuel costs increase, but the buyback price does not. I'm not sure whether this is a mistake or not. But even if the buyback price were equal to fuel plus liquid, the message would still be clear. There will be no profits without interaction with other players. I think an alchemist can still perhaps sell at 2 or 3 times cost, and have happy customers, though.

But all this trashing of the profitability of WORT will allow alchemists to actually think about producing potions and poisons. These have been seriously boosted. Now most potions have multiple doses, and say what they do, in detail. They also have their own category on the broker, so that they can be searched for effectively. None of them I've seen seems "killer" but that's in keeping with the spirit of the game design, which strives to eliminate any item or strategy that trivializes an encounter.

Instead the game puts a premium on using the right tool for the right job. I've read about groups that had a named raid mob deep into red when they ran out of power and then died horribly. Wouldn't those groups have liked a potion that gave a little extra kick to in-combat power regeneration?

Just last night I participated in a raid on Antonica's drakota. I died quickly to the dragon's breath weapon which has a dot component, and the raid ultimately failed with the dragon in red. Before I do that again, I'm going to get some potions to buff my poison resistance and which remove poison effects. If I had stayed alive and managed to dot the drake, that could have easily made the difference in the fight.

But that's a digression. The new tradeskill changes aren't quite as heavy a nerf to interdependence as it first seemed, specialists will still have some competetive advantages. But their monopolies are gone.


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