EQ2 Crafting, Part IV: Tips and Tricks
This is likely to be the penultimate installment in the series, with the last article covering harvesting. Previous articles:
Today’s article is a catch-all for what I may have forgotten to mention in previous articles, and also for what others mentioned in their comments, many of which were extremely useful. Thanks & blanket credit are due to all those who weighed in.
Aggressive vs. Defensive Crafting
Most of the time I’m a pretty defensive crafter, whereas the spousal unit is definitely an aggressive crafter. What this means is that I prefer to keep durability high throughout the crafting process, using progress actions only when I’m sure it’s not going to screw me out of a durability bar that I will then have to work to catch up. Mort on the other hand uses all progress all the time, until durability gets close to the bottom of the highest bar (or below it if he gets unlucky), at which point he switches to pure +durability actions until he’s caught back up.
There’s no single best method: they both work and, as we’ve found out over the course of duoing several score crafting instances, ultimately the time taken to make things is about the same. Defensive crafting is a little slower, as you’d expect, but not all that much when it comes down to (crafted) brass tacks.
Mostly it’s a matter of personal style and preference. In my case, I hate to let durability drop because I remember the fail results back in the early days — if you don’t get the durability back up in time, you’ll end up with no item (or as it was back then, with a worse though still usable item). Having to make something again because the RNG bit me on the ass seems to be counter-productive and more time-consuming overall, so I just work to get it right the first time. Granted, the chance of screwing an item up is really rather small, but over the years I’ve been playing EQ2 defensive crafting has become a habit.
Whether you craft aggressively, defensively, or somewhere in the middle is purely a personal choice. You won’t get much of a speed boost from crafting purely aggressively; similarly, however, crafting purely defensively is a counter-productive because you don’t have to have a full durability pool in order to make a pristine item. Most people will fall somewhere in between and adapt their style according to circumstances and how an individual item is going.
The only time I craft extremely aggressively is when I’m doing writs. My woodworker — who for various reasons is now the fastest of all my crafters — can do a rush order in ~2 minutes and 40 seconds, consistently. That’s less than 30 seconds per item; actually, it’s generally 24 seconds per item (6 ticks) plus a little time to switch from one item to the other. (Note — any writ discussion is based on using level 80 characters to do them. Results will be slower at lower levels, since the crafting arts aren’t nearly as powerful and a lot of the gear can’t be equipped till at least 60+.)
The main reason she’s faster than my other crafters is that she’s got the instance-dropped fletcher jewellery set, which gives her a +5% crit result chance. Coupled with her +17% or so success chance gear (3 tinkered items, +10 instance-dropped utensil, +1.1 Shin woodworker tool) this means she’ll almost never get a bad result; her standard crafting round is thus usually -17dur/+172 progress or better. The last durability bar is 100 durability “long”, and 17×6=102, but when I’m doing rush orders I gamble that she’ll get at least one event that she’ll counter correctly, and one of the benefits of that is often a lower durability hit. I avoided picking the new +2 durability racial trait when the traits got changed, but I’ve since discovered that this works as intended (without giving a durability penalty as some of the items do) and when I redo her choices she’ll only lose -15 durability per round, which makes the mad-progress dash even safer.
That said, all my level 80 crafters do their rush orders in somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 minutes. Once you understand the crafting process it’s almost impossible to fail an item creation anyway, even at the lowest levels; and once you get to higher levels, the arts are powerful enough to boost you through making items in 6-8 crafting rounds on average. The woodworker is the fastest for me, but that’s not to say the others are slouches.
Another reason I tend to use the woodworker and the provisioner for rush order writs is that the former uses mostly wood (plus a little metal and other stuff), which is very easy to get at any tier, and the latter uses food raws which are equally easy to obtain. Outfitters use a crapton of metal and/or roots, both of which are the highest-value raw materials in any tier in EQ2, so I avoid using them for writs. I’ve only got one level 80 scholar right now, though I’ve already seen that the sage’s raw material usage is writ-friendly (a few roots, no metal), the jeweller isn’t too bad (some metal), and the alchemist uses mainly loam which is almost always one of the cheapest resources to buy on the broker. (Tier 8 resource prices are a little skewed, at least on my server, and loam prices for that tier are high.)
If you’ve been paying attention to previous articles you’ll already know that for the most part I don’t buy raw materials, since I’m such a harvesting junkie, but it’s still wise to have an idea of the prices for raws in each tier. The primary metal is high-priced at any tier, as are the roots, since almost all professions use both those resources — as always, higher demand means higher prices. I prefer not to use high-demand raws for doing writs, especially since part of the reason the metals are always expensive is that they’re a bit of a pain in the backside to get. More on this in the harvesting article to follow.
Writs tip: use toolbars for writ recipes! This came from our guild leader, g33kg0dd3ss, and it’s an amazing time-saver. It’s most useful at 80 when your recipes aren’t going to change anymore, but it can be used at any level.
Writs come in level ranges (x0-x3, x4-x8, x9) and the recipes they use come from similar ranges. Thus, when you’re making a “standard” level x0 (20, 30, 40 etc.) writ the recipes you’ll be asked to make will be only level x0 recipes — it won’t pick any lower-tier recipes since those use different resources, and it won’t pick higher-level recipes since you won’t have those levels (and books) yet. The range is a little broader for the “talented” (mid-tier) and “difficult” (high-end of the tier) writs, but the principle is the same.
At level 80, thus, my example-ubiquitous woodworker has a possible 8 or so recipes that she can be asked to make when doing a difficult T8 rush order. You can drag recipe icons straight from the recipe list in the crafting window to a toolbar; when you click that toolbar button, it’ll open the recipe book and/or select the right recipe from the list. You won’t have to type into the “Find” box in order to filter your recipes down, or scroll up and down the recipe list (or both) — and that’s one of the most time-consuming parts of doing rush orders. Couple that with a mod that lets you hit “ENTER” to start/restart a recipe, rather than clicking the buttons, and you can seriously improve your writ times.
Some professions will need a lot more toolbar slots than others though, which is the only caveat I can think of. My provisioner is currently using 2 toolbars, and once you hit higher adventuring levels toolbar real-estate can become pretty pricey in EQ2, but it’s still worthwhile and you can have up to 10 toolbars open on-screen at a time. I would imagine scholars will need the most toolbar space, simply because they have a crapton of recipes, but from what I’ve seen writs don’t use all available recipes but rather a subset of them in any given bracket. Regardless, it’s still an amazing time-saver if you’re planning on doing a lot of writs.
Crafting bonuses — racial, gear, etc.
There is now a real cornucopia of crafting gear to choose from in EQ2, and the racial traits were recently redone to give each race some useful crafting bonuses too. Better yet, racial traits can now be picked based on the higher or your levels (adventuring/crafting), so a level 80 crafter can pick 8 racial traits (one per 10 levels) even if they’re only a level 3 adventurer.
I’m not going to advise on specific gear here, but rather on what types of bonuses I consider to be more useful than others. As I mentioned in the comments to a previous article, my personal preference for crafting bonuses can be ranked thus: +success chance > +crit chance > +progress > +durability > +crafting skill.
Note that all races now get useful tradeskill racial traits, though these vary somewhat depending on the specific race. The EQ2i wiki has more details — click on a specific race to see their selectable traits pool, and what each does.
Success-chance bonuses are the shiz for any crafter, for fairly obvious reasons. The less often you get a bad result, the better you’ll do overall and the faster you’ll craft, both of which are Good Things For Crafters (TM).
Tinkerers can make 3 crafting tools per crafting profession, usable in the 20s, 30s and 50s respectively (I can’t remember exact levels) — and best of all, they stack. They are, again respectively, +1%, +2% and +3% success chance items, which means little if you’re only using one of them, but does add up to +6% once you’re able to use all three. Better yet, they’re equip/use/forget. Every crafter should get these as soon as they can.
You can get a +1.1% success chance item from a profession-specific quest in the Village of Shin, but that’s only available after level 50 and for some professions you’ll need an appropriate harvesting skill of 240+; if memory serves, scholars are the only ones who don’t have this harvesting requirement. The crafting instances you can enter after you’ve done the TSO “Ship Out” quest line can also drop +10% success chance utensil items, but they’re not as easy to get — not all my characters have them, and they’ve all done quite a few crafting instances.
Crit-chance bonuses are pretty good too, though I’ve only managed to get one item (set) on a single character so far, also dropped in chests in the crafting instances. The relative difficulty of building up a good critical result chance bonus is probably the main reason I’ve ranked this below the success-chance items.
Progress bonuses are useful all round, but not as zomgwtfbbqgreat as the previous two. Racial traits provide these for some races, and everyone can spend AA in the Shadow line for a respectable +10% progress total bonus (5 points) — provided you have the TSO expansion, anyway.
Durability bonuses are handy but not essential. What they really end up doing is making you lose less durability as you craft, which makes it possible to craft more aggressively with relatively less risk. My problem with these is that the items I obtained are (or were) bugged — if you got a negative crafting result, that bonus would suddenly become a penalty. A simple math error, but it turned a not-essential item set into an “I’m sticking this in my bank and forgetting about it forever” item set. These bonuses also use the base result, and they’re not a percentage, just a flat value, so even unbugged they’re not a must-have. The racial-trait based +durability bonuses seem to work correctly, and don’t give you a penalty on bad crafting rolls; I haven’t been able to check the items yet to see if they were stealth-fixed or not.
Crafting-skill bonuses look good when you first get them, and indeed are the easiest to get — which also means they’re the least useful. You need five points of crafting skill bonus to count as being one level higher with respect to a recipe you’re trying to do, and since most recipes aren’t that difficult to begin with, even ones that are 20+ levels higher than you, it’s not really worth the inventory slots. Worse still, skill-bonuses are also skill-specific, so if you have +25 provisioning (or artistry, to be pedantically accurate about the skill), it’ll apply only to that skill: none of your other skills will get the boost.
In any case, because of the way skills are worked in EQ2, you’d have to add 100 or more to a non-specialty skill to really see any noticeable difference to the crafting difficulty of making non-specialty items. It might help marginally in the crafting instances, where you may have to make all manner of items that aren’t part of your specialty, but outside of those places you’ll almost never make anything that isn’t part of your base profession because you simply won’t have the recipes to make anything past level 10 or 20. Even in the crafting instances, I’ve noticed far more of a positive difference with the +success chance items than with anything +skill-related.
General Crafting Tips & Tricks
Thanks are due, again, to all those who suggested tips, tricks, and other ways of doing things when crafting.
- You can use up to 3 crafting arts per round. This is the most important thing to know if you’re ever going to enjoy crafting in EQ2. You can use 0-3 arts each round, whether an event has popped or not. In fact, you’ll do a lot better if you use at least one or two every round; if you don’t, crafting is likely to be largely unsuccessful and thus a lot less fun.
- You can move the crafting arts around in the little bar you get in the crafting window, and arrange them in any way that suits your personal style. You can also lock the arts so you can’t move them around by mistake. Finally, you can turn off the popup tool tips so that you don’t go nuts if you’re the type to click on arts rather than use the keyboard.
- Item durability can go beyond 100%, though you won’t see it in the crafting window. This means you can build up a durability buffer in the first few rounds of a crafting combine, which is how most defensive crafters tend to do things. And while you obviously can’t build up excess progress, it’s worth knowing that while you can have negative progress results even when you’re at 0 progress, you don’t actually go into a negative hole. If you’re at 0 progress and you get a -50 progress result, getting +50 progress the next round will take you to 50 progress, not to 0.
- Correctly countering a crafting event will never give you a bad round roll. (As I recall, this may not hold for some of the ancillary crafting arts such as geomancy, or at least didn’t in the past — it may have been fixed.) However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a great round result, because the net result of a round is based not only on the random roll but also on arts, bonuses/penalties, and in some cases on the results of previous rounds — a critical fail increases the chance of getting a bad result for the following round or two, for instance. I can’t back this up with “here’s what the Devs said” anymore, but I read it years ago in one of the forums (IIRC) and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t changed since. Similarly, critical successes seem to increase the chance for a good result on the following turn, which is something I make use of in the crafting instances since those use different — and harsher — art sets.
- Incorrectly countering a crafting event doesn’t always end badly — though chances are it will. Ignoring an event works the same way. This largely depends on the severity and type of the event itself, as well as on the specific profession. Note that in the crafting instances, incorrectly countering an event will always bite you in the ass, often quite painfully; it’s still eminently possible to kill yourself while crafting in those instances, whereas that’s very hard to achieve now in “normal” crafting.
- NPC vendors buy crafted items only for fuel costs — which means that if you buy your resources this can be an expensive way to level crafting. There’s no other reason I can think of why anyone would want to sell crafted stuff to an NPC vendor. If you harvest your own resources it’s pretty much a zero-sum proposition, and it’s quicker cash than waiting for some of your stuff to sell on a broker that may already have 1,463 other instances of the same item.
- You can use the broker as storage. Depending on the size of your house you can have from 2 to 6 boxes in the broker interface (1 box only if you have no housing at all). Stuff you put on the broker doesn’t have to be put up for sale, however, so you can use those slots as simple storage too.
- If your guild has a Harvesting Depot, you don’t have to carry resources on you. This only works if you’re crafting in the guild hall where the depot is, but it’s hugely useful all the same. Note that if you are carrying resources in your character’s inventory, these will be used first. You can also turn off the “Use Harvesting Depot” option — it appears in the resources list for a given recipe, before the actual crafting stage.
- (other useful suggestions will be added!)
Next time, harvesting!