Monday, December 31, 2012

Wintersday on New Year's Eve

The end of the year is very near and so is the end of Wintersday. The Christmas time is often very busy and stressful for a lot of people, even though everyone are encouraged to relax with their family. Deadlines need to be met and Christmas preparations made. Wintersday started already on the 14th of December, but back then I had no time to get to know the event or make a post about it. Now, even though there's only a few more days of Wintersday left, I felt that it'd still be good to cover the Wintersday event in this blog, and decided to sit down for few hours to write down this comprehensive summary of the event from the crafting and trading point of view.

Wintersday has quite a long tradition in Tyria. It existed already in the original Guild Wars and – along side with Halloween – was the most anticipated event of each year. The capital cities (Ascalon City, Lion's Arch, Droknar's Forge and later Kamadan) would get decorated to match the holiday season. Holiday themed quests were available, enemies dropped Candy Cane Shards which could be exchanged for gifts, and snowball fights attracted PvE and PvP players alike, because no one wanted to a miss a chance to throw some yellow snow at their fellow players. People would get together especially in Lion's Arch to view the decorations, receive hats from Grenth and Dwayna, exchange presents, dance and just hang out with each other.

Ascalon City during Wintersday five years ago.
The Wintersday in Guild Wars 2 has many of the same elements. The beautiful decorations at the center of Lion' Arch instantly get one in a Christmas mood. One can encounter Christmas themed enemies that drop presents while adventuring out of town. There are three holiday specific currencies one can collect and exchange for presents and other items. Snowball fights are still around and people continue to be enthusiastic about taking part in them. There's three new activities as well: one can participate in Bell Choir which is somewhat similar to Guitar Hero, have fun at the Winter Wonderland jump puzzle, do the Tixx's Infinirarium dungeon in order to obtain toys (mini-pets), and protect cute dolyaks in the Toypocalypse, which is a tower defense type of mini-game.

There are a lot of Wintersday specific items available during the event, and one might be a bit confused at first about the different ways of using and obtaining them. Most of the items can be bought from The Festive Lionguard [Gift Exchange] in Lion's Arch. The items are bought for three different event specific currencies: Ugly Wool Sweaters, Ugly Wool Hats and Ugly Wool Socks. The currencies can also be sold and bought in the Trading Post. It should be noted that each currency has a different value to the vendor.

There are also other ways of getting exactly the items that are sold by the vendor, including buying the items from other players via the Trading Post. In this case one should compare whether it is cheaper to buy the item directly from the Trading Post, or buy enough of the event specific currency and then get the item from the vendor (if you look carefully, you might even find something worth flipping right now!). The other ways of obtaining the items are getting them as drops from Wintersday Gifts, by killing Wintersday themed enemies, or by completing Wintersday activities (Toypocalypse, Snowball Mayhem, Bell Choir, Winter Wonderland).

The Festive Lionguard vendor has three tabs; each contains the same items, but accepts a different currency.

The Festive Lionguard first of all can exchange the ugly pieces of clothing for Wintersday Gifts. There are Small, Medium, Large and Giant Wintersday Gifts, which prices increase in correlation with the size of the gift. There's also two other packages for sale: Sealed Package of Snowballs and Unsafe Wintersday Gift. And in addition to the gifts sold by the vendor, there's one more gift that is obtained by completing Wintersday activities: Personalized Wintersday Gift. All in all, plenty of presents for everyone.

The contents of the different types of gifts vary, but the loot tables contain the three woolen currencies, crafting materials, weapon skins, recipe sheets, insignias, sigils, Choir Bells, Unbreakable Choir Bells and Endless Toymaker's Tonics. For more detailed information about the contents of each gift, click here (Guild Wars 2 Wiki page).

As for the Wintersday themed recipes, the vendor sells two of them: an insignia recipe for tailors, leatherworkers and armorsmiths, and a sigil recipe for weaponsmiths, huntsmen and artificers. These and also other recipes for these disciplines that are not available from the vendor, but can be got from the Wintersday Gifts.

In addition to the recipe sheets, there's a lot of new recipes for all disciplines that can be learned through discovery! For discovering the recipes, one needs different kinds of snowflakes. One type of snowflake – the Tiny Snowflake – is sold by the vendor, while others (Adorned, Delicate, Flawless, Gilded, Glittering, Intricate, Ornate, Pristine and Unique) are got as drops from gifts. I do not wish to spoil the fun of discovering the recipes, but in case one needs assistance with spotting the last missing ones, there's a comprehensive list just one click away.

The vendor also sells some very nice looking skins for the following weapon types: focus, dagger, hammer, rifle, wand, shortbow, staff and sword. Especially the slingshot (shortbow) and princess wand (scepter) skins have been very sought after.

The Princess Wand Skin.
The toy frames are exactly the same one gets after completing the Toypocalypse dungeon. You can use them for crafting Wintersday mini-pets in the Mystic Forge. The frames are quite expensive from the vendor so it's recommend to rather complete the dungeon paths – they are soloable and don't take too much time. Besides, you also need other materials for crafting the minipets which can be easily obtained as dungeon rewards: 250 Drops of Magic Glue, 250 Wads of Enchanted Stuffing, 250 Mystical Cogs and the frame which defines the toy.

You can buy the stuffing and the glue, but the cogwheels are account bound and need to be obtained from the dungeon. One can get enough cogwheels for only three out of five different mini-pets by completing all five paths, so plan carefully which three mini-pets you are going to craft – unless you are going to buy the remaining two from the Gem Store anyway. One also needs to buy 250 drops of glue or wads of stuffing for the last mini-pet from the Trading Post. You can also get the stuffing and glue from the different types of gifts, which can make them profitable to open.

As always, there are some items up for sale at the Gem Store. There are weapon skins that are not available from the vendor as well as Wintersday themed outfits. All of the crafted mini-pets (and four others through Wintersday Mystery Boxes) are also available there, so miniature collectors can collect all five miniatures by buying the last two with gems.

During the Wintersday of original Guild Wars, players would get two different kinds of hats each year. Unfortunately such free hats are not available this time, but the Wintersday earmuffs are relatively inexpensive (25 gems) in case one is desperate for some new head-wear.

Wintersday earmuffs
Compared to the Halloween event, there hasn't really been a lot speculation about whether it is wise to stockpile items. Either the logic behind the decisions is considered old news after the Halloween event, people have been too busy with other things to think too much about it, they don't believe it will be worth it, or they are still sitting on so much candy corn that they can't afford to fill any more bank space with event specific items, even though the collectibles tab was updated to include special event materials.

If one wishes to stockpile something, the Wintersday skins can become very sought after in the future. The recipes might also be something to take a look at. However, the snowflakes are probably the most attractive to stockpile: they have their own slots in the collectibles tab, which makes them easy to store, and there are useful recipes that need them and the products are already selling for profit! Thinking about the next summer, who wouldn't want to have some ice cream in the middle of a hot day?

And that's that about Wintersday from the trading and crafting point of view. I hope you enjoyed reading this post regardless of it being quite late, have had a great and relaxing holiday, and will continue to have fun for the last few days of the Wintersday event!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Aftermath

The Mad King Thorn has come and gone back to the Underworld. What we had this Halloween was a great time doing events, completing achievements, discovering recipes and obtaining new items. There's a few Halloween related things you can still do while waiting for the next year to pass, which revolve around the items and other benefits obtained during the event.

In the previous post it was mentioned that during the event people should keep an eye on items that are not soulbound and not likely to disappear after the event, and stockpile those items instead of selling them during the event. Now that the event has ended, those items can no longer be obtained, leaving only a limited quantity available in the market, which will cause the price to rise in time as the items exit the market.

Halloween weapon skins were available by a chance from the Black Lion Chests and Mad King's Chests. These will exit the market as people transmute them on their weapons, making the skins soulbound. The skins are rare and have a high price already, which will tempt a lot of people to sell theirs in the very near future. Only the most patient ones will collect the real reward later.

In addition to the Halloween weapon skins, there were also pieces exotic armor available that become soulbound on use. These Mad King armor pieces had a chance to be obtained from the Glorious Chests in the Mad King's Labyrinth after completing group events, once per day per character. The armor pieces have +3% Magic Find (in addition to Power and Condition Damage) which make them desirable among a lot of people.

There were several Halloween specific crafting materials available, that can be used for crafting recipes introduced during the event, even after Halloween. The materials are Pieces of Candy Corn, Trick-or-Treat Bag, Nougat Center, Chattering Skull and Plastic Fang. These will exit the market as people use them for crafting, eat Pieces of Candy Corn or open the Trick-or-Treat Bags.

There were also many new recipes introduced for every crafting discipline. Some of the recipes were discoveries, while some were available from recipe sheets.

Discoveries can't be stockpiled or sold (directly at least), but were a good thing to obtain never the less: being able to craft items not everyone can gives one an edge and a good chance for profit. If people did not learn the discoveries now, they need to wait for a year to pass before they get another chance to learn them. There were also some account bound recipe sheets available from karma vendors for the Chef and Artificer disciplines. Crafting Halloween items requires the Halloween materials and - as always - it should be calculated whether it is more profitable to sell the materials or sell the crafted product.

The recipe sheets which were not account bound (nor soulbound) came from the Mystic Forge and also had a small chance to be found within Trick-or-Treat Bags. These recipes exit the market as people learn them on their characters. There were three new "Gift" recipes for each of the weapon crafting disciplines, which are used for making components for Mad King weapons. In addition to the Gift recipes there were recipe sheets for Major and Superior Runes as well as Sigils for every armor and weapon crafting discipline. Some people most likely wish to obtain the Mad King weapons during the following year, and these Gifts and their recipes will be very sought after. And if people wish to obtain those Major or Superior Runes/Sigils, they need to either buy the recipe or the rune from someone. Here one should consider if it is more profitable to sell the recipe or learn it and sell the crafted products.

There were two more things that yielded profit during the event in the form of opportunity cost. If one completed the Mad King's Clock Tower jump puzzle, they were rewarded exotic level 80 footwear, a soulbound piece of the Mad King armor set. The reward was given once per character, so if one was an expert doing the puzzle, they could get the boots for all of their characters and save the money and time they'd normally use for crafting or buying exotic footwear on their level 80 characters. These boots were soulbound and could not be salvaged.

In addition to the boots there were also 10 slot bags available, if one completed the Ascend to Madness dungeon. Once again, obtaining these bags instead of buying or crafting bags saves one money and yields profit in the form of opportunity cost.

Even if one did not stockpile these items extensively, everyone likely still have some of the Halloween items in their inventory. And if not, stay positive: the Christmas event will arrive soon and you will be prepared with more inventory space! Instead of getting rid of the stockpiled items in the near future, one should put them into a safe storage; the darkest corner of their bank or the deepest pocket of their alternative character - a place rarely seen in order to avoid the temptation to sell them. After six months or so, wipe away the spider webs and have a look at how much the items are going for in the Trading Post - you will likely see a pleasant surprise!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Price Fluctuation in the Spirit of Halloween

The long-awaited Halloween event will start tomorrow! The patch is going to bring a large amount of new content for players to enjoy, some of which will remain even after the holiday event ends. The new content includes at least new story acts, dynamic events, bosses, mini-dungeons, a mini-game called Costume Brawl, and of course lots of new items, including costumes, item skins, tonics and minipets. There's also been rumours about new jump puzzles and it wouldn't be a surprise if there were some new recipes for the Mystic Forge! And of course, as per the tradition of the original Guild Wars, the cities will get a new look to match the holiday season, and will get visited by the Mad King Thorn. Let the trick or treat season begin!

But what does this mean from the crafting and trading perspective? Content patches like the Halloween event can have a great impact on the in-game economy in the form of price fluctuation, which basically means the average price of an item changing significantly. The demand for an item can rise greatly, if the item is suddenly needed or wanted more than usual. This pushes the price higher. At the same time some other item might be obtained more frequently, if a lot of players for example focus on exploring the same area. This drops the price lower than before. It is important to be able to see where these kind of changes in price can occur in the light of future patches, and be prepared. One should keep an eye out for patch notes, buy items which price they think will rise during the patch, and sell items now which price they think will drop.

During the Halloween event there will be six new weapon skins available that can be gotten from the Black Lion Chests. The demand for the chests will rise when people get to see the new skins and decide they want one for themselves. In addition to the chests, people will also need Black Lion Keys to open them. This will get some people to buy the keys for real money, but a lot of people will buy the gems for gold, which leads to the gem prices to also rise. There's also the new constumes, tonics and minipets that can be bought from the Gem Store, which will make the gem prices rise even more.

Because there's just one more day left until the event begins, some people might think that it is already too late to start getting prepared. Even though the prices have already started to rise, it's not quite yet too late. A lot of players don't think about these kind of things before they actually occur. They might not have even heard of the event or thought about getting any of the items that will become available. The only people that are on the move now are the people who are attempting to make a profit out of the situation, and the real demand will show itself after the event has begun.

This kind of flipping (buying low, selling high) of course has its own risks as we can't predict the future. The prices might rise, but will they rise high enough to cover the 15% Trading Post tax? Or will the gem prices actually rise so much that converting gems back to gold yields profit? With great risk can come a great reward, but one should always have a look at their own wallet and think if they can also take the possible losses. And not everyone like taking big risks; instead some people prefer to play safe and accumulate profit slowly via safe and proven methods. If one does not want to stockpile Black Lion Chests or gems, they can still at least hold on to the chests and keys they already have, and wait for the event to launch.

This ideology can be applied to all kinds of future events and content patches, not just Halloween, and people should always study the patch notes in advance. It is not all, however. In addition to buying and selling items at the right time before and during the season, one should also keep and eye out for items which are obtainable for only a limited time – like this Halloween event. When the event ends and the items become unobtainable, the prices for these items will start rising slowly. This is because after the event there will be less and less of the items available in the market, while the people who did not get them during the event still wish to obtain them. Some people are willing to pay a lot of money for items that can no longer be obtained in the game. The longer one waits, the less items there are. The more patience the seller has, the higher the price will rise. Of course if the items will be available during the next Halloween event as well, it'd be a good idea to sell them well before October 2013.

It can't be said for sure yet, if this kind of items that can be stockpiled and sold later for great profit, will even exist the content patch. There's a good chance that all the Halloween weapon skins and other items are soulbound or disappear after the event in order to prevent people from obtaining great profits with this kind of a method (investing). Due to the Gem Store business concept, ArenaNet is always going to be very concerned about inflation. It's still a good idea to keep an eye out for these kinds of items though. Who knows what will end up in your treat bag by the end of the season?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Uncovering Disciplines: Artificer, Huntsman & Weaponsmith

After a couple of posts related to other subjects, it is time to once again get back to uncovering the remaining crafting disciplines. The same way as armor crafting disciplines resemble each other, so do the weapon crafting disciplines, and hence this blog post covers all them: the artificer, the huntsman and the weaponsmith.

Artificer crafts magical weapons, namely scepters, staves, foci and tridents. The primary material for crafting these magical weapons is wood, but some metal is also required. Wood can be obtained by logging trees scattered throughout Tyria, and metal and can be obtained by mining mineral veins.

Huntsman crafts ranged weapons and items commonly used when hunting, namely shortbows, longbows, rifles, pistols, harpoon guns, warhorns and torches. The primary material for crafting these weapons is wood, but some metal is also required.

Weaponsmith crafts weapons for melee combat, namely swords, greatswords, daggers, maces, hammers, axes, shields and also spears. The primary crafting material for a weaponsmith is metal, but some wood is also needed.

In addition to these basic materials, all of the weapons crafting disciplines need fine, rare and exotic materials. Fine materials are mostly used for crafting inscriptions and consumables, rare materials are used for crafting sigils, and exotic materials are used for crafting exotic weapons. These materials are mostly obtained from enemies.

The pattern for crafting weapons is very simple: a weapon consists of two basic parts and an inscription. The basic parts are called heads, casings, cores, shafts, rods, blades, hilts, backings, bosses, hafts, horns, barrels, mouthpieces, harpoons, staves, frames, stocks and handles. These basic parts need to be combined with an inscription in order for the weapon to have attributes.

A weapon consists of two basic components and an inscription.

The inscription is the part of the weapon which defines what attributes the weapon will have. If the inscription for example has precision and power, the weapon will also have precision and power. The available attributes for weapons are Condition Damage, Critical Damage, Healing Power, Power, Precision, Toughness, Vitality, and also the so called secondary attributes such as Magic Find. Inscriptions are made of dowels, which again are constructed of wood and sometimes also metal. When the dowel is combined with some fine materials, the dowel gains its attributes and becomes an inscription.

In addition to crafting weapons, artificer, huntsman and weaponsmith can also craft sigils and consumables. Sigils are upgrade components for weapons and crafting them requires rare materials. The three disciplines don't craft the same sigils; instead each discipline has access to four different kinds of sigils of varying levels: minor, major and superior. Artificer crafts Sigils of Frailty, Impact, Elemental Slaying and Luck; huntsman crafts Sigils of Paralyzation, Icebrood Slaying, Conjuration and Speed; and weaponsmith crafts Sigils of Destroyer Slayer, Doom, Sanctuary and Strength.

There are three different levels and 12 different kinds of sigils that can be crafted by the weapon crafting disciplines.

As mentioned before, the disciplines can also craft consumables. An artificer crafts tuning crystals, a huntsman crafts oils and a weaponsmith crafts sharpening stones. In addition there's one more consumable that only the artificer discipline can craft: potions. All of these consumables work in the same way: one double clicks the item in their inventory in order to gain a combat buff that lasts for 30 minutes.

There are many levels of consumables, and the higher their level the greater benefit they offer to their user. Tuning crystals give condition damage, oils give precision and sharpening stones give power equal to a certain percentage of one's toughness and vitality. Potions are different and instead of increasing one's attributes, they provide an increase to damage and protection versus a certain enemy type. In addition to their normal bonuses, all of the consumables also increase experience gain from kills by 10. There can be only one consumable active at any one time.

Potion of Undead slaying increases damage done to undead
enemies by 7% and at the same time reduces the
damage received from the undead by 4%.

The weapon crafting disciplines are great choices for any profession. The consumables they craft are useful and the weapons can be used by almost any profession, the only exception being the elementalist who is incapable of using huntsman crafted weapons. Instead of thinking about the profession, making the choice rather comes down to what weapons and attributes one likes to use on their character. One might at first think that an artificer would be the best choice for a mesmer, because a scholar is likely to use magical weapons, but if one rather uses a great sword, why not be a weaponsmith? Or if one wishes to craft consumables that boost precision based on a certain percentage of toughness and vitality, there's nothing stopping them from being a huntsman.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Mysterious Mystic Forge

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Khalija from Guild Wars 2 Guru to write a guest article about the Mystic Forge. Considering the very nature of the forge and the fact that new information is discovered everyday, writing an article which information wouldn't be considered old the next day has been challenging. Instead of discussing every little thing in great detail, this article aims to explain what the Mystic Forge is, how one can use the forge for different purposes, and what patterns have so far been identified in its behavior. Hopefully after reading this article the people who were not yet very familiar with the forge will have a good idea what it is about, and will perhaps also be excited to experiment with it a little. At the moment you can also read the article on the front page of Guild Wars 2 Guru.

The Mystic Forge is located in the center of Trader's Forum in Lion's Arch as well as in the Heart of the Mists. The two forges are inhabited by genies that are willing to exchange gifts with players. The genie in Lion's Arch is called Zommoros, while the name of the genie in the Heart of the Mists is unknown.

Zommoros arrived in Tyria with an Elonian woman called Miyani. According to Miyani, Zommoros is very powerful, arrogant, mysterious, unpredictable and inconsistent. She also tells that Zommoros offers players a chance to improve their items, but due to his unpredictable nature, one may also receive items that are useless to them.

The two Mystic Forges: Zommoros in Lion's Arch on the left and the Mystic Forge in the Heart of the Mists on the right.

The Mystic Forge works in a very similar manner to the crafting stations' discovery panel. In order to transform items, one needs to place four compatible items into the forge, and in return will receive one item. The result is often unpredictable, but there also exists exact recipes for the forge that will always result in the same item.

Most of the players are already aware of the random factor of the Mystic Forge. The genie's inconsistent nature is involved when one places pieces of equipment (armor, weapons and jewelry), minipets, dyes or upgrade components into the forge.

The items placed into the forge need to be the same type. For example if one places a piece of equipment into the forge, they can only place pieces of equipment into the other three slots. Or if one places a minipet into the forge, they can only put minipets into the other three slots.

In addition to the requirement of items being the same type, they also need to be the same quality. This means that a fine quality item can only be combined with other fine quality items, a masterwork item with other masterwork items, a rare item with other rare items, and so on.

The result is a random item that is of the same type as the items that were placed in the forge and usually also of the same quality. However, there's a small chance for items to increase in quality, just like Miyani says: Zommoros offers the chance to improve your items. One might for example receive a masterwork quality item after placing four fine quality items into the forge. In addition to having a chance to improve in quality, the resulting item can also be higher level, which is most noticeable in the case of equipment.

The Mystic Forge seems to at first calculate the average level of the four items inserted and then apply a small increase to the level. This phenomenon cannot be noticed in the case of minipets or dyes because those types of items do not have a level. However, it can be clearly seen in the case of equipment as a level requirement and attribute value increase, and sometimes also in the case of upgrade components if different tier upgrades were inserted.

After telling how Zommoros offers players a chance to improve their items, Miyani also adds: You may get a wondrous item. Or, you may get garbage. The resulting item can be one of the same items the player initially inserted into the forge, or in the case of equipment it could be a type of equipment one cannot use and on top of it be soulbound.

The resulting item seems to be something that can be also obtained elsewhere in the game. The item could be dropped by a monster somewhere, or it could be sold by a vendor. Whether the resulting item is soulbound does not depend on the items that were inserted in the forge, but rather seems to be a property of the resulting item itself. One can for example place four karma items into the forge and the resulting item isn't necessarily soulbound.

Gemstones can be combined with each other as well as other upgrade components
in the Mystic Forge in the hopes for a better upgrade component. Remember
though that the jeweler discipline can also transmogrify 2 lower tier
gemstones and a pile of dust into a one tier higher gemstone.

Regardless of the unpredictable nature of Zommoros, there are some recipes related to the Mystic Forge that are constant. Those recipes often require items sold by Miyani.

Miyani, the woman who brought Zommoros to Lion's Arch, is standing right by the forge. She coordinates the business between the Mystic Forge and the players, and also sells some items related to the forge. She is a traveling companion and something close to a friend to Zommoros, and wishes to be with him because the genie sometimes tells her stories about Elona. Those stories help her remember her homeland, which has now fallen under the rule of undead lord Palawa Joko, and keep the memory of her people alive, for which she is grateful.

Regardless of selling items, Miyani is not actually tagged as a merchant, which might make her slightly harder to spot. She sells items related to the Mystic Forge for gold and skill points. One might at first be alarmed about the skill points being used as a currency, and think that skill points are a limited resource that should primarily be used for buying skills. However, skill points are in fact unlimited: one keeps on receiving them for every 254,000 experience gained after reaching level 80. Because of this using food, potions and boosters to increase experience gain even after reaching level 80 is useful: it makes acquiring skill points faster and allows players to buy a larger quantity or more expensive items from Miyani. Miyani sells the following items that can be placed in the Mystic Forge: Siege Masters Guide, Philosopher's Stone, Crystal, Eldritch Scroll, Bottle of Elonian Wine and Bloodstone Shard.

The Siege Masters Guide bought from Miyani is used at least for upgrading siege weapons for World vs. World battles and for crafting some exotic weapons. Philosopher's Stones are used at least for transmuting one material to another, and also for crafting Improved Experience Boosters. Crystals and Bottles of Elonian Wine are used at least for obtaining recipes and exotic pieces of equipment from the forge. Eldritch Scrolls are used at least for obtaining exotic weapons. Bloodstone Shards are used for crafting legendary weapons. Miyani also sells recipes for components that are used in the process of crafting legendary weapons. Transmutation of materials, upgrading siege weapons, obtaining recipes, acquiring exotic pieces of equipment, and crafting of legendary weapons are covered briefly a bit later in this article. These subjects will be covered in greater detail later on in separate articles.

In addition to the items sold by Miyani, there are two more things that should be mentioned here: the Mystic Coin and the Mystic Forge Stone. One can obtain Mystic Coins by completing daily and monthly achievements, and Mystic Forge Stones can be bought from the Gem Store and received as rewards for progressing in the personal storyline. Mystic Coins are used at least for obtaining recipes, transmuting high level materials and obtaining mystic clovers, as well as for crafting exotic armor. Mystic Forge Stones are used for crafting exotic pieces of equipment and a special Mystic salvage kit.

Miyani, the Elonian woman accompanying Zommoros, and the items she has for sale.

There are many different kinds of recipes for the Mystic Forge. Some of them seem to follow a clear pattern that is shared between all the recipes of the certain type, while some have plenty of room for exceptions.

One of the recipe types which follow a clear pattern is material transmutation with the help of Philosopher's Stones. One can transmute lower tier material into one tier higher material of the same type. The recipe always requires a certain amount of the lower tier material, a certain amount of one tier higher dust, and some Philosopher's Stones that are bought from Miyani. In addition, one needs to place one unit of the one tier higher material into the fourth slot to indicate the wanted result.

It has been confirmed that this pattern is applicable for transmuting basic and fine materials. The amount of received material seems to vary greatly, but is always much less than the amount of lower tier material inserted: it'd seem that the higher the tier of the resulting material, the less units of material one will receive. At this moment in time it does not seem to be possible to transmute higher tier materials into lower tier materials.

It has also been reported that by combining Globs of Ectoplasm, Obsidian Shards, Mystic Coins and Crystals, one is able to obtain tier 6 crafting materials. Crafting this combination can also sometimes yield Mystic Clovers, which are used in the process of crafting legendary weapons, and seems to be the main reason for combining these materials in the Mystic Forge.

Examples of basic and fine material transmutation at the Mystic Forge.

It is possible to obtain exclusive recipes for different disciplines from the Mystic Forge by offering the genie exact reagents. If one offers the genie some Elonian wine, Crystals, Mystic Coins and a product crafted by the discipline, they can get a recipe sheet containing a new recipe in return.

Armor crafting professions (armorsmith, leatherworker and tailor) can obtain recipes for armor boxes, which contain full armor sets. They work as an alternative way for crafting armor sets without the need to craft each piece individually. Chefs can obtain recipes for food trays, which can be shared with many people. So far only these two disciplines have been confirmed to have recipes that are obtainable only from the Mystic Forge, but hopefully recipes for others disciplines also exist.

The Mystic Forge can also be used for crafting specific pieces of exotic quality equipment. Crafting of exotic equipment with the forge seems to always require Mystic Coins and an Eldritch Scroll which can be bought from Miyani for 50 skill points. The remaining two materials vary greatly; the materials can be common, fine or rare, basic weapon components or something completely different, such as a Siege Masters Guide.

One of the most mysterious things related to the Mystic Forge is crafting of legendary weapons. Crafting of legendary weapons is such a complex task that it deserves an article of its own and hence won't be covered here in much detail. The process is very challenging and has many phases, all of which have something to do with the Mystic Forge or Miyani. Miyani sells recipes and ingredients for the components required by the legendary weapons, and the Mystic Forge is used for combining the components, which eventually form the actual weapon. The forge can also be used for obtaining some of the materials required by the weapons, but those materials are not necessarily exclusively obtainable from the forge.

As stated earlier in this post, it is also possible to upgrade the siege weapons used in World vs. World by combining blueprints, two different types of basic materials, such mithril ore and elder wood logs, and the Siege Masters Guide in the Mystic forge. This is one of the ways the Mystic Forge is useful to PvP players, but there are also other ways for PvP players to benefit from the forge.

As stated in the beginning of this article, there also exists a Mystic Forge in the Heart of the Mists. The Mystic Forge can be used for obtaining new skins for PvP equipment. The results are purely cosmetic. One needs to place an item token, a rank token, some arcane material (Arcane Crystal, Arcane Sliver, Arcane Orb) and also some Arcane Powder into the forge. One can also craft consumables such as dyes by combining a consumable token with two different types of arcane materials and some Arcane Powder. The arcane materials and rank tokens are obtained by salvaging PvP equipment, while the item and consumable tokens can be bought from glory vendors.

There also exist some recipes that don't really belong to any of the categories 
discussed above, such as Mystic Salvage Kit which has 250 uses, 
and Improved Experience Booster, which increases 
experience gain by 100% for two hours.

Many people wonder when the Mystic Forge should be used and when it should be avoided. The answer to this question is simple, but requires some thought: whenever it is profitable or one cannot achieve their goal any other way.

Whenever one wishes to obtain or dispose of something, they should always compare the different methods, calculate the values and then choose the way that is the most profitable. Instead of placing items into the Mystic Forge they could salvage them, sell them to a vendor, sell them to other players via the Trading Post, or in the case of materials use them to craft something that sells well, whichever of these methods is the most profitable. The same way one should check if they could get the wanted item for cheaper from somewhere else than the forge. This also works the other way around, and sometimes using the Mystic Forge is the best option. There are ways of making profit with the Mystic Forge, but one can also end up with a great loss if they are not careful.

Calculating the value of the exact recipes related to the Mystic Forge is much simpler than calculating the risks one takes when playing with the random factor of the forge. A lot of people use the forge in the hopes of receiving an equipment upgrade, but in the end it could be for the best to sell the four items to the vendor and buying the desired piece from the Trading Post.

An unfortunately large amount of people don't seem to realize that in addition to Trading Post taking the 5% listing fee, it also takes 10% off the price when an item sells. People are listing items, especially fine and masterwork quality pieces of equipment, for only slightly above the merchant price, without realizing that in the end they'd actually gain more money if they sold the items to the vendor. Because of this, inserting fine and masterwork equipment into the Mystic Forge seems to be a waste at this moment in time. There does not seem to be many fine or masterwork level items that would be worth more in the Trading Post than the total vendor value of those four items placed in the forge. Exceptions to this rule are the pieces of equipment that are bought from karma vendors: they are soulbound and cannot be salvaged or sold to a vendor. They can only be destroyed or placed in the Mystic Forge.

There are still some reasonable ways for one to gamble and try their luck when it comes to putting pieces of equipment into the Mystic Forge: there exists the small chance that four masterwork items will result in a rare item, or four cheap rare items result in one expensive rare item, or even an exotic item.

Considering the nature of the Mystic Forge, there’s most likely still a lot of information we are not yet aware of. It has been said that Tyria is full of little hints regarding the Mystic Forge, so we should keep our eyes and ears open. There is for example a vendor called Rojan the Penitent in Frostwalk Tundra, Frostgorge Sound, who lives far away from the Mystic Forge, but still sells an item called Icy Runestone which tooltip indicates that is used some way in the process of crafting legendary weapons. In addition to exploring, learning the ways of the Mystic Forge also requires a lot of expensive experimenting, which will slow down the speed of resolving its mysteries. It has also been said that new recipes will be added for the forge in the future, so even if the current mysteries were revealed, some new ones will arise to take their place. Perhaps Zommoros will reveal his secrets one day, or perhaps he will always be an enigma.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Visiting the Trading Post

For the first time after the launch of Guild Wars 2, the Trading Post seems to be working reliably for everyone, and hence it is an excellent time to cover its features in this blog, including some little but important things one might not easily notice at first.

The Trading Post is very likely the most used service of the Black Lion Trading Company and an essential part of the economy. It is the only secure way of selling items to other players, a lot of money players obtain comes from selling items in the Trading Post, and being able to buy items from other players can help one achieve their goals more easily. The Trading Post is shared by all regions and servers, and most of its functions can be used from anywhere in Tyria. The Trading Post is physically located in every major city as well as some explorable areas. The location can be seen on the map as a round golden icon with an image of an old fashioned scale engraved on it. The icon has a similar style to the bank and guild bank icons, which are also round golden icons with an image of a bag or a chest on them.

The Black Lion Trading Company and hence also the Trading Post can be opened by clicking its icon on the menu in the top left corner or by pressing O on the keyboard. The four lowest tabs of the pane have been dedicated to the Trading Post: Trading Post, Sell On Trading Post, My Transactions and Pick Up.

The Trading Post tab allows one to browse all items available and buy them. On the front page there are four columns that list the most popular items at the moment of browsing: Top Valued Items, Top Supplied Items, Top Demanded Items and Top Traded Items. These columns provide a lot of interesting information; for example crafting materials are the most supplied, demanded and traded items, while weapons seem to have the highest value per unit.

If one wants to buy a certain item, they can find it from the Trading Post by typing its name into the search box on the front page and pressing Search. If there's an exact match, the item page will open directly. Otherwise there will be a list of search results or a blank page if no match was found. After finding the item one needs to decide between the two ways of buying items: buying the already listed items from the trading post with the price the seller has set and receiving the item instantly, or placing a custom offer which is also commonly known as a buy order.

When one buys the already listed items from the Trading Post, they first of all get to see how many units are listed and for what prices. Buying itself is very simple: One only needs to type the quantity they wish to purchase into the How many do you need? field, make sure they can afford the total price and presses Buy. The Trading Post automatically sells the lowest priced units available.

Alternatively one can click on the place a custom offer link next to the Buy button. The advantage of a custom offer is that the buyer gets to set the price, which makes it possible for one to obtain items for cheaper than what the items are currently listed for in the Trading Post. The down side is that it might take a while for someone to come around and sell their item for the custom offer.

Placing a custom offer is just as simple as buying the listed items: One defines the amount they wish to buy, sets the price they wish to buy each unit for, makes sure they can afford the total price and then presses Place Order. One can see the buy orders listed by other players on the right, so it is easy to figure out how much their offer should be.

It'd seem that people most often sell their items to custom offers if the custom offer price is only slightly lower than the price they'd normally list their items for, or if the order is for a large quantity of items. From these two cases it can be deduced that people more often wish to sell their items and receive the money fast, rather than take their time and sell their items for a slightly higher profit.

The three most commonly seen views of the Trading Post tab: the front page, buy listed items, and place a custom offer.

Selling items happens via the Sell On Trading Post tab. All of the items in one's inventory that can be sold in the Trading Post will get listed on the left side of the view. When one clicks on one of the listed items, they can see three options for it: sell the item for a custom offer, list the item for the lowest seller price currently in the Trading Post, or list the item for the lowest price one has already listed another unit of the item for. In addition to these options one can also list an item for a custom price, which happens by editing the unit price on the top right corner of the view. A common practice is to set the price one copper lower than the currently lowest seller price, which automatically makes the listed item the first to be purchased by the buyers while losing as little profit as possible. In addition to choosing the method of selling and the price, one also needs to define the amount they wish to sell to the Quantity field, and press Sell.

There's a couple of things one should pay careful attention to when listing items for sale: the listing fee, the so called tax, and the vendor value. The listing fee is always 5% of the sell price of the item, no matter if it is a buy order or an item listing. The fee is paid on the moment one lists the item and does not get returned if the item doesn't sell. The so called tax is 10% of the item price and is reduced automatically upon a successful sale, resulting the player receiving only 90% of the price they sold the item for. When one is listing an item for sale, they should always make sure that the profit they'll get from selling the item is still satisfying after paying the listing fee and the tax. If the difference after subtraction is the same, less than or close to the vendor value, it'd be better to sell the item to the vendor or hold onto it for a bit longer if one thinks the prices are going to rise in the future.

The vendor value also sets a limitation to the price one can list an item or a custom offer for: it prevents one from selling an item in the Trading Post for less than its vendor value. This limitation was implemented to prevent people from buying items from the Trading Post for less than their vendor value and selling them to merchant for profit.

At this moment in time it is unknown how many items one can put into the Trading Post, or how long the items will be listed for before they are automatically cancelled ─ if these limitations even exist.

One can sell their items either by opening the Sell On Trading Post tab or by right clicking an item in their
inventory and selecting Sell at Trading Post. One can also access the Buy view by
selecting the second last option in the menu.

The third tab of the Trading Post allows one to browse their transactions, more specifically sold and bought items as well as what one is currently selling or buying via custom offers. Via this tab one can also cancel the item listings and buy orders they currently have up by selecting Items I'm Selling or Items I'm buying from the drop down menu and then clicking the Remove button next to the listing or order.

One can for example view the already sold items via the My Transactions tab.

Even though the most of the functions of the Trading Post are available from anywhere in Tyria, one still needs to visit the physical Trading Post locations whenever they wish to collect the money they've got from selling items or the items they've purchased from other players. To collect their newly acquired assets, one needs to talk to the Trading Post NPC, open the Pick Up tab and click Take All. There does not seem to be a way to pick up only some of the items.

The Pick Up tab can be seen on the left and a message that pops up after purchasing a listed item on the right.
The Black Lion Trading Express is an item that can be obtained from the Gem Store and Black Lion Chests.

Because picking up items and money requires one to actually visit the Trading Post, one might need to do a lot of running between the bank and the Trading Post, and sometimes even the crafting stations, when buying or selling items. Because running takes time off the actual activities and is generally considered very tedious, choosing an area with a short distance between the bank and the Trading Post would be a nice thing to do. It'd seem that Rata Sum has by far the shortest distance between the bank and the Trading Post, followed by Divinity's Reach. After these two comes The Grove, which advantage is that the crafting stations are also located near by and close to each other, and there's even a karma vendor on the way that sells ingredients for the chef discipline. Rata Sum also has crafting stations in quite a close proximity, but not all of them are located in the same wing.

From these images one can clearly see that the distance between the Trading Post and the bank
varies greatly depending on the location.

In general the Trading Post is a well planned feature and its layout is very intuitive which makes using it a pleasant experience. There are of course some bits of information that are currently not displayed, but that can easily change in the future. The most important thing is that the Trading Post is finally working and allows us to take advantage if its features and have even more fun while adventuring in Tyria.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Uncovering Disciplines: Armorsmith, Leatherworker & Tailor

On the 16th of August a post uncovering the jeweler discipline was published in this blog, and now it is time to continue uncovering the remaining crafting disciplines. Armorsmith, leatherworker and tailor mostly craft armor of different types. The disciplines have many similarities and hence this post will uncover all three of them.

Armorsmith crafts heavy armor that is used by the soldier professions, namely guardians and warriors. The primary crafting materials for crafting heavy armor are metal and cloth, both of which come in different types. Metal is mostly obtained by mining mineral nodes scattered throughout Tyria, but it can also be salvaged from heavy armor and weapons that are made of metal. Cloth is obtained through salvaging light armor, and certain enemies also carry it. If you wish to know more about gathering the materials, feel free to read an earlier post in this blog that covers the subject in greater detail.

Leatherworker crafts medium armor that is used by the adventurer professions, namely engineers, rangers and thieves. The primary crafting materials for crafting medium armor are leather and cloth. Both of these materials are obtained by salvaging medium armor for leather and light armor for cloth, but the materials can also be obtained from enemies.

Tailor crafts light armor that is used by the scholar professions, namely elementalists, mesmers and necromancers. Tailor uses large quantities of cloth for crafting armor, but some leather is also required.

In addition to these basic crafting materials, the three disciplines also use different types of thread for sewing, fine materials for making insignias, rare materials for making runes, and runes of holding for making item containers. Different types of thread and runes of holding can be bought from the armorsmith, leatherworker and tailor trainers at the crafting stations, while the fine and rare materials for insignias and runes are mostly obtained from enemies.

Fine materials are used  for crafting insignias.

There are six different types of armor pieces one can craft with these disciplines: head, shoulder and chest pieces, pants, gloves and shoes. Crafting armor follows a simple pattern: a piece of armor is constructed of two basic armor pieces and an insignia. The basic armor components are made of the basic materials and are called panels, straps, linings, casings, plates and paddings, and in the case of shoes uppers and soles.

In order to complete an armor piece, the basic components need to be combined with an insignia, which defines the attributes the armor piece will have. For example if the insignia has Power, the armor piece will also have Power. The available attribute types for insignias are Condition Damage, Critical Damage, Healing Power, Power, Precision, Toughness, Vitality, and also the so called secondary attributes such as Magic Find. Crafting of insignias requires fine materials.

A piece of armor is constructed of two basic armor components and an insignia.

In addition to crafting armor, armorsmiths, leatherworkers and tailors can also craft item containers. Item containers, also known as bags, are usually crafted by combining some basic materials with a rune of holding. Runes of holding come in different levels and can be bought from the discipline trainer. Due to the runes of holding being fairly expensive from a low level character's point of view, crafting the most basic bags doesn't require runes of holding.

There are more than just normal bags that simply have a certain amount of item space; there are bags with specific functions. Armorsmith can craft Equipment Boxes, which draw all armor pieces and weapons into them before they get placed in any other bags. Leatherworkers can craft Oiled Packs, which in a similar manner are the primary bags for junk items. Tailor can craft Craftsman's Bags, which serve as the primary bags for looted crafting materials. One can place any kind of item in these bags, but their function simply draws the specific kinds of items in them if there is an empty space. In addition to these bags, the disciplines can also craft Invisible Bags (tailor), Invisible Leather Packs (leatherworker) and Safe Boxes (armosmith), which all have the same function: Items that are placed in these bags can not be sold to merchants and will not move when the inventory is automatically sorted. The recipes for crafting these bags are obtained by making discoveries.

There's one more thing that armorsmiths, leatheworkers and tailors craft: runes. Runes are upgrade components that can be applied to pieces of armor with an upgrade slot. Much like insignias, runes also have certain attributes which get applied on the armor piece. Runes can also give additional benefits if one applies one or more of the same kind of rune to their armorset. One piece of armor can only contain one rune, but if the same kind of rune is placed into another armor piece, the rune will give an additional bonus to the user. There can be maximum of four bonuses. Crafting of runes often requires rare materials.

If one applies the same kind of runes to several armor pieces,
they can get additional benefits.

Armorsmith, leatherworker and tailor are great disciplines for those players who wish to be able to craft armor, bags and runes for their own characters, or wish to make some money by selling those products to other players. In addition to the disciplines already covered in this blog, there's four more disciplines that will be covered in the very near future: artificer, huntsman, weaponsmith and chef. If you are interested in knowing more about those disciplines, feel free to check this blog again later on.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taking the first steps

It is the official launch date of Guild Wars 2. Many people have planned what they will do as the first thing and what should be saved for later. There are many ways one can approach crafting and trading in Guild Wars 2 right after the launch, and this post aims to offer some things to think about.

Many people wish to start crafting very early on in the game. Crafting is fun, it helps your character progress and it gives you knowledge and first-hand experience of one of the greatest aspects of the game. Some people are also very curious about the high level items and often hope to be able to make a good profit by crafting them and selling them forward to other players who have not yet trained their crafting disciplines as high. This drives them to level their crafting disciplines early on and in a fairly short period of time.

In the beginning people own nothing. Slowly through different methods - most often by exploring the world - players will accumulate their assets. When it comes to crafting, the most important thing that makes it possible are the materials. There's two options for acquiring them: buy them or gather them yourself. The usual way of thinking is that the most profitable way of training one's crafting discipline is by gathering all of the materials themselves. This of course works in the sense that one is not required to pay for the materials that could be gathered for 'free'. However, this is when one forgets two important things that really make up the essence of trading, and which are closely bound together: time and opportunity cost.

Time is an important resource in online games because it is used for profit calculations and the prices fluctuate in time. A very common term is gold per hour, which simply means the amount of gold one can obtain via a certain method in one hour. The question for which people often seek the answer for is what method gives the greatest gold per hour. Gathering all the materials might seem like the cheapest way to level crafting skill at first, but it is often more profitable for one to obtain gold via some other method than running from node to node, and then use the money gained for buying the required materials.

Opportunity cost is the price one pays in theory for missing a trade opportunity. All item prices fluctuate and it is important to recognise the right time for selling or buying the item. Naturally one wishes to buy items with a low price and sell them with a high price. If one did not buy an item when it was going for 2 silver, but instead when it was going for 4 silver, they theoretically lost 2 silver. Same applies when selling items: one should not sell an item for a low price if they think the prices are soon going to rise. Opportunity cost can also be seen in the previous paragraph: if one spent an hour gathering materials instead of obtaining money via some more effective method and using that money for buying materials, they were theoretically losing money.

It is impossible to predict the future. The best one can do is to look at the many factors that can have an affect to it from all sides, and then try to calculate the chances of them happening. When the chance of something happening is higher than the other options, we can say that it is likely to happen, but it is never definite. It can't be said for sure how the prices are going to fluctuate in the fairly near future; there are probabilities but no definites. In general there are so many things that affect the price fluctuation and opportunity cost that should be taken into consideration when trading, but which are not yet known enough about to actually make proper conclusins or extremely likely predictions. Some people say that the material prices will start high and then drop due to the peak in demand, but at the same time people's assets continue to increase and they have more money to spend. There is only one thing that can be said for sure: there is a risk of missing trade opportunities, no matter what route one chooses; whether one sells materials now and crafts later or the other way around. It is important to realize that it is not humanly possible for one person to take advantage of every trade opportunity because of the limited and uncontrollable resource: time.

There is one thing I wish to stress regardless of the general idea of this post: Even though optimizing and looking for the most profitable way of doing everything is a major part of the trading process in online games, one should not rush too much or let the gaming become an execution of exact processes. Guild Wars 2 is a beautiful game, something that should be enjoyed like a fine wine, or for example ice cream if one does not particularly appreciate such beverages. The time when everything is still unknown and exciting should be treasured, and there's plenty of time later on for building a fortune. There is no rush and one can take their time; the economy is not going anywhere.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gathering Materials

If you’ve read the previous posts, you have a pretty good idea what crafting is about. However, before you can craft anything, you need to obtain materials required by the recipes. This post takes a close look at the different methods of obtaining materials, the different types of materials, and other important things related to them.

In Guild Wars 2 there is 4+1 ways of obtaining materials: buying them from merchants, karma vendors or other players, harvesting them from gathering nodes scattered all around Tyria, looting them off defeated enemies, and salvaging them off armor pieces, weapons and salvage items. In addition to these, one can also craft some materials: the refined materials and components, which were already explained in an earlier post.

Many merchants and karma vendors in Tyria sell materials and ingredients for crafting that cannot be obtained from anywhere else in the game – except for buying them from other players via the Trading Post, who bought them from the merchants. Especially ingredients needed by chefs are often sold by merchants and karma vendors in cities as well as by karma vendors that are unlocked after one completes Renown Hearts.

The so called 'gathering disciplines' don’t exist in Guild Wars 2, which makes it possible for everyone to obtain all types of materials. Basic crafting materials are commonly found while exploring and are also most often used for crafting items. The basic materials include different types of metal, wood, cloth, leather and raw cooking ingredients. Ore, logs and ingredients are most commonly obtained by harvesting them off specific nodes. There are mineral veins, trees that are suitable for logging and edible plants all across Tyria, which one can harvest using the appropriate tools: a mining pick, logging axe and a sickle. These harvesting tools are bought from merchants, come in different levels and have a certain amount of uses. Harvesting materials also gives one character experience.

There are many different levels of harvesting tools that can be bought
from merchants. The higher the level, the higher the price.

Different levels of harvesting tools can be used for harvesting different tier materials. A bronze pick axe is meant for mining copper ore and won’t work for mining any other kind of ore. If one tries to mine a mineral vein with a pick of too low level, they will only get ruined materials which can’t be used for crafting. At the same time the mineral node will get consumed, even though one did not get anything useful out of it. This is why one should always check that they have harvesting tools of appropriate level equipped when they adventure to a higher level area which has higher level material nodes. One can of course use a higher level harvesting tool always, which removes the need of carrying around different levels of tools and switching between them. However, the higher level tools cost more than the lower level ones, so it is more cost-effective to use tools of the lowest possible level.

Another thing to pay attention to with the harvesting tools is their durability, in other words how many times you can use them. Mining picks and logging axes come with 100 uses while a sickle comes with 50. There is a reason to the difference in the number of uses: When one harvests an ingredient, such as a mushroom, they only need to use a sickle once. Harvesting minerals and wood is a bit harder however, and require one to hit the node with the appropriate tool approximately three times before all resources have been gathered. Each one of these hits use up one point of durability. There are also rich mineral veins that can be harvested multiple times and hence end up using even more durability. If one does not know this they might think that they will run out of sickles first, while in reality it’s more likely to be the other way around.

When the durability of a tool reaches 0, the tool breaks and needs to be replaced by a new one. In addition to keeping an eye on the correct harvesting tool level, one should also keep an eye on the amount of uses left for the same reason. At least during one beta, if the durability of a harvesting tool reached 0 in the middle of the harvesting process, the remaining materials in the node were received as ruined materials and couldn’t be used for crafting. If your mining pick or a logging axe has less than three uses left, consider switching it for a new one. Not using the remaining durability might feel like a waste, but the cost of those remaining uses is most likely much less than the price of the extra materials you can get if you switch the tool for a new one. There's also been claims about harvesting tools sometimes breaking even before reaching 0 durability. These details presented here will be updated after confirmation. The bottom line is that one should carry spare tools with them when the durability of their tools is nearing their end.

Harvesting tools need to be equipped before they can be used, much like
weapons and armor. You can see the amount of uses left by looking
at the small number within the tool icon in the Hero pane.

Unlike in many other MMORPGs, in Guild Wars 2 one does not need to compete for the resource nodes with other players: all nodes are spawned as separate instances for every player. When a player harvests a node completely, the icon indicating its location disappears from their mini-map and the node itself looks depleted. However, the node will still look resourceful and its location will show on the mini-map for the players who have not yet harvested it, and those players can go and harvest it the same way as the first player did. The node will reappear for the player who already harvested it after a while. The respawn time varies quite a bit, but fairly often seems to be approximately 20 minutes. Nodes also don't always spawn exactly in the same spot.

There’s one more thing about harvesting ingredients that should be mentioned: farms. Ingredient nodes for the chef discipline can sometimes be found in clusters of  approximately eight nodes. The term farm comes from the fact that these clusters are often located and positioned in a way that makes it look like they were purposely planted there. There can be only one farm in an area and the ingredients found at farms can only be obtained from farms and nowhere else in the game – unless someone decides to sell them in a trading post, which actually is a decent business opportunity to consider.

Examples of ingredients that can only be found at farms are potato, lettuce, strawberry and spinach leaf. On the contrary to a popular belief, clam is not in fact a farm ingredient. Single clams can be found scattered across Tyria. The confusion is due to the large group of clams in Brisban Wildlands, and that clams can only be found in water which narrows them to certain areas. The nodes have a 23 hour respawn timer, which sets a limit to the supply of the  materials.

A potato farm in Metrica Province on the left and the large group of clams in Brisban Wildlands on the right.

A lot of the basic crafting materials can be gathered from resource nodes, but hostile NPCs also sometimes carry basic materials such as cloth, leather and meat. If one wishes to obtain a lot of these materials, one way is to find a place with a lot of hostile NPCs that carry the wanted material. Hostile NPCs can also carry fine and rare materials. These materials are used for crafting the slightly more advanced products and components. For example Vial of Weak Blood is a fine material and is used for making inscriptions for weapons.

In addition to obtaining materials through the methods mention before, one can salvage existing armor and weapons for crafting materials by using a salvage kit. There also exist salvage items, which are specifically meant for salvaging and can be obtained from hostile NPCs. Both of these were already introduced in the original Guild Wars.

In Guild Wars 2 salvaging is a very important thing to disciplines that craft armor, especially tailors and leatherworkers. Cloth and leather are not found as often while exploring as metal, wood and cooking ingredients, because they can’t be gathered from nodes. This is why a fair share of the materials armor crafters obtain themselves come from salvaging items.

When salvaging one should always consider which method will benefit them more: salvaging the item for materials, or selling the item and buying materials with the money gained. This requires one to keep a regular eye on the trading post prices and have an idea of how much and what material salvaging the item will yield. If one is ready to invest a little bit of additional effort into tracking these two things, they will notice the fruits of their labor later on in the form of higher income. Remember that you can also salvage items crafted by yourself.

One should also regularly check the trading post for decent priced salvage items, armor and weapons, and think if they can get materials for cheaper by salvaging those items than buying the raw materials. However, salvaging does not always yield the same amount or the same materials, so there is a small risk involved which should also be accounted for. As the time goes by and people salvage more and more items, it becomes easier to predict how much and what material you will get from salvaging an item. This is a subject that will be shed more light upon later on.

There are six different kinds of salvage kits, and the differences between them are the chances of obtaining rare materials and crafting components. Salvage kits are usually bought from merchants and have a certain amount of uses, much like other gathering tools. The salvage kits that have a higher chance of being able to salvage rare materials or components off items naturally cost more than the more basic kits. There also exists a Black Lion Salvage Kit which is obtainable from the Gem Store and has a 100% chance of recovering upgrades.

There are five different levels of salvage kits that sold by vendors. The difference
in chances between kits is 5% for rarer materials and 20% for upgrades.

Gemstones and runes of holding are materials that belong to categories of their own. Gemstones, which are used as upgrade components and for crafting jewelry, are frequently obtained when mining mineral veins and logging trees. They can also sometimes be found when looting an enemy's corpse. In addition, pearls can be found inside of clams. A jeweler can also transmogrify lower tier gemstones into higher tier ones. Runes of holding can only be bought from merchants and are used by disciplines that craft armor for making item containers that increase inventory capacity.

Runes of holding are sold by tailor, leatherworker and armosmith trainers.

The many ways of obtaining materials in Guild Wars 2 bring refreshing diversity to the gathering process. If you just remember to have harvesting tools of appropriate level with you wherever you go, keep a salvage kit at hand, and check what materials merchants and karma vendors can sell you as you walk by, at the end of the day you will end up with a fair share of materials. And if you find your bags to be full of materials, remember that you can send raw materials to your bank by clicking on the cogwheel icon in your inventory pane and selecting Deposit all collectibles, no matter where you are.