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.

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