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Making Gold in Guild Wars 2

All you really need to know about making money in Guild Wars 2 is the following:

Pictured: the short version.

This was true before the Trading Post officially came online, and it is especially true afterwards. If you cannot afford your level 40 Trait book (i.e. 1g) at level 40, you are doing it wrong. And not only are you doing it wrong, you are literally throwing real cash money away too.

First, some perspective:

This sort of thing changes everything.

The 100 gem exchange rate has fluctuated up and down since release, but it has generally stayed between 34s and 24s pretty consistently. As of today, it is 25s 25c. Technically you can buy gems in increments as small as 1 gem, but I am using 100 gems as a convenient unit of measurement. As you might have noted, the cash exchange rate (in the US) is 800 per $10, or $1.25 per 100 gems. Useful things like extra character slots will set you back $10, extra bank space $7.5, and so on.

…or you can buy them for 2g 2s and 1g 51s 50c respectively. Which I am about to do as a level 25 character. Here are my main methods:

Step 0: Low-Hanging Fruit

Sell your Unidentified Dye.

At the time of this writing, this item is selling for 6s apiece and you likely have accumulated 5+ by the time you reach level 25. While you may actually be a person who likes tweaking the colors of your character, in my opinion using these items instead of selling them is a losing proposition. Dyes are character-specific NOT Account-Wide, the dye colors you get are random, and since they are selling for 6s apiece, you are paying almost $0.32 each time you double-click.

Many of the “good” colors like Black are going for 2g+ by themselves, but rolling that dice is like scratching lotto tickets. And besides, if you follow this Step and the others, you will likely accumulate enough money on your own to straight-out purchase the colors you want instead of getting yet another Key-Lime Green Dye.

Assuming, of course, you want to spend $10 to make your toon wear a darker shade of black in the first place.

By the way, the Transmog tokens are selling for ~50c as well, which is likely of much better use to you than making your sword look fancy for two levels or less when you get another upgrade.

Step 1: Stop Salvaging

The first instinct you should develop is a desire to VENDOR every non-upgrade piece of equipment you pick up instead of salvaging. Getting 25c for that sword may not sound like a lot of money, but four of them is 1s and that quickly starts to add up. When you salvage, what you are really doing is spending ~3.5c to destroy a 25c+ item into 1-3 crafting components which damn better be worth more than 9c apiece or you are literally throwing money in a hole.

Sometimes Salvaging will indeed net you a profit. Cloth armor below level 20 will typically salvage into Jute Scraps, which are selling for 24c or more. Some low-level heavy armor will similarly salvage into valuable 17c Copper Ore.

Another thing to keep in mind are the Runes/Insignias/etc in Green items – many are generic, but some sell for 1s or more by themselves. You will likely have gotten a few Black Lion Salvage Kits from 100%’ing zones or doing Story missions, so this is the situation in which to use them effectively.

Step 2: Stop Crafting

I can understand that this will be tough for people to internalize – even I’m having a hard time resisting – but between a globalized Trading Post and sanctioned RMT gold-buying, crafting simply makes no sense. Arguably, it never made sense in a game without endgame gear progression, and absolutely makes little sense in the asinine crafting model that ArenaNet is offering.

Just look at what is happening right now:

Good luck being a goblin in this environment.

If that picture isn’t clear, I am buying a massive amulet upgrade for 1 copper over its own vendor price.

A globalized Trading Post means the margins for any crafted good are always going to be razor-thin; it is not about competing with 1-2 Auction Barons, but all Auction Barons everywhere, including the ones willing to work for pennies a day. Supply for most goods is effectively unlimited, so there is no “cornering the market” without cornering ALL the markets. A few niche markets may develop along rare recipe drops (assuming they exist) or legendary materials, but again, they are “niche” across all servers… so not very niche at all.

Think about it for a second. Every weapon or piece of armor you could possibly craft can and will be crafted by somebody else. They will craft said piece multiple times because that is what they need to do to level up their skill, and they will need to sell that piece to pay for all the money they are sinking into the crafting system. Just like 200,000 other people.

When it comes to crafting gear, it is truly a Buyer’s Market.

If you want upgrades every 5 levels like you would get with crafting, simply buy the vendor+1c priced goods instead of effectively paying 10x that amount using mats that you could have sold. Prefer specific stat loadouts that are not represented very well for some reason? Look at the random odd-level gear, e.g. level 21-24 instead of level 25. It might be pricier, but you will have saved an enormous amount by selling your mats. Or, you know, pick up that +Healing +Vitality weapon with the higher DPS and stop trying to twink your very first character.

All of the above ties into the next step:

Step 3: Sell All Your Materials

Tiny Totems are 48c. Tiny Claws are 51c. Vial of Weak Blood is 41c. Jute Scraps are 24c. Copper Ore is 17c.

That last one means each Copper Ore Node is 51c, every five nodes is 2.55s, and every 397 nodes is an extra character slot. That is not counting any of the jeweler pieces you might pick up, or the heaps of other mats you will acquire from killing mobs inbetween nodes. And with GW2’s overall game structure, you can easily collect this amount on your way to 100% map completion in starter zones, no grinding required.

Although, if I’m honest, dicking around Queensdale and other starting zones can be remarkably lucrative. Gear drops are scaled to your own level (e.g. level 25 gear), but the incidental drops like Tiny Totems, Vials of Weak Blood, and those loot bags all drop the same regardless of your higher level. It kinda make me worried in a way, since right now it appears that a level 80 character farming the starting zones might be the way to go given the remarkably low price on endgame ore/wood/etc. We will have to see how it pans out.

Step 4: Never Skip Events

Killing mobs = loot.
Killing lots of mobs = lots of loot.
Killing higher-level mobs = better loot.
Tagging hundreds of higher-level mobs with random AoE in a (badly) scaled Event = Loony Toons amount of loot.

In practice, I imagine there is some behind-the-scenes algorithm that stops Event mobs from dropping loot in the same proportion to random questing mobs. But every since I began to realize that each piece of gear is 10c-30c to a vendor, I will drop everything and run halfway across the zone to “participate” in every Event. What I am looking for are those seemingly endless, bag-filling trash waves where everyone is spamming their AoE buttons. Do the same as them, just spam your Loot key too.

When the boss rolls out though, feel free to tag it and bail. For some dumb reason, Veteran/Champion level mobs do not seem to drop better items (or often any items). So if you have seen this Event before and know there is no treasure chest at the end, there is not much point in sticking around.

Step 5: “Help” Your Neighbors

No doubt this will be controversial along with the boss tag-n-bail I suggested above, but it’s worth noting that you only have to deal 1 point of damage to a mob to get full looting rights when it dies. If you are cruising around the countryside and see a random stranger doing their thing, bust out an instant-damage ranged attack (if you have one) and send it at the mob they are fighting.

If you see some sparkles, congratulations, you win. If not, no worries, continue doing whatever you were doing before.

It might seem unfair, and it technically is from an effort vs reward perspective, but… well, in an absolute sense you did in fact help that stranger and subtracted nothing from them, e.g. their chance at loot remained the same. If this kind of social injustice concerns you, well: don’t blame the player, blame the game.

Step 6: Never Repair

Each time you die, a piece of your armor gets “damaged.” This does not, in fact, mean anything. As the tooltip for the ugly, puke-orange shield states, your items do not start losing effectiveness until they are ALL damaged. While death is a lot more common with the Dynamic Death Trap Events and such, the likelihood of you dying 6+ times in a row before getting an upgrade is actually pretty remote.

Ergo, save your 1s-5s+ repair fees and put it towards replacing said damaged gear with pristine upgrades. Or just pocket it entirely and wait for drops.

Step 7: Be Choosy with Waypoints

If you have not already noticed, the costs for Waypoints is based on your level and the distance traveled. Before too long, they will start costing more than 1s apiece. Needless to say, this starts adding up the wrong direction. The good news is there are a couple of ways to mitigate the sink.

First, instead of using a Waypoint to go from capital to capital, use the Heart of the Mists Express. Press H, go down to the PvP tab, click the Mists button, run into the Lion’s Arch gate, Waypoint your way to the gate area (assuming you have been here before), then take the gate that corresponds with the capital you want to go to. Bam! You just globe-trotted for free. The cool thing about the HotM Express is that you can use it to return to your own capital if you find yourself in some Queensdale cave and don’t want to pay the cover charge; just think of it like a Hearthstone with a 4-loading screen cast bar.

If you need to go from a capital out to the field, you can shave 5-10% off the total cost by simply walking outside the front gates of the capital before using the Waypoint. Since inter-city Waypoints cost nothing, there is really no good reason to not take the one closest to the front door, step outside, and pocket the change.

Finally, well… you may just want to walk sometimes. Some walks are more feasible than others, but all of them will get you out in the general location of resource nodes and profitable random Events. And, hey, I have heard people talk about this “exploration” thing, if you swing that way.

Bonus Step: Buy Some Cheap Food

Seriously folks, crafting is broken:

/golfclap

Whether you are out either adventuring or farming, you might want to stop by your local Black Lion Trading Company representative and browse their 1-Copper Menu. Although I am not level 35, I can still appreciate those noble Cooks who slave away making +18% Magic Find, +40 Power buff treats that last a full 30 minutes and then sell them at a tremendous loss for basically no reason. Know that 1 silver piece I saved you when you followed one of the seven steps? Feel free to purchase 100 of these delicious treats.

For those below level 35, there is still a wide, wide selection of 1 copper buffs, including more +Magic Find ones, if not exactly as high as the Cherry Tarts; you can browse the Wiki entry for their specific names. Some of the other cool ones are the most basic to craft, like Handful of Bjorn’s Rabbit Food (+20 Vitality for 1 hour, no level requirement) if a bit “pricier.” Honestly, when the cash shop is selling 50% XP boosters for 150 gems, getting a 10% XP boost for even 10c is truly a bargain at twice the price.

___________

Considering how much of a Buyer’s Market GW2 has turned out to be (thus far), any concrete “do this to be rich” advice will probably come in the form of where chests respawn or the most lucrative Events are located. I know of at least one sort of “challenge chest” in the Norn area, but I am almost fearful that looting it even once every few days might constitute an exploit. Nevertheless, I will try and collect their various locations in a future post for your own perusal.

If you have your own gold tricks or locations and feel like sharing them in the comments below, by all means do so.

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More Like a Common Drop, Am I Right?

My very first Rare drop in Act 1 – Inferno:

Now, where did I put my robes?

I would write more of my Inferno experiences, but the power was knocked out for ~5 hours or so up here in Ohio. Once the lights came back up, I managed to play enough to get just past the point where you meet Cain. There was only one “real” elite pack on the way – Health Link, Mortar, Reflects Damage, Fire Chains – and they fell relatively quickly to my Noob Wind (working title) spec. Obviously it is Act 1, obviously that combination isn’t anything, and obviously (?) I spent 300k gold upgrading my gear before I started out.

But, hey, endgame! Who would have thought it? Certainly not I.

Diablowed

As you may or may not have noticed, Diablo 3 has clawed its way back onto my Currently Playing sidebar.

Actually, that sentence is not entirely accurate on two counts. First, it has not clawed so much as been exhumed. And second, I am “playing” D3 as one plays daily quests – mechanically, and with iTunes going in the background.

I just completed Act 1 of Hell last night and am past the first boss of Act II, having went through the entirety of Nightmare without a single upgrade off of the ground. The problems I had with the Dervishes appears to have been an isolated incident (or things have been nerfed), insofar as my thoroughly literal faceroll tactic has obliterated every other challenger. A link to my build can be found here. In essensce, I hold down left-click to teleport and pummel mobs while an auto-AoE scoures the bones of my enemies to dust. I have not meaningfully changed my build since level 21.

After defeating Nightmare Diablo, I spent 50,000g on the AH and walked out with this:

The resistance means I take that percent less damage from basically everything.

There is something very specific I want to say about this picture. It is NOT a rumination of the overpoweredness of AH-bought gear. It is NOT an invitation to speculate how it would be expected of players new to Hell to have such stat increases. It is simply this statement, originally posted at Penny-Arcade:

[…] What I’m saying is that getting new shit actually is the game.  For us, anyway.  Getting and, crucially, equipping new loot.  The whole AH thing short-circuits the entire idea: the game is, functionally speaking, a pinata.  Right?  Obviously, you could just go buy candy at the store.  It’s not about having candy.  It’s about getting candy.

The fundamental, crippling gripe I had with Torchlight was how I went the entire 20+ hour campaign wearing the exact same level 4 (legendary) amulet. These games are predicated on the stimulating the slot-machine areas of the brain, and to fail at this task is for the game to be rendered pointless at a conceptual level. Dropped items do not excite beyond the promise that I can extract more than their vendor price on the AH, so as purchase actual upgrades from the cash shop AH.

Upgrades like this one, increasing my DPS by 117% with one, 10,000g item.

As much as RNG has always been a part of the Diablo environment, I nevertheless feel a certain perversion of the formula. There is nothing RNG about Diablo loot anymore. Sell what drops, and equip what you buy. This is by no means a novel, late-breaking concern; people have been speculating on this issue from Day 1 of the announcement of the AH. I am confirming that such people are 100% correct.

Still, I trooper on, for various reasons:

  1. Spite.
  2. To say I did.
  3. Get a better, more equitable understanding of the endgame firsthand.
  4. In the off-chance I stumble across an unspoiled pocket of actual fun.
  5. For the Benjamins.

That last one is not entirely serious, although I know two people – one a commenter, and the other a close guildmate – whom have either sold or came upon an item worth $180 or more. The former said he/she sold a ring for 250 euros, in fact, completing the Diablo Annual Pass Challenge in a single stroke. These are level 60 items, of course, but it still boggles the mind a bit.

Many have predicted the RMAH market would be drying up soon, and maybe they are right. However, I predict a truly ridiculous renaissance once the PvP patch hits. Can you even imagine the volume of sales?

The Diablo 3 AH is Dumb

The Auction House in Diablo 3 is stupid. By which I mean dumb. Idiotic, even. Both Auction House and whoever designed it. And not because of what it may or may not do to the entire balance of the game, but because it is poorly designed period.

You can sort by Buyout price, but not Bid price. Presumably the latter is disabled because the Bid mechanic itself is broken. Much like eBay, you specify your top bid amount and then things are auto-bidded up until someone has the new highest bid. Except the Bid price is not updated in the main auction pane, nor is it reliably updated when you hit refresh. The only true method of discerning the new high bid is to bid once so that it goes to your Auctions page and looking at it there.

By the way, you cannot sort by Time Left either. At first, I thought Blizzard was doing this for our own sakes so as to not recreate the eBay-esque last-second sniper fields. But it occurs to me that the sellers actually win when people do last-second bid wars; the losers would be Blizzard themselves when they get 100,000 people spamming the Refresh button and eating up all their bandwidth.

The AH has a 46-page limit. It is thus possible that if you are searching for any old magic weapon in your level range, sorting by lowest buyout price may leave you with no auctions with buyout prices at all since “null = lowest.” If you want to ONLY look at auctions with buyout prices, you will need to specify a maximum price. Put something cheeky in there like 10,000,000g or whatever, and then sort from there.

Want to sort by weapon DPS? Good luck.

Because that makes sense.

Apparently the “Sort by DPS” script only looks at at the vanilla weapon DPS without factoring in any bonuses, such as +damage or +weapon speed. Which would be one thing, if some secondary script did not compute that exact thing in the DPS column. So if you are using this method to look for weapon upgrades, make sure you check several pages in to be sure some errant +10% weapon damage stat doesn’t outclass all of the items on the first two pages. And, of course, don’t forget how your class’s primary stat will likely further affect things.

Also, big props for the Blizzard designer who thought it would be a keen idea to have the Repair All button not apply to items in your Stash. Since you cannot sell items on the AH with durability damage, it becomes a fun Hide-n-Seek mouse-over minigame (or a Memory one, I suppose) each time you are forced back into the game when the item you want to sell has 48/49 durability.

In other news, I beat the game on Normal with the Monk. Because, hey, Barbarian was fun but I have played the first Act nearly a dozen times already. The pop-up after the final boss reminded me of something though…

Must have been brothers from another mother.

My current time /played says 14 hours and 5 minutes, but that includes however long it took to breeze through Skeleton King in Nightmare. I remember the very first zombie in Diablo 2 kicking my Necromancer’s ass in Nightmare – the weakness of any skeleton army build is needing unused skeletons – but perhaps my ill-gotten AH goods have been keeping me ahead of the curve. Or perhaps the difficulty wall is down the road.

Regardless, I will probably keep playing the Monk until I’m forced to kite as a melee character, at which point I either see if I can stomach another character through the campaign or simply play something else more deserving of my time, as the case may be.