Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EQ2 Transmuting Without Breaking The Bank

Secondary tradeskills are a pain to level in EverQuest 2. Transmuting especially is known for being a very expensive profession to level up. The conventional way I’ve been told is to buy items off the broker to transmute or purchase the powders for the appropriate level of item you wish to make in order to make the adornments you need to level your character’s transmuting skill. To level up transmuting skills with this method, while relatively fast, is very expensive.

Did you notice I wrote “so I’ve been told?” That’s because when I leveled my transmuting skill I was still leveling my ranger and wanted to spend the money I had on upgrading her equipment and combat arts. So instead of leveling my transmuting the fast and expensive way, I did it the slow but cheap way. In fact, I probably broke even as far as my expenses for transmuting went because I did not discover this method until I had my skill up to around 150 points. If I had used this method when I started transmuting, I would have turned a tidy profit.

The secret is that unlike the primary crafting professions, transmuters can level up their skills by crafting grey items. So what I did was just make tier 1 adornments from the time I had 100 skill points until I hit 400 skill points. I’ll admit that is a lot of adornments to make. So how did I get the materials to make all those adornments? Well, unlike Dellmon from the EQ2’s-day show, I did not make an alt wizard, level-lock him and condemn him to Queen’s Colony grinding the never-ending supply of level 1 goblins.

What follows below is the process I used to become a max level transmuter. I have to warn you that this process takes A LOT of time and involves A LOT of crafting and even a bit of organization. But the process, if followed, should ensure that transmuting doesn’t empty your bank.

Where to Start – The NPCs that grant you the transmuting profession, skills and basic books are found at the docks in the Butcherblock Mountains. Remember while you are there to buy the first two essential transmuting recipe books and all of your skills.

Crafters – The process requires transmuting a lot of tier 1 items and the surest way to obtain them is by crafting them yourself. Transmuting expert level spells always produces either an infusion or powder and transmuting mastercrafted armor produces either a powder or fragment. When I was just buying items off the broker to transmute them, I found I wound up with a lot more fragments than I did powders and I never received infusions. Near the end of my leveling time using this process, I actually needed fragments more than powders.

To follow this strategy does not require an army of crafting alts like I have. In fact, because we are only crafting tier 1 mastercrafted armor and expert level spells, anyone can do it who levels their character’s crafting profession to level 10 before beginning. Because crafting grey items is easier than crafting green, blue, or white items, I strongly suggest having a minimum of two crafters in your transmuting operation, a scholar and an outfitter. If you don’t already have the crafters, just visit your city’s tradeskill society and take the tutorial. The tutorial will quickly help you get your new crafter up to level 10. Don’t forget to buy the advanced versions of the books from the NPC vendor because those books hold the recipes for the items you will be making.

You really only need to get your crafters up to level 12 or so, but since you are going to be making so many items, you might as well take advantage of the situation and level your crafters up to 20 by making the tier one items. And if you follow one of the strategies for getting your transmuting skill up to 100, you will need to have your scholar reach level 20 and beyond.

Harvesting – Once you have your crafters established, you need to supply them with the materials to craft the items. I originally did this by buying tier 1 rares off the broker. The weakness in that strategy became apparent when a rather well-known commodities speculator on my server decided to corner the market on tier 1 rares and the price went up 300%. I couldn’t afford to level transmuting and equip my ranger properly at the same time, so I began to harvest.

I discovered that the best place for harvesting tier 1 rares is on the island that is home to Gorowyn. When you harvest, you are not looking for a specific type of node. Harvest everything except fish! And when you harvest, harvest the entire node. Every rare you get means another item you can transmute. Besides that, nodes will respawn faster if you harvest the entire node and that is important if you spend any significant amount of time on a harvesting session.

Before going out to harvest, try to equip everything that will help your harvesting skills. For low-level characters trying to level up their transmuting at the same pace as their adventure level, don’t forget to equip either the tinkerer or woodworker harvesting items to make the harvesting go faster. For those with crafters over level 50, don’t forget to go to Mara. In addition to a quest that grants a 36-slot harvesting bag, the Far Seas Supply Division has a trading post where you can purchase mounts that increase your harvesting skills if your earn enough Far Seas Trading tokens. Finally, high-level adventurers should do the quests to get the Cloak of the Harvester.

The Broker – Once you have obtained a large amount of rares, you are ready to craft. But before you do that, you probably noticed that your bags are full of tier 1 common items. That’s good, because those tier 1 commons are going to pay for this whole operation. Just because something is in tier 1 doesn’t mean people don’t find it valuable.

The most likely tier 1 commons to be valuable are leaded loam and lead clusters. Why? Because tinkerers use those materials for crafting their low level items and a lot of players don’t want to be bothered to go to Gorowyn and harvest. After a harvesting session, you should go to the broker and put your excess harvested items up for sale.

Leveling from 1 to 100 – When leveling your transmuting skills from 1 to 100, the prevailing opinion, which I share, is that players should just break down items and start making adornments once your skill reaches 100. You can gain skill-ups by breaking down items 5 levels above your transmuting skill to 2 levels below your transmuting skill, with the skill-ups coming faster by transmuting items higher than your level. To convert your transmuting skill to item level, divide your transmuting skill by 5.

Because all tier 1 mastercrafted armor are level 2 items, you may want to transmute those items first. After that, make expert level spells/combat arts 5 levels above your transmuting skill until your transmuting skill reaches 30. At that point you have to make a decision. You can either continue making tier 1 items or you can move your harvesting operations into tier 2 harvesting zones like Antonica or Commonlands. I have heard from guildies that the Commonlands is the best place to harvest tier 2 materials. Or you can continue making tier 1 items until you hit 60 skill points and then start crafting adornments. An option at this point would be to take your harvesting profits up until this time and start buying tier 2 rares and items off the broker.

One point I should make. If you decide to craft tier 3 items, your scholar will not be able to make all the spells, since at level 20 he will need to specialize as an alchemist, jeweler or sage. At that point, you really will need an army of alts to take full advantage of what you harvest. Of course, you could just sell the tier 3 rares you do not use and add to the profits your transmuting operation is raking in.

Leveling over 100 – Once you hit 100 skill points, you can no longer gain skill-ups by transmuting items. At this point you should have a good supply of tier 1 and tier 2 powders, fragments and infusions to use for making adornments. The first adornments you should make are tier 2 adornments. You get the most value at 100 skill points from making tier 2 adornments. The reason for getting the most out of using these adornments is that they require more raw materials than the tier 1 adornments to make. After you use up all of your raw materials making the tier 2 adornments, you’ll be making tier 1 adornments until you reach the max level of skill points. The only exception is if you choose to make adornments for your gear; then by all means make the adornments and hopefully you will get a skill-up or two along the way.

When using this process to level your transmuting, there is a particular order in which to make the adornments. Make the adornments that use infusions first. The tier 1 adornments that require infusions require 1 infusion, 1 dust, and 1 fragment. If you make a pristine adornment (one in which you complete all four bars of progression), you get the dust back. This is handy because the next class of adornments requires 1 dust and 1 fragment to make. In other words, you get to use your dust to make multiple adornments. If you make the pristine version of these adornments, you get your fragment back. Personally I like making pristine adornments because anything that makes this lengthy process shorter without my having to shell out money or make more mastercrafted items is a good thing. Once you run out of materials, go out and harvest some more tier 1 and start the cycle over again. Rinse and repeat until you hit the maximum skill points.

Sentinel’s Fate note – Once the expansion comes out, you can go ahead and have your crafter’s involved in the operation also learn transmuting. Since all toons will be able to learn both tinkering and transmuting, you might as well take advantage of the fact and have your crafter transmute items after making them. This will free up slots in your shared bank that you don’t have to keep open to pass items to the character you are leveling up.

Conclusion – While currently not the most attractive way to level transmuting skills, Kaisha (who writes for EQ2 Traders and was immortalized as an NPC working for the Far Seas Suppy Division) doesn't seem to think its that bad. I predict this method or something similar will become popular once Sentinel’s Fate is released in February 2010. As we saw when transmuting was first introduced in EQ2, the price of treasured items and adept I (now expert) books rose greatly and I expect something similar will occur with the release of Sentinel’s Fate as those players who chose to specialize in tinkering will take advantage of the new rules to become transmuters as well. At the same time, transmuters (including myself) will also become tinkerers and drive up the broker price of tier 1 harvestables like leaded loam and lead clusters, the items that drive the money making part of this method.

Is going through all of this effort worth the payoff? Sometimes I wondered if I was in my right mind as I was leveling. But once I get my armorer up to level 75 so he can make my ranger a couple of adornments in a couple of weeks, I will have adornments on every piece of equipment I wear, with almost all of the materials made for those adornments coming from items I transmuted. Considering I don’t raid, I’ll have reached my goal of having the best gear I think I can get without raiding or buying loot rights. So for me, all the effort will have been worth it.

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