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.