Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Critical Break: Q's Crafting Basics.

Critical Break is our new crafting and economics column written by Qtipus. Q is an experienced crafter and also well versed in using the Auction House to turn a decent profit. Enough so that he was able to fund his own relic, Gungnir. Every Tuesday you will find Q's rants, raves and good crafting practices here. This week, Q introduces you to the basics of crafting and turning a profit.

So you want to make money, but you’re unsure how to do it. You’ve already got a craft to 100 with the relative sub-crafts leveled. You can see that there’s an over-saturation in the popular pieces of gear for your craft. You can see that most low-risk synthesis items sell for a loss. It’s so overwhelming, you’re not sure why the hell you leveled a craft to begin with when you could just go out and farm up gil at a faster pace than you could make crafting.

The problem most people get into when trying to make money is limiting themselves to one or two items. The other problem that the rest of us get into when trying to make money is lack of patience or wanting to HQ that one item selling for 20 mil so we don’t have to worry about gil for a long time. While that’s certainly nice (I’ve done that myself), it doesn’t actually solve the problem of making money consistently.

To start off, a crafter has to understand and accept that there are douche bags in every corner of the crafting world that simply don’t care about the money they lose trying to HQ various items. The most fundamental rule of economics doesn’t apply to them. They just want to move their failed HQ attempts no matter the cost to free up inventory space for more failed HQ attempts. Eventually, or should I say “unfortunately”, they do get that one HQ and end up close to break even for all their work. These synth items are items to avoid unless the NQ is, at the very least, close to break-even itself. Popular items that fall into this category are the standard Tier 2 synths most crafts have such as Haubergeons, Scorpion Harnesses, and Vermillion Cloaks.

Secondly, a crafter has to understand that every single craft has a junk/consumable synth that sells at a high rate each day. Some days the profit on these aren’t all that great and others you’ll end up with more gil than you realize. This rollercoaster of profit margins is often too much for some crafters to put up with. While margins on these items may not be super high, it does add up. It boils down to how much work is involved to make said margins.

In my particular field (Bonecrafting), Reraise Hairpins and Gorgets are the junk/consumable synths. This market is usually saturated with the previously mentioned douche bags who really have no understanding of how economics work. There’s already a lot of work involved in creating these items, but they generally cause themselves more work by failing to understand that these items will sell at a higher margin than the 3-5k they like to sell ‘em at. While the general population may say “{All right!} Lower prices!”, the general population also doesn’t understand that in order to make these items, you have to do the following:

• Synth pearls (50% HQ rate on Shall Shells or Istirydes.)
• Synth black pearls (HQ2 or higher on Shall Shells or Istirydes.)
• Synth Animas (Alch 75 minimum with Anima Synthesis key item.)
• Synth Coral Hairpin or Coral Gorget
• Synth Vivified Coral
• Synth Reraise Hairpin or Reraise Gorget

There’s a lot of time invested in making these items. The same applies across most of the highly consumable synths in each craft. Competition naturally will keep prices down, but stupidity will make for a lot more work than is necessary. The big thing to remember about these consumable synths is that they are a steady income. Dedicating yourself to selling X number of these each week will eventually add up. Find what yours is and start setting yourself up to make these. There are people that can make millions each week spamming one or two particular junk items.

Thirdly, a crafter has to understand that every craft has an end-game set of gear that is in demand. Like the consumables portion of this post, these are generally over-saturated as well, but not to the extent the consumables are because these synths are high risk. These synths are also not as saturated because they often times require another high-craft-level item to make them that are not readily available on the AH (i.e. Darksteel Cap for Cursed Caps or General Shields for Koenig Shields).

This market is streaky at best. Depending on how nice the game was for particular abjuration drops will determine how many of these things sell. The sky abjurations are usually a safe bet if you want to take the risk of HQ’ing a piece of gear, but the NQs are usually sold for a loss. King abjurations sell much slower, but usually don’t sell for a loss like their sky counterparts with few exceptions.

Lastly, knowing WHEN to craft is beneficial to your wallet. While I do not have any statistical data to back this up, I do know the following:

• Crafting during Full Moon drops your chance of HQ and raises your chance of a successful synth.
• Crafting during New Moon drops your chance of success and raises your chance of HQ.
• Crafting on same-element days increases your chance of success and drops your chance of HQ.
• Crafting on opposite-element days can be broken into two sections.
o If the element of your synth is strong against the element day (i.e. wind-based synth on earth day), your chance of successfully synthing an item is increased and your chance of HQ’ing an item is decreased.
o If the element of your synth is weak against the element day (i.e. earth-based synth on wind-day), your chance of HQ’ing an item is increased while chances of success are decreased.
• Combining this information together will have a cumulative effect (i.e. earth-based synth on new moon wind day).
• Light-Day and Dark-Day fall under same elemental properties.

Using all of this information, especially when a synth relies on a lot of HQ’ing (think Shihei or other Ninja Tools) for profit will show immediate gains.

In conclusion, there’s a lot of information to absorb. There are some that feel like finding your own niche in the market is the way to go, but I’m of the mindset that you have to be flexible. There are a lot of tools out there now that are wonderful for helping the decision making process. FFXIAH.com’s recipe section being the primary one. Once set up though, it’s a matter of consistency. Understanding that you can’t always farm and you can’t always craft, but finding a way to mesh the two main sources together will help keep a constant gil flow. Take some risks from time to time. Also pay attention to who your competition is and don’t be afraid to buy their stock out of the AH if they get near the cost to make it. There’s nothing like profiting off someone else’s work...especially when they’re being douche bags about undercutting.

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