Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Critical Break: 0-60 Series: Smithing

Critical Break is our 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 continues his 0-60 series with the seventh installment: Smithing.

Smithing was a craft I always found fascinating. Most of your swords and armors come from this craft. Yes the other crafting guilds have their share of armor and weapons too, but usually when you think of someone making a weapon or a piece of armor, an anvil and some red-hot metal getting hit with a hammer are among the first things that spring to mind. This was something that intrigued me in my early FFXI days.

At least until I started losing money.

Unfortunately, this is not a craft you can get to 60 without losing money unless you have far more patience for mining to cap on a daily basis than I do. Realistically, you can farm up NPC-able scrolls and make money at a faster clip than you can from mining. Keep this in mind as I go through this guide.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Desynthesis plays a large part in saving money on some of these synths. I didn't go this route, but if I ever do this again, I'll likely set my mog house up with Moghancement: Desynthesis and spend a couple weeks collecting ingots through the various pieces of beastmen armor in my level range. Most lower level beastmen armor can be picked up for 1k or less with the results often times being 1-2 ingots of various flavors.

Phase 1: The Bait

Smithing starts off innocently enough. You'll be spending your first phase here either mining up your ores (not worth it really) or camping in front of guild salesmen. One thing to note here is the pattern most metals follow. They generally go from Ingot to Sheet to Scales in progression of skill up. Most of the metals in this guide will not get past the Sheet step as turning them into any scales will usually devalue your items pretty quickly.

Pick your favorite guild sales rep in Bastok or San d'Oria (or Whitegate if you like traveling back to the starter cities to rank up) and park yourself in front of them with some Fire Crystals. It shouldn't take long to cap on these. Save results for next synth.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 3x Copper Ore, 1x Tin Ore
Cap: Level 2

With more Fire Crystals, start eating up your supply of Bronze Ingots you just made.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Bronze Ingot
Cap: Level 4

If Bronze Ingots can be picked up for 75 gil or less from the Guild (or if you have any left over), buy up a few stacks and head out to Buburimu Penisula and farm up some Giant Femurs. Make these to cap. If you haven't started Bonecrafting here, odds are you'll cap that at 2 as well making these. Turn one in for your first rank up.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 2x Bronze Ingot, 1x Giant Femur
Cap: Level 8

Use up your supply of Bronze Sheets and cap on these. Check the AH in the starter cities for selling pace of these. It should be close to break even since the price of the mats is so low anyway and no one is usually dumb enough to put things like this up for < 100 gil. They're used in some other armors down the Smithing line, so they do sell, just not very fast.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Bronze Sheet
Cap: Level 10

Make up some more Bronze Ingots (or buy from Guild if super cheap) and make these to cap. These tend to be a good skill up item for Woodworkers, so you shouldn't lose any money selling the heads on the starter city AH.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Bronze Ingot
Cap: Level 14

You won't be able to resell these, but given the level gap after this, you'll want to make these to cap. They're cheap buying the ores from the Guild as usual.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 4x Tin Ore
Cap: Level 15

Phase 2: The Trap

The innocence starts to fade here.

I mention this one as a bit of an alternative. The Iron Ingot synth will add up pretty quick. Generally making this ingot will be a little cheaper and it's used in one of the early Gobbiebag quests. Copper and Zinc ores are relatively cheap to pick up anywhere and you can usually find a few Kopparnickel ores floating around for < 500 gil on the various AHs. Kopparnickel ore is also a relatively common drop off bugbears in the Moval zones. You may opt to use this synth for a couple levels before moving onto Iron.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Zinc Ore, 2x Copper Ore, 1x Kopparnickel Ore
Cap: Level 20

For the most part, buying your ores from the Guild will be the best way to go. Iron Ores are relatively common mining results, but when you factor in cost of pickaxes and then the fact that there's a cap on how much you can mine per day, it's best just to go farm scrolls to make the money for it. Turn in an Aspis when you hit 18 for your rank up.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 4x Iron Ore
Cap: Level 20

Use some of your newly created Iron Ingots to make these.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Iron Ingot
Cap: Level 22

Hopefully Lady Luck is nice to you and you don't have to make too many of these. These are primarily used in the Makibishi synth, which is one of Smithing's rare consumables. Hold onto your results as you'll need them for a mid-30s synth.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Iron Sheet
Cap: Level 26

Say goodbye to a lot of gil. There are two things that are possibly going to play out here. The first is that you'll lose 20k/stack or so selling your results on the AH. The second is that you manage to sell all your chains by the singles on the AH and come close to breaking even over the course of the next year. Compared to the alternatives in this range, this is the best option available. Again, hopefully Lady Luck prevents you from having to make a ton of these things and actually lets you get one of those 1% HQs that give you multiple chains. Find the cheapest way possible to obtain your ingots here. That usually involves ores from the guild, but you can sometimes find the ingots on the AH for cheaper than the guild. Turn in a Bilbo for your rank up when you hit 28.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 2x Iron Ingot
Cap: Level 30

Buy Leather Trousers from whatever shop sells them as they're usually around 500g. Make your own cotton thread if your clothcraft is high enough or buy it from the weaver's guild. Use those Iron Scales you made earlier and NPC your results. This is one of the few synths that have a rather high resale value (approaching 6k with max fame). You will still lose a little money on this synth if you get max NPC value from it, but it's far less than what you'd lose trying to sell the scales on the AH.

Also, if you haven't started Leathercraft, you'll likely pick up a few levels of it here if it's below 5. I'd recommend getting it to at least 3 or 4 before skilling up on these though to reduce your chance of loss.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 2x Iron Scales, 1x Cotton Thread, 1x Leather Trousers
Cap: Level 35

When I skilled up on these, steel ingots were 6k ea. on the AH. This made it so that I had to sell all of my results to get close to break even. Now steel ingots on Odin are around 2.5-3k ea making this synth profitable to NPC even. Take advantage of this as long as you can. Odds are you don't have enough Iron Scales to cap on the previous synth, but if you're in the 33 range, it's perfectly acceptable to move onto this synth. The Ash Lumber portion of it is super cheap anywhere.

Like the previous synth, this has a subcraft you'll need to pick up a few levels in if you haven't started it at all. Woodworking caps at 6 on this. Turn one of these in for your next rank up.

Recipe: Fire Cyrstal, 1x Ash Lumber, 1x Steel Ingot
Cap: Level 38

Farm up your lizard skins (Crawler's Nest) and try to make sure your Leathercraft skill is 8 or higher. It's probably going to be cheaper to buy stacks of iron sheets off the AH at this point than it will be to make them, but if you've got max fame, farm your lizard skins and get the sheets for 2.7k or less, you can NPC the results for about break even.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Lizard Skin, 1x Iron Sheet
Cap: Level 41

The Cotton Cloth part of this synth can be made relatively cheap if your clothcraft is high enough, otherwise expect to pay about 600-800 ea. for them. This is similar to the previous synth where if you get your Iron Sheets for 2.7-ish, farm your lizard skins and keep your cotton cloth costs down, you can make most of your money back NPCing the results. These sell on the AH rather slow, but they do sell. You might opt to keep a few laying around to sell for 9-10k on the AH to make up the missing gil. Definitely make these to cap cause from here on out, it's kind of painful.

Again, be mindful of the Leathercraft sub of 12. Up to this point, it's entirely possible for you to have picked up 12 levels of Leathercraft just following this Smithing guide.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Lizard Skin, 1x Iron Sheet, 1x Cotton Cloth
Cap: Level 45

Phase 3: The Drain

A number of these synths end up being profitable, but the materials cost a lot and subsequently makes breaks super costly.

This falls in the same category as the War Pick. The prices on the mythril ingot portion of this synth has fallen quite a bit from the time I skilled up on them. On Odin, their price is currently in the 4-5k range per ingot. With Elm Lumber around 2k or less each, you can NPC the results of this for about break even or even a little profit. Hold onto one of these for your final rank up item as well.

Be mindful of the level 8 Woodworking cap.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Elm Lumber, 1x Mythril Ingot
Cap: Level 47

Buy up the ores on the AH checking Bastok, San d'Oria and the Jeuno ones. Pick up your Iron Ores from the guild. A five level gap will mean you're probably going to bust a few early on. Hold onto your result for the next synth.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Darksteel Ore, 3x Iron Ore
Cap: Level 52.

Darksteel Sheets usually don't lose any value over their ingots. Make these to cap. Buy Ingots off the AH if you don't have enough from your previous skillup session as there's not really any financial difference, just time.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Darksteel Ingot
Cap: Level 55

Loss. Pure and simple. You will lose about 2k/synth on these NPCing the results. You can AH a few of them, but they're still about a 1k loss even that way and they sell very slow. This is primarily a bridge synth to the final skillup items you'll be dealing with. Make or skip these depending on how comfortable you are with a 6 level gap.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 2x Iron Sheet, 2x Leather Gloves
Cap: Level 57

When SE implemented this and the caps were fleshed out, my first thought was "Hey, that's a kick ass skillup item!" Buying all your mats off the AH (on Odin) will run about 27k ea and the results sell fast and for about break even. Considering what was necessary before in this level range, SE gave you smithers a gift.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Dweomer Steel Ingot, 1x Steel Ingot, 2x Darksteel Ingot
Cap: Level 61, but 60 for this guide's purposes.

Falls in same boat as Erlking's blade, only with a bit of a more expensive material set. These actually sell decently fast (since most are dual-wielding them...) and for a good profit. You'll spend about 56k or so on mats with the end results selling for 70k+. It will definitely be a decent way to make some of your lost gil back, but be very careful about flooding the AH with these things. There are a lot of dumbasses out there that think if 10+ are up on the AH, they have to drop the price by 50% or more no matter how fast the things are moving.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Jacaranda Lumber, 1x Dweomer Steel Ingot
Cap: Level 61, but 60 for this guide's purposes.

This is the most common synth used to get to 60. Again, buy/make your Iron Sheets for 2.7k or less, then hit up the Crawler's Nest for your silk thread. If you start making these at 55, expect a ton of breaks since this has a cap of 66. This is far easier on the wallet than my previous two suggestions from a material cost standpoint, but don't let the initial costs fool you. Break enough of these due to the level gap and you'll see similar financial losses.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Iron Sheet, 1x Silk Thread
Cap: Level 66, but level 60 for this guide's purposes.

Whew! Smithing is 60 now! This has been, by far, the most expensive craft to level in this 0-60 series. This is also one of the more common subcrafts for various bits of armor that's floating around out there. It gets worse though...

Next week: Goldsmithing, the final 0-60 chapter.


Evilpaul said...

I've still got to get Smithing and Goldsmithing to 60. Stuck on both at ~50ish because of how stupid expensive they are to skill up right now. :-/

I'll probably do some of the fay weapons.

Jonathan Q. said...

If you have alchemy around 48, you can do steel bullets to 30 instead of the chains. should actually be a profit too