Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Critical Break: 60-100 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 60-100 series with the seventh installment: Smithing. This week's special guest commentator/contributor is a man who keeps way too many ingots in his inventory for his own good: Blaize.

Let's cut right to the chase, because there's a lot to go over in this guide. Wise Owl has Smithing summed up precisely when you go to him seeking advanced synthesis support.

Alright. Clench your teeth and get ready to feel the power of Wise Owl.

Smithing sucks to level. It's not as bad as Goldsmithing, but it still sucks. This guide is going to cover just how much it sucks in a manner that departs from the norms of my other guides. A run down of the basic crafting questions:

Does it have consumables? Not particularly unless you count a few different arrow heads, ninja tools and bolt heads that aren't used to a great degree. Ingots, sheets, chains and whatnot could be counted as consumables, but not in the traditional sense of the word.

Does it have in-demand mid-range gear? Yes. There's a very wide variety of armor and weapons to choose from. Granted, most of them sell for a loss, but the HQs will make you a little bit of money if you happen to win the HQ lottery. There's a few too many to list here, but generally speaking...if it's a weapon of some sort, it's probably got something to do with Smithing.

Does it have in-demand end-game gear? Yes. This is probably one of Smithing's strong points. The Shadow set and the Adaman set have some of the better pieces in the game for the jobs that can use them. You could also classify Salvage bodies in the "Smithing End-Game Cursed sets" category due to the Imp. Wootz Ingots and cursing at the prices that are required. There's not a lot of money to be made in the cursed sets here, but it's a decently steady income on some of the items and a whole lot of money if you happen to HQ a cursed hauberk or cursed breastplate.

Blaize's Intro: Smithing is definitely one of those crafts that is useful to have, but you can never be quite sure why it is. At times it seems like the only steady income is catching shouts for people with high smithing skill to make them something... especially on a server like Odin that has been closed down for new arrivals for months, and it seems like everyone has everything they need for everything they'll ever level already. But, I don't want to discourage leveling smithing, despite what may seem like very little reason to. One thing you can be sure of: This isn't something for a starving artist to undertake. Make sure you've got a nice-sized bankroll before taking smithing beyond 60. Also, there are stretches that will test your patience in both material availability and speed of sales on AH. In the end though, having 100 smithing will put you in a very select group, and it is quite an accomplishment.

Guide after the jump per usual.

First of all, you need to get Goldsmithing and Woodworking to 60 each. Don't complain, just do it.

Secondly, you won't necessarily need any key items for this guide other than maybe Sheeting for a few of the later synths, but you will need to make sure you have every +1 Smithing Skill item you can get the second you can get it from a level standpoint. Having that extra skill level plus the synthesis support will minimize your breaks by a ton.

Lastly, there are a few stretches where I depart from my usual "Five-level gap or less only" mentality due to the sheer ridiculousness of material costs for anything that could possibly bridge.

Phase 1: This isn't so bad...

The Erlking weapons used for the various Fairy fights are decent alternatives to what I've got listed here. I didn't list them in this guide due to their values changing over time. Pay attention to their resale value and their sales frequency, then make your own decision from there.

A continuation of the 0-60 Smithing guide. Same deal applies. Go farm up your silk threads from Crawler's Nest and make your own Iron Sheets unless the AH has them for 2.8k or less. NPC your results for almost break even.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Iron Sheet, 1x Silk Thread
Cap: Level 66

Definitely worth looking into if you don't want to spend your time farming silk threads all damn day. Swamp Ores are usually 1k or less on the AH and you can always buy the 3 iron ores you need from the guild. This ingot is used in 10 of the Fairy fight weapon synths, so there's usually decent amount of demand for the ingots themselves.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 3x Iron ore, 1x Swamp Ore
Cap: Level 67

If you manage to get your Elm Lumber cost under 2k ea and your Darksteel Ingot cost under 10k ea, you can NPC this for close to break even. Getting Elm Lumber at that price isn't always easy. If you have a woodworking buddy at 76 or higher, see if you can get them to make you a few stacks of Elm Lumber for spammage (they do have Lumberjack...right?). Turn in a Bascinet when you hit 68 for your rank up.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Elm Lumber, 1x Darksteel Ingot
Cap: Level 73

Phase 2: Pain.

A lot of people will normally just skip to Karimata Arrowheads here. They're simply too much of a loss for me want to risk that level gap. You'll want to hold onto your results here for the next synth.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 2x Copper Ore, 1x Tin Ore, 1x Darksteel Ore
Cap: Level 74

Use your previous results here and sell them on the AH. These are used in the WAR AF+1 and AF2+1 upgrade quests. Certainly not in huge demand, but hopefully you won't have more than a couple stacks of these to go through since you only did one level.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Dark Bronze Ingot
Cap: Level 75

These suck. A four level gap here is a lot better than a six level gap when you consider the fact that at the bare minimum, your material cost per synth will be nearly 7k/synth buying everything from NPC (making your own Iron Ingots and buying the Tama-Hagane from a Tenshodo guild rep). Since it takes 17 synths to make a stack, your stack cost will end up being just shy of 120k/stack.

The arrowhead stacks sell for 30-40k on Odin currently. Given the alternatives in this level range, just suck it up and plow through it. Personally, I would seek out a friend with Woodworking at 100+ to make Kabura arrows for you (7k/stack on Odin currently). Going this route, you'll end up with a ton of arrows and a friend that probably hates you, but you will offset your financial loss greatly. The Kabura arrows cap at WW 91, so you might even consider finding someone in the process of skilling up WW.

No Arrow Synth = ~80k loss per stack of arrowheads (every 17 synths).

With Arrow Synth (all NQ and assuming one stack of arrowheads = 1 level): 132 stacks of Kabura Arrows meaning you just turned a 320k loss into a ~450k gil profit w/o taking the other materials of the arrow itself into consideration (Ram horn, giant bird fletchings, bamboo stick etc). You're obviously not going to find or be able to carry that many bamboo sticks or ram horns all at once, so you can eat up the investment for now and hopefully your woodworking friend will still log in to help you after the first batch...

Turn in a Bastard Sword when you hit 78 for your next rank.

Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Iron Ingot, 1x Tama-Hagane
Cap: Level 79

Blaize Comment: Another good option when you reach ~77, and what I did to get to 82, is Troll Bronze Sheets. Fire Crystal + Troll Bronze Ingot. A steady supply of ingots is available, believe it or not. Troll Pauldrons and Troll Vambraces can be desynthed into Troll Bronze Ingots if you hit HQ on them. The desynths are level 79 smithing, so unfortunately you can't skill up on them if you're 77 or higher at this point. The troll parts are usually 1k apiece on AH and people who spend their time mining in Mount Zhayolm can attest to how often these come up. Don't toss them, put them on AH for some chump leveling smithing to pick up, they'll be grateful. If you end up doing this, send the resulting sheets to a mule for a couple of possible synths using -1 troll items in the 90s.

Phase 3: It Does Get Better Doesn't It...?

Blaize Comment: If you're feeling lucky (and your clothcraft is 49 or higher) this is the point at which you'll reach your highest tier for making Haubergeon +1. You have a 1 in 10 shot of hitting an HQ at this point, and on most servers the +1 will sell for slightly more than 10 times the material cost, so if you've got deep pockets, here's a nice chance of making a decent chunk of change in a short amount of time. Miss, though, and you've got 10 NQ Haubs that you can't even give away to gimp DRKs in Bhaflau Thickets.

For those of you with nothing but time on your hands, a good way to make it through this section is to mine the crap out of Mount Zhayolm. Not only will you pick up some adaman ore that is needed to advance your skill, but every so often you'll hit on the much sought-after Khroma Ore, which you can either save for Imperial Wootz Ingot synthing later on (lol) or sell for 400k+ a pop. Not to mention the countless iron and steel ingots you'll make while waiting for the next "six-letter ore" to appear - this is definitely one of the better ways to go to fund the climb to 100, at the very least.

Purely a bridge synth. These are relatively in demand and will sell for a slight loss. You don't have to do these, but considering breaks on the next synth will be far more painful than breaks on this synth, consider trying to get a level or two out of it before moving on.

Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Darksteel Sollerets, 1x Steel Sheet
Cap: Level 83

Do not make your own ingots for this yet and save your results. Buy the ingots off the AH as it is usually cheaper to do this than buying the ores for it. The sheets will hold their value against the ingot sale price usually, so the only real danger here are breaks.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Adaman Ingot
Cap: Level 85

When I ran across this, I had to do a bit of a double take. Most guides will have you jump to Adaman Ingots at this point in the game. You're more than welcome to do so here if the material cost is less than the ingot cost. However, this ingot has a couple of surprise uses that will help out quite a bit.

First, it's used in a fairy fight weapon that's purchased commonly (albeit at a slight loss on Odin), but you don't want to use it for that.

Second, it's used in the next synth and benefits from a slightly larger level gap going from Ingot-Sheet than most of it's other counter parts. You do want to use it for that. Hold onto your results, you just might've made yourself some money and avoided losing 6 figures potentially doing Adaman Ingots.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Adaman Ore, 2x Darksteel Ore, 1x Iron Ore
Cap: Level 86

A three level gap that you can cover with a stackable synth that actually sells for a slight profit some days. These are used in every one of the cursed items for the Shadow Set. Even though at this point, you're not a high enough level to make the cursed items in this set, there are plenty of people who are and plenty of people who do. Turn in a Celata for your final rank, make to cap and move onto the final phase.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Dark Adaman Ingot
Cap: Level 89

Phase 4: High Risk, Zero Reward.

Catching the ores here is the difficult part. The ingots sell for a profit, but it takes a lot of ingots to make up for one critical break. If you're in a linkshell that spams Bahamut V2, Jormy or whatever that new NM in Xarcabard [S] is, you might be able to work a deal out for the ores if they drop. Since the ingots are used in a Gobbie Bag upgrade, their demand has increased exponentially.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 3x Iron Ore, 1x Molybdenum Ore.
Cap: Level 91

Bridge synth. It sells for about 30k on Odin, but can get as low as 15-20k against a steady ~35k investment. It's not a huge loss compared to some of the other stuff, but probably worth trying to pick up a few skillups on.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 3x Darksteel Ingot, 1x Steel Ingot, 1x Fiend Blood, 1x Grass Cloth, 1x Yew Lumber
: Level 94

The price on Relic Iron varies greatly. You can NPC this item for ~5.5k gil, which means you need to get the ingredients relatively cheap. You can definitely hold onto a few on the off chance you catch someone starting to upgrade relic GK or relic Katana, but for the most part, expect a slight loss here and expect to be frustrated by lack of supply. Patience is key here. Set up some deals with some dynamis linkshells (or your own) if you see them doing Windurst or Beaucedine. There's also the option to skip this and move onto the next synth if you happen to be 95 or so.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 2x Relic Iron
Cap: Level 97

Blaize Comment: I still have a ways to go to reach this point, but I would say definitely do not skip this if you can avoid it. Two levels of 10k/synth (relative peace of mind) or two levels of one million gil per synth (do they have internet in mental hospitals?)... despite the potential for profit, and at -4 to -2, it is pure potential and not a guarantee, this seems like the safer bet.

And here is something that will require you to invest HUGE amounts of gil in order to proceed. You will only lose money if you break (pull out the "No Whammy" chants) and the results will generally sell fast.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 2x Khroma Ore, 1x Wootz Ore, 1x Iron Ore
Cap: Level 99

These sell for a loss, but I think that's primarily due to no one making the ammo consistently for them. If you have an alchemy buddy who is capable of making the cannon shells, see if you can get them to make a few stacks of the shells to put up while you're listing your Culverins to see if anyone is enticed to buy. These are easily the best thing available for RNG zergs and dish out a veritable fuckton of damage in a really short period of time.

Recipe: Fire Crystal, 1x Adaman Ingot, 2x Darksteel Ingot, 1x Brass Ingot, 1x Mahogany Lumber
Cap: Level 100

Hopefully your wallet came out in decent shape after that. You're now part of a select crowd as Smithers that are higher than ~85 are becoming a rare breed.

Blaize Comment: Maybe one day I will be part of that group as well! 84.2 and counting, and no rush to increase it, although reading through this has definitely stoked the fire a bit. Hopefully Wise Owl doesn't work on an appointment basis only... my teeth are clenched and I'm ready to go.

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