One of the most central assumptions in modeling or analyzing any part of the SWTOR economy is the unit cost of acquisition of the crafting materials that are dominant in the current tier of gear and equipment. The unit cost can then be calculated for finished products based on the cost of their components. Neither notion is novel or unique, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone is disappointed that my first real content post isn’t titled “ZOMG SLOT MACHINES!!!!!” or something catchy like that.
One of the most frustrating aspects of discussing the game’s economics on the official forums is that most posters want to jump to their unhappiness with the end result in their small sample size experience. That doesn’t mean their complaints may not be valid, but my goal is to bring more grounded discussion to topics like the balance of the new slot machines within the broader economy.
The current tier of Grade 11 crafting materials has seen massive GTN price fluctuations over the past 5-10 days, but the unit cost to acquire the materials by running companion missions is actually very stable over time unless Bioware adjusts mission costs or yields. In case anyone is unfamiliar with the companion mission system mechanics, the summary is that there is an upfront cost and a time investment which will yield a fairly static material return. Missions come in four yield types: Rich, Bountiful, Abundant, and Moderate and, depending on your crew skill rating and the yield type, which really boils down to Hard (orange font in the menu) and everything else.
The biggest impact of yields and difficulty are on critical result chances, which either provide additional base materials, additional rare materials, crafting schematics, or a combination of these results. Only Bountiful and Rich missions will provide the Artifact quality (purple) materials that are most sought in the game while the base critical chance for Hard (orange) missions is 10% while the lesser difficulties are 15%. If the companion running the mission has maximum affection for you, the mission has an additional 5% critical chance. Companions may also have critical chance boosts, or efficiency boosts, for certain crew skills.
So with all of that preface out of the way, here is my current best estimate of the unit cost of the Grade 11 Artifact (purple) crafting materials based on Rich Yield missions only:
|Artifact (Purple) Grade 11 Material||Artifact (Purple) Rich Unit Cost|
The unit cost is derived without any companion-specific crew skill bonus to critical, but assumes maximum affection for the companion. The other primary assumption is that everything else acquired from the missions is sold to the vendor, including schematics. The first reason for the variance among the materials is that Doonium’s missions yield the Prototype (Blue) material Trimantium, which can be sold to the vendor for 250 credits compared to 165 credits for the similar material for the rest of the list. The other variable is the value of the schematics received which range from zero credits for Autoimmune Regulator (I’ve never seen it yield one) to 630 credits for Adaptive Circuitry’s Augment Schematics to 890 credits for the gear schematics of the rest of them.
It is a big time sacrifice to only run Rich Yield missions though since only one is available at a time for most materials, so the Bountiful Yield missions will almost always be run as well, even though the unit cost is elevated, because time is still the biggest investment in this part of the economy. So how do the unit cost numbers change if we run both Rich and Bountiful missions:
Grade 11 Material
Rich Unit Cost
Bountiful Unit Cost
|1:1 Mix of Rich & Bountiful Missions|
The Bountiful Yield unit cost is 7.8% higher than the Rich Yield for Autoimmune Regulator, giving it the most relative benefit to running Bountiful Yield missions because its unit cost curve is very flat due to no schematics dropping from its Rich Yield missions unlike the rest of the list. Dooniun shows the greatest increase at 33.7% because it is more sensitive to the drop in its blue materials yield for vendor sale since Trimantium vendors for 265 credits compared to the 165 credits a vendor will pay for the other blue materials. Midlithe Crystal, Verpine Fiber, and Ottegan Silk increase by 16% while Adaptive Circuitry increases by 13.5% at the Bountiful Yield compared to Rich Yield.
Running both mission yields simultaneously results in a combined unit cost that is about 10% higher than Rich Yield alone (not uniform), but increases the number of materials obtained by 66% and is therefore well worth the increased unit cost. The reason it is worth it provides our final table for this post, the current GTN prices of the materials on the Jedi Covenant server:
Grade 11 Material
|Current Jedi Covenant GTN Lowest Price||Blended Unit Cost||Price Multiple|
Despite the recent GTN price volatility caused by the Contraband Slot Machine happenings, the GTN price multiples are high enough that I would have no problem listing Adaptive Circuitry or Autoimmune Regulator for sale, but I am still working on a GTN price tracking system to better define “good” and “bad” prices for the materials. There is very little profit to be had in Verpine Fiber or Ottegan Silk, so tread lightly on those missions if you’re solely seeking GTN sale profits.
I hope you’ve enjoyed or found some interesting information in my inaugural analysis post. I would love to hear from all of you with any opinions, constructive criticism, or anything else to make this an appealing SWTOR blog for you to keep an eye on in the future!
*Updated 1/26/2015: The Rich Yield missions are not hard/orange difficulty as with previous tiers of mission skills, which increases the crit chance for Rich Yield missions for all six materials analyzed above. The result was a lower unit cost for Rich Yield and a flatter cost curve relative to Bountiful Yield missions.
– Andrew | SWTOR Economics