Here Comes Knights of the Fallen Empire!
I’ve taken some time away from blogging to recharge my creative batteries heading into the expansion. My goal is to bring frequent, relevant content during the remainder of the year since there will be much more to discuss and analyze. That starts today with the release of the long awaited Developer Blog on Crafting Changes in Fallen Empire and my initial analysis of what we now know is coming for sure.
A Fresh Start
One of the themes of the changes outlined today is a fresh start for the Crew Skills system in Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) for the first time since launch. In two prior expansions, Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan, an additional 50 points were added to the Crew Skill tiers to bring each to 500 points total, but these changes built on top of the original system without changing the prior tiers of Crew Skills. That will not be the case in Knights of the Fallen Empire, the Crew Skill landscape is changing completely. I am generally a big supporter of resetting the system because it was unnecessarily confusing and cumbersome in many ways, such as:
The Crafting skill “groups” have been removed and are no longer needed to improve your Crafting skill.
- Example: when you hit 400 Crafting skill, you do not need to visit the trainer to move the cap up to 450.
All Crafting has been organized into 8 Grades . This is to help clarify the different crafting tiers, allowing crafters the ability to easily determine what crafting materials they need for what items. All existing Items and Missions have been adjusted to fit into these Grades.
Both are great changes that will make the entire Crew Skill system less confusing to new and returning players. The use of Grade 7, Grade 8, and Grade 10 for rare materials was simply too confusing and counter-intuitive. The need to pay credits to attain the 401-450 and 451-500 tiers made sense when unlocking them at the beginnings of their respective expansions (maybe, still just a credit sink at best) but were certainly unnecessary today. Sensible changes being made at a good time to refresh this aspect of the game, but also the least controversial aspect of the Developer Blog most likely.
A Seismic Shift
The next sections of the post outline the much more jarring disruptions to the status quo that are certain to receive at least some resistance from members of the community. However, I am personally a big proponent of everything I’ve read so far, so let’s break it down.
Every Crafting Skill has received new patterns that will fall into one of the 8 Grades. In most cases, these items are improvements over what you were able to craft previously. With this change, all existing Schematics that are not part of Fallen Empire have been moved to the “Archives” category in your crafting window . These older schematics are still available to craft in case you still have a need for them.
Instead of scrapping old schematics entirely, obsolete crafted gear is being retained in a separate category within the crafting window. This is a great decision because there is some under-appreciated cosmetic gear that will reside in the Archive now. We’ll have to revisit these archived schematics on occasion to find hidden gems to sell on the GTN once they become scarce.
Here are some of the other changes affecting Crafting:
- There are no longer any Premium (green) items to craft. All craftable items now start as Prototype (blue) quality.
- Reverse Engineering items no longer gives a random item. Instead, the item reverse engineered will give an improved version of that item.
- The chance to get an improved item from Reverse Engineering has been increased.
That’s a lot of information in three bullet points, so let’s unpack that a little more. First, the removal of Premium (green) items is a reduction in complexity, which is typically not what I like to see in a crafting overhaul. However, this is another area where complexity had just become cumbersome instead of challenging so this is a good change if the complexity can be replaced in a less cumbersome way (foreshadow, foreshadow). Next, this change to reverse engineering will remove a lot of annoying variations of crafted gear from the game whose stat combinations were mindbogglingly useless, but it will also make reverse engineering a more linear process with is not entirely positive in my opinion. Some variation in outcome is a useful aspect of any reverse engineering system to introduce more variation in the supply of the item being crafted.
The final bullet point in this section made my heart sink a little. I have been a proponent of lowering the chance of a successful reverse engineering attempt, but instead there will be a reverse engineering orgy on the fleet as soon as the servers come back online on October 20th and I fully expect that most serious crafters will have reverse engineered the most important items before most players log into early access for the first time. The reverse engineering success chance should have been reduced by 50% or more and outcome allowed to vary enough to provide an incentive for serious crafters to continue reverse engineering for a small likelihood success of a truly elite schematic, but instead there will be little differentiation and it will be incredibly easy to reverse engineer all of the pertinent gear immediately when KotFE arrives.
Nearly all schematics require a new Premium (green) crafting material called a Component. This new Component is made by combining two existing crafting materials along with two vendor purchased materials, all of which are of the same Grade as the component. A unique Component exists for each skill and each Grade.
- Example: An Armormech crafter wants to craft a Grade 6 Chest Piece (Level 46). This is a Prototype (blue) quality armor and requires 4 Ciridium and 4 Durasteel Armor Assembly Components. The player will need 2 Durasteel, 2 Zal Alloy, and 2 Thermoplast Flux to craft each component. Once they have the 4 Components and 4 Ciridum from Underworld Trading, they will be able to craft their chest piece.
Now for the foreshadowed addition of complexity to offset the removal of Premium (green) items in the process. I am ecstatic about the component system, plain and simple. It creates an entire additional market between gatherers selling raw materials on the GTN and crafters selling finished products on the GTN. The opportunity for savvy GTN watchers to make credits as market makers is huge with this addition. My previous work on unit costs becomes significantly more complex with an intermediate component that also has value on the GTN. I love the additional complexity of the market for the intermediary components and I am always a fan of multi-stage crafting processes!
- In most cases, Crafting times have been greatly reduced. This will enable crafters to craft more items to coincide with the faster leveling.
- To match the above listed changes. Augments have been reduced to 8 tiers. The MK8 Augment Kit is now the highest Augment Kit. Existing MK9 and MK11 [sic] Kits will turn into MK8 when Fallen Empire launches.
I am intrigued to see how the reduced crafting time changes the crafting world, especially combined with higher likelihood of a reverse engineering success. It’s hard to analyze such a vague change though, only time will tell how this impacts crafting going forward. One of the most immediately impacts on the market today could be the second point though. The current top tiers of Augmentation Kits, both MK-9 and MK-10 (assuming MK11 is a typo), will convert to the new equivalent top tier of MK-8 Augmentation Kits. I would assume that the same applies to already opened augment slots of both tiers as well, but that isn’t explicitly stated. The market price for MK-10 Augmentation Kits has fallen about 20% over the last couple months with my most recent sales under 40,000 credits per kit this morning, but as of this writing that price on Jedi Covenant has jumped to a low of 46,500 per kit already. That’s a single day increase of about 15% within hours of this announcement, the players who made it to the GTN right after this announcement and bought up the existing supply of MK-9 components and kits (there are no components listed on Jedi Covenant right now and MK-9 kits now pricing slightly above MK-10 kits actually) stand to make a fortune on this abrupt announcement.
Here Comes the Changes
The biggest shake up that I expect to cause consternation is still to come though. Everything covered so far changes the crafting experience, but nothing has really been “taken away” from anyone… until now.
Along with these general changes which are affecting Crafting, there are some more detailed changes which impact very specific Crafting Skills . These changes are to balance the six different crafting skills with one another, in light of the stat changes in 4.0. Here are those changes:
- Armorings can no longer be crafted by Cybertechs.
- New Resistive Armorings (Endurance) are now exclusive to Armormech.
- New Versatile Armorings (Mastery) are now exclusive to Synthweaving.
- Enhancements can no longer be crafted by Artificers, and are now exclusive to Cybertechs.
- For these specific examples, these Crafting patterns have been completely removed from their respective Crafting Skill.
- Due to the Primary Stats being converted to the Mastery Stat, the following changes have been made to Augments:
- Armormechs can now craft Shield, Absorb, and Mastery Augments.
- Synthweavers can now craft Alacrity, Defense, and Critical Augments.
- Armstechs can now craft Accuracy, Endurance, and Power Augments.
- All previously reusable Biochem Consumables are no longer reusable. This is to balance the crafting skill with others and to encourage a market of these crafted items.
- All low level Biochem stimulants have been improved! Their duration is increased to 8 hours and they are now made in batches of 6-8 depending on the type.
- Droid Armor has been removed from the game, as all companion armor is now strictly for appearances, and droid appearances are not modified by their armor.
- All previously reusable Cybertech grenades are no longer reusable. They are now more powerful than their Prototype equivalent. This is to balance the crafting skill with others and to encourage a market of these crafted items.
There is a lot to digest there, so I’ll devote an entire post to these changes tomorrow. However, my initial impression is that it is never fun to lose something, even if it’s only the leveling armoring schematics on my Cybertech. Sometimes you have to let go of something in order to get something better though and I think that is the case. One of the major issues with Crew Skills for a long time has been the lack of balance across them. Biochem had its time in the sun pre-3.0 before falling out of favor when top tier stims and adrenals were no longer re-usable (more on that too), now all crafting skills appear on roughly equal footing and you will need all of them more than ever.
There are still sections on Elder Game Crafting, Harvesting and Mission Skill Changes, and Crafting Material Removal to cover, but this blog is already way too long so I will cover the remaining topics and the changes to the crafting skills above in more detail in the days to come. There is so much information coming to light now and so many ways to play the GTN heading into the expansion now, which I will cover as well.
As always, thank you for reading! It feels good to have exciting economics to discuss within the SWTOR universe again!
Andrew | SWTOR Economics