Time Is Money: Making The Cartel Market Work For The Busy Subscriber

Now, I’m totally opposed to spending $15 on my subscription and THEN having to turn around and buy crap off the cartel market.  That is terribad.

However, I am not opposed to having the choice to buy something in-game or buying that same thing on the cartel market.  For someone who has a full-time job and a full-time kid and as much raiding schedule as I can possibly squeeze in, I don’t have a ton of time to be grinding crap.

For example, let’s talk cargo bays.  I am a crafter at heart.  Both my 50’s have all 3 cargo bays, the third costing 400k (barf).  But, when the cartel market arrives, I can buy an account-wide cargo bay expansion for – well I’m not sure what it is going to cost.  Dulfy says 1050 cartel coins, which should be about $10.50?

Dscount: If I purchase an “Account Wide” Cargo bay does it incrementally add one to each existing character and future characters I create? So my 50 with 3 bays would get a 4th, but my new character would get a complete 2nd bay and my other toon with 2 would get a 3rd bay. 

Blaine: Yes, you have it exactly right if you are a Subscriber. The main difference for a Free-to-Play Player is that you must purchase the ability to access the Cargo Hold before you can purchase additional bays, so you could be in a position where you have purchased the access on a character basis, but not an account basis, then if you purchase account wide expansion bays, they would only apply to characters that had purchased the Cargo Hold access first. And last, but not least, remember that Preferred Status players automatically get Cargo Hold access. *whew*

From the SWTOR dev interview.

For a crazy crafter like me, imagine the implications of an account-wide bay expansion.  Suppose I have 6 toons at level 20+ (I do), and I buy them all a 2nd cargo hold (for not too much, it’s 40k)  Instead of buying that third cargo bay for 400k EACH, I spend (whatever the hell it will cost), and bam!  It is 6x400k = 2.4 million credits saved.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I would take a long time to grind all those credits.  Going back a bit, notice how I wouldn’t use the account-wide unlock until I had used in-game credits to buy the first, cheaper, extra cargo bay.

The key to remember here is that when you buy cargo bays/inventory in the game, the price goes up with each subsequent bay/slot.  Whereas on the cartel market, the price is fixed, and does not depend on how many previous ones you’ve purchased.  Not to be captain obvious, but it is strategically efficient for busy subscribers to pay in-game cash for the early slots and cartel stuff for the really pricey later bays/slots.

And that’s all the math I can handle.

Get Thee To The Official Forums And Demand Fashion

The devs have asked:

Hey folks, the Cartel Market team wants your help and advice in determining possible future content.

Specifically, they want to hear about what current in-game outfits you’ve been envious of that you would love to see available for other classes as moddable outfits. Please post your thoughts and ideas below!

I am just at a loss because I want SO MANY THINGS.  I must formulate a cogent response!  Beyond wildest dreams, brain cannot think, have the dumb.

But you guys, I’m sure you don’t have an attack of the dumb.  So if there was ever a reason to brave the trollery and asshattery of the official forums, this would be that.

Go ask for your favorite fashions.

But no more bikinis, or I’ll blaster you to the face.

Devs Explain Dude, Where Were My Comms?

We Get Answers About Our Comms

You may recall my unseemly reaction to the removal of BH comms from story mode EC bosses and chests without so much as a peep.  Well, a the devs put out a statement finally explaining, dude, where were my comms. (Emphasis mine)

So let me step in here and explain why these changes were made and what we’ll be doing to improve the current situation.

When Explosive Conflict was released, it was stuffed full of Black Hole Commendations in all difficulty modes, which was not actually intentional. For some guilds, this setup heavily incentivized running a single Operation twice every week to maximize their accrual rate. For other guilds, this made the prospect of attempting hard mode risky and inefficient compared to sticking with story mode. It was awkward and puzzling, but it sort of worked, so we left it as is.

With the balance adjustments to Explosive Conflict in 1.4, we took the opportunity to correct the loot packages. Story mode is intended for players who want to run Operations in a more relaxed atmosphere; it’s not meant to replace or bypass hard modes, but it should offer incentives that smoothly segue into the higher difficulties. Unfortunately, we erred on the low side with those incentives and failed to communicate the changes for 1.4. We apologize for the oversight.

So here are the changes you’ll be seeing in 1.4.3:
– Increased Black Hole Commendations granted by [WEEKLY] Galactic Operations from 8 to 15.
– Increased Black Hole Commendations granted by [WEEKLY] Galactic Crisis Points from 8 to 20.
– The final boss of Terror From Beyond now drops additional Black Hole pieces in story mode. (+2 in 8-man, +4 in 16-man)
– The final boss of Explosive Conflict now drops additional Black Hole pieces in story mode. (+2 in 8-man, +4 in 16-man)

The key here is that guilds running story mode aren’t forced to play it safe every week, but it’s perfectly valid if they’d like to. The weekly missions should provide a good avenue for guilds gearing up for the recent hard modes, especially with the upcoming addition of Campaign Armorings to the Black Hole vendors in 1.5. It also makes more sense – Operations should be the best source of gear commendations regardless of difficulty mode.

As for nightmare mode Karagga’s Palace, the commendations were actually removed as a side-effect of migrating the chests out in favor of putting loot directly on the bosses; however, the updated boss loot did not make it into 1.4. In 1.4.3, the commendations will be migrated to the weekly mission, and the vanity items will be moved directly onto the bosses:

– [WEEKLY] Deadly Operations now grants 10 Black Hole Commendations.
– In nightmare mode, the Dessler Turbo is now guaranteed to drop directly from Karagga the Unyielding.
– In nightmare mode, most bosses in Karagga’s Palace now have a chance to drop the M0-GUL Thrall Droid or Karagga’s Unyielding Helm.

One of our top priorities for future updates is to shape the endgame gear progression into something more coherent. We’ll also be working harder to keep a dialogue open with you guys. Good hunting!

Jesse Sky
Flashpoint and Operations Team

Why I’m Overall Pretty Damn Happy

A lot of stuff in there to like.


Unfortunately, we erred on the low side with those incentives and failed to communicate the changes for 1.4. We apologize for the oversight… We’ll also be working harder to keep a dialogue open with you guys. 

I’m pretty damn happy that they owned up to it and explained what the hell was going on.  It makes a lot of sense how things occurred, when at the time we were quite baffled (and pissed).  I also like the communication.  Please, more communication like this.  Pretty please.

Story Mode As Step To Hard Mode

Story mode is intended for players who want to run Operations in a more relaxed atmosphere; it’s not meant to replace or bypass hard modes, but it should offer incentives that smoothly segue into the higher difficulties… The weekly missions should provide a good avenue for guilds gearing up for the recent hard modes, especially with the upcoming addition of Campaign Armorings to the Black Hole vendors in 1.5.

I’m pretty damn happy that they’re acknowledging (and supporting) story mode as an entry into hard mode for that same op.  That softens the story mode/hard mode divide that was widening, since most guilds don’t fit neatly into one category or the other.

Gearing For Ops By Running Ops

It also makes more sense – Operations should be the best source of gear commendations regardless of difficulty mode. 

As I’ve been saying all along, it makes no earthly sense that the best way to get ops-geared would be by doing non-ops activities.  And now the devs are saying the same! Non-ops activities should be a supplement or an alternate path, but not mandatory.  That’s something that Blizzard needs to learn to the face.

There’s Always A “But”…

Having said that, it has taken way longer than it should have for them to “get” some basics of the MMO playerbase.

The most obvious principle, in my mind, is “don’t take things away or people get mad.”  Whatever it is, people hate it.  Would you QQ more if your class were nerfed or if other classes were buffed?  Same effect of class balancing, but it doesn’t feel like punishment or loss if, instead of taking away your cookie, someone else simply gets an extra cookie.

Another thing I’m seeing in this post is essentially “we intended players to do X and instead players are doing Y, and we don’t want them to do that (or to have to do that) – and we did not anticipate them doing it.”  While it’s a noble goal to make sure players are having fun rather than mindlessly grinding, I’ve seen many similar statements like this where bioware underestimated the playerbase.  Remember at launch: “we didn’t expect people to get to 50 so fast!”  Welcome to the MMO world.  If it is remotely possible, some moron will do it.

In conclusion, I like this new trend of honesty and communication, but bioware needs to learn (fast) the basics of the MMO playerbase that have been established over the last 10 years or so.  The information is out there, get to it!

Bonus Content: My Profanity-Laden Knee Jerk Reaction

When I first read the above dev communication, I let forth a string of profanity on the guild forums to get it out of my system,  rather than being a jerk and posting it here.  But the guildies prevailed upon me to share this ill-thought out impertinent statement with the world at large, so here it is anyway.

Let me translate from Bioware bullshit into English:

“We fucked up and gave you way too many comms in 1.3. So we let 3 months go by without fixing it. When we finally had the opportunity to fix it, we did, without any warning or explanation, because that’s fair right? Why should you rely on a feature that’s been there for 3 months?

“But now, it’s a complete and total fucking shocker to us that you were pissed about it!  Incidentally, you get to not get comms and stew with anger for a full 4 weeks before we even acknowledge that we removed those comms without saying a fucking word to you guys, OOPS!

“But you casual assholes pay us and well, apparently we aren’t making a whole lot of money. So we’ll give you more comms, I guess, but not as many as before, because you story mode fuckers aren’t real raiders and just want to drink and joke around and not actually do anything useful. Go the fuck away. Wait, I mean pay us, then stfu, and go away, right?

“We promise to announce things better in the future. We don’t promise not to fuck them up in the first place.

“XOXO Bioware”

Like I said, I tried to keep my ranting (that really lacked editing) to myself, but I just can’t say no to the guild.

Attempts To Mug Sith For Outfits Largely Unsuccessful

Fortunately, we’re getting the cartel market.

I have no research knowledge because I’ve had approximately zero hours this week to log in, let alone get on the PTS (har har).  If you want the “facts”, go see Dulfy or Darth Hater.

Now, I get to highlight the frivolous crap that I live for.

Full, matching outfits, available to any class, either faction.  Look, I don’t care about the stupid stats (level 30, yawn), but  it’s sith fashion with colors.  I’d prefer to be able to buy the pieces separately, as the full set is pricey.  As far as I can tell, the sets are identical to the level 39 orange shells that are crafted by synthweavers and armormechs.

Shirts, available to any class, either faction.  These are also based on current craftable armormech and synthweaving oranges, the level 23 orange shells to be precise.  However, “just the shirt” isn’t an impediment because, hello! match to chest.  I probably wouldn’t buy the rest of the pieces even if they existed.  Especially not the hat.

More bikinis.  OK, I lied, I don’t love this.  I opposite of love this.  We totally need more idiots dressing their companions in bikinis.  But that’s ok, because finally, sweet revenge…

Invisible chestpiece.  Y’all heard me right.  You can now dress your favorite male companion in an invisible shirt, and he can follow you around in all his Incredible Hulk glory.  I’m looking at you, Scourge.

What are your favorite (preferably frivolous) parts of the cartel market?

You Can Go Home Again: Characters, Crew, and Identity.

Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own toon?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a sentinel.  I love the playstyle, I love the whoosh, I love the jumping.  I was totally taken in by the badass epic story.  But at the same time, I feel a serious disconnect when she opens her mouth and has the personality of a wet napkin.  Some bullshit like “serving others is both a duty and an honor” makes me roll my eyes and groan.  I know, she kinda has to play it straight, being a super-serious jedi and all.

Once again, serious jedi is serious.

Granted, a lot of people like their characters to take on lives of their own, but I feel like my character is an extension of me.  When some people talk about their characters, they call them by their names.  I just use the first person, like “then I whacked the shit out of him with my lightsaber.”  And if it causes confusion, “Oh, I was on my knight.”  I can’t immerse myself in the game if I’m playing some goody-goody, total shitbag, or boy with whom I can’t identify.1

The Jedi Knight crew… well they just don’t feel like a team either.  T7 is a jedi fanboi, which clashes with Kira’s unconventional sass.  Kira wants to airlock Doc, I’m sure.  Rusk and Scourge basically keep to themselves and don’t play nice with the others.  They only show up together in the same room when the holocron rings, and even then, not always.  It doesn’t feel like a crew – it feels like a bunch of unrelated people who tolerate each other and I’m the lynchpin.   They’re not plotting strategy or playing Pazaak with each other when I leave them on the ship.

Maybe the reason I couldn’t get into being a consular is that she has the personality of a self-righteous wet napkin…

I struggle really hard to get her to say snarky lines, and this one is the best I got.  (Which is damn funny.  I don’t bother to screenie the boring stuff.)

… and the crew is not only distant but annoying.  I mean… THARAN!  And Qyzen ain’t the best conversationalist.  Blah blah Scorekeeper, blah blah honor, blah blah kill da wookiees.  What is really non-team-like is that I have never seen Qyzen and Tharan talk to each other.  Maybe Zenith would be cool, but I’m not sure I could last that long.2

I feel like my complete discomfort with both my consular toon and her companions makes me ambivalent about the playstyle – which, admittedly, has nothing to do with the story, voice, or crew.  If I think about it, sage, has a lot of aspects I like, specifically a resource system that doesn’t penalize you for dropping below 60%.  Still, I am seriously struggling to find the will to level.

Serious jedi moment.

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  1. Seriously, I think I’d quit playing if I had to play a male toon, I’d lose interest so fast.
  2. Besides, you can’t even bsock him.  Boo!

The Savvy Crafter’s Guide To Saving Money

If you’re like me, you’re always… well not doing so awesome on cash because crafting eats it all.  Never fear!  I have some tips.

Crafting supplies – don’t buy them at the vendor on the fleet!  Sure, you CAN, but it’s much cheaper to send your idiots out for them.  Problem is that those missions are not always available, so you have to make sure to grab them when you can.  A little planning ahead will save you money on fluxes and filaments down the line.

In fact, never buy materials.  Materials are rarely for sale on the GTN, I’ve found, and when they are, they are grossly overpriced.  Be patient and just farm them up yourself using your minions.  If you keep your minions constantly busy in the background while you do other things, this should never be a problem, and you’ll always have a healthy stockpile in the bank.

Physical farming runs may not save money.  So, you think, why pay to send out the minions when you can trot out to Belsavis and farm up the stuff yourself on your speeder?  Because time is money, friends.  That time would be more profitably spent doing dailies, which will more than pay for the minion trips.

Keep your minions busy.  Always.  An idle minion is not earning his keep.  If you farm up extra materials, you can always sell them.  Or you can send your minions for companion gifts for easy cash, which leads me to…

Companion gifts always sell.  If you are in a rut, you can always farm up some companion gifts and sell them for a quick buck.  This can be in conjunction with bribing your minions (as detailed below).  Farm the gifts, use the ones the minions like as bribes, sell the rest.

Bribing your companions is an investment in your future.  Sure, it’s expensive now, but when they’re critting left and right, you’ll be happy you did.  And I’m not talking about critting augment slots.  I’m talking about critting gathering missions or crafting extra stims, augments, or mods.  If I send out my minions slicing, the ONLY useful thing they bring me is a purple augment part when they crit.  If I queue up 5 augments and I get 8 (this happened), I have just saved a shitload in extremely expensive mats.  So my lifeblood is crit, pump it up as much as possible!

Get a crafting sensor unit for your ship droid, which is also an investment in your future.  Crits are crits.  You don’t have to buy the droid that sells the sensor for a million credits – just hitch a ride with someone who does and pay 100k for each unit that you want.  You can mail them to you alts because they are bind on legacy, so it just takes one stowaway voyage.

How do you keep your expenses manageable as a crafter?

Elara Is A Terrible Wingperson

Saylah, my vanguard,  just got Elara, and I was kinda a fan.  I didn’t understand why other people complained that she was a stuck up spoilsport. She was competent, to the point, and…


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This Makes No Sense

My vanguard carries a blaster rifle.  My commando carries a giant e-peen gun.  In cut scenes, they draw their blasters menacingly.  Where did that blaster come from?

I’m going to pretend that I was making the dark side choice *just* to get this screenshot.

Also, I like it when Elara gives me the -41 of shame.

My bounty hunter understands all the languages of the galaxy.  She can understand any weird alien NPC out there, including those throat-clearing lizards.  However, she has not a damn clue about Mando’a, the language of the mandalorians.

Why is this sith lord wearing lipliner?

Darth Maybelline wants waterproof mascara, or there will be hell to pay!

I Like Inappropriately Large Backsides and I Cannot Prevaricate

This may be my favorite patch note of all time, both for the content and for the wording.  On Test Server, Patch 1.5:

More robes have been adjusted so that their backsides are not inappropriately large when worn.

OK, if you think this fix is stupid, you shut the hell up!  Bubble butt has been a problem since forever.   Now, if they could just fix the butt-clipping of my Voss robe we’d be all set.

Little Legacy Luxuries

This may have escaped your notice, but I am a crazyinsane crafter.  As such, I’m plopping down 150k on recipes sometimes (I don’t have many left to buy, so I can afford to overpay a little…. a lot).  And I never seem to have that much money.  Certainly not enough to buy a lot of legacy shit.  However, I have bought a few luxuries which, in my opinion, give good bang for the buck.

Things I bought

C2 Modules.  Remember, you do not have to actually purchase the ship droid for one million or so credits.  You just have to go onto someone else’s ship who has one.  Buy the module for 100k.  Win.  If you have alts, the modules are bind to legacy, so just go ahead and pick up all you’d need at once.

These modules will save you money in the long run.  An increased crafting crit rate will proc you a bunch of extras (once I queued up 5 augments and got 8!).  And gathering crits are also useful – you get the rare mats without having to resort to the GTN.

Repair Bot for my main. It’s really nice to have one.  I haven’t sprung for the really pricey one because it’s just unlikely I’ll need one more than once an hour, and it’s very unlikely that I will need it to stay in one place more than the 20 seconds it takes me to click “repair all”.

Portal to Black Hole.  What makes dailies less painful?  Portals.  Port to black hole.  Do quests. QT back to turn in.  Fleet pass back to the fleet.  DONE.  This one will pay for itself because I’m much more likely to actually do dailies now.

Speedering for my alts.  Why walk when I can ride?  However, alts are a dime a dozen and I don’t want to be tossing away cash on a toon that ends up abandoned on Coruscant.  So the compromise is: if the toon gets to Taris (Republic) or Balmorra (Empire), THEN I get a speeder.  Because those planets are downright painful without one, right?

Things that I want but are pricey

I have a dream that I would buy a ship mailbox, a ship droid, and a ship GTN, and then never leave the coziness of my ship.  But there is no option for a guild bank on your ship.  Until that occurs, I’m afraid I’m chained to the fleet anyway.  Eew, the unwashed masses.

Do not know if want

Boosted affection gain from companions for conversation/gifts.  Well, it depends.  How much is it going to cost me WITHOUT the legacy perk versus with the legacy perk?  If the legacy perk is expensive (it is), it might be more cost effective to simply buy or farm a few extra companion gifts and be done with it.

Boosted XP from class missions/exploration.  Again, math. I have no earthly clue how much xp comes from my class quests versus my other quests versus killing things versus exploration.  The money might be better spent on twinked out gear so I can plough through the killing parts of quests more efficiently and save time THAT way.

Then there’s shit I will never buy…

Increased Chance To Proc Augment Slot.  OK, this isn’t an increased CRIT, it’s an increased chance to proc an augment slot.  An augment slot of the same level as the item.  Usually people don’t want level 50 orange gear.  They want orange gear that is attractive, which can be of any level!  Why should I pay good money for the chance to proc an augment slot in a level 10 item – an augment slot that will have to be upgraded ANYWAY.  Waste of money.

Fleet Pass Cooldown Reduction.  Eff that.  I have an authenticator and I can buy ONE HOUR COOLDOWN fleet passes until I pass out.  I keep a stack of 5 on my toon and never worry about it again.  That alone is worth the hassle of typing in extra numbers with every login and expense (unless you download it to your phone and then the app is free).