This guide was
lovingly-sarcastically-created to answer a lot of people’s questions and to provide a greater depth of understanding to the science of crafting.
The reason I refer to crafting as the “Sweet Science” is that it is a science, albeit one that you can almost personalize and to which you can add your own flourishes. What I have put here is based on my own experiences, readings, and experimentations, as well as observations. While I can’t call the results themselves ‘scientific’ because they were not rigorously tested against hypotheses, I did try and assemble what I know works, or, lacking the ability to attempt, was told works.
Most of this is based on my own observations, and any resemblances to people you know, especially on Asura...well, just assume it’s intentional.
A word on organization. I've grouped the tips below by their primary area using a super-secret formula. There are secondary areas that they also fall under. Read them all, highlight your favorites and feel free to use the Discussion tab to, well, discuss them.
The Crafters’ Mindset
If you plan to take crafting seriously (or you haven’t sold your third Kraken Club), here are some tips about how to think.
- Crafting is about earning skill ‘’’&’’’ earning gil. Every synth can be plotted on a grid according to the potential to earn gil and the potential to earn skill. A smart crafter learns how to maximize the sum of both; a dumb crafter drastically sacrifices one for the other.
- Never hesitate to ask for advice; never hesitate to respond to inquiries for advice. It’s good for the game overall and good for your ego.
- Your first instinct when you need or want something should be, “Can I make it myself for cheaper?” Your second instinct should be, “If not, can I craft the ingredients to save gil?”
- While your friend list and linkshells may call them junk or worthless garbage, you should call them ‘potential profit’ and ‘opportunity.’
- Learn Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #111: Treat people in your debt like family: exploit them utterly. Treat your friends and linkshell members like family.
- Never lie, never cheat, never steal, and never change the terms of a bargain mid-trade. A reputation for honesty and satisfied customers lead to repeat and improved business opportunities.
- Manage your books. You don’t need a GAAP-certified ledger, but try to ensure that your sales exceed your purchases.
- Never underestimate how monumentally boring crafting can be. For example, try crafting 2000 boltheads then crafting them into bolts. Learn the scope and scale in your projects to save your sanity.
- As you advance, increasingly resist the urge to craft whenever. Save up ingredients and plan ahead for big sessions at peak moments. It’s the difference between getting .5 from 12 synths at level 95+ and getting .1 from 24 synths at the same level.
- Take pride in your crafting, but as a crafter, you have no pride. Begging, pleading, and other similar displays are never beyond your capacity.
The Math & Science Side of the Game
This section is about being analytical about a computer game. Go figure, huh?
- There are many factors that go into getting skill-ups. The biggest that I have seen proven (500+ case-controlled synths at minimum) are: difference between your skill & item’s cap (difficulty), moon phase, and day of the week in game time. Until proven otherwise, anything else you read should be regarded as .
- Break-synthing is slightly evil. Only high-level Goldsmiths and Blacksmiths routinely practice it because...well, frankly...those crafts get really evil at high levels (high risk, high reward).
- Overall, 0-100 in a craft is 1000 skill-ups, with 5 synths to the average skill-up. 5000 synths is a lot. Even worse, unless you have gil to burn, factor in at least another 5000 synths to make components or to make profit, and you’re up to 10,000.
- It’s a game; the rules are set by others. Don’t whine when SE changes them, especially to get rid of your exploits. Work within the system instead.
- Don’t make a mule to craft if you haven’t started a craft on your main character yet. There is no reason to spend Real-Life Money on it. However, if you want to convert a previously-made mule, that’s better.
- FFXI is a computer game at its base, so everything is set in mathematical terms. This produces easily-repeatable patterns & optimal solutions to problems. Learn to spot them, use them, analyze them and exploit them. Analyze them extensively to learn ‘why’ it is optimal to gain greater understanding into the system.
- Subtract the skill of a synth with your own skill. Add 3 for Advanced Support and then add any +skill items you may have. Never craft a synth when the final number is greater then 5 ‘‘you can help it’’. If the final number is 5 or less, you can gain skill if the synth fails. There are numerous exceptions, but each is an explicit exception.
- Certain combinations of crafts go together like Peanut Butter and other stuff. Same with certain jobs/craft combos. They won’t be appreciated by everyone, but they will work for those that do. Learn, accommodate and exploit those combos.
- At 50, your skill-ups hit a wall and slow down considerably, and it only gets slower every 10 levels above 50. Remember that while skill-ups are essentially random, there are factors that can let you tilt the odds more in your favor.
This section either houses things that people do that are totally boneheaded, or just a list of my biggest pet peeves. Discuss.
- There are people who have more gil than patience, decency, or sense, especially when it comes to crafting. Get over it, move on and figure out if you can use their deficiencies to your advantage.
- Never buy something you won’t be able to sell. Never sell anything you won’t be able to get back. Never craft something you’re too afraid to sell.
- Never whine about undercutting; there’s no social stigma or mechanism to prevent it or repercussion for having done it. That’s why cartels have trouble lasting.
- HELM (Harvesting, Excavating, Logging, Mining), Farming and Gardening are either a source of gil or a source of rare items. They are not a source of free items that lower the cost of your crafting. You paid for them with your time and effort, and if the stuff you got is worth more than what you would craft it into, then you are destroying value, not creating it.
- Set aside a reserve fund like a gambler sets aside a reserved bankroll. You will never know when SE will nerf something (remember Mezraqs, anyone?).
- Yes, crafting and farming are less profitable now than in the days of yore. Everyone else calls that “cheaper” or “more affordable”. I remember when crystals were up to 10k per stack. Be thankful for the Special Task Force.
The Auction House Super/System
- The basic trick to making gil is “Buy low; sell high.” If you are XPing, if you are farming quest items, or are experimenting with gear or jobs, you aren’t paying for the drops. However, if you are farming for gil or items to sell, you are paying with your time.
- FFXIAH.com is now your erratic high priest. Use as a direct line to the gods, but check out Distilled Water x12 for why you should beware.
- AH fees suck compared with selling directly (via /trade). Figure out if friends need an item or if there are dependable buyers, and then sell to them directly. When crafting marginally profitable items and/or huge quantities, it helps.
- Make a list of “Wanted” ingredients and items when crafting, and then check the AH’s for them, not just Jeuno’s but any that you can reach. You’d be surprised what people throw away for cheap.
- Be afraid of [items that aren’t selling as fast as your anticipated. Don’t be afraid of items that you anticipate won’t sell fast. The former leads to dumping and undercutting; the latter typically can be very profitable in the long run. Warning: the later will also conflict with the "Common Mistakes" when the ultra profitable item you hope to sell slowly turns out to be a very rare sell. 24 pairs of Bone Subligar aren't going to sell very fast, dear Mr. Panties-Maker.
- Bazaars are 4 purposes generally: selling stuff when your AH slots are full, selling stuff that doesn’t sell on the AH, selling stuff that sells too slowly to use the AH, or as a way to sell when you are AFK.
- When selling via a Bazaar, it doesn’t make any sense at all to sell above the AH price. Why would you buy something from a Bazaar if it cost more than the AH? Actual experience shown that people are more likely going to buy from AH even if you are putting a lower price in your Bazaar. So maybe it doesn't really matter, unless you have a particular hard-to-sell item.
Friend or Foe? RAFO!
- Yes, RMT exist; yes, some of them craft stuff and undercut prices. However, most undercutting is from crafting mules that HQ or people who have found a legitimate way to craft it cheaper than you. Let SE sort out which is which, and keep quiet until then. And realize that undercutting is only a problem when you are fighting against someone, not when you are buying from them.
- Learn names of common buyers/sellers of components you use, or want to use. You don’t have to have a rare Craft or obscure Key Item as long as you know someone that does.
- Learn the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. You’d be surprised how well they work & how relevant they are to understanding your competition. And yes, things are that cutthroat.
- Get to know who your competition is, how they operate, and any quirks that they have. Don’t be afraid to talk with them. Turn them from competition to collaboration if you can, or, at least, learn their fears & old sports injuries.
These are whom PT Barnum and HL Mencken often talked about...
- Cut deals when selling directly and don’t be afraid of cutting corners to sell more rapidly. If you sell twice the product at half the profit, the net profit hasn’t changed. However, if you sell twice as fast at half the profit, your gil isn’t tied up in the AH and you can move onto better synths in the meantime.
- Never underestimate how more monumentally boring other people can find crafting than you, for the final products or higher-level crafters in search of components. Whenever possible, learn to kill downtime by matching your need for gil with their need to avoid killing downtime.
- You are not alone or isolated. Someone else is trying to do what you are doing. Someone else is going through your problems. Most importantly, though, someone else has discovered your exploit, trick or secret. Be neither surprised nor angry that someone else beat you to the punch as a result. Be even less surprised if they don’t want to give it up so you can use it exclusively.
Not a lot because there aren't a lot of secrets here that haven't been discussed above.
- Earn gil from the misery of others: learn to check all 4 AH’s for people dumping ingredients for cheap. Some people craft for skill-ups and sell like they haven’t a care, which is great, unless you are competing against them.
- The secret to making gil while crafting is to add value to the ingredients using your time and your skill. Taking 10k worth of ingredients, however you got them, and making them into a 5k item loses 5k regardless of if you farmed them or bought them on the AH.
- Fishing and Chocobo Digging have a skill-progression (Fishing is a craft and Digging can improve with use), so they are slightly different from HELM; you can earn skill and items for crafting at the same time.
- When making Guild Point items, pay attention to the gil/GP ratio. Set an acceptable ratio and go with it. Factor in HQs that sell at a profit; that’s icing on the cake or a lozenge, depending on your perspective.
- Some people don’t like making their own GP items or the ingredients for them if they can help it, even when profitable. Help them out, when profitable.
- The function of Guildshops is to ensure a steady minimum supply of basic crafting goods, not a cheap supply of popular and expensive items or a fairly-distributed supply. When passing by, check them for bargains, but don’t camp them for stuff everyone else is buying.
- Key Items for crafting should do one of two things: Allow you to craft new items that are profitable or allow you to enhance your HQs (like Lumberjack or Titration). Skip ones that do neither until SE changes them.
- Test items and Guild Point items suck, but are both required and worth it. Get over the cost and inconvenience, and move on. Everyone else does, in the end.
- There are 5 universal reasons to get Guild Points for any one craft: the two equipment items, the two furniture items, and Key Items. Get them in increasing order of cost, typically, for your main craft. For sub-crafts, they’re incredibly optional.
The Psychological Side
Just a few points missed from above.
- Heed superstition; it can’t hurt. For all you know, it could even help. I have read and been told a lot, but my current favorites are: proximity to midnight (game time), use of en- or bar-spells, direction you are facing, and even/odd game time. Please send me any extras or post them in the Discussion tab; the en-/bar-spell one had me laughing for an hour.
- FFXI is a computer game that allows for social interactions and open decision-making by humans. Mathematics may be rational and produce optimal solutions to problems, but humans are irrational and less-than-perfect actors, no matter what your Economics teacher may think. However, because the human decisions are still be bound within the rationalistic, mathematical nature of the program, patterns can/will emerge for you to recognize and use.