Vanguard: WarCry Column: Vanguard Crafting, How It Smelts the Competition


Vanguard’s Crafting System and How It Smelts the Competition

From the moment I tried to craft my first work order, I was sold on Vanguard. Although there were so many aspects of the game to steal me from other MMO’s, the crafting system was one that just impressed my socks off.

As a developer, it takes some kind of ingenuity and a lot of thought to create a crafting system to free players from the grind of collect-the-materials-and-push-the-button approach of crafting prevalent in the MMORPG’s out there. Sigil did just that with a crafting system that is multi-tiered, in-depth, graphically enticing sometimes irritating, (by design – see below) and just plain fun.

As with any crafting system, if you want to create your own items, you’ll need to do some harvesting. Chances are, in Vanguard, that you will not be buying the majority of your mats from the auctioning system. Sure, if you want to add the attunement dusts or other enhancements to your ores or whatever components your craft requires, you could buy them. But as far as base materials, harvesting is going to provide the bulk.

The Vanguard harvesting system has the familiar tasks of mining ores, reaping plants, and chopping down trees for lumber. But it goes a step further with group harvesting. Players in a party can actually mine a node together and increase the output they get from the node. If three players group up regularly and have different harvesting professions, they can seriously up their harvesting potential by regularly harvesting in groups. The yield increase is significant, over time. Keeping this in mind, the first thing a player will want to do when claiming their harvesting and crafting professions is buy all the harvesting tools, not just the ones that they use for their own harvesting. With this group harvesting functionality, Sigil has provided players yet another reason to group up. That is, after all, the point of online gaming on this level.

Another great thing about the Vanguard crafting system is that the player doesn’t have to start harvesting or throwing harvested components out the window as the result of failed recipes at low level skills. In each crafting area, there is a taskmaster who will provide the player with up to 3 recipes at a time to practice their craft. These taskmasters give the player the materials for the work orders, so there is no harvesting to be done. If the player opens the character sheet and goes to the crafting tab, they will see their progress meter move across the screen as they complete recipes. It’s a great way to monitor your progress, when compared to the usually non-graphical “your fishing skill has raised by .01” in FFXI or the “233/300” of WoW. Players actually get to see a progress bar. The taskmasters give out assignments of three types: Batches, Sets and single items. A batch consists of 5 items and usually rewards money, an item, and the possibility of a rare item. A set consists of three items to craft and rewards money and an Item and a single item rewards money. If a player has the patience and the time, doing sets or batches greatly increases the amount of money made and will even give the occasional + ability crafting clothing the player can wear to upgrade their finishing skills, ingenuity, etc. (Which activity at the crafting tables is used for each part of the crafting puzzle is shown when the player mouses over the next step in the crafting process). When taskmasters give out recipes, the recipe description shows the difficulty of the recipe (likelihood a player will finish the item(s) with any quality whatsoever).

For players who have played games like FFXI, it will be appreciated that the player doesn’t have to change into their +2 crafting gear as it is done automatically. Each set of clothing from adventuring, to crafting and harvesting, is kept on the character avatar so as not to take up precious inventory space (it is, after all, precious). When a user starts harvesting, they will see their clothes automatically change to harvesting clothes and when they attack a mob, their adventuring gear will reappear.

There are multiple kinds of work stations in the game for each profession, such as refining stations (where a blacksmith would refine ore into ingots or sheets to make weapons or armor) and a finishing station (where he or she would make the components to create weapons or armor). During the refining process, a player can add attunement dusts to the ingot or whatever else they are creating to make special materials to raise the attributes of a finished project. For example, I used Attuning Dust of Dexterity to make a special kind of Ingot (Brigand’s Ingot, I believe) and, when I got to the finishing station, I used that ingot to make a sword. The sword, because of the grade A quality, gave +6 to dexterity. At a lower grade of C, it might have given a +4 stat bonus to the weapon. With no quality enhancement at all, I’ve seen +2 dexterity, just by using the ingot that was refined with the attuning dust. This system took forethought. I made four short swords, all +6 dexterity, and sent 2 to my Halfling Ranger and 2 to a friend’s bard. The professions will serve the player’s needs.

Participation in a number of quests when the player fist meets the taskmasters for his or her starting region is required in order to obtain professions. The quests provide some crafting levels to start with as well as some clothing for the crafting profession that help the player increase their skills at certain tasks (more come, as mentioned above, from work orders). These quests introduce the player to the actual crafting process. Patience and diligence are a huge plus here as going through this short process one time, giving it full focus, will save a player a lot of questions later.

One part of crafting in this game is complications. There are multiple things that can go wrong when one if refining materials or finishing them. When a player has complications on the screen, he or she must use extra points if they want to ignore them and just do the next part of a process. On top of the extra points spent (and the smaller likelihood of producing grade A items), complications cause less progress than would normally be yielded by each step. For example, if one is tailoring and injures his or her self, then you would have to use bandages to heal your delicate little fingers to get the most out of your next step in crafting. If you didn’t load balances on the table when starting the crafting process, you have to just keep working and it will cost you points and progress to do so. Find what materials to load on the table at the beginning is a matter of trial and error, but the player will figure it out in a short time. Another point about these complications is it takes progress points to remove the complications. When to fix problems and when to just keep working is a matter of judgment and the player will have to make decisions. To me, this makes it even more interesting.

Another nice part of the harvesting and crafting are the graphics. When one mines a mineral, the ground or rock shakes. When blacksmithing and adding heat to the forge, your character pulls the steam vent. When complications arise during the crafting process, you might even be able to figure out what cuss words your dwarf is saying, even though he mumbles them. Foot stomping, fist pounding, and even crying are not out of the question. Best of all, when one is trying to complete a batch of 5 copper whatevers, and a complication arises, one might actually get annoyed along with the character being played (I have actually had my character’s reactions elicit a real one). . How much more involved can a game make you? While it is true that it can get monotonous trying to craft 15 items for three work orders, the improvement to one’s craft leveling and the bonus items (maybe even a rare), which add money to your purse when sold to the nearby vendors) make the cross-eyedness worth it. Just make sure to go out and kill stuff every once in a while!

Each profession has a distinct role in Vanguard. While a blacksmith might make armor and weapons or an outfitter (tailor, for WoW fans) might clothe the caster classes, the artificer uses wood and stone to create weapons, jewelry, furniture and (rumor has it) houses and boats. No matter which class one chooses, there will always be something to do! For the most part, I am very glad that I didn’t wait too long to start the harvesting and crafting as it plays a nice role in outfitting the character at an early level with items that boost stats enough to make a difference.

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