Welcome, Adventurer - you return seeking knowledge of the role of the artisan in the fair land of Albion? ull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and let me share what I know, so that you may understand what this path will require of you...
The aim of this guide is to give you, the potential artisan, a decent understanding of the economics and strategy of crafting equipment, from the earliest stages to a solid mid-tier level. For players who have not previously considered crafting or who are new to the game, this guide will cover the things you need to consider prior to starting on the path of the artisan. Once you have read this guide, you can read the excellent work of ZaZii and Stravanov on the Albion forums for a more in-depth look at gathering, crafting and refining, as well as the relationship between these three skill groups.
Crafting in Albion Online is generally best viewed from one of two approaches:
1) Self-sufficiency, i.e. as a fighter/adventurer, or
2) Profit, i.e. as a producer
First I'll explain the basics, so you don’t make the mistakes many new players to Albion make. These mistakes can leave you feeling frustrated (along with an empty money pouch), but you can avoid this if you plan ahead carefully. These basics can be applied to all of the crafting skills ingame, from sword to ox to everything in-between, and an understanding of them will stand you in good stead.
(Please note: at the time of this writing, the Merlyn update is fast approaching. Merlyn will bring increased bonuses to refining and crafting in the Royal cities, so now is a great time to plan ahead with your crafting goals and to stockpile resources.)
1. What should I craft?
This comes down to to the two approaches mentioned above: a desire for self sufficiency versus a desire for profit through crafting. It is possible to craft for self-sufficiency and profit at the same time, but this will mean that the items you pick for self-sufficiency must be items that other people will also require. This means you will be crafting equipment to fit established builds already used by other players. This in itself can be a double-edged sword, as profits may be lower if many other artisans produce what you plan to make. However, worry not, as an active market is often the best one to participate in, as long as you're quick with sales and orders and able to turn a quick profit at higher tiers. Taking the time to study the current meta builds prior to crafting anything is a solid plan.
Be realistic in your end goal - trying to craft everything is an easy trap to fall into, and this will definitely hamper your long-term progression. Once you have decided which area you wish to specialize in, be it a weapon group, an armor group, a mix of equipment for your current build, or simply bags and cloaks, you are almost ready to begin. Pick one item to focus on and start crafting that item. Have a clear understanding and goal, stay focused, and concentrate on that item. Once your goal has been reached, look at the next item you wish to craft and start the process again.
2. How do I fund my crafting?
Crafting is expensive, so you will need a good source of income while you are training your skills. This will ideally be something that is not focus-intensive, as you will always want to craft with focus after you reach Tier 4 whenever possible. Having an alt character who can mass-produce carrots or refine materials to sell is a good start, or you can simply go adventuring and raise Silver on your own.
The most important thing is to ensure you can afford crafting fees at the city plots. You will always want to craft at a city plot, as they give a base 15% return of goods without focus. You will not want to sell anything you craft at first, as the quickest route to success is through the use of the "study" option, available at crafting stations in cities. Studying items gives you 300% fame on each and every item you craft: 100% from the actual crafting of the item and 200% from studying it! Please note: after the Merlyn update this base rate will increase depending on the city in which you craft and the equipment you are crafting, which could be the deciding factor in where you craft each specific piece of equipment.
3. Where do I craft?
Finding a good established vendor of the type you require in the cities is important. With the Merlyn update, the dynamic of crafting and gathering will likely change, and it is important to be able to take advantage of good vendors in the location that is right for you. Once you find a vendor you like the look of, it doesn’t hurt to send the owner a message asking if they are willing to add you as an associate to get better rates. In return, you can explain you are willing to craft at their station exclusively.
4. How can I buff my crafting level?
Salads are your best friend here, as they add to your crafting skill. Focus does not add to your crafting skill: focus when used in crafting determines the amount of returned resources you will receive. Try to find a regular supplier of salads, as their duration is short and you will require a lot of them. You could of course simply craft them yourself - maybe the alt that farms for you can also cook, or perhaps a friend or guildmate can help in return for equipment you are making. There are many options to consider on sourcing salads, so pick the one that works best for you.
5. I made something!
Congratulations! Crafting equipment to a tier 4 skill level is quick and isn’t too much of a drain on resources. If you are following the path of self-sufficiency, this is where your goals become very important, as you will want - whenever possible - to be able to craft your own equipment to wear. Many players find that keeping their crafting skill a level ahead of the equipment they need is a good goal until tier 6 - 7. This enables the self-sufficiency goal to work at maximum effect.
If you are trying to craft for profit, stick to your end goal and remain focused on one item. You'll want to get that item to a level where you can sell at a profit before looking for other items to craft. Remember, it is very important to stick to your goals and work at maximum efficiency where possible to reduce the impact upon your material stockpile.
6. I keep running out of materials. What can I do?
This is very common, as there is a massive hole in the crafting / refining process at tier 5. It is highly recommended that you use tier 4 materials to raise your crafting skill level to tier 6 if the current market prices persist - the cost of tier 5 materials makes it very difficult to incorporate them into your crafting and places unnecessary stress on your funds. It will take you longer, but it will be much cheaper, and will allow you to fill up more journals for your laborers. This in turn will set you up for future crafting projects with a good materials stockpile.
7. Wait - what are journals / laborers?
There are guides covering islands and setting up your labor force in the guide section, so these areas will not be covered in detail in this guide. At the very least, you will always want to have journals in your backpack when crafting, as the additional revenue from selling them is a great source of funding. Alternately, you can send your laborers out and they will return with materials for you, reducing the impact upon your own materials store. It cannot be overstated how important laborers are: at low tiers the resource return is a massive bonus, and at high tiers the chance for enchanted materials being returned by the laborer is enough to consider the outlay for buildings upon your island money well spent.
8. I'm an Apprentice Artisan!
Well done! You should now be either well on your way to self-sufficiency, or at a level where you can start to sell your crafted goods for a profit. Many people's experience, this is normally around tiers 5-6, but remember that each item you sell is something you are not studying for that amazing extra fame bonus.
So in conclusion, focus on one item at a time, buy cheap, and sell high where possible. Write everything down, build yourself an understanding of market pricing, add any contacts (be they suppliers or buyers) to your friends list, seek out those who require your services, and stay in regular contact with them.
Safe travels, Adventurer - may your pockets be full of Silver and your material stockpiles as high as the roof of the highest warehouse. Hopefully this will give you a basic understanding of crafting within the fair world of Albion.
Thanks again to ZaZii and Stravanov for their amazing work on the forums.