Spreading yourself just thin enough
There are eight different classes for crafters, and that alone makes picking a craft daunting. The obvious approaches are either all or just one, and neither approach will work all that well past the initial levels. "All" spreads you far too thin to advance much in any given craft, while "just one" will allow you access to higher quests faster but minimize your cross-class ability selections.
Assuming that you're not simply crafting to the exclusion of other content such as killing things, your inventory is also going to fill near to bursting if you try to save every possible material for all the crafts. Personally, I recommend somewhere between two to four different crafting disciplines. It's a broad enough spread that you can do a variety of local quests and keep yourself occupied, but not so great that you're holding on to every random tuft of fur from monsters you kill.
I'll admit that I'm still not very happy about the way every craft seems to require a half-dozen ingredients from other crafts, but we'll leave that to one side for the moment. The fact of the matter is that players benefit from using at least some of this synergy when choosing their crafts. Every part of a product you can craft yourself reduces your overhead as well as gives you an alternative when something goes wrong during the synthesis.
Culinarians are currently the most island-like profession, with very few other crafts required for them to produce a tasty dish, and no call for Blacksmiths to include kabobs in their haubergeon. On the flip side, it seems that blacksmithing and leatherworking find use in many other recipes, albeit in a small sense. If you don't wish to take up one of these classes, befriending someone who does is probably a good plan. The other crafts vary somewhat, with Alchemists also being fairly self-sufficient, Armorsmiths being fairly dependent upon others, and both weaving and carpentry being somewhere in the middle.
At 10, every craft gets its first ability -- a command that will come up every so often on the list of synthesis options. The triggers for these commands seem to be wholly random, or at least not known at the moment, and each one lasts for about three synthesis actions following the command. How useful an ability you gain is going to to have an impact on your ease of crafting for much of your leveling experience.
Alchemist: Preserve turns the orb to white and keeps it white. While this gives you the highest chance of success, an item that's difficult to craft will still probably result in a string of failures. This is, however, massively useful for crafts you know you can do and combines nicely with low-level parts when you just want to hammer on Rapid.
Armorer: Blinding Speed boosts the success chance of rapid synthesis. Square-Enix seems have done a slight balancing pass that makes rapid synthesis less attractive than it used to be -- if you lose you lose big, and if you win you just get a big progress increase without any quality. As such, Blinding Speed is mostly just useful for parts you make for yourself, since both local quests and finished products are greatly improved with higher quality.
Blacksmith: Maker's Muse increases the success rate of standard synthesis. Since standard is, yes, the standard choice... yeah, this is a pretty darn useful ability all around. It's not flashy, but it does a nice job of making each given product more likely to come together.
Carpenter: Tender Touch temporarily reduces durability loss. This right here is a massive boost to your odds of success and makes carpentry very attractive for starting crafters. Loss reduction seems to be about three to five points across the board, and it works for all actions, whether or not the attempt is successful.
Culinarian: Harmonize reduces risk. In essence, this reduces the negative effects of actions, including touch-ups after you've completed a product. It's pretty useful alongside Tender Touch in helping you make your craft go smoothly, so I have to give the cooks in the audience props for that.
Goldsmith: Epiphany boosts the success chance of synthesis actions... in theory. In practice it seems to usually do precisely squat. Still, it's useful for the odd chance when it fires off perfectly.
Leatherworker: Fulfillment temporarily increases the chance of success. While I've not played with this one personally, I'm told that it works similarly to the way Epiphany works, right down to the "no big effect" part of the description. If you've gotten great milage out of it, please, tell me in the comments.
Weaver: Masterpiece boosts the success rate of bold synthesis. While it's hard for an ability to be outright bad, this one does start approaching it. Bold synthesis is a great chance to boost quality when you reach high progress and high durability, and in order for this to be useful you need to reach that point first, then have Masterpiece trigger, and then still have enough margin to get a couple of successful bolds in. It's super-situational, in other words.
Well, that about wraps it up for crafting...
All right, not really. But it should at least give you a point to start from. Crafting in Final Fantasy XIV is deep enough that we're going to be coming back to it again. It's also important enough that you need to start off with at least some idea of what's going on, since otherwise you'd be staggering around like a lost little miqo'te without the slightest idea of which crafts are worthwhile.
Not that I know what that's like.
Let me know what you think of this week's column by posting in the comments or by mailing off to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week is our community highlight column, and by all means, pass along any threads you want to see in the spotlight. Until then, I have to get some work put in for when Goldsmiths finally get a supply of glass -- most of A.E.T.H.E.R.'s members want a pair of glasses for some reason.
From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.