The first time it took a huge chunk of change to repair my falchion, I immediately leapt to the obvious conclusions: do leves with big monetary rewards and repair the falchion after each leve. This is a pretty logical step, and it is also apparently one hundred percent wrong. I may as well have just taken my gil and discarded it in the middle of the street for all the good it was doing me. Unfortunately, I was watching my funds dwindle with distressing speed when I finally noticed what was happening.
From prior repairs, I knew that around 50% durability it was going to cost me 36,000 gil for a repair. (OK, 35,998 or so. Same difference.) Then one night I was a bit lower on leves and went back to Ul'dah when I was sitting at about 65% durability on the sword. That was when I noticed that the price was identical to the 50% durability mark. So I waited, checked in on the price the next day when I was at the halfway marker, and saw that it was still identical. I repaired, then idly talked to the NPC again and asked him to repair my sword.
Bingo. It was 36,000 gil for repairs, even though there was literally nothing that he could do, since repair NPCs can't bring an item above 75% durability.
Condition does indeed seem to influence the price, but it seems to be a matter of how far below 50% you are, and it's a fairly small scaling value. The biggest part of the price seems to be a base value for a given item, which makes a certain amount of sense -- repairing an item yourself generally brings it back to full with one tap of the hammer, whether you're sitting at 80% or 8% durability.
This might seem like a minor thing, and if you mostly wear gear that you can repair, it's really irrelevant. But if you're wearing a lot of things you can't necessarily fix, this makes a huge difference. Repairing every scrap of damage your armor accumulates would seem like a good idea, but from what I've seen, it's actually causing you to lose money in the long run. You should be repairing things that are close to the 50% threshold and letting everything else age a bit, because by all indications that's going to save you money in the long run.
As the header implies, this is a really stupid and counterintuitive rule, and I haven't seen anyone else bring it up in the past. That having been said, it does keep in line with the way item effectiveness scales based on condition -- an item above 10% functions at full capacity with no scaling penalties. So I'm inclined to trust my research on this one, especially since I've been re-acquiring some of the money I apparently wasted on overzealous repairs.
Optimally, yes, you'll know people who can provide you with a solid 100% repair time and again at minimal cost. And I'd be remiss in failing to point out that my linkshell is replete with helpful folks who would no doubt do so gladly. But no one is on at all times, and there are times when you just don't want to bother anyone. (Seriously, I stock up crafting materials for other people and just give them away; I'm not big on asking others for favors or even compensation.)
I've been told that cutting down on the rank gap between yourself and the items you equip can help with the stat problem, but to be frank I haven't seen it. My Falchion and my Bone Staff both seem to wear out at roughly the same rate, even though my Gladiator and Thaumaturge are roughly the same level (meaning that the Gladiator is underleveled for the weapon and the Thaumaturge is overleveled). It certainly doesn't change the core precept of how to make the most of your repair budget.
I've mentioned before that I think the whole durability thing is going to get slowly moved out of the game, and I'm honestly hopeful that it does. Naoki Yoshida seems to have a pretty good eye for things that are actually interesting versus needless limitations, and the whole durability system is the latter. It's not worth much to most crafters, it's not worth much to non-crafters, and the net result is to make everyone's life more difficult. Yes, it's a touch of realism, but it isn't adding anything of note to the game, and it's certainly not a system that comes highly recommended.
But at least understanding it means you can minimize costs while it is in place. That's got to count for something, at least in my book.
As always, if you disagree or have better numbers to back up or counteract my findings (and I'd like to be wrong, because as mentioned, it's a really dumb rule), you can get in touch with me via the comment field or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week I'm hoping Final Fantasy XI's mini-update will have dropped, but even if it hasn't, there's plenty to talk about for both games in the field of leveling, gaining skill, and generally climbing to the cap.
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.