Wings Over Atreia
Footsteps echo off the cobblestones paving the marketplace streets. The sunlight streams through the merchant stalls, and the wind tugs at the awnings as trinkets and baubles spill out of baskets on every counter. One merchant eyes a possible patron drawing near.

"Oh, have I got a deal for you. Special for you, only for you! Come see, come see! Ack-ack-ack-ack-ack." But the Daeva continues to pass by. Thinking quickly, the furry shopkeeper calls out, "FREE!"


You stopped, didn't you?

OK, so maybe this is not what shopping is like really in Aion's BlackCloud Marketplace (though it is fun to envision), but the principle is the same. Marketing 101 teaches that above all else in the world, be it Earth or Atreia, one simple word hooks people and reels them in like a first-rate fishing lure: free. Don't believe me? Well, you clicked on this story, didn't you? And if you want to see what free cash shop items you can get your hands on in Aion, you'll also click past the break!

Aion screenshot
Hook, line, and sinker

Maybe you really thought you could resist. Yet here you are. That's OK; I'm susceptible too. See, just knowing the marketing ploys apparently doesn't make you completely immune to them. It's hard to go against our nature, and our nature happens to be a moth to the flame of "free." Let me illustrate:

Over the past few months I've been regaled with the tricks of the trade in the fine art of advertising as my son enjoyed a marketing class. One of his favorite observations was that the term "free" was like a magnet to consumers. A product could be labeled 50% off and be cheaper than the same product in a buy-one-get-one-free offer (accounting for the fact you get two, of course), but folks would flock to the free one and ignore the cheaper one. We understand this and we are amused by it. But then along came the true test: While logging in Aion this past week I glanced at those four sweet-as-honey letters on the launchpad and clicked without even thinking about it!

Yup, I instinctively had to see what all the fuss was about and prepare to grab myself some free goodies, regardless of whether I needed them or not! Heck, even if I didn't need them now, I might in the future, so it would be good to have them just in case. That's what I am telling myself, anyway. So what tempting deal is NCsoft offering? It almost doesn't matter does it, as long as it is free or nearly free!

Aion screenshotMoney for nothing and XP for free

If you are still with me, we know it is because of that irresistible urge for freebies! Well, it's your lucky two weeks because the BlackCloud Marketplace is actually offering two different daily deals to Daevas until July 18th. It may be a blatant ploy to pull us into the store to hopefully make more purchases, but no matter: These goodies are worth the temptation. And time is limited, so if you want to take advantage of them, you'd better hurry! (I'm already lamenting missing three days myself!)

The first deal is the freebie. For absolutely nothing (other than a trip to the cash shop), you can get two different gifts each day per account: one berdin's amulet III and one berdin's amulet IV. The berdin's amulet III offers a bonus 100% XP gain from hunting, gathering, and crafting for one hour and can be used only by Daevas under level 55. The berdin's amulet IV also lasts for one hour, but it can be used by any Daeva under level 60 and offers only a 50% increase in XP. Both amulets, however, can be traded among the toons on the account via the account warehouse.

An NCoin for your thoughts

Although the next deal isn't technically free, it might as well be. It's nearly free. For the low, low price of only one NCoin, players can get their hands on a box of random form candy and a berdin's special amulet III each day during the promotion. Note that the candy is available only for characters level 30 or above, and each race gets its own box. The amulet is available to all levels and offers a 30% increase to the chance of obtaining loot while hunting and can be shared via the account warehouse.

Taking advantage of these two deals doesn't even necessarily mean purchasing any NCoin. Chances are if you are a veteran player who was subbed at the time Aion went free-to-play, you have some NCoin stashed away as reimbursement for your unused sub time. For some, the amount may be so minuscule that it was summarily forgotten about and left unused. What better time to find a use for it than now during this promotion?

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Now that you're here...

Of course, the whole idea of offering said promotions is to get folks in to check out the cash shop, but at least NCsoft doesn't beat you over the head with that fact and drag you through the whole site. Personally I like that the special event items are displayed on the first page when you log in instead of forcing you to hunt through all the sections. That way I can (more easily) avoid the siren song of other items.

However, with four different items to grab each day, you need to actually have some cube space to get all the deals, so why not invest in one of the cube or warehouse expansions while you are there? And as long as you are logged in, might as well look at...

The merchant is smiling now. Once you are caught, it's that much harder to break free. Beneath that jovial furry exterior lies one shrewd business Shugo.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.