After way too much time with the chat window and getting little result, I galloped my trusty Moa Steed over to Dragonfang Ridge to check on the possibility of collecting the Black Triumph set. It's a nice level 50 epic set with bonuses for having all the pieces, but it turns out it takes a very long time to collect the mob drops needed. Besides, a good portion of the drops I need come from the Cyclops mobs which I'm currently not strong enough for. It was starting to look like I had no other choice but to wait a long time, or spend a nice chunk of cash in one go if I wanted to quickly upgrade my armor. I ended up taking a long journey to learn a lot of different options and found that there is a faster way to beef up my character.
First, I had to get over my mental attachment. Even though my main is now level 54, all my armor ranges from 46 to 48. It was all given to me with some nice yellow stats found in instances that I can't run. I always thought it would be horrible to give those up without being able to replace them and it left me limiting myself needlessly. I was simply placing too much importance on needing superior stats and foregoing the importance of getting higher-level equipment with better base attributes. The next important step was to make sure all that new gear had a durability bonus.
Many patches ago, Frogster implemented the chance to get equipment drops with a random durability bonus that yielded a 20 percent increase to an item's base attributes. My character is actually wearing a couple pieces with the bonuses, but I've always overlooked the importance of having it. I always quickly dismissed farming for the bonus enhanced equipment as being too much work when I could get the same bonuses -- and more -- by simply upgrading an item's power rating. Really though, it doesn't take too long to collect them and I can knock out some daily quests along the way. The second part of that though is realizing the new armor doesn't have my current stats on it.
Starting with new gear sans my current equipment's stats also initially seemed like a bad way to go, because I knew I'd lose some of those good stats. I can't farm for the yellow stats I currently have, and I'd lose them by using in-game Fusion Stones that come with lower green stats already on them. It would appear my armor would lose power in that area, but between salvaging some of those stats and the higher-level equipment -- with durability bonuses -- it will meet or exceed the loss.
I'll also want to at least match my current equipment's power rating. I've always been able to get my gear to three -- in a reasonable amount of time -- by using the in-game Jewels. By this point, I'm looking at spending some real cash, but I'd move on to other guaranteed methods of enhancing before returning to the hit-or-miss chance when using purchased Jewels.
Rune slot Drillers would go next. Some farmed armor could get a free rune slot or two in addition to the durability bonus, but waiting for both the durability and rune slot perks would add too much time to my plans. I'm happy to use the ones I happen to find, but not at the cost of extra time added to finding equipment with a durability bonus. Remember, I'm looking at a moderate improvement that's economical and quick. So far I haven't spent a dime, and equipment drillers are pretty cheap. I could also get stronger runes than I currently have in those slots by combining the many high-level ones so frequently found in my character's level range. This would help offset the Fusion Stone transfer loss and maybe even give me a further boost above and beyond that.
Tiering really goes a long way, but it's either expensive or complicated. Hunting down the in-game Fusion Stones for further tiering is going to be the biggest timesink and I really don't want to keep adding more time. It will take long enough to match in-game Fusion Stones for the earlier stat transfer I mentioned. In the end, I would push tiering to the side and upgrade it only over time after I took care of my initial concerns and as my budget allowed.
Although everyone will have a different budget, mine takes into consideration a comparison to the cost of a one or two month subscription to a standard MMO, but it's not a specific formula. With just $15 to $30 dollars I can get away with these upgrades on armor that I'll probably have for at least another five to ten levels. I'll have pushed myself far enough ahead to speed up solo questing and make it easier to run group instances. It will also aid me in battlegrounds, guild wars and guild sieges.
As simple as all this might be sounding, it really is easy to forget such a basic approach. The overwhelming options and all the individual shinies easily had me shooting for improvement jumps that were always just beyond my reach. A "Just do it" philosophy definitely helps keep from being sidetracked each step of the way.
Many players might say that it's not worth it for such a moderate improvement when I could save up while leveling, farm for weeks and end up with better equipment. Doing a lot of that seems to quickly becomes min-maxing and a feeling of work sets in for me, which I don't want. I may have spurts of energy to grind in an area from time to time, but not so consistently. I take a much more whimsical approach to enjoying the game and am always jumping from one fun activity to the next.
In any case, my new gear plan will be an improvement and that is a good thing. If you have any bright ideas to add or questions about RoM's upgrading systems, let's hear it in the comments. I can also be reached at jeremy [AT] massively [DOT] com.