Trade Wars

Opportunity Cost and Credits per Hour

Before embarking on the journey of credit making in SWTOR there are two concepts you need to know and use: Opportunity Cost and Credits per Hour or simply Profit per Hour. These two concepts should be your two most important factors when deciding how best to accumulate credits.

Credits per Hour

This concept is faily simple. Scaled up or down, how much would any activity make you in credits per hour performed. For instance if farming mats for two hours and selling them for a total of 100.000 will give that activity a profit of 50.000 per hour. If crafting an item and selling that item for at profit of 5.000 credits on the face it will look to be less profitable than gathering mats, but taking into account that crafting the item on takes up to one minute (and that is a very high estimation) then the credits made per hour would be 300.000. It is clear that the first activity made you 100.000 credits and the second only 5.000, but imagine doing the second activity for 2 hours.

There are two things to note here: The first one is there is a throttle on how many items and therefore how much time you can spend on crafting. Crafting for two hours straight is simply not possible without wasting time on idling and therefore bringing down the hourly profit. Also the profit will scale with supply and demand so flooding the market with an item can decrease profits rapidly. Secondly time spent on crafting should be calculated from the time you spend on ordering the crafting of the items, not includning the actual craft time. That is because you can do other (creditmaking) activities while your crew is crafting the items.

Opportunity Cost

This concept is probably the one that most people don't know or at least don't realise is the reason for the decisions they make. Basically Opportunity Costmeans the choices you make have a value but also a profit or loss, because every choice you don't make has a value too. Given the choice to farm mats and sell the mats or buy the mats off the GTN and craft and sell those items each choice has a value. If we break down the example above every minute you farm mats you make 833 credits. Every minute you start a craft you make 5.000 credits. So every minute you are choosing to farm rather than crafting you lose 4167 in potential profit, so farming in this example is an overall economic loss.

To sum this up it is very important to know the profit per hour of every credit making activity you do in order to know how to make the most profit. Remember your time in-game is a resource and that resource needs to be as effective as possible if your goal is to make the most credits you possibly can. People often think their time is an infinite reource and therefore don't value their time, but time is a finite resource and should be valued just like you value your time in real life by earning an hourly wage. In SWTOR as in life you should set a price on your time and if an activity is not valued above your "hourly minimum" then it is not worth your time.


How GTN Works

Lets get one thing out of the way first: The Global Trade Network is not an auction house. It's a place you put your items for sale at a fixed price alongside everyone else's items. There is no minimum bid, only a sell price.

The search function is atrocious. In order to search for items you first need to specify a category and in most cases the subcategory as well. That will give you a list of items you can then filter by name. You also have the option of selecting the quality or level range and if the items are usable by you or any of your companions. The last option only applies to armor class and level as the GTN requires you to specify the armor class before searching the function is rather useless. For instance if you search for color crystals that is usable by you only it will still show crystals you cannot use due to force alignment. Also items are grey'ed out if you cannot use them.

The item list that you are provided with is sorted by stack price (if item is stackable), lowest to highest, by default. You cannot sort by single item price and to get it you will have to hover the mouse over the total price to see it.

Enough ranting about the search function. Now I need to rant on the sell function.

As mentioned above you are only able to put in a sale price when posting items. The GTN will also will in a default sell price for you. Always change that value. You have the option of putting your item for sale for 4  different time periods: 6 hours, 12 hours, 1 day, and 2 days. The deposit you will have to pay depends on the length of the "auction".

GTN Deposit

  • 6 hours - 5% of sell price
  • 12 hours - 10% of sell price
  • 24 hours - 13% of sell price
  • 48 hours - 15% of sell price

You will get your deposit back with the item when the auction expires or with the credits when it sells. The only time you will lose your deposit is when you cancel the auction. When an item is sold the GTN takes a 3% cut of the sale, but because you also get the deposit back the credits you can pick up from you mailbox is always greater than the sale, so you hardly notice the 3% cut.

Speaking of mails from the GTN. Whenever you sell an item you will get a mail instantly informing you about the sale and letting you know that in an hour you will receive the credits. If you do not check your mailbox before the credits arrive this mail will luckily vanish. The mailbox will also allow you to get attachments and credits from all mails with two simple clicks which makes the process nice and easy. The only gripe I have is the "get all attachments" button is right next to the "delete mail" button. One could easily press the wrong one if not careful.

So these are the basics of how the GTN works. Later I will discuss how we can use this to give ourselves a competitive edge when selling items.



How Reverse Engineering Works

There are a few ways to get higher quality schematics, but I will focus on the most common (and easiest one): Reverse Engineering. The basics of reverse engineering(RE from now on) is that you dismantle an item to learn how to make a better version of it and in the process you get some of the materials back. Sounds easy right?

For the most parts that is how it's done. When it comes to gear there are different improvements you learn through RE. For instance will RE of a green item have a chance of granting one of 3 types of schematics. Those types dictate what stat is added to the item. The 3 types are recognized by the prefix given to them:

  • Critical
  • Overkill
  • Redoubt

Critical will increase the Critical Rating, Overkill will increase the Power and Redoubt will increase the Defense Rating. How much of an increase depends on the level of the schematic learned. For instance will implants for level 50 players grant +35 to the bonus stat.

These 3 blue schematics have a chance to grant a purple schematic when RE'd and again a stat will be added. For the same implants as above the initial bonus stat will be increased by +5 and a new bonus stat is also added with an +40 increase. The 5 new stats to be added to a purple schematic are:

  • Accuracy
  • Alacrity
  • Presence
  • Surge
  • Shield Rating

The only exception is Redoubt items which for some reason will not grant any schematics with Alacrity. This gives a total of 3 blue and 14 purple schematics from just one green schematic. On top of that there are 10 different implants at skill level 380 and above which are available from the trainer. That's a total of 180 items to potentially craft and sell just for level 50 players.

In order to tell the 14 purple schematics apart they all have a certain prefix based on the two bonus stats. The blue prefix is removed and replace by one of 14 new prefixes. Here is a view of those:

Some of these are more useful than others and in a later post I will go over which ones might be profitable.


Level 400 Biochem – Now What?

If you haven't yet visited the crew skill trainer head over there and pick up all non-purple schematics. If you want to save some coin you can go for the top level schematics only which are the ones that require skill 380 and above. Unless you have a specific use for a Rakata schematic they are just a waste of money.

Now you need to study the market. This part of the process is by far the most time-consuming at the moment. Without add-ons or other tools to help you gather the data you need, you basically have to resort to pen and paper. On the surface this doesn't look to difficult, but then you realize that one green implant can turn into 3 blue implants and those 3 blue can turn into 14 purple, then it can be quite a task to keep track of up to 10 different green implants and their improved versions.

In order to keep track of the prices of mats and items I created a spreadsheet to hold some of the data needed. Let me go through how it works.

First you need to fill in the market value of the different crafting materials on the Materials sheet. The vendor mats are fixed on all servers so they are pre-filled. At the moment only Grade 5 & 6 materials are implemented in the sheet so don't bother with any of the others.

On the other sheets you fill in the market value (price) of the items on the GTN. In the example below you can see the data for the top level Reaction implant. The ones not filled are situations where there is no items posted on the GTN. This is obviously an opportunity if there is a demand for the item. I will cover which prefixes are most likely to be in demand and which ones to stay away from in a later post.

Another feature of the spreadsheet is being able to add your own schematics without having to deal with formulas and calculations. On the Adrenals & Stims sheet there is a custom section where any schematic can be added. The only restriction is the schematic can only use grade 5 or 6 materials. Just put in the amount of materials used by the schematic in grid to the right and the market value and you will know if there is a profit to be made from crafting the item.

Feel free to leave suggestions or feedback to the file in the comments below. You can also email me. My email is in the file as well.


What Crew Skill Is Best For My Class?

So you have started a new character and are looking for the best crew skills to go with that class. Unless you are a tank and are planning on min-maxing end-game PvP or PvE it doesn't really matter. The goal here is to make a profit, not select what fits your class best. There are a number of things you need to look at when deciding what is best for you. Most of these factors are dependent on the server you are on so I cannot say one way or the other. Here are what you should be looking at:

  • Which crew skills are underused?
  • Which markets can I penetrate?
  • What are material prices like?

The most obvious factor is how many are using their crew skill to make credits. Chances are there are plenty of players with Biochem. This opens up for lesser used skills where the competition might not be as fierce.

Check out the different categories on the trade network. There might already be people that have cornered the market on specific items or even whole crew skills. Is it worth it going up against those players?

You might very well decide not to be a crafter but a gatherer. There are plenty of credits to be made supplying materials, schematics and other goods to other traders. If material prices are high there is usually not a huge profit to be made or the risk you will have to take is too overwhelming when starting out with a limited bank roll. An easy way to make a living is to have only gathering or mission skills.

Here is a look at how the different skills are connected.