Farming upgrade materials

Discussion in 'Blade & Soul' started by Mistress, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. Mistress

    Mistress Member

    I often see people referring to "farming" Siren Emblems or Pirate Emblems or Soulstones or Frozen Darts or whatever. This drives me crazy, and I'd like to explain why.

    There are two types of upgrade materials in the game: those that you can buy, and those you can't. For those you can't, like Moonwater Refining Stones, there is no alternative other than to obtain them by doing the content that provides them. There's nothing to discuss, it's the only choice. But for materials that you can buy, there appears to be a choice: you can get them to drop for you by running content, or you can buy them.

    In reality, this appearance of a choice is an illusion. Mathematically, you are buying them either way. This is because of the "opportunity cost" of using the item rather than selling it.

    What is opportunity cost? As the name implies, it's the price you pay by forgoing some opportunity-- often it's the opportunity to sell something, but it could be anything. Let's look at an example.

    Say I have a bottle of 1996 Aldo Conterno Gran Bussia that I purchased for $50. Let's say I can sell it to my favorite wine merchant for $200. Or, obviously, I can drink it. If I drink it, you might be tempted to say I got a deal and drank a $200 bottle of wine for the bargain price of $50. This is incorrect, and if that's how you intuitively think of it, it's worth your while to understand why it's incorrect-- not just because of what it means for playing Blade and Soul, but also because it's a basic concept that helps you make good decisions in the real world.

    The actual cost of drinking that bottle is $200. Let's look at both alternatives. We'll pretend I have $500 in my bank account to start with:

    1. Paid $50 years ago, this is a sunk cost and is irrelevent to making a decision now. Drink the bottle. Bank balance is $500 and I have enjoyed a bottle of wine.

    2. Paid $50 years ago, this is a sunk cost and is irrelevent to making a decision now. Sell bottle. Bank balance is $700 and I have not enjoyed a bottle of wine.

    Forget the process of how I arrived there, because the process is in the past; it doesn't matter. What matters is the end state, the final position, the ultimate outcome. Just looking at the two outcomes, the difference is that I'm $200 poorer but have enjoyed a bottle of wine in scenario 1. That's what we call paying $200 for a bottle of wine. The fact that the bottle of wine started in my posession rather than in a wine store, the fact that I paid $50 for it years ago-- these are irrelevent. The process whereby I got to the current state can be considered a "black box", you literally don't need to know anything whatsoever about it: what matters is the comparison of the end states.

    To beat a dead horse: let's say that some 3rd party was asked to evaluate my choice, and he had no idea about any of what happened-- didn't know I bought the bottle of wine years ago, didn't know what I paid for it, didn't know I had the option of selling it, etc. He's just given the description of scenario 1 and scenario 2. How would he describe my decision to drink the wine? He'd say I paid $200 to drink it.

    It's straightforward to see how this applies to the idea of farming a material that you can buy. If you use it to upgrade an item, your opportunity cost is the price that you could have sold the item for. In other words (ignoring transaction fees for simplicity), you *are* buying the item. The fact that you "farmed" it yourself is 100% irrelevent.

    Take the example of a frozen dart that sells for 2g. You run a purple dungeon and are able to buy it for 1.5g. You use it and claim you have saved 50s. But you didn't. We'll say you have 20g in your inventory. Your two states are:

    1. Paid 1.5g, this is a sunk cost and is irrelevent to making a decision now. Use the dart. Still have 20g.

    2. Paid 1.5g, this is a sunk cost and is irrelevent to making a decision now. Sell the dart. Have 22g but have not used the dart.

    It's easy to see that you've paid the full 2g cost of the dart in order to use it.


    A final example:

    Let's say Hae Mujin's Machisimo is going for 70s. You, Mara and I all need a bunch.

    You deside to run BSH. You are able to get 4 of them per run, paying 35s for each. After deducting the 1.4g you paid for them, you still earn enough gold to buy another one, for a total of 5 per run. A run takes 25 mintues.

    In that same 25 minutes, I decide to do a complete mining phase on soulstone plains. I complete the two easy quests (killing elites and picking flowers) for 10 soulstones. I am incompetent so I'm unable to get credit for killing Strike captains, so I miss out on the big 15 soulstone payday and don't get to open a chest to earn a moonstone. I cash in 100 prestige for gem pouches twice, for another 12 soulstones. I earn 22 soulstones, which I sell for 20s each, earning a total of 4g40s. I purchase 6 Machisimo and have 20s left over-- I am 1 Machisimo and 20s ahead of you.

    Mara also does SS plains, but is able to kill strike captains and sacred beasts. He gets 10 soulstones for the easy quests, 15 soulstones for the big quest, turns in 100 prestige 3 times for 18 soulstones, and opens a chest getting a moonstone worth 2g. He sells his 43 soulstones for 9g60s, for a total of 11g60s. He's able to purchase 16 Machisimo with over 35s left over. He's 11 Machisimo and 35s better off than you.

    It's easy to see that I would be worse off deciding to get Machisimo "directly" in BSH, and Mara would be criminally stupid to do so. As long as we have any activity we can do that makes more than 3.5 gold per 25 minutes, we're better off doing that than doing BSH. There are a *lot* of ways to make more than 3.5g in 25 minutes.

    Of course, there are other reasons to run the dungeon that drops the item you want: you enjoy the fights, there are other drops you need in the dungeon, there are people you like playing with that are running it, you want the experience points, etc. But for content that is not challenging and that you're bored with-- say, Poharan for her perfume-- your optimal method is to figure out what you can do to earn the most gold in the time you have available. Most likely, that's NOT by farming E. Fleet.
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