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Slaying the Crowfall Gathering Monster

Crowfall‘s community is deep into its Pre-Alpha Big World testing. This last weekend’s testing not only saw the influx of Templars waving ridiculously large swords around, but a large amount of first time players that spent a lot of their time asking questions in game.  As of this post, there is no in game FAQ or Guide on Gathering, but I am hopeful to see something created by ArtCraft that enables players to launch into game with enough information to start their game play without struggling to gather.

If/when the team designs this FAQ, it will need to be very detailed, as the amount of stats that impact a player’s gathering is staggering. The top questions I have received in game, in Direct Message on Twitter and in Direct Message on Discord all revolve around what the buffs that players can leverage from the temporary testing potions are and what the hell is +(gathering stat) used for.

Note: I will avoid motherlodes as a discussion point at this time as I feel like they are still in flux and my comments might be way off compared to the next iteration of testing.

There is no way the Alchemy potions we have access to are what we will see in game, as the Crowfall team has been very clear they are for testing purposes only. The potions we can currently craft help gatherers simulate a much further progressed skill set in gathering. A skill set we will have to sacrifice training combat related skills to progress in. By forcing this choice (crafting/gathering vs combat), the team is following up on their promise to have crafters/harvesters feel like a real ‘profession’ in Crowfall. Since the game has not been around that long, these potions allow us to get a sense of what an end-game gatherer and crafter will be capable of. It also, similarly, shows us just how brutal the early-launch of this game will be.  It’s these numbers, however, that I want to talk about.

Why Gathering Is Just Like Killing a Monster

First, if you have not done any gathering in Crowfall let me walk you through it. Each time the player takes a whack at a node the node goes down in ‘hit points’. Ok, not really hit points but again let’s assume each node is a creature so we can use examples and terms that many of you might be familiar with.

Crowfall currently only has five different types of ore in game, but that does not mean the effort to kill/gather each node is the same. Crowfall has Ranks for each resource type. The effort a player needs to gather a Rank 1 Copper node is far lower than on a Rank 7 Copper node. I like to think of these ranks similar to hit dice from my paper and pencil days of Dungeon and Dragons. The number of these hit dice determined how much health the monster has, how much damage your tools/weapons take in attacking it, how much armor the monster has, and if you remember your D&D Dungeon Master basics, the hit dice also can help determine how good the loot is!

In Crowfall nodes range from Rank 0 (Slag) to Rank 10. This scale creates a range of nodes that fits neatly with the studio’s risk-yields-better-rewards design philosophy. The more difficult, higher risk campaigns have more valuable resources (higher ranked resource nodes). It is entirely possible that you might play in a campaign where the quality of nodes never goes above Rank 3, and similarly, you might play in a campaign where the nodes get no worse than a Rank 7 node.

Its important to pause and clarify what exactly these Ranks mean to you as the gatherer. For that, we have this nifty chart:

We’ll be looping back to this chart later on, but its important to notice that Rank 10 nodes have the ability to drop “Epic” and “Legendary” resources. This chart is just an example, and in reality is likely wrong by this point in development. The point is that the Rank of a node indicates a relationship to a custom loot-table where the quality of resources that can drop is whats in play.

In a game where a player can kill you and possibly loot you, time is a resource to manage just like any stat on your character sheet. The ability to kill your opponent quickly is a skill that all players attempt to learn. This will be no different for Crowfall gatherers, as the time it takes to ‘kill’ a node is determined by the skill of the crafter, the rank of the node, and the equipment used.  Let’s break this down.

What is +Mining, +Quarrying, +Logging, etc for?

All six basic Gathering Skills (at least from what we can see in the existing skill tree) each have a stat used to determine each player’s damage versus a materials type (vs Stone, vs Metal Ore, vs Trees, Etc.). Think of your +gathering skill as the base DPS you can do to that targeted node. I’ll use +mining in my example.

In the Excavation area of the Exploration training tree you have the option as a gatherer to spend your training time on improving your ability to mine ore.  One of the first skills you can train increases the damage you do with your mining pick. There are quite a few examples similar to this one, each of which improve the damage or efficiency in what your characters do to nodes per swing. Largely, however, the various gathering skill trees focus around improving the quality of materials that can drop.

When it comes to improving your damage against certain types of nodes, its your equipment that makes the largest immediate impact. A player can adjust their base gathering “damage” by adding crafted Rune Seals to their armor (and potentially jewelry/accessories) and possibly by making use of Disciplines. In effect, by increasing their damage against a node, they are increasing their efficiency (less swings/attacks needed, less durability used in doing so) in gathering that material type. To kill nodes quickly you will need to push your +gathering skills with both training and gear.

What About Those Potions?

Now we get to the theorycrafting part of the article. As of today, I have not received a written break down of each of these very important stats for gatherers from the developers. Despite not hearing back from them, we do know some things about the stats. These stats are buried within the character stats sheet of your character. If you have not hit the ‘[‘ key in game yet you are missing a very important part of what makes up your character.  The depth of the stats currently in Crowfall is dizzying, and while there are no guarantees that all the complexity we see now will be in game at launch, if you are a min/max gatherer you are missing out on some sexy data right now:

I think the amount of stats combined with no FAQ on what each stat means has caused some confusion in much of the player base, so I will try and break down how I see these stats impact a player’s effort in gathering. I will use mining again as an example. When I am talking about quality of the resources a player receives I have a tendency to continually interchange the quality name and quality color of the material. Yes, Legendary quality material are in game and no, I will not tell you how I got it. So let’s all remember these:

  • Poor (Grey)
  • Standard (White)
  • Good (Green)
  • Exceptional (Blue)
  • Epic (Purple)
  • Legendary (Orange)

Now let’s dive into the many possible stats that you as a gatherer will be trying to raise through your training selections, your crafted items and possibly enchanting/alchemy (though we have no true concept of these yet).

Beneficial Harvest

This can be a confusing stat as there is more than one possible benefit to having this ‘proc’ for a player.  In quizzing Crowfall‘s lead designer Thomas ‘Blixtev’ Blair about Beneficial Harvest I was able to nail him down that the outcome of a successful proc of this could give the players a stamina boost (a very useful gathering benefit) and a speed boost which is helpful to swinging your tool or running away from combat after  grabbing your loot.

This buff has no impact on what you will receive from the node you are gathering. It is merely a buff that increases your gathering ability for the near future (3o secs) on subsequent nodes. Remember that this can only ‘proc’ for you when a node is destroyed.

Harvest Critical Chance

This is really the proper name of the stat I think, even though the buff talks about Beneficial Harvest Chance, this stat is all about increasing the chance for a player to gain additional resources from the node he is gathering.

If the player has a successful proc of Harvest Critical then the game mechanics looks at the player’s Harvest Critical Amount (see next stat) to determine how much more of the resource the player receives. This stat combined with Harvest Critical Amount and Plentiful Harvest can drastically change a player’s rewards on the last strike of the node.

Harvest Critical Amount

This stat is leveraged by Crowfall to determine how much more of a specific resource the player will receive on a successful Harvest Critical roll (see above). If we parse the image captured from my skill tree below, as gatherers increase this stat we can increase the ‘Maximum Amount’ of the resource we are gathering.

When I step up to a Rank 5 Copper node and I have 0% in Harvest Critical Amount the amount of Copper I will harvest from the node will be within some evil statistical baseline that the developers at Crowfall have determined. By training this stat a player can hope that on proc they get a little more of the material they are gathering.

Plentiful Harvest

This is the single most important and the defining gathering stat in Crowfall. Understanding this stat seems to be the Rosetta stone for getting great quality loot from nodes in Crowfall. Every player starts with a 1 in Plentiful Harvest for every resource type. You can train an additional 3 points in the respective gathering skill trees and a final fifth point comes from having a player with Leadership fully trained in your group while your gather (more on this nonsense later).

If you look at the image I grabbed from within the current skill training area of my character (above) and then cross referenced it with the reposted Plentiful Harvest chart (below), you’ll begin to see why the Plentiful Harvest stat is so important. This chart is crucial to understanding gathering in Crowfall and its why only the players who focus on gathering a specific resource will be good at it. 

A player’s Plentiful Harvest stat will “shift” that player into an entirely different (and far superior) loot table. At which point, all of the other gathering stats kick in; crit chance, crit amount, etc.  The best way to visualize the impact of Plentiful Harvest is to give a scenario, so I will use myself and Facerip. To the math!

Anhrez (that’s me) mines 20 Rank 7 Copper nodes with a stat of Plentiful Harvest 5 and we see my output as:

  • 90 White Copper (common)
  • 41 Green Copper (good)
  • 37 Blue Copper (exceptional)
  • 11 Purple Copper (epic)

Facerip takes time off from killing near defenseless newbies and mines 20 Rank 7 Copper nodes with a stat of Plentiful Harvest 3 and we see his output as:

  • 83 White Copper (common)
  • 36 Green Copper (good)
  • 16 Blue Copper (exceptional)

Wait Anhrez! You said there are other stats that would impact the volume of the ore, how can you compare two different players without comparing all of their stats at the time of this example. Ok .. you caught me there is no way Facerip would take that much time off from killing players.

Please take a moment and watch a few videos on him burning down players to clear your head then come back to my crafting discussion.

It was actually me doing both scenarios, so all my stats were the exact same except for the Plentiful Harvest stat. The output gap is shocking right? The dev team at Crowfall have created a long, long journey for us gathering-focused players to travel along. We will not able to reach Plentiful Harvest 5 without an exceptional amount of effort and someone in your group (maybe yourself) trained in the Leadership skill tree of Vessels.

 

The gathering mechanics of Crowfall are still being worked on, of course, so all of this is subject to change. The game is still in Pre-Alpha but the team has been very consistent in their vision that gathering must have the same depth as combat and crafting for their game to become what they hope it will. By creating different outcomes for what a trained gatherer can collect versus a combat oriented character, they’ve clearly delineated the differences in combat and gathering professions so far. This commitment to making gathering and crafting something unique and demanded is truly unique in the MMO genre right now.

I hope this helped explain Crowfall gathering and I look forward to seeing you all in game soon … but stay away from my nodes.

 

Anhrez

Crazed fan of MMO's crafting/econ mechanics, meta game and making plushies. Looking forward to restarting some streaming soon. real-life Office Space 'Bob'

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