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FFXIV Crafting: Getting Started
While crafting in Final Fantasy XIV is still a fairly straightforward process (as opposed to, say, crafting in real life) it's still more complicated than in many other MMOs.
1) Equip your tool. This changes your class over to the appropriate FFXIV crafting class. All basic ("weathered") tools are available from vendors in each of the cities. If you're unsure what sort of tools a given crafting class uses, you can refer to Yellow Gremlin.
Main hand or off hand? At the starting level for FFXIV crafting, this question doesn't actually matter. Main and off hand tools will produce the same results; their use only becomes important at more advanced levels. For the time being, it's fine to save money and just buy one or the other, rather than both.
3) Choose ingredients. Either pull ingredients directly from your inventory (it helps to know a recipe for this part), or pick the "requested item" option if you're on a local levequest.
4) Confirm the recipe and okay the element shard/crystal expenditure. There may sometimes be multiple recipes available for a certain combination of raw materials, so be careful to pick the end result that you want.
5) Begin synthesis.
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Progress, Durability, and Quality
Progress: How close you are to finishing the synthesis. In order for a synthesis to be successful, progress must reach 100%.
Durability: How much durability (or "life) is left in the synthesis. If the durability reaches zero before progress reaches 100%, the synthesis fails. A botched synthesis will provide a small amount of skill gain, but only about a tenth of what a successful synthesis gives.
Quality: Quality is perhaps the least important stat for beginning craftsmen. Quality is a measure of how well-made the item is. At low levels of crafting, all quality really signifies is a little extra skill gain. The extra points for high quality are nice, but not so important that it's worth risking a botched synthesis.
Raw materials with a "+1" or "+2" give a boost to starting quality and durability. Use those when trying out a new recipe.
The three different kinds of synthesis interact with these stats in different ways.
Standard Synthesis: Splits the difference between quality and progress gain, and durability loss.
Rapid Synthesis: Puts all of the emphasis on progress gain. A rapid synthesis will gain very little quality if successful, but can often jump the progress meter by 30%.Rapid synthesis also causes very little durability loss.
Bold Synthesis: This puts all the emphasis on quality gain. Durability loss is high, even on a successful attempt, and there is only a small progress gain. Bold synthesis is also the least likely to succeed out of all three types.
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The Amazing Color-Changing Item Trick
During FFXIV synthesis, the item being made is represented by a little ball of light. This light changes color to indicate how stable the item is.
Yellow: Item is becoming unstable, medium chance of synthesis succeeding.
Red: Item is unstable; high chance of failure. However, if synthesis does succeed, the gains from it will be the highest out of all three states.
Flashing: The craftsman has no idea what state the item is in; the computer chooses randomly.
The simplest way to deal with an unstable (red) state is to choose the "wait" option. The first time wait is used, it will only cost a single point of durability, and will allow the item to move up to a more stable state. The more times "wait" is used, the more durability each use will cost.
For a craftsman that feels very comfortable with the system, the item going unstable offers an opportunity to be daring. If there's a lot of durability left in the item and progress has been satisfactory so far, it can be worth trying bold synthesis at that time. If it fails, it will fail big... but if it succeeds the gains are great.
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A Simple Strategy for Skill Gain With FFXIV Synthesis
At the beginning of learning FFXIV synthesis, the best strategy is to aim for a successful synthesis every time and not worry about quality. Success always gives much more skill gain than failure. How difficult the synthesis ends up being depends on the level of the craftsman, the level of the recipe, and even the level of the tool being used.
For the time being, stick to rapid synthesis for when the item is white, yellow, or flashing. If using rapid synthesis on the item when it's unstable fails several times, just choose "wait" instead. If, when progress is up around 85%, there's a decent amount of durability left, try some standard or bold synthesis to get higher item quality. If those fail several times, however, just go back to rapid and finish the synthesis off. If trying a recipe results in a botch multiple times, the recipe may just be too high level - try something a bit easier for another level or two.
Worry about quality when you're a master - for now just learn your craft!