This article is mostly directed at those interested in combat in the top MUD, Achaea.
On the newbie channel a new player will occasionally ask whether they should convert their credits to lessons to progress in their skills, or whether they should save up for artefacts. At this very early stage in their text development the answer is always, “Convert for lessons.”
Should one wish to compete in combat though, there are some basic skills that really will need to be learned beyond the class skills. Learning all the skills to Transcendant might boost your perceived might, but are Seafaring, Inkmilling and Gathering really necessary? Of course not.
Below is an example of my characters skill list,. I don't play a serious combatant, so I have some erroneous skills learned but I made sure to get the main ones mastered (transcended).
The skill Survival gives some great curing and defensive abilities allowing the fighter to save some gold on supplies and granting the ability to possibly heal a little faster when needed.
Vision is another great skill to learn. At the top level it offers a chance protection against totems with Soft focus, great for the casual or consummate raider. It will also give you the ability to watch for people flying overhead, and plenty of other useful options.
Tattooing can be done by many, but being able to ink your own starburst on the fly can be a great time saver, in this case one might put off the artefact shopping for the convenience of inking all over one's text self and even gaining a few extra tattoo slots in the process.
Eventually there are going to be some artefacts you just cannot live without, like an artefact pipe, never needing to be lit again! Perhaps you die very fast and a boost to your health would be of benefit, or maybe you just don’t get quite enough return for each vitality or health sip. No one’s artefact wishlist is the same, so work out where your weak points are, the places you struggle, the particular things you die to, and then look to complement yourself in those areas.
Not all of us can afford to buy all the artefacts, as much as we might want to a shortlist of three perhaps is more realistic. Don’t think to start combat after the artefacts are bought though, definitely get involved first, learn your class, your skills, get comfortable with the mad scrolling of text, set up your substitutions and highlights in your client (although, Achaea is a no download MMORPG like all the other IRE MUDs), learn some basic setups, and tactics appropriate to your class. Find your strengths and weaknesses then spend the credits to boost and deal with them.
Of course, then comes the problem of paying for them. Perhaps during your training time you save up the monthly promotions, you submit an Artisanal or Bardic entry. These little increments can soon build up, and you could invest a little each month in a membership that will give you lessons, bound credits and bonuses to purchases.
In the end, if your hard earned credits and lessons are limited, learn the basics, research and seek to understand your class and then make artefact purchases wisely. You do not need to outdo anyone in sheer weight of resetting belts and bracelets, get what is right for you.
I realise that not everyone who will read this will be playing Achaea (although, if you've ever wondered "what game should I play?" You should come and check it out.) But, our funds aren't endless and world economies aren't especially stable. So, when you look to drop a large amount of money into a game be sure to research beforehand, make sure you are making a choice that is right for you and what you want to achieve. Ask your community via a forum, or contact a well known specialist in the field you are looking to make your purchase in.