This week saw the non-announcement about Star Wars: the Old Republic's Game Update 3.0, aka the next expansion, with Community Manager Eric Musco advising us that while the expansion is on track, the announcement about its details that was due this week was delayed for at least a couple of weeks. Of course, the often volatile SWTOR playerbase (and former players who still love to kibbitz about it) had a field day growling on the internet about the delay, peppered with some legitimate concerns being brought up that I've echoed here in past articles about the potential lack of adequate testing time. At the end of the day, there was a great deal of wind and fury that signified nothing. We've all been trained long enough by the folks at BioWare Austin to remember that they'll tell us when they tell us and there isn't much we can do to hurry the process up. So, instead of spending my article wearily repeating the arguments for and against the decision and speculating about what we might see in the subscriber reward that a number of people will yell about anyway, I'm going to be constructive and cover some of the basics of how Galactic Strongholds has finally given crafters something relatively meaningful to do since the advent of the massive glut of orange moddable gear.
The first thing to understand about crafting for Galactic Strongholds is that every crafting profession has something to contribute. There are recipes that all the crafts can utilize, and then there are specific recipes to a discipline. Biochem's off on its own, while there are War Supplies recipes that any Armstech, Armormech, or Cybertech could make, and finally there are recipes exclusive to Artificers and Synthweavers. As you can see, the breakdown is basically along the same lines as what materials each craft uses and which are shared across crafts (and for this, I am heartily glad to have Legacy Storage). There are some variations, of course. Some of the universal recipes use color crystals, which were previously exclusive to Artifice recipes.
The crafting web gets more complex as you start bundling the smaller segments such as a Cybertech's War Supplies: Starship Weapons in with a few other items from each of the three kinds of crafters into a single War Supplies: Invasion Force. These conglomerate objects are then used in Conquests to earn points or traded for items on a conquered planet, but the tooltips are pretty vague on the matter.
Even the RNG-ridden mission professions get a look-in here, although I'm sure I'm not the only crafter grinding my teeth when I see that even the lowest-level Industrial Prefab MK-1 on my Cybertech can't be created without critting on a run from my Underworld Trading missions, and each of those missions cost credits and eat up certain lengthier segments of time as you level up. Once you have your materials, each War Supplies recipe takes an hour to complete, not accounting for companions with the appropriate efficiency boost, while the conglomerate War Supplies: Invasion Force takes four hours. So, in total, you could queue up all five component recipes at once on high-level toons, then turn around and combine them all, for a grand total of five hours with various companions out and unavailable.
Now, you could donate these War Supplies to your guild, or you could sell them on the Galactic Trade Network. However, when I searched the GTN on the Shadowlands, there weren't any real credits to be had until one started bundling large stacks of the items. A stack of 99 War Supplies: Invasion Force were going for the lowest price of 350k.
Here's the kicker. All of the best stuff you can do with the crafting options require items that can only be acquired by participating in Operations and looting certain bosses, having the credits to buy said Operations loot from the GTN, or spending ridiculous amounts of real-world money on hypercrates of cartel packs. In particular, the Dark Project MK-1 item as you can see requires Alien Data Cubes, Biometric Crystal Alloys, Rakata Energy Nodes, and Self-Perpetuating Power Cells. All of these are boss drops from Operations, so if you're running them as a pick-up group, you're probably going to be rolling against every other person in the Ops team for them. Even amongst guilds that are normally cool to one another in Ops might get a little testy when dealing with such issues, unless the Ops leader does master looter and divvies everything up strictly to the known crafters in the group.
Now that you have your crafted components, what in the world do you do with them? Well, you need to find the correct fabrication droids/NPCs and/or a nice guild ship to donate them to. Here, the official game website really doesn't have much by way of tutorials on how to use the system, nor are the item tooltips very helpful. However, a quick googling around found a few guides on all the various crafting options and costs. The end results of all of this is the fact you get certain decorations for your personal or guild strongholds, or you can contribute to the expansion of your guild's flagship.
Whether it's worth it is always up to individual taste. Myself, I'm not the most hardcore housing enthusiast, so I'm not the best judge of value for this. However, I will say that for the casual player, the prices of materials (mostly by repeating missions to gather the blues and purples needed for many recipes or buying off the GTN) will be prohibitive. Even with an account full of gathering alts, at some point you may be left with a choice between crafting mods for your toon or companion so they can survive or making another chair for your stronghold.
What do you folks think of crafting in Galactic Strongholds?