June 10, 2014
Mounts are the first major expense most Elder Scrolls Online players will encounter. A fast horse is all but essential for PvP and can make PvE travel a lot more pleasant. The catch, of course, is the price tag: 17,200 gold for a basic horse (+15% to speed). The fancier horses, which come with additional speed, stamina, or carrying capacity, cost 42,700 gold apiece. If you’ve just arrived from the newbie islands, where quest rewards are often less than 100 gold, you may well be wondering how you’ll come up with that kind of coin. (Hey, at least you’re not ranting in zone chat about how unfair the prices are.) Even if you have the Imperial Edition — and therefore get a horse for next to nothing — these tips will help you to gain an economic edge in the first twenty or so levels of play.
Gather (almost) everything.
Like most other MMO settings, Tamriel is dotted with chunks of ore, fallen logs, and clumps of plant life that can be gathered up and used in tradeskills. Unlike most MMOs, ESO has no dedicated gathering skill set — everyone can mine, log, and, um … herbalize by default. Even if you don’t intend to craft, make a habit of collecting any resource nodes that you encounter in the course of your questing. As of 1.1.4, ore, wood, and fiber can usually be sold to other players for at least 12 gold per unit, which means that these nodes are worth 36-48 gold apiece. Look for raw materials buyers in your first full-scale zone (Glenumbra, Stonefalls, or Auridon).
Newbies often pass up the alchemy reagents (herbs and mushrooms) that abound in starter zones, but these can be some of your most lucrative finds at lower levels. The major exception to the “gather everything” rule is runestones, those little shrine-like things with the colored flames inside. Low-level Potency runes (purple) aren’t worth much, and Essence runes (green) will take up too much inventory space to justify the effort. Aspect runes (red flames) are a different story — these control the overall power of an enchanting recipe, and the ones found in Stros M’Kai or Bleakrock are the same ones used by max-level crafters. The rarest kinds are Rekuta (worth 500-1000 gold as of this writing) and Kuta (worth 2500-3000).
Build a network of reagent buyers.
You generally won’t have trouble selling off your ore, wood, fiber, or hide as long as you play reasonably close to the peak hours for your megaserver. It can help, however, to keep track of who’s buying these materials in bulk and at what prices, so that you can mail items to them COD (cash on delivery) rather than letting them languish in your inventory. Having a list of buyers is even more useful when it comes to alchemy reagents, because the price per unit varies greatly. In course of a single night, you might see players offering to buy, say, Mountain Flower for anywhere from 50 to 125 gold per piece. Obviously, the 125 gold bidder is the keeper here, but if you don’t have their name, you’ll have to settle for whatever the market brings the next time you have flowers to sell. This works as well as it does because herbs and mushrooms, like the Aspect runes mentioned above, continue to be useful into the late levels of the game. Also, since potions are consumed on use, these buyers are usually in constant need of resupply.
Keep an eye on zone chat and note down anyone who’s offering 75 gold or more for a specific alchemy reagent, especially if they say something like “COD anytime” to indicate that they’re buying on an ongoing basis. When you do make a sale, consider adding the buyer to your friends list. That way, you can note the materials they buy and the prices they offer right next to their name in the Contacts menu (bound to the O key by default). If that seems too aggressive, consider just keeping a physical list in a notepad. Either way, with an organized and well-maintained roster of buyers, you can earn thousands of gold for little more than picking flowers and mailing them out.
Don’t buy what you can loot instead. If you must buy, favor players over NPCs.
Every day, new Vestiges wash up on the shores of newbie island, spot a locked chest, and immediately conclude that they need to buy lockpicks in order to open said chest. Don’t be one of them. You can, in fact, purchase lockpicks from NPC merchants in most towns (at 9 gold apiece), but they’re also easy to obtain for free or very cheap. Most players will eventually find that they accumulate lockpicks faster than they use them up; as a result, people are often happy to give away surplus picks or sell them for a nominal fee. Try posting a WTB message in zone chat and see if someone doesn’t offer to give you their spare picks; if not, be prepared to pay 1 or 2 gold per pick, but no more. Lockpicks are also lootable from dressers, nightstands, and (to a lesser extent) cabinets. These types of furniture can be found in most inns and taverns.
Style materials are another item on which newbies tend to spend their limited gold. These are the metals and minerals (e.g., Molybdenum and Flint) that give crafted weapons and armor their characteristic racial style. You need to have at least one style material on hand (namely, the one that matches your character’s race) in order to craft any armor or weapons. Fortunately, style materials are abundant in the same locations as lockpicks: wardrobes, cabinets, nightstands, and so forth. Cabinets are your best bet, because the style materials you find there are most often “local” to your faction; if you’re in a Covenant zone, for example, you’ll find mostly materials used by the Covenant races. If you really can’t bring yourself to spend time collecting these materials, at least try to buy them from players at a discount; NPC vendors charge 15g per unit, but players will often sell them for 5 to 10 gold. Much like lockpicks, style materials tend to pile up in people’s inventories at higher levels.
Choose one (and only one) crafting skill line to start.
It’s easy to get sucked into the crafting game, especially once you realize that you can deconstruct almost every type of equipment for materials and crafting experience. (Jewelry is the main exception for now.) But if your goal is to make gold without playing lots of inventory Tetris, you’re better off sticking to one profession and selling off any surplus equipment. If you choose Blacksmithing, for example, you’ll want to deconstruct only heavy armor and metal weapons, selling off any light/medium armor (Clothing) and staves/bows/shields (Woodworking). White- and green-quality surplus gear should go directly to NPC vendors; blue- and purple-quality items can be listed in zone chat for a few hundred gold apiece, just to see if you get any bites. If you feel the urge to decon everything, remember: you can always pick up additional crafting skills once you’re riding around on a fancy horse.
Another advantage of focusing on one crafting profession is that you’ll quickly develop a sense for the value of that profession’s reagents and products. That knowledge will allow you to spot a bargain in the guild store or zone chat. We recommend Blacksmithing, Woodworking, or Clothing (in that order) as starter crafting skills.
Start your crafting research early.
This final tip is a little more involved than the rest — but only a little. The Blacksmithing, Clothing, and Woodworking skills feature a mechanic called research, which allows you to break down equipment in order to learn new traits. (Traits, in turn, are moderately powerful bonuses which you can add to new armor and weapons you create.) If you access a crafting station for your skill of choice, the Research interface will be the rightmost tab, marked by a triangular icon. Once you’ve sacrificed a piece of gear to learn a given trait, a cooldown begins, starting at 6 hours for the first trait and growing longer with each trait learned for that gear type. The more traits you have researched, the more likely you are to profit when someone in zone or guild chat seeks to buy gear with a specific trait. People pay a premium for custom-made gear of this sort, and research costs nothing more than surplus loot and a little time management. If you check your progress even once a day, it won’t take long for your research to pay dividends. Moreover, if you decide you like crafting well enough to pursue it further, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the higher levels, where knowledge of multiple traits is a prerequisite to crafting powerful set pieces.
Data for this post was gathered on 10 June 2014 using version 1.1.4 of The Elder Scrolls Online. It may not reflect changes introduced in subsequent patches of the game.