New players often get bogged down dealing with the given inventory space. Which items can safely be ignored, and which are actually deceptively valuable isn’t necessarily obvious. In this guide: what you should keep, and making informed crafting decisions.
I’ve attempted to write this guide for new players trying to get a handle on Path of Exile’s currency/crafting system, because, seriously, that player inventory space just isn’t big enough to pick up everything that drops (though with more experience, you will find that it’s actually just about the right size).
The point of this guide is to help players make better, more informed valuations of items, even when just looking at them on the ground. Starting with some very basic information, the guide gets a tad more involved as it progresses.
For very new players, just getting a grasp of the “Vendoring” section should be enough to get you started. If you want to feel secure that you aren’t wasting currency items and crafting opportunities, though, you might want to keep reading.
The most basic thing a new player should be aware of is how vendor trading (that is, selling to NPCs) works.
PoE uses a bartering system, but it’s more useful to think of it as a set of crafting recipes.
The full recipe list can be found here, but this can be a bit overwhelming for new players, so I’ll attempt to break this information down to something more immediate.
Orb of Alchemy
As a tangible reference for grasping real value, let’s use the Orb of Alchemy. An Orb of Alchemy can upgrade a normal, non-magic item into a rare item. Given that most of your best equipment are going to be rares, this is a powerful and useful crafting component. (Rares are like D2 classic in its early versions; they can be as or even more powerful than uniques.)
- 1 Orb of Alchemy = 64 Orbs of Alteration = 1024 Orbs of Transmutation
(This is how much it costs to purchase an Orb of Alchemy from Clarissa in Act 3)
- Unindentified magic (blue) or rare (yellow) items = Shards of Transmutation, 20 of which equals 1 Orb of Transmutation.
- Identified magic or rare items basically = Shards of Alteration or Shards of Alchemy (exceptions can be seen in the full recipe page). Again, stack 20 shards to get a full orb for either of these.
- Essentially, as more mods on an item = higher grade orbs, a scroll of wisdom is more valuable when it is spent on identifying a rare item than a magic one.
- Given that unindentified blue items only produce 2 shards of Transmutation (or 1/10240th of an Orb of Alchemy), picking up blue items in order to vendor them is more or less a waste of your time.
There are a few exceptions to the “ignore blue items” rule; flasks are worth picking up and identifying, certain items will always give socket related orbs (noted below), and the other exceptions have to do with crafting, which I will go into specifically in the next section.
The above is also a generalization for practical play. It’s possible to get higher grade orbs through specific item combinations (listed under “Multiple Rare Items” on that vendor recipes page), but getting these combinations requires a lot of overhead hoarding, which makes the worth of deliberately pursuing them questionable for the average player.
Chromatic and Jeweller’s Orbs
I mentioned in this guide’s brief that some items have hidden value. There are two specific socket arrangements you should always be on the look out for: pick these up regardless of item quality, even if they are white (non-magic).
- Any item which has 1 red, 1 blue, and 1 green socket all linked together = 1 Chromatic Orb
- Any item with six sockets = 7 Jeweller’s Orbs (or 1 Divine Orb if every one of them are linked together)
To clarify on the Chromatic Orb item, it’s not enough just to have an item with sockets of each color; they need to be linked to each other. You don’t need every socket in the item linked, just one of each color to each other (for instance, a 5 socket item with 2 unlinked sockets will still give you a Chromatic Orb if the other three sockets are 1 of each color and linked).
Mod Ranges and Item Level
I’ll talk about “item level” more specifically in the next section under “Socketing a Rare Item” and “Divine Orbs”, but basically, you can use the item mod list to gauge whether an item’s modifying numbers are high or low when vendoring.
Path of Exile has an interesting loot system in that, while the drop rate is relatively generous (you can self-discover quite a lot), you will eventually, probably starting around level 30, find that your progress is going to be limited by what you can craft.
Looking for Craftables
When crafting, the things you need to consider are the base item and the socket arrangement you want.
A plain white item can be useful just for being the highest level base item of that equipment slot that you can find and equip. (Basically, look at the item’s minimum level req. If it is within 1 or 2 levels of you, and you need an upgrade for that slot, consider keeping it. In the end game, look at the item level [more on this below]. The higher the better.)
Similarly, items with the specific socket arrangement that you need are always worth considering, regardless of quality. Once you have enough mana to burn (or have enough leech), the strength of your skills basically comes down to how many and which support gems you can link to them. You may find that you’ll hold on to a piece of equipment 6-10 levels under your level just because replicating that 2 red, 1 green, 1 blue linked arrangement (or whatever) is such a pain.
Indeed, proper socketing is so valuable that something like Tabula Rasa can be seriously worth considering, even at high levels.
Rarifying a Socketed Item
On that note, I often find that rarifying a plain or magic item with the exact right sockets is cheaper than socketing a rare. Besides with weapons, you can typically find a use for most Alchemy rolls. On the other hand, sockets without the right count, colors, and links are essentially useless. It’s easy to blow through whole stacks of Chromatic Orbs and Orbs of Fusing, only to end up with something unusable, thus breaking your entire skill setup.
Additionally, depending on an item’s attribute alignment, certain colors can be nearly impossible to roll. For instance, trying to roll all blue sockets on an Armour/Evasion (that is, Strength and Dexterity aligned) hat is probably going to bankrupt you. This is not to say that finding these “in the wild” is going to be any easier, so much as it is to say that keeping an eye out during regular play costs nothing.
Remember that you can always Scour an item to remove all mods while keeping the socket arrangement, in order to apply a fresh Alch, etc.
Socketing a Rare Item
Be strategic about socketing. Every roll of Chromatic, Jeweller’s, or Fusing is a serious gamble, since you need a specific combination to keep your current skill set up.
Again, keep in mind that the item’s alignment makes sockets of the same alignment more likely. Rolling for an unaligned socket color can be very expensive, so be extra careful with your Chromatic rolls when dealing with such situations.
At some point, you will have to decide whether it is worth it to keep rolling for the exact combination you need, or to wait for a higher level item and just work with what you have in the meantime.
Consider: gems on your weapon switch items will level, even when you are not actively using those items. I usually have two crappy 3 socket items on my weapon switch just so I can keep gems I might use in the future at my level. By the same token, this can also be used to keep support gems you would otherwise be using at your level until you can obtain a properly socketed main item to place them in.
When socketing, be aware that the item’s item level (which you can see by picking up the item and typing /itemlevel in chat) must be at least 35 to roll 5 sockets, and 50 to roll 6. (Item level is not the same thing as the item’s minimum equip level.)
Occassionally, you will come across a rare item that has all the mods you need, except that those mods have low values. Before you vendor such an item, however, be aware that a Divine Orb will actually re-roll those numbers while keeping those specific mods*.
Needless to say, Divine Orbs are expensive. Unless you’re looking at an exceptionally rare combination of mods, or a high item level piece of equipment, it’s probably not worth it to blow a Divine Orb on such a gamble.
This is mostly useful in the end game, especially when you have an item with all the sockets and mods you’re looking for in an item, and want to try to gamble for even better values.
*(Like sockets, re-rolls will only give you numbers within the range permited by the item’s actual item level. Again, you can see the possible ranges and their requisite item levels for all mods here.
Basically, if you picked up an item in Act 2 Cruel, don’t Divine it expecting to see mod values that you can only see in Act 3 Merciless or higher).
Finally, magic items themselves can be upgraded to rare items without losing their existing mods using Regal Orbs. Unless you’re rich, pretty much the only time this will be worthwhile is in the end game. The basic strategy for this line of upgrading is as follows (using a weapon for this example): ID (or transmute) end game level magic weapons until you get one that has 130%+ damage or some such mod. If it has only one mod, Augment it. Then Regal it. Then Exalt it until you have all six possible mods.
Again, this is a very expensive process, and is only worth it, if ever, for items with very high item level.
As a last note in passing, it is possible to craft a unique item using an Orb of Chance. Seriously though, not worth it.
Addendum: On Flasks
Earlier, I noted that Flasks are always worth identifying. This is true because Flasks are actually very much an integral part of your overall build.
There are no rare Flasks, and unique Flasks have conditional utility. That is to say, blue is, practically speaking, the highest quality of Flasks you will probably use.
Beyond the utility flasks, it’s important to be aware that even Life and Mana Flasks aren’t just for healing life and mana-they can also be used to break status effects. In particular, the mods “of Heat” and “of Warding” are extremely useful as they dispel Freeze and remove Curses, respectively. Once you get past Normal difficulty, breaking these effects in a timely manner can be the difference between life and instant death.
Other mods that are useful are + to charges, recharge on crit, knockback while healing, and minion heal. Some of the other mods like + to evasion or armour while healing, or leech can also be useful, but their utility is limited by the shortness of flask duration.
Which brings us finally to duration–something you should always tactically consider. At first blush, you may dismiss those instant heal flasks as useless for having such low heal amounts. The utility of instant heal is not to be underestimated, though. Again, you will encounter a lot of spike damage in the later difficulties, and having even just a portion of your health reheal instantly can allow you to survive encounters you otherwise might not have been able to. Just remember that higher healing values aren’t automatically better.
Conversely, depending on the flask’s effect, you may also want to draw out how long it stays active. Having one flask that restores a slow trickle over an extended period can be useful to top yourself off during exploration, or help keep mana up over a length of time. And, of course, you’ll want those extended durations for stuff like curse immunity, knockback, leeching, the utility flasks, etc.
At any rate, getting the right combination of mods on a Flask is actually quite valuable, which makes identifying Flasks worth your time.