Gearing up in Black Desert

As I’ve said before I’m not a big fan of chance-based crafting or gear upgrading in MMOs in general. I don’t get a rush by pressing that button and hoping for the desired outcome, at least not a positive one. It agitates me more than anything.

Many players argue that “it’s just mathematics, man” and that I only need to calculate how much upgrading all my gear will cost on average. That’s not quite accurate though, is it? After all I won’t upgrade hundreds or thousands of items, so chances of it all evening out over time are pretty slim. I’d rather have higher but fixed costs for each step, so I’d always know that investing X will get me Y.

That being said, BDO’s system (called ‘enchanting’) isn’t nearly as punishing as for example ArcheAge’s, at least in terms of upgrading weapons and armor. These items can’t be destroyed by failing an upgrade, and falling back a tier can only occur from trying to hit enchantment level 18 (of 20) onward.

The game is also very generous with login-rewards, limited time events and such. Even if I hadn’t done anything other than logging in once per day and maybe doing a quick quest or two for the last couple of months I’d have quite a stash of silver and upgrade materials by now.

Black Desert Rewards
Goodies galore.

This all combined with the fact that I really want to experience everything this wonderful game has to offer meant that I couldn’t (and didn’t need to) ignore this part of it for too long.

To prevent making costly mistakes I tried to learn as much as I could beforehand. This video is the most sensible and comprehensible guide I’ve found, it helped me a ton. The author has made some more guides about other aspects of BDO which are equally good. Thanks man!

Since I weren’t keen on having to start over a couple of times I wanted to pick the ‘best’ items to enchant right away. Based on Morrolan’s and some other guides I decided that I’d go for a Liverto Gauntlet, a Leather Vambrace and three pieces of the Heve armor set plus the gloves I was already wearing. I would enchant and wear all of these until I got pieces of boss gear (which are all Best in Slot, but rare and expensive).

I didn’t actually have to wait until I got lucky and looted the pieces I wanted off mobs. Not only is most gear in BDO tradable, it’s auction house works with a fixed-price system. Every item has a minimum and a maximum price. They fluctuate a bit, but not by orders of magnitude. So even if an item is sought after and the supply can’t meet the demand sellers can’t charge ridiculous amounts of silver for it. Hence I could just buy the items I didn’t have yet off the market, and it didn’t cost me a fortune. Not the most satisfying way to get one’s gear, but at least I know someone else pried them from the cold dead hands of some monster.

Then I was finally ready to start enchanting. Here’s the datamined and considered-to-be-accurate chart of success chances:

Black Desert Enchanting chart
This is for weapons, the one for armor isn’t much different.

A failstack is generated when an attempt to enchant an item fails. As you can see, those stacks are an immensely important part of the process if you don’t want to fail too often. The chances for success go up again from +15 to +16 (called PRI ingame) because from then on you need more expensive upgrade materials, the item loses more maximum durability with each failure (which has to be repaired by either consuming copies of the same item or using a considerable amount of a relatively expensive special item), and above DUO you fall back one tier when you fail.

What this means is that you have to do a delicate dance of building failstacks on cheaper items and only working on expensive ones when you are relatively close to the maximum number of effective stacks for the level you’re trying to reach. A successful attempt consumes all failstacks of course.

Getting items to about +11 is easy enough, after that you start to feel the chance of success dropping off considerably. I kept at it though, and before long I had reached +14 on my gauntlet, the most important but also most expensive piece of my ensemble.

I decided to build 20 failstacks before trying to hit +15. This would give me a measly 12,5% chance of success to begin with, but it’s generally not recommended to start at the effective maximum because the additional failstacks from failing a couple of times would be kind of wasted. The first five failures would give me another failstack (and thus 0,5% more success chance) each, then I’d give it another 3-5 tries at max effective stacks (while still building more total stacks). Barring success I’d then save that high amount of stacks for a later try at higher levels and switch to another character.

This was the plan. On the very first attempt though…

Black Desert Liverto15
RNG favouring me? A cold day in hell indeed.

This, of course, is why many people seem to like these chance-based systems. It sure feels nice to hit the jackpot once in a while. I know that by hitting +15 right away my gauntlet’s value has increased by much more than it has cost me to get there.

Thusly motivated I continued to enchant my other pieces as well and even dared going for PRI and DUO on gauntlet and vambrace after a while. I had mixed results, but got there. Some levels needed numbers of attempts above average, some below. Overall I believe I’ve been neither especially lucky nor unlucky.

Then some unforseen things happened. A couple patches ago the set bonuses for the also very popular Grunil armor set were changed, making using two of those instead of Heve the superior choice for me. I didn’t fancy having to start over enchanting though, so I bought Grunil helmet and gloves already at +15, and sold my corresponding Heve pieces at +14. Because of the fixed prices it wasn’t much of a loss in terms of silver, if at all. I also got a pretty good chest piece by questing, so I also sold my +15 Heve chest, having lost the set bonus anyway.

Black Desert Equipment
My gear as of now. Pretty satisfactory overall.

The accessories I’m wearing are a different story. Those are looted off mobs (except for the belt, which is quested like the chest) and neither tradable nor enchantable. For where I’m at in the game right now they’re pretty solid, I’ll use those for a while I guess. Farming them was actually quite fun, killing mobs until they dropped just like in the old days.

At the moment I’m quite content with the whole system. I’ll continue upgrading by getting the other armor pieces to DUO next. When (or if) I can muster the courage to do an attempt for TRI though…we’ll see.

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