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R M's Guide to Obtaining Invention Set Recipes Outside the Auction House

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So let's say you've just spent an hour in Mid's, specing out the perfect build for your character, involving the sets that give you exactly the bonuses you need. Then you get to the marketplace and discover that they're exactly the bonuses everyone else needs, too—the enhancements cost a fortune, even the recipes run into the tens of millions, and some of them aren't even available on the market at all (though that hasn't prevented dozens of people from placing bids to snatch up the first one someone drops off). And odds are you're not some kind of low-buying, high-selling marketplace genius who makes a fortune every time he turns around. How are you ever going to be able to afford to slot out The Perfect Character?

In the Good Old Days, you would have been out of luck. The marketplace was the only way these recipes could be obtained. But more recently, a number of methods of earning or buying recipes have cropped up that don't require spending a single Inf point. They do tend to require putting in some time and effort, or in some cases real money (in the form of Paragon Points)—but if you're a dedicated-enough player to want to set-slot out your character in the first place, spending a little time grinding is not going to be a hardship for you.

Here's a brief rundown of some of the best ways you can earn recipes. —Robotech Master 06:07, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Incarnate Trials (Astral and Empyrean Merits)

If you've got a level 50 character, Incarnate Trials represent the absolute best way in terms of time and effort spent to earn yourself recipes. Not directly, but as a result of the Astral merits you are awarded for completing each phase of a trial. At the Incarnate Merit Vendors in Ouroboros, you can trade in 16 or 32 Astral merits for a yellow or orange recipe, of any level of your choosing. (I originally thought it was 16 merits for a yellow and 32 for an orange, but most of the oranges in the Kinetic Combat set are 16 merits too for some reason.) There are some recipes that aren't available—for instance, one of the five Kinetic Combat IOs is not on this market—but most of them seem to be.

This is the fastest possible way to earn recipes. On a Behavioral Adjustment Facility or Lambda Complex trial, you can earn 6 or 7 merits for a successful run; on the longer trials you can earn even more. This means that you could earn an orange recipe with just an hour or so of effort—and if you're grinding out the Incarnate power slots on your character (or several of your characters), you're going to earn a huge number of Astrals anyway. (In fact, every so often on the official forums, I see some poor benighted soul who has ground and ground the trials wondering what the heck he's supposed to do with all these worthless Astral Merits he's built up. I want to tell him, "Buy me some rare recipes, why don't you?") And unlike most other rewards associated with Incarnate Trials, you can email the recipes you buy (or IOs you craft from them) to your other characters.

This also represents a quite decent way of earning money at the auction house, if you know what IOs are in demand. A level 30 Luck of the Gambler Defense/7.5% global recharge bonus IO can go for 100 million Inf in recipe form or 200 to 300 million Inf crafted. (Though I don't know if I'd ever sell one, myself; I'm sure can find a home in my own characters for as many of these as I can get!)

You also get another form of merits from Incarnate Trials—Empyrean merits. These accrue at a rate of 1 or 2 merits per trial, once every 20 hours. (After you do one of any given trial, you can't get another Empyrean merit from it until 20 hours later. This naturally limits the number you can earn per day.) These can't be used to buy normal recipes, but you can trade in 40 of them for a purple IO recipe, or 50-70 for a PVP recipe. That's going to take a good bit of grinding to earn out, but if you just need one or two specific purple recipes, it's worth a shot.

Task/Strike Forces and Rogue/Vigilante Morality Missions (Reward Merits)

This is another reasonably quick way to earn IO set recipes. Regular Reward Merits are probably the second best method if you do a lot of Task Forces or Strike Forces (especially the Weekly Strike Target, which offers doubled merit rewards)—or, for that matter, Rogue or Vigilante Morality Missions, which also give a pretty decent Merit reward in lieu of Alignment Merits. Depending on the rarity of the recipe, Reward Merit Vendors will sell it to you for from 50 to 275 merits—or you can roll for a random rare recipe for 20. (They'll also sell you things like salvage, SOs, normal IO recipes, and random large Inspirations—but saving up for recipes is probably the best use of merits overall.) You won't earn them as fast as with Astral merits, but on the other hand if you do a lot of TFs anyway, you'll be building up those merits and might as well do something with them.

Hero/Villain Morality Missions, Signature Story Arcs (Alignment Merits)

Alignment merit vendors B.O.T.L.E.R. and the Trashcan offer rare recipes for 1 or 2 Alignment merits each (as well as purples for 20 or PVP IOs for 25-35 each). You can also roll for five random recipes for 1 merit. These can be a decent buy if you have a couple of merits to spare and just need one or two recipes, but it's problematic for people trying to slot out entire characters that way, because in addition to taking a minimum of two days to earn one merit (you can do five tip missions one day and five plus the morality mission the next, plus you can earn one Alignment merit per week from completing Signature Story Arcs), the vendors currently have a limit of one single recipe purchase per 20 hour period, no matter how many merits you might have saved up.

Paragon Market (Paragon Points)

If you're interested in some Uncommon (yellow) IO sets and have real money to burn, the Paragon Market has you covered. These sets of Store-Bought Enhancements are available for the equivalent of a few dollars per set, or $1.25 each. They are Attuned, which means that they will match their effectiveness to your character level, and Account Bound, meaning that they can be traded back and forth between characters on your account, but not sold or traded to anyone else. Furthermore, the day after I originally posted this guide, the devs announced they were going to post three rare sets in the store on a trial basis. Subsequently, even more rare sets were made available as part of the Black Friday 2011 sale.

The fact that these enhancements are attuned means that they will be significantly better for exemplaring than the kind that are currently available. On the other hand, slotting characters out with them could get quite expensive. It will be up to the individual players to decide whether they're worth spending real money on.

Architect Entertainment (Tickets)

Architect is probably not going to get you exactly what you want, but it can be a decent way to get rare recipes in general, to keep the ones you want and sell the rest. If you earn a lot of tickets (through such high-ticket-gain activities as fire farming), you can trade them in on random rare recipe rolls at the AE Ticket Vendor. The recipes will be equal to your level (or the maximum level of the IO set, if that is lower), so a number of AE-farming marketeers make a practice of leveling characters to 30 and then turning their XP gain off so that they can roll for highly-desirable (and expensive) level 30 set recipes to sell on the market.