This week a patch rolled out on The Old Republic that set the forums ablaze with rage and cheering and cherry soda. Okay, there was no cherry soda. Well, there was. But I am fairly certain that was just at my desk. Not a feature. Along with that cherry soda, I can confirm I was definitely not in the camp that was cheering. However, readers beware! Those of you seeking an outlet for your rage and confirmation that this change was a foolish action that proves that Bioware doesn’t know what they are doing will find themselves sorely disappointed. For I was not in the raging camp either. I am actually fine with this change. My bounty hunter with 400 slicing is fine with this change. Just fine. Not happy, not mad. It’s a middle ground. Like Ohio.
Wait! Come back! I know that’s not what you wanted to hear! You wanted to be mad. You wanted vindication. I understand that, but please come back here and I will tell you why I think that this is so not the change worth abandoning your slicing skill for. For I am here to tell you that – yes, Virginia – slicing is still profitable. Just maybe not in the way you were doing it before.
Hunter Gatherer Society
The first and most important thing to understand before we go any further with this is that slicing is a gathering skill and not a mission skill. That means we need to think of it in terms of things like scavenging and archaeology. What does that mean? Well for one, you can send companions out to do scavenging missions. They’ll come back with a handful of whatever material, and it will probably not be as much as a quick trot around Coruscant will get you for no cost. It’s a bad investment. Really, I think it’s only worthwhile if you’re stuck on the fleet, need just one or two more items to finish crafting something, and the GTN is ridiculously priced. That’s about the only time I can think of it to use those missions. If you can think of another, that’s good. I still don’t think it’s really worth it.
So how then, when lockbox missions are only returning a portion of their initial cost and putting you in the red, is slicing suppose to return a profit? Simple. You do the exact same thing you do with any other gathering profession: Do it yourself. Throughout your adventures you’ll find slicing nodes. There’s locked safes, holographic computers, data terminals… all sitting around in completely random and nonsensical places. ‘Cause the radioactive swamps of Taris are exactly where you wanna leave your laptop. These slicing nodes provide you with lockboxes. The same lockboxes you can nab from missions, only these don’t cost you anything. That’s pure credits with no cost.
In this way, slicing is still profitable but it actually requires you to go out and do stuff, not just sit in the cantina and rake in cash. I’ve been able to find slicing nodes in large clumps around inhabited areas. Why just running around a quick area on Taris the other day netted me a quick 5000 credits. That’s in 5-10 minutes. Sure, I’ll go without for a while and not see a single node, but overall it’s still a steady flow.
The Mission Gamble
So where does that leave missions? Why have them? Well, as I said, they hold about the same value as the scavenging missions or bioanalysis missions. Not much value. But wait! Don’t those missions at least give you something? Well yes. So do slicing missions. But it’s a bit of a gamble. Really, I like to think of slicing lockbox missions as a scratch off lotto ticket. You spend money to send out a companion, then you’ll get a lockbox. This lockbox will probably only contain maybe 75-80% of what you spent to send them off (those numbers are in no way legit. This is just an example.) Now that’s no profit, but sometimes you might get more and make a little profit. You also might get a cybertech schematic or a mission item (that unlock a bonus mission for a profession, usually with excellent rewards.) So you might actually get quite a bit, but it’s a chance. A gamble.
There are also augment missions. These mission you don’t get ANY money back, but the trade-off is a guaranteed augment. In fact a trade-off is probably the best way to describe how slicing works now or at least a better term than gambling.
So that’s all I really had to say. It’s really just a matter of perspective in my opinion. If you treat slicing like any other gathering profession, I think it’s still a pretty good crew skill to have. It’s just maybe not THE crew skill to have and that’s fine too. If you HAVE to take something, then that’s less fun and interesting that something you can choose to take. Then again if something is pointless, there’s no reason to have it in the game in the first place. I don’t think slicing is pointless. My bounty hunter with 400 slicing is still making good money as he levels with it. I’m just glad my Jedi knight can do something else now too.