Why potion-making is now an extreme sport, and how it affects your wallet!
High-level Herblore Potions
"This week, high-level herbalists will find a variety of new, untradeable potions at their disposal, including extreme combat boosts, complete protection from dragon-fire, and a gut-wrenching overload potion."
I've complained for a long time that high herblore levels are useless because the skill stops short in the low 80s, long before it maxes out, and experience afterwards has no bearing on gameplay. Well, this week's update aims to fix that. In fact, this is the third update in a row that is aimed at high-level players, coming on the heels of the Living Rock Caverns' fishing and mining update, which I believe was excellent, and the woodcutting rebalance, which I believe left something to be desired. How did Jagex do this time with herblore? It's time for some content evaluation!
This update introduces nine new potions for high-level herblorists, spanning levels 84-96. The full list is in the game guide, and can be found here. Okay, new potions--so what? They'll be just like all the other potions--mass-produced for level-ups then dumped on the GE with a loss of value, more money-losing potions...right? Wrong!
None of these new guys are tradeable! That means if you want to use them, you have to actually have the requisite level and make them yourself. This is a big change and a very important one, because it creates the incentive to train that herblore skill. Is it worth it? Hmm. Some of the potions are more useful than others.
- Super antifire potions provide full immunity from dragonbreath, enough that you can wield a two-handed weapon like a Godsword, Zamorakian Spear, or Verac's Flail when battling dragons and not worry about the massive damage you'd normally take without the proper shield. It doesn't say how long they last, but since the higher-level dragons like Mithrils are significantly faster to kill with two-handed weapons, there is a definite increase in performance, although on lower-level dragons, the ingredients for this potion may be too expensive to justify its use.
- Recover special potions have a unique ability to restore your special attack meter by 25% per dose. This is a huge advantage in high-level combat situations. There's a delay of 30 seconds between each use, which is an important balancing factor, but it's still incredibly brutal with some weapons. The dragon dagger (or Vesta's longsword) is the obvious one, because it takes 25% to activate, so you can get in 5 specs in a row--pretty deadly. However, it's also great with a Zamorak Godsword (which has 60% drain). Doubling up on the special attack can give a full 40 seconds in which your opponent will be a helpless ice cube. Ouch!
- Extreme magic potions, unlike regular magic potions, provide an actual damage boost of 40% to your magical attacks. That's pretty significant and very deadly. However, it has little application outside of PvP combat.
- The other Extreme combat potions, as well as the super prayer potion, have a similar problem, in that the lower-level, tradeable versions are just fine for most purposes. The added effectiveness is good, but probably not worth all of the millions of xp you need to use them.
- Finally, we have the UBER ULTIMATE OVER 9000 DOMINANCE OVERLOAD!!! potion, which puts you into UBER ULTIMATE SUPER SAIYAN DOMINANCE OVERLOAD MODE!!!, boosting your combat stats as high as they can possibly be boosted and keeping them there for five minutes straight. Of course, the UBER ULTIMATE POWER OF DESTRUCTION OVERLOAD!!! has a backlash effect that hits you for five chunks of 10 damage after you drink it, but in the meantime you get UBER DOMINANCE OVERLOAD!!!, which you have to admit is pretty awesome.
Yes, I think the incentives are pretty strong. The best ones, in my opinion, are the first two. I'm sure many people will train to level 83 or 84 for recover special & super antifire potions. (Remember, you can temporarily boost your herblore level with a Greenman's Ale.) Plenty of hardcore mages will go for 90 herblore to get the extreme magic potions. I think only the hardcore herblorists, though, are going to go all the way to the OVERLOAD!!! potion. However, I can now definitively state that there is a now strong reason for training your herblore level, and that the skill has been mostly fixed.
What's left for herblore? We still need training methods that don't involve spending lots of money to process ingredients into far more potions than anyone will ever need. High-level herblore is solidly fixed. However, all herblore levels still need new training methods to make the skill more accessible to players without massive piles of cash to burn.
Speaking of cash to burn, let's talk economics. How is this update affecting our economy?
Economic effects of the high-level herblore update
Expect a huge influx of demand for herblore training ingredients. All herbs are going to rise quickly in the short-term. Similarly, expect a huge influx of supply for most potions. Potion prices are going to drop in the short-term as the market becomes flooded. True, lower-level potions are now inputs to the untradeable high-level potions as well, which will increase demand; however, the huge loss involved in creating potions that can't be resold will relegate them to being created solely for personal use, which is not likely to significantly drive prices.
Over time, prices will grow farther apart, making herblore more and more expensive to train; however, as it becomes more expensive, fewer people will train it, bringing the prices back to more reasonable levels. This is similar to what is currently going on with the skill, except that it should occur on a larger scale now that the experience gained is more valuable. What we've got is a permanent increase in demand. The world of herblore will never be the same.
How can you capitalize on this? First off, don't bother trying to train herblore right now. Wait for the rush to subside. We've been waiting years for these potions, and I think you can wait another week or two. As we speak, I'm sure merchants everywhere are buying out the GE's entire stock of every kind of herb and second ingredient to flip them for a profit on Friday. When they've all sold what they've been stocking up on, the price will peak and crash. Then start training your herblore.
Second, when herb prices go up, farmers make more money! If you haven't been farming herbs, now is a good time to get started, because your profits are going to increase. My profits are going to increase! I like this update more every minute! Similarly, herb-dropping monsters like chaos druids are more profitable to kill.
Third, gathering secondary ingredients is going to increase in profitability as well. Those of you with low levels who need cash, now is a good time to collect snape grass and red spider eggs, grind blue dragon scales, and so on.
Because of these economic ripples, a high-level herblore update is beneficial to low-level players as well! That's trickle-down economics in action right there.
Of course, as prices continue to increase, the folks training herblore will buy fewer supplies, and we'll end up with steady fluctuations as the laws of supply & demand do their thing. Once a stable price curve develops, it will once again be pretty safe for solo merchants to invest in herblore-related items.
This update is great. For rich endgame players, herblore is now useful! For poor intermediate players, high-level herblore ingredients sell for more money! Even those in the middle will find themselves earning more from farming and slayer. And from a game design standpoint, it does a great job of completing a skill that was sorely lacking in relevant content. Thumbs-up all around.
This update also included a forum upgrade: avatars based on your in-game character. They shall be reviewed separately.