Not a Moment to Lose! A Guide for Power-Mad Speed-Crafters, by Whysprr Wyrdwynd
(originally from the Tradeskill Forums)

Some people take a balanced approach to life. They work, do their personal things, but they stop to smell the roses occasionally; it feeds the soul, lightens the heart, clears the mind.

Not me. My default setting is Ďfranticí, ramping up to Ďmad lunaticí with some frequency. Occasionally I can get down to Ďrushedí, but usually only with the aid of powerful drugs.

Sleep-deprivation isnít a problem, itís a lifestyle.

Some crafters get pristine products using a temperate, balanced approach. They leave their adventuring gear on, use drink only if theyíre thirsty, use power-consuming arts only when they have to react to an event, and make pristine every time.

Not me. The only piece of adventuring equipment I leave on is my J-boots, because I get impatient moving between the broker and the stations. I make pristine every time, too Ė or at least all those times my attention doesnít wander to something else. ĎHey, is someone looking for a dirge to group in-oops, oh poot!í

Power-mad speed-crafting (henceforth PMSC) isnít for everyone, itís probably not for a lot of people. Most people play a game for relaxation, after all. Who knew?

For me, PMSC is a whole system. My hotbars, equipment, and everything are set up for speed, and to support a crafting style based on the motto: ďnot a moment to lose!Ē

A short disclaimer: Iíve only played a jeweler for any time to speak of. If reading the message boards is any guide, some professions have somewhat different levels of difficulty at the table or forge or whatever. You may need to make adjustments. Also, this guide assumes youíve mastered basic tradeskilling; using buffs, reacting to events. If you need help on that, see any of the very good basic guides here.

The Basic Principles of PMSC

-Time isnít money, itís time. You can get more money.
For reasons to be explained below, I always craft with top-notch (for the current tier) drink and totems. This does not hurt the economics of my crafting; not that Iíd care, mind you. You can get more money. Time, well, no.

-Thereís no bonus for better than pristine.
In the ideal synthesis, the little durability bar ends one millimeter above the pristine mark. Well, OK, Iím not that big a risk-taker, but if you end with a whole bar of durability you wasted time, and remember, you canít get any more of it. Ever.

-If youíre not regenerating power, youíre wasting power.
A full bar of power just sits there. A half-full bar of power regenerates. If your power bar is full, youíre wasting the power that would be regenerating if it wasnít, which you couldíve used to craft with. Yes, I know that was a weird sentence, figure it out.

-Decisions are bad.

Some people can make reliable decisions over and over under time pressure. Not me. If it isnít dead easy Iíll surely panic and blow it. I have to set things up so that the decisions I have to make during a crafting cycle are as simple as possible.

The Basic Algorithm

∑ Get all your materials together.
∑ Pick your recipe.
∑ As soon as the first cycle begins, and as soon as each following cycle ends, run your buffs as quickly as possible Ė early in the cycle is better than late so you donít run into, and blow, an event.
∑ The default action for each crafting cycle is to run all three of your top-tier progress buffs. Do this every time, except under the following circumstances:
∑ If thereís an event to counter. See below under Countering Events.
∑ If your power is too low for comfort. Too low for comfort depends on circumstances Ė see below under Power Management.
∑ If the bottom durability bar drops below half. If that happens, run all three of your top-tier durability buffs until itís above half, then go back to running progress.
Iíve now utilized this basic scheme for every tier from 2-7. If appropriately implemented, it produces pristine every time. I havenít been able to improve on the speed. It really starts to steam at tier 4 with the better durability buffs, which allow me to get back to progress quicker.

Note added in edit: As Pelarski noted below, you can't go below zero progress but you can go above 100% durability, and most combines require a round or two of durability, so front-loading a couple rounds of durability-buffing makes a lot of sense for most recipes.

Hotbar Setup

To facilitate the use of this algorithm, I set up my crafting hotbar as follows.

Use a 3 rows x 4 columns setup.

In each row, lay out the power-using buff first, the + prog or dur / -dur or prog buff second, and the + prog or dur / - % success third. Thereís an underlying logic to this order Ė see below under Countering Events.

For row layout:

-top row is lower-tier Progress buffs
-next row is highest-tier Progress buffs
-third row is lower-tier Durability buffs
-bottom row is highest-tier Durability buffs

The reason for this setup is that it makes maximum use of your buffs while countering events, while allowing you to always go left-to-right. In crafting, staying with the rhythm of the cycle is essential. Decisions are bad. Left-to-right is simple.

You might, to hyperoptimize this, mix-and-match different tiers of buffs. I haven't done so because it's too hard for me to keep track of what's where for countering purposes. Countering events represents guaranteed progress, and i think reliably doing so trumps slight refinements to buff use.

Countering Events

When you have an event to counter, and you successfully counter it, you automatically succeed in that round. That makes the + prog or dur / - % success art essentially a Ďfreebieí. Itís on the rightmost end of each row so that, buffing left to right, itís always used when countering an event. Thus, if I'm replying to the event that requires the power-using buff, I run all three. If I'm replying to the event that requires the +prog - dur or the +dur -prog buff, I use that one as well as the -% successbuff; and if I'm replying with the -% success buff, it's the only one I use that round.

You might wonder if you could optimize this a bit more by going back to the left side of the hotbar after countering and adding those buffs in as well during the same cycle. The answer is Ďnoí, for two reasons. One is that thereís the possibility that youíll overwrite the queued response before it goes off. Since youíre going left-to-right, the left buttons refresh before the right ones do. The second is that even if you donít get into queue trouble on that round, you will on the next when you try to go back to the basic left-to-right pattern, so thereís no real benefit.

Power Management

From roughly Tier 4 onward, this algorithm requires quite a lot of power -- more than I make under normal circumstances. I use several strategies to reduce power use and increase power regeneration.

The simplest way to improve power regeneration is to use crafted drink and totems. Power pool and regeneration stats are based on adventuring level rather than artisan level, so you should use drink and totems appropriate to your adventuring level. It's more economical to craft with drink that doesn't raise stats such as agility or intelligence, and it's more efficient as well, for reasons that'll be discussed below. The totems that provide power regeneration are listed in the Table.

OK, now, I'm going to get into dangerous waters here for a bit. The next topic in power management is complicated, counter-intuitive, and also distracting for the visually-inclined. It's crafting naked. Yes, I know this conjures images of, well, never mind, but stay with me.

It turns out that crafting buffs don't use a specific amount of power, they use a percentage of your total pool. On the other hand, drink and totems and the like regenerate a constant (numerical) amount of power. So, the smaller your power pool, the larger the percentage of it regenerates each tick. Since the buffs use the same percentage of your power whether the pool is big or small, that power comes back much faster with a smaller pool. That means you can use your top-tier power-consuming buffs more often -- like, always.

How do you reduce your power pool? That's the 'naked' part. Adventuring equipment increases your power pool both directly (e.g. +power stuff) and by increasing your classís power-stat (intelligence for wizards, agility for scouts, strength for fighters, wisdom for clerics, deception for politiciansÖ). So, peel down to your practical cotton undergarments Ė no, I donít wear lace under chain mail, it chafes like anything Ė and youíll find yourself getting power back markedly faster while crafting.

As a fashion aside, you donít actually have to peel down to your stylish-yet-tasteful underthings, and if your underthings arenít tasteful I donít want to hear about it. Any clothes that donít increase power or stats will do. There are utilitarian artisanís outfits available from the vendors in both cities for a modest cost in cash and status, and fancier outfits can be obtained from either vendors or tailors. So, if you want, you can forge plate mail in that skimpy female formal outfit thatís basically two strips of cloth strategically draped to avoid arrest, though at a guess the chance of getting something tender and important caught between hammer and anvil is non-zero if you do, and zero is where Iíd want it to be.

There are other ways to increase power regeneration. Some equipment does so. The best item I ever bought, my Master I of Scream of Death included and Iíd better not get too much hate mail from envious Dirges on that, is a nondescript little level 38 fabled bracelet called the Bangle of Silence. Itís got a power called Intuition that increases out-of-combat power regeneration by 14. No self-respecting uber-raider would be caught dead with this puppy -- what good is out-of-combat regeneration? -- but for a crafter itís just the catís pyjamas, almost as good as an extra totem. Iím told there are a couple of other rare items like it, but havenít run into them myself Ė I got the bangle one night when someone happened to advertise it in chat, maybe someone knows where it comes from, I donít. Iím told that things called the Idol of Focus, Idol of Chaos, and Runed Combine Bauble also have this power. If you ever see Ďem, snap Ďem up.

You might think items with Flowing Thought would be good, too, but I doubt it. Even very good Flowing Thought items only increase power regeneration by 1-5 per tick. I havenít done the calculations in detail, but my sense is that if they increase power by 50 or so, as many do, youíre a net loser in crafting terms. Save Ďem for raids.
The Manastone and its successors are useful to decrease downtime between items. Prismatic weapons and their successors are practically as good as Intuition items. If youíve got the resources to pursue these, theyíre great for crafting as well as for adventuring.

The other thing you can do to improve power regeneration is to choose an adventuring class with power regeneration abilities, though I donít necessarily recommend making decisions that way, play what you feel drawn to is my advice, youíll be doing this for hours and hours and days and days. But anyway, dirges, in addition to having taste and style, always a good thing for an artisan, have a formidable power-regeneration buff. Troubadors and enchanters, too, though minus the taste and style. Summoners suck power out of their pets, the mean things. Choosing any of these as an adventuring class will help you to craft like a maniac.

Tactical Refinements

Little things you can do to work faster and cleaner:

If youíre doing a fairly difficult combine, one that you know will take some durability buffing at some point, and if your +dur -% success is your highest-level -%success buff, itís worth using it to respond to events before the durability bar drops below half. Since the event response means no-failure, you might as well use the biggest buff youíve got to respond to it.

For the new tradeskill writs, someone on the boards described a fab trick to save time; for classes whose writ items are predictable, put the recipes on a hotbar so you donít have to look Ďem up. Iím too lazy to do this, at least until I blow my first writ because Iím fiddling with recipes, but it seems like a smart move for people with actual organizational skills.

Final Thoughts

You donít have to do all this to craft, to craft well, or to get to pristine. If I have one item to knock off for a customer, you donít see me peeling out of my chainmail down by the forge next to all those big sweaty barbarians, no you donít Ė and incidentally, why, oh, why arenít there dressing rooms in the crafting instances? Iím getting off-topic, arenít I? Point is, you can adopt some, all, or none of these ideas and craft beautifully.

Have fun Ė Iíve got to run now.
Whysprr Wyrdwynd
Dirge / Wit / Jeweler
Table: Power Totems
Spirit Totem of theÖ Power Regen Equipable at:
Beetle 12/tick 1
Rat 24/tick 10
Winged Viper 36/tick 20
Bat 48/tick 30
Hawk 60/tick 40
Monkey 72/tick 50
Beholder 84/tick 60