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A REWARD MERIT VENDOR PRIMER or HOW TO WIN ON THE MERITS Sometimes it looks like an ATM; sometimes it looks like a person. But either way, the Reward Merit Vendor always sells the same things. A few of them are good deals, or are necessary for transferring large amounts of particular kinds of merits from one character to another. But the vast majority of things that the Reward Merit Vendor sells (Recipes, Enhancements, etc.) are actually not good deals, and you should definitely leave alone. In this guide, I will tell you what everything is, and why you usually shouldn't buy it. You see, most things on the Reward Merit vendor actually aren't intended to be good deals. They're intended to provide a price ceiling on sales of those things in the Auction House. If the prices in the Auction House should ever become ridiculously high, the Reward Merit Vendor provides an alternate way people can get those items. But the AH prices would have to be ridiculously high for the Reward Merit Vendor listing to be a good deal. DISCLAIMER: As with any guide that quotes current market prices, the accuracy of this guide is subject to change should market conditions dramatically change. Always verify current prices on the market before you follow any advice from a marketing guide. CONVERTING MERITS TO INF WITH ENHANCEMENT CONVERTERS OR BOOSTERS As I'll explain shortly, you can convert Inf(luence/amy/ormation) to Reward Merits just by turning in a million Inf to get one Reward Merit. (Or you can do it 10 at a time.) But the only way to turn Reward Merits into cash is by buying something with Reward Merits that you can sell in the Auction House. Exactly what will get you the most Inf for Merits can vary depending on current going rates, but it's nearly always going to be Enhancement Converters or Enhancement Boosters. (Other potential candidates can include Enhancement Catalysts or Unslotters, so you might want to check the current AH prices for those as well and do a little bit of division to work out what the most Inf per merit is. But you won't usually go wrong with Converters or Boosters.) Converters are nearly always in high demand (because they're crucial to a particular method of earning Inf quickly), so you can list them for 1 Inf each to take the current high bid, and usually get a good chunk of money fast. Likewise, Enhancement Boosters are in high demand because it takes 25 to 30 of them to boost a single Enhancement set out to +5, and some people will boost every Enhancement they slot rather than Attuning. Converters can get as cheap as 70,000 Inf or as high as 100,000 Inf (or more) each, but they're usually going to go for 80,000 to 90,000 (at least as of the time this guide was written). Enhancement Boosters fluctuate more widely, between 1 and 2 million many times. So, let's do a little math. Say that you bought 3 Converters for 1 Merit, listed them on the market for 1 Inf to make an instant sale, and they sold for 80,000 Inf each. That works out to 240,000 Inf, or 216,000 Inf after the market takes its 10% cut. If they sold for 90,000, that would be 270,000 Inf, or 243,000 after fees. Multiply that by 100 (as most Recipes and Enhancements cost 100 Reward Merits each), and you get 21.6 to 24.3 million. Say that you bought an Enhancement Booster for 5 Merits and placed it on the Auction House for 1 Inf to make an instant sale, and it sold for 1,000,000 Inf. That works out to 200,000 Inf per Merit, or 180,000 after the market's 10% cut. I just tried selling a few Boosters for 1 Inf myself and they sold for about 1.25 million Inf each—225,000 Inf per Merit, or 22.5 million per 100 Merits. It seems unlikely that you'd get as high as 2 million Inf unless you set your asking price higher and waited for demand to go up—which you could certainly do if you weren't in a hurry for the money. But if you are in a hurry, 1 to 1.25 million per Booster listed for 1 Inf is still a decent rate of return considering that you only have to sell 1/15 as many items as if you were doing Converters. (Now, you could list the Converters or Boosters for a higher price than 1 Inf, to make sure you get at least 90,000 Inf per Converter, or at least 1.5 million Inf per Booster, for example—but due to the way the Auction House works, everyone who priced theirs lower than you will get to sell theirs first. The price probably will rise high enough that yours will sell eventually, but if you're in a hurry you might not want to wait that long. And that's another reason I suggest going with high-volume items like Converters or Boosters—so many people want them that you're still going to get a quite decent rate of return on a listed-for-1-Inf instant sale, rather than encountering a lowball bid that gives you much less than you'd expect. That being said, if you do have plenty of time—you're going to be spending all day at work or school, or will be away for the weekend, or whatever—it might not hurt to try placing a few higher-priced sale listings and see how many of them move by the time you get back.) UPDATE: In a comment below, @seebs points out that there's actually another lucrative Merits-to-Inf conversion option, at least in certain circumstances: certain Uncommon recipes. If you spend 20 Merits on a level 10 Steadfast Protection Resistance/Defense IO and craft it for a few thousand Inf, it could sell for around 6 million Inf (5,400,000 Inf after the auctionhouse fee). That works out to 270,000 Inf per Merit, which beats out Converters and Boosters—though you may need to wait a while for the Enhancements to sell, whereas with Converters or Boosters you can get the money immediately. So, as a rule of thumb, you should only pay 100 Reward Merits for a Recipe or Enhancement from the Reward Merit Vendor if the price for that particular Recipe or Enhancement is over 22 million on the Auction House. (Which it nearly never is. Most ATO Enhancements tend to go for 7 to 10 million Inf each, for example. But there are a few exceptions, which I'll cover as we get to them.) If the thing is significantly cheaper than 22 million, then it would be a better deal to turn Reward Merits into Inf by selling Converters or Boosters, and buy the thing with the Inf you get instead. (Unless, of course, that thing isn't actually available on the Auction House, in which case getting it for Merits is going to be the only way to get it quickly at all.) ADDRESSING OBJECTIONS Now, some people may complain that they don't want to have to go through the inconvenience of selling 100 Merits' worth of Converters—but honestly, it's not really all that hard, or time-consuming. You just drag the Converters from your Salvage window into the Auction House, choose "10" when it asks how many you want—then the "10" will be autofilled from then on, so you just need to drag, drop, and click 29 more times. Then you can go to the first stored batch of Converters, fill in "1" for the amount, and then just click on "Post" on the top row repeatedly until all the rows are gone. It's a little repetitive, maybe, but I bet it won't even take you one whole minute to do. And they should sell instantly at that price, so then it's just a matter of clicking "Get All Inf" to pull down the cash. Plus, if you're just buying one ATO, you don't even have to sell all 100 Merits' worth. Maybe you just sell 40 or 50 Merits' worth, that should get you more than enough cash for a single ATO. And, of course, Boosters represent another comparable Merits-to-Inf conversion mechanism that will land you about the same amount of Inf per Merit but with considerably less clicking and dragging involved. My one caveat is that Booster prices may be a little more prone to fluctuation than those of Converters, just because they don't move at quite the same volume of sales. Thus, I still recommend Converters as the most consistently reliable way to get a good Inf return for your Merit investment. You see, Converters are in such high supply (from folks converting Merits to Inf, or selling off Super Pack contents for profit) and high demand (from folks converting Uncommon Enhancements into Rare Enhancements to turn a profit, as explained in the guide linked above) that their prices are generally stable. They tend to fluctuate within a 20,000-Inf range, but rarely go below that range. (I have standing bids for Enhancement Converters at 70,000 Inf on some of my characters, and they go days or even weeks between any of them coming in. The price just doesn't fall that far that often.) This means that you can list your Enhancement Converters at 1 Inf each for a quick sale and still be practically certain you'll get about the same amount of Inf as the previous listings in the sale history, without falling victim to a lowball bid. (There are no 100% certainties in the market, but this one's pretty close.) Enhancement Boosters are more likely to have lowball bids, but even their lowball bids are generally still a decent amount of Inf per Merit. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I don't usually actually sell most of the Converters that I buy for Merits, because I make enough money through using them to convert Enhancements that I don't have to. (Though given how many clicks it can take to get a profitable conversion, I may not be that much better off than Converter sellers in that respect.) But apart from Converters and Boosters, the other types of special salvage just aren't in as high a demand, and you can't be as sure there isn't a lowball bid lurking out there that would give you a lot less Inf per Merit than you expect if you list low for a quick sale—and if you list at a higher price for a better profit, who knows how long it will take before that sale comes in? As I already said, it would be a good idea to check the current market going rates for the various different types of special salvage and do the division to see which option is likely to offer a better deal at any given time. You might even try listing one of each type of Salvage at 1 Inf to see how much the current highest low bid is, and work your math on those figures, before you decide which one to start buying and selling in bulk at any given time. As I point out in the disclaimer above, the accuracy of this information is subject to change if market conditions change, so always verify current prices on the Auction House before you risk any Inf or Merits. REWARD MERIT VENDOR CATEGORIES Now I'm going to list off all the categories you'll find in the Reward Merit Vendor, and what's under each one. Note that what categories you see in the store depends on your level; level 1 characters only get the Conversion and Salvage lists. Note that above the categories, there is a slider that goes from level 1 to level 50. Some options aren't available above or below certain levels, so if there's a particular level of item you need, you'll have to slide the slider to the right place for it. INF. TO REWARD MERITS As mentioned above, you can turn 1 million Inf into 1 Reward Merit, or 10 million into 10 Reward Merits. However, this is a bad deal, because the most you could get for turning that Merit back into Inf is around 250,000 Inf. So you're losing 75% of your Inf's value right there. There's nothing you can get with Reward Merits that you couldn't get more cheaply with Inf instead, particularly at that exchange rate—so it's better to let your Inf stay Inf. If you're about to hit the 2 billion per character Inf cap, then just email some of it to an alt, or stick it in Auction House bids for items that will never come in, like level 53 Hami-Os. Converting it to Merits is a losing proposition. VANGUARD TO REWARD MERITS This is used for converting the Vanguard Merits you get from Rikti Mothership Raids (and, less frequently, defeating individual Rikti) into Reward Merits. The conversion rate is 30 Vanguard Merits to 1 Reward Merit (or you can do 300 Vanguard to 10 Reward, also). The conversion rate used to be 10:1, but that was a relic of the days when the codebase was used to run a private, much lower-population server, where it wasn't as easy to get Mothership Raids together. Even at 30:1, a MSR is still a better Reward Merit per minute return than many Task or Strike Forces–the 900 to 1200 Vanguard Merits you'll get from a just-over-half-hour Mothership Raid will convert into 30 to 40 Reward Merits. So this conversion isn't actually a bad deal. That being said, there are a lot of nifty things you can buy with plain old Vanguard Merits at the special Vanguard crafting tables, such as the Gr'ai Matter Shard-based component if you're working on your Incarnate Alpha. And you can convert them to Reward Merits any time you need to, but you can't convert Reward Merits back to Vanguard Merits again. So, unless you're in an immediate Reward Merit crunch, you might as well let them stay Vanguard Merits until you need to change them (unless you're approaching the 10,000 Vanguard Merit cap, of course). ASTRAL/EMPYREAN TO REWARD MERITS This option will let you change the Astral or Empyrean Merits you get from doing Incarnate content into Reward Merits, at a rate of 2 Reward Merits per Astral or 10 per Empyrean. (Since you can convert 5 Astral Merits to 1 Empyrean Merit via Luna on Ouroboros, this means the exchange rate stays consistent between the two.) The thing is, that's not necessarily a good idea. There's no way to convert Reward merits back to Astral or Empyrean Merits. Also, while Reward Merits are easy to come by, Astrals and Empyreans are considerably harder. Once you convert those Incarnate Merits away, you can't get them back again—but if you've already bought all your Incarnate powers, you can email the unneeded Empyrean Merits to your other characters, with the help of another conversion option a little further down this menu. That's a much better use for leftover Astral or Empyrean Merits that you no longer need. REWARD TO HERO/VILLAIN MERITS, AND VICE VERSA The email system City of Heroes uses has the annoying limitation that if you want to email items to different characters or people, you have to do it one at a time. Which includes Reward Merits. Emailing dozens of Reward Merits one Merit at a time could drive you nuts, but fortunately you don't have to. You can convert 50 Reward Merits into 1 Hero or Villain Merit, then email that Hero or Villain Merit to your global so you can claim it from an alt. You'll still have to send multiple emails if you're wanting to move hundreds of Merits—but at least you won't have to send hundreds of emails. (If you want to move fewer than 50 Merits, and earning enough to hit 50 isn't an option, you can always convert them into Inf by selling Converters or Boosters, and then email that instead.) Incidentally, it doesn't matter whether you use Hero or Villain Merits. Anyone of any alignment can claim and convert either kind back. However, you can only send them to your own global, not to anyone else's. (On the live version of the game, Hero and Villain Merits used to be the rewards for doing Alignment Missions, and had their own Merit Vendors. But that all went by the wayside when SCORE simplified everything down.) EMPYREAN TO TRANSCENDENT MERITS, AND VICE VERSA This is that option I was mentioning for sending your spare Empyrean Merits to other characters a couple of sections back. Just as with the Reward to Hero/Villain Merits conversion, you can convert 50 Empyrean Merits to 1 Transcendent Merit, which you can then mail to your global for another alt to claim and convert back. (As with Hero/Villain Merits, you can only send them to your own global.) ENHANCEMENTS The next category of purchases from the Merit Vendor is Enhancements. ARCHETYPE ORIGIN ENHANCEMENTS These are the Enhancements that come in the Heroes and Villains or Vigilantes and Rogues Super Packs available for 10 million Inf each under Special Salvage in the Auction House. They're all available for 100 Reward Merits each. As noted above, that's usually a terrible deal, because their going rate on the Auction House is less than half the Inf you'd get from selling 100 Merits' worth of Enhancement Converters. The only time I'd buy an ATO for Merits would be if I needed a specific one to complete a set and there weren't many for sale—and even then, it would be cheaper to buy another of the set that was more common and use Converters to convert in-set until I got the one I wanted. (Or even buy a random Super Pack and convert the Enhancement in that across archetypes then archetype sets until i got the one I wanted.) Of course, that only tells half the story. Many times, the ATO you want simply can't be had on the market at all, even to the point of no Enhancements in the entire set being available. That's one circumstance where it wouldn't be such a bad idea to buy it with Reward Merits if you need to—but if you don't mind a little tedium, you can still get those ATOs more cheaply in Inf than the equivalent cost in Merits. If you have the money (or can convert Reward Merits into the money), take 10 Million Inf and buy a Heroes and Villains or Vigilantes and Rogues Super Pack, from the Salvage -> Special category of the Auction House. You'll probably get at least 1 random ATO in it. (Or you might get two, or you might get none. If you get none, you'll just have to try again.) If the ATO is of the set you want, you got lucky. If not, use Enhancement Converters to convert by Rarity: Archetype Enhancement, until you get one of the two sets of the Archetype you want. (You've got 1 in 12.5 odds.) If the one you get is in the set you want, great. If not, convert one more time by Type: (whatever the Archetype you're going for is), and it will automatically turn into an Enhancement from the other ATO set for that Archetype. Then you can convert within the set until you get the exact one you want. (If you happen to hit upon one of the two Brute ATO sets along the way, though, you'd be better served to sell that and start over with a new Super Pack. The Brute sets tend to sell for so much that it would practically be throwing money away not to cash them in.) As long as you didn't have to spend more than 150 Converters all in all, you still saved money over the Merit cost. Yes, that could be tedious and fiddly. But on the other hand, if you enjoy pumping quarters into a slot machine and pulling the lever until you get a good result, you might discover this is that very same kind of fun—and doesn't cost you any quarters. EVENT ENHANCEMENTS This is where you can get the Hold, Melee, PBAoE, Ranged, and Targeted AoE sets that come out of the 25 million Inf Lords of Winter Super Pack, as well as the Overwhelming Force Universal Damage set from Summer Blockbuster. They're all priced at the same 100 Merits each. Overwhelming Force is another terrible deal, as it generally goes for 6 to 8 million Inf per Enhancement on the AH, but the Winter sets are a rare case where buying them for Reward Merits actually might not be a bad deal. Most of the Winter set IOs are priced above 20 million Inf on the Auction House, since the Super Packs they come from are too. So, if you're slotting something out with a Winter IO set, it might be less hassle to buy them for Reward Merits than to try to get them for cash. (Especially if there aren't many of them even available on the Auction House at the time.) You might lose a little value, but probably not enough to worry about. That said, you might still be better off to convert those Reward Merits to Inf, or use any Inf you already have on hand, to buy Winter Super Packs instead. Buy as many Super Packs as you need Winter Enhancements, then Convert any Winter Enhancement that isn't the set you want until it is the set you want. There are so few Winter Enhancement sets that it won't take too many conversions to get there, plus you'll get all the other stuff that came in those Super Packs for "free". SINGLE ORIGIN ENHANCEMENTS This option will let you buy any regular Single Origin Enhancement for 1 Reward Merit each. They're only available starting from level 20; if you move the slider below that, the option disappears. I suppose if you want to get your hands on them fast, without having to travel to a store, the convenience is worth something—but in a store, individual SOs are a lot cheaper than the 200,000+ Inf you'd get from selling one Merit's worth of Converters. And, of course, level 20 is 5 levels earlier than SOs are available in stores—so if you're level 17 and want to tide yourself over until you can start using IOs, that might be worth 1 Merit per SO to you. RECIPE Here you can buy Recipes for various types of craftable Enhancements for Reward Merits (though, generally, you shouldn't). Whether you buy them with Merits or not, remember that these are just the recipes, not the finished Enhancements. You're going to have additional costs of salvage and crafting to to take into account to get an Enhancement out of them. In the case of purple recipes, that could run to 2 million Inf per IO. IO SET These are the standard yellow and orange Invention Set Recipes that drop from adventuring or can be found in the Auction House. They are available only within the level ranges of the set in question—so if you want to buy a Kinetic Combat Recipe, for example, you'll need to move the level slider back down to 40. Orange Recipes are 50 Merits each; yellow Recipes are 20 Merits each. At first glance, it seems the price has to be ridiculously high on the Auction House for it to be a better bargain to buy for Merits. How many yellow Recipes regularly sell for 5 million Inf, and how many orange sell for 12 million Inf? But then again, as I noted above, certain yellow Recipes actually might be worth buying, if the crafted Enhancement sells for over 5 million Inf. For example, level 10 Steadfast Protection Resistance/Defense IOs cost very little to build, but were selling for around 6 million Inf as of the time I updated this guide with that suggestion. So, take a look at the auction house and see if any other Uncommon IOs are selling for enough to make snagging them worthwhile. (If any crafted orange Enhancements are going for over 12 million, they could also be a good deal—but this seems unlikely, given that the most expensive ordinary Rares tend to top out at around 7 to 8 million. Plus, they'll cost a lot more to craft, requiring Rare salvage as they do.) PVP IO SET These are the sets that used to drop only during PVP but can now be found in PVE content as well. Weirdly, these sets are orange on the Auction House, but show up as purple in the Merit Vendor. But whatever the reason for the color change, these are available at whatever level you can move the slider to, starting at level 10. Remember that PVP set bonuses will apply through the entire level range they're available without needing to be Attuned—so if you buy them at 50, don't Attune them. If you slot them when you're lower than 50 and Attune them so they will level up with you, when you get to 50 you'll want to unslot and sell them, then re-buy un-Attuned ones you can plus up. And I'm probably sounding like a broken record here, but again, these are way overpriced in Merits compared to their Inf cost on the Auction House. PVP recipes might get as high as 12 to 15 million Inf, but they don't usually reach the 22 million required for 100 merits to be a better deal. STANDARD INVENTION ENHANCEMENTS These are the very same recipes you can buy from your workbench, if you haven't memorized them yet. No matter what level you buy, 10 to 50, each recipe always costs 5 Reward Merits. And, again: buying these is not a good value for the Merits. From a workbench, a level 50 Common Damage IO recipe costs 464,000 Inf. 5 Reward Merits' worth of Converters would net you over 1 million Inf, even after AH fees. And the lower level and cheaper a recipe is, the worse the deal it is. Would you pay 5 Merits for a level 10 Damage IO recipe that you could buy for 1,700 Inf? I don't think so. And the recipes are usually even cheaper on the Auction House. VERY RARE IO SET These are your purple sets, only available at level 50. Like the PVP sets, these keep their set bonuses all the way down without having to be Attuned, so be sure to Boost the Enhancements after you craft them instead. Like the Winter Enhancements, these might be worth buying for Merits. Some of the more popular ones, like Hecatomb, do have Recipe prices 20 million Inf and up on the Auction House, which means that any extra amount you'd be paying in Merits probably isn't enough to worry over. But others, like Coercive Persuasion, only cost half that. Sometimes you might even be able to buy the crafted Enhancement for less in Inf than the Recipe would cost in equivalent Merits. However, bear in mind that the Auction House sale history can be deceptive in items with that low a sales volume. Often, it will only show the times someone popped a recipe up with a low asking price and the highest lowball bid got it, and you'll find out if you place your own bids and creep up by millions that there are not currently any recipes available near those prices. (If you know well before level 50 that you're going to slot a particular purple set, and you have the cash on hand, you'd be best served to place a few high lowball bids of your own and see how many of them you can win by the time you're 50 and able to slot them.) Remember the rule of thumb: if something costs very much less than 22 million Inf, it's a better deal to buy it with Inf instead. So, check the prices on the Auction House—and even try placing a few test bids, if you have the cash on hand—before you decide to spend your Merits this way. If the particular purple Recipe or Enhancement that you want can't be had for love or Influence, you might think that buying the recipe with Reward Merits is not a bad deal. 100 Merits is cheaper than not being able to get it at all. And that is true. However, there's one more thing you should try first: find some purple Recipe or Enhancement that is still available. It doesn't matter what set it's in. Buy and craft that Recipe or Enhancement, then stock up on Enhancement converters and convert it until it becomes the specific purple set and Enhancement you want. (For more details on how conversion works, see this other guide of mine.) There are few enough purple sets that it won't take very long to get to the right set, and you'll probably still end up spending less in Inf for the recipe and converters than 100 Reward Merits would convert to. REWARD ROLLS In this section, you can spend Merits to roll random items. For 1 Merit, you can get a random large Inspiration. (Bearing in mind that you're spending 250,000 Inf worth of Merits on that random Inspiration, and you can probably buy the specific one you want from the Auction House for much less than that.) For 5 Merits, you can get a random rare Salvage of various types or level ranges (spending over 1 million Inf worth of Merits on something that will only sell for around 450,000 to 600,000 Inf in the market). Or for 10 Merits, you can get a random rare Recipe at various level ranges—bearing in mind that you're spending 2.5 million Inf worth of Merits on something that will probably only be worth a few hundred or thousand Inf on the Auction House. Seriously, what is the point of this? SALVAGE In this section, you can buy Enhancement Boosters, Enhancement Catalysts, Enhancement Converters, and Enhancement Unslotters. Given that all of these items are so inexpensive individually, prices fluctuate; they may or may not be a good deal at any given moment, but they're so cheap that it's usually not worth worrying about it. If you need a bunch of Enhancement Boosters, and you have the Merits to spare, you might as well go for it. (Also, remember that the only thing you should be buying Catalysts for in any case is turning ATOs into their Superior versions; using them to Attune ordinary Enhancements is a waste of money when you could simply sell the un-Attuned Enhancement and buy the Attuned version from the Auction House for the same price.) Enhancement Converters and Enhancement Boosters are, as I've noted, usually the thing that selling gives you the most Inf per Merit. That being the case, they're the only two items in the store that I can unreservedly recommend purchasing with Merits. Since they're what you would use to turn Merits into Inf, then by definition you can't get a better Merit-to-Inf deal. BUT WHY CAN'T I WASTE MY MONEY? Actually, you can. If you have a compelling need for some item, and don't want to mess with selling Converters or Boosters or waiting for an AH bid to come in, you are certainly free to ignore my advice and spend the Merits. They're your Merits; you earned them. Do whatever you want with them. There are some times when convenience may outweigh wanting to fiddle around for several minutes in the name of saving a little value here and there—especially if what you're after can't be had on the Auction House right now. But if you're going to do that, you should do it in full awareness that this isn't the cheapest way to get the stuff you want, and you're consciously making the decision to spend more than if you bought in Inf—not just doing it because you didn't know any better. I hope you'll find this guide helpful in navigating the various options available in the Reward Merit Vendor stores, and in deciding exactly how those Merits can be best spent. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the replies below!