As a rube I'm not such a big fan of this. Especially if I'm going to need to be making trades to win my t-shirt! So I can take a bath on bad trades or I can give up on my t-shirt or I can learn the economy. I'm trying door #3 for now...
The game has no real currency but people are not actually happy making one for one trades so the crafting materials have become a de facto currency. So much so that one of the challenges is named 'use these currency items'. There are websites ranking the different bits in terms of how much each is worth relative to each other and items get traded not for each other but for some number of these bits. The main standard seems to be the chaos orb. Converting other things to chaos orbs is something some people will do but like any currency exchange system they take a cut along the way. So while a chaos orb is 'worth' 10 chromatic orbs good luck actually finding someone to make that exact trade either way. It's still useful to know what things are worth though, I think, because you're probably going to lose a similar percentage either way?
Knowing what stuff is worth also helps in knowing what stuff to pick up and what stuff can be used without worrying about how much money you're throwing away. You can get 160 orbs of transmutation for a chaos orb which means using them to upgrade an early white item to a blue item is something you should do without worry at all. But an exalted orb is worth 22 chaos orbs so using one of those on your first yellow item is probably a mistake. You could trade it for all the decent things!
So, what are things worth according to some webpage I found a few days ago? (Things might have changed!)
|Currency||# of Chaos Orbs|
|Scroll of Wisdom||1/3360|
|Orb of Transmutation||1/160|
|Orb of Augmentation||1/40|
|Orb of Alteration||1/10|
|Orb of Chance||1/4.55|
|Orb of Alchemy||1/2.86|
|Orb of Scouring||1/1.43|
|Orb of Fusing||1/1.39|
|Orb of Regret||1.6|
I don't know if there's actually someone out there with thousands of wisdom scrolls to trade for a chaos orb. Wisdom scrolls have an in game use that means everyone uses tons of them so I still think they're very much worth picking up. I pick up all currency items, actually. Partly because it's hard to remember which one is transmutation and therefore terrible and partly because they do stack in a single 1x1 slot so they're easy to grab lots of them. But what about actual loot?
Vendoring a white item is worth 1/5th of a scroll of wisdom. So if you found someone willing to make an even trade it would only take 16800 white items to get a single chaos orb. That is really not worth doing. Even with just small items like rings which is what I was doing when I first started playing. Not worth doing!
How about blue items? Well, an unidentified blue item sells for 1/10th of an orb of transmutation. That is not a very good return. An unidentified yellow item is 1/4th of an orb of transmutation. Still not very good! Identifying them changes things up. Now you get a return based on the affixes of the item. I don't know the odds of each affix but if each listed item is equally likely you probably get something like 1/10th of an orb of alteration and 1/100th of an orb of alchemy per affix. A blue item probably has 1.5 affixes and a yellow item probably had 4.5 affixes. So a blue is worth 1/50th of a chaos orb and a yellow is worth 1/16th of a chaos orb. Assuming you have the scroll to identify them, anyway! I don't think you'll have enough to identify all the blues but putting an effort in on the yellows feels like it makes some amount of sense. At least the smaller ones? But I don't know if the affix distribution assumption makes sense. So they probably are worth a fair bit less than that.
There are other crafting recipes though... Some of those might be worth a lot, surely?
The simplest one is to vendor an item with all three colour of sockets linked together. This gives a chromatic orb, worth 1/10th of a chaos orb, with no risk involved. I've been doing this a lot and it still feels like it makes sense.
An item with 6 sockets in it is worth 7 jeweller's orbs. So more than a chaos orb. I've left a few of these on the ground and that now feels incredibly stupid. Ok low damage blue weapons... If you get 6 sockets I'm scooping you up!
An item with 6 linked sockets is worth a divine orb. That's 18 chaos orbs and definitely worth picking up. It's also incredibly rare and I suspect will be worth even more to someone in trade, especially if it's a good base item. I have never seen one of these let alone left one behind, but I won't do that if I see one!
There are a couple recipes for sets of identified rares with the same name. Names are pseudo-randomly generated (based on the affixes on the item which are random) so working towards these seems really, really hard. I tried for a while and never saw two of the same let alone three. Two is worth an orb of chance, three are worth an orb of alchemy. These are both less than a chaos orb and I don't think they're worth trying for... Unless you need to do it once for a t-shirt? There are other ways to satisfy those requirements though, so I'd skip it regardless.
You can also do what they call a 'straight flush' which is a set of items with the same base item type (like death bow). White/blue/yellow is an orb of augmentation. The same all unidentified is 2 of them. The same all max quality is an orb of alchemy. The same all max quality and unidentified is 2 of them. Add in a unique item and you get 5 orbs of chance. The augmentations don't seem worth the effort. Max quality is annoying to put together in a straight flush unless you use 34 armourer's scraps. I just saw someone trying to buy 80 armourer's for a chaos orb. Assuming he was trying to get a good deal they're probably more like 60 per orb? Which means you're better off selling your scraps than converting with a max quality straight flush. Killing off a unique item for 5 orbs of chance might be a good deal though if you have a bad unique that isn't needed for my t-shirt!
The big one is probably the full set recipe. For 9 or 10 rare items (fill every slot on a character sheet) you can get a good return. If the set is low level you get an orb of chance. If it's high level you get a chaos orb. If it's end game level you get a regal orb. Make the set unidentified or max quality and you can double your return. Make it both and you can triple it! It is 180 armourer's scraps to do that which is a bad deal and you probably really want to identify your end game level gear in case it's actually good. 9 rares for a chaos or regal orb is a good deal compared to vendoring them separately. But that includes 2 rings, an amulet, and a belt. Probably worth collecting them? At least it's not a waste of time, I hope, since I'm doing it!
I don't know if I know enough about the economy to actually try to make trades right now. I turn on trade chat and I just get annoyed. It reminds me a little about Magic Online trade chat. I couldn't handle that but at least there I know there are bots that exist to take a reasonably small cut so I can just let them make some money off me. Here I feel like trading with anyone on their terms is giving up a huge cut. So for now I think just collecting crafting bits is what I'm going to do.