Introduction This has been created to slow the ever-growing flood of requests for information about Grid Armor on the Fixer Forum. Most of the fixers on the forum are good, generous, helpful individuals who share what they know and what they have willingly, but several have recently been pushed to the brink of madness and despair by the repetitive GA questions, the same questions, every day, over and over and over and over again.
This guide will cover, as comprehensively as possible, the standard GA questions that are asked on the forum. References for more information are also provided.
Finally, as a non-GA-fixer who hasn't had to go through all this before, it will hopefully give you an idea of the incredible wealth of information already out there. This entire guide is being created by research of past postings on the forums and other GA guides on the web (i.e. not personal experience ). Corrections and clarifications by more experienced fixers are of course welcome.
Thanks, and enjoy.
1. What is it?
Grid Armor [GA] is a fixer-only, temporary, armor-like object that is worn to increase your AC (a little), some of your evades (a little), and your overall defense modifier (a LOT). It is acquired by casting the rare "Grid Armor MKx" nano (where x = 1, 2, 3, or 4; MK1 is the lowest level nano, MK4 is the highest). The AC and evade bonuses are not extraordinary, what makes GA really work well is the very high defense modifier (numbers provided below). The increase in your defense modifier allows you to "dodge" most attacks (the mobs completely miss you, thus doing no damage). You CAN be hit, it is just much less likely.
GA is classified as a "social armor". This restricts what things can be worn with GA (see section 6). These restrictions mean that while wearing GA, you will have _significantly_ less AC than you would wearing regular armor. In the end, your defense modifiers and evades will make you very hard to hit, but when you ARE hit, you will have less AC to absorb the damage (thus may take more damage than your well-armored counterparts).
For more information on attacks and the effects of your defense rating, please see Jynne's excellent guide explains everything you ever wanted to know about how attacks in AO work: Jynne's Guide to Attacks.
To see the database definitions for GA, check here:
What you really want to know though is what, in terms of specific numbers, does each GA do. This information is on the chart below:
2. Where/How do you get it?
Aside from being fabulously lucky and having a friend hand you the disk, there are two ways to acquire GA. Either find it yourself, or buy it from someone.
2a. Finding the disk
GA is considered one of the rarest items in AO. So, if you are determined to find it yourself, you must be prepared for a long, arduous search. The good news is that it seems to be dropping much more frequently since the last patch (14.8 ). People are reporting finding GA as loot in solo missions (previously unheard of) off of skeletons, boxes, chests and even normal, dead mobs, and it's being offered more frequently (and more cheaply) on the shopping forums as well.
There have been many rumors, arguements, and discussions on how to find GA in the fixer forums. Searching these out and reading some might uncover long forgotten important hints that could help you. At the least, you'll familiarize yourself with all the ways people have tried to find GA in the past, and avoid repeating this age-old question (and risking much ire and flames hideously heaped upon you before you can finish saying "where do i... ")
I will try to summarize a bit of what's been discussed previously here, with links to threads of interest.
A. Kill plants, lots and lots of plants.
I'm sure I read this somewhere, however, searching for "plants" on the forums gives lots of non-relevant returns that deal with "implants". From memory, in the old days, players wandering through the countryside of Rubi-Ka could see fixers, strangely obsessed with hunting and massacring plant life of all sorts. This is because, as previously stated, the fixer nano only drops in ID form. Nano IDs are considered tradeskill items, and plants drop tradeskill items! Thus, the logic followed, you had a much better chance of getting a GA ID off of a plant then off a random wandering mob that wouldn't likely drop any tradeskill items at all, let only the coveted disk. As always, your best bet is plants near in range to the range of the disk you are after. I can't recall seeing this discussed at all recently, so I'm under the impression that newer, more improved methods of GA-searching have made this rather obsolete (see below).
Shades (Greater Tir County)
Shades (Pleasant Meadows)
Shades (NW Wailing Wastes)
Mort - 1900x700
Clondyke - 1370x600
Pleasant Meadows - 400x800
(Pleasant Meadows 400x800)
Pleasant Meadows - 400x800
(Pleasant Meadows 400x800)
Bileswarms (The Longest Road North, in the Dead Forest)
Bileswarms (The Longest Road North, in the Dead Forest)
Apparently the well known place to go for GA 1 and 2 was the Claw Camp in Pleasant Meadows, close to trade. I haven't been there, but I've heard, via reading the boards, that it tends to be rather crowded and the chance of finding GA is still small. (Crowded because NTs look for their rare ID, Nullity Sphere, as well). If you are desperate it might be worth popping over and taking a look, but from reading the threads in this board, it sounds like it's easier to find GA in missions, especially now that it drops in solo missions as regular old loot.
Another common location for finding GA 1 and 2 instruction disks are off the corpses of random mobs (bloaters, floaters, security guards, bodyguards, etc...) inside the Biomare Facilities. They can sometimes also be found when opening Personal Safe that drop off of the security officers within the facilities.
C. Kill bosses!
Aside from plants, bosses (both indoor and outdoor) were for some time recommended as an effective way to find GA disks. Outdoor bosses have been confirmed as dropping it (rarely), but indoor bosses were often particularly recommended. The tactic (as outlined in the referenced threads that follow) suggests that pulling a team mission WITH A FULL TEAM, blitzing to the boss, then killing the boss yielded a decent chance of getting the ID, eventually (potentially more reliably then killing random plants, although it's still a rare disk and difficult to find in any circumstances).
When you pull a team mission, the number of players in your team affects how many items the boss will have on his body. (Note: it also affects how many minions will be in the boss room, so while pulling missions with a full team increases the chance of getting a GA disk, it also means you will be fighting a boss plus six minions. Best to know this going in and be prepared!)
[Edit: July 12, 2003. Xharfix pointed out that recent patches have made the number of minions in a room change a bit. At one point, there were NO adds in the room, just the boss. Recently, a full team of six pulling a team mission gets TWO adds plus the boss. This may continue to change in the future... Thanks Xharfix for the correction!]
D. Post 14.8 - Get lucky!
Since that patch fixers have reported finding GA in solo/team missions off of the corpses of regular, non-boss mobs and in boxes, on skeletons, etc. This may account for the surge in GA available on the market forums. So it's entirely possible that you will get lucky in the course of your usual AO fun and stumble blindly upon GA. Probably not incredibly likely, but certainly possible.
F. What affects my chances of finding it?
There are many, many rumors about this. In the end, I think it comes down to dumb luck.
If you're curious though, here's a few things that have been claimed. I don't think there's anyway to PROVE any of this (since FunCom sure isn't going to tell us ) but, take what you think will work for you and good luck with it!
- Team level: When you team with people, as time goes on, your "team level" increases. One theory is that a higher team level increases your chance of finding GA in a team mission.
- Full Team: This is really a question of numbers and effectiveness in your search strategy. If you are killing boss mobs to find GA, the boss will have MORE loot the MORE people are in your team. Thus, you would seem to increase your chances of finding GA by having a full team (because the boss will have as much loot as possible, and each piece of loot has some percent chance of being GA).
- Where you pull from/to: Many people who find GA in missions are happy to tell you where they were when they got the mission, and where the mission was (if they can remember). Several people mentioned Varmint Woods (before the 14.8 patch) as being a rumored hotspot for GA.
I'm not sure about the merit of this... I assume that the loot in a mission is not generated, other than the final reward, until you ENTER the mission, NOT when you roll it. (Generating loot when you roll a mission would seem like a lot of computational overhead, given that many more missions are rolled than completed, even without using clicksaver since one click on the mission terminal gives 5 missions.) Thus, I would guess that which mission terminal you use to pull your mission has little to do with whether you find GA there.
As for where the mission itself is, I honestly have no idea if the mission LOCATION affects the probability of a particular type of loot. If I had to make a guess, I'd guess not - as far as I can tell all mission loot is just random junk. But I could be wrong
- [Edit: Thanks to Callhandor who reminded me of this commonly held belief!] Many fixers also subscribe to the belief that the best way to find GA is to NOT look. That is, some fixers have found that after a near-exhaustive search, it was the moment that they gave up, forgot about GA, and decided to accept their lot as a GA-less fixer and move on with their life that they mysteriously stumbled upon it. Sometimes by having a friend give it to them, sometimes by getting lucky in a mission.
Finding GA while in a Team
Often, finding GA while in a team, doing a team mission, creates an immediate conflict. GA is a valuable item, as such, the team will often want to sell it and divide the credits, thus sharing the reward. Yet, the sole fixer on the team can become quite miffed when told that he/she will not receive the item.
There are no hard and fast rules here. This is all about opinions, context, and how you and others play. Here are some scenarios and what might be considered reasonable.
- Teaming with friends. If you regularly team with people you know well, friends and guildmates, they will often just give you the disk, just as you would likely give some valuable, profession-specific loot to YOUR friend and teammate should it happen to pop up in a mission.
- Teaming with strangers, alpha-loot on, found GA on a dead mob.
i. Give the item to the person who can use it. If more than one person can use it, let anyone who can use it roll for it. Idea: equipment should go to the people who helped earn it and can use it.
ii. Let everyone roll for it. Idea: Everyone should have a fair shot of getting items from a team mission.
iii. Sell it, and divide the proceeds among the team. Idea: Everyone in a team should benefit from items that are worth alot (selling items not worth a lot doesn't make sense, as it takes more effort than the small amount of credits is worth).
iv. Let the person who looted it keep it (or decide what to do with it). Idea: by being on alpha-loot, you have effectively already "rolled" (ie assigned everyone some random chance of getting this mob/item).
This causes some heated arguments and posts to the fixer board by people who feel they were cheated out of an item that was rightfully theirs. One way to deal with this is to determine, before getting to the mission, how rare and valuable loot will be handled.
- Teaming with strangers, any type of loot on, found in chest/box/etc or on boss
In these cases, the loot is not subject to alpha-loot rules, so hasn't effectively been "rolled on" yet. (Thus, theoretically, it belongs to the team). Depending on the team, they may want to give it to the person who can use it, sell it and divide the proceeds, sell it to the person who can use it for a reduced price, or let the person who grabbed it first keep it.
Sometimes, the person who grabs it will not give it away, no matter what the team decides. They would rather unplug their computer and hide from everyone for weeks, transfer it to someone else, and sell it than give it away. It happens, and there's not alot you can do other than talk to your team ahead of time to discuss how these items should be treated, and team with people you know, like, and trust whenever possible.
2b. Buying the disk
- How much should I pay?
Market values are continually changing due to factors such as the number of disks for sale, the number of people wanting to buy the disks, the funds available to those people who want it, and the perceived usefullness of GA (e.g. it's perceived usefulness is starting to decrease as people come to understand that it will not work in ShadowLands, coupled with the apparent rise in availability, the prices have recently begun to go down). I don't think anyone can tell you how much you SHOULD pay, and even if they could, I don't think it MATTERS. If we were to tell you not to may more than XX million credits for GA1, and you told that to someone asking XX+50 million credits, they would probably not listen to you. They would certainly not listen to you when they got a bid from another fixer for their asking price...
If you want to have a good feel for how much it costs, the best thing to do is go read the Market Forums and watch what people are asking for GA, and how much people are bidding. Keep watching and you'll get a good sense for what the market price is.
In the end, it all depends on what the people who want it when it's offered are willing to pay for it. For example, GA4 has gone for about 900 million credits!
- How in the world can I ever get THAT much money!!!
How to make lots of money is outside the scope of this guide.
There are probably tons of other threads out there on blitzing, but these cover most of what you need to know. The rest is practice, practice, practice!
3. Usage: Levels, Effectiveness, IP Allocation
3a. What is the lowest level it's possible to get GA on
It depends. Obviously your race, how much money you have for twinking, whether you are in a guild with towers that provide GA-friendly benefits will all affect when you can twink into GA. There are rumors of people who have twinked into GA1 as early as level 12-15, however, you will be OE at this level (usually when your buffs run out, which if you use a wrangle is in about 2 or 3 minutes!). OE rules affect the defense modifier on GA as well, so if you go OE, expect your spiffy defense modifier from the GA to go down, which means you'll start being hit more often.
Note: OE is an abreviation of the term over-equipped, which means that a certain item will be equipped by having temporary buffs to get it on, but once the buffs wear out it can't be unequipped and equipped again without re-buffing.
The lowest level of equipping GA will now have the added variable of wether the player has any perk adding expansions. Perks add to skills which will allow higher quality level implants to be worn as well as adding to valuable nano skills.
That said, there are several threads where how to get into GA as soon as possible has been discussed. Many emphasize that, especially for serious twinking, you need to do the math yourself, or you risk missing something important for your character. Take a look:
3b. How long is GAx good for?
This question is most often asked of GA1. Later GA's appear to either last alot longer, or by the time people can wear them, they feel confident enough in their abilities to determine when the GA is losing effectiveness, that they don't seem to post too often on the boards.
It appears that most people feel they outgrow their GA1 somewhere in the 80-90 range. Papa Biznot pointed out, in this thread about the lifespan of GA that since GA1 is used to level fast, and is effective for leveling fast, you use it up rather quickly.
The "outgrowing GA" appears to be mostly an issue with GA1. For example, in another thread, Njain said that "Actually you will probably find that MKI is useless and II is the way to go. GAI can die out on you pretty quickly whereas for some reason GAII can last a lot longer without an update."
And, in yet another thread, Hukk advises a young fixer who is torn between wearing the newly found GA1, or selling it to create a more secure future "In my opinion, you'd be best selling it. At 57, you could easily get a few levels and get it on, but it wouldn't last you much past 90."
Here's another thread advising selling a GA1 disk, due to it's limited lifespan, rather than using it.
Although, as a counterpoint, Croak explains that he is using GA1 still at level 101, and planned to use it up until around level 110.
3c. Is it worth spending the IP to get on?
This seems to be a personal choice, related to playstyle, what level GA you're talking about, what level you are, and your general resources. If you look at the requirements for GA, you will quickly see that to raise your nanoskills (specifically matter creation, which most non-GA fixers do not raise at all) high enough to wear GA, you will be restricting the IP you can put into other useful things (weapon skills, other nanolines, etc). You need to decide for yourself if that's a tradeoff you want to make. Many of the threads listed above that discuss how to get into GA also talk about the tradeoffs required, whether it's worth it, and what, besides spending IP, you can do to increase those skills (e.g. mochams, wrangles, towers, ...)
4. Creating the nano from the disk?
4a. How to do it? You can check this guide on how to create nano crystals, although the most important thing to know is that, as a fixer, you are not a tradeskiller. (Well, I don't know, maybe some fixers get into this stuff at higher levels, like after 170 or so when they have more IP, but from what I've heard - most don't.) In general, IP for fixers is tight throughout most of your life, and if you are trying to wear grid armor, IP becomes even scarcer. Trying to raise skills to make nanocrystals, just so you can go make your own GA disk is silly and will gimp you much!
So, what you want to do is hunt down a well-known, respected, trustworthy tradeskiller. You want to find someone trustworthy, because GA is rather valuable, and an untrustworthy soul might grab your disk and vanish to sell it for himself. (I don't know how often this actually happens, as most tradeskillers depend upon their reputation to attract customers, however, it never hurts to find someone with an excellent reputation to deal with your disk.)
4b. What should you bring?
I must admit, I've never had a crystal custom-made. Most of the tradeskillers I've talked to have been friendly enough, and surely would tell you what they need if you send them a tell politely asking.
>From what I've read, the only thing you need to bring with you is the ID itself and a carbonrich rock of the same QL or slightly higher as the ID. Carbonrich rocks are found on the ground in some areas of Rubi-Ka. Most of the custom maps that you can download show the areas clearly marked on the map.
4c. Who can you trust?
Some fixers post their recommendations for trustworthy tradeskillers in the Official AO Forums. Myself, I have done business (though not GA) with both clan and omni level 200 engineers who post in the forums. Look for someone trustworthy, knowledgeable, and helpful.
4d. Costs and tipping?
The actual cost to have your GA crystal assembled will be determined by the person who makes it for you. Because of the value and rarity of GA, it appears customary to tip *well* in addition to normal fees. Again, as I have never had GA made (and not being a tradeskill person, have never made it for anyone else) I'm not sure how much would be appropriate.
There is a rooted thread in the engineer forum on prices for tradeskill items. For nanocrystal creation, the thread gives prices broken by nano QL as follows:
"Nano Creation: 30-100: 3K Per QL. Minimum charge 3K per level of the person making it.**
Nano Creation: 101-180: 4K: per QL. Min charge 4K per level of the person making it.**
Nano creation: 181-200: A good tip would be 1-2M
Nano creation: 201-215: A good tip would be 2-3M"
But, again, note that higher tips are often customary for rare disks such as GA4 ("Other considerations: The items value: If your making a GAIV you should tip heavy because of the trust involved hence the price for the VTE."
5. How do I get the most out of my GA?
To be most effective in your GA, people often recommend that you max and implant your evades. As Jobe clusters become more plentiful, I imagine that advice will expand to include implanting your overall defense rating (I believe there is an "Add-All-Defense" Jobe cluster?). If you are using one of the lower level GAs and find yourself being hit too often, you might try moving you agg-def bar closer to def, to make more use of your evades as well, although this will slow down your firing rate.
Jynne's Auto-Attack Guide will help clarify the mysteries of how evades, defense ratings, and your agg-def bar work.
Although FC has introduced a feature that shows how long temporary items have left before they disappear if you view the info window here is a helpful tip to give GA using fixers a little visual warning when their GA is about to evaporate is to cast two GA. One for social, and the other to actually use. Here's how it works: Make sure your preferences are set to enable social clothes. Put social clothes in various locations on your social panel. Now cast a GA1 and put it in social back slot. Wait a couple of minutes and cast a second GA 1-4 and put it in your actual back slot. Now during a fight when the first GA disappears, your social clothes will appear, thus informing you that you have a few minutes before your actual GA will disappear, leaving you virtually defenseless.
6. What can I wear with GA?
GA is classified as "social armor". Only certain items are able to worn with social armor.
This has been discussed many times, check out the following Official AO Forums threads:
7a. OMG - no GA in SL?
Correct. GA will continue to function as normal in Rubi-Ka, but will be useless in Shadowlands. Funcom is promising replacement items, but what those are, how good they are, what they do, what the requirements are, how hard they are to get, and anything else you might want to know about them are anybody's guess right now.
Both of the following threads contain discussions based on comments made by the developers about GA and SL.
7b. What are the unintended side effects of GA?
From what I hear, wearing GA in public will attract beggers like crazy ("you MUST be rich, right, since you have GA!"). You will also stand out as an obvious fixer and will likely be targetted for fixer buffs. One fixer reported that, while standing in GA next to a higher level non-GA fixer, he got many more buff requests than his friend (which is odd not just because his friend was higher level, but because a non-GA fixer should have higher runbuffs and hots uploaded since they haven't had to spend IP on matter creation!)
7c. What the heck is so controversial about two lil' letters?
Some people hate it, some people love it, and some people really don't care one way or another. Some people (some fixers even!) think it should be removed from the game completely, some think it is the most class-defining item we have. Some think that its perfectly balanced, some think its overpowered, some think that particular anti-GA nukes are overpowered. Some think GA is nice but unnecessary, some think that you are a complete gimp if you don't have it.
In short, there are lots and lots of reasons why people fight about GA, and most everyone is passionate about their position. Chances are that if you stick around the fixer forum long enough, you'll see these arguments for yourself, so no real need to rehash them here.
7d. Why do I get yelled at for asking about GA on the fixer board?
Go to the fixer forum, not a particular thread, but to the overview page for the forum itself. Now scroll down to the bottom, just under where you see the "pages", to find the text box for searching this forum. Type in "GA" and start the search.
I have just done that, and brought up *49* pages of threads about GA. And this doesn't cover the web guides I've referenced earlier.
Most questions about GA have been answered, many many many times. Asking these questions, without bothering to search the old posts and find the information for yourself tends to drive people a bit over the edge, because the information is *easily* accessible and has already been typed out *many* times. If people would take a few minutes to use the search feature, they'd find nearly everything they could ever want to know about GA! Not only that, but they'd find many bits of information that they might not learn just by asking, because when you ask - you're not going to get a comprehensive, "here's everything we've figured out about GA" answer, if you get an answer at all.
The forum search functionality of the Official AO Forums holds the key to much hidden wisdom of AO, if you haven't tried it yet, you should... you might be happily surprised at what kind of things you can find!