Path of Exile: Inventory ManagementDrew Strickland on November 26th, 2016 | About 9 minutes to read.
I'm not considered a world-class player, or an expert by any means, but I have some handy tips to make life in Wraeclast more enjoyable. At the time of writing, I've logged 628 hours in game, across 8 characters, of which 4 remain.
Why This is Important
Whether you have just joined the game, or you're getting ready for the upcoming Breach League, Path of Exile's Inventory system can be a little daunting. Falling somewhere between Diablo II and Torchlight, the game utilizes individual character inventories with a shared "stash" for all your characters in a specific league. While that does potentially give all of your characters access to anything your other characters may have bought or picked up, it also means that the storage space is shared.
When Path of Exile was announced as a free-to-play game with micro-transactions, a lot of people were concerned that this would create "pay-to-win" scenarios. Let's face it, free-to-play games have a pretty good track record of separating players from their cash just to gain a small advantage. Personally, the meta-game has always been to see how far I can get without spending a dime, but for games I really like I will stick to a budget on what I am willing to spend to a) support the game and b) show my appreciation of value.
With that in mind, I am happy to report that in this game the only thing you can spend real world money on, to gain any sort of advantage, is the stash. That's it. With the exception of a handful of skill-effects that might make it easier for you to see the area-of-effect of a skill (the utility of which is highly debatable), stash tabs are the only thing that give one player an advantage over another.
And that's why inventory management is important. Keeping your inventory well organized prevents the compulsion to buy more stash tabs, which in turn allows you to play with advantage without spending any money. It's a small detail with a big impact on your Quality of Life in Wraeclast.
So, let's dive in and look at what you're doing wrong.
The Currency Tab
We're actually going to talk about 2 kinds of currency tabs. The first is simply any tab you have designated for currency, or, more succinctly, "the money dump". The second is in fact an account upgrade called "Currency Tab" (referred to here as Currency Tab MTX), purchasable through the PoE MTX store.
If you are unfamiliar with currency in Path of Exile, what you need to know is that there is no gold. All currency items in Path of Exile are commodities, that is to say, all currencies have a use outside of trade. Typically, the standard unit of trade is the Chaos Orb. While Chaos Orbs are VERY useful on their own, they bring extra utility as the most common means to purchase any gear you would like to trade for. At lower levels, Orbs of Alchemy and Orbs of Fusing are a more common "ask" on trade items, but Chaos Orbs remain the Gold Standard of Wraeclast economies.
When you are first starting the game, or when you first create a character in a new league, you do not need the Currency Tab MTX. You have no currency, and grinding up the currency it would take to justify having that purchase will take you quite a while. Instead, use a money dump tab. Designate a tab (or even half a tab) as the space allotted for currency items. All currency items stack, which by itself saves you a bit of space, and designating a spot for currency is a great well to tell if you are running heavy on one resource you could trade for another.
Don't even consider the Currency Tab MTX until you start to run out of space here. It will take quite a while. Let me give you a simple hypothetical:
- You're trying to construct a specific build in order to get further in the end-game.
- You're not swimming in money yet, so you set a budget of 2 Exalts (approximately 120 - 140 Chaos Orbs, depending on the League).
- Chaos Orbs stack to 10, which means you need 12 - 14 inventory spaces full of Chaos Orbs just to make your buy.
- For this hypothetical, let's assume you get the worst exchange rate on Chaos to Exalts (70:1).
Now, right there, a lot of people would say "wow, 14 inventory spaces, I need to find a better way to stack that", and then go buy the Currency Tab MTX. This is short-sighted and wrong. What you're missing here is that Exalted Orbs also stack to 10. Assuming you get the worst exchange rate turning Chaos Orbs into Exalted Orbs, you can actually pull this off with only 8 inventory spaces. That's the size of your average bow or two-handed weapon. Use 7 spaces to stack Chaos Orbs, and the 8th space to stack Exalted Orbs.
What does take up a lot of space in a money dump tab are low-value currencies that have lots of utility. Scrolls are a great example of this. Frankly, you probably never need more that 80 of each stashed at any given time. Scrolls are incredibly common, and very few things can be bought off of vendors with them. Really, keep 40 of each on your character, another stack of 40 in the stash for if you ever run out, and a backup stack. Once you start dipping into the stashed stacks, then it's time to start collecting them as they drop. Chromatic Orbs are another great example here. If you use any loot filter, it's very easy to find yourself with 500 Chromatic Orbs over time. You will definitely use 500 Chromatic Orbs over the life of a character, but chances are pretty high that you won't do that all at once.
That brings me to the next big point …
It's really tempting to hang on to everything you think you might use, and there's definitely some validity to trying to save a handful of items for later. That's why it's important to only hold on to things you know you will use. If you have 500 Chromatic Orbs, consider converting half of them to Orbs of Fusing, or even Chaos Orbs. This is doubly true with items. Holding on to a 5 linked chest might be something a lot of people do, but you can probably turn that into currency and be just fine. Now, naturally, I'm not suggesting you sell something you are wearing, or something you were just wearing (sometimes, you have to revert), but if you haven't touched an item in a while, there's a good chance you don't need it.
Nothing eats your inventory like hoarding. It seems obvious, but if you're not actively thinking about it, it sneaks up on you. Set aside some time every now and then to do a little "spring cleaning" in the inventory. Give it to a friend, put it up for trade, or simply vendor it. There's no good excuse for holding on to a bunch of items you are not using, or not getting ready to use.
The Orb Recipe Tab
Knowing how to use vendor recipes is a really important part of the game. If you're unfamiliar with the vendor recipe system, have a look at the wiki. The most important recipes, by far, are those that produce Chance and Chaos Orbs. These are the single most used currency in the end game, regardless of how much trade you do.
A quick glance at the recipes shows you that full rare sets, unidentified, are your most efficient means of producing currency. Most streamers agree on this point, and will set aside tabs for storing rares while they build up a set by looting and keeping items unidentified. Here's the thing. You do not need more than one tab for this. One tab produces 8 Chance or Chaos Orbs. Where you do need more tabs for this is when you have multiple characters in various level ranges.
Here's my Orb Recipe Tab.
As you can see, this tab contains 4 full sets of unidentified rares, including belts, rings, and amulets, and a bit of overflow space. Sometimes, I find amulets a lot less often then rings, so I hold onto some spares. Same for weapons and belts. Also note that I prefer to use 2 1-hand small weapons (wands, daggers, and maces). Technically, any 2 1-handed weapons will work, or a single 2-handed weapon, but the sizing of 2 1-handed small weapons is just perfect for this layout. In a pinch, picking up a 2-hand weapon for use with one set will work, but you really don't want to store them that way. They take up far too much space.
When the League Ends
Leagues contain new Unique items, and some leagues have exclusive unique items. Also, it seems to me that Unique drop rates are boosted in Leagues, but that's probably confirmation bias. Either way, Leagues are a great opportunity to pick up new uniques.
When a league ends, all the stash tabs from that league (which are eligible for standard) get added to your Standard Stash as "Remove Only" tabs. This is actually a great way to store Uniques since the tab does not expire, and while you can't put things in the tab, you can take things out of them. Chances are you don't have a lot of high-value, game-breaking-build-enabling Uniques lying around in those tabs, but you'll definitely have a few you want to experiment with, maybe even a few you want to theory-craft around.
Eventually, you're going to have a crowded stash. This generally happens if you are trying to support a handful of characters, or if you have simply ground up a bunch of currency. This is when you want to start buying stash tabs, or if you're close to this point already and they are on sale.
This game is absolutely playable without spending money, but supporting even a couple of characters requires a lot of thought into organization. I personally didn't buy any new tabs until I had already put in about 500 hours, but it dramatically changed the way I play. Having more inventory space changes how you solve certain problems, and having a premium stash tab acting as a store front changes you acquisition strategies. Let's face it: when a game revolved around a PRNG as a central mechanic for everything that's run, dropped, or traded, your only real choice for getting work done efficiently is to rely on other players' random events too.
Do you have a better way of handling Chaos and Chance Orb recipes? Maybe I overlooked something you know is important? Let me know in the comments below!