It depends what class you are, how you play and what you want out of your crafting. Metalsmiths make armour, shields, tools, rune-keeper chisels/rifflers and (at end game) the legendary items for guardians and captains.
The best armour you can craft in most level will genearally be the second best armour you can get, right behind either instance rewards (such as the great barrows set in the 20s, or end game sets once you hit level 58+) or specific quest reward sets (such as the new evendim one or the fem/grove sets in the late 30s). There will often be a gap in between these sets while you're levelling up where the crafted is the best possible stuff, but it depends how hard you find the game (and how you play) as to whether it's worth the effort of crafting sets just to fill these gaps. At end game, if you are a group-oriented player you will wear very few if any crafted pieces (i think there's some level 65 crafted gloves with a healing proc chance which are relevant in some builds, that's about it). if you're primarily a soloer though, metalsmith crafted armour is a great way to go if you're a heavy armour class. You'll have to put a bit of effort in to levelling your craft to be able to make critted stuff before you out level it but the effort will be worth it in most level ranges if you don't do any group content.
as far as I know (and unless there's some particular pieces in echoes of the dead content), the best shields in at end game are generally crafted shields and this is probably true too while you're levelling up. This is similar to cloaks for tailors, it's one slot where you can make gear that's pretty much better than anything else you can get.
Tools are excellent money makers, they sell consistently well on the AH but maintaining production gets annoying because they take up a huge number of resources to make (8 chunks of ore for each tool).
Chisels/rifflers are rune-keeper class items which can only be made by metalsmiths (apart from junk ones bought from the RK class vendor). These are an essential part of a rune-keeper's arsenal and excellent money makers too, although they'll also burn through the raw materials.
The only consumable metalsmiths make are repair anvils, which are useful but weaponsmiths can also make them. These are also bind on acquire so you won't be making money off them.
and the legendary craftables are obviously useful at end game, especially if you're a captain or a guardian or have kinmates/friends who are.
Last edited by PsychobabbleJJ; Apr 13 2011 at 08:53 PM.
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It's also helpful to think in terms of the armorer vocation, which is the only one that includes metalsmith. You are also a tailor, which is dependent on leather, but since people are constantly getting hides just from killing things (unlike ore/wood which they have to go out of the way to get) it's really pretty easy to acquire leather or keep a lowbie Forester alt just for tanning hides. Since light armor and medium armor are almost entirely separate item classes, the armorer vocation produces a good number of items and leather is possibly the simplest resource in the game to be dependent on another profession for (though farming - cooking is in the running for that too).
My main is a 3xSM Armour, Guilded Metalsmith. I chose Armourer, pre-Moria simply it was the least painful switch from 3xGM Explorer, I got to keep Prospecting and Tailoring. And I had a large stockpile of boiled leather.
I would suggest everyone planning to be a Metal smith, to go the route Explorer while they level up then swap to Armourer once the SM Tailoring and have a nice stash of boiled leather to make anything they want as a tailor, AND are level 45 to use best tool.
You quickly can level up Metalsmithing to Supreme Level with:
- 120 Bronze Ingots
- 168 Barrow Iron Ingots
- 216 Rich Iron Ingots
- 264 Dwarf Iron Ingots
- 332 Ancient Iron Ingots
-- Start with making just the components until you get to profiency, then with an Ancient Steel Tool, any crit items you have, and a boost scrolls (78-80% crit rate), you will make some level 15, 17, 22, 32, 42 armor pieces (default recipes). and sell the crits in the AH.
The best sellers in the AH are critical success (Superior) tools, but they are not efficient to gain Skill.