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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – ESCAPE FROM STALAG SULTANATE, Part 1
That reminds me of a story. “HELLFIRE AND DALMATIANS!” I shouted to no one in particular. “What’s the problem, dear?” Esme asks in that way she has of telling me to calm down without having to say it directly. “This bloody fucking country. A day late and several dollars short.” I fume. “Can’t get a new liquor license because of the bloody COVID. Can’t go to a hotel bar and have a snort because of the bloody COVID. Can’t even slip across the border to Dubai and soak up some room service and buckets of complimentary cocktails because of the bloody COVID.” Yes, the Sultanate of Oman, in its infinitesimal wisdom, has traditionally followed other GCC countries by at least three months in making any sort of proclamations regarding this latest bugaboo: the hideous, deadly, itchy, loathsome, and possibly serially bent, noxious, pandemical COVID-19; aka, this pandemic’s entry for flu. Their response is one of immense knee-jerk without first having thought of the consequences. “Bloody lockdown, 2100 to 0700. What is this, the whole fucking country’s been bad and now being sent to bed without any supper?” I wondered aloud. “Idiot benchodes.” Even Esme couldn’t come up with a rejoinder to that. “Plus they close all the bars. And all the hotels. And the fucking bottle shops. It’s not enough that these fucking Muppets jack the ‘sin tax’ on booze and cigars by 100%, now they’re not even legally available.” I swore. Of course, once you’ve spent even a small portion of the time that I have in the Middle East, you have your connections. Your system. Your access to the seedy underbelly of any society; the venerable Black Market. Jesus Q. Christ on toast with baked beans, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and mushrooms, I could get most anything in the Middle East, be it legal, shady, or just plain illegal. However, before you all recoil in horror that the venerable Dr. Rocknocker dabbles in the prohibited, just remember: the ends always dojustify the means. “I'm telling you, Esme dear; this Gulf story is getting too complicated. The weasels have started closing in.” I complain to Es as she hands me a fresh drink. “Do you think…?” Esme asks expectantly. Esme is more than ready to go. I’ve used this place as a base of operations for years whilst I wear out the Omani legal system suing those asswipes that think just because they’re local and I’m a kafir, they’re immune to the law. I’ve spent a long, profitable and time-consuming period of the last few years proving them wrong. But, time was marching onwards. I agreed with Esme, we’ve milked this particular cash cow dry. It was time to hitch up our bootstraps, call it a day, and get the hell out of Dodge. But not before I took care of a few loose ends. Now, the country had recently lost its venerable Sultan, who croaked back in January of this year. Sultan Qaboos was a good egg, friend to expat and local alike. Did a shitload of good for this benighted Middle East sandpit. Dragged it kicking and screaming out of the 12th century into, well, not exactly the 21st, but a whole hell of a lot closer. He realized that he needed revolutionary, not evolutionary change in the country. By revolutionary, he needed American, British, Canadian, and the like Western Expats here to do the heavy thinking and lifting and Eastern Expats like Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese to do all the scut work. Yeah, I know. That sounds racist as fuck, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounced. Simple evolution of society where Omanis graduated the local equivalent of grade school, through high school, into University, and finally into Entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry wasn’t going to cut it. Took too long and the country needed a serious cash flow now. So, that’s what he did. And it worked a treat. Then he died. And his chosen took over. Except his chosen was pretty much antithetical to everything the previous and very revered and successful, Sultan wanted. Soon, there are 100% ‘sin taxes’ aimed directly at the western expats. Tourists included. Then there’s quotas and ‘Letters of No Objection’, which are impossible to get so that the Eastern Expats can’t switch jobs. Then, there are Sultanic proclamations of new taxes on tourists, new taxes on fast food, new taxes on this, that and the other. Then there’s, in his own words, “Oman is for Omanis”, blatantly ridiculous and xenophobic Omanization, and the general swipe at all expats. “GET OUT.” This was the clear message of the new sultan. He wanted to take over and possibly nationalize all the oil workings in the country. Ask Venezuela, Iran, and Myanmar how well that worked out for them. Then he wants all expats out on their asses. He wants Omanis to take over all the jobs, even though they’re nowhere near educated nor experienced enough for the positions. Then take up the massive GDP slack in lower oil production and oil prices with tourism. Given everything else, that last line should be enough to get him off the throne. He’s fucking nuts if he thinks people are going to want to cruise or overland anywhere near a place where foreigners are seen only as a cash supply, are despised, and would welcome these all new 100% tax levies. Be that as it may, Esme and I decided that we have had enough of 135O F summer temperatures, virtual house arrest under the guise of a COVID lockdown, and idiots who were the only ones stupid or twisted enough not to vamoose when the great, big bloody letters were clearly written on the wall. But, there was the physical act of getting out of the country. Now, I had plenty of strings which I could pull, but I decided I’d start low and save those until we really needed them. So low, in fact, we went to the US Embassy in Muscat. “How low can you go?” reverberated through my head. What a haven of sad-sacks, flubadubs, and third rate hobbyists. Was either Esme or I surprised that when we finally secured an invitation to the embassy, that required a bit of string-pulling with the ex-Ambassador to Oman, now in Kabul; that besides the peach-fuzz faced Marine guarding the place, we were the only Americans in the joint? “This is American soil!” I laughed, as I pulled out a huge Cuban cigar and was immediately told to extinguish it. “We’re as American as apple pie and napalm! We file our fucking 1040s every April; I pay my fucking long-distance taxes and demand US assistance to vacate this gloomy place of sandy, sweaty, sultry Sturm und Drang!” “Shut up, Rock”, Esme chided me, “They don’t understand English. Much less, the florid English the way you trowel it on.” “Fuckbuckets”, I remonstrated. “Here I had memorized the whole Patrick Henry speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Troglodytes. No admiration for the classics.” “Rock, dear?” Esme noted, “It’s almost 1100 hours. Best to get to our appointment.” True, our appointment was slated for 1100 hours. But around here, anything starting within three hours of the stated time was considered close enough. We dragged ourselves, none too cheerfully, to the waiting room. Once we pried open the door, there was the usual “If you hear a high pitched wail, hit the deck” signs, and other things one could do while kissing one’s ass goodbye if there was a terrorist attack, we had a whole new slew of bullshit with which to deal. “Social distancing. 6 feet. Or if you’re from Baja Canada, 1 cow’s length.” “Must wear a mask. Bandanna, bandoliers, and large-caliber weapons or sombrero optional.” “No sitting. Faux Naugahyde seats are too difficult to sterilize. You must stand at attention, do not talk amongst yourselves, and remain patient until your number is called.” “Well, fuck!”, I snorted quietly, as I raised my first secret flask in rapt attention to our old glory of red, white, and blue. “Good thing they didn’t say nothin’ about getting a load on. If I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’m going to at least have something to chew on in the process.” “Oh, lord”, Esme grumbled, “You didn’t bring that Japanese Rye Whiskey with you, did you?” “ルハイム”, I said, which is Japanese for “L’chaim”! “Oh, hell”, Esme grinned as she borrowed my flask, “This is going to be a long day.” I began to protest but remembered that I was wearing my Agency-issued field vest. I must have had at least 5 or 6 more flasks lurking around in those pockets somewhere. Funny aside: they don’t bother with my going through an X-ray machine nor do they confiscate my phone, radio, knives, nor other field equipment when I go to the US Embassy. It took them almost two solid hours last time, and by the time they got to my Brunton Compass, emergency flasks, a few spare blasting cap boosters, and saw the label sewn into the back of my vest, they decided they’d just send Rack and Ruin some evil Emails and let me pass unmolested. “I’ll drink to that”, I say as I raise a flask as the locals raise an eyebrow. “Courtesy of Atheists International. We’re here for your children…” The collective gasps and growls indicate they weren’t happy with me or my betrothed. “Don’t care, Buckwheat”, I smiled, “Never did, never will. We’re out of here for good. You can curse my name all you want then. But, then again, why you standing in the American Embassy trying to get a visa to visit the land of the great evil empire?” All the locals and most of the Eastern Expats crowded into a corner as far away from us as they physically could. “BOO!” I snickered over a shot of Wild Turkey 101 Rye. “Now serving number 58! Number 58!” came the call over the tannoy. “Look at that”, I remarked to Es as I stashed both our flasks, “It’s only 12:35. Record time.” We both shimmy into the glass-fronted and presumably bullet- but not C-4 resistant- glass. We pick up the telephones there and acknowledge that we are who we said we were. The East Indian fella, one Harsh Talavalakar, behind the multiple layers of glass asked us why we were here. “Didn’t you read the appointment card?” I asked, “We’re here to have Uncle Sam get us passage out of this sordid and sultry place.” “You are American citizens?” he asked, vacantly. “That’s what it says on appointment cards and these here blue passports,” I replied. “Well, how was I to know?” he scoffed, returning to his half-consumed powdered sugar doughnut. “Maybe read the appointment card and see that we are US Citizens here on the behest of Ambassador Bethesda Orun?” I replied. “Like I have time to read everything that comes across my desk”, he scoffed again. I tapped on the glass to make certain I had his full attention. “Look here, Herr Harsh. I’m not sure how you got this job at the American Consulate but want to be very clear with you. My wife and I are residents of this place for the last 20 years. We’re American citizens of very high standing and have more high powered connections than an Arduino in a nuclear power station. We have direct connections with Langley, Virginia and if you want to retain your cushy job, you’ll put down that fucking doughnut and pay very rapt attention to the two Americans standing here who are getting more and more irritated with some Indian benchode that doesn’t think he has to really do his job. You savvy? You diggin’ me, Beaumont” I guess the benchode got his attention. The two scowls he received from Esme and myself sort of cemented the idea that we’re not too pleased and not with to be trifled. “Yes, sir?” he said, “And ma’am”, as Harsh quickly corrected himself as the doughnut disappeared. “We want out. Gone. Vamoose. Outta here. AMF. You got me?” he nods behind the shatterprone glass. “Now I know the borders are sealed and the airport’s closed, but fuck that. We want out and we want gone for good. I can’t make that much simpler or clearer. Get after it, son.” I said, as seriously as I could. “Well, sir”, he began, “ The airport’s closed…” “Are you deaf or born stupid and been losing ground ever since?” I asked, rhetorically. “I know that. We all know that. My HAT knows that. So, what devious little plan does the US Embassy have in store in just such an unsavory situation?” “Well”, he chokes a bit, “There’s this unofficial lottery where America citizens are issued random numbers and if their number comes up, there are seats made available on special clandestine charter flights.” Considering that Es and I are some of the last American citizens left in the country, I thought our chances might be pretty good. “OK”, I said, “Let us have two of your finest numbers.” “Yes, sir”, he said, “That will be US$500 total.” “Excuse me?” I said. “Oh, yes”, he smirked, “US$250 per number. Chances are you’ll never be called, but with these numbers, at least you stand a chance.” “OK”, I said, “Forget the numbers. I want your name and operating number. I’ve got a report to file that’s due in Virginia before breakfast.” “Oh, sir”, he smirked more, “I cannot release that information. Thanking you. Now be having a good day.” And he slammed the supposedly bulletproof shield between himself and Es and me. “Bulletproof? Maybe. Nitro proof? No fucking way.” I groused as I fished out a couple of blasting cap superfast boosters. “Calm down, dear”, Esme smiled to me as we walked out, “When he wasn’t looking, I took his picture, got his operating number, and full name. In fact, I think I got some information on where he lives…” In the cab on the way back to our villa, I reviewed and confirmed Es’s subterfuge. Flasks number 6 and 8 needed serious replenishment by the time we arrived home. “That’s fucking right, Ruin.” I yelled over the phone, “We need extraction. And now. Along with our personal effects and a few hundredweight of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ boxes of stuff we need to be transported.” “Well, Rock”, Agent Ruin replied, “That’s a tall order. Usually, extraction is for one person and the stuff they’re wearing. Tell you what. Let Rack and I work on it for a week or so. We’ll arrange transport of your personal effects, then we’ll see about getting you and Esme to Dubai. At least there, you can order a plane. Hell, knowing you, you’ll get Tony Stark to fly in and provide door to door service. Sit tight. We’ll be back in touch.” “Good!” I say as I slam the phone down. With these newfangled cellphone telephone instruments, they lack the same sort of satisfying “KER FUCKING CLANG” the old landlines used to have. “Es!”, I yelled, “Start packing. We’re due out of here within a week.” That meant we needed to do some packing triage: • Things going home with us. • Things being shipped. • Things being sold. • Things being left behind. • Things no one was about to get their furry little mitts on. “Oh, fuck!”, I startled. I had just remembered the John Wick-ian stash of various explosives, and adjunct materials I had buried in the basement. Obviously, I couldn’t take it home with me, I couldn’t sell it, and I sure as festering frothing fuck wasn’t going to leave it here. I needed to call one of my more shifty and swarthy friends and arrange for passage out to the deep, dark desert. Around the area where the new sultan had opened a couple of brand new landfills. Looks like I was going to expand them a few meters once we disposed of the few hundred kilos of accumulation I attained over the last few years. See, I’m a packrat. I never leave nor toss anything that might be convenient. Might have a benefit. Might prove to be useful sometime down the line. So, I’ve accumulated a bit of kit. Like…well…a few hundred sticks of Du Pont 60% Extra Fast Dynamite. A couple dozen spools of Z-4 Primacord, in various degrees of fullness. A shitload of C-4; enough bricks for a Floydian wall. A couple, well, a dozen, well, two dozen cases of binary liquid explosives. Hey, this stuff is hard to come by… Continuing, several thousand blasting caps and superfast flash blasting cap boosters. Some mercury fulminate. Some nitrogen triiodide. A couple tens of pounds of PETN. An equal amount of RDX. A few Erlenmeyer flasks full of shit even I’m not certain of what it is… Oh. And a few kilos of freshly decanted, raw nitroglycerin; packed in sturdy wooden boxes lined with new fuzzy lamb’s wool. Not that much. Just 10 or 12 kilos. Yeah. I can’t leave that here. Even a small accident with this stuff would lay waste to not only our villa; but my landlord’s villa with whom we share a common wall. Besides, as Omanis go, my landlord was the only dishdasha dressed denizen for which I had any respect or admiration. He was a good guy. I needed to return his villa at least in some semblance of what I received when we first rented from him. So, I had to dispose of many, many billions of kilojoules of potential energy. I needed to do this out in a distant and far away from prying ears and eyes regions and I needed a truck to haul this stuff out to the range. To be continued…
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These are the rules, everything that pertains to everyone who wishes to make any sort of interaction within this sub. Per the last META, clarity has been given in regards to bulk-type sales. Since EVERYTHING is here for you all to read, we expect there to be less issues with rule infractions and general confusion as to what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. We devote our time and energy for this sub to continuously never reach a balance amongst the users. Our goal is to ensure the subreddit itself sticks around, along with trying to keep the userbase from being taken advantage of. Our rules make sense to some, and none to others but they serve a purpose. Regardless of how you feel, these are the rules and it is expected they be followed. At the time this post becomes visible, all of what’s listed below will be enforced as a hard rule, no more wrist slaps or babysitting.
Reddit Rules regarding Firearms No firearm sales. No Ammunition sales. No primers or gunpowder, as they are considered explosives. No selling or distributing of files related to 3D printed firearms. If you have no idea what this is referring to, please educate yourself before posting anything related to 3D printing files by reading up on them at the following websites:
Firearms: A Firearm is considered the serialized receiver or assembly of a working firearm. If you are unsure if an item is prohibited, contact the mods prior to posting it. 80% lowers and completion kits are not included in this prohibition as they are not firearms yet. Bump-Stocks are considered Machine Guns by the ATF and are therefore prohibited from trading on the sub. Binary Triggers, Cranks, and Rubber bands and other such items are not (currently) affected by this prohibition (unless Admins change their minds later). Explosives & Hazmat: Gunpowder and Live Primers are considered as explosives and Hazardous Materials and are therefore prohibited from trade. Ammunition: Reddit Admins use the ATF definition of ammunition which is as follows:
The term “Ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm. The term shall not include (a) any shotgun shot or pellet not designed for use as the single, complete projectile load for one shotgun hull or casing, nor (b) any unloaded, non-metallic shotgun hull or casing not having a primer. 27 § 478.11
Brass and projectiles posted here will result in an immediate suspension by Reddit Admins, so if we find it first we will remove it. Any violation of these above rules will result in a ban by us, or a site-wide suspension by Admins and their Anti-Evil goosesteppers. Anyone attempting to skirt Reddit Rules will be given a 7 day ban on the first offense, a 30 day ban on the second offense, and a permaban thereafter due to the fact that Admins will use the bad behavior of a few to justify shutting down the sub for good.
This sub is for private sales only. Vendors must post inGundealsorGunAccessoryVendors Clarification on Vendor Rule: Don't include links to your business website, we are not a referral system, do your business on here. Please see the Reddit Self Promotion page for details on that. Reddit admins don't like you cutting in on their ad revenue. We do not support VENDORS, I.E. if you buy another company's products in bulk (such as Magpul), and just act as a distributoreseller, your business is not welcome here. That is /GunDeals territory. If you have an FFL, you cannot do business on here because are considered a firearm business, and cannot solicit any transactions involving firearms. The limit on bulk sales/bulk items is 10, that means 10 of the same individual item can be posted for sale or trade. If you have 10 Geissele triggers, but only 4 are flat and 6 are curved, that will still count as 10, as they're the same branded trigger and likely purchased at the same time. If there are 3 OD Green items and 7 FDE that are otherwise the same item, that still count as 10. If you post 10 items of the same in one day, 10 the next, and 10 the following day after that, that will be viewed as vendor activity. To keep such things from happening, it will be limited to one sale of this type, per user, per week. The ONLY EXCEPTION to this rule is old magazines, as it is common for users to purge off part of their mag collection. Please follow these rules when creating a listing: Prefix your title with the transaction type: [WTS] - Want To Sell [WTB] - Want To Buy [WTT] - Want To Trade [GIFT] - Gun It Forward Tactically Suffix your title with your state (e.g. (GA) or (NY)). This will help incentivize local sales and could impact shipping costs. Also, it could affect legality of some items such as magazines and those accessories deemed as "assault weapon" parts by certain states. Postings should all follow this general format as an example: "[WTS] M16A2 Carry Handle - $60 (VA)". If you do not list the price in the title, ensure that it is listed in the comments. Include a Dollar sign ($) or the bot will remove it. Postings without a price value may be removed after a period of time. WTB posts require valid offering prices, and will be removed if they do not have one. Postings with prices such as "$1 for the bot" or "$1,000,000 for the bot" that are intended to bypass our rules and automated removal system instead of posting a valid price, will be removed and a temporary ban will be issued immediately. Postings without pictures will be removed immediately, unless these posts are WTB. Do not post an item for sale if you do not have it in your possession at the time of posting. This includes an item you may have purchased elsewhere, you decided you don’t want it and it’s on its way to you, but it has yet to arrive. If you don’t have it, don’t post it. If you post stock images of an item in your WTS/WTT post, that will result in a temp ban if it is your first time doing so, possibly permanent if done on multiple occasions. If you post images of someone else’s photos for “your” item, this will be viewed as scamming tactics and you will receive a permaban, immediately. If you drop your price, use the Price Drop/NSFW Tag. If your items sell, use the Complete/Spoiler tag. Please don't delete the price of an item if it sells, because that can be used by people in the future to gauge what similar items may be worth. If your post does not receive the traction you're wanting, refrain from reposting within a 24 hour time frame. You may repost after the 24 hours has passed, and a price drop is not required, but encouraged. Deleting your post and reposting afterwards is viewed as trying to evade this rule. It will be met with removal and a temp ban, possibly longer if done more than once. Want to Buy/Sell/Trade (WTB/WTS/WTT): These transactions all require a price value for the item. If a listing does not include a price it may be removed and re-listed once it is in compliance. Giving an unrealistic price to avoid this rule will be treated as a rule violation. Examples of this are "WTB scope, $1" or "WTT Upper, $9999". Additionally, you must list what you are looking for in [WTT] posts. Fielding offers, testing the waters or any other post attempt to try and skirt this rule will result in the post being removed. Gifting items forward: (GIFT) If you have small odds and ends that aren't worth much and the cost of shipping is prohibitive, you are allowed to offer items for free. The gifter is allowed to request compensation for shipping only, and can request a flair upgrade in the feedback thread for the transaction. If the receiver pays for shipping, they can also request a flair upgrade, but if they get the item for free, no flair upgrades for the recipient. Flair upgrades of this type are limited in order to avoid abuse, i.e. giving away 20 A2 grips in order to get +20 rep is not authorized. Accounts with 5 or less flair (you must have at least 6) on GAFS are NOT eligible to participate in giveaways, due to users from other subs coming to win stuff without ever participating in GAFS, or GAFS users making multiple new burner accounts to enter giveaways. New accounts (under 30 days of age) are not able to create WTS or WTT ads, nor should they offer things for sale in the comments of other peoples' posts. To prevent scams, new users can only post Want to Buy threads. If you want to attempt to bypass this account age requirement, you must be able to provide moderators evidence of a good trading history on another reputable online forum, such as Calgunner or AR15.com where you can show a longstanding history of positive trade feedback. If this is completed, moderators may provide an exception and allow WTS/WTT posts to be submitted by new users, with a warning caveat to any potential buyers to avoid using risky payment methods until the seller has had a chance to develop a positive trading reputation. Any new accounts that utilize this subreddit that create names that are similar to a mods (i.e. sxbbzxro, sxbzxxro, subzxro, etc.) may be removed from participating here due to the possibility of confusing/having the ability to manipulate users into thinking they are in fact a mod. Price Checks (PC): Because PC listings were abused by many to bypass the price rule, fish for "best offers", and otherwise snipe sales, they have been disabled after overwhelming support from the community. We have a feedback system in place. The current month's flair thread is On the Sidebar, and is usually Stickied at the top as well. Check there for the specific directions. DO NOT create a thread for a sale that has already happened, or has happened in a different sub/website/forum etc. The Flair system is only for feedback for exchanges in /GAFS. Any attempts to game the flair system will be seen as an attempt to establish trust for scam purposes, and will be banned accordingly. Law Enforcement: Be aware, we do not offer exemptions to any individuals who may have LE credentials. Due to the difficulty of verifying employment, possible job changes, leaving/termination from said job, etc. we treat all users as civilians. Any local and federal laws apply to all individuals who utilize this subreddit. Read up and stay up-to-date on these laws and regulations, you will be expected to know and abide by them. Failure to do so may lead to a ban. External Sales: NO LINKS to your external sales on TacSwap, eBay, Facebook, Armslist, Gunbroker, etc. Sales in multiple locations are allowed, but don't just provide a link to sale elsewhere. Make your listing here. The only caveat to these rules is to show a price point elsewhere if someone here has an item that is grossly overpriced, or is looking for an item. This sub is not a "highest bid gets the item" format. There are also no lotteries for items i.e. 10 chances at $10 each to purchase a $75 flashlight with a random number generated to pick the winner. High Value or Counterfeit Items: To deter the sale of counterfeit products, any item that is serialized must have a picture of the serial. As firearms are not allowed for sale here, this shouldn't present a privacy issue to anyone. This policy covers items such as EOTechs, Aimpoints, Trijicons, etc. Along with this, if you're selling anything that's "new-in-box", you must unseal it and show the contents of said box/package. No Stolen Property. If you are selling a knockoff item, indicate that fact. Items such as bipods, BUIS, flashlights, holsters, and scopes/optics are known to have some gray market options. 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Why the SGI can NEVER do anything to contribute to world peace
PSA: There's a shorter article addressing this same topic from a slightly different angle here: Why the SGI will NEVER do anything to contribute to world peace - shorter version The reasons for this are a bit complicated, so I'm going to need to provide the background to help everyone understand where I'm going with this, first. First, definitions: Conservative = keeping things the same. Synonymous with traditional, old-fashioned, "we've always done it this way". The only acceptable change is to revert to earlier ways of doing things. Glorification and idolization of an idealized and romanticized past. Conservative intolerant religions put all the emphasis on personal responsibility. This includes Evangelical Christianity and the SGI - they're very similar. Conservative intolerant religions teach that their practice offers a magical means of transforming one's circumstances - through answered prayer. In SGI this is termed "changing karma" but they talk about "answers to prayer" as well. In SGI terms, only the individuals themselves can "change their karma", and until they change that karma, they're going to keep seeing unpleasant situations recur in their lives. Thus the SGI's typical recommendation that people in bad situations determinedly remain there until they transform them. Being in a societally-disadvantaged position is regarded as an individual responsibility from the perspective of conservative intolerant religions - correct faith and practice + hard work will enable ANY individual to transcend class/cultural barriers:
The poor and the sick were the original members of the Gakkai. They had been abandoned by society, doctors and fortune, but they were saved by the Gakkai. They worked hard and chanted hard. They have achieved great results, moving from the poorest to the richest within Japanese society. Source
Thus, there is no need to acknowledge structural barriers such as de facto segregation or unequal resources for schools or "red-lining" (where realtors show certain houses to white clients and different houses to black clients, thereby maintaining the separation of "white" neighborhoods from "mixed" neighborhoods) or any form of discrimination - this is simply a manifestation of INDIVIDUALS behaving badly, and if we can simply teach those individuals right faith, they will voluntarilystop behaving badly, choose to START behaving properly, and the problem will simply go away. Within this mindset, nothing can happen meaningfully except as a grass-roots movement - people have to want this kind of change, and in order to get them to want it, we must convert them to our religion. That's the whole purpose here - gaining more followers for their conservative, intolerant religion so they can take over and run everything the way THEY think it should be run. And they'll do anything to get there. There is no reason to address any societal problem from the governmental perspective because it's all just INDIVIDUALS. So while laws can be passed, they will inevitably fail to correct the problem because laws cannot touch people's attitudes or beliefs. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. summarizes the problem here:
Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there’s half-truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government. Source
Dr. King caught on to what I'm trying to talk about here - this view that nothing can change until all the individuals involved are changed. And that is never going to happen. That belief is at the root of maintaining the status quo. By making the content of progress voluntary, those in power will never go along, as they regard that progress as stripping them of some of the power and privilege they enjoy. Imagine if ending slavery had been made optional and left up to individuals' discretion - how well would that have worked? THAT is why the government must be involved. THAT is why conservative intolerant religions like SGI will NEVER lead, but will need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into more enlightened thinking and policies. An example of this is the outdated and inappropriate "4 divisional system" SGI embraces - young/unmarried women up to around 40; young men up to around 40 (they may or may not be married/parents); older women, older men. As in every other patriarchy, the older men call all the shots and ultimately decide, their vote outweighing every other group's. LGBTQ involvement means that such categories become unworkable - they can't accommodate many in that group, not meaningfully and not in a way that those individuals will feel comfortable. However, recently SGI doubled down, referring in its publications to the "IRONCLAD four divisional system". Means the mouth-noises about changing policies aren't actually about changing anything; this affirms to those vested in this archaic and conservative system that nothing will meaningfully change. THAT is why no conservative intolerant religious organization - like Evangelical Christianity, like SGI - will ever meaningfully participate in societal change for the better. In order to explain this more fully, I'm going to draw from a fascinating book: Divided by Faith - Evangelical Religion and the problem of Race in America, by Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith (2000). The authors maintain that churches will never challenge the status quo because they BENEFIT from the status quo. Let's start off with some excerpts. First, regarding the differences between a letter written by a black man to a generic white person, and the response written by a white woman:
...there are some perhaps subtle differences in her expression of reconciliation as compared to the black writer's letter. First, the letter from the black writer uses the vehicle of a personal letter to communicate from one race to another; the white writer, though, quickly individualizes the letter, claiming that she cannot speak for other whites.
Making it "All about MEEEE", in other words.
She also asks to be seen as an individual, not a member of a race, and says her goal is to treat individuals as individuals, regardless of color. This seems perfectly reasonable, but it has an important effect. The need to work for social justice and social equality between races is minimized, even dropped. If we are to focus on individuals only, then justice does not mean working against structures of inequality, but treating individuals as equals, regardless of the actual economic and political facts. Equality is spiritually and individually based, not temporally and socially based. And this is the complaint that many black evangelicals had of white evangelicals during this period (Civil Rights Movement, late 1960s - early 1970s). Some of the white elite evangelicals attempted reconciliation, but incompletely. The problem with whites' conception of reconciliation, many claimed, was that they did not seek true justice -- that is, justice both individually and collectively. Without this component, reconciliation was cheap, artificial, and mere words. It was rather like a big brother shoving his little brother to the ground, apologizing, and then shoving him to the ground again. (p. 58) "The organization of American religion encourages religious groups to cater to people's existing preferences, rather than their ideal callings. In trying to create meaning and belonging, even to teach religious truths and implications for social action, religious leaders must act within a limited range shaped by the social locations of their congregations. The congregation often looks to religion not as an external force that places radical demands on their lives, but rather as a way to fulfill their needs. Those who are successful in the world, those of adequate or abundant means, those in position of power (whether they are aware of this power or not), rarely come to church to have their social and economic positions altered. If we accept the oftentimes reasonable proposition that people seek the greatest benefit for the least cost, they will seek meaning and belonging with the least change possible. Thus, if they can go to either the Church of Meaning and Belonging, or the Church of Sacrifice for Meaning and Belonging, most people choose the former. It provides benefit for less cost.
Remember the outraged retorts over at the SGIUSA subreddit when challenged about the fact that SGI does not engage in any organized charitable activities of any kind? (The "When/how does SGI get involved in community service?" topic, first page.)
SGI is fundamentally a faith organisation. I don't want to be told what to do with my hard earned free time as an SGI member. But I will go out and share the proof of the practice working in my own life by volunteering and being the change I wish to see in the world. My practice is the core of that - how it manifests isup to me as an individual. Amen.
Spoken like a true white Christian!
I ask you this - what is stopping you from getting off reddit, picking a volunteer organization or opportunity reaching out to them and asking how you can volunteer, then asking your fellow YWD if they would like to volunteer as well as a form of bonding? If this is the change you want to see in the world then go out and do it, don’t wait for someone to do it for you. Why is this? How long do you have to be part of SGI before we begin doing real humanistic work for our surrounding area vs chanting for those things? Why would you expect and organization to do for you what you can do for yourself? That's the entire point of chanting and being agents of change. You start inward and change that and then the outside world changes.
See? A purely individual focus. Not even the slightest acknowledgment that there are structural issues that must be addressed collectively. There is a saying: Societal issues require societal solutions. It used to be illegal in the US for black people and white people to marry each other. And generations upon generations upon generations of Christians all "treating others as equals" didn't change squat! But when the GOVERNMENT made it ILLEGAL to discriminate, all of a sudden, society adjusted! And astonishingly quickly! Now, it's completely normal to see people of different ethnicities coupling up, but my grandmother's generation (she was born in 1901) thought that whites should marry whites, blacks should marry blacks, slicing and dicing down to Chinese should marry Chinese and Japanese should marry Japanese, etc., and NO RACE MIXING! (Christians often cited the Bible as justification for that no-mixing attitude, BTW. So screw religion.)
"Prophetic voices calling for the end of group division and inequality, to the extent that this requires sacrifice or threatens group cohesion, are perfectly free to exist, but they are ghettoized. They will have followers, but they will be a minority voice, both in terms of size and strength. This is in part because, as seminary professor Charles Thomas Jr. has summarized, 'In practice congregation members expect the ministry to do nothing (such as taking a prophetic voice) which would interfere with the harmony and growth of the membership.'" This sobering description explains why a big majority of American Christians live lives that look pretty much like the lives of unbelievers, and why many do not want to hear prophetic reminders of systemic evil like racism, and many other "isms," that still exist in our culture. Source As a result, many religious leaders, even if they desire change, are constrained. Unless their message is in the self-interest of the group, they must necessarily soften and deemphasize their prophetic voice in favor of meeting within-group needs. (p. 164)
People join religions for SELFISH reasons - they want a friendly community because they are lonely; they want a way to improve their socioeconomic conditions; they want a sense of belonging; they crave a sense of mission and purpose and a group that will provide structure for their otherwise chaotic lives; even a way to gain the power and status that have eluded them in life within at least a small group - any number of reasons. But in the end, "It's all about MEEEE."
The view that prejudiced individuals are the essence of the race problem of course reflects a focus on the individual as opposed to larger social units. ... The problem is one of individuals and individuals only (or, as we will see, groups who or policies that say it is something else). Some found the whole idea of bad feelings toward a group difficult to comprehend.
Not that THAT is the source of prejudicial policies...
A Baptist woman said, "It's just very difficult for me to understand why someone would be against a group of people. You want to see them as individuals."
"...and slavery never happened - couldn't have happened."
This is much like evangelicals of the past who, even in the face of Jim Crow segregation, did not see such segregation as the key problem. Recall that during the Jim Crow era, "Most evangelicals, even in the North, did not think it their duty to oppose segregation; it was enough to treat blacks they knew personally with courtesy and fairness." The racialized system itself is not directly challenged. What is challenged is the treatment of individuals within the system. (pp. 74-75)
And thus, the status quo, that over-arching system within which the roles have been defined, is never addressed. Why should it be? In this scenario, the white people are always treated politely and deferentially by the black people, who know they'll be arrested and imprisoned for slave labor otherwise. This type of system is based in fear that is instilled in the secondary class - they don't DARE put a toe out of line. I remember this old white guy - can't remember if he was a politician or a preacherman - saying that when he was younger, working in the South in the fields alongside black people, they never complained about white people! What's happened?? He's so ignorant that he doesn't realize that "complaining about white people", in that place and time, was grounds for the black complainer to be arrested and thrown into prison to be used as slave labor! Of COURSE the black people weren't going to say jack! And the white people around them liked it that way! Everyone's role in society was defined, with them at the top with all the advantages and privilege. They could show what lovely people they were by simply being nice to their social inferiors. Clearly, the fact that these were their social inferiors was just the way it was. THAT is the nature of "accepting the status quo", and people who think like that will never do anything to change that system. Why should they? They're profiting off it! There's a rather searing account here - excerpts:
In October 2017, he preached a message entitled “A Lack of Understanding.” Addressing “all the ignorant white people,” and acknowledging his own past grappling with prejudice, the pastor listed reasons that racism was evil — among them that it was an affront to God’s creation, given that Adam and Eve were probably brown-skinned. A video played of a black pastor talking of the racism he experienced as a child in East St. Louis in the 1960s. Pastor Morris concluded by urging people of color in the congregation to spread out and pray with whites in small groups. The response, Pastor Morris said, was “overwhelmingly positive,” and indeed the reaction on Facebook suggests as much. Pastor Lewis remembers a black woman weeping in her seat, and was thankful that he finally had an answer for black worshipers questioning how their church truly felt about racism. On Facebook some white congregants were angered at the sermon, especially at the focus on white people as the root of the problem. “I believe Robert spoke from his flesh (means he was speaking his own opinions, not from a biblical perspective) in this message,” one of them, Steve Groebe, later recalled in a Facebook message. “I gave him another week to correct the message and make it biblical. I didn’t feel he did that so I left the church.” The message was not better received among the black worshipers who had already left the church. It did not, several said, address the enduring structural legacy of racism, instead adhering to the usual evangelical focus on individual prejudice.
IF the problem is restricted to individuals and their wrong-headed beliefs, then the only way to address it is for those individuals to "get right with God", to "shakubuku" them because only then will they get the right beliefs that will straighten out reality.
There is now a team at the church focused exclusively on making the church more diverse. On the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a 49-second video of excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was played at worship services — “a monumental moment in Gateway church history,” one pastor said, the first time that the day had been acknowledged.
...and they're only devoting 49 SECONDS - less than a minute! The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously described 11 AM Sunday morning as "the most segregated hour of the week". That's the typical church service start time, if you're not familiar with it. And this hasn't changed, not in the almost 60years since Dr. King said that!
Individualism and defective personal relationships were constants in evangelicals' assessment of the race problem. ... For many, the race problem, no matter how big or how small, ultimately came down not to a social issue, but to personal defects of some individuals in some groups as they attempted to relate to each other. (p. 75) White conservative Protestants are accountable freewill individualists. Unlike progressives, for them individuals exist independent of structures and institutions, have freewill, and are individually accountable for their own actions: Underlying traditional Christian thought is an image of man as a free actor, as essentially unfettered by social circumstances, free to choose and thus free to effect his own salvation. For only if man is totally free does it seem just to hold him responsible for his acts ... In short, Christian thought and thus Western civilization are permeated with the idea that men are individually in control of, and responsible for, their own destines. (pp. 76-77) What is more, because most white evangelicals perceive racism as individual-level prejudice and discrimination, and do not view themselves as prejudiced people, they wonder why they must be challenged with problems they did not and do not cause. (p. 89) This perspective misses the racialized patterns that transcend and encompass individuals, and are therefore often institutional and systemic. It misses that whites can move to most any neighborhood, eat at most any restaurant, walk down most any street, or shop at most any store without having to worry or find out that they are not wanted, whereas African Americans often cannot. This perspective misses that white Americans can be almost certain that when stopped by the police, it has nothing to do with race, whereas African Americans cannot. This perspective misses that whites are assumed to be middle class unless proven otherwise, are not expected to speak for their race, can remain ignorant of other cultures without penalty, and do not have to ask every time something goes wrong if it is due to race, whereas African Americans cannot. This perspective misses that white Americans are far more likely than black Americans to get a solid education, avoid being the victim of crime, and have family and friends with money to help when extra cash is needed for college, a car, or a house. This perspective misses that white Americans are far more likely to have networks and connections that lead to good jobs than are black Americans. THis perspective misses that white Americans are more likely to get fair treatment in the court system than are African Americans. And this perspective ultimately misses the truth revealed by [this] exhaustive study of black middle-class Americans: "Today blatant, subtle, and covert discrimination against African Americans persists in virtually all aspects of their public life. ... Racial discrimination pervasive, and cumulative and costly in its impact." The individualistic perspective encourages people to dismiss such evidence as liberal, wrongheaded, overblown, or as isolated incidents. Such a perspective, then, fails to see or acknowledge, as Cornel West puts it in Race Matters, "The sheer absurdity that confronts human beings of African descent in this couhtry -- the incessant assaults on black intelligence, beauty, character, and possibility." (p. 90)
We've remarked that SGI is quite conservative in its attitudes, despite having many progressive people as members. For example, SGI leaders make mouth-noises about LGBTQ legitimacy, and then in the next breath talk about the SGI's "ironclad four divisional system", which limits SGI members to one of FOUR very traditional boxes. In the end, no matter how openly your non-binary gender-queer identity is affirmed, you'll be assigned one of these four boxes which are no different from the four boxes people were assigned to in the 1950s or before. The nice progressive people take note of the nice mouth-noises and don't acknowledge that "ironclad four divisional system" in the same thought - to them, their organization is completely LGBTQ affirming! The LGBTQ membership might not feel quite the same... This book describes this same dynamic - the white people are simply not aware in the slightest of the structural inequalities black people face every. Single. Day. Because they, the whites, don't experience this, to their way of thinking, it doesn't exist and the black people are simply complaining and trying to drum up trouble and conflict!
One Baptist man, for example, said: There are a lot of people just sitting back on their butts, saying because of circumstances in the past you owe me this and you owe me that. There's a lot of resentment in the white community because of that and we just kind of need to get over all of that and move forward. Everybody is responsible for their own actions. Life is not the circumstances; life is how you deal with the circumstances and how it makes you better and how you move forward.
Let's think about that in the context of a fairly recent study that found that resumes that had a white-sounding name (like Jared McCarthy) were picked up for interviews FAR more often than the exact same resumes when those had a black-sounding name (like Jamal Evans).
A Wesleyan woman remarked: A lot of them don't care. They don't want to work. ... You go downtown and you see some of these apartments, low-income housing. It's trash. I mean, they don't care and then they complain. Well, get off your duffer and do something. Make a better life for yourself. Clean up your house, pick up your trash, get some kind of job.
Think about that in the context of this article about pervasive racial discrimination in apartment rentals.
And a nondenominational man has this to say: I think they chose to live like that because it is an easier way out. I am a firm believer in this: God said he would provide for our needs, and he does. But if you want out of a gutter, you're going to have to work to get out of a gutter. (p. 102)
Spoken like someone who's never even seen a "gutter". Notice the pervasive "punching down". Doesn't this sound like how SGI leaders talk about members who are in seriously dysfunctional situations? Deep-seated poverty, abusive families, etc. "They simply cave when faced with their own fundamental darkness. I am a firm believer in this: This practice works. We can chant to the gohonzon with firm faith, and we get what we chant for! But these people have no courage, no wisdom, and no matter how much we tell them they need to chant to change their karma, they won't do it!" Spoken like people so accustomed to the benefits of privilege that they think those are available to everyone. "Let them eat cake," indeed. I'm ashamed to admit that I fell into this same trap. When I joined SGI, I was almost 27. I'd completed my master's degree shortly after turning 24. I was moving into my THIRD corporate job (early on, or at least back then, job-hopping was the most effective way to increase your salary) and I was a home-owner (about to sell, but still...). So I was positioned to have FAR more and BIGGER good things happen for me, and they did - had nothing to do with chanting, though that's what I was taught/indoctrinated to credit for these. So I frequently gave "experiences", at discussion meetings, at kosen-rufu gongyos, AND, quickly moved up the leadership ranks, I gave "guidance" using my OWN experience as the basis for "encouraging" others - who were mostly WAY worse off than me - that they could do it, too! "If I can do it, YOU can do it!" That is so NOT how the world works. By putting all the responsibility onto the individual, we don't even see the reality of their situation! Compare the above to this hypothetical discussion:
"Well, if you're ever going to get a decent-paying job, you're going to have to complete a college degree. You don't have any money to pay for it? Let's see about lining up grants for you - I know some sources that you're qualified for. You don't have enough time? Let's get you some grants to cover your living expenses along with your tuition, books, and fees. You don't have enough free time to study? Let's line up some free, high-quality child care for you so that you can 1) go to class, and 2) have some uninterrupted time to devote to studying."
Hilarious, right? Because in order to have THAT discussion, the following would already need to 1) exist, and 2) be accessible:
Adequate levels of grants to enable individuals to go to college as if it's their full-time job
Free, high-quality child care
But we in the US don't have these things. So unless you're from a wealthy enough, education-appreciating enough family (as I was) to have significant help to PAY for it (and the accompanying encouragement to go and study, which included NOT BEING EXPECTED TO BE THE FULL-TIME BABYSITTER FOR YOUNGER SIBLINGS), this need is out of reach for you. The fact that I had completed a master's degree did NOT mean that others could do that, too. But SGI discourages any sort of political or social activism - every person is supposed to do their own "human revolution" and thereby fix all their own problems - all by themselves! And SGI doesn't provide scholarships that its members can apply for the way some fast food restaurants offer their employees! SGI, this obscenely rich organization that claims to care so much about people, doesn't do as much for its own members as Taco Bell does for its employees! WHOM TACO BELLPAYS!!! No, chanting does NOT create opportunities where none exist. There's no magic. Thus, the SGI will NEVER be any force for change for the better, because SGI only exists to enrich Ikeda and the top echelon of Soka Gakkai leaders in Japan.
Greetings, this is dumnem, also known as Theorchero, but you can call me Theo. I'm an experienced Tarkov player and I'm writing this guide to try and assist new Tarkov players learn the game, because it has one hell of a learning curve. We'll be going over a lot of different aspects of this guide, and it is going to be huge. Feel free to digest this in parts. Additionally, this is a work in progress. I will write as much as I can in one Reddit post, but subsequent parts will be in additional comments. Google Docs Version (Note: Link is placeholder atm) Disclaimer: I haven't played Tarkov regularly in a couple months. It's possible there has been extensive changes that I have not kept up with. If there is anything I have gotten wrong or may have omitted, please let me know. This is Primarily directed towards Tarkov Novices. It hopefully includes everything you need to know to be able to go into a Raid equipped for success and to successfully extract with gear. Want to play with friends? Want to have fun and learn Tarkov? Check out my discord here.
Escape from Tarkov is a tactical, realistic, FPS with MMO elements developed by Battlestate Games. It is currently in closed Beta. The game features several maps in which your primary character, your PMC, goes into Raids in order to find and salvage loot and useful equipment to survive and thrive in Tarkov. Death is very punishing in Tarkov. If you die you lose everything you had on you when you die (with the exception of what's inside your Container and your melee weapon) including any equipment you brought with you or what you found inside the Raid. Enemies can be players (PMCs) or 'Scavs' (Scavengers) that are either controlled by AI or by players. Unlike many shooters, AI enemies in Tarkov are deadly - they can and will kill you on sight. It features beautiful and immersive environments, intricate and in-depth weapon modification system, a complex health system, attention to detail with loot placement, and options for combat. Do you want to play slow and stealthy, to avoid fights, or set up a deadly ambush on an unwary foe? Or do you prefer to raw combat, where only your quick wit, placements of shots, and tenaciousness determines who gets out alive? It's your Tarkov. You make the rules.
Tarkov Resources - Useful links
I take no credit or responsibility for any of the content in these links. To the best of my knowledge, these are updated consistently and are accurate, but user beware.
Absolutely fantastic resource. You can visit them here. It is a massive collection of everything that we players have been able to find. They contain trades, user-created maps, lists of ammo, parts, weapons, loot, etc. If it's in the game, it's on the Wiki, somewhere. I highly recommend opening the wiki page for the Map that you plan on raiding in. Factory Customs Woods Shoreline Interchange The Lab ('Labs')
Map Keys and You
Huge collection of all the keys in the game. These are also on the wiki, but this page has them all on one page, and tries to inform the user if the key is worth keeping or using. Check it out here. This section is open to revision. Mention me in a thread (or in the comments below) about a resource and I'll see about adding it here.
Courtesy of Veritas (Send me his reddit username?), It's located here. (Open in new tab.) Contains: Detailed information about: Ammunition, Health, Firearms, Body Armor, Helmets, Rigs & Backpacks, Labs & Quest keys.
Tarkov features several maps - ranging from wide, beautiful vistas to ruined factory districts, to an abandoned laboratory where illegal experiments were being conducted. It is important to learn the maps you intend to play. In order to keep your gear, you must 'extract' at one of your designated exfiltration points. Not all exfils will be active every game, and some are conditional.
To see what extracts are available to you, double tap 'O' to show raid time and your exfils. If it has a ???? it might not be open.
You can load Raids in an OFFLINE status, which allows you to explore the map or practice against AI without losing gear. You do not keep any EXP or gear you find in the OFFLINE Raid, though. To access OFFLINE Raids, head into a Raid normally until you see this screen. Simply check 'Enable OFFLINE mode for this Raid' and you're good to go! You even have a choice on whether or not to add AI. You can also control how many AI enemies spawn, fewer than normal or a great deal more! You can even make Scavs fight each other. (Framerates beware.)
Gate 3 Extract A small, fast-paced map that was primarily created for PvP. Scavs spawn in all the time. Very close quarters, shotguns and SMGs tend to dominate here. PMCs can only access one Exit (Gate 3) without the Factory Exit Key. Good place to go if you need PMC kills as action is pretty much guaranteed. It is recommend NOT to bring in a lot of gear to Factory until you are experienced.
Extract map A fairly large map that was recently expanded. Essentially, players spawn either on 'warehouse' or 'boiler (stacks)' side. If you see a large red warehouse near you (Customs Warehouse), then you spawned on the warehouse side. If you don't, you likely spawned near Boiler side. The location for most quests in the game. Finding geared players here is very easy, so if you are low level attempting to complete early quests (like The Bronze Pocketwatch) it's recommend to AFK in the raid for 20 mins or so, as most players will have moved out of spawns and hit the 'hot' areas already, so it's less likely to be contested, so you may grab your quest item(s) and proceed immediately to Exfil. Contains a Scav Boss, which is a group of scavs with above-average to high-tier gear that has a chance to spawn in Dorms or Gas Station.
Woods Map with Exfil A very large map that is mostly just a large forest, with the occasional bunker, and the Lumber Mill in the center. The Lumber Mill is the primary point of interest, as it contains a couple quest locations and is the primary location to farm Scavs, as Scavs killed on woods is the only known location to find the Arsenal Key, which is the rarest and most valuable key in the game at the moment. Since the map is so large and open, sniper rifles with scopes usually reign king here. You will see a lot of players with Mosin rifles as they are a cheap way to train the Sniper skill (for a quest later on) and are capable of killing geared players and scavs alike. Overall, not usually very populated. An early quest from Prapor sends you here to kill a number of Scavs. A good map to learn the game, as although the loot is not fantastic, you can get experience with how the game runs and operates while fighting AI and possibly getting lucky with a key find off a scav.
Shoreline Map, with Loot, Exfil, etc A very large map, notorious for its FPS hit. Generally speaking, one of the better maps for loot. The primary point of interest is the Resort, but scavs spawn there, and is primarily occupied by hatchlings (players only with hatchet, ie melee weapon) and geared players. Resort has great loot, but requires keys to access most of it. A great map to learn though from new players as the outskirts still contains plenty of loot and combat opportunities with AI scavs. You can hit Villa, Scav Island, Weather station, Docks, etc and come out with a backpack full of valuable gear fairly easily. Location of many quests, including a large quest chain where players are required to kill many, many, scavs on Shoreline.
Detailed map Great, great loot area, but very complex map. Doesn't run very well on old computers. Features a mostly-binary exfil system like Shoreline, but.. kinda worse. Exfil camping is fairly common on this map. Huge map with multiple floors and many many different stores. Communication with teammates is a challenge on this map, but the map is also fantastically detailed. This map features a lot of loot that depends on the kind of store you're in. It's a great place to farm rare barter materials which are valuable to sell on the Flea market or to use for quests. An early quest (from Ragman) sends you here to kill a large amount of Scavs. I'd recommend getting Ragman to level 2 and accepting his quest before going to Interchange, as getting this quest done can take a while as it is and you want all scav kills to count towards progress.
Here's a map. This is a very complex map, so I highly recommend you read the Wiki article and look at all the maps to get an idea of what it's like.
INSURANCE DOES NOT WORK ON THIS MAP.
If you purchase insurance and lose your items on this map, doesn't matter from whom, you will not get them back.
LABS IS NOT LIKE OTHER MAPS. READ THIS SECTION CAREFULLY.
Labs is by far the most lucrative map to play at the moment. You can easily earn several million roubles per hour by killing Raiders (Juiced-up scavs that are ONLY on Labs), looting their equipment, then running to one of the many, many extracts. Extract camping is hard to pull off and pretty much not viable on Labs.
DISCLAIMER: Labs, like much of Tarkov, is under constant development, so issues may be fixed or created without warning. Always check patch notes!
Raiders are the avatars of Death in Tarkov, clad in USEC and BEAR hats, high-end armor, and plenty of firepower to boot. Do not fight Raiders directly. They WILL kill you. Raiders are absolutely broken this patch, and are getting fixed next patch to help fix their exploits of both poor AI and how they're a little.. insane. At the moment, the only way to kill raiders is to camp a hallway, room, or door, and attract the scavs to you, headshotting them the moment they enter before they have a chance to lock onto you. Raiders can see you through and shoot you through surfaces you cannot. This means you have to be very careful when engaging them. They are also often equipped with very high-end ammo, meaning that most faceshields (even Killa helmets) can be useless vs a Scav who spawned with 'big boy' ammo, 7N39. They can shoot your head if it's even slightly visible. They can prone instantly, as they have no ping. If they drop without slumping over, get to cover immediately. Typically, strategies to farm Labs (barring rushing certain rooms for static loot) involve rushing a camp-spot and baiting raiders to your location and taking them out quickly, efficiently, and with no mercy. There are many locations to camp, and since there's so many exfiltrations, it's ultimately up to personal preference. Raiders often spawn with armor (often Troopers and Gen4s) a rig (Sniper or Ana Alpha rig, usually) and a variety helmets and weapons. Always check the ammo the raiders spawn with. If they spawn with ANYTHING other than PS (and 12 gauge) LOOT IT! You can right click their magazine and hit 'unload ammo' to get the ammo without having to grab the mags, which saves space. BS, BT, BP, 7N39, etc can be worth several hundred roubles a round on the market. They're extremely valuable. Additionally, Raiders spawn IFAKS, Morphine, and grenades (F-1 & Flashbangs (Zarya)) with regularity. They can also spawn with random consumables and large clumps of cash in their pockets as well. They can spawn several backpacks, most of them being rather large, if relatively uncommon. Additionally, Raiders can have American names, breach doors, and mumble as if they are a USEC PMC because some of the Raiders are actually USECs. You will learn with experience what the Scavs will or will not say.
Experience Farming on Labs
Labs is perhaps the best place to farm experience on the current patch. Killing a Raider with a headshot awards 1100 Experience. This does not include any looting, inspection (searching bodies), examine, streak, or other experience. Killing a large sequence of Raiders gives additional bonus experience in the form of Streak rewards, usually 100 bonus exp per additional kill. Surviving the raid multiplies all of these sources of experience by 1.5x
Changes coming to Labs
Disclaimer: I am not a BSG developer or employee. This is what I have seen on this subreddit and heard elsewhere. Some might be purely rumor, but other points are confirmed by Nikita. Labs is currently undergoing an overhaul. At the moment, you require consumable Keycards to enter Labs, which may be purchased from Therapist or bartered Mechanic in exchange for 1 Bitcoin starting at Loyalty Level II. They can also be found in drawers and jackets. Scavs can drop permanent keycards that replace most keys used in the previous iteration of labs. The full extent of the changes coming is not known. Remember, you can load a map in OFFLINE mode to practice against bots or to learn the map without fear of losing gear.
Tarkov's Health System
Tarkov Wiki Article Tarkov has a very advanced health system, and while it might seem overwhelming at first, you'll get the hang of it rather quickly. It features a very wide variety of effects and injury, including hydration, energy, blood pressure, blood loss, fractures, contusion, intoxication, exhaustion, tremors and more. Not all of the Health System is implemented yet. Expect changes! Your character (PMC, or otherwise) has a combined Health of 435. Each of his limbs have separate health. Taking damage to a limb that reduces it to 0 'blacks' that limb. Blacked limbs are a problem. They greatly impair the activities your PMC performs, and taking damage in a blacked limb amplifies the damage by a multiplier and spreads that damage among your other non-black limbs equally. You cannot heal a blacked limb. Notes:Bloodloss applies damage to the affected limb and can be spread like other damage to a blacked limb. Treat immediately. Also causes significant dehydration! Losing a limb applies additional effects. Fractures also apply these effects but not the damage amplification (Except for damage if running on fractured leg.) Dehydration is what happens when your Hydration level reaches 0. You can view your Hydration level in your gear page, at the bottom left. Becoming dehydrated is extremely bad. You take constant damage. Taking dehydration damage can kill you if you have a black chest or head. Head/Chest: Bullet damage resulting in losing your head or chest is instant death. Note: Bloodloss resulting in your Head/Chest being black does not result in death, but any damage to them beyond that point will! A back chest will causes you to cough (much like your stomach!) Painkillers: Prevents coughing that comes from your chest. Doesn't help otherwise. Stomach: Massively increased rate of dehydration and energy loss. You must find liquids or exit the Raid soon. Additionally, your PMC will cough sputter loudly, attracting attention. Painkillers: Significantly reduces the frequency and volume of the coughs. Arms: Makes activities like searching, reloading, etc, take additional time, as well as adding a sway, reducing accuracy. Arms have a .7x damage multiplier. Painkillers: Reduces sway, removes debuff Pain. Legs: Blacked legs cause your PMC to stumble and be unable to run. Blacked legs have a 1x damage multiplier. Painkillers: Allows you to walk at full speed and to run. WARNING: Running while your legs are blacked or fractured WILL DAMAGE YOU.
Tarkov features many health items - 'Aid' items, which can be used to restore your characters health and to fix ailments or injuries he receives as the result of combat or mishaps. The two most important health conditions to consider are bloodloss and fractures, which have both been covered above. Some food items may have ancillary effects, such as losing hydration. Since in the current patch the only ailments to worry about are bleeding and fractures, it changes which health items are most necessary. We'll go over them below.
Medical Items on Wiki AI-2 medkit The newb's medical kit. You receive several of these when you start Tarkov - they'll already be in your stash. Available from Level I Therapist, they are cheap and effective way of healing early in the game. They will not stop bloodloss. Because of this, you also need to bring bandages or a higher-grade medical kit. Affectionately called 'little cheeses' by the Tarkov community. Using it takes 2 seconds, and because of how cheap it is, it's often brought in by higher level players to supplement their healing without draining their main kit (which is capable of healing bloodloss or sometimes fractures). Due to its short use time, it's often very useful during combat as you can take cover and quickly recover damage taken to a vital limb. Bandages The newb's bloodloss solution. Available from Therapist at Level I. A better version, the Army Bandage is available at Level II, after a quest. Mostly obsolete after unlocking the Car Medical kit. Activating takes 4 seconds, and removes bloodloss to one limb. Splint The newb's solution to fractures. Cheap, takes five seconds to use, and takes up 1 slot. Not generally recommended to take because fractures effects can be greatly mitigated with the use of Painkillers. Available from Therapist at Level I, no quest needed. Car Medical Kit The newb's first real medical solution. Available LL1 as a barter (2 Duct Tape) and available for Roubles after completing Therapist's second quest. Has a larger health pool than AI-2's (220, vs AI-2's 100), and removes bloodloss. Takes up a 1x2 slot, so requires to be placed in a tactical rig in order to be used effectively. Cheap and fairly efficient, takes a standard 4 seconds to use. Rendered effectively obsolete when the Salewa is unlocked. Salewa Good medkit for use in mid and end-game. Contains 400 total health and can remove bloodloss. Relatively expensive at 13k roubles per kit, though. Same size as the Car medical kit, so requires a tactical rig to use effectively. Because Tarkov does not currently have effects like Toxication in the game at the moment, this kit is favored by most players who go into a raid with at least a moderate level of gear. Unlocked at Therapist Level II after completing a level 10 Prapor quest, Postman Pat Part II. IFAK Fantastic medical kit, and is the one preferred by most players. Features 300 health and the ability to remove bloodloss and a host of other negative effects that are not yet implemented into the game. It does not, however, remove fractures. Taking up only a single slot, it is favored by players in all stages of gear, and it is recommend to carry one in your Secure Container in case of emergencies. Is available at Therapist Level II for a barter (Sugar + Sodium), and may be purchased for Roubles at Level III after completing Healthcare Privacy, Part I. It is a fairly expensive kit, but due to its durability, its small size, and ability to remove bloodloss, it is a very common medical item used by players of all levels. Grizzly The 'big daddy' medical kit, boasting an impressive total health resource of 1800. It is also a very large kit, taking up 4 slots (2x2) - in order to be able to use this quickly, it would require specialized tactical rigs that feature a 2x2 slot. It removes all negative effects (some costing HP resource), including fractures. Used by highly-geared players who intend on staying in raids for an extended period of time, or by players with additional Secure Container space available in case of emergencies. It is available for barter at Therapist Level II, and purchase at Therapist Level 4.
Using any of these items results in your character being 'On Painkillers' which allows you to sprint on fractured and blacked legs, as well as reducing effects of fractures and blacked limbs, and removing the debuff Pain. Essentially, the only difference between most of these items are the speed of use, price, availability, and duration of the effect. Analgin Painkillers The holy grail of pain medication. With the recent changes, "Painkillers" now have 4 total uses, not 1. The total duration is now greater than Morphine and less risk of waste. Takes a short time to use, and is available from Therapist Level 1 for both barter and Roubles. Morphine Quick application of painkillers. Favored by some highly geared players as it has greater usability in combat then it's typical counterpart, Painkillers. Has a longer duration, but only one use. Is required for a fairly early Therapist (and a late Peacekeeper) Quest, so it is recommend to hoard 10 of them, then sell the rest unless you intend on using them. They are worth a good amount to Therapist and take up little space so they are a valuable loot item. Available from Therapist for Roubles at Level 4, after completing Healthcare Privacy, Part 3. Augmentin Basically a cheaper Morphine. One use, 260s. Not recommended over Painkillers due to its cost. No current barter for this item, so usually it's just a fairly expensive, small loot item to sell to Therapist when found. Ibuprofen Powerful painkiller. Lasts 600 seconds and has 12 uses. However, it is not recommended to use it as a Painkiller. It is very valuable because it cannot be purchased from Dealers, it must be found, and it is a barter component to late-game containers, the Keytool and THICC Items Case. Vaseline Powerful medical item. Cannot be purchased from dealers. Has 10 uses. Removes Pain. Golden Star Balm Fairly useful medical item. It can remove Pain and Contusion (not a big deal of a debuff, goes away on its own shortly) and provides a small bonus to hydration and energy. However, because Hydration is usually easy to restore (Liquids are easy to find as 'common' or 'trash' tier loot), and Energy at the moment can't run to 0 within current Raid timers, it is Recommended to just to sell to Therapist as a Loot item.
Medical Injectors are not covered here. Essentially, they are powerful but niche items with strong side effects. Most recommended use is to store them in your Secure Container and sell them either on the Flea Market or to Therapist for roubles.
To be able to Hotkey a medicine item, they must be in a tactical rig or your pockets.
Tarkov's Quest, Progression, and Experience Systems
Tarkov features a very immersive progression system where your main character (PMC) is going into raids to acquire loot - goods that can be sold for a profit to other players, to Dealers (NPC Merchants), or used to fulfill quest requirements in order to complete them and receive your rewards. Additionally, your main character will increase their prowess in a number of skills, which increases everything from how much they can run, increases the ease of which recoil can be controlled, and even how far you can throw grenades. These are referred to 'soft skills.' Additionally, your PMC is assigned a Level. You can increase your Level by earning Experience - which is rewarded by performing numerous tasks throughout the Raid, completing quests, examining new items, killing other players and Scavs, etc. Successfully extracting from a raid will increase the experience you earn from the raid via a multiplier. Increasing your PMC's level will allow you to complete additional quests, which increases your Reputation with certain Dealers (and may reduce your Reputation with others) allowing you access to better equipment to purchase. Additionally, completing quests will often reward you with large sums of currency and sometimes equipment, and certain quests unlock items for purchase from that dealer. A Dealer's arsenal of available weapons, ammo, mods, medication, containers, and etc to purchase by you is determined by their Loyalty Level - or LL, for short. Certain Dealers specialize in different kinds of equipment, and they will pay different rates or straight up not buy particular items. In a future release, eventually Dealers will offer discounts to the player based off their Loyalty Level. Article on Dealers
Increasing Loyalty Level
Increasing your Trader's loyalty level is extremely important to your progression and overall success in Tarkov. Being able to purchase better Ammo and Equipment is essential to being able to fight other players and secure their loot for your own. Owning Prepare for Escape and Edge of Darkness (EoD) editions of Escape from Tarkov will increase your starting Reputations with Traders. It is unclear if this change will stay after the game's full release. Typically though, you need three things to increase your Trader's level.
This is accomplished via quests. Completing a quest will reward you with an increase in the quest givers' reputation, sometimes an increase in another trader's reputation, and sometimes will reduce the Reputation of another trader. Not all Traders need a certain level of Reputation to increase their loyalty Level to II. Peacekeeper and Ragman, for example, just need you to spend a certain amount of money with them.
Character Level and Experience Gain
The primary gate behind your trade level (and thus your overall economy and gear leverage) is your Character Level. You increase this by gaining Experience. The easiest way to gain experience is to Loot high value areas, fight players, and kill scavs while completing quests. Generally speaking, your level will advance as you play the game at a moderate pace. One way to farm experience though is to avoid looting all-together and just focus on killing a large number of scavs from a safe distance, after learning where they tend to spawn on any given map. This patch however, labs is fantastic for experience gain. (See above.) Another strategy (albeit one that takes longer) is to loot everything, then drop what you don't want. You gain experience for finding items and picking them up, so picking them up to drop them is technically the best way to gain the most exp per kill. You can receive additional bonuses to Experience earned. Successfully extracting will increase your experience by a multiplier, typically 1.5x the experience gained during the raid, escaping also rewards a 300 exp Escape bonus which is added to your total before the multiplier is applied. You can also receive experience bonuses for Exploration, so visiting different parts of the map will reward you with sums of experience, usually 100 to 300 or so. Killing multiple enemies in a row will reward you with Streaks, whose rewards increase as you get more kills. Getting a kill with a Headshot also significantly improves experience gain from kills. You also receive a (very small) bonus when you survive consecutive raids. Note: Completing a Raid too early (via extraction) will cause you to receive a Run-Through status, which reduces experience earned in that raid by 50%. Most Quests require you to be a certain level to unlock, and upon completion rewards you with a lot of exp and usually the ability to purchase specific equipment.
This is pretty self-explanatory. As mentioned above, Peacekeeper and Ragman can be increased easily just be selling and buying from them. If you need to artifically inflate the amount spent, a good idea is to purchase a large amount of cheap items from them and sell them back to the Trader. You still take a significant loss, usually around 50-60% per purchase, but since the money spent counts both items sold to the vendor and purchases, you get about 140-150% credit per item at about half the cost.
Not all dealers pay the same for certain items. It is important to note that a lot of this is my personal experience, and prices can fluctuate as the Developers may change them for any reason. Use your own common sense and check various dealers before selling particularly lucrative items.
Sells AKs, Magazines, many different Ammo types, Grenades, and weapon modifications. I don't tend to sell to him very often, as he doesn't pay the highest for any items that I have personally seen and because you tend to buy most Ammo and mags from him it's not a particular issue to level him up with money spent.
Sells medical supplies, food and drink, and storage cases, which are items that effectively increase the size of your stash because they have more space inside than they take up. Most storage items are restricted to certain item types. Pays most for items like Keys, Statues, Rolers, Bitcoin, etc. Many of these items should be sold on the market instead of to her, but often times it's not worth the hassle.
Pays least for items, sells items for more than other Dealers. Items other players have sold will appear here. Only sell items to Fence that other dealers will not take! Basically a placeholder for an expanded Market.
Sells various weapons, mods, ammo, Euros, and containers. Pays most for items like Armor, backpacks, headgear, facemasks, flashlights, sights, etc. It is important to note, that Skier will not buy Weapons or most Mods. That means for things like flashlights, you have to take the flashlights/sights off the mount or rail in order for him to buy them, but he pays the best.
Deals entirely in Western equipment, UN armor, helmets, etc. Will buy most items, but will pay USD for them. Deals entirely in USD. One good way to get his money spent requirement is just to buy USD, which is used for a later quest from Skier, which unlocks his quest chain. He has a lot of good deals, experiment for yourself. At the moment his MP5 for 10 'bars' knives (scav knives) is an exceptionally good deal and easy to accomplish for new players.
Sells mostly completed weapons with various modifications and unique names, and mods. Sells magazines and some ammo. Offers containers as you progress. His quests are easy to complete, but often are money dumps in exchange for large sums of EXP more than anything else. Pays the most for modifications (except for sights and suppressors) and stripped guns.
Sells backpacks, armor, tactical vests, and helmets mostly. Offers aesthetic clothing. Can obtain LL2 by just purchasing from him, does not require reputation. In fact, his first quest tasks you with that very objective. As far as I can see, he does not pay the most for any items in particular. But he is a very useful merchant once you have him at level 2. He will sell Scav Backpacks, which are an extremely efficient backpack to use as it's fairly large but very cheap.
Rule of Thumb for selling items at most value
Weapons: Strip the weapon! Take apart ALL pieces of it (including gas tubes, separating flashlights from ring mounts, etc), sell what you can to Skier. For the rest, sell to Mechanic. Keys, Food, Medical Items, Statues, Bitcoin, Rolers, etc: Therapist or the Market. For items like this, ALWAYS check the Market first! A lot of these kinds of items are in valuable trades or are required for quests; this means that other players are often willing to pay more for them, above trader prices.
Continued below in a comment, due to character limit.
Before we begin: what do you think Betrayal would and should look like as a core game mechanic? What expectations do you have for it? In addition, try to think of what Betrayal's place would be in the game were it simply implemented exactly as is, but somewhat less common than it is at the moment because it will compete with other masters for appearances (assuming they're mutually exclusive). PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS:
"Core" league vs "current" league
Betrayal Safehouse loot is bad and so is low-level farming
Betrayal does not scale well with area level
Betrayal Veiled items are bad but not that bad
Manipulating the Syndicate feels bad
It feels bad to walk away from Betrayal encounters
"Core" league vs "current" league Description of problem: This isn't actually a problem, just a byproduct of GGG's league design. I decided to talk about this at the very start to differentiate between two things: How GGG "should" design a current league and how GGG should adapt that league into core content. The league's content is stretched to last for three months, and since the encounter rate is high, the rewards are correspondingly miniscule. Content that is now core has a relatively lower encounter rate, but the rewards are larger per encounter (but still small to make up for the fact that content has been cumulative for years on end, lending to how crazy maps can get). Since temporary leagues have long been the de facto "way" of playing the game, people seem to have forgotten GGG's disclaimers that temporary league balance has a high likelihood of being off. GGG rarely hits out of the park on the first try, but they have a history of nailing it the next time around. Invasion was nerfed, Necrovigil and Phylacteral Link were removed, Order of the Frozen Sky isn't horrific anymore, Malachai was nerfed, Bestiary was fixed, Betrayal's bugs were (eventually) fixed, and so forth. I have faith that GGG will do what's right and I'm looking forward to what GGG will do with a "core" Betrayal because the "league" Betrayal is already history at this point. We're already in the preliminary stages of the next round of new league hypebuilding. Betrayal Safehouse loot is bad and so is low-level farming Description of problem: At the core of ARPGs, everything comes back to loot. We're not helping Zana because we care; we want to snatch the eyes right out of Uber Elder's writhing head. This talk will be split into two parts: Safehouses and Veiled items. Let's start with Safehouses. Here is a graphic of all Betrayal rewards and how I have personally ranked them, according to their value within BSC and the opportunity cost of putting a member in one branch and not another. Some of these could be shifted around according to one's preferences (some people don't want to deal with Guff's benches, other people don't value Cameria's legacy Uniques because the chances of getting something good are too low, etc). But this is a rough guide for what most players will see when they get Safehouse loot.
Total # of possible rewards: 68
# of good rewards: 15
# of middling rewards: 16
# of bad rewards: 37
# of level-scaled rewards: 15
# of good rewards scaled by level: 0
# of middling rewards scaled by level: 0
# of bad rewards scaled by level: 15
Let's talk about the three types of rewards I've delineated. The Good: GGG did well with the good rewards. Stuff like turning Rare amulets into Talismans (effectively solving Talisman's long-standing problem of being inferior Rare items because you could never control the explicit rolls), adding White sockets to any gear (not just craftable bases like Delve's Fractured Fossils), "free" Exalt slams, breaking the quality cap, and so forth. PoE is a character building game and giving players these kinds of small optimizations (on top of the big and risky stuff like double-corruption rooms) is precisely what separates the top builds on poe.ninja from the budget cookie-cutter stuff with inferior performance. In fact, I wouldn't mind them being at their current rarity level once they go core because that's just how strong they are. The Bad: Thing #1 is that it's okay for the Syndicate to have bad rewards. It would have happened regardless of design since even when all things are good, some things are relatively less good. Additionally, if everything was good in a generic and non-specific way, the Syndicate as a whole would lack flavor. For example, Leo gives Torment Scarabs because he's the Ghost of PvP Past and Tormented Spirits are about as fun and rewarding as PoE PvP in 2019. Jokes aside, it's also possible to mitigate the bad rewards by interrogating these people for intel in lieu of others because they don't matter anyways, unlike a 3* Cameria in Intervention. So we can't deny that Betrayal's got flavor. The bad news is that the flavor is "the juice that leaks out from the bottom of black garbage bags". Instead of "everything being good so nothing matters", we have "almost nothing is good, so only a few things matter". Really, I don't know what GGG was thinking when it came to some of Vagan, Haku, and Elreon's rewards. They literally drop less than a white unrolled map for all the effort that goes into making a Safehouse. Thing #2 is that there's too much "bad". Much of it could be converted to "middling" with some adjustment, which would make an undesirable safehouse outcome much less galling to swallow. Alternatively, many "bad" rewards would simply become less relevant if syndicate manipulation had more quality of life and less tedium. If Betrayal was simply dumped into the core game with a lower encounter rate right now, it would be frustrating to deal with and a mediocre gameplay experience as a result. The Middle: The middling rewards mostly relate to items you can get from other sources, like Fossils, Fragments, Essences, Currencies, Divination Cards, and Maps. In the case of Maps and anything to do with them, I think some of the devaluation can also be blamed on Pure Breachstones, which have inflated supply (The HarbingeBeachhead effect). The problem is simple: It is more efficient to obtain those items from other sources (including their original sources) than it is to farm the Syndicate for them. I'm not advocating for the reverse, because then only the Syndicate would be relevant content unless it was significantly gated. But as it stands, Korell's fossils are a joke because doing Delve for them is better. Stacks or spreads of random Divination cards are a joke because it's better to use a Divination Card scarab on a zone that actually gives the Divination card you want in a somewhat deterministic fashion (You know, the point of Divination cards); Gravicius ain't no Putrid Cloister. Fragments are better farmed from the trade website and twinned triple boss corrupted maps and currencies and uniques are better found simply by running a map. Betrayal does not scale well with area level: Oh boy, here we go. This. This right here. This is the reason why we were running Harbour Bridge and Foothills for the whole league. This is the reason why people were able to target-farm Pure Breachstones and pump out more than half the amount of level 100s in Standard (the cumulative history of the game) in a single league. If Betrayal's content and rewards had scaled more appropriately with area level, we could have had a league that excels in both low and high-level content, like Delve. So, you do easy stuff, you should get meh rewards. If you do hard stuff, you should get good rewards. One of the most fundamental ingrained ideas behind gaming design. What constitutes "hard stuff" can be difficult to describe at times since the layered content and occasional lack of visual clarity in PoE creates difficulty spikes and each build and player is challenged by different aspects of the game. But content design and controlled encounters can remove the possibility of difficulty spiking due to unexpected variables, which means Betrayal has less excuses for its ratio of difficulty to reward. You feel bored when you do hundreds of hours of monotonous low-level zones. You feel excited when something challenges you and forces you to upgrade your build and pay close attention to positioning and enemy patterns. You feel betrayed when hard content gives you bad loot and you feel annoyed when easy content gives you good loot because the game's design gives you a begrudging reason to do the tedious and easy content as opposed to the more varied difficult content. That's what Betrayal, as a league, was. If you look at the second row of my table above, you'll see that less than a fourth of all possible Safehouse rewards scale with area level. And all of them are "bad" outcomes. Arguably, Jorgin's "Aspect rares" are potentially middling because you could split them with a Bestiary recipe and get a craftable base in case you're not finding a Fenumal Hybrid Spider or a Farric whatever, thus enabling SSF builds. And that part of Jorgin is good because it gives a partially deterministic outcome. Here's the other commonality between all of these bad, level-scaling rewards: there are a lot of rare item outcomes. Hell, I didn't even read this thread, but it probably does an excellent job of explaining the numerous problems with rare items. As it stands, there is virtually no reason to do Betrayal in Tier 16 maps: you get plenty of risk, without a corresponding increase in reward. Proposed solutions to problem: The solution should be grounded in thinking about "where" Betrayal fits in the loot acquisition possibilities of the game as a whole. Delve, for example, is an all-rounded system with good scaling that bolsters Rare item crafting. Bestiary is mostly mid to end-game with respect to customizing flasks, obtaining random Unique items, and using obscure crafting techniques. Incursion falls into the same mold, with Alva's temples being the most influential as a supplement for early mapping (map drops within the Temple of Atzoatl) and for various powerful "crafting benches" and upgraded Incursion Uniques that are reserved for the elite (or ludicrously lucky) of Wraeclast. Bloodlines, Nemesis, Invasion, Beyond, Domination, and various other leagues are instance and enemy seasoning. What I mean when I say "where does Betrayal belong" is that Betrayal has a tremendous untapped niche that has been buried all along because of GGG's flawed reward distribution. This niche is "deterministic farming". Manipulating the Syndicate and targeting certain members in certain branches to get Harbinger Orbs to upgrade your stagnant map pool or getting crucial gem levels on your spells to get an extra power boost, that's what I'd really love to do. Betrayal could be like Divination cards 2.0 in giving mid to end-game players a solid process for obtaining otherwise obscure items and niche services that will really push their itemization to the next level while also giving lower-level players powerful Rare items and crafting options while leveling. Frankly, I have no idea what I'd want to make this happen, so this is just an idea at present. So what I'm suggesting will merely be tweaks on top of what exists at the moment rather than a radical overhaul to bring Betrayal more in line with something like Divination cards. The good rewards are fine and could even be a little rarer (especially to preserve the value and intrigue of those services). Especially Pure Breachstones. Look, I enjoy being level 100 as much as any of you guys, but it's a little ridiculous, right? That this single Safehouse outcome alone was so influential as to influence gem experience markets, map valuation, rare jewelry markets, build archetypes, and generate a majority of "the reason why people are running Harbour Bridge"? We know it, GGG knows it; it's going to be destroyed harder than CoC was in the past. The middling rewards are largely a ratio of reward against tedium and quantity. If GGG can balance this ratio, it'll just work. Make Betrayal less tedious to manipulate; more on that later. Make the currency-based rewards drop a guaranteed higher-tier currency of the respective type or a higher quantity of the lower tiers. Essences of Hysteria, Delirium, etc. Faceted and Hollow fossils. Divine and Annulment Orbs. Uber Atziri fragments. That's what we should be seeing once Betrayal goes core. Make quantity scale with the 3* mechanic and make quality scale with area level, because a level 60 3* Syndicate member is far less dangerous than a level 83 1* Syndicate member. The bad rewards need to either be scaled up or changed entirely, full stop. On an individual basis, my ideas:
Aisling's stashes should drop more Veiled items now that the Syndicate will be less common.
Elreon should give more Unique items or give a guaranteed higher rarity tier of them. Every league has given increased means to obtain Unique items and compared to them, Elreon is an utter joke. I get more Uniques from completing one Incursion in a yellow map than I do from Elreon.
Why does Haku give items with quality in Research. I can buy Whetstones and Armourer scraps from vendors. Even Delve gives "Superior" (30% quality) items, which I'd count as better than Haku. What does Haku even "do" in Transportation?
Hillock map quality. This would only be valued back in the days when people Exalted maps.
ITF should give more Breach Splinters, more Abyss Jewels. To be honest, I'm not sure why they gave it Abyss Jewels instead of Breach Rings. Maybe because they realized that Breach Rings are hot garbage.
More Talismans from Jorgin, perhaps with a guaranteed cascade of tiers and even some Tier 4 Greatwolfs (not the Unique variety), which we haven't seen since the days of Rigwald. Most if not all of the Talisman affixes are useful, hence why I don't distinguish so much between tiers 1 to 3 and would want equal access to all of them.
For SSF, I'd rate Riker as a middling pick because ilvl100 can be useful for some bases and a choice of Unique is better than Elreon's "Rain of Alch Shards". But it's still not great since we're getting "one" item and it's probably not great. Better options would be the obvious pick, not sure what would fly besides that. Maybe if we could go between five Trapped tabs, pick out five items, and get two randomly out of five? It'd ruin the deterministic flavor though, which I like about Trapped stashes. I'd almost even like a Tetris or matching game.
Tora should give the highest tier of enchant on bases of the best possible item variant. Getting a Merciless Labyrinth enchant on utter trash is disheartening. Shaper or Elder influence would be a welcome addition as well.
The sad part about the level-scaling was that GGG could have done it before this point. They could have done it all along and made Betrayal a truly great league. So, what should they do going forward? I've read some people who proposed that the 3* system should be abolished completely and that all rewards should simply be scaled by area level, but I don't see why they couldn't utilize both systems. As I said earlier, quantity should scale with the 3* mechanic and quality should scale with area level because the latter is the far more dangerous (and important, if we want to incentivize playing in high-level content).
As I said for currency stashes, give a chance to drop either one of a high-tier currency or several lower-tier currencies of the same type.
Intervention stashes should perform similarly. Make the 3* continue to give a guaranteed gilded scarab of the member's type (since this worked fine in the league), but make area level scale linearly with chances to give additional Polished or Rusted Scarabs (with an extra Scarab being granted per 6 levels divisible past area level 65 (so an area level 83 zone gives a neat chance to give 4 Scarabs per stash and 1-3 in anything less). I'm assuming that Scarabs will stay locked behind Betrayal instead of becoming a general currency drop, but we could get an Annulment Orb treatment.
Research rewards are tricky, since they consist of crafting bench services that can't really be meaningfully changed and are already very good. But change some of the crappy ones, my god...
Gravicius is a joke: the tier of card given should at least be of the same rarity tier, or it could be something like a Tier 3 Sacrifice chamber where a card with a same "set count" is given (thus drastically revaluing 8-set cards).
Or it could be changed to "create duplicates of an inserted card", with the number scaling according to Gravicius' level and the set count of that card.
Janus and Cadiro as a whole need to be rebalanced; it's a crying shame for such a widely praised league with solid early-mid game integration and SSF potential to go to waste because Cadiro is now an overcharging Rare jewelry vendor.
Haku should do something completely different. My idea is to upgrade items with "low" base into items of a "high" base. This has been a longstanding idea, but I've never heard it mentioned with respect to the Syndicate (which surprises me, since the Syndicate is all about outlandish ideas). For example, going from a Destroyer Regalia to a Vaal Regalia. Obviously, not all items have a 1:1 example like this, so the applications would need to be done on a case by case basis.
Several rare-item related rewards should be changed to have a deterministic mod on them or provide a craftable base a la Jorgin's Aspect items. "More Rare items to identify" is not the solution. Identifying items is a tedious exercise in item-filtering that takes away from gameplay and adds to unnecessary micro-management that is no different from the end of an Incursion or Delve node. Giving us something to craft and sink currency into; that's engaging, that's "Delve meta-mod item" kinda stuff right there. The Syndicate is all about customization, so give us something to customize. Abyss jewels could have Delve fossil modifiers already on them, Rare items with Essence mods could drop, sealed Bestiary Orbs with beasts inside... the possibilities are far larger than what GGG has laid forth
This is the most outlandish idea I've thought of yet: Make the Syndicate change rewards per league, like Zana. They could still stick to general themes, but any way to shake up potential future metas involving Betrayal as a core league mechanic is huge. Especially with respect to the "discovery" theme of Betrayal, if we had to relearn what the rewards were each league. I seriously didn't think of this until just now and I don't think GGG will do it, but it's an interesting proposition for sure.
BetrayalVeiled items are bad but not that bad Description of problem: Veiled items share the same problems as rare items because they are rare items with a crafted affix on top. As one's crafting bench completion increases, Veiled items become increasingly useless to pick up and annoying to unveil. The veiled signature mods of Syndicate members, in particular, require special attention to obtain. 20 chaos orbs for It that Fled veiled mods will become far worse in future leagues. Proposed solution to problem: Rare items are another can of worms, so it's regrettable that there's no way to make veiled item drops impactful beyond early game, recipe unlocking, and the occasional very rare good item. The crafting bench problem will not be alleviated by making veiled items more rare (an assumed condition of Betrayal going core exactly as it is now): you'll simply have the same problem at the top-end with a corresponding increase in the price of unveiled items,crafting services, and scamming. Solutions are numerous, but they all boil down to "make more veiled items drop" because it is likely that the difficulty of finishing one's crafting bench may even be intentional. Veiled items could drop in the core game and not merely from Syndicate members. Syndicate members could have a guaranteed drop of at least one veiled item. More Syndicate members could spawn per encounter, or Jun could become an Alva-style master and be encountered multiple times per instance, but only spawn the encounter once you speak with her (rather than running across them in the wild as we do now, as the spawning of one Syndicate encounter removes the existence of previous unfinished ones due to the Betrayal board increments by "turns". I was going to suggest making unveils more likely to give unknown or incomplete recipes, but the way veiled items generate prohibits that. Finally, GGG could shake up crafting as we know it in 3.6 and add more recipes, move some veiled mods to in-map recipes, or make Syndicate members themselves drop recipe objects that grant the recipe in question. Manipulating the Syndicate feels bad Description of problem: While having two choices per encounter may have worked for Incursion, it doesn't work for Betrayal. With Incursion, you get 11 encounters and that's it; each one increments progress, even if you die and fail to kill either of the Architects. With Betrayal, encounters do not necessarily increment progress towards a Safehouse because other options continually come up. I said that there were "two" options per member per encounter, but in practice, this number is often lower. While interrogation will guarantee that progress increases, it is generally reserved for moving undesirable members around to allow desired members to fill their places or for keeping a safehouse locked because it decreases the quality of rewards from the interrogated member and lowers their rank, resulting in less intelligence and necessitating yet more executions to level members up. In the course of "naturally" playing Betrayal (as opposed to targeted farming), interrogation is mathematically the least efficient option, if necessary at times to cap off a Safehouse. While GGG may have envisioned Betrayal like a tidal pool with patterns constantly in flux, ultimately yielding a beneficial outcome, we players would rather have a bird in a hand than some unknown garbage in the bush. Thus, valued members are rarely interrogated (because there's no guarantee that they'd return to their original position due to the randomness involved in encounters) and single-member encounters are often utterly useless, especially for the purposes of securing intelligence. The reward design of the Syndicate coupled with the mechanics of progressing towards a Safehouse result in an optimal and preferable structure that largely removes the annoyances of the two inferior Syndicate branches (Transportation and Fortification) while promoting investment into a few key members in Research and Intervention. Theoretically, it would also be possible to farm Fortification and Transportation quite rapidly and profitably because they are more common than their sister branches, but again, the reward structure dissuades this type of farming. The specter of level-scaling also rears its head here. While higher area levels seem to increase the chance for multiple Syndicate members to spawn (alongside appropriate relationships), they also increase the difficulty of the encounter multiplicatively. Red map mods on top of higher area level on top of whatever items and ranks the Syndicate members have on top of there simply being more members around to attack you. By contrast, Harbour Bridge farming is extremely tame. There's also time to take into consideration: higher level areas take more time to clear than Harbour Bridge or Foothills, assuming that the same build were to deal with both. While a high level area might have extra features that might give returns for the time invested (aka, you do the rest of the map after you do the Syndicate), there's nothing quite so fast and precise as farming the Syndicate in Foothill. Level scaling also has absolutely no effect on intel gains, apart from the possibility of spawning more members (which is more safely and rapidly done by creating new instances in low level zones). Of course, what I've mentioned thus far is if everything in the Syndicate works like clockwork and people simply go into encounters, click whichever buttons, and go on their merry way. What actually happens is that players are constantly forced to walk away from encounters because the given options would actually set them back. It feels bad to walk away from Betrayal encounters. Or from any encounter in general. Take Alva, for example. Due to the way instance generation works, her three appearances within an instance sharply limit our ability to get specific Tier 3 Temple rooms (namely, the highly desired Corruption and Sacrifice rooms). When an instance is created, content is not generated as it is encountered; it is created all at once. This means that Alva cannot offer to affect the same room more than once within a single set of three Incursions (whereas she was capable of offering consecutive upgrades during Incursion league). If you were to naturally do 3-3-3-2 Incursions, you would only have 4 chances to affect a given room in the Temple. There is a small trick you can do to increase your chances of affecting a desirable room: When Alva offers a room, that offer remains on the table if you leave the instance and spawn a new Alva elsewhere. Consequently, if you get a bad offer from Alva, you can just skip her current Incursion, spawn another Alva, and then the other 2 Incursions in the new set of 3 cannot be that "bad" offer that she's currently got. The problem is that this trick increases the amount of time it would take you to access a temple. Let's say you constantly perform this trick, such that you only effectively do 2 Incursions per Alva. Instead of taking 4 Alvas to access a Temple, it would take 6. In addition, let's say you're getting Alva on high pack size maps or maps with desirable Divination cards. If you skip an Alva encounter in that instance, you're losing out on loot and experience. This is technically a trade-off, as you are trading away Alva encounters in order to potentially get better results from your Temple. But that's not what it feels like, due to the opportunity costs involved with walking away from Alva. And now let's bring it back to Betrayal. When you meet the Syndicate, what's the worst that could happen? Well, you might get members who won't be kicked out, or you'll kick them out but they just come back, or desirable members will try to leave, or they'll offer to remove all rivalries when you don't want to, or they'll offer to become trusted, or they'll offer to do some kind of betrayal that you don't want (which are most of what happens when it's down to two people, hence the preference for rivalries over trusted statuses), or you'll simply only get one lone guy to show up and it isn't because he's 3* and can't summon unranked members, it's because you just got bad RNG, and you'll have no choice but to turn tail and gloomily walk out of that Research lab. And it'll keep on happening over and over, though at least Betrayal going core means you won't get this crap happening in every single instance. That's what I mean when I say manipulating the Syndicate feels bad. If the league went core exactly as it is today, with an appearance rate shared between all of the masters, you would virtually never complete a safehouse with desirable outcomes. I would be remiss to not mention that there are quality of life problems with the Syndicate that have nothing to do with the league's mechanical design. For instance, the visual web of lines connecting members can become so tangled as to be incomprehensible. Only dialogue outputted to chat can give clear indicators of what each member thinks of their colleagues (because the infighting tends to be unnoticeable in the storm of VFX that typically occupy any PoE player's screen or the enemies die too quickly to do anything). Syndicate members can also rarely die out of bounds while performing movement skills. Finally, there are persistent damage skills on some Syndicate members and mobs that can annoy someone who's just trying to bargain with the fallen, including the electrified nets and Cameria's icicle cone. These self-same skill effects will also become invisible if you go too far off-screen and come back. But wait. There's more. The Mastermind. It's Catarina. Spoilers, by the way. People have different opinions about the design of the fight. Some people think that the visual effects of the attacks, the relative scarcity of flask-granting adds, the indicators for how to progress the phases of the fight, and the area of denial mechanics that limit the viability of some build types within that fight are bad. Others think that her fight is the best thing since sliced bread. So the design of her fight is not necessarily a problem, though it's worth a mention because it's contentious. What is a problem is how she interacts with the Syndicate. As GGG's own statistics have shown, players have still deemed it more punishing than not to actually complete her fight. Even after they adjusted her fight to give the rewards of the four safehouse leaders at the time of her defeat. Even though many of her dropped items are somewhat expensive thanks to a lack of supply. This is down to the Syndicate being a pain in the ass to manipulate and set back up (especially once you've locked undesirable members into undesirable branches and prefer to keep them that way) on top of her fight resetting the entire Syndicate's members and progress. In addition, if you fail the fight, you reset all of her progress . This isn't really important considering how people mostly only fight her for challenge-related purposes (and the loot is simply a byproduct), but it is noticeably more punishing than most other endgame boss fights. Shaper and Uber Elder can simply be fought again and are known to be tough but fair. Catarina is hardly so gracious. Even though it turns out she's always hiding in the Forbidden Vault, you've got to find her all over again. If Betrayal goes core exactly as it is, barring some people who would like to get some of her exclusive crafts for services in the new league, I don't see why people would bother with her fight. It would still be more profitable to farm for scarabs and crafting benches than to screw up a painstakingly laid Syndicate. Proposed solution to problem: To reiterate, the problems with the mechanics of the Syndicate include the binary choice system a la Incursion, the undesirable outcomes of any given Betrayal offer (including the interrogation option), the tedium caused by the random nature of said offers compounded with the fact that you only get a few choices in the matter, and the fact that progressing the Syndicate and getting better rewards from it has nearly no relation to high level content. Oh, and the Mastermind may as well not exist. Here are some options:
Encounters will be less frequent, so GGG should simply make them always have at least 2 members, regardless of the relationships between said members (though it should prioritize relationship statuses before inserting random members).
Make Syndicate members give more options. I cannot stress enough just how bad it is to have virtually 1-2 choices per encounter: we wouldn't be constantly walking away from encounters otherwise. It would be absolutely unacceptable for us to have to do this in the core game. This could be something as simple and reductive as simply allowing us to always execute a member (You might not necessarily get progress because they're already 3*, but at least they drop their items) regardless of how many members are present (on top of a Bargain or Betray option).
Or it could be something as complex as a wholesale rework of the interaction mechanics. Personally, I favor a drag-and-drop board with intuitive decision making.
Each member in the encounter should be highlighted with a black and green flame border as per the colors of Betrayal.
Their relationship lines should glow brightly when that member is hovered over, and green or red outlines should appear based on what relationship the selected member has with a given member (and make them hues that are friendly to more common varieties of colorblindness).
When a member is selected, there should be a menu of options to choose from, including Interrogation, Execution, Bargaining for Intel, Bargaining for Items, Destroying a Branch's items, Freeing Prisoners and any number of available Betrayal options where they're available (if trusted members are in the zone).
The "drag and drop" aspect would be for removing members (putting them in the trash bin to get swapped with someone who isn't in the Syndicate) and for switching the positions of members between branches or between leadership positions (only leaders can switch with other leaders and only subordinates can switch with leaders in their branch).
Allow multiple encounters within a zone. I suggested this for the purpose of improving the feeling of dealing with Veiled Items, but this would also apply to interacting with Syndicate mechanics by giving a sense of rapid and impactful progression through a single set of Jun encounters. Of course, only different branches or keystone members might be allowed to show up, which could prove to be troublesome for manipulation purposes, but if it came hand in hand with increases to intel gains or bargaining/execution options, it could be fine. The impromptu feeling of stumbling into the four distinct mission types is appealing though, hence why having Jun as the start trigger might not be possible (especially when it comes to Intervention, which is supposed to ambush you).
Make area level have an effect on Syndicate progress. Once it goes core, infrequent encounters mean that intel could be adjusted to fill with fewer encounters based on area level and not just rank within the Syndicate. In addition, intel could scale asymptotically with the amount of relationships that a member has (makes sense, right? More friends/enemies, more info). The way I see it, Safehouses don't really come into play until at least level 60; it's all veiled items and manipulation before then. This means that Safehouse farming in low-level zones should be diminished by changing how intel is gathered and farming in high-level zones will be rewarding both with respect to looting and to interfacing with the content. In addition, to promote some degree of multi-safehouse farming, we could have cross-department intel (give intel for their own branch as well as the branch they appeared to help with).
Make the Mastermind worthwhile to do. This would be helped by making the Syndicate less tedious to set up in some way, whether by one of the above methods or some other method. This depends on how GGG wants the Mastermind to be treated by players: as an integral end-goal that is equivalent to other established Syndicate farming methods, or just as a nice bonus on top, or something else? If the former, then GGG should double the rewards made available by the Safehouse leaders. Four stashes against two is a clear winner, especially considering that we're skipping out on the safehouse members by doing this as well as the potential difficulty of getting the Mastermind in future leagues. This also really promotes a risk/reward mechanic and justifies having Catarina disappear for another several Safehouses should you fail to kill her. Having an "incomplete" reset of the Syndicate might also be good (explain it by saying that previous members keep some of their old ties after being reorganized), though the ability to wipe the board is useful for people who have screwed up too much and would rather start over without moving people around (again, depends on if Betrayal interaction is changed when it goes core). The criteria for not being reset could be an amount of relationships (rivalries/trusts) or a rank requirement (3* in the leader position, thus shielding the subordinates from reset).
Finally, making alternative farming methods within the Syndicate viable through interaction mechanics. While the suggestions about loot increases could help to incentivize some people to pick more of the currently middling/bad rewards and therefore farm outside of Intervention and Research, what people generally do is they set up everyone to have rivalries (because of the problem with bad choices, especially when members are trusted). I'd like to see a more distinct set of advantages/disadvantages that are different but equal for trusted/rival statuses. I don't think that Intervention or Research will necessarily be devalued by making Transportation and Fortification more accessible and rewarding; they have worthwhile rewards that can stand against simple numeric increases in currency drops from the common branches. Making it easier to move members where you want or keep them where they are (instead of constantly rolling the dice and walking away when it the outcome is unsuitable) would help with shifting the current meta of "locking" the "undesirable" Syndicate branches, although the targeted farming is appealing in it's own player-invented ingenuity.
In closing, I would rather Betrayal get a "Bestiary" treatment if GGG doesn't have a game plan for how they're going to make it into core content. Better to wait a few months and do the job right than to botch it. Betrayal is tied to a lot of crafting options at the moment, but they could be moved to environmental Atlas recipes for the time being or veiled items could drop regardless of the Syndicate's presence in Wraeclast (a little odd to have a Veiled master without a Syndicate to fight though, hence why I'm fairly certain GGG already has something up their sleeve for this). GGG has invested a lot of resources into writing and polishing Betrayal and creatively engineering its mechanics, and it shows. Most content that GGG has ever made tends to return in one way or another, thanks to how asset use and systems design work in this game. It isn't a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when". I hope GGG makes the right calls on this and I look forward to what you guys think should be done.
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