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 Post subject: Reserve Engineering
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:15 pm 
Jedi Battlemaster
Jedi Battlemaster
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Location: Waterloo, ON
[from Slaign on the TOR forums]
Table of Contents

How to use: Since the forum doesn't allow the ability to create links to different sections of the post, I've created a "Find Tag" system. In order to use this, use the "Find" feature on your browser, and enter the appropriate tag. Each tag is enclosed in brackets, begins with FT (For Find Tag), and ends in an abbreviation of the section it is attatched to. For example, to find the Special Thanks section, you would open the Find feature (Usually Ctrl+F) and search for [FT.Thanks]

NOTE: Please refer to the FAQ [FT.FAQ] before asking any questions. I welcome any questions, but if your question is answered in the FAQ section I will merely refer you back there. If your question is in the FAQ, but the answer still doesn't clear it up for you, mention that and I will address it.

[FT.KI] Known Issues
[FT.2] The Two Paths
[FT.Lin] Linear Reverse Engineering
[FT.Pre] Prefix Reverse Engineering
[FT.Crit] Critical Crafting
[FT.RE] What Can I Reverse Engineer?
[FT.Rand] Random Chance and Maximizing Success
[FT.PAC] Pros and Cons of Armor and Weapon Crafting
[FT.FAQ] Frequently Asked Questions
[FT.Plea] A Plea from the Author
[FT.Thanks] Special Thanks

Known Issues (Bugs)

Note that when I say "Known" I mean known to players. While we hope we've been loud enough to get Bioware to pay attention, we have no confirmation that they know about or acknowledge these as bugs. Any feedback from Reps or Devs would be priceless here.

Reverse Engineering button: The RE button can spontaneously disappear and we don't know why. Using a keybind (defaulted to I and/or B) to bring up your inventory should resolve the issue. Interacting with a GTN or Bank Kiosk, or a vendor, should also resolve it. If this doesn't work, press Ctrl+U once to turn off the UI and again to turn it back on.

Prefixes in chat: Another bug is that linking an item with a discovered prefix (see [FT.Pre]) does not show the prefix or associated stats in chat. They do appear in trade windows, inventory, and the GTN. This bug is slated for a fix in 1.1.

Shotguns and Vibroknives: These items do not appear to have RE discoverable schematics. My opinion is that this is an omission or bug, as it doesn't seem right for one pair of advanced classes to not be able to upgrade their offhands.

Redoubt's Alacrity T2 Prefix: See [FT.Pre] for an explanation of the prefix system and you'll notice we don't know what the T2 Prefix for +Defense and +Alacrity is. This is because no one has reported finding it despite a lot of effort dedicated specifically to doing so. Again, I believe this to be either an omission or a bug, and not working as intended.

Artificers and Armstechs can reverse engineer Custom guns and melee weapons, respectively. Custom items are not meant to be reverse engineered, and the result is a lost Custom and a small amount of materials. This can only happen when the Barrel or hilt mod is in the item, removing that mod will make the item un-RE-able.

Cybertechs can reverse engineer shields and focuses, but when attempting to do so, recieve no materials and the item is destroyed with an error message saying "There is no reverse engineering information for this item." This is a bug, as Artifice is the craft for reverse engineering shields and focuses.

The Two Paths

Reverse Engineering can follow 2 possible paths. Which path the item you are trying to RE follows depends on whether or not it is equippable. If an item can be equipped directly to your character (Weapons and Armor) it will follow the prefix path. If it cannot be equipped directly (Mods, Stims, Etc.) it will follow the linear path.

The linear path is the simpler of the two, so we'll cover that first.

Linear Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering non-equippable items is fairly straight forward. You start with a base item which is learned from a trainer or schematic and when you Reverse Engineer it, you have the potential of discovering a schematic for an improved version of the item. Once you find the improved schematic, you are done with the base item and can begin reverse engineering the improved item for a chance to improve it further.

Finding an improved item increases it's quality to the next tier. A Premium item will become a Prototype, and a Prototype will become an Artifact. Based upon current collective experience, one an item following the linear path becomes Artifact, there are no further improvements possible.

Prefix Reverse Engineering

Buckle in, this is where things get crazy. Rather than following a linear progression, equippable items follow a complex branching system which allows for a huge variety of improved items. I'll try to start out simple and go into more detail, but this is a complex enough system that it requires a thorough explaination.

Let's start with the terms we'll be using:

Base Item - A base item is an item learned directly from the trainer or a schematic, as opposed to via reverse engineering. Any item learned from a trainer or schematic is a base item. Base items will never be learned via reverse engineering.

Prefix - A prefix is a word appended to the beginning of an item name. These words differ based on the stats added to the item upon improvement. More on that later.

Tier 1 Prefix - This refers to the three prefixes that can be aquired by reverse engineering a base item. Specifically, these are Redoubt, Overkill, and Critical.

Tier 2 Prefix - This refers to the 15* prefixes that can be aquired by reverse engineering a Tier 1 Prefix item. The Tier 2 Prefixes are as follows*: Anti-Armor, Commander, Endowment, Exactitude, Expert, Fervor, General, Hawkeye, Leadership, Rampart, Supremacy, Tempest, Vehemance, and Veracity.

*Note: You may notice that I say there are 15 Tier 2 Prefixes, but only list 14. This is because to date, no one has found the 15th. Based on how the system works, this 15th prefix should exist, but there have been no reports of it ever being found. I believe this to be a bug.

A note about these terms: This guide's first version was written during Early Access, and these are the terms I came up with to describe the theory then. As a result, these are the terms people are using in this thread. I have been told, however, that others in the community are using other terms. This is to be expected. To maintain the internal consistency of this thread and avoid confusion, I've chosen to keep these terms. So you may hear different terms (For example, one person told me he felt the proper phraseology was Base = Tier 1, Tier 1 Prefix = Tier 2, and Tier 2 Prefix = Tier 3). If enough people ask me to change the terms used in the guide I will, but for now I think what we have here works well and is more discriptive than other propositions.

Ok, now that you're familiar with the terms, lets delve into the system itself and what they really mean.

Every item starts as a Base item, learned from a trainer or schematic. If you learn this schematic and craft the item, you can then reverse engineer it. Unlike the linear progression path, this system branches off down separate paths. This means you can find 3 improved versions of every Base item by reverse engineering that item. These improved items carry the Tier 1 Prefixes of Redoubt, Overkill, and Critical.

When you improve upon an equippable item by creating a Tier 1 Prefix schematic, a new stat is added. What this stat is, is dependent on which Tier 1 Prefix you discovered. Redoubt adds defense, Overkill adds power and, predictably, Critical adds critical.

Tier 2 Prefix items are a little bit more complex. They are discovered by reverse engineering Tier 1 Prefix items. Each Tier 1 Prefix item (of which there are 3 for each Base item) can be reverse engineered into 5 Tier 2 Prefix items, for a total of 15 Tier 2 Prefixes.

The process, therefore, is to reverse engineer base items until you have 3 Tier 1 Prefix schematics. From there, you would reverse engineer each Tier 1 Prefix version of the item until you have 5 Tier 2 Prefix versions for each Tier 1 Prefix*.

*Note: Again, remember that it is believed that only 4 schematics are findable by reverse engineering Redoubt items. This is thought to be a bug.

When an item improves from Tier 1 Prefix to a Tier 2 Prefix, the same thing happens as going from Base to Tier 1 Prefix. A second new stat is added. While the original stats present on the Base item retain the same values throughout the improvement process, the stat gained from the Tier 1 Prefix (Critical, Defense, or Power) will improve when this happens. The end result is a better item with a total of 2 additional stats in comparison to the Base item.

Five stats are possible to be added onto Tier 2 Prefix items, as follows: Accuracy, Alacrity, Presence, Surge, and Shield. These stats, in conjunction with which Tier 1 Prefix stat they were added to, determine what the new prefix will be. Here is a list and a couple charts to help you understand how this works:

Redoubt (+Defense)
-Anti-Armor (+Defense, +Surge)
-Exactitude (+Defense, +Accuracy)
-General (+Defense, +Presence)
-Veracity (+Defense, +Shield)
- ?????? (+Defense, +Alacrity) (This is the missing Tier 2 Prefix)

Critical (+Critical)
-Endowment (+Critical, +Surge)
-Fervor (+Critical, +Accuracy)
-Leadership (+Critical, +Presence)
-Supremacy (+Critical, +Alacrity)
-Tempest (+Critical, +Shield)

Overkill (+Power)
-Commander (+Power, +Presence)
- Expert (+Power, +Surge)
- Hawkeye (+Power, +Accuracy)
-Rampart (+Power, +Shield)
-Vehemence (+Power, +Alacrity)

Chart: http://imgboot.com/thumbs-large/Slaign/prefix.jpg

Flowchart of an actual item, courtesy of Echelar: http://oi42.tinypic.com/23r1rgm.jpg

Another effect can occur when an item is improved, in that an item can progress to a higher quality. This will always happen if the Base item is Premium or Prototype, however current collective experience implies that crafters cannot improve items above Artifact.

It is important to note that the quality of the item has no direct bearing on it's Tier. A Base item can be of any quality. A Base item of Premium quality will improve into a Prototype when it becomes a Tier 1 Prefix item. A Base item of Prototype quality will improve into an Artifact when it becomes a Tier 1 Prefix item.

Tier 2 Prefix items are always Artifacts. If the Base item is Premium, the Tier 1 Prefix item is a Prototype, and the Tier 2 Prefix item is Artifact. If the Base item is a Prototype, the Tier 1 Prefix item is an Artifact, and the Tier 2 Prefix item is also an Artifact.

There have been no reports of improving upon Artifact quality base items as of yet, but this may be due to expense. If it is possible, my conjecture is that because we have never seen an item improve beyond Artifact, the Tier 1 and 2 Prefix items would also be Artifacts.

Also note that any time an item improves in quality, it also improves in rating. This means it acquires more armor if it's a piece of armor, or damage if it's a weapon.

Custom items have no innate stats, and so cannot be improved via reverse engineering.

Critical Crafting

The basic premise of critical crafting is this: You have a small chance upon crafting an item to "Critically craft" said item. This has differing effects based on whether the item is non-equippable and thus follows the linear path, or equippable and thus follows the prefix path.

I'll start with the linear path, as it's easier to understand.

Consumable items like Stims and Medkits make duplicate items when critically crafted, giving you two for the price of one. If it's possible for grenades to be critically crafted, I assume they do this as well.

Modifications apparently cannot be critically crafted, sorry Cybertechs.

For equippable items, the basic rule is simple: Critically crafting an equippable item gives it an open Item Mod slot for a mod of the type "Augment." Augments are found via slicing missions.

The prefix system, as usual, is where things get complicated. Let's go over the basics one more time: The recipe for a base item is learned from a schematic or trainer, upon being Reverse Engineered, it teaches a Tier 1 Prefix schematic, and when you RE that, it teaches a Tier 2 Prefix schematic.

No matter whether the item is a base item, A tier 1 Prefix, or a Tier 2 Prefix, the effect is the same. It gains an Augment slot. There is no effective difference. However, how the game displays the fact that the item has been critically crafted changes based on tier.

Base items (learned from schematics or trainers) gain the suffix [Exceptional] when critically crafted.

Tier 1 Prefix items (learned from RE'ing a base item) gain the suffix [Advanced] when critically crafted.

Tier 2 Prefix items (learned from RE'ing a Tier 1 Prefix item) already have a suffix when they are not critically crafted. This suffix is [Superior] and while it looks like a critical craft tag, it is not. It merely indicates that the item is a Tier 2 Prefix item. When one of these items is critically crafted, the [Superior] suffix is replaced with [Mastercraft].

Can Custom (Orange) items be critically crafted?

While research is currently ongoing in this department, the answer seems to be yes. We have 100% confirmation that at least the weapons that weapon crafters can make which are pre-filled with mods can be critically crafted to gain an augment slot.

While it would be logical to assume then that the empty orange schematics created by armor crafters are also eligible for a crit, this hasn't been the experience of people testing it out. For now, it seems Custom armor is not eligible for a crit. I will update if someone proves this false.

What can I reverse engineer?

You can reverse engineer almost anything you craft. You may also be able to reverse engineer world drops that fall in line with what your crafting skill can make, though this is not always true and results only in materials, not schematics.

Exceptions: Cybertechs cannot reverse engineer grenades or ship upgrades, and no profession can reverse engineer the Custom items they make. (Except in the case of a bug.)

Random Chance and Maximizing Success

If you peruse this thread, you will find a lot of posts about how common or rare it is to gain a schematic from reverse engineering. Many times, this will take the form of "I've RE'd X number of Y item and never gotten a schematic! I think it's broken." While it's possible it is broken (It seems as though vibroknives and shotguns cannot be reverse engineered for improved versions.) most of these cases are just cases of bad luck.

The chance of learning a schematic is random, and as such you may have terrible luck or you may have extraordinary luck, or anywhere in between. As with any luck based system, people have come up with all sorts of theories on how to maximize success. Chances are these all boil down to superstition and perception, but I figured I'd list the most common and plausible theories for those who want to employ them.

Most plausible is the theory that the higher your skill is above that it takes to craft the item you are reverse engineering, the better your chances of discovering a schematic. This theory says it's always best to wait until the schematic is grey or green to begin reverse engineering efforts.

Related to that theory, people claim reverse engineering success becomes less common as the level of the items you are reverse engineering becomes higher. Proponents of this theory believe that reverse engineering a level 50 Premium item is less likely to yield a schematic than reverse engineering a level 9 Premium item. While this wont help you get that specific schematic you are going for, it may help explain why you feel like you never get schematics as quickly anymore.

Some people claim that being consistent with what you are reverse engineering is important. They say that reverse engineering different items all at once reduces the chance of finding a schematic. They claim that in order to maximize your chance of success, you should focus on crafting and reverse engineering one item at a time. The theory is that reverse engineering the same item repeatedly raises the chances of success each time.

Pros and Cons of Armor and Weapon Crafting

A lot of people feel crafting weapons and armor is useless, because why do it when Custom armor can be modded and one would never have to buy new armor or weapons, just mods? I'd like to point out two things here. First, "Useless" does not mean "Not necessary." Just because you can achieve the same results via another path does not mean one path or the other is useless. Secondly, crafters are the source of most Custom items in the game.

That said, here's a list of Pros and Cons to armor and weapon crafting as I see them:


It's cheaper to craft basic armor than it is to mod out every slot. For every moddable item you use, you must keep 3-5 slots upgraded. With regular armor, that's 1-2. Custom gear has no stats, and requires mods. Crafted gear of a certain quality has the same stat value as a Custom item filled with that quality mods. This means for a Custom item, you must buy or craft 3-5 purple mods in order to equal the power of a single crafted purple.
Contrary to popular belief, crafted purples have just as much variety in stats as moddable armor, or at least nearly so. If you truly understand reverse engineering, every equippable item you can make has 19 variations, 1 base quality, 3 improved, and 15 vastly improved.
While it's true you could raid for gear, it will take longer to outfit yourself. Even if raid gear is better, you will be able to craft gear to take up those slots you haven't yet filled. It's also likely that raids will also drop schematics to allow you to craft comparable gear. While it's true you could also keep up with Custom gear, see my first point about the extra effort required.
Armor crafters make the bulk of the Custom gear in the game. If you want a certain look, or to be able to often change your look, or to sell Custom items to appearance conscious players, you will want to be able to craft armor.
Crafters can critically craft armor to gain an extra mod slot that isn't available from any other source.
Being able to craft armor allows you to easily and relatively cheaply outfit your companions in excellent gear.
Custom gear seems to cost more to repair.
Reverse engineering is fun (Highly subjective.)


Using standard armor rather than Custom armor removes your ability to look however you want.
Finding Custom schematics is rare.
Discovering all the varieties of a schematic can be time and credit consuming. If you are lucky, you will be able to find the variation you want quickly. If you are unlucky, it can fast become a time and money sink.
Crafting takes a lot of time. Fortunately, you can do other things while doing it.
You won't feel the immediate satisfaction of always having a neat toy to use during combat like you will with Biochem. Biochem feels more useful in the short term, because it can actively save your life. Once you equip an item, you tend to forget about it. Also, Biochem is easier and more relevant while leveling, because you only need to keep up with stims rather than upgrading all your gear.
Reverse engineering is frustrating (Highly subjective.)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I reverse engineer my Artifact to gain a better schematic?

In some situations, yes, in others, no. If your item follows the linear path (mods, stims, etc.) there are no further improvements available through reverse engineering after reaching the Artifact level.

If your item follows the prefix path, and becomes an Artifact when it gains a Tier 1 Prefix, you can reverse engineer that Tier 1 Prefix item until you gain all 5 of it's Tier 2 Prefixes. (Reverse engineer the base item for the other two Tier 1 Prefixes and reverse engineer those for 5 more Tier 2 Prefixes each. Redoubt is currently bugged and only has 4 Tier 2 Prefixes.)

2. Can I reverse engineer dropped or quest items?

Sometimes, a dropped or quest item will be possible to reverse engineer. Other times, it won't. I can't give a hard and fast rule for this, you'll simply have to check. Either way, all you will get is materials. There have been no reports of receiving schematics from reverse engineering dropped or quested items.

3. How do I gain a specific Tier 2 Prefix?

Check the chart in the guide and reverse engineer the Tier 1 Prefix that leads to the Tier 2 Prefix you want. If you don't get lucky and get the one you want, keep going until you do. It's a matter of time and luck.

4. Can I get all of the Tier 2 Prefixes for one item?

Yes. Except for the currently bugged Alacrity Redoubt Tier 2.

5. Can Custom items be critically crafted.

Pre-modded weapons can. No armor or empty Custom has been shown to be critically crafted, so it seems as if they cannot be. This may be a bug, or it may be intended. We don't know.

6. Can high level items be Reverse Engineered all the way to Tier 2?

We've seen level 49 Trainer schematics and level 50 dropped schematics both reach Tier 2. I don't believe we've seen items learned as Artifacts reach any tier, but this may be due to cost prohibition.

7. Can X item be reverse engineered for schematics? I haven't seen a schematic and I've RE'd dozens!

Probably. The only known items which follow the prefix path and do not result in reverse engineered schematics are vibrokives and shotguns.

8. Can I reverse engineer X to learn it's schematic?

No. Reverse Engineering teaches a schematic for an item better than what you reverse engineer, and only for items you can already craft. You cannot, for example, reverse engineer commendation mods to learn how to make them or better versions of them.

9. Will reverse engineering a Tier 1 Prefix item of Artifact quality cause the Tier 2 Prefix item that results to be of a higher rating?

No. Rating only changes when color quality changes, and Tier 1 Artifacts reverse engineer into Tier 2 Artifacts. Both are Artifact quality.

10. How do I know if my prefix is Tier 1 or Tier 2?

Tier 1 Prefixes are Redoubt, Overkill, and Critical. Tier 2 Prefixes are any other prefix, and the item will have a [Superior] tag. (Or [Mastercraft] if it's been critically crafted.)

11. Can I reverse engineer a Custom item for a better schematic?


A Plea from the Author

Please, if you found this guide helpful, read the thread and join in the discussion. Comments and questions are highly encouraged. I could not have made this guide the resource it is today without the hundreds of questions, comments, and contributions of people like you. Ask questions, and they will be answered. I also encourage everyone to help each other, answer a question if you know the answer, etc. With that, it's time for...

Special Thanks

Some people have contributed information and ideas that have changed this guide for the better, and I try to list those people here. Please take the time to read through their names and recognize their contributions.

cdstephen, Siegewulf, Ohoni, Kedrin, Lokai, Jeido, Sky_walkerPL, Baelish, Berjiz, Alexeia, Tokran, joshvrana, Sanctioned, Goshee, battlehax, Golarz, JimmyWild, MichaelKage, Owsley, Blurrykk, Echelar, Morsexy, Vilda, Anavarra, TheLastWolfman, Yzaxtol, HarvardAce

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