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Guild Wars 2: Is it worth it to buy a Black Lion key? (Updated)
Guild Wars 2 does not have subscription fees. One of the ways ArenaNet plans to make up for this is by tempting you to spend real life gold in their cash store on the Black Lion Trading Company. You can buy assorted vanity items for your character, assorted boosts and a variety of other things.
If you’ve been playing for a while, now, you have probably gotten a Black Lion chest as a drop. You might get two or three of these in a night of playing. Unfortunately, Black Lion keys are super rare. In 5 days of playing, you’ll probably got one key in-world for every 10 chests. (I’ve never seen a Black Lion key as a drop; you sometimes get them for completing a milestone in your story.) If you have several of these chests in your bank or bags, you have to be asking yourself, is it worth it to buy the keys?
A Black Lion key is 125 gems for one and 450 gems for 5. If you buy them in packs of 5, they’re 90 gems each – a little more than a dollar for each key.*
The contents of a Black Lion chest is random, but it always contains 3 items and it appears you always get at least one of these three items:
– A random boost. Boosts last for one hour. There are boosts for crafting, experience, magic find, karma, armor and a variety of other bonuses. Not all of the boosts that might be in a Black Lion chest are available on from the cash store, it seems.
– A random transformation tonic. They turn you into a Guild Wars 2 creature. You might end up considering these a negative, since they’re account bound – can’t sell them – and you’ll have more than you’ll use.
– A random consumable. These include such things as armor repair kits, a one-time-use mobile banking service and transmutation stones for changing the look of your armor.
Because they’re account bound and you can’t sell them, the transformation tonics aren’t worth it. They turn into an annoyance after a bit, filling up your bags and bank. However, the boost and consumable make the Black Lion key worthwhile. If you wanted a boost and a consumable, and you were willing to pay cash for them, they’d easily cost you more than the Black Lion key: boosts cost between 75 and 150 gems each and consumables cost between 75 and 250 gems each. At 90 gems, about the cost of the least expensive boost, that makes a Black Lion key a good deal.
As an added bonus, sometimes you get another Black Lion key out of a chest further reducing your effective cost. Also keep in mind, there are boosts and consumables in Black Lion chests that don’t seem to be available from the cash store, so you might get something extra cool.
So is it worth it to buy a Black Lion key? If you don’t mind spending the cash to open your chests, and you don’t mind getting random boosts and consumables – rather than picking a pack of XP boosts, for instance – then yes, a Black Lion key is certainly worth the price.
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(Edited, September , 2012. Original article stated sometimes Black Lion chests have 4 items. They always have 3.)