We've known for very nearly two months now that, come 4.1 in February, Crew Skills would be getting another shake-up. We'll be seeing another 50 levels added to the total, and with them a whole new grade of crafting materials, schematics, and general crew skill missions.
Yesterday, BioWare posted specific details on these changes; I shall only cover a small fragment because I have never been entirely au fait of how each and every single Crew Skill 'works'. I mainly just craft Adrenals!
For me, there are two specific changes which really shine above the others. The first is that Artificers will be able to craft the "standard set" (Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Orange) of Rating 136 Crystals which have no Level Requirements. At long last, low-level characters will be able to benefit from a wider range of properly-decent colour crystals and not have to worry about upgrading stats when they can. The second is that Operation Relics are gaining an integrated tertiary stat; DPS and Healing Relics will trade some Endurance for Critical Rating and Tank Relics will trade some Mastery for Shield Rating. That's fantastic, it really is.
As much as increasing Crew Skills three-and-a-half-months after a total expansion sounded like it was going to be tedious, there is a generous amount of stuff in these changes to ease the transition. I love the fact that we will be temporarily able to convert Grade 8 Materials directly to Grade 9s at a 1:1 ratio and that the new Materials will also be immediately purchasable from the Jawa vendors.
On the whole, I'm "okay" about these changes now that we have more details. They sounded tedious at first, but it does seem like they're doing what they can to make the transition as seemless as possible, something which hasn't been done with an entirely new grade before now. Whether or not these changes will totally "revolutionise" crafting is another matter entirely, and I'm very much the wrong person to theorise about that..!
I'm curious to know how certain Alliance missions will adapt to the increased number of Material Grades, if at all. Currently, two Companions have missions which require one to trade in Grade 8 materials, and there is a very good chance that this will be repeated in the future. It will be interesting to see whether these missions still require Grade 8 or whether they will have been boosted to cover Grade 9.
It will also be interesting to see whether the new Accuracy/Critical stim becomes an 'advised' replacement for the Mastery/Power stim, and the appropriate number of Accuracy Augments, in Raiding environments. For the moment, I'm sceptical of just how worthwhile it will be, but we'll have to wait and see when we know for sure what the numbers are.