By this point in the league, new players may have leveled their first character and may be looking at maps for the first time ever. It can be a daunting prospect! There are a lot of maps to do and you can craft your maps in a number of different ways to increase the rewards and challenge that they offer. I’ve spent some time looking at how to run maps efficiently, and I wanted to make a general guide suitable for new players.
In this post, we will discuss the three stats on our maps that we care most about – increased item quantity, extra packsize and extra monsters – and how to get them.
TL;DR u/-ReadyPlayerThirty- left a comment with a great visual cheatsheet they put together that summarizes all this info
Increased item quantity (iiq) increases the amount of items you get from monsters; importantly, iiq that is crafted onto a map increases the amount of maps that will drop for you! Extra packsize (ps) makes each group of monsters bigger; more monsters means more xp and loot. Extra monster packs (em) gives you more packs for even more monsters. The total bonus (B) of a map is the product of these three factors - (1+iiq/100)(1+ps/100)(1+em/50)
When talking about whether a particular crafting item is “worth it” for maps, I’ll be assuming average values for the factors not affected by the item we are talking about – 60 iiq, 23 ps and 0 em. This isn’t a full or complete analysis, but it will give us a good rule of thumb. Complete analysis will have to wait until I complete the spreadsheet I’m working on. Prices will come from poe.ninja and estimated map returns come from pathofmaps.com. All prices will be in chaos orbs (c). Keep in mind, that the value of drops you get from a map include more map drops.
I hope a few people find this post helpful!
Orbs of Alchemy
Orbs of alchemy cost about 0.6c. Using an orb of alchemy on a map will turn it rare, giving you between 3 and 6 modifiers and an average total bonus of 1.98. Alching your maps doubles their output and you should always, always use them on maps above tier 2. Even tier 1 and 2 maps should arguably be alched, but above tier 2 they should definitely always be alched.
Cartographer’s Chisels give quality to your maps. 1 quality is worth 1 iiq. You should always use chisels before any other crafting; 4 chisels on an uncrafted map will give you 20 quality, but it would take 20 chisels to get 20 quality on a rare map. Using 4 chisels on a map with everything else held average gives you an extra bonus of about 0.25. Since 4 chisels costs about 1.7c, you need to expect a return of about 6.8c on a base map before this becomes worth it. This happens around tier 12-13 maps.
Vaal orbs corrupt your maps. Corrupted maps cannot be chiseled or rerolled with chaos. It also makes zana cost about twice as much. However, 5 outcomes can occur when you corrupt your maps and three of them are good. Unfortunately, since the mods of the map usually get rerolled, you might end up with a map that your build can’t do; in that case, all you can do is sell it.
There is a 25% chance that nothing will happen except that your map becomes corrupted. There’s a 25% chance that your map will get rerolled with eight (8!) modifiers; in this case, your map will have very high ps and iiq. There’s a 25% chance that your map will become unidentified; running unidentified maps gives you an extra 30 iiq. There’s a 12.5% chance that your map will be bumped up a tier and rerolled. There’s a 12.5% chance that your map will be rerolled at the current tier.
All told, you get a weighted average of 0.32 map bonus for a cost of about 1c, so any map with an expected base return of 3c or higher is a good target for vaal orbs. This occurs at about tier 8.
Vaal fragments, when placed into the map device along with your map, will add 5 iiq to your map, giving you an average bonus of about 0.06. The cheap ones cost about 1c, so you need a base return of about 16 c to make them worth it. This only happens for tier 16 maps. If you are heavily investing into your maps, crafting and rerolling and using sextants and zana to get extra packsize and extra monsters, they might be worth it as low as tier 13.
Scarabs are a new kind of fragment introduced in betrayal league. Currently, there is a premium on their price because they are new and because there is an achievement associated with their use. Currently, for the average player, it’s almost always better to sell scarabs instead of using them. If you are spending heavily on your maps, they might be worth it for you, but then you probably also don’t need my advice. In a month, when the price has dropped on scarabs, I’ll revisit the question.
Now we’re starting to have fun. Using a cartographer’s sextant on a map in your atlas will give an effect on that map and nearby maps which is drawn from a pretty long list; each effect lasts until you’ve run a map in its area three times. There are some pretty sweet effects in there, but the simplest ones to understand are the ones that give extra monsters. About 40% of sextant rolls will give you eight extra monster packs. Your average map will have 50 monster packs in it, so this represents a bonus of about 16% more monsters and thus 16% more xp and loot. 25% of sextants have an effect that is good, at least situationally, but is harder to quantify. When weighting for the 40% of rolls that we care about, we expect the average sextant to give us an extra bonus of about 0.13.
If you decide to use sextants and you get a bad modifier, you can use another sextant on that map to reroll the modifier, and you should definitely do this.
Apprentice cartographer’s sextants can be used on maps up to tier 5, though sometimes you can get a tier 6 map within its area of effect. They cost about 0.7 c, so you need a return of about 5.6c to make them worthwhile. Thus, they are only worth using if you are running a tier 6 or higher map that you can catch in its area (such as a map you’ve shaped after following zana’s questline).
Journeyman cartographer’s sextants can be used on maps up to tier 10, though sometimes you can get a tier 11 or higher map on the edge of its area of effect. They cost about 2c, and so you need about 16c expected return to make them worthwhile. Thus, they are only worth it when you can catch a higher tier map in their area of effect, like if you’ve shaped a map.
Master cartographer’s sextants can be used on any tier of map. They cost about 3.5c, and so you need an expected return of about 25c to make them worthwhile. This occurs with tier 15 and tier 16 maps.
Lots of prophecies have effects that are great to have on maps.
Tempest prophecies will add storm effects in your map that have various effects, but they will also give you an extra 30 iiq. They cost about 2c, and so they are worth it for any map with an expected base return of about 5.5c. This occurs for all red maps. If you’re doing tier 11 or higher maps, its worth it to have a tempest prophecy ready to trigger.
Plague of rats, plague of frogs, the hungering swarm, and soil worms and blood all add extra monsters to your map just like sextants. They cost about 1c, and so they are worth it for any map with a total return over 6.25c. This occurs for maps above tier 8.
Bountiful traps adds six strongboxes to your map. Each strongbox spawns three packs of monsters upon activation for a total of 18 extra packs – more than double a sextant modifier. This prophecy costs about 3c, and thus will be worth it for any map that makes you more than 5c in returns – any yellow or red map, basically. However, you probably won’t be able to buy as many as you want to, and so I use mine for red maps only.
You can pay zana to add modifiers to your maps for you. The cost of these range from 1 to 15c per map. If the map is corrupted, an additional cost in vaal orbs is added to the cost. For average players, using zana mods on corrupted maps is almost never worth it.
Last league, there were several zana modifiers that added flat iiq to your map in addition to their other effects. This league, there are none, and so we judge the effect of the modifier by itself. If you choose no modifier when you open a map, zana will add up to 8 iiq to your map depending on how much of her questline you’ve done.
Some zana mods provide indirect benefits. Alternate of the same tier mod is very useful for getting maps that you’ve missed, and in this way you can make sure you have the map bonus for every map up to tier 10.
The shaped modifier adds 5 levels to the map in the device, so you can run tier 5 maps as tier 10s or tier 10s as tier 15s. Going from tier 5 to tier 10 gives you an extra 6c in expected returns, but zana only charges you 2c. Going from tier 10 to tier 15 gives you an extra 20c in expected returns, but zana only charges you 6c. Additionally, using zana to shape a map makes it cheaper to use sextants. You can, e.g., use white sextants around a tier 5 map then run it at tier 10. For pure money, this is pretty unbeatable.
Torment and anarchy mods add just a couple monsters to your map at the cost of 2c. These are absolutely not worth it for the average player. Perandus is likewise not worth it; spectral mobs drop nothing and the perandus chests are low value payouts with no chase items.
Breach and Harbinger cost 4c each and add about as many monsters as a sextant mod, which suggests that you need a map return of at least 25c to make them worth it. So, you can use them on tier 15 or 16 maps or if you’re just really interested in doing breach or harbinger content for other reasons. The same goes for Abyss, except it costs more.
Domination costs 3c and adds 3 shrines to your map, each of which are guarded by 3 packs. This makes them add more monsters than a sextant. An expected map return of 16.7c or higher makes this mod worth it – tier 14 and up.