With the "free gold trial" weekend, it seems like as good a time as any to recap what I'm up to in EQ2X.
Vaneras, my half-elf Inquisitor, is currently level 31 with 40 levels of Sage tradeskill (makes her own spell upgrades) and 53 AA's. I took advantage of the trial weekend to dump all the stuff that I've been saving for the next time I subscribed on the broker; this brought in nearly 3 plat, which is more than enough for my low level needs in the near term. I also ran the EQ2 launch anniversary event with the subscriber-only AA slider set to send all of my earned exp to AA, as I'm already sitting a few levels above some of the content I'm working on. I will say that it was very disappointing to only gain a single AA in a session where I would have gained at least two levels if I had set the slider the other way. It's no wonder that everyone ends up behind on AA's and feeling that it is grindy as a result.
Life without a guild hall
The other lesson I'm taking away from my time in EQ2X is that SOE has done a lot to bridge the gap between players with a fully tricked out guild hall and the rest of us. I started playing EQ2 Live after the introduction of guild halls, and so Lyriana never needed to think about travel; these things were very easy in a high level guild and very painful without one (as I learned every time I started an alt and had to wait a while to find an officer online to get a guild invite). Today's linked bells and spires and druid rings make travel so easy that I barely notice that Vaneras' guild (Ardwulf's Ebon Tribunal) does not yet own a guild hall.
As to crafting, it may actually be more fun WITHOUT a bottomless harvest box. Lyriana was rarely obligated to do her own harvesting (though I tried to help out when I was out adventuring), thanks to guildmates who enjoy it and, as we gained levels, NPC's to do that for us. The result was that you could spend hours in front of the crafting station, converting resources you never saw into guild and crafting exp. This gets old. Vaneras has to go out harvesting every few writs, which really helps break up the grind with a change of scenery. I'd go as far as to suggest the sacrilege that the harvesting box actually does the otherwise deep crafting system and content a disservice.
But I'd want to pay why?
Obviously, EQ2X is not my primary game at the moment; as a free to play game, the whole point is that it doesn't have to be. Instead, I'm free to come and go when I feel like it, and this has allowed me to stop in for world events and now promo weekends without worrying that this was affecting my budget.
The only issue, at least from SOE's perspective, is that the non-subscriber restrictions that do exist simply don't matter to me. SOE got $10 worth of SC (that I got for free through promos) for the one-time silver upgrade, and nothing that they're offering at the moment is making me want to give them any more. I suppose their thinking is that I am a relatively unusual case; most of their money is coming from either longtime loyal subscribers who are staying put on EQ2 Live or new free players who might buy this or that on a whim.
Then again, I guess we both have time to figure it out; after all, I'm not paying by the month.