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Recettear strategy guide and tips


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Recettear is an indie Japanese video game that is part retail simulation and part dungeon exploration, with a simple story. Several characters have their writeups.org profile, the main one being Recette.

Writeups.org is a detailled encyclopaedia of fictional characters, with an emphasis on comic books. When we cover a video game character we occasionally publish our strategy notes, since profiling characters means playing the game fairly thoroughly.

Part of the pleasure of Recettear is determining how stuff works, but since you’ve come looking for a strategy guide we’ll assume you want this part S P O I L E D.


Tips

UI

If you’re primarily a PC player it can get confusing. The menu you get by hitting Escape is where a lot of the UI lies.

For instance “Items” has your backstock (except in dungeons, where it displays your “dungeon bag”), “Equip” is how your adventurer equips stuff that doesn’t auto-equip (such as rings), there’s the Save button, etc.

Another UI issue is that it’s not always clear when a customer wants to *sell* to you rather than buy your goods. Don’t hit the action key too quickly when a sales dialogue begins – the clearest indication that it’s a buy and not a sell comes from the first stage of the dialogue.

Merchant level

Merchant level is critical to… everything. It unlocks many things, and particularly the access to the higher tiers of gear at the market and the merchant guild.

To understand better, consider this :

  1. You’re in a race to raise enough funds each week
  2. The limiting factor is *time*. With dungeons, you can procure infinite stuff to sell so there’s no scarcity, except for the ticking clock.
  3. More precisely, you can only do so many transactions per day, especially since you must take time away from the shop to explore dungeons and resupply in town.
  4. The critical factor is thus how much money you can raise per transaction. Since you have a limited number of transactions per week, it’s more about the absolute value of your margin than its percentage value.
  5. Which means you want to sell the costliest items so your funds-raising rate can keep up with the escalating repayments.
  6. Which means that unlocking higher-tier items as soon as reasonably feasible is the key. Which means raising your merchant level.

It also unlocks fusion (though you’ll usually unlock the recipes well before you can get the components), larger dungeon bags, etc.

The merchant level extends life. The merchant level expands perception.

Raising your merchant level

  • Sales bring experience. However, that in itself isn’t going to raise your merchant level quickly enough. For that you want bonus xp. There are two sources of bonus xp :
    1. Offering the exact price (“pin”) a customer was willing to pay as your initial offer, or a close approximation (“near-pin”). That’s 30 and 15 xp respectively, though achieving a pin is rare.
    2. Chaining sales where the first price you offer is accepted (“just combo”). The first is +2 XP, the second +4 XP, then 8, 16… you really want unbroken “just combo” chains.
  • So yes, that means that Tear’s advice to start circa 130% and haggle is terrible advice. You don’t want to haggle – you want to right-price on the first try. Remember, Tear is *greedy*. For instance, she downplays that selling items at base price *already* includes a reasonable retailer’s margin.
  • So this means we have two objectives here :
    1. Knowing what prices are likely to result in a near-pin.
    2. Never failing to make a sale with your first price offer
  • Shooting for near-pins normally requires developing a sense of the elasticities and preferences of your customers. If you want to skip this learning process, there are cheat sheets  on the wiki. Note that there are *two* tabs in the table ; you want the XP/reputation one.
  • SPOILER – generally, 105% (103% for the fairie Prime) is the sweet spot for normal prices, and 233% to 236% for items that are currently hot (price in red). 70% is the sweet spot when buying from a customer.

Keeping your just combos up

  • Chaining sales-on-first-offer isn’t complicated. Even if you do not use the spoiler above, you could sell everything at base price, which everybody will always accept (though that won’t give you near-pin bonuses).
  • Howbeit, keeping the combo up until you rack in the maximum bonus (+128 XP just combo bonus) can be more difficult.
  • People can always afford goods they pick by themselves from your shop, as long as you don’t overshoot with your margin. So these sales aren’t problematic – though it strongly suggests that the goods you display in your adorable shop should be the most expensive you have. Remember, you want to max your absolute benefit per transaction. So you want the customers to pick expensive things.
  • As you may have deduced, the issue comes when the customer approaches you and wants a suggestion for a product. This causes two issues :
    1. You may not be stocked with this sort of item. This of course means no sale and a broken just combo chain.
    2. The customer’s budget to buy what you suggest can be dramatically more limited than what they have available to buy from the displayed goods. And you don’t have a solid way to track that.
  • As you may also have deduced, this means you need to stock up on cheap goods in your back room/inventory. So you can fulfill these requests and be sure to be within the customer’s budget. Yes, this means a low-value transaction and that’s bad, but broken just combos are even worse.
  • Here are typical examples :
    • Ungrateful statues for the old man wanting to buy a treasure.
    • Wooden bracelets for the little girl, Nagi and occasionally the woman.
    • Books (selling for 600 pix at most at first) for the little girl.
    • The occasional cheap muffler for Louie.
    • Hats and more rarely clothes for the woman and the old man.
    • Weapons (selling for 1800 pix at most at first) for the man and the guildmaster.
    • People may want food or metal items, but you’ll normally have that in stock.
    • Other needs such as warm clothing or rings will appear later on in the game (and sweets for Tielle).
  • The other issue is Euria, a nuisance NPC, but she appears later in the game. You’ll hate her. We all do.

Customer budget

As you make successful sales (especially near-pins or pins), your customers “level up” and the budget they have available to buy the goods you suggested rise.

You have no solid way to track that. But a heart icon when you sell means a budget increase for named characters.

For generic characters (man, woman, girl, old man) it may or may not mean a budget increase. Their budget grows more slowly than named characters since they represent many different persons.

This budget increase means :

  • bigger transactions
  • lower chances of being caught with your pants down by a request (even if you’re out of cheap items in this category, their budget might have grown enough to buy more expensive ones)
  • lower losses when you sell high-end equipment to an adventurer so they’ll have it equipped when you hire them for a dungeon run

So you want to carefully grow your customers’ budget (a demand-side policy), and offer affordable item choices rather than take risks in the name of short-term profit. This is all very subversive.

Each customer (or customer type) has a different budget profile. For instance the little girl initially has but 600 pix, whereas Alouette can easily have millions. The wiki has another cheat sheet  about that.

Pricing strategy switches

There are some cases where you’ll want to switch your pricing from the experience-first strategy to the maximum profit strategy. For instance :

  1. The end of the week approaches and you fear being short (or left with too little cash and stock after the repayment).
  2. A customer wants to sell you an item that’s expensive compared to your current cash flow (such as an odd-looking vase early on).
  3. A customer wants to sell you an expensive item when the price is currently hot (in red).
  4. You have an opportunity to milk Alouette (who has a huge budget) for a large sum (usually because the price of the items you can sell her are currently hot).

In this case and if you don’t mind spoilers, you can use the cheat sheet on the wiki – but with the margin tab, not the xp/reputation tab. These are the highest prices that will be accepted without haggling, and thus without breaking your just combo (though of course you won’t get any sort of pin bonus).

Dungeon Delving

  • Most dungeon fighting is about learning the patterns of monsters — the way they manoeuvre and attack — to avoid damage. Ditto for bosses. Once you grok  how each species moves and attack, defeating them is much easier.
  • The pattern is often to pause a little bit, dodge their attack and immediately attack repeatedly, keeping them stunned.
  • Keep in mind that the Adventurers’ Guild is sometimes closed. Also, the dungeon takes 2 time periods and getting back to the shop takes 1, so you’re left with just one round of sales on a “dungeon day” – or even zero if you dawdle in town. This is a clear opportunity loss for making money and raising your Merchant Level.
  • You can bring equipment along for your adventurer. A full example for your first dungeon expedition (preferably on day #2) :
    • Buy the best longsword at the merchant guild (the second tier one – it’s the most expensive sword you can buy at that stage) on day 1 when stocking up
    • In the morning, take the longsword from your shop (since you’ll have put it on display on day 1) and put it in your inventory/back room
    • Go to the adventurer’s guild to recruit Louie. The game then displays your 20-slot “dungeon bag”. Transfer the longsword from the inventory/back room to the dungeon bag, then leave for the dungeon.
    • Once you enter the dungeon, click “yes” to equip what’s in the bag. Your dungeon bag now has but 19 slots free, since Louie’s old sword is in that bag while he wields your longsword.
    • When you exit the dungeon, Louie takes his old sword back from the dungeon bag and replaces it with the longsword you loaned him. So you’re bringing back one less item than you could have, but Louie fought with a better weapon during the whole run.
  • Early on you’ll level up pretty often, regenerating life and spell points. Later on, bringing along appropriate food from the shop to replenish between level-ups is a good idea – so as not to rely on luck with drops. This is especially true for boss fights, which is usually when you take the burst damage and/or blow your spell points.
  • Decide which types of ingredients you’re going to focus on looting, so you don’t end up with a little of everything in useless quantities. See the Fusion section below.
  • Monsters may respawn – though you have to be distance away (about 2 rooms) and it takes a short while. It’s usually best to clear all respawns (a mob might respawn up to 3 times) before moving to the next floor. After all, a dungeon will only take up 2 time periods now matter how long you actually spend in it. No need to rush.
  • But don’t stay too long on any given floor either. If you do that, something very nasty happens.
  • Louie, the first adventurer you can hire, is not weaker than the others. Arguably he’s stronger since he’s easier to handle.
  • Killing multiple monsters of the exact same kind in a row (a “chain”) means considerable experience bonuses. But you have mediocre control over that unless you decide to heavily optimize for that using respawns. This is especially true in the first 2 dungeons, which do not have a lot of monsters.

Adventurers

Louie

Louie‘s sword attack has good range and a large arc, his special circle attack is excellent, and his shield can block projectiles as long as he’s facing them and not attacking. He’s very robust and forgiving, and easy to learn.

Charme

Charme is considerably faster, but is also more fragile and requires greater twitch skills. She can sprint (press forward run twice). Her magic skills aren’t as good as Louie’s circle attacks, though the mirror image thing helps when there’s a lot of monsters on-screen.

People who are good at arcade games may prefer her to Louie though.

Caillou

Caillou is fragile, none too fast, and has basic attacks that aren’t easy to use. Early on he’s also short on magic points. Caillou has to be levelled fairly high to come unto his own, at which points his attacks are devastating.

If you’re not great at dungeoneering I’d suggest waiting past the last week and entering Endless Mode, where you can deck Caillou in the best gear, fill the bags with magic-replenishing food (since you no longer need sale fodder from dungeons) and level him in low-level dungeons in the best conditions.

IME he *starts* getting better at level 15, before that it’s rather miserable. Make sure you’re fighting level-appropriate creatures so you can level Caillou quickly. Don’t waste your spell points by fighting creatures that earn too little experience.

Nagi

Nagi isn’t unlike Louie, though she has more special moves. Her main drawback is her narrow attack arc. She has to attack monsters from an angle where they can attack back, which makes some monsters (such as the “dragon punch” gnolls) harder to handle.

However, Magi also has the advantage of range – she can hit from farther than you think. She can even hit from farther than the monsters think. At the end of their dodge move, they’ll often still be within Nagi’s melee range. At level 20 she gets a special circle attack, which is particularly useful to kill bees (who otherwise tend to evade Nagi’s attacks with infuriating ease).

Nagi is slow but she can sprint. If she bumps into a creature while sprinting she inflicts a few points of damage but doesn’t take damage herself and knocks the mob back and down for a short while. This technique is an important asset when playing Nagi, especially against very mobile opponents.

Tielle

With Tielle, run around giggling and keep charging up your bow shots to annihilate most opposition (by keeping your attack key pressed, and releasing to shoot).

Charged bow shots are even more useful than they seem. At charge level 3 or more the cone of arrows fire broadens (which means you do not have to be in the axis of enemy ranged attack, which is… important). At charge level 5 you also fire backward, which is critical when chased by a fast creature (such as a violet roper) or ambushing ghosts.

The #2 shot is great to handle flying opponents such as bees and jack-o-lanterns, which would otherwise be your main weakness.

Elan

Elan can sprint and collide with enemies just like Nagi does, though it’s less useful for him than for Nagi. Much of his edge is in his two big magical attacks, but he doesn’t have a lot of Spell Points so you’ll have to carry just the right sort of sugary food if you want to use his magic frequently.

Note that his powerful hand-to-hand attacks have a bit more reach and significantly wider splash angle than what you’d suspect from his sprite.

Equipment note

If you have settled on an adventurer as your “main”, you can modify the atmosphere of your store so they’ll come more often, giving more opportunity to sell things at them. Which means wasting fewer slots in your dungeon bag by bringing equipment for them to use.

The preferences are noted in the Wiki. For instance Louie prefers a store that looks affordable, and Tielle prefers a Light atmosphere and sweets in the window.

Adventurers apparently can downgrade their equipment. So it seems that if you sold a good sword to Louie, displaying lesser swords at the shop risks him wanting to buy and use those instead. Silly Louie.

Fusion and ingredients

If you have settled on an adventurer as your main, collecting ingredients to make equipment they can’t equip is pointless.

In most cases, collecting common ingredients without a bonus is a waste of time and bag space. You’ll come across a lot of common ingredients before you find the more demanding parts of the recipe.

Doing level 1 fusion isn’t usually interesting to equip your adventurer if you’re shooting for maximum merchant level ASAP. This is because your merchant level will soon unlock equipment that’s better than level 1 fusion.

Level 2 fusion equipment with high bonuses (coming from the bonuses of the component parts) will beat commercial equipment, but normally the rare parts for the recipe drop in later dungeons (Obsidian and beyond). So level 2 fusion equipment will take a while to build, and gear that is higher still is “advanced game” equipment.

Fusion ingredients

Here’s what the tier 1 ingredients (dropping in the first 2 dungeons) can do, so you can decide whether to pick them up :

  • Apples For Tielle. Apples with a bonus are useful to craft a bow for Tielle (apples without a bonus you can buy at the market).
  • Bat wings. Decent value. You could get 11 for Caillou – one to recruit him, then twice 5 to create 2 staffs that can be used later on to create a good magic staff for Caillou. They also sell for 1,500-ish, IIRC.
  • Charred lizard. Valuable.You need one to recruit Caillou. Furthermore, every lizard can be used to create a valuable necklace that is further used to create higher-level items. 10 lizards can be used to create a valuable level 4 shirt.
  • Chestnuts. Low value. 5 can be used to create a tier 1 chainmail, which also requires fur balls.
  • Fin fan. So-so value. 1 can craft an OK knife, 5 are used for a high-level breastplate.
  • Fur balls. So-so value. With 15 (to craft 3 vests) and a brave heart you can craft a tier 2 cloth vest. 20 are necessary for a tier 4 suit used in a tier 5 recipe.
  • Honey. For Elan. Yes it’s food rather than an ingredient, but it’s used in crafting gloves for Elan (and a tier 2 muffler if you have the tail from the mouse boss). It’s 3 honey for the gloves and 10 for the scarf.
  • Insect traps. Poor value. 5 can create a bracelet, and there are 2 treasures that use those but are probably not worth it.
  • Powerful anti-venoms. Poor value. Very early on you can sell them to customers since 550+ pix isn’t bad at this stage, but they soon become useless.
  • Red oil. For Elan. Five are needed to craft gloves for Elan. 3 can be used for a minor muffler (along with toothpicks). Oil itself sells for 1,500, which is good when you start finding them.
  • Shark fins. For Louie. They sell for about 2,000, which is good when you start finding them. You’ll need 20 to create food needed to create a sword.
  • Slime fluids. Poor value. Could be used to make a magic defense charm, since from early explorations you’ll probably end up with the necessary 10 fluids.
  • Slime liver. Valuable once. It drops from the slime boss. You need one for Caillou’s quest. After that you can create helms for some minor income.
  • Slime stone. Rare drop from the slime boss. Used to craft higher-level weapons for Griff and Elan.
  • Special inkwell. Valuable. Can be used to make capes that sell nicely for that level. A pair of such capes can make a light, gaudy shop decoration. *And* you can use 5 inkwells for a high-level hat.
  • Tail. A rare drop from the giant mouse boss. That and 10 honey can be used to create a special scarf once you’re a level 23 merchant.
  • Toothpicks.Poor value. You can keep 8 (and 3 red oil) to make a minor scarf if you wanna.
  • Water crystals. Good value. You could use one to make a good sword for Louie, but it becomes obsolete when Knight’s blades become available at the merchant guild. They can also make mermaid shoes that sell well for that level.
  • Water shroom. Terrible value. Sorry, shroom lovers.

    If you have ingredients you don’t need, you can always stuff them in a vending machine (which becomes available as you level your Merchant skill) rather than sell them off at terrible prices on the market.

    Tier 2 ingredients (dropping in Amber Garden and later) :

    • Gunpowder. For Elan. You’ll need 20 to craft attack gloves for Elan (in two tiers ; also needs 10 red oils) – or 10 for a flamethrower for Arma, which is reportedly a so-so weapon.
    • Eternal ice. Decent value. One of those and 5 gaseous grasses make for a good magic defense charm that sells for a bundle.
    • Gaseous grass. Decent value (or more). 5 of those and 1 eternal ice for a charm that sells for more than 59K. You’ll also need 12 to make 6 mystery rings to make 2 jet boots to make rocket boots. Mystery rings are needed in vast quantities if you want to increase chances of rare drops, so if you go for that strategy you’ll want to pick up all the gaseous grass.
    • Herb seed. Average value. Each herb seed can be used to make a bow that sells for 6,000+. It can also be used by Tielle, but a basic Harp Bow beats it any day of the week.
    • Natural heater. For mages. 10 such ingredients are necessary to make the highest-level, most protective robe.

    Beyond that you’ll have enough experience with the game to see for yourself. 🙂


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