How much for the barrel only?
Ah, for you agent I make many fine deals! For you, it is only seven!
Seven? Seems steep for something I'll need to replace by the time I venture to Belsavis. How about five?
How about you get out of my shop?
Lock and load, agents! Today, Pappy Targeter's got a special treat for ya'll ... a how-to guide for commendations! Well, not just commendations, but how you earn 'em, where to spend 'em, and most importantly HOW to spend 'em. Read on after the break!
So you got some commendations, eh? Let's figure out how to spend them. This topic was thrust into my brain by Tae-Oh over at Button Mashers of the Empire. He made the comment that some of his moddable gear was getting outstripped by greens he was getting through quests and I thought, "Surely no!" So I left a rather long-winded, self-important comment about what you should look for and where you should go, and some tips and tricks, etc etc along with some healthy chest-beating and crowing of my awesomeness. But, to the task at hand! Commendations!
Commendations are small little things that glow green and are contained in the pockets of corpses. Apparently, these commendations are worth something to vendors because said vendors will greedily gulp down these badges for astounding gear - gear the vendors could use themselves when the town is invaded by amorous rakghouls looking for "Mr. Right." but instead they sell to you because, hey, who doesn't like the subtle attentions of a horny rakghoul?
The basics of the commendation are this: they are sold to four different types of vendors; Specialty (only on the starting planet), Equipment, Modification, and Starship. I guess PvP too, but only morons do that (just KIDDING shit calm down!). I've not done this pee versus pee thing yet, but I imagine that it's a whiny field full of horrid children screaming about how overpowered the class is that is currently owning their face off. Otherwise known as "Warcraft." Back to commendations!
So, on the starting world your commendation gear is rather limited. In fact, so limited that it only includes chestpieces. And only chests for the two classes that start on the planet, plus companions (a Cunning chest on Korriban for Vette, for example). On these starting worlds, for reason known only to Bioware, the badges are taken to the Specialty vendors. On every planet after that, you take them to Equipment and Modifications vendors, whereas the Specialty vendors peddle items for credits instead of badges (and you should still check them, provided you are filthy rich or a slicer - which are basically the same thing). On these starting worlds, it generally requires 8 commendations to get the chestpiece. Generally speaking, if you do your quests and your heroics, you should pretty much always get at least 8 commendations. Keep in mind that drop rate is a factor; sometimes you won't get enough. So, grind on silver star mobs or repeat those heroics the next day to ensure you get your chest. Highly important as that chest can last you all the way to level 15 which should take about 15 minutes tops. Right?
As for the rest of the planets, the comm vendors will fall into a predictable pattern; they are never where you need them to be, they don't sell anything you want, and they look stupid. Ok, so that's not really the pattern I was talking about. The actual pattern is this: the Equipment vendor will sell pieces, sometimes chests, sometimes helmets, boots, wrists, or legs. He won't ever sell all of them; usually only one or two of them. Generally, the armor pieces cost between 10 and 14 comms with chests at the higher end of the spectrum and boots at the lower end. Equipment vendors also sell weapons but BE CAREFUL. Later planets have weapons ... FOR OFFHANDS ONLY. Be careful to look at what you buy. Weapons can be tricky blighters (pesky pixie pester no-me!) so pay attention. Weapons run between 12 and 16 comms each. But, Pappy Targeter, I don't want to replace my weapon, you say! Well, shut up and listen then.
The other type of vendor is the Modifications vendor. This one is your friend. He gives you sweet loots for low prices and he loves you long time too. The mod vendor is primarily where I go since A) I'm awesome at level 50 and don't need any gear because mobs bow down before me and B) I like to upgrade my rifle. The Mods vendor falls into a VERY predictable pattern too; in fact, the prices don't change after the second world. Enhancements always cost 2, mods always cost 2. Barrels and armoring always cost 7. Ta da! See how easy that is? So, for the low price of 11 commendations, I can completely retrofit my rifle (except for color crystal). HOWS 'BOUT DAT.
The trick is getting a set of armor that you really like. Looks are important, especially for us agents, you see. We are debonair and aloof, so we must of course look the part. Once you decided on a look, keep upgrading it with comms and save yourself some time. If you have excess comms, use those to upgrade your companion gear; after all they're half of your team!
If your find yourself coming up short on comms, then you are obviously a no-talent loser and need to grind more mobs! Wait, that's not right. If you find yourself coming up short on comms, then find an astromech droid. These little guys give you quests for flashpoints (dungeons, for flashpoints are neither flashy nor pointy). In these points of flash, you will kill bosses. These bosses will drop commendations for the planet that you received the quest on! A couple of caveats; you will only get the comms of the appropriate level. You cannot as a 50, like moi, go to do Streets of Cademimu (also known as Streets of Where the Hell am I?) and expect to get Corellian comms. You will get Alderaanian comms (I think that's the planet you get it on, if not, apologies). So, no farmin' 'em up or anything like that, unless there's a killer piece of gear that you want that's only offered by Alderaanians - probably involving flowers, nerfs, and Natalie Portman's heaving chest.
Fly safe, shoot straight, gather commendations! For the glory of Natalie Portman's chest! Er ... EMPIRE!