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I've been playing Shaiya for over 1.5 years now, and it's truely the easiest and really free F2P game that i've come across (I've played many games both subscription and F2P). I have 2 to 3 toons now with uber set of gears and are considered to be "PvP" zone killers. When i show up, I can easily turn the tide unless I'm vastly outnumbered by the opposing faction. And I did this without ever spending any real cash, cheating, hacking, or scamming anyone. And NO!, you don't have to play 24/7 farming. In fact, I was probably rather unlucky in this game, in the sense I never won any of the major raffles, gotten uber drops, and having lost a few expensive gears during system rollback which i never got back. But end of the day, this game was completely free for me, lot's of fun, and made many new friends.
Shaiya is really a 2-Faction PvP game. If you looking for more of a PvE game, then I wouldn't really recommend this game. I would highly recommend "Grand Fantasia" also hosted by Aeria. As a PvP game by itself, I would rate Shaiya maybe 7.5 out 10. The graphics are good, but really it just copies many features from other popular games. However, I give it a final 9.5 out of 10 because Aeria is quite generous in it's promotions, the player base is good, the relative easy to master this game, and it's really F2P. Despite what some claim, you don't have to "Pay to Win". But you will progress faster of course if do spend money on buying AP.
If you don't plan on spending any money on the game, you will really need to be patient in the beginning to build up your overall wealth, unless you get lucky with some of the promotions/raffles/loot wheel spins/etc. and win something expensive to sell or get a nice expensive drop during PvP. The actualy key is not to be so obsessed with gears and leveling in the beginning (you will get pushed around as new player) It's far more important to understand and learn how to make a steady income in gold/AP and join a helpful guild. Since it would take too long to write all my tips/strategies in detail, i would just suggest reading the Shaiya forum on Aeria website first. Lot of tips and strategy are already posted there. Make sure you do the free AP promotions that Aeria gives, so you can take advantage of the 100% AP rebate promotions or the 1AP promotions which happens once or twice a month. This is like a monthly allowance . Make sure you build a good farming toon (HM mode) first, before you go crazy spending on your PvP toon. The character build, links for gears, and costs are very different b/w farming and PvP'ing. Also a good farming toon can double as a PLvL toon (you can sell PLvL Services to other players). And really try to understand the economy of the game. Lot's and Lot's of mis-pricing occur which allows for quick trading profit (which is why you need to save gold to take advantage of this).
Lastly, don't let the Inflation scare you. If you understand about RL "Inflation" it's easily manageable in game. Actually, it's much easier for a newbie now because of the inflation. Many of fixed priced NPC items are actually much much cheaper in real terms. I played this game at a time when 75 million gold for a NPC mount was a major decision. Now a days, that's so easy to make even as a newbie.