I like TiC. I love multitools(mattock shall be the name of my firstborn), and the area-harvest tools. I love the customization and possibility to explore niches. But i've got a serious problem with it that makes me consider getting rid of it entirely. And honestly, if it wasn't for my love of mattocks, it'd be gone already.
PRIMARY GRIPE: TiC items aren't enchantable, and that doesn't go well with my other mods.
Traveler's wings are great, until you decide to build an enchanting table and it suddenly becomes an awkward, less protective featherfall boots in a slot that could hold even more armour capacity. The rest of the traveler's gear is even worse - upjumped leather armour that doesn't even do you the courtesy of breaking once it's past its usefulness.
The tools go the other way, in that they generally make any mod dealing with enchantments totally meaningless. If you bumrush the nether, you can quickly acquire the perfect tool that will last you forever. Compounding this, moss makes that infinite use essentially free, eliminating repair costs.
When I've got a nice TC infusion altar set up, but can't enchant my good tools, I wonder what the point of it was. But the problem here is TiC, because it has no progression. Get manyullyn, you're done. Content experienced. I tried to fix it by requiring previous material tiers, but it doesn't work. It just forces you to make intermediates purely to get the next one.
Enough grumbling about that now. Onto the question:
Do I actually have any alternatives? I love the potential customization of having many mixable materials, but that's sort of the thing i'm whining about too. What could possibly sate my need for customization, without being an exercise in min/maxing? (because slime rods are simply better goddammit)
Also, mattocks, but not stupid like i've seen them in everything else?
TiC has its own version of "enchants." Just because the tools don't work with other mod enchants (even Vanilla) doesn't make it less of a mod. As for Thaumcraft, its the decision of the author what to allow for enchants. Your basically talking apples and oranges: Tech vs. Magic. Sometimes there is crossover, sometimes not.
I always use TiC (unless I'm using 1.8). My picks usually have Repair, Fortune and Speed "enchants." Plus a diamond for durability and mining lvl.
There is always alternatives. But a mod that is better than what TiC does right now? Not in my opinion.
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"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."
I said nothing about TiC being less of a mod. I am saying that it is objectively a less integrative mod, to the point where it is anti-synergistic. It's getting hard to justify the inclusion of a mod that shatters the cohesion of everything else.
Does nobody know of anything that could take its place?
There are things that add material compatibility, if you want to have some more variation in your tools. But if you're looking for something that has anything like the customization of Tinkers... I haven't seen one. If you just want a new supertool/weapon, Practicalities has (in my opinion) the best sword and multitool out there. The Imbued tool just looks like a cool pick, not the weird things like paxels and whatnot, but still is instant break on any block except bedrock (and a few modded blocks that just aren't effected by tool speed at all).
For more Progression you can add Metallurgy, Extra TiC, and IguanaTinkerTweaks. This will add many levels below manyullyn and even a few above. Plus, I like the leveling system. I've never use Traveler's gear except the boots for high step.
None of those mods actually create a system of progression - they add in a crapton of materials to fill chests with because you already got the good ones. It doesn't even work if you force the harvest level of tools to require using more tiers. It just forces you to make 2-3 additional tools to throw into lava later.