The Market Wards were special districts in the cities of Final Fantasy XIV where adventurers could meet to buy and sell goods, or summon their retainer to operate a bazaar stall. Each city-state had market wards composed of twenty identical areas that players could enter and leave at their leisure.
Within each ward, there were 10 'stands' that could be leased for one day for varying amounts of gil. A leased stand could have its appearance customized, and was a good method to gain visibility on a crowded ward.
The wards were eventually radically redesigned with the release of the game's Realm Reborn update; see below.
Wards were distinguished by item type; selling items in the correct wards would incur a huge tax decrease (2%), while 'wrong' items still had 5% tax.
- Tinkerers Ward - Sundries, Beastcoins
- Battlecraft Ward - Gladiator's Arms, Pugilist's Arms, Marauder's Arms, Lancer's Arms, Archer's Arms, Shields, Arrows, Throwing Blades, Throwing Stones, Throwing Circles, Throwing Axes, Throwing Spears
- Spellcraft Ward - Conjurer's Arms, Two-Handed Conjurer's Arms, Thaumaturge's Arms, Two-Handed Thaumaturge's Arms
- Fieldcraft Ward - Carpenter's Primary Tools, Carpenter's Secondary Tools, Blacksmith's Primary Tools, Blacksmith's Secondary Tools, Armorer's Primary Tools, Armorer's Secondary, Tools, Goldsmith's Primary Tools, Goldsmith's Secondary Tools, Leatherworker's Primary Tools, Leatherworker's Secondary Tools, Weaver's Primary Tools, Weaver's Secondary Tools, Alchemist's Primary Tools, Alchemist's Secondary Tools, Culinarian's Primary Tools, Culinarian's Secondary Tools
- Tradescraft Ward - Miner's Primary Tools, Miner's Secondary Tools, Botanist's Primary Tools, Botanist's Secondary Tools, Fisher's Primary Tools, Fisher's Secondary Tools
- Armorfitters Ward - Helms, Full Plate, War Garb, Gauntlets, Greaves
- Lower, Middle and Upper Tailors Ward .- Hats, Headwear, Masks, Undershirts, Attire, Hooded Attire, Undergarments, Pants, Gloves, Armbands, Shoes, Sandals, Belts, Sashes
- Jewelers Ward - Necklaces, Earrings, Bracelets, Rings, Crowns, Eyewear
- Grocers Ward - Meat Dishes, Egg Dishes, Grain Dishes, Vegetable Dishes, Mushroom Dishes, Sweets, Drinks, Seafood Dishes, Soups & Stews, Eggs, Dairy Products, Vegetables, Grains, Spices, Fruits, Mushrooms, Seasonings, Foodstuffs, Freshwater Fare, Saltwater Fare, Meats
- Chirurgeons Ward - Potions, Remedies, Ethers, Toxins, Panaceas, Reagents, Dyes, Paints, Oils
- Ironmongers Ward - Metals, Unrefined Metals, Metal Sheets, Metal Wires, Weapon Parts, Weapon Heads, Weapon Butts, Weapon Grips, Arrowheads, Shafts, Hooks, Chainmail Meshes, Armor Metals, Clasps
- Woodcutters Ward - Raw Wood, Lumber, Planks
- Tanners Ward - Hides, Leathers, Furs, Armor Hides, Armor Leathers, Footwear Parts, Bones, Teeth & Claws, Wings, Scutes & Scales
- Masons Ward - Ores, Stones, Gemstones
- Clothiers Ward - Fibers, Cloth, Hooded Attire Cloth, Cloth Bodies, Smallclothes Cloth, Cloth Sleeves, Front Cloth, Back Cloth, Armor Cloth, Feathers, Fletchings, Armor Parts
- Crystaliers Ward - Crystals
- Menders Ward - Repairs
Additionally, while they were collectively called "Market Wards" in each city, Ul'dah's and Gridania's wards were called "Rows" and "Dens" respectively. (I.E. Upper Tailor's Row, Upper Tailor's Den). Limsa Lominsa's were simply called "Wards". This may have been done to help distinguish the locations when communicating between the user and the server, or simply for flavor.
The Mercantile Houses were added as a means to expand access to the market wards. The Mercantile House of any nation could be entered from any other nation, making it easier to buy and sell without having to travel. The Mercantile House offered a Retainer Bell, an NPC shop, a repair stall, and search counters. The Mercantile Houses share the entrances of the Market Wards.
On their implementation, players could dispatch their retainers to a ward of their choice (assuming it wasn't full). Ironically all NPC repairmen would only repair equipment to 99% condition, just shy of the 100% condition requirement for trading and selling, making the addition of one to each Mercantile House not as convenient as it seemed.
Originally the Market Wards had no ward-wide search function at all, and players would be forced to check each and every retainer and stall to find the item they desired, assuming it was present at all. In a later patch, the ability to search for specific items within a ward was added. To do so, a player needed to enter the wards or simply visit the Mercantile House of that ward.
Players could search using item names, rather than having to dig through the various categories as per the older interface. It was possible to buy directly from the search counter, although there was a proportional tax that does not exceed 4,000 gil. Doing so also caused everything in the area to refresh, and a player could only make one purchase at a time this way.
The market "wards", as they existed in 1.0, were all but completely obliterated in the game's redesign; while they did add flavor and were a somewhat unique way of managing a player economy, Naoki Yoshida's team agreed with much of the playerbase that they were too cumbersome to use in practice. There is now a single market ward in each city, fully integrated into the general city map, which now plays host to the market boards, which allow players to access the player-driven auction house system, as well as a number of NPC merchants who sell various basic necessities. The market boards provide virtually all of the services the old retainer-based system did, but in a single, much faster and easier-to-use interface.
- ↑ Lower ward is for rank 1-20 gear, Middle is for rank 21-40 and Upper is for 41-50