We've been talking with users and getting a lot of feedback about alchemy, and as a result we wanted to announce some changes (with more explanation below, for those interested in the details).
Creating a FAQ. We're creating a FAQ that will answer some common questions and gives some tips and hints for leveling up. We'll be adding / editing to the FAQ this week.
Adding A New Low Level Formula. We have increased drop rates for all gift containers, as they are critical to alchemy, but there are not enough out there right now. In order to kickstart the alchemy economy and make it cheaper for low-level formulas, we are adding a formula to the alchemy shop that will allow you to convert common items, farmable on the site, into Golden Giftboxes. This formula will have an expiration of 9/15, and after that date it will vanish from your inventory. (We may extend the date if necessary to get the price of Golden giftboxes to the right level). The new formula should be available tomorrow (for gold).
Adding Alternate Options to Formulas. We're still in the balancing stages, and are looking at the upper-level formulas. We will edit the formula and/or add alternate paths to the formulas in order to give them an appropriate difficulty level.
Marketplace disruptions. Due to the new formula, you will find that the price of some common components will jump up rapidly concurrently with a decreasing price of Golden Giftboxes. The prices of the common components will fall again, but it will remain high for a few weeks while people try out alchemy. This marketplace disruption will happen as soon as the new formula is available.
You will not be able to get to level 10 right now. Not all the formulas have been discovered, and many of the components are created by other formulas. The path to level 10 is as much a community effort as anything else, as the right paths will have to be discovered.
At early levels, alchemy is not a way to make gold. Any low-level formula will end up costing more to create than to buy on the marketplace due to marketplace dynamics, especially at first.
Keep an eye on the Alchemy forum. A number of users are working on really good guides, and these are important to read if you're trying to find the easiest way to level up.