Sadly, I don't think the math bears this out. Consider the following chart from Lotro Wiki: (Sorry the Columns don't line up)
Originally Posted by Tobias_R
Tier (Number of previous Tier Relics needed) (Total number of Tier 1 Relics needed) (Cost to forge) (Shards to forge)
1 N/A N/A 2 Silver 1
2 5 5 5 Silver 3
3 4 20 13 Silver 9
4 4 80 32 Silver 27
5 3 240 82 Silver 54
6 3 720 205 Silver 108
7 3 2,160 410 Silver 216
8 3 6,480 820 Silver 432
9 3 19,440 N/A N/A
Relics can be refined into shards which are used for melding or instead of silver to perform legendary services. There's a small chance to receive Heritage Runes upon refining. Speak to a Relic-master to refine.
As you can see, it takes 19,000+ T1 shards to combine to a T9 relic. If you Refine a T9 relic you get 1,500+ shards. If you refined all those T1 relics into shards, you would (obviously) get 19,000+ shards. As good as crits are, and they are nice, I cannot imagine that they happen at a rate sufficient to make up the over 1000% difference. (Yes, 1000% - 19,000 shards is over 10 times 1,500 shards and 10x is 1000%.) I know that as you crit higher tier relics it speeds things up, but you have significantly fewer combinations at higher tiers (since you have significantly fewer relics).
Since we don't know the % chance of critting on a relic combination and we don't know what the multiplier is for those crits (ie. how many extra relics you get) we cannot calculate the expected result of combining all the way. However, given that critting is less than 50% of the time, I'd be surprised to see that it can make up such a loss as seen in combining.
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