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  1. #41

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    Druid’s Deep
    • Cost: 550 TP
    • Favor: 75 (7.33 TP/Favor: Terrible) -- The Harpers
    • Level: 17
    • Content: 4 quests
    • Epic: 4 quests
    • Gear of Note: Ivy Wraps, Leaves of the Forest
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: Medium
    • Grade: C-
    • Priority: Low

    Druid’s Deep has the feel of a rushed-out pack that was released while much of the developer focus was on other things. The one interesting element is that the enemies are mostly plants and animals, which is a bit of a curve ball in terms of melee weapons. Put away those holy swords and find your best neutral beaters!

    The first three flagging quests are super short and thrown together. Put it this way: MotU is known for short quests, and the first Druid’s Deep quest re-uses the dungeon from the shortest MotU in-town quest. Not a great introduction to the pack. The second quest is another super short, claustrophobic quest set inside a house. We move from short to medium length with the third quest, but finally the last quest is almost big, albeit underdeveloped. The artwork is pretty nice but the overall design feels like an afterthought.

    Soloing is pretty easy because the traps are just the non-threatening bear traps and spike pits and the challenge is fairly low, with the exception of maybe two fights in the whole pack. Grouping may be tough due to this pack being such a low priority and minimal value.

    There is some okay gear sprinkled around the chain, any of which will also show up in its "normal" version in the chain reward. The best is Ivy Wraps, but Leaves of the Forest is nice as well. Druid’s Deep also gives you a choice of commendations, any type, in stacks of three as a chain reward, so if you’re trying to finish off a commendation set the chain reward may be the simplest way to go.

    The only real value from Druid’s Deep is if you don’t own Menace of the Underdark but want commendation gear. Short of that, it’s an okay pack once you own most other content or if you’re just looking to have as much variety as possible for your for epic xp.


    Druid's Deep was introduced after sirgog's reviews.

  2. #42

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    Devil Assault
    • Cost: 350 TP
    • Favor: 30 (11.67 TP/Favor: Terrible) -- Coin Lords
    • Level: 18 (see below)
    • Content: 1 quest, 1 raid
    • Epic: 1 quest, 1 raid
    • Gear of Note: Abishai set
    • Crafting: Metallic handwraps
    • Fun: Medium
    • Grade: B-
    • Priority: Low

    Devil Assault has the dubious distinction of offering the least amount of content of any adventure pack, with just 1 quest and 1 raid. Unlike Demon Sands and Gianthold, where despite the names there aren’t that many demons and giants, respectively, in Devil Assault you face pretty much all devils all the time.

    The quest is a one-room fight where you defend against many waves of devils. I personally find it quite fun but I can see how some might think it's boring. It has an interesting difficulty mechanic, where it’s a level 6 quest on normal, 12 on hard and 18 on elite. This pack is rarely run on heroic difficulties, and when it is it's almost never on normal or hard, only elite. So I consider this a level 18 pack instead of 6-18. The raid is fun, easy to get to, requires no flagging and offers what used to be excellent loot but now looks dated.

    There are no traps anywhere in the pack so soloing the quest isn’t particularly hard, but the raid can be tricky to solo, being a raid. The quest is a good proving ground for solo builds, and is also easy to group for due to offering decent loot and okay xp. The raid generally fills pretty fast, but again almost exclusively on epic difficulties. Don’t bother trying to fill the raid on heroic levels.

    The abishai set from the raid used to be some of the best epic gear you could find, but with the advent of epic levels and tiered epic loot the set is now a relic of a past age. The best loot nowadays are just the tokens of the twelve from the quest and greater tokens of the twelve from the raid. The quest also gives a chance at shards of power, large shroud ingredients, ToD boot mats and metallic handwraps, so you can generate a decent amount of platinum on the ah as well.

    Devil Assault is one of my favorite packs, but it’s unfortunately a bit outdated and also extremely low on content. It’s still valuable as an epic pack to help grind out those millions of xp, but until you reach 20 there’s little reason to get it.


    sirgog’s initial review:

    Devil Assault
    Description: A small but long quest set in one room only, where you fight off a lot of foes trying to enter Stormreach through portals. This quest has non-standard difficulty settings - on Normal it's a (very tough for its level) level 6 quest, on Hard it's level 12 (again, tough for that level) and on Elite, it's level 18 (fairly easy for its level). If your party wipes in there, you have to restart, you cannot just recall and reenter the fray.
    Fun factor: The quest goes a little too long to remain fun all the time, plus the early fights are very easy - any groups strong enough to beat the quest will be bored in the first few waves.
    Rewards (XP/loot): Average to good XP, about 40% which is awarded if you wipe close to the end and fail. Poor loot.
    Best feature: It's a quest you can run once at low level, once at medium and once at high.
    Worst feature: Lack of variety.
    Ease of getting a group: Very hard on Normal and Hard, not too bad on Elite at the moment as VIPs tend to want the favor. This will dry up as more players achieve their 2500 to unlock Favored Soul.
    Overall: Not recommended unless you love solo play and want to hone your soloing skills - soloing this on Elite will certainly help you develop those. If that's you, buy this at or after level 16.
    Recommended level range: 7-8 (normal); 13-15 (hard); 16-19 (elite)
    Rating: 4/10, goes up to 7 if you are an avid soloist.


    sirgog’s revised review:

    Devil Assault
    Description: One quest and one raid. The raid takes place in and around the Marketplace during the Stormreach Devil Invasion that was a live event years ago but has now been retconned to occur before we land on Korthos. It can be played on Epic difficulty by somewhat geared level 20s. The quest has a unique difficulty mechanic - it is level 6 on Normal, 12 on Hard, 18 on Elite (and of course, 25 on Epic).
    Fun factor: The raid is a blast on Epic (I've never run it at low level, but have heard good things about it there too). If you are sufficiently geared to complete it, Devil Assault is great on Epic as well, but for 80% of players, it will just be a frustrating failure.
    XP: 6/10. Pretty mediocre for the Devil Assault quest, and due to its difficulty (for the level), most groups attempting the raid below Epic accept severe XP penalties to bring in more powerful higher level characters.
    Challenge: 10/10. Devil Assault is playable and challenging at almost all levels (4-7 normal, 9-12 hard and 15-19 elite, then 20 on Epic), and on Epic is considered by most the second-toughest epic dungeon in the game (behind Chains of Flame) by most players. The raid will put you to the test too, if you don't run it with severely overlevel characters.
    Loot: 9/10. The raid has extremely good weapons and equipment sets you will use from levels 4-5 through to around 10 or 12. On Epic, the best Augment Crystals (for epic items) in the game drop here, as do crafting ingredients for the Shroud (used to craft many of the top items in the game), and several epic items from here are really good. Even on Devil Assault Hard, excellent handwraps drop, albeit with a ridiculously low drop rate.
    Immersion: 6/10. Lower for Devil Assault (why are the devils not just teleporting out of the room?), and higher for Chronoscope, which has some great plot scenes.
    High level replayability: 9/10 - this pack is really designed more for high level play than for low.
    Best feature: Loot.
    Worst feature: Devil Assault can be quite dull, with long pauses in the action followed by deadly fights followed by another long pause. Also, acquiring the scrolls required for making the Epic item upgrades is frustrating - runs of the raid on Epic will frequently see 12 seals, 4-6 shards, and 0-1 scrolls (you need one of each to epic-ify an item).
    Ease of getting a group: It can be hard to get a group below Epic that will still get XP (i.e. no drastically overlevel characters). On Epic, it can be tough to get a group that is good enough to win. Both of these issues can be ameliorated by joining a guild of somewhat competent players.
    Overall: Recommended highly to people with somewhat geared level 20 characters. An OK optional purchase for others.
    Recommended level range: Hard to say for this pack.
    Rating: 9/10 for powergamers; 7.5/10 for others.

  3. #43

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    High Road of Shadows

    I’ve only run the High Road a handful of times; I’ll post a more complete review in the near future after running through it a few more times. My initial impression is that the quests are all on rails, with little to explore and no interesting mechanics to speak of. Essentially, turn off your brain and hack and slash to the end.


    High Road of Shadows was introduced after sirgog's reviews.

  4. #44

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  5. #45

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    Path of Inspiration
    • Cost: 350 TP
    • Favor: 90 (3.89 TP/Favor: Excellent) -- Coin Lords
    • Level: 18
    • Content: 5 quests
    • Epic: none
    • Gear of Note: Light and Darkness
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: ?
    • Grade: ?
    • Priority: Low

    The Path of Inspiration is generally known as "IQ" because it takes place in the Inspired Quarter.

    I’ve only run this chain a handful of times. I’ll give this a proper review once I have more experience with it, but in the meantime, see sirgog’s reviews...


    sirgog’s initial review:

    The Path of Inspiration
    Description: Five medium to long quests that pit you against a quori infiltration of Stormreach. These see you fighting a wide variety of foes inside the realm of nightmares, in some of the more unique and interesting quests in the game. All of them are solo-friendly, although the loot mechanics savagely punish soloing the Mindsunder quest.
    Fun factor: Good stuff here. The quests are varied, have interesting battles, and a really unique feel. Two minor gripes - first, the loot mechanics of the Mindsunder's bonus chest are unforgiving, and disadvantage groups of less than six. Secondly, these quests are all a bit too easy for their levels.
    Rewards (XP/loot): XP is mediocre to good. The loot is pretty incredible, as you can loot a lot of chests fast in here, and also there's the Mindsunder named items too.
    Best feature: Some of the hidden easter eggs in I Dream of Jeets are just amazing. Who hasn't wanted to literally save someone's bacon or kill the skeleton in their closet?
    Worst feature: Again, the anti-soloing loot system.
    Ease of getting a group: Easy.
    Overall: Recommended purchase, but not at the top of the list.
    Recommended level range: 16-18 (normal); 17-19 (hard); 18-20 (elite)
    Rating: 8.5/10


    sirgog’s revised review:

    The Path of Inspiration
    Description: Five short to medium quests that pit you against a quori infiltration of Stormreach. These see you fighting a wide variety of foes inside the realm of nightmares, in some of the more unique and interesting quests in the game. All of them are solo-friendly, although the loot mechanics savagely punish soloing the Mindsunder quest.
    Fun factor: Good stuff here. The quests are varied, have interesting battles, and a really unique feel. Two minor gripes - first, the loot mechanics of the Mindsunder's bonus chest are unforgiving, and disadvantage groups of less than six. Secondly, these quests are all a bit too easy for their levels.
    XP: 7/10. These don't offer much XP per quest, but they are all fast to complete.
    Challenge: 5/10. Even on Elite, these are all pretty easy. Normal and Hard are a joke.
    Immersion: 7/10. Quite a decent storyline.
    Loot: 6/10. Some useful stuff here for casters, but the loot mechanics are frustrating, particularly on Dream Edges (the few good ones drop only on Elite, which is good, but they are ultra-rare and bind to account on acquisition, making it near to impossible to ever get the one you want without extreme grinding).
    High level replayability: 6/10. These quests offer a little in loot to level 20s, but don't really offer much challenge to 20s.
    Best feature: Some of the hidden easter eggs in I Dream of Jeets are just amazing. Who hasn't wanted to literally save someone's bacon or kill the skeleton in their closet?
    Worst feature: Again, the anti-soloing loot system.
    Ease of getting a group: Easy.
    Overall: Worthy of consideration, but others are better. If you find some of the other high level content too difficult, this might be a great place to hone your skills.
    Recommended level range: 16-18 (normal); 17-19 (hard); 18-20 (elite)
    Rating: 7/10

  6. #46

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    Dreaming Dark
    • Cost: 350 TP
    • Favor: 75 (4.67 TP/Favor: Good) -- Coin Lords
    • Level: 19-20
    • Content: 5 quests
    • Epic: no
    • Gear of Note: Ioun Stones (scroll down)
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: Medium
    • Grade: B
    • Priority: Medium

    The first four quests in this chain are short runs with moderate xp. The final quest is medium length compared to other high level heroic quests. To flag for the final quest you’ll need to run three of the first four quests, with a choice between two of them as the one you skip. One of those is a solo-only quest, which is a noteworthy departure from other high level content. The enemies are mainly dream creatures, but you’ll also have to deal with some humans and wildmen along the way.

    The old-school look and feel of these quests is palpable, with more developer attention paid to the mobs and mechanics of the encounters than the dungeon details and textures. Three of the first four quests are straightforward hack & slash, but both the solo-only and final quest involve a fair amount of Mario skills. If accurate jumping isn’t your thing you may end up pretty frustrated.

    The entire chain is well suited to soloers, as highlighted by the solo-only quest. The only tricky fight is the chain endfight, mainly due to screen lag from all the visual effects the boss throws around. Melees in particular may have trouble there. Grouping is pretty easy because of the easy xp, nice loot and because this is one of the four packs that come with the MotU standard edition, which means many premiums will own it.

    Ioun Stones (scroll down) are the primary loot of interest, mostly for TR twink items thanks to the low minimum level. For example, it’s hard to beat getting an ML5 archmagi item like the Vibrant Purple. The best of these is by far the Pale Lavendar, which is useful even for endgame players as a swap.

    The Pale Lavendar Ioun Stone is so good for TRs that Dreaming Dark is almost a required pack if you plan to TR. It also gives helpful, easy xp to get from 18 to 20. It’s a solid purchase all around, but ideally you’ll just get this "free" as part of the MotU standard edition.


    sirgog’s initial review:

    The Dreaming Dark
    Description: Five medium to long quests that (like the last pack) pit you against a quori infiltration of Stormreach. Again very solo-friendly (one quest is solo-only).
    Fun factor: Quite similar quests to the Path of Inspiration chain. Getting any of the loot here requires a pretty enormous grindfest. I'm not a huge fan of this content, and have run everything only once or twice. Also, (with the partial exception of the final quest) these quests are easy - I soloed all of them except the final one on Hard on my first try, and never came close to dying.
    Rewards (XP/loot): XP is good. Loot is somewhat lacking except for the Xaochasian Eardweller (which has its own problems, see below) - you can otherwise only upgrade Mindsunder items, and the upgraded versions are often just weird and unimpressive. Plus, it's one heck of a grind to upgrade them.
    Best feature: The XP.
    Worst feature: The drop rate on the Xaochasian Eardweller - it has a 3% drop rate on Elite (1.5% hard), and only one drops for the whole party (in the open, so unscrupulous players can ninja-loot it). Yet it's so overpowered it's pretty much a must-have for all spellcasters - which leads lots of players to spend an enormous amount of time soloing Elite Eye of the Titan over and over.
    Ease of getting a group: Reasonable, if you want to (Eye of the Titan rewards soloing it on Elite, recalling for SP over and over).
    Overall: One of the lowest priority packs.
    Recommended level range: 16-18 (normal); 17-19 (hard); 18-20 (elite)
    Rating: 6.5/10


    sirgog’s revised review:

    The Dreaming Dark
    Description: Four short quests and one long one that (like the last pack) pit you against a quori infiltration of Stormreach. Again very solo-friendly (one quest is solo-only).
    Fun factor: Quite similar quests to the Path of Inspiration chain. With the partial exception of the final quest) these quests are easy - I soloed all of them except the final one on Hard on my first try, and never came close to dying.
    XP: 9/10. Some of these quests offer 1300+ XP/minute and are fast.
    Challenge: 6/10. Would be 4, but the last quest is somewhat tougher than the rest, especially on Elite.
    Immersion: 7/10. Again, a solid storyline.
    Loot: 8/10. Loot is somewhat lacking except for one item, the Xaochasian Eardweller - you can otherwise only upgrade Mindsunder items and Ioun Stones, and the upgraded versions are often just weird and unimpressive. But, the Eardweller is ridiculously powerful, and outclasses the one similar Epic item (the Epic Dragon's Eye), and while the base Ioun Stones are pretty damn near impossible to come across, the upgraded versions of one or two are amazing.
    High level replayability: 6/10. Some nice loot, not much challenge in obtaining it.
    Best feature: The XP.
    Worst feature: The Xaochasian Eardweller drops in the open, so unscrupulous players can ninja-loot it. This is, of course, one of the absolute best items in the game for multiple classes.
    Ease of getting a group: Reasonable, if you want to. The Eardweller drop mechanics encourage you to solo instead, however, and just recall for mana as needed and brute-force the quests with effectively unlimited SP.
    Overall: One of the lowest priority high level packs.
    Recommended level range: 16-18 (normal); 17-19 (hard); 18-20 (elite)
    Rating: 6.5/10

  7. #47

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    Devils of Shavarath
    • Cost: 550 TP
    • Favor: 153 (3.59 TP/Favor: Excellent) -- Yugoloth
    • Level: 19-20
    • Content: 6 quests, 1 raid, 1 wilderness
    • Epic: none
    • Gear of Note: Named item sets, ToD rings
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: Medium
    • Grade: C
    • Priority: Low

    Many people refer to this pack as Amrath, likely because it’s much easier to spell and type. The raid is super fun, and requires four of the six quests for flagging. To get to the quests and raid you must travel through the Devil Battlefield wilderness area, and as you might expect from the name, you’ll be fighting devils pretty much everywhere you turn. It’s not only devils, though, as some troglodytes, elementals and golems will occasionally show up to make your life miserable.

    The area itself is ugly, with both the wilderness and all the quests drab and dreary as far as the eye can see. For one of the quests the entire dungeon is one giant random maze, but the combination of this with the dull artwork gives it the feel of endless sameness. Difficulty in Amrath is a noticeable step up from other high level content, significantly more difficult than Dreaming Dark. Worse, the end fights of the quests -- most of which are very long -- are orders of magnitude harder than the quests themselves. This can easily result in an hour’s worth of fighting wasted when you finally get to the end fight and the boss quickly wipes your party, especially when running pugs.

    All of the quests are long, and one has a daunting anti-solo mechanic, but even in the rest of the quests soloing can be tricky due to the strength of the enemies and length of the quests. Trying to brute force your way through on a melee can be exhausting, and there are enough mobs that arcanes may run into mana issues. Divines and artificers will really shine here, though, as blade barrier is so effective in Amrath as to be akin to an "I win!" button. Grouping can be rough since this is no longer endgame and the xp is atrocious for the time and effort spent.

    Amrath gear is focused on the named item sets, particularly the ToD rings. Unarmed monks in particular will want to slot Holy Burst into a ring, but the ability to slot 20% healing amp into a ring that also has +1 exceptional stat is worth considering for almost anyone. Casters will also be interested in the Mysterious Bauble.

    This is one of the packs that really took a hit from the introduction of epic levels. No longer endgame, the difficulty and dreariness of the dungeons in what now amounts to midgame content makes it unappealing. The raid is super fun, though, and in many respects the raid epitomizes everything DDO raiding can and should be. If we ever get an epic version of the pack the grade will get kicked up considerably, but as it stands now this pack is low priority.


    sirgog’s initial review:

    The Devils of Shavarath
    Edit: Changed to reflect that it is no longer the top endgame content. If you have a level 20 character, read the notes on the Demon Sands above.
    Description: Four long quests, two short ones, and a raid, plus the town of Amrath (which is IMO the best town in the game) and an explorer area.
    Fun factor: There's some excellent quests here. A New Invasion rewards groups that work as a cohesive team, particularly in the last fight. Sins of Attrition is a long battle of attrition that can be done in many ways, and also lets you choose which one of six bosses you will fight. Bastion of Power and Genesis Point are slightly more complex quests, with interesting things you can do in them. The two short quests (Wrath of the Flame and Weapons Shipment) are a nice change of pace - letting you run some quests here even when very short on time. The Tower of Despair raid is an excellent raid and a real challenge, particularly on Elite.
    Rewards (XP/loot): XP is poor to mediocre (Exception: Clerics/Favored Souls will find Sins of Attrition soloing to be excellent XP - 11k in ten minutes for a first run and not too hard if you know the quest). Loot is stellar, pretty much every character will have major upgrades out here.
    Best feature: The multiple endings of quests - several quests play completely differently depending upon how you approach them.
    Worst feature: Opposite of Necropolis 4 - Arcane casters feel weak and like they are a burden on groups. The best players piloting arcane casters do pull their weight, but the insane saves on foes restrict what they can do.
    Ease of getting a group: There's a lot of groups for this content. However, many people prefer to solo/duo the quests on Normal due to dungeon scaling (Sins of Attrition in particular is notoriously easy for a cleric to solo)
    Overall: High recommendation. Fun quests, and gets you ready for the new endgame of Epic Demon Sands.
    Recommended level range: 17-20 (normal); 19-20 (hard); 20 (elite)
    Rating: 9/10


    sirgog’s revised review:

    The Devils of Shavarath
    Description: Four long quests, two short ones, and a raid, plus the town of Amrath (which is IMO the best town in the game) and an explorer area.
    Fun factor: There's some excellent quests here. A New Invasion rewards groups that work as a cohesive team, particularly in the last fight. Sins of Attrition is a long battle of attrition that can be done in many ways, and also lets you choose which one of six bosses you will fight. Bastion of Power and Genesis Point are slightly more complex quests, with interesting things you can do in them. The two short quests (Wrath of the Flame and Weapons Shipment) are a nice change of pace - letting you run some quests here even when very short on time. The Tower of Despair raid is an excellent raid and a real challenge, particularly on Elite.
    XP: 4/10. Except for classes that can speed solo in here, XP/time is just appaling in here, except in Sins of Attrition.
    Challenge: 11/10. This has most of the hardest content in the game (at least on Elite). On Elite, the Tower of Despair raid contains two of the game's hardest fights (Judge/Jailer elite and Horoth/Suulo elite), and the Barnzidu and Nytharios fights (A New Invasion and Tower of Despair respectively) require careful tactics and near-flawless execution on higher difficulties and aren't cakewalks on Normal.
    Loot: 10/10. Loot is stellar, pretty much every character will have major upgrades out here. Unfortunately, while each item set has been designed for a specific class, many builds will want an item designed for a different class - as an example, my main (FvS20) wants a Barbarian set and a Monk set.
    High level replayability: 8/10. Would be higher, except that beyond a certain point, there's not much incentive to repeat anything except the raid.
    Best feature: The multiple endings of quests - several quests play completely differently depending upon how you approach them.
    Worst feature: Opposite of Necropolis 4 - Arcane casters feel weak and like they are a burden on groups. The best players piloting arcane casters do pull their weight, but the very high saves on foes restrict what they can do.
    Ease of getting a group: There's a lot of groups for this content. However, many people prefer to solo/duo the quests on Normal due to dungeon scaling (Sins of Attrition in particular is notoriously easy for a cleric to solo)
    Overall: High recommendation. Fun quests, and gets you ready for the new endgame of Epics.
    Recommended level range: 17-20 (normal); 19-20 (hard); 20 (elite)
    Rating: 9/10

  8. #48

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  9. #49

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    Secrets of the Artificers
    • Cost: 650 TP
    • Favor: 99 (6.57 TP/Favor: Poor) -- House Cannith
    • Level: 19-20
    • Content: 3 quests, 2 raids, 3 wilderness areas
    • Epic: 2 raids
    • Gear of Note: Named item sets, Cannith Boots of Propulsion
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: High
    • Grade: B-
    • Priority: Low

    The hub of this pack is the Manufactury, a small raid-enabled wilderness area that houses all three quests. Though raid groups can enter, the area itself is not a raid wilderness. Completing the three quests flag you for both raids, which are located in their own raid wilderness areas accessed from deep inside the Manufactury. Unsurprisingly, most enemies here are constructs. Warforged dominate, but virtually every construct in the game shows up to some degree: golems, titans, iron defenders, magefire cannons, etc... Sprinkled among the constructs is the occasional human artificer.

    The three quests are long, varied, challenging, well designed and pretty unpopular. Part of that is because constructs share similar weaknesses as undead in terms of quest design, where many player tactics and abilities get shelved due to mob immunities. It also doesn’t help that the quests are so challenging for midgame content. The Lord Blades raid is quite fun, if a bit short, but it seems much longer because you have to get 12 people through two full wilderness areas. Sort of similar to Hound of Xoriat and Vision of Destruction over in the subt. The Master Artificer raid could be fun, but those using older computers (like me) will want to avoid it because all the graphical effects will melt on-board chipset graphics.

    Soloing on high difficulties is a real challenge, but the lack of meaningful traps helps. Grouping can be difficult, and unfortunately pugs will usually contain an underpowered character or two who isn’t aware of the challenge factor. If you’re going to get a group together, try to make sure everyone contributes more than their scaling. Soloing on normal is no problem, though, so it’s not overly hard to acquire the non-raid gear.

    There is much to like in the available gear, and most of it is quite easy to solo farm on normal difficulty. The irony of Secrets’ is that despite being so challenging on elite, the gear is almost all new-player gear. Any basic player archetype, from melee to arcane to divine to specialist, will find a starter set to love. While the named item sets and alchemical crafting are nice, the most sought-after gear from Secrets’ has to be the rocket boots.

    Secrets of the Artificers is one of my favorite packs, with my favorite raid (Lord of Blades) and two quests that I love. The artwork is top-notch, and the quest design is both interesting and fun. However, lacking any epic quests (all three are heroic-only) and with the obsolete nature of alchemical crafting the pack itself takes a hit in its viability. Raid groups are few and far between, and even favor groups doing one-and-done elite runs aren’t all that common either. The starter gear is great for first-life 18s, but that is quickly outdone by the commendation sets at 20. All told this pack is a swing for the fences that falls short.


    Secrets of the Artificers was introduced after sirgog's reviews.

  10. #50

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    Vaults of the Artificers (Cannith Challenges)
    Challenges are polarizing among the playerbase in that some find them quite fun while others can’t stand spending a single minute in them. Grading the Cannith challenges in the context of challenges instead of quests, they are quite fun. More fun than crystal cove or eveningstar challenges, certainly. Challenges by their nature have a fairly steep learning curve, but once you learn them they’re all easily soloable by just about any build at any level. (To help with the learning curve, see my Cannith Challenge Tutorials thread.) Grouping is tough because the unique challenge scaling mechanic makes it easier to solo than group.

    There are four flavors of Cannith challenges:

    Extraplanar Mining is a crystal gathering area where you lead kobolds to crystals using torch lines, much like Crystal Cove. It is tiny, maybe a tenth the size of cove, and there are far more purples than in cove so it’s quite easy to get in and out quickly with good rewards. The main enemies are constructs, plus mephits in the east and yugoloths in the west. The constructs are highly resistant to energy damage and there are no shrines so arcanes will need to carefully manage their mana. The yugoloths love to dance you, so if you aren’t a pale master and have low will saves you may want to stay in the eastern side.

    Lava Caves is another crystal gathering area, this time a large area similar in size to Crystal Cove. To help move around quickly there are teleport spots in various semi-random locations that both you and the kobolds can use to teleport to and from home base. The main enemy is drow, which can present spell penetration issues for casters. Lava Cave runs are generally short with better rewards than extraplanar mining, but more random meaning you may run into "bad maps" and need to recall.

    Kobold Island is a large map with stationary extractors you must activate and then defend from waves of enemies. This is the ultimate in pattern memorization; learn the map and then run it exactly the same way every time. Unlike the crystal collection challenges the rewards are low with little variation. Enemies range from sahuagin and elementals at low levels to either undead or evil outsiders at high levels.

    Rushmore’s Mansion is frustratingly random race against time. You must gather crests to unlock doors to get to the bosses, and each door unlocked adds to the time left. Crests drop from killing mobs and breakables, so this ends up being an incongruous combination of trying to zerg through while at the same time killing all mobs and breaking all breakables. Mansion runs are the longest of all challenges, with good runs taking upwards of 45 minutes. Enemies are mostly human plus a fair few constructs and elementals. Note that the gargoyles found in mansion runs are considered constructs.

    Pretty much all the cannith challenge gear is quite nice. In particular, the Ring of the Stalker is solid for melees and archers, Spare Hand is a worthy choice for tactics-based melee, Frozen Tunic is great for monks and fleshie arcanes, and the Elemental Khopesh of Water is about as good as khopeshes get for leveling.

    There is really no reason to ever buy cannith challenges. You can collect a free challenge token every day admitting entrance to any one challenge of your choice, so if you collect them for a couple weeks you’ll be able to make any item you like. The xp was nerfed into the ground in August of 2012 so once you have your challenge items there’s really no value in re-running them. The best value is the token of the twelve farming, but again that can be done with the daily tokens. If you ever do buy cannith challenges, wait until you own all other content in the game first.


    Vaults of the Artificers was introduced after sirgog's reviews.

  11. #51

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    Eveningstar Challenges
    • Cost: 695 TP
    • Favor: 36 (19.31 TP/Favor: Terrible) -- Purple Dragon Knights
    • Level: 15-30
    • Content: 6 challenges
    • Epic: 6 challenges
    • Gear of Note: Adamantine Cloak of the Bear, Wolf and Dragon
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: Low
    • Grade: F
    • Priority: Lowest

    Eveningstar challenges are uninspired, with the feel of thrown together content rushed out to pad the offering of the first expansion pack. The interest and flavor of cannith challenges is nowhere to be found, instead replaced with simplistic dps checks. Cannith challenges are quite fun for those who enjoy them, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks Eveningstar challenges are particularly fun. There are three flavors of eveningstar challenges, with two challenges in each area:

    Underdark Arena is a pure dps check, reminiscent of kobold assault in that you’re in a single room with endless waves of mobs coming at you. Everything in Ring of Fire is a fire mob, so bring your cold weapons. Water savants will have a field day. The other version is mostly drow and constructs.

    Dryad Grove is a protection mission similar to Kobold Island in the cannith challenges. Where kobold island offers 4 small and 3 large extractors to support a variety of strategies, dryad grove offers only 3 trees and no variation. Activate and upgrade your 3 trees then kill stuff, without any other thought. Enemies are primarily drow, plus some undead and spiders.

    Ruined Keep is possibly the most irritating challenge in the entire game. You must protect a central crystal from waves of enemies that pretty much ignore you, so I’m not entirely sure how this challenge is even possible without a good dancing ball caster in the group, and when you have one it’s trivially easy. Enemies are mostly humans, wolves and werewolves in Sunset Ritual, with Daybreak Ritual being mostly plants and animals.

    The loot was originally centered around a horrible random mechanic where you turn in the reward mats for an item with a random selection of 3 to 4 abilities. After the initial outcry from the playerbase, three cloaks were added with static abilities. The cloaks are okay but not particularly great, and the random item turn-in is largely worthless unless you're incredibly dedicated or lucky.

    Eveningstar challenges are not worth buying, even after you own all other content including cannith challenges. Daily tokens suffice for making any of the cloaks and also getting your first-time xp runs each life. Uninteresting design combined with mediocre gear and terrible repeat xp make this pack a clear misstep. They come free with VIP and also as part of the MotU standard edition so a fair amount of players will have them, but for premiums who didn’t get the MotU standard edition just use daily tokens for the few times you set foot in them.


    Eveningstar Challenges were introduced after sirgog's reviews.

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  13. #53

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    Menace of the Underdark (expansion)
    • Cost: $35
    • Favor: 369 -- Purple Dragon Knight
    • Level: 21-24
    • Content: 15 quests, 1 raid, 4 wilderness areas
    • Epic: 13 quests, 1 raid, 4 wilderness areas
    • Gear of Note: Too many to list
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: High
    • Grade: A
    • Priority: High

    Menace of the Underdark was DDO’s first expansion pack. It was an ambitious project and was largely pulled off in impressive fashion. The core of MotU comprises three adventure packs, each with their own wilderness area. There are additionally four stand-alone quests and a fourth wilderness area, the Underdark, which is well received by the playerbase but doesn’t render properly on some integrated chipset graphics (like mine) so I can’t comment on that. Fortunately the Underdark is optional and can be almost completely skipped if you suffer from rendering problems.

    The Darkening is a four-quest pack that takes place in the King’s Forest wilderness. The King’s Forest was the largest wilderness in the game until the Shadowfell expansion, larger than the desert and vale combined. Scaling is severe in the forest; if you’re all alone it will feel barren and deserted, while in a full group it will occasionally feel like an actual army has descended upon you. The three flagging quests are short and moderately fun, while the final quest is both long and fun. Your main enemy will be drow and their everpresent spider companions, plus a healthy dose of undead.

    The City of Portals is another four-quest pack that takes place in the drow city of Sschindylryn. The city is a relatively small but fun wilderness area populated by drow and driders. The three flagging quests are medium to long if you explore all their nooks and crannies, but can also be zerged in record time for massive xp/minute. The final quest partially maintains this by being large and time consuming for a solo explorer but can be rushed through quickly if you split the party into two groups. All four quests are well designed and pretty fun. Drow and undead still dominate but you’ll start to face some demons as well.

    The Queen of the Demonweb takes place in medium size semi-random explorer area. The demonweb is reminiscent of the Restless Isles explorer area but done right. There are only three quests, with the final quest being replaced by the Caught in the Web raid. Both the wilderness and the quests are fun and interesting, though low end computers will experience minor performance issues. The raid is less fun, and extremely long, but it offers the best endgame weapons for melee and archers. Enemies are almost an even split between demons and drow, plus the occasional yugoloth.

    Except for the raid the entire expansion pack is solo-friendly. As some of the most popular content to own, grouping is also pretty easy. Even moreso because there is so much quality gear for any build in the game. Overall the expansion is well done and a worthy purchase for any build and playstyle except perma-death.

    Menace of the Underdark is a must-buy, one of the best values in the game if you buy it from the Market instead of the in-game store. (To get to the DDO Market, select the Store dropdown at the top of this page.) The $35 standard edition is the best first purchase a new player can make, and even better is that you can buy it for half price if you first add any Shadowfell expansion to your cart in the Market. Alternately, you could purchase the $20 base edition and still get all the content and epic destinies but skip the extras.


    Menace of the Underdark was introduced after sirgog's reviews.

  14. #54

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    Shadowfell Conspiracy (expansion)
    • Cost: $30
    • Favor: 213 -- Purple Dragon Knight / The Harpers
    • Level: 16-19
    • Content: 11 quests, 2 wilderness areas
    • Epic: 10 quests, 2 wilderness areas
    • Gear of Note:
    • Crafting: none
    • Fun: ?
    • Grade: ?
    • Priority: Low

    Though I preordered Shadowfell, I still have yet to set foot in any of the new areas or quests. The biggest selling point for Shadowfell is that when you buy it in the DDO Market you can also buy Menace of the Underdark at half price, and that alone makes Shadowfell an excellent first purchase for new players.

    Hopefully I'll get a proper review added before too long, but in the meantime maybe someone else will help out with a guest review.

    Note: I don't see any good "anchor" page in wiki to link to for Shadowfell, so the above link goes nowhere.

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  18. #58
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    Thanks for the work you're putting in, and especially thanks for incorporating Sirgog's reviews as well. They were practically my 'bible' when I was making my own purchases, and I thought of them again as soon as I saw this thread.

  19. #59
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    I respectfully disagree about Catacombs gear all being un-noteworthy. It has the Eternal Wand of Cure Minor Wounds, an endlessly recharging source of healing. For an experienced player it's probably a waste of an inventory slot because the rate of healing is too low for those with plenty of knowledge and resources to bother with it. For a newer player, however, an endlessly renewable source of healing (between fights, of course) will lead to many less quest failures and to a better ability to accumulate resources over time.

    The Robe of Duality gets superseded soon, of course, but for its level it is also quite nice.

    I mostly solo self-sufficient characters (ie: no hireling, they find their own stuff) and Catacombs is the first important AP they do, to get the Eternal Cure wand.

  20. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arlannis View Post
    thanks for incorporating Sirgog's reviews as well. They were practically my 'bible' when I was making my own purchases
    You and me both. I printed out both of his threads and pored over them before making every purchase.

    This thread is something I've had in the back of my mind for a few months now, and finally got started on it yesterday when the servers were down. I always knew I wanted to include sirgog's reviews but I wasn't sure how. Just a link? Using standard quote boxes? After tinkering around a bit I finally landed on straight copy & pastes with linked attribution since I can't direct link to individual packs in his reviews. Overall I'm pretty happy with the format.

    Just did the first review where I significantly disagree with his. (Carnival) Hopefully that doesn't become a trend or I'll start second-guessing myself. heh.

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