Phiarlan Carnival is one of many older adventure packs which hasn’t aged well. It still has its merits, of course, but with each passing update, this pack is losing traction and is a lot less essential to buy than it used to be.
On heroic elite, the full chain of four quests awards a total of 11,516 experience. This is decent, though nowhere near as good as Three-Barrel Cove is. Previously, TBC used to give bad experience and offer no named loot. Additionally, TBC back then also was heroic only. Back then, most people probably would’ve recommended the Carnival over the Cove in terms of level 5 content. Now, however, the tides have turned and Carnival is nowhere near as good as the Cove; TBC has both an epic and heroic option, provides some excellent named loot, and nearly triple the base experience on heroic elite (28,734 as opposed to 11,516).
The epic exp rewards really aren’t worth writing home about either. To their credit, though, they are some of the easier epic quests in the game, so a case could be made for why the epic player should buy this pack. Still, if you’re considering packs on the basis of their epic viability alone, there are many other packs I’d recommend before this one.
There was a time when the Full Plate of the Ringleader used to be the best heavy plate in town for its level. That honor now goes to the Orcish Privateer’s Plate. There was also a time when people used to use the Ring of Elemental Essence and the Utility Vest. Then Cannith Crafting happened.
Of the decent pieces of loot that you can get from this pack, none of them really stand out as being “omg, amazing, must have” loot. The Antique Greataxe is all right for construct beating, sure. The Mask of Comedy is the only Good Hope clicky in the entire game, but Good Hope isn’t game-breaking in any way, especially when it’s only a 1 cast/rest deal. Brawn’s Spirits is a decent item to have at low levels since it’s a Rage clicky, but like Good Hope, Rage is in no way game-breaking or particularly useful.
The main problem with the loot from this pack is the concept of power creep: newer, better items released with newer content simply offer better bonuses in every single way so as to render older items obsolete. This is most egregious and noticeable when you take a look at the old epic items that the Carnival offers. The only item from here which still retains some use is the Epic Phiarlan Mirror Cloak, one of the few items in the game that offers light resistance. Other items, such as the Epic Antique Greataxe, are outclassed by newer items like Alchemical weapons, Thunderforged weapons, and the Epic Elemental Greataxe. Others still were rather ill-conceived to start with, such as the Epic Illusionist’s Garb, since nobody really uses illusion spells, and the Epic Diabolist’s Robe from the Chronoscope is a better alternative.
So while some of these items still offer some use, power creep has screwed over a big portion of why people used to run these quests, both in terms of heroic loot and their epic upgrades. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that Turbine should revisit a lot of the older loot, especially the old epic items; so many of them are useless to begin with, while others have been outclassed with the passing of time. If Turbine wants to retain interest in older content (which they should, but they don’t), then they would do this.
Fun Factor: 3/5
Something of a mixed bag, really. I don’t know of a single other quest aside from this pack’s Partycrashers whose unique mechanics and design are simultaneously its best and its worst features. Yes, it requires a full, well-balanced party to run due to its distinct and original challenges, such as the illusionary hall, the bluff/intimidate checks, and the stat runes. But this also means that, unless you have a very specifically tailored party, you won’t be able to complete the quest in its entirety–and I’m sure this bothers some of the more casual players who play DDO, especially since it’s nigh impossible to find groups these days. The quest design also makes for some really annoying moments, like dying to “traps” which don’t use reflex saves to negate them.
In addition to this, The Snitch is a really straightforward quest, while Under The Big Top is essentially another “kill all monsters” quest with one small gimmick thrown in. I’d say that these are rather mundane and typical quests. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but it doesn’t do anything to make this pack stand out.
A Small Problem is probably my favorite quest of the bunch because it combines elements of the typical “kill all monsters” fare with some jumping, some optional exploring, and a rather humorous premise as well.
In epic levels, I see some groups pop up for this every now and then.
But good luck ever finding a group for this on heroic.
It’s 450 TP, a moderately cheap price, but it’s only four quests (eight if you’re technically counting the epic variants as separate quests) with no additional content. It’s not a very good value.
If Turbine revisited this pack in a similar way to which they revisited Three Barrel Cove, then we might have something here. But as it stands, it’s another unfortunately outdated, obsolete adventure pack. That being said, it does have its good moments in the way of passable loot, passable experience, and quests which you may find enjoyable.