There’s a staggering amount of content in the Sands of Menechtarun, and it’s effectively doubled due to the inclusion of an epic difficulty of several of the quests. There’s also a staggering amount of loot to be obtained here, although a lot of it is dated and not worth trying to find. Still, there are many things that this pack has in its favor, and I can’t deny that, even if I personally dislike just about everything about the quests, this is still an essential pack to buy sooner or later.
Four words: The Chamber of Raiyum. This is one of the “big three” quests that people run daily on epic difficulty (the other two being Spies in the House and The Jungles of Khyber). With a heap of high-experience optionals and a respectable base experience rating, this is undeniably one of the fastest ways to gain experience in the epic levels. It can be run in under ten minutes (however you need a party of at least three people) and used to be similarly popular to farm on heroic, but since most people in DDO have decided “fuck the heroic game let’s focus on the inferior part of the game instead,” it’s harder to find a group for it on heroic these days.
Offering of Blood can be run pretty quickly as well, but it takes a bit longer to get to the quest and isn’t nearly as good as Raiyum in terms of experience/minute, so it’s naturally less popular.
This pack’s viability for the heroic game is still in very good shape as well. Raiyum is still one of the best experience/minute quests in the heroic game, and running a lot of the other quests on elite for bravery bonus/first time bonus are similarly very rewarding. Every life, I run through all six of the level 11 quests (including Offering of Blood) in addition to Raiyum, and if I can find a group for the latter, I’ll farm it because the experience is worth it.
Its large amount of slayers and the way it lends itself to a party setup for slayer runs also allows for passable experience/hour for those who enjoy the wilderness slaying aspect of the game. But if you’re like me and hate the wilderness here, you’ll probably avoid this anyway.
For a pack boasting dozens upon dozens of epic items and a similar amount of heroic items, I can safely say that almost all of them are terrible, being either innately not that good or being outclassed by newer loot over time. I’ll list the three here that are passable.
Epic Ring of Spell Storing, if you’re one of the handful of people who actually has SP problems. Otherwise, it’s useless.
Torc of Prince Raiyum de-II, again if you’re one of the handful of people who actually has SP problems. Don’t upgrade this to epic, since having a ML 11 item with Transform Kinetic Energy is vastly preferable to having a ML 20 one which grants bonuses which you’ll have from other items anyway.
The Blood Stone. Not to be confused with the Judas Priest song of the same name. Seeker +6 is decent, I guess, but personally I always have my Voice of the Master equipped, and another item which grants seeker, so this is a useless item for me. Also, don’t upgrade this to epic for similar reasons to the Torc: upgrading it to epic only increases seeker +6 to seeker +8, which is hardly a boost, considering the 11 level increase.
Err, looks like that’s it. I was kind of hoping there would be more here but no, every other item is worthless in my eyes.
Fun Factor: 1/5 (your mileage may vary)
Let’s make this clear: I hate every quest here, and this wilderness area is among my most hated in the game. I run this pack solely for pragmatic purposes, since I can’t ignore how good the experience is here. Allow me to explain why.
The wilderness is huge, and for some reason, I always seem to get lost when I’m looking for the walk up quests. It all just looks the exact same to me; it’s a vast desert with a surrounding canyon, and for the life of me, I can’t tell any of it apart. There are no real landmarks to guide my way and there’s absolutely no variation in scenery. It’s all so frustrating to navigate–much more so than the Restless Isles. I’m also not too keen on the whole desert thing (more of a personal taste thing than anything else). I like environments that are vibrant, tropical, or colorful. This dead desert is anything but. This is my most hated wilderness area in the game from before 2012. It’s simply too monotonous, too repetitive, and too bland for my tastes.
The quests themselves aren’t any better, with them either being labyrinthine or long, bleak trudges through boring maps. I think this is another thing that’s more my personal taste, and all I can say is that I don’t like the desert environment here. Maybe for those of you who like pretending to be Indiana Jones or something, this pack will be more enjoyable, but to me, the quests just seem like more of the same, in an even less appealing package.
Oh yeah, but before I end this section, I have to talk about one of my most hated pre-2012 quests in the game: Chains of Flame. More like Chains of Misery if you ask me. The first thing you’ll notice when doing this quest is how much of a nightmare it is to find the quest: the walk out to the quest must take at least 15 minutes, which is just insane on its own. Then the quest itself, while admittedly boasting an interesting fire-based aesthetic (it does take place in the “City of Flame” after all), is an infuriating maze. I don’t mind the maze of the Restless Isles because it at least has the courtesy of providing a map you can fill out, but here, the minimap may as well not be there. And even if you know the quest like the back of your hand, it still takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes. It’s not even that rewarding, either.
Regardless of whether or not others share my views on what constitutes “fun” in DDO, lots of people seem to be attracted to this pack, and for good reason. It offers some of the best experience in the epic game, and offers exceptional experience in the heroic game as well, in a level range where there’s a general sparsity of quests. The experience it offers, coupled with its heroic level range, makes it a borderline necessity for any player. When you throw in the epic experience that Raiyum offers, the case for Menechtarun just gets stronger and stronger.
This is the pack’s only weakness. It’s one of the priciest packs in the game, being 950 TP. Given that Gianthold is also 950 TP, it’s a somewhat harder sell, since 950 TP can be better spent on Gianthold.
Overall: Upper A-Tier.