Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Pre-U14, Secrets of the Artificers was one of the best endgame packs around, and would’ve been somewhere in the S-tier. Nowadays, though, power creep has rendered a lot of this loot outdated, and epic destinies and new loot have trivialized even the epic versions of the raids, meaning that it no longer offers the endgame challenge it used to. Nevertheless, there are aspects about the pack which shine through and continue to make it a worthwhile pack.
The way that this pack is set up is somewhat unique. There are three flagging quests here, all level 19, and which can only be done on heroic. Once you complete these (in any order), you’ll be flagged for the two raids, one of which is level 19 and one of which is level 20, and both of which are level 22 on epic normal. So even though the flagging quests can only be done on heroic, the raids can be done on any difficulty (except heroic/epic casual).
I think I’ll be safe in saying that nobody runs the raids on heroic or epic for experience, so I’ll talk about the rest of the pack.
The level 19 quests are very good experience for their level, with Schemes of the Enemy and Power Play each offering over twice as much base experience as The Dreaming Dark (the quest itself, not the whole chain). Meanwhile, Blown to Bits can be done relatively quickly and still gives respectable experience. Most importantly is the fact that these quests are level 19, meaning that you have the freedom of doing them during the heroic levels (17-19) to cap out, or in the early epic levels as a means of quick and fun experience. Yeah, sure, they may not quite compare to the big three epic quests, but they’re at least fun and varied, and that has to count for something, right?
I should also talk about the wilderness area(s). There are three wilderness areas, each allowing up to 12 players, in a similar fashion to the Subterrane. The first wilderness area, House Cannith Manufactury, houses the three flagging quests, and the entrances to the other two wilderness areas. The Artificer Workshops and The Research Facility respectively hold the entrances to The Master Artificer and the Lord of Blades. Now, the experience for doing the slayers here isn’t particularly great, but it is a nice little supplement to the experience you’ll be getting from the quests themselves, at least.
Alchemical Crafting is the main loot system here, and was effectively an endgame version of Green Steel weapons… that is, until they got obsoleted by Thunderforged Weapons. Nowadays, nobody’s crafting Alchemical weapons because nobody sees any point in using ML 20 weapons for only a few levels until the superior Thunderforged, which is vastly easier to acquire, takes over.
Back in the day, I would’ve given the loot here a 5/5 because they were unequivocally the best options for weapons at level 20. This was how endgame was supposed to be, but now Turbine has decided “fuck it, anything goes now.”
In a nutshell, with Alchemical Crafting, you can get your choice of a weapon (including handwraps!) and can choose multiple things to customize about it. You can choose to make your weapon a spellcasting weapon or a traditional melee/ranged weapon instead, and you’re afforded a lot of flexibility in doing so, similarly to Green Steel.
For a sample alchemical weapon, my scimitar (ML 20) which I crafted awhile back has the following enhancements:
- 2d6, +6 enhancement bonus
- Acid Burst
- Greater Stone Prison
- Alchemical Wisdom +2
- Crushing Wave
- Corrosive Salt
- Acid Torrent
- Red Augment Slot which I filled with a Meteoric Star Ruby
So as you can see, lots of effects here, all of them lending themselves quite well to high DPS to both single target and mobs of enemies. You can similarly make an arcane-based weapon (or shield) such as the following:
- Impulse 90
- Kinetic Lore 6
- Glaciation 90
- Freezing Ice Guard
- Ice Lore 6
- Greater Freeze 3x/rest
- Efficient Metamagic – Maximize 2
- Evocation Focus 2
- Arcane Augmentation 9
There’s something here for everyone, and I’ll reiterate that these weapons used to be the best option out there, that is until Thunderforged came around.
Fun Factor: 5/5
I love everything about this pack. I love how Turbine was smart enough to implement a crafting system which was similar in nature to Green Steel. (I hate how Turbine obsoleted this crafting system, though.) I love the setting here, which is Eberron-style steampunk at its absolute finest. I love the unique quests here which feature a variety of unique quest mechanics and monsters that we rarely see anywhere else. I love the raids here which feature not only challenging boss fights (well… they used to, at least), but which also center around well-created storylines. Above all, I love how this pack is simply fun to run.
Blown to Bits has you destroying dozens upon dozens of huge crates with explosive charges, and also has a few extreme-challenge optional fights as well.
Power Play has you running around a facility with an NPC, relighting crystals and defeating rebel warforged along the way.
Schemes of the Enemy features multiple ways of completing it and has one of the most complex puzzles I’ve seen in DDO (which can thankfully be skipped by brute force and lots of patience). Of particular note is the endfight room, which for some reason or another I really like.
The best part of the pack, to me, is the overall setting here. It all takes place in House Cannith and hosts all of the Magitek technology for which House C is famous, and for which the setting of Eberron itself is famous. No other quest in the game really captures the essence of Eberron in the way that this pack does, and the gaming experience is, as a result, completely unique and different from every other pack in the game. Even doing something relatively simple and elementary such as exploring the manufactury and workshops en route to the Master Artificer raid can be a thing of wonder the first time you do it, because it feels like delving deeper and deeper into a heavily protected, carefully crafted workshop of one of House Cannith’s greatest minds. I still enjoy walking out to these raids when I do them, because the trip itself feels like completing a quest of its own.
Since most of DDO’s population seems to be hardcore/powergamers, it’s an unfortunate reality that these quests and raids aren’t anywhere as popular as they used to be. I still try to join raid groups when I can, but these raids are becoming less and less popular, and since I’m playing the game less than I used to (mainly because I’m cynical about the direction Turbine’s taking), I’m playing these raids less as a result.
DDO’s population of powergamers still seems to run the flagging quests semi-frequently, likely because of the experience associated with it. But personally, I say to hell with the min-maxing mentality; these quests are so well-constructed that I’ll use any excuse to run them. Even if Alchemical Weapons aren’t the best option out there anymore, I’ll still run these quests and save up for another one because dammit, these quests deserve our attention.
650 TP is average to above average, but this is an above average pack, so I’d say it evens out. It’s worth the purchase, especially if you want a true taste of what sets Eberron apart from typical D&D settings.
Overall: Upper B-Tier.
I can offer nothing but my highest praises for this pack, but it’s unfortunate that it will remain unpopular unless Turbine actually has a moment of clarity and decides to make it relevant once more. But unless the loot here gets a boost, DDO’s population of powergamers will have no reason to run this pack, and its popularity will forever suffer as a result. If you ask me, this pack is essential because it’s necessary in order to experience the best of what DDO has to offer, but if you ask most of DDO’s population, it’s non essential because it’s not a very utilitarian pack. And that’s why it’s in the upper B-Tier.