I say interesting because the problem with 18 is that unlike a lot of other levels this one will run it’s course quickly. It was different when 20 was the defacto EPIC level – then even with the different 1st generation Epic gear a lot of the level 18 stuff was right there up with it. Like ToD sets. If you look at the first generation Epic stuff most of it was +6 ability with a few insight and exceptional. The closer we get to MOTU and a change to Epic levels 21-25 we saw more powerful versions, like in the Web of Chaos.
So while I can now use the Cannith Fabricator set, 2 fairly okay items and my Shintao ToD set (stacking +2 damage and accuracy) it’ll be circulated back to the back almost right about level 20. And it’s even worse with level 19 gear. There are some nice autogranted ones from Shadowfell (the Guardian, Skirmisher and Sage) in the end reward lists. Some of them level 15 and the rest level 19. The Sage stuff is pretty good and will last a few more levels (who can argue against kinetic lore 18% or Evocation +4?) but the melee stuff is usually banked once 20 roll in.
The reason for it is simple; the trade in stuff from MOTU is much stronger than most gear at the same level. Like the purple knight with a good gauntlet, good helmet and okay armor. Plus a good set bonus doesn’t hurt either. This is by far one of the stronger sets.
The arcane or divine are not bad, but they pale in utility (especially when comparing to older epic stuff) when you look at the purple knight. That’s even more true compared to the druid/ranger one or the villager. They’re not ‘bad’ sets they’re just not as strong as something that grant 2 strong primary abilities (con and strength) and then +3 in artifact damage and accuracy – which stacks with the deadly competence damage. However there you can debate whether you’re not better off going with the Claw set from Red Fen. Stacking artifact +4 damage and 30% heal amp – main difference is the stronger strength and constitution package for the purple knights, but it takes all 3 items to get the extra damage.
Theoretically it only takes 2 items to get something really good out of red fen but then you don’t get the more strength and constitution as a side effect.
Again – melee got some really nice choices to pick from at 20, making the level 18 stuff (which used to be king at that level and beyond) not that useful in the long run.
Now I can keep on using the ToD set for a bit. I do like the manslayer ring for 20 but that’s just one. 21 gets trickier tho since I have a vertigo ring I’d like to use. But now that I’ve discovered a better item, the Deneith Heavy Chain with +15 vertigo, I’m thinking I want to look at maybe getting a ring of stunning instead. Or maybe settle for a dilapidated stun until I find a good way to boost it and use different type of rings instead. But the fabricator set is a goner for sure, it can’t compete with either claw gauntlets or purple knight and there’s no shortage of melee alacrity stuff.
There’s also the question of Greater Abashai. If you do 3 pieces you have +3 Profane stacking strength. 5 adds as many in con. 3 is a lot easier if you want to maintain other good gear selection and you can easily boost up strength with +7, +2 insightful, +1 exception and the +3 profane. That’s pretty darn good.