I must confess that I haven’t done anything with Thrifty-lynne and Iron-lynne since I first rolled them, as I’ve had other projects that took priority. Among other things, I’d also been thinking about applying the Thrifty and Ironman challenges to Death Knights, precisely because DKs are specifically forbidden in the Ironman rules.
Could a DK complete their starting zone without spending any talent points?
Without training any new abilities?
If they traded out their uber hero class starting gear of awesome for a level 1 Warrior or Paladin’s whites?
Would they eventually get to some quest that they simply could not accomplish under those restrictions, or are DKs just too OP in their early levels?
Meet Dark Ranger Katelaira. I didn’t end up following the Thrifty or Ironman criteria very well — in fact, I mostly forgot about all the fine details of them — so she is actually much more akin to Ironyca’s Joy, the self-nerfed Hunter. I played her through the Scarlet Enclave without training any new abilities or spending any talent points, wearing nothing but the Symbolic Breastplate, Legplates, and Pauldrons:
When a mob dropped some Double Mail Gloves, I put those on, too.
I determined that using Runeforges was akin to a Rogue’s poisons or the talent tree of a Hunter’s pet — a class feature, and therefore allowed by the conditions of the Ironman Challenge. The Runeforging ability is granted as a reward from a very early quest in the chain, rather than having to be trained, and you have to use it on your weapon to progress to the next step of the chain. It’s possible to apply a Runeforge to the level 1 Battleworn Claymore (doing so soulbinds the weapon), but I decided to go ahead and keep the Runed Soulblade instead of swapping it out for a lesser quality weapon.
A newly created Death Knight who wants to level in alternate gear from the very beginning will need a friend to send it to them and a little bit of ingenuity to collect it. A Death Knight first gains access to a mailbox in Havenshire. The railings around Acherus are too high to jump over, and the Scourge Gryphon taxis to Death’s Breach do not become operative until the quest The Scarlet Harvest. I discovered, however, that if you let the Unworthy Initiate kill you while attempting The Endless Hunger, then release instead of accepting the Val’kyr Battlemaiden’s rez, you will wake up alive at the Death’s Breach graveyard and can run down to the Havenshire mailbox.
Although I picked up the Symbolic gear as soon as I could, I didn’t actually put it on until I’d already completed a few Death’s Challenge duels. I was still trying to decide if not training any new skills or spending any talent points would be enough of a self-nerf to make the Scarlet Enclave more challenging. The results of the first duels convinced me that the Acherus Knight’s gear still made me OP.
Under these conditions — no talents, no skills beyond the ones a new level 55 DK starts out with or receives as a quest reward, and an incomplete set of poorly-itemized level 40 plate — the quests in the Scarlet Enclave were definitely more challenging. Unsurprisingly, the mobs took longer to kill. The most significant differences were the lack of Stamina and not having the self-heal of Death Strike. I had to be a lot more tactically careful about where and how I pulled mobs. I died many, many more times than I usually do in this zone, generally because I inadvertently aggroed two or three mobs. After two or three single pulls, I’d be at half-health or lower, and my health regenerated very slowly. I used food, bandages, and Noth’s Special Brew a lot more liberally than I have with previous DKs. If I had traded out the Runed Soulblade for a white/grey weapon and used white/grey gear, per the actual Ironman criteria, the mobs would have taken even longer to kill, I would have had to be even more careful about positioning myself for pulls, and I would have had even more downtime due to low Stamina. I think I still could have completed the zone — but I don’t feel like rolling another DK right away just to try that experiment.
In the past, the hardest quest for me has been Bloody Breakout, but I guess I’ve had enough practice with it now that it wasn’t too difficult even with being self-nerfed. Instead, the most troublesome quest was How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies. After what felt like about twice as many kills as I usually need to complete the quest — and a few deaths of my own — I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t triggering the quest completion event because I was missing too much. So I equipped all the +hit items I had — Bladed Ebon Amulet, Plaguebringer’s Girdle, and Acherus Knight’s Wristguard — and got quest complete in only a couple more kills. Then I took them off again and continued with only the three Symbolic pieces and the gray gloves. Maybe I would have gotten quest complete in a few more kills without equipping the +hit quest reward items anyway, if I’d just been a little more patient.
With the Scarlet Enclave not having posed an insurmountable challenge, I am considering carrying Kate into Outland still with no new skills learned, no talent points spent, and wearing RP-oriented gearsets such as the Symbolic plate or the Glyphed leather.
I was inspired to use the Glyphed set for my concept of this character as a Dark Ranger by the “Sylvanas in life” in this Lament of the Highborne machinima.
I’m also considering trying Hellfire Peninsula wearing a mix of Gilnean Recruit and Goblin Brawler level 1 mail and wielding a runeforged Battleworn Claymore, then slowly adding back more stuff — first the Greatsword of the Ebon Blade, second & third the green quality RP gear sets and talents (not sure in which order), last new trained skills — depending on how difficult questing under the extreme minimalist conditions turns out to be.
I did keep all of the green starting gear and the blue quest reward gear, and I plan to keep my favorite fun-looking quest reward items from Outland — I just won’t use them while actively questing.