Around the time that she dinged 88, the Underpowered Death Knight decided that she wanted to go to Draenor, too.
No, thank you, she did not want to dink around in Pandaria gaining reputation with the Tillers and the Shado-Pan.
The buff against creatures from previous expansions had made questing in Cataclysm areas as a late-Mists level-range character trivial, and even the questing she’d done in Pandaria (getting her Grummlepack and opening the Vale) hadn’t been especially challenging.
So, after completing her annual Lunar Festival World Tour and dinging 90 in the process —
— off she went to the Dark Portal.
Seeking a proper challenge, she started out with her weakest weapon, a simple Training Sword. It didn’t take long before she realized that she wasn’t putting out enough damage to reliably survive. She tossed the Training Sword back into her bags and pulled out her Greataxe of the Ebon Blade.
I hadn’t really noticed with other characters that the encounters in Tanaan get progressively more difficult. The Umbral Halls segment was where it really started to get hard. The mobs are so dense that I died three or four times to patrols — the Underpowered Death Knight can handle one enemy (counting a pack of three Void Wolves as one enemy) at a time, but not two and certainly not three! I had to attempt Ner’zhul’s lieutenant a few times before I managed to work out a proper sequence of interrupts and cooldowns, and even then, it was close. There were many times in the Umbral Halls where I felt like just giving up, retreating to Pandaria with hanging head, and coming back to Tanaan after she’d gotten to, say, level 95 or so — but I persevered and eventually got through it.
The first part of the Blackrock Quarry area was easier than I’d anticipated — partly because another player happened to be running through at the same time and cleared out a lot of the mob density. In the second part of the Blackrock Quarry area, I just could not get past the Burning Blade overseer that holds the key to Ga’nar’s shackles. I tried three times, pulling out all the stops in the Underpowered Death Knight’s no-spec-and-no-talents-limited spellbook, and I just could not put out enough damage to kill that guy before the magic damage from his set-you-on-fire debuff killed me. My two available damage mitigation abilities, Icebound Fortitude and Anti-Magic Shell, have CDs that were too long for me to use one every time the dude set me on fire, and using Death Strike on CD didn’t heal enough to keep me alive, either. I could tell from the trouble I was having that fight that I wouldn’t have a chance against that gronn by the big tank.
About that time, I ran out of health potions (which the Underpowered Death Knight can use if she loots them) and was close to running out of food. Feeling a little bit desperate, the Underpowered Death Knight summoned a Death Gate and went to Acherus to buy some food and runeforge the Iron Horde Waraxe that she had received upon deactivating the Dark Portal. A little more strength and stamina and a lot more raw weapon damage might be just what she needed to make it through the Tanaan Jungle and get her Garrison established while still being suitably challenged. After she got to Frostfire Ridge, perhaps she could go back to her trusty Greataxe of the Ebon Blade?
I tried again, another three or four times, switching from Blood Presence to Frost Presence to get more DPS and attempting to use my abilities even more effectively. Having to wait ten minutes between attempts due to the CD on Army of the Dead made my failures even more frustrating. It still wasn’t enough; the lowest I ever got the guy before he burned me to death was 26%. The Underpowered Death Knight’s schtick/gimmick/goal is to have ordinary leveling questing be a challenge, but this was becoming as maddeningly frustrating as the Thunder Forge and Celestial Challenge solo scenarios in the Mists Legendary questline had been.
Equipping just one of the Tanaan quest reward armor pieces might provide enough more stamina and strength to beat the fight… at the expense of one of the key factors of the “Underpowered” playstyle challenge concept. Although I long ago established that the Underpowered Death Knight may use her DK starting zone weapons, using the Iron Horde Waraxe was still a stretch of the “no gear” factor.
Defeated, the Underpowered Death Knight retreated back to Azeroth to lick her wounds, soak up easy XP from the Darkmoon Faire and holiday quests, do some archaeology, do some rep grinds in Pandaria, and try Tanaan again in another level or so.