Arcane Sanctum: Timewalking dungeons for Mages
I’d planned to write about Timewalking before I’d even had a chance to try it. I love the idea of using scaling technology to revisit instances that have become part of the distant past. Heroic Burning Crusade dungeons in particular are some of the first challenging group content I ever did. Plus, it’s a sensible thing for Mages to be doing, considering our time-bending abilities. Now that we’ve had a Burning Crusade Timewalking weekend event and the Wrath of the Lich King event runs from July 17th to July 20th, we can talk about how this feature is shaping up for us.
Timewalking dungeons are beneficial for a wide range of players. You can actually do them on an alt that you’re leveling. You must be at least level 71 for the Burning Crusade dungeons and at least level 81 for the Wrath of the Lich King variety. If you’re especially nostalgic for a particular expansion, you’ll definitely have a good time doing these dungeons. Seer Kazal in your garrison has the quest A Burning Path Through Time / A Frozen Path Through Time to complete five random Timewalking dungeons during the time they’re available, and your reward is an additional Seal of Inevitable Fate over and above the three you can obtain normally each week, plus an Iron Fleet Treasure Chest. So that’s a compelling incentive. Finally, if you are playing a Mage alt that isn’t necessarily tricked out in all best in slot Hellfire Citadel cloth, you can find some good Timewarped pieces in these dungeons that will scale up to your natural level.
Preparing your gear for Timewalking
Because Timewalking scales all of your gear down, you really can wear anything higher level than the base level of the dungeons. For Burning Crusade that’s ilevel 95, and for Wrath of the Lich King it’s 160. This gives you a lot of leeway when it comes to selecting your gear, with a few caveats.
First of all, legendaries are king! You can use Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest again if you have it. You can also use your legendary cloak Xing-Ho, Breath of Yu’lon from Mists of Pandaria. The procs on both of these items are really powerful, just as they were in current content, and give you a definite edge while Timewalking. I don’t think I have to convince you to use your Dragonwrath, honestly. So those are a really clear choice.
A more nuanced look at available gear will lead the discerning Mage to conclude something else — you can choose your favorite tier set bonus from many different tiers, and use that for Timewalking! It’s another opportunity to revisit some past nostalgia. The only caveat here though is that if, like me, you’ve been storing your old tier gear in Void Storage — it no longer has gems or enchants in it. Also, I don’t keep old trinkets, shoes, or pants. None of these things are useful for transmog for me. So this may limit your options somewhat. Truthfully, though, the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King dungeons are not difficult. This isn’t like Challenge Modes or Mythic dungeons where you’ve really got to optimize your stats. Use old gear if you’d really like to just for fun, and you’re willing to re-gem and re-enchant it if necessary. If you don’t want to be bothered with all of that, just grab any legendaries you have available to you and wear your regular gear.
Another consideration is that much of the older gear will completely lack the stats that are desirable to you. A Frost Mage can only get Multistrike from Warlords of Draenor gear, and Mastery for Arcane Mages is only available on gear that’s Cataclysm level or higher. So keep that in mind if you’re experimenting with older gear.
The experience of Timewalking
It’s been weird in a good way to see these older dungeons through modern eyes. For Burning Crusade Timewalking, you can random into one of five dungeons: Arcatraz, Black Morass, Mana-Tombs, Shattered Halls, and Slave Pens. I can say unequivocally that I’ve never felt nostalgia or a strong desire to experience Black Morass again. Shattered Halls is a fun AOE-fest for anyone who hasn’t had their fill of killing orcs. Slave Pens is arguably the best of the Coilfang set of dungeons. (I get really upset when the Broken in there keep attacking you even after you’ve killed the naga they are linked to, and you’re forced to kill them.) Mana-Tombs was the only place my group actually wiped because we got a little too confident pulling plenty of trash and forgot about the pack that will repeatedly stun and silence you and pretty much ruin your day.
Wrath of the Lich King dungeons allow you to experience Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom, Gundrak, Halls of Lightning, The Nexus, or Utgarde Pinnacle. I feel the same way about Ahn’kahet as Black Morass: these are things best left in the past. But I’m very excited to see the rest of the Wrath dungeons again. Although I ran those dungeons often when they were current, I think they’ll still feel like old friends.
Overall, the difficulty level of these blast from the past dungeons is definitely in the PUG range. They’ve clearly been tuned to allow you to just use the group finder to easily join a group and run a dungeon or two, and that’s perfect. There’s increasingly more small-group content for people who want a real challenge, but that’s not what this is. This is a chance to see dungeons you may have not had a chance to do at level, or that you’ve simply missed doing over the years. The barrier for entry is practically non-existent and you hardly have to prepare anything at all.
Specs and gameplay
Whichever spec you choose, these dungeons are not the careful “Polymorph and pull then carefully single target” affairs you may remember. You will be AOEing almost every pull besides bosses. If you’re playing as Frost, consider taking Ice Nova and Comet Storm. Fire can use Meteor to great effect. It’s probably not worth switching from Living Bomb to Blast Wave, but you can give it a try if you’d like to! Finally, Arcane can use either Nether Tempest or Supernova. Arcane Orb might be fun as well.
There are a few reminders of our past responsibilities, too. You’ll want to make sure that your UI easily displays for you if someone is cursed and that you’ve got Remove Curse bound to handle it. There are also things you can Spellsteal, so it’s helpful to have notifications so you know if something is available for stealing!
Loot in Timewalking dungeons is set to personal and cannot be changed, even in groups not formed with the group finder. Expect to see some oddball finds! Figurine of the Colossus dropped for me. I’m adding it to my tanking set, of course. Here’s a complete list of items usable by Mages that drop in the Burning Crusade dungeons, and here’s a complete list of items that drop in Wrath of the Lich King dungeons. A number of items have been modernized to include Versatility as a stat, but none that include either Mastery or Multistrike that I could see.
As you’re reading this, a Timewalking event is currently live and you have another day or two to give this content a shot. Our own Scott F. Andrews has written a helpful guide to both Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King dungeons if you’d like a refresher of their mechanics or you didn’t experience them the first time around. You may grab an upgrade or two for a Mage alt or just relive your glory days on your main while acquiring an extra Seal of Inevitable Fate.
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