Greetings, everyone! I do not consider myself experienced either with mages, or with Timewalking, or with optimization, being a simple non-hardcore arcane/fire who quitted halfway through mythic BRF. However, I hope that, by sharing what little I know, I might be able to have some solutions to my questions discussed and discovered.
My entire attempt was inspired by the article "Gearing for Godhood in Timewalker Dungeons." I have not tested WotLK Timewalking dungeons (edit - now I have, and I stand by what I said), but after a few tries in BC dungeons I think I can say that, if this version goes live, it would be one of the better parts of the patch - the difficulty is a bit higher than current heroic dungeons at current average gear levels; too much pulls can wipe but generally easy. That doesn't mean obviously that we can't make it easier by some twinking, of course. There's also the strong possibility that one day we would see Timewalking raids, which would make things......interesting, at least, depending on tunings and drops.
(Edit: Now that Patch 6.2.2 came and with it Timewalking Badges, we might really see more feature in the future, if only to just keep us occupied until Legion)
Therefore, here I will give out my ideas regarding Timewalking optimization from the viewpoint of an Arcane mage (though, if secondary weights are shifted, much should still hold), but note that in many parts I rely on speculation rather than proper simulation and calculation.
First of all, gem benefits in Timewalking for now (certainly things will be different if, 3 expansions later, we get WoD Timewalking) seem to be determined solely by color/rarity; all uncommon gems, after squish, give 6 primary/12 secondary, rare ones 8 primary/16 secondary, epic ones 10 primary/20 secondary. According to reports this also holds true for WoD gems (since not many people have actually MADE WoD epic gems, this might be a little hard to test. As I will explain just below, though, this probably hardly matters.)
(Those of you who dabble in old gem markets would know that this is basically the current state of affairs without any squish whatsoever, with only 2 differences - the numbers of WoD and MoP gems.)
At BC Timewalking Dungeons, at an enforced 95 ilvl, 2 sockets would about equal the inherent numbers of a necklace. As the Timewalking level goes up the importance of gems will probably recede, but for now I think optimization means the optimization of sockets.
Here we face some minor restrictions - all gems with mastery are from Cata and beyond, which means they cannot be gemmed on below-Cata gears. There are other differences between pre- and post- Cata gems which may or may not matter to mages, but here I cannot speak with any authority. However, the nature of socket-bearing gear is such that the best among them belong predominantly in MoP, so this should not be an issue unless my optimization is way off.
I assume that current primary/secondary values still hold for Timewalking (an assumption which relies on absolutely nothing - well, maybe on the cheapness of certain gems as compared to others, but that's all) and thus prefer the following gems:
Red Sockets - Artful Lava Coral (5 Int/10 Mastery)
Yellow Sockets - Fractured Lightstone (20 Mastery)
Blue Sockets - Sensei's Elven Peridot (10 Crit/10 Mastery)
Prismatic Sockets - Fractured Lightstone
(MoP gems are more readily available, but be warned that they give only 80% the value of any epic gem inside Timewalking. If Cata gems are too expensive, the following BC gems, which can be slotted onto anything with a socket and drops in abundance from Black Temple and Sunwell, can be considered, as long as you can find a charitable Jewelcrafter to cut them for you):
Red Sockets - Potent Pyrestone (5 Int/10 Crit)
Yellow Sockets - Smooth Lionseye (20 Crit)
Blue Sockets - Rigid Empryean Sapphire (20 Crit)
(If you are a Jewelcrafter, the BC cuts can all be bought for a pittance after grinding reputation with either the Shattered Sun Offensive by their dailies or with the Sands of Time by killing things inside Mount Hyjal. Also a thing to note is that Unique-Equipped JC-exclusive BC gems such as Blood of Amber (24 Crit) is a curious exception to most laws governing modern gems, in that they are obviously superior and available only to JC. Such cuts can be learned after grinding reputation with various BC factions to Honored/Revered.)
As for meta gems - I have no idea. I presume that Sinister Primal Diamond is so good that it necessitates equipping a MoP helm, but maybe not? Again, I got no numbers. Well, obviously, this is only a dilemma if you played during MoP. If, not just grab a caster dps looking meta gem from your gem supplier.
As for Enchants, the only real question is the weapon one. I have honestly no clue which one is the best. Some simple searches on the Internet failed to tell me which enchant simmed highest at level 70/80 for arcane. For the sake of convenience and saving money, I myself used Jade Spirit. Bleeding hollow is probably better, though. I imagine there is also no reason not to use any other post-WotLK enchants (Windsong/Elemental Spirit/etc.)
(For cloaks, I have not compared WoD enchants with previous ones, but I assume they will be similar to each other. For rings, there is simply no choice after the removal of all non-WoD ring enchants. For every other slot there's an obvious hierarchy of enchants; simply pick the top of the pile [which will usually be MoP ones.])
Oh, and find a scribe and a tailor too, to enchant your shoulder and leggings. Somewhat surprisingly, scribes retain their superior profession-specific shoulder enchants (at level 100, a +5 Int over non-scribes; the number at Timewalking levels is probably just somewhat notable.)
Gems are good. Cata gems are the best. BC gems second best.
Remember to MoP enchant every slot.
2, Tier Slots
Based on what I have argued above concerning gems, I would further claim that the more slots a tier slot possess, the better. While it is possible that some set bonuses can trump one or two sockets (and I know exactly nothing about how anything pre-T16 sims), I will assume that that's not the case. BC sets become useless in WotLK Timewalkings and WotLK sets have suspicious-looking itemizations anyway.
The sets that are the top contenders are therefore Chronomancer Regalia (T16, 11 Sockets), Regalia of the Chromatic Hydra (T15, 10 Sockets) and Time Lord's Regalia (T14, 11 Sockets), with all other mage sets having too few sockets.
(As an aside, it might be worth it to use non-regular tier slot pieces for T1, T2, T3 and T6. Or, heavens forbid, Vaulted Secret/Enigma Sets. But I am relatively sure that they aren't.)
The curious fact is that T14 and T16 do not have their sockets in the same place - T16 gloves have 2 sockets to T14's one, and T14 leggings have 3 sockets to T16's 2. T15, besides having suboptimal leggings and gloves, have the same sockets on the other 3 slots as the other 2 sets.
Theoretically you can mix and match all three sets, but I know nothing about set bonuses, have T16 from my MoP days and find T14 bonuses laughable (well, at least T14 2 piece, which gives you less than 1% haste in BC Timewalking.) Therefore I use 4 T16 and T14 leggings. A prodigious number of leggings also have 3 sockets, but Time Lord is probably the easiest to acquire.
T16 4 piece plus any 3-sockets Leggings.
As the author of "Gearing for Godhood in Timewalker Dungeons" mentioned, many end-of-expansion weapons have interesting procs that made them rivals of legendaries. However, as I already established I do not know how to crunch complicated numbers, so I just look at sockets as usual.
Taken together, the winner is probably Dragonwrath at 3 sockets and a legendary proc (no surprise there.)
Assuming you never bothered with Dragonwrath, the next runner up is Loshan, Terror Incarnate with any off-hand that has a socket. Loshan drops off ToES in any difficulty, while off-hands with a socket drops from SoO, ToT and, with great luck, any WoD instances (it should be practical to solo Bloodmaul Slag Mines until you get a Gug'rokk's Grandmother with a socket - normal, of course. I haven't heard any mage who solo'ed Heroic BSM.)
What we want here is Loshan's Sha-Touched Socket, which can fit in a +31 Int gem, meaning it has effectively 3 sockets of its own (probably, since I don't know if it get squished at all during Timewalking.) It can also be enhanced to give another socket; this plus the off-hand socket makes the pair possess 5 sockets in total, though whether or not 2 sockets beat Dragonwrath proc is left as an exercise to more professional folks. Oh, the off-hand enchant is a plus too.
Assuming you never bothered with either Dragonwrath or MoP in general (though I am uncertain if you'll in that case be bothered with what is essentially twinking), you'll probably want Nibelung, heroic edition (the normal version only got 2 sockets.) There are other staff in ICC that also have 3 sockets, but all of them have spirit. Of course, the fact that Nibelung has NEGATIVE stamina according to Wowhead during Timewalking makes me doubt whether or not the spirit is so bad after all. Honorable mention goes to Ti'thak, the Steps of Time from Dragon Soul. The rest is probably no better than whatever staff you use right now.
Get your Legendary Staff today!
(No, I have no idea if Atiesh works better or worse. I'm going to assume it's worse.)
No idea. As usual I suspect a pair of WoD trinkets with sockets beat everything, but that is both silly-sounding and rather impractical. I will personally just use whatever trinkets I raid with.
(Though DO note that SoO trinkets, Archimonde trinkets and all other such cooldown-reducing, stats-enhancing, generally-overpowered end-of-expansion trinkets are nerfed to oblivion during Timewalking - as a personal example, a 705 normal Archimonde Trinket reduces casting time and increases damage of Arcane Blasts by 2%. Dragon Soul/ICC trinkets are, however, generally not. Wowhead has also recently conveniently provided Timewalking squishing option on its item pages, if you want to check.)
Edit: The Bind on Account trinket Touch of the Void is supposedly a great trinket, but I have not tested it personally. It will likely not benefit from mastery and maybe not from spellpower/intelligence. These days I simply go with Prophecy of Fear/Desecrated Mark of Shadowmoon.)
5, Non-Tier, Non-Weapon, Non-Trinket Items
Following the line of thinking that socket is king, I simply have a list of items with the most sockets (or, if with equal sockets, the one with most mastery):
Neck: Flowform Choker, one socket, from Firelands. Necklace of the Terra-Cotta Invoker (ToT zone drop) and Lei Shen's Soul Prism (2 sockets, Lei Shen drop) might also be considered. Do note that Lei Shen's Soul Prism is nominally a healer item with spirit on it.
Cloak: Cloak of the Celestials, one socket and a legendary proc. If not, you can buy a Nanoprecise Cape from Justice Vendors for around 260g. Or get a drop from ToT/ICC.
Bracers: Bracers of Unconquered Power is the only 2 socket cloth bracers in the game.
Belt: Any belt with 2 sockets, the list of which is too long to consider here. However, you will need a blacksmith to make you a belt buckle for an extra socket. I went with my old SoO belt.
Boots: Many boots have 2 sockets (which is the maximum recorded on boots.) Easiest to acquire would be Janglespur Jackboots from Dragon Soul, but if you fancy it most BC and WotLK instances drop some. Here I will note that Ra-Den in Throne of Thunder drops the maximum socket gear for many slots (belt, boot, leggings, robes, rings, cloaks.) However, I will also note that I believe pugging ToT heroic is a nuisance. I personally used Falling Blossom Treads (Tailoring.)
Rings: One WoD Legendary-to-be (or Legendary), the other any ring with a socket, which is dropped all over the place. Shadowmight Ring deserves a mention for having STR and 2 sockets, one of the only 3 rings in the game with such a prodigious number (the other 2 drops from T9 - and are both STR rings too.) It might be worth it to suffer the 8 STR in exchange for 1 more socket - besides, Shadowmight Rings are routinely crafted by Jewelcrafters to be disenchanted into Infinite Dust as part of the WotLK shuffle; they can probably spare one or two of them.
But personally, I recommend Ashen Band of Endless Destruction, with a socket and a near-legendary proc (if we squish the 715 ring to its level, the two are probably similar in performance.) You can get it by grinding ICC and becoming Exalted with Ashen Verdict.
Highest Socket number wins.
So, sockets. As I said, moving up the Timewalking levels will probably make them less prominent, but right now it is the linchpin of Timewalking twinking. I suggest befriending a Jewelcrafter, preferably through doing BC raids together.
The most practical way to get all of this is probably to pug SoO each week, solo everything between ICC and Dragon Soul, and keep whatever has sockets on them.
At this stage I have basically these questions:
- How much are various set bonuses worth compared to sockets?
- Which weapon Enchant is the best?
- Which WEAPON is the best, considering sockets?
- Which Trinkets are the best?
Again, thank you all for taking the time to read this. I hope this will be useful to me, to you, and everyone involved.