Going All In on the Crystal Spire of Karabor

Poker is one of my favourite non-WoW activities and I know I’m not the only one. One of the cardinal skills you pick up as you play the cards is knowing when to go all in. My guild utilizes a DKP system (chips) and now that we’ve started to work on Illidan in order to take him out and get his phat loot (pot).

One of the items Illidan drops is the infamous Crystal Spire of Karabor.

Seeing as I know next to nothing about the supremeness of this mace, I’ve had to turn to my newest mentor, Wynthea, and ask several questions

Why is this weapon so good?

Basic Stats:

15 Int
22 Stam
486 Healing
6 Mp5

The stats would make it a good, well-rounded main-hand for any healing class, but nothing special. It’s roughly comparable to the Lightfathom Scepter (Vashj), Dark Blessing (Zul’jin), or the Gavel of Naaru Blessings (150 Badges from the 2.4 vendor). What gives this mace "Holy Grail" status is its additional effect:

If your target is below 50% heath, your direct healing spells will cause your target to be healed for an additional 180 to 220 health. 

I’ve always been adamant about using staves because I’ve wanted to spread the healing loot around as much as possible to the Paladins, Shamans, and Druids. I’ll make an exception here, however.

For a Paladin single-targeting a Main Tank, an extra 200 health points when their health is below half is nice, but not awe-inspiring. However, if you’re a priest charged with raid healing, an additional 200 health to each recipient of your Prayer of Healing or Circle of Healing when they need it the MOST is tremendous.

Bear with me for a short explanation (warning: MATH!):

The impact of bonus healing on the amount of output for a particular heal is not random. If you have 2000 bonus healing, it doesn’t mean that a Greater Heal with a base healing amount of 500 will heal for 2500. It also doesn’t get a random number up to 2500; there’s a coefficient.

This is where I grab an Asprin. But it’s because I’m mathematically challenged.

For Circle of Healing, that coefficient is 21.4% per target. At rank 5, CoH heals for a "base amount" of 409-451. So, if a priest has about 2300 bonus Healing, fully buffed, the equation looks like: 2300*21.4 + (random number between 409 & 451).

So, their CoH on a non-crit will heal for around 900-1000 per target. (CoH gets 492.2 from 2300 bonus healing) With the Crystal Spire, a target below 50% health would now be healed for 1080-1200 for a non-crit. It would     take around 3300 bonus healing to get that result without the spire, (x*21.4 + (random number from 409-451) = 1150. Solve for X) so the use-effect is worth around 1000 +healing in that situation. When it crits, it’ll hit for around 1500-plus. Just for comparison, that’s like 5 people getting instantly flash-of-lighted by a paladin all for less than 400 mana.

The effect is slightly less dramatic with Prayer of Healing, because Prayer gets a higher benefit from bonus healing – so the fact that the Spire contributes raw health points is a little less critical. That said, it’s still worth around 460 +healing.

Which classes benefit the most?

Shamans do benefit from the Spire, since Chain Heal qualifies as a direct heal, and hits 3 targets. Both healing waves would also receive the benefit to their single targets, which could help in certain situations. Most shamans I know, however, find more benefit from simply casting Chain Heal faster and opt. for Dark Blessing, from Zul’jin in ZA.

Great, so Shamans get overpowered again. It’s a good thing I have a higher chip stack than my Resto Shaman.

Paladins would see the increase to their properly-timed Flash of Lights or Holy Lights, but since Paladins are the work-horse single-target healers, they would see less advantage to equipping this mace than the bonus to spell crit given by the Hammer of Atonement Kazrogal drops in Mt. Hyjal. This is mostly due to the fact that Paladins are usually assigned to main tank healing. Given a single-target with something like 20k health, 200 additional points when they’re already below half and receiving damage hits in excess of 5 or 10k is not wholly worthless, but just an inefficient use of resources: a priest with the same mace in the same raid can get that SAME 200 extra health points to the Main Tank and everyone else in their group at the same time.

Hah. It’s no Benediction, but it’ll do.

For Druids, the extra bonus is almost completely worthless; it stipulates that it can only be triggered by a direct-heal, so Rejuvination and Lifebloom, need not apply. Swiftmend would get the benefit, but because of its cooldown, just doesn’t have the same utility as an always-available direct heal.

However, seeing as we are non Druids, we may not be correct in this assumption. Might there be a Druid of Restoness that would be willing to shed some light?

Priests see gains to Flash Heal or Greater Heal, as well as Binding Heal, CoH, and ProH. Prayer of Mending and Renew are NOT considered direct heals – although there is some question of whether a ProM bouncing off the priest with the Crystal Spire equipped would.

The idea here, though, is not what impact 200 HP might have on one single heal, but how much can we eek out of that 200 HP bonus. The answer is simply get as much use out of it as possible by hitting the highest number of targets that are below half health as quickly as possible. Priests, with a good ProH-CoH combo can hit 15 people with this proc in the space of 4.5 seconds or less.

Clearly, the mace was designed with the CoH priest in mind. Gimme. It also looks BADASS with our T6 gear.

What offhands can it be paired with?

Currently, the best healing off-hand in the game is the Scepter of Purification from Archimonde in Hyjal. Fortunately, though, the 35-badge Voodoo Shaker is comparable, and arguably 2nd-best in slot. There is no reason to NOT take the mace on the supposition that a weak off-hand would compromise its value in comparison with a staff.

Other good off-hands include:

Touch of Inspiration (Reliquary of Souls, Black Temple)

Talisman of the Sun-King (A’lar, Tempest Keep)

So after all that, it appears as though there is an item in the game worth going all in for. But I do know my Guildies read this.

On the other hand, I could be bluffing.

Staves vs Maces and Off hands

Staves vs Maces“First off i have to commend you for your hard work at making your blog the only one i have ever read. World of Matticus has almost all of the priest information i could hope to read and I have put to use many of the tips found therein. But i can’t find anything about the debate of Staff vs Mace+Offhand (healingwise). Is there a certain point where a staff would be better than the duel wielding combo? Is a mace-offhand settup always better? Please let me know what you think. Thank you for your limited time.”

That was an email I received from a player last night. Incidentally enough, I had a post about this already lined up. What excellent timing!

Back before Burning Crusade, there was one weapon that truly defined a Priest. Those who had it were idolized by Priests everywhere. When you saw it on the back of a Priest in front of you, immediately you would feel an aura of safety. I am referring to [item]Benediction[/item]. Oh how times have changed.

I’m going to present argument from two different sides: The best possible Priest approach and the team Priest approach.

The Best Possible Priest Approach

Do you want to be THE Priest? Do you want to have so much healing and MP5 that you can bring back Elvis? Then this is the setup for you. From what I’ve noticed, a Priest with an MH/OH combo will have slightly higher healing bonuses and a little more mana regeneration than a player with a Staff. But staves aren’t completely useless in their own right. They might lose a bit of +healing when compared to to the MH/OH, but there’s a lot more stats (stamina, intellect, etc). Therefore, if you care that much about min/maxing your Priest (in other words, making it as best as possible), then grabbing an MH/OH is the best way to go. But you have to realize that you’re not the only class that is able to use it.

You’ll be in direct competition with Paladins and Shamans (maybe Druids).

The Team Priest Approach

You don’t want to be the best Priest possible. You know that all the maces are being greedily eyed upon by the other healers because they are way more powerful. You also know that your fellow healers won’t give that awesome healing staff a chance and that it will get sharded. I have seen this happen far too many times. Healers are passing on items that help them in favour of getting an even better item. You may or may not know of my thoughts about this. Precious loot should not be wasted because you never know for sure when you will get the weapon that you want. I never once saw Light’s Justice or Shard of the Virtuous on my Priest.

I hope you can understand my main argument here. I’m not arguing from the perspective of being the super best healer. I’m arguing from the perspective of a healer who wants to contribute to the best of his or her ability with the tools they have.

By accepting the staff, you remove yourself from competing against the Shammies and the Pallies. Let them fight over the mace and spend their precious DKP. A simple minimum bid just gave you nearly the same amount of healing at half the price. Again, this is dependent on your Guild and the style of loot distribution that you have.

Think about your raid healer setup.

In Carnage, we have:

  • 2 Holy Priests
  • 3-4 Paladins
  • 1 Resto Shaman

The Paladins and Shamans are going to go after 1H’s because they want something to complement their Shields. The other holy Priest doesn’t like staves. That leaves me to obtain loot at half price because these turkeys aren’t going to use it anyway! By taking it, I benefit the raid as a whole because it increases my healing and speeds up the gearing process.

I even save a little DKP because I don’t have to bid on both a mace and an offhand. I don’t have to wait for 2 bosses to drop the 2 items that I need. I only need to kill 1 boss repeatedly.

I am sacrificing my potential to be the best possible Priest later to help the raid now.

To finalize

Whatever weapon you choose to go with is affected by different factors.

  • Your guild
  • Loot distribution methods
  • Your style of play
  • Personality
  • Phase of the moon

Just understand that arguments can be made for either class. I don’t view myself as a selfish raider. I want to get to the end of the game as fast as possible and if I have to lose 30 healing over it, then I can sleep soundly with no problems. Besides, the extra stamina means I’ll live just a bit longer then Paulina Priest over there.

That’s why I opted for my new staff instead of waiting on Vasj to drop her mace.

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