Saturday, March 23, 2013

The State of Mikael's Crucible

Introduction

Season 3 possibly brought the biggest change to League of Legends with the many different items that were introduced or changed. A lot of items were obviously good at first glance, such as Black Cleaver and Warmogs. But with overpowered items also came very underwhelming ones, such as Hurricane and Mikael's Crucible. These items are very niche and rarely see play, if any at all. In particular, I have yet to see a single Mikael's Crucible bought in any of my games. Why is that?


Item Analysis

First, let's break it down. In order to make Mikael's Crucible, you need a Chalice of Harmony (880g), a Sapphire Crystal (400g), and an additional 920g, for a total of 2200g. The finished item retains the Chalice passive and adds an active which functions as a QSS on another target and a minor heal. The best usage of MC would be against a team with a lot of single target CC or if you have a team that is unable to peel well for your carries.

The nature of MC clearly makes it a support item, but therein lies the first problem. The items used to make it are not items you would get on a support. Chalice is more geared towards champions that are spamming their abilities and with the exception of Sona, you don't see this happening with supports. Likewise, the inclusion of a Sapphire Crystal gives additional mana which is, while not completely unhelpful, just adding on to the cost of the item without giving too much benefit, which brings me to the next problem.

MC is too expensive, particularly the combine cost. Let's assume you decide to buy a Chalice because you want to have more mana regen in lane. Now you have to gather an additional 1320g, more gold than Chalice itself, in order to complete the item. The ONLY benefit you have at this time is more mana regeneration and once you have the Sapphire Crystal, 200 more mana. As a support that has to rely on passive gold gain to make that much and forgo buying other items, such as wards and potions, that is going to take a very long time to get.

Now, compare Chalice to every alternative that a support should be getting.

  • Philosopher's Stone costs 700g, provides the same amount of base mana regeneration as Chalice, health regeneration, and gold per 5 seconds, an essential part to being able to get items on a support. 
  • Kage's Lucky Pick costs 765g, gives AP and also gold per 5. 
  • Sightstone costs 950g, gives health (better survivability) and free wards, saving you gold in the long run. 
  • Kindlegem costs 850g, gives CDR, and more health, which also equates to better survivability and builds into several great utility items. 

So while Chalice might look like a good item by itself, there are far superior options to it for supports.

For some reason, you are madly in love with MC and still went ahead and bought it. What did you miss out on getting?

  • Shurelya's Reverie costs 2100g, builds off Philosopher's Stone and Kindlegem, and provides a great movement speed boost to your team every 60 seconds, which can be used in offensively and defensively.
    • It's important to note that the extra gold made from Philosopher's Stone will get you the total gold cost quicker.
  • Aegis of the Legion costs 2150g, builds off an Emblem of Valor, a Null-Magic Mantle, and a Ruby Crystal (all items that provide survivability immediately on purchase), and provides various defensive auras for your team.
  • Locket of the Iron Solari costs 1850g, builds off a Kindlegem, a Cloth Armor and a Rejuvenation Bead (which also all provide survivability immediately on purchase), and provides a shield for your team every 60 seconds.
  • Twin Shadows costs 1900g, builds off Kage's Lucky Pick and a Null-Magic Mantle, and sends out two ghouls which slow the two nearest enemies every 120 seconds, allowing for your team to catch enemies easier.
    • Likewise with Shurelya's, the extra gold made from Kage's Lucky Pick will get you the total gold cost quicker.
Great, you now know the common support items in League of Legends! Now, compare them to this:
  • You increase your (base) mana regeneration by 1% for each 1% of your mana missing.
  • Every 180 seconds, you can remove all stuns, roots, taunts, fears, silences, and slows on an allied champion and heals them for 150 + 15% of their missing health.
The active ability is very underwhelming compared to other support items. Other items provide much more utility for their team (and have much lower cool downs) and also provide the support with more desirable stats. Once the active has been used, you are sitting with a 2200g chalice for the next three minutes. It's simply not worth getting MC over any other support item at this time.

Let's take an in-depth look into the ability itself. Every 3 minutes, you have a targetable QSS and a minor heal on someone, most of the time a carry. The nature of the item is geared towards teams that have a lot of single target CC, making it a situational item. However, when is a carry going to be put in a situation that they will actually be cc'd? Competent teams are not going to allow their carry to get dived by champions with hard cc, they are going to react and push them back. Likewise, if a team is running from an enemy and one person gets caught, most of the time the team will react to it and turn around to fight. MC might seem like a good item on paper for heavy cc teams, but in reality a carry should almost never find themselves in a situation that they need to be broken free.

Now, there are situations when a carry will get dived, no matter a teams best intentions. We are seeing a rise in assassin play in the LCS, namely Zed, Akali, Kha'zix and Elise to name the big ones. They are able to rush past the front line and deal straight up massive damage to a carry, no CC needed. This is where the heal should shine, but it is very weak. Assuming a carry has 2k hp, using this whey they are missing 1700 hp makes MC heal for a total of 405 hp (203 with ignite on them, also a common occurrence). This is not going to save a carry and for 2200g, it should make a bigger difference.

New ability suggestion

I believe that the niche that MC needs to be adjusted for is the one described above. Being able to mitigate the burst damage by an assassin would make the item more favorable, hands down. Since Exhaust already exists to reduce the damage output on a champion, a better active ability for MC should be to reduce the damage taken on a champion. If you are familiar with World of Warcraft, there exists a Priest ability called Pain Suppression, which decreases a targets damage taken by 40% for 8 seconds. I'm not going to run numbers or anything, but something like 20% reduced damage intake for 3-5 seconds would help a carries survivability far more than the current MC ability. Or even a barrier placed on the ground that everyone inside of it takes reduced damage if a single target wasn't enough. Anything that could help mitigate assassin damage would be a step in the right direction for MC.


New build path

As I went over above, the build path for MC is not very desirable for a support. A good build path include passive gold gain, more survivability, or some sort of utility for your team. An example of a good item path would be something like:
  • Mana Manipulator (500g)
    • Faerie Charm (180g)
    • Faerie Charm (180g)
  • Kindlegem (850g)
    • Ruby Crystal (375g)
  • 400g to combine
Mana manipulator will still give a decent amount of mana regeneration while providing it to your team as well.  Kindlegem gives the support some survivability, but you can pretty much replace that with any sort of desirable support item. The point is that the build path needs to be better for a support and something like the above would accomplish that.

Conclusions

Mikael's Crucible is currently a very underwhelming support item that doesn't fit its intended niche very well and doesn't give desirable stats for the support. A better fit for the item would be against heavy assassin teams and an ability that helps mitigate the burst damage done to carries, something that is more powerful on a single target than the shield from Locket of the Iron Solari. I feel like Riot had something good in mind when creating MC, but it fell flat and needs to be redone.

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