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Defense on Middle Lane Mages?

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Forum » Theory Crafting » Defense on Middle Lane Mages? 5 posts - page 1 of 1
Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep by DV-8 » September 1, 2017 8:40pm | Report
Hi, everyone!

I've been doing a lot of theory crafting lately. An interesting thing that I came across is building pure defense items on Mages when playing in Conquest's middle lane.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if other people have been doing this as well, but I have just recently discovered this :P

Up until now, I was under the impression that as the only real magic damage dealer on the team (other than the traditional Guardian support), I should be building pure power and penetration. Strictly offense, or a glass cannon if you will. When I did build a defensive item, it was something that also gave me some offensive power such as a Stone of Fal.

However, I have found that it can be in the best interest of the player to build a pure defense item to counter build the biggest threat to you. Initially, I thought that neglecting to build another power item would hurt my ability to perform. However, in a way, this helps your offense by allowing you to position yourself more aggressively, not have to play as passive to avoid being punished, and give you better survival ability so that you can keep supporting your team.

Some interesting options that I have found are:

  • Magi's Blessing: This is a great, cheap option for countering crowd control and giving you tons of effective health.

  • Winged Blade: A good anti-slow effect, crowd control reduction, movement speed, and lots of health for the price.

  • Relic Dagger: If you are against a heavy crowd control team, the extra cooldown on your Purification Beads can be a life saver. In addition, it provides you with health, movement speed, and cooldown reuction.

  • Spectral Armor: Giving a bunch of physical protection and crowd control reduction, this item also helps you escape vs melee gods by applying a fear effect for 1 second, which can allow you a window of opportunity to flee to safety.

  • Spirit Robe: If you are up against crowd control and need extra protections, this will supply you with them, as well as some crowd control reduction and cooldown reduction


This isn't an exhaustive list, rather just examples of what could be included.

Another reason this doesn't really hurt your offense is because a lot of the times, you can catch enemies neglecting to build large amounts of magical protections, so your attacks will still pack a punch if you build one less power item. Why do people prioritize physical defense? Because physical damage is everywhere. Minions, towers, phoenixes, and the titan all deal physical damage. Additionally, a traditional team composition of one of each class will consist of 3 physical and 2 magical, one of those magical being a defensive support. You can even see this in recent patches, where they removed the magical defense from Shifter's Shield's base stats, to encourage magical damage. If the enemy does use up item slots to counter your magical damage, that leaves the door open for your physical teammates to capitalize.

It is important to talk about when to build these items, though. Picking up a pure defense item right after boots is going to hurt you majorly. Instead, it is recommended that if you are to build a defensive item, that you do it later in the match, once you have established your offense (built stacks, built your most important power items, etc.).

So, I'm interested to hear thoughts on this. Do you think the power sacrifice is worth it for the protections? Where do you draw the line on what defensive item to build? Are there any synergies that stand out? Why?

Thanks for reading :D

DV-8
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep by Branmuffin17 » September 2, 2017 1:56am | Report
Super cool post, DV-8. In many cases these days, most mages, other than some obvious ones like Hades and Zhong Kui, are built full glass cannon. And if you DO build a defensive item, I wouldn't be surprised if you were ridiculed. Meta rules, huh?

That said, there are varying degrees of viable options for giving oneself a bit more survivability. Rigidity in a build isn't necessarily a good thing, even for a high damage god. Adaptation to specific circumstances is important, so paying attention to things like enemy god choices, enemy builds, etc., can really help.

Hybrid items - those that provide some measure of offense while providing something obviously defensive - aren't always the most popular, but they're potentially good options. These include things like:
But you're mostly talking one step further...items that, for the most part, don't provide power or penetration of any type. I think there are certain situations where one full defense item can really make a difference...depending on how the enemy builds, it could be the difference between them doing true damage or getting a decent amount of damage mitigated...or the difference between you getting ganked or escaping.

One example is Daelinn's Anubis build/guide, where he strongly believes in Spirit Robe. Why? He doesn't have an escape, and although lifesteal helps, he's a sitting duck for a ton of incoming damage while he's unleashing his Plague of Locusts or Death Gaze. What better than to have an item that not only gives him some CDR, but a balance of protections, built in % mitigation (which is applied even before protections), and CC reduction. Not like he's hurting for damage output anyway.

Some of your other options are also reasonable picks...
  • Magi's Blessing is all about the health and passive Beads function...ignore the measly protections. If the enemy team has way too much CC and you're getting locked down too much, people do get this, but rarely...it was more popular when you actually had to BUY relics (back when they were called Actives).

  • [Winged Blade]] isn't really picked up by mages these days, as much as I know. It was a very popular Support pickup for faster rotations, before Talaria/Travelers became the meta.

  • Relic Dagger is probably the one in this list that I wouldn't ever recommend for burst mages. The set of stats it provides are nice and cheap, but I'd probably say there are always better options.

  • Spectral Armor is a pure assassin counter...Duo previously made me more aware of this one. It's got a funky passive that you can't control, but if the enemy Thor likes to ult in on you from nowhere, stun you twice then proceed to demolish you, he'll think twice after his combo is screwed up by this item.

  • Spirit Robe was mentioned previously.

  • Breastplate of Valor is, in rare cases, an option if you find a weird enemy comp with only physical gods being major threats, or for whatever reason they chose 4 physical gods (or you're playing Assault and that happens). I guess Genji's Guard, in the same vein, should also be mentioned.
Very good points about magical and physical protections.

As for WHEN to build...you're right, in many cases you'll wait until later in the build, so as to not ruin your power curve as everyone is still leveling up and you're fighting in your lane. However, I think some of those hybrid items I mentioned should be considered in the general context of the defense discussion as well. Celestial and Dynasty are both low price, and are good counter options to fight aggressive early strength Assassins.

I think as long as you cover the core items for the mage, these ideas can be options, but whether it's worth it or not will always be situational to the match and the mage you're playing. For me, I draw the line at items like Hide of the Urchin, Sov/Jade/Heart/Thebes, and for 99.99% of the time, Shogun's/Pest/Oni/Emperor's/Midgardian.

Again, great post.

Branmuffin17
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep by DV-8 » September 2, 2017 11:27am | Report
Great input, Bran!

I forgot about Genji's Guard to be honest. It is such a good item right now. The huge MP5 would benefit mages as well, and would serve you well against your lane opponent (assuming they are a mage).

I'm a big fan of hybrid item options by the way. I think a little defense goes a long way, and try to build at least one defensive item on every character. As you touched on, defensive doesn't necessarily mean protections. It could be something like lifesteal. As far as pure defensive items go, this is for when I really want to commit to a defensive option that can save me from my opponent's biggest threat.

I can see Winged Blade being picked up on mages with no escape such as Ra or Ah Puch.

Relic Dagger is really just for the relic cooldown. I've seen team comps with a Blink Ares support and an Artio solo with Nemesis jungle. Yikes. That can be scary as a mid laner, especially one with low mobility. There are some situations where you just know your beads and aegis will be needed often. You said there are better options, though. What would you recommend in these scenarios?

Interesting food for thought. Glad to hear your opinion on the matter. You always offer great ideas.

DV-8
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep by Branmuffin17 » September 2, 2017 2:28pm | Report
I do want to point out one argument against protection items. For gods that focus on damage, getting one of these can be considered a crutch. Their argument is "if you're getting ganked, you're out of position."

Granted, there's possibly some truth to that, but every case is different. Some gods need to be played more aggressively. Sometimes teammates don't warn, or back off when they should be supporting you.

What these protection items do is give some allowance for those very human mistakes, or allow you to be more aggressive in dangerous situations than you might otherwise be.

Relic Dagger just is a weird item for a mage. The 10% CDR and movespeed is nice, and any health is appreciated, but if you're needing aegis/beads that often, then either you need to just straight up play more conservatively with positioning or whatever. No one should be relying on their relics to that extent that you're dead without it.

The other options I was mentioning were just some of the other things we discussed. Subbing out Bancroft's late game for Book of the Dead for the extra health buffer, things like that. And if the threat is that high, it's just making sure you stick with teammates and have them take some of the attention.

In other cases, sometimes there's just nothing you can do...when you've got a bad team, you've got a bad team.

Branmuffin17
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep by xZeroStrike » September 2, 2017 2:36pm | Report
I think Relic Dagger is more of a thing in cases where you often run into this:

"Oh I died... ah, look at that, Aegis only had 2 seconds left on cooldown... fantastic."

Though it is true that if you're relying on it that desperately to save your life over and over again, that's just you making bad plays.

xZeroStrike
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