Shifter’s has gone through a few changes in its long history in Smite. For a while though it has been regarded as a pretty useless item. The former theory-crafter and current Paladins designer, James ‘Krett’ Horgan, highlighted the failings of the old Shifter’s shield. He showed that Void Shield was not just better defensively but provided more damage thanks to the pen. Shifter’s shield has always tried to be a Jack of all trades. Unfortunately, the theme has always been master of none.
The new Shifter’s Shield is incredibly good. Gone are the days of being a master of none, instead it is a case of one size fits all. This is what Hi-Rez wanted. They said in the patch notes that they ‘want to highlight this aspect of the item’ (Its multi-purpose role). The item lives up to its name now, going from a very offensive item to a strong defensive item, shifting its role to your needs. Let’s see what it does compared to other items, when it’s fulfilling either one of its roles. When it’s damage and power you are looking for, it provides 70 power. That is the third highest physical power base in the game. Only being beaten by Bloodforge at 75 power and Transcendence at 97 power (fully stacked and at level 20 on a Hou-Yi). Both these items are more expensive, considerably so at 2850 and 2600 respectively.
When we look at what it provides defensively, the numbers are great again. While above 50 percent health, the 15 of each protections it provides are a nice little boost, but nothing special. However, the 50 protections it provides while under 50 percent health is very noticeable. For comparison, a Spirit Robe only provides 40 and you would need five stacks on a Hide of the Urchin to get the same amount of protections. While I am not arguing that this makes you as survivable as a Spirit Robe due to the great passive it provides, it does show that Shifter’s does do the job rather well.
By amplifying the passive, the practicality of this item has gone through the roof. Who are most likely to build this item? Junglers, as we have seen in the SPL so far, this has become a staple third item for Junglers. Amplifying the passive is incredibly important, particularly for Junglers. This is the case because of how Junglers play the game. When you go in for the gank and blow your kit on whichever poor laner has attracted your ire, 70 power is incredible. However, counter-rotations are a thing you will encounter. You are also most likely an assassin, balancing that tight rope of having to be right on top of people while being squishy. So, this item allows you to gank powerfully, and then helps you get out, running away spamming the VEL’s.
An example of this is God’s like Thor. You dunk in right on everybody’s face, drop all your cooldowns with the 70 power bonus then as you get focused the 50 protections really help you either finish of a target with a few AA’s and gives you enough time to get your hammer off cooldown for the escape. Another example would be Camazotz, who is seeing a massive rise in popularity. As like Thor you have to be right in the thick of things and unless you are using your ult for escape, which is not ideal you do not have a huge amount of escape. The early protections of Shifter’s when combined with his natural sustain do give you the survivabilty required to get out after your picks. It also allows you to get the picks as your damage has not been hampered like it would normally from building early protections.
This is not just a Jungler’s item, ADC’s and Solo’s are building it too. Most notably ADC’s, and the question is why wouldn’t they? Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar on the first day of the Summer Split showed us the Shifter’s on a Hou-Yi, and others have followed suit. It is a great power base and a much quicker power spike than the Transcendence, being cheaper and not requiring stacks. Being an ADC is like having a target on your back all the time. You spend most of the laning phase in the longest lane, often by yourself. You are also incredibly squishy, with normally one movement ability being the sum total of your survivability. The late game damage you provide also incentivises people to be gunning for your life. Be it to stop you getting to that late game, or the inability to let you free cast once it has become the late game. So, as a hunter, finally being able to build defense without sacrificing power is a dream come true.
For Solo laners, it has not been quite as prevalent as the other two primarily physical roles. However, as Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov showed in game 2 against Rival, it is a great way to capitalise on a lead. He got ahead on Sun Wukong and went into a third item Shifter’s. This made the already higher level Sun Wukong really start to swing. This showed in the amount of early kills he was getting. Let’s not forget the great synergy this item has with the Sun Wukong passive.
Another big problem Shifter’s Shield has always had is that it does not give you any pen. However, nowadays Physical pen is so much easier to build than it ever has been. From the Jungler’s viewpoint, lots of builds currently have three of the four maces being built. The Crusher, which is the one mace not being built regularly, is not an awful item either. It also bridges me to the next major role using Shifter’s, ADC’s. With Ichvial, Fatalis and Executioner being so prevalent in hunter builds as well as full access to the mace tree, they are not short of pen either. Also, the Shifter’s is mainly being built by ADC’s in the place of what would be a Transcendence. So they haven’t actually lost any pen in the build, just gained a shed-load of on demand protections.
Overall, this Item is probably a bit too strong at the moment. Also Hi-Rez has made a point of trying to create build diversity and avoid cookie cutter builds. Something Shifter’s in its current form is not doing, everyone’s buying it. It pains me to say this as someone who spends most of his time in the Jungle or in ADC, but it does need a nerf. However, I love how the item works and think it should remain in the meta. It would be a mistake to relegate it to the state of uselessness it has spent most of its life being. I think the easiest way to do this would be a slight price increase and see how that works. However, that may be enough just considering how much this item gives you.
Top Image Courtesy of Smite Wiki