A Guide to Magical Penetration in Season 7 Smite
Tue 17th Mar 2020 - 9:32pm
Another Smite season, another Mage item revamp. In Season 6, Mages were getting too much penetration and dealt too much damage to tanks. Guardians were also abusing penetration and dealing too much damage in the early game. Season 7 saw magic penetration go through several changes including the removal of early flat pen and a rework of Obsidian Shard. In this article, we will cover what changed with magical penetration and how these changes affect the game as a whole.
Penetration is a strong stat in Smite. Each point of penetration means that your damage is calculated as if your opponent had one less protection of your damage type. To understand how much damage penetration provides, you have to look at the protection equation. The equation is: damage taken = raw damage x (100)/(100+ protection).
The higher the protection value, the less damage taken. At 0 protections, the equation becomes damage taken = raw damage, meaning you take true damage. The percent mitigation that protections provide comes just from the ratio. At 100 protections, you take half damage from that damage type. At maximum protections, 325, you take about 23.5% damage, or just under a quarter of the raw damage.
In terms of mitigation, each point of protection matters less than the previous point. This means that flat penetration does more damage against squishier targets than those that have bought defense items. You still want to buy penetration against opponents that have a lot protections, or you just won’t do any damage to them. Percent penetration is great against tankier targets. If someone has 200 magical protections, an item with 10% penetration effectively has 20 pen, which is more penetration than what a flat pen item will give you.
Smite has items and abilities that reduce the protection of targets. Penetration and protection reduction interact according to an order of operations. First, percent protection reduction and then flat reduction are calculated, then percent penetration comes in before flat penetration is applied to determine your target’s effect protection value. Percent mitigation is calculated before penetration while the flat mitigation from Warrior’s Blessing is subtracted after the protection equation.
Patch 7.1 introduced changes to magical penetration.
Magical penetration caused a few problems in Season 6. Obsidian Shard was providing too much penetration against tanks and causing Mages to deal too much damage in the late game to these tanks. In addition, Obsidian Shard was seen as mandatory in Mage builds and there was little downside because it still provided good damage in all situations. Spear of the Magus was also an offender in giving Mages too much penetration. Mages could build one or two penetration items and negate a Guardian or Warrior’s build, which does not feel good as a god that is supposed to be tough and durable.
In Season Seven, Magical penetration was overhauled. Obsidian Shard and Spear of the Magus were both reworked and given new passives. Early flat penetration was removed from some items and several magical items gained 10% penetration. That last point might seem counterintuitive, but percent magical penetration is now capped at 40%. It will take several item slots to gain the penetration that Obsidian Shard used to provide against tanky enemies. Some flat penetration items survived the changes, so Mages can shred more than single digit protections off of other squishy characters.
Magical Penetration was also a problem when wielded by Guardians. Guardians had access to flat penetration in the early game from Shoes of the Magi. This flat penetration allowed Guardians to deal a lot of damage to squishy characters, especially when combined with Stone of Binding and Void Stone. All of these items were changed in Patch 7.1 to push Guardian damage into a healthier spot.
Some magical penetration items caused problems in Season 6.
Not all magical penetration items were changed in Patch 7.1. The 15 penetration remained untouched on both Divine Ruin and Spear of Desolation. Several magical items received extra magical power in the penetration overhaul, and Spear of Desolation was one such item, gaining 10 power in the transition.
Toxic Blade is an item that has damage type agnostic penetration, and unlike other items with the stat, was untouched in this update.
A couple penetration items survived the Season 7 patch.
Dynasty Plate Helm was reworked in Season 7. It changed from a 1700 gold bridge item into a tier 2 item that builds into the brand-new Tyrannical Plate Helm. In this change, magical penetration was dropped off of the helmet. The flat pen was helping Guardians, primarily in the solo lane, deal too much damage and its new final item also lacks the stat.
Rangda’s Mask, as well as its tier 2 version, Fighter’s Mask, had their penetration stat removed in exchange for 15 additional power.
Shoes of the Magi also saw its penetration removed. In exchange, its power was pushed to 75. In patch 7.3, Shoes of the Magi will gain 100 mana and 8% lifesteal to make it a more attractive item after getting nerfed in the seasonal patch.
Early sources of flat magical penetration were removed.
Several items gained 10% penetration in the Season 7 transition. All of these items lost other stats to compensate. Pythagorem’s Piece traded 10% CDR for its pen. Typhon’s Fang and Staff of Myrddin lost 10 power while Soul Reaver lost 20 power and got 100 gold added to its cost in exchange for 10% penetration. Warlock’s Staff saw a minor rework where it lost 50 health on the item itself and the passive greatly changed. Instead of 300 health and 50 power for 100 stacks, the new Warlock’s Staff stacks up to 75 times and maxes out at 75 health and 75 power. Warlock’s Staff is still the health stacking item for Mages, but it comes with more damage than before.
Four magical items gained 10% penetration in the new season.
Items that reduce the protection of enemies also saw changes in the seasonal transition. Stone of Binding now reduces the protection of enemies by 10, instead of 15, when you CC them. Void Stone and Ward Stone lost their flat production reduction entirely and now their aura provides percent protection reduction. Ward Stone reduces the magical protections of enemies by 5% while the full Void Stone strips 10% of enemies’ protections. These changes mean that tanky enemies feel Void Stone more than squishies. With the flat reduction, Guardians mad Hunters and Mages take considerable damage. With only 10% protection reduction, squishy characters don’t mind Void Stone that much. Against targets with less than 150 protections, Void Stone is less effective, but gods that buy a couple magical protection items feel Void Stone’s aura more than in the last season.
Demonic Grip was also nerfed from reducing magical protections by 12% per stack to reducing the protections by 10% per stack. It is still a good item for basic attack Mages, but lacks a bit of umph in Season 7.
Spear of the Magus was reworked in Patch 7.1 The ability for Mages, especially those with damage over time abilities, to reduce someone’s magical protections by 50 was extreme for one item and meant that these Mages dealt true damage to squishies and major damage to tanks. In Season 7, Spear of the Magus was changed to still boost dot damage, but in a different way. Now, the item causes subsequent hits of the same ability to deal 5% increased damage, stacking 6 times. This means that Spear of the Magus would still be good on characters like Kukulkan and Anubis, but less strong on Poseidon and Merlin. Spear of the Magus still has its 10 flat penetration, but it no longer increases the damage of follow up abilities or magical allies.
Items that reduce the protections of enemies were also nerfed in the penetration overhaul.
Obsidian Shard was a problem in Season 6 and many item changes in this article ripple from the need to change Obsidian Shard to better balance magical penetration. Instead of a scaling penetration value between 15 and 45% of the target’s magical protection, Obsidian Shard was stuck with just 20% penetration and given a cost increase to 2550 gold. It was also given a passive that causes your next ability cast, not hit, to gain 10% magical penetration. This can only occur every 10 seconds. This 10% extra penetration ignores the penetration cap, meaning that every 10 seconds, you can have an ability that ignores 50% of the target’s protections, slightly higher than the max of the old version of Obsidian Shard. This new passive allows Obsidian Shard to spike a tank with a damaging ability, but subsequent attacks or combos do not benefit from the bonus penetration. Spell Focus, the tier 2 version of Obsidian Shard was also changed, its old passive was removed, and it just provides power and 10% penetration.
Obsidian Shard caused problems in Season 6 and necessitated a change to magical penetration as a whole.
In addition to the items removed or changed, Season 7 added a magical penetration item to Smite. Charon’s Coin costs 2600 gold and builds off of Restored Artifact. Charon’s Coin comes with 80 power, 20% penetration, and 20 mp5. Charon’s Coin stacks on god kill or assist, gaining a stack of either 7 hp5 or 2% movement speed, randomly. Each stat stacks up to 4 times and the item evolves at 8 total stacks. In addition, each stack grants the owner 1 gold.
Once evolved, the coin is flipped on god kill or assist. The item randomly provides either 150 heath over 6 seconds or 5% movement speed for 6 seconds. Once again, Charon’s Coin grants its user 1 gold when triggered. The sound effect is also very loud, so everyone will know when a Mage got a kill or assist.
Charon’s Coin was a popular item in the Smite Challenger Circuit qualifiers. Charon’s Coin can be bought second or third in order to stack it early. Charon’s Coin can also be bought in the late game and can quickly stack if you win a couple team fights. This item alone contributes half of the magical penetration cap and its damage doesn’t go up when stacked, only the utility it provides. As the pre-SPL competitions rage on, Charon's Coin has been being built later and less often. It is a not a be-all-end-all item, but it does have its uses.
Charon's Coin is a new penetration item in Smite that stacks utility on kill participation.
Penetration is a strong damage stat in Smite and Season 7 saw a shakeup of magical penetration items. A Cap of 40% penetration from item items was implemented because Mages were becoming too good at killing tanks. Obsidian Shard and Spear of the Magus were overhauled to fit the new paradigm. Several Magical items were given 10% penetration while some of early game items had their penetration removed. Charon’s Coin is a new item in Smite that has seen play in the competitive scene of the new season. With these changes to magical penetration, it will be interesting to see how players, especially in the Smite Pro League, adapt and build their Mages throughout Season 7.