Against the Grain #4
Breastplate of Valor has long been the favorite item of those who build into Breastplate (555 Gold/+20 Physical Protection). The versatility of this item in the game makes it a solid choice on almost any given character and in any place on the map as it provides a significant chunk of physical protection and mana, along with a hefty amount of cooldown reduction (CDR). Recent changes to the meta, however, have prompted me to re-evaluate picking up Breastplate of Valor over its sister item, Mail of Renewal—an item most players forget is in the game. Too often players will argue that Mail of Renewal is not as effective as Breastplate of Valor, and I would like to make the opposite argument: Mail of Renewal is a solid item for the current meta of SMITE.
Let’s look at the items side by side:
Looking only at the green versus red of the chart, it would seem Breastplate is the better item. It’s more complicated than this.
Overall, you save 115 gold and gain more protections and cooldown reduction when you buy Breastplate of Valor. However, the important thing to note is the lack of health that comes with it: Mail of Renewal includes a generous amount of health in its final form, comparable to a Mystical Mail and more than a Sovereignty or a Hide of the Nemean Lion (each provides 200 health). For a midlane Mage trying to pick up a physical defense item, Mail of Renewal provides more health points to outlast the opposing magical damagers, too—while also protecting against the physical opponents. This gives the midlane player an advantage over an opponent who picks up Breastplate of Valor: less health to deplete to get a kill. For solo and jungle gods, the same is true. The versatility of Mail of Renewal in its protection helps when they regroup with the team in the late game to face the various forms of damage being thrown at them.
When to Choose Mail of Renewal
To me, choosing Mail of Renewal over Breastplate of Valor is made simple when I consider the implications of my overall build, especially as a Mage. Mages still have access to Shoes of Focus, which provides 10% CDR at the cost of the power found in Shoes of the Magi. A build which will pick up Mail of Renewal can always opt into Shoes of the Magi for greater power in the earlier stages of the game. Likewise, planning to build Breastplate of Valor in most cases locks a player out of building Chronos’ Pendant—the CDR cap of 40% means that you have “overcapped” your cooldown reduction, which is simply poor itemization. Picking of Mail of Renewal allows a player to build both Chronos’ Pendant and Shoes of the Magi, coming in at 35% CDR overall and also gaining a good bit of magic power, MP5, physical protections, and health with these three items. Choosing Breastplate of Valor, locking a player out of Chronos’ Pendant, denies that player increased MP5 and Magical Power (which, admittedly, can be made up for with the now-vacant item slot).
The biggest thing not yet mentioned about Mail of Renewal is its passive effect. The item heals 10% of the god’s maximum Health and Mana over a period of 5 seconds when they get a god kill or assist. In the late game, where team fights are breaking out and assists are easy to get, this potentially results in an overall 50% regeneration during and after the fight—enough to take one more objective or clear one more wave before having to return to the fountain for a full heal. This passive is easily the most overlooked part of Mail of Renewal and its implications in team fights, especially for a mid lane player who is perpetually surrounded by both enemies and allies, are greater than most players realize.
In Conquest, where two Auto Attack based gods on a team is currently the norm, I say Mail of Renewal has its place. The health gained allows you to take one or two more shots from a Hunter, giving greater sustain in a matchup while, again, also allowing you to absorb other damage sources. The Physical Protection difference is present, but made up for by the addition of health. Mid and Solo players looking outside of the Iron Mail item tree should reconsider Mail of Renewal in their builds.
Mail of Renewal is a viable item overall, especially if you are a mid lane Mage player. It requires a bit more management of your mana and more thought given to your overall build, but you gain a great deal of sustain from the item for the extra gold you are putting into it. Next time you are worrying about those pesky Hunters, please remember Mail of Renewal is in the game. It might just save your life.
Written by Joshua Newberry
This article, along with a cacophony of others, will appear in Issue #15 of The Official SMITE Magazine which launches June 23rd. Be sure to check it out!