Smite - A Comprehensive Merlin Guide



Mon 26th Aug 2019 - 7:46pm

Merlin is the most powerful wizard from the Arthurian Mythology. He is King Arthur’s great friend and mentor, and an incredible god to play on Smite!

The plan of this guide is to show you the main features of this god, his multiple combinations, his role in a match, abilities and builds, what are his Pros and Cons, as well as a few tips on how to play him with confidence and pleasure. First of all, let’s start with the abilities of the master magician.

Passive: Overload

Do you like Polynomicon? Well this is basically a free mini Poly hit (without the lifesteal and not so hard) every time Merlin casts an ability. He has a maximum of 3 stacks, so with a successive barrage of spells, you can get the 3 enhanced basic attacks. Just make sure you use them!

Ultimate Ability: Elemental Mastery

Why did I jump all the abilities and went directly to the Ultimate? Because Merlin’s ultimate ability is both a damaging spell and a stance switch, which is available from lvl 1, but doesn’t do damage until you level it up when you reach lvl 5. He can switch between 3 different stances, and each one has an intended purpose and different abilities.

This ability has two phases: an explosion and an implosion. Once you lvl it up, everytime you cast it, it will create a special effect and damage the opponents according to the stance where you are and the one you choose.

Moving from or to the Arcane stance will knock up the enemies, the Fire stance will apply a burn that damages the enemies over time, and finally the Ice stance will slow the enemies that are affected by either the explosion or the implosion of the ability.

Elemental Mastery comes with a significant cooldown, so be very careful when you switch stances, because it may take a while before you can do it again. 

Ability 3: Flicker

It doesn’t matter in what stance you are, this is always is going to be the same ability, with the same cooldown and effect. Flicker is an instant short-range teleport that can help you escape or engage (depending on the situation).

Stance 1 - Arcane

Ability 1: Eclipse

This is an ability that grows in size the further you cast it and then stays at the same place for a few seconds. So, if you use it at short distance, the ability will be very small, while if you use the full range, it has a good size. If you hit an enemy with it while it travels, it will “mark” them and they will take extra damage if they stay within the effect of the ability. Just to put things in perspective and as an example, if you hit an opponent and then he stays on the range of the ability, he will take an initial damage (let’s say 40) and then a tick (about 5 damage), but if someone doesn’t get hit at first, but just walks on the ability while it’s on the ground, he will only take 40. Remember that the longer he stays within the effect, the more ticks will take, so it can add up to quite a lot of damage if they don’t move fast.

Ability 2: Vortex

The second ability is the only hard CC of Merlin's entire kit. It’s a circle that you deploy on the ground and, after 1 second, it explodes, damaging you opponents and pulling them to the center of it. This can be a great setup or escape, due to the pull and damage it has.

Stance 2 - Fire

Ability 1: Radiate

This beautiful channeled beam does damage every 0.5 seconds for 2 seconds, and also applies a burn, which is a damage over time ability. Radiate is your main source of close-range damage and, when used with your second ability, Dragonfire, you can greatly wound or kill an opponent. 

Ability 2: Dragonfire

An AoE that shreds god’s protections is great to have and to kill someone fast. It has a diamond shape, made up with two cones that intersect, and when someone enters the center of the area, it reduces their protections and deals damage. You can use it on minions as a wave clear ability, but also as a damaging ability against other gods.

Stance 3 - Ice

Ability 1: Frostbolt

It’s the best poke that Merlin has, it has great range, damage and cooldown, and also deals extra damage (15%) if the enemy is slowed. Just a heads up, this effect will proc if you use Gem of Isolation, but we will talk about this later.

Ability 2: Blizzard

Probably one of my favorite Merlin abilities. An AoE ability that damages and slows the enemies, and the more time they stay within the area, the more slowed they will be. Using it with Gem of Isolation, the slow is incredible. I have seen people get so slowed inside it that die before they leave the area.


Now that we finished talking about the abilities, we can talk a little more about the different combinations that you can have, how to play effectively, how to get to late game, and how to maximize your damage, your poke or escape safely.

Once you start to play, you will see that each stance can bring something different to the laning phase, and this depends totally on how you play Smite normally, but there are a few tips that can help you step up your game.

  • The Ice stance can be one of the safest and most useful, along with the Arcane stance, to clear lane and poke your opponent and also create disruption with the slows from Blizzard. The idea is that you can use this ability to hit the minions and the enemy, and then use Frostbolt to deal augmented damage (thanks to the slow from Blizzard and probably a Gem of Isolation), as well as helping with the lane clear. This stance is very good for a late-game mage. It can also be great to escape, mostly because it has a slow.

  • Fire is amazing to burn objectives and opponents. Basically you do huge damage and decrease the enemy protections, so it’s great when you are trying to melt them. The only downside of this stance is that you need to have your opponent at a medium-short range to deal that massive damage and your cooldowns are very long, even with full CDR.

  • Arcane stance can help you escape, due to the hard CC that Vortex provides, or clear the lane from an safe distance with the damage from Eclipse. The stance also provides great set-up for your team with the pull from Vortex and the damage from Eclipse.

Taking this information into account, let’s talk about the combinations that can help you be a valuable asset on a game.

First things first, you need to know that even though you can deal great damage, the enemy team will most likely focus you, so take this into consideration when you want to save your escape or your relics. As the game progresses, you will be a even bigger threat, so if they don’t shut you down at the start, they will most likely heavily focus you on the late-game.

It’s crucial to identify what you want to do in the match's teamfights. Do you want to deal a large amount of damage? Do you want to CC your opponents so your team can engage or disengage? Do you want to slow them so you can set up for your team? Do you need to block out a specific zone? An essential component of playing Merlin is your ability to flex a lot and impact the fight in multiple different ways, so it’s up to you to decide how do you want to do it. Take into consideration the information that I gave above about the abilities and characteristics of every stance, and use them as to your advantage in a teamfight or a 1v1 scenario.

As a personal preference, I love the combo between Ice and Fire. Even though I don’t have the hard CC and set-up that Arcane has, it’s a fun way to play Merlin because of the damage and slows that your skills have, and with Gem of Isolation, you will have incredible control against your opponents. The good thing about the Ice stance is that its abilities have very short cooldowns, so you can use those abilities from a long distance to constantly poke the enemy team, and as soon as their either team engages, you use your Ice abilities and switch stance to Fire in order to deal short or medium-range damage.

Remember that with the stance switch, you can use basically 4 abilities in a row, plus the damage from the switch (if there is someone within the range of it). This equals to 5 damaging abilities, and their respective effects, in a short period of time, so take it into consideration when you are going to make a play, whether it’s offensive or defensive.

If you need to escape, try switching to the Arcane stance. First of all, if the enemy is near you, they will be knocked up so it can give you a head start, and if you deploy both abilities at your feet while you are running, before or after you Flicker away, they have two options, chase you down (which will deal a significant amount of damage, as they need to run though both abilities) or simply let you escape. If you mix this with the slow that your Ice abilities have, they will most likely let you escape.

Big AoE abilities, such as Blizzard, Dragonfire, and Eclipse can help you zone out enemies when placing them on certain areas of the map, because due to the damage they deal. Your opponents have to decide whether they go through them, go around the map, or wait until the ability ends.  

Now then, the next section is all about the viable and recommended items that you should fit on your build. Please know that these are viable at the Season 6 Mid-Season Patch, and I don’t know when are you going to read this, so it may be possible that some of them have been removed from the game, buffed, or nerfed, or there could be even more items than before.

Starting Items

Due to the mana-hungry nature of Merlin, my advice is to grab the Mage’s Blessing, some potions, and you can decide whether you want to go with Boots 1 or Book 1. Book of Thoth can be a great item (if you choose to go down that path) due to the high power it provides, but the stacking part will make you struggle even more in the, already hard, early game that you have with this mage.

Core Items

Here we will talk about specific items that can be very useful and synergise with the master magician. Remember that they are not in an specific order, but it’s advised for you to follow the order in order to optimize your damage and utility as the game progresses.

  • Shoes of Focus. The extra mana and CDR are very important for Merlin. Of course, we all know that penetration is very important, but at the early stages of the game you will last a lot more in lane, and the CDR will make you fire more abilities.
  • Book of Thoth. This is not necessary a must pick up item, but it can definitely help you deal more damage. The extra MP5, Mana, and pure Magic Power can make this item very good, but remember that stacking it will you delay you a little more. Nevertheless, this will make you deal tons of damage and shred through opponents.
  • Spear of the Magus. This is probably the best Penetration item that you can get with Merlin. Why? Because due to the numerous abilities you have, it’s possible and easy to stack it fully on an opponent, tearing 50 magical protections and deal that extra damage. It also gives you a flat 10 Penetration that can help with your poke abilities.
  • Gem of Isolation. How can this item help you? Easy. You can make an opposing slowed with any ability you throw at them, making it easier to deal consistent damage, land your abilities, and create extra damage with the effect of Frostbolt (15% extra damage). Remember that you already have abilities that slow, so making a double slow can be great to reduce the enemies' mobility and set you up.
  • Chronos’ Pendant. Merlin is a god that has large cooldown abilities in certain stances, so having this helps a lot on the mid-late game. The extra MP5 and Magical Power just help the item be more viable for you.

Rest of the Build

The above are the items that I consider that are must buys for any build. As mentioned above, Book of Thoth is not a necessary item, but it’s nice to have specially in the latest stages of the game, this is why we won’t assume that you will pick it. This leaves us with 4 core items (Shoes of Focus, Spear of the Magus, Gem of Isolation and Chronos’ Pendant) and extra room for two more, which can vary a lot according to the specific needs of the match and you opponents. The rest of the items that work nicely with Merlin are:

  • Obsidian Shard. If you look at most SPL games, this very frequent item for the Pro players. On my personal opinion, this can be a flex item against a team with a tanky composition, but with a squishy one, you don’t need to pick it up. You can see it shine against compositions with multiple Guardians and Warriors, but with today’s meta it’s hard to say that they will be you opponents, due to the rise of Hunters in the middle lane and the Healers and Assassins as supports. Has decent Magic Power and a great effect against gods with defensive items.
  • Divine Ruin. An item that synergizes with the kit of abilities at your disposal, it’s a must grab against healing opponents, it’s basically the way for you to counter them. Of course if the enemy team doesn’t have a Healer or heavy sustain, you don’t need to grab it.
  • Shaman’s Ring. This luxury-tier item can be great with Merlin. With the extra mobility, it’s very nice to have, and the effect will help you kill enemies even faster than before. This can be very useful, but it’s not mandatory to have as it can be a little difficult to grab due to its high price.
  • Pythagorem’s Piece. You need a little more sustain? This can help you a lot. The only downside from this item is that it has very little Magical Power, but the extra 200 health can save you, and the lifesteal will make you last longer in teamfights. Plus, the aura can also benefit the rest of the team!
  • Rod of Tahuti. Probably one of the magical items with the highest base Magical Power, and with great MP5, which is also great for the master magician. The passive can help you deal with low health opponents and help your team ensure those decisive kills.
  • Soul Reaver. It can help you deal with those high Health individuals that want to kill you and sustain a lot during teamfights. With the passive ability of this item you can deal up to an additional 7% of a target's HP, and each subsequent hit will deal half of that. This doesn’t take away the fact that it has a great Magical Power.
  • Bancroft’s Talon. This item has a double added value, it gives you Lifesteal, which help you stay longer in lane and means you won't be so squishy during a teamfight, and also it can help you gain some great base Magic Power, as well as extra when your Health is running low.

Defensive Options

As a bonus, I will talk about five defensive items that can help you survive on a tough scenario. They are not usual picks, but rather something situational that can help you withstand that aggressive gank on your lane or the guys that dives you in the backline.

  • Breastplate of Valor. This item works great with Merlin because it has some great CDR, MP5, and Physical Protections. If you need that extra protections, this can definitely give you those extra seconds to get your damage off.
  • Mantle of Discord. I love this item. For me, it’s the go-to item if I’m in a tricky situation, mostly because gives some very good protections and CDR, which both are extremely useful with all mages, and that passive will save you against diving enemies that are on your face. The main problem about it is the high price that it has.
  • Dynasty Plate Helm. If you are struggling a lot in the early stages of the game against a very aggressive jungler or a mid-lane Hunter, this is a very good item. It has some decent Magical Power, Penetration (this will always be useful versus any enemy), and some much-needed Physical Protection for that extra survivability in lane.
  • Magi’s Cloak. Hard CC compositions are very tough to beat. Since you only have one small scape and you can be easily pinned down with these abilities, this cloak can help you with a free CC Immunity, Protections (both Physical and Magical), and Health.
  • Stone of Fal. Your Magical Protection ally on most scenarios, and extremely helpful against one-shot-focused enemies such as He Bo, Scylla, Thoth, etc. This is due to the passive where anytime you would be dealt more than 20% of your Max Health by a single Magical ability, that damage is instead reduced by 10%. Besides that, it has some good Magical Power and CDR that helps a lot at any stage of the game.

We are at the end of this guide, so let’s see the Pros and Cons of this incredible mage, so you can decide whether you want to use him in your games.


  1. High damage
  2. Instant escape
  3. Protection reduction
  4. Slow skills
  5. Relatively safe for lane clear


  1. Short escape
  2. Low CC
  3. Most damage is short-range
  4. Bad early game

I hope that you enjoyed this guide, and if you have any other tips that you would like to include, suggestions about the build or simply something you would like to say, please contact me!

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