I made a comment about this already, but I was told to go ahead and make a thread to promote some discussion. Tell me what you think.
I've been thinking about this and I feel like there is still room for these shops if we keep developing on the idea of outposts.
Like, imagine if taking the outpost were to also open a shop in the vicinity, only accessible by your team.
It would be far enough from lane to not insta-win the lane (as you couldn't just hop in and out and get ahead without missing XP), and it would give roamers and junglers a little bit of a boost as they would be in the area anyways.
Plus, what if, instead of dropping random neutral items, we could buy them from this shop? Neutrals would drop tokens/receipts that would be used to trade for these items, and the same limits would apply (only one per game), but it would stop the game-winning RNG neutrals from helping only one team (see: ballista) if we had more of a choice.
I'm struggling to see why this isn't a great idea.
Now to my real post, I think neutral items and shard upgrades are great additions to the game. I love it so much and it inspires me to make posts like these and come up with new ideas to further improve on the formula.
What doesn't feel so good is one part – the Ballista problem – or being punished for your draft (sometimes heavily) by none other than RNG.
And another part is the less obvious problem of getting really lucky off of early camp pulls: Grabbing a Trusty Shovel, or Faded Broach for free +20 ms, and then winning a clutch engagement with the extra Health Pot or Mango that your good luck (or extra stats) affords. It's an instant advantage in lane, which is why we got rid of the side shops, right?
I'm not great, but even at my level a GG branch can make the difference, so of course an Ironwood tree would be huge.
How to balance that out?
Add the step where we need to run the courier by this new shop, delaying the advantage, or having to go yourself to collect (because couriers are vulnerable at this stage). This creates counter-play, opportunities for the enemy to seize, and a whole new dynamic of agency over what items to prioritize while adding some significance to the Outpost.
That being said, I'm fine with the items in the shop cycling between each game (although I honestly think we should be known which items will be available when we draft).
I'm also fine with the shop being independent from who controls the Outpost – honestly, it's not that hard to test it both ways and see what people prefer.
I also have another really good idea (I think), but I'll "Pocket" that for later 😉
tl;dr – bring back my shopkeepers, put them in the jungle instead, give them neutral items to sell, and tie it to whoever controls the outpost!