Patch 4.9: Nine-Tailed Terror – Breakdown

A breakdown of SMITE patch 4.9: Nine-Tailed Terror.

Time keeps on slippin’ and we’re already up to another round of patch notes. This patch sees the release of a new goddess, and the advent of previously discussed changes that were on the PTS. Oh, and a pile of god tuning. A heaping pile of god tuning. Oh, and a few item buffs no one cares about…right? Right? Ok, is definitely not true.

4.4 Breakdown | 4.5 Breakdown | 4.6 Breakdown | 4.7 Breakdown | 4.8 Breakdown | 4.9 Breakdown

Da Ji, the Nine-Tailed Fox

We are back to a deity being released every other patch. This model was supposed to have been abandoned – according to Hi-Rez tweets on the matter – which leaves a few questions to be answered:

  1. Does Hi-Rez have confidence in Da Ji being as complete as possible?
  2. If not, was the model they previously said they abandoned reinstated?

There aren’t any handy answers, but my gut feeling is the second one – mostly given the renewed focus on SMITE in the last few weeks. There is a company push going on in the hope to engender some more positive feelings towards SMITE after the debacles this year with the Season Ticket, Adventures, and the SPL players becoming more hostile to Hi-Rez than ever. Some of this is certainly unfair, though some of it is justified. More or less like most things, really. Anyway, streamers have been given piles of codes, there have been more free events with rewards, we have seen more direct purchase skins, and so forth. The upshot here is the release of a highly desired deity that players were drooling over is absolutely the type of decision that would Hi-Rez would make to get back out of the red and into the black of player appreciation. This is all speculation, though. Let’s shift it aside and look at the goddess herself. (Strikethroughs indicate second pass changes on PTS)

  • Passive – Torture Blades: Basic attacks cause the target to bleed for for a total 10+ 14+(10% of physical power) over two ticks, one occurring each second. This ability stacks with additional attacks without capping. This is the old Arachne ability, with worse scaling but no cap. At low end, expect a lot of Mark of the Vanguard (changes and all) countering this. At high end, it’s ok – but not great with the rest of the kit as currently implemented.
  • Horrible Burns: A basic attack steroid that causes your next hit to cause burst damage and additional damage over time. The initial damage is 20/40/60/80/100 30/60/90/120/150 (+30% 45%of your physical power) and the damage over time ticks three times – once per second – for 10/20/30/40/50 (+15% of your physical power) for a total of 50/100/150/200/250 (+75% of your physical power). Damage over time is tricky, because it allows a recovery period, and the concerns aren’t lessened here. The cooldown is only 7 seconds, so it can be up quite often with CDR.
  • One Thousand Cuts: Ok, here’s where it gets…wonky. This ability hits all enemies in range for 15/35/55/75/95 (+20% of your physical power) four times, each hit applying Torture Blades. This hits every .5s for 2s, and is channeled. While channeling, you also gain 40% movement speed, become immune to slows, and gain 20/25/30/35/40% damage reduction from enemies who are behind you. In short, this is an escape meant to deter chase with its incredible scaling. It’s on a 15 13 second cooldown. The activation has a short delay. Unfortunately, once you go in, this doesn’t do all that much to get you out. You have to really, really immediately get out to make this work. Which is a problem because of the next two skills.
  • Spirit Link/Trickster Spirit: You can teleport to an ally or enemy, and deal damage to all enemies around the location you teleport to. The activation has a short delay. This deals 70/110/150/190/230 (+100% of your physical power) and applies Torture Blades. It’s on a 17 second cooldown. It is an engage or chase, only becoming an escape if the rest of your teammates are Benny Hilling away from the encounter.
  • Paolao: This ability is weird. You summon your iconic torture device, placing you into the air and making you immune. You fire up to three chains, which slow and damage your enemies , before pulling them to you, dealing damage over time and stunning them for one second. This is a combination Ares and Rama ult. It’s really neat and probably awesome in a team fight, but you can tell the synergy with the rest of the kit is strange.

The kit choices remind me a lot of the styling of Kuzenbo. The kit does a variety of things, but lacks some synergy to make it rewarding. The 3->aa->1->aa combo is about the all-in, the 2 doesn’t help you get out enough to make it worthwhile – making it another all in – and the ult pulls things to you, wanting you to scrap. The ult can certainly bring HUGE benefit in a team fight, but man. I dunno. This kit just needs some synergy work. The theme is great, but the skills need love.

Skins

Lots of skins this patch, most of them directly purchasable. The last few patches have been focused around the redistribution of how skins are purchased, which is cool for most people. This is helped tremendously by the existence of adventures and the additional revenue stream that inevitably comes in as more people are purchasing gems in order to support their favorite streamers. The second part is a little more opaque, but I can’t imagine that isn’t what’s happening. People love to help out others while also being able to reward themselves. Regardless, there are some great skins.

  • Stone Sentinel Camazotz: The gargoyle skin everyone wanted. This is coupled by voice lines reminiscent of the Gargoyles TV show. I would love a National Enquirer Bat Boy skin even more, but I am assuredly in the minority. This is a solid skin, and people will love it. Camazotz is one of my favorite gods, so I am excited – even if I might not pick it up. This skin will be in a chest.
  • Nebula Medusa: This is a cool looking skin that joins Agni and Sol. It looks great, the voice pack is ok, but I am a little confused as to why Medusa joins the team. She doesn’t have any particularly cosmic origins. I am sure some people will love it. I seem to have bad luck when I play the snakey-one, so I might demurr. This skin is directly purchasable.
  • Shin-bo Kuzenbo: He’s a ninja turtle. I don’t know what else to say here. People got their wish. It’s a direct buy.
  • Storm Raven Jing Wei: This continues the trend of T2s that look amazing. She has an imperial look, and looks a lot like she could belong in Fire Emblem. This is a fabulous trend, and I want it to keep on going.
  • Ganesha Mastery: Now he has those. That’s cool.

Emotes

Da Ji gets a clap and wave. Camazotz gets to dance the night away.

Bug Fixes – Gods

Good consistency fix.

  • Ganesha – Dharmic Pillars now correctly highlights enemies near the corners of the skill space.

Bug Fixes – Items

Good consistency fix.

  • Runeforged Hammer – Fixed many slows not causing the passive to be applied
  • Stone of Binding – Fixed many banishes and slows not causing the passive to be applies

Changes – General Balance

As previously mentioned in 4.8, the game play changes on the PTS are being pushed live in 4.9. The professional players had a LOT of feedback about what should be done, but most of their suggestions were not taken at this point in time. This is with the caveat that 4.9 is currently on the PTS, and further changes could be made. Some of the suggestions were also item changes, which will be addressed below.

  • Experience
    • Level 1 to 2: Amount required reduced from 308 to 225
    • Level 2 to 3: Amount required increased from 363 to 430
    • Level 3 to 4: Amount required increased from 418 to 434

This didn’t change at all from its original implementation on the 4.8 PTS. This is a hotly debated change that professionals believe will make snowballing worse – not better – because lane pressure will be even more important, as if you clear the wave faster you instantly have the level advantage and can press it, rather than needing to hit the jungle and return. I see the argument, but have no data or experience to say yay or nay on this. I do think other stop gaps should be explored, however.

The experience change was removed based on feedback on the PTS.

  • Gold Fury
    • Base Health increased from 2250 to 2550
    • Decreased base gold worth from 190 to 150

This saw some major changes. There was a whole section in 4.8 about reducing the health and gold scaling, but that was jettisoned in this iteration. This is a fairly well-received change by most everyone.

  • Portal Demon
    • Decrease gold given from 150 to 100

A change that wasn’t in the PTS at all, this comes directly from the professional players suggestions. The addition of this objective has done a lot to change the flow of the game, and it can absolutely keep the team that has pressure further ahead. Reducing the gold is a small step that can easily be adjusted with more data.

There are hints that bigger changes are coming up for the mid-season patch, but that’s not until the Summer Split has concluded. We’ll see if these changes all make it to live, or further changes get made prior to the first SPL games next week.

Changes – Gods

  • Cernunnos: Despite the casters attempting to normalize Cernunnos as “just another hunter” the fact is he just did too much and was strong at all of it. It’s not that he was incredibly overpowered and game-swinging. It was just that he was too good when compared to everyone else, all things being equal.
    • Shifter of Seasons: Physical power scaling on Summer Heat is reduced from 20% to 10%. This makes build a little more important – something that was minimized before.
    • Bramble Blast: Cooldown increased from 13s to 15s. This is a fairly reserved change, all considered.
  • Chang’e: I love Chang’e, but she does so much with so little work. The changes here are just cooldown related on her sustain skills to ensure they require a little more thought before use. With full cooldown – because of course you will build full cooldown – it makes only a small difference. However, it does restrict build variety to some degree and that can be impactful.
    • Moonlit Waltz: This ability saw a scaling cooldown increase, moving from 20/18/16/14/12 to 20/18.5/17/15.5/14.
    • Moonflower Dance: Increased cooldown from 10s to 12s
  • Erlang Shen: Erlang Shen saw some pretty gnarly nerfs at the end of Season 3 – fairly justified, let’s be real – but has recently seen a resurgence as a support pick, and an ok pick in the solo lane. I would say these changes are to let him work a bit better in the solo lane, but it just makes his support presence that much better. This makes him something of a monster to fear – as if he wasn’t as a support already.
    • Increase base power from 38 to 39
    • Increase Attack Speed per level from .8 to 1
  • Guan Yu: Guan Yu is definitely struggling right now – even if you don’t try and play him as a jungler. These changes are all to the good, and are fairly aggressive. It’s possible the numbers are too high, but I bet it’s fine.
    • Warrior’s Will: Increased Physical Power scaling from 50% to 60%
    • Taolu Assault: Increase duration of Protection steal from 3s to 3/3.5/4/4.5/5s
  • Hades: Remember when I mentioned that the buffs Hades got were probably going to make him a monster, and how I thought he was going to be played in the SPL LANs more? Well, I was wrong on the LANs, but the data seemingly proves me right, otherwise. These are some small nerfs to make him tuck it back a bit, but let him team fight a bit more with some utility.
    • Death from Below: Cooldown increased from 12s to 14s
    • Shroud of Darkness: Cooldown decreased by a flat 1s across all ranks
    • Devour Souls: Decreased Magical Power scaling on the Detonate Heal from 15% to 10%
  • Odin: The One-Eyed spear-twirler saw little success over the Spring Split, and it’s obvious he needs some love. He just doesn’t offer much as the game goes on. This is a damage and utility increase to a single skill, making him hopefully a bit more than a Bird Bomb and Ring bot. We’ll see if this helps him out, because he needs it.
    • Gungnir’s Might: Increase the base damage from 35/50/65/80/95 to 45/65/85/105/125.
  • Susano: Like anyone who has been watching Ranked or the SPL didn’t know this was coming. Susano simply dominated the second part of the split, and it was obvious why. He has so much damage, control, and safety. This change addresses the ultimate, which was a really massive control skill in addition to being hard hitting. This change only addresses the control portion, which is fairly reasonable. This will probably still leave Susano very strong, but not quite as powerful as before.
    • Typhoon: Reduced vortex strength from 115 to 88. Reduced movement speed penalty of those affected from 40% to 10%.

Changes – Items

A few changes I expected, a few I didn’t expect, and one or two I forgot about expecting. A mixed-bag, really. There are some more major culprits needing attention, including a few relics that need further tuning. Particularly missing here are Death Toll and Sunder. We’ll see what further patches bring.

  • Chronos’ Pendant: While this item was seeing niche use across game modes, it was very expensive from an item that was less luxury and more specific-case. The power has been increased from 60 to 80, which should make the price tag sting a little less.
  • Emerald Mail: One of the ongoing ideas of this season has been to make the Tier 2 power spikes of items significant. That way it doesn’t feel so bad to commit to something, and it prevents the pressure to not make pivots within an item tree as needed. In that vein, the health of this item has been increased from 200 to 250.
  • Gauntlet of Thebes: Yeah, this had to get toned down. The amount of attention it was receiving was coupled with a lot of pickup at every level of play. It just did so much. The survivability has been reduced, with the health being reduced from 400 to 350.
  • Mark of the Vanguard: One of two starter items I thought would see some changes, the flat reduction has been changed from 5 to 4. It’s a small nerf with some wide implications. This will be more meaningful than a lot of people realize, but it will still be a strong item.
  • Shifter’s Shield: A lot of the hybrid items aren’t seeing use. Shifter’s Shield just didn’t do quite enough of anything to get picked up, so these changes are looking to make it so it’s really good offense when you qualify for that, really good at defense when you qualify for that, but not as good at the opposite from an always-on perspective. The power is reduced from 40 to 35, passive bonus physical power is increased from 20 to 35, protections are reduced from 20 to 15, and passive bonus protections are increased from 20 to 35.
  • Stone of Fal: A counter-build item at a luxury price, this item has been changed from 2900 to 2700. It might see some pick-up now.
  • Thousand-fold Blade: Another case of trying to make the T2 power spikes for items feel better. The power of this item has been increased from 15 to 20.
  • Tower Shield: To compensate for the Shifter’s Shield changes, the cost is reduced by 50, and protections are reduced from 20 to 15.

Changes – Miscellaneous

  • Pause in Ranked now has a 3 second cooldown before you can unpause
  • The Standings Tab of the Season Ticket no longer incorrectly shows teams as 0-0

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