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Hirez Roundup #19: Happy Nerfday

Hirez Roundup #19 - Image

We have a pretty good week for news, I think! SMITE is celebrating their fourth birthday, and Paladins: Realm Restored (or as I prefer to call it, Cards Re-Bound) hit the live servers! Which means I have to re-do all of my damn decks again. THANKS, GUYS.  I don’t mind, plus it lets me reconsider what I was doing to start with. So I think today, we’ll go over the Smite patch notes, and celebrate those lovely, lovely nerfs, and then I’ll talk about OB67 and what I’d like to see focused on next, while it’s on my mind. I’m not going to lie to you guys, I’m not looking forward to a Kumba buff, though. He’s one of my least-played Guardians, and he just counters everyone I play so easily. Now I either have to play him or learn to deal with him better, which neither is all that enjoyable, if I’m being honest.

SMITE: Patch 5.4: SMITE Birthday: 

So this was a pretty great patch overall, I think. Just like I suggested would happen, there were quite a few nerfs coming. You know, when I said not to worry, it was gonna happen? Then it did? Yeah, just remember that feeling. But this patch featured quite a few adjustments, nerfs, and even a few buffs! But Smite is celebrating their birthday, and with it comes some pretty awesome skins. Are you ready though? The butthurt, the salt is on the way: Neith got a new skin! Are there other Hunters that could have become “Basshunter”? Of course. Are there Hunters that maybe needed a skin more than Neith? Again, the answer is pretty much yes. But she’s the “main” hunter, as close to the main character as I could see the role having. She’s clearly popular, and she’s the one that got it. Plus, it looks really cool, and her belt BMs people. But now the DJ collection need a melee/physical damage dealer. A Warrior or Assassin would work. That probably means it will go to Bastet. Some of the choices in the patch I clearly don’t agree with, because they negatively impact me, but I’m gonna be honest at least. Mainly the Chalice of the Oracle change. But first, cosmetics, speaking of Neith! The Smite Birthday Event comes with a bundle, that’s 900 gems (25% off on day 1, so get it then!) and it comes with two skins (Basscannon Neith, Revenant Achilles), an Enigma Chest, the EDM Music Theme, a Birthday Loading Frame, and a Birthday Present. You can also unlock an Awesome Chest, but I’m waiting for those to have things I don’t have in them.


Zenko/Final Fusion Ratatoskr (Exclusive, Event): You unlock Zenko Ratatoskr, the adorable white-furred form, in the Fox Chests. If you have all three of the forms, you unlock Final Fusion Ratatoskr, which shows that he is clearly working on Ultra Instinct. He’s trying to go beyond, and nobody can stop it. But can he wear boots? Checkmate, Assassins.
Beaky Chibi Thoth (Exclusive): Oh. My. Lanta. An adorable Chibi skin that doesn’t have a voice that makes my skin crawl. Bless. PLUS HE MAKES A PEN ISLAND JOKE. Dear Hirez, give Tina a raise. She deserves it.
Pixel Beast Cernunnos (Exclusive): The voice sounds so different, but not in a bad way. It just threw me off. But I love the pixel effects, and it works well with his color-changing properties. And the pixel pigs? Love it.
Sylvan Sentinel Hou Yi (Exclusive): I was wondering when we’d get another Celtic-style skin. Though most people I talked to hated the Geb skin (I liked it. Very green. Love the coloring of it), I think they’ll like this one more. I mean, he ults down Gebs! And he can disguise himself into a shrub. It’s magical. And the voice pack is definitely good.

Item Balance:

Hirez Roundup #19

This is what it's like... to go... BEYOND!

This is probably my favorite quote in the entire list of patch notes: “Believe it or not Blink is the most strongly performing Relic in the game. Having access to instant mobility is extremely powerful and many Gods could use this as a way to initiate or escape. We are slightly increasing the cooldown of this Relic to help bring it in line with the other Relics.” Yes, Blink got a damn nerf. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to build stuff just to deal with a Guardian or Assassin who started Blink, just so I could stay relevant. It gained 20 seconds worth of cooldown (up to 120s) and I could not be happier. The next item couple of items honestly made me pretty sad. Chalice of the Oracle saw 100g added to its cost (up to 400g). The idea is that people were using this to secure kills, by dropping a ward over a wall and firing shots, but not using it for what it was designed for: Warding tactically. Instead, players were using it early to snag kills/steal buffs instead of warding. 9 to 10 gods were holding this early game in the SML finals, and it showed that only some were using it for warding. I may hate this nerf, but it’s certainly warranted.  Everyone knew where everyone was way too early.

Gauntlet of Thebes, however, got a lovely buff. We were stuck rushing this item as Guardians, then being forced to stay in lane to get stacks for it, and if we leave the lane to get a buff, or try and secure a kill, we aren’t getting stacks, and that’s horrible. So now it gives 5 Stacks for a god kill or assist, which should let the Guardians who are building it (which is most of them) actually roam and try to help someone on their team. It wasn’t a very good look. Now we’re being rewarded for doing our job, instead of babysitting the lane until its done. Emerald Talisman/Stone of Gaia saw some much-needed nerfs. So many people I saw rush this early game and it would just make them incredibly hard to deal with. Emerald Talisman saw a 200g cost increase (up to 1400g) and a decrease in its passive (from .25% of your HP down to .2% of your HP) and the description was updated to be more clear. Stone of Gaia also went up in cost, from 2100 to 2250g, and the passive weakened from .4% down to .3% of your HP. This made Warriors incredibly hard to kill once they completed, and Warriors that already had sustain? Even worse. Lookin’ at you, Hercules.

I’m probably not going to get to all of the gods/items in this one because there’s quite a lot. But let’s see how far we get. Heartseeker saw some balance, where it decreased its Passive Bonus Damage Trigger from 100% down to 80% of your Physical Power. Heartseekers stats are very desirable, and it’s a fun early item with the power spike it gives, and hell, it’s good all game. It’s very solid on most Assassins. But let’s face it, it was kind of ridiculous. Several Mage items got buffed or adjusted. Rod of Tahuti was fixed, so bonus scaling would not apply to Passives, making it a bit less powerful, but should now be working as intended. However, Doom Orb now has 10 more Magical Power (up to 70) and Soul Reaver saw a cost decrease from 2750 to 2650, and gained 10 more Magical Power, from 120 to 130. Hirez has been working on balancing magical items for the last few patches now, but I feel like mages and their items are hard to balance. They can do so much burst damage out of nowhere, I imagine it’s very hard to nail down what makes it so ridiculous, so they’re strong, but aren’t 1-shotting everyone. So, we saw a few more buffs this week. Enchanted Ring/Shaman’s Ring/Telkhine’s Ring I saw quite a few people rage about when they got a power boost. Mostly because now they’re afraid Sol’s going to be in every duo lane they encounter, and she’s just going to mash people into custard. Not to mention Chronos got a buff. So I feel like this patch, we’ll see a lot more Hunter Mages. Huh, so I did get through all the items!

God Balance: 

Hirez Roundup #19

Nobody understands Achilles! That's why he got nerfed!

To no one’s surprise, Achilles was incredibly powerful and a must-pick in all modes he was playable in. Why? Because he’s strong! I stand by he wasn’t that insane, but his Shield of Achilles ability was a bit too strong. That I agree with. It saw a Damage decrease (100/160/220/280/340 to 80/135/190/245/300) and now has 1s Stun Duration at all Ranks, instead of capping at 1.5s. Combat Dodge also saw a Cooldown increase, from 10s to 12s. I think his 1’s cone could have shrunk a bit, or maybe a slight power scale decrease, but I’m not 100% sure on that. I could see that being a good nerf, but maybe too much? We’ll have to see what he does this patch. Blessed Lord, Ao Kuang was changed. Again, not the nerf I was looking for, but it’s definitely a wonderful one. King of the Eastern Seas no longer gives Ao Kuang a moment of untargetability, so we can perhaps stop him from chomping us down for free every single time. Apollo’s So Beautiful saw a Base Damage Buff (from 70/125/180/235/290 to 80/140/200/260/320). While I think Apollo’s in a pretty good place, I just didn’t see him in too many games. Maybe this will change it up so he’s a more viable Hunter pick? Time will tell. The Apollo’s I did see in game (that didn’t DC at the start) were all competent and confident, and we’d stomp through the lane. So I don’t know if this was “needed” but it is a nice change.

Not really sure how I feel about the Chronos buff though. Has he been hit hard by the Mage items? If someone’s reading this and knows, let me know down in the comments. Show me you read this! In general, he saw a Basic Attack Power increase (from 35 to 40), and Time Lord‘s Magical Power saw an Increase per stack, from 3 to 5 (75 to 125  at 50 minutes), which does help him a bit, but I don’t think it’s going to make people yell “OMG BAN CHRONOS. WHY DID YOU NOT BAN CHRONOS!?!? REPORT!!!”. People take that kind of thing very seriously, apparently. He Bo also got nerfed, because let’s be honest, he needed it. Atlas of the Yellow River gained some Cooldown (10s up to 12s), and it just always felt like this damn move was up. Water Spout lost some Magical Power scaling (85% down to 75%), but I think it could go a little lower. He Bo’s always referred to as a god with three ults, and his magical power is a good reason for that. Nemesis also saw a minor nerf, in Divine Judgment. The self-buff lowered down to 5s (from 8s), and the cooldown is now 90s at all ranks, instead of going down. I think this change, coupled with Blink/Heartseeker will make Nemesis just a bit less overwhelming in teamfights.

Fafnir was pretty damn strong at the tail end of Season 4, so he was nerfed a bit. As it turns out, this made him considerably less desirable, making his control in the early/mid-game all but useless, and his late-game survivability was also an issue. Frankly, he had a lot of it, thanks to Coerce. Cursed Strength has its stun duration back (from 1s to 1/1.1/1.2/1.3/1.4s), and Coerce saw a nerf, decreasing the Self-Heal (50/75/100/125/150 to 50/70/90/110/130) and the Scaling (40% to 30% of your magical power). It was pretty disheartening to see a solo-lane Fafnir suddenly be at near full health again because of Coerce. Or even a Guardian with a few damage/healing items! Kumbhakarna also got some buffs, seeing Throw Back lose 2s off its cooldown (down to 13s), and Groggy Strike gaining some damage (from 70/120/170/220/270 to 90/140/190/240/290).  This is not all, though. Nu Wa saw buffs, as did Ra, and Thoth finally saw some nerfs. For anything I missed, please see the Patch Notes below.

Paladins OB67 Thoughts in Brief:

Hirez Roundup #19

Next stop for you: PEN ISLAND!

This is the last time I’ll have to say this (I pray), but I liked OB64. It was a fun change of pace for me. But remember, Paladins is in Beta, so things are bound to change. I’m glad that the people spoke up about something they thought was wrong, and the game changed. So while OB64 was unpopular, it shows that they are in fact listening. I didn’t hate the way things were, either. I didn’t mind pre-OB64 where you had to build decks with points. That was fine! I did think some cards were just less desirable in that system, but that’s okay. Things are still changing. OB67 is here, Cards Unbound is gone, and now maybe we can focus on some other things that vex me about the game. I think the biggest issue right now is Matchmaking. I can’t find a reliable time of the day where my entire team will likely be in my same ELO/MMR (which is Gold 1/2. Sorry I’m not a Gm/Master, Twitter). But being in ranked, seeing three Diamonds on the other team, and seeing two Unranked with 0 mastery levels in a champ leaves a lot to be desired. I was so proud to climb from Bronze 3 to Platinum 4. I worked really hard for it as a Guardian/Support main. But then I plummeted back down to Gold and couldn’t get out.

It seemed as soon as my winning streak was over, I stopped getting people that were in my bracket, and the game started pushing back. I don’t pretend to know how the Matchmaking works, but every time I see someone who is not in the highest of echelons, they’re being pitted in some pretty weird matchups. I’m not saying that it’s broken beyond repair, but I do think it needs a good once-over. But again, this is still in Beta, so I can’t really be upset. I’m sure it’s still being tuned up. But it does make me want to play Competitive less. This could also be due to me simply being bad – I’d accept that if it were fact, but I work pretty hard to get better. But now that Cards Unbound is dealt with, I’d love to see some focus on Matchmaking, to find if it’s working as intended or not. I have met some folks that are very unhappy with it, enough that I think a keen eye should go to it. Other than that, I’m happy with where Paladins is right now! Being able to use gold on Mastery levels is a neat idea that doesn’t hurt anything (but now people can say they’re a skill level they didn’t earn, so that should be fun), and the deck-building is back. Let’s see where Paladins goes from here!

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