SMITE God Review – Chernobog, the Black God
I’d just like to say that I correctly guessed Chernobog would likely be the first Slavic God. It was appropriate, and having the voice of Geralt from The Witcher voice him? There’s something poetic about that. When his kit was being revealed, the Hi-Rez stream chat was exploding. Oh lord, “He’s broken, his kit’s too strong, blah blah blah”. It’s the same as when every god comes out. Does he have a cool kit? Sure. Are some of his powers familiar from other gods? Perhaps. But you know what? Who cares? After some good time playing him, the next thing I heard was “He’s not as strong as insert god here right out of the gate”. Okay? Is it really so bad for him to not come out of the gate being an instant ban? Why not be glad he’s strong without being a busted pile of garbage? Do you not remember Cu Chulainn? Come on, guys.
Chernobog is also known as the “Black God”, and is the counterpart of the White Gold, Belobog. Chernobog is the stuff of nightmares, blacker than night, creating horrors and foul, odious creatures in his wake. His finger points and destruction fires forth. There’s an interesting bit of text from a document, “Chronica Slavorum”, from the Saxon missionary Helmond. It’s translated as:
‘Among Slavic people, there is one weird belief that is kept in their drinking fests and feasts. They at same time bless and curse under names of their Gods, respectively in the name of good One and evil One, saying that good things come from good God and evil comes from evil One. In their language they call evil God ”Chernobog”, or ”black God”.’
Chernobog is a different kind of hunter. He doesn’t have a “big damage ultimate”; he has a really slippery, slimy movement ability; and he has real tactical options with his ultimate. His damage in the early game isn’t incredible, unless you spend the time to land your autos for the Passive, and landing his combo for the extra damage/root. He feels fairly balanced right out of the box. He’s not outrageous, and not a sad sack. But he does take some practice, and he feels rewarding when you get it right. He can deal big numbers, but where he shines for me is his ability to come out of nowhere and surprise people, and get out of sticky situations with that 3 and 4. When he drops his ultimate, sure, every enemy is tagged with a shadow clone, and he hovers in the heavens, with communication, he can point what everyone on the enemy team is doing, and either go to stop one of them, or opt to just drop where he is. He’s a tactician’s dream.
Passive – Heart of Cold (Damage): Every successful Basic Attack will impale the enemy with a crystal. 3 stacks of Heart of Cold will cause them to explode for extra damage in an area around them (though it does not trigger item effects) (15% + (1% per level) of your total Basic Attack Power) Duration: 5s
1 – Crystallized Curses (Ground Target, AOE): Chernobog conjures a cluster of curses, given shape as a crystal. They deal damage upon landing After a few seconds (3s) it explodes, dealing damage again, and rooting enemies in the area (1s) [50/80/110/140/170 (+80% of your physical power)]. The crystal can be detonated early by hitting it with Vicious Barrage. Cooldown: 15/14/13/12/11s
2 – Vicious Barrage (Projectile, Buff): An enlarged crystal fires from Chernobog that pierces enemies and deals damage like a basic attack. This also applies a stack of Heart of Cold to all enemies it passes through and instantly detonates Crystallized Curses. After the attack fires, he gains increased Attack Speed for several seconds (Buff: 30/40/50/60/70% Duration: 3/3.5/4/4.5/5s) Cooldown: 12s
3 – Into Darkness (Dash): Chernobog dashes and slithers forward, dealing damage and slowing (25%) any enemy he collides with for 2 seconds [.60/75/90/105/120 (+45% of your physical power)]. If he collides with a wall, he enters it as a shadow, becoming untargetable and immune to damage for up to 3 seconds. He can leave early by dashing or stepping out of the wall. If he remains in for the full duration, he’ll automatically dash out as his time runs out. Cooldown: 18/17/16/15/14
4 – Living Nightmare (Global): After a brief channel, Chernobog conjures shadow clones to the location of every enemy god, and leaps into the air. These last 8 seconds and apply a stacking slow (5% stacking 4 times). He can then fly down to any of those clones. Once he reaches the location, he replaces the shadow, which resets his cooldowns, and offers temporary damage mitigation (20/25/30/35/40%), movement speed (30%) and every attack will trigger Heart of Cold (6s). Cooldown: 110 Seconds
Snake Oil Salesman: Chernobog is slippery and hard to pin down. With CC you can, but that 3 and 4 can really put him out of some sticky situations. He can dive into walls to get out of Ares/Da Ji/Cerberus pulls, he can get out of executes, big damage moves, global ultimates, et cetera with one move. Sure, that means he can only use it sparingly, to make sure it’s up when it’s needed, but it’s there. Then there’s his ult. When he’s up in the air, he can either dive down on a weak enemy, or dive down to help someone on his team in a duel. With experience, he can get out of almost anything.
Demon in the Lane: His wave clear is so strong. Not even his combo, but you can just land auto-attacks to get that Passive popping and dealing AOE damage. The passive doesn’t even look like it has a cooldown, so with enough Attack Speed, you can just annihilate waves with impunity. Just imagine him in the solo lane! The warrior desperately trying to farm, and you’re blowing him up with AOE shots, a root, and keeping him out of exp range. I . . . think I need a moment.
He’s “Balanced”: Isn’t that a weird thing to say as a pro? But he is! He’s flexible, I can see him in any role (except support), without him feeling like he’s going to be insanely overpowered. He can carry but isn’t the end of the world. He came out of development as a solid, well-rounded Hunter with positives, negatives, and a distinct role on the team. He has damage in the end-game, without being worthless in the early game. All around, Chernobog came out of the gate in a very well-thought-out way.
The Thirst is Real: Chernobog’s abilities are incredibly useful, but in the early game, they’re incredibly costly. You absolutely “can not” be wasteful. Don’t throw your 1 and 2 every time they’re off cooldown, not ever. It’s imperative that you learn to box if you want to play Chernobog. You have to control the lane, keep the minions where you want, and not waste your mana. It’s going to be important in clutch moments.
Keep Cool: Chernobog has a relatively low cooldown for his ultimate (110 seconds) but other than that, his cooldowns are quite high. The base cooldowns are in the 12-18 second range, especially that 18-second dash. Is it useful and powerful? Damn right it is. But if you waste it, or use it poorly, it could just leave you in an even worse situation. His 1 and 2 is such a strong combo to blow up a wave of enemies, but you can’t just throw it at every wave. That will mean you can’t root someone who leaps in to try and gank you (which is incredibly useful).
He Has Damage But . . . : It’s very reliant on knowing how to play him. There are Hunters you can just hop on, throw damage, everything is fine. But Chernobog has to land consecutive hits, or land his combo, then drop consecutive hits. You can miss and it’s fine, as long as you have the Attack Speed to make another shot and hit it. It’s all about knowing his kit, and if you don’t know it, you’ll come out of a match thinking Chernobog is trash, but that’s simply not true. All you have to do is look in the mirror, then go practice.
I can see Chernobog being a “Hard” difficulty god on one hand, because he’s finely tuned, and requires timing and skill to play. On the other hand, I auto-locked him with no experience and just smashed teams to bits with him with few deaths and piles of kills/assists. He’s not a cake walk though, and it very well could be that I got lucky in the matches that I won. One of the great things about him I think is that you can use his ult as an offensive or defensive maneuver. Did you go back to buy an item, and worry about your lane or mid-lane is in a pickle? Just activate your ult, and if it spooks them, they’ll back off, and you can just go back to your lane, diving back to the other hunter to bully him with yet another item. It’s psychological warfare, and it’s fitting to the god of darkness, Chernobog.
So what does Chernobog need to be successful in lane? He’s in need of sustain and a way to pin down gods. He has a root with his 1, but that’s not guaranteed. If they see it coming, they’re likely going to use their dash to just get out of the way (since most hunters seem to have them). Chernobog can be incredibly aggressive, so I’d pair him with aggressive, tanky gods. Ymir is ideal since he can catch them with the wall, the slow on his ultimate, and the stun breath. You really need to either have an opponent who doesn’t dodge or simply keep them from doing anything to avoid those aoe shots from his passive. Ymir is golden, so would Fafnir, if he can land his hammers. I don’t trust Fafnir players though. I’d rather something a little meaner, with far more CC. Kumbakarna, Ymir, Sobek, Athena are my ideal gods for him. There’s a lot to be said for the flip, the aunt, or even Kumba’s eight hundred CC opportunities. To me, Chernobog is all about control – control of the lane, control of the match, control over how your opponent feels. You want them frustrated from the pops of big damage, from being unable to box, from being unable to pin him down.
So how do you deal with Chernobog? I’m thinking you just out-aggro him. You have to force him to burn mana, to burn that 3 on a retreat, instead of having it handy to evade/dive you in a more potent/useful time. Have your jungler be aggressive too and just constantly harass him. He’s lacking any kind of sustain without lifesteal items, so the idea is that you pin and abuse him in the early game before he can get any of that really online. He’s fragile, like all hunters, and like a carry with high mana costs and high cooldowns, you have to keep him on his toes. But I can also see him, like I said earlier, hanging out in the solo lane as a bully. His ultimate would make him an interesting jungler, and he does have a built-in clear with his passive. I think he’d be a slow jungler until he’s got his ultimate, and the possibilities for ganks are absolutely endless. I don’t think he’d be a fun mid though, because their burst damage is absolute madness, and one false move and he’s done for.
As far as the start of your items, there are two thoughts here, for me at least. You either start Hunter’s Blessing or go for Transcendence. Personally, I like the safety of the Blessings, but Transcendence will give you all of the stats you need in the early game. EG: Mana, CDR, Power, MP5, not to mention its great passive. There are so many great items for Chernobog though, and one of my favorite ways to go is a combo of Attack Speed and Crit. Though you can also go Attack Speed/Power, and just overwhelm them with numbers, and let the crits fall when they may. The more AS you have, the more often you’re landing (potentially) passive stacks on people, which is just more damage. It’s a no-brainer. Then you want the crits to go along with it for the big numbers. Then you probably want, after Transcendence or Hunter’s, you’ll want a Devourer’s Gauntlet. Lifesteal is another valuable stat for a hunter with virtually no sustain. Fairly standard hunter builds apply here, but since his abilities don’t scale all that great, you’ll want to focus on the power of your auto attacks. So let’s look at a few quick builds:
Hunter’s Blessing, Devourer’s Gauntlet, Odysseus’ Bow, Executioner, Qin’s Sai, Titan’s Bane, Ninja Tab (sell the Hunter’s for Qin’s or Titan’s)
My Wacky Arena Build:
Hunter’s Blessing, Ninja Tabi, Deathbringer, Executioner, Poisoned Star, Odysseus’ Bow
Alternate Transcendence Build:
Transcendence, Ninja Tabi, Devourer’s Gauntlet, Executioner, Jotun’s Wrath, The Crusher
I’m not really big on hunters, as it’s not a role I sincerely enjoy. But after playing Chernobog for a couple of days, I love him. He’s fun, he’s got a kit I can do silly/annoying things with, and he’s rewarding. He might not do the biggest hunter numbers (at least, not in my hands) but when you get him moving and online, he’s satisfying to play. You feel like you’ve really done something terrific when you play as the first Slavic god. I can see him being in several comps, especially comps that are focused on the late game. Chernobog, in my estimation, is not a god that’s going to light up the early game, but the longer he sticks around, the greater thorn he’s going to be in the side of your other team. Especially if you’re in a pre-made that offers up some solid audio communication. Don’t be afraid to use his ult to check out where your opponents with, even if you don’t dive on them. You can cancel it and drop back down to where you were, to terrify them, and set up other ganks for your team. It’s great to know where everyone is at all times. He felt pretty balanced right out of the gate, and I could see maybe some of his damage shifted slightly. What I don’t foresee is a serious nerf to the Black God. Chernobog is a hoot to play, and I think he’s got a lot to offer with some practice and effort.
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