SMITE Izanami: Matron of the Dead Review
Izanami is the newest hunter in SMITE and member of the Japanese Pantheon! I kept calling her/mistaking her for Izanagi for about two straight days, much to my chagrin! But she’s unique, interesting and definitely on the higher end of the difficulty scale. She is the Matron of the Dead due in thanks to her son, the God of Fire [thanks a lot, son. You’re grounded], she succumbed to the fatal burns and fell. Consuming some of the fruit that grew in Yomi, the place of the dead, she was no longer the loving wife to Izanagi she once was. Now a fiend shrouded in darkness, Izanagi fled Yomi, sealing his wife behind a boulder. That divorce case is not going to be a fun one! However Izanami is fun if you’re into being sneaky, annoying, and doing lots of damage!
The Matron of the Dead has a unique kit, not merely among Hunters but I’d say among all the Gods in Smite. She is classified as a Hunter, but, much like Ao Kuang being classified as a mage, I can definitely feel some Assassin vibes in here. Stealth and slow don’t exactly fit the norm in the hunter role. But there are definite drawbacks to playing Izanami. Sure, she throws kama and they boomerang back to her, but each shot [to and fro] does 50% of her damage. Only the initial throw can crit/trigger on-hit affects also. Not to mention her Slow [Spectral Projection] isn’t so hot if it’s not on a target when they die. The petite Izanami rewards players for being ballsy and going deep when it’s going to reward them. The closer she is to dying, the more damage she doles out, and a bit of lifesteal could certainly keep her in a fight long enough to make enemies regret opposing her as she hauls them down into Yomi with her!
Hirez lists her as an “average” difficulty Hunter, but I’m not so sure I agree. And that’s not just because Hunter is my second worst role [next to Assassin, which she also feels like], but so much is on the line playing her. It is absolutely imperative that you land the initial throw and the return throw as many times as possible to get her Real Soviet Damage going. Her mana costs are gross and horrendous and without her Buff [Sickle Storm], I have to say, she’s a real let down. But she’s mobile, she can temporarily stealth, her damage output when she’s on point is incredible. I want to see her with someone like Khepri, dragging them back into the pits of Hell with Kama/Sickles being relentlessly tossed into their back.
+ Highway to Hell: Her escape [Fade Away] is amazing. As long as they can’t guess where you’re moving, you’re out. It’s a leap that becomes a stealth for 3-5 seconds. Do it over a wall and get the hell away! Kind of a long wind up, so make sure you’re not going to get interrupted!
+ Pressurized for Her Pleasure: Her lane pressure in the early going is intense and hard to deal with. Slink away for a moment, leap over a wall stealthed, activate Sickle Storm and just blast them to bits. She’s a poking machine. She can’t duel early on, but she CAN make them regret moving in. With a bit of work, she can 100-0 with 2+4.
+ Wave Dash: When using 1 [Sickle Storm] she can split push like a machine or simply wave clear. Instead of the return effect, Sickle Storm makes them only go out once but do 100% damage and fire faster. Also bonus damage. Leap over a wall, hustle somewhere and split push because it’s not like you’re gonna catch her. However even if she throws a kama and hits every single minion in a wave, it will only crit once. . .
- It’s Time, Yugi: She can’t duel worth a shit early game without Sickle Storm. It’s absolutely dreadful. So you have to consider mana and so much more when you want to try and duel the other Hunter.
- I Ain’t Sayin’ She’s a Golddigger: But she ain’t messin’ with no broke. . . Oh come on, I thought it was funny! Her mana costs are incredibly high in the early going, and I’d say she’s pretty dependent on having gear. A few good items will go a long way in making her a dueling machine. Still not so hot without her 1, though.
- Wait for it, Wait for it: If you miss boomerang hits, you lose 50% of your damage per boomerang and that is absolutely NOT Definitely on the to-don’t list. You have to play smart [RE: Not like how I play her] as far as her auto attacks go. I’m going to go into this.
There’s the fun idea lately that Hunters can go mid lane and duel the casters. I don’t think this is a terrible idea, but as someone who is admittedly weak as a Hunter, I want that support to help me out, to take hits for me and to CC my foes! Sure, I feel like she could go there. It’s dangerous, though. If the caster in mid is more mobile than her and can avoid/guess correctly the movement of the kama throwing, it’s not going to matter how squishy the foe is! Not to mention mid laners tend to pack wicked AOE’s ideal for plucking her out of stealth with a bit of foresight. Personally, I’d keep her in the duo lane. However. . . Part of me can really see her as an Assassin. She doesn’t quite have the burst to melt jungle camps but maybe with the right practice/starting items/future early game buffs? It’s not something I’ve experimented with, but I can absolutely see it happening in the very capable hands of a pro jungler. Sadness could ensue with her leap/stealth. Izanami has the tools to go where she pleases, but one of the keys is to have the right gear for the job you’re trying to do. I feel like there’s a fine balance of stats I want as the Matron, but this would be tops: Physical Power. She’s very ability based, and gets a bit less out of critical, attack speed, and lifesteal. I mean you can still get them on your items, but from my research, it seems that the best bet is going all out Physical Power. Feel free to tack on some attack speed or movement speed where possible but don’t get distracted from the focus of building towards late game chunking. Also never forget she gets free physical penetration the lower her health gets, so with a lifesteal build you might not need as much penetration as a normal hunter.
Izanami is definitely “Feast or Famine.” Either she’s going to obliterate everything she touches, cackling merrily all the while, or she’ll have no damage, miss every Kama, get no bonus damage on her Spectral Projection, miss every ult… Or even if it does hit, the damage will be negligible. The key for me, though, is other characters with Crowd Control. Supports like Khepri as I stated earlier, or Bacchus. Get your target just messed up enough that you can land that slow and get the kill with it still applied! You don’t want your foes getting anywhere and the more stopping power you have the better. Terra would be another great teammate with her ultimate making everything about Izanami honestly better. Now she can get a heal when she’s critical [and still getting plenty of free penetration], lowered cooldowns and can just hurl abilities willy-nilly. To be honest, Terra’s probably my favorite partner for the Matron, either her or someone like Aphrodite if you want a squishy but very pushy lane. You play Izanami by knowing when it’s time to go deep and disregard the odds, and when to stand back, poke as best you can, and wait for that majestic moment.
Passive: Death Draws Nigh [Buff]:
This passive is incredibly simple, and slides between “incredibly amazing” and “ugh. . .” The closer Izanami comes to death, the better her Physical Penetration gets. Specifically, she gains 4% for every 15% of her total health pool lost. It caps out at 20%, but that’s a lot of Pen! That’s why I say to get at least a little physical pen. But not to go hog wild unless it has the other stats you’re seeking. It’s fantastic though because with some lifesteal/a good utility support, you can keep yourself low, but not too low and still murder people at your leisure. Don’t go too ham, though, otherwise, you’ll be the one heading to your grave.
1: Sickle Storm [Buff]:
For the next six seconds, Izanami’s kama no longer boomerangs back. Instead, they do 100% of their damage in one toss, and also gain Attack Speed [55/60/65/70/75%], plus tacks on a bonus attack damage [5/10/15/20/25] for the duration. Thankfully the cooldown doesn’t start until the ability is over, and you can right click to stop the move if you feel the need. As someone with a base mana pool of 210 [+35], and a base cost of 60 mana per use, you better use that only when you need it, at least from the start. You can use it to wave clear, you can use it to poke [but only when you’re certain it’s not going to miss much so you can avoid wasting mana], but the cooldown is mercifully not long. I like to use it the moment after using my stealth. Leap over something, run nice and close where they can’t get away, hit ‘em with the Storm, and right before their death, drop the 2 because. . .
2: Spectral Projection [Line, Debuff, Buff]:
Spectral Projection is a funny little nugget of an ability. She sends a . . . well, spectral projection forward in a line, dealing damage and slowing all enemies that are in the path. If an Enemy God is killed [no matter how or by whom] and the slow is still on them, future uses of the slow become more powerful [base 18%, +6% per kill, up to 30%]. The damage is solid [65/115/165/215/265 (+90% of your physical power)] and the slow is incredible. I had a sort of a hard time getting the buff to it since the slow lasts at the most 3 seconds. It seemed like my team never wanted to go in when someone was weak and slowed. That’s probably just a symptom of not paying attention and less skill. However, it’s an incredible move even without the buff, and a terrific way to put someone into a position to go back to their base. I like to tie this with Sickle Storm without a doubt, to take that slow and add an Attack Speed buff, and just pummel someone.
3: Fade Away: [Leap, Stealth]:
Fade Away is just ludicrous. Izanami descends into the Underworld and then leaps suddenly, becoming stealthed [3/3.5/4/4/5/5]. If that sounds wicked broken on a hunter, you at least will be glad to know its limited by a baseline 20s cooldown. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s both a leap and a stealth, thought the second limiting factor is it has the most painful windup since Jing Wei’s ult. Always keep that in mind if you intend to use the move defensively! Especially if you’re under focus fire as a single lucky hit will break your stealth and ruin your escape. If you just run in a straight line, they’re likely to kill you, but I have used it to get away from people like Thanatos and his stupid execute. I’m not 100% certain if they can still see you with their “Execute” icons, but I didn’t die from it, and that’s the important thing! I’ve used it to leap around and over walls to get past dangerous situations, or to set up kills with my team.
4: Dark Portal: [Ground Target, Special]:
Izanami creates a portal made of darkness on the ground. Targets caught in it take damage [250/340/430/520/610 (+120% of your physical power)] and get silenced! It’s a very simple ultimate, lasts a second or two on the ground, and can really chain neatly with other ultimates. Now that the enemies are silenced, throw down Zeus’ ult, or perhaps an Odin ring too because why not full wombo combo? There are so many insane combos you can do with this ultimate, but it’s nice and simple which I’m kind of grateful for. Toss the slow down, then drop her ultimate right behind it, or lay the ultimate in someone’s path as they’re running from someone else. As long as they can’t leap or juke it, they’re getting silenced, and likely killed.
Let’s talk items, though. Crit and on-hit items cannot proc twice in one ability, so that means half of her basic attack is honestly worthless. If you miss that first hit then and no proc happens, that’s it! If you hit multiple Gods with it, the effect will only activate on the first, and you know that’s going to be a tank or guardian in most scenarios! Sure the concept of getting procs and still hitting other targets is unique and fun, but it certainly isn’t a high priority you should be relying on. Crit will pretty much always suck on her as well. The boomerang kama can crit once for 50%. Her crits are 75% as strong as other characters. You can’t have her buff on all the time either, so you’re going to be wasting that stat. It’s with this in mind that I want to focus on items that give her boatloads of Physical Power. I’d also like to take this time to note that at launch, Izanami has the lowest attack speed in the game. She’s tied with Sobek, Ymir, and Sylvanus. That. Is. Awful. I did a bit of research to confirm what I already suspected [My attacks were goddamn slow]. So I believe that comes to about 85% of maximum attack speed with your build, and so that’s not worth it either. That is of course unless her buff is active. See above, though. This leaves you with Physical Power and Penetration for actual options. The defensive items will vary, so I’ll skip those. There are so many choices depending on what you need. So, for actual damage items, I fancy:
- Qin’s Sais: She doesn’t suffer from horrific damage scaling, the passive is great, and the stats are worth it.
- Bloodforge: Dat 75 Attack Power plus the passive? It’s got a bit of lifesteal but I love this on her.
- Poisoned Star: 30 Physical Power’s not bad, but crits afflict with a poison which is also Pair this with Malice for some hilarity.
Some final thoughts on Izanami: You can throw her kama against a wall, and it will bounce back to you faster. But I don’t care how quick the kama comes back to you, it will NOT increase the speed at which you can throw another! That’s not how attack speed works, guys. She’s an interesting Hunter, but having one of the slowest base attack speeds in the game is a really weird move. She’s unique among all the characters in the game I feel, and she’s absolute trash in Arena [the mode I play more than any other and I don’t care what you think about it!], and incredibly weak early game. She can 100-0 most anyone with the right conditions, and the key is to survive to late game. She’s about as late game as Kali is. When you get there, activate Sickle Storm, drop ludicrous damage, and a few auto attacks will decimate virtually everyone. I don’t really care for how shoe-horned her item build is, but at least there’s some deviation in the style of build you want to go. You can grab Frostbound Hammer on her too and do silly things! I don’t think she’s bad, but I definitely think there are things to look at in regards to her auto-attack and the speed at which she throws them. She’s not for everyone, she’s not a safe pick. But mastery of her assassin-style gameplay could really net rewards for them.
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