Hi-Rez Studios has announced the Smite update 12.13 patch notes for you to digest, which comes with a range of buffs and nerfs for characters and items. It’s otherwise known as the Smite 9.4 Bonus Update.
9.4 BONUS BALANCE
- The 9.4 Jade Emperor Update was a unique update with a large variety of nerfs across many gods and items in all classes and roles. It also included changes to Diminishing Returns (DR)
- As a prologue to this bonus update and the next full update we would like to review the Goal: Nerf top Gods and Items to decrease creep/bloat and buff lower performers indirectly
- We have seen a significant shift in god win rate data.
- Gods who were not nerfed in 9.4 saw significant increases in win rate with gods like Nu Wa, Mercury, Rama, Terra, and King Arthur seeing the largest increases in Conquest win rate for each class.
- Most of the gods who were directly nerfed did drop heavily. Most importantly: Bastet from her bonus balance change, who had the single biggest drop in Conquest win rate in the entire update.
- Item data often lags well behind god data, as players will take much more time to optimize new builds and wait for pros and influencers to drive the meta. We haven’t seen any game-wide trends in item data yet, but with the first SPL rounds in 9.4 we expect to see some new builds that will then ripple out further into the game causing even more shifts that are not reflected in the data at this time. Even some of the most obvious changes, like pro hunters building Devourer’s Gauntlets now, are not widespread enough to make significant impacts on data from all players.
- We have seen the various comments about individual gods being more affected than others by the change to DR. So far in the win rate data we have not seen anything too concerning. Horus and Eset actually increased in win rate from 9.3 to 9.4. Thor is down and was struggling heavily even before this change. The god single most affected by DR nerfs instead of direct nerfs seems to be Serqet, with Hades not far behind. Bacchus and Hou Yi received direct nerfs but were also potentially hurt by DR changes due to the magnitude of their decreases. It’s possible that it was itemization that also affected these gods but DR changes look to be a likely culprit. At the moment we are happy with the nerf to CC across the game and it likely will have a lot of long term benefits. We will most likely be planning buffs for Thor and Serqet in 9.5 as initial test cases for this issue because they are the gods who statistically need buffs the most after 9.4.
- Goal: Decrease average damage
- We are seeing changes to, but in very small amounts.
- Non-Conquest modes saw average total damage go down, with every class individually seeing a decrease in damage. However, this damage decrease was generally quite small – in the range of about 2%.
- On Conquest we saw damage in total come down, but even less so than in Non-Conquest modes, and we also saw it mostly only apply to Mages, Guardians, and Assassins. Warriors and Hunters went slightly up.
- Historically we have not seen this data change drastically. The biggest peaks and lowest valleys in damage from multiple years tend to be within about 10% of each other, and that usually occurs over longer periods of time as metas shift. So a 2% change in a single update is something players certainly could feel, and we have seen comments from players claiming that things do feel slightly different.
- Damage per class as a stat is also heavily affected by new god launches. With so many people playing that one god – that gods individual performance becomes the biggest part of the equation. So, by this logic, the fact that Yu Huang launched underpowered could be the main driving factor in damage stats decreasing. When removing Yu Huang from the equation we still saw general damage decreases in the same situations as described above, but in even smaller amounts for mage damage, and thus totals (that include mage damage).
- General Comments on 9.4 Bonus balance
- The God and Item balance shifting was quite successful. We saw win rate increases in many gods who were untouched by 9.4 and previously considered weak. These gods might have not broken into the ranked or SPL meta yet, but they are now certainly closer to do that than they were before.
- As mentioned above we haven’t been able to clearly identify any big changes in build patterns yet, but we have seen a lot of chatter and intrigue about what new builds will look like.
- We will extend similar logic into 9.4 Bonus to continue nerfing some top performing gods and items with universal goals, not just damage focused. See the dev notes below for the thought process and action items related to this bullet point.
- General Comments on 9.5 balance and beyond
- As part of this bonus update we want to convey some previews looking forward to 9.5. The Bonus update will further target early game time to kill, general damage, and top performers, but based on the feedback and data from 9.4 we feel like more action is indeed required.
- We designed 9.4 with a lot of caution in mind. We wanted to make our first move at game-wide balance a safe one. “The Nerfening” was always designed as a multi-step plan, and it seems we could have done better to clearly communicate that on the 9.4 patch show. Many people felt like we oversold the changes in 9.4, and under communicated our future intentions. We wanted to see what magnitude of results we would get from these safer changes in order to better prepare the dev team and the players for the concept of even more intense change.
- We also saw a lot of confusion about nerfing protection items and a few god’s protective abilities, which would have made much more sense if we had communicated more clearly that the 9.4 update was more about bringing down top performing “bloat” cases, with a smaller goal of experimenting with damage changes.
- 9.5 Preview
- We plan to deliver another game-wide change in 9.5 that will have a more powerful and targeted effect on time to kill, especially in the early game. We want to be careful here to not oversell or undersell this planned change, nor reveal it fully yet, but we have discussed the specific details with Pros and Olympians and everyone is very excited about it. It should be significantly more intense compared to 9.4 and it’s going to affect all gods as equally as possible. We still want SMITE to feel like SMITE though, and some calls for change are simply unrealistic. We want to find a solid shift to get our toughest critics excited to re-engage with SMITE without scaring off the many players who still love and play the game in Season 9.
- 9.5 Will also be the first Conquest update of Season 9, with new environment art, mechanical changes, and heavy balance adjustments across the map. We have seen significant decreases in the snowball factor on the Conquest map since 9.1, but we have some lofty goals for pacing and game-feel changes that require a significant balance pass. These changes will compound with the above point, leading to a shift in all modes, but an even larger one within the Conquest mode.
In this bonus update we are nerfing the starting power on many early game items including starters, Tier 1 DPS items, and Tier 2 Penetration items. This was the single most clearly identified aspect that was missing from 9.4. Starter items were originally not nerfed because they had such a delicate balance with each other that had been worked on across the entire last year, but the data and feedback has provided the proper information to make us feel more confident about this change. This should provide some more subtle changes in game feel, especially in the early game, and will contribute to more subtle damage decreases and shifts in build paths.
There are also clearly items that aren’t nerf here. We generally avoided nerfing the starter items that are the less popular ones already, have low power, or are for Supports.
New gods are always an interesting situation. It appears that in this case the data and feedback are clearly aligned: Yu Huang needs some buffs. The god definitely has a learning curve and a unique feel that takes some time to adjust to, which is why we usually wait longer before we apply buffs. Atlas was in a similar situation and was buffed in PTS, so it feels appropriate that Yu Huang could be buffed in his first bonus update. These buffs specifically aim toward increasing his total damage as a mage, which is definitely on the low end for the class, and it includes one important change to his feel that allows him to refire his Ability 2 more quickly without a damage penalty.
FLAMES OF THE PHOENIX
- Increased Cinder Damage from 15/25/35/45/55 to 25/35/45/55/65
- Increased Magical Power Scaling from 15% to 25%
- This ability now deals 100% damage regardless of how quickly it is fired
- Decreased Cooldown from 100s to 90s
- Increased Magical Power Scaling from 50% to 60% on the Push Damage
- Increased Magical Power Scaling from 45% to 50% on the Explosion Damage
- Total increase from 95% to 110%
The Season Launch god has come down with his past nerfs, but we are looking at one more that we think will be the last for a while. Shiva’s Ultimate provides a long duration of CC Immunity and Damage Mitigation that makes it an especially powerful engage or escape tool. Shiva’s recent over-performance has continued to be attributed to his mobility and evasion, so we are removing the damage mitigation from this ability to make sure Shiva’s enemies can properly punish and counter the ability.
- Removed the 20% Damage Mitigation Shiva gains while channeling
Players are wailing like banshees about Cliodhna’s power level. This god saw heavy damage scaling nerfs to multiple abilities in 9.4, but she has held onto a top spot in the meta. For this update we are taking a different path by removing the Ability Lifesteal she gets while inside a wall. Managing your health and creating a strong risk/reward situation is important to this gods design, and allowing Cliodhna to heal up while in a wall felt contrary to that goal, especially as players got better at handling her. She will no longer have this ability, but she will still gain this bonus after exiting, encouraging her to leap into battle and deal damage to heal herself back up.
- Removed the 10% Physical Ability Lifesteal she gains While inside a wall only (she still gets it for 5s upon exiting)
Despite his massive stature, this god was still able to hide from the nerfs in 9.4. He was recently buffed and we did aim to avoid nerfing gods in that situation, but Cthulhu has clearly shown that he is now a meta staple, not just a flavor of the month. He is mostly valued for his Ultimate, which is going to get nerfed in both its tanky features as well as its damage ability. Although Cthulhu’s Ultimate thematically is driving players to abandon all hope and spiral into madness, we do want players to actually be able to fight against it.
DESCEND INTO MADNESS
- Decreased Max Health from 25% to 20%
SEVER (ULT FORM ABILITY 1)
- Decreased Base Damage from 100/150/200/255/300 to 100/140/180/220/260
This goddess has recently risen to power in the SPL as a specific counter pick against a few top gods. She is mostly a counter-pick and also has not been in the meta much recently so we are starting off very light with her nerfs. Her Ultimate is powerful and tough to counter, so a small increase in cooldown here could make a big difference, especially at the pro level.
- Increased Cooldown from 100s to 110s
We really opened the floodgates on He Bo when we removed that self root. After discussing with the team, analyzing the data, and reviewing the feedback, we still feel like this was the right call. We would rather make the god feel much better to use, then nerf him in other ways. He Bo plays best when maneuvering between enemies, and that self root really hurts his flow. However, to balance that out he will definitely need some damage nerfs
- Decreased Magical Power Buff per stack from 5% to 4%
- (Decreased Total Magical Power % buff from 15% to 12%)
- Decreased Base Damage from 370/450/530/610/690 to 350/430/510/590/670
- Decreased Magical Power Scaling from 115% to 105%
- Hotfixed Friday 4/22
- Fixed an issue where Conquest had incorrect jungle spawn timers
- Fixed an issue where his Freezy Bot skin would fail to spawn walls
- Yu Huang
- Fixed an issue where charging up and canceling his second ability could trigger some item effects
- Fixed an issue where he would get locked out of auto attacking
- Fixed an issue where he couldn’t pass through player-made walls with his third ability
- Hide of the Nemean Lion
- Fixed an issue where this item’s passive would lose stacks from Minions, Jungle Camps, Jungle Bosses, and Towers
- Fixed an issue with his Shining Chivalry skin missing ability SFX audio
- Fixed visibility issues with the Nene Kappa on his base skin
- Yu Huang
- Fixed an issue that caused clients to crash when he died during his ultimate