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The tank meta: Are defensive items too strong?

tank

The direction of the meta

One thing Super Regional’s highlighted is how strong defensive items are right now. The strength of defensive items in my opinion is directing the meta. We are back in a tank meta, which if we are honest is never really a particularly fun one. Smite is far more interesting when it’s about high risk/high reward plays, something a tank meta doesn’t truly display.

You only have to look at the compositions Elevate used to book their spot at World’s: three guardians and two adcs. There are other reasons outside of itemisation for that such as the strength of Artio and the high base damage of guardians like Cabrakan. Itemisation is a large part of it though and you can see it in a lot of other comps and the prominence of warrior jungles.

The tanky jungle

Right now even if teams are not running guardians in the jungle, it is a warrior or a full tank assassin instead. Two of the most prominent assassins in the game are Ratatoskr and Serqet currently. However, for the first time in the jungle role, these characters are being played full tank.

The reason these two are so prominent is because defensive and hybrid items are so incredibly strong right now. Both of these Gods’ kits lend themselves to being run full tank more than pretty much any other assassin in the game right now.

tank
Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

Serqet has high base damage, incredible mobility, strong CC and an ult which does true damage. This makes her perfect to run full tank as even without the power scaling she still puts out huge amounts of damage. At the same time it makes her a nightmare to kill. One of the Serqet’s biggest problems has always been when transitioning into the late game. How does she use her ult and not die? The couple of seconds when you are just stuck immobile on an enemies head has always been extremely dicey. When you are full tank you are no longer worried about this and only forfeiting a minimal amount of damage.

Ratatoskr, just like Serqet, has high base damage, incredible mobility, a myriad of cc while also bringing protection shred. Ratatoskr also has to be very close to get his damage off, and late game had issues engaging with his ult, as after knock up he would pretty much have to dash straight out. A full tank Rat however can stick to his targets far longer. With the amount of CC and chase potential he has when you can no longer burst him, he becomes an absolute nightmare. With his protection shred, the lack of power or penetration being built doesn’t hugely hurt his early game damage too.

 

Itemisation

Two of the items behind this surge in tank assassins are Ancille and Gladiator’s Shield. These items are just ridiculously good on junglers. Firstly they cost 2000 and 1700 gold respectively, giving you an extremely strong early power curve. This is very important in the jungle where you want to be dictating the pace of the game and making the enemy sing to your tune. To put this in perspective, both those items together only cost 700 more gold than a Deathbringer.

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Image courtesy of smite.wikia.com

They are not really good items for their cost, they are just really good items in their own right. Together though what they provide is eye-watering for the price. For 3700 gold you get 20% cdr, 35 physical defense, 50 magical protection, 55 physical power, 2.5 percent hp and mana return on your abilities and a 30 unit one second silence when taking magic damage. These items just give far too much for their price.

Another issue is the lack of pen in this build; but when your Titan’s Bane only costs 2150 gold and gives you a flat 33 percent pen, it really is not an issue. You just continue this power curve of great and cheap items.

When you also chuck in the combo of Hide of the Nemean Lion and Thorns, the power of these full tank junglers really starts to become clear. Thorns thankfully has been reduced to a five second duration from its previous eight. However, these full tank junglers can still kill an ADC pretty quickly. When you are reflecting 50 percent of damage before mitigation and 25 percent of basic attack damage back, there is no option but to run. If you are going any kind of crit build and had a full tank Ratatoskr with Thorns up, you would die without him having to hit you himself. When you consider at the moment both a jungler and solo laner running Hide and Thorns, things start to get a bit silly.

Conclusion

Right now we live in a world where three members on each team are building nearly full tank every game. Something needs to be done about this, although it won’t be easy. This is because defense across the board is incredibly strong in Smite and has a considerable power creep in recent times. We also have Gods like Ratatoskr and Serqet who lend themselves so well to being built in this way. The genie is out of the bottle in that regard, although the problem isn’t that Ratatoskr and Serqet can build like that. The problem is that the tank meta is crowding out a lot of the other playstyles.

In my opinion, a few things do need adjustments. Mainly, the cost of Gladiator’s Shield and Ancille. The damage Thorns reflects probably needs to be reduced by about 10 percent too.

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Top image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

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