Ever since the beginning of Season 2, Hunters have had a choice between two distinct builds. In past seasons the choice has often been easy. But in the current patch the two builds are more even than they’ve been in years. In the Smite Pro League, the preferred build varies wildly from player to player, and game to game. So, which of the two Hunter builds is best? Let’s figure out the pros and cons of each build path.
Critical damage builds are the classic Hunter build. In the last few seasons they fell out of favor, being slowly replaced by the penetration and Qin’s Sais build. But in Season 5, Crit builds on hunters are viable once again.
The biggest strength of a Crit build is its ability to burst down squishy members of the opposing team. Once you’ve got two Crit items finished, it only takes two or three lucky shots to take down opposing Mages, Assassins and Hunters. Having the potential to take enemies down in nearly an instant will make those classes play carefully around you, and will likely net you a couple cheeky kills along the way.
Another more recent bonus to the Crit build is the item Poisoned Star. While this item was added a while back, it’s only recently become a staple in Crit builds. Poisoned Star slows any enemies you Crit by 20%. But more importantly, it also reduces their damage output by 20%. This item both adds a good amount of utility to the Crit build, letting you take an enemy God’s damage down a notch.
But not everything is amazing about the Crit build.
The biggest problem with Crit builds is dealing with tanks. Crit builds already tend to be worse at dealing with tanks than their Qin’s Sais counterparts due to having less penetration. But when the enemy tanks properly counter build against Crit, your problems only get worse.
Thorns is a gigantic threat to any Hunter building Crit. Once that purple plant covers a tank you’re fighting, you have no choice but to immediately stop fighting and start running. Any hits you land on the enemy tank won’t deal much damage to them, but the damage reflected back to you will be massive. And unless you have super human reaction speeds, one or two stray basic attacks will inevitably hit their Thorns. And if one of them Crits, you’re going to take a lot of damage. If they supplement their Thorns with a Hide of the Nemean Lion, things only get worse.
In addition to Thorns, Season 5 has added a new counter to Crit: Spectral Armor. This item reduces the bonus damage of critical strikes by 50%. Even when Thorns is down, tanks are now much harder to kill for Crit builds.
Qin’s Sais builds
The Qin’s build’s biggest pro and its biggest con are a reverse of the Crit build’s: It’s great against tanks, but falls a little short when fighting other damage classes.
The Qin’s build still deals respectable damage to the squishier classes, but is far less threatening to them than Crit is. On the flip side, tanks have a hard time dealing with them. With the ability to build more penetration items, less damage reflected by Thorns, and no counter building options like Spectral Armor, enemy tanks will fear a Qin’s Sais hunter.
Another big advantage to Qin’s builds is their adaptability. Crit builds have to build two or three Crit items, and one of them is nearly always Deathbringer. When you factor in that they need Boots, a Devourer’s Gauntlet for Lifesteal, and either Executioner or Titan’s Bane for penetration, there’s not a lot of room to breathe on a Crit build.
A Qin’s build, on the other hand, can fit in any weird counter building item you want. The core of your damage comes from just Qin’s Sais and a good penetration item or two, so other than that you can just build to your team’s needs. If there are a ton of tanks, you might want to get both Titan’s Bane and Executioner. Feel like you need extra lifesteal? You can grab Asi and Devourer’s Gauntlet. Want to deal more damage to their whole group? Try Odysseus Bow.
The other big advantage to the Qin’s build is that it’s fairly cheap. Qin’s Sais is a decently expensive item, but compared to the important Crit item Deathbringer, it’s very affordable. And because you don’t need so many items to get your damage online, you do so much sooner in the game.
At the end of the day, Hunter builds are no longer about which build path is objectively better. In Season 5, you have to be adaptable. If the enemy team is full of tanks, and you’re having trouble dealing with them, maybe pivot into a Qin’s Sais build. On the other hand, if they’ve got mostly squishy Gods, a Crit build is going to perform a lot better.
Your god choice can also affect which build is better. Gods like Ullr that like to build Transcendence will find it easier to build into Qin’s Sais. On the flip side, some gods like Jing Wei and Artemis have Crit already built into their kit. The age of cookie cutter Hunter builds is coming to an end, and you’re going to have to think on your toes when buying items on hunters now.
Which build do you prefer? Go ahead and leave your thoughts in the comments.
All images courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com