Why are Hunters so weak right now?
Smite hunters have always been the rulers of the Team Fight in past seasons. As your team’s main source of consistent damage, many times the performance of your Hunter is what would win or lose you the game. In Season five, though, it’s a different story.
The duo lane is under performing in Season 5. For Supports, this isn’t new. They’ve been getting less farm than anyone else since Season 2. But for Hunters, this is a frightening new meta. They have less impact on the outcome of matches than they ever have. And until very late in the game your Mid Laner is expected to deal far more damage. What brought about this shift in power?
Easily the most damaging change that hit hunters recently was the reduction of XP sharing. In the Season 5 patch, the total split XP from sharing minions was brought down from 150% to 120%. Originally, this change might not have seemed massively detrimental to Hunters due to the meta toward the end of Season 4 favoring a roaming support. But as the meta developed, this change became the dread of all Hunter players.
The biggest immediate reaction to this change, along with the jungle changes that increased the farm of jungle camps, was to have your jungler primarily farm camps. This meant that when your support rotated, there was less farm in it for them.
In addition to this, the larger map size made rotating cost more time. As a result, Supports have wound up ordinarily staying in the duo lane until well into the Mid Game. Compounded with the XP changes, Hunters lost an enormous amount of farm going into season 5.
But in the early Season 5 meta, Hunters were still strong. This was due primarily to the item Deathbringer being way too powerful. At the beginning of Season 5, this item gave 35% critical strike chance, along with its critical damage improving passive. After patch 5.2 hit, it was massively nerfed. But unfortunately, a few other Hunter items were brought down with it: Devourer’s Gauntlet and Asi saw nerfs in the same patch.
Towards the end of Season 4, Hunters were admittedly a little too powerful. But after all the changes, it seems like Hi-Rez has hit the role too hard. What can be done to bring the role back up?
The most obvious way to fix this situation would be to give the duo lane more farm. This would help not only the Hunter, but the Support as well. But that’s easier said than done. You can’t just increase a number to give the duo lane more farm.
A buff to Guardian’s blessing could be the answer. Something that increases the XP split to players in your assist range could improve things. But that’s always a difficult balancing act: you don’t want to improve it to the point where junglers pick it up too.
Another suggestion would be to increase the number of minions in a wave for the duo lane. But this could lead to more problems. With increased minion wave sizes, Sieging duo lane Towers would become too easy. The duo lane’s Towers would need to be buffed in response, creating an inelegant design situation where the Duo Lane follows different rules from other lanes. Additionally, this could impact the meta in unexpected ways. If the Supports decide to roam again, suddenly Hunters are ahead of everyone else in the game. It would also reduce the viability of Hunters with poor clear, like Xbalanque.
There is not an easy fix to this problem. It seems most changes Hi-Rez can make have equal downsides. That’s a problem for Smite’s Designers to solve in the following patches. For the moment, though, the duo lane is going to be stuck feeling a little under powered.
Top art courtesy of smite.wikia.com