SMITE Season 5: Can They Get This One Right?

Well, its a new year and with that comes another season of SMITE: Battleground of the Gods. Big changes are coming this year, including a starter items overhaul and a complete redesign of the Conquest Map. The last season the SMITE devs and designers had a reputation of making some very questionable choices about the game and its balance. Hopefully this doesn’t go the same way.

You can read the Update Notes here: SMITE 5.1 Update Notes

Watch my Analysis video here: SMITE 5.1 Analysis

So is SMITE 5.1 a good start to the season or a bad omen for the future?


This is the most obvious change with this new patch. First off, the map is bigger, 20% wider according to the designers. This change expanded the jungle and made it a bit more precarious for anyone wandering through it. They’ve added more landmarks that can lead to great ambush set ups and it makes it quite dangerous to be caught in the jungle alone. Jungle camps have also been changed, each one getting a design overhaul to better reflect the Greek lore. Centaurs, Manticores, Satyrs, and Chimeras now make the jungle their home. Camps have also been relocated to make things a little more efficient. There is also more room for fighting around the phoenixes and Titan room, it makes defending easier since its a good distance from the Titan. A slew of other changes like respawn timer decreases on camps and an enhanced Fire Giant lend themselves to quickening the pace of Conquest matches, which were previously quite long.


A new feature, these now replace the old starter items. You can only buy 1 blessing per match, and once you sell it its gone and you cannot buy a new one. This coupled with labeling each Blessing based on character class, make it clearer what blessing you should be getting. As such there is an Assassin’s, Guardian’s, Mage’s, Hunter’s, and Warrior’s blessing. There is also an additional 3 blessings available in other game modes. The 5 Conquest blessings listed above are only usable in Conquest. Each blessing has specific goals for getting stacks on the item and a unique passive once fully stacked. One thing to note, Mage’s blessing does bonus damage when you hit an ability. Unfortunately, its entirely broken since certain abilities will deal the bonus damage more than once. Thoth was actually removed from the public test server to fix the issue of his abilities dealing bonus damage on each tick of damage, up to 6. Apart from this, blessings seem like a good change and you can mix up which one you buy based on how you want to play.


Yes, its exactly what is sounds like. It seems that Hi-Rez did not like the spot mages were in against most other gods, so they got one of the largest buffs across a class I’ve ever seen. They added a slew of new magical items with massive stats. Existing items also got power buffs. It would be easier if I just showed you.

Typhon’s Fang:

  • 2800g
  • +100 Magical Power
  • +200 Mana
  • +15% Magical Lifesteal
  • PASSIVE – Your Magical Lifesteal From items is increased by 50%. Your Magical Power is increased by the 100% Amount of Magical Lifesteal you have.

Soul Gem

  • 2300g
  • +65 Magical Power
  • +150 Health
  • +12% Magical Lifesteal
  • +10% CDR
  • PASSIVE – Every time you hit an enemy with an ability or basic attack you gain 1 stack. At 5 Stacks your next ability will deal bonus damage equal to 25% of your Magical power, and will heal yourself and allies within 30 units of you for 25% of your Magical Power

Rod of Tahuti

  • Decreased Cost from 3300 to 3000
  • Increased Magical Power from 125 to 150
  • NEW PASSIVE – Gain 25% additional Magical Power against targets below 50% Health.

Telkhines Ring (Because Freya wasn’t broken enough)

  • Increased Cost from 2400 to 2800
  • Added +20% Attack Speed
  • NEW PASSIVE – Your basic attacks deal bonus damage of 10 + 5% of your magical power. This effect does not hit structures.

Do I really need to say anything else? So now mages do significantly more damage than they used to and they’re harder to kill. Oh, and a bunch of them got magical protection scaling of 0.9 per level too. Also some of the pen and items that deal bonus health percentage damage got buffed to do more against tanky targets as the game goes on. So tanks aren’t the problem anymore…

Oh, and some physical items got changed, but who cares? Mages are broken.


And quickly, some god balance changes.

Ah Muzen Cab had his movement and attack speed increase from his hives reduced.

Fafnir’s stun on his first ability in dwarf and dragon form was nerfed from 1.5s to 1.0s.

Ao Kuang’s ultimate only heals him once he takes his target up in the air and not on initial contact.

Cu Chulainn’s base HP5 was reduced from 9 to 7 and his ultimate got a 10s cooldown increase.

Loki’s Decoy got a cooldown reduction from 14s to 12s and a damage increase.

Nike’s Rend now makes her knockback immune and the damage was decreased.

Raijin’s Percussive Storm had its damage reduced, Raiju had damage to subsequent targets reduced, and his ultimate, Taiko Drums, got a cooldown increase from 90s to 100s.

Ratatoskr’s Dart got a cooldown increase from 12s to 14s and Acorn Blast had its mana costs increased as you level it.

Ravana’s base health was reduced from 470 to 450 and Mystic Rush has its damage mitigation reduced by half.

Thoth’s Hieroglyphic Assault had its damage increased.

Tyr’s heal on Power Cleave now has 20% physical power scaling.

And a bunch of assorted Guardians and Mages got movement speed increases.


The moral of this story is mages are broken and I hope they nerf some of these items before this thing goes live, otherwise we have a serious problem. Have they learned yet? No, sadly. This design team still tends to do too much to fix problems that aren’t really big issues and ignores fairly obvious ones. There were some good targeted god changes to balance things after SWC but beyond that, there were alot of crazy things in here. Of course it always takes time to adjust things in a new season, but this could be a bad sign…

Are Loot Boxes Gambling?

I’m sure many of you have seen these words recently in today’s gaming culture. Are loot boxes gambling and is it an unethical practice by game developers and companies who only want to get a quick buck off you. Before I attempt to answer this question, I think its important that everyone know what loot boxes and gambling are.

What Is a Loot Box?

In basic terms, a loot box is exactly what it sounds like, a digital box in your game that contains loot. The most prominent example of this is the Supply Drop from the Call of Duty series. Basically what happens here is you “call in” or redeem a supply drop, and it gives you 3 unique items, each of which go from common items, to “Heroic,” an ultra rare category of item. These items can be playercard emblems and calling cards, gun skins, character costumes, weapon mods, etc. It is completely random what exactly you get, you will always get at least a common item as well. Because of this, one box may give you great items, while another may give you generic and boring items. Other developers, most notably EA, have also followed suit with similar boxes promising players loot. You buy a box, you get random loot. This is where the problems that people see begin. Players purchase boxes with the intent of trying to get a rare item, only to find they’ve gotten mere crumbs. Many believe that paying for this chance at a good item is a form of gambling, but is that really true? To fully understand this we need to examine what gambling is.

Okay, So What’s Gambling?

Let’s pretend for a moment, you’ve gone to a casino to gamble. You spy an open roulette table and walk over, hoping to make a quick profit on some bets. You tell the roulette man “Put $25 on black.” The man spins the wheel and drops the ball, and it comes up on 12 red. You thought it would be quick and easy to bet it all on a color, and now your $25 is gone too. You walk away disappointed, and empty handed. This is an example that gives a little vision to the idea, but let’s talk specifics. For something to be gambling, it has to have risk. And by risk I mean there has to be a chance at a downside to your bet. Here the downside is you lose your bet. So with loot boxes, are you taking a risk? Technically no, because there isn’t a downside to opening a loot box. You do buy them with the intent of getting a good item, but even if you don’t get something you like, you still get something. This essentially removes any risk that would be involved with ordinary gambling. The items in loot boxes also have no real world monetary value, they are just digital add ons to improve your gaming experience. Gambling also has to have a chance for monetary gain, and you don’t get that with a loot box. To make a long story short, loot boxes are NOT gambling.

But are Loot Boxes Still Wrong?

Now you may be saying, “Well that’s true, but are they unethical?” I suppose that comes down to your own opinion on the practice of loot boxes but I’ll give you a take that hopefully gets you thinking about it. If we think about psychology, we know people like the rush they get from something going their way. You open a loot box and find a good item and it sends a shot of dopamine through your brain and you get a sense of enjoyment. You want to feel that again so you open another one, and another, and then pretty soon you’ve spent a lot of money and time. And that’s generally, what they want. Cash from the transaction and player retention. If you keep playing afterward with your new toys, it makes you more likely to get more loot boxes and to stay interested in the game for future content or a sequel. On some level it is wrong to take advantage of psychology to keep a person spending money or accomplish some other goal. No one wants something shiny put in their face and be manipulated. Of course, that happens with other things like businesses advertising on television or politicians saying they’ll so this one thing if you vote them in.

Game developers should probably focus more on improving a game’s content and features to sell the game and keep people playing rather than using these dreadful loot boxes. What’s worse is sometimes these items even impact gameplay and can give you an advantage while playing. Now you’re essentially giving lucky players and advantage over not so lucky players, and that’s just wrong. You should win by being better than the other guy, not because you have bigger toys than they do. And this also brings in less skilled players who want to use loot box items to do better. Its essentially a revolving door of people ever eager to open a box, and companies know it. But this may also speak to a bigger problem of self control and instant gratification. If you don’t like loot boxes, don’t buy them. Don’t be enticed by shiny new toys and play the game how you want. I personally don’t buy loot boxes, I take the free boxes you can get from just playing the game. But people want to get good items right away and just can’t wait. If you bought a game you enjoy enough to do that, then why not just play it longer to get items that way? Seems simple enough to me.

But the moral is this, game developers should stop including these loot boxes because it is manipulative for the purpose of getting cash and players. But they won’t, because people keep buying them. If you can easy revenue this way, why would you not include loot boxes? The solution begins with us resisting the urge of instantly getting an item. If we stop buying loot boxes, then they will go away.


Are Large Game Developers Getting Lazy?

Before we begin this topic of discussion, I must briefly let you all know this will be an opinion/editorial type series I would like to start called Clyde’s Corner. This will be my own internal thoughts and musing regarding a variety of topics. For now I’ll keep it to gaming and see how it does. If everyone likes my unorthodox brain, then I will expand the range of topics. You may agree with my thoughts, you may not, but you will get a rousing and entertaining argument and discussion. Enjoy!


In the last 5 years I’ve noticed a rather boring and disturbing trend in the gaming industry. Based on games in recent years it feels like the big time game developers are releasing essentially the same games, year after year, with little to no changes or variety. Some even seem to be recycling features from past games and pasting them on to “new” releases. And yet people continue to flock to them with no thought about how little developers are actually doing. The companies I see as the worst offenders I refer to as the Big Four. The companies in question are Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft, and, to a lesser extent, 2K. With sequel after sequel and a lack of innovation these developers continue to dumb down the gaming market. It seems nothing can save us from copy and paste game design. I could go on in grandiose fashion about the state of gaming, but you guys want hard evidence and facts. Let’s talk sequels, shall we?


One of the best ways for a developer to have success is follow-up a great title with an even better one. Bethesda and Bioware (mostly, we don’t forget Mass Effect 3 or Andromeda) have nailed that formula. Others, like our big four, seem to be suffering from sequel syndrome. A new entry to a series comes literally every year from these guys, at some point you can only make so many sequels and still be interesting. EA has done this with Madden NFL since 2000. 17 straight years of basically the same game. What of Activision? Call of Duty, one of the all time biggest franchises in gaming, has had a new sequel every year since 2005. Granted, they have separate “blocks” of story for each series within the franchise, but they’re all CoD. Then there is the sad story of Ubisoft. They’ve accomplished sequel syndrome with two IP’s. Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. Assassin’s Creed has had an entry every year for 10 years. Far Cry is not as big of an issue, but they’ve had several spin-offs of the main series games that fill in the gaps. Ubisoft published 3 spin-offs alone in 2006. 2K’s most obvious fit of sequel syndrome is the NBA 2K series, which has continued in a similar fashion as Madden NFL, games released every year with few changes. They do have NHL and MLB properties (Their MLB series is the best in my opinion) but none are more glaring than NBA 2K.


Here’s the part where developers get lazy. So many times it feels like we’re getting the same game with almost no changes. It’s not good in EA’s case when you introduced the most new features to your game 10 years ago. Madden NFL 07 brought a lot to the table in terms of gameplay and features. They did the same in Madden NFL 10, but beyond that little else has changed. Franchise mode, a popular Madden feature, was revamped three times and was not much different. Activision has recycled engines and features in many CoD games. They generally do a good job with story development but the game feels the same. I did not notice many differences personally between Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III, and Infinite Warfare. Ubisoft has actually made less effort in later entries, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate had fewer features than AC Brotherhood, AC3 and AC4 and felt quite boring at times. From what I’ve read about and seen from NBA 2K it changed even less over the years than Madden NFL. EA, however, is by far the worst offender. Since getting the rights from Disney, they have made 2 Star Wars: Battlefront games. They have the same engine and play the same as Battlefield 4 and 1. There’s also less load out and character customization in Battlefront. I’m astonished they can get away with such lazy copy and paste behavior. How can you attract new players if you aren’t innovative or creative? I honestly get turned off by numerous sequels. I think “Why would I play that, it’s the same as the last game?” However, new players may not be the goal.


This is the factor that few gamers consider when evaluating the state of a developer. For our purposes, let me propose to you a quick financial example. These are huge, reputable (for the most part, careful Ubisoft) developers and if they want to innovate, they have to produce incredible games and content. New, groundbreaking games require large expenses while the game is under R&D. This could take quite a long time in some cases so the expense stays on the books and hurts, you guessed it, the bottom line. Sequels still require an expense, but its more cost-effective to pump out a slightly tweaked game than an entirely new IP. Keep in mind companies like EA and Activision are constantly working on multiple games, meaning multiple expenses, not to mention daily administrative expense of running the company, which becomes huge after a year. While game developers create a form of art that many people enjoy and crave innovation in, it’s still a business and they have to look out for themselves. Although, you could also argue that with the large amounts of cash some of these the developers have, there should be room for making new games. For 3 of our 4 there is. The debate is still out on which formula is better, innovation or perpetual releases. That my readers, is for each of you to decide. Feel free to discuss this in the comments.


I have no affiliation to Electronic Arts, Ubisoft Entertainment, Activision-Blizzard or Take-Two Interactive. Any thoughts or opinions expressed are mine alone.