What's Up With #4: Aphrodite



Sun 3rd Jun 2018 - 5:46pm

Healers have been known to slip in and out of meta faster than most other gods. We’ve seen gods like Sylvanus and Chang’e be dominant in ranked and even pop up in the SPL on occasion. However, there's been one healer that's been notably absent for all these years. Outside of a classic solo lane meme from Luminosity Gaming’s Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres, the man with the world's most eclectic god pool, Aphrodite has been virtually invisible in the meta. Finally, after what seems like forever, Aphrodite has made her true debut. Obey Alliance’s solo laner, Jeroen “Xaliea” Klaver, first pulled her out in game one of their set versus Team Dignitas in week six of the SPL. Team Dignitas were certainly caught off-guard by the Goddess of Beauty and actually ended up losing that first game of the set.

Surprisingly enough, Aphrodite didn’t originally appear because of any direct changes to her. Rather, in Patch 5.6, Rod of Asclepius received an incredible buff. For those unfamiliar, Rod of Asclepius sports power, movement speed, health, and an aura passive that increases all healing by 10% and even further increases healing by an additional 10% while in combat. Before, the item was really only picked up by characters with healing specific abilities since the power of the item wasn’t anything to write home about. In patch 5.6, not only did the item’s power receive a 15-point power increase, but it also was given a 5% increase to in-combat healing, totaling a whopping 25% increased healing while in combat.

Especially considering these changes, it’s certainly suitable that healing mechanics are brought up. According to the Word of Thoth, a mechanics guide written by the math whiz Flareb00t with assistance from a number of other community members, healing works very similarly to how attack speed works. Any additional healing or healing reduction is applied to the multiplier of the base heal. For instance, assume that a heal does a base of 400 HP. If you have a healing increase of 20%, you would multiply 400 by 1.2, making that heal effectively 120% of a normal heal which would be 480 HP. Now say you still had that healing increase of 20%, but you also had an antiheal debuff for 40%. That equation would simply be 400 multiplied by 1 (i.e. the base of 100%) plus the sum of the healing effects in decimal form. Altogether, that would come out to healing only 80% of a normal heal, which is 320.

Estimated healing of "healer" gods (as denoted by HiRez), assume 200 phys power or 400 mag power for each.

Another key thing to note aside from all the increased/decreased healing jargon is that healing scales with your power, so let’s take a look at all the healers in the game and see how Aphrodite stacks up. Altogether, Aphrodite’s heal is pretty good. While she doesn’t have the most healing in the game (shout out to full damage Terra), she does have the most efficient heal for a single target, being that her heal applies over three seconds rather than the typical six second applications and she heals a lot per tick. The only drawback really is that it’s a single target heal so other healers have a much greater healing potential. So why are we seeing Aphrodite and not other mages in the solo lane like Hel or Ra?

The answer isn’t clear upon first glance. Aphrodite doesn’t heal the most, has only single target healing, and has no mobility. While all of those things are true, Aphrodite really brings a ton of utility to the game as well as simply being a fairly safe god. Take a look at the other mage healers; do any of them have an abundance of crowd control? Are any of them incredibly susceptible to ganks and can’t survive in the frontline? Taking these aspects into account, Aphrodite surely comes out on top. Her passive, Center of Attention, gives her protections, increasing when she is surrounded by allies and/or foes. Her first ability, Kiss, gives her and an ally movement speed as well as giving her ally a damage increase and increased mana regeneration, not even mentioning that the ability is a one second stun. Her second ability, Back Off, gives her a knockback which allows her to secure a kill from long range, slow an enemy, or keep them away from her. Finally, her ultimate, Undying Love, provides her with up to two seconds of complete immunity.

Taking all these aspects of utility into consideration, it’s no surprise we’re seeing her reemerge as a pick for the solo lane. However, doesn’t Aphrodite work best when linked to an ally? Arguably yes, but the problem is that the only place she can constantly be with an ally is the duo lane, and unfortunately she simply does not work in the support role because her base statistics and scalings are that of a mage rather than a guardian and also doesn’t provide as much crowd control as the typical guardian. By putting the Goddess of Beauty in the support role, you’re giving your team a handicap in that you’ll be missing a strong frontline in regards to both her lacking numbers and engage potential. Also, Aphrodite is not the best choice for the mid lane because she would then be replacing a source of magical burst damage since she certainly lacks that. Thus, Aphrodite’s best role is arguably solo lane because she brings ancillary crowd control and healing. She also is very tough to gank considering she can heal herself, stun and knockback a chasing enemy, and give herself immunity to crowd control and damage.

But what do you build on a solo lane Aphrodite? Well, for some inspiration, look to Xaliea, Team Rival’s Adrian “Deathwalker” Benko, and Team Dignitas’ own Harry “Variety” Cumming. They all tend to grab Warrior’s Blessing, but another good alternative would be Guardian’s Blessing. The only time you’d really see people picking up Guardian’s Blessing would be if they’re put into a severely losing matchup, which means that they might be losing a lot of last hits to tower or simply getting zoned away from clearing. Having that extra bit of gold generation and regen can be really effective, especially since Aphrodite is not really known for fighting and getting kills on her own.

Besides the blessing of your choice, picking up a Breastplate, Enchanted Kusari, Talisman, or Uncommon Staff would make decent starter items. You could also opt for Shoes, should you want more pots or a Chalice of Healing. For the most part, though, people tend to steer away from buying Shoes to start since they don’t give you any added protections or utility aside from a slight bit of movement speed. However, you should purchase Shoes of Focus before finishing any other item, especially since cooldown is so important for Aphrodite.

Next, finish up whatever item you started with, be it a Breastplate of Valor, Genji’s Guard, Heartward Amulet, or Warlock’s Staff. After that, it’s recommended to pick up Rod of Asclepius. As mentioned earlier, the item is core on her for the obvious reason that she gets an extreme boost on a heal that is already pretty great. It’s also essential to countering some portion of the antiheal that is likely going to be thrown her way in the form of Divine Ruins, Brawler’s Beatsticks, and Pestilences.

After all that is said and done, it’s really up to you to decide what you’re in need of. If you’re feeling pretty good, not really dying a whole lot since your team has been able to find a lead away from solo island, then go for a Soul Reaver. Otherwise, look into some other options like Midgardian Mail, Pestilence, or Stone of Gaia. As per usual, it’s always nice to round out your build with a selection or two from the Cloak tree, whether that be Spirit Robe or Mantle of Discord.

Image courtesy of Jay R.

Altogether, Aphrodite is a pretty strong pick for the niche of healing and peel she provides. However, there are still several counters to her present in the game, and if you’re going to select her, you’ve got to be aware that they exist. As with any god, there are both good and bad matchups. Always watch out for the gods with antiheal built into their kit, especially Odin, Osiris, and Serqet. While I did suggest it is tough to gank her, putting her in a cage that robs her of her specialty will almost certainly make her worthless. If you want to learn more about how the pros play Aphrodite in the solo lane, check out the official SmiteVOD YouTube channel here to watch games 1, 4, and 7 from the recent Smite Masters LAN finals where Team Dignitas took on Team Rival. Also, pop by Variety’s stream here to see if he’ll pull the Goddess of Beauty out again during one of his ranked streams.

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