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Breaking Down the New Freya in the Early Fall Split

necromann

necromann

Tue 4th Sep 2018 - 9:53pm

Freya, Smite’s Queen of the Valkyries, has been reworked a couple times and is notoriously hard to balance. The mid-season update, Patch 5.13, brought some of her largest changes, aiming to keep the essence of the character alive, but untying her stance switching from a cooldown. The new Freya has been out for a while now and in this article, we will look at how she has been playing and performing at the highest level of Smite.

In the mid-season patch, Freya received her second major rework. The goal of the changes was to smooth out Freya’s damage curve so she isn’t all-or-nothing. A theme of the Norse pantheon is stance switching and both versions of Freya can fit into that category. Both iterations of Freya switch between melee and ranged basic attacks.

The older Freya had Pulse, which made her basic attacks ranged and AoE for six seconds. In Patch 5.13, Pulse turned into Aurora Blade, which also makes Freya’s basic attacks ranged. However, this ability is toggleable, allowing the player to switch between melee and ranged basics at will.

When Aurora Blade is active, Freya’s basic attacks become projectiles that pierce through minions and stop on enemy gods. In addition, putting points into Aurora Blade grants additional damage to both Freya’s ranged and melee basic attacks. The bonus damage from ranged basics does not apply on minions.

Aurora Blade grants Freya something she did not have previously, early wave clear. As soon as level one, Freya can activate her ranged basics and shoot out bolts to clear the wave. Freya’s wave clear becomes quite strong at level two when she gains access to her other new ability, which we will soon cover. In exchange for this power and flexibility, each basic attack while Aurora Blade is active costs a large amount of mana.

 

Transforming Pulse into the toggleable Aurora Blade was the core of the Freya rework

Keeping Aurora blade active in fights can be expensive and even clearing the wave in the early levels can consume the majority of Freya’s mana. However, Freya also received a new passive to alleviate this issue. Freya has discarded the life steal from Brisingamen's Blessing and now relies on Mystic Warrior. Mystic Warrior plays with the mixed-range nature of Freya by giving each of her stances bonus regeneration. Freya’s ranged attacks regenerate 2% of Freya’s max hp per shot, imitating her old passive, while melee basic attacks will restore 6% of Freya’s maximum mana. This means that Freya can run herself dry with ranged attacks and then use her close-ranged strikes to build her resource pool, readying herself for another ranged barrage.

Freya’s Irradiate ability also got changed in Patch 5.13. This damage steroid transformed into Northern Lights, a different damage steroid. Instead of 5 seconds of bonus basic attack damage, Northern Lights gives Freya 5 seconds to hit an enemy with a basic attack. The first successful basic attack will explode on the target, dealing damage and slowing enemies in the radius. Minions take reduced damage from the explosion.

Just like Irradiate, the real power of Northern Lights comes out when it is applied to a ranged basic attack. This causes every target hit to explode for extra damage. This combination of abilities makes clearing the wave quick and easy. Gods caught in a pack of minions will only receive 25% damage from each explosion after the first. Northern Lights is the ability that Freya tends to max out first and it swings. The ability to combine Northern Lights and Aurora Blade to chunk out an enemy god from range cannot be underestimated. This combo is even scarier because Banish was unchanged, allowing Freya to set herself up. In the late game, Freya can one-shot a poor squishy caught in her sights.

This new version of Freya is very powerful, and the community feels it. Freya is banned in over 90% of ranked games and has drawn the ire of many players. The part of Freya that is least enjoyed by her enemies is her incredible burst. The old Freya was scary because she killed you with a couple gumballs while both steroids were active. The new Freya is scary because all of that damage is front loaded into a single shot. After being reworked, Freya has received nerfs to the damage of Northern Lights in Patches 5.14 and 5.16, lessening her burst a bit but leaving her an absolute beast once she has picked up a few items.

Speaking of items, players have developed a core build for Freya. Several starts and builds were experimented with, but ultimately, the pros have found a build that seems to work the best. Like other Mages, Freya will forgo a blessing and start with Book of Souls, the tier 2 version of Book of Thoth. Depending on gold when backing and safety, either Book of Thoth or Shoes of the Magi will be finished first. Polynomicon is the third item. Then the build launches into two pen items, with one being Demonic Grip. The sixth slot is flexible.

Freya is not the only mage starting with a Book of Thoth rush. Book of Thoth also got some changes in Patch 5.13 to make it more powerful. Despite an increased cost, Book of Thoth provides more mana and mana-to-power conversion. This item provides a lot of mana, allowing Freya to stay in Aurora Blade longer. Shoes of the Magi is just the highest damage option of footwear, so is preferred by Freya.

Polynomicon fits into the playstyle of new Freya. The bulk of Freya’s damage comes from the single shot from a Northern Lights empowered basic attack. Northern Lights activates Polynomicon, which then provides additional burst to that basic attack. Ranged basics will carry the burst of Polynomicon to devastating effect.

After Polynomicon, Freya likes to build penetration. Obsidian Shard, Demonic Grip, and Spear of Desolation are all powerful and boost Freya’s damage. Demonic Grip is usually paired with one item from the Magic Focus tree. Sometimes, a Freya who is behind will pick up Demonic Grip or another penetration item before Polynomicon. Poly is great from ahead, but penetration helps deal with opponents who have more built-in stats. 

Freya’s last item slot is flexible. She can build more damage from items like Rod of Tahuti or Telekines Ring. Alternatively, protection items such as Magi’s Blessing can be bought last. The pick up depends on how safe the player feels and how aggressive they feel like being.

Some players are still experimenting with Freya builds in ranked. When played in the side lanes, Freya builds a Hunter’s Blessing. Some people are experimenting with a lifesteal build with Bancroft’s Talon and Typhon’s Fang. Other players are building more rings early. These builds have not yet been brought into the Pro League as of this writing.

A typical build on Freya 

Freya’s biggest strength is her burst damage. Starting at three items with the completion of Polynomicon, Freya’s burst is insane and just keeps getting stronger as the game goes on. Freya also has self-setup with Banish into her combo. Freya is also very safe for a hypercarry, not only by staying at range, but also using Banish to keep pursuers away and Valkyrie’s Discretion to become untargetable.

Freya does have some weaknesses. Most of her damage is single target and front loaded, meaning if her combo shot gets absorbed by the wrong target, she won’t do much damage in a fight. Freya only provides focus fire and can’t eliminate a group of enemies like other Mages can. Freya also doesn’t have the range of most Mages, she has range on her Aurora Blade basic attacks, but most Mages have abilities that can hit from further away and over walls. Freya has to go face to face to take down a target. Freya can also run out of mana in the early game if she isn’t careful and might have to get into danger to regen her mana with melee basic attacks. Even with all of these weaknesses, Freya is one the best gods in the game.

Freya was reworked in Patch 5.13 and this new version has since entered professional play. Freya retained her identity as a mixed-range attacker by changing Pulse to Aurora Blade, a toggle to her ranged basic attacks. The most popular build on Freya emphases burst with Book of Thoth and Polynomicon. The reworked Freya is very strong and is winning a lot in high level play. With the Fall Split starting up and the Smite World Championship in sight, Freya will often be on the ban list, waiting to tear apart opponents on the battlefield of the gods.

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