Top 5 SMITE Mages in the Solo Lane with Variety
Thu 6th Jun 2019 - 12:03pm
Mages have been popping up in the solo lane a lot over the years and Season 6 is no exception. With new changes coming in the most recent patch to gods that can play in the solo role, we look at what mages are best to take into the solo lane and what you need to be aware of while playing those gods. With that in mind we got the chance to speak to Dignitas’ solo laner Harry "Variety" Cummings on who the best mages to pick for the solo lane and what you need to know to play them effectively.
Variety says, “The top 5 mages in solo are probably Aphrodite, Chang'e, Baron Samedi, Zhong Kui and The Morrigan.”
Variety mentioned who he thinks are the best 5 mages to play the solo lane but what makes these gods so strong in the role and what makes them a viable option to take into the solo lane.
Variety mentions, “4 out of 5 of these gods have really good sustain in lane as well as poke except for The Morrigan. She, however, has very good poke and wave clear as well as her ult allowing her to split her own damage in the lane when going for a 1v1 (do this by ulting into a physical when they only have magical defence). Zhong Kui especially due to his passive making him tanky early game and giving him both types of prots.”
Sustain is vital in the solo lane. If you can’t sustain yourself during the laning phase you’re going to have a bad time. This is why Aphrodite and Chang’e are highly regarded for the role. As healers, they have better sustain than many other solo laners. Baron is another that is classed as a healer thus he has good sustain while in the laning phase. He doesn’t have the healing potential that Aphro or Chang’e possess but it's enough for him to be safe in the laning phase. Zhong is the only other god with sustain in this list. His 1 and 2 combined allows him to clear the wave easily and also sustain off it, which can give him the survivability he needs while in lane.
Both Aphro and Chang'e have great sustain for the laning phase and can transition great into the late game
The next part Variety mentions are the prots. The Morrigan has the ability to switch into a physical damage dealer, which allows for out play potential. She may not have the sustain that the other gods possess, but she can hit like a truck when she wants to. Getting good poke while clearing the wave can open a window to switch to a high physical damage dealer to catch the enemy solo laner off-guard. With them prioritising magical defences, it opens this window for you to throw the curveball and potentially walk away with a great outplay. Variety also mentions how Zhong gets both magical and physical prots off his passive, which can make him harder to kill throughout the game. Zhong gains 0.8 of each protection for each demon in his bag. This means when his bag is full, he gains 32 of each protection. This can be the difference early as he is slightly more tanky, meaning he can sustain in lane and take less poke than expected.
Zhong can get very tanky early which gives him great survivability in lane
Now that we’ve glossed over what makes these gods good for the role but, like with everything in Smite, there are areas that gods struggle with and flaws that can be exploited.
Variety says, “The main weakness of them all, excluding Zhong Kui, is that they're all very susceptible to ganks due to them having no escapes. Zhong Kui is probably the best of them all in a 2v1 due to his ult giving him extra protections and allowing him to even potentially turn the fight.”
Because of the squishier nature of mages, it means that they can be an easy target for junglers to sit and camp to give their solo laner an easy lane. Both Chang’e and Aphro have ways to get out of potential ganks but once these are down they are easy targets to dive. Both abilities almost act as a green light for the jungler, as it means there isn’t much in the way of stopping them from dumping a load of damage onto you from that point. This doesn’t mean that you’ll die every time. There will be occasions where you get out of the gank after using these abilities, but it doesn’t mean that the jungler is going to just leave you alone all game now.
Both Aphro's ult and Chang'e's 2 can negate damage if well timed but can leave them vulnerable
Baron and Morrigan have a worse time than Aphro and Chang’e. Morri less so then Baron, as Morrigan has her invisibility that can allow her to get away from the 2v1 situation. This it isn’t a comfortable situation for her, as one tick of damage and she’s exposed and at the mercy of the enemy solo laner and jungler. Baron has CC that he can use defensively but if he gets dove, there is a high chance he dies. The ult can delay it, but it won’t do enough damage to get you a trading kill.
We then move on to Zhong, Zhong’s ult gives him plenty of prots which can involve him surviving 2v1s or even turning the tide. With Zhong being pretty tanky as it is getting extra protections off his ult (if his bag has enough demons) it can make him a lot harder to kill, once this is down he can be an easier target for the enemy team to jump on so you will need to play careful whilst you stack the bag up again and wait for the ult to come off cooldown.
Zhong's ult gives him great survivability as it greatly increases his protections
Itemisation and Power Spikes
With what is good and what you need to be aware of while bringing these Mages to the solo lane, we turn our attention on the items you should look to bring to first survive the lane and then be influential for your team in the late game.
Variety advises, “I would probably go Mage's Blessing or Warrior's Blessing depending on who you're against (pressure gods I'd go Warrior's Blessing and non-pressure I would go Mage's). Then I would go pen boots into Breastplate of Valor against a physical [god], and against a magical [god], I would go pen boots into Genji's. The reason behind pen boots is that it's already incredibly easy to stack CDR in solo lane, so you're always likely to overcap on CDR.”
Depending on how much pressure you can apply in lane should depend what starter you should get. For match-ups where you can put a lot of pressure on the laning opposition, go for Warrior's Blessing. If not, go for Mage's. The benefit of going Mage's though is the early CDR you can get from having it stacked. Yes, you’ll get more CDR later in the build, but having CDR online ASAP is always great for Mages. Warrior's gives you plenty of early survivability with the protections you get from it, but the problem is you need to stack it while also clearing wave. If you can apply pressure in your match-up, it can be a better pick up.
Warrior's and Mage's can provide different benefits depending what you're going for in lane
After this you should look for pen boots. As you’ll be getting CDR later in your build, the added penetration you can get over your laning opposition will allow you to dish out plenty of poke and give you that added edge in damage while fighting in lane. CDR boots may seem tempting for the cheap and easy CDR, but overall it makes a lot more sense to get the added damage and then get CDR later in the build.
After boots, get either Breastplate or Genji’s depending on if you’re laning against magical or physical opponent. This will give you plenty of stats that will be beneficial for your laning phase. Breastplate provides plenty of protectionss against physical damage on top of the additional mana and mp5 that it provides. This allows you to spam your abilities a lot more frequently and add it on top of blue and Ku (if you can gain control of it). This leads to you never having any sort of mana trouble. The main part to Breastplate is what we've kept on mentioning. The 20% CDR provides so much for Mages in the solo lane. Blue already gives 10%, so early you already have 30% if you’re constantly able to get your Blue. Add in if you purchased Mage’s Blessing, and you’re already at 40% at a very early stage of the game which can lead to a lot of fun for you in the solo lane. Genji’s is basically the magical protection equivalent of Breastplate in this slot. It provides health instead of mana and provides a bit more mp5 and slightly less CDR but, when facing a magical opposition, it is still a great item to pick up because of the uses you can get off the item and the amount of protections it gives you.
Genji's and Breastplate provide a lot early and are great items to pick up
With the key items out the way, at what point do you hit your power spike and start to become a massive pain for the enemy when playing a Mage in the solo lane?
Variety mentions, “The power spikes for all of these gods is when you finish your 2nd defence item, which is usually the item which gives you 40% [CDR], where you can rotate and heavily impact the fight due to you being tanky as well as farmed and, since you're a Mage, you have naturally high base values etc.”
A similar trend to “traditional” solo laners is once the second defensive item is online, you are then able to start throwing your weight around and start to be influential for your team. Mages have high base damage as it is and as you’ve prioritised defence, you’ll be able to do good damage while also having the survivability in the teamfights. Usually around this point, you’ll have max cdr anyway, so your kit will be up frequently to help out your team. As an example, if you went Mage’s, pen boots, Breastplate and Genji’s (in that order), you’ll have 40% CDR meaning you’ll be able to constantly use your kit to help out your team while also being a tanky nuisance for the enemy team to deal with.
Both Mantle and Spirit Robe are great items to get to give you added cdr
But the Warriors
The scary part for Mages that go to the solo lane is that currently Warriors are being very influential from the role. It doesn’t mean that Mages can’t do great things from this role. It just means they need to be aware of different things when facing them.
Variety advises, “The most important thing when facing a Warrior in solo is knowing his cooldowns and how he’s positioning. It's usually pretty obvious when they're looking to poke you and when they are just wanting the clear the wave, so playing cautiously around that and making sure you're perfectly in range for the wave XP.”
Warriors can be really obvious when they are looking to priorities the wave versus when they are looking for poke. Being aware of their positioning and what they plan to do from said position is how you will be able to get the advantage over them. You have the range over them, which can allow you to poke them while also being able to clear wave. This is where they will try to zone you from the archers, but being able to stay within range of the minions dying will mean that when they try this, you won't fall behind. You aren’t getting last hits, but at least you aren’t losing any farm. Another way to work when they are trying to poke versus clearing wave is to keep track of their cooldowns. Knowing when an ability is up can help drastically (not just for the solo lane). Knowing that an Achilles’ 1 is off cooldown and he isn’t looking to clear the wave with it means you probably shouldn’t step up to the wave as they are looking for you to do just that. This is just one example of keeping track of cooldowns but learning to keep track of them can really help you during this phase, as you can position away or towards the wave when appropriate.
Gods like Achilles who can poke from range are an example of why you need to pay attention to cooldowns
Learning Your Counters
The solo lane is all about knowing who has the advantage in the match-up and bringing a Mage can open up plenty of counters you need to be aware of to survive early and provide for your team in the late game.
Variety says, “There are 2 types of main counters to these types of gods. 1 being gods with build in anti-heal e.g. Sobek, Odin and others being gods which can displace them or lock them down since they're immobile e.g. Sobek, Osiris, Tyr.”
First part is the anti-healing. It isn’t just Odin and Sobek that can do this, as items like Pestilence and Brawler's can limit the healing you can do. For Aphro and Chang’e the biggest counter to them is Odin. Preventing them from healing at all can really hinder what they can do, not just in the early game but throughout the match in its entirety. This and the fact they have basically no way out of the cage without purchasing or receiving Phantom. Anti-heal doesn’t just stop Aphro and Chang’e, with sustain being really important for solo laners, being able to bring anti-heal in your kit can really affect the laning phase for gods that need sustain to stay relevant in the laning phase. Therefore, Sobek falls into this category as he can hinder their healing throughout the laning phase while able to sustain himself in the process.
Odin is a horrid nightmare of Aphro's and Chang'e, as he can lock them down in the cage
The second part Variety mentioned is gods that can lock them down. Osiris falls into this category more as he can basically stick to these gods and make their life hell. He stops healing with his ult, which is a bonus against solo laners that need sustain to stay relevant or to even just stay in lane. This means he can cause plenty of problems for these mages. Sobek is another that can lock down these immobile mages. With the CC he has in his kit, he can have control over where they are going throughout the laning phase. Just being able to Pluck them away from the wave and towards his own tower can put you in a really bad spot.
Sobek and Osiris can lock down these Mages and control them easily with their CC
What To Do Late Game
We’ve covered a lot of what to do during the laning phase and the mid game but, when you group up with your team, what do you need to do then? As a Mage, you can’t frontline like a Warrior and you have different responsibilities in teamfights.
Variety says, “With all the gods outside of Zhong Kui and Morrigan, you want to play in between your front line and your carries so you're able to do two jobs: peel for the carries if needed or follow up/engage on their tanks/carries. With Zhong Kui and The Morrigan, you want to be looking for flanks or a way in to get onto the enemy team's carries (for Zhong Kui, you most likely need Blink).”
For Baron, Aphro, and Chang’e you need to be the middleman/woman. You need to help both the carries and the frontline. With you providing sustain and a good amount of peel, you can do both. You just need to know when to do each. You need to be aware of everything near. With the healing side, you need to look at who is low and stick close to them to keep them in the fight, especially during poke wars, Aphro specifically can only be linked to one target, so being linked to the right person can change a fight. Her kiss is on a very short cooldown, so if you kiss an ally, you’re able to heal that one then back off to another. It’s just about knowing who needs what at the right time. Baron and Chang’e provide healing and peel as well, just it is a lot more spread out. Baron has a lot of CC in his kit and can help back up his frontline effectively while also peeling for his backline. Chang’e provides great sustain for her team while her ult can be a great tool for following up her frontline. As you’re looking out for both your frontline while keeping your backline in the fight, you need to know when the right window to use your ult is. It can be great to initiate, but works best as a follow up.
Baron has plenty of CC and can help both his front line and back line late game
The Morrigan and Zhong provide something different for their teams compared to the three previously mentioned. The Morrigan works great when she can surprise the enemy team. Coming out of stealth at the right time can provide so much for her team or even allow her to collapse on the backline while the rest of the enemy team is distracted. Zhong does a similar job but he can cover a greater radius. With his kit able to damage and affect a large area of the teamfight, he can provide a lot from the flank. Just joining a fight late or being able to get the jump when the enemy team wants to disengage is what Zhong does best as he will be tanky and can soak up plenty of damage while his ult is going off. This can provide a lot for his team as just throwing the enemy team off with a reengage can change the course of fights or even the game as they would have used a lot of their kits before Zhong gets into the fray.
The Morrigan provides a lot when she can join a fight late and get a pick
These gods are great pick-ups if you want to try out something that isn’t a Warrior in the solo lane. Each provide a lot for their team in the late game and can reap the benefits of sitting on their own in the solo lane with no attention, from just being able to get defensive items to allow them to keep their team sustained or get plenty of levels to go into the mid-late game and dictate team fights in their team's favour.
One thing that we did need to ask Variety. With the recent changes to healers, it only made sense for us to ask how this affects the solo lane and if it benefits these Mages
Variety says, “I think the recent buffs to Aphro and Chang'e won’t make too much of a difference in solo in my opinion. The buffs are better suited to mid since mid is mainly about wave clear and the 2v2 or 3v3 whereas solo, the match-ups wouldn’t change in terms of who wins early, mid, etc.”
The buffs they received provides more for the team than it does them in the laning phase, which is why Variety says it affects the mid role more then the solo lane. These buffs still affect the late game and what they can do from that point but, as most of the game for a solo laner is just a 1v1 environment, it doesn’t change too much for them in the early stages of the game.
Hopefully this guide has helped you and has given you a greater understanding on how to play Mages in the solo lane.