I’m three weeks into this MOBA business with few signs of slowing down. I’m assuming since I’ve the presence of mind to pop out and write this piece that I’ve at least hit an initial saturation point. I don’t remember the last time I played The Secret World or any other MMO for that matter. That’s not to say that I’ve given up the massively multiplayer genre for good by any means; I’m simply taking time off from familiar faces, places, and biomes for as long as the intoxicating euphoria of newfound love holds sway over me. Those worlds aren’t going anywhere and I’m not missing out on anything while I’m not there that can’t be recreated in a different fashion later.
Besides, if you’re reading the right blogs you can live out a hundred different lives in a hundred different worlds vicariously. The only thing better than doing something well is having someone else do it for you.
What Smite does well enough to draw me away from my usual haunts is give me the opportunity to meet interesting players and kill them in different ways. The environs range from straight-up deathmatch Arena brawling to the NPC-oriented, dual lane-encircled jungle of the 4v4 Siege map to the three-lane objective minefield of 5v5 Conquest’s interstitial jungle. Conquest is Smite’s premiere competitive mode and offers substantial cash prizes to tournament-level teams in a maturing eSports scene whose followers number in the millions. It’s Conquest that I’m mostly interested in with some Joust on the side, an abbreviated, linear 3v3 map with a smattering of objectives that emphasizes team skirmishes.
I am partial to the Conquest mode due its emphasis on objectives and strategic team play. There are three phases to the game just like in any chess match: beginning, middle, and end. The beginning of the game is called the laning phase in which designated roles go to designated positions on the map and farm the waves of minions that periodically stream forth toward their tower. Enemy players will be doing the same opposite you and there is a dance to be learned if one wishes to gain experience, gold, and a greater appreciation for not being dead. There are no set criteria for when the midgame starts: it may occur when towers are destroyed on one side or the other; it may also occur when players reach a certain power point and begin to move around the map more freely. During this time the gold and damage buff objectives may be taken or fought over, towers may crumble, and the phoenixes which sit behind the towers may also come under attack.
The endgame often comes somewhere at the 30-40 minute mark in a good game. At this point teams are generally engaged in a tug-of-war over map control. The respawn timer for dying at this point is significant (60-70 seconds). Tier 1 towers must be killed before tier 2 towers can be damaged, tier 2 towers must be destroyed before phoenixes can be damaged, and at least one phoenix must have been killed before the ultimate objective, the enemy titan, will take damage. Once the titan falls, the match is complete. It is through and through a team effort. The ADC role (attack damage carry) is designed to “carry” one’s team to victory, but it generally proves to be an affair that does not center around one player’s performance.
For those who are so inclined to pay overbearing amounts of attention to their own personal performance, there is a ranked version of Dueling which is a 1v1 matchup that takes place on the Joust map. I have never been fond of dueling other players individually – it absolutely does not interest me. I hold this to be the domain of the young men in their teens and twenties who are ever present in the game’s chat box, Curse voice communications, YouTube videos, and Twitch streams. I have no love for the dank 420 hype memes that float about in their specialized lingo, but I’m willing to endure the linguistic environment to improve my player combat skills, kappa.
My ultimate objective is to be a contributing member of a team full of people who know what they’re doing and are playing their best game. This entails meeting the minimum requirements for ranked Conquest play by achieving an account level of 30 and having mastered 18 gods. This involves playing the game extensively; realistically this occurs over the course of several months. Both of these targets therefore say more about the amount of time a player has spent playing than it does about the quality of their play. I find that I am at my personal best when I am surrounded by people who are better than me. It elevates my play.
It seems I’ve found the appropriate game mode in which to nurture my latent desire to be the best that I can be. I never cared to become a grandmaster in the domain of hitting rats with sticks or having jumped on the most rooftops in the local city center. Certainly, I wanted to be good at what I did, but I never felt a burning desire to excel. Above average was quite all right.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time absorbing knowledge and putting what I’ve learned and observed into practice. As far as I can tell, things are coming along quite nicely. Once I regain my senses I’ll pop right back into the sands of Egypt where I left off. Until then, this cloud is quite comfy.