By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Guest Author Darren Henderson (DizzyPW)
So there was a bit of controversy with SMITE‘s newest assassin, Da Ji, apparently. There were a lot of folks [and I mean a lot] that were dissatisfied with how she came across originally. A variety of people had opinions and suggestions on how to fix her up. As a result of this calamity, she was delayed a day or so to adjust/buff her, and frankly, I love Da Ji. Why? To those of you who read all of these, you might be confused, and rightly so! After all, anyone who knows me knows I am absolute bollocks with assassins. I’m not good at it, jungling makes me uncomfortable, anxious, nervous. Ganking and flanking, not really my cup of tea. However, Da Ji has the one thing that makes me ready to get going: She has a literal “go ham” button. She can flash every 15 seconds, teleporting to a friend or foe. Anyone who has watched our stream [over at twitch.tv/thebottomtier] or played a game with me knows… I go in. I am a firm believer in “strike first, strike hard, strike often,” finding an opening and blitzing the other side. Usually this means I’m probably going to die, because I don’t always play with the most aggressive teammates. But… I can go in, do something mean, and get back out again if I’m packing Blink, or if I go in with Blink I can Warp back out to a friend and be safe. She’s got damage, she’s mean and vile… She’s Da Ji.
Da Ji is what happened when Emperor Zhou could not take the hint that Nu Wa was not interested in him. Nu Wa summoned the most vile, twisted, evil spirit she could: The Nine-Tailed Fox, the torturer, the twisted Da Ji. She took the human form of Da Ji, and ingratiated herself with Emperor Zhou. This was a poor choice for Nu Wa… Da Ji performed countless horrific deeds with Zhou’s name as a shield. It got so bad that the people rose up, alongside Erlang Shen and overthrew the Son of Heaven. Before they could though, Da Ji invented the Paolao, a horrific copper and chain fire heated bondage device that defies reason and sanity. She’s malice incarnate. She arrives only to torture and torment, and slink away as quickly as she came. Her entire kit is about harming others. The only move in her entire arsenal that’s not a damage move… is also a damage move! Her teleport deals damage on arrival to her enemies, but it can also be used to zip to a friend to save them, or simply to get out of a harmful situation. She’s very much a high-risk, high-reward Goddess, and she’s just my type.
As a bonus, the perfect “tl;dr” for what Da Ji is came from the Jeff “the Sex” Hindla’s livestream. He had no idea a new God was even in the game, but thankfully a viewer was quick to inform him of her nature:
“she is like a bad woman in the old china and she invent crazy torturing device to torture people”
- Maximum Over-Ham: Da Ji goes in, and she goes in in a big big way. With Blink on a 15 second cooldown, and mastery of its range, when to go in and when to save it for an escape? It’s magical. When I got the hang of it, I felt like the most powerful member of my team, blinking in, murdering two people, and blinking back over a wall to where a teammate sat in wait.
- Wombo Combo: Oh man. Pair her with Ares, and watch people cry! If people don’t beads their way free of the Ares Ult, she can set hers up and chain the entire other team down on her Paolao. Or Vice versa, they can take turns burning the entire enemy team’s CC to ensure maximum Ares pulls. That’s another stun, more free damage, and a set up for your magical teammate to explode them. With some teamwork, the dream of chaining down your whole enemy force can become reality.
- Whips and Chains Long Into the Night: The longer the game goes on, the better she is. She has incredible DOTs which you can build to make even better, and the longer the game goes on, the better her damage is. She doesn’t fall off unless she’s forced to. Even if she has piles of assists and only a handful of kills? That’s still gold in her pocket.
- A Long Hill to Climb: I feel like Da Ji has a weaker start than many of the other assassins. Her start is very weak, and while she has a pretty strong clear, she doesn’t have a lot of damage or speed out of the gate. It takes time.
- Squishy Bits Abound: She might have some pretty appealing curves, but that’s not the squishy bits I refer to. She’s a paper tiger in every sense of the world. That’s why I tend to buy at least one defensive item out of the gate for her. Sure, it puts her damage off for a while, but it’s better in the long run.
- Some Skill Required: There are a lot of chances for her skills to whiff. For one, her ult chains fire kind of slow, and while there’s a minor delay on her 3, in a very busy teamfight, there’s a strong chance you could tag the wrong person, such as a friend and not deal damage to anyone. Assuming you don’t accidently find yourself in the way of wayward CC, interrupting and blocking your escape.
Passive: Torture Blades [Passive, DOT]: The sinister claws on Da Ji’s fingertips apply a bleed every time an auto attack lands on an enemy. The bleed deals damage [a total of 14 (+20% of your physical power) in damage] per second over two seconds. It does not apply item effects, but can stack as many times as you land blows.
1: Horrible Burns [Stim, Buff]: Those horrific claws ignite with flames! The next auto attack she lands will burn the target, dealing instant bonus damage and then additional damage every 1 second over the course of 3 seconds [Deals a total damage of 60/120/180/240/300 (+90% of your physical power) damage, 30/60/90/120/150 (+45% of your physical power) through the burn].
2: One Thousand Cuts [AOE, Cone]: Da Ji lashes out with four brutal attacks in a wide arc/cone in front of her [15/35/55/75/95 (+20% of your physical power) per hit]. This will apply Torture Blades, and will last for two seconds. Da Ji can move freely in all directions, gains increased movement speed [35%], gains immunity to slows, and her tails mitigate damage to blows that are landed from behind [20/25/30/35/40%].
3: Trickster Spirit [Teleport]: This is the big enchilada for Da Ji, so to speak. Da Ji picks a target, friend or foe. After a brief delay, she deals damage [70/110/150/190/230 (+100% of your physical power)] to all targets around her when she arrives, and applies the Bleed from Torture Blades upon arrival. It can also be used through walls, so it’s a fantastic way to escape in a pinch.
4: Ultimate: Paolao [Projectile]: After a brief delay, Da Ji leaps and summons her signature torture device, the brutal, unforgiving Paolao. While atop it, she can fire up to three chains. Enemy Gods hit take damage [0/80/90/100/110 (+60% of your physical power)] and are Chained/Slowed. Enemies that are still chained at the end of the ability are drug back to the Paolao, stunned [1 second], and take damage 3 times over 2 seconds [60/90/120/150/180 (+20% of your physical power)]. If someone becomes CC immune while chained at any time, they cannot be chained again until the ability ends.
Da Ji epitomizes the word “mean.” She goes in, goes hard, and gets out… you hope. You know, if you saved your 3, or your Blink, or if you can read two steps ahead of your opponent and use your 2 and tail mitigation to make a great escape. Otherwise, you can definitely be put into an unfortunate position, and while sure, damage and lifesteal go far, they might not go far enough. Da Ji has no built in crowd control and her nails are quite short compared to the typical SMITE weapon, so sticking to a foe to keep lifesteal going is nigh impossible if they aren’t willing to duel you.
She’s an assassin though, and as such, is probably going to be jungling, or if you’re feeling ballsy, maybe the solo lane. I can’t see her holding her own in the fight against bruisers and tanks early on though, especially in the era of early game juggernauts packing the active Sunder. So roam, farm, and gank when you can is clearly the smarter choice. She has such a slow start though. I don’t think she’s as tough as the other assassins, but the longer the match goes on, the bigger and meaner she can be. She has a pair of pretty easy combos though that don’t really require a lot of set up or hard work. The first one is activate One Thousand Cuts, deal the damage, drop an auto attack afterwards. Turn on Horrible Burns, and then use your Trickster Spirit to follow them. They’re going to run away, probably blink, teleport, whatever they have to do to avoid death. Chase them, pop them with Horrible Burns and make sure they perish.
The other I’ve tried/seen is wait for the team fight to start. Circle around and unleash your full kit into the backline as fast as you can to draw agro. As soon as the front line turns to burn you, activate Paolao for invulnerability, and allow your team to sandwich them as they dance around your chains. If luck is on your side, either your chains will burn their CC so your guardian can grab and hold them for the finishing blow, or a squishy backliner will be out of options and unable to escape from your chain pull. If you built even a little bit of cooldown reduction, you should have one or two abilities back online and ready to decimate them as they burn on the Paolao.
Let’s talk items. Now, I’m not a very good assassin, so one of my problems is being weak. A lot of folks are suggesting getting Shifter’s Shield later into your build. Personally? I have been trying to build it after my Boots [Ninja or Warrior’s Tabi, honestly I like both but Ninja further emphasizes how weak her early game is]. Sure, I don’t come out of the gate swinging to melt people in one combo. But I make the team aware that I’m going to be weak for a little bit, and I might need a helping hand. If they aren’t willing, then I switch it up. I start defensively so I don’t get blown up though. Last thing I want is to feed… However I tend to play Arena, so I’m probably less likely to start with Bumba’s Mask. Though I do like grabbing level 1 boots and Bluestone Pendant, to enhance the already ridiculous strength of my Passive. The more DOTs, the more they bleed! The faster they bleed, the more they die! As far as offensive pieces of gear, I like to go Hydra’s Lament [one of the best items for her] Jotuun’s, Asi or Qin’s Sais, Executioner, and Poisoned Star. I wanted some attack speed, some power and penetration. This was very fun… but after much testing I found that confirming the auto attacks to get killing damage was just too unreliable.
DizzyPW, our resident assassin fiend and Serket main brought his sage advice in yesterday before our livestream.
“bluestone + eye of sauron, attack speed like the jaggedy razer blade and boots, and then cooldown/power items with the triton headwhacker.”
He isn’t the most articulate about SMITE itemization, but after an afternoon of testing, and multiple matches with 9+ killing sprees and a near pentakill, he came to the following results.
DizzyPW Build Thoughts: Da Ji’s power scaling, combined with Hydra’s Lament, is the key to an effective build. But pure glass cannon doesn’t capitalize on her synergy. If you explode instantly, the damage reduction on her tails means nothing, and you’ll never survive the wind up time on her Paolao. In Arena, Bluestone Pendant and then rush Shifter’s Shield as quickly as possible. Get your Warrior Tabi’s online as soon as the enemy starts moving too fast for you to confirm your damage. From there, it’s about getting explosive and running out of control in the mid-game. Grab Hydra’s Lament followed by a truly high physical power item. Brawler’s Beatstick if they are heal heavy. Bloodforge if mages are blowing you up too fast. Stone Cutter Sword if you need to tone down and compete with a fed enemy hunter or assassin. If you’re running wild already though, it’s expensive but a ton of fun to go Death Bringer followed by Poison Star. A proper 3>AA>1>AA can instantly erase anyone without a defensive item at this point. Get two lucky crits and no one is safe! Finally if the game is truly close, I highly recommend nabbing a Spirit Robe for a late game defensive item. The CC Reduction + Cooldown can make you incredibly dodgey in extended team fights. The build lacks penetration items for properly hindering enemy tanks, but as Da Ji, that’s just not your niche. Erase the enemy backline and then revel in the suffering as their guardian can’t escape your torturous machinations!
Thanks for that Dizzy. Da Ji is certainly an interesting assassin. I feel like she can go in harder than most of her contemporaries around the mid-game. Trickster Spirit is fantastic and let’s her appear suddenly over a wall, to defend a friend who is being ganked [thus counter-ganking], and to set up powerful ultimate chains. She works well with other CC Gods to set up her kills, and you want Gods that will help set up her ultimate, since it’s so hard to use well. That’s the one real complaint I have about Da Ji. I cant shake the feeling that her ult could have been used on a tank or bruiser with far more efficiency than on Da Ji herself. So bring Gods that can make her life just a little bit easier. Gods like Scylla [root], Erlang Shen [pin ‘em down], Poseidon [slow, cripple], Ares [AOE stun/pull/cripple]. Anyone that can slow them down just a little bit. Hell, Ymir, Terra, and Janus. Janus is hilarious for this, to set them up with the portal, and right as they start to hit the ground, the chain connects and grabs people up. But where she shines is coming out of nowhere, an Ancient Chinese Randy Orton. The Trickster Spirit teleport has a pretty generous range, and the fact that it can be used on allies is hilarious, but can definitely go sour. Your Tyr leaps in right as you’re about to leap, and now the enemy Aphrodite has knocked him back and skated away? That’s enough to make your teeth itch. So play it safe, play it smart, and communicate. The more teamwork and communication you offer while playing Da Ji, the more brutal the plays are going to be.
Fun Gods to use with Da Ji: Ares, Janus (this takes serious communication but works), Ymir, Anubis, Poseidon, Erlang Shen
The Struggle for Da Ji: Anyone that can Stun her/interrupt Trickster. She can become immune to slows with One Thousand Cuts, but it won’t stop a stun, sleep, or knock up. Anyone that can really root her into place is going to be her bane. Beware Kumbhakarna at all costs.
Da Ji came with a lot of controversy and stress. Many people, as I said earlier, were incredibly unhappy with her. I did not get a chance to play the PTS before live to get a handle on her, but I honestly, sincerely love what she can do now. I haven’t found an Assassin that I really love, but Susano was probably the closest. But the biggest thing for me is if I can suddenly go 0-60, dive on the enemy line without any sort of warning [whether it’s my team knowing or theirs!] and start swinging. Da Ji has exactly what I need in Trickster Spirit. And you can prepare the 1 before you leap, making sure there’s absolutely nowhere to go but back to Spawn for them. Though I will probably mostly play her in the Arena, or in unconventional ways, I think she could be the way I learn a new role. She does not feel like any of the other assassins I’ve tried. They all felt.. clunky and foreign for a guardian main like me. Da Ji embraces the high-risk assault, blinking in, and activating her Wolverine “Berserker Barrage”! You know what I think might be fun? Going Blink and Teleport, instead of having any kind of Smite. Sure, you won’t be able to deal sudden damage to NPC targets, but it might be fun to suddenly be anywhere, anytime. To appear at a ward, and ult over a wall, plinking targets with chains to set up a Deicide. Just a bit of food for thought…
For as Da Ji says whenever you drop those wards… “You can’t outfox a fox.”
Fafnir Goes for the Kick. It’s good! Bottom Tier Wins the Super Arena Bowl!
If you want to see DaJi tearing apart arena on a new level, be sure to catch yesterday’s Bottom Tier livestream VOD. Especially the match at the timestamp below!