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Fafnir's Wonderland: How to Conquer SMITE's New PvE Mode

It's easy to get lost in the blizzard of SMITE's new PvE mode, but I'll be your Rudolph through all 15 rounds in Fafnir's Winter Wonderland and the best gods to use.

If you've been on SMITE's Battleground much during Season 3, you probably remember Xing Tian's Mountain -- the incredibly successful and wildly popular "PvE" survival/endurance challenge that brought the MOBA title back to square off with the genre's MMO roots.

It was an overnight success, but seemed to make its exit just as quickly -- leaving many of us wondering if our favorite mode was ever going to make a return. And, luckily for us, it has. But this time around, it's Fafnir's Winter Wonderland.

The same rules and set up applies to the Wonderland as the mountain. Groups of five players (at level 13 and with 7500) will form up, and much like MMOs you're going to need a balance of utility and damage if you want to get much farther than the first few "raid bosses" in this survival style level ladder. What you start with is all you've have to keep you warm in this blizzard...and baby, it's cold outside. 

There's no gold for kills, no experience gained. From start to finish, you are level 13 with 7500g worth of whatever you bought in the raid staging segment before Round 1 -- and you only have one minute to complete each round. If your team wipes, or you fail to complete the objective, you're left out in the cold and are forced to re-queue and try again. 

The levels are still in a randomly selected order -- and still at least 15 deep. While the sweet user portrait is no longer on the line, Fafnir's Winter Wonderland does offer points towards an achievement with associated rewards (like Odyssey Points, the Ferocious Hen Avatar, and a free Cutesy Avatar Chest roll for completing the final achievement). You'll collect 5 points for a successfully completed round in Easy Mode, and 15 per round in Hard difficulty. 

Oh, did I not mention this? This time around, the PvE game has a hard mode. It starts after completing the 15th round of an Easy queue, and then is accessible as a standalone option afterwards. While it's still the same 15 maps, each scenario has a few added twists, turns, and additional enemy stats to help give players the cold shoulder.

With some hard work and a good grip on the mechanics (and maybe a warm pair of gloves), though, you (and up to four of your friends) can certainly hit a hot streak -- if you can keep frosty on the following tips, anyway. 

Oh, and while you probably saw this coming...Fafnir is banned in this mode, as he's currently hiding out doing his very best Grinch impersonation. 

The Stages are Set

Terra obviously didn't look at the weather forecast

Same drill as the mountain, SMITE soldiers -- these occur in a pretty randomized order. Generally, you won't get the same instance back to back, but you will run into each multiple times as you battle it out in the Winter Wonderland's arena-sized battle maps.

Here are all the encounters you'll have in this PvE arena, 

Lord a Leaping

Odin's really pumped up by holiday music it seems, and this supercharged spearman is really jumping for joy - and tons of damage, as he constantly spams the good old "Bird Bomb" combo every few seconds. The AoE damage is pretty wide, so try to stay spread out (or use your own jumps to avoid the explosion damage) as you burn him down. 

Cripples, strangely, will not stop this Lord of Spears from a-leaping all over your team. 

Long Winter Nap

There's three exceedingly healthy Kumbakharnas decked out in their holiday best. While their damage isn't anything to write home about, and their skill uses are few and far between, they do yawn -- a lot. As you drop them, they'll throw out an extended yawn mesmerize to try and survive until their passive brings them back to life...at full health

Try to focus one down at a time, and keep your ranged damage dealers far enough away from a downed Kumba to avoid the yawn so they can finish the job before moving on to the next one. 

Slippery Slopes

Nothing really says "winter time fun" like a good skate across some fresh ice. And (a supercharged) Skadi is here to oblige, as her entire half of the arena is covered in the same "slip and slide" winter time fun we've come to expect from the powerful huntress. You move forward in the direction you're initially going (though dashes can change directly mid-slide), so try to angle yourself to be able to deal damage to her going in and bouncing out

Melees are at a bit of a disadvantage here, as it's nearly impossible to keep on her for more than a few basic attacks -- even with leaps and the like, as you'll immediately begin sliding again. Hunters and Mages, however, are just fine - their arrows and spears don't slide, so with a little bit of strafe aiming their damage is largely unmitigated. 

Hard mode Slopes isn't much different, except melee has a job now -- kill the two Kaldr-wolves roaming the map. 

Christmas Gone Wrong

One of the sticking points for players new to Fafnir's Winter Wonderland, Christmas Gone Wrong features five of SMITE's gods and goddesses in their ugliest sweaters and christmas hats -- Chiron, Ah Puch, Hel, Bacchus and Nu Wa. It's a fairly straight forward 5v5, even down to every enemy having access to their ult, and two relics apiece. 

  • Bacchus - Meditation, Shell (equipped with Obsidian Shard)
  • Chiron - Meditation, Frenzy (equipped with Rage and Deathbringer)
  • Hel - Purification, Curse
  • Nu Wa - Thorns, Sanctuary
  • Ah Puch - Purification, Sanctuary

Essentially, there's two ways for teams to go about this -- many tend to focus on Chiron, split up for a few seconds as he uses his ultimate, then reconverge to down him. 

The other, potentially more effective, way is to Sanctuary through Ah Puch's ultimate on the right side of the map, down him and Hel, move on to Chiron now that zombies aren't exploding everywhere, and finish off Nu Wa and Bacchus last. 

Either way, surviving their initial rush is the most key point -- between the Ah Puch ult and Hel's dark AoE, unprepared teams are likely to lose if any of their players go down in the first onslaught. Get behind them, jump over them, Sanctuary -- just stay out of the flurries of damage falling upon your team like so much snow, and melt the enemy damage dealers as soon as possible. 

Where's My Nut

Poor Ratatoskr has lost his acorn, and will spend the first half of the fight jumping to one of four trees, digging beneath it (and defending himself, of course), before eventually tearing it down and skittering over to the next one. Should he find it (after downing the fourth tree), he'll begin fighting back much harder, making this more of a "damage race" scenario. Kill him before he downs all four trees, and it's one of the easier maps in Fafnir's Winter Wonderland. Let him get his nut, and your chances start going down dramatically. 

That's all it is. A good, clean, wholesome holiday 1v5 with absolutely no innuendos or inappropriate connotations whatsoever. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Turtle Doves

This Christmas song reference mashed up with Super Mario Brothers Peach and Bowser cosplay pits your team against the Goddess of Love and...well...a giant, firebreathing turtle. 

Look, it's 2016. We're not judging. 

Focus on killing Aphrodite first, as her constant TLC will otherwise keep the tankier Turtle alive and well. She'll use every move in her arsenal (including her invulnerability ultimate), and those birds do a ton of damage, but she goes down rather easily despite the massive health increase. 

Once the goddess drops, grab your plumber costume and go stomp out a King Koo- er...the Turtle. His moves are basically "attack" and "stand there getting whomped on", making it a fairly easy engagement once he's alone. 

Breezy

There's a rather dapper Anhur staring down your squad in an open arena. While he's drastically outnumbered, it's still going to be an uphill battle, as you're downwind of some fierce winter weather that will constantly push you back. Use your gapclosers to make headway (or, alternatively, just walk straight towards him), and bury Anhur in an avalanche of damage before his spears start punching holes in your plan. 

In Hard Mode it's not just the wind pushing you back, however, as the Fury of the Sands has unlocked his Impale ability, and he will use it. Often. 

Wreck the Halls

Don't mind the gigantic, ferocious looking Ragnarok-Wolf (complete with festive holiday sweater and reindeer horns) -- the real enemy in this round is the blizzard behind him. While Fenrir is constantly in his Ultimate mode, meaning he won't attack and can't kill anyone, he will pick up any of your team that he can grab, and slowly cart them back towards the ice-rain behind him. 

And that will kill someone. Quickly. 

Gods and goddesses with cleanses, such as Hel or Geb, really shine here, as someone can be picked up, then freed just before they reach the ice, giving the team plenty of "free" time to deal damage. Purification also works. 

Lastly, this Fenrir moves slowly and has very strange movement patterns. He doesn't seem to like walking between/through/over people very much, making it rather simple for the team to form a human (well, godly) wall that keeps him moving sideways rather than towards the ice

Calling Birds

The four calling birds here are actually phoenixes that in most ways are identical to the ones found in other game modes. The only real difference is that they have significantly more health, and they respawn much more quickly than their counterparts in Conquest and Clash. 

Veteran MMO players are going to recognize a split and finish fight when they see one. But in case you haven't got much practice in battles like this -- rather than attempting to kill one, then downing the other three before the first respawns (as all four must be dead simultaneously for the map to complete), bring all four down low (about 10-15% HP). Once they're all near death, then make a clean sweep and finish them off in quick succession. 

Golden Rings

While the song might set the number of rings at five, a lone Ne Zha doesn't in the Golden Rings fight. He'll steadily toss out more and more rings as the fight progresses, and since the Prince is in his full divine form for Fafnir's Winter Wonderland, they never run out of bounces. 

If your team has rather low damage (categorically advised against for the Winter Wonderland in general), try to stay spread out -- the rings don't run out of bounces. But they can run out of targets, or at least take longer to get to each bounce. 

Realistically, this is a damage check -- most teams with enough damage to compete in the Wonderland should be able to race the damage from the rings. If you're consistently having trouble with Ne Zha, try replacing various members of your squad with higher damage equivalents. 

Lady Dancing

Chang'e sits center-stage for this battle, and her moonlight is a little steadier -- or at least, the giant laser beam of moonlight which slowly rotates around her is. Dodge the large beam by either sticking close to her and circling around, or by jumping over it with any leaps you have, and she'll fall soon enough...assuming her attacks and occasional dance moves don't put your team on ice.

Whiteout

Arguably one of the hardest fights in Fafnir's Winter Wonderland, Whiteout puts the team in a maze of stone walls.

In a zero visibility blizzard.

Crippled (so no leaps, dashes, etc...). 

With no minimap. 

Aside from this, nothing is attempting to actually kill the players except the clock -- there's one odd-sounding Geb hiding out in the maze, and a few seconds after being engaged by a player, he'll teleport to a random part of the maze. Your objective is simply to kill him before time runs out. 

There's two main ways to take this fight.  

1. Have multiple players use some of their leftover gold to buy Wards. While there's no minimap to show him, you'll still hear the ward ping should he teleport nearby -- and more importantly still get ward vision of him through walls. 

2. Use Skadi (Winter Patrol skin for value). Kaldr, majestic winter wolf that he is, is undeterred by the wind and snow -- and can follow the target's scent wherever he goes. This tactic makes the entire fight much simpler, as it's no longer "find the random magic rock", but "group up and follow the dog"

Either way, try to stick together and not lose each other in the Whiteout. You'll only have a few seconds to deal damage once you find the target, and a single player at a time simply won't be able to deal enough damage before the clock runs out. 

Partridge and a Pair of Trees

One phoenix, two Sylvanus...es (Sylvanusi?), sixty seconds. What could go wrong? 

Turns out, between the phoenix damage, two Sylvanus ults, and their penchant for constantly heal-wisping each other? A lot.

Two of your outside players should split the trees up, being careful to avoid the damaging ultimate, while the middle three use the now opened (and safer) space to down the phoenix. Keep the trees separated so they don't heal each other, and it's a pretty straightforward "tank and spank" fight from there. Anti-healing can be useful here, but isn't required with proper planning and zone management. 

Drummers Drumming

Thankfully, there's not 12 super-powered Raijins here, only 3. Focus your efforts on one at a time -- and be careful, because at around half health they'll jump to the other side of the map and begin firing off Ultimate shots. Dodge the lightning, down one Raijin at a time, and survive the Ultimates to send these three little drummer boys back to their music lessons. 

Ba-rum-pa-pum-pum. 

French Hen

Your fearsome opponent this round is....uh. Well. That thing in the picture above. No, we're not entirely sure what's french about it, we're kind of just taking SMITE's word on this one. It also seems to notice the floating text, which brings up all sorts of additional questions. 

At any rate, this large chicken-shaped plush doll packs a massive punch all on its own -- but throughout the fight will also summon tiny reinforcement chicks from the eggs behind it. 

If you have any strong AoE such as Anubis, it might be wise to set them to the task of clearing the smaller adds while the rest of the group focuses on the biggun. If you don't...well, shake your tailfeathers and get to it. There's not much time before the fluffy forces of the Chicken Kingdom overwhelm the five of you. 

Best Gods For Walking In The Winter Wonderland

If you're getting a little lost in the storm on your way to Round 16, here's a comp that got me to the Hard Mode cut off, and helped me unlocked those sweet 15pt rounds: 

  • Thanatos: His execute is excellent when all the enemies have insane health pools, and can easily translate to several thousand damage.
  • Skadi: Kaldr really does make Whiteout a breeze.
  • Kali: Most of the rounds are damage races, and it's hard to top the Goddess of Destruction in the death-dealing department.
  • Geb: Having a single frontliner that can soak tons of damage and cleanse the Fenrir bite is useful.
  • Ah Muzen Cab: Yes, The Bees. Though any high-damage hunter works here, AMC can dish out tons of damage, and essentially has a "free" extra item over the 7500g thanks to bonuses from level 5 hives.

Rewards

Of course, plenty of new and old Winter and Holiday skins on display in the Winter Wonderland are in the Holiday Chest also available, which sends a portion of each sale to the Child's Play charity. So if your heart's gone a little cold in Hard Mode, be sure to warm it up with a little gift-giving holiday spirit - and score some sweet skins for your trouble. 

In the meantime, Fafnir (and all his riches) are hiding out in that blizzard somewhere. He thinks the ice will stop you - that the cold will slow you down. But you're the climbers of Xing Tian's mountain, aren't you? What's Fafnir's Winter Wonderland compared to that

So let it snow, and go forth -- to Conquer!

Published Nov. 23rd 2016

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