Now that the SMITE World Championships have ended and NA team eUnited has taken the throne as the reigning champs, we’re transitioning into Season 5 of SMITE. And no new season would be complete without a few new gods. Enter Cerberus — the newest guardian in the Greek pantheon.
This Warden of the Underworld has taken some time off from guarding the infernal gates to join his master, Hades, on the Battleground of the Gods. If you want to pilot this hellhound in Season 5, you’ll need a little bit of help to nail down the basics and find a build that’ll turn heads. In this guide, we’ll go over how to build and play Cerberus in Update 5.2, and what you need to be focusing on when you bring this devilish dog to the battlefield.
How to Play Cerberus
Cerberus’ kit features unique abilities that set him apart from the other 92 gods in SMITE’s character pool. What this Guardian lacks in mobility and hard crowd control, he makes up for with a mixture of anti-healing, self-sustain, movement speed and magical protection debuffs, and a powerful ultimate that combines both a knockup and a pull. Most of these abilities can work well individually — however, pairing them up into a few different combos can make Cerberus much more effective.
Combos and Rotation
Cerberus’ second ability, Ghastly Breath, applies a protection reduction and movement speed slow to enemies that are consistently hit. This debuff stacks up to three times total, allowing the rest of Cerberus’ abilities (and other magical damage dealers on your team) to pack a harder punch in the follow-up.
On top of the protection shred, Ghastly Breath puts all three of Cerberus’ heads on alert for his first ability, Paralyzing Spit. The optimal time to use Paralyzing Spit is when all three heads are on alert, which can be achieved by either using Ghastly Breath or simply hitting an enemy with three basic attacks. If you pop Paralyzing Spit with all of those heads alerted, it’ll grant you an extra 180% damage if aimed perfectly at a single target. (And as the ability name implies, it will also stun any target you hit with all four projectiles.)
This combo is an excellent way to aggress on the enemy team, nail down a high-priority target and let your damage dealers bring the pain, or chase down escaping targets and make sure they don’t leave the lane alive.
If you want to take more of a sustain route for efficient trades in lane (or in the jungle), there’s another combo at your disposal in Cerberus’ kit. You can use his third ability, Soul Expulsion, to jump on enemies (including minions) and sever their souls. When souls become severed, it will generate a ghostly copy of each enemy hit that will return health to Cerberus when killed. These souls do not block Cerberus’ other attacks, and they only have 33% of the original target’s health — so they’re much easier to take out than real enemies. Targeting enemy gods with this ability will net you double the base health of targeting minions, but your healing scales at 25% magical power regardless of target type.
Utilizing this skill properly will allow you to trade more effectively in lane or in the jungle, and provides some extra sustain that’ll make sure you’re the alpha dog from the start of any engagement to the finish.
Cerberus’ ultimate ability, Stygian Torment, can be used before or after his other abilities. Even though using Ghastly Breath beforehand will augment the damage, it’s better to hold off and time this ultimate right in order to guarantee the knockup and pull combination. No matter when you choose to use it, you’ll want to make sure you pay attention to where you’re pulling the enemies you knock up. You can pull them under your tower or toward your allies if you’re on the offensive, or even use it defensively to pull enemies away from your teammates as they try to disengage.
Trading in the Solo Lane
Cerberus is incredibly viable in the solo lane, especially if you know how to use his Soul Expulsion properly. The optimal approach is to draw all minion aggro by hitting the enemy god first, the jumping on the whole wave (plus the enemy god) to expel seven souls you can heal from. At level one of Soul Expulsion, that’s a total of 120 (+175% of your magical power) healing.
Once you’ve maximized the souls you can sever, using Ghastly Breath will clear the wave you’ve pulled and replenish your health, while alerting all Cerberus’ heads so you can follow up immediately with Paralyzing Spit. Now that the wave is cleared and only the enemy god remains, their protections are surely shredded and the Spit will do amplified damage.
TL;DR — Group the wave, jump on them with Soul Expulsion to heal, clear the wave with Ghastly Breath, then pop Paralyzing Spit to nail the enemy god.
How to Build Cerberus
Now that you know how to play Cerberus and what combinations are at your disposal, the next step is building him out properly so that your abilities pack that maximum punch. Although he’s classed as a Guardian, Cerberus can actually function in a number of roles — but he’s especially good as a true support or a solo laner. Here are three recommended builds that you might want to try based on your team’s needs.
Solo Lane Cerberus (Safe Build)
- Warrior’s Blessing
- Shoes of Focus
- Warlock’s Staff
- Breastplate of Valor
- Stone of Gaia
- Spirit Robe
- Mantle of Discord
Solo Lane Cerberus (Snowball Build)
- Mage’s Blessing
- Shoes of the Magi
- Mystical Mail
- Hide of the Urchin
- Gem of Isolation
- Breastplate of Valor
- Spirit Robe
- Guardian’s Blessing
- Gauntlet of Thebes
- Traveler’s Shoes or Reinforced Greaves
- Heartward Amulet
- Stone of Gaia
- Spirit Robe or Mantle of Discord
Ideally, your starter item should be Mage’s Blessing for more sustain — but if you’re dealing with a few gods that deal damage over time, then Warrior’s Blessing might be a better pick.
After that, you’ll obviously want to pick up shoes for your many paws. Whether you pick up Shoes of Focus or Shoes of the Magi depends entirely on whether or not your next item will be Breastplate of Valor. If yes, then penetration shoes will be a must. If not, then Shoes of Focus will be your go-to item. If you’re playing a true guardian role, grab either Traveler’s Shoes to rotate to lanes faster or Reinforced Greaves to survive combat if the action is coming to you.
Following your boots of choice, you’ll want to consider a few defensive items. If you’re dealing with knockups, Stone of Gaia is the way to go. If you’re ahead and want to snowball your lane, Mystical Mail will be ideal.
A fun item pick that you might want to try in at least one of your casual games is Gem of Isolation. At max rank, Ghastly Breath provides a solid 36% slow — but adding that little bit of extra slow from Gem of Isolation will be a nuisance for your enemies. Alternatively, you can try including both Lotus Crown and Shield of Regrowth in your build. These two items work with Cerberus’ anti-healing passive, so you can watch the hilarity ensue as you get 40% extra movement speed and +20 protections for a majority of your game.
If you want to be a little more realistic in your item path, Warlock’s Staff is a great thing to pick up. Because Cerberus only receives 86 health per level, he’s on the lower end of the Guardian spectrum. Grabbing Warlock’s Sash can make up that deficit and get you a little extra power to boot. With the added health from that item, the Stone of Gaia passive that regenerates 2% of your max health every 5 seconds becomes even more effective.
Your starting relic is situational, and will always depend on the compositions of both your team and the enemy team. However, you can count on picking up either Meditation, Shell, Sprint, or Horrific Emblem based on what will best serve your needs. When you hit level 12, though, you’ll pretty much always want to pick up Blink for an easy opportunity to target the enemy backline with your Stygian Torment ultimate.
When to Pick Cerberus
Although Cerberus is a well-rounded god who fits in most compositions, his passive anti-healing and heal stealing means he works best as a counter-pick to healers. This god also synergizes very well with high burst damage mages like Scylla, Poseidon, and Zeus in the mid lane, since his Ghastly Breath will slow and remove magical protections from tanky targets.
Cerberus is an ideal pick when the enemy team features Bellona, Osiris, Odin, Chaac, Hel, Chang’e, or Sylvanus. These warrior gods don’t have efficient ways to disrupt his Ghastly Breath or prevent a knockup, allowing the Warden of the Underworld to pull them into the tower for extra damage.
Like we mentioned above, Cerberus is also a good pick against healing gods in general since his passive makes them less effective across the board.
Any god that can trigger immunity to knockups will completely disrupt the flow of Stygian Torment. Gods with crowd-control heavy kits that include knockups can also disrupt the Ghastly Breath/Paralyzing Spit combo that lets Cerberus deal serious damage. A few examples of gods who will give Cerberus a hard time in the solo lane include Tyr, Sun Wukong, Guan Yu, Erlang Shen, Vamana, and Hercules.
If you see any of these gods in the enemy’s composition, you might want to rethink your Cerberus pick.
If you’ve stuck with us through this guide, you should have everything you need to build and play Cerberus like a pro in Season 5 of SMITE. As balance changes come to this god and the items he uses in later patches, we’ll update this guide with more info to reflect how you can alter your build to suit the ever-shifting meta on the Battleground of the Gods.
For more information about Cerberus and to see the hellhound in action, check out Raynday’s breakdown of this new god below:
Now go forth and release the dogs of war!