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I've started playing the game Smite. After playing through the tutorial and a couple of arena matches I have started reading guides for certain gods. One thing that keeps appearing is the term lane, in regards to when to use certain abilities.

What exactly is a lane?

I am presuming it is just a pathway. But is there more to this term? For example, is the arena game type considered to be lacking in lanes (despite partitions to the left/right side of the maps)?

In the tutorial maps there is a main route that curves around to the enemy spawn. Part way down the route I noticed there are alternative routes that cut out then back into the main route. Is any route a lane? Is there such terminology for main lanes and these shortcut lanes?

Does the term appear in other games?

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up vote 26 down vote accepted

Lanes are the main roads in game where people come and fight. Those are usually the larger roads on the map, where the objectives (like towers) stand, and where the monsters spawning in your base (creeps in Dota, minions in League of Legends and Smite) face the ones from the other team. Those are also the roads which are linking the two bases.

This term appears in many MOBA games. As you mentioned, there is Smite, but that's also the case for Dota or even League of Legends (what we call "Top", "Middle" and "Bot").

For League of Legends, these are the lanes :

enter image description here

This is the same concept for Dota :

enter image description here

For Smite, those are the larger roads on the left, middle, and right on this map :

enter image description here

The alternative paths that we can see on the maps are usually not called lanes. Those are just alternatives roads. Usually, that is what we call the "Jungle". There is also, in League of Legends and Dota, a road which divides the map in two diagonally : the "River". The traditional monsters of your team never use those roads.

Not all the maps necessarily have three lanes. For instance, the Howling Abyss map from League of Legends, or the Smite Assault Mode's map only have one lane. Another example is the Twisted Treeline map in League of Legends, which has two lanes (on the top and the bottom).

There are also maps without lanes. Smite's Arena Mode for instance does not have any. But most classic maps, where the goal is to take down objectives (such as towers) and go to the other player's base, contain at least one lane.

(Credits to League of Legends Wikia, Quora and Smite Academy for the pictures).

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3  
The Assault game mode in Smite has one lane and no jungle, which seems to be the equivalent of Howling Abyss. – Ellesedil Mar 15 at 17:56
    
@Ellesedil Good point, I added it to the answer as another example. – Isuka Mar 15 at 17:59

Lane appears in all MOBAs and is one of the main collision paths. Its the "road" where the mobs clash, where the towers are and where most of the fights are supposed to be (excluding jungle)

Disregard the tutorials, the maps there most of the time are not MOBA type but tutorial type, to teach you the basics of the game, rather than to put you and 9 other people (given most mobas are 5v5) in fights.

enter image description here

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excluding jungle is this the paths that cut in and out of the main lane(s)? – camelCase Mar 15 at 12:41
1  
@camelCase Everything that is not a Lane(where friendly MOBS walk) OR a Base is Jungle, there is this line that cuts the map in two, your side and the enemy side and in most cases is refered to as "River" - Other answer picture – Иво Недев Mar 15 at 12:43

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