Nunu Build Guide by Vaerris
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Nunu is the strongest top laner in the game, bar none. With incredible poke and unlimited sustain, Nunu can bully his way into zoning the majority of top laners from farming, and opposing tops often find themselves struggling to get experience. Nunu has the hardest denial and the strongest early-mid game of any champion.
My username is Vaerris, I am a Gold I currently sitting at 1780. My inspiration comes from Mogwai, a 2000+ elo gamer.
Why Pick Nunu?
- Ice Blast is the best denial of the opponent's exp/CS in the game
- Welcomes being ganked due to Absolute Zero
- Takes jungle pressure off of other lanes
- Incredible buff control
- Blood Boil for your ADC late-game, as well as helping shut down the enemy carry
- Easy to learn, doesn't require much technical skill to play
Nunu is a very strong counter to a lot of popular champions that rely on AS such as and , and he has the potential to make the enemy ADC useless.
Nunu benefits more from the Utility Tree than the Offensive Tree. While the 6 flat AP from the Offensive tree is nice, the 5% AP boost isn't that necessary on someone that doesn't build much AP, and Nunu relies less on pure damage than on cooldowns and poke for his dominance.
Wanderer is useful as a mid-game roaming mastery, which is better than flat Mana from Expanded Mind , as Nunu will never have mana problems after laning phase. Mastermind gives you 30 seconds off of flash and 21 seconds off of ignite, which have netted me quite a few kills that were otherwise impossible. Incredible mastery for Nunu.
Vampirism is actually preferred to the popular Greed Mastery, as it gives you 3% spell vamp which when used in tandem with Consume will keep you consistently healthy in lane, whereas Greed offers you a mere 12 gold per minute, or approximately two mana pots (or one ward) per six minutes.
Awareness helps maintain the experience advantage that you already start off with, and when coupled with the inevitable experience-denial that Nunu offers, you can find yourself up to three or four levels up on your opponent and team when played perfectly.
Intelligence is the best thing to happen to Nunu - the 6% cooldown coupled with the 4% from the offensive tree gives you a perfect 10% to start off laning phase with. This means that in order to hit max Cooldown, you only need 30%, which Athene's Unholy Grail and Iceborn Gauntlet offer perfectly. Spirit Visage is an option when things go poorly, however this should be avoided when possible. Nimble is a no brainer.
Visionary (passive): Visionary is useful during laning phase in allowing a free Ice Blast or Consume frequently. You can keep track of your passive charges above your skill bar.
Consume (Q): Consume makes you the safest top laner in the game, keeping you infinitely healthy so long as you have mana. During mid-game, you can heal literally thousands of HP every 5 seconds, which gives you amazing skirmish potential. Further, this gives you great Dragon / Baron control.
Blood Boil (W): Early-game, BB's main utility is in providing Movement Speed for chasing targets with Ice Blast. Late-game, however, BB gives your ADC 45% attack speed and 12% movement speed, almost providing a free a Phantom Dancer.
Ice Blast (E): This is your most important ability, providing massive poke as well as a considerable slow (20%/30%/40%/50%/60%), making running from Nunu impossible. Pop this whenever it is off cooldown on the opposing laner.
Absolute Zero (R): A monster of an ability, Absolute Zero is either devastatingly painful or mostly useless, depending on your execution. I suggest not using this in lane unless their Flash is on cooldown, unless you are attempting to force flash so that you can kill with Ice Blast + Ignite.
How Does It Work?
Start by taking double golems top. It is for this reason that I prefer only playing Nunu on purple side. The video below shows you how to do it taking minimal damage and losing 0 CS.
Rush to top lane to kill the two dying minions, and you will hit level 2. Immediately ward the bottom of the river bush in case of a gank, and you can begin.
Make them regret ever playing top lane.
Ice Blast every time it is up while popping mana pots occasionally. After about three snowballs, they should be low enough to completely zone out or start to aggressively trade with. In their desperation, they will either give up last hitting entirely, or go for CS while being very low. If this is the case, go for the kill. If they play more cautiously, try to freeze the lane to the best of your ability to continue to zone.
If you are freezing lane, they will struggle to last hit - I've had ranked games where they enemy had 12 CS when I had 90. You can afford to take tower shots to continue forcing them low, as you can always Consume off damage. If they go back, try to push the lane to their tower so that they miss the wave, allowing you to back and buy.
Another alternative against cautious enemies is to push to their tower and poke them. In this scenario, Ice Blast them on the edge of the tower aggro and immediately walk away. By the time it hits them, you will be out of the aggro range. Once they are low, simply walk up to them with your minions at the turret and channel Absolute Zero, pop Ice Blast and Ignite. Feel free to invite the jungler if they are behind and need to catch up.
The majority of games, I leave laning phase at a comfortable 4-0 with double or triple my opponent's CS. If the enemy jungler has camped my lane, the CS lead is not as significant, but I will outlevel my opponent and my team's lanes should benefit greatly.
Ganks are an Opportunity, Not a Threat
One of the biggest advantages to Nunu top is that the opposing jungler will often try to gank you.
Why might that be a benefit? Most importantly, it takes considerable pressure off of your bot and mid laners, as well as giving your jungler the opportunity to counterjungle or Dragon . But the more interesting reason is that your highest kill potential comes from double killing the opposing top and jungler when they gank.
While this clip is from Season 2, it shows how to properly respond to ganks.
You should always, always, keep the opposing top laner low HP in the situation that the opposing jungler ganks - this widens your opportunities significantly, allowing you to kill them when they are baited by their jungler. Be willing to take a fair amount of damage to force trades so that you can achieve this goal.
When you are ganked, retreat to the top bush and channel Absolute Zero, and simply Ignite and Ice Blast for the easy kill. If they are not falling for the bush tactic, simply walk in the bush when you are ganked, wait for the enemy top laner to come back hesitantly towards you, and Ice Blast+ Ignite for the kill.
Nunu has naturally high HP, meaning that stacking resistances is preferable to buying HP. This, in tandem with Consume's healing effect, means buying HP (such as Warmog's Armor or Rod of Ages) should be avoided on Nunu.
Rush Chalice of Harmony in every game, no matter the lane match-up. I rarely play against AP tops these days but I get it every game, since Nunu's dominance requires quite a bit of mana. Back this up with two or three mana pots - remember that due to Consume, this basically are free HP.
Follow up with Boots of Speed - at this point you should be zoning so hard that they will be running away from you whenever you are in 550 range, meaning that boots + Blood Boil allow you to stick to targets easier.
Glacial Shroud offers significant early cooldowns and armor, and the 300 mana means you no longer rely on mana potions. I usually buy this after boots and Chalice.
Hextech Revolver synergizes beautifully with Consume, giving you the best sustain of any top champion in the game - better than even Yorick and Cho'Gath. This is your third core item, and I buy this before Glacial Shroud only if the laner and jungler have no AD or if I'm expecting to ever be low enough HP to be killed by burst.
Athene's Unholy Grail is the single best item on Nunu in the game. All of the stats benefit him better than any other champion in the game - infinite snowballs and healing means he will never have to leave lane once he buys this item, and the Cooldown allows him incredible bullying potential. This is your first completed item.
Iceborn Gauntlet gives Nunu bite in team-fights, allowing him actual kill potential outside of Absolute Zero, as well as making him incredible at chasing targets as well as pushing lanes. The 15% cooldown will give you your cap of 40% cooldown after Athene's Unholy Grail and Masteries. Without this item, Nunu is relatively underwhelming as an offensive threat.
Will of the Ancients does not need to be rushed, as Hextech Revolver will give you enough spell vamp to sustain most engages. I only buy this item if there is at least one other competent player than benefits from the Spell Vamp effect. If not, I often buy Hextech Gunblade instead for increased offensive capacity as well as the 700 range slow, allowing you to chain this slow with your Ice Blast.
After these items, the game should already be over. For that reason I often don't build towards anything else, instead keeping my remaining slots open for 3-4 wards throughout the game - this allows me to catch people in their own jungle with Absolute Zero. Since Nunu doesn't need many items to excel, take on the job of littering the field with wards to support your team.
In late-game situations, adapt your final items to the enemy team. Against heavy AD teams, Randuin's Omen is ideal, and the active allows you to peel for your ADC as well as chase targets. Runic Bulwark is better if your team is bad at staying alive, and this will allow you to take negligible damage from all AP.
When Do I Take Top Tower?
Nunu's strength drops considerably outside of laning phase, so ideally you want to continue to shut down the opposing top for as long as you can. However, if other lanes are behind, or if the opposing top is roaming to make up for losing lane, you must IMMEDIATELY take top tower and roam. At this time, you should dive bot tower to kill the ADC, pick off the jungler,
, or take Mid.
The worst thing you can do is to stay top after winning lane, while the opposing laner roams. Your other lanes will be under pressure from the 5v4, allowing the top to catch up and pick up kills, while you remain useless. After you have won top lane, take your fed self and proceed to win other lanes for them. Take towers and Dragon as quickly and aggressively as you can.
Why Not AP Nunu?
AP Nunu can devastate teams with Absolute Zero. Ice Blast's AP scaling is 1.0 and at max duration, Absolute Zero is 2.5. While this is tempting to run with, the majority of games you will only get at most one great Absolute Zero off, while most of the time it will simply force flashes or will be interrupted. Additionally, AP Nunu dies too fast to threaten teams with snowball, as he puts himself at too great a risk (550 range) to harass without defensive items. For this reason he holds very little utility due to his frailty.
If for some reason you are never dying in team fights yet your team lacks damage (underfarmed mid and utility/tank jungler), feel free to consider building Liandry's Torment or Rabadon's Deathcap on Nunu. However, in these situations I prefer to simply peel for my ADC and rely on their damage in teamfights.
How to Teamfight in the Assassin's Meta
As of February 2013, the meta has turned mostly into Assassins with high mobility that often rely on burst and skills rather than AS for damage output, and teams will often attempt to dive the AD Carry and instantly kill them. Champions such as Kassadin, Katarina, Lee Sin, Kha'Zix, Pantheon, Talon, and Akali come to mind as gap-closing assassins that will build straight damage to snowball off of your squishies. How can Nunu deal with these threats, when the AS and Movement slow from Ice Blast rarely hampers them?
This is when proper usage of Absolute Zero is critical to winning fights. All of the champions I listed above will attempt to jump over your team and assassinate the ADC, meaning it is your job to sit on top of them and Absolute Zero AS SOON AS the Assassin's mobility has been used. Often this means allowing Katarina to jump onto your ADC, or letting Akali get into her shroud, and THEN channeling Absolute Zero.
Bad Nunu's will try to get their full duration Absolute Zero off every team fight. Most of the time, your teammates will be dead by the time you finish it, and the prevalence of distancing moves and Flash means at most, you're getting one person (and it'll probably be Leona). Don't rely on the full duration of your Absolute Zero in team fights, and expect people to flash 1.5 seconds into it. Your goal isn't simply to do damage - it's to save your damage dealers and discourage Assassin's from diving your ADC.
One rule you can use to guide you if you are struggling with knowing what to do in team fights is this:
- Is your ADC fed and a good player? Peel for them while giving them Blood Boil.
- Is their ADC fed and a good player? Dive them, if only to force them out of the fight. If they are low mobility such as Miss Fortune, Ice Blast them, get on top of them, and channel Absolute Zero.
Don't try to be the one who engages a 5v5 as Nunu - he has no means to engage a fight, and CC will shut him down pretty hard if he can't Consume in team fights. Allow someone else to take the initial burst, then rush into the carries and Absolute Zero once most CC is busted.
Nunu will demolish all sustainless/melee champions that rely on AS for their damage potential. For example there is no greater counter to Jax than Nunu. Other easy lanes are the majority of AP champions, as they often have minimal damage output until buying items, allowing you to force trades and bully them out of CS and lane. Vladimir is the most notable example of this.
Some champions have the potential of winning the match-up by capitalizing on your mistakes. Darius for example has higher damage potential than Nunu at level 2, so committing too hard to a trade will often encourage him to All-in you with Ignite and Flash, which can easily lose you the lane. If you find yourself taking more damage than you are comfortable with early, simply back off and stop trading until you are healthy again - then start bullying. Dying anytime from level 1-5 will lose you the lane. That said, if you play without mistakes in lane, Darius should be shut down just as hard as anyone else.
There are a few champions that if you don't shut them down early will begin to beat you. Irelia and Elise come to mind - be sure to bully them hard early on in order to prevent them from becoming a threat.
There are three champions that Nunu struggles shutting down, and you should consider avoiding. Cho'Gath can land strong combos on you if you are predictable with Ice Blast or Absolute Zero, and has sustain that almost rivals your own - he also scales much better than you. Lee Sin has the mobility, sustain, and shielding to counter your kit - he will never get hit by Absolute Zero, and he can shield every Ice Blast. This turns into a farm lane, and both of you will be sort of useless late-game. Rumble can outright win the matchup and outscales you hard.
If you are worried about Hyper-Carry AS champions such as Vayne, Kog'Maw, Jax, and Xin Zhao, and you don't find yourself getting a lot of use out of Iceborn Gauntlet in team-fights, consider this build instead.
21-0-9 Masteries, replacing Iceborn Gauntlet with Frozen Heart and buying Sunfire Cape to make up for losing pushing capability. While you lose 6% Cooldown early-game, you actually gain a bit of damage, and this allows you to hit 39% Cooldown after buying FH. This gives you more utility by simply staying alive near the hyper-carries and can help deal with them considerably, while Sunfire Cape gives you both great survivability stats and makes up for losing the pushing passive of Iceborn Gauntlet.
- Too often I see top laners unwilling to Flash when they are ganked right off the bat, thinking they can barely make it out and save flash. Do NOT do this with Nunu - just use the flash. If you die early, you can no longer win the lane and become rather useless. Since you start off with a ward, you should be able to survive fine even if they camp you, so you don't need to worry about saving flash - just use it early if they gank you and you're worried.
- Be willing to stand in front of dying creeps to prevent the opponent from using ranged skill-shots for last hitting.
- After taking top, Dragon is usually the easiest objective to take. After that, pick the closest tower that is still up and tell your team to take it with you.
- If you can't handle the responsibility of making plays mid-game, pick a different champion. Learn how to take advantage of leads. Chase down targets, then siege turrets. Nunu doesn't need much farm to be effective, so make use of that by being a bully everywhere on the map.
- If you didn't get at least one ward and one mana pot when returning the lane, you're playing Nunu wrong.
- After pressing W, you can press F1-F5 to Blood Boil your teammates - their portrait on the left corresponds to the key. Have your ADC's key and always active. This will also automatically bring you in a path towards that person, which can be useful in hectic team fights.
- The opponent's blue buff often respawns slightly after 7 minutes, so consider stealing it if you see the jungler or mid-laner elsewhere.
- Kills and CS are often better on your teammates than on you. If my jungler is behind, I often offer them to take top around mid-game to catch up on some easy experience and gold.
- Consume is less mana-intensive than Ice Blast for pushing lanes.
I hope to update this guide with Lane Match-ups and an intensive video guide as soon as possible. I highly encourage you to comment and ask me questions about literally anything, as I'm pretty enthusiastic about this build.