Nunu Build Guide by suchocka
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.
EDIT: I have not yet tested this build with the patch 184.108.40.206 (6/21/11) nerf. Work in progress.
Hello all. The purpose of this guide is to propose a unique playstyle for Nunu, one of the most fun junglers/gankers in the game in my opinion. This guide will not be an introduction to Nunu, and is only recommended for people who have played Nunu, are comfortable with him, and will be able to get in and out of sticky situations with him. There are other guides that will introduce you to Nunu, his skills, and tricks to play him.
Before I even begin this guide, I want to thank Melarith for his Nunu guide because it got me interested in Nunu and provided the groundwork for much of what I write about in this guide. For the most part, my masteries, runes, and build come from his guide. I also wanted to thank GreenTemplar for his guide on roaming Ali because it got me interested in roaming and made me think outside the box. Both guides are linked below.
Best Nunu guide evar
Oh hi thur roaming Ali
Also, Do you understand the words that are coming outta my mouth?! - Terminology and abbreviations
Roaming Nunu? Why Roam? Why Nunu?
Nunu is one of the best junglers in the game in terms of buff control and counter jungling. He is also a fierce ganker. So why roam with him you may ask? Let's take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of having both a jungler and a roamer.
- 3 solo lanes plus jungler = faster lvling for 4 champions on your team (and potentially 5 if you do well)
- Strong map control via warding and 2 moving heroes
- Great ganks with Nunu and jungler
- Psychological advantage, as the other team may be afraid to push, may buy more wards then necessary (especially if you hunt their wards with an oracles), or be demoralized by your team's leveling rate
- Solo side lanes may get bullied and potentially denied, especially if 1v2 versus something silly like Taric/ Xin Zhao
- Roamer needs to be careful not to fall behind 2+ levels
- Roaming takes a lot of practice to know when to gank/cover lanes and how to be useful overall
Now lets look at why Nunu can roam well:
- Can roam from level 1, though he may need to drop in to a lane from level 2 to 3...
- Counter jungles better than any hero I know
- Great ganker
- Great support for laners or jungler (always Blood Boil your jungler if you pass him randomly)
- Not incredibly item dependent
- Great mobility with Blood Boil, which leads to wards deep into enemy territory
- Highly sustainable with Visionary and Consume
When to use Roaming Nunu
Roaming Nunu will not fit into every team. When deciding whether or not to use him, consider:
Does my team already have a jungler? (If not, just jungle with Nunu!)
Does my team have 3 heroes who can solo?
Does my team have heroes in side lanes that can keep creeps off the tower with aoe if pushed?
Am I solo queuing? Or am I with a trusted premade who will work with me?
Does your team have a specific need you would need to fill instead, such as AD carry?
Does your team lack hard cc (stuns/fears/etc.)?
Currently I run with the rune set-up described by Melarith in his jungle Nunu guide, though I'm still exploring viable alternative. I may consider magic pen reds for harder hitting snowballs or possibly movement speed quints. I will leave it up to you to choose runes you are comfortable with, but assuming the other team has a jungler that you will be countering, I will explain these rune choices. Overall, Nunu is fairly rune independent.
1 Greater Mark of Desolation combined with 3 Greater Quintessence of Desolation provides 12 armor pen, enough to deal true damage to the jungle creep camps early game. This helps speed up your counter jungling thus reducing the amount of time you spend in hostile territory.
8 Greater Mark of Attack Speed provides an attack speed boost to help proc Visionary more quickly in the jungle and lane (if you end up laning or when you cover lanes). Again, these reds are up for debate and I'd love to hear some suggestions.
9 Greater Seal of Armor is pretty standard for any hero who intends to go into the jungle at level 1. This will allow you to stay at higher health, though because Nunu's consume keeps him healthy, you could use alternatives here as well.
9 Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist helps negate late game burst heroes who will want to shut you down due to the amazing buff you provide your carries and perma slow you use on their carry. Alternatively, consider Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction or Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction.
As roaming Nunu, I find that Flash and Clairvoyance meet my needs quite well. If you can convince another support to bring CV, by all means go for it.
- Nunu has a built in ghost with Blood Boil, but flash is somewhat invaluable. Early game it will allow you to gank easier, flash to land a clutch Ice Blast, or keep pace when the enemy uses their flash. It will also help you hop walls in the jungle if the enemy wards and comes after you. Between flash and Blood Boil, you should have no trouble escaping early game. Late game it allows you to set up your ulti or surprise initiate over a wall. Fairly versatile for Nunu.
- Because Nunu is not full jungling (you likely have a jungler) you do not need smite. However, much of your job as Nunu is to provide vision for your team. This will mostly be done through purchasing wards (I buy anywhere from 10 to 30 wards in a 30-45 minute game. I am typically the primary ward purchaser, but we will discuss this later), but CV is helpful for gaining vision of places you do not ward and early game before you have an extensive set-up of wards. CV helps you protect your jungler at lvl 1 and gain vision of the enemy to pick your counter jungling strategy (see below).
Other potential spells:
- You do not need smite, as you will not be full jungling in their jungle and your consume will serve you fine. However, if you want to be more annoying to the enemy jungler, I guess you could bring smite. Be warned that this will warrant suspicion and possibly give away your plan when the opponent sees two smites on the loading screen.
- Ignite could be used, but as a tank/support I'd warn against kill stealing. Ignite would be helpful if you come to gank and can't quite finish them off in time (though this should be rare with ice blast and blood boil).
- Some people love this spell. While you already have great mobility, this would be the icing on the cake I guess. I do not recommend it, but I will not tell you not to take it either.
Do not use:
- You have a built in ghost that also buffs your teammates.
- You have ice blast. Unless you're playing ranked and the opponents are Tryndamere, Xin, Twitch, Ashe, and Tristana, do not bring this spell.
- You heal enough with consume.
- Not the best spell at the moment.
- You're not jungle Eve. You shouldn't need this, and the 9 minute cooldown blows.
- By the time you've had to use this, it means someone already ruined your ulti.
Masteries are a fairly straightforward 0/9/21, though I opt for 3 points in Strength of Spirit over dodge. 21 Utility gives Nunu some mana regen for when he's not autoattacking, movement speed to stack with Blood Boil and travel quicker, shortened cooldowns on Flash and CV, and the ever-important extra experience you will likely need as a roamer. The defensive points provide extra early game tankiness with 6 armor and magic resist, as well as provide strength of spirit. If you find strength of spirit redundant with Consume, by all means grab the dodge talent or consider going 9 offense. Because I build Nunu as a late game tank/support, I typically do not go after Archaic Knowledge . If you want it, get it.
My skill sequence is very similar to Melarith's, except I grab Ice Blast at level 3 so that I can roam more effectively. I still grab the second rank of Consume because it's flippin' awesome, but I usually do so at level 4, then I proceed to max Ice Blast first. Consider maxing Blood Boil first if you have some fed carry who will benefit from it. Think: Udyr, Ashe, Xin Zhao, etc.
Alternative Skill Sequence
For those who think level 3 or 4 is too late to start roaming, consider getting Ice Blast at level 2. You lose a ton of mobility, but may be able to pull off an early mid lane gank. I find myself doing this when I am blue team instead of purple. Because I am top protecting/helping my jungler and eating their golems/wraiths, I have to cross mid to get to bottom (where I head if my bot is struggling 1v2). With Ice Blast, I can try to gank mid or even solo top.
Basically, be fluid with your skill sequence. If you think you can gank a lane/force a summoner spell use, then grab ice blast. I always aim to have 2 ranks of Consume, 1 rank of Blood Boil, and 1 rank of Ice Blast by level 4.
Nunu is not very item dependent to play as a tank. At level one I grab Boots of Speed, 1 Health Potion, and 1 sight ward. As the game progresses, I typically go one of two routes: Rush Banshee's Veil or build 1-2 Heart of Gold. If the enemy team is beyond heavy in cc and I cannot channel my ulti for at least 1 second, I may rush BV. Otherwise, I will buy 1-2 HoG before BV. The HoG helps a lot because as a roamer/ganker/counter jungler, your income is not steady. You may rack up some last hits if you cover lanes frequently, but in an ideal situation you'd only cover lanes because you just ganked and your carry can now afford his/her B. F. Sword :-)
By the end of early game, I typically have boots 1, BV, and possibly a HoG or two. I usually do not upgrade boots early because Blood Boil makes me fast enough, but if you really need the cc reduc or CD reduc, get Mercury's Treads or Ionian Boots of Lucidity, respectively.
Mid game you need to start building to counter the enemies. I find that I usually buy a Sunfire Cape after BV to add some hp and armor, but do what you feel is necessary. Spirit Visage may be a good choice with its health, CDR, MR, and improved healing from Consume, though I have not really experimented with it. Remember you are a tank, and typically the primary or secondary initiator for your team. This is not an AP Nunu guide.
Now to contradict my previous statement, I love Abyssal Scepter on Nunu. It is a great second magic resist item to grab after BV in that it provides you with AP, MR, and a -MR aura for the enemy. You will be in the front lines, so this aura works well on you. Additionally, Randuin's Omen is a great item for Nunu. It can be used before Absolute Zero for multiplicative slowing, or after to keep the party rolling! If you are not a big fan of Randuin's Omen, consider grabbing a Frozen Heart instead.
If you are adequately tanky and you feel the need for some added AP late in the game, feel free to grab Rabadon's Deathcap. I won't yell at you. Promise.
Alternatively, you could also build late game support items. Estele has recommended Shurelya's Reverie. I have not tested this item, but it seems like a cool idea. While you can Blood Boil your carry and gain the results yourself, you can also pop Shurelya's and give your entire team a speed boost. Also, consider Soul Shroud as another potential tanky support aura item.
As with all tank guides/builds, YOUR ITEMS WILL CHANGE BASED ON THE ENEMY. Please do not downvote me for the items; you should only downvote yourself IRL for gearing poorly in a game where YOU make the decisions.
Also note that you will need to adjust your role based on your team's composition. With some teams, you may need to go full tank to absorb as much damage as possible; with other teams you may need to grab support/aura items because no one else is buying them; on some occasions you may even need to build AP/off-tank and grab a few more AP items ( Zhonya's Hourglass, Rod of Ages, Abyssal Scepter, etc.) to beef up your team's DPS.
This warrants its own chapter. Like I said above, Nunu is not very item dependent. Many games I end with just boots 1 or 2, Banshees Veil, and a Sunfire Cloak. If you need to be tankier, then do it! Otherwise, a large chunk of your income goes to sight wards. In a typical game, I buy 15-30 wards before the 45 minute mark. My early game and mid game trips back to the base look like this:
"Do I have enough gold for full Banshee's Veil? No. Buy Negatron. 500g left over? 5 wards."
Yes, this will delay some of your items. Yes, you do not farm creeps often. But yes, this will help you win games. With your mobility and escape ability, planting wards wherever you want is easy. I highly recommend dragon, baron, and their buff camps.
This guide provides a great in-depth look at wards
If you notice that the enemy has wards in their inventory, or they magically know you are approaching their lane, then buy an Oracle's Elixir. Oracles will help limit their map vision, pay for itself within a handful of ward kills, and is best fitted for a roamer such as Nunu because you are constantly moving around and warding the same places they plan to ward. Bonus points if they have an Evelynn, Twitch, Shaco, Akali, or Vayne. Try ganking level 6 Vayne without oracles. Headaches will ensue.
The game has started... wtf do I do?
Clairvoyance their base, duh!
Just kidding. At level one, go to golem to protect your jungler with the rest of your team (I can't stress that enough; I hate when my jungler is ganked because noone protected). Use CV once it comes off cooldown to ensure they are not sneaking up on you, then on the next CD you can use CV to scout their jungler. At 1:55, have mid leash the golem. Instantly consume it one time for your jungler, then run away. This will speed up their jungling and save them health, as consume is stronger than smite at level 1. Do not hang around to leech xp. Do not kill a creep. DO NOT STEAL GOLEM.
At this point, you will do one of a few things, based on their team. Ask yourself:
Do they have a jungler? Did he start at blue buff? Double golem camp? Wraiths?
This section is heavily influence from Melarith's pro-guide, but I have adapted some of the routes based on the fact that we have no buff to kill at level 1, giving us more freedom to eat their jungle, literally.
Opponent started at blue buff
Easy mode. After consuming your golem for your jungler, run into their jungle. Consume and auto attack one of their double golems. When it dies run away. Move up to the wraiths and Consume the blue one. Again, run away (or if your feeling extra bold, pop your hp pot and attack the little ghosts. You ding level 2 after 1 ghost, so put a point in Blood Boil and finish off 1 more. I'd leave one to delay the respawn timer and piss off your opponent). At this point, I typically go and finish the other double golem with Consume and two auto attacks, but you're welcome to leave it up to delay its respawn. Drop a ward at lizard and gtfo their jungle. An angry jungler is about to appear. You may want to exit toward the side lane, not toward mid lane because they will approach from the mid after they kill wolves. Keep an eye on their lizard and ask your mid to help you gank if you feel it necessary when they begin it. I typically go lane until level 3 after this.
Double golem start
You cannot do as much damage to this jungler, though you can steal his blue wraith after you leave your jungler to kill your blue buff. After stealing a wraith, consider warding their golem, then go to a lane to level to 3. Keep an eye on their golem and ask your mid/side lane to help you gank if you feel it necessary when they begin it
Wraith camp start
I have very little experience countering this route and thus have no solid contingency plan. Consider stealing a double golem, or trying to steal their blue. Note that stealing their blue is extremely risky.
I'll put in a plug here for another Nunu guide: pjake's guide has info on countering specific opponents in the jungle.
No opponent jungler? Great....
You may think that if the opponent has no jungler, you're worthless. That's not true! Have some self esteem!
On the rare (and noobish) occasion that the other team has no jungler, you can still take xp from their jungle. I still start by helping my ally get blue, but not leeching xp, then I run into their jungle. I consume and auto attack 1 double golem, then run away. I eat the blue wraith and auto attack the rest, dinging level 2. I then finish the other golem. If they have a mid who will get lizard earlyish (grrrr master yi), I may ward lizard at this point. Now I typically go to the closest lane and lane til level 3. I know, it's lame. After 3 I continue to roam, set up ganks with my jungler, consume their jungle creeps, and try to piss them off any way possible. Alternatively, you could try to gank an overaggressive mid at level 2 or 3 with snowball, but good players will not likely over-push with 2 heroes missing.
If you have followed my advice thus far, you are poor from buying wards, but notice on your mini map that their lone oom Anivia just started blue buff. Mmmmm, feed. If you have not followed my advice, shame on you. Enjoy your earlier BV.
When your wards show someone doing a buff camp, try to rally any nearby teammate to help you gank it. You can gank alone typically, but the more the merrier (especially if their team shows up). Your jungle is a great option to come help if they are in the area.
Alternatively, you and your jungler may want to sneak in to steal their golem or lizard. If you do this, make sure you have at least one ward giving you vision of the route they will take to gank you. They may have warded their jungle. Luckily, Consume and your jungler's Smite make quick work of any buff monster and dragon. Work out who will take the buff before you start.
Guess what? You have two heroes missing at all point of early game (you and your jungler), so you make a perfect gank squad. Ganks often go like this:
With your jungler
Wait in brush with your jungler. When the opponent over extends or the laner initiates, Blood Boil your jungler, run in, and Ice Blast the opponent. That usually is all it takes. Ice Blast again when it comes off cooldown.
Without your jungler
Same exact plan, except Blood Boil your laner. Do not ever bloodboil yourself if there is an ally around. You get the bonus no matter what.
At this time, I will put in a plug. Udyr is my favorite jungler to gank with all time. Blood Boil plus Bear Stance and Tiger Stance or Phoenix Stance is beyond awesome.
The Art of Roaming
By the time level 3 rolls around, you've likely helped your jungler get a head start, countered their jungler, warded a place or two, and maybe even have an assist (who knows!). At this point, if not earlier, roaming will begin.
GreenTemplar's roaming Ali guide provides superb guidance on how to roam.
Here is a summary of a roamer's priorities, modified from GreenTemplar's guide:
1. A lane or your jungler is being ganked. Do not let this happen if you can help it.
2. A lane is being zoned. Keep in mind this may happen with 3 solo lanes. Be ready to help.
3. A tower is being pushed/a lane is over extended. Gank that ****!
4. A laner needs to recall. Helps them out and gives you some laning time to get xp and last hits.
5. A lane has been killed and your team is pushing the tower. Blood Boil is invaluable here, especially if stacked with Warwick's Hunters Call, Jarvan's Demacian Standard, Sivir's On The Hunt, or Master Yi's Highlander Wuju Style combo.
Clashing and working with teammates
Once the laning phase ends, your role changes significantly. You go from a ganker to your team's main/off tank (ideally offtank) and support. You provide great support with Blood Boil and can babysit effectively with Ice Blast. Consume makes you a decent baiter and helps with kiting if you've over extended. Remember that you can act as an initiator, but make sure you get it right. People love to laugh at a Nunu with a fail ulti. Do you want to be laughed at?
Based on their team and your team, you will likely:
1) Always keep your highest damage carry blood boiled. However, feel free to use it to give a mage or support some extra movement speed to survive a gank/focus fire. If you can prevent a death, do it!
2) Ice Blast your team's focus target (read: their support or carry) at the beginning of the clash
Ice Blast the first thing to come at your carry. Babysit your carry and they will carry you.
3) Catch people in your ulti at inopportune times. And now...
...a word on your ultimate
Nunu's ultimate, Absolute Zero is an incredibly powerful tool. However, most people do not realize that the damage it can potentially do is not what makes it good. Nunu's ult slows everyone in its radius and often causes a panic from the other team. They will either a) try to run [while slowed] or b) blow cooldowns and cc trying to stop you. Both of these scenarios are ideal. If they run while slowed, your team focuses them and you can detonate early for moderate damage. If they focus you, congratulations! You just tanked the other team. Banshee's Veil will force them to use at least 2 cc spells on you, but it is likely that they will accidentally use more. Every cooldown and cc used on you is one less to be used on your carry and teammates.
Now, for those out there who still drool over the 1k+ damage this ulti technically could do, I want to tell you a secret:
A GOOD TEAM WILL RARELY STAND IN YOUR ULTI AND LET IT GO FOR FULL DURATION. BUT THIS IS OKAY, BECAUSE YOU SLOWED THEM AND THEY WASTED CC.
If, by luck or miracle, you land your full duration ultimate...
Good for you!
In conclusion, Nunu makes a great roamer. He counter jungles and ganks extremely well early game, plus he has insane mobility with a boots start and Blood Boil. He can keep their jungler down, make his jungler faster (both physically and in terms of jungle times), scare the pants off of the opposing mid hero, and provide 3 solo lanes worth of xp for your team.
I want to give credit once more to Melarith and GreenTemplar for their guides and inspiration. I welcome comments/feedback from either of you if you read this guide, and apologize if my guide is very similar to either of yours. Also, thanks to Panglot for the warding guide I link to.
I will attempt to keep this guide up to date as much as possible.
I welcome any and all feedback. I'd appreciate if you try my guide before voting; it may work beautifully or fail utterly. I specifically want feedback on the game play, but also would like feedback on my layout, visual arrangement, and other stylistic aspects as this is my first guide. Please do not -1 me if you do not like the layout of this guide or my sense of humor.
Thanks, and enjoy!
5/19/11 - Removed Spirit Visage from the item build at the top, but still mention it with an explanation in the item section. Added Estele's recommendation of a Shurelya's Reverie.
5/20/11 - Added section on Oracle's Elixir.
5/29/11 - Updated Alternative Skill Sequence section.
6/12/11 - Updated item section and added Frozen Heart to possible items to grab. Also linked to pjake's Nunu guide to show specific champion counter jungling strategies.