Nunu Build Guide by CyanicAcid
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.
Hi all. I've found that Nunu has a lot of damage potential and carry potential that has led him to be my main. The reason you don't see it often is because it requires a big shift in roles from early to mid/late game. This is a guide of more how to play a carry Nunu than just the build so PLEASE READ IT ALL. Because it's an unusual playing style it works a lot better with a premade team than with matched opponents so it's most useful in a ranked game. If you do this in a premade team, you'll find that it can devastate an enemy team as badly as a fed Annie.
I run flat magic penetration marks, flat ap glyphs, and flat mana regeneration quintessences and seals. The marks and glyphs are standard to many APs but the mana regeneration runes are not. I use these because Nunu consumes mana like the monster he is. These runes give him incredible sustainability and none of that "just enough mana for an iceball" moments. I have held a lane for over 20 minutes without going back once with these runes.
Most AP champions will have 9-0-21 but I use 10-0-20 in order to get that extra offensive mastery on the ignite buff. It makes up for the lack of bonus AP in my rune page. I don't need the summoner spell cooldown from the utility branch because Nunu doesn't rely on his summoner spells as an integral part of his combo (although they do usually help get your first kill).
Items and other build choices
Like all tanks and offtanks, Nunu's build is purely conditional. The one that I have listed above is the build for balanced sustainability and damage. The only thing that is always the same in ANY good Nunu build is Doran's Ring to a catalyst to boots to a Rod of Ages. The boots are usually Sorcerer's shoes for me but if you see one of your lanes feeding a carry, feel free to get Merc Treads as a countermeasure.
NOTE: Only play all AP nunu if you have a real hardcore tank on your team like Amumu or Rammus. A team without a tank is doomed to fail. An all AP Nunu build usually looks like ring --> catalyst --> sorcerer's shoes --> Rod of Ages --> Deathcap --> Void Staff --> Abysal Scepter --> Archangel's Staff. The few times my team has been tanky enough to build this, it gives you an ultimate with more power than a fed Malzahar's full combo. (BTW, you will still get over 3000 HP with the Rod of Ages alone).
Building off-tank is the most common build for me. This is what you build when your team has only one hardcore tank or one off-tank and you guys need that extra initiator. It usually looks like the sample build above, but if they are all ad, feel free to get the frozen heart as your first survival item and the sunfire later instead of the banshee's veil. Against an all AP team, you may want to get a Force of Nature or an Abyssal Scepter instead of the frozen heart. I still usually use Sorcerer's shoes on this build but feel free to use merc treads against that fed Veigar.
You only need to build full tank if your team has no kinda tank whatsoever. Yes, doing damage is fun, but your team has 3 or 4 other people that can do that for you. A tank build still has the Rod of Ages but usually always has Merc Treads and will get banshees --> frozen heart --> sunfire cape --> force of Nature. I'll usually get banshee's after the Rod but these are just the items I usually use against a balanced team. Order it however you need to counter them. Against all AD you can add a thornmail and Guardian's Angel in there. Against all AP I'll usually add in an Abyssal Scepter and a Rylai's Crystal Scepter in exchange for the AD items. I add the Rylai's because most AP's only have one cycle of nuke and kinda need to get you in that one cycle so extra HP helps more against them than ADs.
If you're playing Nunu properly, you should always be dominating your lane so don't take it as an indicator of how the game is going. You should be building your first post-Rod of Ages item around the same time laning ends so check scores and towers to see how well the other enemies are doing and decide which build to use that way.
My Nunu skill sequence is pretty standard. Max Iceball first for the damage, and bloodboil second to give your team that boost. Put one point in consume to help your sustainability. It gives you a lot of HP at even lvl 1 because the HP given scales with AP.
Ignite and flash. I like to use ignite because it combos well with the mastery for it and helps a lot on your first kill. I usually use both flash and ignite to get that first kill (which I will explain later).
Other Viable Spells
Teleport: Nunu can hold towers well against champs (minion waves less so) so Teleport is good for that and also to get to a team fight quickly.
Clairvoyance: Your primary role is still support/tank so feel free to carry the spell for it :D
Clarity: You will never need to run this if you use my suggested runes but if you don't get the mana regeneration, then clarity will help bunches.
YOU NEVER NEED TO USE THESE
Heal: Your consume is a built-in heal. You should be almost spamming it so you're never low enough to need the summoner spell
Ghost: With Blood Boil and Iceball combined, you should have no problem both chasing down and running away from enemy champs. Ghost isn't really necessary.
Exhaust: Your Iceball slows more than exhaust does and the attack speed reduction about makes up for the damage reduction that exhaust gives. You don't really need it.
How to lane/zone (early game)
Thia is the really important part for Nunu and why you should be doing this in a premade team. This is not a jungle Nunu guide but a guide for Nunu on solo top or solo mid. He shouldn't be in a duo lane because it squanders the point of laning. Even if you get your team to agree to let you solo mid or top, some one will probably flame about it all game if they start sucking so only play this way when your team knows you're going to and knows that it rocks.
The reason that I like to lane with Nunu is he is one of the best zoners in the game. Here is how to zone out an enemy champion and deprive him of at least 2 lvls of exp: When laning starts he will try to get close to you to deal damage. LET HIM. Land an iceball when he does because they will do about the same damage. If the enemy champ is AP and tries to get away after that, just wait until they come again. If they are ad and try to get more auto-attack hits in, backoff until the iceball is off cooldown. Do this however many times the enemy wants to (as long as your iceball is off cooldown). When you get to lvl 2, start consuming your hp back. Few laning champs have similar abilities to restore hp. Around lvl 4, your iceball should be doing more damage than they are and your hp should be noticeably higher because of consume. They will also realize this and stop coming in for pokes. When that happens, get closer to them and poke then back off and repeat when cooldown is done. At lvl 5 or 7, their hp pots should be done and they will be so afraid of that iceball damage that they won't get close to you. At this point, just last hit the minions and hang around the back. The enemy champ will be zoned out. If they aren't that's because they were stupid and one of those iceballs got them XD
Remember, you can't take on most champs in a full engagement. The reason they are zoned is because the slow on your iceball lets you hit them then run back without taking damage and repeating this multiple times until they are low. This also works the same way if you are solo top unless you are 1v2. Then just play defensively and only try to minion farm at the tower.
Here is how you get your first kill: They are usually zoned out that you couldn't get an iceball in even if you tried (and towerdiving with nunu is never a good idea). The way it works is that when their creep wave is pushing a little more so the enemy champ's "zone" is outside his tower range, you want to flash onto him and ignite + iceball before he has time to flash away. If the enemy champ hasn't gone back yet, it's because their hp is too high for a single iceball to kill, but ignite + an iceball with your AP buffed from the mastery will usually do it. Do not do this if their hp is too high to get with that combo or if you're going to flash onto their tower's range. If their hp is too high, try and get another iceball in to lower it. (Naturally, don't do this combo to Annivia if she still has her egg)
When they come back, you can repeat the process again to zone them out but you can usually get another kill or two without the flash + ignite + iceball combo this time. You keep up harrasing until their hp is about half and then allow them to fully engage. When you got the last kill, you should have gone back to get a catalyst so your hp will be too high for them to get in one burst. They probably also flashed when you got that first kill so you know it's on cooldown. (If they did not, don't try this). After they've fully engaged, iceball --> ult --> iceball and they will be dead. Make sure that their flash and cc is burned. (for example, against an Ashe, make sure she used her ult already). If they enemy champ has a blink like Ezreal, don't try this and just zone them out. Your ult is valuable and you don't want to waste it.
What makes a laning Nunu so valuable is that he can zone out and shut down that carry that no one wants to deal with. I have zoned out Ryze, Annie, Brand, Annivia, Ezreal, Ashe, Caitlynn (<--takes some practice), Lux, Vayne, and Leblanc with Nunu in the way described above.
When laning ends, you transform into the more traditional support/tank role that nunu usually plays. Just this time, their carry is shut down and you are fed. Nunu is very tanky with just a Rod of Ages so feel free to act as an initiator.
Two important things to remember about Nunu is that the slow on his iceball is longer than the ability's cooldown and that the buff on his bloodboil is longer than the ability's cooldown. This means that Nunu can have himself and your DPS in a permanent movement/attack speed buff and have the enemy DPS permanently slowed with his attack speed permanently decreased. The slow on your iceball often acts as a signal for who the team to focus when you initiate so make sure you get the carry you guys want to kill. Also, make sure that you are igniting whoever has lots of heals like Mundo or Vlad. At the end of laning, you are not getting kills, but setting them up for your team.
Your ult is very difficult to use after laning. This is the only aspect of Nunu that requires lots of practice even after reading this guide. You need to learn how to watch enemy CC to make sure it's all used up for your ult. It doesn't matter if the teamfight is almost over and your carries have started running, if that singed hasn't flipped anyone yet, don't dare ult because it will be a waste. There is only one exception to this rule: your ult is an AOE slow so if you need to get an AOE slow out to save a teammate(s) get in the middle of the enemy team, ult and pop it instantly and run. That slow will just about do the trick.
Best Allies/Worst Enemies
Your best allies are the ones that set up your ultimate for you. Amumu, Galio, Gangplank, Blitzcrank, Cho'Gath, and Ashe are all some of the best allies that you can have. Two that I have excluded from this list that people often question me about are Leona and Fiddlesticks. Fiddles isn't one of the "best" allies because his ult does damage and does not CC. He'll only be able to fear one person and fiddle will probably get that kill before your ult pops anyway. Leona's ult is aoe but it's got a smaller range than most aoe ults and won't get too many of the enemy team and her other abilities only focus one champion.
You only have two enemies that you want to avoid. The first is Miss Fortune. Her AOE slow allows her to do the same thing you want to do in laning: she hits you, slows you, and hits you while you're trying to run. She will end up doing more damage over the long run making it difficult to hit her. She won't "outlane you" but you won't be zoning her let alone getting kills.
The other is Mordekaiser. IF YOU SEE HIM SWITCH LANES IMMEDIATELY. NO POINT IN TRYING TO COUNTER THAT. He will always have his shield up because he is mordekaiser and it will always absorb the iceball's damage making it impossible for you to poke. He will almost certainly end up zoning you out. Mordekaiser is the only champion tailor made to counter Nunu.
Pros: You can completely shut down enemy carries
You get fed early game
You can build almost any way to counter the enemy team
You are tanky no matter how you build him
You are about all the CC a team ever needs
You're riding a frickin Yeti
Cons: See Mordekaiser --> facepalm
A powerful jungler that's in the lane instead (if you guys need a jungle and you can jungle nunu, feel free to do so; this is another reason it's better to play this way in premade)
If you don't get my suggested mana regeneration runes, mana on nunu is a problem early game
NOTE: BEWARE WHEN PLAYING THIS GUIDE WITH MATCHED TEAMMATES
I know I've said this a lot, but playing a solo mid Nunu in a randomly matched team is almost asking for them to flame at you if they're not doing well. When you play with premade, they know what you're capable of, they know how to play (or what are you doing in a premade with them? :P), and they have another off tank and jungle on the team to complement you because you guys discuss your composition instead of just hoping it works.