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Friendly Jungler Nunusiance
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Before we get to the finer nunuances I’d like to take a moment to explain why I love Nunu. Champion lore and character is very important to me. I’m a sucker for a ”a boy and his beast friend” story. Calvin and hobbes, how to train your dragon, where the wild things are, old yeller, never ending story, these are my childhood. Side note, if Willump dies in the end I’m going straight to RIOT HQ to…. Ask for a hug.
The other main thing I love about nunu is he is easy to play. His jungle clear is super easy and he has Absolute Zero (ha!) mechanics. This allows you to focus more on your macro play and gives you countless jungle route and counterplay options. Let me be clear that this does not mean nunu is a ”no skill” champ, Nunu’s skill comes from his macro play and decision making, and even champs without skill shots still need to be able to juke, and position correctly.
Disclaimer: I rarely play ranked and am currently silver scrub. This guide is about how I have most fun on nunu not about hard climbing freelo, with that out of the way, Here we go!
The runes Run on nunu are 3x Ability Power Quints, 9x Armor Seals, 9x Ability Power Glyphs, 8X AS Marks, and 1x Crit Mark (just for gits and shiggles).
Why not magic pen reds? They do diddly squat for you in the jungle and the AS helps both with your clear and your sustain.
CDR blues? Almost all the items I like on nunu have cdr, just in general after the last mage item update the value of cdr glyphs has dropped off a lot IMO
I run a 6 6 18 mastery set up with Strength of Ages Keystone
The main note worthy things here are going Fury over Sorcery in Ferocity tree and Runic Affinity in Cunning. The reason I prefer attack speed over ap is it gives me the option to start Hunter's Machete over Hunter's Talisman.
I encourage you to try and give as many buffs after first clear to your laners but you still run runic Affinity because it also applies to the passive buffs Nunu gets from Consume on jungle camps.
Starting items/First Back
On most junglers it's usually pretty standard whether you start Hunter's Talisman or Hunter's Machete. On Nunu it depends, if I plan on starting red buff I go Hunter's Talisman or else you might find yourself running low on mana towards the latter half of your clear, but if I start blue side I actually prefer Hunter's Machete start. You'll note I run Fury instead of Sorcery in the Ferocity mastery tree, this is to help both Nunu's clear and sustain. The extra dmg also helps clear the smaller jungle creeps a lot faster so you take less damage. Either is fine, but i prefer machete as most games you probably want to start blue side anyways.
you want to make your fist back when you have around 1100g so you can upgrade your jungle item to trackers, buy boots, and pick up a pink. In games where there is a lot of gank potential I swap to Sweeping Lens Trinket as soon as I upgrade to trackers, but most games I wait until I am level 9 to get upgraded Oracle Alteration. Having a extra ward that recharges without having to back is nice, since some games there is a long time between first and second back.
You'll want to finish cinderhulk first as the bonus hp Nunu gets from consuming jungle creeps synergizes very well with the cinderhulk + %15 bonus hp.
The Classic Tank
This is my main "tryhard" Nunu build that I use when I am going maximum effort. The other builds in this guide are slightly more fun to play, but this is ultimately what is best for the team. It's a pure tank build that focuses on utility, CDR and HP. If you are facing a comp that has stacked one type of damage you can swap out the Righteous Glory or Warmog's Armor with an appropriate tank item (eg if the enemy comp has a lot of ap swap out Warmog's Armor for Locket of the Iron Solari). If the enemy team has a Yasuo and other crit heavy champions Randuins Omen is better than Righteous Glory, it might just be better in general but I personally prefer righteous glory because of the catalyst eternity passive is SO good on Nunu. Boots are also not set in stone, if the enemy team has a lot of cc Mercury Treads are probably better than Boots of Swiftness.
Start by upgrading your jungle item into trackers and tier 1 boots so you can start providing vision for your team, I usually hold off on swapping to the red trinket until I've hit lvl 9, you'll usually finish your tracker before your supp has sightstone so having the extra trinket ward is nice.
After you finish building Cinderhulk start building either Frozen Heart, or Spirit Visage depending on enemy damage. I Usually build Warmog's Armor last, and by "usually" I mean "almost never" because it's rare games go that long.
This is the build I use when I just want to f around and play for fun. It sacrifices a lot of tanks stats from the main build for a bit of ap and a lot of fun actives. One of the unintentional but enjoyable side effects of this build is that it makes Nunu into a split pusher, without even having to be in the lane. Top laner keep freezing when he should be pushing? Well then this is the build for you! Just drop down the the rot and buff a canon with banner and watch as your top laner tries to out last hit you while you are on the other side of the map!
Seriously though, being able to suddenly turbo push a lane with those 2 actives can be invaluable when setting up for neutral objectives. You can force the enemy to chose between contesting the objective or losing a tower. All about that macro baby.
The reason this isnt my main build is because it's not very friendly. You are less of a tank for your team and the banner/rot voidlings might trigger your laners.
Oh Ap Nunu, played about 10% of the time but makes up 90% of the montages. This build is basically my attempt to make AP Nunu viable, you get enough ap to burst squishies while still having enough tank stats that your short range isnt as much of a liability. This build works good with comps where you have tank top and a tanky supp who likes to engage (leona looking at you), you act as peel for your carry instead of a front line.
With this build I usually go Aether Wisp on first back instead of upgrading to trackers and look for early gank.
Secondly I'm all about helping my laners help themselves, setting them up for success so that we can carry each other. Hence the "Friendly" in the title, as for the "Nunusiance" well, thats a good segway into way of the yeti #1...
1. ARE YOU GONNA EAT THAT??
"the point of nunu is trying to make the enemy jungler more useless than you are"
-TSM General/Bunu god Oddone
This is probably what nunu is most infamous for, the dreaded nunu counter jungle. Such is the power of the nunu counter jungling that it even triggers casters!
The main objective of this playstyle is to tilt the enemy jungler off the planet. Start by taking a camp on the same side as enemy jungler (usually bot), after you hit 2 take a point in E and make a b-line for the enemy blue/red, if you scouted early game correctly you should already have a ward there that you placed around 1:15. Dont get to over zealous, let them get the buff into consume range and just walk up and eat it. If they are low you can maybe go for kill but be mindful of the minimap and if the the laners are collapsing, youre mission is already accomplished so you can get out of dodge. From there youre pretty much already set, loop around and try to find them at their other buff and use the nifty to minimap timers to ward and contest the next spawn.
The downside to this strat (as the Oddone implies) is that following the enemy jungler around isnt exactly the most optimal farm route and you will see yourself fall behind all the other lanes. A nunu gank is already pretty weak, a nunu gank when youre 3 levels behind the solo laner you are trying to gank is laughable. So the question then becomes in which scenarios is this trade off wurf.
Their are 2 scenarios in which I consider going for this strat, one is if I am playing against an off meta jungler, some poor soul who thought "oh man if I can get this champ through the first clear It would be S tier" NOT ON MY WATCH. The other scenario is if the enemy jungler one of the "cant gank before 6" junglers. I'm talking about your WW's your Dianas your Sejuanis and your Nocturns. These guys just love hard farming to 6 ASAP and then showing up bot lane when your bot laners are still level 5 and bodying your supp/adc. Your supp and your adc are your friends! your not gonna let that spooky ghost body your friends are you?- no of course not.
When is this not wurf? When you are playing against junglers that have strong early gank pressure this strat can really back fire. I'm talking about your Zacs, your lee sins, nidas, eves and so forth. These guys usually have a pretty fast clear and can manage to out farm you even when you invade, whats more is if you take their camps sometimes they opt just to go camp a lane, and your laners LOVE that. In these cases I would opt more for counter gank strat rather coutner jung but more on that later...
2. WE PVE NOW BOYS
The max consume, drake stacking, what are "laners"? style. This is the style you go for when none of the lanes have gank potential and invading is to risky. OR if you've just had enough of fighting and laners and just wanna chill and nom some jungle delicacies. Which brings us to the early drake.
1] Start Gromp and Use smite, the smite buff from gromp and krugs helps with the rest of the clear and is the most value on early smites. Put 1 point in E after gromp !IMPORTANT remember to look at mini map if you didnt place early deep wards to make sure you know where enemy jungler starts
2] From Gromp go to Blue, if you absolutely have to use 1 of your 3 pots. Remember you can always nom one of the baby wolfs on the way to raptors after blue to get HP back.
3] At this point you should have your smite back up, I take out the little drumsticks before moving on to mammabird. The reason I smite here is for peace of mind when going for drake. Information is key, and knowing whether you got spotted by a ward on your way to drake is the difference between a good call and a bad call, the higher you climb the wiser other players are to the Nunu early drake. Put second point in Q after raptors.
4] Now you move on to Red, remember to kite it a bit between AAs. Dont worry if you get a bit low, you'll be doing scuttles before drake so you will get health back there.
5] As mentioned pick up scuttles first and ward near enemy entrances to bot river while doing so. This will give you full health before starting drake plus a 10HP (!) from strength of ages mastery. It will be close but you should be able to grab it.
1] Same principle as blue side, start top Smite krugs. Keep an eye on minimap to see which lane shows up a little late so you are sure enemy jungler started bot.
2] Go directly to red because you will be saving smite for Raptors so you are sure no one is watching you do drake. A lot of lesser junglers would go Raptors then red and smite for hp back, but you're a nunu. Use 1 pot if needed. !IMPORTANT remember to proc your passive before each time you use E, or else you will run out of mana by time you get to blue
3] You're smite should be up by now as mentioned I prefer smiting raptors because information is key.
4] Just like blue side feel free to nom a little wolfie on your way to the next buff, dont panic and pop a pot while doing blue, remember you will get your Hp back from scuttles.
5] Clear scuttle crab and do a quick sweep of the pit to check if raptor buff procs, if not your good to go! remember to pop your pots early while doing drake and keep a close eye on mid and bot on mini map.
Securing early drake will give you the potential to start stacking for those juicy buffs, if you manage to do this all the way to elder it's gg. Of course this is not without it's risks and drawbacks.
The first is going for an early drake takes time and will put you behind the enemy jungler tempo wise, you're nunu so you can catch up but this means you might see a lot of this in chat "report nunu 0 ganks." Another risks is there is no guarantee your bot and mid lane will go even, if they lose lane early securing the follow up drakes becomes all but impossible. Basically the main problem with this start is it usually only works in games that you would have been winning or at least going even anyways, and IMO there are better strats to get the most out of what Nunu has to offer.
3. SECOND SUPPORT BEST FRIEND! Help your laners help themselves
This is my favorite way to Nunu. It's a bit of a combination of the other 2 nunu playstyles plus an added focus on counter ganking. As mentioned I like to make informed decisions, so the very first thing I try to establish is which side the enemy jungler will be starting on.
At lower elo (my elo) 90% of the time junglers start bot for the better leash. You can find out for sure either by carefully invading early and dropping a ward or by looking at the minimap while doing your first camp to see which lane shows up late. Once you know for sure you can decide if you want to cheese or if you want to mirror their path and be in position to ward the right lanes for potential counter ganks.
So how do you know which is the right choice? This is something that mostly comes with experience and knowing the match ups. Try to put yourself in the head of the enemy jungler. Do they have a fast (olaf) or a slow (rammus) first clear? do they have good (ww) or bad sustain (sej)? are they going to be looking to gank pre 6 (lee) or first when they have thier ult (nocturn)? These are all questions you need to ask yourself to make an informed decision.
Try to track what you think the enemy junglers pathing is on the the mini map and ward/take scuttle near lanes that you think will be most open to ganks. When you have enough for trackers knife boots and a pink ward you should make your first back. I like to hold on to the yellow trinket until i hit level 9 before swapping it out for sweepers lens.
Example of Optimal Scenario
One of your laners is doing really well and their opponent is probably pinging enemy jungler for help. If you have been keeping correct track of enemy jungler you should know the most likely gank paths they will take, ward them and stay close that lane. When the enemy Jungler shows up to gank, you make your move, if all goes well you'll turn a 0 for 1 into a 2 for 0. How to snowball a laner harder than giving them 1 kill? give them 2! Double Snowball!
The reason you want to go for this play in a lane that is ahead is that you want to make sure you can win the 2v2.
[*] Try to give as many buffs as you can spare to your mid lane if they need it, it's all about establishing a friendly work relationship with your new buddy and with your passive you dont NEED blue, even if your clear is a wee bit slower.
[*] Unless an enemy laner is really really over extended I suggest you don't try to initiate any ganks. Instead go to your lanes that are pushed and look for counter gank opportunities.
[*] A lane that falls behind, gets left behind. If you are not confident you can win the 2v2 (or 3v3 if bot) that lane is a risky gank, sometimes you risk even losing the 2v1 if the lane is really far behind. Better try to snowball another lane.
[*] Be mindful of the information available to you and try to make decisions based off an if this then that tree. For example, IF their jungler shows top side THEN you can go for drake.
[*] Vision is key, dont just use your trackers charges willy nilly, it's just as much about when you ward as where you ward. Use your trackers to try and spot out the enemy jungler and cover his/her gank paths.
[*] Be Friendly. Sounds simple and you will meet cynics who say this makes no difference, but to me team moral and positive vibes can help carry a game. This is why I try to ward and give buffs to my laners as often as possible, and dont forget to say "gj!" and "wp" when your teammates make a play, and forgive them for their mistakes.
Since Nunu can both slow and buff attack speed he plays well with and against the same champions, hence Frenemies. Additionally a lot of champions who rely on attack speed are fairly immobile so again Nunu is both a friendly friend and fatal foe to the same champs.
At the end of the day Nunu is a much better friend than enemy so try to protect your friends more than dive for enemies (even if nunu bot says you must)
Here are a few of nunu's best Frenemies!
Gonna lump all the adc's together since it's fairly obvious how they benefit from Nunu's buffs, Dont be too shy to come say hello to bot lane even if there is nothing to gank, if you see a chance to throw blood boil on your adc while they chip at turret take it.
On hit melee stacksers, benefit a lot from both the movement speed and attack speed buff from blood boil, you can guarantee the slow on a player you are chasing with ice blast if either of them miss their Q ("skill shot? whats that?" nunu).
one of the few mages that works well with nunu because his soldiers scale with attack speed. Great for taking down turrets as well
Had to include my bro galio on the list because of the wombo combo dream that all nunu's dream of. Best to play with in Poro King mode where you both have Mark/Dash and dont have to rely on flash cooldowns
Nunu No Liek!
Like nunu's friends, the champions he is weak against are also champions he does not play well with.
The caster adc's. Nunu does little to help or hinder their damage other than the small mobility buff/debuff they get from blood boil/ice blast.
Burst mages and Assasins, other than the movement speed from blood boil which is nice on everybody, Nunu can't do much to help these champs. They would much rather have a jungler with harder cc or better poke. When playing against these champs it's rare that they will be able to burst you, but they can burst the carry standing next to you and there's not much you can do about it.
Nunu's help is not always appreciated, but if you've done your job right your team won't be sure you've done anything at all.
I'm also mod at r/nunumains it's a small but super helpful community feel free to stop buy if you have any additional Nunu questions