Nunu Build Guide by Jonbro
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Not Updated For Current Season
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Nunu is my all-time favorite champion, which I have played for over a year--way before Season 1 started. I've easily played at least 400 games with Nunu and Willump So, I decided to keep a guide up-to-date on him. Obviously, I am not TheOddOne or saintvicious, and I don't have the credibility that those pros do. However, I can assure you that this guide is a recipe for success that I revise and reconsider constantly, and I believe that builds that work well at over 2000 ELO might not be the most effective strategy at lower ELO where you can expect to see the enemy team making mistakes. So before you brush off this guide, please hear me out because I explain everything here in-depth. (This guide has been posted on the Guides & Strategy Forum at leagueoflegends.com and hasn't gotten many views, so I decided to also add it here.)
Jungling has been made a lot easier, so you don't have to dedicate your runes to making jungling easier. I still run flat armor runes but all the other runes are not particular jungling runes. Magic Penetration is an obvious choice for more damage. Glyphs help you survive ganks on mages. The movement speed Quintessences are just my preference, but I think you could run pretty much anything to do with tanking or ability power in your Quintessences.
Well... this is all new, but so far I really like this set up for Nunu jungling.
-The gold talents are great for starting with extra consumables (starting with multiple wards or boots and a ward is amazing for counter jungling)
-Nunu rakes in assists, so Sage will boost your experience considerably.
-You shouldn't need more than level 1 or 2 Consume to get through early game smoothly in the jungle.
-Ice Blast is second only to Absolute Zero in priority.
-In the first four levels, the way I skill up depends on the situation: E for ganks or W for early jungling and counter-jungle. Also, don't take Consume until you know your team isn't engaging the enemy before minions spawn: wait until Golem spawns to use your skill point on Consume.
-Flash was nerfed, but I think that it's still worth using because you want to get your slows off on your target ASAP when you gank and team fight.
-Some other alternatives that would probably work well for Nunu are Ghost, Heal, Surge, or Teleport however I haven't tested those out very much.
-Don't take Exhaust. It's extremely redundant and not that much of a difference maker if the target is already slowed by Ice Blast.
-ALWAYS TAKE SMITE! Even though Nunu can clear the jungle without Smite, it makes jungling so much safer, and Smite is the #1 way to secure and steal the Baron and Dragon kills. Always hold it to last hit those 2 monsters, even if you don't see anyone in the immediate area. It's just safer that way. There's no reason not to.
1) Boots of Speed + 2 Health Potions + 1 Sight Ward: This set up lets you jungle fast and counter jungle well because you can drop a ward on their first red or blue. I used to start jungle with Cloth Armor, but since the jungle is so much easier to clear now, I prefer this route now.
2) I have started getting a Philosopher's Stone for the extra money and better mana regeneration, which makes it easier to give up blue buffs. In late game, you can turn this into a Shurelya's Reverie.
3) Mercury Treads, Sorcerer's Shoes, or Ionian Boots of Lucidity: Being a mage in melee range is rough, so Treads will help you make your escape when you have to. Sorcerer's Shoes are a decent alternative but make sure you have enough of a melee presence to not be a main target of crowd control. If you want to focus on increasing your utility, you could get Ionian Boots of Lucidity to help you keep more targets slowed in fights. Currently, I go with Mercury Treads because it helps you survive so well.
-Oracle's Elixir and Wards: At some point during the laning phase, it's a great idea to buy Oracle's Elixir and tons of wards to control the map. If you're being counter jungled, this is the best way to combat the enemy jungler. When they ward your jungle, there's really not much you can do to protect your jungle camps because the enemy always know which side you're on.
3) Catalyst the Protector: This gives you very good sustainability in the jungle, and it sets you up to build Banshee's Veil later on.
4) Hextech Revolver: This is a great item to keep yourself healed up without going back to base. It synergizes so well with Consume's true damage. You will receive the healing from Consume plus 15% of the true damage dealt by it. That's an extra 60 health on level one consume, and at level 5 it's an extra 135 health. Also, this item builds into either a Will of the Ancients, which your AP teammates will appreciate, or a Hextech Gunblade.
5) Banshee's Veil: When you start channeling your ultimate in a team fight, enemies tend to notice, so this greatly increases the likelihood of your ultimate being finished. I really can't see any other way of building a successful Nunu in a competitive match. The spell block is essential for channeling his ultimate. If things aren't going well for my team, I might forgo offensive items in mid-game to rush this. Other guides stress the fact that you shouldn't expect to get your ultimate off very often, but I get most of my ultimates off because of this item and good timing. Of course on the other hand, sometimes you channel knowing it will definitely be interrupted because it's a great way to divert CC and cooldowns away from the carry, which can be the best option in some situations.
6) The items listed so far are pretty much must have, but afterwards, my build branches out to deal with whatever is going on in the particular match:
-For more MR, get Abyssal Scepter.
-For more Armor, get Frozen Heart or Guardian Angel.
-If you're being carried by a mage, buy a Will of the Ancients.
-For more damage, get Rabadon's Deathcap, Trinity Force, Lich Bane, or Hextech Gunblade.
-For a blowout, get Mejai's Soulstealer.
Creeping / Jungling
1) At level 1, my preference is to start at the blue buff, which many Nunu jungles I have seen neglect to do first because he doesn't need it to sustain in the jungle. My opinion is that you should utilize the first blue buff early to be able to increase your ganking and counter jungling effectiveness in the first few minutes of the game. With Ice Blast you can gank and with Blood Boil you can counter-jungle--all as early as level 2, so don't just farm jungle creeps because you have to gain the lead early to "snowball" the victory as Nunu since his late game is too weak to carry.
2) If you don't get your first blue buff for some reason, then you should go to the dual golems first and use both Smite and Consume to destroy that camp. Then do the other small camps until Smite is back up for red.
3) Don't get so "Consumed" in your jungling endeavors. If your lanes are suffering, it's your responsiblity to the team to make sure the outer turrets don't fall and to stop any feeding. It's stupid letting a teammate get beat badly in early game because he's outmatched and then complaining about how bad your team is later when you could have fixed the problem by assisting them during the lane phase. Be A Team Player.
4) Counter jungling can be a really risky and difficult task to accomplish, but it can be rewarding. You should learn how to effectively counter jungle because it sets the enemy jungler back. If you make him go back to base, kill him, or steal his buffs, then that's just more time that he's not attacking your team's lanes.
5) Since the jungle changes nerfed the experience and importance of small camps, I wouldn't bother risking anything to counter jungle those, but the blue and red buffs are still worth counter jungling. I don't recommend going into the enemy jungle unless you're positive that you know where the enemy jungler and his wards are. When you're in the enemy jungle, always play it safe and run at the first sign of trouble.
Hints and Tips
1) If you channel your ultimate from an area that the enemy has no vision of, then you're circle of affected area won't show up for the enemy team, and their only indication that you have begun channeling is a slow, which practically no one will react to in time. The obvious places where this will work is a bush, but it can also be done through cliffs and walls, which really surprises people.
2) Keep Blood Boil up on your physical carry. Always.
1) Early Game: Nunu's early game is slightly lackluster since they nerfed his Q and E awhile ago. However, I think you can still do some damage as the jungler early in the game. Just play more carefully in the enemy jungle, and get red buff before you gank early. I recommend that you get Oracle's Elixir and plenty of wards to control the map. If you play this part of the game passively, you vastly reduce your chances of winning--especially in solo queue.
2) Mid Game: Your ultimate allows you to effectively dole out damage in skirimishes, especially if you already have Banshee's Veil. Usually, around the time when I finsh my catalyst, I start to give away all the jungle buffs because by then you can sustain in the jungle without those, and your teammates can use them better. I build Sheen and Revolver because they're really cost effective items for dominating mid game. This is probably his strongest phase of the game now, and you can really get some good ganks and kills during this part of the game.
3) Late Game: I feel that knowing how to handle this part of the match separates the good Nunu player's from the bad. This is Nunu's weakest phase of the match. If you try to face tank the enemy team, you're going to die. If you try to AP carry and forgo defensive items, you'll probably just get focused down while you channel Absolute Zero. Your best bet is to become an off-tank to support your AD carry. Blood Boil your AD carry and stay near him. Poke the enemy with Ice Blast to deter them from diving for the carry. If they do dive for the carry, then channel your ultimate to make them choose between backing off or eating a lot of damage. If your team is behind during late game, then there's not much you can do individually to turn it around other than doing Baron, which is why gaining a lead while you're so powerful during the lane phase is important.
Thoughts on Item Builds
1) Many players use Rod of the Ages on Nunu for obvious reasons. It's stats mesh well with him. However, I don't recommend spending the gold on an RoA because buying Banshee's Veil is mandatory, and I get it every single game. Boots and a Veil can take up a majority of your time in a match to finish, and since RoA is both expensive and requires additional time to mature, it never feels worthwhile to go for it because it forces you to either give up on an early Veil, which I strongly discourage, or to end up getting it late in the game when it won't be able to give its matured effect for very long. Banshee's Veil fixes mana problems and gives a fair amount of health. You can get AP with other items that will end up benefitting you and the team more than an RoA, such as Will of the Ancients or Abyssal Scepter.
2) Another item commonly used by Nunu players is Rylai's Crystal Scepter. However, I don't like using this item because the passive slow doesn't really help since all your offensive spells already slow, so it's overkill. It's a big purchase, and you can get its stats in other places with better stat synergy and better bang for your buck.
3) On livestreams, you'll see a lot of Nunu junglers run a 5 gold per 10 second build. Obviously, those players are far superior to me, but what I will say is that there's more than one way to viably build champions like Nunu. I think the gold per 10 build encourages passive play where ganking is limited, which is befitting of high ELO play because their opponents are more skilled and wary laners that are ready for gank attempts, but at lower ELO, there's a lot more opportunity to get kills and earn gold aggressively. My build is for the early game advantage rather than for the late game domination, so I don't spend time to build up income.
4) Make sure to adapt your item build and team role according to the situation. Banshee's Veil is a must, but past that item, you should get whatever is needed.
5) Hextech Gunblade is not often used on Nunu because people think that Nunu's basic attack is useless, but I have found it to be very good for him because it gives you a decent amount of attack damage that allows your Blood Boiled basic attacks to deal considerable physical damage. Also, the Gunblade's slow has longer range than Ice Blast, which gives you more crowd control and burst in fights. You could build start towards more AP, but it will only give you more burst when your ultimate is ready. Your sustained damage will be considerably better with the Gunblade than an AP build.
Other Potential Roles
1) You are a mage and a pretty decent off-tank to boot, but if there's a tank present, let him initiate and take the crowd control effects first before you move in with your ultimate. In most competitive games, you fall into the role of protecting and buffing your carry, which is essential to success in teamfights.
2) Nunu is also very good to use in lane. Ice Blast is a great harassment and CC. The only changes I make to the way I build Nunu in lane versus in the jungle is to switch out Smite for Ghost or Ignite and to start with Doran's Ring or Mana Crystal.
3) Building Nunu as a full mage leaves him open to getting focused down. You have to stand in the middle of everyone and channel your ultimate for several seconds, and if you're not tanky, then people will just kill you before you finish. However, if the other team sucks at focusing, or if you just have incredible tanks and CC, then AP Nunu can do really well.
4) Building Nunu like an AD bruiser might bring you some success. However, he won't be able to face up to other AD bruisers, so it's essentially not a very good idea. If you need to be an AD bruiser and a jungler, then play a champion that's more adept at that role like Trundle, Xin Zhao, or Olaf.
5) I think playing Nunu as a dedicated main tank is not a very good idea. He doesn't have any damage mitigating abilities like Rammus or Shen, and his only ability that returns health, Consume, is reliant on you being near minions or neutrals, which isn't ideal. Although, if given the supply of creeps to Consume, you can sustain yourself in fights for a very long time (laning and pushing). Basically, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of tanking - taking damage, initiating and controlling fights - he doesn't measure up. So, if you're team asks for a tank, don't give them Nunu.
I'd love to hear any feedback the community has about my build, and if you want to talk about any of it, send me a friend request in game or post here and I'll respond.
Credit to my brother, kearndog, and my friends, KREMAFLAVE, wavves, and hoodpanda, for suggestions on building Nunu and keeping this guide up-to-date and viable.
Don't make the yeti angry... you won't like it when he's angry!