- Kunkka, the Jack of All Trades hero. This guide will tell you not only how to play Kunkka, but find something else, deeper within.
I am not an amazing Kunkka player. In fact, I’m pretty mediocre at the hero. This guide was made in collaboration with Digidoto, an actual Kunkka expert.
The first spell in Kunkka’s kit is an incredibly useful skill with a deceptively high margin of error. The spell on its own is extremely difficult to land, with it’s long build-up (or cast point), but it provides excellent control in a decently sized AoE. In that small AoE, it throws all enemies caught to the air for some time, effectively stunning them. After they fall to the ground, they are slowed, allowing even further catch potential and control for your team. I’d like to reiterate, that on it’s own, it is quite underwhelming, but more on that later.
This devastating lane dominating spell is Kunkka’s bread and butter. Despite his naturally versatile kit, and his ability to fit into many roles, most top Kunkka players will play and strategize around this single ability. In Dota 2, there is a mechanic known as “Cleave”. In essence, a percentage of the damage you deal on a single target will spill onto enemy targets in an AoE. What’s so special about Tidebringer exclusively, is its massive splash AoE. Using this spell effectively will leave you dominating most lanes to performing stylish and obnoxious amounts of damage in the later stages.
X marks the spot
The center of Kunkka’s kit, the spell that ties everything together. X Marks The Spot is deceptively easy to understand spell, but its simple nature is what gives it such an infinitely high potential for creativity. Casting X marks the spot on an enemy marks their location. After a time, or if you choose to cast it earlier, the enemy is pulled back to where they were “X’d”. A few noteworthy things about what makes this spell so powerful, is effectively what it is. The act of marking a spot in the ground sends a message to your opponents; “This spot is trouble”. The enemy understands that they need to be as far away from that damned X, but they can’t. We’ll dive more into what makes this spell so powerful a bit later.
Kunkka’s ultimate ability is as impressive looking as it is useful. This spell does a lot of things. At face value, the spell is able to dish out a hefty amount of damage, stuns in an AoE, and provides you with a damage resistance buff. However, considering the difficulty to properly use and land this spell, opens it up to creativity and finesse despite its simplistic nature. At this point, you will notice a pattern with Kunkka’s abilities. Spells that are deceptively simple, but with massive potential to take to the next level. This is what makes this hero so sought out by the most mechanically gifted and creative players in Dota 2.
Now that you are caught up with Kunkka’s abilities, you’ll notice that casting them seems near impossible if you don’t know what you’re doing. Using the correct combination of spells in frame perfect timing is what makes you succeed with this hero. With that being said, this guide will familiarize a few of the universally agreed and abused combos, but the best Kunkka players are able to use brand new combinations on the fly, depending on their specific situation. For the sake of simplicity, we will be going over 3 different spell combinations that would suit almost any situation.
The Basic Long Range Combo
This particular combo is suited for every situation, at the expense of perfectly stacking the disables of each spell. With that being said, it is recommended that a newer player get comfortable with this combination, as it times itself quite seamlessly.
To pull off this combo, begin by casting X marks the spot on an enemy. After the enemy is X’d, cast Torrent followed immediately by Ghostship, and finally cast Return. The reason why this combination is very beginner-friendly, as there is no specific timing you need to follow. The cast animations of each spell time the combo for you, making it extremely easy to pull off. Another noteworthy aspect of this combo, is that it can be done from a large range away.
The Advanced “Fool-Proof” Long Range Combo
A slightly more time-sensitive combo, you will be able to more reliably execute your abilities. This combo is essential against teams with disable, because this combo doesn’t care if you are silenced or not! To initiate the combo, begin by casting X on an enemy target. After about 1 second, cast your ultimate on the X. Just before the boat hits, finally cast Torrent on the X.
The utility of this combo is, that you don’t need to cast Return to complete it. The entire combination lasts the entirety of the X’s debuff duration. In other words, you don’t need to add an extra input, and an extension, you will have more time to auto-attack, or chase an enemy.
The Full Efficiency Solo Kill Combo
This combination is catered to the midlane, as it requires you to be up close and personal with an opponent. Using this combo will maximize the damage you deal with quite extensively, but you will be entirely exposed to getting disabled through it. That is why excellent timing and game sense is required to pull it off.
Initiate the combo by Auto Attacking, or damaging an enemy with Tidebringer. After you attack them once, cast X marks the spot on them. Following this, perform another auto-attack. Cast Ghostship, followed by an Auto Attack. Then cast Torrent, with another Auto Attack. And wrap it up with Return, and finish them off with the final Auto Attack. To remember this combo more easily, you are essentially “X”ing the enemy, followed by Ghostship, followed by Torrent, and finally Returning them, with an Auto Attack in between each step. X > R > Q > X.
Itemization and Strategies
Now that you’re familiar with Kunkkas tool kit and combinations, the true validity of any Kunkka is determined by the players’ itemization throughout the game. Above is an image of every single item in Dota 2. The reason I put that image there is because Kunkka can viably use each and every single one of these items. Although traditionally a mid, Kunkka can be played in almost every position, and one of the reasons for this is his versatility in options when it comes to itemization.
Trying to outline the effective build would be a disservice to all Kunkka players, as everyone has their own item combination, and there are truly no correct answers. To not waste your time as I try and argue and justify each and every item in the game in relation to Kunkka; I will rather familiarize you with a somewhat agreed-upon set of distinct playstyles. Even then, each playstyle can borrow elements from the other, making my job a whole lot more complicated! However, I will try and put you in the shoes of a seasoned Kunkka player, in the hopes that when you play Kunkka yourself, you will have the tools needed to make the best decisions in your specific game.
The Early Game
Before we dive into the three distinct styles (that we have arbitrarily created), we will look at a somewhat universally agreed upon item build for the middle lane.
Start out with a Quelling Blade, a Circlet, a Gauntlet of Strength, 2 Ironwood Branches, and 2 Pooled Tangos. The Quelling blade is needed to guarantee last hits in the lane, the Circlet and Gauntlet will give you some stats to trade with your opponent, and the Branches and Tangos are necessary for early regen. From here, however, things get slightly tricky. Depending on the situation of the game, you will want to either upgrade your stat items into a bracer or rush a buckler. The buckler is slightly niche, and should only be purchased in lanes against high physical damage cores such as Templar Assassin, or Clinkz. After that, it’s generally recommended to purchase an early (before 4 minutes) bottle, as you can do some creative things with it! You should be walking out of the laning stage with a completed Buckler or Bracer, a Bottle, a Wand, and Phase Boots; setting yourself up for the mid-game.
I’d like to give a special section dedicated to the bottle, and why it’s so damned good on Kunkka. Firstly, early runes are extremely vital for the laning stage. They enable you to dominate the lane, turn an unfavorable matchup, or even snag a kill. Having a bottle emphasizes your need to control the runes since part of the 650 gold you spent on it is dedicated to the ability to bottle runes and save them for an opportune time. However, this could be said for every hero in the game. For Kunkka specifically, having a Teleportation Scroll (TP) handy means you will never be without a full bottle. A very basic trick that anyone can use, is X Marking yourself, TP to base, and voila! A full bottle! As soon as your X expires, you’re brought right into the action, full HP and Mana once again!
Before wrapping up this section, as amazing as the Bottle is, you should avoid getting it against heroes with superior rune control. If you are laning against a Queen of Pain, or Puck, you should avoid it as controlling the runes would be a fools’ errand at that point.
The Three Styles; A Hopefully Seamless Transition To The Midgame
As stated earlier, it would be a fools’ errand to characterize Kunkkas item build in such a rudimentary fashion. But Digidoto and I have decided that explaining these specific styles will give a sufficient introduction to the deep rabbit hole that comes with Kunkka’s itemization. What follows is a general outline of each style, along with their pros and cons, followed by when you should adopt it.
Traditional “Physical Damage” Kunkka
We will begin with the most popular and high-risk build. Earlier in this article, I mentioned that Kunkkas second ability, Tidebringer, is popularly used as the focal point of players’ strategy. Players will itemize for it, play around it, and abuse it. However, this particular build (as fun as it is), is considered to be extremely time-sensitive and risky. You will spend your gold on items that give you damage, versus items that make you survivable. Which in turn means, that you will be easily killed in the later stages of the game. However, you will have the potential to perform the highest amount of physical burst damage in the game, which is why this build is so popular.
Skipping your midgame items for a moment, generally, a six slotted Kunkka opting to this particular build would have 2 Daedalus’, 2 Divine Rapiers, a Blink Dagger, and Boots of Travel. Looking at each of these items, you’ll notice that none of them have a particularly attractive build-up (Build-up refers to the components needed to complete an item). And what that essentially will equate to, is a lot of mid-game options, that will eventually be replaced by something else entirely. And this is where the great Kunkka player distinguishes himself from the average. What items do you purchase in the mid-game?
Historically, a popular consensus was that purchasing items that provide you with a ton of strength is extremely beneficial to Kunkka. In Dota 2, the higher your primary attribute, the higher your damage. And as Kunkka is a Strength hero, this equates to a much harder to take down Kunkka. Conversely, there are other more creative ways to increase your DPS. Perhaps an item that places a debuff on the enemy, or something of the sorts? It really depends on the game you are in, and what you think will be the most effective.
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This is where the first big question is asked when going down this path; “What is my role in this game?”. Of course, the answer would be; “I need to deal damage, right?“, which is somewhat correct, but damage is subjective.
Armlet of Mordiggian
Let us begin with the Armlet of Mordiggian. First of all, Armlet has always been a go-to pick up for Kunkka. It checks all boxes for what Kunkka needs in the mid game. Sustain, Damage, Survivability, and wow factor. This item transforms the hero, as it’s incredibly slot efficient. It also tends to be one of the last items you replace as you transition to the late-game. This is because it’s able to increase your physical damage output by a large margin and give you the ability to manipulate your health with its toggle ability. (Toggling the Armlet on will grant the wearer extra strength, which translates to more HP [about 500]. Toggling it off immediately removes the 500 HP. But if you toggle it back on, you will be given 500 extra HP regardless of how much HP you originally had.)
These factors alone make this item an excellent candidate for the first big item to purchase on Kunkka. Its toggle ability synergizes exceptionally well with the secondary effect of Kunkka’s ultimate, The Rum Buff. The Rum Buff essentially reduces all forms of damage you receive while it’s active. Taking reduced damage means that Armlet Toggling is much easier, as there is less risk when you perform said toggle. It seems like a no brainer item choice, right? Let’s put a pin on this and move on.
On the other end of the spectrum, is Radiance. To an unseasoned player, Radiance and Armlet could not be more different. The phrase that should come to mind is; apples and oranges. And that is true in some ways, but these items share a lot more similarities than they initially show. Before discussing their similarities, we will quickly run over what Radiance is, what does it do, and why do we buy it. Radiance is an expensive item that radiates a consistent damage aura around your hero. This damage aura is excellent in fights, but it’s exceptionally strong for farming. Neutral and Lane Creeps have low HP, which makes them melt with a Radiance, thus skyrocketing your GPM (Gold Per Minute).
Again, you may be asking yourself, what is so similar between these 2 items? One of them costs 2,405 gold, while the other costs 5,150 gold. One does wonders for your survivability, and the other leaves much to be desired in that department. But the one factor that puts these 2 items in the same box, is their timing in the context of a game. I mentioned earlier that the Armlet tends to be one of the last items you replace on Kunkka. The same could be said about Radiance, but for wholly different reasons. The Armlet is an objectively powerful and useful item throughout the entirety of the game, but Radiance begins losing its effectiveness as the game goes on. As the minute’s tick by, enemies get more HP, until its damage aura goes way beyond the point of diminishing returns, and you would rather have a different item that is actually useful in the late game.
“Spoilt For Choices”
So why do you buy it? For almost any hero in Dota, the first big item you purchase dictates your pace in the game in relation to other heroes. A prime example of this is Templar Assassin (TA). A TA pretty much has 2 mid-game items that she purchases in almost every game; Blink Dagger, and Desolator. Eventually, you will end up with both items, but which one do you get first? For TA specifically, buying a Blink Dagger increases your kill potential, and makes you a direct threat to enemies. Buying a Desolator opens up Roshan, allows you to take down towers faster, and slightly increase your farming speed. So every TA player will try to understand the context of the game they’re in. “What is my role in this game?”, and make a decision.
Transferring this logic to Kunkka, and these 2 items. A seasoned player will not ask “What does X item do?”, instead they will ask; “What does X item do for me?“. At face value, we understand what the Armlet and Radiance do. But we do not yet understand what these items do for us. And that’s the question we should be asking before we decide.
Always Get An Armlet?
Let’s take Armlet of Mordiggian one last time as a case study. The item gives stats, damage, yadda yadda yadda… But what does it give Kunkka? The simple answer is, it gives Kunkka an edge. Purchasing an Armlet, makes you the strongest hero on the map. Having an armlet in hand means that you are in complete control of the game, and that you are able to kill heroes that no one else can. It also makes you tanky and extremely difficult to kill. These all sound like awesome things right? “In my next Kunkka game, I’m going to rush an Armlet!”… right?
Before wrapping up this segment, let’s take one last look at Radiance in the context of Kunkka. If this item is purchased at an acceptable timing (sometime between 20 and 25 minutes), what does this item do for us? Where Armlet gave us an edge, Radiance gives us certainty. Certainly in a sense that, our whole game is guaranteed to go okay at the very least. It gives us a viable path to transition into a late-game raid boss, through trusty and unforgiving cold hard cash. Beyond that, purchasing just one item after Radiance gives you an even bigger edge than Armlet gives you including the context of their timing. Buying a Radiance gives you everything that no other item can, but it’ll cost you 5000 gold and some change.
A Never-Ending Conflict
One last time, I’d like to ask you, what is the correct choice between the two. Some of you will have a straight answer, which is fine. An aggressive but cautious player would take the Armlet 9 times out of 10 since it enables your aggressive tendencies. While a greedy yet forward-thinking player would opt for a Radiance. However, some of you will understand that this question goes beyond what certain players tendencies skew them towards. In every game, there is an objectively correct answer. And if you do not yet know this answer, then experimentation and trial and error are your best teachers. If you are in a hurry, then keep this rule of thumb in mind. If you can get a Radiance but don’t need to, then don’t buy it. If you can get a Radiance and you need it, then go for it. But if you can’t get a Radiance, and you really need it, then you need to get creative and fast, because you are on track to losing the game.
These 2 items and the questions they carry barely cover a sliver of the tip of the iceberg. Itemization on Kunkka is akin to a massive flowchart, with hundreds of arbitrary conditions and triggers. Over time, this flow chart becomes second nature, but getting there is very difficult. Of course, a fundamental understanding of the game is needed to make the correct decisions, but this applies tenfold to Kunkka’s case. I’d like to reiterate that every single item in Dota is completely viable in certain situations on Kunkka, which cannot be said for other heroes. In every game, in every context, there is a game-winning build, and it’s never gonna be clear enough for a knee-jerk reaction to think of this build. From this point onwards, I’d like you to apply the logic discussed earlier to every single item you purchase. This exercise will give items a whole new meaning while giving you the opportunity to come up with your own ideas.
Moving On.. Physical Damage
Now that we have our first major item in hand, what do we get next? We do know that we would like to purchase physical damage items. Items that are extra effective against heroes with low armor. All we need to do is categorize every single item in Dota that helps us do that. Right after that, we’ll begin to realize that nothing in Dota is 1 dimensional, and every item can fit multiple uses. So let’s ask ourselves a few more questions to narrow down our search.
The enemy team has low armor, but I am dying a lot. What do I build?
In this case, we understand our role in the game. We need to deal with physical damage, but we aren’t living long enough to dish out the necessary amount. Okay, this is a good start, but we need more information. Let’s ask another question.
What is actually killing me?
Finally, a question that will actually narrow down our options. In Dota, there are… lots of things that can kill you. A good place to start is figuring out the damage type that’s killing you. Let us assume that we are dying to physical damage. So now, we need an item that increases our physical DPS, while giving us some resistance to physical damage. Items that grant armor are an excellent place to start. These criteria narrows down our item choice to a very manageable number. What we are left with, is (for the sake of simplicity) Assault Cuirass, and Solar Crest.
Both excellent items, but for different reasons. Solar Crest provides limitless utility at a very low cost. It gives us the ability to lower enemy armor, raise our own, helps us take down Rosh, and even save your teammates. However, Assault Cuirass does similar things. Lowers enemy armor, raises our own, helps us take down Rosh, and potentially save allies. But they are different and suit different situations. Take this opportunity to try and figure out their niches, similar to our case study of Radiance and Armlet.
“Magic Is An Abomination.”
Now let’s say that Magical Damage is killing us. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Magic Resist items that give us any meaningful damage output. But what Kunkka does have is his Strength attribute. Remember, every point of Strength equates to Damage on strength heroes. Coincidentally, Strength also gives us raw HP, which does wonders against the flat nature (Magical damage does not scale much beyond the 3 to 4 ability points given to the spell) of Magic damage in Dota. If we refine our search to an item that gives us a good amount of Strength that helps us do damage, we get things like Sange (and its byproducts), or even a Heart of Tarrasque.
Maybe you’re getting kited, and you need something to help you get on top of your targets. Mobility items like Blink or Force Staff don’t directly give you damage but give you a means to delivering that damage. An item like Shadow Blade is even more special, as it gives your enemy no time to react to your attacks while having the possibility of it building into a Silver Edge.
Let’s say you’re living enough, you’re sticking on your targets, but you’re not quite dealing sufficient damage. What items in Dota give you the best DPS numbers? Crystalis, Daedalus, and Rapier.
Not So Fast!
The previously listed items were all excellent pickups in games where you were ahead. Unfortunately, things take a much more complicated turn when you are playing from behind. This is where Kunkka’s playstyles seem to get jumbled up with one another, and this is affirmed by the fact that the majority of items are multidimensional in nature. Earlier we covered items that tank you up while doing damage. But that does not make them damage items perse. The fact that they fulfill multiple niches, means that they fit multiple situations, and in turn, multiple playstyles. The only difference is that you’re buying said item for a different reason. Let me explain.
Once again, we are a Kunkka, trying to deal damage. Unfortunately, we have come off an awful laning stage, and we are completely behind on our items. The previously asked questions are all of a sudden too much to bear, as you need too many things that you can feasibly obtain in a realistic fashion. That is where your creativity comes into play. It’s at these situations where you stray away from your Radiances, Assault Cuirass’, and Divine Rapiers. This is the realm of the Armlet’s, Solar Crest’s, and Halberd’s. The difference between the former and the latter is not only their total costs but their build-ups. Sure, Assault Cuirass doesn’t have a particularly bad buildup, but in comparison, Solar Crest is a walk in the park.
Being Cheap, or Being Frugal?
Solar Crest’s precursor is the Medallion of Courage. A very cheap early game item that provides the exact same utility of a Solar Crest but with reduced numbers. You essentially have solved your Armor/Damage issues with such a laughably low cost, and you set yourself up to upgrade the item into something better. In the same vein, we have Sange. An item with a moderately low cost, an attractive build-up, and incredible stats. These things on their own are attractive, but not enough. Thankfully, Sange can upgrade into Sange & Yasha, and Heaven’s Halberd. Two items that fulfill extremely different niches, while in my opinion, are categorized in the same bucket. Heavens Halberd, similar to Solar Crest, effectively covers both offensive and defensive needs for any Strength right clicker in the game. S&Y does the same. Both are considered early game fighting items, and both are extremely easy to build. But you buy them for extremely different situations and reasons.
With all that in mind, assume we have exhibit A; a Kunkka with a dominating performance in the laning stage. It is 30 minutes into the game, and he’s carrying a Radiance, Assault Cuirass, Wand, Bottle, and Phase Boots. Then we have exhibit B; a Kunkka with an unsuccessful laning stage. By 30 minutes, he has Brown Boots, a Magic Stick, and his freshly completed Radiance. And finally, Exhibit C; again, a Kunkka with a less than successful laning stage, but instead he’s carrying a Medallion of Courage, Sange, a Bracer, a Wand, Bottle, and Phase boots. Obviously, our first Kunkka has been dealt the best hand. But between exhibits B and C? I think that there is one Kunkka that we would rather be playing.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
Unfortunately, once you get into the rabbit hole of these attractive cheap items that have high impact, you will find yourself lost and confused. Remember, your role is to deal damage. There is a very fine line between successfully achieving the damage numbers, and straying into something else. For a moment, let us dip our toes into the other popular play style that Kunkka plays; the Tank build. (Ok, I know that the Dota community has a problem with the way the term Tank is thrown around. But I assure you, that Tank actually applies here.) Continuing our trend of cheap items that help us deal damage, we have items like Drums of Endurance, Vladimirs Offering, and Pipe of Insight/Hood of Defiance. Three items that do absolutely nothing meaningful to your DPS, but still can be bought in this play style.
The cool thing about these items is that they have the ability to completely change the dynamic of a fight. If you are getting shredded by a snowballing Razor, then go ahead and buy the Drums. It’ll give your team an opening to maneuver around his static link. Let’s say this Razor is linking Kunkka. Drums will help you get away from him, and in turn, leave you with more damage to the fight. And if a Lina is bursting down you HP too fast before you can cast your second Tide Bringer, buy a Pipe. It’ll give you and your team the opportunity to live long enough to possibly cast their second round of spells. So on, and so forth.
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With that, I think you have a slight understanding of just how complicated itemizing on Kunkka could be. And again, we barely scratched the surface. But I do think that now you have a much better understanding of having the correct mindset when you are trying out this build for yourself. And that, in a nutshell is how to build for physical damage Kunkka. For the next two playstyles, I’m going to zoom past them a lot faster. Again, the same principles covered earlier still apply, and there is not a 1 size fits all beyond this point either, unfortunately. But I think you’re truly ready to form your own opinions from this point on.
The Magical Damage Kunkka
Who knew Kunkka could deal Magic Damage? Unsurprisingly, Kunkkas spells have the potential to decimate their opponents on all stages of the game. And this isn’t a wholly new concept either. But Dota 2 is an evolving game, and I think this case study will prove very interesting. Since the addition of Meteor Hammer into Dota, players have theory crafted ways to abuse this item. If you’re unaware, Meteor Hammer is an item that after a channel time, brings down a meteor from the sky dealing damage over time and stunning in an AoE. The problem, however, is that the channel is too long, and the AoE is too small. So it’s not as popular as it sounds like it should be. However, heroes like Nyx, Phoenix, Invoker, and more have made use of the item as they had innate abilities to safely or reliably channel the item. And of course, Kunkka was a part of that discussion too.
It’s funny, that hundreds and hundreds of games later, Digidoto would not shut up about Meteor Hammer on Kunkka. I mean, the items been out for a while, what could be so special about it? About 2 months ago, I started hearing echoes of !Attacker trying out this brand new Meteor Hammer build and destroying pubs with it. I watched a few vods, ready to get blown away. But… I really didn’t. Let’s start from the top, you know the drill. Meteor Hammer; excellent buildup, great stats, sustainability, change dynamic of the game, wow factor. Sound familiar?
Tit For Tat
The thing about Meteor Hammer, is that it doesn’t show us something that we’ve never actually seen before. Treat Meteor Hammer on Magic Kunkka, as Armlet is to Physical. We again encounter the theme of two different items filling out similar niches. The good news is, that the parallels between the items extend beyond their initial similarities. Physical Kunkka’s choice for a “first item” is usually between Armlet, and Radiance. The same is said about Magical Damage Kunkka, with Meteor Hammer, or Radiance. Now, we’re not gonna go over why you should go for either, but I will give my 2 cents on Meteor Hammer.
The combo is pretty straight forward. It essentially is a 5th spell that Kunkka can use. For example, the Advanced “Fool Proof” Combo works rather well with it, just with casting Meteor Hammer at the very end. And again, you can get creative with how to cast it. It can be used in tandem with other abilities, it can be used by itself with X marks, so on and so forth. The item definitely fits Kunkka’s core needs and provides excellent utility for the mid-game.
“I Smell Blood!”
As the game goes on, your options open up a whole lot. There are 2 main routes you can take with this build, and both have their merits. But both are different when you should use them. The first is the overtly aggressive and offensive route. Items such as Aghanims Scepter, Refresher Orb, Octarine Core, Kaya items and more. They all enable Kunkka to pump out consistent damage throughout the whole game, but they are what I call a “Once in a blue moon” item build.
Whenever you go the Magic Route, on any hero, things get complicated. Dota isn’t as simple as casting a few spells and trying to kill enemies. Usually, the other team will try and do the same. 9 times out of 10, you’d need to sneak a few defensive or subtly defensive items in the build. Since you want to be casting spells, you definitely don’t want to get disabled. So items like BKB and Lotus Orb will help you stay uncontrolled for a fight. Maybe you’re just dying to too much physical damage, so a Shivas Guard is warranted. Really, the world your oyster.
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In reality, as complex as deciding what items you should go is, it’s probably the simplest aspect of this particular build. The good news is, that you already understand the whole item dynamic, as we’ve gone over it in great lengths earlier. The thing is, in the previous playstyle, we asked ourselves a question. The first-ever question we asked, and the first question you should ask, is “What is my role in this game?”. Physical Damage Kunkka got a free pass since it was an extremely straight forward answer; his role was to deal Damage. Magic Kunkka on the other hand, has a little more on his plate.
What Is The Meaning Of Life?
So let’s try and dissect Magical Kunkka, and try to figure out what exactly its role is in a given game. Firstly, we do know that Kunkka’s fundamental role, by design, is his ability to soak damage. We also know that the whole reason we are using our spells is to deal damage. So far, we can conclude that our role in the game is to soak and deal damage. But our spells do other things beyond just dealing damage. Torrent stuns enemies, then slows them. X Marks The Spot is a great catching and disable tool. Ghostship stuns and provides a healing buff. Sounds like our favorite hero is pretty damned good at Teamfighting!
Teamfighting is a very loose term. Usually, heroes with big AoE spells can be classified as “Teamfighters”. But almost every hero has access to some form of AoE that is definitely useful in a teamfight. For example, Sven’s stun has a decent AoE, but you would be remiss to classify him as a “Teamfighter”. So what is it exactly that makes a hero a good Teamfighting candidate? In my opinion, there are a lot of arbitrary boxes that need to be checked to answer this question. But from a community perspective, I think that there is another gauge that is used.
What Is The Meaning Of Teamfight?
Dota players are very binary people. Everything is either good or bad. Some will tell you that something is “Situational”, but that’s just another way of saying bad. So in a way, every single hero can either be good at Teamfighting, or not. There is no middle ground. Let’s take Phoenix for example. Phoenix has an extremely Teamfight Forward kit. He doesn’t do much in terms of laning presence, pick off potential, or carrying ability. This hero is just… Teamfight. If we visualize a spectrum, where on one side we have Teamfightability, and on the other, we have literally everything else, then Phoenix would lay somewhere close to the former.
Kunkka, on the other hand, fits so many more boxes. The hero just can do so much. So what is it exactly that makes Kunkka or another hero an excellent Teamfight option? Beyond the obvious things, I really don’t know. What I do know, is what the word Teamfight means, or at least, the internet does. According to Urban Dictionary, “a Teamfight is a battle where both teams fully commit. Items and powerful abilities are used to turn the tide of battle in one’s favor…”. Yes, it really does say that!
What this tells me, is that Kunkka, like Phoenix, was by design, an excellent teamfight hero. All we need to do is uncover that untapped potential in a few clever item choices. Thankfully, you already know about items, and we can close this chapter on Magic Kunkka.
Finally, the third and final style is Tank Kunkka. Before we dive in, let’s take a very quick recap of everything we covered. We understood what Kunkka’s abilities do. We explored ways we could abuse combos and tricks to bring out the most out of his abilities. We learned how to itemize for different playstyles. And we also finally understood what Kunkka fundamentally is. The one thing we did not learn about, is the 4 other heroes on Kunkka’s team. I don’t know about you, but me writing all this jibber-jabber just for one hero. Really makes this hero seem pretentious and vein in some ways?
But that’s a really big problem in my opinion. People always get excited when they see a Kunkka get picked. Kunkka’s spells are always the flashiest in a teamfight. Hell, even his jawline sticks out through his luscious and bushy beard! But Kunkka doesn’t want to be the center of attention, at least, not always. Kunkka wants the glory of a win to be shared with his teammates, because no win is possible without them.
And that is how Tank Kunkka was born!
In all seriousness, after all this time, I still haven’t explored just how good Ghostship is. Kunkka’s ultimate gives a 40% damage reduction to all your allies in an AoE. That is an insanely large amount of damage reduction; even your position 5 Lion who fed 15 times in a row will probably live for 5 more seconds in a teamfight. And that Lion is forever grateful for your help. But what this sub-ability gives us, is a whole other side of untapped potential that can be unlocked.
Now, there are 2 sides we can take this “Tank” route. Some players find that buying items like Heart of Tarrasque, and Shiva’s Guard are what they need to “Tank” up in a game. These players are trying to turn Kunkka into a big burly meat shield that just absorbs damage. The thing is, Kunkka can already do that! Regardless of what items you purchase, you will always be a pain to take down. Instead of building Kunkka to being more unkillable, get 2 birds with 1 stone; make you and your team unkillable.
Playing The Three From The Two
The heart and soul of the offlaner, relies on purchasing a slew of aura items that keep your team in great fighting shape. But sometimes, your offlaner could be a Puck, or an Axe; heroes that don’t traditionally get Aura items. In that case, someone else needs to fill this void in your team. The cool thing is, that every single playstyle covered earlier still works when you purchase aura items. But when you are going all-in on this particular one, you become possibly the best Aura carrier in the game.
Let me be clear; there is never a game where you need to purchase every single aura item at your disposal. But I am saying that they are all viable options. Instead of buying something like a Heart of Tarrasque, Desolator, and Satanic, instead purchase a Heavens Halberd, Solar Crest, and Vladimirs Offering. You will still be incredibly tanky, but at the same time, you’ll be able to provide insane amounts of utility and survivability for your team. And the great thing about these items is that all the team bonuses affect you as well.
Before going into any single Kunkka, or any hero game. Don’t ask yourself what your team can do for you, ask what you can do for your team. And that, in a nutshell, is how to play Kunkka.
Special thanks once more to Digidoto for his valuable input to the making of this article. Check out his Twitch Page here, a link to his Dotabuff, and finally, be sure to subscribe to DigiDotos very own and consistently updated in-game Kunkka Guide!
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