Nunu - Bringing Control Jungling Back to its Roots

A lot of players have fond memories, and by fond I mean terrifying, of Jungle Nunu in the old jungle. Jungle players remember the amount of intestinal pain they felt when they saw Jungle Nunu on the enemy and prepared for one torture filled game. Certain junglers were not even allowed to exist as long as Nunu was still open as a champion choice. Then Nunu was nerfed rather harshly and repeatedly just before the jungle remake. He struggles in the jungle thanks to his single target nature and because the jungle scales in a way that slaps Nunu in the face.

His issue in the new jungle, as already stated, is that he's all about single target clearing. His consume is great and all but it has a staggering cooldown and didn't one shot the main monsters of the camps like the Mother Wraith, Big Brother Golem and Dad Wolf (they were given family context so you can feel bad next time you kill them) and then basically did nothing to them once they started to scale. He was stuck wasting a bit more time on camps and running his buffs down. Needless to say he lost a lot of speed and sustain because of the Jungle Remake.

He could still go around and be a counter jungling beast no lie but hell these buffs didn't necessarily fix his problem just gave him some lovely reasons to be picked up again.

This is where I go and say that people are giving consume's power increase too much credit while ignoring the awesomeness of visionary and the minimum damage on dragon and baron by consume!

Back in the old jungle and even in the jungle remake there was never really a reason to level Nunu's consume past one rank. Every rank increase adds negligible amounts of power to it compared to the benefits of Snowball and Bloodboil (before it was nerfed). It was Nunu's one point wonder and even after it got buffed it likely still is. You leave consume at rank 1 in favor of leveling your other abilities. You can't necessarily sacrifice snowball as it is your ganking tool and bloodboil is your team utility ability. Then when they slapped the minimum damage to dragon and baron there was even less of a reason to rank it up.

Now with the latest Nunu (buffs and nefs) you could justify sacrificing bloodboil for Consume and just running around and being a jerk but I'd say that's pending how important your bloodboil is for your team. Nunu is one of the few junglers that can solo dragon pretty easily at level 5 with consume rank 3 and blue buff. If your team wants delicious and quick dragons then you could justify it.

However as I had hinted at that isn't what brought new life to his counter jungling. I mean the consume damage change on the epic monsters played a big role in upping his control on them but not necessarily his counter jungling. The visionary change was a subtle but epic change. There is no lie that Nunu was/is a pretty reliant blue jungler. His god douchebag level can only be accessed with the mana and cooldown reduction that blue offers. If he was denied his blue or was taking a more creative non-blue path then he'd have to be super careful with his mana else he could be caught and hindered or worse. With visionary set to only 5 slaps to activate it saves him a lot more time since he doesn't have to wait for it be up to use an ability and he can even cycle his spells in a way as to be able to never burn any mana yet use them just as they get off cooldown. You can jungle without mana and just rely on visionary but you'd want to have some mana on you just in case someone intrudes on you and you have to bail. Having visionary more readily available helps you conserve mana better while invading.

Anyhow onto the main course of this blog post. So Jungle Nunu is a powerful counter jungler as we all know but does he really have what it takes to return as a power pick in the jungle? I can honestly say... I do not know and a few other players I've talked to with better pedigrees than me can say they feel the same.

Now I have played several games with Nunu and they have too and they tell me it's just roflstomps here and there. That's awesome and all but they have yet to try it in super serious face mode games like they've told me. I can say that my Jungle Nunu games went so well and so viciously sad because people honestly do not know or remember how to deal with Jungle Nunu. It was soul crushing when my teammates didn't know how to deal with Nunu and failed to take my instruction and let him walk all over me in one game. Though it's also funny to see some failure Nunus no doubt. It's interesting to see how people fare against old school control junglers.

I've detailed it before in an earlier blog post what a control jungler used to be. An old school control jungler dominated the map and applied global pressure by roaming. They didn't necessarily go for kill ganks on the laners but they made sure the laners felt unsafe thanks to map denial and because the enemy jungler was giving their opponents wards they had no idea were being placed. Old school controllers also hunted down the enemy jungler and pushed him around to attempt to take them out of the game. Sure Nunu may become underleveled or underfarmed because of his roaming but the enemy jungler was in such a worse state that when it came to team interactions they were simply taken out of the game.

The hard part is determining whether that can still be done. See the new control jungling revolves around outpacing your opponent to the degree in which you either outfarm them or outgank them. You pressure the enemy jungler out of their jungle to assist their teammates and hope you catch them off guard or they do something stupid. New control jungling is like racing a person and hoping that if you go fast enough you force them to go faster and lose control of their vehicle while classic control jungling was a dance off and you kept trying to one up the other jungler.

The issue here in lies that the old jungle was difficult in itself. The old jungle would beat your ass if you screwed up and most junglers were burdened with taking cloth armor to start with. Only in rare cases were junglers able to take boots or a vampiric scepter or some other item. Nunu was a super special case of awesome in that he could take boots AND a ward in his early jungle without a problem even BEFORE leashing existed. He simply had a giant build advantage over junglers. With his item advantage he could outmaneuver most of his opponents, dupe them, pressure them wherever they went and simply be an agonizing tormentor. Even the laners couldn't do much to respond to him as they weren't mobile either. Assist my jungler? Nunu will be gone by the time I get there and even then he'll just scamper off. Nunu scampering off still happens now but it isn't as ridiculous as it was before.

But now there are junglers with ridiculous clearing speeds, insane mobility, insane clearing and even junglers with the ability to catch and kill Nunu. Some may say that "oh these Nunu buffs will bring him back!" but they forget that power creep also can be a sort of indirect "nerf" to Nunu. Nunu is like other old school junglers (like Trundle) in that they were gods in their time because of their natural advantages but now those advantages mean squat and their place is questionable. The mobility power level increase over each patch certainly hurts old schoolers.

As I said earlier I do not know if Nunu will be a viable COMPETITIVE jungler. I'll leave that to those who are actually in that level. I can say that I cannot really give him a proper placement yet about his jungle status as I feel people should wait and see if Jungle Nunu still works after people remember how to deal with him and if he can apply his old school control jungling against the new junglers.

One last issue lies in Nunu's transition. Now the builds I am saying that are available are strictly to Jungle Nunu. Whether AP Nunu or whatever works is not a concern here. In terms of jungling Nunu can survive solely on gold items and then transition into a support character. He can justify going a bit into the bruiser role but he doesn't farm well enough like some of the main control junglers now to be able to do that. He's a jungler that will transition into the role of support while others like Mundo and Shyvana (also control) will become Tank/Bruisers. It isn't to say that it makes Nunu bad it just makes him different than the standard we have now and because of that it may take time to see where his viability ends up as picking him as a jungler forces the team to make up what they lost somewhere else.

So in short - Jungle Nunu is awesome, he's still a giant douchebag and requires a team to slap down but we must be patient and give it more time to see if we can declare him a god jungler again.

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