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Hey, I'm DOOM. I pretty much play Smite to land Kuku snipes. Kuku's ability to decimate any opponent who's cheeky enough to dive him is one of the strongest in the game. I find that Kuku is currently better suited for Joust than Conquest, and I personally prefer the fast paced Joust mode to others, but this build will work for Conquest, Siege, and Clash.
So a little data on my background with Kuku:
Hours played: 374
Finished last season in 3v3 Plat with 1.8K elo.
According to Smite Guru I'm in the top 0.00% of Kuku players in 3v3 for damage dealt. #1? not sure. Many people have hidden profiles.
Bottom line is, I know how to use this god.
This guide isn't going to cover the basics, there are plenty of basic Kuku guides out there. This is to demonstrate the most effective build and tactics for Kukulkan you can possibly use in 3v3s, and covers a few advanced tactics that you need to master in order to really carry (ranked) games with Kukulkan.
Let's get started.
1st item: Book of Thoth - If you don't know why this item is so vital to Kuku, go read a noob guide, then play a few games with Kuku, then come back here when you know the basics. I used to build Gem of Iso first, but after months of this, suffering from a weaker early game I decided to swap back to Thoth first - a change that has been extremely rewarding. Kuku naturally has such a weak mid game due to lack of escape and lack of potency in his abilities plus no hard CC to keep him safe, so getting damage online is paramount.
2nd Item: Cooldown Boots - The reason you want CD boots on Kuku rather than pen is the fact that the mana stacks with his passive and thoth so you get the CD and the same damage as pen boots as a bonus.
3rd Item: Polynomicon Polynomicon is essential on Kukulkan, it is the difference in every combat encounter between melting the opponent and them either killing your escapeless *ss or getting away. 300 extra damage every 4 seconds is not something to skip. I used to get poly 4th, but like Book of Thoth, after many months of suffering from a weak early game, I realized that a shift to a Thoth start followed by a 3rd item Poly would be extremely rewarding in terms of essential early game damage to make Kuku enough of an early threat to stay safe.
4th Item: Gem of Isolation Kuku's 1 (Zephyr) already has a powerful slow. Combine that with Gem of Iso and you stop enemies dead in their tracks with the 1 and then keep them there with each Whirlwind tick re-procing the slow. That makes Gem a great item for Kuku, and it's good to build it later in your build so enemies don't get so fed up with it that they add a Winged Blade to negate the slows. You want to tack it on later, and that way 99% of players won't consider winged blade until it's too late. If more than one enemy gets winged blade, I would trade this out for another situational item. You can even modify this build and add Gem of Iso last if you really need anti-heal or pen online earlier.
5th Item: Rod of Tahuti - Duh.
Shard - If your hunter is behind, bad, or you don't have one, you need to grab some pen. But otherwise, I skip pen on Kuku. It really will help you melt pheonixes much fast with poly (+100 damage per poly proc), but if you have a competent hunter you might not need it. Penetration in 3v3 is effective on precisely 33% of the enemy team (their tank/bruiser), and if I have a hunter doing their job, I leave melting the tank to them and buy higher damage items to do my job: killing their damage carriers. Spear only offers better penetration against low defense; once the enemy's defense gets higher, Shard offers better penetration.
Soul Reaver - This is the item I most generally find myself deciding on against most teams. When it comes to that "Oh ****." moment when you turn the corner in the jungle and are facing a high burst mage or a hunter, and they need to get dead real fast, this item has your back. Zephyr + Poly + Soul Reaver + Ult and there are few gods left alive 1.7 seconds after that fight begins. In fact, you'll sometimes kill squishy gods with only Zephyr when you proc Soul Reaver and Poly, and it happens so fast they don't know what hit them.
Divine Ruin - F*** you healers. No more heals for you. Cheeky bast**ds.
Stone of Fal - Gives respectable magical power and magical defense with a powerful passive to save 60% of your HP from high burst ults like Ra and Scylla, and has a bonus of 10% CDR. Your Go-To magic defense item if you feel you're at risk of being killed by a high burst enemy mage and being bullied by the enemy support.
Breastplate of Valor - Simply a good physical defense item to go for if you're being bullied by an enemy warrior or assassin due to its high physical defense and CDR. I don't recommend you pick up physical defense just to deal with an enemy hunter - it's not really going to make a difference and you're much better off with higher damage instead.
While this guide isn't written to cover advanced conquest tactics, this build is effective in Conquest - however the "Optional Starters" items are not optional, and I recommend Soul Stone for a broken level of clear. You absolutely will out-clear 90% of other mages on the first 5-10 waves and if they aren't careful you can easily get early game kills. In Conquest Kuku has a good ultra-early game, a mediocre / weak early-mid-game, and then he gets good at the late mid-game and great late game.
If you grab Soul Stone, here's a tip: Even if you finish your 5 basic attacks after casting whirlwind, the Soul Stone effect will proc on the minion wave already being damaged. So the best way to clear is to land 3 basics on the front minions - they need extra damage on them and this knocks them back to help group them up making it easier to land the whirlwind on the full wave, then drop the world wind, and get 2 more basics in on the front minions after, and Soul Stone will still proc helping you clear the wave lighting fast. Then continue hitting the front minions (you don't need to, they're going to die, but you want to build up Soul Stone for the mana regen). Once that wave is cleared you can slow the enemy midlaner with your 1 and often times overwhelm them with minions and basics until they're very low or even die at the first wave.
Not having an escape means that while Kuku can beat and even kill most midlaners ultra-early-game, after the enemy jungler is done helping solo, you're extremely limited in aggressing at all. It will be tempting to push the enemy midlaner because you're likely out-clearing him by a long shot and can easily lock him down and kill him, but if the enemy jungler is good, this will leave you dead over and over. Make sure you can locate the enemy jungler before you risk pushing, and even then, push, hurt the enemy, and if you don't kill him just get back, the jungler will be on his way with his mouth watering for an easy meal.
While many of the follow tips can apply to other modes, from here forward the guide is strictly covering advanced Joust tactics.
Ability 1: Zephyr:
Everyone seems to think Whirlwind is Kuku's best ability. It isn't. And you shouldn't max it first. Zephyr is your core ability, level it first, and don't get your movement ability at all until you have to unless the other team has a slow. Put two levels into whirlwind first for the clear, then level Zephyr to 5 as quickly as possible. Zephyr is very powerful, and the damage and slow scaling on it is great as you level it up.
Oh, and Zephy actually hits for a very small AoE. That means if the enemy is hiding just behind another enemy or minion, you can often hit them through the front target or minion.
Enemies will often underestimate the speed and range of this ability - it can hit all the way from the outside of tower to an enemy god nearly toughing their tower. This is really useful for pegging a low enemy god, when they think they're far enough, and you'll often kill them, or you just drop a whirlwind on top of them and run away, and they'll be too slow to get out in time, and die.
Ability 2: Slipstream:
Obviously it's great for getting around and chasing, but it's most important feature is the fact that it removes any slow effects applied before or right after it's used. Only put one level into it early for that perk if the enemy has a slow, otherwise don't level it until mid-game.
Ability 3: Whirlwind:
This is almost always used as a follow up to zephyr, or else waveclear. It's big enough to cover half of the lane, so place it on the side of the lane, not directly over the minions (still close enough so they walk through it) and that'll force the enemy team to walk to the other side of the lane to push.
This is also great for protecting you from assassins. If they do go into it, just Zephyr them and Slipstream around making it hard for them to basic you, or even aegis while they chase you inside of it, and you'll easily kill them with poly after whirlwind takes their health down.
Ability 4: Spirit of the Nine Winds:
There's an entire section on Kuku's ult later in the guide in the Advanced Tactics section. Read on.
Core Combo - It's really simple: Zephyr, basic attack (proc Poly), Whirlwind, and Ult.
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"Oh ****! / F*** Off! Combo You turn a corner and are face to face with an mage or hunter who can kill you just by sneezing. Or one of those cheeky bast**ds dives over your team or into your tower to get you. Zephyr, Ult, basic attack (proc poly), then Whirlwind. I'm sorry, were you trying to kill me? How did that work out for you? Enjoy your respawn timer.
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Now here we are. This isn't going to cover a whole lot of information, but it's going to take alot of practice to use these tips correctly. Remember, this guide assumes you already know Kuku's basics and are looking for a way to play Kuku well on a higher level, versus good players.
Control - Before anything else, its vital that you use a mouse that you can map all of your abilities to. You need to be able to execute your skills extremely fast and easily, while keeping your hands on your AWSD keys. If you're going to play any ability based god at a high level against fast, skilled player, you absolutely cannot be using your 1-4 keys to trigger abilities.
Placement - Kuku is an easy god in terms of his basic combo. Until you're up against good players, who dont just walk through your whirlwind, or get close enough to let you hit a Zephyr, without having an escape. Then he's not hard, but placing the whirlwind properly becomes something you have to focus on. Even if you land the Zephyr to slow them, it's not as effective early and you still need to lead the Whirldwind to where they're running.
Spacing - Hit and run. You're like a UFC fighter or boxer with a longer reach. Your Zephyr is a hard hitting ability that hits further away than many mage skills. Practice staying at the maximum length from your opponent, as if there's a pole connecting the two of you over the length of Zephyr's range. Hit the zephyr, if you have Poly, basic quickly, move an inch forward to drop the Whirlwind and quickly back up.
Sneaking - In the tense environment of the late game 3v3, where a single kill or death can win or lose the game very quickly, equipped with a high burst mage like Kuku who can handle any close encounter situations in the jungle, I often find myself sneaking throguh the jungle, away from my team, placing sentries and hoping to ambush the enemy team in the lane with a whirlwind over the wall, followed by an ult through the wall to get a kill or two without putting myself at risk and without the enemy being able to fight back. However this is a delicate tactic. You have to be careful not to spend too much time doing this, trying to be the lone hero when it might be safer and more advantageous to stay with the team and have a straight forward 3v3 team fight. This is something you have to get a feel for and choose wisely.
Ulting - Kuku's ult is a great tool for chasing down kills. But any moron who isn't terrible at the game can juke your ult if he can see you. That's why you aren't going to ever ult a long range target from where they can see you. For the final tips of this guide, we're going to go over a few specific situations for ulting, and how to land those hard to hit snipes time and time again. This is where you win games, early, mid, and late.
But first, quickly let's look at leading targets. This is something you have to practice. A lot. You have to know how far to lead which gods, from what angles. Often times if you aren't hidden when you ult (try to always be hidden, but sometimes you don't have that luxury) you need to employ some reverse psychology. Expect the enemy to be smart, and juke your ult. Feel which side they'll juke towards, whichever side would be safest for them. Where would you go if you were expecting the ult? Aim there and launch it. I hit about 70% of these shots or more.
It just takes practice learning where people will go. Its important that you learn to lead people behind walls, even when you lose vision on them totally. The lower health they are, the more predictable they become; save your ult for these low health, predictable targets.
The hardest thing to guess is dashes. But you can land ults at the end of dashes. Lets say you got wiped, you're coming back to tower and there's an assassin with a dash trying to get as many basics in on your tower as they can before you get there. Ult away from them, expecting them to dash out of tower when they hear your ult, and you can hit them at the end of their dash or jump. This kind of situation happens often.
So lets go over some specific ult situations on the Joust map:
[*] Your target is low, the enemy team is falling back under their tower, your team is pushing the lane. Step into the Red Buff jungle quickly, go around and look around the corner, hidden, and look for the low person to back within range. Aim and release fast, often times, even in ranked, people are already looking at items, thinking they're safe to back, and you get the kill.
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[*] Your target is low, the enemy team is falling back under their tower, your team is pushing the lane, but the enemy isn't backing. Same thing as before, but the low target is staying, wanting some more wave XP before they back. You have a few options here while you're looking around the corner from the jungle. First, if they seem to be moving predictably, lead them with your ult, plan on them backing to safety when they hear it (but they wont see it coming, you're hidden), and throw it so that they back into it. Or, if they get close enough, drop a whirlwind on them, come into lane, and often times they'll run at the edge of the map toward their tower - launch the ult at their side pinning them to the wall, down the side of the map, they'll almost always veer away from the wall thinking you're aiming right at them, and run into it.
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[*] The enemy team is all very low, falling back under their tower, your team is pushing the lane, but the enemy wants to clear the wave before they back. Go into the jungle at their Blue buff, either wait for your team to get close enough to get vision through their blue buff wall or place a ward over the wall, and predict their movement. You'll often get kills hitting them from the side like this. They rarely expect it, and have no idea whether you're going do FG or their blue buff, and cant see the ult coming fast enough to react.
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[*] Your low target ran away, you're out in the open, but they're at the edge of the map about to pass behind their tower. Even though you're in the open, you're about to have a moment where their tower is between them and you. This happens from time to time, they think they're pretty safe, but theyre too smart to just back behind tower. As soon as they get behind it, ult the other side of it, where they'll come out as they run past it trying to see where your ult is going (as it hits them in the face).
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[*] You're doing Red Buff or FG, and the enemy team is coming to contest. Finish the buff with your ult, as your aim it through the buff and into the passageway where the enemy team is stuck on their way to you.
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[*] You're being chased out in the open by an assassin. Turn to the side, ult sideways, and walk past it, the assassin trying to land basics on you will walk through it before they have time to react, drop a whirlwind between you and them and keep running, they'll be too low to keep pursuing.
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[*] You're being initiated on out in the open by an assassin with a jump. The moment they begin their jump, ult forward, Zephyr them as they fall from the knock-up, and Poly should finish them with 1 basic.
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[*] You just got CC'd and attacked from behind by a melee god. Don't waste time turning around, ult forward. Kuku's ult hits targets immediately behind him. They'll be hit if they're on top of you trying to finish you, turn around and Zephyr / Poly, then run.
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Get. A. Team. Do. Not. Solo. Queue.
You can execute every aspect of Kuku perfectly and still get sh*t on in ranked play if you don't A) have a guardian to protect you from dives B) have a team who is more skilled than the enemy, period. In ranked you're going to be playing against mostly pre-made comps, and you will have a very very hard time ranking up without a good team on your side because it's not based on how well you play, but whether or not you win (and you won't play well no matter how good you are if you have a trash team).
For example I played Kuku solo queue, qualified into bronze, and worked my way up to silver 1. It was not easy or fun. I found a team and made it to plat in just a few weeks, but by the time I got there, I had played over 600 ranked games. If you look in the leaderboard of the Plat rank, you'll see people with only 20-40 games played to get there, most of which who qualified into gold or even plat, and did it all with a skilled premade team.
Do. Not. Solo. Queue.
As you can see I left placed marked in the guide where I want to add video examples - Ive recently started recording games, and just have to catch the right moments to turn into gifs for the guide.
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