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Swap Blink Rune for Purification Beads if enemy composition has heavy CC. Regardless, you will almost always want Blink and Beads as your two relics. I explain more in the Relics section below.
This is the new start for Kali. You go with Bumba's Dagger due to the cheap price and stats late game, among other reasons. I was never a believer in Bumba's for Kali in the past because the clear was so poor compared to Manikin and Eye but recent jungle starter changes have pushed this item to the forefront where overall value is concerned. You will still struggle a bit with early camp clearing using Bumba's but once your first item is online this will no longer be an issue.
I usually do not spend my entire 1500 gold in the beginning, only purchasing what I need (sometimes skipping the second Healing Potion) and saving the rest to jump-start my first full item which provides a nice early power spike, etc.
With the cheap price on Bumba's Dagger you have some flexible start options when it comes to Potion management. You can also go Multi Potion or Hand of the Gods if you want.
This is the new standard Kali build. It provides a faster full build path and excellent stats overall. This is in part due to some item buffs/nerfs, including the jungle starters.
Some users may wish to only build Odysseus' Bow up to the Tier 2 Charged Bow for the passive and 20% attack speed. If you do this, you will only finish building Odysseus' Bow after completing all other items purchased afterwards (as well as your starter upgrade).
'If and When' is up to you, it's just a recent "tech" that people have started to favor on Kali for a few reasons, namely the change to the T3 O-Bow not being much different than T2 when they nerfed it. While I partially agree with this method I wouldn't say it's a requirement.
NOTE: You may want to swap out Hastened Katana for Wind Demon, an item with good stats but more RNG. Be aware WD is getting nerfed so use it while you can. If you go the WD route you can sell The Crusher late game and purchase Deathbringer. You may also try Berserker's Shield instead of Serrated Edge, if that's something you like. Overall, I still prefer Hastened over WD seeing as it's common for Kali to hit 20+ autos without a single crit, also WD's passive is entirely dependent upon triggering crits so it's less reliable.
Prioritize "Lash" as it's your main burst damage. Next max out "Incense" as it increases power and buff duration. Lastly, finish maxing your "Destruction" ultimate for longer duration and a bit more damage, followed by maxing "Nimble Strike".
You won't use "Nimble Strike" to dive onto enemies as often as you'd think - it's your main survival/evasion ability - you will want to engage with your Blink Rune relic more often than not or try to flank the enemy if possible.
There are situations where using "Nimble Strike" to jump onto an enemy is the correct play. Use your own discretion and reflect upon previous experiences.
Final Note: You may wish to level "Lash" again at level 3 if you don't think you'll need "Nimble Strike" yet and wait to level it when you hit 4, which is what a lot of players lean towards.
Tap each threat level to view Kali’s threats
This is a typical start with Manikin Scepter being a popular choice for Kali. It has recently fallen out of favor to Bumba's Dagger. I still enjoy Manikin and Eye but if you're wanting the most efficient build you would probably go with Bumba's in Start #1.
If you prefer, you may try Eye Of The Jungle if you're expecting team fights to focus around neutral objectives rather than lane/phoenix line or if you want to focus more on invading/contesting and brawling with the enemy jungler.
I usually go 2 Mana Potion but you may opt for 2 Healing Potion instead. I find that after doing camps and rotating mid I need the extra mana to use abilities and pressure in lane. Often health isn't as much as an issue if I can stun them and have enough mana for lash, etc. Again, up to you.
This path has some of the highest overall damage potential of all the builds I've tested previously. Very high AA damage and AS while having good team skirmishes and boxing potential.
As you can see it's somewhat similar to the new Kali build with some slight changes. I will say it has a slower start than Build #1 but provides nearly equal stats once you're full build. This build is if you're wanting to try something different than the meta build every Kali will be using.
The Crusher just provides more and is good for a hybrid burst build which this meta is leaning towards, so overall I would recommend Build #1. Also, with recent Manikin changes you may wish to choose another starter item such as Bumba's (which received a nice little buff) or Eye. Another change you may wish to swap Ichaival and Qin's Sais build order if you're worried about price and value early game. Just some things to think about.
This build was very strong a couple patches ago but has fallen out of favor for the Bumba's + Crusher start in Build #1. It still performs very well and the starter item is ultimately up to you so there's some flexibility.
Know your match-ups. Do they have heavy healing? Do they have high CC? Annoying Slows? Need more survivability? Etc. etc.. Use these items as you need them but make sure to keep your core build. You will usually slot these in around your 4th or 5th item. These can also be considered 'flex' or 'optional' items.
You will want these two relics pretty much every game. Blink Rune allows you to engage without using your "Nimble Strike" ability so you can escape with it if necessary. It also allows you to disengage from a failing team fight if you're able to avoid damage for a period of time.
Purification Beads is another necessity. You may be tempted to purchase Aegis Amulet but do not be fooled. You're Kali - you have a stun, leap and an undying ultimate. You can survive a lot of engagements without needing "Aegis". You WILL die if you are stunned, mesmerized, crippled, rooted, silenced, etc, during a team fight where you won't get a chance to use your abilities. This is why Purification Beads is so crucial.
UPDATE: With the removal of Boots we are seeing a lot more build variation and I want to let you know that I have tested every item combination viable on Kali that I could think of. I've taken into consideration Pro builds, streamer builds, my own theory testing and actual in-game experiences. You may not agree with my choices but I am confident that these builds work very well when factoring in AA damage, protection shred, objective shred, boxing potential and decent ability damage.
This is a build guide, not a how-to-play God guide. Kali builds tend to stay the same or similar over the seasons with minor nerfs/buffs, if any at all. Your builds can flex depending on your playstyle but try not to overthink it. I go over more details about my item decisions in each of the builds notes.
I would make a build for every game mode but to be honest I don't play every game mode consistently and don't want to lead people astray with assumptions. The majority of my time played is Conquest followed by Arena when I'm feeling like a quick game. I am tempted to make a "Mid" and "Solo" build for Kali but I won't lie - you will probably lose lane against smart opponents or due to god picks (especially in Solo) but you can certainly carry as "Mid" playing Kali in Casual Conquest. We'll see if I add builds later.
Kali is my most played god with many mastery stars and is the god I am most comfortable with. But as always take what myself and others say into consideration and make your own conclusions. See what works for you!
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