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Kunkka, The Admiral
Written by Dysania


Feb 28th, 2010 - Started writing the guide
March 2nd, 2010 - Rough guide finished
March 3rd, 2010 - Added a replay, fixed some spelling and grammar errors, and changed some skill and item info, tweaked some minor details
March 4th, 2010 - Added some items to Situational Items, fixed some images that didn't show properly
March 5th, 2010 - Guide finished
March 7th, 2010 - Guide published!
May 6th, 2010 - Decided to rewrite the guide after a lot of thought; Rewrote "Roles and Game Strategy" and "Skill Build"
May 8th, 2010 - Added anchors and a few more sections including the "Mini-guide"
May 9th, 2010 - Added "Examples of Teams" and a [Q&A] section for Skills and Items
May 10th, 2010 - Added counters to "Enemies" and extended many parts of the guide. Rewrite is finished.
June 14th, 2010 - Starting an "Alt-Tab Miniguide" due to popular request.

Table Of Contents

Click on any section below to go to to that section of the guide.

1. Introduction and Foreword
2. Hero Overview
2.1. Hero's Skills
2.1.1. Mini-Guide to perfecting your spells
3. Skill Build
3.1. Questions on Skill Build
4. Roles & Game Strategy
5. Item Overview
5.1. Item Build
5.2. Questions on Items
6. Drafting & Synergy
6.1. Examples of Teams
7. Replays
8. Conclusion
9. Credits

1. Introduction and Foreword
First of all, I'd like to start off the guide saying that an "Organized Guide to Kunkka" means that when you play him according to this guide, you actually will have a set team, choosing and banning specific heroes, and performing your hero's role, hence the word "organized". Also, I'd like to point out that I've written this guide with over two years of competitive DotA experience, so if you have a comment, please describe and validate your opinion respectfully and with some thought put into it.

Kunkka is an extremely versatile hero that fits into many lineups. He excels at being a strong carry and his impact throughout the whole game should not be underestimated. He is sometimes referred to as a "Glass Cannon" because of his low survivability and HP, but ability to deal huge amounts of damage in mere seconds. Because I feel that some players underestimate this hero, I've chosen to write my own guide on him. Although he is hard to master, he is very fun to play and is extremely effective. Again, this is a guide geared towards organized and competitive games, where you, your team, and your opponents know what they're doing, so the strategies in this guide will be written accordingly.

2. Hero Overview

Kunkka has a base strength of 21 and a strength gain of 2.7.
This is pretty average for a strength hero; maybe just a bit low, but it can be fixed easily.

Kunkka has a base agility of 14 and a agility gain of 1.3.
This is low. That is all i have to say. For a hero like Admiral, its not so good. Fortunately, we have things to make up for it. More on that later.

Kunkka has a base intelligence of 16 and an int gain of 1.5.
Not bad, but not great. There will be some mana problems early, but later on, when you start focusing on physical damage, it won't matter that much.

Affiliation: Sentinel
Attack Animation: 0.4 / 0.3
Damage: 47 - 57
Casting Animation: 0.4 / 0.51
Armor: 2.6
Base Attack Time: 1.7
Movespeed: 300
Missile Speed: Instant
Attack Range: 128 (melee)
Sight Range: 1800 / 800

+ A game-changing hero once mastered
+ Very fun to play
+ Has 1(.5) disables
+ Excellent initiator
+ Excellent lane control via Tidebringer
+ Very good farming potential
+ Can solo or dual lane
+ Can deal a massive amount of AOE damage
+ Does not need a whole lot of farm to be useful

- No real escape mechanism
- Slow attack speed
- Requires practice to be effective
- Tricky to use
- Needs a lot items to scale into the late game as a carry

2.1. Hero's Skills


* Ability Type: Active
* Targeting Type: Area
* Ability Hotkey: E

Using his unparalleled knowledge of the sea, Kunkka is able to summon a blast of water at a targeted area. After 2 seconds a fierce torrent of water erupts from the ground, the stream blasting enemies caught in the AoE into the sky, dealing damage and slowing movement speed by 30%.

This is your main disable, and its very effective for ganking, harassing, escaping or initiating minor battles. It has an AOE of 225, costs 120 mana, has a casting range of 1500, a disabling period of 1.53 seconds and a cooldown of 12 seconds. All of these remain the same at all levels.
However, the length of slow (1/2/3/4) and damage (120/180/240/300) increases.

• Damage type: magic
• The initial bubble effect is only visible to allies.
• Units tossed in the air will be paused and still able to be attacked.
• Part of the damage occurs right as the torrent erupts, the rest occurs over time as the units are in the air.
• Don't underestimate the casting range of 1500. It is farther than you think, so don't be afraid to use it even if the enemies seem to be out of your reach.


* Ability Type: Passive
* Targeting Type: N/A
* Ability Hotkey: D

Daelin's legendary sword Tidebringer is infused with the very power of the sea. Akin to the ebb and flow, Tidebringer passively grants the hero increased damage and large AoE cleave for a single strike every once in awhile.

Your signature spell. Every 16/12/8/4 seconds, your sword will glow with water, which means you will gain a stronger attack (+15/30/35/60 dmg) and have a splash attack (AOE of 380/420/460/500) on the next attack that you perform. This is the spell that gives Kunkka such good lane control, farming capability, and capability to splash massive amounts of damage in one hit. Excellent for harassing enemies and for getting last hits. Be careful not to push the lane too much with this, unless you are purposely trying to. When you are using this to harass, make sure your hero is facing the enemy when you attack the creep to make sure that Tidebringer hits him. It has a very large AOE, so this shouldn't be too hard.

• Cleaved damage is only reduced by armor type, not by armor value.
• Cooldown is not activated on denies, so the damage bonus is maintained.
• If a hero is running away from you and there is a creep in front of you, attacking the creep will possibly splash the damage onto the enemy and maybe kill him/her. This is a slightly more advanced technique, but keep it in mind.

X Marks The Spot

* Ability Type: Active
* Targeting Type: Unit
* Ability Hotkey: X

In order to make an assembly for his troops, Admiral Proudmore targets a hero and marks its current position on the ground. After a few seconds, the hero will instantly return to the mark.

After you cast this on an enemy, an X will appear where they were when you casted the spell. Then, after 1/2/3/4 seconds, the enemy will return to the "X" location. Another useful spell that is extremely helpful for ganking and even escaping. Synergizes very well with your other spells, but can be tricky to use. For the basic X + Torrent combo, cast your X on the enemy, and then cast torrent right on it. After about 1 second (It will take practice), press "R" to return the enemy to the X. With practice, it is almost a guaranteed torrent.
Has a mana cost of 80/90/100/110 and a very long cooldown of 30 seconds, so only use it when you really need to. Casting range improves per level (500/650/800/950 range). Again, very useful spell for many situations.

• If target becomes magic immune after this spell has been cast, target will not return to the X after the duration ends.
• It interrupts channeling spells.
• If the enemy is TPing, use it and they will return to where they TP'd away.
• You can cast X Marks the Spot on teammates and on yourself.


* Ability Type: Active
* Targeting Type: Instant
* Ability Hotkey: R

Returns the target to the X.

Simple as that; It immediately returns the target to the X, so you don't have to wait for the full 1/2/3/4 second(s). Very useful for returning them to a torrent that you have placed on the X. Costs 50 mana and has a cooldown of 5 seconds.

• This ability is automatically gained when X Marks the Spot is learned.
• Due to Kunkka's fairly long casting animation (0.51 seconds, which could mean the difference between hitting or missing your torrent), Return will take a moment to actually bring the enemy back.
• Using this spell alone makes Kunkka raise his sword. This is the casting animation for all your spells, so make use of this when chasing enemies. Cast return without using X Marks The Spot, making it look like you casted Torrent. Smart opponents will turn around or walk to the side, attempting to dodge the "Torrent", giving you and your teammates time to catch up.

Ghost Ship

* Ability Type: Active
* Targeting Type: Point
* Ability Hotkey: T

The admiral summons the mythical ghost ship S.S. CoCo to the battlefield. Allies are doused in Captain CoCo's Rum, inebriating them for 10% bonus movespeed and numbness to incoming damage, causing them to feel only half of the pain now and half after the Rum wears off. Enemies, pirates and scurvy knaves are dashed on the rocks for damage and a brief stun when the ship crashes.

This is a very complicated spell with many effects. Firstly, Kunkka raises his sword and a huge boat comes from behind him. The boat travels forward 1000 range and crashes, stunning all opponents in the 400AOE for 1 second, dealing 300/400/500 damage. All allied heroes, for the next 5/6/7 seconds, have their movespeed increased by 10%. Additionally, all allied heroes will take only 50% of the incoming damage for the 5/6/7 seconds, and will take the other 50% after 5/6/7 seconds. Since a large battle lasts around 6-10 seconds, you and your teammates will be able to tank a lot more in the battle, and take the rest of the damage after. I find this buff part of the skill unnoticed and underestimated, which is why I described it in detail. The cooldown for this spell is 100 seconds, which is short enough for you to use it to gank enemies, or in a 2v2 fight, for example. Use it to initiate battles, as it has a huge casting range, and so the damage reduction will be active during the fight. A game-breaking ultimate when used correctly.

• Damage type: magic
• Actual AoE of ship's collision is larger than the boat itself.
• The boat has a movement speed of 650.
• Damage dealt after CoCo's rum wears off is non-lethal and can never kill a hero. It leaves the hero with 1 HP.
• The boat does not crash exactly where you aim it. Instead, it heads that direction for 1000 range, then crashes. It takes practice and prediction to hit a perfect Ghost Ship.

2.1.1 Mini-Guide to perfecting your spells
Kunkka is a fairly hard-to-perfect hero, and a lot of his spells require good aiming, timing, or positioning to be used at their maximum potential, so I have written a "Mini-guide" on using Kunkka's spells.
Click on "show" to view screenshots.


Shows the AOE (225) and maximum range (1500) of Torrent

I know that I'm controlling Lion, this is just to show where to aim Torrent.
Here, Lion is running straight with no boots, so he has 280 MS. (This means he moves 280 "range" per second for anyone who doesn't know what MS actually means). Torrents erupt in 2 seconds, which means you should aim the Torrent 280x2=560 units away. Obviously, if you are facing a Chaos Knight with phase boots, you will have to adapt. It takes some practice to hit moving targets with Torrent, and its even harder when you try to hit people who will try to dodge it. Nonetheless, getting a straight Torrent is the first step, and this picture shows where you should aim Torrent for this situation.


After numerous screenshots, this one best represents the AOE of tidebringer, and how far the enemies will have to be in order to dodge the attack. The stats say 500 AOE, but its not a perfect 500 AOE ring around you. Instead, it is about 500 range in front of you, about 350 range to the sides, and it sometimes will hit units right behind you. Again, its best to get some experience with Kunkka so you get the "feel" of his spells.

X Marks The Spot

This picture shows Kunkka casting X Marks the Spot on a fleeing Centaur (this is just for demonstration, I know its AI, and I know that I can't kill him like this). After you cast X Marks the Spot, you probably want to cast a Torrent right on the red "X", then press "R" for Return about 1.5 seconds after casting your Torrent so the enemy returns right before the Torrent erupts. It sounds complicated, but its very easy after you get the hang of it. This is the common X and Torrent combo, which is extremely useful for hitting your Torrents when chasing heroes.

This picture shows Kunkka casting X Marks the Spot on himself. This might be useful for juking in narrow passageways, like in the first scene of "The Magical Kunkka", a DotA Movie shown below. Note that you can also cast X Marks the Spot on teammates, but rarely will this be of any use. Nonetheless, keep these in mind because it just might come in handy.


I don't think this spell needs a picture. When you press "R", Kunkka will raise his sword (casting animation), and the unit will instantly return to the "X".

Ghost Ship

Again, after many screenshots, I find this one best shows how to use Ghost Ship. It will take quite a few seconds, about 3-4, for it to finally hit, so you need good coordination with your teammates, and good timing. I think the picture is quite self-explanatory from here. The ship starts from behind you and moves steadily until it is 1000 range in front of where you clicked. The 'numbness' part starts taking effect immediately after you cast it.

The Magical Kunkka - A DotA Movie on Kunkka, by hexOr

A superb DotA movie geared directly at Kunkka, the Admiral. HexOr shows the full potential of this hero in many different ways. I highly recommend watching this video, even if its just for entertainment.

3. Skill Build
Note: There are lots of skill builds that you could use (some people even suggest getting Torrent + X first for early ganking power, but this is very mana dependent, and Kunkka does not have great int gain early game. Don't do this unless you have a CM or Ezalor on your team, or if you have some other form of mana supply.)

Dual Lane or Solo Lane

Level 1 - Torrent/Tidebringer
Level 2 - Tidebringer/Torrent
Level 3 - Tidebringer
Level 4 - Torrent
Level 5 - Tidebringer
Level 6 - Ghost Ship
Level 7 - Tidebringer
Level 8 - Torrent
Level 9 - Torrent
Level 10 - X Marks The Spot/Stats
Level 11 - Ghost Ship
Level 12 - X Marks The Spot
Level 13 - X Marks The Spot
Level 14 - X Marks The Spot
Level 15 - Stats/X Marks The Spot
Level 16 - Ghost Ship
Level 17-25 - Stats


For first blood attempts, get Torrent, which is pretty self-explanatory. After that, Tidebringer is maxed out first as it is too good to skip early game. It is your only lane controlling spell, and is essential for last hitting and harassing. 60 Damage from Tidebringer + your base damage is about 130, and at Level 7, that is a lot for something you can dish out every 4 seconds.
Next, max out Torrent for, again, obvious reasons. However, getting X Marks The Spot at Levels 8, 9 and/or 10 is not a bad idea if you're finding it hard to land Torrents. If you have a Crystal Maiden or have some sort of mana resource to make up for the extra spell you will need to use, this is definately a viable strategy for helping you land your Torrent. You can then max out Torrent, then X Marks The Spot accordingly.
Ghost Ship is added at level 6/11/16 because Level 1 Ghost Ship costs only 150 mana (30 mana more than torrent), deals 300 AOE damage and stuns for 1 second. You also get the movespeed bonus and the incoming damage reduction, all for 150 mana. I highly recommend adding Ghost Ship at lvl 6 for a 2v2 lane. X Marks The Spot is taken over Stats because its helpful for ganking and the cast range improves per level, but getting a Level of Stats at Level 10 is a good idea if you want to boost your hp/mana a little. In the mid game, you dont have that big of a mana problem, so get X Marks The Spot.

3.1. Skill Build Questions [Q&A]
Q: Is there ever a situation where maxing out Torrent first is good?
A: Adapt to the game. 19/20 of the time, Kunkka is going to be a carry, focusing on farming, so Tidebringer is usually preferred. However, if you are part of a tri-lane, you might want to get Torrent over Tidebringer, but it really depends on the game

Q: Why don't you leave X Marks The Spot at Level 2 because it lasts 2 seconds and Torrent erupts in 2 seconds?
A:I have heard this many times, and while it seems like a perfect strategy, it's usually better just to max out X Marks The Spot. There are a lot of situations where you will really want the extra few seconds on X Marks The Spot. For example, if you leave it at Level 2, you might get stunned after you cast X Marks The Spot so you won't get a Torrent off, and you will have wasted X Marks The Spot, just so you could get +4 to all Stats. Also, adding X Marks The Spot increases the casting range which is infinitely useful when chasing quicker heroes.

Leave a comment if you have any Questions, and I will gladly answer them.

4. Roles & Game Strategy
In today's metagame, Kunkka is usually played as a carry. His farming capability allow him to get Core items very quickly. He naturally deals high amounts of damage, so he needs to farm.

[Choice #1] Go for a dual lane with a hero like Crystal Maiden or Vengeful Spirit. They will provide you with a disable long enough for you to hit your torrent 99% of the time, and they are natural support heroes, so you can get all the farm you need. I think Crystal Maiden deserves a special mention here, because she provides you with an extremely helpful aura: Brilliance aura. Your early mana problems are solved, and her Frostbite and your Torrent combine to make a deadly laning combo. Last hit as much as you can, as your laning combo will make the opponents be more defensive. If the support hero plays properly, you should be able to farm quite easily. Gank if your lane is pushed, or if your team is built around doing so. If not, continue to rice (farm) your lane. Once you get some decent items, force some team fights, and initiate the battles with Ghost Ship and and follow up with Torrent. Use X Marks The Spot to catch up to fleeing heroes. In the Late game, support the carry with Torrents and X Marks The Spot. At this point, the reduced damaged from Ghost Ship starts to be noticeable. Use Ghost Ship whenever there is a battle; it will help a lot. You are a very good carry hero, so if nothing is hapenning, farm a lane whenever possible. Carry TP scrolls to farm at your maximum potential. With your excellent farming capability, you should be able to farm some high tier items with ease. In huge team fights, either initiate, or let a hero like Tidehunter do so, and follow up. Wreck the heroes with your splash but don't play too aggressively, because you aren't really a "tank".

[Choice #2] Go for solo mid. The short lane makes your Tidebringer easier to harass the enemy with. Ask your roamer or help from the dual lane to gank. Any roamer with a stun will most likely net you a kill. If the enemy gets away with a bit of hp, let him be. You get a few creep waves to farm, which is equally as good as a hero kill. Continue harassing the enemy and score as many kills as you can. The important thing is to out-level the enemy and farm as much as possible. Since you have the level advantage, you should be ahead in farm due to Level 4 Tidebringer. From here on, your playstyle should be the same as [Choice #1]. Initiate battles, and use your level difference to your advantage. Your spells do a lot of damage. Hopefully your solo mid also gave you the money to farm some significant items and make a big impact in teamfights.

5. Item Overview

Recommended Items

Note: Always adapt to the game. These are just my overall ideas after quite a lot of experience, but always, always adapt.

Magic Stick/Wand is good item on every single hero, and Kunkka is no exception. You will get into a lot of sticky situations where the ~150 hp and mp could turn the tides of a fight. Always good to have this. The 3 to all stats from Magic Wand is also nice. Unfortunately, it becomes nearly useless later on, and still takes up an item slot.

Its good to have 1 or 2 Bracers. Kunkka doesn't have great strength gain for a hero of his role, so the added hp and the boost of mana is always useful, but if you're farming well, you might want to consider other items.

I used to recommend Phase boots on Kunkka, but after testing out Treads in a variety of games, I found Treads to be a very viable choice. The attack speed on Treads is extremely noticeable, and the extra strength allows you to tank quite a bit more. Although teleport from BoT is nice, TP scrolls will be enough. The Phase ability is always good to have, and bonus damage is always welcomed. It is really your choice whether to get Treads or Phase, so look at the game's situation.

Always carry one of these. Whether its for escaping, defending, or farming that free lane, its always good to have TP scrolls on hand.

Urn is simply an awesome item for Kunkka. It provides him with some much needed HP and mana regen, while still being cheap. The charges on the Urn also allow you to stay in lane for a lot longer, which is always good.

Ring of Basilius is actually a pretty good item on Kunkka. If you're in a trilane, which will be very often in competitive games, a RoB is one of the best items even after the nerf. It makes Kunkka just a little bit more tanky and again, gives some much needed mana regen. I highly recommend RoB if you're going for a lot of roaming/ganking with your Venge and Witch Doctor.

Extremely useful item for Kunkka. BKB allows you to deal a lot of damage in teamfights and not get disabled/nuked to death. Although you have no channeling spells, you are extremely vulnerable to spells and you being the beast that you are, will often get targeted. The 10 strength and 24 damage is always helpful, and it doesn't cost too much. Keep in mind that every time you use BKB, it will lose 1 second of duration the next time you use it, so only use it in logical situations. However, it will only go down to a 5 second duration, long enough to dodge the major spells in a team fight. Do keep in mind that bashes go through BKB.

Battlefury is a great item on Kunkka that synergizes with Tidebringer. It provides you with even more damage, and much needed regen to both HP and MP. Its a good item to go for if you're farming well, and its pretty easy and convenient to build up. Highly recommended item for Kunkka.

Lothars is definately a good item on Kunkka. It allows you to suddenly splash tons of damage amongst the whole enemy team. The 125 backstab damage is included in the splash damage, and Lothars also gives you a good escape mechanism. IAS and damage is great, and even though it is a little expensive, it is very noticeable in team fights, and is extremely worth the gold.

Assault Cuirass is a very useful item not only for you, but for your team because of the IAS and Armour auras. The -5 Armour reduction to enemies is like an AOE Desolator, and the IAS is awesome if the game is lasting longer than expected, and you have massive DPS items stacked up.

Buriza really makes you a real threat because if you get a critical strike with Battlefury and Tidebringer, all that critical damage will be splashed amongst the enemies. Although Buriza costs a lot, it is a late game Luxury and it will pay off after you see the critical damage. I don't recommend getting this item for every game, but it is definately a Luxury item if you can afford it.

Situational Items

Kunkka benefits a lot from what vanguard gives, but is often regarded as a "fallback" item. If you seem to be farming badly, or are looking to drag the game (turtling), you will often want to go for a Vanguard first. In Mid-game teamfights, you will be rambo-ing in a lot, and you really need that vanguard to withstand focus fire. Not a bad item for you, but not always a must.

Bottle is sometimes a good item if you seem to be lacking some HP/MP for ganks or staying in lane to farm. Its sometimes seen as a cheap perseverance, so its another "fallback" item if you're not farming so well. Again, its definately not a must unless you're soloing mid, but even so, its better to rush that Ring of Health 90% of the time.

Heart is useful for tanking, and as Kunkka is often focused, he will need the HP boost. He should not be going back all the time, so the 2% regen will go farther than you think. Always good for a strength hero, but its usually better just to go with your "glass cannon" title and get more DPS items.

Pipe is another situational item. Because you have BKB, it could go to waste, but your team could greatly benefit from this. Synergizes well with Ghost Ship, but is geared more towards a defensive/safe strategy. Not a bad item at all.

Satanic seems perfect for Kunkka at first, providing survivability and lifesteal, but its not. Of course, its not a bad item, but it doesn't provide you with much damage. If you find yourself needing HP and survivability late game, I find it better just to go for Assault Cuirass just because it provides tons of armour while increasing your DPS. Nonetheless, Satanic is not a bad item, but it de-synergizes with your AOE theme since the Lifesteal will only work on one target.

Hex and Shiva's Guard are both "good" items to get, but most of the time, you should just get those top tier DPS items. However, Guinsoos is widely regarded as the best late game item, and the ability to hex is, indeed, a priceless ability. Shiva's provides some survivability, but the int is a little too much, and you should be focusing on increasing your AOE damage with DPS items, not Shivas.

Vlads is not the best item to go for on Kunkka, but its not too bad. It is easy to build in the early game, and provides some helpful things like Mana regen and Lifesteal. However, its cost is quite unappealing for its use, and again, there are much better choices.

Unless your team chooses 4 AOE Disabling heroes and you are sure that you will not get focused, do not buy Mask Of Madness. Kunkka does not have the survivability to take the extra damage since he is often focused. Also, Tidebringer will not activate more often if you have faster attack speed; You will always have to wait 4 seconds for it.

Linkens could be useful on Kunkka, but if you have a BKB, you won't really need it. A good alternative to BKB though; The stat & regen bonuses are nice and a Spell Block every 20 seconds is great. Unfortunately, it is quite expensive, but consider this item before getting BKB.

Rejected Items

Armlet's Unholy Strength gives +65 damage and +25 strength worth of HP on activation, along with a good armor and HP regen bonus, and a decent boost to your attack speed, at the cost of only 30 HP/sec. This item is GOOD. Activate it when you're about to take your first swing, and then if there's no danger of you dying and the kill is guaranteed, just turn it off to save HP. If the shit is going to be flying, just leave it on the entire time. Turn it off after several heros are dead. Trust me, an extra 200HP from the HP drain is much less traumatic than the ~500HP drop you suffer from deactivating it in the middle of the fight. Once the fight is over, you can safely deactivate and TP if your health is low.
This is a very good argument for getting Armlet. However, Kunkka does not have a great amount of HP, making it very risky to use Armlet. Despite the fact that it is quite safe to just turn on Armlet, attack, then turn it off, it is just not worth the money for that little bit of damage for one attack. Unless you buy Lifesteal and some survivability to make up for the 35 hp/second loss, the 2850 gold for Armlet could be used for many more important core items. Lastly, Kunkka will not be the hero getting disabling support from the team. Instead, he is the AOE presence, a glass cannon who should not be using Armlet and absorbing a lot of damage.
For more about my opinion about Armlet, click here

Never, ever, get Quelling Blade on Kunkka. If your eyes are working properly, you should be able to read the "Cannot be held by Admiral". Its not because Admiral already has a sword; No, its because you won't get the extra damage from it since it will dis-function with Tidebringer. Don't ever get this on Kunkka. It doesn't work.

While Maelstorm and Mjollnir seem like a nice sidekick to your splashing, AOE arsenal, Kunkka has horrible attack speed which means he won't proc the lightning much. Also, it provides barely any attack speed and an orb that is barely even useful. For attack speed, get AC, for damage, get another Bfury. Kunkka is also quite fragile, so you don't want people focusing you to get those Static Charges off.

Although SnY provides decent movespeed and survivability, it costs 4500 Gold. Certainly not a good deal, especially for a hero like Kunkka. You already have burst movespeed from Phase Boots, and have better survivability from BKB, and the damage is very little compared to items like Lothars or Battlefury.

Kunkka does not have excellent attack speed, so bashers is a waste. It does not give Kunkka things that he needs, and there are many other things that the money could be used for. Don't get bashers.

Let your team's support hero get the Mekasm. You should be focusing on getting your core items. By the time you get them, the 250HP heal will be unnoticeable.

5.1. Item Build
Starting Items at base

Total: 586

[Recommended] This build is more defensive and provides more heal. It provides quite a bit of strength, and is more safe incase you face heavy lane harassment. Feel free to switch the tango + salve around with 2 tangos or 2 salves, but I recommend getting one of each.

Total: 584

Total: 594

[Situational] These two builds provide a solid, aggressive start that provides you with a fair amount of hp. Have your team's chick/crow grab you a salve or two if you are farming well. You will need it because you only have 1 tango/salve for healing, which is next to nothing. If you are farming well, go for the Ring of Health from the side shops asap.

Core Items

This is your core item build, and its pretty damn expensive. Firstly, you should have chosen your boots - Treads or Phase. A bracer helps you survive a bit more, and it gives a bit of mana. The Lothars is vital to your instant AOE splash "theme". Paired with Battlefury, you will do a lot of damage to the enemies. Keep in mind that these items also help you farm the other one, so its really not that hard to get. Obviously, keep a TP scroll for defending or farming the free lane, and a Magic Stick for that (imba!) instant heal. In a really good game, you should be able to farm this in about 30 minutes, but don't hold yourself from helping the team to farm. You are not Phantom Lancer, who is supposed to farm, farm and farm until he gets his Radiance. By the time you're Level 11, you should have a good balance between farming and initiating teamfights/ganking.

Luxury Items

The main Luxury items you should be aiming for are (in order of importance) BKB, Assault Cuirass, and Buriza. BKB provides you with magic immunity, which is priceless in teamfights. Assault Cuirass greatly increases your EHP and your physical damage output by a ton. Buriza is the real icing on the cake, as a critical'd splash attack is game-breaking when you proc it. Other items like Heart or Satanic are optional; Get them if you feel that its the "right" item to get for your game.

5.2. Item Questions [Q&A]
Q: Why do you hate Armlet so much?
A: I don't hate Armlet as an item, but I do dislike the idea of making it on Kunkka. I do understand the use of Armlet and the logic behind it, but you really need the gold for other items. For example, Battlefury costs more, but it provides more regen, more damage, and more splash damage. Also, the idea of losing HP on Kunkka is unbearable, and even if you say you're trading it for a lot of damage, Kunkka will often chase heroes, and you'll have to keep the Armlet on. Lastly, if you want to do more damage with your Tidebringer on that first hit, why not just get Lothars, which is infinitely more versatile.
To go back to the Item Overview of Armlet, click here

Q: Why don't you suggest any Orb effects for Kunkka?
A: Orb effects are usually for heroes who have fast attack speed, or do large amounts of damage so that they can Lifesteal it back. Kunkka has neither of these traits, so he is not a very good candidate for Orb effects. Also, with Lifesteal, you only steal life from the target you attack, not the others who received splash damage, so its not very useful.

Q: How many Battlefurys should I get?
A: Most of the time, one Battlefury is plenty, and by the time you have Battlefury and Lothars, you should be going for BKB and then Assault Cuirass. However, if your team consists of heroes like Magnataur, Tidehunter and Enigma, you could opt for a second Battlefury to increase your splash damage output.

Q: What about Refresher Orb?
A: Refresher is way too expensive for its use, and the Mana regen is not needed if you have a Battlefury or even a CM on your team. Although I do agree that Double Torrent and Double Boat seems sexy, it is far too mana-intensive and you would need a soul ring and probably even a mystic staff just to use it, and when you attack, you will deal only ~150 damage, which is nothing for a hero who has so much more potential. Lastly, you could get a lot of other useful items like Lothars and Buriza for the same price which increase your splash output by a lot more without using so much mana.

Leave a comment if you have any Questions, and I will gladly answer them.

6. Drafting and Synergy
Kunkka is a versatile hero that can fit into many lineups. Generally, use Kunkka in a team of heroes that:
Don't have a lot of carries
Has some AOE disables/damage
Needs an initiator
Has powerful Mid game presence
Works well with Kunkka!

Good Allies

As mentioned earlier, Crystal Maiden is Kunkka's best ally. She helps set up kills with frostbite, has a great aoe slow, solves you and your team's early mana problems, and has an ultimate that, combined with yours, is a thing to be scared of. She's also a natural support hero and a babysitter, allowing Kunkka to get much needed farm.

The new Magnus is a perfect teammate for Kunkka. He, again, deserves a special mention because he can drag the whole enemy team together, setting up a perfect Torrent and Ghost Ship. Secondly, he can buff you 45% more damage and 45% more splash, which is incredibly strong on Kunkka. If played correctly, Magnus can boost Kunkka's potential by a whole lot.

Dark Seer is another obvious hero that synergizes perfectly with Kunkka, but only with good coordination. A well timed Vacuum and Torrent could set up a deadly combo (Ex. Magnus' + Nevermore's Ultimates). Surge is good for Kunkka since he often needs to chase, and more AOE from Ion Shell is always welcomed.

Vengeful Spirit is often paired with Kunkka in a dual lane due to VS being a support hero, an excellent babysitter, and a hero with a targetable stun, allowing Kunkka to hit Torrents very easily. Also, Kunkka will be able to farm quite well with VS's babysitting, making this a very potent lane.

Sand King has a ranged AOE stun that can set up your torrent very well. Imagine a Burrowstrike + Torrent + Ghost Ship + Epicentre. Excellent ally from Level 1 to 25.

Lion is another babysitter, and he has two target-able disables and, making your Torrent a lot easier to hit. He can also harass the enemies well, allowing you to last hit and control the lane much better.

Basically any hero with an AOE skill, a stun, or a initiating/positioning skill.

Your Enemies

Silencer messes up everyone's combo, and you're no exception. A Kunkka using only Ghost Ship or only Torrent just isn't as effective. Try to stay away from him when you cast your spells so you won't get silenced. Silencer also has amazing lane control, so if you face him in a lane, you won't be getting much farm, even with a babysitter.

How to counter: In the lane, try to force the kill as soon as possible with a ranged stunner, because if you don't, he will constantly keep you at 0 Mana, and keep draining your HP.
In team fights, you should obviously try to stay back and not get silenced by Last Word. Also, you don't get silenced by Last Word from using items, so cast your Ghost Ship, get silenced, but follow up with Lothars and attack. Then use your X and Torrent to catch the fleeing heroes. This way, you can still initiate effectively without being bothered by silences.

Now the main problem with NA is actually not his burst nuking combo. If you are unlucky enough to be his laning opponent, he will constantly keep you at very low mana. Although you have Tidebringer to fend him off early game, he will still come back later on, and unless you are constantly holding your torrent hotkey, waiting for him to appear, you will suffer.

How to counter: Harass as much as you can with Tidebringer, and don't try to force a kill, since you will be low on mana. After the laning phase, stick with your teammates more and ask for better warding so you don't get picked off. In the late game, he won't be much more than a pesky fly.

I feel kind of silly putting SA as the on this list, but he really does make you useless, even if you have dust/wards. Even if you get out of smoke screen, and you cast torrent, he will simply blink away or blink to you. Using X Marks the Spot on him is a pain too, because if you turn around to cast it when he's invisible, he's gonna be right behind you, dealing massive damage. A very annoying hero, so you'll need good teamwork to rid of him.

How to counter: Stay with your team, ask for more wards and buy dusts, or ask for the support hero for dust. As soon as he pops out, cast X Marks the Spot as soon as you get out of Smoke Screen, then use dust. Since hes such a fragile hero, he'll be dead in seconds.

If you decide to solo mid and you see a Medusa, you have the right to be afraid. Medusa has incredible lane control over you, and your Tidebringer will seem to do no damage at all. She also never runs out of mana, while yours just goes lower and lower, along with your health. Chasing her is difficult as well because of Stone Gaze. Simply an ugly (and I mean ugly) hero to have on the other team.

How to counter: You can't really "counter" a Medusa with Kunkka. However, you can ask for constant ganks and try to force as many early kills as you can before she gets her Linken's or any soursce of damage.

Again, a very unique hero to put in this section, but Kotl's Mana Leak can really mess you up if you make a wrong move. Since you are Mana dependent in team fights, you cannot afford to lose any mana, but you cannot afford to stand there while a battle is happening. Fortunately, Mana Leak doesn't have a huge casting range, so you probably won't get hit by it.

How to counter: Stay back in team fights to avoid Mana Leak. Other than Mana Leak, Kotl is no threat and a very fragile hero, so if you find him isolated and out of position, cast X Marks the Spot on him right away and pick him off.

Pugna's ward can be really annoying if he places it in an effective spot. The mana shock you get when you cast a spell hurts, and you will be casting all your spells. Unfortunately, the mana degeneration hurts even more, as it might encourage you to rush your combo.

How to counter: Communicate with your team to fight away from where the Nether Ward is. Try to be patient and don't rush your Ghost Ship. If you're chasing him and he casts Decripify on you or himself, you can still cast X Marks the Spot, then wait for Decripify to run out. This is also another example of why you might want to max out X Marks the Spot: because it lasts longer, so you can chase more easily.

Of course, Doom has to be mentioned because he is the "universal" counter to virtually all 97 heroes in the game. Not much more to say here.

How to counter: Don't get doomed; you can't even use items in them... But seriously, try to position yourself better than him, so you chain disable him before he can even do anything.

If you're alone, Bloodseeker will leave you with no choice but to give him the kill. His rupture and silence just totally counters any hero if they are alone. The only way to survive would be to outlevel/outfarm him, or to have teammates come help.

How to counter: Again, you will need good, constant warding. Also, keep your eye on your HP when farming, because the AOE of Bloodseeker's Thirst is a lot larger than you think. If he chases you, casting Rupture and Bloodrage on you, fight him! Without any top tier items, Bloodseeker is an underwhelmingly weak hero, so pop your Magic Wand, and with the extra damage from Bloodrage and Tidebringer, you will be doing massive amounts of damage to him, turning the tides of the battle.

If N'aix goes for you, all you can do is activate Phase Boots and run. There is simply nothing else you can do for 5 seconds. He will eat you, open your wounds, and he is immune to your violent splashes of water. Just hope that you can survive long enough if he comes after you when you're alone.

How to counter: Lothars is the safest way to go. Also, if you feel that you have enough HP remaining, TP out as soon as you see him raging and opening your wounds. He has no stuns, so if you can tank him for a few seconds, you can easily get away.

Basically heroes who like to pick on enemies who have no quick escape mechanism, or heroes who are just plain good against any hero. You will need to rely on your team to save you from them.

6.1. Examples of Teams
Note: These picks and bans are simply my opinions of heroes that work well with Kunkka and the ones who might counter them. These suggestions are based on lots of experience through IH games and scirms.
Also, the lanes are assigned assuming you are Sentinel.

AOE and Teamfight-based team


(Bot Jungle)

Lots of AOE disabling capability here. CM will lane with Kunkka, which is a really strong lane. Kunkka should be able to farm quite well here with CM's support and the aura is awesome for the entire team. SF will solo mid so he can get quick Levels and souls for his ultimate. Tide will solo bottom, the safe lane, and enigma will jungle, ganking bottom from time to time. Tidehunter and Enigma both have incredible AOE Disabling skills, allowing Kunkka to follow up with his Ship and Torrent very effectively.

Ganking-based team



This team will focus a lot on stuns and ganking. As you can see, all 5 heroes have a stun/disable of some sort, so ganking will be very easy. You will need some good warding and will need to take advantage and control in the early game by constantly ganking. Kunkka here should keep a balance between farming and participating in ganks.

Kunkka Solo Mid as a hard carry



Kunkka here will solo mid, and he will need it because he is the only real carry on the team. Both of the other lanes have very strong lane control, so you should be staying in your lane farming as much as you can. In a lineup like this, you will probably want to farm most of the time, and get some top tier items to make impacts in teamfights.

7. Replays

Replay #1: GosuGamers DotA | Replay: MYM vs DTS

Replay #2: GosuGamers DotA | Replay: vs OK

Replay #3: GosuGamers DotA | Replay: MYM vs TeG

Well played Kunkka by MyM|MaNia-, laning with Maelk who plays Vengeful Spirit. Notice how VS plays a very defensive and denying game, letting Kunkka last hit. Because they were laning against Rooftrellen, a very difficult hero to kill early on, they were not as aggressive. They get their first kill at 6:45 through a Stun + Torrent combo. MaNia- farms a LOT this game. He has a creep score of 77/8 13 minutes into the game, which is insanely good. I think MyM was worried about Razor being a real threat and getting out of control, so MaNia- tp'd everywhere and farmed like crazy. He gets a bracer, Phase Boots and Bfury by 16 mins, which is very respectable farm. All in all, a good example of how to play an Kunkka in the laning phase, but the game just turned into a stomp later on.

8. Conclusion
Firstly, I'd like to say that this guide is the outcome of hours and hours of research, revision, testing and effort, so I hope that any comments are thoughtful and meaningful, and that you think twice before you comment.

All in all Kunkka is an awesome hero in pub games and in competitive games. He excels at farming, initiating battles and dealing huge amounts of damage in mere seconds. He is capable of changing a game if played properly, but he also depends a lot on his team. Because he is a hero with such an impact, he is a top pick in competitive games.

To end the teaching part of the guide, I'd like to say one last thing: In this guide, I use the word "positioning" a lot, and while it might be redundant, positioning is what the current game is all about. In reality, you can get horrendously outpicked, but if you have good positioning (okay, last time I'll use it.), initiating well and starting battles intelligently, you will often win the fight, with good coordination of course.

So there we go, I hope my guide has inspired you to try or play Kunkka more and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

9. Credits
I'd like to thank many friends for the on-going support and for inspiring me to write and re-write this guide. Huge thanks to Luminous for giving me the opportunity to show my guide on his website. Special thanks to the people who commented on the guide, providing priceless feedback to improve the guide. Also, I'd like to thank dmZ^hexOr for his amazing Kunkka movie, which I used in the Mini-guide (all credits go to him), and the Dota Commentaries community for the awesome experience and the inspiration to rewrite the guide. Last but not least, thanks to Icefrog for creating this incredible game, and to the whole PlayDota staff and community.

Don't forget to rate and comment!

Daelin Proudmoore the Admiral
Author: Dysania
Map Vers.: 6.66b

Organized Guide To Kunkka

Lethal Once Mastered

Date Posted: 02/28/10
Last Comment:17/07/2013
Total Votes: 311
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