Big boats- a comprehensive guide to the admiral
September 26, 2012
Hey everyone. So, I've finally decided to get around to making a thorough guide for one of my all time favorite heroes, Admiral kunkka, A.K.A cap'n krunk.
let's start with my experience. i have been playing DotA 2 for a little more that a year now, with several months of experience in heroes of newerth before that. i have a total of almost 400 games played in dota 2, with the admiral being my most played and my most successful.
In my personal opinion, the Admiral is one of THE most underrated heroes in the current pool. Without a doubt, he is one of the most versatile heroes, up there with the likes of invoker, rubick or mirana in terms of role flexibility. this is simply because that if in the hands of someone who knows what he's doing, Kunkka is a force to be reckoned with all. game. long.
I'd first like to clear the air and say that kunkka is NOT a carry. well, he's not just a carry, anyways. on top of having the potential to carry late game, he is also an early game lane dominator, as well as a durable ganker, chaser, and even initiator. Basically, during a game, kunkka has the potential to play as every primary role, bar support.
the yarrs and the... narrs?
+extremely versatile and a solid pick no matter the situation
+durable strength hero with high strength gain
+boatloads(!) of AoE
+scales fantastically late game
+hard counter to escape artist heroes with X (AM, QoP, DS, Lycan, etc.)
+can deal both physical and magic damage (meaning he isn't completely shut down by enemy BKB's
-very mana hungry
-low int and agility gain
-skills can be very tricky to use without help from your team, and the egg WILL be on your face when you miss your stuff
-doing well requires skill, positioning, and intuition (or just plain luck if all else fails)
-needs items to perform late game
first off, let me just restate what everyone should already know by saying that this is just a guideline. There is no set-in-stone build order that you have to go by. As always, adapt to your situation and build accordingly.
the starting items
straightforward enough. the basic tangos and salves, gauntlets and branches. note that the gauntlets can be exchanged for a stout shield if you are heading for a more defensive lane and if you are planning on building vanguard later. you may wonder why i don't get mana regen if kunkka is so mana hungry. this is because the only thing you have to spend mana on before level 6 is torrent, and torrent is not to be used lightly. the only time you want to spend the mana on that is when you know you and your team will be able to capitalize on it and get a kill. but, we'll cover that more later.
early game items
you have several options. if no one on your team is planning on buying it, i highly recommend getting urn every time. it provides everything you need early on: mana regen and strength. you should be getting a lot of use out of it when ganking and teamfighting, whether healing your team or using it to finish off fleeing victims. if you're not getting urn, there's also ring of basilius, which also provides much-needed damage, armor, and mana. other than that, there's the run of the mill bracer or wand, which is never a bad choice.
Now, i have noticed many people either preferring power treads over phase boots or outright ignoring phase boots as an option. from my experience, i can say that for a vast majority of games, phase boots offer far more for kunkka than power treads. there are 2 main reasons for this:
1)note that phase boots synergize well with ghost ship, which also boosts movement speed, totaling a whopping 26% movement speed increase (this isn't even taking shadow blade into consideration)
2)Attack speed is wasted on the admiral. I cannot stress this enough. kunkka's physical damage comes almost entirely from his tidebringer procs, which are not affected at all by attack speed. the bonus damage from phase boots is far more valuable than the attack speed from treads.
after phase boots comes the delicious shadow blade. this thing works wonders on the admiral. not only does shadow walk offer considerable mobility and an escape mechanism, but get this: the 150 bonus damage from shadow walk stacks with tidebringer. that means, with level 4 tidebringer and shadow blade, you can come out of invis swinging for 210 bonus damage in a 500 AoE. so, basically, it turns tidebringer into yet another AoE nuke. 'nuff said.
now, at this point, your item build can go in one of two directions; maximizing either your survivability or your attack damage. this primarily depends on your team composition. if you are your team's only prospective carry going into late game (or if you are just balling hard enough to the point where anything goes), then it's time to stack damage. however, if there is another hard carry on your team, or if you are one of the only strength-based heroes on the team, then it's time to start beefing up.
vanguard: cheap, effective, and the regen is a boon. you should be able to finish it pretty quick, especially if you bought stout shield already
BKB: offers damage and strength(AKA: more damage), kunkka's two favorite things. also, magic invulnerability is always useful, especially if the enemy team relies heavily on magic damage
attack damage route
Battlefury: more damage, more regen, and pretty much solves your mana problems for the rest of the game. also, even more AoE cleave (this is a good thing). (note: battlefury also fits well into the survivability build, just buy the health and mana rings early on for perseverance, then just finish it whenever you can)
Daedalus: if you've ever seen the good admiral come out of a shadow walk to OHKO an entire team with a 4-digit critical hit, you'd know that this item speaks for itself. definitely a must-have if the game is going well for you.
as for "oh god why won't this game just ****ing end already" options, the only one that really comes to mind is heart of terrasque. huge amounts of both damage AND health, and you can have fun never dieing ever again.
on second thought, i suppose heaven's halberd is also a viable option. while you may not use the proc very often, the bonus strength and damage on it is nothing to sneeze at. also, with the dodge and disarm, you can neuter a fed enemy right-click carry pretty hard with this.
most of these are just common sense, but i'll list them anyways just to make it absolutely clear what you should never see the admiral carrying. anything not mentioned here, however, is still open game
simple enough, ghost ship isn't upgradable. no point in this one
-agility weapons (butterfly,ethereal blade, manta)
-attack speed items (assault curi***, mjolnir, orchid malevolence)
like i said before, attack speed and agility don't do kunkka any good.
-sange & yasha
again, it comes down to attack speed. you're not attacking fast enough for mana burn or maim to be worth it. if you're going to get sange, you're far better off getting heaven's halberd instead
-mask of madness
kunkka is a warrior of poise and tact, not some brute berzerker. leave these items for the corsairs
now, before we get into actual strategy and using your sailing skill set as a whole, let's go over the details of each skill.
kunkka's first trademark nuke, it's a delayed AoE stun with a slow applied afterward. the damage and slow duration increase with levels
-like any other delayed AoE, it can be tricky to land on its own. to maximize your chances of actually landing it, it's always helpful to have teammates who can help "set up" targets, I.E. slowing/stunning/immobilizing your target, making it easier to hit. simply put, the less your target is moving, the easier it is to hit
-one of the most important things to remember about torrent is its RANGE. it has a staggering 1500 range. that is Xbox huge. a good kunkka player will really abuse this, especially to finish off fleeing enemies when they're well into the fog, thinking they're safe.
-like i said before, be careful using this early on. you don't have the mana pool to be throwing it around all willy-nilly. for newer admiral players, a good rule of thumb is that your team will be slightly less pissed at you for saving your stun than blowing it and completely missing a tough target.
this is Kunkka's bread and butter. every couple of seconds, it gives kunkka's attack bonus damage and a AoE splash. bonus damage and cooldown decrase with levels
-this is what makes you shine in the lane. with this, you can hold your ground against all but the toughest laning situations.
-one very important thing to keep in mind: the splash damage ignores armor. just let that sink in a little
-like i hinted at before, this is what also gives the admiral his late game potential
X marks the spot
a more situational ability. when used, it "marks" a unit, and then returns it to the marked position after the allotted time. range, duration and mana cost increase with level
-this skill can prove to be very potent against more "slippery" foes. with this skill, the ungankable are made gankable
-unfortunately, the X is pretty much useless at level 1, so most of the time you're better off saving your mana until you have more points into it
-keep in mind you can use this on anyone, friend or foe. you can even use it on yourself. while it may not be quite as obvious when you can use it on an ally, just keep an eye out. there are so many wacky possibilities i'm not going to delve too much into it right now
this is the tricky one. when used, it sends a ghost ship 1000 range in the target direction, applying a buff on allies it passes over and stunning and damaging enemies at the crash site. the buff increases movement speed and delays 50% of damage taken until the buff ends. mana cost, cooldown and damge increase with levels
1)note that the boat will always travel 1000 range in front of you. the only thing you control when you use it is the direction it lands. because of this, positioning is key when throwing the big boats.
2)the buff does not mean you get 50% damage reduction per se. what it does is it stores 50% of damage taken and then releases it as a DoT at the end of the buff. also note that you cannot die from the DoT itself (much like poison nova). while the effect may not be that noticable, what it means is that your team can stay alive in a fight longer, which means more trouble for the enemy.
3)the AoE on the nuke can be a bit vague, as there is no visual AoE indicator. after playing kunkka for a while, a good rule of thumb is it's probably bigger than you expect it to be.
stratagize me, cap'n
because of kunkka's flexibility, and the laning power tidebringer gives him, kunkka can go mid if it is available.
early on, the main thing you want to focus on is maximizing your harass with tidebringer while last hitting. you do this by simply making sure that you are point in the direction of the enemy heroes when you go for the last hit, so they get splish splashed in the process.
that much is simple. the tricky part, however, is doing this without pushing your lane out too far. this can be avoided by
a)autoattacking as little as possible between splashes, going for last hits only
b)positioning so the splash misses as much of the enemy creep wave as possible (this is done easily by simply swinging on the ranged creep in the back of the the wave)
c)staying on top of denies
besides that, if you are laning with a partner, keep an eye out for torrent opportunities where you feel that you and your partner can get the kill
once you've gotten a point in your ult and have your basic necessities (boots/urn/etc.), it's time to start roaming and looking for enemies you can ride hard and put away wet.
-while it is possible for you to gank by yourself, it's best if you have teammates ready (and willing) to gank with you. this makes your job of landing torrents/boats much easier if a teammate can "take point", so you can hang back and throw a solid ultimate
-one of the best strategies for ganking is to hide in the jungle next to the lane and wait for just the right moment for your skills. it's important to be patient, but at the same time don't hesitate too much or else you'll miss your opportunities, which means you're falling behind on gold and levels.
PROTIP: if you're going to use ghost ship, it is always better to torrent first, THEN ult. torrent has a shorter delay, and it immobilizes them longer, making them easy road-er-waterkill. granted, this isn't always an option (i.e.: ulting defensively, torrent on cooldown, etc.), but you should do it whenever possible
using the X: X marks the spot can be used many different ways, but i'll just list a few here. the rest are for you to figure out.
-if you are really having trouble landing torrents, one trick you can use is to keep X at level 2. at level 2, the duration of X is just the right length where caasting X then torrent in immediate succession will guarantee a hit on the target. however, keeping X at level 2 limits its usefulness in other situations, so only use this if you are really that bad at landing it.
-the most straightforward use for x is on fleeing heroes, especially ones who have a tendency to get away fast.
-this can also be used in reverse to escape an enemy hero chasing you (although only if there is one enemy chasing you)
-a more advanced technique is to use X on yourself to juke or scout. for example, you want to scout out a dangerous area, so you cast level 4 X on yourself, quickly run there, and then blink back to safety.
so, you've laned a bit, ganked for a few, and now the big fights are starting to break out. by this point, you should at least have your phase boots and shadow blade, and now you're really ready to rumble. now, i'm not suggesting that there's a guaranteed flowchart solution to any teamfight, but here's an example of a typical best-case scenario fight for the admiral
-enemy team is making a push on your tower
-wait until most of the enemy team is visible and in range
-if your team has another initiating hero, wait for them to drop in first
-while enemy team is busy, quickly drop your torrent/boat combo from a distance
-shadow walk into the thick of it and unload tidebringer into the crowd
-continue wailing on enemy team at your own discretion
-chase down any stragglers with X/torrent
obviously, this is an optimal scenario, which almost never happens. therefore, it's up to you as a player to learn how to read a situation and act accordingly. a lot of the time, you may not be able to have enough breathing room to throw your boat comfortably. this is where the cliche "practice makes perfect" comes into play. only with experience will you be able to land your spells more and more consistently. eventually, you'll get a feel for it and it'll just come naturally. you are an admiral, after all.
now, come late game, the only differences are you will most likely spend more time farming rather than ganking. that, and tidebringer will gradually take precedence over ghost ship and torrent as your primary damage-dealer.
friends and foes
One of the main things that a kunkka player likes to see in his teammates is the ability to help set up targets for his stuns. while kunkka's disables are powerful, they're what i like to call secondary disables. basically, this means that they are most effective when used in succession of other, more immediate disables. basically, the more reliable and immediate your teammates disables are, the better (be it a stun, slow, or immobilize). some particularly good examples:
and the list goes on. i would also like to especially mention those tricky "removed from play" disables, which can be very effective with the admiral (with enough timing and coordination). so add to the list
also, i would like to give a very honorable mention to dark seer. while this takes a good bit of communication, vacuum works absolute wonders with ghost ship and torrent (as it does with any AoE ults)
besides disables, attack damage buffs like vengeful spirit's aura can be very potent for kunkka later in the game
now, besides the one quite obvious foe (tidehunter), there are not that many explicitly hard counters to kunkka. this is mainly because of his inherent versatility. instead, just be wary of heroes that are built to counter the category of heroes kunkka falls into, I.E.: melee strength heroes with no built-in escape mechanism. some examples of heroes that might be trouble for you include:
this is just a few. like i've said before, kunkka is a very well-rounded hero. the benefit of this is he doesn't take the risk of being completely and utterly shut down by a particular hero or hero type. however, you'll learn over time which heroes can be trouble for your little sailor man.
there are a couple different categories of heroes that kunkka excels against due to his skillset
one good thing about tidebringer is that it is only more effective the more targets you have to swing at. this can spell trouble for enemy heroes who rely on "swarm" tactics with minions or illusions in order to fight or push.
blink/hard escape heroes
-queen of pain
if you have any experience with DotA, you know that slippery heroes like anti-mage can be a nightmare if it's your job to gank them. well, thanks to a well timed X marks the spot, you can effectively nullify any sort of attempt to avoid some well-earned quality time with the admiral. it doesn't matter how far they manage to get away, you'll be right there waiting for them.
well, that's about everything i could come up with. congratulations, you now know the basic ins and outs of cap'n krunk. happy sailing.
questions, comments, or suggestions for content are appreciated