By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
It’s about time! Another Celtic God! I’ve been waiting for a while, but he tows the “company line” in that he’s probably as complicated as his compatriot, The Morrigan. The second God to hit the pantheon is just as important though; he’s Cu Chulainn [Ku Kullen], the Thrice-Born, the Hound of Ulster. He’s a man with some serious rage issues that he needs to work through. You know what he reminds me of? This might not ring true for everyone, but he’s like a USF4 [Ultra Street Fighter IV] character! One of the most important things to learn in Street Fighter is “meter management,” not burning all of your Super Meter at once so that when an important moment is going down, you have meter! And while yes, Cu Chulainn has “mana”, it’s really a rage meter, with a minimum of 25 [when you die, it resets to 25], and builds up with damage to enemies with abilities, or when he or his allies take damage! None may harm the Friends of the Hound of Ulster. When he pushes beyond that limit, he freaks out! Cu Chulainn becomes a hulking beast [yes, he does what Gnar does], it changes his abilities, slows him a bit, and he really makes a difference in a team fight. He will shine both in the solo lane and the jungle, but I don’t really jungle enough to give it a whirl. I do feel like he’s lacking a bit of something though… He’s fun, but I don’t think he can stand up to the likes of Tyr, Osiris, and Odin in the warrior scene.
Cu Chulainn is the “Thrice-Born” of Gods and Kings. He’s a fairy-tale given flesh, a legendary, unstoppable warrior with a thirst for battle, stopping entire armies on his own, risking his life versus The Morrigan. He’s well-known for his bloodlust or frenzy in battle, becoming a horrific, unstoppable monster when riled. He gained the name “Hound of Ulster” when he slew a guard dog for a Smith, and to make things right, stood by his side and defended him until the man could get a new guard dog trained and prepared. He accidentally killed his own son, mistaking him for an intruder. Connla’s last words to his father as he dies are that they would have “carried the flag of Ulster to the gates of Rome and beyond,” leaving Cú Chulainn grief-stricken. The myths and legends that are told for Cu Chulainn are the inspiration for many others later in literature, such as Bricriu’s Feast paralleling Gawain and the Green Knight. Only Cu Chulainn remained and allowed the disguised Cú Roí to behead him [though he was spared. That’s my English Lit degree coming in handy finally]. He’s a man of great valor, and will not tolerate injustice or misdeeds. He’s a man whose tales are without end, his victories numerous. He’s the Hound of Ulster, and he’ll stop any who get in his path on the Battlefield of the Gods.
- Wall Leap: Any fighter/bruiser that can leap over walls is okay in my book. He can leap a fair amount of walls, though the Salmon’s Leap doesn’t really have a ton of range. But in a pinch, it’s an escape or an engage on someone who doesn’t know you have vision/teamwork on your side.
- Controlled Rage: While yes, as soon as you hit 85 Rage/Mana, you become a frenzied ass-kicking machine. But you can control this to some degree, making it a bit more manageable than it might appear. Utilizing his “2,” Vent Anger, is so very important. This will allow you to have your Rage anytime a teamfight is up, and that’s so important. Not to mention, when he’s in that form he does get a damage shield, and additional power to bring to the fight.
- Don’t Sweat the Small [Mana Pool] Stuff: One of the handy things is that any “mana” or “mp5” stuff gets converted into HP5. It’s neat but doesn’t really seem to do a whole lot [more on that later]. But what this does mean, is that you don’t need to build Mana Items on him. In fact, you’ll probably see Transcendence in some of my gifs, but I don’t recommend that you work that into your build. Treat him like a warrior that doesn’t need mana. Don’t worry about those items so much and instead, worry about what does synergize with him: Lifesteal, Attack Speed, things like that.
- Su Su Sustainy-o: Look, they can’t all be winners. And one of the serious drawbacks to Cu Chulainn right now, is that in the solo lane, the name of the game is “Sustain.” If you can get poked out, you can’t really do a whole lot other than continue to be bullied. And this hurts a guy like Cu Chulainn right in the pride. And also the health bar. The health regen he has doesn’t really feel like enough to make it worth his while. And building sustain/lifesteal items might fall somewhere down the priority scale, and this will only hurt him further. This is his biggest weakness right now.
- Target Locked: One of the drawbacks to his larger rage form is that it is now a much larger target. He’s incredibly easy to hit, he’s very slow, and if you use it at the wrong time, there might not be an escape. I love it, but it is something to be aware of, that now it’s going to be a lot easier for Thanatos to land his execute, for Janus to lock you in a portal, for Ymir to freeze you and make sure the team is in a position to beat you down. He also loses the wall jump ability when it is replaced with a dash.
- Itemization: So many cool items feel like a waste on Cu Chulainn. Hydra’s Lament, Transcendence, Death’s Toll. Not all of them are bad [Mail of Renewal is Godlike in my opinion], but there are so many items you might be used to using, that you will buy out of habit, that isn’t so great on him. It’s very important to understand what items do what, which ones are useful and which ones aren’t. You have to do a little more work on this front.
Passive: Berserk [Buff]: Cu Chulainn’s Mana, Mp5, and Mana Heals are instead applied to his Health pool. Instead of Mana per 5, he gains Health per 5 [10% of mana]. Abilities cost “Rage,” which stops regenning at 25. However, abilities that hit enemies build Rage, and also build 1 rage for each auto attack or when friends are attacked. 3 seconds after hitting 85 Rage, he frenzies, growing immensely, gaining a damage shield and extra power [5+2 per level] He stays in Berserk for 20 seconds. His abilities also receive new properties for the duration.
1: Barbed Spear/Ground Slam [Line Damage/Root]: For 9 Rage, Cu Chulainn throws the Gae Bolg in front of him, dealing damage [75/135/195/255/315 (+45% of your physical power)] to anyone in the line, as well as stunning weaker enemies [2 seconds, minions]. In addition, for 4 seconds, any Gods healing is reduced [40%]. In Berserk form, it becomes Ground Slam, where he smashes the ground and roots all enemies in front of him [1 second].
2: Vent Anger [AOE Damage]: Cu Chulainn literally becomes so angry that he has to vent some steam. He deals damage in an AOE around him [10/15/20/25/30 (+5% of your physical power) per tick] and lowers his rage by 16. You do not gain Rage back for damaging enemies with Vent Anger. This is to lower your Rage and prevent unwanted Berserker Fury.
3: Salmon’s Leap/Furious Charge [Leap, Damage/Dash, Knock-Back]: Spending 9 Rage, Cu Chulainn vaults via his spear, and launches forward to a target destination. He deals damage on the spot where he lands, and a line in front of him [65/120/175/230/285 (+60% of your physical power)]. This move can also leap over most walls. In Berserk form, it becomes Furious Charge. He dashes forward, dealing damage and knocking all enemies hit backward. Hitting with this does regen 6 Rage [up to a cap of 18].
4: Spear of Mortal Pain/War Cry [AOE, Damage/AOE Damage/Tremble]: After a slight delay and in a wide arc , Cu Chulainn spins the Gae Bolg, dealing damage [175/250/325/400/475 (+65% of your physical power)] and knocking them all up into the air. Hitting with it restores 12 Rage [to a cap of 36]. If he’s Berserked, instead it becomes War Cry, which deals damage in an area, and in addition, causes everyone to Tremble [1 second].
I do feel like Cu Chulainn’s a bit weaker than the average warrior. His kit is incredibly fun, and being able to master the art of rage building/management can create some truly spectacular moments. I feel like in the early game he lacks some damage, and also lacks sustain. This can be tremendously difficult in the solo lane against characters that can either poke him down or simply outlast him. More and more I think he might be better suited to the jungle … But you’re going to want to be landing abilities [1 and 3 ideally] to regen that Rage, and build it at a nice, steady clip. I feel like one of the problems I had with him at first, was I was just throwing abilities willy-nilly, getting nothing for them. If you miss or try to bait with him, you don’t get Rage back, so you absolutely have to come prepared. Ideally, I feel like if you can keep him around the 50-60 Rage amount at all times, this is incredibly ideal. This will mean for you that if someone tries to get away, you can catch them, because you have enough Rage to pop abilities and get it back, and if you need to Vent Anger close to 85, it will drop you back into this “sweet spot.” This will ensure you can always use a power when the CD is up if you need to.
This is also important because this will allow you to have your Berserker Form anytime a Team Fight comes up. If you prefer the knock-up to the tremble, you can get to about 60~ Rage, hit the whole enemy team with your knock up, leaping in first with your 3 to get into position. This gives you enough time to knock them up, transform, and start being a hassle. Knock their carries out of the fight with your charge as soon as it comes back. Do note that his cooldowns don’t reset like Fafnir’s do! So you really have to consider what abilities you want to use in which form. Depending on team makeup, you might not have to be the one to initiate and leap in with the knock-up. Ideally, you’ll have someone fun like Ares, Chaac, or Bacchus, and you know really surprises me with a lot of synergy with Cu Chulainn? Ganesh! The slow on his ult, the silence, the knock up, everything he has makes life for the Hound of Ulster a lot easier. Pick Gods that are disruptive and annoying. Vulcan, Arachne, Artemis, Zeus, anything that forces them to stop and reconsider what they’re doing is going to make things a whole lot of fun. You have a lot of crowd control too, depending on what form you’re in, so make the best use of it. Sure, you should only use the Berserker Form in a pinch, but there are more situations than the teamfight. Is an opponent coming and you have them warded? Leap on them, transform, and pin them against the wall with your Charge! You have damage and a health shield, it’s time to make them sad!
There are so many damn different things you can do with Cu Chulainn, and even the items that “aren’t good” for him, because they have stats or abilities that you can’t utilize [Transcendence, Hydra’s Lament, to name a few], they still aren’t terrible. Ideal? Probably not. But you can build so many things! A mixture of damage and protection items are key though because I don’t feel like the starting damage for Cu Chulainn is that impressive. But late game? It’s not that hard to get triple/quadra kills with the greatest of ease. Though I think one of my favorite combinations of weapons in the game for him are Frostbound Hammer and Hastened Fatalis. Get nice and close, slow them down with the Hammer, and with Fatalis, you won’t slow down as long as you’re landing hits. With two or so attack items, I had a rough 1.6 Attack Speed and was able to generate rage very reliably. Of course, I’m leaving items off this [Jotun’s, Ichaivaal, etc], but at the end, itemization always boils down to what you need in whatever situation. Some people prefer to build him all damage items, but I am a tank at heart and tend to build more defensively. I think both are viable on him. As far as Relics go, my personal favorite so far has been Bracer of Undoing! If I go too-ham on an enemy or find myself in a bad spot, it can be just the recovery I need to escape a bad situation, or keep me in a fight a little longer to win. Teleport is also great, as well as the usual solo-laner affairs. If you’re going all in on a high HP/damage build in a smaller mode like arena, try pairing bracer with meditation to make you a true juggernaut that never quits in intense team fights.
Sound Defensive Items: Mystical Mail [Even when you aren’t Venting, they’re taking damage. And I do believe it stacks], Genji’s Guard [Lowering cooldowns, even on a 30 sec cd? Yes please], Stone of Gaia [I can’t think of many fighters this is not good on], Mail of Renewal [Honestly, this is my favorite item after a few matches with him. I forget it sometimes and do regret that], and one that I’m a bit iffy on is Breastplate of Valor. It’s got CDR, Physical Protection, but it also has Mana/MP5, which doesn’t really do much for him other than a bit of conversion into HP5. Honourable Mention: Gladiator’s Shield. The potential health back from using an ability might get you out of a sticky spot. I like it and use it, but it’s not the best unless again, you’re going very heavy in your HP itemization.
Fun Aggressive Items: Hastened Fatalis [This is a no brainer, don’t let them get away!], Bloodseeker [Getting kills gives a health shield? Once you’re established, this is a great pick], Wind Demon [Literally has all the wonderful damage options you need. This and Bloodforge could be your only weapons and you’d do just fine], Asi [Useful for if you think you’re going to potentially be in a bad place where you’re out of friends and out of position. The lifesteal could really make the difference between life or death].
Okay, so I like Cu Chulainn. His kit has 8 fun abilities, and each one of them feel useful in the right situations. None of it feels like it’s a waste of time. But I do genuinely feel like he could use a little something to boost his early game. I feel like he’s very easy to shut down in the early going, lacking any measure of sustain and survivability. But I do feel like he’s usable on most team comps, and he certainly brings more than just “damage” to the Warrior Role. It’s unfortunate that I feel like many warriors already do what he does but better, and a lot of his skills do feel kind of familiar [from other Gods]. But he’s flexible, and requires a lot of thought, and I think that’s awesome. Some of [many of] the warriors feel kind of braindead to me. There are of course exceptions to that, but Cu Chulainn brings something fresh to the role, even if some of his skills have been seen before. The longer the game goes on, the more it’s in his favor, as long as you’ve learned the very critical skill of Meter Management. Over the last few days, I’ve seen some incredible Cu Chulainn players, and each one approaches him a little different. Figure out what works best for you and go with it!