By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Behold! Bowser, King of the Koopas! No, wait. It’s SMITE‘s Kuzenbo, King of the Kappa. Resemblance is uncanny, no? Now the Japanese pantheon has a full list of characters, with Kuzenbo being a Guardian/Support. What a way to start Season 4! It has such a pile of new items, changes, a new pantheon, so much stuff that I don’t need to talk about it here, because I’ve already done it! At least once. So let’s focus on the Kappa instead; he deserves it. Kappa are sneaky, clever bastards, and Kuzenbo is no exception. He lurks, and waits, and as people sink just a bit into his waters, he drags them down. Kuzenbo is truly the king, so much that he led thousands of his kappa to Japan to feed on the peasants, smashing their armies, raiding villages. He’s only been defeated twice, and while he grows impossibly stronger as the bowl on his head fills with water, he’s got a ridiculous weakness. As a creature of Japanese design, he’s inclined to bow politely to others, which will… tip the water out of his stupid head-bowl. Then he’s able to be defeated!
Powerful, crafty, but somehow still a bit stupid, Kuzenbo is an interesting creature, definitely one worthy of joining the Battleground of the Gods. However, he’s Easy to play, and anyone interested in trying out a Guardian could do well with him. He’s got weaknesses, and strengths, not overly broken unless you really know what you’re doing. I’ve got some issues with him, but those aside, I absolutely love playing him. He’s got charm, his hairline looks like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, he’s huge, but he does something irredeemable in victory. His victory dance… The little Nene do the Nene, and so does Kuzenbo. Then he changes it up! He does… The Soulja Boy. The best thing about him? Stacking Thorns powers. There’s no escaping his lightning.
He’s not really hard to get into, but, there are some things to be aware of. Mostly his “3”, Sumo Slam. It just feels a bit weak to me… Sure, it has a Silence when it hits the first God, but the damage is uninspiring, and you really have to be behind the enemy, or near a wall, or it’s just about damn worthless. I’d like it to have anything else: A knock up, stun, flip back, a drag, something! You can use it without one sure, but you have to put a bit more work into it. Let’s talk roles, before I get any farther. He’s a Guardian, so he belongs paired up with his Hunter pals, but… He does enough on his own to head off solo. Honestly, I have a feeling he could be a jungler, using his charge and the Nene helper to get work in. It wouldn’t be fast, but he’s a Guardian so you can build a few magic damage items. I haven’t tried it, but it’s something I would definitely like to see. That way, we can have a ridiculous support, and Kuzenbo can pull a Randy Orton, and come out of nowhere! It’s where he works best, with the enemy having no idea his charge has wound up and barrel the enemy Gods right into your team.
- SO MANY THORNS: At max level, his thorns  deal 40% of any damage he takes. Kuku’s ult, standing in enemy Ra’s circle, Anubis’ ult, all okay with the right defenses! Then stack Thorns Relic and Hide of the Nemean Lion because the world is a horrible place. Enemy Hades being a bit of a turd in a sock? Activate 2 and Thorns at the same time! Make them regret their life choices! A lot of his damage comes from taking damage, and so you want to be in there being a nuisance. I’ve had people run away as soon as I pop 2, because they’re not ready to die.
- You’ve got a friend in me: His 1 is incredibly useful, where he summons a little Nene kappa to help you fight for a few seconds. Then you tack on Breastplate of Valor, and use his 2 to lower the cooldown, and do it over and over! You can bounce him off walls like Hou Yi, but the cooldown’s kind of steep. But having a buddy to help you fight almost anytime is incredibly useful. He can be a distraction, or an initiate, depending on what you need at the time. He doesn’t seem to really scale though, so use it early when he can be the most annoying creature since Arachne’s spiders!
- Anti-Burst: So nice, I have to say it twice! He’s essentially the anti-burst mage. The more damage your enemies can do, the more he’s going to make them weep. I’ve stood in a Scylla ult with all my items/abilities popped just to kill her. I might die too, but she’s without a doubt going to explode too. Kukulkan’s ult, Hades, Zeus, they’re all at serious risk when dealing the King of the Kappa. Build enough HP to make sure the enemy really feels every ounce of the pain they inflict!
- Slow Down: One of the things I hate the most is the trend of high cooldowns. These need to calm down just a bit! 16, 14, 16, 100. Normally I don’t care about decent cooldowns, and although you can lower your 1’s cooldown, you have to burn your Spikes to do so. You really really have to consider everything you’re doing, and speaking of the dash…
- I Said It Before: But I think the “3” is sincerely missing something. The best way to use it? Finding a way behind your opponent, and everyone will see you’re missing. You’re a big ass turtle demon! You can also use Blink, appear behind them and quickly smash them into your team. It’s a cool move, but it’s a little deflating and can be frustrating to use in my opinion. Definitely requires practice, positioning, and a little dash of luck. Huh? Huh? I’ll just… see myself out.
- Watery Grave: Speaking of abilities that are missing something: Watery Grave, his ult! It’s cool, flashy, he spins and splashes water, dealing damage and knocking people… away. Why not up? Poor use of it will have your team raging and screaming, because it knocked them out of their ults. The damage goes down 50% after the first spin, too. I don’t think it does that much damage to warrant such a deep cut, but I guess if you build pure damage Kuzenbo, that could be very important. You really have to pay attention so you knock the foes towards your friends or into a wall instead of away to safety. Another time for Blink!
Kuzenbo will be polarizing, I think. Some people are going to take to him like a fish to water, love it, and just dive right in. How many times will I reference turtles, fish, water, and make bad puns? Probably a few more. But I can see people not enjoying him at all, it takes a pretty bold personality/mindset to master Kuzenbo. Taking damage makes him more durable, and he reflects some of that damage with the right build, his Thorns aura aside . But it’s not permanent, you have to activate it, so you can certainly waste it. But he’s fun! He’s got a cool design, he’s got a fun kit, and this is the fun part where I talk about just that. Let’s delve deep and see what the Kappa can do!
Passive: Water Bowl [Buff]: When Kuzenbo takes more than 2% of his maximum HP, pre-mitigation, he gains a stack of 1% damage reduction. It caps at 10 stacks, which is a pretty decent amount of tankiness all around. However. . . If he’s knocked up, out, over, disabled in any way, water splashes out of the bowl, in a cute reference to his backstory. When he’s disabled, he loses half his stacks, and has to start gathering them again. The stacks don’t last forever though. After 10 seconds, they poof, which would be horrifying if he could get more/could keep them. However, each time he gets a stack, that cooldown resets, so you can keep it going with the right amount of damage.
1: NeNe Kappa: [Line Attack, Special]: Kuzenbo throws down a spiked shell, which hides one of his NeNe Kappa. If it bounces off a wall, it ricochets [a’la Hou Yi’s arrow] and will move 70 units away from it, and can bounce a maximum of two times. But if it hits a God, it will spring to life and start fighting them! If it misses the other Gods, he still rises, and shuffles to the closest thing to do battle with them. It deals damage upon collision [70/105/140/175/210 (+55% of your magical power)] and the little Kappa deals his own damage per hit [25/35/45/55/65]. Downside: He doesn’t scale with the game, and can feel a bit underwhelming late game, and becomes more a distraction than anything.
2: Shell Spikes: [Buff]: The spikes on Kuzenbo’s shell grow, and for three seconds, any damage he receives will reflect back [20/25/30/35/40%]. Any. Damage. With the right defenses/health, he can stand in the biggest damaging ults and murder the caster. It’s got a bonus, too! While the ability is active, each time he’s hit, the “1” cooldown lowers [.2/.3/.4/.5/.6s]! And while diving into the middle of the team, you’ll get hit a lot and could potentially get your Kappa that you threw into the fight in the first place. It also stacks with other damage reflections. Think about it.
3: Sumo Slam: [Dash]: In a very Sumo-style, Kuzenbo, immune to slows and roots, smashes through enemy minions [65/95/125/155/185 (+35% of your magical power)], and when he hits a God, the force of the slam will knock them back with him, silencing them, and for each other God he hits [up to three times], he’ll damage that God and the original target. Only the first God gets pushed though. Colliding with a wall will also cause damage to that God. This includes Ymir walls, Terra walls, or any other artificial wall. Which means you’d have to have two Guardians on the team. Find one that can be a jungler. I feel like we covered this… However, you’re immune to roots/slows. He can be knocked up by Jing Wei, thrown, or otherwise disrupted. He’s not immune to ALL CC during the Dash.
4: Watery Grave: [Area]: Retreating into his shell, Kuzenbo spins, splashing deadly watery currents around him. He gains increased movement speed [35%], and moves freely in all directions. Enemies hit are knocked away, but only the first hit takes full damage [60/100/140/180/220 (+40% of your magical power)]. Each hit after the first is cut in half, and runs the very serious risk of your teammates hating you because you swatted them away from a game-winning kill. It’s a cool power, but I’d rather it pull people in than knock them away…
Okay, it’s time to talk equipment. There are a few ways I’ve seen people build him [and I’ve done it myself], and the one I don’t really particularly agree with is the almost Pure Damage route. You build Breastplate of Valor, Void Stone as your only protective items. From there, Boots of the Magi, Book of the Dead [Shields are good], Warlock’s Sash and Polynomicon. I mean, as long as you’re in battle, taking hits, it’s pretty great, but it’s not as durable as one might think. The damage output and lifesteal though? It’s not to be sniffed at. Plus side, you do get a lot of Health. Just not as many protections as I tend to build. The more I’ve seen and tried it though, the more I like it… Then there’s the pretty standard build of Reinforced Shoes, Sovereignty, Heartward Amulet, Void Stone, CC Preventative Item [pick one], Hide of the Nemean Lion.
But this is Season 4! Let’s look at some of those cool, new items! I’ve been playing around mostly with those, to see how I feel about them – see which ones are fun and which ones are Meh. Looking at items from a purely “Let’s help the team” standpoint, and go from there. Spectral Armor has an interesting ability, but the once per 90 seconds is a little deflating. However, if you leap into the back line, everyone on the enemy team that hits you is feared for 1 second, takes a ton of damage thanks to Thorns stuff? It’s time to win that fight. I think one of my favorite items this season for Guardians, especially when you’re paired with a Hunter/someone reliant on Attack Speed, is Shogun’s Kusari. MP5, Magical Protection, CDR, CC Reduct, and your allies nearby get AS buff? Sure it has no health, but you can build another item for it. It’s situational, but if you’re in the lead already, and want to really drive the wedge deep, I’d recommend it highly. Oni Hunter’s Garb is in the same category of “fun stuff,” but may not always be useful.
There’s a reason those other items worked last season. They still work just fine now. But keep an eye on the new items. Maybe build one or two if the situation demands. No matter what you’re building though, I’d start Watcher’s Gift [Bumba’s in jungle], and I think I’d always, no matter what, build Hide of the Nemean Lion. More thorns, please! Mystical Mail is another great choice. Kuzenbo has too many choices for gear! You can really build him in quite a few ways, but I think that damage [slight tankiness] or unstoppable beef machine are the best options. Thankfully, there are tons of protective items, so build for the situation! Just don’t forget there’s tons of new stuff to use now. I don’t think there’s a choice other than Blink/Thorns as far as Relics go, but I can see the argument for Purification Beads if there’s too much CC on the other side.
Overall, I really enjoy Kuzenbo. It’s my sincere thought that he’ll probably be in need of some adjustment here and there [maybe if his abilities have different/better CC, he’d lose some damage as a result], but I think he can go just about anywhere and be a viable part of your team. You have to consider his push and knock away when building your team comp though. He’d be fun to pair with Odin’s cage, because you can’t push them out, just against the wall. Odin’s cage also counts for a wall to slam them into with his Sumo Slam. Pair him with people that do lots of damage, but also might be lacking a little CC. Because if he flashes through the enemy line/sneaks back, Sumo Slams someone into your squad, like their carry, then Ults the rest of them away, the remaining seconds of the teamfight should be blissfully easy.
But he can be abused, and you can see him activating both Thorns [Relic and Ability], and if you catch it in time, can back off, let them wear off, and then pound him into the ground while his long cooldowns refresh. He’s a bully and a threat, and I can see him being paired with most of the Hunters. One of my favorites though? And anyone who watches Bottom Tier knows I’ll hate to admit it, but Ullr. With his stun/leap, he can let Kuzenbo get into position, and push the target God back towards your side of the field, where he can murder peacefully. He’s interesting, and fits the very aggressive playstyle that I need when playing a Guardian. He is aggressive, everything about his kit screams “GET IN THERE AND GET SOME!”, and I like that. I don’t think he’s busted/OP, but I do think he’s got just the right amount of fun and aggression to bring to most team comps.