So this is why all the gods from every pantheon ever spend their weekends murdering each other: there are demons inside them. Why, how fortunate that Hi-Rez recently added Zhong Kui the Demon Queller to get rid of that problem… and maybe slightly murder everyone in the process. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. He’s quite fun to play due to his inherent tankiness and amazing waveclear. There’s a reason I call him “John the Lane Pusher” and it’s not just that his name is best pronounced “John Kwee”.
In gameplay, he’s a diehard mage. All of his abilities focus on killing stuff, with no sissy stuff like escapes or utility. The point being, all his attacks cause AoE damage, even the basic ones to an extent. He is a wonderful solo laner and has enormous sustain if left alone. However, he has no escapes and he’s ranged in the same way that Odin is a Bruiser. His range is puny, not much more than melee range. While his passive does help matters, it’s easy to get caught out of position and thusly murdered.
Zhong Kui’s passive is
Six Demon Bag. Whenever you use Exorcism on enemies affected by Expose Evil, the demons captured will be stored in his bag until released or he dies, giving you 3 magical and physical protections, per demon, up to 20 demons. In case you’re counting at home, that is a free Bulwark plus Midgardian Mail, starting at level 2. It allows Zhong to get away with his short range without having to build too much defense, but you shouldn’t rely on it too much late game.
His first ability is Expose Evil. Zhong Kui throws a card straight ahead of him, applying a six-second DoT and slow to everyone it hits. For aiming, it’s like Ares’ chains, except that it also deals a lot of damage. Seriously, toss it onto a wave and the wave dies from it alone, while Vampiric Shroud refunds its mana cost. When the card is removed, it also deals 50% of the damage it would still deal instantly. It should be leveled at each opportunity.
Exorcism is Zhong Kui’s second ability. He, well, exorcises the demons from his enemies, dealing a good bit of damage. If this hits enemies with a card on them, it will remove the card, charge his passive for each demon captured, and heal him. The heal also depends on the amount of enemies hit, but is capped at 3 targets for maximum efficiency. Good for waveclearing while charging your passive, teamfights, jungling, and whenever else you feel like it. Neither the damage nor the healing are instant however, so it won’t help you in a clutch situation. Grab at level 2 and level to max after Expose Evil.
Zhong’s third ability is called Book of Demons. It deals a good bit of damage in a tiny radius, stunning all enemies hit for a moment. If there is a card on those enemies, it will be removed, dealing its damage and doubling the stun duration. Whenever the skill is available (i.e. unlocked and not on cooldown) the Book floats near Zhong Kui, firing a second autoattack to the left of his own that deals 50% damage. Use the actual skill like Agni’s Dash. Try not to use it at all unless you really must. 50% additional autoattack damage will be much more worth it unless the burst and/or stun is required. Also, the autoattack increase does not scale, so unlock the Book at level 3 and level it last.
And finally, his ultimate, Recall Demons or as I like to call it, Ultimate Teamfight Ultimate 9001, Liberty Edition. Demons pulse forth from Zhong’s bag, chasing friendly and enemy gods who stand relatively close by him. You are also immune to CC for its whole duration and can use other skills. It deals a crapton of damage and healing and not even recalling will make the demons stop chase. Obviously, level this whenever possible and don’t be afraid to pop it to turn the tide in a fight. Keep in mind however, Zhong Kui himself does not get healed by it.
Well, what is there to say about items. If you know how to build a mage, you know how to build Zhong Kui. He uses the same items as any other like Zeus, Poseidon, or Ra. Besides, item builds in Smite should be mostly reactionary, so don’t expect one build to work out all the time. However, below is a decent baseline build.
Starting out, buy Vampiric Shroud, Shoes, and mana potions if you feel you’ll need them. If you can solo lane at mid or have a jungler on your team, the Shroud should allow you to sustain for a long time using just Expose Evil for wave clearing.
Starting the game, finish Shoes of the Magi and go into Gem of Isolation. Zhong Kui can go for a long way without building protection if you can stack up his passive, so it’s best to ensure enemies won’t escape your short range. You can also build Doom Orb if you feel confident in your ability not to die. In that case, build Gem directly afterwards.
After that, it all depends on how the game goes and how much gold you have. Void Stone (if there isn’t too much magical damage potential on your team, you should go Focused) never hurt anybody, nor has an early Rod of Tahuti. Actually, it hurt a lot of people, but you get the point. You can also go for a Wall of Absolution, Obsidian Shard, Breastplate of Valor, or Pythagorem’s Piece. Basically, build whatever is the most profitable in the current situation. Since Zhong Kui suffers heavily from dying, add on protection if you aren’t confident in staying alive, otherwise go for more pew pew.
As for active items, there aren’t any that Zhong really needs. However, it is a good idea to equalise his weakness of no fucking escape by building Sprint or Combat Blink. Determining which is simple: Are there gods on the enemy team where a quick burst of distance is required for survival? (For instance, Odin, Fenrir, and Hades are examples of such gods.) If so, get Combat Blink. The second slot can be filled as you wish, according to the current situation.
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