At early levels, your greatest challenge as the Drunken Master will be maintaining your mana pool. He has built-in HP regeneration with his "Drink" ability, so by getting a Blood Chalice, Bottle, and/or Power Supply, you'll be able to boost your Lunge and Stagger while keeping yourself regenerating at all times. As a strength hero that is quite dependent on mana in order to survive and deal damage, this is high-priority in the early levels. In terms of skill build, Lunge should almost always be your first pickup at level 1, unless you're in need of a short-range escape from an early gank. The disable and push in itself makes for effective early kills, and has its full crowd control potential with just one rank. Many players underestimate the strength of his "Drink" ability, and skip getting it altogether early on; this can be a huge mistake, as it forces the player to purchase health regeneration items immediately to compensate, reducing the amount of available mana he can use as a result. The combination of Drink and Stagger alone can grant him up to 80 bonus damage on his attacks, boosting the damage of Lunge simply by having more attack damage to scale the skill on. For this reason, the optimal skill combo for damage output and movement speed goes in this order: Drink - Stagger - Lunge. Effective core items on him include Helm of the Black Legion, Shaman's Headdress, Sol's Bulwark, and Shrunken Head. Luxury items include: Frostburn, Behemoth's Heart, and Daemonic Breastplate.