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Nidalee Build Guide by Skymin_Flower

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.


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League of Legends Build Guide Author Skymin_Flower

AD Nidalee - "The untamed know no fear"

Skymin_Flower Last updated on December 3, 2012
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Ability Sequence

4
8
10
12
13
Ability Key Q
1
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
2
3
5
7
9
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R





Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Masteries

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3/
Sunder
Archmage
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/
Executioner
 
 

Offense: 21

 
 
 
 
 
4/
Durability
Vigor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Honor Guard
Mercenary
 
 
 
 
 
 
Juggernaut
 
 

Defense: 9

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Strength of Spirit
Intelligence
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mastermind
 

Utility: 0


Guide Top

Introduction

Hello everyone!

My name is Skymin_Flower, and I play on the NA Server. If you haven't heard of me (99% of you), then that doesn't surprise me, I am not a pro player by any means! However, I hope that doesn't make anyone biased against this guide. As with all guides, if you downvote, please give constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is also appreciated with upvotes too!

This is my first guide that I have ever written on Mobafire, and it will be about my favourite character, Nidalee. Nidalee is an incredibly versatile character that can be played in any role, with varying degrees of success. The reason I wrote this guide was because of the lack of up to date guides on AD Nidalee, and I believe I can share my experiences with this character.

In the current metagame, the two most popular lanes for Nidalee are solo top, and to a lesser extent, mid lane. This guide will focus on top lane AD bruiser Nidalee, as I don't feel I have enough experience with top or mid AP Nidalee, or mid lane in general, to be able to write a guide about it. For the sake of understanding the character however, I will reference AP builds in regards to laning opponents, and her overall playstyle.


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Lore

There are few dwellers, let alone champions, residing in the blasted and dangerous lands that lie south of the Great Barrier. Much of that world still bears the scars of past Rune Wars, especially the mysterious Kamungu Jungle. There are long-forgotten treasures in these strange places which many risk life and limb to acquire. The champion known as Nidalee was only a young girl traveling with her treasure-seeking parents when they lost their way in the dense, rainy jungles. The jungle was unforgiving, and she watched her parents suffer agonizing final days as they fell victim to a mysterious and vicious disease.

As improbable as it was for a child to survive in the inhospitable jungle by herself, she did just that. Her youthful innocence and a fortunate naivete caused her to appeal to the beasts of that place and she was taken in by a family of cougars and raised as one of their own. She grew and somehow absorbed the raw magic of the dense wilds, evolving beyond both her human physiology and her feline affectation. On one pivotal day in her life, standing over the torn remnants of a Noxian squad of woodcutters, Nidalee chose to rejoin the so-called civilized world, to fight in the League of Legends so as to protect the vast woods from both Demacia and Noxus.

" Nidalee was taught to fight by her feline family, battling viciously with tooth and nail. Something in her feline ways may draw you to her, but remember that she is no pussycat."


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Character Explanation

This chapter will serve to help out any players that are new to Nidalee, or have little experience with her. If you have more experience, feel free to skip this section, or better yet, suggest changes or things I have not considered.

Nidalee is, in my opinion, a very unique, powerful, and rewarding champion to play. As stated in my introduction, Nidalee can be played solo top (AD bruiser or AP), mid (AP), AD carry, support, or even jungle (not recommended!). The reason Nidalee can be built in so many ways is because of the versatility of her spells, and her two forms, human form and cat form.

Nidalee is at first, a ranged champion. This brings with it all the pros and cons of being ranged. Although she has a relatively short range compared to most other ranged champions, her range is useful to help her against melee characters (very useful for top lane), and the ability to kite around many characters that beat her in a straight up 1v1 at melee range.

When she hits level 6, she gains her ultimate, Aspect Of The Cougar. This spell transforms her into a cougar, granting bonus Armour, Magic Resist, Movement Speed, and making her a melee ranged champion. Lastly, all of her spells in cat form cost no mana, making her entirely cooldown dependent. Luckily, these cooldowns are extremely short!

The most challenging aspect of playing Nidalee, in my opinion, is knowing when to be in which form, and not getting caught out as a result of being in the wrong form at the wrong time. The cooldown on her transformation is only 4 seconds, but when you are in human form trying to escape a gank, if you have just transformed back from cat form, those will be the longest 4 seconds of the whole game for you!

AD Nidalee is not a teamfight character. She has no natural CC whatsoever, and because of this, she lends herself more to smaller engages, where Amumu and Sona are less likely to use gamechanging, AOE CC ultimates. While she is strong in small engages, her favourite thing to do is splitpush. Nidalee is one of the best splitpushers in the game. Her cat form clears minion waves like no tomorrow, due to spammable AOE spells, and her attack speed steroid allows her to take down turrets quickly as well. She is also incredibly slippery, as many players know, catching a Nidalee in the jungle is incredibly difficult. The only thing she naturally lacks is a reliable way of getting to her teammates in the case of a fight.

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Plentiful Pros & Constructive Cons

Pros

+ Dominant in lane, harasses very well
+ "Safe" top laner, hard to counter
+ Cat form spells use no mana
+ Extremely mobile
+ Hard to successfully gank once she has her ultimate
+ Farms and pushes very easily once she has her ultimate
+ Transforms!
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Cons

- Quite squishy, especially in human form
- No CC, not even a slow :(
- Low kill potential before ultimate
- Outscaled by some other common top laners
- Somewhat team dependent, regardless of build
- Sadly to say, quite buggy (hoping this gets fixed soon!)


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Masteries

For a character that relies on bullying her lane above all else, 21 masteries in the Offensive tree is the way to go. The choices are how you use them, and where to put the remaining 9 mastery points.

Masteries
1/5
3/5
4/1
4/5
1/1
1/1
3/1
3/1
1/
1/5
3/1
4/1
1/1

21/9/0


This is my preferred set up. I like the extra early game health from Veteran's Scars , along with the armour from Hardiness . This helps prevent taking ungodly chunks of damage from top lane bruisers like Renekton and Darius (they will still hurt, don't get me wrong).

Offensive Tree:

Summoner's Wrath : Take this if you take Ignite or Exhaust. I rarely change my page if I am not running these two spells due to laziness. If you have neither of these, feel free to spend the point elsewhere in the Offensive tree.
Brute Force : Take this for a little extra AD early game (every little helps!)
Butcher : For easier last hitting. Of course, if you feel this is unnecessary, spend these points elsewhere.
Alacrity : Standard for most AD characters, to get access to the rest of the Offensive tree. A little bit of attack speed helps as well.
Sorcery : CDR is very useful for Nidalee, primarily for her heal. The more sustain you have in lane, the better!
Demolitionist : To help take down towers both early and later in the game.
Weapon Expertise : 10% Armour pen is very useful throughout the whole game, especially when your opponent in lane starts to get some armour.
Arcane Knowledge : This is not an AP build, but Nidalee outputs a lot of magic damage no matter how you play her. Your cat form combo uses magic damage, and spears help to finish off those runners who survived on slivers of health.
Sunder : Flat armour pen is very useful early in lane. The more your auto attacks hurt, the better.
Executioner . Synergises very well with Nidalee's Q (both human and cat form). Takedown is used as an execution move in cat form, and to finish off stragglers in human form. Either way, your target will often be below 40% HP, making the extra 6% damage a real bonus.

Defensive Tree:

Resistance : Mainly because there is nothing better in my opinion. If you are laning against an AP character, take 3 points in this, and 1 in Hardiness .
Hardiness : Most top laners you face will be AD, making this invaluable early game.
Durability : A nice little boost to your HP, but mainly I take this so I can get the next mastery.
Veteran's Scars : One of the few masteries where you will notice an immediate difference to your game. This mastery gives you a much safer lane in the lower levels.

Unused:

Deadliness : Nidalee is not focused on waiting for late game to come around. By the time it comes, if you need damage, you will have built some items for it. This mastery does not really help our early laning.
Lethality : Again, Nidalee is not aiming to pump out critical strikes. Trinity Force does give us a critical chance however. I would put a spare point into this if I didn't have to waste 4 points on Deadliness .
Vampirism : I almost always end up with at least 1 Doran's Blade, and often with 2. This mastery is for AD Carries with no sustain in my opinion. Nidalee has plenty of sustain, along with the lifesteal from Doran's Blade. I feel these points could be spent better elsewhere.
Masteries
1/5
3/5
2/1
4/1
4/5
1/5
1/1
1/1
3/1
1/
1/5
3/1
4/1
1/1

21/0/9


Another set up, if you feel that tankiness is unnecessary, and the movement speed gives you more utility. Honestly, the movement speed is the main reason for specialising in the Utility tree.

Utility Tree:

Summoner's Insight : I wish I could take this with the 21/9/0 mastery page, but I feel Executioner and Veteran's Scars are too valuable. Shorter cast time on Teleport, and a reduction of the cooldown on Flash. Very useful.
Expanded Mind : More useful than Good Hands , and gives that little bit extra mana during lane. Not a bad mastery.
Swiftness : The main reason you would specialise in this page. Nidalee is a mobile character, and this mastery adds to her already incredible escaping and kiting abilities.
Runic Affinity : Always a good mastery to have. AD Nidalee should not be priority when it comes to buffs, but if your mid and jungler are characters who do not really need blue, then why shouldn't you have it? Red buff is also useful for AD Nidalee, but should usually be given to your AD carry.


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Runes

Runes

Greater Mark of Attack Damage
9

Greater Seal of Armor
9

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
9

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
3

  • Greater Mark of Attack Damage
    // Extra AD early game, pretty standard. It makes quite a difference to your auto attacks at low levels, which are your primary form of damage.
  • Greater Seal of Armor
    // Again, pretty standard for a top lane laner. Armour runes are to help deal with the strong AD characters you are likely to face.
  • Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
    // I take these instead of the flat MR Glyphs due to the fact that you will usually not be taking a lot of magic damage until later in the game. Of course, if you are going to lane against an AP character, you can take flat MR Glyphs instead.
  • Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
    // These are possibly my favourite runes. With these, and the bonus movement speed from Aspect Of The Cougar and Trinity Force, Nidalee can outspeed almost every other character with Tier 1 boots! Much like the Swiftness mastery, these capitalise on your mobility, allowing you to escape and kite to no end.

There are many viable runes for AD Nidalee, you just have to try them out and see which ones work best for you. The Quintessences and Marks especially are completely open to player preference. I feel that the Seals and Glyphs are fairly standard though.


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Summoner Spells

My Summoner Spells

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Teleport: My favourite spell for Nidalee because of the split pushing and global potential it gives you. Nidalee has enough power in lane to not need an offensive summoner spell most of the time, as she has spells that can finish off a low health target with ease. Also lets you get back to lane straight away in the laning phase.

Flash: As with any character, an excellent choice. Allows you to chase, escape, blink over walls and juke. Very useful overall, and most characters will take this. Remember, offensive Flash > defensive Flash.
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Viable Alternatives

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Ignite: A powerful spell to use with your burst combo. Take this if you will be laning against someone with high health regen abilities, like Volibear or Dr. Mundo.

Exhaust: Brings some CC to the table. Gives Nidalee some strong CC for when your jungler ganks, and also just may save you if your opponent towerdives you. Take this if your jungler has no CC, if you are expecting to be towerdived, or no one else on your team takes it.

Ghost: An alternative escaping spell. This spell will make Nidalee effectively uncatchable once she reaches a bush. Arguably better early game for escaping those pre-6 ganks, but late game the utility from Flash becomes a lot more useful in my opinion.

If a summoner spell is not listed here, it is because I don't think it is a good choice on Nidalee.

Example Summoner Spell combinations:

1. Teleport + Flash
2. Ignite + Flash
3. Exhaust + Flash
4. Ignite + Ghost
5. Teleport + Ghost


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Skill Sequence


Prowl (passive): Increases Nidalee's movement speed when running through, and for a few seconds after exiting, brush. This is an excellent passive which matches Nidalee's lore perfectly (I care about this kind of stuff!).

This passive is so useful that I have dedicated an entire section to it under "Helpful Hints".

Javelin Toss / Takedown (Q): This spell is Nidalee's main damaging spell, no matter how you build. In human form, Takedown is a long ranged nuke with high base damage and monstrous AP scaling. The javelin will do more damage the further your target is from you. Lastly, this skill shot does hit minions, so account for that. I max this after Primal Surge because of the high base damage, even without any AP.

In cat form, this spell is an auto attack enhancing, execution move with huge AD scaling. It is your primary damage spell as AD Nidalee. The lower your opponent's HP, the more damage this does, so it is usually used at the end of a damage combo. It is also an auto attack reset.
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Tips and Tricks
  • Distance between you and your opponent is calculated based on your position when the spear hits. This means if you throw the spear, and run away from your opponent, the spear will do more damage when it hits. Better yet, throw the spear, quickly turn into cat form and Pounce away from them!
  • In cat form, this spell resets the auto attack timer, which is useful when attacking turrets, inhibitors and for last hitting.
  • Occasionally I use this ability in human form to last hit a seige minion that I am being zoned from. I don't make a habit of farming with this skill, however.
  • This is more for AP Nidalee due to the increased damage on her spear, but use this to try and steal Baron, Dragon, or any of the jungle buffs safely. The range means that you won't be put in any danger, so it is always worth a try!
  • Use these sparingly, try to conserve your mana for Swipe.

Bushwhack / Pounce (W): This is Nidalee's "utility" spell. In human form, it places a trap, and reveals the area around it for a split second. When a champion or minion steps on the trap, it's armour and magic resist are reduced, and it is revealed. This is incredibly useful to use in conjunction with wards. Because of this spell, it is also very hard to sneak up on Nidalee unnoticed. I get a point in this at level 1 or 2, but max it last. Although the extra armour/MR reduction is nice, the extra mana cost is not.

In cat form, this is a small blink. It lets you jump over some walls (read the Helpful Hints section!), and is useful for getting to places faster. The only problem is, this spell makes you jump in the direction you are facing, not the direction your cursor is in. Most of the time this is not an issue however, and overall a great spell.
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Tips and Tricks
  • Unlike Teemo's Noxious Trap, Nidalee's traps are untargetable.
  • Use this to scout bushes instead of facechecking, and to leash for your jungler without even being there!
  • If you take this at level 1, use it to leash blue, and place two traps in the river and surrounding entrances to the jungle (or three traps if your jungler starts red). After this, recall to base, and you will get all your mana back just in time for minions spawning! Very useful.
  • At rank 5, the armour/MR shred is MASSIVE. 40% reduced defences for 12 seconds is ridiculously good (the same shred as Last Whisper and Void Staff). If someone has stepped on a trap, focus them! Go out of your way to harass a little if this is in lane, because you will hurt them quite a bit more.
  • Spam this spell in cat form to cover more distance.


Primal Surge / Swipe (E): In human form, this is Nidalee's sustain and attack speed steriod. The sustain that this spell provides in lane is invaluable, as it lets you outsustain top laners with no natural sustain, and (usually) keep up with those who do. This spell is quite mana intensive, especially because we max it first. Early game, we use this spell primarily for the healing, and late game it is used more for the attack speed steroid (whether you use it on yourself or on your AD carry).

In cat form, this is a small AOE nuke, that does damage in a cone in front of you. There is no indicator of the range, but after a while you will get a feel for it. The damage is quite small by itself, but it adds up when combined with Pounce and Takedown. Very useful for clearing creep waves regardless of your build, due to the short cooldown.

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Tips and Tricks
  • Use this on yourself as much as possible when splitpushing! The extra 60% attack speed DOES make a big difference.
  • In a teamfight, you will usually want to heal your AD carry just as the fight starts, and then transition into cat form. Your AD carry does more damage per auto attack, and using this on yourself in a full on 5v5 teamfight is usually a bad idea, because you simply don't do as much damage as your carry. In smaller fights, or if the AD carry is not there, try to have in your head a "priority list" for who gets your heal.
  • In cat form, this is a useful harass tool, and is also useful for last hitting.


Aspect of the Cougar (R): Ah the ultimate. This spell is what makes Nidalee so unique and versatile. Once you get this spell, your damage output, kill potential and escaping potential all skyrocket. This is the spell that really drew me to Nidalee, and is an amazing ultimate.

Unlike Jayce and Elise, ranking up this skill ranks up all of your spells in cat form.

Obviously, you want to max this whenever you can.

Tips and Tricks
  • If someone JUST escapes from you in cat form on low health, transform back to human form and hit them with an auto attack. It is easy to forget but this does count as a spell, and as a result, it does proc Sheen, Lich Bane and more importantly, Trinity Force.
  • Knowing when to be in which form is vital. Generally, you want to always be in cat form when escaping, unless you are kiting. If a teamfight is brewing, you want to be in human form for traps, poke, and heal.
  • Remember that you gain armour and MR upon transforming. If you see a Requiem above your head, it is always worth a try to change into cat form and hope the extra MR is enough to save you.
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As far as I am concerned, this is the optimal sequence for Nidalee. There is no reason to take points in Pounce until last, because it only increases the mana cost, and early game most champions have little armour and MR to shred anyway. Seeing as it is a percentage shred, it becomes much more useful late game. I also think that the sustain from Swipe is far more useful than the damage from Takedown as AD Nidalee.


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Helpful Hints

Now that I have covered Nidalee's moves, this chapter will give you some hints as to how to use them to their fullest potential, and some general tips for playing Nidalee.


Brush

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If you play Nidalee for any length of time, you will come to realise that brush is your best friend. You begin to associate brush with safety and being untouchable, and for good reason! Your passive makes you damn near uncatchable in brush, especially in cat form.

As a result of this, a good Nidalee will spend most of her laning phase in the brush. Not only does it let you dart in and out quickly to last hit and harass, but it means your opponent cannot target any spells on you for the majority of the time in lane. Also, most smart opponents will not follow you into the brush for fear of getting kited, stepping on a trap and then having to fight a Nidalee while their defences are lower than usual. Either this, or she gets away anyway.


Wall Jumping


One thing I feel that a Nidalee player needs to know is which walls you can jump over in Summoner's Rift. Knowing these jumps greatly increases your mobility in the jungle, and can force an enemy to either flash after you, or give up the chase. As a general rule, any wall that looks like it can be jumped over, can be. However, below are some of the less obvious jumps, and some of the most useful ones as well.

Remember, the map is symmetrical, so the jump that works at Baron will also work at Dragon, and so on.
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1. Blue Buff
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Spoiler: Click to view

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2. Baron pit
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Spoiler: Click to view

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3. Wraith camp
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Spoiler: Click to view

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4. Mid side bushes
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Spoiler: Click to view

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5. Wall seperating the jungle from top lane
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Spoiler: Click to view

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6. In front of wolf camp
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Spoiler: Click to view

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7. Into the river
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Spoiler: Click to view

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8. Double Golem camp
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Spoiler: Click to view

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As a general rule, especially when it comes to the more difficult jumps (like Baron pit), try to spot a landmark that indicates where you can jump (in this case, the torch makes a good landmark).


Cat Form Burst Combo


Nidalee has three, manaless, short cooldown spells in cat form. As a result of this, you will usually use all three of them everytime you engage your opponent. Below is a few variations of what might appear to be the obvious order of spells, and what situations these are more useful in.

1. "Obvious Combo": W -> E -> Q

This is the combo that most people will use. Jump onto the enemy, Swipe for that little bit extra damage, and Q to finish. Good because it reduces their health as much as possible to scale your Q a little harder. This is also used to clear minion waves quickly.

2. "Chasing Combo": W -> Q -> E

This is the combo you will want to use while chasing. On a stationary opponent, or one that is running towards you, the first combo is best. However, if they are running away, by the time you Swipe, they may be out of range for your Takedown, which means you waste time catching up to them, or even risking them dashing out of range completely.

Secondly, with Trinity Force, this combo attempts to proc the Phage component, slowing them down before they can get out of range.

3. "Harassing Comb": E -> Q -> W

This combo is used when you are already close to a target, or they are chasing you and you want to damage them a little. Swipe for a little more damage, Takedown as the main damage component, and then Pounce away. Too easy!


Nidalee and her Bugs

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Unfortunately, Nidalee is a character with quite a few bugs. This should not put you off playing her, but I am going to make you aware of the most common bugs, so that you don't learn by grim experience.

1. Nidalee's cat form has awful pathing. As a result, when moving through minion waves in cat form, if you use a spell that activates in the direction you are facing (which sadly, happens to be 2/3 of your spells in cat form), you may use the spell in the wrong direction entirely, due to hitting a minion and changing direction at the last second. Very annoying.

2. If you activate Pounce or Swipe immediately after coming out of cat form, you will not use the spell on the desired target. If you used Pounce, the trap will be placed directly underneath you, and if you used Swipe, you will heal yourself, no matter who you clicked. In short, wait half a second or so after coming out of cat form to use your spells. There used to be a similar bug with Takedown, where the spear would be thrown backwards. That was a nasty bug indeed.

A full list can be found here: Nidalee has bugs! Didn't you know?


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Core Items

Item Sequence











Trinity Force
3733

Youmuu's Ghostblade
2900

Guardian Angel
2400

Warmog's Armor
2850

Banshee's Veil
2450
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Starting Items
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space This is usually my chosen starting set up. The mobility from boots almost seems mandatory these days, where movement speed is king. I don't know about anyone else, but if my lane opponent didn't take boots, I call for a gank immediately. It is just so easy to be killed, or have to burn summoner spells if you don't take boots. space
space You can take this against a heavy AD top laner. Between movement speed quints and her passive, Nidalee does have enough movement speed without buying boots. However, I feel that pre-6 ganks are already enough of a pain to deal with, and I don't want to be slower in case i get pulled by Darius, stunned by Irelia, and so on. space
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Early Game Items
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space Doran's Blade is an excellent early game item. If I have enough gold left over from buying another early game item, or can't complete any items, I buy Doran's Blade. I usually end up with at least 1 Doran's Blade, often 2. Of course you will sell these later for your core build.
sight ward space Always remember to buy wards! Never leave base without at LEAST one ward. I usually try and get two every time I go back. The good thing about top lane is that it is easy to ward against ganks, so use this advantage! Top lane characters tend to snowball quite hard with a kill or two, and the last thing you want to face is a Darius or Riven snowballing out of control because of a successful gank. space] sight ward
space Phage is usually the next item that I build after I get my Doran's Blade(s). It gives some very nice HP and some AD, but we mostly take this item because of the passive. It is very effective against melee characters such as Darius. If you hit them with a Phage proc, you get free harass, and they have to back off a bit. It also helps a lot when your jungler ganks, as a slow from Phage can severely hinder their escape. Do not rely on this to escape yourself however (unless in conjunction with red buff, another slow), as it only has a 25% chance of activating.
space I really like this item, but I hold back on it because it doesn't give you any tankiness. After Trinity Force, I don't feel like Nidalee really needs more AD, but armour pen. This item also gives you CDR, and upgrades into Youmuu's Ghostblade later. I get this earlier than Phage if the enemy is stacking armour, but can't really get close to me to do damage. Basically, when you need the armour pen more than the HP from Phage.
space The next item that I get is Sheen, with the end goal of building a Trinity Force. I get this because Nidalee can almost always have Sheen procced, and it really increases the damage from her cat form burst combo.
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Core Build
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space These boots are almost always the most useful in my opinion. The 35% tenacity is just way too good to pass up. The magic resist is also a nice little bonus, as I rarely build MR until I have finished an armour item. I usually finish these just after Trinity Force, or earlier if I need the movement speed, am facing an AP top laner, or am just generally getting screwed over by CC.
space The best item for AD Nidalee. Full stop. I have tried going without it, but to be honest, it just packs so much utility, damage, and overall strength into one item. It is quite expensive, but when you finish your Trinity Force, you will have all the damage you need for the mid-game teamfights. In fact, many AD Nidalee builds have this as their only offensive item. It gives you a slow, an extra 150% of your AD added to your auto attack everytime you use a spell and bonus movement speed, on top of a bunch of stats. Great item that you should never skip.
space This is an item that I used to buy, stopped buying, and then started buying again. As I have said, CDR is very, very good on Nidalee. Along with this, you get armour pen, AD, crit chance (not so useful), and a passive that will let you chase ANYONE in cat form! Remember that the active will only extend it's duration if you use melee attacks, so don't use it in human form. Don't get this item if you fall behind however, make Trinity Force your damage item, and then build a survivability/aura item to help your team.
space The highest amount of HP from any one item. A good tanky item, and even though the famous "Atmog" build has been nerfed a lot, Warmog's Armor is still a great item for any bruiser. If you need resistances more than you need HP, just grab Giant's Belt and come back to finish Warmog's Armor later.
space If you have gotten this far, then the game has progressed far into the late game phase. At this stage, everyone will be getting Guardian Angel, and you are no exception. If you are really fed, you can also take this earlier, as it gives a chunk of armour and MR, along with the invaluable passive. Amazing late game item, and very demoralising for the enemy team if you get it early. Build this out of Chain Vest.
space This is my go to MR item. Gives us HP, mana, and a very nice passive with a relatively short cooldown. I build this out of the Negatron Cloak that I usually get at some point in the game.


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Viable Alternative Items

Boots
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space Take these boots if you desperately need armour, and don't feel like you need the CC reduction. I have gotten these boots a few times when the enemy AD laner has gotten a kill, or also if the enemy AD carry is fed and they are forcing early teamfights.
space I don't really get these boots, but you can, because CDR is nice on Nidalee. I just think that CC reduction is much more useful, especially on a character who is squishy when in human form. Besides, you get enough CDR from Youmuu's Ghostblade (or Spirit Visage, Frozen Heart, etc.) and your masteries in my experience.
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Early Game
space Popularised by TPA's Stanley. Take this when facing a top laner that does a lot of magic damage, such as Yorick as seen in the World Championships. Gives some nice MR and a lot of mana regen. Overall very good, with the only problem being a lack of a good upgrade for AD Nidalee.
space Also popularised by TPA Stanley. I tried it out, and I have to say it is really good. 10% CDR and 250 health, along with the passive healing yourself for more. For these stats, it is incredibly cheap, and I end up buying it quite a lot. In conjunction with Chalice of Harmony, you will have godlike sustain in lane.
space This item is pretty decent if you are having a hard time against an AD top laner. It also gives you a free ward every 3 minutes! So you will always have a ward up. The armour, AD and lifesteal are all nice, but it is a tiny bit expensive, as it begins to feel a bit useless after the laning phase is over. I would usually get Phage instead.
philosopher's stone space A GP10 item, and an alternative to Chalice of Harmony for mana regen. An ok item, but not for Nidalee I feel. GP10 is usually bought by characters that are either gold starved (not Nidalee) or trying to draw out the game long enough that the extra gold and their natural scaling will give them an advantage, even if they lost their lane. Nidalee is not a character that plays for the late game. This item is more suited for say, Olaf or Irelia, who becomes absolute beasts the longer the game goes on.
space Gives GP10 and HP. As I said above, I don't like GP10 items on Nidalee, but you may get this if you want to build a Randuin's Omen later in the game.
space This is another item I am not a fan of. If you are against an AP laner (the only time you should be buying this item), I think that the Chalice of Harmony / Spirit Visage combination is much more effective. Furthermore, I think that Maw of Malmortius (the upgrade to Hexdrinker just isn't a very good item. This item and it's upgrade just don't synergise with the rest of my build, you only really have room for one or two offensive items. With a third, your survivability will be severely compromised.
space These two items are great if the enemy AD or AP carry get fed. If this is the case, just buy on of these, you don't even need to upgrade it. It is a cheap way to boost your defences, and you can upgrade it later when you have finished most of your core build. space
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Damage
space This item is good if you are REALLY fed. If you feel like you can get this item, roam, and snowball your other lanes, then go for it. I almost never get this item though, the only time I would get it was if I had finished Trinity Force before the laning phase has even ended. It is rare to get this fed, so this is not a common item on Nidalee. If you really feel you need damage, get this instead of Youmuu's Ghostblade. This also applies to the other expensive damage items.
space Similar to The Bloodthirster. Expensive, and limits your tankiness, meaning you can't jump into fights. If you buy this item, or The Bloodthirster, you are building like an AD carry, which means you will have to play like one. I don't recommend this item.
space Good if you need damage and the enemy team is stacking armour. Again, very situational. If you haven't picked it up already, I am not a big fan of more than one or two damage items on AD bruiser Nidalee. If you get three damage items, you are simply going to be too squishy.
space I don't like this item, but I suppose it is viable if you bought Hexdrinker. Same as The Bloodthirster and Infinity Edge, expensive and usually you won't be able to get it without compromising your survivability.
space Pretty good item if you are having trouble with AP opponents. A nice, cheap and effective bruiser item.

Survival
space Survivability items are overall more viable on bruiser Nidalee, because of how well Trinity Force synergises with her spells, giving her plenty of damage. This item is usually picked up by your jungler or support. However, if you are falling behind, and don't already have one of these on your team, get this. It gives a nice mix of defences, and you will be helping out your team, even if you are behind. It is ok to have two Aegis of the Legion on one team, but don't get three.
space This is a great item. Glacial Shroud is an amazing early game item, giving you enough armour and CDR for laning against a tough AD opponent. The upgrade to Frozen Heart gives you a ridiculous amount of armour, and a passive that is incredibly useful. I always get this on a team that has Vayne, Kog'Maw, or any other character that relies almost exclusively on high attack speed to do damage. I wouldn't build this against a team who had Graves as their AD carry, for example. If you get this, it is really up to you what to replace.
space Another good item, but I feel it is outclassed by Frozen Heart on Nidalee. Frozen Heart is cheaper, gives more armour, much more CDR, and a more consistent passive. Along with this, it gives us a LOT of mana. A lot of bruisers who take Heart of Gold build into this later, so if you get a Heart of Gold in lane, then buy this instead of Frozen Heart.
space I quite like this item because of the quick and easy armour and HP combination that it offers. Incredibly useful for splitpushing, and you do a little bit more damage than most users of this item because of Arcane Knowledge .
space A good item, gives you a lot of MR and even more movement speed! I don't often get this because I usually get other MR items, but if you have built Warmog's Armor and the enemy AP carry is fed, get this. I feel it is a bit lackluster unless you have a lot of HP.
space Used to be standard on bruiser Nidalee, along with Warmog's Armor, but has since been nerfed. Like Sunfire Cape, you are paying almost exclusively for the passive when you upgrade this item. Because of the low damage increase, and the relatively low armour, and unnecessary crit chance, I don't really like this item anymore.
space Situational, but it definitely has it's place. This used to be my "go to" armour item when I just started playing. Don't do this! Only get it if the enemy AD carry (who relies on their auto attacks for damage) is extremely fed, or you are wasting the passive. If they do get fed however, make them pay for attacking you by taking this in conjunction with Warmog's Armor. Their health will go down ridiculously fast just by attacking you. You also utilise the passive a little better than most bruisers, because we took the Arcane Knowledge mastery.


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Laning Phase

Nidalee's laning phase is the strongest part of her game. At the early levels, you last hit (as with any other character), and try and outfarm your opponent. However, because you are ranged, you are going to harass your opponent as well, to try and zone them from minions. To do this, you dart in and out of the bush to last hit, and when you are not last hitting, to attack your opponent. This is the reason Nidalee is such a bully in lane, as most of your opponents will not have an answer to this kind of play. But always remember, last hitting is more important than harass.

As for jungler ganks, you have no CC, and before level 6, not much burst or chasing power. Because of this, I would rarely call for a jungler gank before you hit level 6, unless your opponent took Cloth Armor and has no escape, for example. However, once you hit level 6, you can call for ganks, because if your jungler can lock them down, you can dish out a lot of damage, and chase very well.

As for the tower, always apply pressure. One thing Nidalee is good at doing is not letting an opponent roam. If your opposing top laner leaves, whether to roam or recall, apply pressure by pushing to the tower and auto attacking it down. Your opponent will be forced to return, or they will lose their tower very easily. Nidalee also has very little to fear from a 1 man gank (if the jungler decides to try and stop you), since she can escape so well. In short, to prevent your opponent roaming, always make sure you are ready to capitalise on their absence by doing heavy damage to their tower.

I cannot stress this enough: STAY IN THE BUSHES. In the bush, enemies with targeted abilities can not hurt you unless they physically come into the bush. In this case, they risk stepping on a trap, and you will usually be out of range of their spell anyway, due to your passive. The second reason you want to be in the bush is because it drops minion aggro. When you harass your opponent, their minions will start focusing you. As a result, your minions attack theirs more than theirs attack yours. This pushes the lane, and even though Nidalee is a great escape artist, we don't want to take unnecessary risks. Finally, in the event of a gank, you are already in a good position to escape from it.

When you get your ultimate, the game changes a little. You now have very real kill potential on your opponent. You can now usually engage in very short trades with your opponent in cat form, and usually come off better than them. If not, heal, and continue farming. Usually what I try to do is harass them down to about 1/3 health or lower, depending on the character and how resistant they are to dying. Then I force an engage with cat form and try to finish them off. The good thing with Nidalee is that if you force an engage, your opponent has to fight you, or they will take way too much damage running away from you. Between bonus movement speed in cat form, your passive, and Phage procs, you stick like super glue :)

The thing you need to know is when you are able to harass without being punished. For example, if you can see everyone on your mini map, including the jungler, then you can do whatever you want without the fear of being ganked. More important though, is knowing your opponent's spells and their cooldowns. For example, Darius has a move that pulls you towards him. Its range is the same as your attack, so if you are in range to attack him, he is in range to pull you. I'm sure you are aware that Darius will do a lot of damage to you if you allow him to pull you. So what you do is try and bait his pull. If he does it, congratulations, you can now harass him for free, without retaliation, due to the massive cooldown on his pull. This is the kind of thing you need to be aware of. Harass and bully, but be smart about it.


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Top Lane Match Ups A-M (Always a W.I.P.)

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Akali

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Difficulty - Medium
  • Akali is a relatively easy opponent before she hits level 6.
  • You can harass her very easily, as she has no gap closer, and although she has a ranged spell, she will never be able to activate the mark, because she won't be able to catch you.
  • Akali also has no escape move. She can make herself invisible with Twilight Shroud, but if she steps on one of your traps, then she cannot even do that.
  • Once she hits level 6, you will need to be a bit more careful. You are likely still very squishy at this point, and she now has high burst as well as a great way of sticking to you.
  • If you don't give her any kills, it is unlikely that she will snowball in the late game. As an assassin, if she is denied kills and farm, she will be very unhelpful for the enemy team later. Make this your goal, do not make your goal to get kills unless the jungler ganks.
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Cho'Gath
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Darius

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Difficulty - Medium
  • The difficulty of this lane is almost entirely dependent on your reactions and ability to bait.
  • Darius is a character that is easy to harass. He can't reach you with Decimate, but can reach you with Apprehend.
  • In this lane, you have to avoid getting pulled by Apprehend. If you get pulled in, you will take a large chunk of damage, especially if you haven't got your ultimate yet. However, if you can bait Apprehend, the massive cooldown means you are now free to harass him as much as you like.
  • Beware of ganks, as Darius can do a lot of damage, especially at lower levels. If you get caught, you will almost always need to Flash out. However, Darius has absolutely no escape, and is pretty slow, so he is very vulnerable to your jungler ganking. Abuse this.
  • Do not fight a sustained duel with him. You may feel as though you are winning, but suddenly the 5 stacks of Hemorrhage he built on you are doing tons of DoT, and then he executes you far too easily with Noxian Guillotine.
  • This is another lane where you try not to let him snowball. Obviously, if you can get a kill without dying, go for it. But if it is risky, do not go for it. A kill for Darius early game is a lot more devastating for your team than a kill for you.
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Dr. Mundo

Elise

Fiora

Gangplank

Garen

Irelia

Jarvan IV
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Jax

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Difficulty - Medium
  • Jax is actually a fairly easy lane for Nidalee if you play correctly. You can harass him quite easily until he gets his stun AND his jump, and then you need to start playing a bit more carefully.
  • Overall, if you can dodge his stun (easy when you get level 6) then you won't have any problems with Jax. You can kite him around, and if he jumps to you, get off a quick burst in cat form, and then jump away. However, if he does land his stun, you will take a bit of damage, but nothing on the level of Darius or Renekton.
  • I tried Chalice of Harmony and Phage, and it pretty much gives you everything you need to counter Jax. The slow from Phage lets you kite him so easily, and Chalice of Harmony gives you great sustain, completely outsustaining him, and some MR, as Jax does a large amount of magic damage. He has no heal, and burns mana quite quickly, so you have the advantage in terms of sustain, and when fighting with no mana.
  • Try to avoid fighting or focusing Jax when he actives Grandmaster's Might, because he will become exceedingly difficult to kill. Luckily, in a 1v1, you can just move away from him until it is on cooldown, and then continue the fight.
  • Jax will get stronger in mid-late game, and there isn't much you can do about it. If you win lane hard enough though, you won't have a problem with him.
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Jayce

Kayle

Kennen

Kha'Zix

Lee Sin

Malphite

Master Yi


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Top Lane Match Ups N-Z (Always a W.I.P.)


Nasus
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Nidalee

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Difficulty - Medium
  • Lol. This lane depends on how she builds. If she is AP, this lane is Easy. If she is AD, this lane is Hard.
  • If you are against an AP Nidalee there is very little she can do to you. At the early levels, your auto attacks will chunk her HP, and because she has almost no AP, she can't do anything back.
  • Once you both hit level 6, you will always win in a straight up duel. You do a lot more damage than her overall, and unless she also took Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed, you will be faster than her, with the Phage procs as an added bonus.
  • When she gets AP, avoid the spear. Period.
  • If you are against an AD Nidalee, well, good luck! This will be a match up that is entirely dependent on player skill, and who "counter-builds" better. Try to harass better, farm better, and pressure as much as possible.
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Olaf

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Difficulty - Medium
  • I know I list a lot of lanes as being Medium, even if I say they are quite easy. It is because these characters can do high damage, but only if they can catch you :)
  • Olaf does a lot of damage, but if he misses his Undertow, he can't catch you. This is when you harass him. Undertow is easy to predict, but be careful, because if it hits you, you will get slowed, and he will run up to you and refresh the cooldown by picking up the axe. You will take a lot of damage from this and his Reckless Swing if you allow him to get in range.
  • His Ragnarok is not a big worry, in fact, you will have the advantage at level 6. You don't have any CC anyway, so he will only use this for the extra armour/MR, or if the jungler ganks.
  • This is the classic example of "harass until low, then switch to cat form for the kill". However, you have to be a bit careful with Olaf, because of Berserker Rage in conjunction with Vicious Strikes allows him to fight incredibly effectively at low HP. For this reason, Ignite him before you go for the kill if you took Ignite. If not, you can still kill him, but make sure you have a decent amount of health left, because he is deceptively strong at low HP.
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Pantheon

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Difficulty - Medium
  • Pantheon is an AD burst assassin. The thing that makes him a bit more painful than Kha'Zix or Talon is his Aegis Protection, which means he can negate a lot of your harass.
  • If you get in range, Pantheon will usually stun you with Aegis of Zeonia, hit Heartseeker Strike, and then finish with Spear Shot. The problem is, before level 6, you literally cannot do anything about it. I suggest farming peacefully until level 6. If your jungler wants to gank, that is fine, as Pantheon has no escape at all before level 6.
  • Once you hit level 6, this lane gets a lot easier. The thing with Pantheon, or any AD burst assassin really, is that once they burn their combo, you take a lot of damage, and you instinctively run away. Don't do this. They are now very weak, and you can burst them in cat form to your heart's content. In fact, you can usually get off two full burst combos before their spells are off cooldown again.
  • Pantheon may use Grand Skyfall to escape. If he does this, there is nothing you can do, short of killing him, because you have no CC.
  • If Pantheon uses any of his spells, try to switch to cat form. The extra armour really helps against his burst, and you will be in a good position to fight back.
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Poppy

Renekton

Rengar

Riven

Rumble

Shen
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Singed

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Difficulty - Easy
  • Singed is a pretty easy opponent for Nidalee. To be fair, there was that one time that I laned against RF Legendary (2300 ELO if I remember correctly) and almost literally got trolled to death. But I think that was much more to do with the huge difference in player skill than anything related to the characters.
  • You can harass Singed to no end, and there is very little he can do. Most of the time he will just try to farm, so try to zone him from the minions.
  • In the afore-mentioned game, RF Legendary did the famous "Farm between towers" as Singed. Right after this, he pulled up a replay and showed exactly how to counter this kind of play. Basically, you need to harass him, punish him for being there, and get your jungler to gank. Otherwise he is getting free farm, while you are losing minions to the tower, and losing your tower as well.
  • When you hit level 6, Singed can't even use Mega Adhesive and attempt to Fling you anymore, because you can simply jump out of it.
  • World renowned LoL rule #6: Never chase a Singed.
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Teemo

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Difficulty - Hard
  • Teemo is one of your greatest counters as AD Nidalee (although it appears that AP Nidalee works fine against him).
  • Teemo may have a slightly shorter attack range than you, but the problem is that when you attack him, you might get one auto attack off, before he blinds you and auto attacks you in response. In short, his harass is better than your harass, and counters your harass.
  • When you get level 6, the lane is still annoying, the only upside being that you are now less vulnerable to ganks. Any Teemo who has an inkling of what he is doing will blind you when you jump near him, negating your Takedown. Teemo is squishy, but you rarely get the chance to abuse it.
  • Once he gets level 6, avoid the bushes. They will almost always be full of Noxious Traps, and even though your instinct is to run to them in the event of a gank, don't. You will get slowed, and possibly die.
  • Just try to farm this one out. Teemo is a pain, but it is possible to just build some MR, farm, and attempt to ignore his harass. Like you, Teemo is a pretty bad teamfighter, his main viability comes from his Noxious Traps, and the fact that he can wreck your AD carry by blinding them.
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Tryndamere

Udyr

Vladimir

Volibear

Warwick

Wukong

Xin Zhao

Yorick


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Teamfight Phase

Hopefully by now, you will have more farm than your opponent, and maybe a few kills. If not, don't fret, you can still make yourself useful! Nidalee doesn't like teamfights. She is not a character who is most at home in huge 5v5 engages. In this section, I will explain what to do in the case of a teamfight, and what else you should be doing.

1. If you haven't taken down your outer top tower, do that as soon as possible. Your goal now is to take towers, steal buffs, and be an outright pain for the opposing team, while still being able to get to your team for a teamfight.

2. Splitpush like crazy. This is the reason I take Teleport in almost every game as AD Nidalee. Splitpushing works like this. Your team is (usually together) somewhere on the map, defending a tower, taking a tower, objectives, and so on. Meanwhile, you, the splitpusher, are in a lane, pushing it as hard as you can, to get to the tower to try and take it down. The opposing team has two choices in this case. They can engage on your team, as a 4v5. This is one reason we take Teleport, so that you can join your team in the event of a fight. However, if your team knows what they are doing, they will disengage as much as possible, and a teamfight will not happen.

The other option is, they will try to gank you. No matter how many people they send, this gives your team the opportunity to take the objective / turret that they were trying to get, because your team will now outnumber them. One of the reasons Nidalee is such a good choice for splitpushing is that she can escape very easily, which means most of the time, they will not catch you.

As you can see, splitpushing works incredibly well with a team that is co-ordinated and communicates. This is why Nidalee is team reliant, because if your team doesn't capitalise on the enemy teams absence, or tries to fight a 4v5, or simply splits up after they see you go by yourself, you will be unlikely to achieve anything.

3. If you have to teamfight, try to Pounce the surrounding area as much as you can. The 40% armour and MR shred is massive in a teamfight, and if someone who has stepped on a trap gets focused, they will drop extremely fast. Secondly, use your spears to poke. Make sure pre-teamfight you are in human form, as you will need all your spells, while in cougar form you have no poke, no scout and no heal.

If an engage happens, you will usually heal your AD carry, or yourself, and then jump in and start dealing damage in cat form. Always make sure you are in cat form, the extra tankiness is really helpful when you are diving into a sea of AOE abilities. You rarely try to peel for your AD Carry, because you have no CC.

You choose a target, usually the AD Carry or AP Carry on the other team, and start dealing damage. It is hard to keep track of everything in a teamfight, but try and stagger your moves so that you get off as many Sheen procs as possible. If you did well in your lane, it is quite easy to drive the enemy AD Carry completely out of the fight, because of your mobility and burst. After this, you simply focus targets until they die, and finish off stragglers. Nidalee is good at this because of her incredible mobility, and her long range Takedown. If the teamfight is nearing its end, you may want to switch back to human form (provided you aren't too low on health) and heal a low health teammate.

If you are losing the teamfight and have to back off, protect the rest of your team. Nidalee is not a teamfighting character, and as a result, your team is less likely to win the next fight if your AD Carry dies, as opposed to if you die. If you can do anything that will save your teammates from certain death, do it. However, don't needlessly sacrifice yourself if your teammate would have gotten away anyway.


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Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my guide on top lane bruiser AD Nidalee, and I hope it helped you understand her a little better! Thanks for reading, and remember to give feedback, as this is my first guide, and it would really help.


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Credits

I would like to thank jhoijhoi for her guide on how to make a guide, along with the line dividers! Thank you very much! You can find her thread here: How to make a guide


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Changelog

8 November 2012 - Published the guide!

9 November 2012 - Added match ups for Akali, Darius, Nidalee, Teemo and Singed (more to come!)

10 November 2012 - Added match up for Jax

11 November 2012 - Added match ups for Olaf and Pantheon. Also added a paragraph about jungler ganks to the "Laning Phase" section.

16 November 2012 - Took into account a lot of the comments in the comments section, and their recommendations. Still yet to make some sections a bit less "wall of text" looking, but overall should look a bit better.