Tristana Build Guide by
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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.
Hi, I'm Gobmas, and this is my guide and build for AP Tristana. Yes, AP is an unusual thing to build on Tristana, but don't let the unusual aspect deter you. AP Tristana is a very viable and fun way to play in normal games. One thing I have to stress about this, though:
THIS BUILD IS NOT MEANT FOR RANKED!
I don't suggest playing this in ranked matches unless you are EXTREMELY confident in your team's and your own abilities. It is, in my experience, a far too fragile way to play.
Pros / Cons
Incredible harass game in lane
Very large amounts of single-target burst damage
Can easily chain kills in teamfights, often getting triple, quadra, and even pentakills
Nearly impossible to pin down
With some experience and an eye for opportunity, very easy to get fed
Difficult to farm well
Squishiest thing since Anivia, so extremely vulnerable to CC
Long base cooldowns, meaning that CDR is REQUIRED
Requires a different playstyle than most other champs, which can be hard to get used to
Not always a Con to some people in normal (hint: it usually is), but you are good at Kill-Stealing
These are what make AP Tristana viable, like any other caster: her spells.
Draw a Bead: Tristana aims much more carefully, increasing her attack range with each level by 9 (+153 at level 18)
Largely useless outside of the laning phase. In lane, though, this ability is decently useful at getting in a little more damage with her auto attacks.
Rapid Fire: Increases Tristana's attack speed by 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 / 90 % for 7 seconds.
Helpful for proc-ing Lich Bane later on and for when you want to be dealing a bit more damage to a turret. But, like her passive, it is largely useless beyond that.
Rocket Jump: Tristana fires at the ground to propel herself to a target location, dealing 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 (+0.8 per ability power) magic damage and slowing surrounding units by 60% for 2.5 seconds when she lands. On kills or assists, Rocket Jump's cooldown resets.
A very good AoE nuke that works almost like a massive flash, and it even cools down whenever you get a kill or assist! The slow is not often relevant, as you should be using this ability for the nuke, but don't forget that it is there. Also, while this can jump almost any wall in the game, it cannot jump the thicker walls in Summoner's Rift, like the ones near mid.
Explosive Shot: (Passive): Enemies explode when slain by Tristana's attacks, dealing 50 / 75 / 100 / 125 / 150 (+0.25 per ability power) magic damage to nearby enemies.
(Active): Explosive Shot rends the target enemy, reducing healing and health regeneration by 50% and dealing 110 / 140 / 170 / 200 / 230 (+1 per ability power) magic damage over 5 seconds.
This active is Tristana's main source of damage in her lane, and it is an extremely efficient source of harassment. The max rank damage on this skill may not look like much, but the early game damage is actually very high, so with some early AP to complement it's 100% AP scaling, this can dish out some hefty damage. Try to get in as many hits with this in the first 4 levels as you can, as that is when it is at it's most efficient. The largest downside to this ability is the short casting range, shorter than her attack range at all but level 1. This means that some movespeed is mandatory to be able to dominate your lane with this spell. Oh, and the passive is nice for farming, although you should be careful about how much it can push your lane.
Buster Shot: Tristana fires a massive cannonball at an enemy unit, dealing 300 / 400 / 500 (+1.5 per ability power) magic damage and knocking surrounding units back 600 / 800 / 1,000 distance.
This ability is why AP Tristana is so viable. The 150% scaling and large base damage make for one of the largest nukes in the game, and certainly the most reliable. With a Rabadon's or a fully stacked Mejai's, this single spell can almost 1-shot squishy champs, and the low cooldown means that you can do that A LOT. The knockback is only icing on the cake, providing just one more way for you to get out of a teamfight or gank without a scratch, or preventing a counterattack as the DoTs from Explosive Shot and Ignite finish your victim off.
The runes are largely self-explanatory for casters, but everything can be changed around for anything else that suits you. I use:
Magic Penetration Marks, for a good damage increase at all points in the game.
Mana Regen Seals, for and easier time using your spells in lane.
Flat AP Glyphs, for a large damage increase in the early game. I highly suggest keeping these no matter your preferences, as the damage increase these give your Explosive Shot is invaluable in the early game.
Movement Speed Quintessences, to give you the movespeed you need to land harassment without getting hurt. If you don't like how squishy this leaves you, you can man up.
Or maybe use some Flat HP Quintessences.
Standard caster masteries, with the movespeed, mana regen, and cooldown reduction from the Utility tree being especially helpful.
What I Use:
Ignite: A great choice to guarantee kills, it's best in the early game. Not as good late-game for escaping enemies, because of its short range. This can be replaced easily with a spell more to your liking.
Flash: The best summoner spell in the game, by far. In conjunction with Rocket Jump, you are almost impossible to catch as long as this is up. Also good for positioning yourself to take advantage of the knockback from Buster Shot and to counter enemy Flashes.
Other Viable Options:
Teleport: Not as useful for backdooring on an AP champion, but it still has many other uses, like getting back to your lane faster or making sure you don't miss a teamfight.
Exhaust: Useful if you want to stop a fed Tryndamere from staying fed. Always a good summoner spell, but not as useful on Tristana as on less bursty champs.
Cleanse: As I've said, one of AP Tristana's main weaknesses is to CC, and this helps aliviate that problem. Best used in conjunction with Flash for maximum survivability.
Ghost: If you dislike the length of Flash's cooldown, this is a good alternative. Can also be used similarly to Teleport.
All the other spells are ones you shouldn't really be getting on AP Tristana. They all have their uses, but are probably better on someone else on your team.
The item build with AP is largely static, not much about it is going to change from match to match. The order you buy the items and their components should change depending on your priorities each game, however.
Boots of Speed: Starting with boots along with the Movespeed quints and the movespeed from your masteries may seem like overkill, but you need to make absolutely sure that you move faster than your opponent(s) in lane, and Tristana is tied for slowest movespeed in the game. This way, even if your opponent(s) begin with boots, you will STILL out-speed them. Plus, the 3 health potions make sure that you will be able to out harass them, and they build directly into you Sorcerer's Shoes.
Mejai's Soulstealer: Many people disagree conceptually with getting snowball items, i know. But it is by far the easiest way to get cheap AP, something that is hugely important for Tristana early game, and with her ganking and escaping abilities, you should have no problem getting and keeping stacks. Still, if you absolutely refuse to rely on it, rushing Rabadon's is similarly effective.
Morello's Evil Tome: This item is beyond fanatastic. The huge cooldown reduction is more than worth the trade-off in AP. This item is cheap, too, so no straining the wallet to get it. A necessity for going AP.
Rabadon's Deathcap: I sincerely hope that no one reading this is in denial about the amount of sheer damage this provides to any character with AP ratios. And on a champ with a ratio above 100%? Don't even ask.
Lich Bane: This item provides SO many useful stats. As I've already made clear, the movespeed in invaluable, making you move like a Teemo with a Phantom Dancer. The mana allows for spamming during those iritatingly extended teamfights, and the AP and auto-attack proc add a huge amount more damage, and allow you to push turrets like you're actually going AD. If you are getting plenty of stacks of Mejai's, feel free to delay your Rabadon's Deathcap for this gem.
Your last item (or 2, if you decided to forgo Mejai's) is/are the most flexible slot(s). Void Staff is a great item for when you are doing well to counter magic resist. Guardian Angel is decent if you have a reliable team and the game is fairly even. My personal favorite is Zhonya's Hourglass, which gives great AP along with an active that can save you if you mis-fire on your Rocket Jump or if your Explosive Shot is only a few ticks away from killing them.
Farming can often be difficult with Tristana, especially when it is so easy to harass constantly and just forget to last hit some minions in the process. But if you have to choose between one or the other, ALWAYS GET YOUR FARM. Even if you are bad at last hitting, keep trying, as practice is the only way to get better at it. Once you get later in the game it gets easier, as rocket jump should one-shot all the minions in a wave and the passive of explosive shot will make picking up the rest easy. But whatever you do, don't neglect your early farm.
Go mid if at all possible, although solo top is okay as well if you both have junglers. If you have to lane against 2 people, it is far better to have a partner, though, so don't shy away from bottom if you have no alternative. If you did get a 1v1 lane, though, congratulations! This is where AD Tristana often has trouble, with low damage auto attacks and no great harassing skills. YOU, on the other hand, are a great solo laner! With decent luck/skill at dodging skill shots, you will easily get a kill in lane by at least level 6. Just harass with Explosive Shot whenever it is off cooldown, then run back, kiting with a few auto-attacks if they give chase. When they are low enough, Rocket Jump on top of them, and blow your cooldowns. All of them. Gratz on your kill!
Now get back before minion aggro or the enemy jungler get around to picking you off, and go get your finished Sorcerer's Shoes along with an Amplifying Tome and some wards/potions. If you have any choice in the matter, don't go back to mid; you can't push their turret very effectively. Go gank the side lanes and the enemy jungle and pick up a few kills. As soon as you have the money, get your Mejai's so you can get stacks, and your in the mid game.
By now some small teamfights should be starting up; take this opportunity to sneak in some kills and Mejai's stacks. And by sneak, i mean SNEAK. Your role in teamfights is twofold: stay out of them, at least at first. Wait for their carry to expose themselves, and maybe even take some damage, then Rocket Jump on top of them and, once again, blow your cooldowns. Even if you have to turret dive to get at them, do it. Once you get the kill, your Rocket Jump will refresh, letting you jump back out again. Be careful in this process for members of the enemy team such as Akali, Kassadin and so on attempting to do this to YOUR team. If you run into them, just run. You don't have the sustained damage to actually kill them at full HP yet, but you should be able to get away without dying unless they are already fed beyond imagining, and maybe even kite them into your team.
Once the carry on their team is dead, you should have no trouble spamming Explosive Shot and chaining Rocket Jumps onto multiple dying enemies. Just be careful not to killsteal from any of your team, as Tristana is very good at accidentally picking up kills when actual carries did all the work. Remember, assists get Mejai's stacks as well. If all goes well, you should be able to pick up your Rabadon's Deathcap in short order, and perhaps even a Sheen, and move on to late game.
Now the game should be all about teamfights and pushing towers. Follow the same basic tactics as in the mid game, and finish your Lich Bane as soon as possible. It should also be pointed out that with a Clarivoyance or ward, Tristana can easily steal Baron or Dragon by Rocket Jumping in and Buster Shot-ing the epic monster. This should also knock back the enemy team in the process. Decide what your last items should be, don't 1v5, and have a GG.