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.
There are many ways to play Malphite: dps (very easy to mess up), health tank (very weak), ap tank (don't do!), balanced dps/tank (not sure this works), and armor/mag resist tank (which includes Attack speed slow).
--Reasons for this build-- Note-This build is not complete, it is up to you to assess the situation and determine what other items and in what order you need to get them because there is no one size fits all solution.
Malphite is not really a tank, he's a fighter that can tank, is built tank, and tanks because he is built to tank. If you've ever played Malphite dps, you've probably noticed that despite his passive he is actually among the squishier dps. What makes Malphite good is his ability to initiate a fight, (Unstoppable Force+Ground Slam is the best initiate in the game), his passive (a shield that absorbs 10% of your health and recharges if out of combat for 10 seconds), and his ability to weaken the opposing team's dps (i.e. Ground Slam slows attack speed 30-50%).
Malphite's slowing abilities are specifically designed to weaken his opponents for half of their cd, which is why Seismic Shard slows for 6 seconds on a 12 second cooldown and ground slam slows attack speed for 4 seconds on an 8 second cooldown, so reducing Malphite's cooldowns makes his opponents more effective. Fortunately, two of the best armor items in the game provide a total of the maximum 40% cooldown reduction, enough health and mana to keep Malphite satisfied in a fight, and slow his opponent's attack speed. Since most slows stack for both attack speed and movement, Malphite's ground slam, Randuin's Omen, and Frozen Heart combine to reduce auto-attack damage of Malphite's opponents against all targets by "(1.00-.20)*(1.00-.50)*(1.00-.35)=(.8*.5)*.65=.65*.4=.26" or 74% for a total of 2+.5*(each 100 armor+magic resist) seconds. Ground slam can be reapplied every 4.8 seconds once Malphite has both frozen heart and randuin's, and randuin's omen has a 20% chance of slowing the movement and attack speed of a champion that attacks the bearer by 25%. This effect of this attack speed reduction on Malphite's opponents is calculated before armor, so in reality, when you initiate the fight you can reduce the physical damage your opponents do to you to about 7% of their normal damage output... This works for a short burst but by reapplying Ground Slam as often as possible and hitting the opposing team's top dps, you can weaken the other team to the extent that even if they focus your team's squishiest character, they might not be able to kill him. The attack speed slow also affects heimer's turrets, though ap characters will remain largely unaffected.
--Reasons for runes, masteries, and summoner spell choice--
I'm not an idiot, I am completely aware that getting dodge seals in the place of armor is better for survivability when you're not stunned and your opponent isn't using sword of the divine, and I know that scaling runes are not as good for an early game advantage. But scaling runes make you stronger in the mid to late game, and stronger runes help win the advantage in a stalemate. Plus scaling runes make you stronger as you level, so leveling and farming can turn a game around much easier. The reason for armor runes is it makes you tougher during stuns when you can't dodge at all, and ground slam inflicts more damage. Health quintessances stack with the health from defensive masteries and ruby crystal to give you 843 health at the start of the game. That's 84 health absorbed by your shield... If you really need more than that early game, something is wrong with your laning tactics.
I'm not gonna go over every mastery, just the ones you might not understand.
- Malphite's health and mana regen are very low, and there aren't many tank items to fix that, so the bonus from perserverence is very minimal, while the bonus from good hands reduces the time you are dead by 10%, enough to turn a game around if your team is temporarily losing and you need to get back in the action.
-Awareness increases your experience, so you're scaling runes give you the edge sooner.
-Greed is good
-Defensive mastery and hardened skin help a lot against minions who usually hit me for 3 or 6 damage so they won't kill me if I hit a champion with melee attacks while laning. While most champions take up to 12-25 damage....um..no thanks. In other words, you can let your opponent hit you physical just once and back up, and he or she will lose more health from minions than you took.
-Ghost/Haste, Malphite has always been a rather slow champion, so even though shard allows you to steal other champion's speed. Ghost helps you catch weak champions and get away from ganks. I usually feel safe farming even when the whole other team is mia because I'm always ready to run.
-Fort/Reinforce, this one is hard to explain, obviously there are a lot of spells that are better in combat than fort, especially clarity. The truth is fort makes farming easier because of the damage (which extends to your spells and aoe hits), it stops or slows enemies attacking tower, and if you're really good at using fort, you can make kills when your opponents tower dive or push towers and save other lanes. Additionally, every kill made by a tower while your fort is up is YOUR KILL, regardless of whether or not you actually hit the target-unless an ally hits the target before it dies, in which case you get an assist. All of your teams towers hit twice as fast, turn invulnerable, and deal aoe damage equal to half their normal damage to enemies around the target--Which is the same as the tower hitting the additional targets without fort. Basically, if you can play with fort do it because the 5 minute cooldown is still well worth it.
-Start-Always start with a Ruby Crystal, the health keeps you up early game and it can easily be turned into a Heart of Gold later for only 500g.
-Boots-After finishing the heart, build your boots. Ninja tabi if the opposing team has few slows, and no stuns, snares, or fears, and the opposing team has mostly physical damage. In all other cases take mercury treads, you will live longer.
-First piece-Build a warden's mail, starting with the chain mail first if you can manage it. When you have warden's mail, save up 600 gold and convert the mail and the heart of gold into your randuin's omen. Your omen should be in slot 1 now, so pressing the 1 key will slow your opponents. It doesn't last long until you get a lot of armor, but it helps a lot for running down and escaping from opponents.
-Second piece-If your opponents are too heavy ap for you to deal with, start building aegis of the legion with the health and magic resist first. If you can deal with them, or their ap characters aren't going after you much start building frozen heart first starting with the mana crystal and building a glacial shroud first.
-Third piece-If you have Aegis, build a Frozen heart, if you have Frozen Heart, build an Aegis, SEE? SIMPLE!
-Fourth piece-This one gets tricky. Idealy if you are Malphite then the entire enemy team is physical dps with little or no magic damage, in that case get thornmail. If the other team has a powerful phys dps carry, get thornmail. If the other team has powerful caster nukes, get banshee's veil. Otherwise, skip to the Optional Pieces and choose the best one for your situation.
--Optional Items--A list of items that are situationally chosen for the battle at hand, if the game lasted this long.
-Force of Nature: This item can replace banshee's veil, but personally, I prefer banshee's health and mana and spell block. Force gives you good health regen, increases movement speed, and it is the highest magic resist item in the game. However, magic resist is easily overcome, and stacking it is not worth the cost in many games. So unless you are facing champions that deal a lot of damage based on your life, getting a little magic resist and some health is better than getting this item. (Do not try to stack, it isn't worth it with this one)
-Thornmail: Yes I know i mentioned this one earlier and the unique is really unique. This gives quite a bit of armor so if your opposing teams is really all physical and you want to show them up, stacking two or three of these as your last items will allow give you additional damage to ground slam and armor for them to try and penetrate.
-Guardian Angel: I think this actually works better in 5v5 on a crucial and high damage dps than it does on Malphite. Guardian grants decent armor and magic resist and has a unique passive that revives you with 40% health and mana if you die in combat. Only once every 5 minutes. But Guardian is very expensive for just 38 magic resist and 68 armor; therefore, unless your team is having trouble and they NEED you to be alive after a group fight in order to push towers, or unless you are absolutely necessary for the defense of your base, or you are so tough compared to your opponents that they can hardly kill you anyway and you want to rub it in their faces; do not get this item. It is not worth its cost unless you need it and there are better items in most situations. This is really a better item on support characters and crucial dps than tanks strangely enough.
-Chalice of Harmony: Mana regen, you should be able to conserve your mana outside of group fights and go back when you need to. Also golem buff on 5s can substitute for this item. The only value this adds to you as a tank is 30 magic resist so don't get it unless you need it. I've seen people get this first on Malphite, and even though they don't run out of mana, they are too squishy in the early game and they usually don't make up for it later, so don't get it early.
-Sunfire Cape: These are fun to stack and they deal decent damage while adding survivability, but Malphite does need armor, cd reduction, and mana to be a good tank. He really doesn't do well sunfire stacking compared to other tanks, and Ground slam's damage isn't increased enough from this item. Take one or two if you want them or if they will help a lot, but don't rely on stacking them with Malphite. It only works on noobs.
-Tiamat: Yes, Tiamat, the item that very few if any dps ever take. It is not a tank item, and I don't suggest it for the magic or health regen, I suggest it for the damage. 42 damage and an aoe for almost full damage in a circle around your target. The Reason:Tiamat adds damage, which is good, 42 damage isn't much but as a tank dealing around 100 damage per hit without it it is really good bonus damage; however, the real bonus is the passive. AoE's all work the same way, place a template under the target, and deal predetermined damage of a predetermined type to all units on the template, this damage does not proc thornmail, or warden's mail, or on hit effects. Tiamat creates a circle around the target, almost the size of ground slam and hits all enemies in the circle for your physical damage, and brutal strikes hits all enemies in a wedge around and behind your target for 50% of your physical damage. The circle is bigger than the wedge; therefore, all units in the wedge besides your target get hit twice for a total of 150% of your physical damage, and all units in the circle outside the cone get hit for your physical damage. You can kill someone faster by hitting the guy next to him, and it really helps end the game.
-Void Staff: Tank Malphite relies on his abilities to do most of his damage, so most of his damage, including most damage from tank items, is magic damage. Malphite has only 2 ap abilities, which is why ap is not good for him; however, Void Staff allows Malphite to ignore 40% of his opponents magic resist. Most ap champions get this item, and you can deal a lot of magic damage with ground slam, unstoppable force, and shard. So if you can't think of a tank item or want to do a lot of damage, get Void Staff.
-Warmog's Armor: This is really best taken early game so you can rack up minion kills for it. The problem is that Malphite's passive blocks 10% of your health in damage after armor and magic resist, so technically, armor and magic resist usually keep you up a bit better than stacking health and health regen. Also you need the damage from armor. So it might only be feasible to get this item late game, especially due to the cost of building it without armor to help kill minons and survive.
--DO NOT GET LIST--Disclaimer: Items that are built for tanks, but due to their stats or some conditions are not good for Malphite in most circumstances.
-Leviathon: I have seen Malphite's that get this, it is not worth it. Malphite has very low natural killing power and has to be built to be good mid-late game. This is a waste of money, and you should not rely on kills and assists to gear with Malphite. Play Shen if you want this item, you will probably win or lose the game before you get enough kills for this to be worth it, even if you don't die.
-Soul Shroud: You cannot get more than 40% cooldown reduction anyway, so there is no point, and while the health and health regen are good for Morde and other tanks, they are not good enough for Malphite. Get Warmog's or another item for it's magic resist or armor that happens to provide health, you will do better.
-Spirit visage: Why bother, there's better stuff?
-Frozen Mallet: Yes I understand that this was once a recommended item for Malphite, and you honestly can take it as a last item, but it is expensive and it doesn't provide enough survivability or damage to be worth it. The slow is nice, but you should have that from other items, or from your allies, or your spells, or lizard buff anyway. Unless someone is playing Singed and running around the field too fast for anyone to kill him, it isn't worth it.
-Multiple boots: If you got the wrong boots and you want to switch without sacraficing speed in the meantime, you can take multiple boots until your new boots are complete than sell the old ones, otherwise don't try it.