Nasus Build Guide by Deluth
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Not Updated For Current Season
Well, it's Season 3
And I have to revamp my whole build and guide again, after just finishing the first major edits. This guide will be going down shortly, just leaving this notice here for a day or two.
Hello, I am Deluth. Welcome to my Nasus Guide,
Nasus is usually a top lane Tanky Dps that serves the role of an offtank. He is the very definition of a late game champion; his early game is one of the weakest, but he has one of the strongest late games of all top laners. Recently, Nasus has been unpopular and largely considered unviable. However, I believe that this is due to outdated building, which has led to the illusion that Nasus can be beaten by nearly everything. This is simply not true. When played correctly, Nasus can still become one of the few remaining hypercarries in this game, and is invaluable to any team given enough farm. With that said, I am here to introduce a new generation of Nasus building against the heavy-harass top laners commonly seen today. I hope that this guide will help reveal the true potential of Nasus to all.
This guide is for people who want to play Nasus and succeed. There will be a lot more information and explanation in this guide than in an average guide, so naturally there is a lot of text. I do not recommend this guide if you are just looking for a brief overview of Nasus, since this may be a long read. Faint-Hearted, turn back now, for you have been warned.
Also, the runes, masteries, and items in the cheat sheet are just an example of what could be used; do not use them as a strict guideline. Any alternative choices offered are EVERY BIT as viable as the main options listed, just used in different situations. I would never list an alternative if I felt like it was any less viable than the main choice. I feel the need to impress upon this because often people just look at the build at the start of the guide and ignore everything else. This is wrong, especially for a champion like Nasus. You need to adapt to all situations as Nasus in order to survive in modern top lane, where champions with no mana restrictions and boatloads of harass are waiting to prey on Nasuses that don't counterbuild. See my Champion Matchups section for the specific build order for each matchup, I couldn't possibly fit every variation in the cheat sheet. And of course, feel free to experiment on your own.
On a side note, I apologize for any poor formatting and lack of images in this guide. I am not a guide writer, merely an average guy who loves to play Nasus, so please bear with me.
A Discussion of Viability (Skip This if you just want to get to the Guide)
As Season 2 draws to a close, Riot churns out new top laner bullies and mobility creep, and Morello predicts a grim and buffless future for Nasus, one big question remains: Is Nasus viable? On top of that, is he worth learning?
Short, Obvious Answer: Nasus is a niche pick.
Longer Answer: There are a lot of misconceptions regarding Nasus. Most of the more experienced players will say that Nasus is trash, while less experienced players will say that Nasus is a strong, or even overpowered pick (also known as Master Yi syndrome). Ironically, although the answer is between these two extremes, I would have to lean towards the latter opinion, albeit for different reasons. For the majority of normal, ranked, and team play, Nasus is an overshadowed but useable pick, if played correctly. More experienced players, as they learn and begin to master harassing, trading, zoning, and other top lane mechanics, find that Nasus is not good at any of these. And that is absolutely true, Nasus' early game is pretty atrocious, and his lack of escapes and early presence is probably his greatest weakness. However, on the flip side, most Nasus players also have questionable builds and decisions, which exaggerates the weakness of Nasus. Nasus is fundamentally different in concept from every other champion in the game. This is because he
1. Scales well off farm
With three bonus damage gained per kill from Siphoning Strike, Nasus' farm is naturally worth more than any other champion's. Think Gangplank's parley gold adds up? Nasus laughs in your face; each minion you Q is worth (very) roughly twice as much as it would be otherwise. This leads to a point where Nasus simply grossly out-stats his opponents, and his flaws are made up by the sheer power of numbers. This is known as late-game Nasus, and is the point where each nasus player struggles to reach every game. But you probably know all of this, so its time to introduce the more conflicting point.
2. Nasus does not scale off of gold.
Yeah, by now the problem should be evident. Nasus, widely regarded as one of the best late game champions, actually has no scaling in his kit (disregarding ap scaling, which is also absurdly low). This leads to a situation where Nasus is forced to build tanky, since building anything else doesn't really.....do anything. And since tanky items naturally scale the worst, on one hand we have Nasus with insanely high scaling off farm, on the other we have Nasus with zero scaling off items. First off, this leads to a situation where late-game Nasus is not actually as god-like as everyone makes it out to be. Secondly, this leads to pretty big misconceptions when people decide to build Nasus. Usually, late-game top laners such as Jax are associated with gold, and since everyone is obsessed with Gp10s anyway, what do people build? Gp10's, the weakest early game items, for increased gold gain while sacrificing farm, obviously! /sarcasm. But, as we see, Nasus' scaling and late-game differs from traditional scaling, so in practice, this clearly has not worked well, as can be seen by Nasus' current status as a borderline troll pick.
So, how does this guide change everything? This guide is about maximizing early game power, which Nasus actually needs, and letting his own late-game speak for itself, without the need for Gp10's. This allows Nasus to reach late-game status much easier, faster, and more reliably, while sacrificing relatively little.
Going back to the question, armed with more information now, is Nasus viable? In the current mindset, I would agree with the experienced players; hell no. However, if we build and play to better suit Nasus' strengths and weaknesses? He still suffers from mana cost creep and mobility creep, but for the most part, he is very much useable.
Now, is he worth learning? This question is a bit more iffy. He works, but he is still not optimal,and to tell the truth, learning a stronger, more commonly used champion like Jax Irelia or Vladimir will probably be more useful. However, since this is a Nasus guide, I am certainly not going to dissuade you from playing Nasus. Nasus does have his own place on a team, and sometimes knowing an obscure pick or two can win games. All in all, it's down to personal preference. If you are trying to move into top lane from another role or just trying to find another champ to play, Nasus may not be your best choice. However, if you came here to learn how to play Nasus specifically and/or really love Nasus and his insane sustain+hypercarry gameplay, go right ahead. Welcome to the League of Nasus.
Why Should You Choose Nasus?
Nasus is a champion with literally limitless damage, and with decent farm will surpass all other champions in terms of damage to tankyness ratio. Nasus is one of the few top lanes left that still builds trinity force+ tank items, simply because he can afford to do so. Yes, Nasus does not need atmogs or any damage items besides trinity force, he goes FULL TANK and will not give up any damage for it if played right. That is the power of Nasus. Besides his pure damage and tankyness potential, Nasus also brings a surprising amount of utility with 40 AoE armor reduction and an attack speed slow scaling up to 95%, making it the strongest slow in the game hands down. With a moderate amount of cooldown reduction, you will be able to reduce the enemy Ad carries' damage output to zero for 5 seconds on a seven second cooldown. Shutting down the enemies' main late game damage source for over 70% of the fight is simply amazing, especially considering that you do not need any farm or items for this skill.
Nasus will teach you a lot about this game. He may not have any difficult combos or skillshots, but the nature of his weak early game will force a player to learn patience, mana management, map awareness, and csing, or lose any lane hard. Nasus is not a champion you can just pick up and play against competent players. But with practice, Nasus is a fearsome opponent and an absolute terror to squishies. Not only that, but you will notice improvements with any other champions you choose to play. And nothing beats the feeling of hard carrying a 4v5 when your team is down 5-20.
Despite all his strengths, Nasus suffers from a few glaring weaknesses, which leads to situations where you definitely do not want to choose him. First and foremost, never pick Nasus against certain lane matchups, which I will discuss more in the champion matchups section. Nasus is a hit-or-miss champion; if you pick into a lane that can deny you farm, prepare to lose, and lose hard. Going against an enemy with strong roaming potential or a global ultimate is also not a very good idea. Your laning presence is very weak, and the enemy will basically be able to do what they please while you sit and farm. If they are able to rack up a sizable amount of kills off your teammates before you can get enough farm, then you have likely lost the game.
During teamfights, Nasus has no way to initiate without using Wither, which is usually a bad choice because he should almost always be saving wither for the enemy AD Carry, With that said, it is very helpful to have a champion that CAN initiate on your team. Otherwise, prepare to let your enemy dictate when and where every teamfight will happen. Also, since you have no dash or significant ranged damage, being kited is an easy way to make you completely useless. Do not pick Nasus against teams with lots of spammable cc or when the enemies squishies are highly mobile.
Your last thing to fear is pure damage potential. Ideally, as any tanky dps, your dream is to reach a point where you can wade into all five enemies and take down a few while tanking all the damage, then come out alive and laughing. As Nasus, you have the benefit of pure raw strength and tankyness to help you as well as wither to negate the majority of ad carry damage. However, if the ap is one with significant sustained damage, such as Karthus or Cassiopeia, you will take massive damage since you are the front-line fighter. You have no real answer to this damage mid-teamfight, and you will likely be taken down a lot earlier and have a lot lower damage potential. This problems only worsens late game when the enemies buy Last Whisper and Void Staff, and you will begin melting regardless of any defense you have built.
- Builds full tank
- Limitless damage potential
- Strong late game
- Shuts down autoattackers with a single spell
- Amazing at destroying towers using farmed Q
- Ult is very effective for early barons
- Can become a hypercarry
- Best voice in League
- Very poor laning presence and damage
- Is very binary, being hard counterpicked or camped by jungler will make you worthless
- Very susceptible to ganks
- Mana costs are very restricting
- Kitable due to no gap closer or ranged damage
- Repetitive farming may be boring
- Hard to play in solo queue, since Nasus is a last-pick champ (and when does last pick ever get to solo top?) and relies on his team to survive early game.
- Common scapegoat since general sentiments are that Nasus is unviable, and it is difficult to balance early skirmishes with farming
Preferred Summoner Spells
The vs. argument has been made billions of times, but at the end of the day there is no clear "best", it is all situational. Therefore, I will not bother to argue for or against either of these summoner spells. Personally, my play style is taking on nearly every champion, so i continued to take flash on Nasus. There are definitely times where I missed kills I would've easily gotten with Ghost, but there have been also times where only Flash would have gotten me that kill/escape. One thing is for sure: you do need one defensive summoner spell, so take either or .
is a very nice utility spell for Nasus with so many uses. Early game you absolutely need this spell against harder matchups to quickly buy and gain an item advantage against your enemy. You can also use this to quickly get down to dragon for quick and easy dragon control. Similarly, in midgame you can just chill and get that all-important farm top while this spell is up and teleport to any teamfight that breaks out. By late game, Teleport is amazing for backdoors and pushing bot lane for free farm while both teams stalemate at baron, then teleporting in when the action starts. When you have some tankyness , Teleport can also be used as an escape. If your enemy has no hard cc or has already used it, simply teleport back to your nexus and trolololo at your enemy as you survive the unsurvivable. The one thing that you need to watch out is that can be cancelled by hard cc (stuns, fear, knockup, etc.), so never teleport where an opponent with a hard cc can see you.
is honestly the only other summoner spell that I consider even close to viable on Nasus, since exhaust is always such a strong spell in general. However, exhaust simply cannot replace / because Nasus is already lacking in escapes, and teleport just brings so much extra utility for the entire game that it outweighs the teamfight power that gives. Early game exhaust is not very useful on Nasus, since it is nearly impossible to kill anyone early game with Nasus, and your focus should be on farming anyway. In teamfights, you can permawither the main target already, so exhaust is a luxury, not a necessity. At best, it could be used as a subpar defensive skill, but in that case even taking both and would be better.
Unviable Summoner Spells:
: Like Exhaust, but even worse because there isn't even any defensive benefit. As Nasus, your main job early game is to get Q farm. Kills are a secondary objective since as a tank, Nasus doesn't actually scale that well with gold. Wasting a spell slot for a very low possibility of getting a kill that you don't even need is not worth it.
: The sustain on this spell is really very poor, especially compared to teleport where you can just go b and recover all your health and mana. Your ult already functions as a heal bait, so you dont really need another heal either. In lane, flash or ghost are both better escapes. Late game, heal falls off pretty hard since the AD carry will be able to take off the amount healed in a single shot anyway. Not really worth it.
Any uncovered summoner spells are also unviable, mainly because they are unviable on nearly everyone or are not solo top spells.
Greater Mark of Desolation
Marks: Armor Pen is very useful on Nasus since armor cuts down massively on your Q damage. Between these marks and Spirit Fire, you should be able to do true damage to champions with little armor.
Alternative : Both defensive marks are also respectable choices in difficult matchups, and will probably help you more early game.
Standard Armor Seals, a common seal choice and useful in all matchups. Nothing to see here. I do not recommend any alternatives.
Glyphs: The only non-standard rune in my setup. These glyphs are largely considered useless, but if you stop and think about it, 8% cdr in the defensive tree + 7% cdr here= 15% cdr, as much as Shurelya's Reverie. As a result, you can actually replace Shurelya's Reverie, which is considered core on Nasus in today's Nasus builds. The implications of this are huge, especially in more difficult lanes. I will go into more detail about this in the items section.
Alternative : A more popular Glyph choice, very useful against AP champions in lane.
Quintessences: Lifesteal Quints synergize well with the massive amount of lifesteal in this build, and help make Nasus' early game a bit more bearable. Also scale well into late game.
Alternative Greater Quintessence of Vigor: Gives similar sustain, more early sustain but doesn't scale as well into late game.
I go 21 into defense because defense offers the most benefits to Nasus, including:
- Free tenacity helps you not get kited
- A bit of sustain and tankyness to help you survive laning. The flat damage reduction in particular is invaluable in helping you tank minions early on in order to freeze the lane.
- 8% Cooldown Reduction. This is the main reason why defensive tree is favored on Nasus. 8% Coodown reduction is massive, especially combined with Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reductions also included in this build
Masteries deep in the offensive tree just give a bunch of offensive stats, which, as I stated earlier, Nasus does not need. Utility tree is kind of a joke now, so definitely don't go 21 in that tree. So, it is mostly a choice between choosing the offensive or utility trees as your secondary tree.
Offensive Tree gives:
- Extra attack damage for easier last-hitting
- Armor pen
- Mana and Mana Regen
- Movement Speed
- Improved Teleport and Flash
Personally, I prefer 9 points in the utility tree. The two main things in utility are the mana regen and the Summoner's Insight skill, which affects both of the spells you take (flash/tp). I now believe that the extra mana regen and upgraded summoner spells are superior to slightly better last-hitting early and a bit of armor penetration. Thus, I now suggest 0/21/9 as optimal masteries. However, if you take ghost or need armor pen, 9/21/0 is still an excellent choice.
Alternative Masteries: 9/21/0
Skill Explanations and Tips
Passive: Soul Eater
Nasus drains his foe's spiritual energy, giving him a natural 14/17/20% lifesteal.
This passive is very straightforward and looks like nothing special, but it gives the sustain that Nasus desperately needs in lane. There's nothing to say here, it's just lifesteal. A nice passive overall.
Q: Siphoning Strike
Nasus's next attack within 10 seconds will deal 30/50/70/90/110 (+1.0 per attack damage) (+3 per enemy killed by Siphoning Strike) additional damage. Siphoning Strike permanently gains 3 stacked damage whenever it kills an enemy champion, minion or neutral monster.
Cost: 20/25/30/35/40 Mana
Cooldown: 8/7/6/5/4 seconds
Ah, the famous siphoning strike, also known as ONE-SHOT-ALL-THE-THINGS. This is the skill that defines Nasus, and allows him to do massive damage while building full tank. This skill is the only skill in the game that scales directly with kills ( Veigar and Sion give stats, but not direct scaling), which gives Nasus his uniqueness. Use this skill for harass, taking towers, and most importantly, farming.
Remember, how well you're doing in a game depends directly on your Q farm amount. If you are 5/0 in lane but have 0 Q farm, then you have still become useless and lost. Consequently, this skill is why you should be farming as Nasus and not going for kills. "If it moves, q it" is age-old Nasus advice that may be exaggerated but is actually not that far off. Pretty much everything in this game that can be attacked gives Q farm, so just keep farming. Each Q farmed minion is worth about as much as two regularly farmed minions, so as long as you can keep creep scores near-even and Q farm well, you will have a huge hidden gold advantage.
This skill is a straightforward on-next-hit ability, so there aren't many tips, just remember to Q towers during pushes for massive damage. Also, Q resets autoattacks, so autoattack before Qing for maximum damage. This is especially useful early game when your Q does poor damage and you need a boost from autoattacks to ensure the last-hit.
Nasus ages his target, slowing their movement and attack speed by 35%. Additionally, they are reduced further to reach an extra 12/24/36/48/60% slow at the end of 5 seconds. If the duration of the slow is reduced, the extra slow will be applied faster for it to reach its maximum at the end of the duration.
Cooldown: 15/14/13/12/11 seconds
Cost: 80 mana
Wow. I don't know where to start with this ability. If Siphoning Strike defines Nasus, wither is what redeems Nasus and makes him viable. In lane, this skill will quickly give you an upper hand against auto-attackers or allow you to disengage from the enemy if he gets too aggressive. The intimidation factor on this skill is also pretty high with the visuals and sound effect, sometimes withered enemies will just give up fighting and try to run away from you at sub-50 movement speed. This skill is also your main way to help coordinate ganks and escape ganks. One disadvantage of wither is that its mana cost is rather high, so use this skill very sparingly until you have Frozen Heart. Often, I see people say "just wither [insert champion here] in lane and attack them to beat them", which admittedly sounds nice. In reality, you will run out of mana after doing that about 4 times, inflicting very little damage in the process, and will proceed to get crushed in lane. Generally, before Frozen Heart only use it during ganks from either jungler, to escape from an enemy laner who will potentially take out half your health/kill you, or to go for a very clear kill (which should almost never happen, but who knows.....)
In teamfights, you want to save wither for an autoattacker (usually the Ranged AD), which will shut them down for five seconds unless they burn Quicksilver Sash. It is very important to not be too trigger-happy with wither and initiate with it. If you do not use it to its full potential (on an autoattacker), your chances of winning the resulting fight will be much, much lower, especially lategame where AD carries will easily shred you. With lots of Cooldown Reduction, the duration of this ability will nearly be equal to its cooldown, meaning you can "permaslow" one enemy. This is part of the reason why you want to get lots of CDR on Nasus; perma-wither will do wonders in helping you not get kited. This skill is the most powerful slow in the game.
- When ganked and unable to 1v2, wither the enemy with the most sustained CC potential (red buff, perma slow), then run
- When chasing an enemy, wither them, Q them, then run alongside/in front of them until SS or wither are back up. If you trail behind them and just auto-attack, it will be a lot easier for them to escape.
- Save your wither for the enemy AD Carry in teamfights to shut them down
- Avoid using this skill in lane, you will run out of mana a lot quicker
E: Spirit Fire
Nasus unleashes a spirit flame at a location for 5 seconds. Enemies caught in the area are dealt 55/95/135/175/215 (+0.6 per ability power) magic damage. Additionally, enemies in the area are dealt 11/19/27/35/43 (+0.12 per ability power) magic damage each second and have their armor reduced by 20/25/30/35/40 while on there and for 1 extra second.
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Range to Center of AoE: 650
Radius of AoE: 400
Cost: 70/85/100/115/130 mana
Unless you are going AP, the damage on this skill is a joke, so it is mostly used for the armor penetration and utility. This skill costs as much or even more mana then Wither, but is much less effective. Therefore, pre- Frozen Heart, there is almost no reason to use this skill in lane. Even in ganks, the small AoE armor penetration is usually not worth laying down, and will hurt your mana management heavily if the gank fails. In fact, I urge you to not even get this skill until you have to, since using it is usually counterproductive. Spamming this skill in lane is another reason Nasus is often considered weak. You will just go out of mana fast and make your laning experience more miserable.
Mid-game and later, this skill gains some purpose. 40 Armor Penetration is pretty respectable, and along your runes and masteries will allow you deal true damage to squishies who build no armor. A bonus on this skill is that it grants vision temporarily when cast. Overall, overshadowed by and , but it has its uses.
- Late Game, unless you are low on mana, always E brushes before running inside them for vision
- The edge of your E will catch baron if you cast it at max range over the baron wall. You can use this to temporarily check baron if there are no wards. Note: Riot recently changed this so now there's a 1-2 second delay after casting E before baron appears.
- Cast E on an enemy before Qing for maximum damage
- Consider laying E on enemy bruisers diving your carry in teamfights to give them some nice extra armor penetration
- Do not use E in lane
Ultimate: Fury of the Sands
Nasus becomes empowered in the sandstorm for 15 seconds, gaining 300 /450/600 extra health and longer attack range (~25). While the storm rages, he drains 3/4/5% (+0.01 per ability power) of nearby enemies' max health each second (max of 240 magic damage per second per enemy) and converts 6.375% of the damage done into bonus attack damage for himself until the sandstorm wears off.
Cost: 150 mana
Cooldown: 120 seconds
Radius of AoE: 350
Most badass-looking ult ever. Nasus' ult does a lot and surpasses his brother Renekton's ult in essentially every way, but it's pretty overrated. Let's break it down:
% Health Damage Per Second- This is extremely powerful damage on paper and spits in the face of Renekton's Dominus, especially if you can get all the ticks off. However, usually you will be kited during your ult, and much of the damage will be reduced by MR because you have 0 magic pen. All in all, the damage component can match up to the ult damage of other top laners, but usually this won't happen.
AD gain: An excellent steroid if you can get a good ult off, but again, you suffer from being kited, and by the time the bonus reaches a significant amount the teamfight will usually be over. Even though the AD bonus has a lot of potential, Nasus doesn't have any AD scaling anyway and your attack speed is nothing to brag about since you are building full tank. A large amount of AD, but with little use compared to most other bruisers. To be honest I rarely notice this.
Health Gain: Basically a free built in heal bait. This very useful early game and is a redeeming point on this ult. This is what you'll be using your ult for 99% of the time early game.
As a whole, this ult is definitely worthy of ult status, but it goes in too many directions at once, and it becomes meh by late game due to lack of useable scaling. It grants you significant potential damage, but suffers from being kited like the rest of your kit. Therefore, it is important to not pop your ult unless you are dying or the fight has clearly started. An easy way to waste your ult is to use it while the initiation is still happening, because you just beg the enemy to back off and waste your ult. One thing this ult really has going for it is intimidation, so use that to your advantage. A running or zoned enemy is an enemy that is doing no damage.
- Ult (especially if being towerdived) to heal bait
- Ulting baron will do lots of damage and allows for quick early barons
- Do not be afraid to Ult if you need some lane sustain to get that last bit of gold for your next item, it will generally be up whenever you need it anyways.
- Do not ult before the teamfight has already begun
- Do not ult if you are already winning a 1v1 fight in lane. Despite the looks of it, Nasus' ult in a 1v1 situation provides hardly any damage and has a hefty mana cost
A lot of my ability sequences are pretty standard, i max>>>. is first because it's an ult, is second for the significantly decreased cooldown, is third for the scaling slow, and is last because it's not a very exceptional ability. The Siphoning Strike vs. Spirit Fire is a very old argument by now and pretty much everyone agrees that you should max Q first and farm with it. Nothing to see here.
However, I am taking it a step further and suggesting that you should not even get Spirit Fire until laning ends. Hopefully this means you will only get Spirit Fire when you are forced to, or else something went horribly wrong with laning. There isn't really a justifiable reason to use Spirit Fire in lane. Usually, arguments are:
- Use E to farm in lane- E does not provide Q farm and pushes lane since it is AoE. As Nasus, the last thing you want to do is push lane, since it makes you even more vulnerable to ganks. Against harder matchups, you will also be zoned early if you are too far from your tower.
- Use E for damage in ganks- With such mobile top-lanes today it is highly improbable that the enemy will stay inside your E, even with wither. If they do, they would likely have died anyway since you cannot escape perma-wither without escapes in the first place. Lastly, if the gank fails, you put yourself really far behind in lane because a single WEQ combo is 1/4 to 1/2 of your mana
- Use E for getting vision in brushes- Wards. That is all. Costs 0 mana and are much more reliable in lane.
- Use E for harass- This suggestion makes the least sense to me. Would you rather deal 300 damage for 40 mana, or 400 damage for 110 mana? Yes, there is more damage, but in the grand scheme of things you are losing out on damage since your damage per mana is lower.
- Use E while zoned to get some gold- This suggestion makes the most sense, but using E is actually counterproductive in this situation. You may get a cs or two while using E, but you will push the lane in the enemies' favor, causing him to only zone you easier and lose you more cs in the long run. In a few matchups you may even be zoned under your tower, but in those situations you have already lost regardless of a couple cs you may be able to get.
Honestly, I cannot figure out a reason to use E in a laning situation. I suggest to just not get this spell until you have to, extra slow and cdr on wither is infinitely more useful.
Because boots. No explanation needed, I hope.
Mercury's Treads: These are your main boot choice to help reduce kiting, use these when the conditions to buy ninja tabi are not met.
Ninja Tabi: Your alternative boot choice mainly aiming to reduce damage as much as possible, buy these when there are 2+ autoattack carries on the enemy team. This means any Ranged ADs and (Only AD Sion).
Armor is a primary tanking stat, all tanks need armor! There will never be a team with no physical damage since autoattacks are physical, so armor will always be needed. Your primary armor slot will always be Frozen Heart since nothing else synergizes as well with Nasus, but you can have additional armor in your situational slot.
Frozen Heart: Gives close to the highest amount of armor on any item in the game, mana for your skills, CDR for Q farm and permawither, and an attack speed slower to sygnergize with wither. No stats wasted. Why would you not get this?
Like armor, you need this to be tanky. Without MR, a mage could simply burst you down before you can take out the enemy squishies, and there's not much you can do about magic damage other than build MR. There is no MR item with super-amazing synergy with Nasus, so you have a choice (albeit a small one).
Force of Nature: You should go for this item 95% of the time. FoN gives the highest MR in the game, and since you are a rich Nasus from all your farm and you want to never die, this item is for you. FoN also gives movement speed, which is invaluable in helping you reach your enemy in teamfights. The only downside which makes this not a 100% core item is the relatively useless health regen, but FoN is still the strongest pick.
Quicksilver Sash: A very cheap item that gives pure survivability and comes with a built in (and improved) cleanse. Usually you shouldn't choose this item since you aren't the carry and won't die from a single cc, but if you are behind or the enemy has little ap damage (1 ap character that isn't fed and has poor sustained damage), then Qss will provide ample defense for a low price with no wasted stats. The cc-breaking active is an excellent bonus since you are susceptible to kiting.
Tanking 101: Each point of resistances actually increases the strength of a point of health, so at a certain point you will need to buy health to maximize your tanking efficiency. Like for MR, you have a choice, but a small one.
Warmog's Armor: I really like this item. Pure survivability with the highest health bonus in the game, and since you are Nasus you better go for the best. The farming prerequisite is no problem for you, since you are Nasus and you will farm regardless. Excellent pick if you want to hard-carry with loads of health.
Shurelya's Reverie:I do not like this item, but it is the classic Nasus health item and I admit that it is still decent. It feels like more of a support item, and while it does synergize well with Nasus, i feel like it doesn't give enough of each stat to justify buying it. It's still your preference at the end of the day, but I will give reasons against building this later on.
Previously, this section was known as "Trinity Force", as Trinity Force is widely considered a core item on Nasus. However, after further experimenting, I have concluded that Trinity Force is not necessarily core on Nasus. I know that I will come under fire for this idea, as most Nasus players build their Trinity Forces religiously, but honestly.....its 4000 gold, and Nasus doesn't really need half the stats. This especially applies to games where your team is slightly behind, and you become unable to tank all the damage in a teamfight. In this situation, it is much better to get tankyness and be able to continue shrugging off damage in a teamfight.
Last Whisper: I have grown to like this item more and more. I feel like you are already sufficiently tanky with the rest of your build (The AD carry will shred you in 3 shots regardless of what you build, so who cares), so it is better to get an answer to the thing that hurts Nasus most: Armor. With this items, the enemy tanks will be melting as fast as their AD carries from your Q. This unlocks another option for you in the teamfight; now you can help your carries kill the enemy brusiers, as opposed to being forced to dive their carries to do meaningful damage. Definitely get this if the enemy squishies buy armor, or prepare to have your damage output plummet.
Trinity Force: gives you a slow, health, mana, movement speed, and a boatload of other less-important stats. Most importantly, Triforce adds an additional 150% of your AD to your Q (and other abilities), so that's basically a free +200 Q farm! The sheer versatility of Triforce's many stats makes it useful in nearly every game.
Like the name suggests, this slot is situational, which you means you have an actual choice now. I recommend these three items:
Guardian Angel: Nice if the enemy team is balanced in terms of damage, since it provides fair amounts of both resistances. Guardian Angel's passive is more for psychological purposes than much else. Rarely will it actually turn around any fights, but the prospect of this giant monster Nasus returning to life after almost soloing your entire team is terrifying to the enemy, and dissuades them from focusing you. Since usually you will bring just as much damage as an AD Carry, not having the enemies focus you can be a good thing.
Randuin's Omen: My least favorite item of these three, but it is still very good. Grants the highest armor amount of these three choices, so build this when the enemy team is heavily AD based or has a fed AD carry with no armor. The AS slows combined with FH aura and wither is devastating, and the 5% CDR is enough to bring you to the cap.
These items are not permanent parts of your build, but they are the most important things you will get.
Vampiric Scepter: A very controversial item on Nasus, and one that is often laughed at as "troll building". I would beg to differ. This is 450 gold of pure sustain, and against more difficult matchups, this item means the difference between a won lane or a lost lane.
This item will make your early game bearable against most matchups, and you will actually be able to straight-up out-trade easier matchups with only autoattacks and occasional Q's because your sustain is so insane. AP and AD carries get Doran's Blade/ Doran's Ring for early lane dominance, this is the same concept.
Health Potion: Gives some powerful early game sustain; getting a lot of these are essential for surviving until your first buy. Before you get your Vamp scepter(s), you should be spam-buying these for sustain. However, after Vamp Scepter, you usually wont have space to get these anymore.
Sight Ward: Another item that you will absolutely need on Nasus. The best way to throw an easy farm lane is to die from a gank, and with your zero escapes and low movement speed, getting ganked is a huge issue. Always, always, always get enough wards so that you will never be caught unaware. This usually means 2 wards, since 6 minutes of vision is the same as the cooldown on your , so in the worst case scenario you can always go back for more and quickly return.
1. If the enemy laner deals mostly physical damage, go Frozen Heart---> Boots 2. If laning is over or they are not physical, go Boots 2---> Frozen Heart
2. Usually Negatron Cloak. In extremely rare cases where the enemy mid, top and jungler do primarily physical damage, you should, obviously, skip MR completely, and opt for 2 of the listed situational items instead.
3. If you have 2 Vampiric Scepters, sell one to clear up space since laning should be over. If the enemy team has a champ that uses stealth in any way and you aren't feeding, it is a good idea to get Oracle's Elixir now.
Now, you must evaluate your team's position. Is your team stronger or weaker as a whole? Does your team already have a strong front line, or are you going to need to be the entire front line? Does your team need damage or a tank line? After evaluating this, choose between the following end-game builds:
Classic Trinity Force Build: If your team is already ahead or has a solid tank line, the Trinity Force build allows you to quickly snowball the game and gain a lot of damage and chasing power.
Tanky Build: If your team is behind or you have to function as the sole damage-soaker, this build helps keep you in the fight. If you die, often the teamfight is lost, so staying alive while still being able to take a beating can be very important. Your score may not look as good, but your team as a whole benefits greatly.
Atma's Impaler: Even though Nasus has a lot of health when ulted, AD is not very useful on Nasus. You have poor attack speed and no scaling on skills, so any extra damage you get will be nearly unnoticeable next to Q damage. The armor on this item is also pretty poor and redundant considering you have Frozen Heart (and randuins/GA if needed), and the crit is just useless. Since the nerf, this item has even fallen out of favor for some champs who actually need AD, let alone Nasus.
Infinity Edge: I will just lump in the entire AD Nasus build in with IE. Besides Nasus' poor scaling with AD which i explained above, Nasus' defensive steroid is too poor to allow you to survive with little defense, so you will just explode instantly. Fiora can become untargetable, Tryndamere has death immunity, Sion has 100% Lifesteal, and you have.....600 health. Kiting is also even more of a problem. In a tank build, if you get hit by a CC, it is annoying since you cant deal damage, but in an AD build, one CC is your death sentence.
If you really want to go for a damage build, I recommend AP Nasus, since AP items also give decent survivability with comparable damage ( Lich Bane + Q is ridiculous). Just Do NOT go AD Nasus. For tank Nasus players who want IE just for the crit, just one thing: The bonus damage on Nasus' Q cannot crit. So, have fun with your 100 damage crits.
Shurelya's Reverie: Well, this is an alternative health item, an item that synergizes well with Nasus, and a staple in Nasus builds today. Regardless, I do not recommend buying this item, and my whole build is focused on being able to get rid of it. When you buy Shurelya's, you basically force yourself to get a Philosopher's Stone early to not waste the gp10 on it. This is a huge issue in more difficult matchups, since you are wasting 800 precious gold on an item with no defensive capabilities, which further cripples your weak early game. The extra-gold benefit of philo stone is also not that useful, since Nasus actually scales poorly with gold. You will be building full tank items, and tank items by nature have the poorest scaling since the only multipliers on defense are resistances and health, while mages have cdr, ap, and deathcap, and AD Carries have attack speed, crit, crit damage, and AD. Nasus is not a late game champion because he does a lot with gold. He is a late game champion because he does a lot with Q farm combined with a moderate amount of gold.
Shurelya's stats itself are not very good either, since it is mostly an item for gold-starved roles. Heath and Mana Regen are mostly laning stats, the health pales in comparison to warmogs, and the CDR has been replaced by runes and masteries. This leaves the speed boost as the one advantage it has over Warmog's, and the reason why I consider it as an alternative. However, the speed boost is very short and can easily be negated by a single slow or hard cc in teamfights. In most situations I would take the 800 extra health on Warmogs over a situational speed boost any day.
Heart of Gold: While Randuin's is a decent item on Nasus, I certainly don't recommend rushing gp10s. This relates to the Philosopher's Stone argument above, as Nasus needs Q farm more than just gold. Even if you were to buy a gp10, philo is much better than HoG, since philo gives precious mana regen, while HoG only gives health. Mana regen is useful since constantly Qing minions drains a lot of mana, but health is much less useful. A competent lane opponent who harasses you will ensure that you will nearly never be at full health, meaning that your max health is irrelevant. Once the health is gone, it is essentially useless and doesn't help your tankyness at all during laning phase, unlike resistances, which will always make you more tanky. Basically, 250 health is worth about the same as 2 potions to Nasus early on, which you can buy for 70 gold. HoG is 825 gold. Not worth wasting 700+ gold for gp10 that you don't need.
Thornmail: Thornmail is generally a pretty big noob trap. With only 1 extra armor over Frozen Heart, the attack speed debuff on FH/Randuins will actually make them much more useful in defending both yourself and your team. Thornmail's passive, while nice-looking at first, is countered by lifesteal, armor penetration, AND magic resistance. AD Carries will usually have at least 1, if not all 3, of these stats, so unless the enemy AD is stacking PDs or something the passive is not that useful. This item is situational to the point where it's generally better just to never build it.
Sunfire Cape: This item was once good a long time ago, which is why you see it on a lot of outdated build. However, nowadays it is really only used on characters who need to rush both health and armor, which are mostly jungling champions. This item isn't favorable on Nasus for reasons similiar to Atmas's: Nasus needs no extra damage, and the health/armor are both redundant when using FH/Warmogs, but the stats are too little to replace either of these items completely. Not to mention that the cape aggros neutral monsters, which can be really inconvenient if you're walking near baron.
Banshee's Veil: This item has fallen out of favor as well. My main issue with this item is that the shield is so unreliable and will usually get taken out by useless spells. The magic resistance is also not that great, Quicksilver sash gives roughly as much despite costing over 1000 gold less. The health and mana are not that much and are redundant.
Frozen Mallet: You already have Trinity Force, and having 2 slow passives is a waste since only 1 will be used. This would be a good item if you didn't always build TriForce, but since you do, Warmogs gives more survivability and is a better choice.
I can't think of any other item that any Nasus player would buy (not counting AP Nasus), but please remind me in the comments section if there are any other items sometimes built on Nasus that I have forgotten to mention.
Pre Game- Before Minions Spawn
Ok, so you managed to get in a game with Nasus, hopefully your teammates aren't trolling or ragequitting yet, now what do you do? Buy your Cloth+pots as soon as possible, and prepare for early invades or defense. Invading as Nasus is generally a bad idea, but if your team does decide to, hold off putting a point into a skill, as if you catch an enemy, you can take Wither level 1, and hopefully pull off a kill. Feel free to teleport back to lane after an invade ends; you generally won't need it for the first six minutes of the game anyway. When defending as Blue side, you can stand at the jungle entrance north of blue buff. As purple side, top tribrush and the brushes around red buff are both good positions.
When minions spawn, you are faced with a choice to help you get the greatest early lead possible. First off, you could leash for your jungler if he is starting on the top side of the map. However, without boots, you will usually have to sacrifice some minions before you can return to lane, so unless the jungler really needs help and/or your mid is preoccupied, you generally shouldn't help leash. Scumbag move, but sometimes it has to be done.
Your second choice is pretty situational. If you see an easier matchup but a strong early ganking jungler on the enemy team, you can start with + 3x , then go back to base when minions spawn to buy a ward. In this case, it is better to ward the brush right next to lane, as you can tell if the jungler has gone back or is just camping in the brush. Not having to play ultra-passive will generally more than pay for this early ward, and a jungle gank will dish out a lot more damage than the two pots that you sacrifice can heal for.
Your third choice is kind of a cheese option, but you should attempt this if you have nothing else to do. As a side effect of increased creep-block, you can now also somewhat blocks creeps, delaying them from reaching lane. As the creeps are coming to the lane, try to walk in front of the second one, as delaying the first one delays the entire wave and doesn't really do anything. The main way to block creeps is to move sideways into the creep, causing it to move to the side and hopefully slightly backwards. This is especially effective as the creeps are about to meet and begin to turn (since top lane is curved), as they collide into you while you collide with them. Be careful not to overdo it on a single minion, as the game will recognize this and buff the minion's movespeed, counteracting your efforts. This is somewhat unreliable, especially without boots, hence why it is a cheese strategy. But if you can pull it off, your lane starts off pushing towards your tower, and this is a massive, massive benefit.
Early Game- Pre 20 Minutes
In a regular game, this should be the first 20 minutes of the game. Your job here is to just farm farm farm and disregard everything else, since you are too weak to do anything else anyway. In lane, you need to play with what I like to call "The Nasus Mindset". Nasus does not lane like any other champion. Your whole purpose is to farm and survive, because your makes your farm twice as valuable. This allows you to outscale every top laner in the game besides maybe Poppy. You don't need to make any plays or harass your lane opponent, if you can farm safely, you win. Above all else, do not attack your lane opponent early, because you cannot do meaningful damage and will just push lane and zone yourself.
The main objectives to go for at this time are mid turret (which you should ignore, since you aren't mid) and dragon. Against an easier matchup you can to a ward on dragon to help do dragon, especially if the enemy laner is headed there as well. However, against harder matchups where the enemy is keeping you at tower, it might to best to just back to lane whenever you need to heal and buy. Everything else that you should be doing at this time is described in the champion matchup section, so I'll just use this space to explain some very basic lane control concepts.
Last-Hitting is very simple technique, but completely necessary to learn, especially on a champion like Nasus. You probably already know what last-hitting is, but just in case, I’ll elaborate. Essentially, last-hitting is killing a minion when it is down to its last sliver of health. This allows you to push your lane the least, while still getting gold from minions. Most competent top lane players will use this technique to control their lane and keep the minion wave where they want it to be (either at the enemy turret, at your own turret, or in the middle of the lane). As a Nasus player, you want the lane to be at your tower for the majority of the early game, where you can farm with the added protection of your tower. Therefore, you will absolutely need to last-hit early, which, along with lane freezing techniques discussed below, will allow you to farm at your tower. Later, when you believe that you can shrug off enemy harass, and more importantly, you have a good supply of wards, you should ward and begin to push to the enemy tower. Last-hitting becomes less important, as you now need to push and get Q farm as quickly as possible. This will pin the enemy to his tower, and prevent him from roaming while you rack up the last few cs you need.
The following rules apply to last-hitting under tower specifically for Nasus, so even if you know how to last hit, it still doesn’t hurt to read them. After all, no one will last-hit every minion consistently; there’s always room for improvement.
Early on, your Q’s cooldown is still fairly long, so last-hitting with autoattacks will often be necessary, especially under tower. In general, two tower hits+an autoattack will kill a full health melee minion between the 4 and 14 minute marks, which is the majority of laning phase. Otherwise, 1 autoattack followed by 2 tower shots will bring a full health melee minion into last-hit range. This is important, because the general rule is 2 tower hits+1 autoattack, but since you build no AD, you will eventually have to pre-hit melee minions as well. Meanwhile, caster minions will require an autoattack, a tower shot, then another autoattack to last-hit successfully. During earlier levels, this means it is better to pre-hit full-health caster minions under tower whenever you can, so when the tower hits it you can pick up the easy last hit with a single autoattack. However, keep in mind that your own minions will often deal damage to caster minions that are closer to them, so give more priority to pre-hitting caster minions farther away from your minions. This way, your minions will not over-damage pre-hit caster minions, while providing damage to full-health caster minions to save you the trouble of pre-hitting them. When your level reaches the double digits, pre-hitting isn’t as necessary, since your base attack speed is fast enough that you can attack a caster minion as soon as the tower targets it, and follow up with a second attack before the tower can hit again. Regarding cannon minions, it is often more difficult to gauge when the last-hit them, expect to have to Q them often. Clicking them and monitoring their health number (in the top left) until their health drops below your AD gives you a good chance to last-hit them without Q.
When dealing with already damaged melee minions, your goal is to get them to a range where only 1 tower shot will bring them to last-hit range. With enough experience, you will be able to gauge exactly how much damage a tower will deal to a melee minion, and you can pre-hit it (sometimes multiple times), preferably before it gets under tower range, so that a single tower shot will bring it to last-hit range. For heavily damaged melee minions (as in they won’t survive a single tower shot) and damaged caster minions, you just have to kill them before the tower gets them. This usually involves using Q, or autoattack and then Q if your Q isn’t high enough. Remember, don’t always use Q whenever its up early on, wait until you see a minion you know you cannot last-hit, and save the Q for that minion. You can also take advantage of the auto-attack reset that Q provides to quickly last-hit 2 minions in a short span of time.
Freezing lane is a basic lane-controlling technique that keeps the lane at your tower for an extended period of time. Often this is used to zone the enemy, but with Nasus it is essential to know this skill in order to survive in lane. Whenever i mention "farm under tower" in the champion matchups section, this is what i mean. In order to freeze lane, only last-hit (explained above), and let your opponent push by attacking you or the minions. If your opponent attacks you, your minions will begin attacking him, which means his own minions are not taking damage, and allows his minions to defeat yours. If you see that your opponent's minions are gaining a clear advantage on yours, try to minimize this advantage by autoattacking a bit, so only a few of the enemy's minions make it to your tower. Once the minions are near your tower, there are two kinds of lane freezing.
Type 1: Complete Freeze
The complete freeze is something you should use if you can shrug off the harass of the enemy laner. This is the kind of lane freeze shown in this picture. Ideally, the enemy ranged creeps should be far from tower range, the enemy melee creeps should be just outside of tower range, but your creeps should be under tower range. This way, you can dance between the melee minions and have your tower target a melee enemy if he tries to attack you. The tower also cannot hit any enemy minions, so it cannot push the lane back. Only Q enemy minions when last-hitting or when they enter tower range, in order to keep the lane in this position.
Type 2: Passive Freeze
The Passive Freeze is useful when you can't outsustain your lane opponent's harass, if your opponent is ranged, or if it’s very early in the game, and the minion wave you are tanking starts doing a lot of damage to you. The enemy ranged creeps should be just outside of turret range, while melee creeps from both sides should be under turret. This kind of lane freezing is beneficial because melees cannot harass you at all without taking tower aggro, and the enemy ranged minions will slowly amass to keep your minions pushed under tower indefinitely. A downside of this is that you will have to compete with the tower for last-hits on melee minions, which is something that comes only with practice.
What does freezing lane accomplish? Freezing lane will allow you to farm safely and indefinitely, while losing minimal cs to the turret. This is the way you survive early game. An added bonus is that the enemy actually has to go under your tower to farm minions, making him vulnerable to ganks. In easy matchups or after you buy some armor, it is a good idea to tank minion damage right outside of your tower range just to reach this position.
Wards are the unsung heroes of league. Warding goes hand in hand with freezing lane. While most laners cannot dive you 1v1 while you are freezing lane, most can and will if they have help from the jungler. Therefore, you need wards to watch for junglers so that you won't die in lane and can farm forever. Another use of wards is to see where your enemy laner is. If you freeze lane for an extensive period of time, a smart enemy will generally be constantly disappearing and reappearing. If you are a team player and call MIAs (which you should, if just to avoid rage from angry teammates), this can make for a lot of unnecessary MIA call spam. With wards, you can see when the enemy laner is heading down the river, rather than just sitting in the brush. Needless to say, if you come out from under the tower, you need wards even more.
This image shows common ward placement positions. Position 1 is inside the brush, so it has the advantage of seeing inside the brush and being undetectable by pink wards/oracles from outside the brush. However, you see incoming ganks latest of all the ward positions, so i do not recommend this position unless the enemy is clearing your wards. Position 2 is inside the purple tribrush, so you get a large warning if the enemy is ganking you through the tribrush. On the downside, you get very limited vision to protect you from river ganks, so usually only blue side wards here. However, if you are being pushed to your tower constantly on purple side, the only way an enemy could feasibly gank you is through tribrush, so it’s a good idea to ward at this position.
Position 3 is my favorite position. Here, you will have moderate vision of both river and tribrush ganks, and will have a reasonable amount of time to respond. I usually ward here on blue side, or when the lane is pushed when on purple side. The last position is position 4, which you can only see on the minimap. It is further down the river, around baron's cave. If you ward this position, you will have a lot of time to respond from river ganks and also can monitor this jungle entrance for potential counterjungling attempts. However, you are completely blind to tribrush ganks. This gives you a huge warning time if you are purple, but if the enemy jungler circumvents this ward, you are completely blind and probably dead.
The last concept I want to discuss is ganking. Ganking is when either jungler appears and tries to kill the opposing laner with the help of the allied laner. Ganks have the most effect on top lane, and assuming similar skill levels between the two laners, the jungler will often single-handedly win (or lose) the lane. Even a failed gank will often heavily impact the lane by changing the way the minions are pushing and burning health potions. This is because unlike the other two lanes, top laners will often build tanky items as well as damage, so even with a small advantage they will reach a "critical mass" where ganks are no longer effective against them, and they can slowly wear you down with minimal fear of death. Meanwhile, even if a bot/mid lane is reasonably ahead, the opposing laner(s) will still pack enough damage to take them down if given an opportunity, like a jungle gank.
Escaping from ganks as Nasus is straightfoward, you just Wither the enemy with the most sustained cc (permaslow, red buff), pop or for the extra health if you need to, and run. It's not very effective, but it's simple. As a high-priority target for ganks, you should expect a lot of ganks coming your way from competent teams. In particular, if you are on blue side, the enemy red is very close to you, so expect a level 2-3 gank, as the enemy will likely come by your lane after finishing red. Manaless junglers (lee sin, mundo, shyvana, etc), who like to start red, are particularly dangerous since they will gank you very early, so you may want to stay away from the river and zone yourself a bit at the beginning. Starting Cloth Armor+ Health Potionx3+ Sight Ward (wait in fountain for a few seconds for 3rd pot) is also not a bad idea in these situations if your lane is an easier matchup.
If the enemy starts noticing that you are warding around river (which you should, of course), they might begin lane-ganking. This means that they will try to get into the brushes in top lane unseen, and wait for an opportunity to gank. There’s not much you can do about this other than trying to farm under tower until you are confident that you can just tank the gank and walk away. Also, watch for “tells” of a lane gank, such as a weaker opponent who has deliberately been avoiding you suddenly trying to trade with you.
On the other hand, your ganks are a limited resource and need to be used wisely. This especially applies to solo queue, where your jungler may be discouraged to gank again if his gank fails the first time. As Nasus, ganks are the only thing that can keep your opposing laner in line early game, so you may be tempted to beg for as many ganks as you can. However, often it is not a good idea to gank for Nasus frequently.
Why, you ask? Because ganks, when failed, will waste your mana and push lane, opening yourself up for ganks from the enemy. As Nasus, you bring very little to ganks besides Wither; you don't even bring damage until later on. This makes for a very high chance of ganks failing, wasting your jungler's valuable time, and possibly compromising their willingness to cooperate with you in later ganks (in solo queue). Against easy matchups, it is sometimes a good idea to specifically tell your jungler to NOT gank your lane, so that he won't throw your lane by dying/giving away buffs/pushing lane. When you do get slightly farmed up (at least +200 Q farm, preferably +300), you will have reasonable kill potential and can confidently ask for ganks against any matchup if you wish.
However, against harder matchups, or in a premade, getting a few ganks is extremely helpful for giving you an upper hand in lane. Like I said before, top lane is often won or lost due to jungler presence, and a well-orchestrated gank can turn any hard matchup into a much easier matchup. The earlier a gank is, the more it will affect the outcome of a lane, due to how snowbally top lane is. On the flip side, very early on, the minion wave will be roughly in the center of the lane, and any small disturbance (such as, say, a gank), can send the wave in either direction. You absolutely do not want the lane near the enemy tower early game, since you won’t have wards yet, and will be extremely vulnerable to ganks. Not to mention, many tops can zone you by themselves if you come out from under tower. Therefore, you need the gank to happen late enough so that the minions are pushing towards your tower, yet early enough to make a large impact on the lane. I find that usually, both these conditions are met around levels 3-4. In general, this is a good time to get a gank, as the wave will be slowly pushing to your turret. Ganking at this time also has a higher chance of success, since it’s a long run back to the enemies’ tower.
Keep in mind though, that the goal of ganking isn’t to get a kill, it’s to help you farm safely and dissuade your opponent from playing hyper aggressive. The kill is merely a possible bonus. If you can force the enemy back, deal a lot of damage, or even just burn a lot of their mana, the lane will be noticeably easier, and the gank was a success.
So, what are the do's and dont's for asking for early ganks? (Emphasis on early, once you get farmed, you should always welcome ganks). Well,
- DON'T ask for ganks against champions with dashes. Your only form of cc is Wither, which does not slow down dashes/blinks at all.
- DON'T ask for ganks against easy/medium matchups. Your job is to farm, if they cannot bother you then you should just farm and outscale them.
- DON'T ask for ganks until you have the lane frozen at tower. This gives your gank the greatest chance of success, and doesn’t hurt you as much if the gank fails.
- DO ask for ganks against medium-hard champions who will bully you around early, but become easier to deal with later. I am thinking of specifically.
- DO ask for ganks against all hard matchups. I don't want to know how you got in a hard matchup, but you have no chance against a competent opponent, so you might as well get a gank and pray for an early kill as a desperation attempt.
Mid Game- 20-30 Minutes
At the beginning of Mid-Game, laning should be ending and if you are keeping up, you should be around 300-400 Q farm. This is still not enough, but teams will begin grouping up and teamfighting now, if not earlier. You definitely do not want to miss a team fight, since a single lost teamfight can set you behind a long way. Fortunately, you have , so what you want to do between teamfights whenever teleport is up is split-push down top or bot lane. This will apply map pressure so that you will be helping, but still be able to get free farm. To split push, ward the river, the enemy buff next to the tower you are targetting, or both, then proceed to push lane. Do not worry about last hitting anymore, just shove the lane with Q spam and back off if you see 2+ enemies suddenly disappear from the minimap. Make sure to tell your teammates beforehand to drop a ward down whenever a teamfight begins, so that you can teleport. When teleport is not up, just stay near your team and try to look for time to farm minions/jungle.
If you did your job early and got a good amount of farm, you shouldn’t need to afk farm and ignore your team past 20-25 minutes. Many bad Nasus players think that their only job is to farm Q, and stay up top lane for days doing so while their team gets destroyed 4v5. Not only is this a huge middle finger at your team, it’s a terrible strategy for winning games. During late game, carries get Quicksilver Sash and Last Whisper, which will allow them to escape wither and quickly kill you, regardless of how much precious Q farm you have. You will not simply be able to carry 1v5 against semi-competent players, don’t even try; you need your team. By all means, get all available farm, but not at the cost of not being able to fight in the next teamfight. Towers and dragon are the most important during this stage of the game. Baron also becomes an option, but unless either team gets aced it's difficult to do baron safely. Keep vision on baron at all times with wards and you should be fine.
When you do get into a teamfight, right now the mages should be dominating, while an unfed AD Carry should do almost no damage to you because of your Glacial Shroud/Frozen Heart. Early mid game is sometimes the exception to the rule "always wither the AD Carry"; you can engage with wither now or use it to stick to other targets with little consequence. If the enemy mage is a sustained damage mage ( etc.), try to focus them, otherwise you can just peel for your team and focus who they are focusing. The enemy AD should basically be a free kill for you at this point.
Late Game- 30-40 Minutes
Entering late game, you should hopefully be farmed Nasus with 500+ Q farm. This is your time to shine, so take advantage of this time by engaging in teamfights whenever possible (assuming both teams are somewhat even). Farming becomes less important now, as you need to take advantage of this phase of the game where you are most dominant. Only farm during stalemates or when waiting for respawn timers. Baron takes center stage at this time, since teams are able to baron quicker and with minimal health losses. Both teams should always be near baron, but luckily, you are an exception due to teleport. During stalemates, you can opt to split push bot lane. If you see any enemies bot lane without teleport or a global ult, quickly tell your team to start baron and teleport in when needed. This will secure you a win/possible comeback. By the end of this phase, the game should usually be decided if it hasn't been already.
During teamfights, Tanky Dps reach their peak strength at this point, so you should be the most feared person on your team. AD Carries will still take a while to kill you, but they actually deal noticeable damage now to most of your team. Therefore, the game turns into "kill the AD Carry", which fortunately you are very good at. Your role in teamfights is either to kill enemies diving your AD carry, or to kill the enemy AD carry. If your carry is ahead of the enemy, protect him, otherwise dive the enemy AD carry. Regardless of situation, make sure to keep withering the enemy AD Carry whenever possible.
Very Late Game- 40+ Minutes
Contrary to popular belief, you will begin falling off slightly here. Yes, you will bring more damage than any other Tanky Dps, but the enemies can begin taking you down relatively quickly, and you can no longer control the flow of the fight single-handedly. By now, a single ace will often lead to a game-winning push, so it is important to play carefully and stick with your team at all times. Baron is still important now and can be done very quickly, but you should be looking to end the game soon by getting towers and inhibitors. With your farmed Q, you can down structures extremely quickly and often destroy towers without the help of minions if you don't get caught by enemies.
In teamfights, AD Carries will become very important people on both teams, sometimes even surpassing Nasus in strength. As long as your Carry isn't far behind, he should be as powerful as you are, and it is your job to protect him. Keep trying to wither the enemy Carry, but by now he may have , which will cleanse your wither and allow him a good shot at kiting and killing you, or to make him much more difficult to kill. This is why diving the enemy at this stage isn't very smart anymore, and should only be done if the enemy doesn't have much cc or if your AD Carry is too far behind.
How Much Q Farm?
Under 200 farm- You get wrecked by nearly everyone at this point. Focus on farming.
200 farm- Aim for this amount between 10-15 minutes. You can now beat easy tier champions in 1v1s, and survive against medium tiers. Farm more.
300 farm- Aim for this amount between 15-20 minutes. You can now outtrade most matchups (assuming they fought you head-on). Farm more, but begin paying attention to teamfights.
400 farm- Aim for this amount between 20-25 minutes. Laning should have ended by now, perhaps earlier if you were against a harder matchup. At this point you can carry your weight in a teamfight, but you cannot carry your teammates yet. Teamfights take center stage here, but you still need to farm up to reached "farmed Nasus" levels.
500 farm- Aim for this amount by 30 minutes. This is the time where you're dominant in team fights, so start making plays now and only farm when there's nothing more important to go for (dragon, towers, baron). It's perfectly ok to end a game with this amount of farm, you should be about the strength of 2 people.
700+ farm- Getting this amount of farm is uncommon, but if you do then prepare to enter raidboss mode. If you reached this amount, either it's 50 minutes in the game or you farmed all day and never missed a cs. After about 700 farm extra farm becomes irrelevant, you do so much damage already any additional damage is essentially unnoticeable. Congratulations, you have farmed Nasus and now you essentially ARE the teamfight.
A wise solo queuer once said: "Win lane, win game". While this isn't necessarily true, winning lane is always a good thing, especially as Nasus since you will only ever get stronger. Therefore, I have listed nearly all solo top champions here and advice/build order against them. Don't actually read through all of this, since it will be a lot of info and only moderately helpful compared to the rest of this guide. In fact, I have put all the details in spoilers so you can scroll right past this section and not take a minute and a half to do so. However, when you are actually playing Nasus, I definitely recommend referencing this section to see what to do against your lane matchup. Also, please do remind me in the comments if I missed a matchup.
I have divided lane matchups into four levels levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium, Medium-Hard, and Hard. Here, you will see the magic of vampiric scepters at work. Lanes that any other Nasus players would call impossible drop down to Medium-Hard or even Medium difficulties on this list with the help of a vamp scepter or two.
Easy= Picking Nasus is an excellent choice, you are basically guaranteed to get farmed up in these matchups even if you misplay early. Free win with correct play.
Medium= Picking Nasus is a strong choice. These matchups require some passivity in lane at the beginning. However, the matchup is favored towards you, and you will usually get farmed up.
Medium-Hard= Nasus is an ok pick here if you have some Nasus experience under your belt. This is a skill matchup favoring the enemy, but you can still get farmed up with correct play.
Hard= If your opponent is semi-competent, even the Vampiric Scepter gods cannot save you now. Prepare to get wrecked, and remember not to pick Nasus against these champions anymore.
Also remember that just because items are listed under "First Buy" doesn't mean that you have to go back as soon as you can afford them, in fact i would recommend staying and farming if you can do so safely. It just means that these are high priority items that make your laning a lot easier.
Champions in this tier: Cho'Gath Dr. Mundo Jarvan IV Malphite Nautilus Singed Trundle Tryndamere Warwick Wukong
Champions in this tier: Fiddlesticks Fiora Fizz Gangplank Garen Irelia Jax Jayce Kha'Zix Lee Sin Mordekaiser Nidalee Pantheon Renekton Riven Ryze Shen Shyvana Sion Swain Talon Yorick
Champions in this tier: Akali Darius Kayle Kennen Poppy Rengar Rumble Udyr Vladimir
Champions in this tier: Olaf Teemo Volibear
Nasus vs. AD Ranged
Sometimes, you will get an AD Carry top lane in an attempt to counterpick you (usually Vayne, but I've seen others). I won't go through each matchup since this isn't that common, but I will go through the general ideas in this matchup. Nasus can sustain against most AD Ranged (medium tier) besides Vayne (hard tier), and he can have trouble with a good Kog'Maw or Caitlyn (medium-hard tier). Fortunately, most AD Carries have fairly restricting mana costs, and even if they can deal continous damage with autoatacks, the damage is neglible early game without skill damage. With your sustain, you can run most AD Carries besides Vayne out of mana and just free farm.
First Buy: Sight Wardx2---> x2
Build Order: ---> --->
Nasus vs. AP Mid
Nasus is not often seen mid, but he will actually do well against most AP mids at top lane. Most APs will fall in either medium or medium-hard tier. AP mids are used to playing against squishy enemy laners where every bit of damage they deal counts, not tanky monsters like yourself who couldn't care less about how much they hit you. Again, the main factor here is mana costs. Away from their precious mid lane, the AP no longer has access to blue, so you can quickly run most APs out of mana. Also, many AP mids are easy to gank, so take advantage of that by freezing lane at your turret and forcing the enemy to overextend and get ganked. The one thing that you have to watch out for is that an AP mid's kill potential will skyrocket once they get ult, since their ult is usually a very damaging move. Before Negatron Cloak, you are still as squishy as any AP mid, so it would be a good idea to buy at this point. Getting bursted down from half health is the best way to throw this lane.
First Buy: Sight Wardx2---> (x2 if you are having difficulties)
Build Order: ---> ---> (if needed) --->
That being said, why isn't Nasus played mid? The answer lies in Nasus' weak laning presence. When you farm at tower at top lane, top lane is in the middle of nowhere so it doesn't really matter. However, at mid lane, once you get pushed to tower, the enemy mid can roam and apply pressure to your entire team. Your team will not appreciate this. Therefore, I do not suggest playing Nasus mid against players who actually know how to push and roam.
In the rare situation where it would be beneficial for your mid to go top ( , or any traditional brusier mid), do not hesitate to do so. In terms of Q farm, its actually beneficial to go mid, just keep wards up and try to warn your other lanes of incoming ganks.
In lower skilled matches or if the enemy lane-switches top and bot, you may encounter 1v2 top. While Nasus isn't the best choice for 1v2ing, he can still pull it off against most matchups. In lower skilled matches, 1v2's are annoying, but it's lower-skilled matches after all, so they probably do not know how to take advantage of the 1v2 lane yet. The difficulty of this matchup depends on how many ranged champions you are facing, and if there are any opposing champions in the medium-hard or hard tiers. Regardless, you should be farming under tower, but against 1 ranged you should consider building double Vampiric Scepters, and at 2 ranged you should be taking so much harass that you should be farming behind tower. There's not much you can do in this lane besides farm and not die. If your jungler chooses to gank you can pick up a lot of kills, otherwise just hope that your jungler can make plays and win your other lanes.
Build varies based on the damage type of the enemy duo lane, but it should be cloth 5 start into chain vest or negatron cloak, then a vampiric scepter or two.
However, as lane-switching becomes more common, sometimes you may encounter a legitimate AD+support combo top, who will know how to take full advantage of the lane. As said before, you generally don't want to 1v2 as Nasus, but it's do-able and sometimes even optimal in premade games (for example, if you were facing a teemo).
Whether or not the lane switch works in your favor is dependent on two main factors: The zoning potential of your bot lane compared to theirs, and the 1v2 capability of Nasus compared to the enemy top. Nasus is noticeably worse at 1v2ing than Yorick, Cho'Gath, Jayce, Vladimir, and Irelia, as well as Olaf with blue. However, if the enemy top has no sustain or no ranged farming capabilities, you are probably better at 1v2ing than them.
As for comparing bot lanes, most carries are relatively similar. Obviously burst "Holy trinity" carries ( ) are less susceptible to jungler ganks and more lethal with their burst, but the main difference lies in the support, who will be trying to zone you completely while the AD Carry must spend time farming.
Blitzcrank- One hook and you are dead, even if you avoid hooks, the zoning is insane
Leona- Another kill lane support, Leona has a huge threat range and packs a lot of cc.
Nunu- Ice blasts are insane.......you thought solo top nunu was bad, now he has a partner to help destroy you.
Zyra- A lot of burst and has a snare, but it's all skillshots fortunately
Sona- A lot of harass potential, and you can't really do anything about it. Sona can't really kill you due to limited cc, but she can zone you. Very well.
Alistar- Towers dives you with ease post-6 and if you get headbutted outside of tower range you are probably dead, but in general his threat range is pretty small.
Taric- Has burst and a stun, but no ranged harass.
Lulu- A bit less harass than Sona, but still a lot
Janna- Janna generally just protects her carry, harass potential is not that high.
Soraka- She can't really do much other than throw bananas at you.
If you do find yourself in a 1v2 lane against a non-C Tier support, this is the only situation where I would suggest leveling Spirit Fire at level 1. This helps clear waves and last hit. If facing a non-A Tier support you can leave Spirit Fire at level 1 and attempt to Q farm, but sometimes leveling Spirit Fire will be required. Again, this lane depends a lot on if your jungler decides to provide support, as a successful gank can snowball you to the point where you can play and build normally. If not, however, consider Chalice of Harmony to keep up with Spirit Fire's ridiculous mana cost. As a added burden, the enemy now also has a jungler who can gank you, and probably will if the lane pushes to your tower. Try to Spirit Fire large waves to clear them and prevent early tower dives.
Thank you for taking your time to read through this lengthy guide, and I hope you have learned something from it. I cringe every single time I see people say that Nasus gets countered by champs like Pantheon, Riven, Gangplank, or even Garen. Try out Nasus and see his strength, and you will be able to help end the myth that Nasus is a trash pick. Of course, feel free to leave any comments/questions/criticism/success stories/whatever below and rate this guide, I will try my best to answer all questions and keep this guide updated to reflect current top lane metagame. Even if it's just a spelling/grammar error, bring it to my attention, I appreciate it :).
Good luck to all future Nasus players,
-jhoijhoi for her guide to BB Codes
-Kachsten for the Nasus image in my intro.
-IceCreamy for reviewing my guide and offering helpful suggestions
-albableat for reviewing my guide
-You, for reading so far and hopefully not downvoting :) *cough*. Haha i kid, downvote if you believe this guide is bad, but please do vote one way or another
And of course, thanks to Riot Games for making this game, and for the skill icons/skins in my dividers.
Note: I will only list major changes, if i see a couple of words spelled wrong and fix them I won't bother listing it.
5/20/12: Began Writing Guide
5/28/12: Guide Released
5/29/12: Added warding section, ganks section, rearranged Champion Matchups alphabetically for ease of access, fixed cheat sheet item build, updated credits, fixed some wording/grammar/bb codes
5/30/12: Reached top 10 Nasus Guides, thanks to everyone for the support
6/1/12: Switched Champion Matchup section with Gameplay section, added a bit about laning theory. Also reached top 5 Nasus Guides.
7/13/12: Changed masteries, moved boots up build order and FoN down on the AD build, added Heart of Gold to unrecommended items
7/15/12: Archived Guide
11/6/12: End of Season 2. Guide updated and re-released. Removed AP/Jungle Nasus Section, added State of Nasus section, Added new build, Added Rengar/Kha'Zix, moved Vlad to Medium-Hard, updated some matchups, added 1v2 and pre-game sections to gameplay, updated some gameplay sections.