Hi! I’m Aqua Dragon. I ended Season 4 at Master with AP Kog'maw and was the #6 Kog'maw NA according to Lolskill, and am also the co-creator of www.bestbans.com !
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Pros and Cons
- Gets exponentially stronger as the match continues
- Prevents damaged opponents from fleeing fights
- Reliably farms creeps from a distance
- Able to duel anyone late game
- Powerful objective defender
- One of the best siegers in the game
- Atrociously weak early game
- Has low mobility
- Difficult laning phase
- Incredibly incredibly squishy
- Pathetic objective controller
- Neverending greed for mana
The Barrage Limit
Distributing Death in Moderated Concentrations
This is a term that will be repeated throughout the guide several times, and for good reason! It’s one of the most fundamental parts of playing Kog and impacts laning, teamfighting, and defending.
The ultimate’s mana cost goes up almost exponentially. Shooting 1 ult is a pitiful 40 mana, but shooting a full barrage of 10 bullets requires an enormous 2,200 mana.
This poses a problem. Continuing to fight requires constantly shooting, but constantly shooting drains mana. To maximize your time poking, you need to shoot just enough that your mana regen will have replenished more than the mana expended when your artillery stacks reset to 0.
Or, more simply:
If you regenerate 120 mana in 10 seconds, then you can consistently shoot 2 bullets (120 mana’s worth).
If you regenerate 240 mana in 10 seconds, then you can consistently shoot 3 bullets (240 mana’s worth).
The number of bullets it takes to break equal with your mana regen is known as the Barrage Limit. The two examples above have Barrage Limits of 2 and 3.
Your Barrage Limit can be considered your guaranteed bullets. The rest of your mana bar is considered reserve bullets.
A final note: the Barrage Limit is not an exact science. You'll often find that you will lose 20-60 mana per barrage even if you stay at the Barrage Limit. However, it functions as a serviceable estimate. You can find out how to increase the barrage limit later in the guide.
Making the Rain Have Pain
There are a few extremely important, unintuitive things to keep in mind about AP Kog’maw for this guide to be of maximum effectiveness.
Scroll to the bottom of this section if you want the short version.
Kog benefits little from AP
AP Kog’maw is largely a misnomer. Unless you’re at full build, your AP levels will hover around 180 AP even 40 minutes into the game. Living Artillery has a fairly unimpressive 0.5 AP scaling on it to targets between 25% and 50%, which makes it an underwhelming choice compared to simply increasing the Barrage Limit.
This isn’t to say Kog has bad ratios overall. The other abilities have fairly decent or even impressive attached ones. But AP Kog’maw is not dangerous due to their basic spells. If you’re looking for a mid-range AP champion, there are a wealth of others with significantly better damage, mobility, and utility.
AP Kog’maw is dangerous because they abuse the range and base damage of the ultimate. The ultimate, at max rank, can dish out a whopping 360 magic damage. Landing just two hits in one second with this is enough to deal more damage than almost any other ultimate in the game. At a 1800 range.
However, your ability to consistently abuse this base damage is limited by the Barrage Limit. To take maximum advantage of spell penetration requires a high Barrage Limit.
Kog's Offensive Power Scales With Mobility
Hitting a person in a teamfight with one Living Artillery is easy. Hitting them reliably again is hard. The ultimate is designed to be entirely avoidable. Even if a champion is directly at the center of the ultimate, they are almost guaranteed to be able to run out of the AOE. If someone is running from you, they will outrun you as the casting time of the Ult prevents you from catching up.
This means a person getting hit multiple times is messing up, and you never want to fully rely on strategies that depend on your opponents just messing up.
To reliably chain ults on fighting opponents requires CC. To reliably chain ults on running opponents requires having more movement speed than the runner. Reliably chaining ults dramatically increases fighting power, meaning mobility indirectly increases Kog’s offensive potential. However, when you hit the point where you can outrun opponents while ult’ing, any additional mobility encounters diminishing offensive returns.
Kog's Offensive Power Scales With Mana
As Kog gets more mana and mana regen, the Barrage Limit increases.
Every time you increase your Barrage Limit, you effectively increase your consistent damage output. Multiply the ult’s base damage by the Barrage Limit, and this is how much damage you can spread out in the ~8 second window before the ult resets the mana cost.
Each additional increase to the Barrage Limit is worth less than the one before. Having a Barrage Limit of 2 is twice as much damage compared to a Barrage Limit of 1, but increasing the Barrage Limit from 3 to 4 is only a 33% increase.
tl;dr: Kog’s Build Priorities
The summary of everything above is that you should build Kog to take maximum advantage of the high base damage and range. The core philosophy behind playing AP Kog is:
One more Ult per teamfight, one more Ult on running opponents, one more Ult when defending.
This means the stats Kog generally wants more than anything else are:
When Kog can consistently outrun enemies, magic penetration becomes more valuable than MS.
When the Barrage Limit reaches about 3-4, magic penetration becomes more valuable than mana.
This guide is built around this mantra.
Take note this means you won't necessarily have a lot of early-mid burst damage. But this is okay because you are a sustained damage champion!!! Always remember this. You will often get comments like "you don't do any damage." This is because it is extremely easy to overlook sustained damage compared to burst damage. You will almost always have one of the highest damages dealt in each match, so ignore these comments and focus on your aim.
Masteries and Runes
- Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: You don’t benefit much from AP, so spell pen is the natural choice
- Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration: More mana regen, higher Barrage Limit
- Greater Seal of Armor: If you’re having trouble laning, these may assist
- Greater Seal of Magic Resist Same as above
- Greater Glyph of Magic Penetration: As marks.
- Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: These ensure that you’ll very quickly be outrunning your opponents for maximum carnage.
- Greater Mark of Ability Power - Read the Critical Knowledge section. Kog doesn’t benefit enough from AP to justify this over spell pen.
- Greater Seal of Scaling Mana - Your barrage is over time, and scaling mana regen returns more mana than given by Scaling Mana in about 90 seconds. If mana is the goal, then scaling will be more helpful.
- Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction - Your ult is more limited by mana than cooldown, and your other spells don’t increase enough in utility with cooldown reduction to prioritize it.
There are too many flash-combos that even your max range can’t protect you from. Flash helps equalize the field, using flash to avoid dying to flash-combos
When flash is on cooldown, this is your second equalizer against flash-combos. It also prevents you from being towerdived by the mid and jungle. Later in the game, you are able to duel nearly anyone if exhaust is up.
Ghost is okay. Exhaust is better in almost all situations, but Ghost has use when with compositions that are explicitly structured to mitigate Kog's weaknesses and keep them safe even during the laning phase.
If you’re in range to Ignite, you shouldn’t be.
- Just clicking on your opponent will often be sufficient to kill them even if they’re trying to juke the passive through bushes
- If you are running and about to die anyway, turn around. Fight. The passive may be able to turn a fruitless run into a revenge kill.
- Shreds a significant amount of armor and magic resist
- Use it when tanks commit to fights in the middle of your team
- After Rylais, it functions as an excellent peel tool because it applies a full 40% slow.
- Useful for farming due to having no mana cost, but little else for most of the match
- If you’re in range to autoattack, you’re probably too close to the fight.
- Late game, it can win you most duels and is amazing shred against tanky divers after applying Caustic Spittle
- Does not proc Rylai’s slow
- Your most reliable farming spell
- The slow scales with the level of the spell
- Fairly respectable damage late-game against bunched opponents when not peeling with it
- The keystone of AP Kog’maw
- Every level-up doubles Kog’s power and heavily increases range.
- Procs the 40% slow from Rylais.
Void Ooze has the most range, damage, and utility of all the basic spells, making it the first to be maxed.
Being in range to autoattack is too reckless as AP Kog, making the Q second to max.
A mixture of spell pen and mobility, a godsend for Kog’maw. It's tough to imagine any other better combination that Kog would like.
Allows access to chaining, making your teamfight power significantly scarier; essentially boosts your mobility in offensive situations.
You have room for 1 situational item if you're trying to fit in all your cores. Choose wisely!
You can’t fight if you’re dead. Physical assassins have little limitation reaching Kog, but a Randuins protects from the threat handily. Use if the opponents have physical-damage divers.
The alternative to Randuins, where mobility is more vital to avoiding physical death than a slow. Use if the opponents are primarily physical-damage-based and mostly try to run at you to kill you, instead of relying on raw assassination
Extremely niche, but powerful. Your range ensures that you can easily and safely proc the passive. Also great as a final item, even if its raw damage is outclassed at this point. Use when against teams with several sources of healing.
If you’re in range to autoattack, you’re too close to the fight. The mobility may be nice, but Dead Man's would be better for the purpose while also increasing the offensive potential of the ultimate by far more.
Doesn't Have a Nice Ring to it
The Problem with Potions
First, potions are not free. Each potion costs 50 gold, which is about 3 minion’s worth. Therefore, to have potions worth their cost, you need to get 4 more minions that you otherwise would not have been able to get. Otherwise, you are breaking even or worse, and the only gain is exp.
Second, Kog is so squishy that you can’t freely farm. Any decent opponent is going to be constantly harassing you away every time you try to move in to autoattack the minions. If you’re in range to be getting hit at all, you are not far enough. In addition, Kog’s early game is so weak that attempting to trade with people is an attempt in futility. You won’t be getting kills pre-6 unless your opponent is badly messing up.
These two facts combined mean that if you buy health potions, you would have to put yourself in poke-range and yet still manage to get 4 more minions that otherwise would have been lost. This doesn’t happen. Your autoattacks are too weak, your early range too limited, and your spells too infrequent to get 4 extra minions while standing in range of being hit.
Potions may serve useful when learning AP Kog, but they’re a needless crutch once you become proficient at farming from max range, especially because optimal play guarantees that you’ll run out of mana way before running of HP, even assuming you get hit occasionally.
The Problem with Doran's Ring
When you buy Doran’s Ring, you get it knowing that you’ll eventually have to sell it. The amount of money lost from buying and then selling it is 240 gold, or about 13 minions. To make the Ring worthwhile requires ultimately getting 14 more minions that otherwise would have been lost.
The AP component of Dorans is already negligible. Void Ooze, your primary laning ability, only receives a pitiful 10 damage increase. The AP increase will largely not increase your farming potential. AP also has little benefit for AP Kog later down the road.
Sapphire Crystal gives 250 mana. A long estimate for the first recall to refill on mana happens about 5 minutes into the laning phase. At level 5, Faerie Charm will provide 0.54 mana per second, for a total of 162 mana over five minutes. In total, the pair grants 412 mana over five minutes.
By comparison, Doran's Ring regenerates 1.08 mana per second, for a total of 324 mana over five minutes. Hitting 80% of the 69 spawned minions will result in 220 more mana, for a grand total of 544 mana.
The question is now can you get 14 more minions that otherwise would have been lost with 60 more HP and 130 more mana compared to the Crystal start? Probabbblyy not.
130 more mana is barely one more Void Ooze, which nets 3 minions in a great case scenario. 60 more health might give one more auto of free reign, which is about 1 minion. That's looking at maybe 6 or 7 minions that otherwise would have been lost. At the cost of now having to delay the Tear rush and the Giant's Belt.
Dorans is built with a purpose, and that purpose is to get an edge for the laning phase. For AP Kog, who doesn't care about trying to win the laning phase, it isn't as smart an investment compared to many other laners.
The Problem with Refillable Potion
As with Doran's, you buy knowing you sell it. 70 lost gold, so you need 5 more minions that would have otherwise been lost.
This sounds reasonable. That even sounds completely doable. But it's important to see what is being lost in exchange for it: the mana from faerie charm.
As mentioned earlier, will regenerate 162 mana over five minutes. With Void Ooze and Barrage, that can earn about 4 or 5 minions. Really what is being asked is: can you get 11 minions that otherwise would have been lost with the extra health with refillable compared to the charm start? Actually... probably yeah. Refillable ain't too shabby. I wouldn't recommend against it.
But Here is where experience must simply take hold: unless messing up, I always run out of mana before I run out of HP. This means mana is a much bigger limiter on the number of minions able to be farmed rather than HP.
I wouldn't fault anyone for going refillable flask, and for most cases it is suitable. However, proper experience makes it a needless investment, one that extra mana is better able to suit.
The Remaining Build Order
Priorities in Practice
At the beginning of the guide, we established the priorities Kog has.
With some caveats on when magic pen becomes more valuable than mobility and mana.
The build order reflects this philosophy.
In order, get
> > > > > >
Then, pick 1 situational item
And follow up by completing
If you chose to build a defensive item instead of Liandrys for the Situational Item slot, then you will no longer have room for Morellonomicon. Consider wisely how much value you place on defense.
Rylais is made of three components: Amplifying Tome, Needlessly Large Rod, and Giant’s Belt. Two of these components grant AP, which is largely unnecessary. Survivability is significantly more useful than AP.
Therefore, the order of priority of buying the Rylais components are:
Completing Void Staff
Assuming you chose Liandry's as the situational item, then completing Void Staff is frustrating. While it’s the key to one of Kog’s strongest power spikes, the components both only grant AP, and around this time there is only one empty slot remaining.
You should not even bother getting either component. Use your remaining item slot to maintain constant vision wards in your inventory until you can one-click buy the Void Staff in one go. Ward coverage is significantly more powerful compared to the lame ~30 ult-damage increase given by blasting wand.
That's Off the Chain
When Kog has Rylais, they gain access to one of their most powerful and flashy tricks: chaining.
Chaining is using CC to ult a target back-to-back with Living Artillery.
Normally, chaining is hard. An opponent is able to dodge Living Artillery simply by stepping outside of the landing spot. But with Rylais, if Kog lands just one artillery, it almost guarantees that the next artilleries will land.
After landing the ult, continue aiming the ult a little ahead of the opponent’s running direction. This forces two decisions: either they get hit by the ult and open themselves up to the next ult chain, or they momentarily stop or sidestep.
In teamfights, an opponent is often able to escape chains pre-16 just by getting outside the range of subsequent artilleries, making chaining difficult. After 16, successful chains are extremely feasible and can kill or seriously cripple a carry before the fight even starts.
Outside of teamfights, chaining is a powerful kill securing tool. After a chain is started, even stopping to dodge the artillery is to Kog’s advantage. A person who has to momentarily stop has put themselves closer to Kog. If they stop sufficient times, Kog will be able to reliably land an ooze-spittle combo, killing wounded opponents almost instantly.
Chain opponents down to secure kills in teamfights or on fleeing opponents.
Stage of the Game
Kog is not defined so much by “early, mid, late” as many other champs as far as their role is concerned. Rather, Kog’s power and presence is dictated by the rank of Living Artillery.
Rank 0 - Etiolated Mortar Mimicry
- Unless your opponent screws up, you will not win in CS.
- If you chose to not start potions or Dorans, your effective gold is higher than your CS would imply.
- Conversely, subtract CS from your opponent based on how many potions and Dorans they have.
- Survival is the name of the game
- Don’t bother pushing hard. Your autoattacks are like butter slapping a brick.
- If you die, you weren’t playing carefully enough.
Never attempt to trade or poke with the enemy. It doesn’t matter if they’re melee, if they have less range, or even if they’re out of mana. Every spell, every auto should be focused on trying to farm above all else. Your kill potential is fairly nonexistent pre-6. If you think you can kill them by hitting them enough? No.
Kog is such an easy target for the jungler to jump on. This is the biggest reason why even poking is fruitless; a competent jungler will take advantage of your vulnerability even if you’re only a quarter of the way down the lane.
Survival is your primary priority. Unless you have a jungler with a mixture of heavy CC and heavy damage, consider informing your jungler to not even gank for you. Kills rarely result unless the jungler has red and you can land a well-timed void ooze or exhaust. But even this opens up the fight to a countergank that is easy to lose.
Your pushing power is stupidly weak. Even two uncontested minion waves won’t bring the tower to half health. It’s not worth the risk unless their jungler is in a different lane.
Get an early vision ward and set it up to protect from a jungler tower-dive ambush. Good locations are the bush next to the Raptor camp or the bush across the wall near the tower.
If you get jumped under the tower, immediately use exhaust. Literally a life-saver.
Most importantly, when you die, it is 100% your fault. It means you were too far without wards, you were trying to trade, you didn’t dodge enough, or that you got surprised by burst damage. Take every death as a learning experience of what to expect for the future and avoid repeating the same mistake.
Rank 1 - Obnoxious Spittle Tickler
- Prevent opponents from roaming
- Roam if the chance presents itself
- Force squishy targets back with powerful ooze-ult combos
- If you die during laning, you weren’t playing carefully enough.
- Use your basic spells primarily for their utility
- Poke to deter
Start warding the center of the enemy's half of the lane. Your opponent will likely have their ult at this point as well and will often begin roaming as you don’t have the pushing power to take advantage of their disappearance. Putting wards on their side of the lane will ensure that if they begin roaming that you will see which direction they go and your team will have heavy advance notice to get away. You have no pushing power to meaningfully punish roaming opponents
You may often want to chase after roaming opponents, but be aware that they may easily be hiding around a corner or in a bush in ambush, waiting to take advantage of your still-weak power. Alert your team, and be extremely cautious of ambushes if you choose to follow them.
Poking opponents is now possible, but remember your Barrage Limit. Also keep note that your
ult is an excellent tool for farming, especially in conjunction with your ooze. If you use Void Ooze on the caster minions, the execute bonus of the ultimate will become available on them, allowing an instant clear on the minions.
Unless your opponent is very squishy, you should largely be using poke as a form of deterrence rather than a form of killing. Still, a successful ooze-ult combo on an opponent can deal substantial damage so always keep an eye out for chances to land one.
Due to the low barrage limit at this point, and also because Rylais is often not yet completed, chaining is largely not possible.
Though your mobility is not the best, this is around the time you can begin roaming fairly effectively if you push a little. Simply walk over top or bot, time your ooze to slow fleeing opponents, use the blue trinket to reveal them juking through the bushes, and then throw out 2 or 3 ults to really hammer the damage home. You almost always have to base immediately after however, as your mana supply will be shot.
Rank 2 - Artillery's Apprentice
- Keep everything constantly warded
- Clear waves instantly and begin pushing and grouping
- Be wary of dash-combos
- Poke to kill
As always, keep the enemy's side of the lane warded. Your poke may be strong, but you are still extremely susceptible to a good gank.
If you're 35 CS down at the end of the laning phase, you handled it very well.
Your teamfight presence is now massive even with few items. Your Rylais is often finished at this point, and now is the time to start chaining opponents down. Careful however; a wide variety of dash-combos can still reach you even at max range.
Don't go trigger happy with ultimates. If a fight is about to begin, it is often smart to wait for it so that you can get several execution-enhanced ultimate shots on the enemies.
While you can now chain down fleeing targets reliably, it is difficult to land a long chain during teamfights.
Your ult now functions as a very viable form of killing, though opponents will often still barely get away.
Rank 3 - Ruler of the Acid Reign
- Stay at max range unless you’re cleaning up
- Keep a target locked on and shoot
- Destroy diving opponents
- Poke to win
You are now safe from almost every single dash-combo in the game at max range. Unless you are caught off guard due to poor warding, you cannot be reached except by flash-dash combos.
Always remain at max range unless it’s time to clean up, and continue buying constant wards to maximize your safety.
You can safely pick targets every fight who you want to hunt down and chain them to death. Often, just a 3 or 4 artillery chain is enough to send an opposing magician to half health or less for one final execution shot. Pick a target and keep them locked on.
Your dueling potential is extremely strong if you have exhaust up. If the fight is starting to die down, consider getting closer to the fight and pick off the remaining opponents with your basic spells, which now do fairly hefty damage in their own right.
Use your Caustic Spittle to slow down and shred tanks trying to dive into the middle of your team. If combo’d with your spells right after, a few empowered autos is enough to deal insane damage.
Increasing and Exceeding the Barrage Limit
Making Good Impressions
The Barrage Limit has been mentioned several times in this guide, so now is the time to learn how to increase it.
Keep note that the Barrage Limit is not an upper limit on how many times you should shoot in a fight, but a general guide on how to maximize your consistent damage. As you play Kog more, the Barrage Limit starts to become more instinctual.
Barrage Limit starts at 0 and increases depending:
+1 at level 11+
+1 , but +2 after level 11.
The highest amount your barrage limit is able to reach is 5.
Raj of Barrage
There are times when it's time to stop holding back and go past the barrage limit. Blow out a full 10-ult barrage and cripple opponents... and yourself.
Realize that pushing past the barrage limit too much will make you useless for any further fighting. As such, it makes sense that the barrage limit should only be exceeded when something can be secured or defended.
That can mean a several things including but not limited to:
- Securing a kill
- Securing an objective
- Securing a kill to secure an objective
- Keeping a small area scouted while taking a ward
- Defending a turret from low-health opponents
- Taking blue buff quickly, since the mana will regenerate
- Holding off opponents from defending an objective when it is almost dead
- Stopping a baron/dragon attempt
- Rushing a baron/dragon where your team plans to peace out after securing it
They will Looze
Instead of the classic easy/medium/hard difficulties, opponents are classified by what rank of Living Artillery it takes for them to stop being a major threat. The higher the rank, the more difficult, with “Never” being the most difficult. The rank classification is often when previously one-sided fights suddenly start going in favor of Kog’s team.
In addition, each person gets a danger classification: burst, poke, displace, roam. These define how the champion intends to kill you and what is most pertinent to watch out for.
Burst – Attempts to stun and then burst you down from full health
Poke – Attempts to whittle you down with never-ending spells to finish you with a burst
Displace – Attempts to lock or zone you down for other opponents to reach you
Roam – Pushes hard, then roams to take advantage of your weak pushing power.
Most opponents have a non-punishing level 1. Farm freely for the first level.
After opponents cast spells to harass or farm, you have a few precious seconds to move in to farm. Back off before the cooldown ends.
Although enemies can wound you repeatedly, most cannot actually kill you pre-6. Don't be too concerned about your wounds unless you know the opponent can actually finish you off.
Stay at max range at all times. Pick apart with living artillery before even momentarily considering moving in.
Use Exhaust to successfully duel most opponents after rank 2 of Living Artillery
Tips and Tricks
Truly mastering Kog'maw is perfecting even the littlest of tricks to work massively in your favor. Here’s a list of things to nail to become a master!
This guide was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you all have learned everything you would have liked. If you have any questions, leave a comment or drop a line over at twitch.tv/aquadragon33 ! And be sure to check out www.bestbans.com !
May your acid reign be endless.