Maokai Build Guide by Teyso
Recommended Runes + Notes
Early Game Purchases + Notes
This is a little bit about me and why I wrote this guide.
I love Maokai. I think his skill-set is perfect, and it carves out a very unique place for him in League of Legends. I picked Maokai up around Fall of 2011, and have played him as my main for most of the time since then.
Since I like Maokai so much, and since I know so much about him now, I thought it would be good to pass what I know on to the community. But because I've played him so much, and like him so much, What I have to pass on is kind of a lot.
Warning! if you don't like long guides with in depth reasoning and explanations throughout, this guide is not for you.
This guide is designed to be a resource like an encyclopedia. You wouldn't read one of those cover to cover, would you? Neither would I. Use the table of contents to jump to the stuff relevant to how you are playing. Several Sections will not have anything to do with the role you are playing. Only read it cover to cover if you want to understand EVERYTHING about Maokai.
P.S. If you are going to downvote, please explain what you dislike so I know how to improve the guide. If you downvote and do not give me something to fix/change, you are not helping the other readers, and you are not helping me make the guide more correct.
With that said, here's my in depth guide explaining everything I know about Maokai.
I think that the season 3 changes are the best thing to happen to the League in a while. The new items have opened up a lot of possibilities and build paths. The new jungle is awesome for Maokai; my first pvp with him since the patch I went 2/2/18 with my jungle tank build. I haven't tested every single one of my builds yet, so the example builds are mostly just theory work so far, but I am confident that they will work, and will change things accordingly as I test them further. Feel free to contribute by telling me what worked and what didn't.
+ He can fill most roles; Tank, CDR Tank, AD Off-Tank, AP off-Tank, AP Carry, CDR Support.
+ He has great CC, and really strong ganks.
+ A skill set that is nearly perfect and balanced.
+ Tanky, but still capable of dealing noticeable damage.
+ Sap Magic passive heals? Yes please!
+ Vengeful Maelstrom can make your teammates 20% more durable.
+ He is like a tank version of Shaco... TROLOLOL....
- Slow, so very very slow Y_Y His base move-speed blows.
- Maokai is very dependent on his team. Even if you play perfectly, your teammates can still lose the game.
- REALLY Mana hungry.
- Very Blue Buff dependent if jungling.
- No scaling CDR on his abilities, they stay long.
- You will usually have to build tank, even if you do not want to.
Also, his saplings are hilarious!
Like Masteries, runes are your choice, these are just suggestions that benefit Maokai. Keep in mind that most per level runes exceed flat runes between the levels of 7 and 10. So you should pick per-level runes if you want a strong late game, or flat runes for a strong early game.
Runes should help make up for your champion's weaknesses or complement their role, Example: Runes like mana regen and armor Seals and Movespeed and Health Quintessences are really useful in general for Maokai, while Magic Pen, Armor, or Attack Speed Marks depend on the role you are filling for your team.
|Magic Pen:||SPACE||Recommended.||SPACE||SPACE||For AP Mid Maokai, These give magic penetration, so you will deal more damage.|
|Armor:||SPACE||Less recommended.||SPACE||SPACE||These are not first tier Runes, but they give some defensive stats for a Tank Maokai.|
|Armor:||SPACE||Recommended.||SPACE||SPACE||Absolutely necessary if you are jungling, these give you the durability to farm the jungle and still have enough health be able to gank. They are also good for Support and Top Maokai for when you will get harassed by ranged AD champions ( Jayce Top, and ADC's Bottom).|
|Mana Regen:||SPACE||Recommended.||SPACE||SPACE||SPACE||These work because Maokai is very mana-hungry, and WILL run out of mana without blue buff or these and a Chalice of Harmony and/or Catalyst the Protector. I recommend trying to just get blue buff or some mana items early, because armor seals are much more helpful.|
|Health:||SPACE||Recommended.||SPACE||SPACE||SPACE||They synergize with your passive quite well. The question is between Per-Level or % Health increase. With the builds that I have here I have found that you get more health from the per level runes.|
|Cooldown Reduction:||Less recommended.||SPACE||SPACE||SPACE||I personally have not used these, but they could work because your abilities do not have cool-downs that scale with level.|
|Movespeed:||SPACE||Highly Recommended||SPACE||SPACE||These help because of Maokai's very low base movespeed.|
|Ability Power:||SPACE||Recommended||SPACE||SPACE||SPACE||Good for AP Maokai, these will help you jungle faster, or deal more damage in Mid lane.|
|Health:||SPACE||Highly Recommended||SPACE||SPACE||SPACE||SPACE||These synergize with your passive, and will make you much more durable. Flat health for early game, % and Per-Level for late game.|
|Magic Pen:||SPACE||Less Recommended||SPACE||SPACE||I do not use these, but they would improve AP Maokai's damage.|
The mastery pages I put in for the different builds are just some examples. Use mine, or yours, honestly masteries are absolutely preferential, just go with whatever you like best.
The following section discusses the masteries I consider most viable. It does not mean you should take all of them; there are more than 30 that are viable, and you only have 30 points to spend. DUH, Teyso, we know that... Use them wisely, and take the stats that you like the most or need the most.
Note: Summoner's Wrath , Summoner's Resolve , and Summoner's Insight are very important. Take a point in any one or two of them that match the summoner spells that you are using. For example Jungle Maokai should take points in Summoner's Resolve and Summoner's Insight for Smite and Flash.
Sorcery provides cool-down reduction which can help fill out your CDR if your build doesn't reach the 40% cap.
Butcher works for Jungle Maokai because you will be auto-attacking jungle creeps a lot.
Blast gives ability power to help your spells deal more damage.
Arcane Knowledge is the only other mastery I usually get in the Offense tree. The magic pen increases your damage output. If you want to go further you can, but I feel that the Glass Cannon Maokai will only ever get eaten alive in most matches.
It is helpful to go down the defense tree because with Maokai you will have to get into the thick of the fight, often tanking lots of damage.
Durability for added health, your passive will provide more healing than Perseverance, so no to Perseverance.
Tough Skin is a must if you are jungling.
Hardiness is a necessity if you are against anything except the enemy AP Carry.
When laning against an AP carry I get points in Resistance .
Bladed Armor is important if you are jungling, it will increase your jungle speed.
Veteran's Scars is a must for more Health.
Tenacious is helpful because you will be in the middle of team-fights, and will inevitably be hit by crowd-control.
Juggernaut provides even more health, which makes you more durable and gives your passive an even greater heal.
Defender Gives up to 5 armor and magic resistance, and is most effective in team-fights, get this if your team is not a split-pushing team.
Legendary Armor gives 5 armor / magic resistance for every 100 you already have, get this if you like to stack resistances.
Honor Guard is not very helpful at reducing damage because 3% damage reduction saves you from 30 damage out of every 1000 damage you take... So I would not use this mastery.
Wanderer helps solve your movement speed problems.
Meditation is helpful to Maokai because he has mana problems.
Improved Recall is handy if you plan to split push, that extra second can make the difference between escaping a gank or not.
Scout grants 25% increased visibility range on wards, I have yet to test if this works with saplings, and will judge it after I have.
Mastermind will bring useful summoner spells off cool-down sooner; for example it may save your life to have 30 seconds cut off of Flash's cool-down.
Expanded Mind helps solve mana problems.
Artificer works if you get a lot of active items (such as Randuin's Omen, Shurelya's Reverie, Twin Shadows, and Shard of True Ice), otherwise do not bother with this mastery.
Greed is fantastic if you are supporting, really makes up for not CS-ing.
Take Runic Affinity if you are AP Mid or are jungling, you will want Blue Buff to last as long as possible.
Biscuiteer will help you sustain if you are supporting.
Wealth helps supports with gold.
Awareness helps you out-lane opponents by gaining a level advantage over them.
Explorer provides an extra ward for supporting bottom lane, and saves you some mana you might use on saplings to ward river.
Pickpocket will be very helpful if you are supporting a kill lane because you will be harassing the enemy a lot; don't get this though if you prefer to burst with your spells and then get out.
Intelligence is awesome for Maokai because of his long cool-downs.
Nimble is great because of the movement speed it provides.
For AP Maokai, I get lower level masteries from each tree to boost useful stats like Movement speed, mana, health and cooldowns. It is also a great idea to go up the defense tree more, since you will need to be able to survive against a mid carry who has range and can zone you.
It is useful to go down the defense and/or utility tree for the movement speed masteries, since Maokai is so slow.
I. Viability: (1/5)
II. Uses: Track the enemy jungler in his or her jungle. Spot incoming Ganks.
III. Comments: This is a support spell... and your saplings are 35 second wards, so only get this if you are the support.
I. Viability: (3/5)
II. Uses: Break CC so you can continue fighting, chasing, escaping, etc.
III. Comments: Meh, it's not my favorite, but I can't think of any argument against it besides "I like other spells more" which lacks rhetoric >.<
I. Viability: (5/5)
II. Uses: Hop walls, catch or escape enemies. Juking.
III. Comments: Very versatile, helps with a lot of different situations. An all around good pick.
tl;dr Maokai's Best summoner spells are:
Sap Magic: Your passive gains a charge every time a spell is cast within a very large range (about to the edge of the screen if you play with your screen locked), once you reach 5 charges, your next basic attack heals you for 7% of your Max health.
That 7% heal is not something to shrug off. At 2143 total health, that is instantly 150 health back, the same heal as a health pot takes 15 seconds to restore. This is why I prefer to get items that provide health.
Tips and tricks
|____||Arcane Smash: Your q is a very short range skillshot that hits all enemies in it's path and all those standing within a short-range AoE around him. It also slows them (by a % that increases with the ability's level) for 2 seconds, and knocks those standing close to him away. It has two important features, the slow, and the knock-up.|
Tips and Tricks
|SPACE||Twisted Advance: Your w is a single target dash that snares the target for a duration that scales with the ability's level. This ability has two uses; the snare, and re-positioning.|
Tips and Tricks
|SPACE||Sapling Toss: It is Maokai's trademark, he throws a sapling and it chases people, and it is hilarious. Your e is a delayed AoE nuke that wards the place it lands, granting vision of the surrounding area. If an enemy steps into the AoE of the sapling it will chase them for up to 2.5 seconds (screaming WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!) or until it hits an enemy, and will explode to deal additional damage. Damage dealt on impact and detonation increases with level.|
Tips and Tricks
|SPACE||Vengeful Maelstrom: Your ultimate is an AoE aura that reduces the non-turret damage dealt to allied champions within the AoE by 20%. it then will return twice that damage to enemies within its range when you deactivate it.|
Tips and Tricks
Examples of Useful Combo's
Stopping an enemy: w-q
Going for the kill: w-e-q / w-e-r-q-r / w-e-q-r-r
Escaping in the jungle: e-w
There is a very traditional manner to go about skill sequences with each champion. Traditionally, you would max abilities based on priority. I will give some examples of this for Maokai, but I recommend that once you become more familiar with Maokai that you level them based on the situation.
Max Priorities for a new Maokai:
Get a point in Sapling Toss first so you can check bushes and ward safely. Arcane Smash's mana cost will not increase, and you will gain more damage and stronger crowd control. Next we max Twisted Advance because the snare will be longer for ganking and initiation. We max Sapling Toss last because it is a very difficult skill-shot, like Veigar's Dark Matter, and it will cost you a lot of mana. It is best to practice it with lower mana cost instead of wasting extra mana without getting the bonus damage.
Max Priorities by playstyle/situation:
1) Mana problems? Level Arcane Smash.
Arcane Smash gains damage and cc-strength per level, without increasing its mana cost. This is your only non-ult ability that doesn't have a scaling mana cost. I prioritize this when I lose my blue buff to counter-jungling. This skill order will look like the one for new maokai.
2) You like to gank? Level Twisted Advance.
Twisted Advance gains snare duration with levels, so if you want to be super-effective at catching enemies for teammates, level this. Your skill order will look like:
3) You don't care about those two, you just want more damage? Level Sapling Toss.
It deals 100% of your Ability Power (if you use it correctly), so you better practice landing both impact and detonation of this ability. If you fail, you only deal 39% of the spell's damage.
NOTE: It helps to level Twisted Advance a couple times early so that your snare will be more effective to help your saplings get them. This leveling priority will look like this:
4) You are level 6, 11, or 16? Need I explain? LEVEL VENGEFUL MAELSTROM.
My experience (I jungle mostly):
I find that it is useful to start with Sapling Toss to check bushes or stockpile damage at a jungle camp, get one more point in this at level 3 so it does a useful amount of damage, then max Arcane Smash for improved cc and damage. Max Twisted advance second, for ganking. Get your ult when you can, and max Sapling Toss last.
I have moved the dominion parts of this guide to another guide titled Dominion-Kai. If you want to know how I play him in Dominion, go check it out.
These two parts of my guide have been separated out for two reasons:
1) The original guide was forced into the Dominion Category (for programming reasons) on Mobafire when it is in fact a champion guide.
2) The original guide was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too long. This should make them both more readable.
Note: When Jungling, if you do not get Sightstone you should be buying 2 to 3 wards every time you go back to base, so keep that in mind.
Hunter's Machete is necessary for jungling now.
5 Health Potions give you sustain.
Spirit Stone increases your sustain, and gives you a faster clear speed.
Boots of Speed will give you movement speed to help you gank (get this sooner if you want to gank earlier).
Crystalline Flask will help your sustain, and as Kallcrack pointed out-makes it so you do not need the blue buff after you purchase it.
Sightstone gives you free wards, and provides some health to make you more durable.
You can alternatively get Philosopher's Stone instead of Crystalline Flask for sustain and Kage's Lucky Pick instead of Sightstone. The build adds gold-per-10 and allows you to spend more time ganking and roaming. Warning: This does not provide free pots and wards, so you be the judge of which build fits your play-style better. (You may want the Shurelya's Reverie and Twin Shadows for their actives to help initiate, in which case this is the build for you)
Spirit of the Ancient Golem will greatly improve your clear speed, will improve your sustain with health and mana regeneration, and will make you more durable with health and armor.
Boots of Mobility give you great movement speed so you can get between lanes and jungle camps faster. These will allow you to cover more of the map if your teammates need you to help more.
Ruby Sightstone will allow you to ward more for your team, and provides more health so you are more durable.
Shurelya's Reverie gives you sustain, health for more durablility, and CDR so you can use your spells more in teamfights. The active will greatly help your team to initiate fights / run from bad situations.
Twin Shadows will give you AP for damage and clear speed, Magic Resistance, and movement speed to help you catch / run from enemies. The active is incredibly useful for invading the enemy jungle, defending your own jungle against invades, catching enemies, and initiating fights.
Aegis of the Legion: Get this item unless one of your teammates is going to get this, the aura will not stack. Choose between this and Locket of the Iron Solari.
Locket of the Iron Solari: Get this if you did not get much gold in the early game, choose between this and Aegis of the Legion.
You will only have room for one of these in your build after purchasing the early items and their upgrades, so choose which to get based on these conditions:
Glacial Shroud: Get this item if enemies who deal physical damage are fed.
Negatron Cloak: Get this item if enemies who deal magic damage are fed.
Kindlegem: Get this item if neither or both kind of enemy is fed.
Now it is time to update the items you bought in the previous section and upgrade them into the items in this section. At this point you can sell back your Crystalline Flask and replace it with another one of the items from the previous section (later to be upgraded into an item from this section.
Frozen Heart Grants stronger Glacial Shroud stats and an aura that helps in teamfights against teams with 2 or more champions who depend on attack speed.
Spirit Visage Provides more magic resistance and health for durability, CDR for your abilities, and a % increase that greatly benefits your regeneration and Sap Magic.
Randuin's Omen provides great armor and health, and an active that strengthens your initiation / counter-initiation.
Runic Bulwark gives some health, armor, and magic resistance to help you be more of a tank, and grants an aura that will help all of your team in teamfights.
Boots of Swiftness are always a good choice, as they will help you to move faster than the enemy and resist slows so you can initiate better. Be careful though, because you will be faster than some of your teammates, and you could leave them behind. Do not get separated from your teammates, or you will lose matches.
Ninja Tabi is a great choice when the enemy team depends on auto-attacks for damage (example team comp: Kayle Top, Lee Sin Jungle, ___ Mid, Corki ADC, and Sona / Nami Support), it will reduce the damage you take from them, so you can do a better job of tanking.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity will provide you with some CDR so you can use your abilities more in teamfights. Only get this item if you have less than 25% CDR already, and are not getting more CDR.
Enchantment: Alacrity will give you more movement speed so you can be faster than everyone else.
Enchantment: Captain helps you initiate fights because your teammates can follow quickly when you initiate on an enemy.
Enchantment: Homeguard is your best choice when you are losing the match, they allow you to reach turrets and inhibitors that need defending in very little time, thus helping the strategy of turtling.
start 1: Crystalline Flask, some wards, and some potions. This will give you the sustain to stay in lane until you can afford to go back.
start 2: Cloth Armor or Null-Magic Mantle and some potions. This will give you the resistances and sustain to last against someone who can out-trade you. Get the resistance item based on what kind of damage your opponent does more of.
start 3: Doran's Shield is good against ranged champions because they will use auto-attacks
to attempt to zone you.
start 4: Boots of Speed and some pots gives you movement speed so you can dodge skill-shots and escape ganks and sustain so you can trade damage with your opponent.
|First, get a Catalyst the Protector sustain, this is a core item for Maokai Top because of the sustain it gives and because of the items you can build from it.|
|If you didn't start boots of speed, get them after Catalyst the Protector.|
|If you are going to build like a bruiser, get a Blasting Wand for damage and upgrade it ASAP into Rod of Ages.|
If you started Cloth Armor
|Upgrade these boots around now. Get whichever boots help the most.|
|If you are against an enemy magic damage champion, get Negatron Cloak for resistances.|
|If they deal true damage (Cough Olaf cough), or if you started Cloth Armor and already have an armor item get a Giant's Belt.|
|If you are against an enemy that deals physical damage, get a Chain Vest for resistances.|
|Glacial Shroud gives you Armor, Mana, and CDR so you are more durable and can use your spells more. In the bruiser build this is a separate purchase from Chain Vest because you will need the Chain Vest for Sunfire Cape.|
|if you are going to be your team's tank, get Kindlegem for more health and CDR; it builds into many items you can use, so it is a good stepping stone into mid game.|
|If you are against someone who is good at pushing, you may want some more mana regeneration so you can push / farm with abilities, so Chalice of Harmony is a possible choice... the only problem with it is that you will have to upgrade it eventually, so don't get it if you don't want Athene's Unholy Grail later. The infinite mana is nice though, and this is a viable choice for the bruiser build.|
If you are going to be your team's bruiser / off-tank
If you are going to be your team's tank
|You can get a Frozen Heart instead of upgrading Warden's Mail into Randuin's Omen if you are the tank.|
|If your support and your jungler are not going to build Aegis of the Legion, consider building it for the Aura. Upgrade it later into Runic Bulwark.|
|If you are building like a bruiser, and you want more initiating power, Twin Shadows is helpful because it gives Movement Speed and the active is good for catching enemies.|
Note about Vision Wards: Have at least one Vision Ward as often as possible to counter the enemy wards so your jungler can gank and you can hide in the side bushes. It is your job as a support to make everything about your lane go smoothly, this includes messing with the opposing support's wards.
Start 1: Crystalline Flask, and 2 Sight Wards will give you lots of sustain throughout the laning phase, while still giving you some wards to start. Remember to get vision wards when you go back.
Start 2: Against a lane like Ezreal + Nidalee that will try to poke you out of lane, start with Cloth Armor, a Sight Ward and some pots for sustain. This will give you the resistance and sustain to eat harass and not have to leave lane.
Start 3: With a Faerie Charm, two Vision Wards and a Sight Ward you will have the mana sustain to harass the enemy, and you will be able to counter their wards.
Start 4: Cloth Armor, Faerie Charm and a Health Potion. The armor is so you can trade with the enemy ad and eat harass, the Faerie Charm gives you mana sustain so you can continue harassing, and the health pot is for a little extra health sustain in addition to Sap Magic.
Crystalline Flask gives you sustain with free potions every time you recall.
Philosopher's Stone gives sustain and Gold per 10, and builds into Shurelya's Reverie if you want more health and CDR, and the active is also great for initiating / escaping fights. Get this or Kage's Lucky Pick, not both. It is good to get this if your teammates have fewer escapes and or they are not mana hungry (since the alternative is for mana hungry teammates).
Kage's Lucky Pick gives AP and Gold per 10, it builds into Shard of True Ice for more ap, mana sustain, and an active that is great for initiating / escaping fights. Get this if your teammates are mana hungry, because it will upgrade with Mana Manipulator into Shard of True Ice for Aura Mana Sustain.
Sightstone will give you free wards and health for durability.
Emblem of Valor gives you armor so you can trade better with the enemy ad carry bottom, and gives health regeneration to yourself and your allies to help them recover after trades.
[Chalice of Harmony]] will give you some magic resistance and infinite mana from Mana Font. Get this if the enemy bottom lane pokes with a lot of magic damage and if you want to poke your enemies back a lot.
Boots of Speed are an early/mid game purchase, you will want movement speed so you can catch up to and escape from enemies.
Kindlegem gives you health to be more durable, and CDR so you can cast your spells more often. Get two of this if you are getting Philosopher's Stone --> Shurelya's Reverie.
Mana Manipulator provides mana sustain to yourself and your lane partner, get this if you got kage's lucky Pick and your teammates are mana hungry.
Upgrade Sightstone into Ruby Sightstone so you can use it for more wards.
Upgrade Emblem of Valor into Aegis of the Legion for a better durability Aura for your teammates. Upgrade this further into Runic Bulwark after you have completed most of your build.
Upgrade your boots into whichever kind of boots you need most. Mercury's Treads against cc-heavy teams, Ninja Tabi against ad heavy teams, Ionian Boots of Lucidity if you want more CDR.
If you got Philosopher's Stone, upgrade it into Shurelya's Reverie if you want the Health, CDR, Regeneration, and the active. If you instead want the empty item space so you can get other items but already bought the Philosopher's, upgrade into Eleisa's Miracle for the regeneration stats and the passive.
Locket of the Iron Solari is one of your few cheap armor items, and it provides and an active that can save teammates from ignite and other DoTs, or maybe even a Karthus ult.
If you bought a Chalice of harmony, upgrade it into Mikael's Crucible for more Magic Resistance and a heal that you can use on your allies.
If you got Kage's Lucky Pick, upgrade it into Shard of True Ice for the passives and active, or into Will of the Ancients if you have 2 or more teammates who depend upon abilities for damage.
Enchantment: Captain allows your teammates to run toward you to engage or escape from fights.
Enchantment: Alacrity helps you move faster than other people.
Enchantment: Homeguard is a good option if you are losing the match, this allows you to recall, and then rush to towers and defend them.
Note: When Jungling, You should be buying several wards every time you go back to base, so keep that in mind.
Hunter's Machete is necessary for jungling now.
5 Health Potions give you health sustain.
Spirit Stone will give you better sustain and bonus damage against neutral monsters to increase your clear speed. Get this as soon as you can.
Boots of Speed help you control more of the map, and make ganking easier.
Chalice of Harmony is a good choice if your Mid-Laner needs blue buff after you get the first blue, or if you lose second or third blue to an invade.
Chain Vest is a good early purchase because it builds into several of your later options, and makes you more durable, so you can stay out from base longer.
Kage's Lucky Pick is a good early purchase if you know you are your team's only form of initiation and/or if you know that you or the enemy jungler will be invading each other's jungle a lot. (A good idea against Olaf, Lee Sin, Shyvanna, Mundo, etc.)
Seeker's Armguard gives AP for damage and clear speed, and armor so you can sustain better. It will grant passive bonus stats when you farm, and late game it builds into Zhonya's Hourglass which will allow you to initiate fights even if you are squishy.
Spirit of the Spectral Wraith grants mana regeneration and spell vamp for sustain, CDR so you can spam your spells more, and bonus damage to neutral monsters to further increase your clear speed.
Boots of Mobility are just one of your options... but I highly recommend this item at least until the laning phase ends, mainly because it will allow you to control more of the map; you will be able to gank for the laners more, and you will be able to run to a buff in the enemy jungle to smite-steal it.
Glacial Shroud provides CDR to bring your spells off cool-down sooner, mana to help sustain you, and Armor to help reduce damage from jungle camps. (Get this or Sunfire Cape in the early game, not both)
Sunfire Cape This gives you health and armor to make you more durable, and a passive DoT to enemies around you that will help you clear neutral camps faster. (Get this or Glacial Shroud in the early game, not both) Late game this will synergize with Abyssal Scepter's passive Magic-Resist-Reduction in team-fights.
Twin Shadows has an amazing active that is incredibly useful for a jungler, you can use it when you gank, and you can use it to scout the jungle when the enemy may be invading your jungle or you want to invade theirs. Get this if you got Kage's Lucky Pick early game.
Fiendish Codex is good if you need damage and mana regeneration, it is a stepping stone into late game since it builds into Athene's Unholy Grail.
Get Blasting Wand if you want even more damage and you are not having mana problems. (This builds into Abyssal Scepter, so it counts as a stepping stone into Late Game)
Giant's Belt is a great choice if you need more durability in general.
Negatron Cloak is helpful if the enemy magic damage dealers are well fed or farmed, or if you want to build Abyssal Scepter sooner.
Iceborn Gauntlet upgrades Glacial Shroud's stats, and makes Sheen's Spell-blade Proc an AOE slow that helps greatly in team-fights.
Sunfire Cape Grants some great durability stats as well as a passive that helps you deal more damage in team-fights.
Abyssal Scepter gives Magic resist for resistances, AP for damage, and passive MR reduction on enemies which is great with Sunfire Cape and in team-fights.
Athene's Unholy Grail Provides Ability Power so you can deal more damage, and CDR so you can cast more spells, mana regen for sustain, and Magic Resistance for durability.
Zhonya's Hourglass has an active that will allow you to initiate a fight and then go invulnerable when the enemies focus you. It makes you an initiator for your team without giving up that ***-kicking AP damage that you want.
Replace Boots of Mobility with tier two boots of your choosing so you can team-fight better:
Boots of Swiftness are great if the enemy has very little hard-CC, or if you want to be faster than other people.
Ninja Tabi are good against teams that use a lot of auto-attacks.
Sorcerer's Shoes are probably what you will get most of the time since you are playing AP, and because magic penetration helps you a lot.
Get an enchantment of your choice. I suggest Enchantment: Alacrity for flat bonus movement speed, or Enchantment: Homeguard to allow you to get out into the action more quickly. Enchantment: Captain is still good if you use the initiator build, as it will help your team initiate fights.
Start 1: Boots of Speed and some Health Potions and (if your jungler needs blue buffs or says they won't be sharing) a Mana Potion. You will need the movement speed if your opponent uses skill-shots to harass (ie: Karthus, Brand, Lux), and if you get ganked.
Start 2: Doran's Shield. This gives you the health, armor, and regeneration to withstand extra auto-attack harass from ranged opponents. It is also helpful against AD Casters.
Start 3: Doran's Ring. Get this if you think you can dominate your lane.
Start 4: Crystalline Flask and a Sight Ward will give you sustain and a ward to guard against ganks / help your jungler.
Boots of Speed provide movement speed so that you can juke skill-shots, catch enemies, and run from ganks.
Kage's Lucky Pick gives some Gp10 to make up for any CS you may miss because of your opponent's harass. And it builds into Twin Shadows or Morellonomicon later.
Philosopher's Stone gives more Gp10, and upgrades into Ohmwrecker. Get this as a cheaper alternative to Catalyst the Protector; that way you can still get a bulk item (Ohmwrecker) even though you miss the Rod of Ages.
Catalyst the Protector provides a passive sustain every time you level up, and grants increased health and mana. Either get this or Chalice of Harmony, not both.
Seeker's Armguard gives you AP and Armor, this is a good early item if you are against an ad caster / assassin.
Chalice of Harmony will give you MR vs Mages, and mana sustain so you do not have to worry about mana as much. Only get this or Catalyst the Protector, not both. Get this if you want to play the caster style Maokai Mid, this allows you to depend more on your spells.
Sheen allows you get more damage from each of your spells and grants some AP and Mana, and builds into Lich Bane later. Get this if you want to play a higher skill cap play-style, you will need to stagger abilities to benefit from it, and you won't depend on all your damage from abilities, as you will get extra damage from spell-blade.
Glacial Shroud gives good armor, CDR, and mana. Get this if you plan to get Iceborn Gauntlet later. Works well for bruiser AP Maokai.
Rod of Ages maintains the Valor's Reward passive from Catalyst, while increasing AP, health, and mana over time for up to 20 minutes. Get this most of the time, especially when your team has few melee champions.
Sorcerer's Shoes Give you more magic penetration since you are the ap carry. Alternatively you can get whichever boots you need most, you don't have to get Sorcerer's Shoes every time.
Fiendish Codex grants AP and CDR so you deal more damage and can use your spells more often, and it builds into two different items you can use; Morellonomicon and Athene's Unholy Grail.
Needlessly Large Rod builds into Zhonya's Hourglass so you can initiate fights without getting focused.
Blasting Wand will upgrade into any of several really useful items, and it provides some AP for more damage.
Twin Shadows will give you AP and MR, movement speed so you can roam easier during mid game, and the active is good for invading the enemy jungle or ganking. This is one of your upgrade choices from Kage's Lucky Pick.
Ohmwrecker helps your sustain and damage, and the active allows you and your teammates to tower-dive when you are roaming. Upgrades from Philosopher's Stone. Remember to use it AFTER the first couple turret shots so that it resets the damage increase of the turret shots.
Zhonya's Hourglass grants Ability power for damage, and armor and the active that allows you to initiate fights without getting killed. Good for the caster play-style since that blows up in fights.
Athene's Unholy Grail grants AP, MR, CDR, and mana regen, so you can cast more spells in less time, and deal more damage, and not run out of mana. Good for the caster based play-style.
Abyssal Scepter provides magic resistance for more survivability and AP and Magic Resist Reduction to help you deal more damage.
Lich Bane gives you a stronger spell-blade passive, along with some movement speed and ability power for more mobility and damage output.
Iceborn Gauntlet is good if you need to be tankier for your team, the armor will help you survive, and the slow will help you initiate fights. This is for a more bruiser oriented build.
Rabadon's Deathcap gives you TONS OF DAMAGE. Get this for the caster play-style since you will only care about damage.
Morellonomicon Upgrades from your Kage's Lucky Pick, and provides you with a great amount of AP and CDR. It also grants some mana regeneration to help with your mana problems. Good for the caster play-style as you can use spells more often, and it gives mana regeneration for more spells.
Sunfire Cape Get this if you are having trouble surviving. This is for the more bruiser-like build.
After your first clear, your route should be dictated by which lanes need your help the most. Remember to check every lane often so you can see how they are doing. By checking up on them frequently you can plan your jungle route to clear camps on your way to that lane and still be there to help by the time they need it. This way you can farm instead of having to drop everything and run halfway across the map because you weren't paying attention.
Not tested in S3 Yet
Route 1: The Basic Route
Route 2: The Red Start
Route 3: An Easy and Effective Invade for Coordinated Teams
If you are having a great game, try to counter-jungle, it will make the opposing jungler's job a lot harder. The basic rule is keep your own camps down as much as possible. Try to keep enemy buffs warded often, you never know when you might get the chance to smite steal them.
Maokai fits very well in top lane, he can farm easily, defend his turret, push a turret, and lane safely with his skill-set.
Play it safe and do not push until you have boots so you can escape ganks more easily. When your opponent leaves the lane unattended call MIA, then you can do any of several things:
a) clear a wave with a e-q combo, and push turret like there's no tomorrow. When you are overextended, or you suspect a gank, use Sapling Toss for a free ward in River Bush and/or Tri-Bush.
b) Teleport-gank another lane if the summoner spell is off cooldown and if said lane is in a good situation to gank.
c) Go back to shop and buy items.
d) stay in lane and farm safely if you do not know where 3 or more members of the enemy team are. They might all show up to push your tower, and if you are not there, it is your fault if you lose your tower.
After you have broken the enemy turret, push the lane hard, then go help your team. At this point you become an off-tank for your team; filling the role of the tank when needed, and playing like a bruiser when the tank is around.
1) his ganks are potent.
2) he can keep very strong pressure on a lane.
Flash helps you initiate and escape.
Exhaust is good for shutting down, catching or escaping from an enemy.
Ability order recommendation:
I recommend maxing Arcane Smash first, then level your choice of Sapling Toss for more pushing power, or Twisted Advance for stronger CC when your jungler ganks.
Support Bottom Lane:
I haven't done this much in a long time, because there are much more common choices and I prefer jungle. HOWEVER, Maokai is a VERY strong support tank due to having 2 cc and--after lvl 6--an ult that makes even your carries more durable.
Harass the enemies as far away from the minion wave if you can, or if they out-trade you, sit back passively in a bush until your laning partner wants to go for a kill. Then you Twisted advance, then wait for the snare to wear off before you use Arcane Smash to knock the enemy away from safety. If you are with a high damage carry, enemies will fall over. In late game you end up being a tank, so play like one. Save teammates even if you will die (with the only exception of hopeless cases). Basically, just play like this:
Spoiler: Click to view
Flash for initiations and escapes.
Teleport for map presence.
Exhaust to shut down an enemy's damage output.
Clarity to grant mana sustain.
Ability Order Recommendation:
MAX SAPLING TOSS LAST. Aside from that, be creative. Get what you need.
Maokai is a fantastic jungler, he can clear camps quickly with his AoE's and his CC when he ganks is just GODLY. Very good at early ganks.
How to Gank Effectively
If you are having a great game, try to counter-jungle, it will make the opposing jungler's job a lot harder. The basic rule is keep your own camps down as much as possible. Try to keep enemy buffs warded often, if you time it right you can take advantage of opportunities to smite steal them.
Dragon respawns in 6 minutes
Baron Nashor respawns after 7 minutes.
NOTE: Keep track of buffs' respawn timers (an effective way to do this is to type in chat, "X buff, up at <the current time+respawn time>".
AP Jungle Playstyle:
You are an offtank, a bruiser, and if you get fed you will be your enemies' worst nightmare. It is ok to go for kills instead of leaving them for the lanes (you will need the gold) UNLESS YOU ARE GANKING FOR A LATE GAME CARRY, because the Carry will need to be fed. Teamfight like a bruiser, jump in and wreck stuff so your teammates can follow you without getting focused. Go after the enemy carries.
Jungle Tank Playstyle:
You are the first one in, and the last one out. It is your job early game to set up kills for teammates in lane, DO NOT TAKE ANY KILLS YOUR TEAMMATES COULD GET! Your goal end-game score is 0/X/30+. Mid through late game your job is to start the fight, and then stop anybody that tries to kill your carries. After you initiate you should do everything you can to protect your carries.
1) because it makes your ganks ridiculous
2) because it is so versatile and tricksy.
Smite -No excuses. You are the jungler. -_-
Ability Order Recommendation:
I recommend getting 2 levels in sapling toss early to improve jungling speed and damage during ganks, level one of this spell is ok, but not very nuke-y feeling.
You have to be clever and good at juking so that you can farm CS against an opponent who can zone you. Use your combo to harass them and scare them! I have zoned ranged AP carries with Maokai mid just because they were scared of me.
The Harass Combo: Toss a Sapling and use Twisted Advance to hold them still for the sapling's detonation. If you miss slightly with Sapling Toss it is ok, you can use Arcane Smash to knock them back into the blast radius.
How to Trade Damage as AP Maokai: You may have problems trading if you initiate, so wait for them to try to hit you, then use Twisted Advance to dodge their spells and catch them, then bust the rest of your combo. Proc your passive on minions whenever it is up, this will help you keep ahead despite trading damage with your lane opponent.
If you find that your Opponent always wins damage trades, try out-pushing them. Push the lane, and go gank for another lane (Teleport is really handy here), you can also ward the enemy jungle and gank their jungler. If you can not out-push them, sit back where you are safe, farm with your abilities, notify your jungler, and wait for a gank.
After the laning phase, you are a Bruiser Assassin. Your job is to jump on the enemy carry, either wreck them or force them to leave the fight, then bruise the rest of the enemy team. The combo that works best for this is your laning combo with a twist, you drop your ult as soon as you snare with Twisted Advance, so that you protect yourself from some of the retaliation you may receive for jumping the enemy carry.
Flash is a must because of the mobility it gives, it helps you catch enemies by surprise, and escape over walls when there are not any neutral creeps to Twisted Advance to.
Teleport makes ganking other lanes much easier, also helps you Recall for free if you get harassed too much with ranged attacks and spells.
Exhaust helps catch or escape from enemies.
Ignite will reduce heals and help you deal that last bit of damage so that they can not gloat, "/all haha, 50 HP sucker!"
Ability Order Recommendation:Sapling toss first, if you use your combo's right, this will hurt a lot. Get 2 or 3 points in Twisted Advance, for the snare duration, then alternate between Twisted Advance and Arcane Smash.
Here's some of the good questions I've been asked by people:
Teyso, which builds are the best / which builds do you use most often?
In Summoner's Rift, I use the jungle build the most, the Gp10's in the start make it easier to gank without feeling a lot of pressure to go back into the jungle and farm. It is the easiest build to play I think, and you could apply it to solo top as well.
In Dominion (if you check that part of the guide) I have the most success with the Defender build.
The Sapphire Crystal start:
This start works, I've tested it, and it leaves the most versatility in your build from the start. It is explained again in the Top Build Chapter. You may have to play more passively against some opponents, but the adaptability it gives your build is-in my opinion-worth it.
Maokai is a very versatile champion, who can be built to fit many different play-styles. Find your niche, or create your own. Remember that League of Legends is a game for fun, not for hurting each other, so go forth and have fun!
Phew, that was a lot! That is all my knowledge on Maokai so far, I will add to it as I learn more. Feel free to make helpful corrections and suggestions.
*Special thanks to Jhoijhoi for making the images I used as line separators in the original guide.
--AND for her awesome guide on making a guide, which you can find here.
TrentAuuesome, 1000souls, Poseidon1112, Fabala, and King Corn IV for putting up with countless hours of me playing Maokai with them.
Han Solos Mid, for helping fix the theory stuff that I was dead-wrong about.
Luigignaf for making me rethink several things including Tri-Force for Maokai.
Omichron for helping with the top lane masteries.
A huge thanks to Pluckin Penguin for their inspiration, lessons and help with the visual rework.
You. For getting all the way through this encyclopedia blah-blah of my knowledge about Maokai.
IceCreamy, for reviewing my guide and giving me lots to fix!
Drygon/Saiberblode for recording awesome videos for the guide!
This guide is currently (22 Oct. 2012) the No. 1 guide on Mobafire. Special thanks to all of you who helped show me where I was wrong and those who voted, and feel free to make any other constructive criticisms :)
Whoops... I should have been keeping a changelog...
This change log will just have changes and updates to significant information, Not spelling and grammar fixes.
22 October 2012: As of now, the things I changed in the past week or so are:
*added to the AP Mid Maokai sections.
*added Trinity Force explanation:
*added a note about troll-votes to the intro.
*edited ability order and playstyle sections for AP Mid Maokai.
23 October 2012: Dominion sections published.
25 October 2012: changed Top lane masteries. Explanation can be found in the Masteries Chapter.
28 October 2012: Added explanations to the runes section, reworked Top and AP Jungle Runes. Changed the recommended ability leveling order for Top lane.
31 October 2012: Added an FAQ section.
4 November 2012: Added Spirit Visage to the Situational Items Chapter.
12 November 2012: Quality fixes and updates.
- Rune Update. Reworked cheat sheet runes for Top, Support, and AP Mid Builds, and added %health seals to the viable runes section.
- Also changed top lane ability leveling order.
- Added Soul Shroud to the Alternative Items section, and fixed Spirit Visage's section so it wasn't titled "Soul Shroud"... Whoops! XD
19 November 2012: Began adding Spoilers to reduce the natural length of the guide.
27/28 November 2012: Visual Rework completed for both guides.
29 November 2012: Reworked some of the cheat sheet info, and added new items to the season three note.
30 November 2012: Reformatted Pro's / Con's chapter.
6 December 2012: fixed masteries cheat sheet and chapter.
7 December 2012: Updated builds and build explanation chapters, also updated Summoner Spells Chapter to delete the removed spells.
13 December 2012: Updated Dominion Guide to match season 3 changes.
10 January 2013: Updated Jungle Tank build with tested items that were suggested in the comments sections.
11 January 2013: Updated AP Jungle Build, as requested. Also used spoilers to condense most of the Alternative Items Chapter.
29 January 2013: Updated Solo Top Build with more tested items and viable choices.
31 January 2013: Updated Support build with more options and better theory crafting. Will test soon to confirm viability.
4 February 2013: Added Seeker's Armguard update to the relevant builds that have been updated.
4 March 2013: Updated Jungle Route to properly reflect season three. Moved it from Roles and playstyles to the place of the Situational Items Chapter, deleted Situational Items chapter because the logic and theory in it was season 2 oriented. Updated AP Mid build to be more versatile and cover multiple playstyles.
7 March 2013: Reformatted the chapter discussing Maokai's abilities.
22 March 2013: Added Locket of the Iron Solari to the Jungle Tank Build.
19 April 2013: Added Drygon/Saiberblode's videos.
This is the stuff coming in the near-ish future in the guide.
1) Figure out Video Screen Capture Software and rework the Ability/Kit sections with videos (I tried camstudio recorder, which didn't work).
2) After visually reworking more of the guide I will be adding a 'General Matchups: Enemies and Allies' section to help you understand who works well with Maokai and who is hard to play against as him.
Everything-Kai: Your Maokai Resource
Maokai - The Charred Treant (Jungle Guide)
How to OP Maokai- AP Nuke/Offtank-Ranked play included
Maokai Jungle - Nature's Payback Time
About the Author