Nocturne Build Guide by PsiGuard
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Recommended Runes + Notes
Ability Sequence + Notes
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Masteries + Notes
Thanks to jhoijhoi for the awesome banner!
Hi, I'm PsiGuard and welcome to my Nocturne guide. I've been playing League of Legends since November 2010 in Season 1, initially with my level 30 brothers in premade normal games, but now typically with my friends from Mobafire when I'm not soloqueueing. I began my ranked journey in Season 2 maining Lux and Kennen, but later switched to main jungle since a lot of my friends played mid. I reached gold near the end of Season 2 and shortly into Season 3 rose to a new top elo of 1823. This season I've reached a top ranking of Platinum I maining jungle.
Since Nocturne's teaser, I wanted to buy him. I was in love with his lore, his art style and his gameplay mechanics. I bought him shortly after his first freeweek when he was still orders of magnitude stronger than anyone else in the game. Despite repeated nerfs, I kept an eye on his strength compared to other junglers was delighted to see him remain a strong pick. When the new season 3 jungle came, Nocturne rose again to be a strong pick in competitive play. He is still one of my favorite champions and one of my preferred picks for an aggressive jungler.
Nocturne is undoubtedly built for jungling. He has excellent AoE clear speed with Duskbringer and Umbra Blades while also being auto-attack focused, allowing him to quickly DPS down the larger monster camps with his natural steroids. His kit provides excellent damage, utility and gap-closing ability when ganking lanes, especially after level 6 when he has his ultimate, Paranoia, which can allow him to completely bypass enemy ward coverage with its vision disruption and huge gap-closer. Nocturne's early game offers strong damage and unpredictable ganks along with fast pushing and clearing speeds.
Later in the game, Nocturne best serves the role of an assassin, though he can also peel bruisers fairly well if necessary. With proper itemization, Nocturne can use Paranoia to leap onto vulnerable enemy champions who are caught out of position, he can go toe-to-toe with enemy bruisers trying to get to his carries and he can, given the opportunity, completely destroy enemy squishy champions in team fights. He can adapt his strategy depending on the two team compositions and the flow of the team fight, peeling at some times, targeting squishies at others, and even initiating if need be. Though he does not fill the role of a dedicated tank with high defenses and CC, he makes an excellent bruiser for your team's front line.
Nocturne is an exceptional chaser and diver, but he can only use those skills effectively if his team is able to follow him as well. Champions with mobility, sticking power, CC and gap-closers make great allies for Nocturne. He works especially well with champions that can offer their own CC to help him keep in leash range until Unspeakable Horror goes off. Getting your fear off or not can make or break a gank, so it's invaluable to have teammates that can help you accomplish this.
Ahri's mobility from her ultimate and strong single-target CC make her an excellent partner for picking off vulnerable targets, especially in early and mid game. Use Paranoia along with her Spirit Rush to close huge gaps and reach far away targets. If she's able to land Charm, use the opportunity to cast Unspeakable Horror so the fear goes off when the charm ends. In team fights, you can use Paranoia to jump on to any squishy that Ahri catches with Charm.
Kha'Zix can be played in mid or top lane and is an exceptional AD assassin with strong poke and a lot of single-target burst. You can gank for him early game and roam with him later to pick off lone targets with ease. Unseen Threat can help slow down a target long enough for you to proc your Unspeakable Horror, and Kha'Zix can proc it at range if he evolved Void Spike. Once he's evolved Leap, he'll be able to follow you when you use Paranoia on a squishy. In team fights you should both poke and peel until an enemy carry is vulnerable, then both dive and kill the carry together.
Leona fills out some of Nocturne's weaknesses and can provide you with easy kill opportunities in bot lane. Nocturne can be durable with high damage if he has enough items, but he can't offer heavy CC in a gank or team fight. Leona has the CC and durability of a frontline bruiser without being reliant on items. If Nocturne has Paranoia available, he can simply lurk slightly out of vision and wait for Leona to engage, then jump in and secure the kill. Ganking for a Leona lane ensures you will almost always get a kill or waste enemy Flashes. Late game, Leona can initiate with Solar Flare, giving you and your team a short window to jump in and focus down an enemy carry.
Lulu isn't very complicated to work with since she'll be mostly helping you and your team do their jobs better in fights rather than making any specific plays. One trick you can use when ganking is to get Lulu to cast Help, Pix! on you before you use Paranoia, then she can use you to fire Glitterlance far outside her normal range, slowing the target so your Unspeakable Horror can take effect. In team fights she enhances your initation abilities and keeps you alive with Wild Growth. Just make sure you don't dive too deep too quickly or she won't be in range to ult you.
Malphite's gank reception before level 6 is pretty awful, but once he has Unstoppable Force, he becomes a very easy lane to gank for. If you both use your ultimates together, you should be able to land a pretty easy Unspeakable Horror. In team fights, he can either follow up your initiate if the enemy team wants to collapse onto you or he can initiate for you (probably more common), leaving you to follow up with Paranoia or save it to dive or clean up depending on how the fight goes.
Olaf is very easy to gank for and can follow up any plays you make as long as he has his Ghost off cooldown. Undertow is a spammable and very strong slow that gives you some great sticking power for landing Unspeakable Horror. After level 6, you can use Paranoia as Olaf uses Ragnarok and Ghost for incredibly strong ganks that are almost impossible to escape. He can help you peel in team fights and makes a great addition to your team's front line, plus he can dive carries with you since his ultimate makes him immune to peeling and he generally builds quite tanky.
Shen doesn't have the same mobility as most of these picks since he usually doesn't run Ghost and Shadow Dash is relatively short range, but his ultimate, Stand United makes him an incredible asset for your team. You can very easily 4- or 5-man bot lane without warning by using your ultimates together to bypass wards. Shen improves your initiation capabilities by ulting onto you when you're dashing with your own ultimate, then following up with a Shadow Dash to lock down the enemy team. It's also usually pretty easy to gank his lane since most of his opponents will try to push him under tower. If he lands Shadow Dash, it gives you a lot of time to follow up.
Singed is a good ally for many of the same reasons that Olaf is a strong pick with Nocturne. In ganks, he can use Ghost, Insanity Potion and Mega Adhesive to gap-close, then Fling to keep your target in range of Unspeakable Horror. In team fights, Mega Adhesive provides great disruption of enemy positioning, allowing you to reach and fear an enemy carry quite easily. He can also follow you through the enemy team, resisting peel with Insanity Potion and Flinging a target back for your team to focus. A lot of Singed players like to split-push in mid game, which is also good for you because Nocturne performs better in smaller skirmishes than big 5v5 team fights.
Twisted Fate is one of the strongest roaming mids, past level 6, using Destiny to bypass ward coverage and reach even farther than you can with Paranoia. He can also land a gold Pick A Card as you use Paranoia, allowing you to land Unspeakable Horror fairly easily. Destiny also reveals the enemy team, which can get you a kill if you're in Paranoia range of a low enemy, but don't have the sight to jump to him. The reveal can also light up a good portion of the map when enemies are spread out, potentially showing nearby enemies that could be picked off. In team fights he has good poke and can follow up your initiation with a stun, but generally won't dive with you unless it's safe enough that he won't get blown up instantly. If he has Zhonya's Hourglass, you might be able to take some more risks to kill the enemy carries together.
||This setup is designed to give your early ganks a lot of power and scale well with offensive items. The extra damage and armor pen from the offensive tree increases your clear speed and gank strength, allowing you to spend a lot of your early game ganking. It's also an effective setup for fighting the enemy jungler if you are stronger than them and decide to invade. Clearing camps faster gets you to level 6 sooner, which means stronger ganks with your ultimate. Sorcery also shaves a few seconds off your ult cooldown which is nice.|
||This setup is better suited to provide more utility and defensive stats to compliment a tankier build. The masteries in the defensive tree scale well with health and resistance items and are very strong in mid and late game team fights. This setup works perfectly fine, but generally lessens your impact in the early and mid game.|
These runes sacrifice jungle optimization for stronger early game ganks. AD and armor penetration significantly increase your early game damage against champions, helping you hit hard with Duskbringer and autoattacks.
Armor seals are standard on junglers to mitigate monster damage while jungling and physical damage from champions and towers during ganks. Scaling MR glyphs give you a lot of mid and late game MR to survive magical burst damage and AoE spells. They also free up your build a little so you don't have to spend too much on MR items.
Greater Mark of Attack Speed, Greater Mark of Attack Damage, Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed and Greater Quintessence of Armor Penetration are all acceptable replacements and will slightly affect your early game in different ways. Attack speed generally gives you a quicker jungle clear but lower damage output in early ganks.
This spell is absolutely necessary on every single jungler. If you think jungling without Smite is just as viable, you are mistaken. While performing a jungle route without Smite is certainly possible, Smite is invaluable for practicing and preventing counter-jungling. If you jungle without Smite, not only will your jungle be more difficult, but you can be easily counter-jungled by any competent enemy with Smite. You'll also lose all objective (baron and dragon) control for your team because the enemy jungler will have a 1000 true damage nuke that can be cast at range and you won't.
Flash works wonders on every champion (yes, even you LeBlanc) and Nocturne is no exception. Its multitude of uses in a variety of situations make it indispensable as a utility spell. You can use this spell for chasing, fleeing, initiating, ganking, juking, stealing buffs or dragon, and following another champion who uses Flash. Since Nocturne is a great diver, it helps to have an escape mechanism on hand in order to escape after you pick off a carry in a team fight. You might even net a few kills with it when following fleeing enemies who try to Flash to safety. I personally favor this spell, mostly for escaping over walls and flashing into (or out of) baron or dragon pit to steal. I would always take this over Ghost because Nocturne has Duskbringer's speed boost, but no way to blink over walls or close gaps at will. Flash fills a weakness in his kit while Ghost is a redundancy.
This spell offers stronger early game ganks than Flash and allows you to disable the enemy AD carry for a few seconds during team fights, usually while you attempt to quickly kill him or the AP carry. I see this as a more soloqueue-oriented spell because it's risky to play without an escape mechanism, but offers a higher chance of snowballing. Try not to waste this spell during a gank by blowing it when the target still has Flash up. Use your abilities first and, if your target is fighting back or low on health and running, use Exhaust to slow them down and secure the kill. It's important not to waste this for a Flash because you can come back after they blow Flash and use Exhaust for a free kill.
Any spells I did not mention are sub-optimal and I do not recommend using them on jungle Nocturne.
Umbra Blades (passive): This is Nocturne's passive ability, which helps him to be very sustainable in the jungle. Since it scales with AD, it is useful all game long and is equally effective at farming groups of minions, healing up in the jungle or lane, and doing heavy AoE damage in team fights.
- When Umbra Blades is ready, try to position Nocturne in the middle of a group of enemies for heavy damage and lifesteal.
- Using Umbra Blades and Duskbringer effectively can allow you to push a lane very quickly, or do heavy damage to a group of enemies.
- If Umbra Blades is about the come off cooldown and you are clearing a jungle camp, leave the small minions alive to increase the amount of health you gain from the proc. It also wastes less time when you allow your AoE to deal with the smaller minions.
Duskbringer (Q): This ability has a variety of purposes. The initial damage from the skillshot makes it effective at farming creeps and harrassing champions. The move speed allows a Nocturne with blue buff to get around quickly, and can be used as an escape mechanism. Duskbringer also gives Nocturne increased attack damage while he's on the trail, so it's great for jungling and dueling. Last, but not least, hitting an enemy champion with this ability will cause them to leave behind a trail for a few seconds, allowing you to chase in for the kill with ease.
- Duskbringer isn't just useful for chasing. Fire it at enemy champions to wear down their health from a safe distance. This is especially useful if you have an enemy trapped under their tower and want to weaken them for a dive.
- Using Duskbringer when retreating can save your life, just make sure you keep moving after you use the spell.
- The attack damage increase from the trail on Duskbringer helps when killing champions, clearing creep camps, and even pushing down towers. Make sure you're on the trail when clearing your jungle. Sometimes when you fire it, you need to step forward to get on the trail.
- Duskbringer allows you to ignore unit collision, making it a useful tool for chasing or escaping through a minion wave.
- The Duskbringer trail left by an enemy can be used to track them, even if they've broken line-of-sight or entered stealth.
Shroud of Darkness (W): Much like Sivir's Spell Shield, this ability blocks one offensive spell if cast shortly before Nocturne is hit. Use it to reduce damage taken by enemy casters, block pokes like Nidalee's Javelin Toss / Takedown, survive delayed spells like Ace in the Hole and Requiem, and shake off any crowd control spells that come your way. It is important to remember that this ability gives bonus attack speed as well, doubling after a spell is blocked. Also, if you block a spell, you get to hear Nocturne's evil laugh, which makes it all the more satisfying.
- Blocking a spell with Shroud of Darkness doubles the passive attack speed bonus, allowing you to take down enemy champions or towers even more quickly. You can also proc the shield while doing baron in order to increase your DPS. For some reason Baron aggro breaks the shield even if you aren't hit by one of his acid geysers.
- Shroud of Darkness has a long cooldown. Sometimes it is better to get hit by a weak spell so you can block a more dangerous one later. Try to identify priority spells to block before using it on a minor spell.
- Shroud of Darkness is easiest to use on abilities with slow particle speed, such as Morgana's Dark Binding or Taric's Dazzle. Some abilities have a brief cast animation before going off, allowing you to block spells that don't even fire projectiles like Petrifying Gaze.
- Shroud of Darkness is a simple way to dispatch traps like Bushwhack / Pounce and Yordle Snap Trap without being revealed. You can also absorb Teemo's Noxious Traps without taking damage or being slowed.
- Some delayed spells like Time Bomb can only be blocked by shielding the initial placement of the spell. If it's already on you, the detonation of the effect will go right through your shield.
- Some spells like Wall of Pain don't break spell shields.
Unspeakable Horror (E): This is the only one of Nocturne's abilities that deals magic damage. While it does scale well with AP, it's not worth building any on Nocturne for just this skill. In addition to the small amount of damage it provides, the main use for this skill is to fear your target when ganking. It is Nocturne's only hard CC, so remember to use it to prevent your target from escaping or fighting back. You can also use this ability defensively if you are being chased, just make sure you stay close enough for the fear to take effect.
- Fearing the big monster in a jungle camp with Unspeakable Horror will briefly stop their damage output, causing you to take less damage. Baron and Dragon however, are not disabled by this spell.
- Untargetability does not break the fear chain, so you can still fear Vladimir during his Sanguine Pool, for example.
- Unspeakable Horror is easiest to proc when used during an allied CC spell. Try to coordinate with your teammates and have them use their CC to help you get your fear off.
- It's much easier to stay in range after casting Unspeakable Horror if you land Duskbringer on your target first. It's also easier to land Duskbringer if the target is feared.
- If you suspect that your target will Flash to break the chain, move between them and their escape route to keep them in range of the fear chain.
Paranoia (R): Nocturne's ultimate, like many champions, is what really defines him. When your enemies hear Nocturne whisper "DARKNESSSSS!" they'll be running to the nearest tower. Use the global vision debuff to surprise enemy champions and prevent them from coordinating. The long range dash afterwards is great for initiating, ganking, chasing, and just plain scaring the hell out of people. Make sure to check the range on this ability before activating it by resting your cursor over the button. Also note that this ability does not provide vision of enemy champions, so make sure your target is in sight.
- Sometimes it is better to approach a fight normally and save Paranoia for a chase.
- If you are chasing multiple weakened champions, use Paranoia, dash to the farthest champion, then fight your way backwards. This technique can land you double or triple kills.
- You can use Paranoia to dash past towers towards retreating champions.
- The global sight reduction from Paranoia can be used defensively to juke enemies or prevent them from coordinating. Using the brush can also allow you to isolate and pick off enemy champions without being seen.
- The dash component of Paranoia makes you immune to CC effects. If you have quick reflexes, you can time the second cast of your ult to pass through an enemy CC spell like Enchanted Crystal Arrow without being affected (you'll still take damage though).
This is a pretty standard skill sequence for Nocturne, and shouldn't require much deviation. Take Duskbringer at level one to help you clear the jungle (it's also great in level one team fights). Usually you'll want Shroud of Darkness at level two for the AS boost to help you clear since the jungle became harder to clear this season. Get Unspeakable Horror at level 3 unless you gank or fight the enemy jungler at level 2. I generally don't wait to take it until level 4 because if you suddenly have a gank opportunity or you encounter the enemy jungler at level 3, having another point in Duskbringer isn't going to do squat if you don't have your fear yet.
Of course, always get a point in Paranoia when it is available (levels 6, 11 and 16). Prioritize Duskbringer for the damage on the skillshot as well as the AD steroid on the trail. Unspeakable Horror is next for a longer fear duration. Finish Shroud of Darkness last for a little more attack speed and a shorter cooldown on the spell shield. Do not max W before E ever. The longer CC duration is much more valuable to you and your team than a little extra attack speed.
These are really the only starting items taken by junglers in season 3, with few exceptions. For 300 gold, Hunter's Machete gives you a significant boost to your clear time and leaves room for some Health Potions to sustain you through your first clear. You can upgrade it to Spirit Stone on your first recall to allow you to clear jungle camps more quickly. There's really no reason not to get it.
Spirit of the Ancient Golem is really stupidly strong on junglers right now. The amount of useful stats that you get from this item is incredible and it applies to basically every jungler. This should be your standard opening item unless you are ahead enough to build more damage first (even then, I usually just buy this item and then build damage). Don't worry too much about enemy CC. Even if they only have a couple CC spells, this item is still worth buying.
Ninja Tabi have taken the spotlight as one of the strongest jungler boots in the game since the buff to Spirit of the Ancient Golem. Since Mercury's Treads are no longer a required buy against teams with high CC, you can buy these very frequently to combat the enemy AD carry as well as AD bruisers. They're also much cheaper than merc treads and can be built quickly without interrupting your build. The passive damage reduction from autoattacks is incredibly strong late game when the enemy AD carry is critting you for close to a thousand damage.
Trinity Force is really, really strong on bruisers after its buff and the change to Phage. Not only is it cheaper, but the Sheen proc doubles when you finish the upgrade and it offers even better sticking power than before. I highly recommend building Phage into Trinity Force unless you fall really behind early game and need to build cost-efficient tank items like Locket of the Iron Solari, Randuin's Omen and Spirit Visage immediately.
Locket of the Iron Solari is not a necessary buy on Nocturne because he's not usually picked for utility and defense, but you may consider building this item if you are behind as it's still pretty cost-efficient. It's also a pretty good item to have on your team against a lot of magic damage, though you might want to ask your support to get it for you.
Randuin's Omen is my go-to armor item on Nocturne. The active and passive will both allow you to reach carries more easily without being kited, since you can slow their AS and MS. Overall it's a great survivability item for mid and late game, especially against dangerous AD carries, and is useful both for disruption when initiating/diving and peeling bruisers off of your carries. You can consider building it early if you are behind and the enemy team is comprised mostly of physical damage.
Banshee's Veil is in many ways a parallel item to Spirit Visage, but sacrifices the utility of CDR for more defensive stats. The extra health and spell shield make this a good supplement to a squishier build containing a Trinity Force. It'll help you survive those few crucial seconds of focus when you dive an enemy carry.
Spirit Visage is a great item especially for tankier builds because the CDR it provides allows you to cast Duskbringer and Unspeakable Horror more frequently in team fights. It provides comparable stats to Banshee's Veil, but is more useful with a tankier build as you will have more time in team fights to get spells off, especially when peeling bruisers off your marksman, rather than diving and trying to kill a carry in the middle of the enemy team. The lowered cooldown on Paranoia is also a very nice bonus.
Thornmail is a pretty good late game option if you're going head-to-head with the enemy AD carry and/or you're up against a lot of AD champions. Building this after Spirit of the Ancient Golem and Randuin's Omen makes you very resilient to physical damage as well as returning a pretty respectable amount back on your attacker. The damage return applies pre-mitigation, meaning you will still reflect a lot of damage even though you're mitigating most of it with your armor.
Guardian Angel is a poor survivability item in terms of raw stats, but the passive can make it worth its hefty price tag. If you're jumping in and dropping in team fights, but your team is able to clean up after your death, you can buy this to punish the enemy team for wasting their time focusing you. You can also buy this if you're very far ahead and the only chance of the enemy team winning a 5v5 fight is killing you quickly. Using Guardian Angel effectively requires good positioning, so if you're just getting picked off and dying twice, fix your positioning or build a different defensive item.
Blade of the Ruined King is quite expensive, but very effective on Nocturne. I would go so far as to say it synergizes with his kit better than almost any other bruiser (though it's also good on marksmen sometimes). The active is also very useful for sticking to a target during the initial Unspeakable Horror chain (you can do this upon completion of Bilgewater Cutlass). The main reason I don't build this item is because Trinity Force is less risky and arguably just as strong, but if you're sitting on a ton of gold or you really like the damage, it's pretty good, especially against high hp targets like Cho'Gath.
Ravenous Hydra is an item I've tested a lot but never really satisfied me. It offers great jungle speed and waveclear, though Umbra Blades and Duskbringer already have that covered. The sustain, AoE damage and active burst in team fights are fairly noticeable, but the actual stats it gives seem incomplete. I think Ravenous Hydra would go really well with one attack speed item like Trinity Force or Youmuu's Ghostblade, but I don't build it because I generally can't afford to build any more offense than a Trinity Force.
Last Whisper is a considerable option since bruiser builds are usually saturated with armor items. Items like Randuin's Omen and Frozen Heart seriously hurt your late game damage output. If you can afford to build more damage without blowing up in team fights, this is a great buy, especially when you have a lot of bruisers to fight.
It is the responsibility of everyone on the team to ward the map, but it is especially important for junglers to do so, since the jungler needs to provide buffs and map control as well as ganks.
Buy wards whenever possible, and watch for when allied wards by dragon or baron are going to expire. Make sure that dragon is warded once it has spawned, and ward baron constantly late game. Warding allied buffs is a good way to prevent counter-jungling. You can use Vision Wards to counter-ward at dragon or baron, or you can buy an Oracle's Elixir for some more extensive ward sweeping. If you notice the enemy team is getting a lot of wards, this will help your own team regain some map control.
Note: This is assuming you're purple. Simply mirror the positions if you're on blue side.
These show the best, non-situational (i.e no lane brush wards) positions to place wards, assuming you are winning as the purple side.
Mirror the positions of the wards if you need defensive wards in your jungle as well. This is especially important if you plan on counter-jungling, to prevent the enemy jungler from stealing your jungle while you are absent.
For a more detailed guide on warding, click here.
Jungle Spawn Timers
Before you begin jungling, you should definitely know the basics.
As you improve your jungling and become a better player, these spawn times are very important to know if you want to perfect your jungling and counter-jungling. Keep these spawn timers in mind when you play and get in the habit of typing out times when Baron or Dragon will respawn. I would advise enabling chat timestamps if you haven't already, especially if you're just learning to keep track of spawn timers. Any time your team witnesses the death of dragon or baron, you'll be able to note the time in the chat log down to the exact second.
Initial Jungle Route
If there is a ganking opportunity during your route, feel free to interrupt your jungling if your team needs your help, or if you can pick up a kill or assist.
A note on Smite-less leashes: Though "leashing" as it was formerly known is no longer a reality in season 3 due to the new monster targeting algorithms, you can still kill a major buff camp pretty quickly with the help of a few teammates. If you have 2 or 3 teammates helping you clear your first buff and they give you a lot of damage, you shouldn't need to use Smite. If this is the case, you can save your Smite and go straight to your other buff for a fast level 3 or even counter jungle the nearby enemy buff if you feel safe doing so. I highly recommend smiteless leashes because it costs your teammates very little and gets you to level three with double buffs much faster.
Something important came about with season 3's jungle changes and the advent of smiteless leashes. Many people still don't realize this and treat buff priority as if it depends on the champion. It does not matter who you are playing when you decide which buff to start at, only which side of the map you are on and where the enemy might invade. Smiteless leashes give any jungler the choice of which buff to start at. Even though someone like Fiddlesticks might be "blue-dependent", that does not mean he has to start at blue buff.
Many junglers start on the lower side of the map (red buff for blue side or blue buff for purple side) in order to hit level 3 near mid and top lane. Early ganks on bottom lane are often thwarted due to the increased level of ward coverage. This results in a lot of early game "races" between junglers as they try to hit level 3, get double buff and gank top lane before the other jungler gets there. You can also try to gank mid if you do this route since a lot of mid laners ward your wraith camp, but not the other side of the river.
You can also start on the upper-left side of the map and gank bot lane at level 3. If you communicate with your bot lane, you might be notified of an opening in the enemy ward coverage. Sometimes supports forget to ward early enough and you can gank them through river or side brush before they place their wards.
The last option you have is to take one of the enemy buffs first or second. This depends entirely on your prediction or knowledge of the enemy jungler's path and, if you invade their buff second, whether you can fight them. I don't recommend invading at level 1 or 2 unless you know what you're doing. Getting caught in the enemy jungler can set you behind in gold and XP as well as wasting your first buff if you invade after blue or red.
Once you hit level 3 and have double buff, you'll usually want to gank. If there are no good gank opportunities yet, you can choose to start clearing some of the smaller camps. Kill the wolves or wraiths if you're nearby for some quick gold and XP.
Note: Be sure to fire Duskbringer either from far enough away that the path doesn't go through the wraith camp into mid lane or go inside the camp and fire it towards your red buff. Firing Duskbringer into mid lane can give away your positioning if the enemy mid laner is paying attention.
Counter Jungling and Recovery
Counter jungling is an great way to boost your effectiveness while weakening the enemy jungler. Some champions are more resistant to counter jungling than others, so you need to know your opponent before attempting any high-risk counter jungling. Knowing each junglers likely paths and jungle speeds will allow you to predict their start location and movements, making it easier to steal creep camps or even buffs. Using wards or an allied ability that grants vision will make it possible to use Smite to last-hit enemy buffs or even gank their jungler outright.
A common occurrence of counter jungling often happens right at the start of the game. Experienced players and coordinated teams will often choose to roam the map early, before minions spawn, looking to pick off lone enemy champions and take control of one area of the jungle. If your team has a strong level one presence (usually some CC like Dazzle and champions with a lot of early game damage), you might want to consider doing an "invasion" of the enemy jungle. Often times you will be able to catch someone off guard for an easy first blood or at least force the enemy team out of their territory, allowing you to steal their blue or red buff when it first spawns. Keep in mind that the enemy team can also try this strategy on you, so be sure to move carefully and stick together to avoid being caught alone. You can ask your support to ward some areas if necessary since the enemy jungler will often try to steal your buff while you take theirs.
Note: Blitzcrank players will sometimes use Rocket Grab to pull your blue buff over the jungle wall into his team, so you'll usually want to invade theirs or group your team to your own blue and keep sight of the bush opposite your blue buff wall.
Later in the game, counter jungling usually prioritizes control over the enemy blue and red buff. Stealing the enemy blue buff later on will usually give your AP carry an edge in mid lane since they can lane with your blue buff while you deny the enemy mid their blue buff. Some junglers, like Shyvana, rely quite a bit on red buff to gank effectively, especially early game. Controlling the enemy red buff can often make the enemy jungler fall behind in experience and make it more difficult for them to gank effectively.
You can also steal small camps if you're in the area and it's safe to do so. If you do steal an enemy small camp, leave the smallest monster alive so the camp won't respawn until the enemy jungler comes by to clear it. Keep in mind that the biggest monster in the camp always holds the greatest amount of XP and gold, so you'll want to make sure you at least get that one.
The key to counter jungling is information. You have to know or at least suspect where the enemy jungler is and keep in mind how long it would take for nearby enemy laners to reach you. If you notice the enemy jungler ganked top lane at level 2 and started red buff for example, you know that they won't be at their blue buff and if you're close enough, you can probably steal it without them even knowing. Wards are also a great way to keep an eye on enemy buffs and attempt to steal them with Smite. This is usually easier to do at the enemy blue buff when their jungler allows his mid laner to last-hit blue. There is often a brief window for you to smite, just before the AP mid bursts the golem. Just make sure you can get out alive, since if you die, you'll just be giving the enemy team a free kill.
Sometimes you'll find yourself against a strong counter jungler like Nunu or Shyvana or you'll get invaded and have one of your buffs stolen. Losing one of your first buffs is a huge blow to any jungler, but you can still cope with it even if your early game is set back. The first thing to look for if your buff is being stolen is to see if you can steal theirs at the same time. This will put you on even footing again with the enemy jungler and will allow you to continue your route normally. Often times this won't be possible, however, so you'll be set back and forced into a recovery state.
In the season 1 jungle, recovery routes were altered jungle routes that maximized your sustain in the absence of one of your early buffs. Since season 2, the small camps can be cleared more easily and spawn quickly, so specific routes are generally not necessary. If you lost your blue buff at level one, usually you should group your team to your red buff (unless you can take their blue) and start there instead. If you arrive at your red and find it's been stolen, simply move on to the next available camp and clear it. If you find yourself behind in gold or XP due to counter jungling, the best way to recover is usually to clear camps continuously and deny the enemy jungler any further opportunities.
Jungle defense is also an important part of your response to being counter jungled. Defending your own jungle relies on a combination of map awareness and team coordination. The key to stopping an enemy from counter jungling is to know where they are ahead of time (usually with good ward placement) and coordination with nearby laners to group to whichever camp the enemy jungler is going for. Even the strongest junglers won't be able to handle 3 or 4 champions in the middle of enemy territory. Your laners will always be closer than the enemy laners and there will be no nearby tower for the enemy jungler to escape to. If you manage to catch and kill the enemy jungler in the act, you'll usually see yourself start to catch up very quickly. Ward the entrances to your jungle and the brush curving around your two buffs and you'll be able to prevent any further counter jungling.
The earliest level that Nocturne can effectively gank is level two with Duskbringer and Unspeakable Horror. It's more common for your first gank to be at level three with a point in all three abilities and with double buff. His ganks after level 6 are phenomenally powerful, but can only be executed with Paranoia once every three minutes. Remember that red buff will improve your ganks a lot.
Pre-6: When your team mates are ready, initiate a gank (unless your ally has a strong initiate) by pinging the target, then running at the enemy while your laner engages. If you are coming from behind, get close enough to cast Unspeakable Horror and tag your target with red buff by autoattacking them. If your laner has a strong CC, you can cast Duskbringer on your way to your target, otherwise it's usually best to use it after the target is feared. Remember to be ready to block enemy CC with Shroud of Darkness.
After level 6, you can gank using Paranoia as your initation, which allows you to completely bypass ward coverage since you don't have to use the standard gank paths which are usually warded. Walking up from your own tower and ulting into the lane is usually the safest way to avoid wards. Make sure your laner is in position to follow up on your gank because when you cast Paranoia, your target will likely retreat to his tower. Remember to check Paranoia's dash range by resting your mouse over the ability before initiating the gank. If you think you can gank a lane through a standard gank path (or lane gank by hiding on one of the side bushes), save Paranoia to secure a kill if necessary. It has a long cooldown so try to pull off the gank without it if you can.
Tower dives: Be careful around towers, as Nocturne doesn't have a lot of health early game. If the enemy turret hugs, judge for yourself if you can dive him or not. Just don't take any unnecessary risks and be wary for clutch heals, shields and CC if they're tower hugging. If your minions have drawn tower aggro, close into melee range before attacking. If your enemy doesn't hug the tower and keeps running (usually if they're really low), you can wait until they're between their towers and then Paranoia dash to them to avoid tower aggro entirely.
Note: For some lane matchups, initiating a gank yourself will be doomed to failure. If the enemy champion has a lot of mobility or a strong CC, try to get your laner to engage them in combat before revealing yourself. It's a lot easier to gank a target that over-commits and blows cooldowns before they know you're there. This strategy works best when your ally has some strong CC with which to pin the target.
A gank does not have to net a kill to be successful. You may damage an enemy enough so that they have to play passively, or even recall to base. Forcing an enemy to use a summoner spell or ultimate can leave them without an escape mechanism, giving your teammate(s) the advantage in that lane.
Pushing, Minion Tax and Holding Lanes
If you manage to kill your target in a successful gank, you'll usually want to help your laner push the wave to the enemy tower so that your minions are killed by the tower, denying the enemy laner gold and experience. The minion waves will also reset to the center of the lane, giving your teammate time to go back to base and buy items and return to a safe position.
After a successful gank, usually when pushing to the enemy tower, you may want to take a minion tax. This is when a jungler "taxes" a lane for their services by taking some of the gold and experience by killing minions. You'll generally want to tax more heavily if your laner gets the kill off a gank and tax lightly if you took the kill. Many low elo players (and occasionally some high elo ones too) are selfish or ignorant and think that taxing their lane is going to ruin their farm and cause them to lose the lane. They're wrong, as taxing in moderation keeps a jungler's gold and experience relevant throughout the game, but if your laner freaks out because you took a few minions (or pushed their lane, some people think this is a bad thing all the time), you may want to just leave so they don't feed or afk or something.
Holding lanes is an often necessary duty of a jungler and is something you should be happy to do (since it gives you a lot of gold and XP). If your laner dies or needs to go back to base, you may need to "hold" or "cover" their lane by clearing out enemy minions before they hit your tower. If the enemy laner goes back to base or is dead, you may wish to push the wave to the enemy tower. Only do this if you can finish pushing before the enemy laner gets back to lane or they can freeze it in front of their tower, making it difficult for your laner to farm safely. Usually holding a lane consists of either clearing the current wave that is at your tower or pushing completely to the enemy tower. Don't just sit in a lane and last-hit because it's a waste of your time.
As an assassin, Nocturne performs best when executing ganks and flanking enemies. He is also a good split-pusher, and can quickly push down a tower if your allies can occupy the enemy team. Though Nocturne isn't quite as strong in group fights as he is in small skirmishes, he can still perform well, especially with a more durable build. Here's how to do it.
One or two champions on your team should be the designated initiator. Usually this initiation will take the form of a powerful CC spell, perhaps accompanied by a Flash. If your Malphite uses Unstoppable Force, or Ashe fires her Enchanted Crystal Arrow, you know the fight has begun. You can also act as your team's initiator by using Paranoia to enter the fray, but this is generally not as strong as other initiations because you'll have at most Randuin's Omen for your CC, so if you have an initiator on your team you should usually let them do it.
Once your team has engaged the enemy, you have two options. The first is probably the most intuitive, that is to assassinate an enemy carry. Duskbringer and Paranoia are both good ways to reach your target quickly and you should use Unspeakable Horror and your Randuin's Omen to CC them while you focus them down. Keep in mind that this will usually put you in a very vulnerable position in the team fight, so you'll have to kill your target quickly or wait to jump in until the enemy team is split or CC'd by your allies. Hitting your Shroud of Darkness at the right time is especially key here since being hit by a CC while you're in the middle of the enemy tank line will probably get you killed. The extra AS is also nice for killing your target more quickly. It's usually a good idea to go for a kill along with one or two teammates because, as a jungler, you usually can't kill a late game carry by yourself.
The second approach is to peel for your carries, which generally puts you in a safer spot, but doesn't make use of as much of your kit. Assassinating isn't always an option, especially if the enemy has a lot of CC or you're behind at this point in the game. When this is the case, peeling for your carries will be your main duty. Typically you'll see enemy bruisers and assassins close in on your squishy AP and AD carries. Your job is to keep your carries safe (especially your AD carry) and tank for them if possible. Activate Randuin's Omen to slow attacking enemies and use Unspeakable Horror on the most dangerous target. As long as you slow your enemies' approach and output some damage onto them, your AD carry can usually DPS them down pretty quickly. If your carry is completely safe, you can look to use Paranoia to quickly switch into an assassin role. This is usually the case when your team starts to win the fight because the bruisers are dying and you can use your excellent chasing abilities to hunt down low targets. If you have an option of whom to kill at the end of the fight, go for the most likely kill, the AD or AP carry, or whoever is the most fed on the enemy team. Generally all three of these will be the enemy AD carry, but it doesn't hurt to adjust your targeting priorities if they have a fed Riven or something who's almost dead.
If your team emerges victorious from the battle, push a lane, grab a buff, or kill Dragon or Baron. Attack minions and monsters to restore your health, or just recall to base if you need to do some shopping.
If you lost the fight and you're still alive, you'll probably need to retreat to your base and get your health back. Work with whomever else is still alive on your team to defend your towers. Unless the enemy team is really strong or it's late game, they'll probably use their minions to push rather than tanking a tower directly. Use Duskbringer and Umbra Blades to quickly clear their minion wave and force them to tank your tower or back off, though only proc Umbra Blades if it's safe enough to do so. If the enemy team is clearing an objective like dragon or baron instead, you'll generally have to just leave them. You can try to steal dragon if it's safe or baron if you're desperate (and confident you can get it), but most of the time you'll just have to bide your time until your teammates respawn.
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