Nocturne Build Guide by PsiGuard
Ability Sequence + Notes
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 or playing ranked 5s with my college team. 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. In season 3 I reached a top ranking of Platinum I maining jungle, with Nocturne as my most-played champion.
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 and was delighted to see him remain a viable 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. Though he does not fill the role of a dedicated tanky initiator with high defenses and CC, he makes an excellent bruiser for your team's front line.
These champions have high mobility and burst damage, allowing them to effectively kill enemy carries. They'll be able to help you burst down the AD or AP carry in team fights when you ult in. You should usually be able to all-in their lane opponent whenever your ult is up as well, as all of these champions can easily force an all-in on one target.
These champions have stuns or strong slows that allow you to easily remain in range for Unspeakable Horror to fear the target. It can be very useful to have one of these champions in a side lane so that you can still get some ganks off even if your ultimate is on cooldown. These champions also provide some crowd control in later team fights which Nocturne lacks.
Initiators take some of the responsibility away from you as a jungler. It's pretty common to run initiators in the jungle and Nocturne isn't actually that great at starting fights, so having one or two of these champions will help balance out your team comp. Since they can go in first, you'll have an easier time sticking to carries without being hit by all five enemies when you ult in.
These champions have long ranged ultimates which can be used in conjunction with Paranoia to deliver heavy damage from afar. Usually these global or semi-global ultimates are targeted towards bot lane in order to secure multiple kills and gain dragon control. Nocturne fits well in these kinds of compositions (for example, Shen top and Karthus mid) because you can essentially perform a 5-man gank on bottom lane without any warning whenever you have your ultimates available.
||Offensive masteries help you deal a lot of damage with a couple AD items to both champions and monsters, which scale pretty hard in health and damage. While most of the defensive masteries scale better into late game, damage can net you a lot more potential gold in the early stages of the game. Nocturne is a strong ganker and farmer throughout this period, so taking offensive masteries will amplify these strengths.|
9 in defense gives some extra health and a bit of help in the jungle. I find these more necessary compared to 9 points in utility as the early defense tree is stronger early game and Juggernaut scales well with your defensive items, while the utility tree basically just gives you a shorter Flash cooldown and extends your buff duration a little.
A few notes on some decisions I've made while speccing 21/9/0:
Butcher and Feast, while they do seem suitable masteries for jungling, are entirely unnecessary due to Nocturne's sustain and AoE clear. You're better off putting those points into combat masteries.
Spell Weaving seemed like a cool idea until I discovered that it doesn't interact with Unspeakable Horror at all for some weird reason. This makes it incredibly difficult to stack up the damage bonus and not worth the points.
Warlord is skipped due to the fact that it only scales off of bonus AD. You won't get much bonus AD with this build even if you build offensively, so it ends up not being very helpful. It's also a completely worthless mastery early game.
Frenzy is skipped because you only get 10% crit chance once you get Zeal / Trinity Force. It's a very unreliable attack speed buff and only becomes relevant once you've completed several items with crit.
The season 4 jungle is quite a bit tougher than season 3's in terms of monster health and damage, so attack speed is recommended to clear camps quickly. With the wight, wolves, wraiths and golems respawning every 50 seconds, you'll always have something to clear when you're not ganking.
Since the change to Spirit Stone giving health and mana sustain while clearing camps, Nocturne loses very little hp on small camps. I toyed with a few setups and found that running one lifesteal quint and two AD quints is my favorite setup. The lifesteal quint allows you to clear wolves, wraiths and golems without Smite and lose little to no health. You'll still lose a bit of hp on the bigger camps (especially if you don't have smite up) so you might want to buy one or two potions mid game.
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.
Alternatives include attack damage and armor penetration marks, but I don't like using these quite as much because your jungle clear slows down and you lose a bit of sustain.
This spell is absolutely necessary on every single jungler. 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 sustain himself 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 dealing AoE damage in team fights.
- When Umbra Blades is ready, try to position Nocturne in the middle of a group of enemies for maximum damage and lifesteal.
- Using Umbra Blades and Duskbringer effectively can allow you to push a lane very quickly, or deal 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 monsters 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 monsters.
Duskbringer (Q): This ability has a variety of purposes. The initial damage from the skillshot makes it effective at farming minions/monsters and harassing champions. The movespeed allows Nocturne to chase down enemies that leave the trail or quickly flee from pursuers. Duskbringer also gives Nocturne increased attack damage while he's on the trail, so it's great for pretty much any situation where you're autoattacking.
- 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 creates a momentary shield that will absorb one enemy spell. Use it to reduce damage taken by enemy casters, block pokes like Nidalee's Javelin Toss, survive delayed spells like Ace in the Hole and Requiem, and negate 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): 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 if you stay just 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 net you double or triple kills.
- You can use Paranoia to quickly 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 before their team can react.
- The dash component of Paranoia cannot be interrupted by CC. If you are hit by a stun during the dash, you will be stunned for the remainder of the duration upon arrival at your target. For example, if you are hit by a 2 second stun and you spend 0.5 seconds dashing to your target, you will arrive at your target and be stunned for 1.5 seconds.
This is a pretty standard skill sequence for Nocturne, and shouldn't require any 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 attack speed 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.
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. The only reasonable alternative for junglers is Doran's Blade, which I've tested on Nocturne with lifesteal quints and found it much more risky.
I prefer to start with Warding Totem as it is the strongest of the three trinkets before level 9. This trinket gives you some free map vision throughout the early game. You can use the first ward to defend your first buff by placing it on the other side of the wall of the buff you're starting at (usually in the bush near there). Later you can use the free minute of vision to give your laners some extra information about the movements of the enemy jungler. I generally hold onto this until level 9 or later, then swap it out for a Greater Lens.
Spirit of the Ancient Golem is still the best of the jungle items this season. The amount of useful stats that you get from this item is incredible and it applies to basically every jungler. It's important to finish this item quickly in order to start earning gold from the conservation passive. Don't worry too much about enemy CC; even if they only have a couple CC spells, this item is still worth buying. Its main competitor is Spirit of the Elder Lizard, which is pretty decent on Nocturne but leaves you much squishier in the early game. I don't think the small amount of damage from the item is worth the risk.
Boots of Speed are obviously going to be necessary, but it's important to note that you can hold onto these for a while before upgrading to tier 2 boots. Especially if you buy Trinity Force as your second complete item, you can have 400 movement speed without upgrading your boots (500 on the Duskbringer trail and even more with Phage procs). For the most part I wouldn't recommend upgrading your boots until you have at least a Phage.
Greater Lens is much stronger than it's early-game counterpart, Sweeping Lens, as the cooldown is significantly lower. Vision denial typically falls to the support and the jungler as they usually roam a lot and try to establish most of the vision control on the map when your carries are farming. You can upgrade to Oracle's Lens to deal with stealth champions, otherwise get it later on when baron is more of a priority. The short duration true sight allows you to check for wards in a much wider area including multiple bushes.
Spirit of the Ancient Golem is by far the most versatile and all-around strong jungle item. Usually you'll want to consider buying this item if you need early durability or an overall tankier build -- generally when your team has a lot of damage dealers and you need to soak up some damage in team fights. Keep in mind that this item gives tenacity, meaning you should NOT pair it with Mercury's Treads or you'll be wasting stats. Merc's are already really expensive, so you shouldn't buy them if you don't need to -- get Ninja Tabi instead.
||Spirit of the Elder Lizard offers most of the same stats as the golem item, but trades out some health and tenacity for 30 AD and a scaling true damage burn that applies on all physical damage you deal. This allows you to clear camps more quickly and deal more damage to champions in the early and mid game. Keep in mind that the true damage procs off of Duskbringer and Paranoia damage as well as your autoattacks and Umbra Blades, so you may find it more effective than it seems on paper.|
Ninja Tabi are amazing on fighters and tanks since they reduce a significant amount of damage taken in team fights by 10%. Against most team compositions, you will take a lot of damage from the enemy marksman and melee fighters which is largely mitigated by Ninja Tabi's passive. They're also very cheap compared to other boots. Be sure to pick up this item if you bought Spirit of the Ancient Golem, since you'll already have tenacity. If you bought Spirit of the Elder Lizard, only buy these boots against lots of physical damage champions and/or versus few threatening crowd control spells.
||Mercury's Treads are useless with Spirit of the Ancient Golem but are often a must-have with Spirit of the Elder Lizard. Nocturne becomes rather useless and very vulnerable if you are CC'd, so it's important for your kill potential and survivability to have tenacity in your build whenever the enemy team has a respectable amount of CC. This will usually be the case, since the majority of supports (especially popular ones) have strong crowd control spells that they'll use to protect their carries from you. Lots of bruisers and tanks have CC too, so you'll usually want to build these if you built lizard elder.|
Trinity Force is a really nice independent offensive item for fighters that can take advantage of its wide range of stats. It requires no other offensive items to scale with (unlike most other AD items) and offers enough mobility and damage to make you a threat for the rest of the game. It will often be the only offensive item you need to kill carries throughout the game. I highly recommend building Phage into Trinity Force mid-game unless you fall really behind early game and need to build cost-efficient tank items like Randuin's Omen and Banshee's Veil immediately.
||Blade of the Ruined King has a bit of a cumbersome build path, but it's a great item once you've completed it. The %hp damage scales well into late game, particularly against baron and enemy tanks and bruisers, while the active ability can help you stick to enemy carries long enough to kill them. I find this item to be a bit less well-rounded than Trinity Force, but it can be pretty strong with a more aggressive, scaling damage build with items like Spirit of the Elder Lizard and Last Whisper. It's also a little bit cheaper than Trinity Force so you can hopefully get some defensive items before the enemy carries are strong enough to blow you up in team fights.|
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 will usually be your ideal choice for magic resistance in your build. It gives more health than Spirit Visage and the spell shield can get really annoying for enemy mages and supports. You'll be more resistant to poke and initiation spells as well as being able to absorb two spells when you ult onto someone (another spell from Shroud of Darkness. I prefer this item over Spirit Visage since it only gives 10% CDR now and Nocturne can't use the healing passive all that effectively.
Guardian Angel is a mediocre 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. This can often be the case late game when you basically have to suicide in order to kill the enemy 6-item marksman. 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. This can also serve as a source of magic resistance instead of or in addition to Banshee's Veil.
Last Whisper is a really effective damage item when built after one or two other sources of AD, but it's often not a priority for Nocturne. Even though it amplifies your damage output by a significant margin, it's often not necessary or optimal in order to kill your priority targets. You might consider building this against a team with a lot of armor but relatively low damage output (or if your team can tank damage for you), but keep in mind that building more defense can let you survive long enough to dish out more damage anyway.
Spirit Visage is in many ways similar to Banshee's Veil, but sacrifices some health and the spell shield for 10% CDR and increased self-healing. I don't usually buy this item on Nocturne anymore since the CDR was nerfed, but you might consider it if you bought a lifesteal item like Blade of the Ruined King or if the spell shield from Banshee's Veil is absolutely useless against the enemy team composition. You could also get this item in addition to Banshee's Veil, but I usually go for Guardian Angel instead if I need more magic resistance.
Thornmail is a decent 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. It works best on tanks or with very defensive builds, which makes it a pretty mediocre item on Nocturne most of the time. 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. However, chances are you could probably deal more damage with a more efficient survivability item like Guardian Angel or a damage item like Last Whisper instead. Nocturne has great base damages and steroids in his kit, so I don't think that passive damage reflection is usually what's best for him in the late game.
Frozen Heart is actually pretty nice on Nocturne, but I don't often find the occasion to warrant building it. For starters, Randuin's Omen is straight up superior for sticking power and general survivability. Nocturne doesn't use CDR as well as most other junglers like Nautilus or Vi, so it's not a very high priority stat. The main reason you might consider building Frozen Heart is if you are against several autoattacking physical damage champions on the enemy team and your team needs you to build it for the AS reduction aura. Something like a double marksman comp or perhaps a team with Vayne, Yasuo and Kayle would be a good comp to build FH against.
Ravenous Hydra is a pretty nice item on most fighters and assassins, but I don't think it's particularly suited to Nocturne. First of all, Nocturne has great AoE damage for clearing camps and pushing waves with Duskbringer and Umbra Blades, so the extra AoE power from Ravenous Hydra is used almost exclusively for team fights. The other reason I don't build this item very much is that I think Blade of the Ruined King is a superior option for lifesteal and is better suited to Nocturne's single-target focus. It also gives pretty balanced offensive stats while hydra leaves you low on attack speed. You could build this item -- it's not terrible -- but I don't think it's the best choice.
Youmuu's Ghostblade is an interesting item I've been experimenting with, but I'm not ready to start building it regularly. It essentially performs the same functions as Trinity Force (increased damage output and sticking power), but at a lower cost. The main issue with this item is that it becomes very inefficient when it's on cooldown, but remains pretty strong during the duration of the active steroid. The cooldown is pretty low but it doesn't last long enough for a full team fight. The movement speed is pretty great for early ganks though, as it helps you stay in range for Unspeakable Horror to go off, and you can even use the active movement speed to escape sticky situations. Play around with it if you're interested; it's a pretty fun item to build.
I'll be expanding this section in the future, but I'll give you a few tips. You can place up to three Stealth Wards and one Vision Ward on the map. Placing any additional wards will replace your oldest ward. What this means for you is that buying two Stealth Wards and using your Warding Totem provides your team with the maximum amount of vision possible. It's not a huge investment to buy a ward or two when you go back to base and it can save the lives of your teammates or open up opportunities for you to counter gank.
Buy a Vision Ward if you're planning on doing a major objective such as dragon or baron in the near future. Don't just rely on a Sweeping Lens to clear vision as it has a very limited range and a pretty long cooldown. You can also buy a Vision Ward and place it in a bush in your own jungle. This gives you true sight of that area, often for a long time since it's risky for the enemy jungler to clear a ward that deep in your territory. It only costs you 100 gold to have a pink ward on the map and you might find that you'll have vision near your wraiths or wolves for much longer than 3 minutes.
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 recommend 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
Jungle routes are actually pretty simple this season compared to seasons 1-3. You'll always be starting at one of the buff camps, then clearing wraiths or wolves, then clearing another buff camp. If you can coordinate a jungle invade with your team, you might start at an enemy buff, but most of the time you'll probably be starting on your side of the map.
It matters very little whether you start at red or blue buff as you'll be level 3 with double buffs pretty quickly regardless of which buff you start at. What does matter is the location of your starting camp, as it affects which opportunities are available to you and the enemy jungle. Most junglers start at the buff closest to bot lane since the support and marksman can give you a better leash than the top laner (most mid laners don't leash or can't help much). Starting near bot lane allows you to invade the buff directly across the river or clear your other buff and gank top or mid lane. Starting near top lane is usually better for invades since you can usually expect the enemy jungler to arrive at their top buff shortly after you get there. You can also opt to start near your top lane in order to gank bottom at level 3.
Note: DON'T clear the wight camp (the lone wraith near blue buff) as one of your first three camps. It does a ton of damage and is very difficult to clear without Smite available. It's not quite as bad if you're level 3 with double buffs, but it still hurts if you don't have Smite up. You should use Smite on this camp whenever you don't need the spell for a buff camp or dragon or baron.
After completing your first buff, one small camp and then your second buff, you can choose to gank one of the nearby lanes immediately or continue farming the jungle. Opting to farm will cost you some health potions but ensures productive use of your time. If the other jungler ganks and fails, you'll pull ahead in levels and gold. Choosing to gank at level 3 can allow you to sometimes catch out laners who haven't yet used their Warding Totem and ensures you have a significant advantage over enemy laners as they will all be level 2 (lacking their third ability, sometimes their escape) while you're level 3 with double buffs. If you clear more camps before ganking, the level discrepancy pretty much disappears.
After your initial route you can simply clear whatever camps are nearby without worrying much about the order. Take advantage of the fact that there are two camps nearby each side lane, so if you're looking to gank a specific lane, clear the camps nearest that lane while you wait for a good opportunity. You can use Smite on small camps as long as there isn't an important objective that might be contested in the next 40 seconds.
How to Clear Camps
Since Smite is only on a 40 second cooldown, you can cast it on your first buff camp and it'll come off cooldown after you clear one small camp and reach your second buff camp. This allows you to save a lot of time and health by smiting both buff camps.
You should start off every camp by hitting as many targets as possible with Duskbringer, then autoattacking the biggest monster in the camp. Make sure you're on the Duskbringer trail so you get the bonus AD. Ignore the smaller minions in the camp as they'll usually get cleared by the AoE from your Q and Umbra Blades. Leaving the small monsters alive also increases the healing you receive from your passive. If there are any small monsters still alive after you finish off the big one, clean them up with autoattacks in order to get the camp to respawn later. If you're clearing an enemy camp, you may choose to leave one of the small monsters alive in order to prevent the camp from respawning until the enemy jungler comes and clears the last monster. You usually want to fully clear buff camps though so you can know what time it'll respawn. Being aware of enemy buff timers allows you to predict the positioning of the enemy jungler and can allow you to steal enemy buffs if the enemy jungler isn't prepared.
Be very careful where you shoot your Q when clearing the wraith camp, as you can give away your location to the enemy mid laner by shooting it through the wall into mid lane. To avoid this, fire Duskbringer when you're approaching the wraith camp and be sure the projectile doesn't go through the wall.
If you have blue buff, you can use Unspeakable Horror on the big monster of each camp. It doesn't improve your speed much but it lessens the damage you receive as the monster will be briefly feared and unable to attack. I don't recommend doing this if you don't have blue buff as it costs a lot of mana for what you get out of it. Don't use Unspeakable Horror on dragon or baron either because they aren't affected by the fear. The damage isn't really worth it on its own.
When clearing baron, you can use Shroud of Darkness whenever it's available (as long as you don't need it to block an enemy spell). Baron applies a debuff to the targets it attacks which is blocked by the shield. It doesn't stop baron from re-applying the debuff, but it does let you proc the bonus attack speed as often as you want.
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 control of 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. Record the respawn timers of your buff camps and be ready to clear them when they respawn. There's a good chance the enemy jungler noted the buff that they stole so you need to be punctual to prevent them from stealing it again.
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 very difficult to escape, but can only be executed with Paranoia once every three minutes. Remember that the slow and damage from 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.
The other possibility is that the enemy team initiates on yours. Note that there is a difference between an enemy initiation and someone just getting caught and dying for free. If the enemy team initiates and you think your team can fight them, you should usually start by peeling for your carries. Initiations are usually focused on your back line and it takes a couple seconds for the enemy carries to get in range, so there isn't much point in immediately diving their back line.
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 might not be able to 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 your team is reliant on damage output from one (or both) of your carries in order to win fights. 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 marksman can usually focus them down pretty quickly. If your carries 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, try to take an objective as well. If you're close to a tower, push the wave and destroy it. If the fight takes place close to dragon, kill it if you have enough health to do so. If it's later in the game, look to take an inhibitor or kill baron during the long respawn timers. It takes some practice to make the best use of your time after a successful team fight so always ask yourself what you can accomplish in the brief period while your enemies are dead. Keep in mind that the enemy team will often spawn roughly around the same time, and all with full health and mana, so if you stick around too long at low health, they can rush out of their base and take an objective of their own.
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.
Thank you for reading my Nocturne guide! I hope I was able to help you become a better jungler and a smarter player. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions, comments or criticism. I read all comments on my guides even if I don't respond to all of them. If you appreciated my guide or approve of my build, feel free to hit the green upvote button up top.
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