Example Build 1
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. After 36 games of soloqueue in Season 4, I reached my new top ranking of Diamond III.
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. He is still my favorite champion 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 cut down the larger monster camps with his natural steroids. His kit provides excellent damage and mobility 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 or dive fighter, though he can also peel fighters and tanks 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 most enemy melees 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 addition to 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 enemy mage or marksman 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.
Though 21/9/0 and 9/21/0 are both common setups on AD junglers, I believe that 21/9/0 is the best for Nocturne in particular. The 9/21/0 setup is strong and people use it, but it doesn't provide the same kill potential and clear speed as 21/9/0 which are important strengths for Nocturne and it's how you win games with him. You don't want to sit and scale nicely into team fights since you have low utility; you want to get an advantage over the other jungler and catch people out so your team is ahead by the time you group.
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:
Blade 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.
Bladed Armor is skipped in favor of Unyielding because Nocturne's fast clear gives the bleed damage very little time to have any impact on the jungle camps. It's better to get a little more combat effectiveness instead.
I recommend Greater Marks of Attack Speed and Greater Quints of Attack Speed in order to clear camps quickly and proc Umbra Blades as often as possible. With the buffs to AS Quints, they are now one of the most stat-efficient runes in the game, equivalent to 2.65 AS marks (most quints are worth 2 of the corresponding marks). In addition to improving your clear time, attack speed helps balance out your DPS since you'll be building some early AD and ranking up Duskbringer first. Attack speed also speeds up your autoattack animation, which is very useful when you're trying to chase and get autoattacks off on your Dusk trail.
Greater Marks of Armor Penetration are decent alternatives if you're looking for more early pressure through ganks and less jungle farming.
I prefer to mix Greater Seals of Armor and Greater Seals of Scaling Armor to give Nocturne some extra scaling without sacrificing too many early game stats. Armor protects you against the majority of the damage in the game which is physical, including all autoattacks, minion aggro, marksmen, fighters, AD assassins, tower damage and monster camps. 5 flat armor should be enough for early clearing and pre-6 fights while the scaling runes will overtake the flat ones at level 6 and triple their value at level 18.
Greater Seal of Scaling Health is also an option, but I prefer armor since the only big armor item I usually have by mid-late game is Randuin's Omen. Resistances also increase the value of lifesteal ( Blade of the Ruined King) and life return / healing ( Feral Flare / Spirit of the Elder Lizard).
Greater Glyphs of Scaling Magic Resist 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 gold on MR items.
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction can be nice if the enemy team composition has very low magic damage, but this is pretty situational and as such won't be your primary runeset. Nocturne can manage pretty well without CDR, but it's nice to pick up if you don't need the MR in your glyphs.
This spell is absolutely necessary on every single jungler. While performing a jungle route without Smite is certainly possible, it is invaluable for practicing and preventing counter-jungling. If you jungle without this spell, 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 blink to safety. You can also use Flash to maintain the tether of Unspeakable Horror if you Flash immediately after your target uses Flash or another movement ability to escape.
I do not recommend any other summoner spells on jungle Nocturne. If you are under level 12 and cannot yet use Flash, take Exhaust instead to improve your dueling potential and early gank pressure.
Umbra Blades (passive): This is Nocturne's passive ability which sustains him in the jungle. Since it scales with AD, it is useful throughout the game and is effective at pushing waves 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 healing.
- 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.
- Duskbringer allows you to ignore unit collision, making it a useful tool for chasing or escaping through a minion wave or other champions.
- 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 missile 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 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 Hemoplague and Death Mark 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 interact with spell shields.
Unspeakable Horror (E): In addition to the small amount of damage it provides, the main use for this ability 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 tether, 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 tether, move between them and their escape route to keep them in range of the tether. If you have quick reflexes, you can anticipate their Flash and use your own Flash immediately afterwards. It takes a moment for the tether to break so if you close the distance immediately you'll still get the fear off.
Paranoia (R): Like many champions, Nocturne's ultimate 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. 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. You can also just use your fear on the big monster of each camp while you have blue buff to take a bit less damage.
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.
I recommend starting 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 your first ward to protect your jungle by placing it at one of the jungle entrances in the river. 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 around level 7-9, then swap it out for a Sweeping Lens.
Feral Flare is more of an investment than the Spirit Stone upgrades since Wriggle's Lantern is a rather mediocre item on its own. It can take a while to hit 30 stacks for the upgrade, but upon completion of Feral Flare, it's pretty good for dragon control and dueling. The main issue with this item is the low amount of sustain it gives you in the jungle and the delayed power spike. I recommend building Madred's Razors and Blade of the Ruined King before completing Wriggle's Lantern to give your razors time to stack so that when you finish Wriggle's Lantern it will transform after clearing one camp.
||Spirit of the Elder Lizard gives better stats for jungling and ganking compared to Wriggle's Lantern, but doesn't scale quite as well into late game. The health and mana sustain from Spirit Stone allow you to be much more active on the map in the early game, saving money on potions and keeping your health and mana high for more ganks. SotEL can be finished much sooner than the upgrade into Feral Flare, so I recommend it against strong early pressure from junglers such as Lee Sin and Elise. It's also a great item if you're new to jungling since it gives high jungle sustain and a balanced power curve.|
You should swap your Warding Totem for a Sweeping Lens around level 9, since the reduced lens cooldown makes it much more useful for denying vision than the upgraded duration from the totem. 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 early 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.
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. Only pick up these boots if the enemy team's physical damage outweighs their number of significant crowd control spells.
||Mercury's Treads are often a must-have with on melee champions for the reduction of enemy crowd control effects. Nocturne becomes less threatening 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. These boots are also useful if the enemy team deals primarily magic damage.|
Blade of the Ruined King is my recommended offensive item for Nocturne. Blade of the Ruined King gives the sustain, DPS and sticking power to make Nocturne a major threat for the rest of the game. BotRK also synergizes well with both jungle items ( Feral Flare and Spirit of the Elder Lizard) when killing dragon and baron (attack speed means more Flare procs, on-hit damage is amplified by SotEL). Since this item, like most other options, costs you quite a bit of gold, it will usually be your last offensive item before building some defense.
||Trinity Force and Youmuu's Ghostblade offer similar sticking power to BotRK but differ in the offensive stats that they provide. Trinity costs the most gold out of the three and contains a lot of up-front burst with Sheen procs and consistent movement speed that is not restricted by a cooldown. Youmuu's Ghostblade offers a bit of CDR and good sticking power and DPS when the active is used. I recommend BotRK over these two because it has the best late game scaling and it is the only one of the three to provide lifesteal. Youmuu's and Trinity are both worthy candidates for an additional offensive item, but it's more risky to build another damage item over a defensive item.|
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 significantly amplifies your damage output, 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 in many circumstances.
Maw of Malmortius is one of the more efficient magic resistance items, though it is still secondary to Banshee's Veil. You might consider building this item against a heavy magic damage composition (especially one with high burst), or you can choose to skip Blade of the Ruined King and replace it with an early Hexdrinker to serve as your offensive item if you're too far behind to build BotRK.
Thornmail doesn't usually fit with Nocturne's role on the team, but it can be a handy item against compositions with mostly physical damage. The passive damage reflection only works on autoattacks, so it's most effective against marksmen, Yasuo, Tryndamere, Master Yi and other champions that rely a lot on physical autoattacks for their damage. Build this after your Randuin's Omen so you have the health pool to support the extra armor.
Locket of the Iron Solari is an effective aura item against high AoE magic damage, but can usually be picked up by your support instead of you. If your support isn't going to build it and the situation calls for an MR aura, you can consider getting this item instead of or in addition to Banshee's Veil. It's also a pretty efficient item if you're far behind and won't be building any offensive stats.
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. Remember to buy extra wards when you swap out your Warding Totem for Sweeping Lens around level 9.
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.
If and when your team takes the outer layer of towers and pushes past river, place wards deeper in the enemy jungle. Always try to keep vision in front of and beside your team. If the enemy team gains map control, you may have to place some wards closer to your side of the map if it's too dangerous to get to the river.
It doesn't hurt to place a stealth ward in the lane itself if the enemy minion wave is going to push past it soon. Usually leaving a stealth ward near the rubble of a destroyed tower is useful if the enemy team is going to push the minion wave away from it soon. It can help you keep track of enemy rotations in mid and late game.
Here are some screenshots with standard ward placement for the early and mid game. If the circle is directly around a bush, place the ward inside the bush. Although you can't cover all these ward spots yourself, you should try to fill in whatever your team doesn't ward.
Notes on using Warding Totem before level 9:
Your early Warding Totem places wards that last one minute, so it's not as useful for the priority long-term vision spots. You can use it to fill a hole in your team's river vision for one minute, but you should try to buy real wards for that. Try to use your totem ward in situations where the one minute of vision is especially crucial. For example, one minute of vision is enough time for the ward to guard a potential counter-gank route from the enemy jungler when you're about to gank a lane. The brief duration of vision can also be very useful for gaining vision in a bush in clutch situations, preparing to counter-jungle an enemy buff that just spawned, protecting yourself while stealing a camp, or gaining sight of a target so you can dash to them with Paranoia. Try to use your totem cooldown often enough that you get a good amount of vision out of it, but try to think about how you can use one minute of vision to its fullest potential.
Past level 9 you should be using a Sweeping Lens since the vision denial becomes more crucial in mid-game and it'll be on a short cooldown.
Jungle Spawn Timers
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 (you can eventually time blue and red buffs too). I recommend enabling chat time-stamps 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.
(Wraiths, Wolves, Wight, Golems)
Spawn At: 2:05
Respawn Time: 0:50
Buffs (Ancient Golem, Lizard Elder)
Spawn At: 1:55
Respawn Time: 5:00
Spawns At: 2:30
Respawn Time: 6:00
Spawns At: 15:00
Respawn Time: 7:00
Initial Jungle Route
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.
Note: When clearing the wraith camp, fire Duskbringer from the bush between wraiths and mid lane inner tower. Not only does this angle allow you to hit all 4 wraiths, but it also prevents your Duskbringer trail from going over the wall and giving away your position to the enemy mid laner.
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.
Before level 6: When your teammates are ready, initiate a gank (unless your ally has a strong initiation spell) 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. Use Duskbringer immediately after you connect with your target because it's almost impossible to dodge at point-blank range. 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 hugs his tower, judge for yourself if you can dive him or not. Just don't take any unnecessary risks and be wary for clutch heals, shields (most Marksmen run Barrier) 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, but it can also work if your target plays very aggressively and uses an escape spell to harass.
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-ranked players (and occasionally some high-ranked 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.
A special thank you to those who have supported my guide with votes, Scout points and advice that have been instrumental in bringing my guide to the level of quality it is today. I'd also like to specifically thank jhoijhoi for her insights into some coding techniques that I made use of in all my guides.
Thanks to jhoijhoi for the awesome banner!
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for stream updates and other news.