Caitlyn Build Guide by Kalturi
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Hey everyone, my name is Kalturi, and welcome to my guide. I've been playing Cait for a long time now, she is my favorite hero, and it's time to share what I know. This guide will help you learn Cait from the get-go and it has some really nice comments about specifics that help greatly in some instances - so the pros will like it too I hope. It also presents a build that plays to Cait's strengths early, mid, and late game because they are different for each. I will update often, especially if you comment.
Quick pros and cons:
-Good champion throughout the game
-Runs mid like no other champion
-Excellent farmer - you get a huge number of minion kills
-Very high damage output
-Can move around the map quickly
-Great range - more than just about anybody
-Her ult is very good once you get it down
-Thornmail does a number on her
I've tried to counter most of her other cons in this guide. Usually they are:
-Target in team fights and thus needs to stay a safe distance away
-Her ult can be negated
-Only one (okay) escape tactic
-Skills are less useful after mid-game
Now, here's the basics of what you need to know: (90% of it is early game. Late game, just be very map aware and careful)
1. YOU HAVE NO LIFE. Don't pretend or even pretend that you do, or you will die. Once you get fed 5 0, then you MIGHT be able to take someone in a fair fight, with exhaust. You harass like no other, but your range is the only thing that keeps you alive. Use it. And early game, do not get hit by minions - they hurt after a few seconds and your 3% lifesteal isn't enough. So when you are harassing, take one or two shots, then back away from the minions coming at you.
2. Starting at level 2, use your traps - but not too frequently. Enough to keep the bushes around you in check (especially if you are not mid - usually it will save you 3 deaths a game minimum). If you drop them too much your mana will run out, even with the double mana runes.
3. Use your Q. Watch them. If they are paying good attention and dodging it, lead them. Use it less at level 2, but more after 3+. Getting hits with your Q is extremely important. You can also use it against minions effectively at level 3 or 5+ to push harder/faster.
4. Prepare for level 6. At 6, you get your ult. About half the time you are going to use it within 30 seconds. So make sure you have the mana for it (100) and for your Q (70 atm). They are hopefully at less than 1/3 life at this point. Get in another Q on them - DONT MISS! and get 'em with your ult.
5. If they are playing defensively, push them a little bit. But not hard enough to get hit hard. And watch for ganks. If they are trying to gank you, go to the ghouls and attack once so they run at you then Q them (but don't take it from your jungler either).
6. Late early game/mid game you need to jungle really hard but also participate when necessary - hold towers with your Q (hitting the minions too). You want to be double most people's minion kills. Make sure you are getting the last hits in lane also (mid at least) - practice this.
7. Cait takes towers down fast early game. Especially if you have a good teammating laning top or bottom with you. You can also take the mid tower down fast but it depends on the enemy and how well they try to gank.
8. Getting out: You need to be good at getting out. Use your net after level 4+ and your flash too if necessary. Your net can push you back through the side walls on either side of mid which I use a lot. Remember that it goes about as far as flash, it just takes 1/2 a second to cast.
9. STAY AWAY FROM THORNS. If they have thorn mail, you probably just don't want to auto shot them. That's the safe way. It will take you down pretty dang fast and it's not worth losing that much life over because you don't have lifesteal - the other things are more important.
10. Mid game, if things are going decent, get Red Buff. The slow is great for you and your team.
Early Game Tips and Strategies
1. Go mid if you can. If you're mid, the only people who should be able to take you down are Teemo, Jax, and a really good Annie that knows how to run a lane and stun. There are a few people who could give you problems if you don't know how to counter- one of them is Mord. Against Mord harass early and harass hard. He is slow (although you are too right now). Against everyone else, harass enough with your autoshots, but focus on using your Q against them and staying at high health.
If they rush in at you for a shot and then run away, shoot them as they run. A couple hits makes a difference in those cases. Place traps in the side bushes, one or both depending on which side seems to be the most likely to gank and/or your teammates not call it. Place one or two in front of the lane to harass your opponent's movement but don't over do it - you need the mana.
2.a) If you're not mid:
PUT A TRAP IN THE MID-SIDE BUSHES. This will save you more times than it is funny. Make sure there is always one there. Also put a trap in one (maybe two if you have the mana) of the long bushes (whichever one they are most likely to run through).
You can solo lane top if you have a jungler, even 1v2. You just need to stay way back if that's the case. Be careful of their crowd controls. Harass with your Q much more than your shots.
2.b) If you can, shoot from the bushes so that your passive gets that nice perk - it's great for getting lots of last hits - but just be careful, as always.
If you have a partner one cool thing to do is go sit in that mid-side bush and shoot them with your Q if they have low life when they push toward your tower. This could get you and your teammate a kill. If they come for you, net thru the turn around behind you if necessary.
3. When using your Q to harass, you almost always want to try to hit the enemy champion. However, in some cases when you know you won't get them down to low life fast enough AND they can't deal much damage to you (such as a Nasus), use your Q against the minions more often. This will help you push tower. When you get to tower, shoot it 1-3 times, then they will likely come after you. Back off a step or two, then shoot them - the tower won't be able to attack you. When they get close to you, net away and run until they turn around, then shoot them as they run away.
4. When your passive is charged after 7 attacks, you can try to hit the enemy champion with the extra damage. But don't be greedy about it. It doesn't deal enough bonus damage to be worth getting into a bad position for. But if you, take the shot.
5. (This goes for early and mid game) When killing minions in lane, your Q will just barely hit the back three minions when you are auto attacking the front row. Wait until they are all just getting into position to use it to maximize the effect. I often do this to minion waves that are coming at me while I'm attacking a tower - if you get in two Qs on them while auto attacking the tower the minions will either die or have significant health gone and your next minion will might just get there before your first one dies. It also doesn't take much time away from hitting the tower.
Mid and Late Game Tips and Strategies
1.a) That more or less covers early game. At this point, you should have your berserker's grieves and a bit of gold for your first B.F. Sword (or maybe a B.F. sword and boots). Sometimes, you are going to let your team hold mid while you farm top or bottom (pushing minions back and starting a minion push of your own) and jungle for a second, but help mid often enough. Keep an eye out for any enemy that is low health and staying in a bit too far - ult them, especially after you have 1 or 2 B.F Swords. (Always keep an eye on how much damage your ult deals - that's important. Get a kill with it when you can. Just remember that their armor detracts from your ult's damage, so always factor that in to their health.) Your main goal right now is to defend towers and get your phantom dancers. Farm hard mid game. But watch the enemies team very carefully - don't get ganked.
1.b) Additionally, if the opportunity presents itself you can take top, bottom, or even mid tower depending on where the enemy team is focusing. After your first B.F. Sword you will push and take towers very quickly, especially with a teammate beside you (I do this often in late early game if I have taken mid tower down already).
2.a) You are usually a target in team fights (mid and late game). Stay way back early on until the team fight is a few seconds in. Harass the enemy with your Q before hand and kill the minions that come forward with your Q and your auto attacks so they don't push to tower.
2.b) In mid game, some teams have one person a few feet forward than the rest - usually the tank - when trying to initiate a teamfight. In that case, the champion is usually not ranged and you take take a few harass shots here and there when they get in close enough. But be very careful you don't get CC'd because you will die instantly as everyone jumps on you.
2.c) In late game, you are very powerful so get in a good position to nail their squishies (Ezreal, Heimer, Malzahar, Lux, etc.). Get in a shot or two (one second and then get back) and you'll see them at half life. This pretty much takes them out of the fight or foces them to be very careful to prevent one of your teammates from jumping on them for the kill.
3. There will be times during a teammfight (usually mid game) when you get hit hard. Get out, but don't run all the way back to base. Get a long ways away - but in range of your ult! Pick someone off when you get the chance or deal significant damage to someone if you don't think you will get a kill. This will help your team take them down instead of getting killed by them.
4. When using your ult, if you can come in from the side when you shoot it that is awesome. The enemy team is much less likely to be able to get in front of it to counter. You can usually wait for a good opportunity, especially if the person is staying back but not going back.
5. In teamfights (not just before teamfights), you really just need to stay the hell back. (Or get in a good position as discussed above). Hit the guy closest to you unless it's the tank (especially if they have thorns). It's your job to get some hits on a couple of their players to get them either a) out of the fight or b) at lower life for your teammates to help out. If you do this well then you will pick up the kills as the enemy team starts to run away.
6. Late game is pretty self explanatory. Don't get hit, use your range, run around, kill the squishies. One nice strategy against close combat opponents is using your net to push back and slow them once they get in on you. Run a couple steps away and then shoot them again. Exhaust when necessary.
1. You eat Tryn like the Cookie Monster eats cookies. Use the strategy above when he gets undying rage (a Red Buff helps significantly against him) and them just ult him after a couple seconds when he tries to run away. You will get him 90% of the time if you do this well, and he won't even realize it until he's fed you. Exhaust does wonders if you're having trouble.
2. When defending towers against more than one person, you will usually want to hit the minions. Q them and auto attack unless you can get one of the players down fast. But be careful - you are very easy to tower dive.
3. Lay your traps before teamfights to hamper the enemy movement.
4. Use your Q on minions often, throughout the game, including late game. Use it to get a start on wiping out minion waves when you are farming and just before team fights to prevent minions from getting to towers and for a couple extra minion kills. Also, when jungling you can auto attack once, then Q to hit them all (ghouls/wolves), and then auto attack for the kills.
5. Get Red Buff.
The Grieves are better than Boots of Swiftness because of the attack speed. But if you are against someone you really need to dodge while laning then get Boots of Swiftness. If you are dying a lot because of your speed, get them. It might be a very good idea to do so until you excel at getting away. I got them every game for a long time, but I've switched to Berserker's Grieves now.
If you have the money, try to get a B.F. Sword and the first boots at the same time - you can finish the boots next time you come back. Also, if you have a bit of life when you go back, jungle first and take out the ghouls and the wolves for some extra cash.
The B.F. Swords pack a real punch coupled with your Q and ult. I never thought this would be good, mostly because of the cost, but I once accidently did it and it was incredible. It's a huge boost to your skills which are imperative early/mid game until your auto attacks really get going late game. Try it.
The Phantom Dancers make you fast - that's the huge bonus of them. Cruise around, protect towers, come in from behind (safely) in team fight if you are coming from somewhere else on the map. Hit the squishies - not the thorns.
For the two B.F. Swords, usually make one an IF and one a Bloodthirster, in whichever order seems appropriate for the game. If you need the lifesteal to get your life back between fights, get a Bloodthrister. If you want more damage, get an IF first.
Madreds will take down tanky teams well. If their team isn't tanky, the game will be over by the time you get this anyways.
A Last Whisperer can also help you tremendously.
Frozen Mallet helps some, but I rarely get it anymore. The slow is awesome, the damage is just not. You can kite (hit-run-hit-run-hit-run) superbly - even with only a Phage (because of your attack speed). I once took down a Shen with full health and I took maybe one hit while I kited him / he ran.
You can get a Banshee's Veil if you want, but I never do. Just stay away and learn how to get out!
Also, HoLyHiraKo has a very good point with Hexdrinker:
"If enemy team has AP champions like Veigar and Malzahar, which can usually 1 shot you, a pretty nice items is Hexdrinker. Provides your hero with both AD and MR and has a unique passive. If you would take Magic Damage which would leave you at less than 30% of your Maximum Health, you first gain a shield which absorbs 300 Magic Damage for 4 seconds. 45 second cooldown. It's life saving especially when you're being ganged early/mid game."
Armor pen and mana.
The 15 armor pen packs a nice punch and the mana lets you use your Q all day long and still have enough left over to place a few traps to keep you safe.
Many people also suggest getting armor pen quintessences (+10), but with Sunder giving you 6 and your marks giving you 15, that is 21 armor pen at level one. This is right about what a more tanky champion will have at level 1, and thus getting armor pen quintessences doesn't fully benefit until level 4-8, depending on the champion(s) you are facing. The physical damage quintessences (+7 damage) will give you a nice added bonus to help you get those kills early game when you are extremely adept at shutting down the enemies carries by killing them or forcing them to return for health often. (Against a Lux, your shots deal considerable damage and you can force her back every minute or so after you do it the first time and you have a level on her.)
I really like mana runes with just about every champion - even Rammus. They are a huge benefit and often overlooked.
Another guide, http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/caitlyn-in-depth-guide-52122, also has some alternate rune builds that you can feel free to try if you want. He has a good guide, as the ratings say, but it is a quite different play style.
Flash exhaust. Nothing else.
Flash gets you out. So does exhaust, and it gets you kills.
Potentially, you COULD get teleport instead of exhaust. I did this a few times because it is very slow to get back to mid if you have to go back (but learn to play with 1 bar of health, it is effective and it is a good way to get better with Cait quickly). But I never get teleport anymore, it just doesn't match up to exhaust, especially late game when you are one of the fastest heroes on the map anyway.
You can leave two off Sunder if you want. Put 'em wherever you'd like. But I like the armor pen, and it saves you quintessences.
I would add other categories/chapters such as jungling and team work, but I believe I have explained them above. If not sufficiently, let me know in the comments and I'll add on. This is a great build and gameplay combo for Cait, and it's different from many others. I always see other Caits getting pickaxes right away, but it just doesn't compare to two B.F. Swords early game, despite the cost. You use it well later too. And your jungling/farming puts you in the lead quickly.