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Karthus Build Guide by Joxuu

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Not Updated For Current Season

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Joxuu

[In-Depth] Karthus Guide - Press ARRRR to win !

Joxuu Last updated on July 4, 2013
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Ability Sequence

1
3
5
7
9
Ability Key Q
4
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
2
8
10
12
13
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R





Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Masteries

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/
Executioner
 
 

Offense: 21

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Honor Guard
 
 

Defense: 0

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pickpocket
Intelligence
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nimble
 
 

Utility: 9


Guide Top

Introduction





Karthus is a sustained mid laner and really good poker / harasser. It's really hard to get killed, if you are playing him right. You can poke from far away and when the time is right, you're able to chase the enemy down without any kind of problem, because of his awesome slow, which will be explained in abilities section of course. One of his coolest and propably most annoying thing for your enemies, is his global ultimate which deals damage to everyone. The cooldown got increased in the last patch, but that's just okay. Video below will show a amazing penta kill made with his ultimate.





Welcome to follow my propably last guide or at least for long time. I have too many guides and I don't have the time to update them, so I will archive a few of them and focus on the current guides I have. Anyways back to this guide. This is kinda a sustainish, but full-out damagish build. Quite optional, but I will explain situational items as always. I hope this will be the best guide from my other guides. I will spend the time to update this and make this fit for all situations and for all kind of players.


Guide Top

Pro's & Con's



spaaaaaaace
Pros


+ Awesome global ultimate
+ Great harasser
+ Able to stay long in lane
+ Great slow
+ Nice amount of AoE damage
space
space
Cons


- Mana hungry
- Squishy
- Lacks reliable escaping tool
- Close range
- Easy to counter


Guide Top

Masteries


Masteries
1/5
4/1
4/5
3/1
1/1
3/1
4/
1/
1/5
3/1
1/1
3/5
1/1


The mastery set-up is pretty standard for every single AP carry/-mid, so most of you are already familiar with it. They provide quite a bit damage out-put along with some cool small additions like the movement speed, which is important for Karthus and some mana, armor penetration and so on. Below this I will explain the masteries in-depth. You could also go for 9/0/21 masteries, which I will not explain tough, because I have never used that set-up.

OFFENSE TREE

space
Tier 1 I choose Summoner's Wrath and Mental Force . These are for some damage for your Lay Waste, buff for summoner spells and some ability power. You can skip Mental Force and invest them into Brute Force instead, if you do believe that it's better and you are going to basic attack more, but generally just use your Lay Waste for the last hits.

Tier 2 Here I choose Sorcery for some cooldown reduction, because especially the ultimate Requiem has really long cooldown, because of the update. It's also nice to have at least some cdr anyways for the basic abilities

Tier 3 From here I choose Arcane Knowledge and Havoc . Arcane Knowledge is really important pick for the magic penetration, which is not that bad and I needed to spend the 3 points somehow and Havoc seems to be the best choice.

Tier 4 Here I choose Blast for late game ability power increasion. No explanation needed I guess, really basic pick for AP carries as always.

Tier 5 Once again a pick Archmage , which is really obviouse once again. Gives really nice amount of increased ability power. I'd go for the 5% increased ability power any day.

Tier 6 Here I choose to for Executioner which is the last pick and it's a must have for every carry and every single 21 mastery user. It seems not to be that useful compared to the rest of the Tier 6 picks, but trust me, it is at least as good.


UTILITY TREE


space
Tier 1 I go for Summoner's Insight , which gives your Flash some cooldown and I need to spend the point somehow anyways. Second one is Expanded Mind for some mana. Not lot's of it, but it's useful.

Tier 2 Next up, I choose Swiftness for movement speed, which is important for mid laners and especially for Karthus to avoid possible skillshot abilities and to get your Lay Waste hit, if you are chasing an enemy.

Tier 3 Finally, but not the least Runic Affinity . Really helpful if you are going for blue buff from time to time and your jungler actually should give it to you at least once around mid game.

Tier 4 - 6 I don't have any of these, because lack of points. You can go 9/0/21 tough and then choose Awarness along with Intelligence and finally Mastermind .


Guide Top

Runes





Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
9

filler
M
A
R
K
S
filler
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration - I can't think of any other marks for Karthus. The magic penetration is just really good and highly necessary. I highly recommend that you have these marks.
filler
M
A
R
K
S


Runes

Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration
9

Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration
9

Greater Seal of Scaling Health
9

filler
S
E
A
L
S
filler
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration - Really good seals and I prefer to take these over any other seals, but it's up to you. It is a late game seal, which gives you really nice amount of mana regeneration. I wouldn't take any other seals, because the scaling is bad.

Greater Seal of Replenishment - This is the only candidate I can think of, but I rather take the preferred seals - Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration. This gives you some more mana regeneration early-game, which allows you to stay longer in lane, if you run out of mana.

Greater Seal of Vitality - One of the possible defensive runes for Karthus. You benefit from it the most at level 18, as the explanation says. My build is really squishy and it doesn't fit for everyone. These seals can help the squishiness little bit, but you can also go a head and choose more sustained items from items section.
filler
S
E
A
L
S


Runes

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
9

Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction
9

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
9

filler
G
L
Y
P
H
S
filler
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power - This is my preferred glyph over and the reason is more than simple. I take these gylphs for excellent late-game ability power. Well not excellent maybe, but they do help some.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction. This gives you some cooldown reduction late-game mostly for your ultimate Requiem, which already has really long cooldown. It helps at least a bit. I don't prefer these over Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power tough.

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist - These are again one of the few sustained possibilities to relief the squishiness of the build. You are more likely going to face a AP mid, so the early magic resistance goes for good use.

filler
G
L
Y
P
H
S


Runes

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
3

filler
Q
U
I
N
T
S
filler
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power - I really like these quints over anything else, because it's like having a Doran's Ring with the boots and pots in cheet sheet. It's really just up to you, which quints you prefer, because there are plenty of them.
filler
Q
U
I
N
T
S


Guide Top

Summoner Spells



Flash Is really good for Karthus, because he doesn't have any escape abilities, except your slow, so this will save your life several times along with the slow. Flash can be used over walls and small obstacles, but remember that it will only teleport you to your cursor location or towards it, if you're out of range. It can also be used for killing purposes of course.



Ignite Is just like your 4th ability dealing extra 80 damage. Really useful for mid lane where every single damage is important, because of the importance of the turrets. Ignite works really well as a last hitter on champions as well as good counter against champions who are dependant on health regeneration or abilities costing health like Swain or Mordekaiser and the list continues.


Situational Summoner Spells



Heal Is a quite good summoner spell, but I don't prefer this over those two mentioned up there, but it's a nice alternative. It works as a baiting tool as well as live saver. If you are going 1v1 deathmatch battle in the mid lane, just use your Heal and you are back up ready for fight. It can also save you from DOT abilities. Meaning abilities like Ignite, which deals damage over time. Also if enemy mid laner dives in your tower in hope of kill, just use Heal and you're ready to fight back or escape.



Teleport is also quite good alternative, if you prefer this instead. You don't need to worry about when you are able to go back again, so enemy won't be able to push to the tower. If you have this, you are able to go back to base pretty much any time. It can also work as a ganking tool. You can also target a ward in a bush or a minion behind pushed allie lane and help your teammates to pick-up a kill. Mainly it's used to get back to the tower again, so it's really useful tool for mid laner.



Revive is not a summoner spell I would prefer, because it's really only for a zombie build, which basically means that you take this and Teleport, after you have died you go back out there and whoop some enemies, so maybe it's worth of mentioning, because the zombie build seems to get popular. I have not ever seen one, but I have seen videos of it and seems to work, if you know how to use it properly. I can't say much more about it, because I must try it out first.



Exhaust is not a summoner spell I would prefer once again, because it's really better for AD carries i'd say. It does help you, tough. It can be used in many purposes like stopping him from escaping, so you can harass with Lay Waste and Defile. It can also be used in order to help in ganks and it can save your life also, if you need to escape. Wall of Pain pretty much is like Exhaust, but not as strong. Good alternative I guess, but I myself don't use it at all for Karthus, but maybe you can.


Guide Top

Abilities






Death Defied
Karthus can cast spells after dying for 7 seconds without mana cost
This passive is damn awesome and you bet it's funny also. This allows you to continue the battle and pick-up kills even if you are dead. This passive makes you less focused in team fights i'd say and less diveable in lane, especially near the tower. It's really good advantage for your team in fights, because it will automatically active Defile, which deals AoE damage to nearby enemies and you can still cast your ultimate Requiem while dealing bunch of damage with Lay Waste.


Tips and Tricks
  • If you are dieng, try to get the best of this and die in middle of team fight.
  • Take avantae of your no-costing ability buff.
  • Cast your ultimate Requiem while in passive in team fights.


Lay Waste
Karthus casts a delayed AoE blast, which deals 2x more damage to single target.
This is your main harassing ability as well as your last hitting ability. It will deals tons of damage mid-late game while targetting single target. In early-game it's a great way to as said, harass your opponent as well as keep him/her out from farming minions. You must practice this tough, because it is delayed blast and you have to predirict where the enemy is heading next. It's also a great pushing tool along with Defile, if it is necessary, but usually pushed lane is bad. It's also a great damaging tool while chasing your enemy, if you have the movement speed.


Tips and Tricks
  • Use this as a farming tool against minions.
  • With the right movement speed, you can deal damage to enemies while chasing them.
  • Deals 2x the damage, to single targets.


Wall of Pain
Karthus casts big wall, which reduces armor, magic resist and speed from enemies passing
Speaking of good abilities, how about this one ? It's a great slow and also your only hope of escaping, because you don't have any other escaping mechanisms. Since it is a slow, it can also be used as a offensive spell and mostly for offensive purposes, because the reduction of armor and magic resist. Use this ability wisely, because if you miss the positioning, which is really important for this spell, you are not going to get a second chance. It's all about the positioning of the wall and it doesn't matter wether you are chasing enemy, escaping, in team fight etc.. Work on mastering this one also!


Tips and Tricks
  • Use it to escape / stop enemies from escaping.
  • Always try to position the wall well.
  • Use it to slow down enemy and then go harass with your Lay Waste.


Defile
Toggle (off/on); You gain mana for killing unit, drains his mana to do dmg around him.
Your second main damaging spell and yet again, it's a AoE ability! This is the bread and butter of your passive and in close-fights, recover your mana and it can also push the lane / get last hits without sweat on the forehead. The best situation which can happen, is that enemy is chasing you while you have Defiled activated and he/she is just out of reach and takes constantly massive amounts of damage. In team fights, you are pretty much feared, becasue of this ability. Keep this always activated while you are in fight. You will be most likely taken down at some point, but that's when you strike. Well you can't do anything, but just stand there, since the AoE & passive does all the work, but you got the point. You can get the payback instantly. This drains quite a bit mana as you may have noticed, if you put your cursor on the image. That's why you must go for blue early-mid game and why not even late game.


Tips and Tricks
  • Always keep it activated while in any fight.
  • Defile drains lot's of mana, thats why get blue if you can.
  • Use it to push lane / for last hits, if you have the mana.


Requiem
Karthus channels for 3 seconds, then casts a blast which hits to all enemy champions. This is what makes Karthus feared and often banned in ranked games. This ultimate is just so much fun and it can really turn the game over around, if it's used properly. Requiem's cooldown just got extended by 20 seconds, which sucks of course, but it's not going to stop you from dominating your enemies! Never use this ability to killsteal a kill which is already secured and also never use this for damage, unless you are playing in Proving Grounds. This is used to secure kills or in other hand if you like to call it killsteal, but I really wouldn't call it that or you can use it, if you are sure it will help you team to get kill or two. Also never use this in any kind of fight, especially teamfight and a opener, because it takes 3 seconds away from you.

Tips and Tricks
  • Use it while you are in your passive.
  • Use it wisely! Never use it, if you aren't sure of it's advantages.
  • Do not killsteal already secured kills with it.


Guide Top

Ability Sequence


Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18


> > >


That is in my opinion the most reasonable and benefitial maxing order. I choose to max out ultimate Requiem first, because it's the key opener and the most imporant ability for any champion I'd say. For Karthus, it is what makes him Karthus. SO deffinately choose it always when you can. Next one to max out if your main damaging ability, which is Lay Waste. It doesn't seem to scale that much, but trust me, it's worth of it. Double the leveled up amount of damage and you will get the actual damaga against single target. Next up I choose to max out Defile, because it gives nice amount of mana later on, but the damage which it gives is the main reason, why it's maxed out as third. It's damage output at mid-game is amazing. Last, but not least is Wall of Pain, which is taken last, because it doesn't benefit as much as the rest of the abilities, but it is useful. It is more useful late-game and it isn't really necessary for early-mid game laning phase, because it gets the job done as level 1 also.


Guide Top

Items



Core Items
Item Sequence











Rabadon's Deathcap
3800

Will of the Ancients
2300

Zhonya's Hourglass
2900

  • : Boots are always core item and so are Sorcerer's Shoes. Nice movement speed and the magic penetration bonus is awesome. You will penetrate quite a lot magic damage already. You can buy level 2 boots really early, if you have to dodge skillshots alot and you feel like chasing and spamming Lay Waste.

  • : Get this item early, if you feel like going into more sustainable build. You would like to get this early, because of it's passive which regenerates your health and mana each time you level up. It also gives you stats over time as you can see from it's passive. So the base stats it gives grow up the longer you have kept it up to a stack. NOTE: This is a early-game item. Try to get it in your first few items.

  • : Core item for every single AP carry I think. It's ability power boost is just amazing. It gives massive 140 ability power + 30% ability power. That's the best source of ability power right there. After this item, especially if you get it early. This item is just so powerful, you will deal tons of damage after this one.

  • : Really nice item and it's a core, because you are most likely getting focused a lot. It's active can save you bunch of times and meanwhile they constantly take damage from your Defile. It can also save your life, if your team focuses the guy trying to kill you. The 100 ability power is also really good along with the other items.

  • : Core item late-game. It's the only source of any kind of health you will get. It also buffs your allies with spellvamp and few ability power. Your Lay Waste is now the main ability to get health from, followed by Defile. You will gain lot's of health in no time once your enemies / minions meet Defile!

  • : Great counter-tank item mid-late game. It's not that useful as first 1-2 items, because the enemy team doesn't have much magic resist so early on I think or at least nobody should build that. Consider this item and pick this item, if enemy team is having lot's of magic resistance.


Guide Top

Alternative Items


  • : Doran's Ring is really good for early mana regeneration, health and ability power. It will give you some sustain and you won't be having mana problems unless you spam the abilities like a maniac. I prefer taking two, if you decide to choose this as first item.

  • : This will give you insane amount of ability power for it's price. Once you have maxed out Tear of Goddess, it will give you extra 1000 mana along with the passive stats and then they will be converted into ability power. It's really close to a core, but in some situations it just won't work out, like if you have really hard times in the lane, but I can say 80% of the time, you must have this. NOTE: You pretty much must take Tear of the Goddess really early, so you get the advantages faster.

  • : This item gives you the most sustain out from your items. It's also really nice source of movement speed reduction against enemies, but the health it gives is really good, because Karthus' squishiness. It also provides quite nice amount of ability power. It's like a cherry on top of a cake.

  • : Get this item early, if you feel like going into more sustainable build. You would like to get this early, because of it's passive which regenerates your health and mana each time you level up. It also gives you stats over time as you can see from it's passive. So the base stats it gives grow up the longer you have kept it up to a stack. NOTE: This is a early-game item. Try to get it in your first few items.

  • : I think these are the only alternative boots I will mention. I could maybe include Boots of Swiftness or Ionian Boots of Lucidity, but those are a no go for me. It's for the movement speed only & other for the cooldown reduction. Anyways back to these boots. I would only prefer these over Sorcerer's Shoes, if you are facing heavy CC team. Not much to add really.

  • : Nice mid-late game alternative, if you are facing and only if you are facing a team, which pretty much has only AP champions or their few ap carries are the only ones feeded like Ahri or Kassadin for example. Otherwise I wouldn't consider this item, because of it's cost and advantages.

  • : This is really great alternative, if you wish to go a bit more tanky/sustain build later on and it's a great alternative, because you are most likely focused in team fights as already said couple times. This will less likely save your life, but it makes you harder to get killed. Take this against heavy AP, just like Abyssal Scepter.

  • : One of the cooldown reduction items, which give you AP at the same time along with Deathfire Grasp and Morello's Evil Tome, but I find this one better than those two, but take those over instead, if you need the actives. Anyways, I prefer this item over those two, because it doesn't only give the good ability power and cooldown reduction, but it also gives you really nice mana regeneration! It's magic resistance can also put in good use.


Guide Top

Laning


Early game


In early-game, you are far from your strongest and therefore, do not go 1v1 against the solo champion in any situation, except if you are 100% sure you can get the kill. You can try to go grab the kill once you get you're Defile at level 2, but remember that you are mana hungry. Only thing you can do is focus on last hits and that's what you should mainly do. Do not push the lane tough, because pushed lane will get you zoned out from the minions propably and you canno't harass the enemy champion, unless you get closer, but then you are in great danger to get ganked by enemy jungler for example. Try not to die at all. Your goal is to survive to level 6 without going back or dieng. Keep on last hitting and poking & harassing with your Lay Waste. You can try to clear enemy / your teams wraith camp, if you have the chance and if your team doesn't have jungler or he is unable to get them.

Mid-game


Now you should and you will have your ultimate Requiem. Always try to inform your team when you have it, so they can call in for it. Read the tips on how to use it from abilities chapter, because it's very important to know, when you should use it. At this point you should already have Tear of the Goddess and Rabadon's Deathcap, unless you haven't got any kills / much minion farms. Now you can deal some seriouse damage with your Lay Waste and why not even for Defile. Always try to hit with your Wall of Pain, because if it hits, your enemy is getting whooped by the damage of Lay Waste. You should at least get 1-2 kills by now with the Requiem or with other abilities, if not.. you just have to try to farm for some gold and pick-up at least the 1 kill. You can try to go for the turret now, if you kill the enemy mid laner, but once again be aware of the ganks when you push, because lane phase has ended. You can have wards on the bushes on left or right side of the mid lane, maybe both. At this time you can also call for help to get the Dragon .

Late-game


This is where the really seriouse business start and the team which gets ace is in huge advantage, because they have so many possibilities. They can go for Baron Nashor , push tower or 2, go for Dragon , clear the jungle etc.. You are the key player now and you must play your cards right. Your goal is not to die 1v1! You deal tons and tons of damage in team fights with Defile and Lay Waste, Requiem. If you die unneccesary death in 1v1, your team has to go 4v5, you can't do anything about it. You are the main source of damage or at least one of the main sources. Your ultimate can deal close to 800 damage, if you have done well. Try to avoid not being focused, like by casting Lay Waste from far distance or behind a obstacle. You can also go for suicide bomb, once you know your time has come. Try to die in the middle of enemies to deal as much damage as possible and use your ultimate, after few Lay Waste. This should give your team a advantage and possibility to ace and win the entire match.


Guide Top

Team Fights



I have already explained few times in short, how you should act in team fights, but I will explain once again, in case you didn't spot it from the middle of the text. There is actually two types of playing.
1) Suicide bomber

It is what it is. You go straight in the middle of a team fight to gurantee the AoE damage, because it's not always sure, that you are able to get there before you die. Champion like Jayce or Vayne could stop you from going out there. So you just rush in and do what you can with Wall of Pain and Lay Waste. Once you get focused, pop up Zhonya's Hourglass' active or / and you can even Flash to other spot hoping that you won't be focused again. Once you die, try to get kill and deal as much damage as possible, activate Requiem and you have done your part in team fight. Now your team should finish the job.

2) Play Safe, Play Hard

This means that you do everything you can not to get focused and killed or you can do some kind of mix of this and suicide bomber. It's much better that you die in the middle of team fight and constantly do AoE damage to all enemy champions, than you are far back and do nothing. Only do this if you are not able to get to the spot or you deal tons of damage behind a obstalce or unreachable spot, well there is not such spot, but it's a spot where you more likely won't be focused from. Once you get focused, Flash to the middle of team fight and pop up Zhonya's Hourglass, if you are still taking damage. Once your dead, continue the same as what you would do as a suicide bomber. Do everything you can to deal damage with your abilities.


Guide Top

Your scores!



Feel free to post your gloriouse victory screens or your amazing scores to me by private message and I will upload them up here. Hopefully I will receview few soon!

Here is one of mine, I lost the game tough, but it's just fine.


Amazing score from Volkria


A score from MrAguakate, which includes PENTA KILL!


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Changelog




  • 11.7



    Guide made
    Working on Match-up section


Guide Top

Summary



I'd like to thank you all who have viewed this guide or any one of my other guides. I'd like to have constructive criticsm how I could update & improve this guide. This was my last guide and hopefully you enjoyed reading it & hopefully it helped you out at least a little bit. Waiting for comments & screenshots :3

I'd like to give some credits for Jhoihoi for the "how to make guide", which can be found here

And tons of credit for IceCreamy who helped me out with the column mistakes. He has a column help guide, which can be found here