Caitlyn Build Guide by KNick97
Not Updated For Current Season
Not Updated For Current Season
So you're trying to play Caitlyn are you? Good. I commend you. While I've read the comments of numerous people who think Cait's one of the worst AD carries in the League, I'm here to tell you that these people seriously underrate her and her abilities, particularly in late game.
No, Caitlyn can't put the entire team on her back and carry them to victory (despite her role as the AD carry... bad pun intended), but she can provide a TON of DPS and is a ridiculously good champion to have on your team controlling the bottom lane in the early stages of the game. Cait can farm like no other, can rip tanks to shreds with a little armor penetration, has one of the longest ranges of any champ, and with the proper support can be an absolute nightmare for your opponents in bottom lane.
Follow these tips and the Sheriff of Piltover may become your favorite as well as mine, as she's got a lot of serious strengths to balance out her shortcomings, most of which can be overcome by playing with a little bit of additional patience and caution.
I warn you now this guide may seem a little strange in a lot of ways but I've been playing Cait for a long time and there's a reason for everything here. That being said there is also a good amount of room for flexibility depending on your preferences, play style, and tendencies. So I ask you to please read the entire guide before downvoting. And if you do downvote, please leave comments why. I'd be happy to discuss things.
Ready to begin? Let's go!
Pros / Cons
Let's start with some basics. Here are some of the things I absolutely love about Caitlyn:
- Her range is one of the longest in the game of any champion.
- Related to previous: that long range allows you to fight from a distance and protect yourself.
- Piltover Peacemaker is a brilliant harass tool that does a lot of damage early game.
- 90 Caliber Net is valuable as both an escape and a chasing tool, and has a much shorter cooldown than Flash
- Yordle Snap Trap is a good bush deterrent/early warning system for ganks. Great in a pinch where you don't have any wards up.
- Her damage from spawn is very high.
- She last hits like a boss.
- Her Headshot passive will give opponents fits if timed properly.
- Her Ace in the Hole has a very long range, isn't a skill shot, and can't be dodged (though it can be blocked).
- She's got some pretty badass skins
However, as with any hero she has her shortcomings.
- Her attack speed is extremely slow early on, requiring careful timing and aim to farm and damage effectively.
- She's usually the first hero targeted in a team fight.
- She's extremely squishy at all stages of the game.
- Her Ace in the Hole can be blocked pretty easily.
- Her Yordle Snap Traps aren't very damaging and are very easily dodged.
- She's more mana-reliant early game than many AD carries, meaning you will be left swimming manaless without decent support or running Clarity.
- And lastly (and I hate this the most) she's free to play A LOT.
Notice how I didn't put she sucks at dealing damage late game? Many people will say it does. I disagree. I've had numerous games where I've led the team in kills and assists with Cait, while also having one of the fewest, if not the fewest deaths. When played well, she's extremely difficult to handle at ALL stages.
Whoa... whoa... hold it. Clarity?! Are you nuts?? Maybe I am. But hear me out.
Caitlyn is very much a caster AD carry, and to be as effective as possible, you will be spamming the hell out of your harass abilities-- Piltover Peacemaker and Yordle Snap Trap--and consequently your mana is going to drain quicker than gasoline in an SUV. So thus, you're going to want something to provide you with mana return or you'll floundering in lane helplessly.
You could take a few Mana Potions but that would prevent you from carrying Health Potions which could save your life in a pinch (more important, if you ask me). Your support may or may not be carrying a mana restoring spell, so thus most of the time you're going have to rely on yourself. Ideally with practice you'll find a rhythm where you'll drain your mana, pop Clarity, then drain that mana in enough time to pop Clarity again. Nearly infinite mana sustain! Your support will love you for it too because the extra mana will help them keep you alive too.
This one should seem pretty logical. When you get even a slight advantage over an opponent, get in range and ignite them. While you're pegging them with bullets/burning them with Yordle Snap Traps/slicing them with Piltover Peacemaker this little bit of extra damage will help knock enemy health even lower and perhaps even finish off a kill for you. Adding Ignite to your arsenal makes Caitlyn that much harder to escape from, even before level 6. After level 6, it becomes extra damage to deal out during team fights/possibly even help you finish off kills on speedy characters (I'm looking at you, Master Yi).
And as an added bonus if you use my mastery setup, while this attack is on cooldown, Caitlyn will gain an extra 5 Attack Damage and Ability Power, so don't be afraid to fire it off (bad pun definitely intended).
The proverbial "get out of jail free" card, you can't really go wrong running Flash particularly against a team that's CC heavy or naturally quick with a lot of range. Unless you're going to need this extra dodging ability, however, 90 Caliber Net should provide you with enough ability in a normal game to negate the need for Flash. Rather than be redundant in this area, I advise using one of your summoner spells for something else.
Not a bad choice against teams that are very CC heavy. However, rather than waste a summoner spell on it, I'd advise you to build a Quicksilver Sash instead. It gives you magic resist and does the same thing as cleanse. However, should you choose to build something else, Cleanse isn't a bad plan for escaping team fights when stuns, slows, snares, and knock-ups are flying all over your screen.
If you're new to League of Legends, Caitlyn is a great character to learn with and for those players, Heal isn't a bad choice. It's available at level 1 and will essentially give you some leeway for errors, bringing your confidence up. Also, you can begin the game with a Doran's Blade and not have to worry about foregoing your ability to heal yourself. And with a distinct lack of good supports in the low levels, it doesn't hurt to have some insurance.
If you're an intermediate/advanced player however, you shouldn't be running this spell. You've got Health Potions and a support champion for that.
While you may be tempted to think the ability to move across the map quickly would be great for sneak attacks (and it may) the cooldown on it is too long, and with Caitlyn's move speed being extremely high thanks to the Phantom Dancer and Berserker's Greaves with Enchantment: Alacrity, you'll be able to get anywhere you need to get to go at a pretty quick pace. You'll still have the element of surprise on your side, combined with the ability to run an enemy champion down.
Same argument as before, your move speed should be high enough to the point where you won't need any boosts to help you get where you need to go. If you need the defensive capability, you have 90 Caliber Net. There really is no use for this spell at all.
Exhaust is great for two things: junglers and melee champions. Caitlyn is neither. You may be tempted to run this still to assist you in not letting champions get away but trust me, Caitlyn's range is already long enough to almost entirely negate any need for this, save one or two rare situations. Likewise, the casting range on this spell is far too short for Caitlyn in the first place, requiring her to leave her sweet spot of safety to get far too close to an enemy champion. This places her (and you) in a very bad position, and the accompanying strong danger of death that brings.
Bad Spells--DO NOT TAKE
You're not a tank. If you play Caitlyn properly and your team cooperates around you, you should never be in a position where you would need this. Additionally, with how squishy Caitlyn is, it really doesn't make a difference how much damage this spell stops, you're only going to be killed when the shield disappears.
Caitlyn isn't a jungler and I don't advise trying to make her one either.
When played properly, Caitlyn can easily go fewer than 3 deaths in a match. You can afford to wait a few seconds rather than waste a summoner spell on an ability you'll almost never use. As a new player it'll get you back in the action quicker, but I don't even allow people I introduce to the game to use revive at all, unless they're playing Dominion of course.
You're not a support. And wards are a thing.
Nine at +0.95 AD each grants a yield of +8.55 AD. As an AD carry... this really doesn't need explaining, does it?
A little extra armor should help you survive against a fellow AD carry. A little extra longevity will also help prevent some minor damage from minions. Nine at +1.41 each grants a yield of an additional +12.69 armor.
As I previously stated, Caitlyn's attack speed from spawn is borderline painfully slow. This helps to alleviate that pain somewhat. It'll also help you with farming as it'll allow you to last hit minions and it'll also allow you to charge up your Headshot quicker.
In total, these runes (rounded) will yield: +15 Physical Damage(AD), +13 Armor, and +5.7% Attack Speed.
Your play style may call for slight alterations. For example, you may want to change what type of rune you put in which slot to increase the emphasis on one particular trait.
Overall, however. I would advise that you stick to the following categories:
Attack Speed: As I have said multiple times now, Caitlyn's attack speed from spawn sucks.
Attack Damage: Do I really have to explain this?
Critical Chance: Caitlyn has the ability to deal massive amounts of damage with a combo of AD/Crit chance, but by going with Crit chance runes instead of AD or Attack Speed, you may be a little more vulnerable early game and/or have a little more trouble farming.
Scaling Attack Damage: these are a trade off--you forgo some of your lethal damage capability early game, but in exchange gain AD late game. I don't personally use these though because late game your runes have less of an influence on the game and you lose potency early game, which is where Caitlyn needs to excel.
Armor: Helps you fend off minion and AD carry damage and give you a little more sustain, making your support's life a touch easier.
Mana Regen: If you don't want to run Clarity then you could solve your mana-shortage problems with a little bit of extra regen. These runes will help you a lot in the early phase of the game and free up a summoner spell for Flash or another spell of your choosing, but later on will become inconsequential as you'll become less mana-reliant. Thus I feel you'll be better served running something else in your rune slots that will be effective across the course of the entire game.
As you can see above, I advise taking masteries in the ratio of:
And while that may look more than a little odd to you, there is a method to the madness. Let me start off by saying first and foremost that I'm not a fan of the new mastery setup. While it does have some cool new features, the positioning of different skills requires you to sometimes have to waste points on a skill that's perhaps not as helpful in order to get to a skill you really want/need. Because I hate doing this, you'll see some skills that may not be in "typical" places but are in areas that I find more beneficial than others.
- 4 points in Fury for a bonus 4% Attack Speed. Can't go wrong here.
- 1 point in Summoner's Wrath gives you the previously mentioned +5 AD and AP while your Ignite is on cooldown.
- 4 points in Deadliness grants you an additional 12 AD at level 18 (+0.67 per level)
- 3 points in Havoc increases all damage you deal by 2%, which scales very nicely once you build up your AD and crit chance and start tearing people apart.
- 1 point in Weapon Expertise adds very important armor penetration, which I explain below.
- 2 points in Lethality for an extra 5% crit damage, which doesn't hurt when that's one of the things you're building towards with your items/runes.
- 2 points in Brute Force because... duh.
- 1 point in Frenzy because at the rate you'll be firing critical hits, it's nearly a permanent 10% increase in attack speed, which gets even nastier when you combine your Berserker's Greaves and Phantom Dancer into the mix.
- 3 points in Sunder because as an AD carry you can be straight-countered with Armor, unless you build Armor Penetration. This and the armor reduction capabilities of The Black Cleaver are your answer to armor and cancel out at least part of any armor your opponents may build.
- 1 point in Executioner to help you last-hit like a champ.
- 3 points in Perseverance gives you a little bit of health regen that could help sustain you while laning, and likewise help take a small amount of the healing burden off of your support. Or if your support doesn't have a heal... provides you with self-sustain.
- 1 point in Durability grants you 27 additional health at level 18 (+1.5 per level) and with Cait's health statistic being as low as it is, more health is good. However, this is primarily here to help you unlock Resistance
- 3 points in Resistance helps shield you against other spell-reliant casters and keep you sustained in AP heavy team fights.
- 1 point in Summoner's Insight will grant you an additional 25% bonus mana when you use Clarity. This can take your mana from nearly empty to nearly full at any point during the game. Your support will love you for this too.
See the chart above for a level-by-level order for skill selection.
Piltover Peacemaker (Q)
|SPACE||Caitlyn's Piltover Peacemaker is in my opinion one of the best non-ult attacks in the game. The range is long, the attack continues all the way through all targets in its path, damaging all of them, the cooldown is low, and the cast time is fast. And then there's the damage: 20/60/100/140/180, plus 130% of your total AD (yeah you read that right), amplifying those small boosts from runes and masteries into lethal advantages. The result is a dream tool that excels in harassing opponents from a safe range, as well as farming massive amounts of minions all at once. One fell swoop of your mighty Q will knock an entire wave of minions down to half-health or less, enabling you to clean up with your auto attacks. Additionally, this attack doesn't stop on its first target, but rather travels its entire length every time, meaning enemies behind minions are not safe. If your opponents decide to stand behind their minions for protection, despite the fact that they'll take slightly less damage, you'll still be able to kill two birds with one stone (possibly literally). And as you can probably infer by now, it's a badass lane pusher too.
This is where your decision making comes into play and where your ability to communicate as a team is essential. If your team plans to invade from spawn and has a fairly high amount of CC (including at least one stun) then take a point in this attack FIRST. While your team stuns an opponent, you can charge up and unleash this attack through your opponents while likewise dealing DPS with your autoattacks--a lethal combination at level 1. If you have no stuns/snares and are short on CC, then take a point in this second.
SPAM THIS ATTACK! While it does cost a fair amount of mana in the early going (50/60/70/80/90), it's a small price to pay for the number of minion kills you'll be raking up and the agonizing hell you'll be putting your opponents through. Aim it carefully, however. You want to maximize the effect of each shot as much as possible. Try to hit as many enemies/opposing minions at once as you can, as the damage effects do not drop below 50%.
Regardless of what you take first, always max this ability out first (Level 9) and upgrade it whenever you can.
Yordle Snap Trap (W)
|SPACE||The Yordle Snap Trap can be absolutely fantastic when used properly, but its flaws actually slightly outweigh its benefits in my opinion. First, the positives. When in lane, it's a great anti-gank and anti-bush deterrent. Have an opponent who constantly hangs out in the bushes? Stick a few traps in there and you'll at least cut the space in which they can walk undetected. That and junglers who don't pay attention when they walk into bushes next to lanes will get a lovely surprise when they're frozen in place for 1.5 seconds. So when you're in a pinch and don't have any wards out, you can breathe a little bit easier by just setting a trap or two down. On a related note: the traps will reveal any opponent for an additional 9 seconds, regardless of whether or not they remain within a normal sight range, great for keeping tabs on your surroundings, or seeing if that jungler who just got caught is sticking around.
Traps also have a benefit of preventing Caitlyn from face-checking bushes. Placing a trap will very briefly reveal the surrounding area around it. So if an opponent is being a nuisance in the bushes, toss a trap in his hiding place and you'll have brief vision of him. Combine this with a quick follow-up from your Piltover Peacemaker and you have instant bush deterrent.
Additionally, a well-placed trap can save your life while running away. Set one down some distance in front of you while being pursued by an enemy and they'll have no choice but to either change their path to get around it (allowing you to pull away) or run right over it, causing them to be frozen for 1.5 seconds and possibly even turning a fight. There's immense satisfaction in trapping an opponent in range of a friendly turret and then watching their health drop like a rock when you turn on them.
Now for the cons. These things are big time mana hogs, requiring 80/130/180/230/280, so you will have to use them sparingly. They're very easy to see, and due to their small size they're super easy to simply walk around, making them virtually useless in the middle of a lane in plain sight.
You also can't have more than 4 traps anywhere on the battlefield at any given time. Should you place a 5th trap, the oldest trap you set will snap shut and disappear. Thus, you have to be strategic about where you place them. On one hand you don't want to waste any precious mana and on the other hand you can't create any sort of elaborate trap-loaded walkway (a la Teemo and his mushrooms). Likewise, the damage these traps do isn't very high and scales off of Ability Power, which you'll never buy or build up as Caitlyn. The cooldown is also rather annoyingly long at 20 seconds on level 1.
As stated previously, if your team plans to invade and you're short on CC, take a point in this ability first. However, on a normal basis take a point in this second and use it to check/clear out bushes. Try to avoid placing these in the middle of lanes as much as possible because they're very easy to dodge, but feel free to experiment with these as well, possibly placing one in the open to play a few mind games with your enemies. Max these out second (level 14), taking points in them as soon as possible once Piltover Peacemaker is maxed out.
90 Caliber Net (E)
|SPACE||While Caitlyn's move speed is rather slow on its own, the 90 Caliber Net makes up for this shortcoming by giving her essentially a free flash with some bonus effects. The cooldown is reasonable (18/16/14/12/10) and does a fair amount of damage to any opposing target it hits (80/130/180/230/280) in addition to slowing their move speed for up to 2 seconds. This makes this ability fantastic for fleeing pursuing enemies of which, as the squishy AD carry, there will be many. Don't hesitate to use this if you see someone coming after you but likewise don't throw it too early of else you'll be out of luck when opponents catch you. Likewise, this ability is also good for chasing in the same way. Only instead of aiming at a pursuing opponent, aim behind you and your net will throw you forward. This is a much more rare situation, however as most opponents don't even get a chance to escape from Caitlyn. Likewise, you can launch yourself over any short walls, making it an even better way of escaping pursuers who may not have Flash available to them, be it by cooldown or lack of selection. You can't launch yourself over base walls or over anything too big though (not nearly as big as the range Flash gives you) but anything that a hero like Alistar, Lee Sin, or Malphite can charge or leap over, Caitlyn can probably launch herself over.
Downsides? Not too many. Like the Yordle Snap Trap, the 90 Caliber Net also scales off AP so it too will gain absolutely zero strength over the course of the battle. Do not use it as a heavy damage dealer. Though that being said there is an odd sense of hilarity when a timely launched net provides the finishing blow. I've always pictured it looking something like this:
Ace in the Hole (R)
|SPACE||Gratuitous amounts of damage! This attack is extremely aptly named, as it is exactly that: your ace in the hole. The range on this sucker is enormous (2000/2500/3000) and the damage it deals is mind blowing--275/450/700 +200% bonus damage from your AD. Having a B. F. Sword when you hit level 6 (no small task but by no means impossible either) makes Caitlyn absolutely lethal to fleeing enemies in lane. There will be no escape.
Oh yeah, and once this attack locks on to you, it can't be dodged. Even if you get out of the initial range while the bullet is on its way, the shot will still hit you and follow you all the way till it hits you (and more than likely kills you).
That leads me to the biggest downside of this attack however: it can be blocked. Situationally-aware tanks or any member of a team that's thinking on their toes at all will use the 1-second charge-up time jump in front of the shot to save their dying teammate that's most likely in your crosshairs, leaving you plain out of luck with no kill and a minimum 60-second cooldown to have to wait out. Thus, this attack requires very precise positioning, impeccable timing, and a little bit of luck to land it on your target if there's anyone else in the vicinity of the attack. However, this attack is also the reason why nobody, and I mean nobody, outruns Caitlyn.
Take points in this whenever you can: levels 6, 11, and 16, meaning you'll max it out third.
Items Part 1: Final Build and Alternate Items
And now the most important part of this guide and most likely the reason you're here: the items.
Ideally, my final build will feature the following items:
The Black Cleaver
I'm going to cover this in two parts: first I'm going to explain my logic behind each item and then second I'm going to cover an exact order in which you should purchase these items and their individual pieces.
The Berserker's Greaves are an amazing boost to a stat that Caitlyn is not only short in initially, but is one of the most important stats to build up in order to do a lot of damage very quickly: attack speed. And these suckers increase it by an additional 20%. Caitlyn's primary source of damage as an AD carry is going to come from her autoattacks, so the ability to fire those off at a faster rate is always going to be beneficial. Additionally, Caitlyn really doesn't have much of a need for extra cooldown reduction or magic resist or anything so really these boots are the only logical choice. An argument could be made for Boots of Swiftness but keep reading onward and you'll see that the items Cait builds up more than adequately take care of her initial lack of movement speed, including adding on Enchantment: Alacrity to gain an additional +15.
The ultimate boost item for an AD carry, granting an additional 70 attack damage. That alone makes this a logical choice for Caitlyn, however the benefits continue. The Infinity Edge also grants her an extra 25% critical strike chance, and has a unique passive that causes all critical strikes to do 250% damage instead of their regular 200%. So... a ton of extra damage, increased crit chance (a skill that likewise increases even more with items discussed later), and extra damage on each of those critical strikes... how is this not a must-have?
The Phantom Dancer is your "glue" item that holds your entire build together really. You can pack a huge amount of AD in between the Infinity Edge and The Black Cleaver but it won't do anything without the boosts the Phantom Dancer gives you. In addition to boosting your movement speed by 5%, this legendary item grants a whopping 30% increase in your crit chance. But that's not even the best part yet; that honor belongs to the breathtaking 50% increase in attack speed.
Putting the benefits of this item together with the Infinity Edge alone, Caitlyn increases her AD by 70, her crit chance by 55%, her crit damage by 50%, her move speed by 5%, and her attack speed by 50%. When picked up early in a game, these two items alone can make you even more of a terror in the mid-game stage than you were in the early going.
Even though it really makes no sense why this item gets constructed out of The Brutalizer now instead of from a B. F. Sword like it used to, the preseason patch made The Black Cleaver borderline-OP, and thus, there's almost no reason to not go for one when playing as Caitlyn. As I've stated before, AD carries can be straight-countered by Armor and the only way to ensure this doesn't happen is by building armor penetration. The Black Cleaver grants you both +10 armor penetration, as well as a unique ability that reduces your foe's armor by 6.25% for 4 seconds, stacking up to 4 times. If you can get four quick shots off on an enemy, that's an extra 25% of armor reduction that your entire team can take advantage of, not just you.
The other big benefit of this item comes in the form of an additional +50 Attack Damage, bringing your total to +120, plus runes, plus masteries, plus armor penetration and reduction. And with an extra 10% cooldown reduction, you'll be firing your Piltover Peacemaker and Ace in the Hole even quicker.
And the cherry on the sundae? An extra 250 health. Because the last thing an opponent needs is a Caitlyn that's dealing copious amounts of damage to be even more difficult to kill. You'll be just trolling by this point.
Another classic staple item in the arsenal of an AD carry, the Bloodthirster can provide you with self-sustain and eliminate the need to carry health potions because it grants you life steal. While its initial stats are unquestionably fantastic (+70 AD and +12% life steal), the nature of this item's true strength is a touch inconsistent as it operates on stacks. Each stack grants the Bloodthirster 1 extra AD and +0.2% life steal, maxing out at 30 stacks.
The benefits of this? You can gain a stack by simply killing minions. With Caitlyn's amazing farming capabilities, stacking up a Bloodthirster shouldn't be too difficult. And likewise a fully powered Bloodthirster grants a whopping +100 AD and 18% life steal, a particularly nasty combination.
The cons? You lose half the stacks when you die, and playing a very squishy, high-damage AD carry means you're going to be in the crosshairs of opponents a lot, more than likely first in a team fight. It will be very difficult to hold on to these stacks, and you'll then have to go through the hassle of killing minions and monsters to re-charge this item once you spawn again.
Nonetheless don't even think twice about buying one of these. Next to the Infinity Edge, it's one of the most deadly AD carry items in the game.
The sixth item of this build is where I usually focus on building up the defensive part of Caitlyn's game, and this can be done in a number of ways. The Banshee's Veil greatest strength is its unique passive that grants you a shield which blocks the next incoming ability. Should your opponents be looking to engage against you in a team fight, this shield will block the first incoming ability, including preventing any slows, stuns, knock-ups, or other CC effects. It will not, however, block autoattacks. This is great for survival and extremely frustrating for opponents because they will no doubt be relying on that little bit of CC to control you early in the teamfight, and perhaps even kill you knocking off your team's AD carry and immediately putting your team shorthanded. This item prevents that and forces them to essentially rethink their strategy.
The downside to this shield is it does not return until you've gone 25 seconds without taking damage from an enemy champion. So don't count on it coming back in a pinch when you're fleeing for your life from a pursuing foe.
But back on the positives, the Banshee's Veil also helps negate your opponent's AP carry by granting you an additional 45 magic resistance and 300 health. Likewise, an additional 300 mana helps you stay out on the battlefield longer should you still be needing to spam your Piltover Peacemaker and Yordle Snap Traps. With AP casters usually being very heavy on the burst damage, this item will no doubt frustrate or at least add to the difficulties a character like Ziggs, Twisted Fate, or Veigar could have in taking you down.
So now that I've explained the items in this build and the reason I have them there, let me go into some alternatives. Your final build with Caitlyn should vary depending on how the game is progressing, as should your build order.
The following items should be in your build every game regardless of your opponents and game progress: Berserker's Greaves (enchanted with Enchantment: Alacrity), Infinity Edge, Phantom Dancer, and The Bloodthirster. These are what I call your core items.
Here are some alternative items that work well with Caitlyn and I encourage building when the situation calls for it.
I don't usually build this as I favor having the extra attack damage and slight cooldown reduction of The Black Cleaver in my build, however the 35% armor penetration is a trump card in games where the opposing team is heavy on high-health characters-- Darius, Shen, Malphite, Jayce, Diana, and Leona just to name a few. When these characters start building armor they become a huge problem for Caitlyn, and the armor penetration offered by the Last Whisper can help negate some of that disadvantage. But as I said before, by building this item instead of The Black Cleaver, you're surrendering extra attack damage, as well as Armor Reduction, which will help your entire team, not just you.
This is an all-out defense item for Caitlyn and really should only be used in games where you're struggling to hold the enemy team out of your base. This won't do anything to stop AP heavy teams, but for teams that feature some of the same characters I listed above in my discussion of Last Whisper, the Frozen Heart could be your ticket to sustained survival. 90 armor will help repel any high AD attacks, and an extra 400 mana will keep you setting Yordle Snap Traps and firing off Piltover Peacemakers for a much longer time. Additionally, this item will frustrate any Rivens or Shacos that may appear as it will slow the attack speed of those characters by 20%, rendering them virtually useless as you peg them to death with autoattacks.
One of the best items to get as a ranged AD carry, the Frozen Mallet is your answer to quick teams, featuring characters like Master Yi, Teemo, Ezreal or any other character that always seems to be able to use move speed to elude you. The Frozen Mallet's biggest upside is its ability to slow opponents you hit by 30% for 1.5 seconds. On top of that it will also grant you an additional 30 attack damage and 700 health--an all-around boost in strength.
Items Part 2: Build Order
So how do you build up these items as the game progresses? Here's my near-foolproof plan for keeping Caitlyn lethal throughout all stages of the game.
From spawn: Your choice of item selections from spawn depend greatly on your team composition (most importantly your support), your play style, and your team's intentions from the start. However, I'd say a good 90% of the time you will want to take the combination of Boots of Speed and three Health Potions. If you're laning with a good healing support, such as Taric, Sona, or Soraka you may want to consider getting only one Health Potion and running two Mana Potions instead to help you keep spamming your Piltover Peacemaker, which you should be taking early. With a Soraka in your lane, you may also want to consider buying a Doran's Blade first since she can keep you topped off on both health and mana. You will be slightly slower to begin with but you will have an extra edge in damage. Otherwise, however, the Doran's Blade really isn't a good choice because it essentially wastes your spawn gold on an item that doesn't contribute to your final build at all. Once the game begins, if you have a little extra gold and want a little extra damage, a Doran's Blade is not a bad choice, but from spawn, I would say go for the Boots/Potions combo about 95% of the time.
If you find yourself in mana trouble (which is highly possible if you spam your abilities like I do) and aren't running Clarity, a mana regen is also a plausible choice here. On the plus side, it will allow you to keep casting spells. On the downside this item will get sold off eventually once you get less mana reliant, so in all reality in my eyes it's just a waste of gold and slows you down from your true goal which is building a ton of AD as quickly as possible. The most advantageous item here is a Philosopher's Stone, which will grant you +9 mana regeneration and +7 health regen (making it a good choice to run with a support that doesn't have a healing ability). Likewise it gives you an additional 5 gold every 10 seconds you hold it, shrinking the amount of time before you can get back to building AD items. However, at 700 gold it's expensive to purchase and only sells back for 350, meaning you're going to have to keep it long enough to make 350 bonus gold before it starts shrinking this gold setback. No matter what you're going to be set back at least somewhat on your damage curve, and this can be risky when your opponents are continuing to build armor and health to try and stop you.
Try to stay out in your lane as long as you possibly can. With the sustain you should be getting from running with Clarity, you should easily be able to stay in your lane past level 6, at which point you will put your first point in Ace in the Hole and, without forgoing any advantage you may have in your lane push, you should return to base to pick up your B. F. Sword. If you have enough gold left over, grab either a Cloak of Agility or a Pickaxe. I usually choose the Cloak of Agility because it's an early increase in Crit Chance, helping you to dole out some big damage early, and it's the more expensive item. But if you prefer the extra AD there's nothing wrong with that; go for the Pickaxe.
As you can probably tell by now your first major item of this game is your Infinity Edge. If you can get this item early enough (meaning in under ~19 minutes), you're going to be sitting pretty for a while. The extra AD/crit chance/crit damage is going to keep you dealing a high amount of damage, particularly to squishy carries/supports and tanks that aren't all that armored-up yet.
From there your focus should turn to your glue item: your Phantom Dancer. The first peace of this will be a Zeal. Zeals are fantastic items: they're cheap (1100 gold) and give you considerable boots in move speed, attack speed, and crit chance. This is the first piece of the Phantom Dancer you should build, always. From there, either build the Phantom Dancer straight from it, or if you need to, buy the dagger for another boost to your attack speed. The quicker you can get to the final item the better.
From there, I suggest you move on to build either your The Black Cleaver or your Last Whisper because usually about now tanks are starting to get tanky, and people will be taking notice of how much damage you're doing so they'll start building armor to counter you. Hence, the armor penetration/reduction will come in handy. However, get one or the other right now, not both. You will need to keep ramping up your damage and critical strike before going for more armor penetration or else you'll fall behind on your damage output.
Finally, at long last, the time has come to build The Bloodthirster. Most AD carries will be making a hard push for this item early in the game and many take it as the first major item you get in order to build up the stacks. However, like I said, when you die you lose stacks so you need to be able to defend yourself first before building and stacking this up. This is why I get it so late. Plus, by this point the game should be approaching its late stages and you need to have a trick up your sleeve to keep your damage level high. An extra 70 AD will have be a huge boost at this point because you should start seeing critical strikes on at least half of your shots. Likewise by this point farming and taking down minions should be a cinch; one fell swoop of your Piltover Peacemaker can take an entire wave down almost entirely, leaving you to clean up in a few short seconds. This will charge your Bloodthirster quickly, shortening the amount of time between purchase and maximum effectiveness. Simultaneously, this will negate the need to carry any more health potions since a few quick autoattacks should give you some extra health due to the life steal. As with any major item, try to buy the biggest piece of it first, in this case being another B. F. Sword.
Then comes your final item and this is where you make a judgement call. Are you getting wrecked by tons of AD damage from a character like Vayne or Ashe? Build a Frozen Heart, starting with a Glacial Shroud. If an opposing AD Carry somehow gets fed (hopefully not by you), you may want to consider getting this item earlier to help keep yourself alive and in the fight. That being said building this item any earlier than last will set you behind on your damage curve.
Should you be facing a team with a lethal AP carry or a lot of CC, build a Banshee's Veil. This will help ward off any initiation attacks your opponents will be looking to throw at you, such as a stun or a snare, which if one of these lands more or less means your death. This is my most commonly built last item.
Should the opposing team be very tanky, build either The Black Cleaver or a Last Whisper, whichever one you didn't already build. Extra armor penetration will tear through the layers of a tank's defenses and help wear them down faster, negating a tanky team's only really solid defense.
If you need another huge damage boost, build another The Bloodthirster. Two fully charged Bloodthirsters is just a nightmare to think about. This will be expensive and time consuming but I think it's pretty safe to say there's no single character in the game who will be tanky enough to stop Caitlyn alone should you get here. I've had single-attacks crit for over 2600 damage when I've had two of these fully charged, meaning I was two-shotting opposing carries. Additionally, it's hilarious to watch Caitlyn essentially tank a turret while killing an enemy because of all the life steal these two would give you. It's just overall a fun time.
As I stated earlier, teams with a lot of move speed or fast-moving characters should be countered with a Frozen Mallet, which will slow them down in their tracks and allow your team to catch up and stomp them to death without much trouble. Likewise should any of these speedy characters catch up to you and start attacking you, the extra health this item provides could be the difference between life and death.
All of these items aside, however, much of this build order depends on how you play and how the game progresses. Should you need the armor early, go for the armor early and keep yourself alive. If you like getting The Bloodthirster early and charging it up, by all means do it if it works best for you. From my experience, this is the best order in which to build these items, but likewise every game is different and any good League of Legends player must have the skills to adapt their build and build order to fit their circumstances in every game. Try things out, experiment, and make this build fit to your play style.
You're playing Caitlyn obviously, so what should you do? Well she's not very well-equipped for playing solo-mid and that's fine. Let the AP carries have their fun there. She could be an interesting choice for duo-top lane combo (much like a Nidalee). However, I feel like almost everybody will agree with me that Caitlyn is by far the most at home going at it in the bottom lane.
So that being said Caitlyn will be running with a support character. Who should that support be? Well here are just a few brief suggestions.
"Hey... hey you. Yeah you. I dare you to challenge this combo. But you probably won't. Cause you're a little *****. I've seen your type before. You're scared. Between my powerball and taunt, you'll be so stopped up and frustrated that you won't even see Caitlyn pounding your *** with lead. Then when I try to run, Caitlyn throws a trap down to bail me out, launches her Piltover Peacemaker through your shocked face and pegs you down. Just when you think you're clear... oops! Ace in the Hole! And just like I thought... you're both a little *****... and dead. I dare you to prove me different." -Rammus
So yeah he's a fun one to lane with for Caitlyn but be aware that you will need to support his diving in with his powerball with some sustained DPS. You'll be spamming your Piltover Peacemaker a lot when in lane with him. Likewise, he has no natural sustain, but his CC and armor makes a lane victory more likely than not. Plus it's just awesome to get a kill while your opponent is sitting their raging at Rammus's taunts.
Alistar's a great support to run with. Any good Alistar will spam his Triumphant Roar like nobody's business so you will have health to trade off in a tightly contested lane. Likewise, his charge will provide a great amount of CC and give you numerous opportunities to finish off opponents. Make sure you hold tight on your Q when Ali signals an opponent. Peg your opponent with autoattacks, let Alistar charge, launch your Piltover Peacemaker, then finish him off with a couple more Autoattacks, and set Ignite on them should the need exist. Don't ever get out of position though because an experienced enemy will ignore Alistar's charge and go straight after you should you give them the chance.
The Starchild is the only character I can remember off hand that has an ability that can restore mana ( Infuse), which is fantastic for Caitlyn. Should I have a Soraka in lane with me, that would be the only time I would consider forgoing Clarity in favor of a different spell. Her passive grants you additional magic resist, her Wish is a high-powered global heal, and she'll easily keep you topped off on health and boost your armor with her Astral Blessing, giving you a vicious ability to push hard and trade hits. In my eyes she's easily one of the best partners for Caitlyn.
I haven't had the opportunity to lane with many Nunus before but he provides a good aggressive presence that will help you push lanes. He's strong, relatively tanky, and his Ice Blast attack deals a rather high amount of damage and slows opponents considerably. Plus with his passive, he can spam the hell out of his abilities theoretically for free. Additionally, Blood Boil can provide a lane-winning boost, particularly when used in combo with Ice Blast.
No I'm not crazy. I kid you not this is far and away the most lethal lane combination I've played in with as Caitlyn before and it's happened multiple times. Morgana is a seriously underrated support character. Between her Dark Binding and Tormented Soil, she has a wicked combo of stun and DoT. When combined with a few autoattacks from this Caitlyn build and a blast from Piltover Peacemaker, this combo has taken down countless opponents. On multiple occasions, the combo of Dark Binding and Piltover Peacemaker with an Ignite tossed in has won me first blood before minions had even spawned.
But she's not just offensive support. Black Shield makes you spell immune, and a smart Morgana can read the enemy team, cast this around, and bail you out of many sticky situations, particularly in lanes against opponents heavily armed with CC skills of their own.
A support Morgana will love you for carrying Clarity and both of you will benefit from it. Not many support characters can provide both the CC and pure damage Morgana can combine. Trust me, don't bash it till you try it, this combo is absolutely devastating in a bottom lane.
Not my favorite hero by any means, but credit where credit is due, he's great to lane with. His stun is borderline OP, his heal keeps you stocked up on health, and his tankiness helps absorb much of the damage that would have hit you with few repercussions as he simply heals and all is well again. Don't expect much in the way of damage assistance, but a good Taric is never a bad thing to have in lane with you.
Probably the best all-around support in the League right now, Sona's many auras will constantly keep you buffed up on extra damage, move speed, and health, and her Crescendo has the amazing ability to turn just about any team fight. She's very squishy and requires a skilled summoner controlling her, but alongside Caitlyn, she's a very viable lane partner who will provide heals and other buffs that will keep opponents frustrated, and you in good shape. Her underrated ability to employ slows and other forms of subtle CC can catch opponents off guard when suddenly they're even slightly out of position and Sona and Caitlyn have made them pay for it rather quickly and unexpectedly.
Here are some tips for some opponents that Caitlyn has a particularly hard time dealing with.
His Seismic Shard is not a skill shot, meaning once it locks on to you, it's undodgeable. It deals damage, slows you, and increases his movement speed toward you where his autoattacks deal a lot of damage. Because of this, he's a huge headache to deal with. Combine his Unstoppable Force and you have a hero built to initiate team fights on squishy carries like Caitlyn. The only way to really counter him is keep your 90 Caliber Net ready and hope your team can turn on him when he dives you.
Fizz is the only character who can legitimately dodge Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole and as such he's nearly impossible to lane against. Any smart Fizz player will keep his Playful / Trickster ability handy if his health starts dropping low, meaning he will dodge Caitlyn's finishing blow. Likewise, his Chum the Waters has the ability to lock on, rendering it undodgeable for Caitlyn. Fizz will aim this one at you in just about every situation, dealing massive magic damage.
Jax loves bushes, particularly because of his ability to leap out of them and land on your head, followed by beating you to death with a lamppost. When playing against a Jax, keep the bushes in your general vicinity stocked up on Yordle Snap Traps and use their brief revealing ability to constantly check for his presence. Firing your Piltover Peacemaker blindly into a bush you know he's standing in is also not a bad bet. Think of it as a bluff, making him think of the possibility that perhaps that bush is warded.
Likewise, standing immediately behind a trap will serve as a deterrent to him as well. If he wants to jump on your head, he'll have nowhere to retreat to besides right back over the trap, stunning him and essentially killing him (particularly if it's in range of a turret. However, it's also pretty easy to keep him at bay with your Piltover Peacemaker.
Master Yi's Highlander is OP. I know that's a strong topic for debate in this game but I firmly believe it is. When combined with Alpha Strike, he can't be slowed, can't be targeted, and essentially has a free pass to get right next to you (even if you're in the correct position) and then also has a way out. There's really no way to defend against this either alone or as a team, and once he's killed you, his cooldowns all reset. O. P.
The only way Caitlyn can semi-deter him is to keep the ground around herself littered with Yordle Snap Traps because those are one of the few things that can actually stop him in his tracks when he enters his Highlander mode. However the only bona-fide way of ensuring his demise: don't feed him early, and pray your team hunts him down and kills him before he has a chance to get to you.
He's not annoying from a damage standpoint, but he's difficult to kill, his Dazzle is not a skill shot and is extremely annoying, and his Imbue will make you tear your hair out in frustration when it saves an opponent from death/negates the hard work you've done getting an opponent low on health.
Possibly the best jungler in the game, Lee Sin has it all: lots of damage, tons of CC effects, team buffs, and extremely high move speed with the ability to leap a long distance to land a high-damage blow against you ( Resonating Strike). He's very easy to feed, and extremely difficult to bring down once he's fed. Wards will be your friends in games against a Lee Sin.
It's pretty much a guarantee that he's going to target you with his Crowstorm and probably appear out of seemingly nowhere to use it. When this happens, immediately 90 Caliber Net out of the attack's range and put some space between you and him. If he chases you, consider placing a Yordle Snap Trap a few paces in front of him to slow him up even further. If you get the opportunity to turn, however, do so. He's very soft and will not take kindly to a few high-damage critical strikes. Make him pay for jumping into a fight targeting you.
Two words: Rocket Grab. If you think you're safe, step back a little further just to be sure. This ability has a range of 925, and a skilled player can sneak it through even the smallest of holes to grab you. If he succeeds, might as well open the shop cause you're most likely dead. This can be countered however with smart positioning and clever use of minions as shields, as this attack does hit minions. Likewise when laning with him, keep your the bushes loaded with Yordle Snap Traps to prevent him from gaining a free positional advantage.
A support Morgana in lane with you will be extremely frustrating to an enemy Blitzcrank, as her Black Shield will make you temporarily immune to Rocket Grabs. Likewise, keep your 90 Caliber Net handy and fire it immediately should you find yourself even the slightest bit vulnerable.
Probably the most annoying hero in the game in my opinion. His combination of dash Nimbus Strike and spin-to-win Cyclone is deadly and very difficult to escape from. Stay well back when you see him in lane, deter him with your turret, and likewise if you see him stop moving, stop shooting him. Do NOT fire your Ace in the Hole until you've seen him waste his Decoy. Otherwise you'll have wasted your ult on nothing more than a false image and you'll hate yourself for it. Likewise, do NOT get an Oracle's Elixer (no need to give opponents an extra reason to target you), but rely on your support or tank to do so, and this little trick will be completely ineffective.
Gameplay Tips & Game Phases
Early Game/Laning Phase
- Communicate with your team, most particularly with your support. If you're laning with a damage-heavy support partner like Lux or Morgana, ping your targets and make sure your partner focuses them with you. Move in synchronization.
- Stay behind your minions. The majority of simple skills cannot pass through these little guys so as long as Caitlyn allows them to take the damage and uses her range to her advantage, she's safe. Opponents will have to put themselves in a very dangerous spot to go after her, in which case, advantage you.
- Pay close attention to your mana while running Clarity. The worst feeling in the world is watching an opponent escape with less than 20 health remaining because you forgot to refill your mana to fire your finishing Piltover Peacemaker blow.
- Always focus the enemy carry first. Without their carry, the enemy support is helpless. Take out the damage dealer and the support will be a free kill as well. Exception: Blitzcrank. With his Rocket Grab always looming as a threat, there's no harm in taking him down first and then turning your attention to the opposing carry.
- Be patient. Let your opponents make the mistakes, whether it's staying out too long with low health, putting themselves in a bad position, or diving at an inopportune moment, most AD carries will take unnecessary risks to attempt to get a kill rather than win their lane. Make them pay for this by getting the kill yourself. Likewise, do not move on an enemy unless you have a distinct advantage against them and an awareness of your surroundings.
- Push with caution. Much of the laning phase will be you and your enemies pushing back and forth. This is fine. Only get hits on the tower from a distance and only when you're certain you won't be ganked. You may not take it down quickly, but a few hits at a time and eventually it will fall. Or one well-timed gank from your jungler could be all you need to knock out both your opponents and take the tower in one fell swoop.
- Know your opponents and their abilities. Use your knowledge of the opposing champions to give yourself a heads up on what strategies they're most likely to employ and in turn how to counter them. Adapt your game to theirs and beat them with it.
- Keep your opponents in bushes on their toes with Yordle Snap Traps. Use them to check bushes for their positions. Likewise, keep the river in check with one in the bush to scare off/foil junglers.
- Fire your Piltover Peacemaker early and often. Practice and perfect your timing so as to make sure you hit as many targets as possible with each shot. Then clean up the minions it hit for maximum farming efficiency.
- Try to stay in lane as long as possible to fill your gold bank as much as you can before going back. Big boosts from buying large items all at once are often more effective than tiny boosts bought more often. Likewise you'll waste less time walking from base back to lane.
- Keep a sharp eye on the river and watch out for enemy junglers, who will be licking their chops if they can get between you and your tower.
- Be extremely hesitant to dive the enemy's tower. Taking one or two hits from this will leave you in an extremely vulnerable state, and with the enemy jungler lurking, could mean you're only setting yourself up to die without a fight, even if you get a kill from it.
- Use your 90 Caliber Net only as a defensive escape maneuver. For now, this is only supposed to help you escape from any ganks.
- Don't wander off alone for extended periods of time or far in to enemy territory. You will be extremely vulnerable and the entire enemy team will come after you if they see a squishy AD carry on their minimap with nobody around to help. You're essentially a free kill.
- Keep an eye on your minimap at all times. Watch how your opponents move. If you have a chance to sneak a tower down without being caught, do it. However, don't go for anything if you aren't sure you can then escape again without being caught. Likewise, try to get to where the action is and help your team out, like a good teammate should.
- Don't get pinched. Meaning don't get caught with an opponent between you and your base. You will be the first one targeted and more than likely killed, even if you have teammates with you.
- Place Yordle Snap Traps in any gaps which an opponent my try to gank you from. This at least forces them to slow up for a split second which may give you enough time to escape.
- Do not try to defend turrets alone, particularly when outnumbered. If you're defending a turret one-on-one with an enemy AD or AP carry, you may be able to get away with it as long as you use your range to your advantage, and force your opponent to get within range of the turret to hit either it or you. However, if you're defending 1v2, your opponents will dive the turret to take you down first then destroy it. Just give up on it. It's better to save yourself and not feed an opponent rather than die trying to save a lost cause.
- Likewise, while defending a turret, take down the opposing minions as fast as possible. This will prevent your opponent from pushing as they'll be targeted the moment they get in range of a turret. You'll get farm, you'll stay alive, and your opponent will be frustrated and most likely just give up and leave.
- Damage, damage, damage, damage, damage. Deal as much damage to opponents as possible. You should have enough of it built to be a nightmare for any opposing team member.
- Don't die. You'll lose your stacks on The Bloodthirster and you'll get to sit and wait for a long stretch of time while your team fights on short-handed.
- Don't solo Baron. This goes along with not dying. Baron will kill you. And if he doesn't, your opponents will inevitably find you trying and kill you themselves.
- Let your hardier comrades call the shots and initiate the fight. They're built for it. Use your range to your advantage and follow your team's lead. Trust your tank to protect you if you get targeted in a team fight. Use your 90 Caliber Net to escape and odds are your slowed opponent will immediately regret his decision to dive after you.
- Stay in the back of team fights and use your teammates as protection. Force your opponents to get through 3 or 4 allied champions to get to you. Odds are they won't even want to try it. And if they do, odds are they're going to regret it.
- Do not EVER put yourself out of position to go for an easier kill. This is exactly the mistake your opponents need to stomp you like an ant. They may be just out of your reach, but if that's the case focus a tankier character who's closer to you first. Once they fall, you'll be clear to chase the carry.
- When your teammate tanks a turret, repay him by taking that turret down ASAP. A highly-built Caitlyn slices through turrets like a knife through soft butter. This leaves your opponent with nowhere to run, your tank with more life, and everyone on your team with additional gold. Everbody wins... except your opponents.
- Continue using your Piltover Peacemaker to wipe out minion waves efficiently. Additionally, firing it through a group of enemies all standing near each other is a great way to deal a lot of damage to the entire team all at once for very little mana. Serves them right for standing so close together.
- Troll with Yordle Snap Traps. Place a couple on the ground where your opponents will most likely walk right before a team fight begins and force your enemies to watch where they tread. They may make the mistake of setting one off and congratulations, you've initiated the team fight.
Well you've made it this far... supposedly. If you don't want to read everything I wrote, here's the entire guide in a few quick sentences:
- Get AD masteries/runes.
- Run Clarity and Ignite. Don't hesitate to use Ignite in battle.
- Build tons of AD, Critical Strike Chance, and Attack Speed. Top it off with some Armor Penetration, but don't prioritize it.
- Max out Piltover Peacemaker first and spam it like nobody's business.
- Stay behind your minions.
- Don't get caught out of position.
- Farm like crazy.
- Stay with your team.
- USE YOUR HEAD AND PLAY SMART.
- And most importantly: adapt everything you've read here to your game circumstances and your own personal play style. The best players adapt to the game they're in.
I thank you for reading this guide and I look forward to reading your thoughts. I do ask that if you're going to downvote, please at least try this build first, and then comment telling me why you didn't like this build if you do still downvote it. I encourage feedback.
If you feel I've left something out or have any questions, please comment as well. I'd be more than happy to discuss and debate.
Special thanks to League of Legends Wiki for help with specific statistics and other information.
Close to 20 hours of writing later... this guide is FINALLY done!