Just like every champion, every item has its own place in the League of Legends. Each item functions uniquely, and the difference between a good item choice and a bad one can make all the difference for how a match turns out. For your champion has 5 abilities (one passive) that are set in stone for that champion forever, but no matter who you picked the items you purchase are entirely up to you--you could pack a Lich Bane on Kassadin just as easily as you could buy a Randuin's Omen for him (they are the same price).
Of course, just because they cost the same doesn't make them the same, especially on a champion like Kassadin. As such, great care should go into what item you should purchase, who you should buy it for, and when it needs to be bought. That is what this guide is for--examining each item for its role in the game. Let's get started, shall we?
The item in question for today's guide is the Nashor's Tooth, an AP item that is common in many AP Carry builds.
However, just because it is common doesn't make it a "Keep-it-simple-stupid" item that everyone should build on every Champion they own, or even for every AP Carry they own. Liandry's Torment is a common item too, but that doesn't mean you should build it on Diana just because you build it on Teemo or Brand. You can throw a game surprisingly easily by building the wrong item, or even buying one at the wrong time.
Gold Advantage is important, and gold earned from being ahead in the game shouldn't be wasted (nor should gold be wasted when you are behind). Every fight is different and just because you got First Blood doesn't guarantee a victory against your opponent next time. They may have learned from their mistakes, purchased a counter-item, or bought a much-needed core item in their build. Don't waste time and money on the wrong items! In a game where everyone is constantly improving their stats and attacks, items can be just as important as maintaining your level with everyone else.
That in mind, let's examine the basics behind the Nashor's Tooth as well as find out where its place in LoL really is.
Pros And Cons
Nashor's Tooth is good in some areas and not-so-good in others:
|+ Decent AP
+ Good Attack Speed
+ 20% Cooldown
+ Useful Unique Passive
|This item provides a variety of uses to those who find what it offers to be favorable. A decent amount of AP as well as a ton of Attack Speed make Nashor's Tooth a powerful ally in any AP Carry's arsenal, and its Unique Passive adding even more AP damage to your Auto-Attacks is just icing on the cake. And of course, 20% Cooldown is an insane plus to this item, as fewer and fewer items give 20% each patch, it seems (as of now only 5 items in the game offer 20%--most of them defensive items).|
|+ Few Champions Use
+ Mildly Awkward Build
+ Not Stackable
+ Offers Little Help to Most APs and Attack-Speed Champions
|Unfortunately Nashor's Tooth isn't without flaws. Being an awkward combination of AP and Attack Speed means few Champions can make use of it (even most Hybrids rely more on Burst Damage than Auto-Attacks). It also doesn't build easily and takes up space most APs and other Attack Speed reliant Champs aren't willing to give up. Lastly, the 20% Cooldown tragically does not stack, or else good things would definitely always come in pairs.|
Nashor's Tooth is primarily an offensive item. It grants 60 AP and 50% Attack Speed. Both of these are a good amount of both, although over the years more items have received buffs to their AP stats such as Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Twin Shadows, making items with 60+ AP more common than before. 50% Attack Speed is still good though, able to boost a Champion's Auto-Attack rates significantly without the need for other similar items.
Cost and Recipe:
This item costs 2920 Gold to buy. Fairly expensive, but it's not an abhorrent amount like the Hextech Gunblade is, so we'll survive. It builds from the Stinger and the Fiendish Codex, and costs an additional 920 Gold to finish. This is an expensive yet fluid build with a near 1000 Gold to complete, but as long as you have the Level 2 recipe items, you'll essentially have the Nashor's Tooth (save for the Passive). I maintain the opinion that the most convenient items cost barely anything to complete after the recipe items are purchased, but as long as you can control your spending whenever returning to base (or as long as you can lane and farm well enough without needed to Recall to save up enough successfully), you will be able to purchase it sooner or later. Just remember--you can get yourself the Attack Speed, the AP, and the Cooldown Reduction easily enough between its Recipe Items.
Now for the Unique Passive: Nashor's Tooth has two very powerful Passives. The first is the 20% Cooldown Reduction, a useful asset to any item. This means that with the Nashor's Tooth, you've already maxed out at least half of the maximum 40% possible Cooldown Reduction in the game. With other items, this would take 4 slots, but with 20% items, only 2 are required. This can be vital to any champion, anytime.
Secondly there is another interesting Unique Passive. Any Champion with Nashor's Tooth deals an automatic 15 Magic Damage per Auto Attack, along with a bonus 15% of their Ability Power. With a sufficient amount of AP, a champion can essentially boost their Auto Attacks with a significant amount of Magic Damage. Depending on how you build, who you play, and who you play against, this passive can be anywhere from completely forgettable to an incredible Auto Attack buff. Never forget it's there!
Now, Nashor's Tooth was once much cheaper to purchase and therefore rush. However, it has become more expensive over time and now takes a considerable effort to construct. As such, it is best saved for the Mid-Game, giving you time to work on other, more important items for your build. Certain Champions may of course still insist on rushing the Nashor's Tooth during the Early-Game, but that is merely preference. This item is best built before Late-Game arrives, and probably shouldn't be your last item.
So from this we can conclude that Nashor's Tooth is a Mid-Game item for Attack Speed, AP, and for its useful Unique Passives. It is often too costly to build Early-Game, but it provides a great deal of usefulness later on in the match (so long as your Champion sees action). With one of its greatest assets being Unique (20% Cooldown Reduction), the Nashor's Tooth typically isn't a prime candidate for building multiples.
Most people probably wouldn't have learned anything new about Nashor's Tooth by this point, as the basics are, well, merely basic. Despite its apparent simplicity, however, this item has several key elements that are what make it so useful as well as situational. This is the Advanced Uses Section.
Nashor's Tooth is my favorite item in the game. Not that I build it very often (as there are few Champions who build it regularly), but it is still my personal favorite (right up there with Frozen Heart and Rod of Ages). However, over the years this item has had its ups and its downs. And I personally believe that right now its in more of a Down.
Nashor's Tooth has become very expensive, and no longer boasts a great deal of AP comparatively. The new Unique Passive can be useful, but it has heavy competition: the Wit's End. The Wit's End is now the cheap Attack Speed option, and now gives just as much Attack Speed as the Nashor's Tooth. The Wit's End also gives a similar bonus Magic Damage Passive: an automatic 42 Damage on hit. In order for the Nashor's Tooth Unique Passive to do as much Damage on Hit, your Champion needs at least 180 AP.
Now, that isn't to say that the Nashor's Tooth fails to compete with the Wit's End--they are very different between values of AP, Cooldown Reduction, Magic Resist, and Magic Resist Reduction. And many Champions can obtain much more than 180 AP--it's just a matter of how much the Passive ends up being worth to you. Some people often forget it's even there. But Nashor's Tooth's Passive is certainly not worth forgetting. No, used correctly this Passive can do an abhorrent amount of damage all on its own.
Nashor's Tooth is an item for the AP Carry who hits hard. If you have little AP in your build, then your Passive will do little damage on hit. This will add up to little by the end of the game. With building tons of Attack Speed, however, the Wit's End Passive will do more damage over time, since it does the same amount of damage regardless of your AP. This can essentially mean that the Nashor's Tooth is best for heavy AP builds and the Wit's End is best for heavy Attack Speed builds.
That's not all, though. Wit's End gives Magic Resist while Nashor's Tooth gives AP and Cooldown Reduction. This also makes the Wit's End better suited for a defensive playstyle and the Nashor's Tooth better for offensive playstyle. Champions who can benefit from Attack Speed but who are still Tanky such as Volibear, Shyvana, and Warwick (even if he's AD) are better off with the Wit's End, while more offensive AP Carries such as Kayle, Teemo, and Diana are best suited to the Nashor's Tooth. Some may even choose to take both to maximize these items' effectiveness.
As such, the Nashor's Tooth is clearly best saved for AP-heavy Champions who benefit greatly from its AP, its scaling-Passive, and its Cooldown Reduction. Other Champions are better off shying away from the Nashor's Tooth, unless they feel that losing out on the defensive aspects and the better passive is worth it.
Nashor's Tooth works best when used with Champions who compliment its greatest strengths:
Stacking Magic Damage:
Many Champions do their own additional Magic Damage on hit, so stacking that with the Nashor's Tooth can be doubly damaging. Champions like Teemo and Cho'Gath do their own damage with their E's respectively, and many Fighters such as Jax and Diana do their own bonus damage every third Auto Attack (both scaling off of AP). Heck, even some Tanks can make the most out of their Auto Attacks every now and again--Champions like Braum after completing Concussive Blows and Nautilus during Titan's Wrath deal bonus Magic Damage. All of these Champions can make great use out of both Nashor's Tooth and Wit's End.
Tragically Nashor's Tooth cannot grant 40% Cooldown Reduction all on its own, but it does make obtaining the maximum very easily. The 20% Cooldown Reduction is undisputedly one of the best things about Nashor's Tooth, so stacking it with another 20% Cooldown Item such as the Frozen Heart, Morellonomicon, or Ionian Boots of Lucidity (close enough) can be quite useful. Even fitting in other 10% Cooldown items like the Deathfire Grasp, Spirit Visage, or Iceborn Gauntlet can be of great use to you. In a match where a game-defining teamfight can last merely a few seconds, getting your Abilities back even a second or two sooner can make all the difference.
Bypassing Armor Blocks:
Carry-counter items like the Thornmail will fall victim to any AP Carry or Hybrid wielding the Nashor's Tooth or Wit's End. The balance between Physical Damage and Magic Damage has the potential to be more damaging than any Last Whisper or Void Staff (not that those items don't work). For many Counter-Carry Armor items, Nashor's Tooth can be of great use solely because of its AP and Passive alone. Always be aware of what your enemies are building so you know how to best counter them!
Things To Avoid
Attack Speed Reducers
Even though items that counter Attack Speed give Armor only, their Unique Passives will still slow you down. Champions packing Frozen Heart and Randuin's Omen can still rain on your parade, and although you're still better off than your AD Carry will be, these foes are best dealt with by AP Burst Champions (provided they have little Magic Resist). You may be mostly AP, but it's not something worth forgetting about.
Outrageous Magic Resist:
Nashor's Tooth doesn't fare well without its own Magic Penetration. Enemy Champions packing counter-items such as Hexdrinker, Mercurial Scimitar, or Wit's End will receive little damage from the Nashor's Tooth alone. This can be countered by balancing out with AD items like Blade of the Ruined King and Hextech Gunblade, or by getting better Magic Penetration though items like Wit's End or Abyssal Scepter. Without Penetration of your own, Nashor's Tooth will do less and less damage each encounter with these enemies.
Building It Every Game:
If you build the same six items in the same order every single game, then you are a fool. Adaptability is a must in LoL, because each match can play out differently. I sometimes build Nashor's Tooth on Cho'Gath. I do--confession of the day. This is of course only when I am the most fed and can afford a sixth non-Tank item and still basically be invincible. The 20% Cooldown Reduction is good on him. Now, if I built this item on Cho'Gath every single game, I would be a fool for doing so (some may argue that I am a fool for doing it even when fed). Nashor's Tooth can be more useful during some games than others. There are times where the AP and Cooldown just isn't worth it and you need to go with Wit's End or something else entirely. Just remember, the Nashor's Tooth is a balance between Attack Speed and AP. If that balance is off, you will need to compensate with an item better suited for whatever role you need more of.
Of course, some Champions like Teemo and Kayle often sport the Nashor's Tooth as their Core Item. These people will generally build Nashor's Tooth every game. For everyone else, be careful how you build!
This was the item that basically enabled AP Carries to even be a thing in LoL. With its powerful stats and a Passive that rewards the player the more AP they're packing, Nashor's Tooth is essential amongst many AP Teemo, Kayle, Warwick, and Varus builds.
Nashor's Tooth is also an item that can be easily misused. It is not a welcome addition to any build that doesn't sport more AP Damage, and it cannot fulfill your entire build alone. The fact that its Cooldown Reduction is Unique says it all: Nashor's Tooth is an item that can't do it all on its own. Additional AP, Attack Speed, and Cooldown Reduction will truly complete both this item and your build. Use it wisely!
I hope this guide has opened your eyes to the usefulness of the Nashor's Tooth, and I hope you will make better use of it in the future (be it by using it properly or not at all!) All feedback is greatly appreciated. Just remember: the more AP the better! Good luck to you!