Build Guide by ZembowaWruszka
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Not Updated For Current Season
Not Updated For Current Season
- 1st gameplay
- Summoner Skills
- Summoner Tree
- Rune Page
- Early Game
- Middle Game
- Late Game with 2nd gameplay
- miss fortune
- Target Priority
I wrote my little guide to present you Karthus, who is in my opinion one of strongest casters in League of Legend. This guide will give you basic information about using this champion in game on Summoners Rift map. I'm going to add some info about The Twisted Treeline, when I find some free time (but on tTT map, Karthus isn't so usefull as on SR).
I want to show you how usefull for team, Karthus could be, that's why I made short gameplay from several stretches of my game. I made it in one day, so its not perfect, but my main purpose was to show you how to play as a Karthus.
Below you can find this gameplay, and some information with basic statistics. Watch this video only full-sized, because on smaller you may not see all things which I want to present.
Sometimes I will use word shortcuts:
LW - Lay Waste
WOP - Wall of Pain
Ulti - Ultimate champion skill
Q/W/E/R - buttons on keyboard
IP - Influence Points (points you gain after every match)
HP - Health points
SR - Summoner's Rift
tTT - The Twisted Treeline
CC - Crowd Control
Some of them are obvious, but now I got clear conscience, because I explain all these terms.
All lol terminology you can find in this thread (made by Matt).
Now when you know how and when you should use Karthus skills, it’s time for some theory.
Karthus basic statistics:
- He cost 6300 IP (that’s why he is rare champion)
- Small health amount (because he is not a tank)
- Great damage dealer (In my opinion its best dps ever)
Summoners skills for Karthus:
- You have to return to base/jump between lanes/teleport to minions
- So use it to destroy enemy turret when there is no defend (just your minions)
- To return to your lane after recall (yes sometimes enemy is just better and you have to restore hp )
- You can also use it to quick surprise enemy (below are pictures where I explain how to do that)
- Do not kid yourself – you need a lot of mana. Some people say that good Karthus don’t need Clarity. So imagine this situation: You are in team fight, spamming Lay Waste, Wall of Pain and you got also Defile on. Enemy is on low hp but you are just out of mana. There is only one solution: you need die as fast as its possible because it’s necessary to use Requiem. But if you got clarity you don’t need to die, and if your team need mana, you can also recharge them too.
U can also use:
- Some people say that Flash is good skill for Karthus because you can easy escape or reach escaping enemy. That’s true, but its more useful in defensive game style. You should remember that its possible to escape from ganks using *** and slowing enemy. But wait, maybe it is easier to put 2 wards(below pictures where I explain how to place them), and play without any fear that WW is hiding in bush.
- Its option only when you play ranked game, and know that you will get Twitch or Katarina on lane. They are good dmg dealers but when you will use Exhaust on them, they become easy kills without chance to escape.
- Cooldowns reduction
- Magic penetration
- Ability power
- Increasing movement speed
- Remember if you use other summoner skills than clarity to change it on tree, for example if you want select Flash, than change instead of +1 to Clarity edit it to: +1 to Flash.
Rune page :
- Magic penetration marks
- Abillity power: Glyphs and Quintessences
- HP Seals – you can also use Greater Seal of Replenishmentif you got problems with mana in early game or Greater Seal of Vitality if you need more hp in late game
- But try to buy recommended runes, because Karthus need advantage on low lvls.
Recommended rune set cost:
Marks 410 x 9 = 3690 IP
Seals 820 x 9 = 7380 IP
Glyphs 410 x 9 = 3690 IP
Quintessences 1025 x 3 = 3075
Rune set = 14760 IP (+Karthus 6300 IP = 21060 IP for Champion ready to own)
Items Build :
Recommended items buy order:
1. + x3 for start
2. for ap
3. for magic penetration
4. for ap and active skill
5. for hp, ap and slow
6. for mana, hp and ap
7. for ap and magic penetration
When you can’t get stacks on Mejai’s Soulstealer, sell it and buy:
– if you got feeded Veigar or Evelyn ap in enemy team
– if enemy got feeded ad team, or you make cd build
– if enemy got feeded ap champions other than Veigar or Evelyn
– Karthus nn more cd on Requiem (120 sec is enough because teamfights are rare)
– After many games, I see that its useless item, Karthus need about 2000 mana in teamfight, so it’s exactly normal build+clarity. Becouse I suggest to take teleport, U can recharge your mana in base and fast teleport back to your team. There are more important things than AS, which Karthus really need.
– This item is only for support, you are main carry, so you shouldn’t buy this.
Because Karthus is damn rich champion (farm creeps using defile), you can buy these elixirs if you completed whole item set: and
Damage is modified by magic penetration and magic resistance, so it can be a bit lower when you hit tank and a bit higher when you target support.
Early Game :
You are faster than enemy (not all but mostly), use this advantage to put lay waste on enemy path. Observe him, than try to separate him from his minions (because they absorb some dmg), and attack him (as in first scene in 1st gameplay video). Gain experience, and push enemy. If he come back many times to the base, he will become easier to kill. Remember to check bushes (use wall of pain or lay waste) before attack, because Karthus is “paper” hero, and can be kill very easy by enemy ambush (especially when one enemy is in the jungle). You can also use wards and save some mana. Inform team when you got miss enemy on lane, and when you gain 6th lvl try to help on other lanes. When you got Requiem ready to use, check map and find enemy with low hp level – and try to kill him by pressing R. Remember that some champions won’t die because they have counter Karthus skills. For example: Vladimir (blood pool), Kassadin (Riftwalk), Sion (Death Carres), Janna (shield), Morgana (shield), Sona, Nidalee, Taric, Alistar, Kayle, Soraka (Heal), and few more… You should be sure that when you use Requiem you will kill someone or help your teammates in killing.
If your enemy is weak, try to travel between lanes and gank some enemies there. If enemy try to gank you, buy wards and put them into bushes. Be careful when you are near enemy turret because Karthus don’t have best escape system and you can die if you’re to confidence.
You should know how put wall of pain (it’s in my movie):
- If enemy attack put it on his way
- If enemy is near your turret, put it behind him on his escape route
- If enemy try to escape put it on way he is escaping, slow him and finish using lay waste and defile if you have enough mana
If you have jungler in enemy team put wards there (you will see when they want gank you – it gives you time to escape, and you can always teleport to these wards behind current enemy position)
If you want gank enemy try this:
And if you want gank enemy jungler try this:
Full size map with tips.
Middle Game :
Now you should get blue buff before team fight. You need it for Requiem cd reduction and faster mana regen, because you should use defile if it’s possible. You can use Requiem on 2 ways: initiate attack if you know where enemy is making ambush, or to kill escaping enemies after team fight – both are good but initiate give you advantage (if more than one enemy already got , you shouldn’t initiate teamfight by Requiem). When you are in team fight use Wall of Pain in the middle of enemy group (or keep it for escaping enemies if yours team got more kills than enemy), and spam lay waste. Remember that lay waste have 0.5 sec explode delay (and about 0,66 cd on 18lvl and full item set)!
When you meet alone enemy you can kill him using 1. on enemy motion path 2 on, 3 and put some , remember that you are glass cannon and you shouldn’t attack when opponent got stun skill.
Try to destroy towers, use teleport and deal them some damage – if there’s no enemies on map, its possible that they coming to kill you, solution = use wall of pain, and leg it (If you want destroy turrets faster, you can buy instead of Mejais in Ranked Games.
Remember to select low hp targets in teamfights, when enemy focus you that means you are to close , but after die you still can fight! When you die defile is automatically on, so put wall of pain and spam lay waste near your target positions. Remember to die in good place, near enemy (yours team should know that you are useful even after death) You can surprise enemy quickly coming back to them, because you’ve got 20% less time spend dead, and teleport skill!
Late Game :
Same rules as in middle game. You can also use Zhonya’s Hourglass to avoid being first target champion. Remember before you use Zhonya’s Hourglass active skill, you should turn on defile. (Set as “1” key on your keybord)
And here is gameplay made by xxleg3ndxx:
Playing against :
Easy enemies for Karthus
Difficult enemies for Karthus
Very Difficult enemies for Karthus
This is my subjective opinion, some people can disagree with me. I divided these champions by skills they have, not by how well they are seized by other players. There are for sure people who can easy kill Karthus when they playing Ashe, but mostly killing Ashe by Karthus is easier. Ive played about 600 game as Karthus so far, and I based below informations on my game experience.
Anivia is hard to kill because he got Rebirth skill, which can be used once on each 5 min after death. When anvivia is killed behind his turret it’s hard to destroy turret because it target champions damaging anivias egg. So don’t try turret diving, it’s too dangerous! Best way to kill anivia is to stun her, so you need champion with stun for help. You can try to kill her without using stun but its’ not so simple. You have to decrease his hp, by 3-4 LW. Then use *** and when he try escape kill him by LW. Its weak champ and he should turn in to egg very fast. When you are sure that enemy minions can’t kill you, and turret can’t reach you, finish egg killing him. But beware on anivia stun, her skills are powerfull and make huge dmg. If you have less than ½ hp and you are out of hp points, recall to base and teleport back to your lane. Don’t use Requiem to kill anivia, if you are not sure about Rebirth cd. Try to help your teammates on other lanes, and watch anivias moves, prevent his ganks. In team fights he is not your main target, but don’t stay near him.
Before you attack annie, click on her and look how many pyromania stacks she has. If its more than 3, don’t attack because she will stun you and make big dmg. After her 6th lvl, play more defensive if she got her ultimate ready to use. If she 2x stuns you, there is no chance to survive it. But she is also very weak, so when you exp on creeps try staying out of her range, and sometimes put LW under her feet or on her path. If she got 2/3 hp and she is in good distance from her turret, it’s time to attack. Use *** directly on her, and use LW few times. If she use Flash, let her escape, and go gank other lane. If she escaped and you got ultimate ready, use it and kill her. Remember that in team fights killing her is your priority. If you are alone on low level, don’t fight with her when she have tribbers, kill him firstly, and then try kill her. If you want kill tribers, come to your turret, and put few LW under him her pet.
Ashe /// skills:
Ashe got many options to slow you, so you got 2 possibilities: attack her with ***+Defile+LWs, or stay out of her range. She got better range than you, so stay behind your creeps if you want attack her. Wait till she use Volley, put *** behind her, press defile on and use LW. If she got her ultimate ready try stay near your turret, if she already used it, all you have to do is initiate attack and kill her. Remember that you shouldn’t stay on lane near turret when you casting Requiem, because she can stun you and abort your spell. When you escaping with small amount of hp, go to forest and then recall, never do that on straight lane in the middle. Ashe is weak champion and she can be easy kill by 5-6 LW.
If it’s possible swap lane with your teammate. Otherwise you have to play ultra defensive style. In team fights even don’t try targeting him, it’s not your role. Everything you should do its slowing him when it’s possible. Don’t try kill him by Requiem, he can easy regenerate his hp, unless he got really small hp amount and you are 100% sure that ulti will kill him.
Corki /// skills:
Its one of best dps in game, so don’t ignore him. You need *** as fast as its possible because he got good escape mechanism, fight on distance, separate him from his creeps and keep his hp low. If you reach level 6th faster than him, reduce his hp to 200 and use your ultimate. If he use gattling gun wait till end skill, you are to squishy for non distance fight.
Fiddle is counter Karthus because he got silence skill and Fear, but don’t worry – he can be easy killed if U follow this rules: If Fiddlesticks is Jungling, try catch him in the Jungle, best option is ganking him when he doing Golem for blue buf – he can’t jungle well without him. Its best option because his Drain skill will not be ready to use, so just put *** on him to slow, and use some LWs, if you see that enemy there is no other enemy near you, kill golem and take his buf. If you want to know when he is making Golem, just put ward in bush there. Try to engage attack when fiddle have low hp! After U get 7-8lvl you should buy wards and place them in bushes like on this picture. And if you see that he come and makes ambush, just go to your turret and wait there. When he go away, try to follow him, but you shouldn’t be alone, come with teammate (if you got jungler in your team ask him for help), slow fiddle by *** and get easy kill because he can’t fight 2v1.
Fiddlestick is not middle champ, but sometimes he can play there. So 1st rule – don’t engage attack when fiddle got DW ready to use, there is 15sec cd, so wait till he use it, and then you can attack. Use some LWs, but don’t follow him when he is escaping. Wait till he come to use Drain and when he is regenerating hp, use *** on him, and put some LWs, if you got luck you will kill him, if not you are silenced so again go back to your turret. If he takes bp with 200 hp, use your ulti, but do this fast, because he can go Drain creeps. If he want use his ulti on you, put *** on his way and leg it. Its little steps technique, you must wait for his mistake. Play defensive style, and you will kill him, because he is real glass cannon, with low hp and little def. His only ability is silence drain and fear, but they got huge cd! Use it, attack when he can’t counter you with these skills. If you got stunner in your team, ask him for help, if you will kill fiddle, you will get advantage, and it will be much easier to kill him later. In late game you should also consider buying Banshee instead of RoA.
Main rule you should remember is don’t stay behind your creeps, janna’s HG is used usually for killing creeps, if you stay beside them, you can initiate attack because she got main skill cd. She got also slow which let her escape, but you can use yours *** also as a slow. If you don’t enter in to HG you will kill her very fast. Remember that she can use her shield at turrets, so don’t make turret dive at low levels because you will die. Don’t try to finish her from ulti when she hide behind her turret because she can regenerate hp (hurricane ultimate) and use shield which absorb a lot of dmg. Try to fight close her and use Defile + LW combo (and if you are out of mana in fight just restore it by using clarity).
If you are better in predicting enemy moves, you win. Try to surprise him and initiate attack as fast as its possible. You can also walk in different directions to avoid his LWs(they blow after 0.5 sec, it’s enough to move out from theirs range). In team fight you should kill him firstly, because Karthus with 20 stacks is most powerful in game champion. When he is casting ultimate, you can avoid it if you kill him before he finish. When he is already dead, stay away from him, because he can still make you dmg by defile+LW.
You have to swap lane with your teammate. Its best counter Karthus champion ever.
Now I want to explain how to play vs him when he is In enemy team. It doesn’t matter on which lane he is, because when he see Karthus on other lane he propablly swap to the same lane, because he need free frags like Karthus… But its possible to counter him if you follow this tips:
Buy item setup:
1. + x3 for start
2. for m resist, recall to base when you earn 740 gold, and also buy few hp potions
3. because you need boots with m. pen.
4. Catalyst the Protector for hp and mp when you get 1325 gold
5. 1st anti kassadin item, it will block silence
6. 1st ap item
8. 2nd anti kassadin item, now when you already blocked silence in teamfight, you can use zhonya when you got defile on
9. you need more hp and ap
10. for more ap and magic resist
11. for more hp, mp and ap
On this build you are more like support champion, not main carry. Karthus stats are: Health 3320 at 18, Mana 2493 at 18, Magic Resist 144 at 18, Ability Power 350 at 18, Magic Penetration 20 at 18, Movement 380 at 18.
Now what your role in teamfight? You are like a tank for Kassadin, you have to get his skills on you, and then you attack, remember to not get to close till Kassadin silence. When Banshee take his silence, you can go inside teamfight and do what Karthus always do: Defile + Zhonya + few LW = Death + few lws and defile + Requiem. If you survive teamfight, same as Kassadin, you can still fight with him 1v1, defile + ***+ lws will kill him faster than his skills.
Stay away from your creeps, she couldn’t use Shunpo to jump to you. If you have exhaust, use it before attack. Otherwise you have to put *** directly on her, and use LW + Defile combo. If she use her ulti, you are probably dead, but she is dead too. Keep putting LWs after your death and finish her by Requiem if it’s Necessary. She is really easy to kill in team fight, even if she got ultimate on, come near her, press defile on, and use zhonya.
Stay behind creeps, and avoid Thundering Shuriken (Q skill), when he use lighting rush make few steps back. Don’t attack when you have already 2 marks. Wait till they end and then initiate attack.
Don’t put LW when he is moving by Lightning Rush, try to predict where he is going to end his skill, and put there LW.
This ulgy bug can easy kill Karthus. But it is possible to avoid his attacks. When he try use bio-arcane, you should as fast as its possible escape from his range, just put on his way *** and try not walking on Void Ooze. You should always stay beside your creeps, and place LW under him. Look as his first items, and if its ap Kog’Maw you have advantage on low lvls. After his 6th lvl you must be all time in move, to avoid Living Altilerry, because this ultimate got small reuse, it is very dangerous for you. If you kill Kog remember that you should start escaping because he got Icathian Suprice for you. Go in one direction and count to three, after third second click to move in the other direction – usually 1 second is not enough to react and enough to escape from exploding range (remember that you can’t slow Kog’Maw when he is dead so don’t even try using *** on his way) . OK, so how kill him… its simple. Kog’maw doesn’t have too much hp, so all you have to do is decreasing his magic resist (***), make some dmg (defile on+LW). Kog’Maw don’t move when you come close to him, so just put LW under his legs. Your dmg should be better than his, just make it near your creeps, and avoid being targeting by enemy creeps. Remember that Kog’Maw should be your first target in team fight because ap Kog can kill tank very fast and no tank = usually retreat. Kog got also nice tool to check bushes – living altilerry. When he spot you and you got blue eye over head, do not betray your team position, stay away from them for a few seconds.
LeBlanc ///skills: Mirror Image Sigil of Silence
Stay in defense, and when she push, try to hit her few times by LW, but don’t let her catch you on Ethereal Chains. Remember that she is strong dps on low lvls, so try not feed her. If she is enough stupid to attack you on half hp if you got full take the fight. Press Defile on and spam LW, if she use Mirror Image, put *** on her escaping way, and spam LW on faster fugitive LeBlanc. You should also ask for help stunners from your team to gank her. Remember that she got slow and silence, so if she catch you and you know that’s no chance to escape, try to make some dmg by defile and LW, and finish her by Requiem. Don’t let her stack Mejai’s, if she is stacked, she becomes your first target!
I know that most of you do not agree with me, that Malzahar is easy kill for Karthus, but indeed, he is. Malzahar wall (Call of the Void) is really easy to avoid, Null Zone is skill with small dmg (because its % dmg and Karthus don’t have to much hp), and Ultimate don’t make enough dmg to kill Karthus, which can use defile when Malzahar uses his ulti on him. So harras Malzahar slow him by ***, and finish by LW! And Malzahar its not your main target in team fights, just try do not step in his Call of Void skill.
Miss Fortune ///skills:
She was really overpowered, but now she is not difficult for Karthus as she was before Patch v184.108.40.206. U should beware on double up. But it’s easy to avoid this kill – stay away from your creeps near bushes (ofc if they are warded by you). This skill got about 9 sec cd, so attack her. First you should slow her by any skill dmg. Now use your ***, and do what Karthus loves: LW spam and following enemy with turned on Defile. If she escaped, use Requiem and enjoy game. In late game, when MF uses ulti and you are between bullets, use your zhonya.
His Iron Man skill seems to be really OP, when he is on mid, especially when he fight against Karthus. My game style against Mordekaiser is defensive but i trying to make more dmg him than his creeps, after each wave, his hp is smaller, when he stays on ¼ his HP, I start to attack, until he die. It’s important to separate him from your creeps when you want kill him by ultimate, you should be sure, that he have no access to creeps, because if he regenerate his shield, your ulti is wasted. Remember that his ulti will kill you if you stay with 13% of your life. If you have low hp, you should drink hp potion immediately.
If you play well, she shouldn’t catch you on Dark Binding. Stay behind your creeps, but no in the Tormented Soil! If she has Black shield, you should wait few seconds until it ends, and then use your ultimate. It’s important to know, that she can easy heal, by torment soil under your creeps. When morgana uses her ulti, your first thing to do, is escaping. When you escape you can come back after 1-2 sec, slow by ***, and kill by LW.
Yes, Pantheon on mid is strong champion, because he can easy gain kills by jumping on other lanes. He got also stun and good damage. You should keep distance, slow him as much as it’s possible, and keep his hp low by using LWs. After 6th lvl, you can try kill him, because you have dmg advantage.
You should stay far from your creeps, and if he catch you in rune prison, you should fight to the end. With defile on, you have damage advantage, but remember that his combo with ulti can easy kill you, so after 6th lvl play more defensive than before. When you stacks your Mejais he become easy kill, but also very powerfull – “glass cannon”.
His skills are funny for Karthus, because in many games, I gave him possibility to catch me on nevermove, because I wanted him closer to make some dmg. He become hard enemy after 6th lvl, you should attack only when he is on 50% mana, or there’s no your creeps around. He can easy heal himself when his ulti is on, so don’t use your Requiem if you are not 100% sure that you will kill him.
Teemo ///skills: Camouflage
Why he is easy? Because he is squishy and he is easy to kill, when he pass through wall of pain. But don’t be confident, watch out on noxious traps he usually put in bushes, and let your minions pushing lane, try walk behind them because if there is a mushroom, only your minions will receive damage. When he has about 200 hp, it is time for your ulti.
Its ashe version 0.5 for Karthus (she hasn’t got any stun), so after 6th lvl keep distance from enemy turret when trist got more than ½ hp. Tactic on tristana is simple: LW to 220 hp, and Requiem when she leave battlefield using Rocket Jump.
Why I mark him as easy opponent? You can easy avoid his attacks. Pick a Card is easy to avoid – few steps back and wait till he use his skill (you will see when card icon over his head disappear). Wild Cards are easier to avoid them, because they fly slowly – stand between them. When TF disappear from your view told your mates that he is missing, because probably he makes ambush somewhere.
Twitch ///skills: Expunge
Let his minions push lane, stay near your turret till you earn gold for vision ward and Amplifying Tome. When you buy both items, put this ward in the middle of your lane between turrets (yours and enemy), and now you can fight. If rat disappears – stay near ward and prepare defile and *** skills, if he appears use *** on him, turn on defile and spam LWs. You can also drink hp potion. He will die in 3 sec, if your creeps will hit him too. If he is hide more than 10 sec tell mates that he missed.
Use LWs under him as many times as its possible. If you get luck you will kill him. Don’t fight with him 1v1 when he got full hp, because he is stronger at beginning than Karthus.
Play def because Time Bombs are very annoying. Put few Lws near him if he got TB in cd, and retreat immediately. You can attack him if he doesn’t have mana, or his hp lvl is very low, and you are sure that Chrono Shift is not ready.
And items with magic resist.
– if he use his ultimate in good time, he can avoid Karthus ultimate, he also got silence which can interrupt Requiem durning cast
– he got good hp regen, and silence, you should beware when he is close
– his passive can absorb dmg = 50% of his mana
– she got great massive heal and shield absorbing a lot of dmg
– his shield from passive skill give him advantage, he can take more dmg when he is near your minions or neutral creeps
– her shield can absorb some dmg, and she also can heal from her passive spell vamp
– she is damn fast after 6th lvl, and she can also heal herself. Her spear make a lot of dmg…
– when enemy got shen with 6th lvl it can be hard playing 1v1 becouse he can pop from your current target…
– she can use spell shield which can block 1 attack for example your Requiem.. remember that cd on that is 28/24/20/16/12 sec
– when he use Sanguine Pool he cant recive any dmg…
– his ulti is real annoying, don’t use Requiem when you know that he can use Chrono Shift on person you want kill
Your targets priority in team fight:
Ultra Low, target as last:
You should start with 5x hp potion and cloak armor from golem. Stay in bush and kill him, then as fast as its possible go to wolfs and kill them too. Than go to wraiths (you need about 500 hp, and 220 mana). After that it’s time to kill golems (600 hp + 200 mana). Remember to use hp potions when its requied because Karthus don’t have any life steal, or spellvamp. After golems recall to base, buy boots of speed and few hp potions. Wolfs again, and its time to gank someone. Check lanes, go to bush, put *** behind enemy and kill him (its important to not die, because you really need bufs). After sucesfull ganking go to wraiths, golems, redbuf, wolfs, and when you get 6th lvl, check lanes and use your ulti when you are 100% sure that you kill someone who couldn’t be killed by your team. After that you should have 2+ kills, so now you can take normal staff for Karthus (Mejais, sorcerers shoes, zhonya etc.). And one more thing, if you nn teleport, take other summoner skill, I preffer it because I can fast teleport and help someone, but if there are another jungler on enemy side, you can take exhaust/flash/ghost and feel safe (better escaping method).
Last update info:
30.12.2010 – added xxleg3ndxx gameplay; changed recomended items sequence; changed targets priority; modificated corki part; added info about cd build; delated Karthus don’t like section, added Karthus counters section; changed champions difficult info (colors), added info how to counter Kassadin
9.01.2011 – changed recommended items, delated cd build, changed masteries
16.01.2011 – added jungle gameplay