Karthus Build Guide by 1v1Factoid

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author 1v1Factoid

Karthus Top, Long Range AP Carry

1v1Factoid Last updated on May 23, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

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



Offense: 22

Honor Guard

Defense: 7

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 1

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Karthus is a very strong top in Dominion. His massive range insures he stays in a safe position and with his insane damage output you're sure to win every fight. Karthus is a very strong team fighter but by himself he is a pathetic duelist so only play him if you understand proper team fight positioning and your team has a good composition.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration No one should disagree with magic pen marks best choice on just about every caster.

Greater Seal of Defense Why armor per level? Because most threats on Dominion are physical. coupled with the health from Prospector's Ring and Rod of Ages you should be able to survive an ad long enough to turn the tide of a fight.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power More damage. No need for Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist because simply having a good hp pool should be enough to survive the burst of an ap. With correct positioning most ap should not even be able to touch you. Though LeBlanc and Kassadin may have a different opinion about that. One Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction to bring yourself to almost 40% cool down.

Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration 14 magic penetration combined with the magic resist shred of Wall of Pain will bring just about everyone down to 0 magic resistance. Get Greater Quintessence of Ability Power if you must but typically penetration will increase your damage more than just ability power. Get Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed if you find your team fighting positioning to be less than desirable.

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22 points in offense to get every single magic damage increasing effect.

7 point into defense to increase your base resistances and give you the speed boost for Revive.

The final point is purely preference. I like a slightly reduced death timer. It won't make much of a difference where you put it.

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Summoner Spells

In my opinion summoner spells have much less of an impact in Dominion than in Classic. Insuring kills on fleeing enemies and epic escapes on your part rarely make a very large impact on the game.

Ignite Purely for the 5 ap I get while it is on cool down. Although the damage portion is nice as well. Don't save ignite for a kill. Use it whenever it is off cool down. The exception of course being when the enemy has strong heals such as Volibear's Chosen of the Storm or Dr. Mundo's Sadism obviously save ignite for them.

Revive I believe revive is the best summoner spell on the Crystal Scar. The large health bonus you get from activating it insures your early game dominance. But most importantly the clutch return to a fight can win a game. A clutch Flash will insure you get away only to lose the middle point and then the game. A clutch Revive will bring you back instantly with full health ready to defend. It may have a ludicrously long cool down, you may find you only use it 1-3 times a game, but Revive wins games.

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Lay Waste is your most important skill, it is the bulk of your damage. Max it as fast as you can.

Wall of Pain is an amazing team fight skill a good wall will win a team fight. The massive armor and magic resist shred will drastically increase your teams DPS. A perfectly angled wall can slow a target by 80% for a very long time.

Don't put a point into Defile until you have your Catalyst of Aeons or better yet your Rod of Ages. With your defile going you will run out of mana very fast. Early game you should not even be close enough to use it. Stay in the back and dps with Lay Waste. Later in the game this changes, when the opportunity arises try to get into the thick of the enemy team because your area of effect damage will destroy everyone.

Ah Requiem everyone's most hated ultimate. While not much of a threat early on due to its long cool down, your ultimate becomes a very big annoyance late game with 40% cool down reduction. Use it to soften up an enemy team before a big fight or to interrupt an enemy capturing a point. A global nuke with a 72 second cool down is a nightmare for a team.

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Why Cooldown is Essential

Ability power, cool down reduction, and physical damage survivability are the three most important things on Karthus. Think of Karthus as a ranged AD carry, your Lay Waste is your auto attack. AP is your damage, and cool down reduction is your attack speed.

I cannot stress this enough:

--->Cool down reduction is extremely important on Karthus.<---

Not because Requiem has a long cool down. But because Lay Waste has such a short one. Lay Waste only has a 1 second cool down so with 40% cdr it is .6 seconds. Why is a .4 second reduction so important you ask? Because it allows you to use dramatically more Lay Wastes.

Normally in the course of 10 seconds you can use 10 Lay Wastes. That's 2400 damage (rank 5, single target, 0 AP)

With 40% cool down reduction you can use 16 Lay Wastes over 10 seconds. That's 3840 damage. A 60% damage increase.

So roughly 1% cdr = 1.5% more dps on your Lay Waste.

With this build you will be doing about 740 damage per second with just Lay Waste. Not factoring enemy magic resist or any missed shots.

But that's not all. Every time you toggle Defile you do a tick of damage, Defile has a .5 second cool down on activation and deactivation or 1 second total. With no cdr toggling it on and off will be no different than simply leaving it on. But with 40% cdr it's a .3 second cool down on activation and deactivation or .6 seconds total. So toggling it on and off rapidly will cause you to do more damage per second than simply leaving it on.

Again another 60% damage increase with max cool down reduction.

NOTE: Avoid toggling Defile when the enemy has crowd control effects ready, being stunned or silenced while it is toggled off can cut a decent chunk of your damage off.

Having a spammable Wall of Pain and always having Requiem up when you need it is just the icing on the cool down cake.

Please, please, please build cool down reduction on Karthus.

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Item Build

Prospector's Ring Gives you everything you want for a very cost effective price.

Boots of Speed To reach top relatively fast.

Mana Potion Gives you a little boost in drawn out top fights. Pop your potion after your first spell cast.

Health Potion Optional

Catalyst the protector Get this before you upgrade boots to get rid of your mana problems. After getting this item consider putting a point into your Defile

Ionian Boots of Lucidity Delicious delicious cool down. 22.5% damage increase.

Rod of Ages Now you're tanky enough to stay in fights. The earlier you get it the better off you are. Not a bad idea to get this before upgrading your boots.

Morello's Evil Tome Get the Fiendish Codex first. This puts you very close to the cdr cap. 30% damage increase. The AP is good, and the mana regeneration is nice. Don't forget about the active. Use it on anyone with a heal or any life steal or spell vamp.

By this time the game is usually over or very close to being over. Hopefully you won. But if the teams are evenly matched and the game is dragging on:

Rabadon's Deathcap This with max cooldown will cause your dps to skyrocket. If the game isn't over yet this should end it. Try to get the Needlessly Large Rod first if you can.

Are they stacking magic resist? Void Staff. If they aren't then if you find you're having trouble with physical damage Zhonya's Hourglass. Trouble with magic damage? Abyssal Scepter. Equally troubled with both? Rylai's Crystal Scepter. You may also get a Will of the Ancients if you prefer. But usually you will get the Void Staff.

Game still going on? If so a single team fight will most likely decide the winner. Sell your Prospector's Ring and buy a Guardian Angel. Its passive might win you the final team fight. It discourages people to focus you. Your Defile continues even while being revived. The resurrection time of Guardian Angel combined with your passive Death Defied can delay long enough to win the game.

If by some miracle the game still has not ended, and your Guardian Angel's passive is on cool down sell it and buy a Will of the Ancients. If 5 minutes pass sell your WotA and buy back your GA. Repeat this until the game is over.

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Team Composition and Your Role in Fights

Your purpose is to deal as much magic damage as you can while staying in a safe position. You of course can not do this alone, you need your team to help you. A good top always has:

A heavy magic damage dealer, a heavy physical damage dealer, and two tanky dps with reliable hard crowd control or position changing effects. You can substitute a disruptive tanky dps for a hybrid damage dealer Jax or even an assassin Pantheon as long as they have hard cc.

An example of a perfect team composition for top would be:

Karthus Ranged magic damage, great aoe.

Vayne Devastating ranged physical damage and a Condemn knock back to keep both of you safe.

Alistar Extremely durable and can easily keep the two carries safe from harm with his Pulverize and Headbutt.

Blitzcrank Durable and also a great disruptor with his Power Fist. And of course his game breaking Rocket Grab.

If the enemy stacks armor Karthus and Alistar will take over the game and destroy everyone. If the enemy stacks magic resist Vayne and Blitzcrank will mutilate your foes.

1 on 1 Lay Waste is laughably easy to dodge. Never fight alone, always make sure you have at least one other person nearby that can keep the enemy off of you.

Stay in the back and throw constant Lay Wastes to widdle down your opponents. When the enemy is distracted focusing someone down or properly cc'ed then jump in and Defile them all to death.

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Positioning is key to winning as Karthus, don't get caught by assassins.

Build tanky enough so that you won't get decimated in the first 2 seconds of the team fight.

Don't forget the importance of the almighty cool down reduction.

Spam Toggle Defile when you have the chance for a 60% damage increase.

In conclusion Karthus is amazing when played properly. By yourself you're nothing, but with proper coordination and teamwork you're an unreachable nightmare that can kill from across the map and even take your enemies to the grave with you when you die.