Tristana Build Guide by Melana
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.
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.
Hey guys. I love Tristana and she was the first champ that I really clicked with so I hope this guide will help you with some tips that I’ve learned playing as her for so long. I’ll give tips for both mid and laning.
With all these new carries out, I feel that many people are forgetting Trist in all the hype but she is still one of the best carries in game and she can take down turrets in the blink of an eye.
The difference between a good Trist and a great Trist: play Trist as Trist, not as just any other ranged carry. She might be similar to Ashe, Cait, and Corki, but playing her that way won't make your Trist shine.
UPDATE (11/26/11): YAY Trist buffs! They don't seem like much, but they've made Trist's early game stronger. I'll also try to finish my laning against other champs section. Other than that, thanks for checking this guide out and hope it helps!
Suggestions, comments, and questions are welcome. :)
- good early game
- insane late game
- farms well
- has escapability (Rocket Jump and Buster Shot)
- very good range
- takes turrets down fast
- not too hard to learn
- cute :)
- needs much experience to master Rocket Jump + Buster Shot
- no form of CC except Rocket Jump's slow
Draw a Bead
In the beginning of the game, her range starts off at 550, which is less than Ashe (600) and Caitlyn (650). Other than that, Trist’s range beats just about every other champ (with the exception of Kog’s Bio-Arcane Barrage) and at level 18 her range is 703.
Use this range to your advantage and poke at the other team, but be smart about it. Watch for chances to get an auto-attack in without taking damage, such as when they’re retreating or when someone tries to get a creep kill. Your auto-attack hurts against almost everyone, especially if you’re mid against the other team’s carry.
I save this skill exclusively for taking down turrets or killing. Do not use it on minions unless you need to push. Since rapid fire shines only when you have items, it’s not much use early game before you hit level 6.
Pop this during team fights on the squishiest champs and you’ll see them melt before your eyes. If you’re mid and the other mid initiates or you want to kill him/her, pop this too. Getting lizard buff is also extremely helpful because it will slow the enemy which will give you all the time you need to kill him.
Its cooldown resets with every kill or assist you get. Its range is wide enough so that you can jump through most of the walls in the jungle with no worry.
This is great for chasing down enemy champs, but do not jump into team fights with this or you will die immediately.
This is also good for running away, and you should try to jump over a wall to ensure your getaway. Jumping over the walls at baron or dragon will not only piss off the other team but also guarantee your safety. If you are taking down a turret and the enemy champ is coming from another lane or coming from base, I always like to have rocket jump ready, that way you get in a few extra shots at the turret and can just jump away to safety once you spot them approaching.
Let me remind you once more: when you get a kill OR an assist, Rocket Jump becomes available again. This requires lots of practice, but sometimes you can turret dive if you know you will definitely kill the other champ and then jump out before you take too much damage. Be smart about it though – if you don’t have much HP or mana then I recommend that you don’t do it. And one very helpful tip – if you see a Warwick coming towards you and he’s most likely going to pull his ult, you can rocket jump out. There’s a video on youtube of Reginald pulling this off if you want to look it up. Rocket Jump is very useful in any situation so try to make sure you always have enough mana just in case you need to chase or escape. Also, you can jump out of Jarvan’s ult too.
Its passive makes farming so easy for Trist. The active ability is like a miniature ignite: it deals damage and reduces healing by 50% for 5 seconds.
The key to harassing in mid is this skill, especially against Vlads before they hit level 6. The reduction in healing hurts them A LOT, so be sure to use this against champs that have healing abilities. Feel free to pop this whenever the other champ is using health pots too. You should always put your first point in this skill, because it makes a lot of difference early game. This skill doesn’t do too much late game but sometimes I find that the DoT will get me the kill. More on that later.
Her ultimate, which blows away opponents that are clumped close together. You can use this either to save yourself or a teammate or to shoot an enemy into your team. You can rocket jump ahead of them and then buster shot them back to your teammates, but you do leave yourself vulnerable to attack so be careful when doing it. I don’t recommend that you use your ult exclusively for that because you are Trist and you need kills. Your ult should be a finisher or should be reserved to save yourself. Buster Shot can be used to cancel any channeling abilities, such as Karthus’s ult (when he’s not dead), Warwick’s ult (when it’s used on your teammate), Katarina’s ult, Nunu’s ult, Miss Fortune’s ult, Galio’s ult, Fiddlestick’s ult, Malzahar’s ult, etc.
*A note on knockback: I'm not too sure what the physics behind it is, but if you use this on an enemy champ, it knocks them back at an angle, so you can knock them over low walls. One time, I saved my teammate Shen by knocking three enemy champs over the enemy wraith wall (all luck). Another time, I pissed off my team because I knocked Poppy over a wall even though I was trying to knock her back into my teammates. If anybody knows more about this, I would love for them to drop a comment.
- Base attack damage increased to 46.5 from 44.5
- Automatically attack the target she casts Explosive Shot on
- Buster Shot: Knockback radius increased to 200 from 175
- Buster Shot: Now has an indicator around the target to show knockback radius (similar to Brand's Conflagration) What this means is that she does 2 more damage and her ult knocks them a bit further away. However, the auto-attack after explosive shot is a big help. Trist's early game is also stronger now, especially with the new masteries too. Try auto-attacking someone at level one and you'll see. :)
Skill Sequence (In Short)
Alternate between Explosive Shot and Rocket Jump in that order until you can get Buster Shot. This is for your harassing early game, and helps you to farm. Mid-game, prioritize Rapid Fire so you can push/DPS in team fights and Buster Shot because it's your ult. Take Explosive Shot when you have no other choice. Late game, alternate between Explosive Shot and Rocket Jump in that order.
Skill Sequence (In Depth)
I always put my first point in Explosive Shot, for the reasons listed above (check out the math below to see Explosive Shot's damage). Next I put a point in Rocket Jump and then alternate between the two until I get Buster Shot. I do not put any points in Rapid Fire before level 6, because you shouldn’t be pushing that hard as you need to farm. After level 6, I usually put a point in Rapid Fire. If I am pushing to their turret by that time or laning has ended or there are several ganks/small team fights, then I will prioritize Rapid Fire over Rocket Jump and Explosive Shot. If I’m still laning, then I’ll alternate between Rapid Fire and Explosive Shot in that order, taking Jump whenever there’s nothing left.
That means that at level 5, if you have only Doran's Shield and Berserker's Greaves and the runes and masteries listed below, your Rocket Jump (with two points) will deal 115 damage and your Explosive Shot(with three points) will deal 170 damage. You will have a base damage of 107 and an attack speed of 1.169. That means if you jump into them, pop your explosive shot, and get two auto-attacks in (since you've slowed them with your jump), you can do 499 damage. If the other champ has 50 armor at level 5 (which is around the average for most champs that mid), your damage will be reduced by 33% or so. That still means you are dealing 330 damage. At level 5, the other champ will average HP of around 750. That means that you are taking almost 45% of their health in that combo alone. If you poke at the enemy champ and get in a couple of Explosive Shot, then you will be whittling their health down quickly. You can easily get a kill or two early game this way.
Items (In Short)
Start off with Doran's Shield.
First trip back to base, you should get Boots of Speed and if you can afford it, B. F. Sword. If you can't afford B. F. Sword, get Pickaxe, and one Health Potion. If you can't afford Pickaxe, get Berserker's Greaves. Get a Sight Ward if there is a jungler/roamer.
Second trip back, either get B. F. Sword or Pickaxe if you haven't bought them already. If you have those two, rush Infinity Edge.
Finish Berserker's Greaves and then get Zeal. Build that into Phantom Dancer.
Having troubles against tanks with HP? Get Madred's Bloodrazor.
Having troubles against tanks with armor? Get Last Whisper OR The Black Cleaver.
Having troubles against casters? Get Banshee's Veil.
Finish off with The Bloodthirster.
Items (In Depth)
I always start off with Doran's Shield, especially if I’m mid. The reasoning here is that if you are mid against a champ with Doran's Blade, then you will outlane him or her because of your extra armor and health regen. Blade’s extra damage doesn’t amount to much compared to the regen and armor of Shield, and its lifesteal requires them to always be attacking something. With Shield you will always have health regen, which allows you to be more aggressive in mid or laning.
After that, I buy Boots of Speed. By the 20-minute mark, if you are farming well and/or have gotten a kill, you should have your Infinity Edge. I finish my Berserker's Greaves after IE. (Get Mercury's Treads if you don’t have cleanse and the other team has heavy CC.)
From then on, your build changes according to what’s happening. If you are doing well at mid and the other team doesn’t seem to have too much of one thing (all AP or stacking armor or stacking health, etc), then I like to build off the crits that IE gives me, so I will go Zeal next and then build that into Phantom Dancer. If the other team is all AP and you’re having trouble against them, get a Banshee's Veil, or at least get a Negatron Cloak. If the team is stacking armor, get Last Whisper or The Black Cleaver, although I recommend LW because the armor pen passive for Black Cleaver is only for a few seconds. If the team is stacking health, get Madred's Bloodrazor. If the other team has Thornmail, get your Last Whisper and a Vampiric Scepter and build that into The Bloodthirster, but be careful not to die and lose your stacks. The armor pen will help against Thornmail, but you are still dealing damage to yourself, which is why you need the lifesteal which will help you stay alive.
The reason why I rush Infinity Edge is because you are a killing machine. Your auto-attacks are scary -- your crits will make them pee in their pants. If I have only Berserker's Greaves, Infinity Edge, and Phantom Dancer, along with the proper runes and masteries, I already have 57% crit chance, 260% crit damage, 187 attack damage, and 1.53 attack speed. That means that every other auto-attack of mine will deal almost triple my base damage, and if I pop my Rapid Fire, that will be a little more than 2 auto-attacks per second. With your range, you can hit the other champ without having to worry about taking damage yourself.
Since the masteries are relatively new, I've been experimenting with them and have yet to find the perfect setup for Trist. For now, I like to go 24-6-0, putting points in armor pen, spell vamp, crit chance and crit damage in the Offense tree, and MR and armor in the Defense tree. I honestly don't see what 6 points in the Utility tree will do for you, unless you prefer more mana regen or movement speed or vision range. Overall, the 6 points in the Defense tree will help you more, especially early game.
9 Greater Mark of Desolation = armor pen
9 Greater Seal of Armor = flat armor
9 Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist = MR per level
3 Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage = damage
These runes help Trist in early game, both offensively and defensively. Damage + armor pen for the extra blow, and armor + MR to mitigate damage.
Don't get attack speed since Trist already has rapid fire. If you get a Phantom Dancer, that's all the attack speed you'll need. I find that making Trist a glass cannon and leaving her vulnerable defensively isn't worth it.
Ignite and Ghost. Ignite helps you kill and Ghost can be used to both run away or chase.
Exhaust: I have no problem with Exhaust except the true damage of Ignite is more helpful early game.
Cleanse: Get Cleanse on a very heavy CC team, but most of the time you should be at a safe range from CC, especially in team fights. Getting Merc's Treads will also help.
Flash: The reason why I don’t use Flash is because her Rocket Jump is a mini Flash. Why get that when her Rocket Jump does the same thing with a much shorter CD?
DO NOT GET:
Teleport: I know that she’s a carry and needs to get as much xp and farm as possible, but a simple Rocket Jump over the Nexus should help. If necessary, you can always use Ghost to get there quickly too.
Clairvoyance: Leave that to the supports.
Smite: Leave that to the junglers.
Heal: You can be much more aggressive early game with Heal, but mid and late game it really doesn't help much, if at all.
Revive: Trist shouldn't be dying much anyway.
Clarity: Trist is not mana-needy.
So I've been streaming a bit in my spare time. Rest assured I am not the best Trist player, but here are some videos for you to help pick out my mistakes and hopefully learn from them. :) I'm trying to come out with a Trist commentary soon but that'll have to wait until Christmas!
The most recent Trist game I have, after her buffs:
- 2:15, I explain why you get Explosive Shot instead of Rocket Jump first
- 3:20, farming + harassing + first blood
- 6:07, using Rocket Jump
- 9:48, that Crit. Just watch Renekton. :)
- 10:30, how NOT to use jump and Buster Shot when they are diving you :)
- 14:00, note my positioning and when I use Rocket Jump + Buster Shot
- 21:35, how I run away and when I Buster Shot
- 25:50, what not to do :) Never initiate a fight with Rocket Jump when you don't know where the other team is.
- 28:25, why you never follow an enemy into a bush
- 39:45, what NEVER EVER to do (after you jump)
- 42:00, bad positioning :)
- 43:30, the wonders of Rocket Jump
- 44:30, team fights + positioning + Rapid Fire
- note my skilling order and where I am relative to the rest of my team and the other team during the game
Another game, pre-buffs.
- I use a Doran's Blade this game
- 3:00 and onwards, note the harass in the bush and with Shaco's boxes. That is our attempt at zoning. :P
- 6:22, hehehe. How to chase, and the wonders of Explosive Shot's DoT.
- 7:20, kill + the last dodge you'll ever see on the face of the planet
- 11:30, ghost + buster shot
- 11:50, my joy and pride <3
- 13:30, Rocket Jump + Buster Shot
- 16:25, how much luckier can I get? Shaco clone blocks arrow, and somehow we both make it out alive xD
- 27:00, me staying at top because I think Kass will dive me and preventing me from being in teamfight. :(
- this is actually quite a long game and I don't think it's worth watching past 30 minutes because everything else is about them backdooring and us dying, unfortunately
Trist's early game is quite good (until level 9), her mid not so strong (level 9-15ish), but her late game dominates (level 15+).
Early game, you want to be harassing the other mid/enemy champs as much as possible but still maintaining your farming. With experience, you will be able to find that balance, but remember that at the end, what will make you or break you is gold. Whichever way you get it -- by farming or killing -- is fine, but just make sure you do get it.
Mid game is when laning ends and team fights begin. At this time, many champs can beat Trist 1v1, such as Kat, Vlad, Kass, Akali, and AD carries like MF and Caitlyn. Try picking off the other team one by one during this phase with an ally or two, but also prioritize farming, even if you have to jungle for a bit. At this point, I have my IE, but besides my crits, I don't have much else.
If you are able to farm up and get some kills, your end game is set. Trist really shines late game, with her long range and the ability to dish out damage very fast, but to get this damage you will need to farm mid-game.
Team Fights: as Trist, you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have to stay behind the tank or bruiser or whomever. You are the killing machine in the fight and if they kill you then your entire team is basically screwed. If you see the enemy champs targeting you, then back off for a bit (either by walking or using Rocket Jump) and re-enter the fight where it’ll be most difficult for you to get targeted. Positioning is key. And remember to pop your rapid fire on the squishiest champ, save your jump to chase/run, and use your ult to finish or save yourself/your teammate. It's often smart to wait for the fight to start and then to go in, especially after all the enemy's CC has been used.
When You're Mid...
Always check your map to see if any enemy champs are missing. If the other team has a jungler, you should get sight wards. Don’t be afraid of getting health pots too, but you won't need mana pots. With your runes, you should be fine on mana and you should not be spamming your abilities that much anyway. You’re Tristana, which means that your auto-attacks are scary enough as it is. You need to have a good balance of farming and harassing, but remember that at the end, it’s the items that will let you carry, and all the items for Trist are pricey. Don’t be afraid to ask for ganks too.
If mid lane seems to be a stalemate and you can't kill the other champ, just concentrate on farming. Even if you aren't getting fed, you are at least getting gold to afford your items anyway.
If you are having a lot of trouble in mid, ask for a gank, or ask to switch lanes. If you aren't getting any help or if you can't switch lanes, hug your turret. Your range will slowly increase as you level up, so you will find that you will be able to farm from a distance. You can also jump over the wraith wall and kill them the camp of wraiths (if there is no jungler) when your creeps are pushed into the enemy's turret or they're out of range and you don't want to risk being killed.
My combo for killing is usually to Rocket Jump over them, Buster Shot into my minions, Explosive Shot, and then pop my Rapid Fire. Before that, I usually like to poke them with auto-attacks and Explosive Shot. You want to wait for the enemy champ to use their abilities on minions and/or you want to juke their abilities before you do jump, ult, and then kill them.
Because mid is especially susceptible to ganks, I always try to make sure I have enough mana for a Rocket Jump. Rocket Jump could save your life and often does.
When You're Laning...
Be alert for ganks, but also make sure to communicate with your laning partner. It is vital to getting anything done. I know there are times when you’re stuck with an idiot for a partner but just play smart and don’t totally ignore him or her.
If you are at the bottom lane, try to ward dragon so you are aware of ganks or when the other team is trying to take it.
Try to lane with a champ with CC that won't interfere with your farming much -- usually tanks. Laning with a heal is also helpful and will allow you to stay in lane and get XP faster. Ideal laning partners are supports like Soraka or Sona and tanks like Alistar or Shen. CC like Nunu's slow, Xin's knock-up, and Sion's stun all work well with Trist, but make sure you're not competing for farm with anybody. That means no laning with other ranged DPS or casters.
Cover mid or solo lanes whenever you can, especially if there's no jungler on your team.
When Laning Ends...
If the other team is pulling ahead, try to travel with another teammate or two, preferably a support.
Keep at least one lane pushed and look for opportunities to farm creeps, especially big waves rushing at your turret.
Jungle and/or get lizard buff.
If you are going to do a split push, let your team know. You can't just run off pushing a lane while your team is defending their turret without their DPS.
Buy wards and place them at strategic locations: i.e. dragon, baron, blue buff, red buff.
Tips against other Champs (to be updated)
Here are some tips against champs that you'll solo/lane against, by alphabetical order.
Akali: She's a tricky one mid and late game, so be sure to punish her as much as possible early on. If she throws her shroud, try to walk out of there as soon as possible. What I like to do is click my e, wait for her to temporarily show up when she auto attacks while in shroud, and click her as soon as I see her. You will be able to hit her that way, but you should really only do that pre-level 7-9ish. Try to maintain your distance from her late game, as she will be looking to dash towards you and kill you, especially if you are fed or farmed. If you desperately need to run from her and she's chasing you down, buster shot her away, rocket jump immediately, and ghost the hell out of there. Or you could ghost, buster shot, or rocket jump. That's three escape mechanisms for you right there, so you should be able to get away.
Anivia: With Anivia, you want to put constant pressure on her and get her egg down as soon as possible. When she is in egg form, deal as much damage as possible to her before she reborns. Anivia will often try to Flash Frost (her Q) behind you, so try to keep moving or running in random directions so she can't land that and combo you. When she hits level 6, try to stand away from minions so she has to choose whether to ult only you or ult only minions. And if you are in her ult, don't stand there. If necessary, jump away as soon as possible.
Annie: By now, you should be able to recognize when Annie has her stun up (the ring around her). Feel free to poke to your heart's content when her stun is not up and she does not have Tibbers. Wait for her to use her Q and W before jumping on her and attacking. When Tibbers is up, play much more passively unless you know that she cannot burst you down.
Ashe: She is very squishy early game but she does outrange you in the beginning. Wait for her to use her Volley and then poke her to your heart's content. Stay behind your minions when she does use Volley. Once she gets her ult, be ready to dodge that, especially if she suddenly runs at you. Try to stay a distance away from her when she has her ult.
Blitzcrank: Do not get grabbed -- always try to stand behind minions. If he triggers his Overdrive (his W), run in a random direction to avoid his grab. As long as you don't get grabbed, he cannot pull his combo off. Do not stay in range of his ult either.
Brand: Avoid his skillshots, and don't stand near minions so he cannot get his Pillar of Flame off on both you and minions (just like Aniv). With Brand, it is crucial that you keep moving because once he gets his combo off you are dead meat.
Caitlyn: Be prepared to dodge Piltover Peacemakers. Again, like Brand and Aniv, make her choose between skillshotting you, or skillshotting minions. Her range is better than yours for half the game and if you are low, make sure you do not stick around because she will get you with her ult (especially since it skills with AD). Look out for her Headshot too -- her hands (?) will turn red.
Evelynn, Twitch: buy wards.
Ezreal: Always be moving, and be prepared for his blinks. If he does blink, punish him by hitting back. If you're low, stand somewhere he wouldn't expect to dodge his ult.
Fiddlesticks: If he silences you, laugh in his face and keep auto-attacking. If he silences minions, stand away from them so it won't bounce to you. If he fears you to pull his combo out on you, be ready to Rocket Jump/Flash away. If he's missing, ward the place so you know he's not going to ult you. If he uses his Drain (his W), use Explosive Shot on him.
Gangplank: Try to get him to use his Remove Scurvy before you Rocket Jump to slow him. Do not stand in his ult and jump away if possible. He'll try to get last hits with his Parley (his Q) so try to punish him when he goes to get a creep kill. If he uses his Parley on you, try to punish him.
Garen: Try to poke him to prevent his passive from triggering. When he's doing Judgment (his spin), get the heck out of his range. Be ready for his silence + ult. Chances are that you won't beat Garen in a lane, but you can instead put your energy into farming up and poking him occasionally.
Gragas: Avoid his barrels at all cost -- they also give you an attack speed debuff if they hit you. They have a ginormous range so just try to keep moving. A lot of the times he'll be aiming them behind you so moving left and right is not a bad idea. When he uses his w, or his drink, he'll have extra armor so try to attack him when he doesn't have that buff (the bubbles won't be around him). Don't be in range of his dash, which is about the same range as Shen's taunt.
Graves: Similar to Akali's shroud, step out of his smokescreen. The longer you attack him or he attacks you, the more armor he gets from his passive. I know Trist can't really burst (mid and late game, anyway), but try to hurt him in intervals. Other than that, avoiding his q and his ult will be all you really need to do, which means, keep moving! :)
Heimerdinger: -_- Don't like him. I mean, he sits next to his turret (and I'm not talking about his dogs, or mini turrets -- I'm talking about the big fat ones that Trist destroys in a matter of seconds) and it regens health! Anyway, I think you outrange his doggies from the beginning, but for some reason they have the range to attack me back until around level 6. That means then you shoot them to your heart's content and watch Heimy cry little Einstein tears. When you can one or two-shot them with your crit, you laugh in Heimy's face and then ask him if he fell down and went boom. Anyway, you have to avoid his Grenade and Rockets (both of which have a range of around 900-1000), so if he's running at you try to just back up. Minions will tank his rockets for you, as long as they're in front of you. And if you try to kill Mr. Heimy in range of his doggies, he will proc his ult so do it somewhere where the doggies can only sit and watch you kill their master. :)
Janna: Listen for the sound of Janna's q (the whirlwind) if she's trying to surprise you from a bush. Stand away from minions and if she wants to slow you with her Zephyr, force her to come towards you (since the range of it is small) and your minion wave and then sit on her and destroy her. If she tries to ult you into her turret, jump the heck out of there, and if she ults your teammates but you weren't caught by it, ult the heck out of her (unless, she's dying, in which case you rapid fire her and then ult the heck out of her).
TO BE UPDATED SOME MORE :)
Tips and Tricks
Always be moving, whether you are mid or laning. You want to move in such ways so that the other team cannot predict you. Many champs have skill shots that you will need to juke, such as Cait’s Piltover Peacemaker, all of Ez’s abilities, Sivir’s Boomerang Blade, Morgana’s Dark Binding, etc. You should also try to stand a distance from your minions against champs like Kat, Sivir, Lux, or Ryze.
Early game, if you are leveling your Explosive Shot and Rocket Jump, you can net some kills before you hit level 6. During this time, if you can handle yourself well, you can be quite aggressive against champs like Ashe, Karthus, Kass, and other mid carries. However, once certain champs hit level 6, you should be careful, especially of ones like Vlad and Kat. I can’t explain this much further because you have to experience each champ on your own, so try to get to know the other champs (such as their ult, their passive, etc.)
Get lizard buff, and dragon. If you need some quick gold, I like to jump on the wraiths and after an auto-attack or two they all explode and die. Remember to farm up and keep checking your map! Have enough mana to jump out of sticky situations and poke at the other team.
Trist is quite squishy but she does have two escape mechanisms (three if you have Ghost or Flash). Plus, she's a lot of fun and once you get a feel for how to use her jump and her ultimate then you'll find that she's quite powerful indeed.