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Nautilus Build Guide by MajorLoL

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League of Legends Build Guide Author MajorLoL

Major's AP Nautilus

MajorLoL Last updated on February 26, 2012

Strong AP


Tanky AP

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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Thanks to Jhoijhoi. She indirectly helped me by showing me the online editor.

Hello MOBAFire! This is my AP Nautilus Guide. Most people play Nautilus as a tank/disabler like Maokai, Alistar, or Leona. This seems to be the most viable to people, but I've discovered that, with his high-scaling ratios and great utility, Nautilus can be a DEADLY carry. He can also be a Tanky AP carry, dealing decent damage while still being able to take a beating. This guide will teach you how to play both ways, and how to own every squishy champion that attempts to mess with you. So without further ado, I present my AP Nautilus guide!
Here's his Champion Spotlight: /league-of-legends/champion/nautilus-93

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Why AP Nautilus

As was introduced in the Champion Spotlight, Phreak plays Nautilus as a tank/disabler and a jungler. My build does neither, but I'm recommending it to you. Why is that? Because Nautilus has the potential to be the star of any game as AP. He has high scaling AP ratios for a tank, and has the power to fight most people in mid and late game. His skill set is very similar to Fizz, only easier to play, as Depth Charge is a homing missile. It also has a better effect if the missile travels under other champions.

I didn't realize "Movin Like Bernie" would come up when I was recording with Fraps. Still it goes well with the video.
/league-of-legends/champion/nautilus-93Warning: You should tell your teammates you are going AP Midlane Nautilus in champion select. Most people expect tank Nautilus at this point in time.

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Pros / Cons

Pros / Cons


+Good Harass pre-6
+High Killing Power post-6
+Easy to Master
+Large amount of CC
+High Utility
+Fast trips to the jungle
+Can Fly (Look at his joke)


-Melee AP. (Has to get in the middle of the fight)
-Needs good farm/needs to get fed to do well late.
-Very slow attack speed. (Can't rely on Titan's Wrath)
-Strong AP version has low mana.
-Won't take off his suit. I mean come on he's not underwater anymore.

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Strong AP Runes


Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

These runes give you a good balance of power early game, and even more late game with AP/level runes and MagicPen. It also helps to keep you from going back to base on account of mana late game. These runes are pretty standard on most AP champions, and will help you at all stages of the game.

Tanky AP Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration

Tanky AP is meant to be more sustained, and more in the support damage path. That's why I take defensive seals and glyphs. I just use the AP I can get from items, and take MagicPen so that the AP is better put to use. This setup synergizes with the two health/AP items I picked in the main builds early. As is probably obvious, this build does not do as much damage as Straight AP, so MagicPen is a bit more vital than it is when you have more AP.

Other Viable Runes
Greater Mark of Ability Power
Greater Mark of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration
Greater Seal of Health
Greater Seal of Vitality
Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

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Strong AP Masteries


The simple 21/0/9, getting all possible AP amplifications in offense, and all Mana Regen possible in Utility. These give you advantages throughout the game and helps Nautilus with his painful mana problems. Runic Affinity is also very helpful to Nautilus provided you have a generous jungler. Blue buff is quite important to midlane Nautilus, as you can get very mana hungry, but if your jungler needs blue to continue, then so be it.

Tanky AP Masteries

Never see this setup on champions huh? Well it's plenty useful for Nautilus. The fact that it's only 9 in Defense doesn't imply Tanky AP, but it's all you need. Points in defense after getting Veteran's Scars don't benefit an AP Nautilus as much as it would a tank one.

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Ability Explanation

Here's a rundown of all of Nautilus's abilities, and what they do exactly.

Staggering Blow - Nautilus's basic attacks deal bonus physical damage and immoblize his targets. This effect cannot happen more than once every few seconds on the same target.

This passive is the equivalent to Udyr's Bear Stance, only it's a snare and less powerful. Sounds like a tank passive, but it also adds damage to Nautilus's basic attack. This makes your Lich Bane shot stronger as well. Early game this ability makes last hitting SO easy on Nautilus. Yet another advantage in mid lane.

Dredge Line - Nautilus hurls his anchor forward. If it hits a champion, he drags both himself and the opponent close together. If it hits terrain, Nautilus instead pulls himself to the anchor.
Does 80/120/160/200/240 (+0.75) magic damage and stuns them briefly.

If the anchor hits terrain, Nautilus will drag himself forward and the cooldown is reduced by 50%

This is basically the ability that makes Nautilus unkiteable, as if his passive wasn't enough. It has the quality of Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab, only it pulls you to the enemy as well. This is perfect for grabbing running enemies, or for harassing people that just want to farm. It synergizes with Riptide as well because when you collide with the enemy, both are knocked back a bit. This allows more explosions to hit them.

Titan's Wrath - Nautilus surrounds himself with dark energies, shielding him from the next 80/130/180/230/280 plus 10% of his bonus health (+ ) damage for up to 10 seconds.

While the shield persists, Nautilus' basic attacks apply a damage over time effect to all units around his target. The effect deals 30/60/90/120/150 (+0.4) magic damage over 2 seconds.

Not as important on AP Nautilus, but very useful in lane. When harassing enemies and running away. You can use to mitigate the damage taken. Not to mention it makes your attack with Lich Bane even more powerful.

Riptide - Nautilus slams the ground, causing the earth to explode around him in a set of three explosions. Each explosion deals 60/100/140/180/220 (+0.5) magic damage to units in the area and slows them by 30/35/40/45/50% for 2 seconds. This slow diminishes over time.

A unit can be hit by more than one explosion, but they take 50% less damage from additional explosions.

Such an important skill to have. This is your farming tool, chasing tool, and killer tool. It is best to use this when you close to the enemy, but not TOO close. By this I mean a little farther than melee range. Only do this if you are fighting somebody. If the target is running, you should get really close to them. This way all 3 explosions hit and the target gets a good beating.

Depth Charge - Nautilus fires a shockwave that chases an enemy champion. This deals 125/175/225 (+0.4) magic damage to enemies it passes through and knocks them into the air.

The shockwave explodes upon hitting its target dealing 250/350/450 (+0.8) magic damage, launching them into the air and stunning them for 1/1.5/2 seconds.

Not so fast Teemo! Not only is this your highest damage ability, but if the enemy is running, they can't get away from it. The dynamic part of this ability is that Carries normally stay in the back of team fights. If you use this ability on them, the entire team (or a good amount of them) get's knocked up. This both damages and disables all of them. It also allows you to get to the carry and burst them down. This makes Nautilus an AoE game changer in many scenarios, with the same effect a Wukong or Malphite can have.

One thing you may have noticed about these spells is that Riptide had such a low ratio, yet I upgrade it first. This is for a number of reasons. First is, the damage shown is misleading. It is most likely to hit somebody with two explosions, and maybe even 3. If you have around 500 ap, a single Riptide explosion will do around 470 damage. if you hit another, it will do half, which is 235 damage. That's 705 from not even a full spell. Second reason is that this Is Nautilus's main farming ability, and will not only kill most minions in one shot, but will greatly heal you if you have Will of the Ancients built.

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Summoner Spells

What I Use

I use these because they give you aid in the main problems with most AP carries. Escape Mechanisms and securing kills on that one that JUST survived your burst. You see this on most AP Carries, and Nautilus is no exception.

Viable Spells
Ghost- Nautilus slow no more! Pretty useful for him when he needs to chase or run away, more useful on Tanky AP Nautilus so he can hunt people down for initations.

Exhaust-Say you bursted your enemy down but not to death and they are now running. Not anymore with Exhaust. This is also useful when fighting AD Champions that can hurt if they survive the burst.

Teleport-Great spell for midlane or solotop.

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Item Sequences

The following are my item choices. Later is the actual core and optional, situational items.
My Strong AP Choices

Item Sequence

Will of the Ancients

Rylai's Crystal Scepter

Rabadon's Deathcap

Lich Bane

Zhonya's Hourglass

The Strong AP Nautilus build contains pretty much all the necessary items for the best amount of burst without being too squishy. The only thing that ever has to be changed is the order you build these items in. There's nothing wrong with getting Lich Bane earlier if you have to deal with a strong AP champion. You can even choose a different item like Abyssal Scepter if you're REALLY having problems with AP Champions. I go into these problems later.

My Tanky AP Choices
Item Sequence

Will of the Ancients

Rod of Ages

Rylai's Crystal Scepter

Rabadon's Deathcap

Guardian Angel

Now Tanky AP Nautilus is MUCH more versatile. You can decide what kinds of tank items or defensive AP items you wish to use. It should also be known that Guardian Angel is not the mandatory tank item, but probably the most useful of them considering you get a lot of health from Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter, but not alot of defensive stats. Nothing is ever mandatory on Tanky AP Nautilus, as the stats you need are very situational

Why CDR So Late?
While CDR Is an important part of Nautilus you don't actually need it very early, as you can kill most champions in one burst. This allows you to build your sustain and damage much earlier. Blue buff gives you 20% CDR anyway, so getting that can be very beneficial to a CDRless Nautilus. CDR is only important late game because you need to get out more skills faster, but early game usually requires one set of skills to kill somebody.

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Strong AP Core Items

Core Items

I consider these items core to full AP Nautilus. They are the ultimate sustain items in this build, and they're what make AP Nautilus viable. I will explain why now.

Just like Kennen, Brand, Heimerdinger, or Cassiopeia, Will of the Ancients gives champions with strong burst yet low sustain the final say in sustain. These champions typically have a strong AoE spell that they can use to regain health after a confrontation. Hello Riptide!

Pretty much a must-have on any Nautilus build that includes AP. This item synergizes with the slow from Riptide, the shield from Titan's Wrath, and making all of his CC even harder. This also eliminates Strong AP Nautilus's squishy factor.

The most important item on any AP champion that has an amplification on basic attacks. Examples of champions like this are Lux, Mordekaiser, or Akali. Well Titan's Wrath make's Nautilus's already powerful attack even more powerful. With Lich Bane adding an extra 500 damage to it, you just turned a champion with 3 abilities in their burst to a champion with 4. It's so important to have if you really want to be doing damage.

These items are pretty vital to this playstyle, and all other items can be varied.

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Tanky AP Core Items

Core Items

Only two this time. Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter give Nautilus all of the stats he needs to eliminate common problems you find early game, like mana and squishiness.

Stops all mana problems for a good while, and giving a good boost to health and AP. Because of this item, mana regen seals become unnecesary, and defensive seals come in. This item is just all in all a great addition to Nautilus's kit for the early game.

As explained before, many items can be added to this version of Nautilus's playstyle.

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Strong AP Situational / Optional Items

As mentioned before, there are many items that Nautilus can use well instead of the main build.

PERFECT item to start early game when facing AP champions that give problems. My main problems have been with Lux, LeBlanc, and Cassiopeia. This item is a perfect counter to them.

Very important if the other team is attempting to counter you. If you do buy this, get the next item to be mentioned.

Super useful, as Nautilus's cooldowns are painfully long. Perfect item to get if you buy a Void Staff, as you will not need Sorcerer's Shoes after purchasing it.

A great item to abuse Nautilus's early-mid game power. This item goes great with Sorcerer's Shoes, and can sometimes substitute for it if another pair of boots is required.

Two very useful items if you decide you want the CDR. Choose Morello's Evil Tome for more utility, but choose Deathfire Grasp for bursting power. It's your choice.

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Tanky AP Situational / Optional Items

Tanky AP has even more possible items, but I won't go through all of them because it's literally all tank items in the game. I'll just show the best ones, in my opinion.

The most useful armor item for mana hungry people. I use this on most champions like Tanky Nautilus, because it provides some of the best stats in the game, and compared to other armor items is really efficient.

Of course the Banshee's Veil. Probably the most popular tank item, as carries use it, too, and Nautilus is no exception. Protect yourself from a poke, or the first spell of a teamfight, it's never a bad item.

If your support didn't get this already, there's no problem with you doing a little support of your own.

Same as above.

The forgotten item, use this whenever you take boots besides Mercury's Treads, and they still have some CC.

I consider these two pairs of boots tank items because of the great stats they give. People may not agree with Boots of Swiftness, but if you have to be the initiator of a team, you need to be able to chase people. Nautilus is also slow as hell, so this can work well.

Sadly there's no AP version of Atma's Impaler unless you're Vladimir, but this item is still viable. Who doesn't want to be a health monster doing sufficient damage?

Philosopher's StoneKage's Lucky Pick A very important part of Bottom or Top lane Nautilus is Gold items. This is because you don't get as many farming opportunities as you would in Mid. Usually top lane is a poking fest, and bottom lane is always a constant battle, not to mention you should be letting the AD Carry farm.

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The Mid Lane Monster

Nautilus can dominate mid lane. He has avid harass techniques and great sustain with Will of the Ancients. He counters many mages, and pretty much rocks all AD champs going mid. His CC and damage also make him an awesome ganker, so whenever yo have the time, you can set the other lanes ahead. When in mid lane, you probably shouldn't be going for Tanky AP, because as mid laner you want to be the main carry for your team. Here I will post two games from two of my favorite youtubers that both show the power of Mid Lane Nautilus.

Redmercy's game with him.

ColbyCheeZe's game with him.

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Top and Bottom

I haven't played many games in top lane or bottom lane, but I can tell you about it. When playing as the Offtank of Solotop, or Damage Supporter of Bottom Lane, you should be going for Tanky AP of course. This also includes the need for variety in builds. The main part of this is gold items. You're much more deprived of farm when you have somebody beating on you top lane or letting your AD Carry farm bot lane.

You should be playing as aggressive as you would mid lane if you have stronger laning power. For example if bottom lane is you and Graves, and you're facing Sona and Ashe, you can be very aggressive to them. Graves doesn't even have to participate in the harass as much as you do. He can farm while you zone the enemy. This is why I recommend you watch this video on zoning, and once you get a feel for Nautilus, you can do the same thing Shurelia was doing to the enemy.

Do this and you'll have a smooth early game.

Sometimes the enemy will be able to deflect your harass/zoning. Examples of teams like this are the Taric and Caitlyn combo, a team designed for harassing. If you bother them, they're gonna hurt you. Times like this require both your partner's help and your wits. No when to back out and when to chase. Sometimes it's bait so their jungler can come in. Other times they may just have a trick up their sleeve that you weren't expecting.

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Mid Lane Foes

Mentioned throughout the guide, I spoke of some enemies that AP Nautilus can have a hard time with. In this section I will talk about all of his strongest enemies.

One of the few champions that can completely own you early game if you're not careful. She completely negates both farming and harassing before level 6. After level 6 is your time to shine, because you can surprise them with a good combo if they attempt to harass you again.

Easiest to kill pre-6, yet the most annoying post-6. I don't mean she's hard to kill, it's just that if you miss your Dredge Line, she can punish you if you're not near your tower.

Always annoying, and she can own you post-6 if you're not careful. Only harass her if she attempts harassing you. Her egg makes this even harder. You should wait for jungler support whenever you fight her.

Just one rule whenever fighting her. Do not go near her when she has her stun up. In fact, you should go in directly after she uses an ability on minions. She's easy pickins if you do this.

Go in for the kill at level 2 or 6, either one works. These are the two primetimes when you can jump on Brand. Why? At level 2 he's soooo squishy, and is an easy kill if pushed, which most will do. At level 6, he's still relatively squishy, and you just got another tool to kill him with.

Biggest threat at all stages of the game. She's just too powerful to fight without help. This is why you should wait for jungler support to attack her.

Fairly easy to harass, and eventually kill. The only thing is to not let him regain health off of minions. Jungler help isn't even that necessary around him. Just be wary of his ultimate, it can be devastating.

Try to waste his Playful / Trickster, as it has a long cooldown, then harass him. You need to waste that spell because it negates Dredge Line, your attacks, all of Riptide, and/or your Depth Charge. If you attempt to harass when he has this up, it's a huge waste of time and mana. A good tip is that Dredge Line stops his Urchin Strike, which is his most important harassing tool.

I'll just leave this here...

He does damage to you, but he's extremely squishy. Try not to get harassed pre-6, so the scuffle you should get into at level 6 won't end in your death via Requiem. When you hit level 6, that's the time to jump on him and of course, kill him.

You can't really do anything to him until his Null Sphere goes on cooldown. The problem is it has a low cooldown, so if you plan on doing something you have to act fast. Post-6 you must wait for him to get aggresive. This is because he's pretty much immune to ganks with his ultimate, and you'll have to wait until he can't teleport away from you.

What a little...Oh do I hate Katarina. Her post-6 power is really good, especially if she went for Will of the Ancients or Haunting Guise. I recommend getting MR fast unless your jungler helps you kill her. One thing to remember is Dredge Line stops her Death Lotus. DO NOT RUN AWAY WITHOUT USING IT. She will destroy you if you do.

Difficulty:I DUNNO
To be added. Never faced.

Difficulty:Somewhere between Medium and Hard
So...powerful. You really can't do anything to her without a lucky gank. A good one anyway. Just be careful and fight her if you have to. A squishy mage with power is still a squishy mage...

Wins by sitting on her side of the lane and weakening you until one burst can rape you. Not if Dredge Line has anything to do with it! She can only hurt you if you let her. She's pretty easy to kill.

Easy to negate his farming pre-6, but you have to be extremely careful post-6. Nobody wants to get puked on to death. You should probably wait for a jungler to fight Malz after level 6.

Haven't faced him in mid, but I have faced him in solotop. I'm here to tell you that unless you have the support of a jungler, do not fight Mordekaiser. He will punish you.

Worst nightmare with her shield, but when her shield goes down/on cooldown, it's your time to strike. You saw a typical fight with her in the "Why AP Nautilus?" section.

So annoying with his harass because none of his spells are skillshots or cones. If it seems like he's going to snare you, get out of range of the minions, this way he has to take your combo if he wants to harass.

Difficulty:Free Gold
LOL JK, just kill her for even considering coming mid.

Pre-6 he's...killable, but if he's not squishy by level 6, don't even bother going near him without jungler support. If you don't kill him in one burst, he's gonna come back harder. Swain is a champion that does his burst over time instead of one big strong combo like Nautilus.

Difficulty:Free Win
Just kill him. Teemo shouldn't be mid, so let him know it. Everybody hates him anyway. Rammus said so.

Early game you have the advantage, but post-6, it's a game of quickdraw. You can kill him, but he can kill you.. This is why you can't get close to him unless you're planning on killing him post-6. He's got a stun which gives him the upper hand, but he's still way weaker than you in the form of health. That's what you can utilize to get to him and make him pay for his evil ways.

Pretty easy to kill if you can avoid his stun bubble nonsense. Also he has good harass past the minions, so you have to be wary of Death Ray.

Words cannot describe how annoying and impossible it is to 1v1 a good Vladimir. You have to wait for your jungler to kill him, and even then you might not kill him because of Sanguine Pool. He's like Shaco, not OP but annoying as ever.

Just like Lux, he excels at staying in the back of the lane and just harassing like that. Dredge Line is just such an amazing skill.

Most Ziggs's don't realize they've got a large range on their spells. I've had one walk up to ME as if he thought he should get up close to hit me with his spells. Of course I killed him for doing so, but if you can exploit this little mindset, you'll have no problem with them. On the other hand, you can always treat them like Lux and Xerath if they stay back to exploit their range.

Now just because somebody's in Hard difficulty, doesn't mean you can't kill them. It's just that a good one won't let you win so easily. Vice Versa for Easy champions. Don't think you can ignore them and they won't kill you. Always be careful, because you never know when you might get ganked by an entire team. (Damn premade teams...)

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Laning Phase

Depending on the champion / duo you're facing, early game will either be extremely easy, or a huge challenge. You should refer to "Mid Lane Foes" to figure out which one it'll be.

The first thing you should always be focusing on is farm. Farm is the most important thing in any solo lane. Next to that is kills, which brings up the next goal, harass. If you're not harassing, it's because you can't. If you can't it's either because they're harassing you and coming out on top of fights, or you know you can fight. At this point it's self defense until you can get a gank. Nautilus works well with ganks, because of all his CC, so most times you'll be able to get a kill with a good gank.

Crazy Phase

Just what I call mid game. Why? Mid game usually starts after a lane was won or lost, and everyone begins roaming or moving together to knock down towers/ teamfight. It's very unorganized unlike early game where everyone sticks to a lane except for the jungler.

Nautilus's mid game reflects on how well his early game went. Nautilus can make a splash in any teamfight. The problem early is you tend to be a main target. This is why the only way to get into the fight is to get there at an opportunistic time. A time like this is getting in the back of the fight and using your ultimate on the AD Carry. An example is a Caitlyn waiting all the way in the back of her team for the fight to start so she can shoot away. This is what you counter. One Depth Charge on her will knock up the entire team and allow you to get to her. Outside of teamfights, Nautilus is exceptional at picking off stragglers. Always do so when you see a squishy carry that is either clueless or got too cocky.

Late Game

Essentially the same as Crazy Phase. The only thing is you must be MUCH more careful. A wrong move can lose your team their AP Carry, giving the other team an opportunistic time to attack your team. You should still be on the prowl for enemies that are all alone. Basically, stay safe.

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Thank you for reading my AP Nautilus guide. It's relatively short right now, but I'll add more sections in time. If you don't have an excellent game first time around, be sure to try plenty more times for a good feel of AP Nautilus. He can take some getting used to. In other words don't play one unfortunate game and come back, downvote and say "This build is terrible, -1."

For right now it's looking pretty good, so I guess it's about time I put something funny/clever/random here. Hmmmm....Oh yes. Now I remember.

This shameless advertising brought to you by AP Nautilus. Side effects may include the effects of cancer, death, illness, death, choking on air, death, amnesia, and death. Thank you for purchasing cancer, and have a nice day.

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