Here's a guide to building a Malphite tank that is fully capable of soloing a lane and getting allowing your team to get an upper hand early on. Malphite is technically not considered a tank, and he lacks crowd control outside of his ultimate, but his abilities and skills make him an excellent solo lane character with great initiating abilities to improve ganking and giving your team an early edge in a team battle. I've seen and tried other builds besides this one and have not seen any that work better than this one.
For runes I take magic penetration marks, armor seals, magic resist glyphs, and health quintessences. Malphite is not a heavy damager so there is little reason to put a whole lot of offensive runes on him, but magic penetration marks will allow him to cause decent damage with his seismic shard and due to the range of the shard it provides great harrasment. His ground slam and ultimate both deal magic damage as well so magic penetration is quite valuable because you won't have much space to build AP. The armor seals are a given since this will allow Malphite to take a beating early on especially with his passive shield and it also allows you to build up HP and mana regen early so he can use all of his abilities. The armor seals also increase the damage of his ground slam since it receives extra damage by 50% of your armor. The magic resist glyphs allow Malphite to compete with mages in a lane, and are a must for any tank oriented build. Finally, health quintessences give Malphite a nice health boost with the masteries for him boosting his health even more, and the higher his health the larger his shield, which of course allows him to stay in battle and in lane longer which is very important when soloing a lane. I don't see a lot of room for alternatives in the style of Malphite that this build is for, unless you want to go with damage penetration or straight damage marks.
I stick to a fairly standard tank mastery build of 0/21/9. Since Malphite is not going to carry a team there is little reason to get any offense masteries. On defensive masteries I focus on directly building Malphite's HP and pure defensive numbers. I ignore defensive masteries that are dealing with minions or monsters as they will have little effect on Malphite and if you are soloing a lane there is no need to be strong agaisnt monsters. Finally I take 9 in the utility mastery to improve Malphite's mana pool and his regeneration as well as improving his speed slightly. This allows Malphite to spam his abilities a lot more which makes the magic penetration marks much more useful. A possible alternative to this setup is to build more utility with better cooldowns, more gold and experience and thus, allowing him to be more item dependent, but also more capable of getting said items. A second alternative is to build magic penetration in offense, basic defense, and mana boosts in utility (9/12/9). This alternative would make Malphite's abilities hit even harder. However, I still believe a standard tank mastery is best for a solo Malphite.
I always start with a regrowth pendant as the health regen is just too valuable to a tanky character. Hopefully when next you return to base by either a death or needing to, you will have enough gold to upgrade the pendant to philosopher's stone which gives fantastic health and mana regen and the extra 5 gold per 10 seconds really adds up and to buy at least boots of speed, but with enough gold go ahead and buy your upper tier boots. I used to always build ninja tabi no matter who I'm facing unless they are almost all AP as the armor boost is nice to his ground slam and the old dodge boost was awesome, but now I've switched to mercury treads as the magic resist basically neutralizes mages early and the tenacity allows malphite to be better at initiating, chasing, and running away. I typically get chain vest or negatron cloak depending on the situation. If you are being assaulted by an AP heavy group of enemies it would be better to buy the negatron cloak to allow you to survive their burst. Otherwise get chain vest as it is useful for building numerous items especially the first top tier item that I almost always get. After getting negatron cloak, you should go ahead and probably build force of nature in order to eliminate danger from mages and make your health regen absurdly large. However, if you got chain vest, go ahead and get glacial shroud and cloth armor for a massive armor boost, enough mana that you should very rarely find yourself low on it, and 15% cooldown reduction to make Malphite more able to use his abilities especially his ultimate which will become your best friend as the game goes along. If you got force of nature, then you should head for frozen heart. After frozen heart you should buy either chain vest or cloak of agility to build atma's impaler as it will boost your basic attacks significantly and increase your armor which improves your ground slam. Finally another possible deviation from this build is switching force of nature for abyssal scepter or lich bane. If you are not getting hammered by AP at this point or you have a high damage AP mage such as Brand or Anivia then abyssal scepter is a better choice than force of nature as it provides a boost to your damage capabilities and makes your mage a beast as your opponents will have dramatically lower magic resistance and lich bane improves a variety of areas to boost both your survivability and damage output, but it does not help your team with an aura. Also both still provide you with a solid magic resistance boost. Next you should work towards warmog's by buying whatever of its early items you can afford and then selling them for giants belt or if you have the money going ahead and getting warmogs as it will boost your damage dramatically and make you incredibly hard to kill with high hp and the increased size of your passive shield. Finally you should upgrade your philosopher's stone to shurelya's reverie for the much higher hp and mana regen and the great team speed boost. Possible alternatives to this build style are abyssal scepter, lich bane, hexdrinker, sunfire cape, randuin's omen or should you team have too much tanking or their team be a tank oriented team you could build madred's bloodrazor as it boosts Malphite's damage and still increases his defense. The reason I typically wait a long time to build shurelya's is that the gold boost goes away when it is built and without that boost in gold you will struggle to buy items the longer the game goes since Malphite does not get alot of kills late game.
I always start with seismic shard as it is the closest Malphite has to a stun before his ultimate and it is also the only ranged ability he has before ultimate. Then I do brutal strikes to provide him with better farming ability, and a way to boost his defense should he get ganked early or need to run away early. Then at level 3 I prefer to get all of his abilities so I get ground slam to provide him with the opportunity to farm better and should he still have enough mana, the ability to spam abilities. I then max seismic shard first because it is his best damaging and chasing ability to non-melee enemies especially when his ultimate is on cooldown. Next I alternate between his ground slam and brutal strikes as I level up because they both have solid usefulness and brutal strikes strengthens ground slam. Obviously I max his ultimate as soon as possible since it is by far his best ability and to me one of the best tank ultimates in the game. You could max ground slam and then max brutal strikes, but I definitely believe that seismic shard should be maxed first, it is just too valuable early in the game to not max it first since it becomes far less valuable later in the game.
With every tank I use, I almost always select heal and flash as my summoner spells. Heal is a very underrated spell for tanks especially ones like Malphite and Leona as they don't have heals themselves. It allows you to be more aggressive and sustain better because you already have solid hp regen and you can instantly heal a decent portion of hp, which makes a tank early dangerous as damage is relatively similar early in the game. Heal is also useful should you be laning with someone as they will be able to be more aggressive too, which often leads to an early kill and possibly an upper hand on the battle through being able to get mid-tier and even upper tier items early. Admittedly heal is fairly useless late game as it doesn't heal enough to make a difference then, but at that point a lot of summoner spells are not incredibly useful. Flash is great for tanks as they have little escapability so should they get ganked or caught in an AOE abilities from characters like Veigar or Malzahar. It also helps with chasing if you can flash and then hit your enemy with seismic shard or your ultimate to catch up with them. Other useful summoner spells for Malphite are exhaust for both offensive and defensive reasons, ignite for getting kills on a fast fleeing champion like yi, garen, or tryndamere, ghost for the same reasons as flash, and teleport is useful for soloing a lane or for jumping to help your team out in a battle that you are not involved in.
If you are soloing a lane there won't be a lot of team work early in the game, but when team battles break out, Malphite should either initiate battles with his ultimate followed by ground slam (both with brutal strikes active) or gank with his ultimate from bushes or behind the enemy. Do not depend on Malphite to protect you if you are squishy, he can't unless the opposing team is foolish and attacks him instead of charging you. Try to catch multiple enemies in his ultimate, but don't be afraid to use it on one champion, with frozen heart and the mastery setup of this build it will be back in a minute and a half at most. It almost guarantees a kill for your team if you have 2v1 on an enemy and Malphite uses his ultimate. However, Malphite is not a good team player should his ultimate be on cooldown as most of his abilities are primarily beneficial to him.
Pros / Cons to the Build
• Great Defensive Capabilities
• Excellent ability to hold a lane solo
• Good ability early to get kills
• Can stay in a lane for an extended period without worrying about needing to heal
• Will not get many kills late in the game
• Will likely die a lot late in the game because you won't be able to kill them first
• Not a true tank as he lacks good CC outside of his ultimate
Malphite is a highly underappreciated tanky damager as he is quite dangerous early offensively, and one of the best initiators in the game from lvl 6 on with his ultimate. This build takes advantage of his tank oriented abilities, but provides him with enough offense that he will punish the other team for going after all the carries. I think Malphite is most effective as a solo laner due to his lack of CC, but should he not have a dependent carry such as Ashe with him he can be a good ally in a lane as well. I'll continue to use Malphite and may adjust this build should I find something that works better. Let me know how this build works for you and what changes you would make to it in the comments. Thanks for the input and good luck.