I had waited for quite some time for Maokai to come out, and was fairly bummed when the store broke and nobody could buy him. When I finally got him, and browsed the forums for suggestions on playing my new wooden minion, I was greeted with half a million "Maokai sucks" threads. How could a champ with so many disruptive abilities suck? I tried my hand at a few builds based on people's gripes, and this is what I created. Without further ado, my first build.
This being my first build, I have no ungodly idea how to do this part. Basically, you're going to want to Take Sapling at first level, Twisted Advance at second level and Arcane Smash at third. After that, you'll want to max out Twisted Advance as soon as possible. Then Arcane Smash, then Sapling.
The reason I skill in this order is simple. I don't play Maokai as a straight tank or dps. I believe the proper Maokai style is to cause difficulty in teamfights, harass, and push.
We're going to want to use sapling early game to force our enemies to stay at a distance. It's also a ****py little aoe for creep waves, but I wouldn't waste too much mana using it to farm. It's a beautiful ability for when you need to tower dive, but are at low hp. Lob one of your little tree friends behind the turret for that precious last hit. The final use for Sapling, is recon. Toss them in bushes, jungle routes, etc., to get the drop on the enemy jungler/prevent him from getting the drop on you.
Twisted Advance is my favorite skill, causing decent damage, bringing you to the target, and then rooting them. This skill is used to prevent escapes, stop an enemy chaser, or lock them down inside your turret. The main offensive tactic with this spell is to keep someone inside your ult. You can use it in some situations as a defense. You can target a creep to get away from an enemy. It's a very good followup to an
Arcane Smash is our chase/knockback/escape button. The most common use is to either slow down an enemy so you can follow up with Twisted advance to lock them into a slow/root cycle, or to slow an enemy who is chasing you down. In a teamfight, I like to get close to 2 or 3 enemies and use this so our range can get away.
I know the writing here isn't great, but I'm just making this as a favor to those who like maokai, but find him underpowered. You need to focus on what he's good at and not play him like he's rammus or Shen.
Maokai is a mana pig early on, so I always take Clarity. The second spell is preference, but I recommend Ghost to avoid being caught, or to catch an enemy who blew a movement speed buff to escape you.
Thanks for reading this awful guide, I'll update it if it gets good reviews so it's easier to follow, and I'll further expand on it.
Remember, you are not as tough as rammus, and you don't have the HP of Cho'Gath. But you are the most damn annoying champion in the game, and you were built to harass. Now make like a tree and rape face!