Nidalee Build Guide by Ireliavent
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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.
Scores with Nidalee
In this chapter I will mainly post my own stats when playing Nidalee, just to convince you that I'm not a bad Nidalee player myself. Well, some games just go to... anyways, if anyone contributes with a picture, I would be more than happy to add it to the list. It doesn't matter what score you got (as long as it has a positive K/D-ratio). This is just to prove my build works, to a certain point, and I really want the users to share their experience with it. This is equal to a "Hall of Fame"-chapter, as you might have seen in other guides.
Yeah, I really don't like Veigar...
Pros and Cons
There are both pros and cons with Nidalee. In this chapter I will look at both of them. This chapter will basically tell you how the champion does in the rift, and what you should focus/reject to do. It's a lot of text without a picture, but hang on! This is really important information when laning as/against her.
■ Nidalee Pros:
+ High damage early game with the Javelin Toss
+ Mobile and elusive champion
+ Melee and ranged champion
+ Easy escapes with the use of Pounce and her passive, Prowl
+ Can be played as all roles except jungle
+ The pokes are legendary
+ Easy to farm as a Cougar
+ Is a great roamer and split pusher
+ If played correctly, there is no real counter for her
■ Nidalee Cons:
- She is squishy
- Mana dependent champion
- No slow, snare etc.
- Hard to master
- Not 4, but 7 abilities to learn
- Javelin Toss is one of the slowest moving objects in the game
- Pounce can be hard to control in team fights
- Hard to balance aggressive and defensive game-play
- Too few skins :(
- Hard to play against champions with hard CC
- Only a half champion before level 6
Runes and Masteries
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration might seem like a callow choice, but trust me, it gets you going real good. This will help you harass and poke enemy champions a lot, even in early phases of the game.
Greater Seal of Armor is a cheap, common and good rune-choice. This is, surprisingly, used to give you some Armor! If every minion in the game decides you focus you, you'll be able to withstand that. These two situations (getting ganked, or harassing) includes a lot of auto-attacking in early game phases.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist is an excellent choice, as Nidalee is very squishy early on. I've written this in "Pros and Cons" as well - I find it hard to find a balance between defensive and aggressive play style. I prefer Magic Resist above Ability Power, because you usually won't be extremely aggressive before level 6 anyways.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power is a basic rune for AP Mid-champions. They're just there for... Ability Power, you know. It gives around 15 extra AP, and together with your Doran's Ring, this makes a total of 30 starting AP.
This is my opinion on what is the best masteries for Nidalee. Taking this is risky, as there is a 21/0/9 setup. This basically means a lot of Ability Power, some Mana Regeneration a some other useful utilities. Picking up extra Mana Regeneration and biscuits in stead of health potions gives you some extra sustain. The movement speed is also slightly increased, but not focused, as Nidalee is mobile enough without.
Recommended Summoner Spells
Flash blinks your champion towards your cursor, I guess you know this already. This Summoner Spell works great with Nidalee, as she is quite squishy and can't really protect herself if Pounce isn't good enough. Flash is the most used Summoner Spell, and works with almost every champion. I, personally, always use Flash. It's my main Summoner Spell. If I'm in need of a specific Summoner Spell, as Smite, I'd rather change my secondary spell. Go Flash!
Ignite lights the targeted enemy champion on fire for 5 seconds. The summoner spell is used to finish off targets. Tryndamere is a hard champion to kill without ignite, as his ultimate rejects damage taken within the 5 seconds. Quickly Pouncing forward, inside Ignite's range, you can easily ignite a target that is escaping. Ignite is a good combination with Javelin Toss - they're both designed to finish enemies off. Ignite is probably the most used Summoner Spell after Flash.
Other Summoner Spells
Barrier acts like a shield. If you're getting turret dived, and your health is crucially low, you can use barrier to protect yourself from some of the damage done. This can be used if Primal Surge is on cooldown. Tactically Barrier activation's are something everyone should learn, as this saves a lot of lives.
Clairvoyance can be used to reveal a small area of the map for 5 seconds. This summoner spell can be useful if you're playing Nidalee as a support. With it, you can spot ganks and enemy champions hiding or running away. This synergies well with Nidalee's javelins, as they got a long range. If a enemy champion escapes, you can use it to guide where you should toss your Javelin.
Clarity isn't that usefull with Nidalee. This Summoner Spell is used to refill mana to both you and your nearby allies. Playing as support, this would help both you and your carry to stay in lane longer. This would maybe work if your carry is a Mana dependent champion as Ezreal. Your Primal Surge would give the needed health, as it uses mana to heal. A decent pick, I'd say.
Cleanse can be useful if you're trying to run away from a enemy champion. If you get slowed or stunned (and so on), this can be used to remove the debuff so you successfully can pounce away! Getting sniped by that Ashe-ultimate is no problem anymore! Note: it doesn't deny any damage done, it just denies the slow, stun, snare etc.
Ghost ignores collisions and gives extra movement speed. If any champions, as Hecarim, comes to collide with you, you will simply sprint away. This can be used as an escape ability, and a offensive ability. Running towards enemy champions, or within spear range is a good use for Ghost. When you use this, remember to use her passive, Prowl! This will grant insane movement speed.
Heal is used in those critical situations. If you're escaping a enemy champion, and you quickly need a heal, this is the summoner icon for you. This also heals nearby allies, and could be a good combination with Clarity. Nidalee has her Primal Surge, so I really wouldn't recommend using this with her, as her E is one of the strongest single target heals in the game.
Smite is as you know used as the standard jungle Summoner Spell. I do not recommend using this with Nidalee. Just, please don't. This doesn't even deserve a big icon... so why did I do it? Well, it's all about structure, you know. It got to look good. Well nobody reads this anyways. They'll just look at the picture and say "what a cute hand". As I'm alone here, I will take the time to say that I'm the president of USA.
The 7 different abilities are what makes Nidalee the amazing champion she is. As there are 3 extra abilities to learn, this could be both bad and good when playing her. When I started playing her, I wanted to give up learning all the abilities. Now, I know all of them and can easily close my eyes and still know what I am doing (bragging much). The abilities are planned out in such a perfect way, which makes Nidalee up to playing almost every role in the team. Below we'll take a look at their name, and what they do. If you haven't already, you'll probably realize in this chapter how strong Nidalee is, and how widely spread abilities she has. If there was one thing I wanted to add, I would have added any form of CC. The lack of CC makes Nidalee way less valuable in team-fights.
I signalized Q with light blue, W with red, E with green and R with purple. The passive is marked with a pink color.
Prowl is a passive that gives Nidalee an increased speed boost of 15% (of total movement speed) whenever she runs inside a bush. The passive lasts 2 seconds after Nidalee has left the bush. If you're heading a destination, remember, the bushes are your friends. This passive is also a great way to escape enemy champions, especially combined with her Pounce.
Javelin Toss is maybe the most feared ranged spell in the game, despite its low moving speed. It gains damage from traveling distance, and relies on ability power. This makes up for Nidalees ultimate not being a high damage ability. Javelin Toss eats mana, so without an early Tear of the Goddess it is hard to withstand the great Mana losses.
Bushwhack is great for denying ganks. This is a trap, placed wherever your likings is. When a enemy champion steps over it, it gives you vision of them, as well reducing their magic resist and armor. The Bushwhack is unfortunately visible to enemy champions, so try to place it where enemy champions can't see them. An example of this is at the start/end of a bush.
Primal Surge is what makes Nidalee so hard to push out of a lane. Every poke can be answered with a Primal Surge, which is a heal. It can heal you, or an allied champion. If playing support, this is a great way to keep your AD Carry at full health. But there is one bad thing about Primal Surge - it drains your mana. So be careful spamming it!
Aspect of the Cougar is where the damage comes in. Before you hit level 6, Nidalee only has her Javelins to do damage. Cougar is basically a predator - with all her 3 new abilities focused on damage. No mana cost makes this transform easy and "friendly". None of the abilities in Cougar form costs any mana. You know what no mana cost means? Sustain!
Takedown is Nidalees only ability which is scales with Attack Damage. This is a strong ability with a short cooldown. Takedown focuses one target, dealing tons of damage. This ability alone is what makes Nidalee a good AD Carry, as the other abilities scales with Ability Power.
Pounce is used to quickly move away. Nidalee pounces forward, dealing damage to everyone at the location she pounces to. Pounce can be used to move over specific walls (view map). Be sure to use Pounce when running across the map! This will get you faster to a location, and as well as maxing your Tear of the Goddess. An early stacked Tear will result into a lot of late game Mana.
Swipe is an ability which deals damage to one or more enemies in front of Nidalee. This can be used to quickly farm huge minion waves. Together with Pounce, using them right after each other will easily clear out waves of minions. An amazing ability to carry with you, isn't it?
What items fit Nidalee?
When playing Nidalee, there is nothing right or wrong to build. Well, there is something which really isn't good with her. I usually build what I feel would fit my current situation. As an example of this, I don't always build Rylai's Crystal Scepter. There are endless opportunities. Before you know whats the better item to build, you should really take a look at the current situation. Every game is different.
I really recommend using this as a starting item for Nidalee. The early damage, health and mana is a great addition to laning. Also, the 4 mana gain when killing a unit, could be worth a lot more than you think. When starting with this, I additionally start with two Health Potions. This is to gain more sustain.
I think this is the most built item in the game, after Health Potion. It gives increased speed, and in this case, it's awesome. Nidalees high mobility is extraordinary in this laning phase. Not a bad choice, try to consider it early game! Boots of Speed can later be build into boots with unique purposes (Armor, Magic Penetration, additional speed etc.).
I think almost everyone knows what this is. This is a consumable item, which you drink (or take). When it's activated, it regenerates health over time. When your health is low, use this to gain more health. This is used to stay in a lane longer, or being able to continue what you are doing. In addition to health potions, there is also a mana potion, which does the exact same thing. This refills your mana, basically.
This is what is placed by the Trinket. It can also be bought, for 75 coins. It is used to reveal any area for the next 3 minutes. It's also invisible for the enemy team, and can only be removed if using a Sweeping Lens. A great item for a roamer, since you don't always know what you're going to run into. Use this to ward Baron/Dragon at all times.
This is one of the new items brought in inside the pre-season 4 patch. It places a ward, stealth ward, with unique living time. As the game developed, it's lasting longer. When you hit level 9, it upgrades to a Greater Warding Totem. When a ward is gone, you're instantly able to replace that ward. A great, free item to start with. Do not forget it!
This is a special item. Basically, I've included it into the build because of its Mana Regeneration. 7 Mana Regeneration. But that's not much, is it? No! But it's passive grants you 1 Mana Regeneration for each 1% of your total Mana missing. Since you're supposed to throw millions of spears, you'll actually be able to do it without suffering from huge lacks of Mana! Nevertheless, its 25 Magic Resistance is also a great addition to the list, and strengthens my item of choice.
Sheen is another Mana item. Well, this time we at least have some Ability Power included. It buffs you with 25 Ability Power, and 200 Mana. As this isn't a lot, it's the passive we're interested in - when you've used an ability, you're next basic attack will deal more damage. This is great, as Nidalee uses tons of abilities. She will almost always wear this buff on her, as she frequently uses Pounce to jump around.
The description of this item says everything - tons of Ability Power. It gives you 120 true Ability Power, and also increases your total Ability Power by 30%! As this item fits every AP Carrier, I always tend build it when I'm playing Nidalee. The item itself, gives 120 + 36 (30% of 120) Ability Power. With runes and masteries, you should have 70 Ability Power when you hit level 18. Including this, it will boost 70 AP up to 247 AP, with this item only. Your javelins deals amazing damage at this point, so poking is crucial for victory! It's lovely, or what?
Athene's Unholy Grail is where I believe Nidalee gains her strength. Whenever you kill or assist a kill, you'll regenerate 12% of your total mana. Based on your early Tear of the Goddess, you'll be having a decent amount of mana already. This item also regenerates more mana the less you have. It also grants you with 60 Ability Power, 20% Cooldown Reduction, 15 additional mana regeneration and 40 Magic Resistance. The Magic Resistance is usefull, since you're most likely laning against an AP champion mid. The 20% CDR is very useful for your Pounce and Javelin Toss, so you'll get them more frequent. Visualize: you're almost empty of mana, so you'll get increased mana regeneration. This is additional to your 15 mana regeneration. You'll also get a kill, so you'll get 12% of you mana back. Wonderful, huh?
Another staff added to our list! Well, this is where I'll answer the "omg they build magic resist"-question. You've might heard about Last Whisper. While Last Whisper gives you 30% Armor Penetration, this item gives you 30% Magic Resist Penetration. This is a great item if the enemies realized how much unnecessary health they've lost with your javelins. But when they build Magic Resist, you'll build this. It also boosts your Ability Power with 70. This is a cheap(er) item, so the price isn't even above 2400. A great item for Nidalee, as a main task for her is to damage the enemies pre-fight!
Lich Bane is overall a good item for Nidalee. It does not focus only one thing, as Rabadon's Deathcap focuses on Ability Power, but it buffs you with smaller, great boosts. This gives 80 Ability Power (for the javelins), 250 Mana (because javelins costs a lot of Mana) and 5% movement speed (for the mobility). The passive is just an upgraded version of Sheen's passive - after using an ability, it gives you 50 + 75% of your Ability Power. That's some strong basic attacks, isn't it? Especially with Rabadon's Deathcap! As said, this is an overall good item for Nidalee, as she's in need of everything this item has to offer. I believe it's important enough to be a part of the core items, that means I think it's valuable enough to be bought in every game.
This item is often referred to as "GA", which is just a shortened name. GA is mostly known because of its passive, which revives the player after death. When you die, you'll basically regenerate 30% of your Health and Mana. This has a huge cooldown of 5 minutes. This nearly the same as Aatrox's passive, Blood Well. Yes, it's a secondary chance to destroy the enemies! Visualize you're in a fight against an enemy, and you think you can win the fight. But you didn't, and he killed you. Then you will "respawn" out of nowhere, with 30% health. Yes, this can help you grant a kill. In addition, GA also gives you 50 Armor and 40 Magic Resistance. A good item for Nidalee, as she is quite squishy!
This item works perfectly with Nidalee. It will maybe be the difference of killing an enemy or letting it walk away. As you've already understood, I'm in love with this item. What does it do Ireliavent? It buffs you with Ability Power (for instance, 80) and 500 Health. Well that's not that good, is it? No. But again, it's the passive who's amazing. It slows the enemy, as a Iceborn Gauntlet does. But this doesn't slow when basic attacking enemies, it slows when you use any ability that hits him! Not a huge slow, 35%, but it does make a huge difference. If an enemy champion runs away from you, you have your long range javelin to cast. If it hit, you will be able to chase the enemy down. Remember to switch in to Cougar form after landing a spear, as it's a lot easier to get around. See Pouncing chapter for more information and tips.
Zhonya's Hourglass can be a extremely useful item to Nidalee. I often buy it actually, because of its 120 Ability Power, and 50 important Armor. This is a great item to buy, as Nidalee is squishy (you've realized that by now I hope). In addition to the Ability Power and the Armor, we also have its unique active. A 90 second cooldown ability which can strategically used to survive any attack, or ultimates. It places your champion into invulnerable-mode (with a bling-sound and it looks like you're covered in gold). You're then unable to die, to get hit, but also unable to do anything yourself, as move around. If you want to engage, you can quickly pounce inside the enemies and use Zhonya's active. The enemies might even use all their abilities to kill you. When you're done being in Stasis, your team will probably arrive.
Boots and Enchantments
Remember, as a Nidalee, Boots is your weapon. Nidalee relies a lot on movement speed, in both her Prowl, and her Pounce. Since Nidalee is such a mobile champion, some early boots isn't the worst choice. To be honest, I prefer to go full out Boots of Swiftness with the Enchantment: Alacrity enchantment. This is not the best choice, but as a active Nidalee player myself, roaming is the best thing I know about. I didn't include Berserker's Greaves, as I think these boots doesn't fit Nidalee at all.
Here is what I recommend:
Ninja Tabi if laning against high AD damage champions.
Boots of Swiftness if roaming is something you tend to do.
Boots of Mobility can also be used when roaming.
Sorcerer's Shoes if aggressive play against magic resist.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity when rapid cast of spears is needed, including Pounce.
Enchantment: Furor if chasing champion, this gives you 12% whenever you hit them.
Enchantment: Alacrity if roaming what you tend to do.
Enchantment: Captain could maybe be good when supporting.
Enchantment: Distortion makes Ghost, Teleport and Flash have a shorter cooldown.
Enchantment: Homeguard. Use this in most situations.
Early game (usually level 0-6)
As the game starts, buy your items needed. After you've helped the jungle out with either of his buffs, quickly run back to your lane. In the next minutes, just focus last-hitting. This is really important, and if you don't do this it will have extreme adverse effects for mid-game. Anyways, as you've understood how important it is to last-hit minions, we can continue. Try to stay long in lane. With Nidalees E, this isn't really hard. The only time you need to recall is if your Mana is empty. If you see your opponent recalling, take the chance and push the minion wave to their turret, then recall. It will deny the enemy a lot of important farm, and you'll most likely get out winning the situation. Nidalee is quite squishy in early game phases. The moment you hit level 6, you can consider the situation. If you know you can kill the enemy, go for it. But be careful if you don't have any map vision! The jungler tend to stay lurking around. By this time, you should easily be able to kill an enemy. Use the a combo like this, starting in human form: "Q-R-W-Q-E-W-R-E-Q-Ignite". This will throw a javelin, go into cougar form, pounce, takedown, swipe, pounce (to keep following the enemy), human form, heal and throw a spear. Ignite can also be used of you can't finish the enemy of without it.
Mid game (usually level 6-16)
Late game (usually level 16-18+)
Pouncing over walls
Pouncing is a great way to both hunt and escape enemies. This ability can be used when faced straight into specific walls, to run through them. The image below is taken from another guide, and is listed in the Sources chapter. The number marks walls you are able to Pounce over. This is a great escape ability, and should be learnt as soon as possible! Do you want to see the pouncing in action? Check out Lady Sinovera's Jungle Jumping Guide!
Nidalee has some cool skins. Each skin has a different Human and a different Cougar than the normal skin. The animations are different, and the javelins has some pretty nice designs. Some of the skins will be available soon, and others are maybe gone for a long time (for instance, Bewitching Nidalee). I prefer to use the French Maid Nidalee skin, as this was my first skin for Nidalee. Below, I will go in further details of all her skins. They're sweet, aren't they?
French Maid Nidalee can be purchased for 520 RP in the In-Game store, under the tab "Skins". This is my most frequently used skin for Nidalee.
Pharaoh Nidalee can be purchased for 520 RP in the In-Game store, under the tab "Skins". I personally haven't used this skin a lot, but it looks interesting!
Headhunter Nidalee can be purchased for 975 RP. This is the most valuable item you could buy to Nidalee, if we're not counting with unavailable skins.
Bewitching Nidalee was available for purchase in the vintage Limited Edition skin October 2013. I am not sure if she's coming to come back to store in the near future.
Snow Bunny Nidalee was available for purchase in the vintage Limited Edition skin December 2013. I am not sure if she's going to be available for purchase after this.
Leopard Nidalee is a legacy skin. Leopard Nidalee was available 11th December 2013, for a price of 520 RP.
Nidalee is a mobile champion. Her great abilities to roam, forces enemies to ward to survive a gank.
Nidalee can play almost every role in a team. Her abilities to ward ( Bushwhack), and heal ( Primal Surge) makes this champion a good support. Her spears makes her an AP Carry. Not to forget her sustain, which can make a good mid laner. Early towers can be easily achieved with the use of Primal Surge, which grants both attack speed and a heal.
The damage from Nidalee is actually very high. In Cougar form, the Q, W and E just melts down the target. If the champion runs, switching back into human form, throwing a Javelin, will ensure you that lost kill. Her W (in Human Form) acts like a mini-ward. And, to top the perfection off, her E (still Human Form) is a heal. Her abilities are amazing!
The items you choose are important for a good Nidalees game-play. My stats and texts above will ensure you a lot of information about each item to build on Nidalee. And, please, do remember to change the build after your situation. If you build Magic Resist against a Zed, you're most likely going to lose that lane. Choose properly!
Pouncing over walls can also be easily achieved with some practice. Learning this is crucial and very important for both her mid and late game.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy Nidalee?
|- Did you really ask that to a person who loves everything about her? Well, let me be serious. If it was up to me, I would definitely bought her! But, if you love to jungle, and this is what you usually do, you should note Nidalee isn't any good jungler. But yes, by far, I recommend to have her. She's really viable.|
What happened to your guide?
|- Well, basically I didn't believe my guide was useful enough. It wasn't finished, and I didn't like the idea of following an unfinished guide. Therefore, I took it away. I don't have a lot of time to use on this guide, as exams is coming up, so I'll focus on AP Mid. Maybe, later, I will add Support and Top guide back. But that's probably going take a while.|
Why don't you have Tear of the Goddess in your build?
|- I didn't include Tear of the Goddess, as I think Chalice of Harmony is a better choice in most situations. Of course, the Tear is viable in a lot of situations, but this is a general guide. Following recent stats I've done it better with builds including Chalice.|
I want to take a moment to thank my beloved friend Winand (EU West) for his supportive assistance while writing this guide. Together we've negotiated, modified and reinforced to formulate a understandable and organized guide. His wide knowledge to League of Legends made him a huge factor for this project, as well as entertaining and motivating me night upon night. His warm support and kind critics has made me become better at writing, informing and describing, and more experienced with Nidalee herself. I am infinitely grateful.
Thanks to Meiyjhe and Pluckin Penguin for constructive criticism and motivation.
Nidalee, please heal me, use your E ability!
Nidalee, enemy, kill it with your poking please!
Nidalee, stop it please, you are way too fast for me!
Nidalee, show me please, who's the queen of PvP?
Nidalee, killing spree, what is that ability?
Nidalee, ward for free, with er W ability!