Nidalee Build Guide by Mooninites

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Mooninites

Mooninites Top Lane AP Nidalee

Mooninites Last updated on July 28, 2012
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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: 18

Honor Guard

Defense: 12

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Welcome to Mooninites' AP nidalee guide for Top lane. For those wondering, this is different than my AP Nidalee at mid guide. That guide was already big enough and different enough that I decided to make a guide for top lane. This guide won't cover all the basics that my other Nidalee guide has so if you want to get a total in-depth view at Nidalee check that out too.

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Our rune choices are a little odd but some of them are fairly self explanatory.


Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

Take 9 in Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration because it's better than straight up MagicPen due to how often we auto attack. The same is true for pure ArmorPen. To me it's worth it to sacrifice .66 ArmorPen on each rune for .57 MagicPen but again this is personal preference

Viable Options

9 Greater Seal of Armor runes is pretty standard for top lane. They help mitigate enemy auto-attacks, AD based harass, and minion damage. I would take these every time even if facing an enemy AP-based top. They provide too much to pass up

Viable Options
  • None

Finally I take 9 Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist runes. MR/level provide us some defenses from AP tops and junglers as well as the occasional enemy mid that roams. I would run these over flat MR because usually I'm not that afraid of enemy AP champions damage until level 7+ which makes it fairly unreasonable to take flat MR runes. However this usually applies to champions like Vladimir and Rumble whereas champions like Fizz I would want Flat MR.

Viable Options

For Quintessences you have a few options, I personally prefer flat AD but it comes down to personal preference. In my opinion the other runes and masteries provide enough Armor Pen that I don't want to take Greater Quintessence of Hybrid Penetration or Greater Quintessence of Desolation but they're not bad. The other option is Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed if you want to kite more. This is more personal preference

Viable Options

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Summoner's and Masteries

Our masteries are quite particular and unique so normally this would warrant an entire section but since the summoner's are pretty straight forward I decided to combine them

- Pretty much a no brainer, you want to a play maker as Nidalee and this Summoner lets you do it. It also gives you a nice offensive spell or a nice escape, it can be used in so many ways that it's a must for Nidalee.

- My preferred second summoner, it gives us more kill potential the extra damage and healing debuff are always nice and can be used to finish someone off or win trades, in my opinion its the best option next to flash

Other Viable Summoners


These mastery choices are a bit odd but to clarify some things I'll refer you to this video. This this video it basically describes how taking points in the Defensive mastery is much more effective than in the Offensive mastery tree. After some testing I find this to be true and thus created my own 18/12/0 mastery tree which I feel is the best tree I have found.

With that said, what does this tree offer us? First things first, the points in the Defensive tree are absolutely necessary. They will allow us to win trades and take relatively no minion damage. This is so important for AP Nidalee who generally has a weak level 1-5. This also catches a lot of people off-guard because they won't suspect your tankiness along side your damage.

The 12 points in the Defensive tree allow us to trade without taking minion damage and relatively little damage overall. Put this on top of your heal and you'll be very difficult to push out of lane. Hardiness is never bad because it will reduce damage from enemy autoattacks and minion damage, but if they have an AP-based champion top like Vladimir or Rumble switch to Resistance . I just chose Hardiness because a lot of top lane bruisers are AD based.

For offensive Masteries I try and focus on both AD and AP. Really the offensive tree doesn't offer a lot in the grand scheme of things. In tier 1 I grab Summoner's Wrath for Ignite and then Brute Force because 3 AD is much more useful than 3 AP that Mental Force would provide. I also grab Butcher for the sake of last hitting and with nothing better to grab. I go for both Weapon Expertise and Arcane Knowledge because I feel these are two of the best Masteries offered in the offensive tree. Aside from that I will get use out of both them, the Armor Pen/AD will greatly aid my auto attacks while the Magic Pen helps with virtually everything else. Finally I put 2 points in Sunder because I won't really get much out of putting them anywhere else. Additionally most top laners run a decent amount of armor in their runes and/or masteries making it valuable.

With these masteries, we're focused a lot on our early game. These masteries give us:
  • trading capabilities
  • strong harass through auto-attacks
  • versatility - we're able to go AD nid if we need to with little to no consequence

As stated this build is very versatile it gives us the lane domination we need and allows us to either build for AP or AD in game if we need to. While I usually focus on AP this build will never really punish you for going AD like some other runes/masteries might.

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These items should be self-explanatory but I will run down them to explain why I choose some of them

Starting Items

x4 - your standard start items. Get the extra health pot you might need it and it will usually give you a Pot advantage in lane.

First Trip Back

Catalyst the Protector - Gives us health and mana along with a fantastic passive activate and also builds into Rod of Ages. I don't always get this, but recently I find it to be good against top lane bruisers.

- always get 1-3 of these if you can when you back

Sight Ward - necessary, traps don't always grant vision, 75g to prevent the enemy from getting 300+, I'll take it

Core Items

- pretty self-explanatory, provides insane AP scales well into late game. This combined with a blue buff makes you lethal. Try and group up and force fights when you have this and blue buff if the game is relatively close or you're ahead.

- A good amount of MagicPen and decent AP for the cheap, it's pretty hard to pass this item up even if you already have Sorcerer's Shoes.

- Provides CDR, AP, and Mana regen all stats an AP Nidalee needs. The active is also pretty good but not often will you be in range to use it. Also it builds out of Kage's Lucky Pick so if you can pick that up early it might not be bad.

Other Items

- Boots 2 with MagicPen, I prefer these to Ionian Boots of Lucidity even if I have Void Staff because I generally find it harder to itemize for MagicPen.

- some people don't like this item on Nidalee but I love it. The slow after a spear allows your team to either engage or disengage on a wounded target. It can be so powerful when kiting and easily force favorable fights or disengagement. I go to more detail with this on my AP nidalee at mid guide so if you want more information about my opinion and use of this item check that out

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Gameplay and Tips

Focus on harassing with your auto-attack. Auto-attacks are such an underrated part of the game and aspect of the champion. A Champion with a good auto-attack can win lane. Fortunately Nidalee has one and her heal makes it even better.

Your bread and butter spell. I generally don't use Spear until rank 3+ because the damage isn't enough to make it worth spending the mana on. I sometimes use it to last hit if I won't be able to get creeps with two auto attacks.
You can use your trap to help against enemy champions that push hard and also use it for bush control. I am constanty trapping the bushes to increase the chance an enemy steps on one. If your top lane opponent does step on one, immediately switch focus and spam auto-attacks on him. the Armor shred from it will destroy them with only a few auto-attacks.
Use your heal sparingly, generally it's seen as a tool for sustain, but if you have full health and mana then force a trade with auto-attacks. You can always heal back up. You can trade a lot better than most champions alone with your heal and our masteries and runes enable you to win harder. Sometimes it's okay to use Primal Surge just for the AS increase
It's important to note that you gain additional movement speed, armor and MR in cougar, so sometimes switching into cougar right before a large burst can save you.

This scales off AD and cougar form ranks. So maxing spear first won't affect your Takedown damage. Additionally it can do up to 300% bonus damage depending on an enemies health. This is essentially our execute spell which makes it fairly difficult to predict Nidalee burst in cougar.

This is such a great spell it allows you to hop over terrain and walls and lets move around quickly. I generally like to catch people off-guard by Flash+ Pounceing and hitting them with a large burst. It's important to be mindful of which way you are facing because that is the way Nidalee will jump. Sometimes and quite annoyingly, Minions get in the way screw up your jump.

The damage on this isn't too bad and the cone is fairly large. It's generally large than a melee champions auto attacks, so sometimes pouncing and getting fairly close to swipe will actually connect. This also allows you to push a lane fairly quickly. Swipe at rank 2+ will generally do about 66% of a minions HP so a Pounce+Swipe will take out an enemy minion line usually.


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Lane Match-ups

Difficulty: 5

He can be a real pain for Nidalee because of how squishy she can be. His burst is pretty high and will only get stronger, the only real way for you to deal with him is to beat him early. Your armor and minion damage reduction will probably be better than his due the runes and masteries we are running. In addition your auto attack is very strong and he is melee. He won't really have any defenses for this, so just pound away at him, even if it means losing some CS or taking some minion aggro. After level 4 or so if you're not ahead it could be a lost cause.

Difficulty: 5

He's kind of a pain, his burst is insane, trollpole is annoying and frankly he has everything in a toolbox to defeat you. I don't see Fizz players go top as often as mid but it still happens. You have to punish him before level 3 or else he will win lane. Ideally you want to pummel him with auto attacks and make him afraid to dash to you. Early MR wouldn't hurt.

Difficulty: 5

He does a stupid amount of damage with Empower and his Leap Strike gets him in range quite easily. He'll have a little difficulty connecting his stun to you after level because you can usually pounce away before he gets it off, but none-the-less he will still hit you hard with empower and leap strike. Better yet, there's no real surefire way to build against him. Good luck is all I have to say.

Difficulty: 4

She can be a major pain, her Bladesurge is a quality dash and her Equilibrium Strike can either stun you or slow you, both of which are extremely effective against AP Nidalee. Additionally, her Hiten Style will negate most of the early armor through masteries and runes from her. And finally, she has very high base stats and her passive regen through Hiten Style and her active heal once she gets Transcendant Blades makes it pretty difficult to have effective harass on her. The best bet is to land consecutive rank3+ spears on her and follow up with auto attacks to keep her down.

Difficulty: 4

She's not much of a threat pre-6 and in fact she's fairly easy to bully around with your auto attacks, but after level 6 her Shadow Dance will tear you up. I usually try and establish dominance with auto-attacks pre-6 because she isn't really able to deal with it. A few tricks I recommend, if she's charging at you with Shadow Dance chuck a spear in front of you you'll hit her just as hard and she'll be less likely to want to trade since you have a heal and she doesn't have much sustain (passive). Also your traps reveal her even in shroud, throw one down in the shroud if she does.

Difficulty: 4

Your auto attacks can be hell for him, but usually by level 4 he has no problem with them. His damage is pretty much unparalleled and his ability to snowball is borderline broken. For being melee has quite a bit of range to him, his pull is about as long as your auto attack so it's something to be careful for. Even once you get Aspect Of The Cougar you probably won't be strong enough to deal with him. He's going to take a lot of ganks, so allow him to push

Difficulty: 4

This guys skillset is designed for dismantling Nidalee. He's tanky enough and his shield is effective enough to deal with your auto-attacks, and his gapcloser has decent enough damage and disables you enough for him to get some easy harass. If he pops you up then its pretty much game over, he won't have enough to kill you outright from full health, but doing it a couple times will make your life difficult. I guess a positive thing to be taken from this is you can pounce out of his ultimate.

Difficulty: 4

Nidalee is one of the few people that can deal with kayle fairly effectively, punish her when her Righteous Fury is down but respect it when it's up. Your heal is better than hers and so is your poke. Reckoning will hurt badly so try and either cougar away or find a bush to avoid any additional harass. Kayle players usually combo their Q and E together so just back out if able. Fortunately for you, Nidalee's burst is very hard to predict, so most Kayle players will have a tough time using their ultimate efficiently.

Difficulty: 3

Good Renekton players are scary, bad ones are facerolls. It all comes down to the skill of the player. I've generally not had a lot of problems with Renekton players but they will definitely bully you around if give the opportunity. The important thing is to keep your distance and avoid getting stunned or constantly combo'd on. Your auto-attack harass is fairly effective and your heal is much better than his Cull the Meek. Any time he dashes towards you, back up and avoid the stun and pound him with harass as he's running back

Difficulty: 3

I think Riven does fine against Nidalee. Some people think Riven counters Nidalee others think Nidalee counters Riven. I think Riven does enough to sustain against Nidalee harass. With that said, I suppose you could give a slight edge to Riven since she will outscale you. That said it's a close match so it really comes down to the skill of the players and what riven builds to deal with you. It's fairly difficult to itemize against this style of Nidalee and more often than not I find players itemizing against it ineffectively. I personally like my chances as Nidalee vs. Riven because I've played against this match up so many times I know what to do but it can be intimidating for new Nidalee players.
Difficulty: 3

He's hard to deal with because he'll just sheild and lifesteal any of your harass. His gapcloser isn't that great because you can just hide behind minions bit if he dashes in on your he can get his E off making it nearly impossible to trade with him. Either avoid getting hit by his Q or just back off when he E's you. The lane will generally go even more often than not, and we're willing to put our late-game scaling against his.

Difficulty: 2

He doesn't really do much, his harass isn't as effective as yours, because your heal is more effective than his. The lane will generally go even, but usually I find myself stomping Gangplanks. It seems to be because Parlay harass isn't as consistent as our auto-attack. Additionally, most GP players either go Sheen into Trinity Force or Philosopher's Stone both of which make the fairly vulnerable to our damage.

Difficulty: 1

This guy is a joke to you, you constantly harass him with auto-attacks and he will peel over and die. If he tries to spin in on you back off and then continue to harass him. His heal is like a health pot compared to yours. It's so easy to disengage on this guy, more often than not his ultimate will be used to try and save him from dying as he runs away. Very rarely do I go in for head on trades, it's not needed.

Difficulty: 1

I guess his blind is annoying and so are the shrooms. But all in all he's pretty easy to deal with, your auto-attacks make him wish they actually had deleted Teemo and he won't have the sustain to deal with your constant harass spam while you can deal with his. Spears can nearly one shot this sucker to so if you get the opportunity just annihilate him with one from down town

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Thanks for reading, I hope this helped. Feel free to add any comments, questions, or feedback in the comments. This is how I play AP nidalee, it's what works for me, that doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you. I'll leave you with some footage of me playing Nidalee from Mobafire In-house games. The game has commentary and won't focus on me the entire time but as of the release of this guide, I have a 4-0 record with a 23.5-1 Kill Assist/Death ratio.

Inhouse game 1: Nidalee vs. Mordekaiser Top lane

Inhouse game 2: Nidalee vs. Riven Top Lane

Inhouse game 3: Nidalee vs. Irelia Top Lane (epic juke at 26:50)

Inhouse game 4: Nidalee vs. Akali Top Lane

Also remember to check out my AP Nidalee at mid for more in-depth look at Nidalee game play.


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7/28/2012 - guide released