Nautilus Build Guide by SnackieCakes
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Not Updated For Current Season
Hello! Welcome to the SnackieCakes Nautilus guide! I started playing Nautilus right after his release a few years ago and most recently used him as my jungle main on the way to Platinum 5 last season. I love everything about Nautilus and have been disheartened to see how many players think he’s underwhelming, or express having a hard time clearing the jungle with him. I’ve made this very extensive guide to help anyone interested in Nautilus to understand not only how to nail the initial clear, but also to understand some of the more complex decision making involved in jungling generally, including when and how to gank.
First things first, Nautilus is a great jungle pick but he isn’t right for every team composition. Know that he deals mostly magic damage and that while he can deal a lot of it in the early and mid game, ultimately his damage is pretty low, so he’s best picked into a team with diversified damage and at least one or two high damage characters. Relatedly, no matter how much you’re personally carrying as Nautilus, there comes a point when it’s best to back off from leading the engage and spamming the enemy carries, to protecting your own carries – which is to say PEELING. In this regard Nautilus works best in tandem with a champ or two that needs protecting, but is well worth protecting (ex: Kog’Maw).
Runes and Masteries
I run unconventional masteries (and to a lesser extent, runes) that are, in my testing and extensive play experience, part and parcel to the definitive Nautilus, for which the theme is MOVEMENT SPEED!
Attack Speed Reds (for faster clear and better use of Titan’s Wrath)
Armor Yellows (better than health runes before the Titan’s Wrath changes, even better than them now)
Magic Resist per Level Blues (optional, but it’s often to your advantage to itemize armor given the burst/limited nature of APCs, and this extra MR will help you get by)
MOVEMENT SPEED Quins (for Nautilus)
I smite Krugs (right after any teammate provided stuns to keep the krugs out of commission and Titan’s Wrath up for as long as possible), kill Chickens, smite Red, go to Wolves, Blue, and finally Smite Gromp. I typically only use one cookie on the Red side jungle, using another one (or two, if need be) on the blue side. Running this route should get you to level 4 at about 4:15 game time with 75%+ health – which is awesome!
With your buffs going and your health high, take a look for opportunities in the lanes – but don’t force anything, that’ll come later. Potential opportunities could be an opponent pushed in too far (and one whom you feel you can, with your lane ally, kill or meaningfully push out), empty lanes to cover and gain gold/XP from (but only last hitting so your ally doesn’t make it a 4v5), and warding the enemy jungle or counter jungling (which I only advise under specific circumstances, like seeing the opposing jungler ganking your bot lane at level 3 – meaning he has monsters to be farmed!).
Failing those, head back to base and pick up a Ranger’s Trailblazer and/or Boots of Mobility. It’s great if you can manage both, but if you have to choose just one, consider what’s happening on the map; if there are some pushed lanes and vulnerable champions, it might be worth it to go Boots of Mobility without the jungle upgrade to pick up a kill or a two. If not, take the Trailblazer, regular boots, and – if you can afford it – cloth armor/pots.
The next few minutes should consist of clearing the jungle for a second time and/or ganking lanes (if you warded the enemy jungle earlier, counter jungling is another early option to consider). Dragon is also a consideration, though I wouldn’t emphasize it in the way that you might with, say, pre-nerf Pantheon. Nautilus really is a great champion, but he’s a teamplay champion, so expect to take your objectives in conjunction with your allies (ex: after securing a kill bot lane).
After building Boots of Mobility and Ranger’s Trailblazer, go for a Sunfire Cape. Eventually you’ll upgrade the Trailblazer with the Juggernaut enchantment, but it doesn’t give stats or abilities that can’t be better found elsewhere (unlike Devourer), and going straight for the Sunfire Cape is usually the better option. I typically go for an Abyssal Scepter next, which does a lot for your damage, team, and threat.
Nautilus is an absolute monster in the mid game and I recommend a wanton disregard for common sense in the unrelenting pursuit of the destruction of your enemies. Ok, maybe don’t go that far, but this really is your time to shine. Prioritize ganks and team taken objectives over jungle farming, though do what you can when you can (which isn’t so hard given Nautilus’ AOE damage and Trailblazer Smite).
The mid game is also frankly kind of a hard time for junglers, in that there’s a lot to do and every one of your allies is almost certainly crossing their fingers you’ll camp their (and not someone else’s) lane. As a jungler, you’re managing a business, the business of Summoner’s Rift, and sometimes you get to promote people and send them home happy, while other times you have to let people go. The decisions you make in this respect are probably 90% of becoming a good or great jungler, and every game is going to look a bit different. That said, look at the lane matchups, the context of the lane (who’s winning, who’s fed), and the position/activity of the enemy jungler; look at all of this information and think about where you can make the greatest impact, keeping in mind that while a fed Nautilus can be scary for a while, it’s really your lane allies that you want fed for the end game. A big part of what I’m saying here is that you should be looking for kill potential (which allies have reliable CC? Which enemies don’t have reliable escapes? Etc.) and objective potential – rather than just saving losing lanes.
Outside of the laning phase, your role as the hyper quick Nautilus is to catch out enemies and engage fights (this will change later). With his Dredge Line, Staggering Blow, and Depth Charge, Nautilus has more than enough to capture enemies and lock them down in time for allies to finish them off. Also, the damage on Titan’s Wrath in tandem with your Sunfire Cape will be, at this point in the game, a major problem for any unfortunate enemies you find. Keep in mind that with such huge MOVEMENT SPEED, each individual gank isn’t a huge set back for Nautilus; throw out a hook, hit Riptide, and disengage if the kill isn’t happening; run to another lane in two seconds, rinse and repeat.
The late game Nautilus build looks like: Boots, Sunfire, Abyssal, Juggernaut, and then two of the following: Triforce, Randuin’s, Locket of the Iron Solari, Frozen Heart, Banshee’s Veil, Warmog’s Armor. Those first few early items (Boots of Mobility, Sunfire, and Abyssal Scepter) will have given you all the power you’ll need, so pretty much you’re itemizing for survival and team value with the last few.
The MAJOR THING to understand about Nautilus late game (and jungling with tanks and off tanks generally) is that while you might have been absolutely dominating (I’m talking every hook, every ult, 12-3-20, #rekt), your role in the end game still transitions from wildly catching and engaging to PEELING. Play it smart, drop pink wards, think and act collectively, and when the fights break out, protect your damage dealers. Read this paragraph again, because I need to read this paragraph again! It can be a hard mentality to get in to, but Nautilus just isn’t going to carry games 100% of the time by making crazy plays, he’ll carry games by keeping allies alive and enemies rooted, in the air, and displaced.
In this vein, remember the importance of objectives. The late game Nautilus fantasy (to be so hip), isn’t that you get a pentakill, but that you help safely secure that fifth dragon or Baron buff, and in so doing, set your team up for the big, easy W.
1. After your initial clear, Smite is best used for securing objectives, healing off of Red, and getting oracles from Chickens.
2. Now that smite is on a charge system, if you’re really hurt after an objective/fight and your Red is up, smite it once and run away, then run back to clear it using your second smite once the CD is low. With a Ranger’s Trailblazer it’s reasonable to recover over 800 HP this way.
3. The AOE Smite damage on Ranger’s Trailblazer can be used on lane minions to quickly clear them; this can be useful in a defensive position if you need some more wave clear or offensively during a gank to reduce minion damage you’ll take during a fight.
4. One of Nautilus’ advantages is that he does well without Red or Blue buff, meaning you can give them up to your laners earlier than many other junglers. When low on mana, fight jungle monsters without using abilities (with the possible exception of Titan’s Wrath to extend the fight and regenerate more mana from the Hunter’s Machete passive; this is slower, but not as slow as going back to fountain.
5. Be wary of WHY you’re doing any particular action; kills are great, but past the early game, kills are largely about taking objectives – so don’t chase like a maniac! If you’ve taken someone down, fall back or regroup for an easier tower/dragon/baron. Also, be cautious of the mid game slow down, when laning is sort of over and some of the more obvious objectives (dragon, mid tower) have been taken - people often become restless and reckless here. Make a plan with your team (let’s all go top to pressure the tower and be ready for Baron; let’s split push mid and bot, with Nautilus in the enemy jungle ready to intercept), and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing!
Depending on the lanes, it is possible to start Red, take Dredge Line, and go for a quick level two gank. If the gank fails, having Dredge Line will slow – but not stop – your jungle until you’re back on track at level 4. If the gank succeeds, I’d recommend sticking around the lane to soak up XP from at least a few minions, thereby leveling to 3 (this is a small tax on a lane you’ve just helped enormously). If you try this, choose a lane with any ally that has CC or great early burst (or ignite), and communicate with them early.
If you find a lot of early success with ganks, it can be strong (and fun!) to build a Triforce as your first post-boots item. The extra attack speed, move speed, mixed stats, and on hit damage can make Nautilus a real pain in the mid game. That said, stay on track afterwards with tank items – Nautilus is still a tank and eventually it will still be his job to PEEL.
I find that a lot of players overestimate the strength of wards against early ganks. Wards are powerful, but they can be destroyed, circumvented, or in some cases ignored outright. This last is particularly important for a Nautilus built for MOVEMENT SPEED; with masteries, runes, and Boots of Mobility, Nautilus can fly in so quickly that an extra second or two of detection (depending on ward placement) won’t often help your enemies. This also applies to ganking through the lane! A tip for using either of these is to communicate early with your lane allies so that they’ll be prepared to use their CC and burst damage when you arrive. Also, wait outside of likely ward vision ranges (which you can be sure of with Chicken Oracles), until you see a skirmish or a few hurt minions your lane enemy is likely focused on; even without distraction players often miss important minimap information, and with anything going on in their tunnel vision, it’s pretty likely you’ll get the edge on them, wards or no.
Don’t be discouraged by failed ganks! If you play them wisely and simply don’t get the kill (but also do not die or take a ton of damage), you can easily try again or try another lane. In fact, while players will sometimes become more cautious after a gank, I find that they often become less so – thinking perhaps that it will be another lane’s turn. An easy way to check for this disposition is to see if they purchased wards after your gank/attempt. Also, keep in mind that the current jungle is more oriented towards ganking and taking objectives in that camps spawn less frequently, allowing more time for both successful and unsuccessful ganks. Furthermore, with Nautilus you aren’t stacking a devourer and you’re also not terribly item dependent, so don’t feel bad about going for another gank (if there’s good potential) while camps are up.
Do not counter jungle or set up a lane gank through the enemy jungle without the Oracles buff from Chickens! I don’t always follow my own advice here, but then I also don’t always win. Sadness. Seriously, though, with the power and availability of Chicken Oracles, there just isn’t much reason to take unnecessary risks with Nautilus in the enemy jungle, because he is susceptible to duelist junglers (like Lee Sin, obviously).
Players are usually anticipating skillshots and will sometimes act to their detriment in their attempts to avoid them. If your opponent is zig zagging away from you, capitalize on this by holding off on Dredge Line while simply closing the distance with your superior MOVEMENT SPEED and Riptide slow. Root with your passive, fire off Depth Charge, and save your hook for their flash/dash/escape (or as an extra bit of CC on an already doomed opponent in melee range).
I've been playing League of Legends since beta, and played Dota Allstars for almost a decade before that. I went Gold in Season 1 and Season 2, took a break from Season 3, and came back and went Platinum for Season 4. I'm hoping to hit Diamond this season! And I think it's possible - for anyone, because so much of this game is taking a step back to evaluate your in game decisions, and then learning strategy between games. I've made this comprehensive Nautilus guide to, I hope, help you with just that.
Good luck out there!
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