Nami Build Guide by Tolinar
Not Updated For Current Season
Question 1: Why even play a gambit?
Supports have a limited amount of assets to control through the course of the game. Naturally we only tend to get gold from objectives, assists, the occasional kill, and any minions that we farm when everyone else is dead or gone.
Because of this, everyone expects supports to have the exact same, limited impact on the outcome of a game. Shaking up that expectation can totally ruin the enemy's approach to both you, and your teammate.
Every gambit relies on a core strategy - it either works, or it doesn't. In this case, the Ultimate Washout gambit attempts to spam spells with Nami like there's no tomorrow. By drastically increasing the mana supply available to us, we make use of Ebb and Flow's low cooldowns and apply a lot more harassment and healing than the enemy is fully ready to cope with.
If it works - if the enemy is not prepared and fails to react - they will find themselves either dying to your ADC quite a lot, or limping away and losing control of the lane entirely if they manage to escape. Champions who expect to bully their opponents, like Blitzcrank, Caitlyn and Thresh, can suddenly find themselves outmatched. Thrown off their rhythm, and with less practice playing defensively, they will be in the worst possible position to deal with your carry.
But if it doesn't work, know that your teammates will chide your overaggressiveness and poor choice of skills. Everyone is forced to acknowledge the gambit, when it works, but if it doesn't, you can expect to hear a great many "I told you so"s.
Question 2: Why not Flash? Why not Exhaust?
As a support, we can spend all our time contributing in 5-on-5 teamfights well away from the battle - we won't be close enough to exhaust most enemies until it's nearly over. And a flash probably won't save us from a teamfight gone awry. We already have bubble, wave, a slowing attackbuff and lots of self-haste. If we can't stay in control of our position with those, we're just not going to make it.
As for on lane, a 2v2 situation is optimized for our skills. We are going to put out so much healing and harassment, that we expect not to need to flash away from anything. Wards are critical for this, we must protect ourselves against ganks - but we plan to absorb the enemy's aggression with an ever-swelling HP total and simply give it back to them. Exhaust, sometimes, I will take in place of Teleport, if specifically requested (or Clarity if there are 2+ champs on our team that are manaless) but for the most part, we do not need to depend on a 3-second advantage. We will have the advantage throughout the whole lane.
Question 3: Why Clarity, and Teleport, together?
Ultimately, as a support, the objective is to ensure the attack damage carry has the biggest possible chance to get kills and control the lane. A constant bombardment of skills and pressure is a strong tactic to achieve this. Clarity and Teleport combine to produce so much mana, that you probably will be able to cast non-stop until you reach level 6.
On its first use, around level 3-4, you will probably regain roughly 250 mana from Clarity. Once that's all used up you can recall and get replacement wards, and a faerie charm, a Sapphire Crystal, or in best case, a Tear of the Goddess - and come back to lane with Teleport immediately. You will probably have another 700 mana to use. Another on-lane Clarity, and both you and your lane partner will have constantly bombarded the enemy with damage, while healing, for 7 and a half minutes. This is enough sustain to shove off nearly any foes, if not collect several kills - especially unprepared ones. Both you and your partner will likely reach 6 first.
Depending on my lane partner, I may allow them to build EXP in solo if they are very close to 6 and the enemy is gone.
Question 4: But what if it fails?
Not all bottom laners are created equal. Some, simply can't handle the advantage right in front of their nose. In the case that bottom lane insists on farming, half asleep, and allowing the enemy to do the same, or recalls anytime their opponent does...
then it is time to start watching other lanes. With teleport, snares, and long range support skills, your sudden appearance may confirm a kill or prevent an ally from dying. This is not a good scenario... but it is making the best of a bad one. You will be able to get assists even if you can't contribute much... this will keep the gold flowing.
Some enemies are more resilient to this strategy than others. It is very hard to out-harass Taric and Soraka. Their healing is quite strong, and in most cases, unless the summoner is inexperienced, it will be difficult to force much of an advantage. Watch their mana closely and try to throttle them where you can.
While some bullies are easily handled through your usual array of trades, snares and slows, some are tougher than most. Sivir and Ezreal can both be extremely tricky to handle - Sivir's burst damage is too high to consistently withstand, and her spellshield can deflect your constant harassment and fuel her onslaught. Meanwhile, Ezreal's slippery fighting style makes him hard to snare, and after only a short while, his attacks begin to outrun even constant healing. Neither of these champions result in an instant loss, but both represent trouble.
Usually, Kill Lanes will find themselves in a worst-case scenario themselves. A team-up of Caitlyn and Morgana, for example, can be outmatched in terms of harassment with some deft skillshot dodging. Morgana will not have the mana to constantly maintain her Black shield, but your own Ebb/Flow will keep flowing. However, Kill Lanes also have the best chance to succeed in bursting either you or your partner down - especially if the jungler joins in.
Every player loses games. A person playing a solid gambit, will lose in the way he chooses to lose - or win in the way he chooses to win.
Question 5: Have you ever heard that
Yes. I am very familiar with the arguments against Clarity as a Summoner spell. And in most cases they are well-founded. Cooldowns prevent mana from being used faster than a major supply requires... you can always recall for mana. The enemy will probably die before your mana runs out, if you are doing it properly. That you shouldn't be wasteful with mana. That you can rely on Blue Buff... That Clarity won't be useful in the endgame... and so on.
Here is my standpoint on each of these.
Nami has good cooldowns on her skills, she can definitely use up the mana from both Clarity and Teleport by spamming her skills.
I do not want to recall- or stay recalled - for long, unless my partner is getting solo EXP with the enemy gone. I get very little GOLD, so it's critical I get all the EXP I can. A high level is one of my core building blocks, and if it falls behind, I could be useless.
In a 2-on-2 lane where both enemies are drinking health potions constantly, it will be possible to spam Ebb/Flow for quite awhile and still have a ways to go. To ensure I still have mana for the ever-important snare after whittling them down, I want a huge supply.
It can be quite tricky to land Nami's snare consistently. I want to be able to take chances with it - to be able to miss and try again and not be out of mana. Every attempt at a snare is another chance for a kill... I want every chance I can get.
There will always be another champ, one with power and gold, that would make better use of Blue Buff than I would. Not needing Blue Buff to maintain my support is an advantage.
And as for Clarity not being relevant in the late game - it's just not true. Protracted harassment fights can run BOTH teams out of mana. Refilling yours - and suddenly launching a new wave of initiation, literally - can turn a standstill into a crashing victory.
Question 6: What items should I build into?
You will be building nearly identical to all the other Namis out there. Sightstone and Ruby Sightstone should be bought early and used frequently. Virtually any type of shoe is fine, though I like to rely on Boots of Swiftness myself to juke skillshots. You can take health potions to lane if you want... but keep in mind that Mana potions are a more efficient purchase if Ebb and flow bounces even a single time. With 2 bounces, Mana potions are absolutely a better choice.
Twin Shadows is a useful tool for finding and pursuing foes. Aegis of the Legion, and as of Season 3, Locket of the Iron Solari, are excellent aura items for supporting your team. Shurelya's is also a useful engagement tool. Shard of True Ice is an alternative way to help your teammates lock down enemies. Mikael's Crucible is great for reinforcing the tank or rescuing an offtank. Banner of Command can be situationally useful for pressuring lanes. You will usually want to leave at least one slot open for extra wards. In most games you will only build 3-4 items, due to lack of gold... but if you ever find yourself with 3300 Gold, buy Rabadon's Deathcap when you get home, to greatly increase the power of all your skills.