Nami Build Guide by Rhetorictus
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Not Updated For Current Season
Crowd Control City
Optional late game items:
Not Updated For Current Season
For a long time I've been looking for a way to make Nami viable AND fun to play. I love her mechanics, and she felt so easy to play from day one, but I just didn't feel like she was making a big enough impact for me to justify a spot on the roster. That all changed one day during an ARAM game when it dawned on me: Crowd Control. The traditional support build on her is wasted because her passive provides movement buffs, and she has so much CC potential that items like Shurelya's Reverie are unnecessary. So without further ado, I give you what I have found to be the best build possible for locking down enemy teams.
Pros / Cons
- great CC
- consistent damage output
- decent heals
- low cooldowns
- nice movement buffs/debuffs
- expensive build if your carry doesn't get kills
- less money for wards
- mana can be a problem early
- requires good knowledge of how to kite
- must know how to manage cooldowns in fights
For runes, I take:
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Glyph of Ability Power
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration
Again, I go for the AP Carry mastery tree with points in three points in AS to give her a little boost, especially early. Coupled with her E, it can mean a lot of early kills because every little bit of damage helps. I take the other nine points in the utility tree to get her back to lane faster, keep her mobile, and add a few extra ticks to her mana regen. After that, 10% off exhaust gives even more CC potential and is great for keeping it up for team fights.
I usually distribute pretty evenly. I've found that keeping the cooldowns all relative helps with overall fight timing. If you're in a lane that has a lot of poke, go for W first. If your opponent can't dodge for beans, max Q first. A lot of it really just depends on what you need as the game progresses. Because her skill set is so versatile, there is no set way that I level things except for her ultimate.
I'll cover a lot of the reasons for the item choices when I talk about her skills, so in here I'll cover basic options that work well, and situational items.
The core build I use is Ionian Boots of Lucidity, Iceborn Gauntlet, and Frozen Mallet. Depending on how long the game goes (a lot of them don't go very long with this build), I then get Runaan's Hurricane and mix it up for the last two depending on the other team's makeup and what my team needs.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity should be pretty clear. Nami has some pretty long cooldowns, especially early game, so it just makes sense. Paired with Iceborn Gauntlet's CDR, you end up at 25%, and building more probably isn't necessary because you're not there to heal like Soraka or Sona.
Now I get asked a lot why I choose Frozen Mallet over Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Both give good durability, but Frozen Mallet gives a consistent slow that works well with Runaan's Hurricane to keep one to three members of the other team crawling along, easy prey for Aqua Prison, Ebb and Flow, and Tidal Wave.
The AP on Rylai's is nice, but Nami's main job with this build isn't to cause a lot of damage, it's to slow the other team down enough for the carries to go to work. Plus, Iceborn Gauntlet carries it's own slow, as do Surging Tides and Tidal Wave. Once those wear off, you have to wait for cooldowns, but with Frozen Mallet you can keep the slow coming. And with the AP boost you get from runes and masteries, you have more AP when compared to the standard support build that so many people use.
Runaan's Hurricane is amazing for any on-hit item like Frozen Mallet because it procs on anything it hits. For this reason, if the other team is going tanky, I get Blade of the Ruined King to slow and chip away at health stacking bruisers. Just kite while your abilities are on cooldown and keep their team immobile while your main damage dealers poke and burst down their entire team.
After that, it's all situational, assuming you've gotten that far into a game. Most of the time you won't. Most of the time I finish the build with a Statikk Shiv because Runaan's Hurricane keeps it charged really well and you can lay down another layer of consistent damage.
If you get stuck on a team that can't wrap their head around offensive supports because they're devout Mobafire worshipers who think only the top build is valid, you'll probably have a hard time with this one, as it will mean sharing ward duties with mid and jungle. If you're on a good team that already understand that warding comes from whoever can afford it, then you'll ROFLSTOMP your way through the game. I rarely die more than twice with this build, and assuming you've got a good team around you, it's really hard to lose.
Nami's strengths really come out when built for CC and multi-target damage, rather than vision and movement speed. Any boosts your team gets from auras aren't going to be nearly as cost efficient as the gold they'll get because you single-handedly locked down the enemy team.
Because of Nami's passive, Surging Tides, you don't need shurelya's reverie most of the time. This frees up a lot of gold to build more offensively and focus on stopping the other team. Any time you cast an ability on an ally, they gain 30 MS for 1.5 seconds. This works especially well with Tidecaller's Blessing, which provides bonus attack damage and SCALES OFF AP. The best part, it also has a slow built in. So all that AP from runes and masteries really starts to pay off.
Another great skill for saving your teammates' butts/movement buffs/damage is Ebb and Flow. If you cast it on an ally first, it heals them, gives them a movement buff, and can bounce to an enemy champion in range, causing damage and giving you an opportunity to proc Iceborn Gauntlet or Frozen Mallet. Additionally, it can bounce to second ally, giving them a heal and MS boost. This can mean all the difference in team fights that don't go the way you'd hoped. Because Nami sits with a lot of carries at 550 attack range, there's a good chance you'll be able to drop a more than a few autos.
When you combine the slow and AOE from Iceborn Gauntlet with Aqua Prison, you get a combo that usually results in lots of kills early on. Self casting abilities gives you the MS you need to chase effectively, and lower cooldowns mean you can spam heals and attack buffs on surrounding allies until it comes up again. Once you catch up, you can easily keep you and your teammates close by throwing Ebb and Flow, getting procs from Iceborn Gauntlet and Frozen Mallet and popping enemies up with Aqua Prison.
Now consider Nami's ultimate, Tidal Wave. It's like Janna's Howling Gale, but about five times bigger, and it slows AND knocks up everyone involved. It also speeds up anyone on your own team hit by it, which makes it a great cleanup or initiation tool depending on the situation. I like to save it until the other team is on their heels and turning to run away, then cast, buff the front line with Ebb and Flow and hit your AD carry with Surging Tides, then proc item slows and your Aqua Prison on whoever is close enough to pick off. Even fights that seem lost can be turned around in a hurry with the massive amount of CC you can put down BY YOURSELF. Not to mention whoever else happens to have a little on your team.
If you plan your cooldowns and position well, you can land your ultimate, then land Aqua Prison, hit whoever gets caught with Frozen Mallet and Iceborn Gauntlet procs, and kill them, all before they have a chance to do so much as take another step forward.
Tips & Tricks
[*] Never count yourself dead and give up. Nami is a lot like the original Karma used to be. She deals a surprising amount of damage, can heal herself, and can run a lot faster than people think because of her passive and her ability to slow people down.
[*] Once you get familiar with timing, try to spread your abilities around. If your jungler is coming in to gank, hit him with your E, wait for the slow to kick in, THEN drop Q. Don't always try to land Q first as quite often you will miss and lose the gank.
[*] Self-casting can be a great way to initiate. REMEMBER: ALL OF NAMI'S ABILITIES GRANT MOVEMENT SPEED BUFFS IF THEY HIT AN ALLY OR YOURSELF. Even if you're out of range for Q, dropping it on yourself while your other abilities are on cooldown gives you the buff and let's you catch up to land a proc from Iceborn Gauntlet or Frozen Mallet.
[*] If you are against blinky champs like Akali, Talon, LeBlanc, etc., don't panic if they dive for you. Throw out Aqua Prison, self-cast Ebb and Flow, and start kiting again. If your team is smart, they'll use the opportunity to switch focus and take them down in a hurry.
[*] Ward smarter, not harder. You can facecheck bushes with a Q to be sure no one is waiting just inside. Ask teammates to help with wards when they can. As long as you keep getting them kills, they shouldn't complain too much.
[*] If your carry is having trouble farming, you can soften up minions with your Q and make them easier to hit. Your E then gives a little boost to help unsure last hits.
[*] Sometimes you will steal kills when healing your carries. Don't sweat it. It's just more money for wards ;)
Nami is so much fun to play. I hope you find a way to make this build work for you. If you have any questions, suggestions, or other feedback, I'd love to hear it :D