Nasus Build Guide by Scottishross
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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.
Hi, I've been playing LoL for a while now and I've noticed that Nasus is one of the more rarely played characters. This is odd because hes a capable tank, decent dps dealer, and also absolutely brilliant in teamfights. With his abilities, a good Nasus can really turn the tide in team fights quite easily.
Now there are several great builds on here showing how to make an effective tank out of him, and some decent straight dps ones, but what i'm trying to build here is something that is somewhere in between those two, the offtank. Not always necessary, but an offtank can really help to balance out a team. With this build Nasus can deal out impressive amounts of dps (especially so late game, squishies beware!), while still being able to take some himself.
NOTE: THERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT ITEM BUILD ABOVE. THE FIRST IS A HYBRID THAT IS CLOSEST TO WHAT I USUALLY USE. THE NEXT TWO ARE FOR EXTREMELY AD OR AP HEAVY TEAMS.
USUALLY I WILL GO WITH A MIX OF ALL THREE DEPENDING ON THE TEAM.
THE FOURTH BUILD IS A BIT OF A JOKE BUILD THAT ACTUALLY WILL DO OK IN TEAMFIGHTS, USE IF YOU ALREADY KNOW NASUS WELL AND WANT A LITTLE BIT OF A CHANGE. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR RANKED EVER.
Flexibility to adapt to differing team compositions is a must in lol.
- Hard to kill
- Only gets better the longer the game lasts
- Great at team fights
- Will murder squishies (particularly those without stuns)
- Fantastic creep farmer/lane pusher
- Can stay in lane a long time
- Can effectively 1v2
- Good counter to trynd
- Final build is quite expensive
- Dependent on creep kills/last hits
- Will struggle vs tanks
- Can be slightly vulnerable to magic dps
- Mana dependent
Runes are fairly negotiable, depending on what you prefer.
Marks should either be armor penetration, crit or a mixture of both.
I tend to prefer armor penetration as it is both more consistent, and slightly more effective since we'll be targeting squishies as much as possible with this build.
For seals I choose magic resistence as this is something the items in this build do not provide a lot of. Even in mostly physical dps matches, champions are likely to have at least one magic based move. I choose per level rather than straight as it provides more magic resistence later on, and you honestly don't need that much early game anyway. Another option is mana regen per level, this will help to solve your mana woes in a fairly major way. The reason i don't get these is given right at the end of the guide (I get something else), but they are certainly a very very valid option.
Glyphs are the most negotiable.
I used to go with cooldown reduction per level. However i've recently changed to more MR/L. This is because once again magic resistance is still a bit weak, so this props it up a bit. Cooldown on the other hand allows you to use SS more often and also wither, both of which you will use as often as you can. That said even with 9 at level 18 it'll still only reduce it by a little less than 7%. I find the MR to be more useful throughout the game. And this focus on MR runes means i can almost always get atmas, which synergises well with my item builds.
Crit chance or Armor penetration, either way you want to do more damage with these.
At the end of the day these are only the runes that suit me (and even then I change my mind fairly often). They can and should be shuffled around to suit your style of play.
I choose Ghost because of its myriad of uses such as escaping a gank, chasing a fleeing enemy down, or getting to team fights/helping team mates in a gank situation. It is invaluable and allows for both survivability and ganking potential.
Secondly I choose exhaust because of its ability to incapacitate physical dps heroes, and also its slow allows you to catch many a fleeing champion. Exhaust mixed with wither can be absolutely deadly, as even at level 1 wither putting both of these on a champion will make them basically immobile. If its early game, or they are a squishy, and they are near a tower, this can make for an incredibely easy kill.
Once again this is just personal preference, and other summoner spells can be very effective too, such as teleport, which gives you more time to farm up that all important SS and gather highly needed money, or cleanse, which can help you survive many ganks.
However DO NOT CHOOSE CLARITY. The whole point of the masteries in mana regen and philosophers stone is to ensure that you do not need this summoner spell. Having a teammate in lane with this will be highly useful, but I cannot stress enough that you should not take this yourself.
Since most of the items in this build, or at least the ones you're likely to get in a normal game, are focused on increasing Nasus' damage, we use the masteries to flesh out his tank side, and to provide the mana needed to use his abilities constantly.
You may wonder why i have points in less time spent dead rather than perseverance, and the answer is simple. The 4% bonus is basically nothing. If you do the maths you will find out that it adds virtually nothing to both regens, until late game, where it provides a very modest amount. Reducing the time spent dead however is useful as it allows you to get back out there quickly to farm, to push lanes, and to help team mates, because as the off tank you're going to die fairly often. The mana regen is an absolute must, and allows you to stay in lane longer, and recover faster after teamfights. The extra experience mixed with the fact you will most often be farming hard early prepares you to be force mid to late game. I also often drop two points into increased buff duration from extra health in defense.
Defense is where the bulk of the our mastery points go. The extra armor and magic resistance help to tank out Nasus, while hp regen per mana helps us stay longer in lane, and recover quicker after teamfights. Likewise the 2 physical damage reduction wont help us much late game, but combined with the minion damage reduction will allow us to stay in lane longer, and also to fight enemy champions supported by creeps. Also, I hate killing a champion only to be killed by creeps, so theres less chance of that happening too.
If you use dodge runes at all, then it might be a good idea to move the points from minion reduction/damage reduction to dodge/nimbleness, as the extra speed can come in very useful, but with this build wont proc often enough to be worthwhile.
Start off with a Regrowth Pendant and a health potion. This will allow you to stay in lane for quite some time, and also give you enough regen to cover most champions harass easily early game.
On the first trip back, ideally you want to finish your philosophers stone and get a pair of boots. The reason for getting philosophers this early is to maximise the amount of gold you get out of it, and better yet the extra mana means that you should be able to basically non stop farm your all important SS.
Next trip back you want to get a sheen, as this will drastically increase your SS damage, and by now it should have begun actually doing quite a bit.
After that finish off your boots. The boots are open to interpretation and are very match dependent. If the team is mostly physical dps with few stuns/cc go for ninja tabi, if its heaps of cc and/or magic dps go for mercury treads. If you're really brave you can also go for Ionian Boots Of Lucidity, as these provide a very useful 15% cooldown reduction, but might make you slightly vulnerable in team fights. I almost always go for mercury treads as LoL is a heavy CC game. However with the introduction of tenacity, you can now simply upgrade your philosophers stone to give you 25% cc reduction, and against the right team this makes ninja tabi mixed with dodge runes/masteries and nimbleness a very good option.
Next i often get a chain vest. This gives you enough armor to take some damage early game. If you took ninja tabi instead of mercury treads i would suggest getting catalyst then banshees. After that you should get a BF sword. This will really help you to begin to do decent damage. Remember your auto attack isn't your main vehicle of damage, your SS is. That means you want to choose what benefits your SS the most rather than your autoattack.
After this i suggest finishing your Trinity Force. If your team is dominant and your doing well I would build zeal first, as it increases your damage substantially, helping with creep farming (all important) and also with overall DPS, with a very handy speed buff thrown in too. If you're getting killed too often or taking too much damage go with Phage, as the extra health is quite useful.
Finish your IE.
Next i usually upgrade my chain vest into an atmas. The extra crit and damage helps your SS crit more often/do more damage per hit. Even if i get catalyst i usually would get an atams here as well.
By now the vast majority of games should be over, and it is unlikely you will buy your final item. However if the game isn't over what you should buy now is a matter of how said game is going.
AD HEAVY TEAMS: You should get Randuins, Frozen Heart, or Sunfire. On rare occasions (you'll know when) Thornmail is a valid option too. Sunfire helps by increasing surround damage and health too, while providing a decent 45 armor. Randuins gives good armor, a decent health boost, and a very useful active, DON'T FORGET TO USE IT. Modest CR is a bonus too. Frozen heart provides fantastic armor, and with the AS reduction aura can help your team out in teamfights. Furthermore the 20% CD is incredibely useful.
CASTER HEAVY TEAMS: The options here are perhaps not as good as the AD ones. Force of Nature is the go to item, providing a lot of MR, a useful speed boost, and a whole bunch of HR/5. Beyond that hexdrinker is a another good option. Aegis of the Legion is a very solid choice also, provided that no one else has already got it, and if your are leaning this way get it instead of banshees earlier, and get banshees now.
Remember, you can upgrade your Philosophers Stone to Shurelya's at any time. I would suggest waiting until after you finish at least trinity force though. The extra health is always useful, but the big bonus is the cooldown reduction.
Furthermore, if the game seems like it is going to last a while longer, instead sell the philosophers stone, and get another item that will be more effective against the team you are up against.
If you are really getting stomped early on by a high magic team another good item to get is Hexdrinker. This will give you more damage, more Magic Resistance and a useful shield that will help against nuke magic dps in a major way.
There are my 3 different routes up in champions at the top. My true builds are usually a mix of these.
I don't believe Nasus needs any life steal items at all, since his passive gives him 10/15/20, and with the damage you should be doing thats more than enough.
There are several important things to remember as Off tank Nasus.
The first is last hits. You should be last hitting as much as possible, and using your SS to last hit every time it is up. Furthermore, try to farm as much as possible, as this is an expensive build, and every kill you get with your SS increases its damage by 3.
Also by the time you have sheen, and especially if you have a BF Sword too, you will be a fairly effective lane pusher and tower destroyer. Eat all the creeps you can, and dont be afraid to run in and do a few hits on the opposing tower when you can. Your SS will do substantial damage to the tower.
Furthermore, your SS resets your swing counter, meaning you should always use it just after you have autoattacked, to increase your damage output. This will make a substantial difference.
Also remember, you are neither a tank nor a carry. This means most of the time you won't get heaps of kills, but you also shouldn't die too often either. A common ratio i have in average games is along the lines of 1-1-2, 1 kill and 2 assists per death. This is perfectly acceptable. This also means you shouldn't be kill stealing your carries and also that you shouldn't be initiating unless you have no choice. Its the tanks job to do that, not yours.
When in teamfights fights try to focus on their squishies, a big crit from your SS will almost certainly send them running and that will at least take them out of the fight for a while. If the squishy happens to be magic dps then theres a double bonus, as that neutralises the biggest threat to you.
Its best to use your ultimate when there is several enemy champions around, to get the full benefit from it. When you do use it, it may well scare the opposing team into focusing on you and/or fleeing, use this to your advantage. Furthermore your ultimate gives you more health, meaning that if you are low health and something is about to kill you, you can use your ultimate to gain the health necessary to survive. This has saved me countless times.
Remember to use wither, as it decreases movement speed AND attack speed, meaning you can cut out a lot of damage from a champion who relies on their auto attacks for a full 5 seconds. That is a very long time in a team fight.
Don't forget to use Spirit Fire. The damage it does is mostly negligible in teamfights but it also reduces armor, at rank 5 by 40! Combined with your armor penetration runes this means you will be doing heaps of extra damage, and the other dps on your team will be too.
Spirit fire can also be used to push lanes. At higher levels it will kill an entire creep wave if they stand in it for the duration. This isn't advisable or necessary though, as with this build you are a fantastic creep farmer anyway, and it also doesn't feed your all important SS damage.
A cool trick can be if your oponenent is running away on only a tiny bit of health but you wont be able to catch them, put Spirit Fire on the ground ahead of them, and it may well kill them.
Finally we've already discussed that Nasus is dependent on his abilities, and that his abilities are dependent on his cooldown reduction and the mana regen needed to use them constantly. Coincidently there is an in game solution to both problems called Blue Buff.
If you are going to go B because your out of mana, check blue buff to see if you can steal it, and stay in lane for much longer. Its also very useful in fights, ensuring you can spam your moves with impunity. Furthermore it helps you recover after teamfights and push even more effectively.
And that just about wraps up my Nasus build. The most important part of the build is mana management, if you can learn how to manage his mana effectively, you will be far better. Practice last hitting, and practice using your SS to last hit, and also using just after autoattacks. These things take a little getting used to, but once you have mastered these you will be a force to be reckoned with.
So go out and have fun playing Nasus, as above all other things I think this is a fun build to play, as well as being fairly useful to a team, and I hope you all do well.
PS, feedback much appreciated, I'm always looking to improve my builds.