Nasus Build Guide by Tennispro321

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Tennispro321

Nasus, Q me harder!

Tennispro321 Last updated on September 10, 2013
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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: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

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Thanks for taking the time to read this Nasus guide. I feel a prospective Nasus player will find this guide very informative and inspiring.

Most any time you play Nasus, you and your team should focus on a late game strategy, as Nasus is a champion that scales better and better the later the game goes on. For that reason you may have heard that Nasus has an "enrage timer". Nasus should almost always have solo top, at least in my opinion. Having him lane with a support may be feasible, but I wouldn't know exactly how that would work out. He can also jungle, but again, I have little experience with that. Taking that into account, this guide will solely treat Nasus as a solo top, AD-Bruiser type champion. This does not cover Nasus in 3s or Dominion. This is solely a Summoner Rift guide.

The terminology for this guide is more suited for experienced players, so please be warned. If you are a beginner player, this guide may not be the best suited for you.

Personally, this is my second guide on Mobafire, so all criticism and advice is fully welcomed. I personally play at Diamond IV (Franqly, NA). I actually used to think Nasus wasn't that great of a champion, but a while ago I tried him again. I was surprised how fast I picked up on him, and quickly started dominating my games.

I give credit for helping my guide to jhoijhoi's guide on making guides:
jhoijhoi's "Making a guide"
Thank you for the much needed education.

Without further ado, my Nasus guide. Enjoy.

Edit 9/10/13:

I've been playing Nasus top recently and have been doing well. The majority of this guide is not current and all that useful. I may alter the rest of the guide later, but currently items/ runes/masteries/etc have been updated.

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Pros / Cons

  • Farmed damage with Siphoning Strike
  • Tank build with good damage
  • Short CD Exhaust in Wither
  • Excels into late game
  • He's a dog (or Jackal, whichever you prefer)! Yay!
  • Fragile early game
  • Mana Dependent
  • Needs passive lane
  • Countered by aggressive top/jungle

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In my opinion, masteries don't make all that of a tremendous impact on the game. However, guide readers probably expect some explanations on the validity of the mastery choices, so I'll put my bias aside =P I like 0/21/9 on Nasus for several reasons:

  • The defensive tree provides defensive stats useful to provide a little more survivability early in the game
  • Movement speed is important, so picking up both movement speed masteries is nice.
  • CDR is important, though 1 point in that mastery is ultimately wasted (20% from FH, 15% from Shur + 8.1%)

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Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Seal of Armor

I choose my runes this way for several reasons:
  • Armor Penetration marks allow for more damage output, and do not have replacements I feel are worth as much.
  • Armor seals allow more protection against harass heavy ad solo tops.
  • Scaling MR glyphs for a slight bit more tankiness.
  • Movement Speed for all around goodness.
A full list of options are as follows:


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Summoner Spells

Viable Summoner Spells

I choose Flash and Teleport most games.

Occasionally, I'll pick Exhaust over Teleport because someone else on the team has port (e.g. Revive/Port Karthus). In general, though, I feel Teleport is an essential summoner spell on Nasus. It allows him to maximize his early game XP, which aids him into smoother farming mid game. It also allows him to farm while a team fight is beginning to form, then join the fight when he needs to. Every team should have a Teleport, imo.

The choice between Flash and Ghost is very difficult on Nasus. For an escape maneuver top lane, Flash is better against stun oriented tops/junglers, while Ghost is better against slow oriented tops/junglers. Later in the game both spells provide a gap closure. Ghost tends to be more useful in fights in the open, while Flash is very useful for its ability to jump over walls, say, over the baron wall to initiate a fight, or to follow the ad carry who has jumped over a jungle wall. Ultimately the choice of Flash or Ghost is completely dependent on a per game basis. In normal games, I tend to take Flash because I feel in general it provides more protection and utility than Ghost.

Also, Shurelya's Reverie kinda functions like Ghost does, so keep that in mind when making the decision.

Less Viable Summoner Spells
  • Ignite - This spell is designed more for aggressive laning, and is not suggested for the passive lane of Nasus.
  • Heal - This spell has become very popular, and could very well aid to a successful Nasus lane. I do not like this spell, personally.
  • Clarity - This spell can be considered for lower level play, as Nasus can be mana hungry. At more competitive levels of play, this spell falls out of favor.
  • Cleanse - I've never been fully comfortable with this spell, though feasibly it could be used effectively on Nasus.
  • Surge - Nasus is not AP or Atk Spd oriented, so this spell serves much less purpose than others.
  • Clairvoyance & Smite - Support takes CV, jungle takes Smite.
  • Promote & Revive - Added for completeness, but honestly should not be considered.

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Nasus's passive provides a scaling Life Steal buff. This allows Nasus to have a more sustainable lane, as well as sustainability in a fight without the need for a Life Stealing item.


Nasus's Q is fundamental to his play style. By adding 3 damage permanently to Siphoning Strike every time it is used to kill something, you are continually making Nasus stronger. This bonus damage has no limit, so ultimately, Nasus can only make this ability hit harder and harder as the game goes on. This is why he is a late game champ.

Using Siphoning Strike resets his auto attack CD, so it can be combo'd directly after an auto attack. Use this technique to maximizes damage. Be careful, though. If you are chasing a champion, and will only be in range for a single hit, use Siphoning Strike before a white hit. This allows Siphoning Strike to go on CD, while also doing more damage to the enemy than a single auto attack.

By its nature, you want to use this ability whenever you can to last hit minions. Siphoning Strike is only as effective as the farm behind it. In a 40min game, you should be able to reach no less than 500+ damage. With a 2.4sec CD (4sec -> 40% CDR), this is a tremendously dangerous amount of potential damage to an AD carry.

Siphoning Strike also is usable on turrets. This allows Nasus to push turrets fairly quickly.


Nasus's W works essentially like Exhaust. It does not work as effectivly against stationary AP champs as Exhaust, but Wither is an incredibly effective slow and Atk Spd debuff. This skill allows Nasus to get in range and chase down an enemy. Wither also is extremely effective against an AD carry, as it limits their escape to safer grounds, leaving them open to be destroyed by you or your team, and it drastically reduces their auto attacking damage.

Gaining confidence and proper execution for when to time the use of Wither can take practice. In a 1v1 Situation, you will want to either use it early in order to minimize the damage done to you (e.g. against an auto-attacker like Tryndamere), or save it to use as your enemy is trying to run away. In a ganking situation, throw your Wither early so your jungle can close the gap and apply their cc's and damage to a mostly immobile target. In a counter ganking situation, use your best judgement who to use it on. In a team fight, almost always use it on the AD carry if possible. If not the AD carry, then probably a melee champ reliant on being mobile (e.g. Shyvana).

Proper use of Wither can make or break a Nasus in a team fight. Wither is an incredibly effective cc, and should not be taken lightly.


Nasus's E is his weakest spell. Spirit Fire ultimately has limited uses, and should be used cautiously with considerations for mana. It's damage is not incredible by any means, but certainly should be used when fighting champions. The Armor debuff is excellent, but forcing your enemies to stand in the circle is a difficult task. Use Spirit Fire in a situation you feel you can get multiple Siphoning Strike's off while your enemy is standing in the Armor debuff. In fights, improper use of Spirit Fire will not make or break Nasus, but keep in mind its uses and don't worry about using it on CD as often.

Occasionally, Spirit Fire can be used to last hit an escaping champion, as its range is rather good, and the initial damage is nothing to be counted out. These situations are rare, but keep in mind that it can work.

Spirit Fire SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR MINION FARMING. Though there are exceptions, try your very hardest not to use it to farm minions. Remember, you want to farm with Siphoning Strike as much as possible, so farming with Spirit Fire is counter productive to the Nasus play style. Some exceptions include massive pushes on turrets, times before a fight in which you need to leave the lane full of minions quickly and do not have the time to Q all of them, or simply in the team effort of pushing turrets.


Nasus's R (Ultimate) is an incredible spell that requires great timing to maximize its usefulness. Fury of the Sands does percent damage to all surrounding enemies and converts a percentage of that damage done into bonus AD. Also, it provides a steroid of health initially.

It may seem obvious that this spell would have maximized output at the start of a fight. This is true in most cases, and should not be forgotten. For team fights, your ult signifies a commitment to the fight, as many other ults will do. You should always have Fury of the Sands ready for team fights, as you are much less effective as a tanky dps without it.

Timing comes into play when you are at the later laning phases of the game. If you've been playing passively the entire game, this is the time (about lvl 11) when your ult will provide you an incredible advantage over your lane opponent. Read the Game Play section for more details on these situations.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Level Q first; it is your best spell.
Level W second; it is much more useful than E, and benefits more from levels.
Level E last; it is your least useful spell.
Level R whenever possible; (lvls 6/11/16) Obvious.

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Item Sequence

Boots of Speed

This build is a basic CDR and off-tank build for Nasus. Because a lot of his damage comes from his Siphoning Strike, not very many dps items are necessary for good damage. Trinity Force is the only dps item, and it is mostly useful for the Sheen proc and movement speed. Sheen procs off Siphoning Strike, which makes it a great damaging item for Nasus. Early, the build focuses on sustainability and Q farming. After Glacial Shroud and Shurelya's Reverie, you will be nearly CDR capped. This allows for massive Q farming, which is the focus of the Nasus play style. The tank items in the build are more subjective to the team you are facing, so change how you build Nasus and when you buy certain items depending on the situation.
Early Game

I start with Cloth Armor and x5 Health Potion against lanes I feel I might struggle against. Otherwise I will go either Boots of Speed and x3/4 Health Potion, or Regrowth Pendant and a Health Potion. On my first buy I would hope to be able to get at least Philosopher's Stone (as well as pots and wards). This GP5 item is also an incredible means for sustainability. Boots of Speed are another early priority, though occasionally I will be forced to return before I have enough for both items, in which case I prioritize Philosopher's Stone. This may be more preference than not, but I feel the earlier you get your GP5 the more use you'll get out of it.

After Boots of Speed and Philosopher's Stone, I'll build either t2 boots, Glacial Shroud, or Heart of Gold. Spirit Visage is another option against an AP opponent like Rumble. I generally only build Heart of Gold if my lane is going incredibly well as well as the other lanes, making it appear more likely the it will get to late game. Otherwise, this will put you behind on your potential Q farming into mid game with less CDR. The lack of mana from Spirit Visage does make it the weaker choice, so consider whether Mercury's Treads will be enough MR or not.

Choose Ninja Tabi only if the lane is not going so well against an AD opponent. Otherwise, Mercury's Treads is the better option for t2 boots, in my opinion.

Mid Game

After Glacial Shroud, I choose whether I need more damage now with Sheen, I still need to be defense/passive with Frozen Heart or I need to add utility for the team with Shurelya's Reverie. Eventually all these items are essential to the Nasus build. These items give a great amount of CDR, as well as good defense. These items, even with little damage, allow Nasus to start 1v1-ing and killing his opponents. His passive life steal starts kicking in and with a decent amount of farm on the Q, his damage can be very dangerous, even at this point in the game.

Late Game

At this point, your build is much more up for your own interpretation. When and which items to build are more preference oriented or team composition countering. I recommend finishing Trinity Force and finishing it off with a bit more Armor with Randuin's Omen or MR with Force of Nature. Note: A build is not meant to be followed like a recipe, but more like guidelines to what kind of results you want from your champion, so use discretion when deciding what the finish the build with.

Here is a summary of other options available to Nasus:

Damage Health Armor
  • Randuin's Omen - This is a great Armor item to get, though Wither performs the same way the active does, so keep that in mind.
  • Guardian Angel - Imo, not really all that useful, but it can fit into many builds and can make a huge difference depending on the situation.
  • Thornmail - Great against AD, auto attacking heavy teams.
Magic Resist Utility
  • Aegis of the Legion - Though your support or jungler should get this, the team may need you to be the one helping with this item. Certain team comps may call for this to be the case, and with massive farm on Nasus, he seems suited to take the responsibility.
  • Oracle's Elixir - A strong Nasus shouldn't have any problem not dying in fights, so having an extra (or the only) oracle's is a solid choice.

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Nasus is all about farm. That is why he is suitable for solo top, among other reasons. Essentially, Nasus without farm is dead in the water and does no damage. He needs to farm up Siphoning Strike in order to cast a presence in team fights.

Here is some advice for farming with Nasus:

  • Do not push your lane! Nasus cannot and should not play aggressively early.
  • Do not use Spirit Fire to farm the lane. This is a generally rule, and can be broken, but for the most part do not use it to farm.
  • Understand how much harass you can take. Understand the capabilities of your opponents.
  • If farming you Q requires you to overextend or be harassed too much, forcing you to recall before you want to or puting you in a position where you could die, do not farm! This is a difficult concept for Nasus players, but essential to understand.
  • XP > Farm; this is a general rule, but very important. Higher levels allow you to farm faster and safer.
  • Lvl 1-5, do not care especially if you are being denied farm or not. Nasus builds his strength primarily during mid game. Then, you can hold much stronger ground against an opponent and have a much shorter Siphoning Strike CD.
  • Do not harass your opponent. At some point during the laning phase, you're going to want to engage your opponent, and you don't want them to know exactly how strong you're going to be. Many players underestimate the power Nasus can have.
  • Support ganks by first engaging without the slow, then throw the slow when your opponent starts to run. If you're laning correctly, you should almost always have the lane in a safe position, closer to your turret than the opponent's. This sets up fairly nice ganks.
  • If you're being overly harassed early, call for ganks. Early ganks probably won't be sucessful, as Nasus's early damage is minimal, but a jungler's presence will perhaps stymie extreme aggression from your opponent.
  • Farm a lane as long as you can before a teamfight. Teleport is very useful for this, as you can port to a fight after having been farming a lane.
  • If your lane is not in a safe position (minions pushed farther than you'd like) ward in order to see ganks coming, then escape. Wards safe lives, especially your own.
  • In almost all situations LAST HIT ONLY. Not only should you last hit, but you should last hit with the least possible health on the minion you are killing. This prevents your lane from being pushed. Begin breaking this rule when you don't care if you push the lane and can be using Siphoning Strike to kill minions on CD.
  • At a turret, as a wave is coming into range, hit the minions to proper amounts, so when the turret hits the minion, they will be low enough to finish off with Siphoning Strike or an auto attack. This is more important early than later, as you'll have no problem one-shotting minions mid-late game.
  • Don't forget to auto attack for last hits when Siphoning Strike is on CD. Not only is it important to farm damage on your Q, it is also very important to maximize your gold income from farm.
  • Know when you should freeze your lane and when you should push, especially when your first turret has been destroyed. Knowing how to control the lane allows you to dictate the flow of the game. Understand that pushing accomplishes nothing if an objective is not being contested, or a fight is not happening.
  • Know when you should push a lane or not before recalling. Sometimes pushing is the correct decision, sometimes not. I still struggle to recognize the difference. Essentially, try to calculate whether or not you will be denying more farm to yourself or to your opponent. Generally, leaving your lane stronger, but not at a turret, is a bad decision. If you push, make sure your wave goes to the turret.

Sometimes you have to creatively come up with solutions to problems you're having in lane. This takes practice and knowledge of the situations you're in.

If you are ever forced to take top 1v2, all you need to change is your willingness to take harass for farm. You will certainly be under farmed going into mid game after having been in a 1v2. What you do not want to happen is to become under leveled. Do not fret a 1v2, because as long as you play it safe your team gains a great advantage by having a jungler over the other team not having a jungler.

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Team Fighting

Team fighting with any champ can be very difficult to put to words. Experience is the best educator on this matter, but I will try to explain it as simply as I can. Just remember, none of these are hard and fast rules, just general guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Nasus's role in a team fighting situation is similar to other AD bruiser types. He is suppose to take out the AD Carry, without putting himself too far out of position.
  • You may also find it more useful to protect and/or peel for your own AD Carry instead.
  • Throw your ult at the beginning of the fight so you drain the life of the champions around you. There is little reason to delay using the ult, but just know that using it commits you to the fight. If the fight does not break out as expected, you will have wasted it.
  • Place Wither on the AD Carry or an AD bruiser. If not either of these, then someone else dependent on movement would be a good choice. You should use it on an auto attacker over a caster, as the ability slows Atk Spd as well as Movement Spd.
  • Place Spirit Fire anywhere you can. Focusing on where exactly to place it is not where your focus should be. Get into the habit of placing it on the people you will focus, though it may be more beneficial to place it where your AD Carry will be focusing.
  • Do not chase, unless you are sure the fight is a certain win for your team. And even so, many times it is better to push a lane and get turrets rather than chase the Teemo around the jungle.
  • If your team is behind, play defensivly. Nasus is not incredibly suited for counter aggression, but is a very good defensive champion. While defending turrets, throw your Wither on the opponent's AD Carry to prevent maximum damage to the turret, and wait for a dive.
  • If your team is ahead, and you are plenty farmed, play very aggressivly. A farmed Nasus is perhaps the deadliest thing in the game. Jungle invasion and camping bushes can work for teams that ward sparingly. For more competitive play, you will still be able to invade jungle to kill neutral camps (with buffs), and force objectives better (Dragon, Baron, turrets).
  • Nasus can push turrets very fast. Remember, you can use Siphoning Strike on turrets. A farmed Nasus can solo turrets, so if you feel it is necessary, you can backdoor.
  • You are not unkillable, even when you are fed and farmed, but try to impose your will on the other team that makes you seem unkillable. What I mean is, do not engage and take focus on all 5 enemies, but instead, wait for 2-3 of them to focus another tanky champion on your team, then try to split their damage by having 2-3 focus on yourself. In other words, divide the enemy team's focus. Depending on the time in the game, you will have a sense for how much damage you will be able to take in a fight before having to have to escape.

There are many more pieces of advice that could be given, but ultimately I think team fighting is best left to experience in order to fully master.

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Thank you for reading this guide on Nasus. I hope you have learned a thing or two and are ready to kick tail your next matches.

Please leave comments on your results following the guide, any questions and concerns you have, criticism of the guide, or just anything else you want to tell me. I will address these questions and concerns whenever I can.