Nautilus Build Guide by Launch
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.
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.
What This Guide Will Teach You
Welcome to my Nautilus guide! As of right now, Nautilus is an underplayed character that can fill a multitude of roles. Nautilus is an excellent jungler, support, and even a bruiser top lane is the situation calls for it. Nautilus' strength, like any champion, lies within how the user builds and utilizes his abilities. The time it takes to learn Nautilus on a base level is not very daunting, but the effort it takes to master this champion is a steep cliff.
Perhaps the most important concept of playing Nautilus is understanding what your role is. As Nautilus (with this build), you are to function as a Tanky/DPS, Initiator, Crowd Controller, and whatever your in-game position is (Jungler/Support/Solo). This is key to your playstyle and incredibly important to how you work within your team. In order to get the most out of this champion, all of these roles must be understood and acted upon.
We're going to start with exactly what Nautilus does and how he does it, and then later move into how externalities (items/runes) supplement the core of this character.
Pros and Cons
- Some of the best Crowd Control in the game
- Can be built to fit many different roles
- Strong Jungler and Effective Ganker
- High Survivability
- Great Initiator
- Very useful passive
- Scales well
- Very helpful during teamfights
- Low mobility
- Has difficulty if counter jungled
- Early game jungling is somewhat slow
- Fairly item dependent
- Early game mana pool is easily drained if not careful
- Requires a lot of practice!
This passive is amazing. Staggering Blow allows Nautilus to deal bonus damage, 2 + (6 × level), and also roots his target in place. The root duration is 0.5 seconds at level 1, 0.75 seconds at level 7, and 1 second at level 13. This ability is imperative to your CC (Crowd Control) as it behooves you to target multiple champions in a team fight in order to root them all. Keep in mind, a unit cannot be rooted more than once every 12 seconds. Staggering Blow is also very important for laning harassment, which we'll cover later.
Dredge Line is a multipurpose skillshot hook that allows Nautilus to engage, chase, and even escape battle. The ability has a 12 second cooldown when coming into contact with any enemy (champion, minion, neutral creep) and a 6 second cooldown when coming into contact with terrain. If pulling an enemy, Nautilus will move towards the enemy and the enemy will be pulled towards Nautilus as well, meeting halfway in the Dredge Line's total span. The move will also stun the target for a small duration and do a bit of magic damage. This differentiates the move between Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab and Amumu's Bandage Toss, as these pull the target to or moves to the target's location, respectively. When using against terrain, Nautilus will pull himself all the way to the location he made contact with. When laning, this move is the first you will acquire and also opens up effective ganking from the jungle. However, this move is the last you will max, as the move is used for utility, not damage.
Titan's Wrath is the skill you will max first and serves as a core component of your damage. The ability essentially empowers Nautilus for 10 seconds, allowing him to deal bonus damage and gain a shield that scales from health (80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280, +10% of bonus health). The magic damage is dealt upon autoattack and subsequently changes Nautilus' attack animation. As long as the Titan's Wrath DoT (Damage Over Time) remains on the target, this will serve as a good chunk of your damage. The DoT applies in an AOE (Area of Effect), afflicting all nearby targets. Using your shield early game is very helpful in harassment, as the shield allows for a brief engagement without actually losing HP.
Riptide is an AOE move that deals damage in a radius around Nautilus. The ability emits three separate explosions that can all deal damage to surrounding targets. The initial blast deals full damage (60 / 100 / 140 / 180 / 220 +0.5 per ability power) while the subsequent blasts deal 50% of damage. If all three blasts hit, the damage is essentially doubled (120 / 200 / 280 / 360 / 440 +1.0 per ability power). In addition, Riptide will slow all surrounding targets by 30 / 35 / 40 / 45 / 50% of their movement speed, allowing the move to serve as an obvious chasing move, but also an escape tool. This move has a low cooldown and provides Nautilus with even more CC with exceptional use in 1v1 or teamfight engagements.
More Crowd Control? Yes. Depth Charge is Nautilus' ultimate move and should be leveled at 6/11/16, as with all ultimate abilities. The ability sends a shockwave that chases an enemy champion and deals damage, stuns, and knocks up enemies upon impact. Any enemies that are caught by the explosions leading up to the target are also damaged, knocked up, and stunned. The utility of this move is undeniable, but knowing exactly when and where to use it can be a bit of a struggle. Some players may choose to engage with this move, other use it as a finisher, and some even use it after Staggering Blow/Dredge Line for even more CC on a single target. These are all viable uses, but to get the most out of Depth Charge requires a level of clairvoyance and skill that is only gained through playing, but is simplified below.
Both of these masteries stress one thing: you are atank. First and foremost, this is going to be your job. As Nautilus, if you can't take hits, you won't be able to effectively initiate, sustain yourself, CC, or pretty much do anything. The difference between the jungling and laning build are the obvious jungling talents that are to alleviate some early game problems you may encounter. If you favor using Ghost over Teleport or Flash, you may want to move a point from Summoner's Insight.
Greater Mark of Armor
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
So, these runes should be pretty obvious for their use, but here's the general breakdown: you're a tank and defense is the way to go when it comes to surviving. The marks and seals both stress armor while your glyphs are going to incorporate magic resist; pretty standard. Your quintessences, however, are going to provide you with movement speed, which is invaluable in both initiating battles, chasing, escaping, and general roaming, especially while jungling. Because Nautilus has enough mobility trouble as is, we attempt to rectify this with our runes and Summoner Spells.
Obviously, Smite is ONLY for junglers. However, if you are Jungling, you need this spell; no way around it.
Now, I prefer to run Flash and Ghost on Nautilus when laning. This is because Nautilus is strapped for mobility. Ghost's functionality is fairly straightforward: it allows him to chase high speed enemies, run away from sticky situations, and grants additional maneuverability in teamfights to land tons of Staggering Blows. Flash's usefulness is undeniable, enabling wall-jumping, chasing, escaping... it's simply a must have. If you don't use Flash, I highly recommend that you do.
These spells are entirely based on your playstyle and can take the place of Ghost when laning. If you prefer any one of these spells for it's functionality, then go ahead and use it. However, when Jungling, Smite and Flash are still the best spells to use.
These are the only summoner spells that are possibly seen in competitive play, but for the particular Nautilus build we are choosing, these spells are not viable because:
Ignite and Surge are for the Champions who are trying to squeeze out as much damage as possible early game. You are a tank that can pump out some high damage, but not until your build is on the way. Before you obtain Trinity Force, don't expect to be a complete wrecking ball.
Exhaust has limited use and doesn't benefit you as much as Ghost would in terms of chasing an opponent. You should rarely, if ever, be trading auto attacks with an opponent early game, so Exhaust simply isn't a good choice for Nautilus.
Clarity seems optimal to solve those early game mana problems, but you should focus more on saving your mana rather than having a failsafe to protect it. Don't pick this up.
Jungling LaningPhilosopher's Stone
When jungling, the standard Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potion is easily the best way to go. After you attempt a level 3 gank (this is covered in the Jungling section), you should generally opt to get your Boots of Speed to maneuver your way around and facilitate ganking. After this, follow up with your Heart of Gold, Mercury's Treads, and finally your Phage.
When laning, you're usually going to be playing support, so you're going to want to gather up a few Gold per 5 items. Start off with a Regrowth Pendant and 1 Health Potion and make your Philosopher's Stone as soon as you get your first 365 gold, if possible. Follow this up with a Heart of Gold and Boots of Speed. At this point, you can either get a Phage or Mercury's Treads first, as it is more up to your situation. If the enemy team has a lot of CC heavy or speedy champions, such as Rammus, Alistar, Shen, or Udyr, Mercury's is probably a better choice. Otherwise, the extra health and damage from Phage may be more helpful.
These three items define how you plan to play Nautilus. Let's go over each one in a bit of depth.
Trinity Force is your vitality. It provides you with a ton of stats to turn you into a serious threat that can't be ignored. The attack speed, critical strike chance, health, mana, movement speed, and the several passive effects this item provides will noticeably increase your combat prowess. When building your Trinity Force, you should begin with Phage, then acquire Sheen, followed by Zeal. In most scenarios, you should obtain this item at around 24-26 minutes into the game. Obtaining this item at 20-23 minutes is very quick and implies you have had a lot of success ganking/picking up kills, but obtain this item past 30 minutes generally means you are in a lot of trouble.
Warmog's Armor, in almost all situations, will be your second 'big' item. The obvious choice is to pick up your Giant's Belt first when building this item. This item is the precursor to your Atma's Impaler and also provides a good chunk of health for your late-game tanking role. If your team is incredibly squishy and you already realize you are far behind on your Trinity Force (example: getting your Phage at 18-20 minutes), you can opt to get Warmog's before you get Trinity Force so that your team has a tank for upcoming team battles. In most situations, however, this shouldn't be a concern. Unless multiple enemies on the opposing team are building Madred's Bloodrazor, this will be your core tank item. Assuming you picked this up after Trinity Force, you should generally obtain this item around the 30-32 minute mark, which is around when teamfights begin.
So, now that you have Warmog's, you're generally not the focus in teamfights because of your ridiculous HP pool (It should be around 3.5k, assuming you're leveling steadily). This HP pool will only increase, bringing you up to around 4k by the end game. So, what goes well with tons and tons of health? Atma's Impaler. Build your Chain Vest first and then go ahead and grab this item, as it once again makes you a major threat on the battlefield and forces the opposing team to lock you down before you run rampant. Because of this, you are an integral part of teamfights, either acting as a CCing, monstrous wrecking ball tearing through their AD carries or a superb tank, taking tons of punishment while your carries are slicing through their opponents. Even when dealing with tons of CC, you should still be able to function pretty well with the help of your Mercury's Treads.
Sunfire Cape or Banshee's Veil should generally be your 6th item, after Heart of Gold, Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force, Warmog's Armor and Atma's Impaler. This depends on who is your enemy team's greatest threat is. If the enemy team is sporting a fed AD carry like Ashe or Graves, you should build Sunfire Cape, as it provides some extra armor, a bit more AoE damage from your passive and a huge boost in HP for your Atma's Impaler. On the inverse, if the enemy AP carry, such as Ahri or Morgana is tearing up the battlefield, Banshee's Veil is the way to go.
Randuin's Omen is a logical choice of your 6th item, as it incorporates your already obtained Heart of Gold. This item simply bolsters your tanking ability, but don't forget to use the active effect on the item to get the most use out of it.
Ninja Tabi should only be bought if the opponents are extremely AD heavy and do not have many forms of CC, if any at all. Otherwise, Mercury's Treads are invaluable.
Other Viable Choices
All of these items have their own strengths and all work well on Nautilus. If you are playing Support, Shurelya's Reverie and Aegis of the Legion both work very well on Nautilus, especially in teamfights.
Force of Nature is a good choice for the health regen and movement speed, which can ease initiating fights as well.
Thornmail provides a hefty amount of armor and a nice passive ability. Only buy if the other team is extremely AD heavy.
Guardian Angel is entirely a choice in preference. I personally do not like Guardian Angel on Nautilus, but you can test it out and see how it functions for you if you feel inclined.
Now that we understand Nautilus' skills, items, and roles, it's time to enter the battlefield.
An extremely simple process, but overlooked by some. Hit Titan's Wrath first and then follow up with a Riptide. You can quickly clear out huge mobs of creeps by doing this with very little effort. When both Titan's Wrath and Riptide are maxed out, you will almost always 'one shot' all non-siege creeps upon Riptide.
This is going to be your bread and butter in lane. Pull an enemy in, hit Titan's Wrath, Riptide them, and then walk away. The stun from Dredge Line will prevent your enemy from being able to strike back and the root from your Staggering Blow leaves them unable to chase you for a brief moment. Even if they choose to, the slow from Riptide hinders this attempt. It is VERY IMPORTANT to remember that you can cast Titan's Wrath while your Dredge Line is travelling in the air. This will reduce the global cooldown between Titan's Wrath and Riptide, as your harassment is brief, but very effective when performed correctly.
Chasing an Enemy Champion
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When you're chasing an enemy champion, you want to keep Titan's Wrath up as much as possible. Obviously, this is the greatest proponent of your damage, so you need to sustain it as much as possible to maximize your DPS. Riptide is used as the obvious slow, but (assuming that your enemy is running away from you) to ensure that it hits, you often will only be able to hit it after a Staggering Blow.
Using Dredge Line and Depth Charge takes a bit of practice to know when exactly to cast. When your target is running, Dredge Line should only be used when your target gains a substantial distance away from you, pulling you out of melee range. If this situation occurs again before you can Dredge Line and your hook still has a cooldown of over 4-5 seconds, then go ahead and Depth Charge. Depth Charge, usually, should only be used if you feel you can secure a kill.
If it's not activated, start off with Titan's Wrath for your extra HP boost. Follow up by using Riptide to slow your opponents down and then Dredge Line your way towards a wall. To make sure you get the most of out of your Dredge Line, use it in a way that allows you to gain the most distance as possible out of it, generally aiming at around a 30-45 degree angle towards the wall and opposed to a 90 degree angle. Use the video below to see what exactly this implies:
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In teamfights, you want to hit Titan's Wrath whenever it's up and Staggering Blow as many opponents as possible. Use Riptide whenever it's off cooldown to hit as many opponents as possible while you do this. Use Dredge Line to pull in low health, escaping enemy champions or pull distant AP/AD carries attempting to battle from afar. Don't be afraid to Depth Charge these carries at any time; however, if you can hit several enemies with Depth Charge due to one champion standing in the back, you should definitely seize the opportunity for some great CC.
This is going to be your general Jungling route. Let's explain everything step by step.
Start by getting one point in Titan's Wrath. Get a leash on Blue Golem and some damage from your top/bottom lane, depending on your team if possible. Hit Titan's Wrath and take down Golem with Smite at 445 HP. Kill off the two smaller minions. You should now be level 2. Put a point into Riptide and use a Health Potion if necessary. I'm not going to say exactly when to use Potions, just gauge your HP and decide.
We go to blue golems first because going for wolves first will mean that your Titan's Wrath will not be up in time for fighting golem. You need this shield to take on golem and killing wolves with riptide is fairly faster unless you have a very, very willing top/bottom lane to assist you.
Titan's Wrath should either be back up or just about to finish on its cooldown. Engage wolves, hit Titan's Wrath and then Riptide them. Finish off the large orange wolf first and then finish off the two smaller wolves. Don't be afraid to use Riptide again if it comes back up, it will be off cooldown by step 3.
Same as wolves, hit Titan's Wrath and Riptide the wraiths, focusing the large red wraith first. Move onto 4.
Focus the smaller golem first, using Titan's Wrath and Riptide. Use Smite on the larger golem when he falls to 470 HP. You should now be level 3. Put a point into Dredge Line.
If possible, get ready to gank either bottom/top lane, depending on the team you spawned on. Refer to the Ganking section below for information on this. If the lanes are far too pushed or the situation simply cannot call for it, go ahead and go back to wraiths and then follow through to step 6.
Hit Titan's Wrath, Riptide, same as always. Keep your focus on the Lizard Elder (red buff) and let your Titan's Wrath DoT and Riptide take care of the smaller lizards. Use Smite when necessary.
Ganking can be a bit difficult and near impossible until level 3. Let's say you're aiming to gank top lane (as a jungler). For this example, we will assume your top laner is Wukong and your opponent is Irelia. In a perfect situation, you are level 3, Wukong is level 4, and Irelia is level 4. The lane is pushed, creeps are at the tower, and the Irelia is standing in the middle of the lane, being Irelia.
You then ping Irelia, signalling Wukong to attack. Wukong moves in and you also emerge from the bush. You beat Irelia in the skull with a strong Staggering Blow empowered by Titan's Wrath followed by Riptide, while Wukong is also striking her. Irelia obviously will attempt to escape, possibly using Flash or Ghost towards her turret. This is your cue to hit her with Dredge Line, pulling her back in and securing the kill. You are then paraded through the streets as the greatest jungler ever. Good for you!
In a less perfect situation, Wukong and Irelia are both sitting in top lane, but neither lane is pushed very far. You can still attempt to kill or at least pressure her into recalling, however. In this situation, it is likely better to hide in the brush, ping Wukong to signal your presence, and then open with a Dredge Line. From here, use the standard Titan's Wrath into Riptide combo and continuously beat your target down.
The reasoning behind initiating with Dredge Line in the second situation is to ensure that some damage is done. It is obviously optimal to engage without Dredge Line so you are able to pull fleeing targets back in, but you can't always rely on this being an available possibility. However, this does not mean you should not be patient. Patience is a virtue: a virtue that can net you an early 400g for your team.
Here is a video of a general jungling route. Note that you won't be able to gank this easily (these were beginner bots!) and you should go head towards red/wraiths right after you gank, if successful.
When playing support on Bottom Lane, you should start off with your Regrowth Pendant and one Health Potion. You're going to want to pick up your Philosopher's Stone as soon as you have the gold to permit buying this item. However, there is one major, integral part of playing support, and that is buying Sight Ward and Vision Ward. Sight Ward is your general go-to choice, costing only 75 gold and lasting 3 minutes. Here are the best ward locations:
So, now, why exactly is the 'optimal' ward location the best? Because it allows view from a possible gank coming from Dragon, Tribush, or directly down from Purple Team's blue buff. It also will generally spot Twitch before he would go into stealth and has too long of a range for Shaco to use Deceive into the close bush. This ward provides perfect vision in nearly all situations.
The Acceptable Wards are dependent on your priorities. If dragon is up and you are worried that it might be stolen by an enemy Warwick jungler, you can place a ward there. You can also place a Pink, Vision Ward in the bush if you are attempting to kill off an enemy ward to reduce their vision.
The situational wards should only be used if you are subject to a ton of harassment from either of the side bushes or you are certain that opposing junglers on the blue team will attempt to gank from the tribush.
Be sure to coordinate with your laning partner (generally an AD carry like Caitlyn or so) when you're going to pull in an enemy with an anchor to harass your enemies. A coordinated strike is much more effective than you simply throwing a surprise anchor and hoping for the best. Keep your mana up and don't steal minions. Be patient in lane and pull when the time is right! Also, make sure your AD carry buys 3 Health Potion and Boots of Speed, since you can't heal them.
I don't have too much experience playing as solo top Nautilus, but the general idea is to stay passive and grab last hits, not dissimilar to how most solo tops play. Harass the same way you would as a support and clear creeps that reach your turret with Titan's Wrath and Riptide. When trying to last hit, don't forget that you do additional damage with Staggering Blow compared to a normal autoattack: around 70 damage with Staggering Blow and about 50 without. You may want to opt to go 3 Health Potion and Boots of Speed depending on who you're laning against, especially against the harassment heavy types, such as dodging Yorick ghosts or Nidalee spears. Otherwise, just harass when you can and keep in mind the hits for minions: melee minions take 2 hits from turret into last hit range, caster minions take 1 hit from turret into last hit range.
Pulling an overly aggressive enemy into your turret range with Dredge Line is a potentially lethal move combined with Staggering Blow. This goes for playing as support Nautilus as well as Top Lane. If there are no minions around, the stun from Dredge Line and the snare from Staggering Blow can lead up to 3 turret hits, which will put anyone below level 10 in a critical situation, if not dead.
Nautilus isn't the easiest champion in League of Legends to play, but is very fun once you get the hang of him. He requires a lot of practice when landing Dredge Lines, a high level of clarity in using Depth Charge, and good insight in how to build. Keep in mind, this is NOT the only Nautilus build around. Many people choose to build this character as AP, as most of his damage is indeed from magic. However, with this build, you are going to be splitting your physical and magic damage in about a 1/3 physical and 2/3 magical damage, making you very difficult to counter while being extremely tanky. Here is a single example of what your scorecard is going to look like at the end of a game:
I hope that you enjoyed this guide and learned while reading it. Test out this build and see if it fits your playstyle; if not, perhaps another build may work, which other guides on this website cover. If you have any concerns, questions, criticism, ideas, or anything else that you would like to tell me, feel free to comment below or send me a message. I am always looking for feedback, good or bad. Until then, have fun, and I look forward to seeing you on Summoner's Rift!