Talon Build Guide by Sneakachu
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.
Introduction (MASTERIES UPDATED, WILL UPDATE MASTERY EXPLANATIONS SHORTLY)
First of all, I'm not going to try to convince you that I'm the best Talon player there ever was, or that this Talon build/strategy will work in every game you play, or that I never took inspiration from other builds/play-styles; I'm not, it won't, and I did. This is simply an amalgam of everything I've tried and had success with as Talon, and it's what I find allows me to carry the most games with the least effort.
Dos and Don'ts
In lieu of a Pros and Cons section, I'll just be compiling a list of some good and bad practices when playing as Talon, because if you're looking at this Talon guide you're either A. already interested in playing Talon and looking for a baseline build to get started with, B. already an experienced Talon player who's looking to either compare their build with other Talon players or supplement a weakness in their build, or C. just gawking at random guides.
When playing Talon...
- Play as you would if you were using any other bursty caster, i.e. Akali, Annie, Kennen, Katarina, Brand etc.
- Use autoattacks to farm and conserve mana
- Play conservatively while laning until you're fairly sure you can secure a kill/burn a summoner without putting yourself in any real danger from jungle ganks or your opposing laner(s)
- Be a constant threat; harass your opponent whilst making sure you have enough mana/cooldowns to secure a kill or escape a gank whenever possible
- Try to use Shadow Assault to its full potential by using it at the right moment in order to hit as many enemies as possible or deal as much damage as possible to a single target
- Utilize Noxian Diplomacy to take down objectives quickly
- Buy wards whenever possible
- Listen to dubstep
- Use autoattacks as your main source of damage
- Rely on critical strikes for maximum damage output
- Constantly use skills to farm
- Be afraid to use Shadow Assault defensively
- Initiate your combo with your Shadow Assault
- Build Tanky DPS
- Stop listening to dubstep
As far as runes are concerned, I'm going to say what quite literally EVERYONE else says about runes and state that they are explicitly a matter of personal preference. HOWEVER, I will go into a bit of detail about why I choose to play with the rune set I use.
MARKS: GREATER MARK OF DESOLATION x 9
Pretty standard AD runes because of their usefulness at every point in any given game. You could swap these out for AD or whatnot, but these seem to be ideal in the majority of matchups. Plus, if you don't own a set of these, I'm doing you a favor by suggesting them.
SEALS: Greater Seal of Armor x 9
Flat armor for those tough matchups against ranged AD champs like Caitlyn, Graves, Kog'Maw and melee champions with ranged harass such as Gangplank or another Talon. Lets you keep up farm more comfortably against a ranged lane as well as keep up a bit better against the sustain of many tough solo top champs. Don't be afraid to supplement these with Ninja Tabi if you're having a rough time.
GLYPHS: Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist x 9
Amazing mid-to-late game MR boost, great for surviving those unexpected ganks from the opposing AP mid, as well as midding on Talon, though I find myself substituting Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for these if I'm going mid against the current meta.
QUINTESSENCES: Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage x3
Makes farming easier at lower levels, provides extra damage for all of Talon's skills. Everything Talon has benefits from bonus AD, and these quints are just like icing on the cake. They make your rake more annoying, your last-hitting nearly effortless, your combo nuke harder, and I wasn't going to make this claim officially, but...I think the ladies like them.
I'm also partial to Greater Quintessence of Desolation, if you're not an AD Quints kind of guy/gal.
There's not much to say about masteries here. My setup is fairly intuitive, taking 21 in the offensive tree in order to put that point in
, as well as a point in Cripple not because I recommend using exhaust, but because Talon will be utilizing exhaust far more often than the bonus ability power from
, which is never. I don't care to take
simply because just knowing how to last hit makes this mastery useless.
are also useless since Talon does not benefit from ability power at all.
may be useful if you're jungling Talon, but that's not what this guide is about.
I've put the remaining 9 points in the utility tree, simply because it has much more to offer Talon in 9 points than the defense tree does. 3 points in Good Hands makes late-game deaths much less game-breaking. Dying sucks, but having to wait 10-15 extra seconds to respawn when the enemy team is taking Baron or pushing your nexus sucks even harder. Perseverence seems to soften the blow that the most recent patch dealt to Talon's base HP5 and MP5, so it seems like a good pick for now, as well as 3 points in Awareness to let you keep up in levels when you can't always stay in range of your own creeps due to constant ranged harass.
Skills: A Rundown of How and When to Use Them
This is your main single-target nuke. This skill's inherent bonus damage combined with bonuses from mercy, cutthroat, Sheen, its ability to crit and a surprisingly damaging DoT make it threatening to tanky targets and absolutely catastrophic to squishy ones. This skill also has an interesting bonus effect: when a champion target is hit with Noxian Diplomacy, that champion will bleed for a short amount of time, dealing physical damage, revealing the target through fog of war and stealth, and generally looking wicked. When used on champions such as Akali, Twitch, Evelynn, Vayne and Talon, the skill provides crucial short-term counters to these champions' escape mechanisms, making Talon an adept anti-assassin.
Proc this skill before using cutthroat to instantly apply its effects on your target. Keep in mind that activating this skill DOES break the stealth of Shadow Assault.
I wouldn't recommend using this skill to kill creeps, barring circumstances where you need to clear a wave as fast as humanly possible, such as when pushing during an ace or defending against super minions. I WOULD, however, recommend using this skill to destroy buildings. at rank 5 with a Sheen proc from Trinity Force, this skill can take a tower down faster than many similarly equipped ranged AD carries.
This ability is what makes Talon such a superb laner. It allows him to harass and farm from a safe distance away from ranged opponents. Its AoE damage and slow with relatively fast missile speed make it one of the best pokes in the game, as well as providing a decent bit of crowd control to escape dangerous situations, catch up to fleeing targets and proc mercy autonomously. Use this skill to whittle away the enemy's HP in lane, initiate your combo, finish your combo, secure kills on straggling targets and save yourself and your teammates during a chase.
Keep in mind, using this skill DOES break the stealth from Shadow Assault, but in many cases you will be using this skill to close your ultimate to shorten your burst time.
While using Rake to farm creeps is extremely effective, keep in mind that it consumes a decent chunk of mana, makes your burst damage significantly lower until it's ready to cast again, and will make escaping a gank a bit more difficult when spammed on creeps. It also pushes the lane significantly faster than farming with autoattacks, so keep all of these things in mind before you use it flippantly to farm.
Talon's gap closer, as well as an extremely useful silence. Use this to position yourself for your combo, catch up to a fleeing target, and in some cases, jump over walls in the jungle to neutral mobs for a quick escape.
This skill is also what makes Talon such an effective mid laner under the current meta of AP caster mids. Using this to stop Death Lotus, Nether Grasp, Absolute Zero, Requiem, and if you're quick enough to stop the initial channel, Crowstorm, Trueshot Barrage and finales funkeln can completely shut the enemy down and possibly score you a kill if you use your full combo while stopping their ults. (Keep in mind that if you're already suppressed by an ult such as Infinite Duress, Nether Grasp or Impale, you won't be able to stop the ulti yourself.)
This skill has quite a lengthy cooldown, even with a decent amount of CDR. Use it wisely.
Talon's amazing ultimate. Allows him to deal large amounts of damage to either single or multiple targets with near equal efficiency while preventing him from getting immediately focused with its instant stealth mechanic. Also allows for easy escapes with its stealth and movement speed boost components, making him nigh ungankable once he reaches level 6 and has his ultimate at his disposal.
ANY attack, spell or ability (including summoner spells) breaks the stealth and brings the blades back in, so be mindful of this when jumping into and out of fights.
At first, positioning Shadow Assault seems a daunting task, but after much practice, I've discovered that it takes little planning to use it to maximum effect. By activating Noxian Diplomacy and jumping to your target with cutthroat, you prevent the victim from using flash or any other spell to escape or counter your assault for a short duration. then, after you've jumped to your target, activate Shadow Assault to do AoE damage and protect yourself from focus. Note that because you've already jumped to your target, there's no need to worry about the positioning of your ultimate, as you're guaranteed to hit the target you've jumped to at the very least. At this point, you have 2.5 seconds to decide whether to quickly activate Shadow Assault again or use a skill such as Rake to finish your burst, or to flee from a losing fight while in stealth with bonus movement speed. This allows Talon to commit to a teamfight without sentencing himself to death if the situation isn't ideal. This is Talon's standard full burst combo; some other useful combos include:
- Standard burst-harassment combo: Rake--> Noxian Diplomacy--> cutthroat
- Shutting down a channel: Noxian Diplomacy(optional)--> cutthroat
- To secure a kill on an enemy out of range: cutthroat to an enemy minion to close the gap--> Rake or Flash--> Noxian Diplomacy
- Maximum Burst: Noxian Diplomacy--> cutthroat--> Shadow Assault--> Rake--> Ignite
Talon's arguably lackluster passive. While Mercy would be a better fit on a champion who autoattacks more often, its damage amplification when used with Noxian Diplomacy and cutthroat adds up to 25% bonus damage on a single target at level 18, which simply can't be ignored. Use the slow from Rake and potential crowd control from laning partners to make your burst even deadlier.
I use a fairly simple skill build, taking a point in Rake at level 1 to maximize damage with mercy in the event of a level 1 fight, as well as to have strong harass and farm out of the gate. At levels 2 and 3, I take a point in Noxian Diplomacy and cutthroat respectively in order to enable more advanced harassment combos as soon as possible. From there, I simply max Rake, Noxian Diplomacy and cutthroat in that order, while adding a point to Shadow Assault at 6, 11 and 16. If lanes break down early, I may add a few extra points to Noxian Diplomacy to maximize my burst damage in teamfights earlier. Always assess the state of the game before adding a point that you're not 100% sure about.
THIS IS NOT THE BE-ALL, END-ALL ITEM BUILD FOR TALON, AND OTHER BUILDS MAY WORK AS WELL OR BETTER THAN THIS ONE. HOWEVER, THIS IS A BUILD I HAVE USED WELL OVER ONE HUNDRED TIMES, AND HAS PROVEN ITSELF TO PROVIDE MASSIVE BURST DAMAGE AND A RESPECTABLE AMOUNT OF SURVIVABILITY. PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T ACT LIKE THESE ITEMS ARE THE ONLY THING YOU SHOULD EVER BUILD ON TALON, AND BE READY TO ADJUST YOUR BUILD DEPENDING ON THE SITUATION.
Okay, now that we've cleared that up, I'll first list the items I build most of the time, then provide some good alternatives for flexibility. After that I'll go into a bit of detail about the order in which I purchase some of the components of the core.
While Trinity Force provides ability power, which Talon has literally no use for, all of its other stats provide benefits that far outweigh the dead weight of 30 ability power. Bonus health, mana, critical strike, attack speed and movement speed all work with Talon's kit perfectly, and the 150% bonus damage from the Sheen component allow Talon to deal extremely large amounts of damage in extremely short periods of time. The 25% Phage effect also seems to fit Talon perfectly by providing another source of activation for mercy.
While the small amount of magic resist seems situational and insignificant, tenacity is a stat that Talon truly needs. Slipping in and out of teamfights smoothly requires Talon to be, well, slippery. These boots help a great deal, and I'd really only recommend NOT purchasing them under extenuating circumstances.
Early in the game, The Brutalizer provides extra AD, CDR and Armor Penetration, making it perfect for combating an increasingly tanky opponent. Later on, upgrading to Youmuu's Ghostblade adds even more CDR, AD and Armor Pen, and valuable critical chance, along with an active that allows Talon to single-handedly split-push a lane with nearly unrivaled speed. Add it all up and you've got a pair of items that scale into late-game as well as Talon does himself.
Some people may argue that if I'm going to pitch Talon as a burst champion with little autoattacking strengths, I shouldn't include The Bloodthirster in any build for him. The fact is, this item is simply the single best pure AD item you can buy. Topping out at 100 AD, this nearly doubles Talon's damage output, as well as providing him with some deceptive survivability if it does come down to autoattacking to pick up a kill when you've exhausted all your cooldowns. Simply a must for Talon, and an item I wouldn't discourage stacking instead of buying some resistances if you're truly decimating the enemy team.
This item is what's going to keep your blades sharp late in the game when everyone's tired of your burst damage killing them instantly. A good chunk of AD combined with the massive 40% Armor Pen makes this a must-have in games where your opponents aren't completely inept. Opt for another The Bloodthirster if they are.
Chances are, if you've gotten this far in the game, it's becoming increasingly difficult to kill a target with one burst. Enemy carries are building resistances, and even with your Last Whisper, your burst isn't what it was 10 minutes ago, requiring you to stay in the middle of teamfights longer than you're really comfortable with. Having Guardian Angel's respectable amount of both armor and magic resistance, along with its passive, allow you to take a little more abuse while doing the extra damage required to break through late-game builds.
While I wouldn't recommend it for most games, there's no doubt that Talon can utilize its stats effectively. However, as I've said, constantly relying on critical strikes and autoattack damage isn't Talon's niche'.
This item is a great pick earlier in the game if you're taking heavy damage from casters. If the problem persists later into the game, a Banshee's Veil or Force of Nature might be a good replacement.
If the opposing team is just plain bad, buy one of these for the lulz.
I usually start out with a Doran's Blade for a good chunk of AD and bonus HP. I then try to lane until I've got about 1300 gold, and recall at an opportune time to grab Boots of Speed, a Sapphire Crystal, and 1-2 sight wards and Health Potions. From there I won't go back again until I've got about 2800 gold IF I can help it, allowing me to finish my Sheen, buy The Brutalizer without having to build it (if you can't stay in lane long enough to accrue enough gold to buy it complete, pick up the Long Swords individually), and once again pick up a couple sight wards. From here it's a good idea to gauge whether you're going to need some supplemental armor or magic resist, and buy Cloth Armor or Null-Magic Mantle in turn, usually contributing to finishing your Mercury's Treads or Ninja Tabi. Continue the build by picking up a Phage on your way to finishing the full Trinity Force in order to drastically increase your burst. After you've finished the Trinity Force and upgraded to tier 2 boots, flesh out your build with The Bloodthirster followed by an upgrade to Youmuu's Ghostblade. After that you're basically playing the counter game; now's the time to build penetration ( Last Whisper) and resistances accordingly.
Remember to buy sight wards whenever possible, and grab Elixir of Fortitude and Elixir of Brilliance before crucial teamfights or objectives.
Arguably the most powerful summoner spell in the game, it's basically a panic button that allows you to escape undesirable situations, pick up kills that would otherwise be out of reach, and hop over most walls. I take this 100% of the time.
Combined with the DoT from Noxian Diplomacy, Ignite completes your combo. I take this spell on a majority of burst champions, and Talon is no exception.
OTHER VIABLE OPTIONS ARE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
While Exhaust is an EXTREMELY powerful summoner spell, I find it highly situational on Talon. I'd only take it if I were laning against hard AD like Tryndamere.
Noxian Diplomacy makes Talon a powerful split-pusher, and Teleport supplements that very well, but is not, in my opinion, a strong replacement for Flash or Ignite.
Well, that's my best attempt at a Talon guide. I hope it's helped at least one person understand the champion a bit better; and if it hasn't, at least I got this all out of my head and into a tangible medium. If this guide gets some attention, maybe I'll put one together for Irelia and Kennen.
Thanks for reading, and good luck out there!
10.28.2011- Guide posted!
11.3.2011- Shyvana Patch nerfs hit Talon's lane sustainability quite significantly. This really shouldn't affect your actual burst, but I may have to do some play-testing with different rune pages (perhaps greater seal of replenishment) and see how it works. For now, I've just switched the order in which you buy the components of the Trinity Force to put the Sheen before the Phage to compensate for heavier mana consumption. This SEEMS to solve the issue to a certain extent, but if I find a better solution I'll alter the guide further to reflect it. Also note the extra 15 seconds of CD on Shadow Assault at all ranks. Shouldn't be too much of an issue, but may take some getting used to.
TL;DR: TALON IS STILL VIABLE AND STILL BURSTY AS EVER, JUST NOT AS SUSTAINABLE AS HE USED TO BE, BUT THIS CAN BE REMEDIED WITH RUNES/ITEM SEQUENCE
11.16.2011- Fizz Patch: Holy Masteries, Batman! There's a lot of different perks in the offensive tree that are great for Talon, and I've updated the masteries to match the ones I currently use. If I switch my masteries around because I've found something more optimal, I'll reflect it in this guide.
ALSO: FLASH IS STILL FLASH, YOU JUST HAVE TO USE IT A BIT MORE CAREFULLY NOW. STILL A STRONG SUMMONER ON TALON.