Nidalee Build Guide by Dougernaut
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.
Oh Nidalee, how you have changed. Nobody wants to play her AP anymore because an AD bruiser seems to be the way to go solo top. Well, I've been trying to figure out an AP build that brings her back to the healing for 600+, spears for over 1k, favorite legendary poker she once was. And I think I have the build to do just that.
Before you look at the masteries, runes, etc. and count the build out completely, keep scrolling, give the build a shot. If you've been playing Nidalee for some time like I have, you'll want to give AP a shot again (That spear connecting with an AD carry / support for a kill... priceless)
Unfortunately, this build may not do as well without runes and masteries required for a level 30, so keep that in mind if you're trying her without runes. They help tremendously early game and allow her to solo top very well against most common picks.
Pros and Cons
Great laner, big sustain
Easy to farm past level 6
Very mobile, lots of escapes with her Cougar form
Big damage spears
Too weak for kills early game (barring a stupid solo top opponent)
Very squish, but you should never be on the front lines as AP Nidalee
Mana hungry if spamming everything, needs blue from somewhere.
Needs amazing map awareness (Wards)
Needs amazing farm to be great (for those 1k+ spears)
To be honest, needs the right team comp.
A bigger con list? She must be awful =O. No, she's practically unbeatable when played correctly. AP Nidalee is just too fun to leave all the guides out there to focus on the cookie cutter Triforce into GA builds. It works, but AP is just more fun.
Runes for Solo Top
AP Nidalee can not, under most circumstances, bully a decent solo top champion. Every one has gap closer equal to or greater than her auto attack range and will trade so, so much better than you will levels 1-5. That being said, our runes focus on mid to late game Nidalee.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed - To pile onto our already great mobility. Be a nuisance in the enemy jungle, then just run out at 450+ MS with level 1 boots + pounce.
Greater Seal of Armor - Almost every champion is going to be AD based, top at least. Any mitigation of damage without hindering our build is great.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power - Late-game AP runes. Just adds on what damage runes can. If you have flat AP Glyphs, they can influence your heal early game, so both have their advantages.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration - Standard AP marks
Masteries for Solo Top
This mastery pages focuses on, again, mid-late game, with some added AD for early game farming or poking.
+Increase to summoner spells (if you have it, otherwise spend this point on whatever you'd like)
+4 damage vs minions (last hitting)
+3 AD (last hitting + near negligible increase in poke)
+4% CDR (Why not? More for our next mastery bonus...)
+10% Mpen (Must-have)
+1 AP/lvl (To tack onto our runes. More beneficial then 4 points anywhere else at this point in the tree)
+5% total AP (uh.. yes)
+6% damage vs targets 40% health or lower (surprisingly good for Nidalee spears + Takedown)
+12 mana per level (not necessarily worthwhile, but needed for next mastery)
+3 mana regen per 5 seconds (Very helpful)
+1% movement speed (not extremely noticeable, but adds onto our quints and passive)
+buff duration (when you get a blue/red, you want it to last as long as possible.)
Summoner Spells for Solo Top
Flash Too good.
Exhaust under tower is OP.
Ignite is a possibility, but the team generally needs at least one exhaust, so if nobody else takes it, you should. I personally don't like ignite because it becomes a worthless summoner spell late-game. You shouldn't be close enough to an enemy to ignite him/her. Exhaust can generally save a teammate (generally the carry) from death when a bruiser/AP carry dives him behind your team. Exhaust champ behind team, team realizes and focuses, win game.
All that said, summoner spells are generally preference; if you're comfortable with it, try it out. Barring the really, really terrible summoners (You heard me promote/revive)
Skill Sequence for Solo Top
Yes, her Primal Surge / Swipe was nerfed, but to be completely honest, it needed to be. The ratio pre-nerf was something like 1.25:1. End game her heal was like 1100, way too much. Bonus though, now her Bushwhack / Pounce is affected by cooldown reduction and her spear has a lower cooldown as well.
Even still, we're maxing her Q first, Javelin Toss / Takedown. Your primary role is to poke. I grab two points in her heal early because it will not limit my skill order; I still get to max Q by level 9.
Making heal second is ideal, just so your heals actually mitigate some amount of damage. ~400 by mid-game. You're bound to save a few lives.
And W last, primarily her ultility spell, Bushwhack / Pounce
Obviously a point in Cougar Form whenever possible.
Items for Solo Top
I used to praise Guinsoo's Rageblade, and it is an EXTREMELY cost-effective item, but so is a Haunting Guise or a Moonflair Spellblade. They are great items but they hinder your core build by X amount of gold. I've come to find Nidalee top would best be built with rushed AP and a focus on trying to get into a teamfight earlier then usual. Solo top champs are generally amazing early game, and Nidalee isn't the greatest. That being said, I've revamped our solo top build a tad =).
I've tried a few things recently that all have had their moments in-game:
I mean... it works? Provided you get 1-2 before the 11 minute mark. My two of choice are Philo Stone and Kage's Pick. 800g and 765g respectively, though HoG should be fine as well. The way I see it, they provide actual benefits in lane (Avarice Blade sucks) and are cheaper, if only by 25 and 60g. Still, that's a pot or a ward in most cases.
The GP10s will tick away, but you will not be able to 1v1 the other top in most cases (unless they're awful). Your jungler can help, but focus on farming well and buying that AP. GP10 rush generally allows you to skip straight to a Rabadon's Deathcap a.s.a.p. Even with Rabadon's, players can generally recognize you're AP and will build one negatron + a little health. Not the best build, but it certainly comes in handy against a lane that zones you pretty well.
Again, not the greatest. Buying one doran's ring delays your build by ~220g. Figure you buy 2-3 going top, that's gold best used elsewhere.
But, extra health, mana regen, and a small amount of AP. Mana regen + AP = constant, more efficient heals. Is it ideal? Absolutely not. But this game isn't about getting the perfect situation every time. Otherwise I'd be one-shotting people with spears at level 3. Regardless, if you're getting easily chunked and running out of mana, pick 2-3 of these up. Generally, you'll pick these up if you're behind, so if that's the case, focus more on farming then going for kills. Need gold for big AP items before anything else.
Chalice of Harmony/Tear of the Goddess
Puts you in a very vulnerable position in lane. Nidalee is, by nature, squishy as can be. Chalice adds MR in a primarily AD heavy lane, not the greatest. What we're focused on here is the substantial mana regeneration for its price. You're going to need to heal... often. But the bonus is you can do so safely (no lifesteal/spell vamp required) so staying in lane is a non-issue. It then builds into a cooldown reduction / restore mana on kill or assist / AP item in Athene's Unholy Grail OR a boost in AP based on your mana, of which you gained 1400 from this item, Archangel's Staff. All of those stats can help Nidalee, especially because her pounce is now CDR affected/AP is great for... AP Nidalee.
I prefer this build to most, it doesn't slow down her core build (by too much) and helps with her mana problems, seeing as how she doesn't get blue buff very often. Just need to be careful in lane, which most people aren't.
Items seem fairly self-explanatory as far as when to get them, but just incase:
I rarely pick up resistance before three AP items. You shouldn't be close enough to a fight to be initiated on, so resistances are a waste. Pure AP over anything else. If you're having a ton of trouble in lane, grab a Null-Magic Mantle. Builds into Lich eventually (third item) and can mitigate a decent chunk of damage early game. Until they grab Sorceror's Shoes. My suggestion would be, if you're losing lane pretty hard, build chalice + null-magic mantle and farm as much as possible.
**After some messing around solo top I found that Guinsoo's into Rabadons into Lich Bane works well too. This makes me think Guinsoo's into Lich Bane may work (an extra % movement speed definitely helps escaping ganks top, though by the time you buy all 3 laning phase should be long over). The movement speed plus an extra basic attack dealing 93 + 80 = 173 extra damage PLUS slight magic resist means this could be a great item mid-game. Your spears will not do as much, but Q I believe procs on-hit effects, so it's a bonus there.
Edit: I've tried it before, very expensive build and not as cost effective, IMO, as rabadons before Lich Bane. Your primary source of damage is spears, so pure AP > on hit + movement speed.
*** And again, a good solo top bruiser will generally poop on AP nidalee. They grab a little armor, some sustain, and suddenly it's almost impossible to chip them down, especially without blue.
Solo Top Laning
Nidalee, in lane, is one of the most immovable champions in my opinion. The range on her auto attack allows some serious poke early game if done correctly and often (with proper use of the bush and her passive Prowl. People underestimate just how powerful that passive is).
Starting boots and 3 health potions means better mobility for pokes and avoiding pre-6 ganks. Also, her passive gives her greater mobility than any champ early game, even if they grab boots. Riven with boots MIGHT cause a problem, but she has no auto attack range and generally has to dive you at your creeps to do anything. If she does this with just boots and no armor, should be in your favor anyway. The only real problem you'll have is Nasus and his Wither in combination with a jungler that puts out serious damage. Keep that in mind.
Anyway, laning (side-tracks ftw) with Nidalee is really simple. Farm. Ward, avoid ganks, and farm. Kills are very difficult to come by, but not impossible I suppose. You can do your best to poke and trade, seeing as how your sustain is second to none. But the primary objective is to get gold a.s.a.p.
Also also, if you feel like your opponent top is going to be too difficult to chip down (natural sustain), I may recommend buying a Chalice of Harmony for the increase mana regen and sustainability. Your heal will be your best friend, as will health/mana pots and wards. It builds into a decent item for a mana-starved Nidalee, Athene's Unholy Grail. Generally if you reach this step, I would skip Guinsoo's Rageblade altogether. 140 + 30% AP is more cost effective than
With Summoner Spells UP
You are practically ungankable. Pre-6 Shaco and Udyr are pains in the butt, though Shaco is generally banned nowadays. Udyr can most likely catch you and put some damage out, so keep good vision and you'll be alright. Junglers that catch you and keep you around are Rammus and Nunu, even though Rammus is generally banned and Nunu isn't viable anymore, too slow at clearing. Nocturne, Lee Sin, Skarner, etc. All need to close gaps or land skillshots AND they need to avoid bushwacks placed around your lane. And provided they get through ALL those obstacles, Flash away. They turret dive? Exhaust the one NOT being focused by the tower (because he'll be in there longer trying to do damage). If they manage to get a kill after all that nonsense, kudos to them, they must be very good or you very sloppy.
In summary, ward and hug your bushes.
With Summoner Spells DOWN
With just Exhaust down, you'll get away with much more. If your flash is down, consider being a little more passive. What I tend to do, and what works very well is blue pill after burning flash AND having your wave pushed. It allows an opportunity to push your gold advantage and, more importantly, buy a freaking Sight Ward. Ward at the enemy's entrance to the river (depends on the side you're on, pictures hopefully coming soon.) and if needed (purple side) your tri-bush to prevent being pinsired. It's much more safe and by the time your ward is done, flash is most likely off cooldown. Congratulations, you're ungankable again.
That being said, farm. At level 6 with no additional items, the caster minions take one auto attack + a pounce / swipe combo to kill. Melee minions take damage from creeps so you'll have to use good judgement. Use Takedown on any melee creep at around 1/3 health.
After level 11, farming is even easier. Be aggressive if you're level 11 to their level 10. Your ultimate is level 2, theirs is not. Push that advantage, zone them out.
Leave their tower up if your team has a better late-game composition. Most people assume that leaving a tower up denies exp, and yes it does, but it also denies your team exp and gold globally. Look at their champions: Vayne Nunu Nasus Cassiopeia Skarner? Take that tower down a.s.a.p.
Nidalee Combinations In-Depth
Pre-level 6, Nidalee has no combinations to do. Just auto attack, occasionally heal self beforehand. If they trip a trap, go a little out of your way to poke. It'll do more damage then usual. I don't advise throwing spears unless it's to net a kill or a creep you REALLY want. Too much mana wasted for not enough damage.
Put post-6, Nidalee has her entire cougar arsenal as one big combo. That being said -
If you want to engage:
This is for when your opponent blows a cooldown generally. Say Riven used her stun to clear a few creeps. Ideally, you will Pounce at her, landing on her for damage, Swipe for additional damage and then Takedown, which does more damage based off missing health. After that, it's up to you to either back away and wait for cooldowns again or switch into human form and throw auto attacks / spears / heal. The main reason for switching into human is for the heal. It negates enough harass to demoralize your opponent and get them running, which is perfect. Allows you to return to farming.
Pounce > Swipe > Takedown (W > E > Q)
If you want to harass:
Pouncing in - bad idea. If you're looking for somewhat safe harass because you're being pushed to tower, Nidalee can Swipe first, Takedown after for a tiny more damage, and then Pounce AWAY from the enemy. This leaves you safe from most champions with auto attack range.
Swipe, Takedown, Pounce away. (E > Q > W)
Enemy Jungle Buff / Dragon / Baron Steals
This little buddy is your best friend if you want to screw over that enemy jungle. Depending on which side, purple or blue, you can place one of these bad boys at the enemy blue or red buff.
The bonus to a Nidalee who has spears that actually do damage is you can steal buffs rather easily. Her spear is practically guaranteed maximum range on a minion who isn't moving, so around level 10 your spear will do 350-400 damage to a minion, more if you bought blasting wand or Guinsoo's. That being said, if you have vision of the jungler's buff, stealing it is all about timing.
Things to make note of:
If the enemy has Wriggle's Lantern, surprise chunks of 500+ damage will happen. Unfortunately, that can lead to missed opportunities, but has it's advantages too. I tend to throw a spear around 600-800 health. Smite will do about 600, give or take 60 damage. Junglers are generally very good about saving it for the insta-kill.
If they're doing dragon or baron, Nidalee around this time has some AP and is a good threat. Competent teams will stand in your way and prevent spears from even hitting baron or dragon, so try to find the right angle. If you have above 250AP, those spears can out-damage a summoner smite.
Stealing is all about practice. Timing is key, I practice on 'stealing' our own dragon / baron, and occasionally stealing our blue from AP mid (if they annoy me enough).
Probable Opponents Solo Top
I'll attempt to break down every champion that tends to go top nowadays and what I do against them. Nidalee can be countered, so keep that in mind before you grab her first pick in draft mode. Red generally means bad news bears.
In no particular order:
Jayce Uh-oh. Jayce hurts, has decent range, big poke, a gap closer, an aoe slow, knockback, etc. An all around menace for Nidalee. If I'm stuck fighting him, I've gone cloth and 5 health pots, rushed dodge boots, and prayed. He's a bit too strong for AP nidalee. You're better off going AD so you have some survivability.
Against him, you're in for some hurt until level 6. Then you're in for less hurt, but still painful. Don't reach for CS, ward well because any jungler with Jayce can murder you. Play smart, get sustain, farm well.
Edit: Recent nerfs make him more managable because his poke / trade is worse, but still. Terror in lane for AP Nidalee. Try to avoid.
Darius Good luck. He's a little strong and not very manageable for Nidalee. She's too squish AP and Darius can 100 to 0 her with his abilities up. I would avoid going top against Darius at all costs if possible.
Against him, farm? Don't push your lane at all, because Darius alone can take you, but Darius and a jungle is lights out. I really do recommend sending almost anybody else. If you're against him, build early armor, and even debate going AD / Tank Nidalee. AP just doesn't do enough to Darius without getting killed herself. Keep your distance and keep your CS up. Pray for an early tower going down so you can outfarm him and roam to the squishier lanes.
Wukong By far the most annoying opponent I've had to deal with to date. His burst at level 3, 5, and then 6 combined with the ever popular flash / ignite summoner spells mean he can and will try to kill you every opportunity. His Nimbus Strike and Crushing Blow do far more than you can continually heal. If he goes cloth and 5 health pots it's very difficult to push him out of lane. What I try to do is harass very often, even at the cost of CS, at level 1 and 2. Provided he's a very passive Wukong, even levels 3 and 4.
Once you hit level 6, he is either close to it himself or already 6 too, so be cautious about engaging. Your best bet is to push him to tower every chance you get, because Nidalee can farm the entire minion wave without missing one very easily and at zero mana cost. Wukong can't, so make him spend the mana on farming, not harass. Buy early and often if possible to push an item advantage. Worst case scenario, call for help from your jungler, keep him on edge at all times. If he's intelligent, he can zone you out relatively easily because his burst is damn good (almost too good RIOT)
**After a few more games against him, I'd say Wukong counters Nidalee pretty well. Try to not pick against him.
Tryndamere What a pain in the butt. Tryndamere is a hard lane when he runs cloth and 5 health potions because he'll be able to sustain off pots until his Q, Bloodlust, can do it instead. That being said, trading with him early is questionable. You want to make him burn those potions, but taking hits from Tryndamere is never smart. Before level 6, he generally farms at any cost, so make him pay. 2-3 auto attacks per creep usually. If he spins at you, run to your creeps. If he uses his fury to heal, poke the ever-loving **** out of him. At 0 fury, his chance to crit is minimal, so use it to your advantage. The side bushes are your lover in this match-up.
Most Tryndamere players I see will run Exhaust / Ignite. He needs both of these to kill you 95% of the time. Save your Flash for his Spinning Slash if possible. He can and will catch up to you if you burn Flash before he burns his spin. After level 6, your best friend is the E > Q > W combination listed above. In most cases he will get two auto attacks, probably one critical, so it's a decent trade considering he has to burn his fury to heal. Pounce gets you to a safe distance provided he used his spinning slash to initiate, which he should always have to do.
After he hits level 6, don't try to kill him unless he gets stupid. By stupid I mean stays in lane with ~400hp and hasn't healed. Take note of his resistances and how much a W > E > Q combination will do. On more than one occasion, I've bursted a Tryndamere down too quickly for him to pop his ult.
Renekton Not the worst match-up, but still a pain. His sustain is amazing with cloth and 5, although to heal off minions he has to come towards you and blow cooldowns. Watch his fury very carefully, Renekton with 50+ fury can chunk you very easily and thus zone you out. Keep a safe distance and move between your auto attacks. Hiding behind a wave of minions might be your best bet early.
After 6 stick to E > Q > W away until he's low enough to kill. Keep in mind he has an ult that gives him 300 extra HP, so don't sit there and expect to kill him with basic attacks. If you see him pop the ult, run away (unless of course he has like 150hp left. He is deceptively strong when he pops his ult and heals off a minion wave of 4+. Best option with Renekton is to poke him safely at level 1 and 2, then harass him only when he comes in to heal afterwards (most Renek players I play against get all 3 skills at level 3). Ask your jungler to keep an eye top, because he will burn Slice and Dice to get close to you, and if he does, make sure your jungler is there to make him pay.
Teemo Captain Teemo, Pile of Duty. Teemo must have been flavor of the month, I've faced quite a few recently. A good Teemo is actually very annoying. Assuming he runs Flash / Ignite and plays him well, as most do, prepare for a farm war. His range is, I believe, the same as Nidalee's, so poking him safely is out of the question. Poking in general is bad because he will get an auto attack, poison damage, and generally a Blind Dart off. Horrible trade. He generally runs boots and 3 health pots so he can poke you and get out. You just need to farm yourself up a.s.a.p, because that's when the threat of your spears comes into play.
Teemo's weakness is his sustain. Most will not build any lifesteal/spell vamp early, so any damage given will stick around while any damage you take is healed via potions or your E. That being said, I ask my jungler to make a stop top as soon as they can before Teemo hits 6. We all hate mushrooms, and after he hits 6 it's hard to gank him without oracles. But before 6, if you can chunk Teemo enough to make him recall, chances are you'll force him to miss enough experience to give you a lead early that you can push.
Riven is not as bad as some solo tops, but certainly worse than others. She has two low-cooldown gap closing abilities and a stun, plus her passive is bonus damage when she uses a skill. Spells trouble for most to be honest, but if Nidalee stays close to the bushes top, all's well. She can't catch up to you with those abilities if you react fast enough and get into the bush. Keep her at auto attack range and make her take damage for failed engages. If Riven and the jungler get on you, you're probably dead.
Most run Flash Exhaust, though Ignite isn't rare. Pre-6 she does more damage but has to be closer, and she should never get close enough. After 6, you should practically never pounce into her. The only scenario where you do is if she just popped her stun on something else. Her damage is pretty good with a brutalizer, but yours will stick more. If she buys wriggles first, her damage will be decent and your damage won't stick very long. Keep an eye on her boots as well, level 2 boots before you get level 2 means she has higher movement speed. Focus on poking, killing if the opportunity arises. Not a horrible lane, but can get difficult if she gets first kill.
Cho'Gath I've never really had trouble with Cho, because his only threat of a kill comes from a full combo, Rupture into Scream into Feast. Before level 6, you're practically free to poke all you want. He won't argue, he won't waste mana harassing a Nidalee, and he won't be close enough to trade. His sustain is amazing if he farms well. At level 1 I believe he gets ~30 health per minion last hit, and you poke around 50 depending on armor and your runes. Advantage you =P. This is a kill lane generally.
At 6, I harass with cougar form all the time. The most he can do immediately is silence you and auto attack a few times. If he lands a Rupture, be a little cautious, but it shouldn't hurt too bad. If he goes Ignite, watch for an initiation. If it's teleport or exhaust, harass at will, he will probably not be looking for a kill top. The ultimate goal against Cho is to zone him away from creeps, so what I try to do is allow my creeps to be pushed a bit, generally I recall to buy and let him push. Then, I ignore the minion wave and poke him. He won't sustain himself off creeps so he'll be say 60% health. I stay behind his creeps and poke him if he gets close, or W > E > Q as cougar to chunk him further. All in all, should be a simple lane for Nidalee.
Gangplank A moderately annoying lane. Parrrrrrrrrley (greatest pun ever) is his form of harass, and if it crits he'll generally look to engage. Never let him. Cloth and 5 Gangplank never really get's pushed out of lane, but you can try. Especially after he Q's a minion. Ideally, you want him to parley as often as possible early so he runs out of mana. The lower the level of Parley, the less harass you take overall. Don't be stingy with your health pots, they're there to prevent wasting mana on heal every 8 seconds. I find myself selling 1 or 2 some games and it shouldn't be the case.
I never pounce at GP because his passive can catch up to you. I try to push the lane, but GP hovers at his minions and with a wriggle's he never leaves. Basically, harass when you can, watch his mana closely, and when he pops his E, assume you're being ganked and run away. Trying to kill GP in lane is tough, so don't make it a priority unless he's playing bad.
Kennen You know, I rarely fight Kennen solo top anymore. Must just be coincidence, because he is a very good solo top. Against him, harass is not generally safe, farming is tough, and pushing isn't completely effective. Your auto attack range is similiar if not exactly the same, so be a little careful. At level 2, good Kennen players can stun you. Keep an eye on his auto attack, if it's going to proc W, don't stay near him. Eating it generally results in a W proc > W > Q or E for the stun. At level 3, he's fairly dangerous. Most run Flash / Ignite and aim to kill early.
Harassing Kennen early is a good way to make him lose a lane. He has zero sustain early, most run boots and three health pots and will burn those pots very fast. I trade at level 1 as much as humanly possible, because I know he won't stun me barring three straight Q's to the face. Micromovement is KEY for harassing. It's difficult to land skillshots if you're constantly moving between attacks, so do so. If he pops his E aggressively, head towards a bush. Kennen with E activated is only slightly faster then Nidalee in a bush, so you should be able to outrun it if you stick close to the top. Once he gets a Hextech Revolver, harassment is tough to keep on him, so call your jungler up if a kill is possible. Always always always second guess diving a Kennen. His ult WILL stun you, and the tower will hurt. Keep note of his ult. Cooldowns are around 110sec at level 6, I believe 95-100 at 11. He's far less dangerous without it.
Talon So, so very bursty. Talon is one champion that isn't necessarly made for top lane because he's relatively squishy, but against Nidalee it won't matter too much because he outdamages her at pretty much every level. I actually added Talon to this section after playing him two games in a row solo top (one lost lane - won game, other won lane - lost game. Go figure). To be honest, I haven't found the best way to play against him, I don't think, but this is how I won the lane.
I poked very hard very early because Talon usually goes boots and three potions. After he hit level 3, I backed off a lot. If a Talon gets his entire combination in with auto attacks in between, it will hurt real bad. So, level 3-6 I farm only. I don't even bother harassing because it puts me at risk for being chunked down to where I need to recall. My advice is to pray to the lords of matchmaking you have a competent jungler (one who does heavy damage helps as well). Ask him every time he's near top to sit in the bush for like 30 seconds. This is when you poke Talon and bait out his silence, whatever it's called. It'll put Talon behind you and thus, out of position. Be warned though, most run Flash / Ignite so even with a gank, his entire combo at 6 can kill you and get him out consequence-free. Not the most difficult lane to farm in if you aren't constantly pushed to your tower. *Keep an eye on his mana, he'll run out long before you will, make him pay for staying in lane too long.*
Udyr I've never personally had a problem with Udyr top. He belongs in the jungle, IMO, because he has a very poor gap-closing ability, especially early due to his need of not only Turtle Stance but a cloth and 5 health pots. He's much like Cho'Gath in that you can harass pretty much free of threat. Around level 4 he generally gets bear stance, but if he ever pops it, run back. It's usually a sign of an impending gank or attempted harass.
Make him use his mana for the turtle stance shield and regeneration, he won't have enough to use bear AND tiger/phoenix. Call for a gank if he's pushed too far, though he should never be able to outpush you. Udyr usually runs Flash / Exhaust, "bear" that in mind (get it?) Keep great vision, auto attack him all the time, farm well, profit. Easy lane in my books, might be tough for Nidalee's just starting out.
Akali is a strange top. Harass early and often, Akali generally runs boots and 3 pots because cloth won't build into anything they need. This means basic attacks will do a bit more, and over time tons more damage. Don't worry about her before level 6; without a gank she's pretty weak. Even with typical Exhaust / Ignite, she'll need quite a bit of time to kill you. Having Flash up while her Exhaust is up helps as well.
All that being said, once she hits 6 it's a new game. Good Akali players blow a charge to get to you, another charge for damage, and a third when you're running (you most likely will be running). What seems to be trending is saving those dashes for when she lands her Q, so time isn't wasted activating it and basic attacking. Make good use of E > Q > W away. If she uses two charges to stick to you, it's a decent fight. Her sustain with Hextech Revolver and her passive is tough to ignore, so harassing is somewhat dangerous and ineffective. If you dominate her enough early game, it won't matter, but if not ask your jungler to sit top often. Once she burns a charge of her ult, Akali is almost always out of position. After she sees a jungler coming, she'll most likely pop her shroud, so throw your W in there somewhere, if it triggers she's normally dead.
Lee Sin I don't consider Lee Sin much of a threat. In the laning phase at least, he's very.. average. Good sustain with a shield, good burst, good slow, etc. The trick is he should never land any of his skills. As long as he misses 75% of his skill shots, which should be easy with Nidalee's mobility, you'll be fine. Lee Sin will start cloth and 5 nine out of ten times. Harassment is great, but killing him is difficult.
The only time he should be able to kill you is before level 6. After that, you save your Pounce for when he Resonating Strikes into you. I'm a little taken by how much damage he does sometimes, with say dorans blade start. Once you hit cougar, just push him straight to tower every time. Escaping Lee Sin is pretty easy with well-timed pounces, and your heal negates most of his damage. The re-occurring theme of these match-ups is call your jungler for assistance if needed. If he gets ahead, he'll stay there for awhile unless moved. And to be moved, you'll need help.
Rumble Color change because I'm too lazy to move him above to the orange section =D. Rumble isn't too hard a lane once you get a feel for his range. Boots and three seem to be the way to go, though I've seen an Amp Tome with one pot and a dorans shield as well. Assuming any of these, harass early. The only skill you're weary of is that Flamespitter thing. Relatively low cooldown, good damage, big range. Don't, under any circumstance, think you can trade with him if you stand in it. You'll lose, every time.
Pre-6 is all about knowing your range. He can't hit you with Flamespitter at your auto attack range, he needs to close some distance first. If he pops his shield, walk away. If he lands that slow, walk away as best you can. Don't let him get free damage either, if you're taking the damage and can't get out, turn around, heal yourself, poke the **** outta him. When he overheats, try to engage. Not only is he silenced, but his moves when they come off cooldown are less effective because he's out of the danger zone.
After 6, I try to keep misdirecting myself when engaged on, to avoid all the Flamespitter damage. If you're not comfortable doing so, E > Q > W away. Pounce will generally get you just out of range if Rumble is standing still, but he never is lol. When he gets Will of the Ancients, his sustain is good, but not unbeatable. He has to hit minions, and for that he has to be close. If he ever throws his ult, try to avoid pouncing across it, too much damage taken and a slow too, he'll catch up.
Irelia can be managable, but barely. Her sustain is a pain (hah) and her damage is damn good. Nidalee is very squishy compared to Irelia so be very cautious about poking. If I remember correctly the range on her Bladesurge is greater than your auto attack range, so she can and most likely will engage if you allow her to. In my opinion, poking is out of the question unless she has little to no mana. I farm until 6 in this matchup. Believe it or not, losing first tower against her isn't a bad thing. A free-farming Irelia is bad for your team, so attempt to keep the minion line on your side of the river.
Then at level 6, I'll ask for ganks. In the games I've played against Irelia, recently especially, The only time I seemed to win the lane was when I got 1-2 kills before mid-game technically starts. The reason being is Irelia does some amazing things with her farm. She becomes near unkillable with just a Wriggles and Heart of Gold. Deny her levels and as much farm as possible. When you get a kill, push the minions to her tower. If I have enough health, I even go behind her tower to clear another wave before recalling. Never, ever stay in lane with over 1.6k if you have the option to back. If she's buying, you should eventually as well. Irelia with an item advantage = scary.
**Hard to say, but she counters Nidalee top pretty well. Damage never sticks, her damage is too good, but haven't played against her with the recent nerfs in Lulu's patch, so we'll see.
Vladimir seems to be on the rise since his buffs in the Sejuani patch. I've lost to a few very well played Vlads (with the help of their jungler, but that's what junglers do). That being said, he should be a really easy lane if done correctly. Instead of the usual boots and three potions, I've started to pick up boots, one potion, and one ward. Depending on your enemy jungler's starting location, place the ward at a time when you're pushed past river. Generally the 4 minute mark is when junglers are about to recall and look for ganks. Keep an eye out, always.
If you have the jungler checked, what you do against Vlad is poke. He's a squishy Cho'gath with less sustain early. He usually runs boots and three potions, if he EVER runs Amp tome and one, you should be in heaven. With little or no armor, he'll take true damage, which is about 60-65 per auto attack (and he has under 550hp generally at level 1). Early on, his Q is on too long a cooldown to do anything major, so you can trade with him easy. Level 6-7 is when he becomes a threat to kill you, though not a huge one. Flash Ignite is expected, maybe even Ghost Ignite. If you see Teleport, he'll be even less a threat then he was before. All in all, a straightforward, poke him till he's dead, keep an eye out for jungle help kind of lane.
Nasus is really fun to play, kinda easy to lane against as well. His Wither is your only concern. It's such a strong CC, even at level 1. I've rushed merc treads against Nasus before, and it worked well. An interesting alternative is the tenacity/ability power item, Moonflair Spellblade. Not a terrible idea if you want cooldown boots. I rarely see Nasus go boots and three, even though I feel it's a better idea. Most go cloth and five. Still, poke him when you can, make him pay for farming Q.
Push early, often, always. You want to make him miss Siphoning Strike farm as often as possible so he isn't a terror mid-game. You won't be able to prevent him from farming forever, and he can do so safely if he leaves your first turret up, which most do. Leave his up as well, let it kill as many minions as possible. Like I said, be careful of Wither. That in conjuction with a jungler's damage will kill Nidalee pre-6. Post-6 you may get away, but even that is debatable. Focus on minions first and foremost, but don't let him sit in front of the creep wave so it never hits tower. Killing Nasus is damn near impossible, but making him recall is ideal.
I can't think of too many more common solo top opponents, but let me know of anyone you face and I'll see if I can find a way to beat them =D. Also, buy wards people. They save lives.
Tower #1 is down, now what?
Destroy tower #2. Next subject
In all seriousness that's what you do. You push just as hard as you did to keep the solo top at their tower and prevent roaming. The only difference here is ward placement and potential failure of escaping. There are a few walls in the jungle Nidalee can pounce over (actually a ton of walls) including spots at dragon / baron / small golems / from river into jungle etc. Youtube video below (thank you Sinovera)
Mastering these jumps can save your flash, or your life for that matter, and are crucial to great Nidalee players. They also allow for great mobility around the map which grants you opportunities to farm and even spear enemies running away from mid lane.
Video - Nidalee's Pounce by Sinovera
Yes, this skill deserves a video to itself.
Nidalee Pouncing Video by Sinovera
Shows you what walls you can jump over, what walls you should jump over, and more importantly, fails that show us nobody's perfect.
Practice these pounces in co-op vs AI or practice games if you want, learning them helps tremendously.
Tower #2 is down, what next?
Provided everything is going according to plan, your opposing team's second tower top lane will crumble before the other two lanes and you'll have died 0 times, maybe once. You'll be ridiculously farmed by this point, hopefully with deathcap and void staff, and maybe a blasting wand as well.
At this point, it's too dangerous to push by yourself, I wouldn't advise it. What you need to do is, and I'm sure this'll be difficult for some of the internet community, but you need to communicate with your team. Tell them you are farmed, tell them you can poke a lane until they're forced to leave or die, tell them you NEED a blue buff a.s.a.p and to group a lane. Nidalee's job is to poke and heal poked teammates. Her heal is around 400 mid-game, enough to mitigate a random spell on one teammate.
But her spear, oh her spears. At this point, around 350AP will make spears do 230 base damage + 65% of 350 so figure 234 PLUS a potential 250% multiplier for max range bringing a grand total to (drum roll): (230+234)x2.5 = 1085! (before resistance)
Those 1k spears against a support / carry that generally builds little to no resistance will chunk their hp in half or more. Continue chucking until someone needs to leave, then hopefully your team can force an engage for a 4v5. Generally, the 4v5 is against 4 poked enemies as well, should be insta-win.
That being said, she's otherwise kinda useless mid-teamfight. Her cougar form should be saved for a W > E > Q combo on an enemy for the kill. Spears, heals, and traps may not feel like enough, but it'll do. You have a heal + buff, a debuff with your trap, and a big nuke (basically any other APs 2-3spell rotation).
Use everything in human form before switching to cougar. Everything Nidalee has is useful, key part of that word being USE.
AP Midalee? Awwwwww yeah.
Scroll down more, it's like two guides in one. This just seperates the two sections. =D
After some trial and error, I feel like Nidalee does much better in mid due to her amazing mobility (especially with movement speed quints) to gank / steal enemy jungle easier / escape ganks mid and waste the jungler's time.
Also because opposing middle lanes are super squishy, like Nidalee =).
Summoner Spells in Middle Lane
Exhaust I'm genuinely torn between this and ignite. If you want to be aggressive in cougar form from level 6 on, get ignite. Otherwise, you shouldn't be close enough to whoever you throw a spear at to ignite them. Thus, exhaust is great for late-game to save carries from bruisers who dive them.
Ignite If you're aggressive with Nidalee and want to guarantee kills, go for it.
Clairvoyance I know right? Who uses this spell? I have once before, and it does come in handy for roaming. Vision of enemies at their tower with low health just increases the likelihood you'll hit a spear. Don't think it's worth not having exhaust / ignite though.
Masteries in Middle Lane
Exactly the same as top. AP masteries long term, slight AD masteries early to ensure great last-hitting.
The bonus here is that we aren't dealing with 60 armor at level 1. Middle lane opponents have tons less armor meaning auto attacks still hurt without sacrificing runes!
Still Next Subject!
Runes in Middle Lane
Pretty much identical.
I run Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed for greater mobility even with delaying level 2 boots until after deathcap. I don't advise ability power quints as we aren't throwing spears from level 1. We start at level 4-5 usually, and by then we can afford some items. The movement speed is a great stat for the entire game. Return to lane quicker, escape ganks, etc. Too useful.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration Magic Penetration also helps the entire game. Runes for middle lane don't really impact her early game, as she can outshine quite a few champions with just her base stats.
Greater Seal of Replenishment For early game mana issues, though I've yet to run into big problems. I've used armor, ability power, etc. and nothing seems to have a huge impact. Seals are up to you.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist Pretty much standard. Early MR buff = less damage.
Edit: You can run flat AP Quints / Glyphs / Seals even and do well in lane. If you want to be super aggressive, I recommend Flat AP runes and Mpen marks, getting 2 points in spear by level 3, and swing for the fences. I've done it before, it can be fun and effective against say Twisted Fate or Cassiopeia (no sustain lanes).
item Purchases in Middle Lane
Nidalee almost always starts with boots and three health potions. Increases her lane sustain, mobility, overall greatness. Her passive + runes + level 1 boots gives her around 425 movement speed. That's more than some with level 2 boots. We won't be using the brush in-lane too often, but to roam it's ideal.
It also allows us to rush big AP items without sacrificing movement speed. I've had deathcap and void staff before finishing Sorceror's Shoes numerous times.
If you're struggling / don't have enough for a Needlessly Large Rod right away, I suggest 2-3 dorans rings. I try to avoid blasting wands first because they're nothing spectacular. Two dorans are much more useful than one blasting wand at just 90g more.
If you're dominating, keep at it. The great thing about squishy opponents is one or two big spears will zone them out / kill them AND a lack of early spell vamp on most will make the damage stick. Big AP items just make it hurt more.
Focus on Rabadon's Deathcap , Void Staff , Lich Bane , Zhonya's Hourglass In roughly that order. Void Staff and Lich Bane can be interchangeable depending on the situation.
**Side note, you'll return with over 1700g at some point in a game. If you have Rabadon's Deathcap already and Zhonya's isn't necessary because AD carries aren't hitting you, buy two Blasting Wand. They build into a variety of options and provide the same AP at a slight 120g cost. I feel I should mention that because it happens more often then you'd think.
Minor Detail about Skill Sequence in Middle Lane
I have what I level up listed nearly 90% of the time. But if harassment is a problem early, take level 2 heal. I wouldn't suggest level 3 because that delays a level 5 spear until champion level 10. But if needed, it's not the end of the world because her cougar Swipe goes off AP as well and at a 0.4 ratio. Not terrible by any means.
Otherwise, decide between trap or heal at level 1 to assist your jungler, then two points in your spear, etc. etc.
Now comes the actual part of the guide -.-
Early Game in Middle Lane
Contrary to the solo top mindset, middle lane in most cases is much more passive early. You'll notice the runes are nowhere near as basic attack, AD oriented. That's because middle lane rarely has any armor runes / never should buy cloth and 5.
Additionally, though Nidalee has amazing basic attack range for her role, it's not larger then most skills AP carries have. So for middle lane, we focus on farming usually until level 4-5. We do have minor attack damage masteries to ensure easy last hitting. Compared to practically every typical AP middle lane, Nidalee has real bad damage pre-6. This works out just fine though, considering we aren't even trying to kill until level 6.
Be prepared to farm at your tower. Nidalee can't push without wasting all her mana pre-6, so just last hit, allow the lane to push, expose your opponent to your jungler. Even with a gank though, kills are hard to come by. Last hitting at tower requires some practice, but is easy.
Two basic attacks and one tower hit OR one javelin toss after tower hit for caster minions
Two basic attacks and two tower hits for melee minions (in most cases)
If you're unsure about seige minions, don't be afraid to use your Q to ensure the last hit. This build maxes her spear by level 9, so use it sparingly at first, but toss at will with blue buff (which is exclusively yours now that you're middle lane).
Try not to leave lane until your opponent does so first, which is easy in most cases because of your ridiculous sustain early. Even with just level 1 heal and 3 health pots, you take minimal damage because you can safely farm with basic attacks. Doing this puts you at a big advantage to force missed CS / experience when they're forced to return.
Post-level 6 in Middle Lane
You're not entirely invincible =O
Shocking I know, but Nidalee is still vulnerable even with wards. There are too many alleys for ganking attempts to have full vision. Combine this with an AP mid's ability to 100% to 0% you in one full combo + ignite, which they almost always have, and you are still capable of being killed. It's just really difficult now =P.
Generally you'll want to ward one side of the river and stick very close to it. Middle lane occasionally carries hard CC (stun, silence, or even suppression), so you're STILL not completely safe. But at level 6, you become scary. With the AP and health from 1-3 dorans rings and the MR / Armor bonus from our ult, cougar form turns you into a threat.
Ideally, you can start pushing the lane without much penalty. If they can combo their 2-3 non-ultmate skills easily and/or can hit you with that hard CC easily, you'll tend to stay back. This includes but is not limited to champions like Twisted Fate Sion Kassadin Morgana or Ryze. It seems like a ton of champions hurt her, but to be honest, as of the upcoming Lulu patch, 2-3 AP mid's that hurt Nidalee are banned almost every game. That being said, take note of your opponent and what you can do safely.
The same combinations listed in the solo top section apply here, but be wary about engaging on an AP mid with their ult up. The beauty of Nidalee is her ult does the same damage as other champions (her entire W > E > Q arsenal = a Kennen ult that hits you 3 times) BUT it's spammable because the cooldowns are at most five seconds. This means you can dish out some heavy damage to a squishy opponent, which most are early game. Her flaw is the lack of CC to prevent escape or to get an opponent off you, thus why paying attention to their cooldowns is important too.
After you have some AP and rank 3-4 spear, you can start throwing a maximum range spear at the enemy wraith camp for some free gold/exp. It's easy to hit since they don't move, and warding the area will allow you to get it before the enemy jungler. Stealing the big wraith constantly adds up.
In short, get blue around this point, chunk with spears, zone and/or kill when they get very low. Ignite on AP Nidalee mid is ideal for an early kill or two.
Roaming from Middle Lane
One of her strong suits for sure - mobility
Contrary to top lane, getting the first and second tower is always a great idea because you have numerous options of escape mid-lane.
Nidalee isn't the greatest candidate for ganking as she has zero CC, but she is phenomenal at being everywhere in 5-10 seconds. Good mini-map awareness will show you when there's a fight breaking out either bottom or top lane and with multiple brushes / pounce on a 3 second cooldown, you'll be there to throw spears in no time. If you see a lane of your teams getting pushed hard, don't hesitate to push yours with a few W > E > Q combos then start heading that way. A maximum range spear is slightly easier to hit if the enemy isn't expecting one.
Landing a spear usually backs them off or allows an engage onto them for a kill / forced recall. Even missing a spear tells them that you're nearby and to be careful. You can usually get back to middle lane before missing exp as well. Nidalee is, in essence, a Kassadin that doesn't get banned with more damage (if everything hits).
Probable Opponents in Middle Lane
Here we go again -.-
I'll list the most common match-ups in no particular order and attempting to color code for difficulty.
Twisted Fate I hate him. With a passion. He pushes better, has great mobility with his ultimate, great ratios, and hard CC. An all around Nidalee nightmare. His auto attack range is either the same or greater, and his CC is not a skillshot so it will definitely hit you. With blue, he'll wild card your entire wave, then red card it and get 6 CS. I'd say without a doubt he's a hard counter if played properly.
Against him, just farm and call for ganks. Thankfully, he's somewhat easy to gank with his cooldown up and very squishy. Keep farming, throw spears from a safe distance, and if one connects you can usually push that advantage. TF builds are generally AP heavy and thus, prone to be chunked easily. I don't remember them getting spell vamp often either. Try to avoid leaving lane for a long period of time. He can and will push towers down.
Morgana She's a pain for everyone it seems, Nidalee no different. The only benefit is that she uses her soil to farm instead of harass, so you can theoretically chip her with auto attacks at no threat. The moment she lands a binding though, good lord. She dumps everything into it and you end up taking 85 to 100%. Annoying but effective. As of Lulu's patch, she's banned quite often.
Against her, farm early and, if she misses a binding, you have roughly five seconds to free-push. She's almost immovable, but the reoccuring theme here is throw spears from level 5 on from a SAFE distance. Nidalee's skillshot has a big range, so use it. The passive spell vamp sucks, but isn't unbeatable by any means. Ganks are great if she uses her binding on something else (you, usually).
Quick-tip, heal yourself immediately if you get by a binding. Most Morgana's will combo a binding every time, which includes ignite. Don't let her ignite you before you heal.
Sion isn't as bad as you would think, but he can be a problem still. The hard CC coupled with very big damage means zoning is possible, but one jungler gank usually puts Sion in his place. That being said, Sions get their shield first to my knowledge, so force him to use it to negate your basic attack pokes. Because he's melee, he has to come in for last hits, while you can sit a little further back. Ideally you want him out of mana by level 4 or 5 so he either needs a blue buff from his jungler or has to recall. Be very careful when engaging him, the stun will leave you vulnerable to the enemy jungler and thus, in a very bad position.
Against him, make sure you last hit as well as humanly possible, because his shield makes last hitting on his side laughable. You don't want to fall behind in farm, so be sure to steal his sides wraiths, at least the blue one, as often as possible. It'll cut a large amount of income from Sion and make his entire combo that much less effective. Sion tends to run boots of mobility so keep tabs on him the entire game for your team. His ganks are obnoxious. If you can pop his shield with your spear, attempt to do so. It annoys them, and in the end he ends up losing more mana then you do.
Kassadin I've only played one recently because he's constantly banned, with good reason I suppose. Kassadin is a pain but Nidalee doesn't do too bad against him. Basic attacks early really cut down on his ability to farm because, like Sion, he's melee range. Force him early to harass or farm with his Q and waste mana. The earlier the harass, the more mana he uses for less damage. When he get's blue, play it a little careful. Much like Morgana, if you see that silencing ball of doom coming your way, try to pop a heal on yourself (ALT + E for insta-self cast). Entire combos from Kass are painful, and he's real annoying to land spears on / catch in any combination. Try your best.
Against him, harass early, farm later, try to deny him that Rod of Ages as long as possible. Also, ward his blue around 7 minutes if possible. Attempt to steal it as well, as a Kass without blue is wayyy less scary. Use cougar for farming mostly, harassing Kass is difficult post-6, better to just focus on CS.
Cassiopeia Generally a threat, I think Nid deals with her quite well. She has the most disgusting dps in the game, so if you're poisoned, don't stand near her. Common sense yes, but we forget to use it sometimes. Nidalee is mobile enough to make dodging her Q a little easier, so punish missed noxious blasts or if she uses them on the minions. Good Cass players, I think, get level 2 boots early, so keep that in mind. She may be a little quicker with level 2 then you are with level 1.
Against her, last hit as best you can. Punish her misses and respect when she hits, you have to be sure you don't take more than 1 of those fang nukes. Junglers should help as she has no hard CC and overextends often; Cass players keep their passive at 5 stacks almost always to avoid mana issues, so that inevitably leads to a pushed lane. Don't engage her at full hp when she's level 6. Her ult combined with the plethora of other damage means she'll come out on top every time. Try wittling her down to 65%- before trying anything even remotely fancy. All about dodging skillshots.
Ahri is not as bad as most think; I consider her a less scary Cassiopeia. Her skillshots are easier to recognize and dodge nor do they do as much damage as Cass. The taunt can be an issue if it lands, so try not to let it. Her passive spell vamp is a less annoying version of Morgana as well, so it's manageable. If she ever runs dorans ring first, go out of your way a bit to poke at level 1 to ensure the potential to zone. Your sustain is better by miles.
Against her, make sure you last hit more efficiently. She, in my opinion, does more for a team with less farm then you do. At 6 be careful of her entire combination as the three charges of her ult can hurt. I tend to, if I got caught in the entire combination, pounce in the direction she came from. You can't outrun her ult, so you need to change directions at least. If her ult is down, and you know this for a fact, feel free to harass in cougar or human form. Her non-ultimate skills don't do as much as your cougar abilities and you can negate some of the damage after you back away.
Kennen The only reason Kennen ranks at orange is because his ult makes it so difficult to run away. Without his ult, Kennen is easy to dodge around and harass at will. Cougar and spears land easy because most Kennen players, including myself, build a Will of the Ancients before level 2 boots. His mobility is poop while yours is spectacular. Use that advantage.
Against him, stay near your minions to avoid getting hit by his Q. I feel like, if both teams stay positioned well, Nidalee has the edge in poking because of the range. That being said, nobody positions perfect so Kennen will get some glorious ults once in awhile. Hope your support picked Alistair to punt him away and continue throwing spears for half his health. Farming is easier for Nid so be sure to push him. Pushing has that added side effect of leaving him without minions to hide behind. Throw spears for days.
Annie Much like Kennen, a very weak orange. Her only real kill potential comes from a poorly positioned you and a full combination post level 6. Your sustain, poke, and farming are infinitely easier, so it's a very easy lane if you aren't too focused on getting a kill constantly. Because her spell ranges are so short, you aren't in very much danger. Keep an eye on her passive stacks because 4 stacks won't show the stun but you will be stunned afterwards, and Annie combos her spells very well.
Against her, you don't need to worry about harass from her because of her range, so last hitting is easy. She's not the best under tower, so push and keep an eye out for junglers. Even after 6, you're more mobile and threaten her tower if she leaves lane ever (thanks to Demolitionist ). Force her to stay put while you run around spearing random jungle minions and enemy champions at will. Enjoy.
Zyra The New OP of middle lane. Nidalee fairs quite well against her usually. Mobility allows dodging the snare, and if you get hit by her aoe without being snared, that's your fault. =) Her burst is ridiculous, base damage is too good and her plants actually hurt. Stay far, far away from her early, and throw spears if she approaches you. No sustain outside of health pots, they usually won't buy early revolvers either.
Against her, farming can be rough pre-6. She'll push, do your best to take every CS under tower. Call MIA every time, she will roam eventually. If she misses her AoE or especially, her ultimate, you can be more aggressive, but her plants can still kill you. Stay safe and farm/roam better then she does, your spears can eventually chunk her to 50% or even 30% with a good one. Immobile Zyra = easy target.
Gragas I have little or no trouble with Gragas. His skillshot is easy to dodge, his charge is slow and predictable, and his sustain is meh in comparison. His ult is dangerous but at a certain point you don't even need to worry about being close enough for him to use it. Your spear >>> his barrel. And since he's melee as well, harass isn't difficult. If he farms with his barrel, make him pay.
Against him, look to kill after 1-2 spears. He's easily zoned if he has low hp because Gragas doesn't build spell vamp early, he just hopes his passive is enough. Try not to miss CS for dumb reasons, as he is still a better burst AP then Nidalee, imo. That ultimate decides teamfights so easily. All in all though, easy lane.
Xerath He's not the strongest, but he's like an Ahri that matches your range. The kicker is when he uses the move that roots him in place, he's a sitting duck for big spears. Good Xeraths will use it behind minions. An entire combo after level 6 is practically instant death, so avoid at all costs. But if/when he misses his Q, he should take some harass for it.
Against him, farming is simple, harassment is diffcult. Pushing, however, is easy if skillshots are dodged and thus, beneficial. A Xerath under tower is not going to CS well. Merc treads are a strong possibility to prevent all 3 ultimate charges from hitting with certainty, provided he's not the only reason for them. Don't make it too obvious that you're going to pounce into a minion wave or else you may be screwed. Keep him guessing.
Ryze I'll be honest, I'm surprised people don't play him more often. Ryze is dangerous mid-lane, especially with blue. Against Nidalee, no different. His snare range is close to if not equal to her auto range and his burst is scary. Combine that with no need for AP (he can build MR relatively early) and suddenly he's the most difficult mage to kill. I tend to ban him just incase, but he's nowhere near as popular a ban as Kassadin/Morgana, so it's worth noting.
Against him, farm as safely as you can, as you're most likely to take 3-5 spells instead of 1 for harassment. Typical builds for Ryze are boots, tear, catalyst, then a negatron cloak. Killing him is usually out of the question. A great ryze will last hit early, get blue, then push you to tower constantly. In all cases of dangerous lanes, try to hit spears as best you can, which usually involves clearing the minion wave. You'll probably need to level heal up to 3 or even 4. Thankfully, you are more mobile then he is, so look for opportunities of kills elsewhere, and match his farm every step of the way. Do not, under most circumstances, aim to kill him in lane. It's tough and too risky.
Veigar Good veigars are painful, bad veigars are fodder. He's so squishy that you can chip him to death, his lack of spell vamp means damage sticks easily, and his use of Q to farm means his harass is limited. Still, at level 6, he's bound to kill you once or twice. If he knows how to farm well, he also ends up with a good chunk of AP his first time recalling. I would suggest not underestimating his damage early because it can be devastating. I've been killed at level 3 because a full AP rune page veigar hit two Baleful Strikes and ignited me.
Against him, make sure your trades are worthwhile. If you get an auto attack and he gets a Q, he wins. Staying equal to him in farm is ideal, and getting him to use his mana on harassment SAFELY is great too. Stun is usually up at level 4, so keep an eye out for it. If he blows his stun and misses, which is hard to do, I would advise making him pay for it. It's not always possible though, because that stun creates a huge zone. Merc treads are a good idea against Veigar actually, or at the very least a Moonflair Spellblade, or whatever that tenacity item is. It lets you avoid his big damage AoE spell if you get stunned and react quickly enough.
Katarina I don't fight many mid, but when I do, they're usually good. And a good Katarina makes a good Nidalee look like a 750 ELO Eve mid. Her harass range is extended due to the bouncing blades, and they hurt after level 5. Her weakness is definitely her early game, 1-3 maybe even level 4 and 5. No range = free poke. If she ever jumps on you to do damage before level 6, she should eat a ton more harass unless she all ins. Even then, you have the advantage of a heal that gives you a buff and a decent nuke if you land a spear. After 6, things get a little scary.
She can burn your flash relatively easily if she has either Bilgewater Cutlass or Hextech Gunblade. Slows you, ults, you either flash or die. One pounce won't get you very far away, unless you pounce the opposite direction in which case you're in a very bad position. Prior to her having those items though, no CC means you'll be fine. Don't stay with below 60% HP, she can still kill you with only say .5 seconds of a channeled ult and her Q + E + Ignite. All in all, push her around early, get pushed around later, and your spears are rarely going to hit, so don't rely on them.
Talon mid isn't necessarily common, but happens, and he poops on Nidalee if played correctly. You don't have much room to work with as far as poking him goes, as he loves to blink in and silence. Passive Talons are pretty easy to lane against, but also very rare, so don't expect a farm-fest.
Against him, honestly, just farm to 6 a.s.a.p. I almost always get level 2 heal before spear, because harassment is what he does. At 6, you can outpush him usually, though be very careful of his ult. It hurts :(. Keep a jungler notified of when you think he'll jump you, usually below 70% health or so. Talons get in a very bad position after their combinations. An early Chain Vest can do wonders.
LeBlanc Bursty, squishy, all kinds of annoying. I have rushed a negatron cloak a few times to counter the ridiculous harass when she gets blue. Because Nidalee can farm well, I've also gotten 3 Dorans Rings, a negatron claok, and left the fifth spot open to buy a deathcap whenever I got the gold (1600 for Needlessly Large Rod, then 2000 to finish). You never, ever want to feed LeBlanc, she ends up nuking even your tanks before the teamfight starts.
Against her, make a huge effort to prevent her from getting blue. This does involve warding and letting your jungler know you want to steal it. If she has the mana and cooldowns, her spell range is practically doubled, as she usually blinks in and throws her Q and possible ult at you. If she has blue, respect her damage and stay very far back. If she zones, call for a gank as soon as possible. Call your mia every time possible; LeBlanc needs kills to be extremely effective.
Brand Again, orange because of his amazing burst. But in actuality, if you avoid the skillshots, he's meh. Like all AP, with blue he's annoying. Harass is an ok idea if he gets his AoE first, because it's completely skillshot oriented. If he has his insta-cast, whatever that spell is called (not a brand player), then he wins most trades. Try to avoid standing next to minions on fire after level 2.
Against him, farming is easier then against some. He's generally very slow too, so spears find their way. Stealing wraiths also limits the farm as he can AoE them down at level 4 or so. Straightforward, avoid his damage kind of lane. The double DoT on ignite and his passive can be deceiving when it comes to your last few ticks of HP.
Anivia Man there are a lot of APs... I don't see Anivia that much anymore, which is surprising considering her burst and utility. The amount of damage she puts out when her stun lands is amazing. One hit for her stun passing through you, another for activating on you, then a double damage E. Basically the damage of 4 spells in 2. Combine that with a stun, slow, and a wall? She's very top tier if played correctly.
Against her, I advise keep tabs on the blue buff and at least contest it every time. It's what allows her to spam her ult to clear waves. Makes farming way too easy. Also makes you very vulnerable to harassment. Trying to kill her early is almost worthless if you can't finish the egg as well. Thankfully, Nidalee can usually heal herself and poke it to death without much effort. Again, spears can be thrown from a safe distance.
**Also, your pounce can be misdirected if she places her wall perfectly, so I tend to save it if I feel she's going to place it soon. You never want to pounce towards her when trying to run away...
Karthus He's not as scary as I thought (when I was level 20 or so). Karthus just dies and ults people, and that's if he managed to do enough damage prior to dieing. You're very safe to harass and farm, considering his only poke is a skillshot with a noticeable delay. Staying around minions makes it easier to hit you, but also cuts the damage in half. If you see his wall come up, don't pounce into it in an attempt to run away. Choose a brush and run =P.
Against him, it's a very easy lane. Farm, harass when you want, spears land because of his lack of mobility, no health sustain, etc. All in all, Nidalee should destroy Karthus in-lane, but he may still be useful just dieing in the middle of a teamfight. Do your best to keep him from farming himself silly.
Swain I personally don't have trouble against Swain with Nidalee, though there can be times he's a pain. His poke does more, his sustain is great at level 6, and his CC can be great if it lands. His entire combo, however, revolves around landing it. You should never be in a position to let it land. Keeping blue from him helps, but isn't as necessary as some.
Against him, you'll usually do more with farm, so last hit efficiently, don't sacrifice harass for CS. If you land two decent spears before he has a chance to heal off a minion wave, zone him. Ignite will drastically cut his healing, so save it for when he ults in most cases.
Vladimir Pretty easy lane, much like solo top but with less a threat of successful ganks in my opinion. The towers so much closer in mid lane, it's great. If you get level 2 heal by level 3, you're at an advantage until level 5. This is because you will heal what damage he does with Transfusion, then have an attack speed buff while hitting him. His sustain is damn good when he gets Revolver and subsequently, will of the ancients. Damage will not stick very long. If you want to land a spear to kill Vlad, wait for his pool. I've had a spear go over his pool a few times, so demoralizing.
Against him, farm and harass are simple. Ganks pre-level 4 are usually effective, though smart Vlads are starting to get their pool at level 2. Don't expect to kill him after level 7 unless your spears are magical, which may be possible because his movement speed suffers until he finishes WoTA (usually). Don't put yourself in a bad position and you'll do fine.
Ziggs He can be a pain in the butt, but everything is skillshot oriented, so avoiding it all is key. The minefield creates a great zone, so walk around it. Keeping blue away from him surprisingly limits Ziggs harass to practically nothing, so make an attempt to steal it early. The only reason I feel he's orange is because the burst is great. All four spells do enough damage, then his passive plus ignite is scary.
Against him, do your best not to take a passive auto attack, because they do add up. Don't stand near your minions too often, as he usually throws a Q to farm. Your sustain is great, his is nonexistant, so trading is usually beneficial regardless (don't trade one basic attack for like 300 damage though -.-). Keep moving, farm up, win game.
Orianna A very supporty AP mid, like Nidalee, but way less dangerous. Her combo revolves around landing a Q, and it's a pretty noticable skillshot. Usually after missing a Q, you can harass, but don't stick around long enough to eat multiple auto attacks.
Against her, don't do anything fancy, and you'll win the farm war. Nothing about her is too scary in comparison to other AP mid, so don't panic, you can win easily. Call for help if you need it, ward, and you'll be ahead in no time.
Mordekaiser He can be a pain, but not if you play correctly. He's melee and the only harass he has is minimal in range. The push is annoying, but stops at level 6 because you can match his AoE damage. Stealing wraiths in this match is a great idea, considering he'll take them if you don't. I've stolen the blue wraith while he was doing them, that's always fun. I would advise warding wraiths at some point in the laning phase. Blue doesn't limit Morde, so don't go completely out of your way to stop it.
Agsinst him, last hitting under tower is necessary. He'll attempt to push every time, so have your jungler swing by early. If you chunk Mordekaiser enough early, he won't spam as often at the cost of health. Junglers that have big damage early, someone like Nocturne or Jarvan really help. You'll outshine him when you have equal farm because 1-2 spears will hurt him bad/kill him outright, whereas he needs to be close to do any damage to someone.
Lux Everything Lux has, I feel, is better supporting bot lane. Her ratios are good, and range is fanastic, but hitting the skillshots can be difficult on mobile opponents, i.e. Nidalee. Add to that her lack of sustain and blue dependency and I think she's an easy lane, personally. Lux has moments though, everyone does. Don't feed her otherwise she becomes very, very bursty.
Against her, I try to push early to make her use spells to keep up in farm rather then harassment. I never stand near my minions as that's just asking to be hit. Provided you do get hit, and you probably will a few times, don't give her the free auto-attack. Her passive can hurt. Much like Vlad or Gragas, she isn't very mobile and has no dash/blink to dodge a well-thrown spear. She does have a shield, but that only mitigates some damage in comparison to how much the spear does. Farm well, zone her as best you can, and keep good mini-map awareness as always.
Heimerdinger He just.. pushes. All day. Heimer annoys you and makes you miss CS more than anything. He won't kill you because he only poke, those rockets, can be negated with a heal. That grenade moves too slow to be a bother. Farming at tower is going to be so, so very key here.
Against him, I will do my best to keep up in farm. His turrets do give gold on a last hit, so try to. The threat of a kill here is minimal, so I've seen quite a few Heimer players run something other than Ignite. Teleport is a pain, Heal may be even worse. Make note of his summoners. He'll often hide behind waves of minions, so find time to scare him with spears. Usually, if I hit one decent spear, I'll ask a jungler to make an attempt at a kill. Heimers seem glued to their turrets, so be sure to keep the turrets in check.
Fizz He can get very scary very fast. For some reason I haven't played against one recently where I haven't been 100% to 0% at least once. His entire combination just ticks away at your health and he can do it practically free of charge until level 6. Your auto attacks won't hurt too much, and certainly not enough to dissuade him from engaging every opporunity. Farm well, best of luck =P
Against him, I will ask the jungler, who hopefully can put out some damage, to babysit middle. Any time Fizz jumps in for his combination, it leaves him out of position. If your jungler is competent enough to wait out Fizz's trickster, you're practically guarenteed to burn a flash / get a kill. Be warned though, a good enemy jungler will counter-gank after the first visit. If the enemy team picked Fizz, I'd say leave the mid lane to somebody better suited. If he picked after you, I would suggest a flat AP rune page and try to connect spears early. He has no sustain outside of health pots.
Malzahar If you can farm at tower, you'll be more then fine. Malz just pushes and farms really easy. His harassment is nothing special unless you walk into his silence. Don't do that. You can poke, but try not to trade, he'll come out ahead. He's one opponent you don't want to engage on after level 6. That ult leaves you very vulnerable. But otherwise, you can sit safely back and try to land spears for days. There's no real way he can outrange you, so enjoy it.
Against him, pay close attention to his cooldowns + ultimate timer. If you even think his ult is up, don't dive into him with Cougar form. Keep tabs on him as well for your teammates sake, a Malz ult bottom lane can really be a pain in the butt. Ward, be safe, and don't worry too much about him. After his entire combo is exhausted, he really doesn't pose much a threat outside of the occasional DoT. Should be a straightforward lane.
Viktor I don't see many Viktor players, and the ones that do come out of hiding aren't well practiced. A great Vik is hard to beat, but that's only if he's AMAZING. Your pounce gets you out of his stun unless he places it near perfect. His death ray is easy to react to, especially in cougar form with pounce. His only non-skillshot move barely hurts until level 10 or 12 because most level up the death ray first.
I will give Viktor credit though, if you try to pounce at him, his ult can shut you down hard. An ult with his AoE slow/stun all but guarentees a kill. That's really his only threat though, provided you dodge skillshots. Even being ganked by the likes of Udyr and Nocturne seem less threatening if Viktor is mid. All in all, you last hit effectively and throw spears from level 5 on. Two connect and he's virtually out of commission.
Against him, focus on dodging his harass while maintaining decent CS. You can make up missed CS by taking the wraiths and wolves after level 6. He's not nearly as mobile as some champs, so should be target practice. He isn't a difficult mid for our own AP Midalee. Enjoy!
If I forgot anyone/left anything out, let me know please, will take it into consideration. And will add more as I find out.
Spectator mode =O
As of 5-2-12:
Spectator mode allows you to watch games of anyone on your friends list. That being said, feel free to add me if you want, IGN Whooooooooooooa (12 o's), and spectate whenever I'm playing Nidalee. I'm happy to accept. I'm no professional streamer, but then games are funny at times.
Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Matt, the administrator here at MOBAfire for sending me a backup of my guide when it was inexplicably deleted. But now we're up and running again!
Also thanks to the forums for the help they provided, and the community for the feedback thus far. Much appreciated, everyone :).
As of 10-18-12:
*Added Cooldown reduction boots as an option. Viable if the enemy team isn't CC heavy / the jungler hasn't made many stops top.
*Added further explanation of Guinsoo's Rageblade
*Finished 1v1 section for now, awaiting input for ocmmunity =P
*Added Archangel's staff as an option. I've used it 3 games in a row now, provides the mana needed to continously poke without stealing blue buff from say a Morgana (or Kass or Anivia, in my case)
*Deleted "Harassing at enemy tower" section and replaced with "Stealing enemy jungle / dragon / baron buffs"
*Tweaked Items section a little bit per request, went into a little more detail on when to get what items.
*Finished, for now, AP Midalee section, awaiting any feedback from the community
*Finished 1v1 section for middle lane, for now =D
*Darius added to solo top section, Nid is getting outclassed top so mid seems best for her at the moment =D.
*With the addition of spectator mode, I will accept friend requests as I see them. If you see me playing a Nidalee game, feel free to spectate =D.
*Jayce and Zyra section added, but nothing new for Nidalee. No buffs, no nerfs, still the same old lovable javelin tosser.
*Revamped the guide to what I've started using/seeing in games. Proves more effective then previous ideas. No nerfs incoming to Nidalee yet, she's still as fun as ever.