Nidalee Build Guide by th3BlackAngel

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League of Legends Build Guide Author th3BlackAngel

Nidalee - Olympic Gold Medalist (Javelin Toss)

th3BlackAngel Last updated on August 4, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

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This guide is my way of building Nidalee. She is immensely fun to play as, has great lane sustainability (both 2v2, 1v1 or 1v2), and does a huge burst damage due to her spear + cougar combo. Nidalee can literally 2 shot almost any other carry in the game. She is by far my favorite champion to play as, so I decided to share the way I build her with the community.

Thanks to jhoijhoi for the banner

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This is an AP build for Nidalee. While most people, and indeed the pros (Hotshot), start off with Primal Surge / Swipe I focus alot more on Javelin Toss / Takedown, because for me that is the best part about her. You can't imagine how good it feels to kill an enemy blue pilling at tower who has 25% - 50% hp while you are too low (or lazy) to dive.


    Amazing Poker
    Amazing Healer
    Great Pusher
    Awsome Mobility (especially through jungle)
    Inmense Burst Damage
    Fun to play as

    Medium/ High Skill Curve
    Easily brought down if CC'd

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Summoner Spells

Best Summoner Spells for Nidalee

Great Summoner, can get you safely out of a bad situation, or get you in close enough for a kill. Great with this, you can outrun anyone, yes even that ********ed Yi (if you activate your passive by walking through brushes). Although Nidalee's mobility is amazing on its own, I recommend this.

Ignite is a good Summoner, great for early game and securing first blood, and a good counter against some champions (i.e. Swain & Warwick). This spell is really strong when you are facing a lane that you can poke, becuase your pokes can get people low enough for a Flash + Ignite and warrant you a kill.
Flash is the best Summoner Spell IMO. It allows you to postion yourself for kills, get out of harms way, or catch up/escape enemies. Perfect for ganking, and perfect for Nidalee becuase you can Flash + Bushwhack / Pounce and catch an enemy who thought he was safe. I recommend this.

Cleanse is a great Summoner for squishies, especially those who are more prone to hard CC and need to keep moving to get away or secure a kill. It is great for Nidalee.

Other Good Summoner Spells

Good Summoner, but not the best for Nidalee, since she can outrun most champions and easily gets out of harms way with Bushwhack / Pounce or Flash. Although if there is a Melee, Tanky DPS champion on the other team it will become very useful.
Another good Summoner, and this is actually very good on Nidalee, becuase it allows her to quickly teleport to split push a tower (she is such an amazing pusher). It also helps for teleganking (Teleportng to wards in bush to gank).

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My Runes

This is the exact same runepage I use when playing Nid. Helps with my damage, cooldowns and mana. For this style of play this is what I'd recommend.

Greater Mark of Insight x9
Magic Pen, self explanatory for an AP build, but I'll explain nonetheless. You want your abilities that deal magic damage to penetrate the enemies MR (magic resist).

Greater Glyph of Focus x9
Cooldowns, needed for spamming all your abilites (including the ones in cougar form {except Bushwhack / Pounce}).
Greater Seal of Clarity x9
Mana Regen, Javelin Toss / Takedown and Primal Surge use up alot of your mana pool, and since using Javelin Toss is the main point to this guide, you will need the mana regen.

Greater Quintessence of Potency x3
Flat AP to increase the damage done by your OP spears early game.

Alternate Runes

These are the other runes I'd recommend for the playstyle I use on this guide. I wouldn't vary alot on runes, since switching rune pages around (unless you have more than 3 or 4) is tedious, and not that rewarding IMO.

Greater Quintessence of Fortitude x3
Flat HP for a little bit more survivvability early game. These are my second option for Quints on Nidalee.
Greater Quintessence of DesolationGreater Quintessence of Desolation x3
Armor Pen, more damage on your auto attacks for harrassing and such. I rarely ever use these anymore.

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The best boots for Nidalee IMO. Reduces the duration of CC which, in my opinion, is Nidalee's bane.

AP, simple as that. Boosts your damage by alot, needed by any and all AP carries.

Nidalee's bread and butter, in cougar form you Bushwhack / Pounce +AA, then Primal Surge / Swipe +AA and finally use Javelin Toss / Takedown and do tons of damage.

Build Order

> > > > > > >

So, why this build order you say? Doran's Ring for all the right reasons, AP, HP, and Mana Regen; this is THE starting item for Nidalee. Boots of Speed for the mobility, you can't cross the map just pouncing around as a cat. Sheen boosts your AP and mana pool, and also adds to your AA after using an ability. I always aim for a Needlessly Large Rod after Sheen; its tough, I know, but with decent farm and some nice Javelin throws, you'll be there in no time. Your next item will depend entirely on the enemy team, if they have a lot of cc, get Mercury's Treads early, if they don't have that much CC, but do have a lot of magic damage, get a Null-Magic Mantle to start building those boots and a Blasting Wand for Rabadon's Deathcap. After that finish up the core build and get some survivability, or counters to the enemy picks. There is one thing that I cannot stress enough. If you have 200 gold and extra space in your inventory, get as many Health Potion and Sight Ward as you need (don't exaggerate either). They help, ALOT.

End Game Items/ Situational Items/ Alternate Items

Guinsoo's Rageblade
This is a great early game item for 1v1 situations or when you want to push a tower early, especially on Nidalee since she can easily keep the stacks up in cougar form. If you buy this, get it after Sheen and before Rabadon's Deathcap

Morello's Evil Tome
Great item overall; grants Mana per 5, CDR, and AP. Really worth your buck (or gold or whatever currency LoL uses) late game. I would get this after Lich Bane.

Archangel's Staff
Nidalee simply exploits this item. Her abilities in cougar form allow her to get the bonus Mana from the passive really quickly, so this item is great at any moment for Nid. Great Mana boost and significant AP boost.

Rod of Ages
Great item if you build it early on. Grant a great amount of HP, MP and some AP. All around a good item.
space Void Staff
Great item vs. a team that is stacking MR. If the enemy team isn't stacking MR, this item really loses its worth, because it isn't as effective seeing that its %Mpen. Also boosts your AP.

Banshee's Veil
Great against casters or CC heavy teams, as it will block a spell from an enemy. It gives a good amount of MR and Mana and HP boost.

Glacial Shroud
Simple put, a good item for its cost. Good amount of armor, good amount of mana and CDR. I would not necessarily build it into a Frozen Heart unless their team is really heavy on Melee DPS, since it's passive has effect on an area around you, and you don't necessarily want enemies near you.

Guardian Angel
This and a Banshee's Veil will deal with your survivability issues (if you have any). Armor boost, MR boost, and a passive that revives you, what more could one ask for.

All of these are very good end game items on Nidalee, Situationally, I hope it is clear that if the enemy is heavy on AD, you should go for armor, and that if the enemy is heavy on AP you should go for magic resist.

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Skills Sequence

> > >

As I stated at the start of this guide, I max Javelin Toss / Takedown first. This is due to the insane damage that is dealt once it gets to level 3. You can secure a kill pre-level 6 due to its massive damage and can drop people even at their tower. After some testing and thanks to a suggestion I took it upon myself to get 2 points in Javelin Toss / Takedown and 2 points in Primal Surge / Swipe and one in Bushwhack / Pounce before level 6. Why? Well, upon a suggestion by Pappfisk I got 2 points Javelin Toss / Takedown at level 3, to maximize its harass early on. Then I thought, why not put 2 points in Primal Surge / Swipe earlier too, this way I'll have a good harass and a good heal by level 4. I did so and it worked. So now I get javelin at level 1, heal at level 2, javelin at level 3 and heal at level 4, getting bushwhacks at level 5. Then I follow the priority order at the top.

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Tips & Tricks

Cougar Form, How to Maximize Damage

After getting Lich Bane (and having a good amount of AP), being in cougar form is going to be deadly. Because of Lich Bane's passive, after every skill you use, your attacks will deal 100% of your AP as added damage (this has a 2 second CD). So, what is the trick to maximizing the damage output while in cougar form? Easy:

Bushwhack / Pounce +AA, then (read instantly afterwards) Primal Surge / Swipe +AA, and finish off with Javelin Toss / Takedown. Remember, this is how to maximize damage output in COUGAR FORM only.

Even though Lich Bane's passive still has a 2 second CD, you want to AA after Primal Surge / Swipe, in order to allow it to be ready for Javelin Toss / Takedown.

Why does this maximize damage output? Well, Takedown works quite interestingly. The lower HP your enemy has, the more damage you will deal. So you want to take away as much of the enemies HP as possible before using it.

The Proper Way to Throw a Javelin

Javelin Toss / Takedown is a skillshot that requires good timing and planning on your part in order to hit. You can't just through it directly at an enemy and not expect him to move (especially since Javelin Toss / Takedown does more damage at max range, your targets will be farther off) when he sees this sort-of-slow moving projectile hurtled at him. Sure you might get him off-guard a couple of times, but thats not going to be useful.
The best way to throw this skillshot (and any slow moving skillshot *cough* * Anivia's Flash Frost*) is to predict movement. You have to time when your target will be at the best possible location for your shot (remember you want to maximize range).
I'll show you an example:

Essentially that is what you want to happen, that the target walks into your throw. Tough, but do-able. Generally most good players will be moving at all times in order to make it difficult for you to hit. Not to worry, they always (or most of the time) have a pattern. Keep track of this pattern and you will place some really epic shots. Another think that might help is if YOU get out of sight from him, but keeping him in sight through your creeps or a well placed ward. This can prove effective in getting a kill on an unaware enemy.

Spear-Checking and BushWhacking

Another great thing about Nidalee is that you there is no need to facecheck a bush to see if someone is there. There are a couple of techniques that will help you avoid the need to jump headfirst into a bush hoping not to find Garen there.

First among these is what I like to call spear-checking.
Spear-checking consists of throwing your javelin down the length of a bush and wait for that sound that is our best friend. The re-known *whack* that means that our projectile has hit a target. This allows you to know that there is someone in that bush waiting to jump you.

Second is what I call bushwhacking (clever aren't I).
Bushwhacking consists of dropping a bushwack in a bush. The trick is that certain areas will show the entire bush and its contents :O. That's right, for a split second after you drop the bushwhack if there was an enemy there he will be revealed.

Good Bushwhack Locations

In my opinion Nidalee is one of those ungankable champions. A good Nidalee won't let himself get ganked simply because he covers himself with a handy tool. The bushwhack. When an enemy steps on this intricate boobytrap, it gives you vision of him and an area around him, therefore making it hard for people to gank you if you place these traps well.

I will demonstrate (with red dots) where are some of the best locations to set up bushwhacks in order to not get ganked. These are meant for people who are in lane, in the jungle, bushwhacking is much harder because of so many entrances. I will cover the basic lane trap setup, but the idea is to cover every possible entrance to your lane in order to avoid ganks.

Bot Lane, River and Outer Turret:This setup will show you if anyone walked up to the bush in river and is waiting to gank, or if someone is coming to gank from red.

Bot Lane, Inner Turret and Outer Turret:This setup allows you to feel safer as you walk between these locations (in case you are pushing or the outer turret has been destroyed).

Bot Lane, Inhibitor Turret:Self explanatory by this point. One thing I want to point out though is that just becasue you are pushed back to your inhib tower, or have pushed back to the enemies inhib tower, it does not mean that you will be safe just putting bushwacks right there. Remember, ganks are more effective if they cut you out of your turret, so keep setting up traps along the way.

Mid Lane, River:
This trap setup is to keep you safe in mid, will detect anyone who tries to come and gank.
Repeat on the top side too (inversing it obviously to keep the traps in the correct places.

I will not keep showing you were to put them, rather I'll let your imagination flow after you've seen the basics. But always remember, set traps on the entrances to the lane you are pushing. NOTE: Bushwhacks do not replace Sight Ward, wards give you visibility around an area, whereas bushwhacks give you visibility only if someone stepped on the trap. Do not think you are safe simply becuase you've bushwhacked the entire river. If the enemy is fast enough and you have pushed far enough into their territory, bushwhacks wont save you.

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After level 6 Nidalee is quite an effective jungler. She can solo Dragon at level 11 (if properly itemized) and clear blue and red buffs with great speed.

The way to attack the creeps in the jungle is very easy.
Wraiths, Wolves and Small Golems are pretty straight foreward. In cougar form, Bushwhack / Pounce in between all the creeps and then use Primal Surge / Swipe, finish off with Javelin Toss / Takedown and AA any creeps left.

For the Buffs:
The Buffs are more difficult since they are more durable and deal more damage. The proper way is to put a Bushwhack under the buff monster(lizard or golem) AA once, heal and switch to cougar form. Do the cougar combo 3 or 4 times (depending on CD). Turn back into human and repeat the process, hitting the monster(golem or lizard) with a javelin before healing and turning into cougar form. I will demonstrate with the blue buff, but the same concept aplies to red.

For Dragon:
I wouldn't recommend soloing dragon, mainly because you are squishy and if an enemy finds you worn down by dragon you are dead. Its the same concept as with blue and red buffs, but because the dragons's attack reduces your AS it is best if you have a Guinsoo's Rageblade for this.

What am I saying with this? I'm saying that if you don't have a jungler and you feel you can leave your lane to jungle for a bit (get buffs mainly) do so. I'm in no way encouraging anyone to do a full on Jungle Nidalee.

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End Note

Well, from here on out it's all up to you (whoever you are). I've made this build work for me, and hopefully it will work for you too. This in my opinion is the most fun/versatile way of playing Nidalee. Have fun, good luck and good hunting. :D

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7/8/2011 - Nidalee - Olypic Gold Medalist (Javelin Toss) guide published.

7/9/2011 - Changed Skill Sequence to attain 2 Points in Javelin Toss by level 3 and 2 Points in Primal Surge by level 4.

7/12/2011 - Reformatted some portions of the guide (columns), added some color, and added two situational items (RoA & Glacial Shroud). Updated latest Nidalee Game Screenshot.

8/2/2011 - Switched Morello's Evil Tome from end game item to core and Guinsoo's Rageblade frome core to situational. Cleared some formatting issues.

8/3/2011 - Switched Morello's Evil Tome back to end game item. Added other ideas on how to throw a spear properly. More videos coming soon.