Nocturne Build Guide by Nightstormer
Not Updated For Current Season
Hello, my name is Nightstormer and I main jungle Nocturne and have done so since single digit summoner level. I have visited Mobafire for some time and decided it was time to post my builds in the hopes of receiving some feedback. These are the 3 builds I tend to use in games. The first build is based on what I've gleaned from high elo streams and pro guides that I have modified for use in games that tend to draw out longer, the second is my "Tankturne" build used if the team has a weak main tank/tank DC's/tank sucks. The final build is pure glass cannon Nocturne, used for playing in an arranged environment and focusing on rapid jungle clearing and absurd damage. I also use it in solo queue if I am the primary damage dealer and my team has reasonable cc.
I have tested out these builds following jungle changes. They are now weaker relative to laners but stronger relative to almost all other junglers. I sustain the carry build you will now probably need to go for a number of successful ganks, however, Nocturne's ganking strength is much higher I would say now. Either way, it is now possible but more difficult.
Pros and Cons
Nocturne is a very strong champion, a tier 1 champ for solo queue, draft pick, and jungling according to CLG's Reign of Gaming. Accordingly, this list will contain more pros. He is a strong choice for a jungler and if you are jungling with first pick is the ideal choice (to force counter picking and have an all-around strong jungle). He also has a relatively strong lane which, while not the focus of the guide, comes in handy when covering lanes or assisting in contested pushes.
Tier 1 Jungle
Strong early, mid, and late game
High degree of build malleability
Extremely high damage capacity
Has a hard CC (unlike Tryndamere, Master Yi
Difficult to CC with Shroud of Darkness
NOT a true tanky dps-> must sacrifice damage for survivability (more than pure tanky dps like Irelia, etc)
NOT a control jungler-> Lee Sin can mess you up
Melee-> forced into the fray in teamfights
Basically, Nocturne is naturally good at an anticarry role, can fit a carry role, and if needed can become a decent, if not ideal, tank.
I selected my runes on the basis that they could be used for any physical damage character, especially junglers, but also planning for late game damage capability.
Marks and Quints
Greater Mark of Desolation and Greater Quintessence of Desolation
Armor penetration is used here because late game it tends to provide the highest damage increase (larger because of how it works with percent damage increase). % Crit damage runes exceed armor runes on zero armor targets but if you're facing zero armor targets you are going to win anyways. This is also something of a concession to the rise in tanky dps and general increase in armor among the damage dealers that Nocturne focuses.
Greater Seal of Armor
Armor is used for a safer jungle clear. I have heard that dodge seals can also be used but I recommend armor for 2 reasons:
1) No RNG. I expect my jungle routes to work 100% of the time. Even if dodge provided an on average higher damage reduction I would use armor for this reason.
2) Stronger invasion. With armor I can invade with greater confidence due to the predictable nature of damage intake.
I also prefer armor against players late game because of the no RNG aspect.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
I use mr/level glyphs because I tend to be attacking mages quite often due to the strength of Nocturne's spell absorb. In the glass canon build (if I know I'm going to be using it) I change to attack speed for faster jungle clear and higher end game damage. CDR glyphs would also be strong with Duskbringer.
If you're looking to use different runes with jungle Noc just try it out in a custom. A lot of things work if you have some arpen and some damage reduction. At low summoner level I used a full armor rune page for safer clears, there's a lot of options due to the strength of his jungle.
I generally use 21/0/9 picking up full offensive masteries for faster clears and stronger late damage and the mandatory jungler XP increase in utility. If I know I'm going to be play tanky I will switch to defensive masteries, mainly for the health to tower dive in ganks and maintain higher jungle health with less damage output and for the 4% reduction late game. Tankturne can be played with the offensive masteries if you start a game THEN find out you'll probably be tanking.
Masteries are pretty much personal choice other than improved smite, armor penetration in offense and awareness in utility. Full utility builds to get lower flash cooldown and move speed are also viable as are combo builds of any kind. I simply recommend full offensive for clear speed and full defense for tanking on a not entirely innately tanky champion.
Games are won by creep score more than almost anything (with champ kills worth about 18 creep score). As such, it is important to farm on Nocturne.
Jungle Nocturne starts farming from level 1 in the jungle. There are many different jungle routes on Nocturne and due to his strong early game I recommend carry out invasions if you think you can pull them off to both increase your own farm and reduce enemy farm, so I won't recommend a single route. If you want a defined route, I recommend finding Stonewall008 on YouTube. Due to your gank strength, try to set up strong ganks when the jungle is clear and invasions can't be safely performed. However, ensure above all else to stay at a reasonable level to not become a liability to your team.
In mid game, teamfights begin breaking out and turrets become priority targets. Nocturne doesn't have an exceptionally strong poke (though spamming Duskbringer with blue buff can fulfill a poke role) so I usually push another lane attempting to get turrets (backdooring).
This accomplishes a number of things:
1) The enemy team will be forced to send a stronger champ to stop you (as you can just outright kill many champs) or to send multiple champs, preventing your team from having a numerical disadvantage. You can almost always get to teamfights quicker as well due to Paranoia, giving your team a numerical advantage.
2) The name of this section- farm. Having a lane to yourself increases your farm relative to people tied down in mid and sets you up for a strong late game.
3) Having lanes pushed and towers downed confers greater map control.
It is important to protect this pushing with wards. This can also give control of the enemy jungle for a further farm advantage.
I would also like to take a moment to talk about how good Nocturne is at farming. Due to his passive Umbral Blades and the aoe nature of Duskbringer, Nocturne can clear a creep wave in a matter of seconds. This makes him a very fast pusher (just don't try to outpush Master Yi and Sivir) and an excellent farmer. Unless you're up against a crazy farm champ like Mordekaiser you should probably have the highest creep score in the game starting in mid game.
In late game Nocturne clears creep waves and jungle camps in seconds. Protect farming with wards and keep farming all game to maintain an item advantage over the enemy team. Split pushing becomes viable at level 16 with rank 3 Paranoia so don't be afraid to run off, nuke a tower, and if a teamfight breaks out, ult back and nuke their carry. Again, use wards to ensure you don't eat a 1v5 gank and force your team into a 4v5 or a baron loss.
Farm wins games, so always be farming either creeps or the enemy team.
Items- Build 1: Balanced Nocturne
I start with Cloth Armor + 5 Health Potion and then immediately invade. If you don't want to invade, start with Vampiric Scepter. Recall when you have enough gold for the opposite item. You should probably grab a few health pots and wards every time you recall. After Cloth Armor and Vampiric Scepter choose to either rush Wriggle's Lantern or get Boots of Speed depending on how your lanes are doing and how strong ganks need to be vs. jungle clear speed. Once I buy Boots of Speed I usually pick up Avarice Blade and then, again depending on lane health, choose to either complete Mercury's Treads immediately, after The Brutalizer, or after Youmuu's Ghostblade. I ALWAYS use Mercury's Treads in this build due to the strength of tenacity and magic resist. If you're playing against a team where you could use Berserker's Greaves because they have no CC, you may want to look at glass canon build instead.
Wriggle's, boots, and Yoyo's constitute the "core items" in this build.
After I build these items:
I generally build a Phage so I can start donating red and have a slow when red isn't up. If your team has no one else that would extensively benefit from red, I usually just build giant's belt to beef up a little bit. When able I turn it into Frozen Mallet for a more reliable slow. It can also turn into Trinity Force if you're snowballing well.
I generally build a Guardian Angel. This item has 3 purposes:
1) Make the enemy less likely to attack you. If they have to kill you twice, they may choose to try to chase your support across the map or something that let's you dps longer.
2) Make you tankier. You will be getting hit, if at bare minimum by aoe. This should allow you to stay at full health with lifesteal unless focus and survive long enough to at least kill a primary enemy damage dealer if focused.
3) Allow you to initiate. Sometimes, even if you have a solid tank, they'll be caught on the other side of the map, dead, low health, etc. while the enemy team is rushing an inhibitor, at baron, or badly out of position. With the angel up, the you can ult onto a carry, nuke them, "die" and then be back up to deal damage again with your team now at a numerical advantage. This is the primary reason I take the angel over the aegis.
Gold permitting I upgrade my Wriggle's to a Zeke's Harbinger. Its an all-around strong item to fill the lifesteal niche. If you like The Bloodthirster you could get one of those two, but I dislike its stacking mechanic should something go horribly wrong.
If the game is still going, I'm usually going for a Warmog's Armor to be able to keep surviving long enough to destroy their primary damage dealers. Warmong's isn't always the best option however. Refer to the tanking section for other tanky items against specific teams.
Other than Warmog's, I'd recommend a Phantom Dancer for higher damage AGAINST TOWERS. At this point in the game you will want to look at split pushing when your ultimate is up. Phantom dancer helps you push towers faster and get around faster, all of which help in the PvE aspect of this game.
Always look at elixirs before critical fights and pushes. Don't be afraid to ward ridiculously.
Items- Build 2: Tankturne
Nocturne isn't really a tank. Well, no one except Amumu is really a tank. But sometimes teams just need someone to eat lots of damage. As a melee, a jungler requiring some defensive focus, and a champ with a defensive W and God-tier initiation, sometimes that duty falls upon Nocturne.
In this build, I again start with cloth armor and 5 pots. I do not recommend a vampiric scepter start with tanky intent.
On first recall, I pick up Ninja Tabi if the enemy team has any realistic source of physical damage. Dodge, when combined with later health and armor, scales ridiculously well. It also keeps you at high health in the jungle and your t2 boots help you have strong ganks without a damage focus.
I didn't include it in the item build, but if you are the one to build Aegis of the Legion on your team, now is the time. If not, just grab Giant's Belt, Chain Vest, and Negatron Cloak. Take a look at Heart of Gold and philosopher's stone if you're concerned about having sufficient farm. These items should last you until early teamfights.
In teamfights, take note of the primary outgoing damage type and build accordingly:
There are only 4 items I would even consider if you're looking for 1 item to help with surviving both magical and physical damage.
This is the highest reduction on both sources and its death avoidance mechanic can be nice. I don't recommend it on pure tanks as it provides a disincentive to attack you. It can be useful however for survival on long range initiates.
Aegis of the Legion:
THE BEST ALL-AROUND ITEM... but usually your support should be getting it. If no one else is getting it, you should already have it. It is among the most cost effective items in the game.
Surviving by pure health increase and health regen. Not recommended against Madred's Bloodrazor/ Vayne/ Kog'Maw/ Malzahar but can be useful.
Same story as Warmog's, with less health, but CC capability. Consider it if you are donating red and having problems with the focus target getting away. Otherwise I would stay away from this item.
Against AD (Physical Damage)
There are only two items I strongly recommend against physical damage.
Frozen Heart: Armor, mana (not totally useless), CDR, and enemy attack speed slow make this a good choice. Second highest armor item in the game (after Thornmail) but mostly incredibly powerful due to its aura reducing damage done not just to you, but also to your team. Also builds from Glacial Shroud, a strong stepping stone.
Randuin's Omen: If the active is being put to use, this item is mandatory. Builds from Warden's mail, which is also very powerful, and heart of gold, if you needed GP5.
A word on Thornmail: Not on a main tank. Main tanks WANT to be attacked and Thornmail is a disincentive. If Tryndamere just one-shotted your whole team, tell them to buy it. You need to work on using Randuin's active to prevent that in this first place.
Atma's Impaler and Sunfire Cape are lower armor items I don't recommend because it takes a lot to make Nocturne tanky. However, if you're being ignored, they do help make you threatening (especially Atma+Warmog or "Atmog's")
Against AP (Magical):
There are a lot more choices here but I'm only going to highly recommend three items.
Force of Nature: Highest MR item in the game. It also has movespeed and health regen. This is usually the first MR item I build, though stacking Negatron Cloaks isn't a bad idea first.
Banshee's Veil: This item adds health and mana in addition to MR and has a nifty spell shield. This is usually my second MR item. The shield and Shroud of Darkness can both be popped by a single spell, so be careful in your use. It is pretty hit and miss but can win teamfights almost by itself.
Quicksilver Sash: Mandatory against Warwick, Malzahar, and high CC teams. This is the concession to not getting tenacity boots.
Also, if the enemy team doesn't have a physical carry, get Mercury's Treads.
There are, of course, other options here as well. If you're getting ignored, items like Hexdrinker combine offensive and defensive stats.
Items- Build 3: Anticarry->Hypercarry.
Nocturne can put out damage that is frankly obscene. It is dangerous to use him as a melee AD carry as the other carries (i.e. Tryndamere, Yi) have powerful death or CC immunity that Nocturne lacks. However, with his W and a strong team Nocturne can anticarry (kill the enemy carry) with his ult and then remain in the teamfight as the primary damage dealer. For that purpose, I use this build.
This build requires a lot of farm to begin snowballing. I do not recommend a health potion start. I also do not recommend buying extensive amounts of wards, work with your team to let them know they will need to be warding.
On carries, I try not to waste a single gold while still having strong early, mid, and a late game. Nocturne should be able, from an early level, to clear the jungle quickly, have powerful ganks, and ultimately be able to push towers quickly as well. As the primary damage dealer, it is important to not have a simple counter, so I use mass armor reduction (with items and runes, 90 armor reduction) and an attack speed build with Bloodrazors for magical damage output as well. Lifesteal is used to counter likely Thornmail purchases. A slow is not taken because no one else will be using red.
I do not recommend deviating from this build due to its strong synergy.
Start with a Vampiric Scepter then build Madred's Razors as fast as possible. After razors, I build boots for stronger ganks to start snowballing. From there, I rush bloodrazors to counter early Infinity Edge purchases. Due to the nature of this build and having no need for laning prowess (i.e. Doran's stacking), despite not having solo lane farm Nocturne should have his first big item before the enemy carries by building from razors to allow useful component items for jungle clearing speed.
-Transition to Mid Game-
The Black Cleaver
This allows building The Black Cleaver for midgame before anyone has much armor at all. With runes and The Black Cleaver stacks, Nocturne has 70 armor reduction, enough to drop many enemy damage dealers and supports negative. In addition to magical damage from Bloodrazors, this makes it very difficult (read: expensive) to counter Nocturne.
-Transitioning to Late Game-
I take Zeal now for map mobility because I need to farm like crazy. I don't build it into a full Phantom Dancer however because that delays IE too long, and IE is a far larger damage bump as the enemy begins capping out and gaining more health.
I build Infinity Edge to round out my auto-attack damage. With the crit from zeal, this provides an enormous damage boost. As many know, IE is basically mandatory on auto-attack champions.
IE makes crit scale incredibly well. Bloodrazor makes attack speed scale incredibly well. Duskbringer makes movespeed outright punishing for the enemy team. Phantom Dancer rounds out the offensive portion of that build.
After becoming full built, sub a second PD for boots to get a more reasonable crit chance.
Vampiric scepter is a survival item. This is a pure damage build. Since it is an attack speed/armor reduction build, Stark's is used over Bloodthirster. If you really like bloodthirsters, you can pick that up instead, I use Starks for greater synergy.
Carries usually have sufficient farm from kills to use elixirs. I try to keep up all elixirs on Nocturne to continue snowballing after completing my build. Brilliance is the elixir to cut if gold is tight, but the CDR is useful and that AP makes fear hit harder, making it worth while in an infinite gold environment.
The skill sequence is pretty cut and dry except levels 2 and 4.
Duskbringer is Nocturne's best skill by far and should be maxed at every opportunity. It provides high damage and utility on demand.
Shroud of Darkness is usually taken at level 2 and maxed last, because 1 level gives a shield and 20%->40% attack speed, while successive levels only reduce cooldown and negligibly increase attack speed. The first level is worth as much as the next 4. I usually max this last.
Unspeakable Horror is usually taken at level 4 and maxed second, unless going for a level 2 gank. Then it is taken at level 2. Added fear duration is very strong.
The game rarely mandates otherwise, but if it does be ready to adapt. W and E can be interchanged with little ill effect.
Paranoia is totally awesome and taken at 6, 11, and 16 accordingly.
Smite is mandatory on junglers. This is not optional, or even close to being optional.
Flash can help get out of tight spots while anticarrying and to jump over walls if caught while counterjungling or taking dragon/baron. I find its usefulness far exceeds other summoners (for a jungler on SR without a wall jump),
Ghost can be useful for chasing and escaping in open areas where flash's low distance makes it less useful.
Ignite can help secure early kills to begin snowballing.
Cleanse can be used against heavy CC teams.
Exhaust can be used if the enemy team has Tryndamere.
Teleport can be used with split push strategies.
Clairvoyance can be used if you don't have a support and has strong synergy with Paranoia.
Revive, Rally, and company can be useful for trolling.
This is my first guide, not just on mobafire, but ever. If you read it, you're a true scholar.
I welcome feedback especially on builds but also on the guides.
I'll try to check back at this page but if I forget for week don't be surprised. I will eventually get to all feedback however, so do feel loved!