Nidalee Build Guide by Cheana

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Cheana

Post-Patch Nidalee - You call this civilized?

Cheana Last updated on October 27, 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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Please note before reading, commenting and voting!
This guide is not finished yet. First I just wanted to sum up a few thoughts for myself but well... step by step it became a guide so I now decided to publish it for some friends for feedback and suggestions. If you don't agree with it please save your comments and votes for later!

Hello and welcome to my guide to Nidalee: The Bestial Huntress.

A few things to notice before reading:

This is my first guide, so feel free to add any suggestions.
English is not my native language, so I apologize in advance for any strange ways of expression.
The runes, items, skill sequence and masteries showed at the top of this guide are just expamples. There are some viable alternatives which are discussed in the specific sections below. So please read the guide and try it out before voting. Of course it would be nice if you leave a comment why you voted like you did so that I can rethink and adjust the guide.
Thanks in advance!

Why do I write this guide?

I feel that many Nidalee players didn't adjust their playstyle to the changes she got with the last patch. I don't say that you can't still follow those old guides and do well but I say those guides are no longer optimal. I also don't say that my guide provides the optimal way to play her - I think the only optimal way and therefore the perfect guide does not exist.
However, I hope I can give you some new insights to the "Post-Patch-Nidalee" and by this way a viable basis. I say basis because I think every guide just can be seen as the best way the author figured out for himself to play the specific champion. So you should see every guide just as a basis which has to be modified and adjusted to your own playstyle to grant you the greatest advantage. Okay. I know that was a strange expression of what I wanted to say but you got the idea.

To finish this introduction:

Please don't take this guide by just watching the item build, seeing I didn't include Nidalee's standard Mercury's Treads or Guinsoo's Rageblade and just vote it down. I used to take those items for a very long period of time, too. Read the guide, the explanations and item discussion and give it a try before judging.

Also feel free to watch HotshotGG using this item build at the IEM New York Tournament.

And now let's start talking about Nidalee!

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Pros / Cons


Anti-gank ability.
Unique playstyle.
Funny spear kills.
Wall-jumping ability.
Great damage output.
Easy farming after level 6.
Great escaping and chasing abilities.

Hard to master.
Hard to deal with tanks.
No crowd control by herself.
Somewhat team-dependent.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

Let's talk about runes.

I won't discuss them in detail here because Searz wrote a fantastic analysis of runes, backed with math and good game knowledge. For further informations about runes I just recomment to visit hisguide.

My faviorite runes for the Post-Patch- Nidalee are the ones showed above.

Like mentioned before, this rune build is just one viable option. However, this build will grant you the greatest benefit by following the recommended runes.
Some people choose Greater Mark of Desolation over Greater Mark of Magic Penetration for better early game harassment. But since all your abilities (except of your takedown and your auto attack) are magic attacks and since after the patch Nidalee is not mainly the pusher than before, I defenitifly prefer Greater Mark of Magic Penetration. Read more about the gameplay changes from Nidalee in the gameplay section.
If you still choose to play her 0/9/21 you should consider going along with Greater Seal of Evasion.
For glyphs, you can also consider Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction or Greater Glyph of Magic Resist.
I prefer Greater Quintessence of Ability Power over Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration not only because it's a S-Rank-Rune compared to an B-Rank-Rune (again see this guide for further informations) but also because you will get enough magic penetration later with your masteries, Greater Mark of Magic Penetration and Void Staff. I don't consider Greater Quintessence of Desolation at this point because like I mentioned before this guide is mainly based on her spear which scales with magic penetration.

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Summoner Spells

My favourite summoner spells:

This are the two summoner spells I normally use in every game with Nidalee:

SPACE Always take Flash. There are no alternatives since it has so many uses. I think I don't have to explain. Remember that you can also use it while chasing or escaping to just flash through walls. SPACE

SPACE With Ghost together with Flash, Aspect Of The Cougar, Bushwhack / Pounce and the benefit from your passive Prowl you are nearly uncatchable for everyone. In addition to that you have very good chasing abilities. SPACE

Other viable and situational options:

Depending on your playstyle and the team composition you can drop Ghost for one of this spells

SPACE Exhaust is a viable alternative to Ghost - it all depends on your playstyle. Personally, I like Ghost more because it saved my cute kitty *** in many situations. In addition to that, Nidalee has very nice chasing abilities so you will hardly ever lose a kill. I don't know how often I landed a kill just throwing a straight in their back. But like I mentioned before it really depends on your playstyle. If your're fine with Exhaust then feel free to use it. SPACE

SPACE Clairvoyance is like a permanent additionally ward that can be placed situationally all over the map. In addition to that - and that's a big advantage over wards - it allows you to get insight in bushes even if it's placed beside them. Games are all about map awareness. Of course it requires some experience to predict the movement of your opponents but this is THE spell to scout enemy jungle paths, dragon timings and to counter ganks. All miss? Time to Clairvoyance baron. Enemy is escaping into the brush? Clairvoyance and right in his back! If no one else of your team takes it... take it! SPACE

If you think you'll need it:

I don't use this ones but in some cases they could make sense, too:

SPACE I personally don't pick Teleport on Nidalee because she is fast enough without. It's a very good summoner spell if you don't think you'll be able to handle your lane, for example when your taking solo top. It can also help with ganks, not missing teamfights and teleporting to other lanes to support allies. When you feel safer with it, get it. SPACE

SPACE You could consider this when the opponent team has many healers and/or assassins. Usually with your spear or your pounce you should be able to finish them of. However again, if you feel safer and don't want to see the enemys fleeing with 50 HP any longer, take Ignite. SPACE

Do not take:

In my opinion the rest of the summoner spells isn't viable at all for Nidalee, so I'll just mention some reasons in short.

SPACE It can be useful for getting yourself out of dangerous situations where you actually can't act. However, taking Cleanse means you have to leave out Ghost or Exhaust and therefore you are just to vunerable. In addition to that, Cleanse won't remove dots from Ignite. If debuffs are a problem for you, grab Quicksilver Sash (see item discussion below). SPACE

SPACE If you feel you need Clarity you are doing something wrong. Read the gameplay section for further informations on mana usage at early game stage. SPACE

SPACE This is another wasted summoner spell. Although it was nerfed a bit, with you have a heal yourself with a pretty low CD, so please... don't use Heal. SPACE

SPACE This guide is not about jungling and there are many better junglers than Nidalee. When laning, Smite is useless. SPACE

SPACE This is a spell which it could help during aces to prevent the enemy team from pushing or save to your turret when telepoting back. I personally don't like this spell. But please: Don't pick it when playing Nidalee - it's the job of the tanks. SPACE

SPACE Well... I just don't want to talk about Rally. I have never seen anyone choosing this and I haven't chosen it myself. And I won't recomment to choose such a waste of summoner spells. SPACE

SPACE AJust... don't. Two simple reasons: 6 minutes cooldown is very long. And when you think you need it because you are dying... then Revive only helps you to die more. SPACE

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It's quite simple. This build concentrates on Nidalee's magic abilities, especially her spear damage so we go standard 9/0/21. If you feel too squishy you can consider going 0/9/21 but I think it's outrunned because of her dodge nerf ( Aspect Of The Cougar no longer grants you dodge but armor and magic resist). In addition to that, using this guide your primary task in team fights is standing behind your mates, taking down low health enemys, healing and throwing traps so you won't need that dodge build. We will talk about this in detail later in the gameplay section.
Make sure you adapt the points for Flash, Ghost, Teleport and Clairvoyance in the utility tree or the Exhaust point in the offensive tree depending on the summoner spells you've chosen.

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Skill Sequence

There are two ways to skill Nidalee I want to discuss here.
The first one maxes Javelin Toss / Takedown first. Using this build which is focusing on Nidalee's spear you'll generally have the greatest benefit my using this skill sequence (and much more fun <3). However, it's not always possible and depends on how your're doing on your lane. Therefore, the second skill sequence starts by maxing Primal Surge / Swipe which grants you much more laning dominance and turret pushing power early game.
In every case, make sure you have at least one point in your Q, W, and E before you reach level 6 and therefore your R.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Rule of thumb:

> > >

We start with one point in Bushwhack / Pounce. It's simply amazing to put it in the bushes early game since you can force the enemies to either use specific pathes or taking damage and become visible. See the "Abilities - How to use" section for further informations.

Second point goes into Primal Surge / Swipe.

Work in progress.

To summarize:

Level 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9: Javelin Toss / Takedown
Level 1, 14, 15, 17 and 18: Bushwhack / Pounce
Level 2, 7, 10, 12 and 13: Primal Surge / Swipe
Level 6, 11 and 16: Aspect Of The Cougar

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Rule of thumb:

> > >

We start with one point in Bushwhack / Pounce and Primal Surge / Swipe for the same reasons described before.

Work in progress.

To summarize:

Level 3, 7, 10, 12 and 13: Javelin Toss / Takedown
Level 1, 14, 15, 17 and 18: Bushwhack / Pounce
Level 2, 4, 5, 8 and 9: Primal Surge / Swipe
Level 6, 11 and 16: Aspect Of The Cougar

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Feel free to watchHotshotGG using this build at the IEM New York Tournament.


Rod of Ages
Rabadon's Deathcap
Sorcerer's Shoes
( Void Staff)



Void Staff
This amazing item grants you ability power als well as magic penetration. If you see the enemies stacking magic resist (which they actually will do at some point in the game) - go for it!
I put it in brackets at the core item list because it only has it's full potencial when you're up against a magic resist stacking team. But like mentioned before, when you play Nidalee right and they realize you're going straight for ability power, they actually will go for magic resist. I use Void Staff in nearly every game.

Lich Bane


Banshee's Veil
Moonflair Spellblade (or Mercury's Treads)
Since all tenacity items grant you 35 tenacity, if you feel you need this you could go for Moonflair Spellblade or take Mercury's Treads instead of Sorcerer's Shoes. But as you notice, we put the later boots as a core items in here because of the magic penetration early game (which means your Q hits even harder). So I'd advise you to go for Moonflair Spellblade if you feel yourself lacking of tenacity.

Haunting Guise

Always buy:

Elixir of Brilliance
Sight Ward
Health Potion

Work in progress. More options and detailed discussion following.

Some things in short:
We start rushing Rod of Ages for survivability and damage. We rush it because it grants you the greatest benefit the earlier you have it. In addition to that, an early Catalyst the Protector should soon solve any mana problems. Rabadon's Deathcap is nearly self-describing. More damage = more funny spear action. Whether you finish Rabadon's Deathcap or Sorcerer's Shoes first depends on how you're doing and if you feel you already need the movement speed.
Fourth item is the Void Staff for even more damage and to counter the enemies magic resist.

In generally:
The first three items are Rod of Ages, Rabadon's Deathcap and Sorcerer's Shoes.

If the enemies start to stack magic resit by now - which they will in the most cases - your fourth item should be Void Staff. If they don't, buy another damage item or a survivabiliy item instead and wait for the right point to start building your Void Staff.

The last two items should be a damage item and a survivability item. Again, the buying order depends on how the game is going.

As you can see, there isn't a perfect item build which matches for every game. You'll always have to adapt your items to those of the enemy team.

To be continued.

Possible endgame builds:

Depending on the situation, your endgame build could look like this:




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Abilities & Changes

So let's talk about abilities. After describing them in general I will list the main changes they did to our sweet huntress to which we want to adapt by using this build.

Prowl (Passive)
Moving through brush increases Nidalee's movement speed by 15% for 2 seconds.

Good news: no changes here.

Javelin Toss / Takedown (Q)
COST: 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 / 90
RANGE: 1500

Human: Nidalee tosses her javelin, dealing 55 / 95 / 140 / 185 / 230 (+65% of ability power) magic damage on impact (deals up to 250% damage the further away the target is).

Cougar: Nidalee's next attack deals 40 / 70 / 100 (+1.0 per attack damage) additional damage, witha damage multiplier based on how low her opponent's life is. Damage multiplier is equal to 1 + (percentage of target's health missing/100). This attack cannot be dodged.

Mana Cost reduced to 50/60/70/80/90 from 60/70/80/90/100.
Cooldown reduced to 6 from 7.

Bushwhack / Pounce (W)
COST: 60 / 75 / 90 / 105 / 120
RANGE: 900

Human: Nidalee lays a trap that deals 80 / 125 / 170 / 215 / 260 (+40% of ability power) damage over 2 seconds, reveals the target, and reduces their armor and magic resistance by 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40% for 12 seconds. Traps last for 4 minutes.

Cougar: Nidalee lunges forward, dealing 125 / 175 / 225 (+40% of ability power) magic damage to enemies around her landing area.

Pounce may now be affected by cooldown reduction.
Cooldown increased to 3.5 from 3.

Primal Surge / Swipe (E)
COST: 60 / 80 / 100 / 120 / 140
RANGE: 600

Human: Nidalee heals an ally champion for 50 / 85 / 120 / 155 / 190 (+70% of ability power) and grants them 20 / 30 / 40 / 50 / 60% bonus attack speed für 7 seconds.

Cougar: Nidalee claws at enemies in a cone in front of her, dealing 150 / 225 / 300 (+40% of ability power) magic damage.

Mana cost of primal surge changed to 60/80/100/120/140.
Base heal changed to 50/85/120/155/190 from 60/90/120/150/180.
AP ratio reduced to 0.7 from 1.25.
AP ratio of swipe increased to 0.4 from 0.2.

Aspect Of The Cougar (R)

Passive: Each additional rank increase the effectiveness of Nidalee's cougar abilities.

Nidalee transforms into a vicious cougar, gaining a new set of abilities, 10 / 20 /30 bonus armor and magic resistance and 20 movement speed and losing 400 range in the process.

Aspect of the Cougar now grants 10/15/20 Armor and Magic Resist instead of 10% Dodge.

Okay, so let's summarize a few things:

They didn't touch Nidalee's prowl, that's good news.
Her javelin toss got a buff rather than a nerf since we can use it more often now and it's mana costs were reduced. Pew pew! More spear action!
The changes on pounce also don't hit us hard. We have the possibility to use Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction and Elixir of Brilliance as well. We'll talk about this later.
What actually hurts pretty much is what they did to our primal surge. It costs more mana, its base heal has been reduced and its ap ration got nerfed down, too. But well. Since this does not mean it does not scale with AP at all any longer we will handle it somehow, too.
Swipe therefore got a buff due to its increased ap ratio.
And finally, they removed the dodge from Nidalee's cougar form and added armor and magic resist instead. Another thing we don't really like.

So all in all we should think about adapting our runes, masteries and playstyle to compensate those nerfs at a special level and make use of the buffs they gave us. This is what I intended to do with this guide.

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Abilities - How to use

Before we start talking about the gameplay in detail let's point out some general things about the usage of Nidalee's abilities.


I love her passive. I got so used to it that when I enter the bushes with other champions I wonder why they don't run faster.
It's easy to say. Make use of your prowl whenever you have the possibility. It helps you getting faster from one point to the other, chasing enemies or running away from them. I don't know how often this amazing passive saved my cute kitty *** or granted me a kill.
However, when there's a Teemo, Caitlyn, Heimerdinger or Shaco in the enemy team you should keep in mind that running into the bush also can be a disadvantage. Especially early game you should counter their annoying abilities by placing traps or throwing a spear through the bush (see below).

Javelin Toss / Takedown

Human: Javelin Toss - "You've killed an enemy!"

Work in progress.

Cougar: Takedown - "It's the fangs of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight!"

Work in progress.

Bushwhack / Pounce

Human: Bushwhack - "Oh no, they saw me again!"

Traps are an awesome skill of Nidalee and shouldn't be underestimated. Their main purpose is NOT dealing damage (although it's funny suddenly killing someone at the other end of the map) but to keep yourself safe by revealing the enemies, Teemo's Noxious Trap mushrooms and Shaco's Jack In The Box. While killing grants you 25 gold, even with an Oracle's Elixir you still only can see Nidalee's traps but that's it. You cannot target them to kill them. The mana cost is low, it makes the enemies visible for a long time and it's great for supporting map awareness (remember: map awareness wins games!).
It has a reason why we level traps up as the last skill - to not increase it's mana cost. So make use of this amazing skill! Plant them in bushes to prevent ganks, place them in your own jungle to protect your buffes, plant them wherever you wanna have vision. Just to mention some key locations: bushes connecting paths, yours and the enemy buffs, the dragon and the baron are very good locations for leaving a trap.
Traps also can be used (and should be used) in teamfights. We will discuss this later in the gameplay section, too.
Another note: If you put a trap on top of where an enemy Sight Ward is, it will be revealed. Another 25 gold for free!

Cougar: Pounce - "What the...! Where did she go?"

Due to her pounce, Nidalee has a free Flash every 3 seconds. It can be used either for escaping or for chasing, so you should know how to use it properly and of course where you can use it. Whenever you are running over the map you should keep your pounce on cooldown.
Although their results are quite the same, there is one important difference between pounce and Flash: While the later teleports you in the direction of your mouse curser, Nidalee does not pounce in the direction where your curser is but in the direction she is facing. Thats something you have to learn when playing Nidalee as well as you should learn measuring the actual distance she is pouncing.
Jumping over obstacles is very easy once you got the basics:
Start practising the jumps by two steps. At first you place yourself in the direction you want to jump so that you face the wall - then simply press your "W". In the case you are being chased by the enemy, press "H" to position Nidalee before she is about to jump over the wall. Doing this she won't turn around and auto attack the enemy.
It's very important to positionate Nidalee correctly in ordner not to fail at pouncing. Since this is not that easy when you are being chased or wanting to catch an enemy you should practise those pounces in custom games.

SPACE It's hard to describe the trickier jumps by writing so I will add a video to the video section later with the pounces Nidalee can do, saying a little bit about their different importance and about special marks on the map you should keep in mind to remember the right positions.

For now I made a map with thousands of funny little yellow lines - I hope it helps getting a feeling about where you can punce and where not. You'll know it by yourself after a couple of training games.

Primal Surge / Swipe

Human: Primal Surge - "Nidalee, HP?"

Work in progress.

Human: Swipe - "You call this civilized?"

Work in progress.

Aspect Of The Cougar

Toggle between human and cougar form - "Here mousy, mousy, mousy..."

It's quite simple. Use it to shift from human into cougar form and the other way round. You lose your ranged attack in cougar form so you can get up close to the enemy to attack him. Especially in a teamfight, the key is to know whether and when to transform into cougar form. We will talk about this in the gameplay section.
In case you didn't now: There is a different set of emotions (dance, joke, laugh and taunt) for Nidalee's cougar form. I found this our very late, too, because normally when you have your cougar you'll have other things to do than spamming emotes.
Remember: Your cougar abilities only increase with the level of your ultimate.

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Okay. Since we talked about the ability usage in general we now can focus on the gameplay at the different stages of the game.

Early Game:

With this build your core items are pretty expensive so in the early game your focus should lay on farming rather than harassing the enemy. Always remember: One enemy kill equals 10-15 minion kills. Fighter minions give more gold than caster minions. Given the fact that you land the last hit, which takes us to the first important thing:

As with almost every other champion, you should know how to last hit minions when playing Nidalee. Especially when not soloing a lane and in addition to that not having a support with you (which means he will grant you the kills) it's very important to know how to last hit (which doesn't mean that on solo lane you should auto attack!). For example when laning whith Vayne, Caitlyn or other champions with a fast auto attack like them, knowing how to get creep kills is a very important part of playing successfully. Of course I hope that you won't find you in such a situation in ranked games. However, always remember: practise last hitting, last hitting and... (guess what?) last hitting. The "S"-Button helps you to toggle auto attack while waiting the minions to attack each other. Still a better option is to just keep moving since this will make it harder for the enemy to attack you.
The next step is to learn to last hit those minions which are attacking your tower. Let's assume the minions have 100% life. Fighter minions need three tower hits to die. A hit of above 80 damage should get the last hit after the second tower hit. Caster minions only need one and a half tower hit to die. So hit them once, let the tower hit and then hit again to kill them.
Last hitting means you really just do the LAST hits early game to not push your lane. What takes us to the next impotant thing:

Do not push your lane!
There are several reasons why you shouldn't push your lane early game.


To be continued.

Short story until this section is finished:
Save your mana for when you need it. This means, save your mana for healing yourself (or your laning partner) once you got hurt. Your spear does not do much damage right now so you should only use it when your're sure you'll landing a hit. Keep yourself safe by planing traps in the bushes. Farm minions.

Work in progress.


To summarize: In this stage of the game you should...

a) Lasthit minions.
b) Do not push your lane.
c) Save your mana for when you need it.

Mid Game:

Work in progress.

Late Game:

Work in progress.

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How to deal with...


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Finish the unfinished sections.
Finish the To-Do-List. :P
Video section.
How to deal with ... section.

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24/10/11 Published the unfinished guide for some feedback from friends.

This guide is not finished yet. I just published it for some friends for feedback and suggestions! If you don't agree with it please save your comments and votes for later!

Thanks in advance!