Nidalee Build Guide by
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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.
Nidalee is probably one of the most powerful mid's I've ever seen. Remember in this, i'm not professional, this is just a build that, with hardly any runes (and frankly i was doing this really low level before i got many masteries either) you can still dominate your middle lane as Nidalee, it just takes a little practice and a fast hand. Plenty of people are entitled to disagree with the way I build this, but this seems to be the best setup I have so far. Note: nothing is quite finished, because so much can change later game. I will explain quite a bit of this in my later chapters. If you really want to learn how to play Nidalee well, especially if you don't want to buy tons of runes and whatnot, continue reading.
First of all, some pros and cons.
1.You have insane amounts of early game damage, coupled with silly amounts of sustainability thanks to your health potions, one mana potion, and that clarity that I love so much.
2.You get one of the most powerful escape and ganking tools in the game. Running into brush makes you go faster, so being ganked and dashing into the jungle, especially if you use flash, means that enemies will really have a hard time scoring that much-needed kill to end your murder-spree.
3.For the same reasons you can escape, you can chase. Enemies are forced to stay out of the jungle, as that speeds you up. Also, as your javelin deals more damage when your enemies are further, you have an insane damage ramp when they're trying to escape. Enemies really have a hard time escaping you.
4.With your ability to switch between ranged and melee, you can do so much that no other champion could even wish to achieve. You balance ranged sustainable damage, healing support, traps for incoming ganks (and revealing a sneaky twitch), and the ability to turn into a cat and deal some MAJOR DPS. It's impossible to think that a champion can do this ALL, but Nidalee really can. Honestly. Not QUITE as good at supporting as sona, not the ranged DPS of ashe, or the traps of caitlyn, but she still has them all better than anyone else. Also, her melee cougar form is probably one of the strongest melee DPS in the game (with the possible exception of Tryndamere or Renekton)
5.You can become really unpredictable. As switching between your human and cougar forms gives you different powers, it also allows you to juke your enemies. Charge in as a human, healing yourself, then when they think they have you, change to a cat and maul them faster than they can turn tail and run.
6. You can stay in the fight with no mana. Very few champions can do this. Lack of mana is merely a hindrence, which limits you to one form of play, however still leaves room for juking the enemy.
7. Probably one of the coolest things about Nidalee, is your ability to steal your opponents jungle. Since she runs really fast in brush, she can become a cougar, sneak into the enemies blue or red (or even both if you're quick about it and have laid traps) and steal all their buffs so the enemy gets none.
Now, for the cons.
1. Nobody likes a Nidalee that's 7/0. Nobody. Especially since you pushed their turret by level 6. This tends to anger quite a bit of people, and they give you special attention. Mid lane tends to be ganked hard when Nidalee's in it, forcing you to back off of your aggressive play. However, counter-ganking their lane is always an option, as you will probably get there faster than them.
2.CC is your enemy. If your enemies can keep you down with CC, you're probably not going to live long. Although, I've noticed that not even Nautilus can keep me CC'd enough from escaping, even with Snare and SLowed taking turns flying over my head.Pounce is powerful.
3.People don't like it when you use your javelin like a strippers pole in the middle of mid lane before minions spawn, and tend to hurt both you, and your feelings. However, this isn't much of a con as it lures them out and lets you hit them with your Q if you're accurate, bringing me to the important number 4.
4. Early game is mildly difficult. You HAVE to work your Q into your enemies chest, while avoiding the minion waves and hitting him from a distance, Using your Primal Surge to last hit and farm minions (or out-DPS a cocky champion) is VERY important. However, champions such as Caitlyn and Graves, who have skill shots that fly through minions are not very fun at all, and can out-damage you if you aren't careful, bringing me to the most important number.
5. My favorite number, but the worst problem. There are a few champions that can really mess you up. 1. Urgot. He lowers your damage (which you need as nidalee) and has a tracking, spam-able Q that dishes out the damage. You'll find yourself trying hard to stay in lane, but it's not impossible to fight him off. It just gets harder then it has any right to be. The other one is Ahri. A post level 6 Ahri has more mobility than Nidalee, which sucks because mobility is what you're all about. This is the point that you do one of two things. Carefully turret hug, wiping out minions with aspect. Or decide that now is the time that some other lane needs a tower pushed up, and rush out for ganking with your Aspect of the cougar.
This is the page that I particularly want to do, as this is based off of doing everything low level, without runes. However, I will put in what runes you SHOULD get (in my opinion) if you wish to do this better.
To begin, I personally chose all solid attack damage marks and ability power glyphs. Why?
Well for obvious reasons. With hybrid Nidalee you want all the raw numbers you can get. The AP goes very nicely with your heal, and really helps you keep enemies out of lane with your Q (Javelin Toss). Now, the fixed AD marks aren't really needed, and could easily be replaced with armor pen. The only reason I put those on there are because A: they're the cheapest rune you can get at tier 3 (and DEFINATELY WORTH IT) and because they help you post level 6
PUPPY, Y U NO TAKE SUMMONER SPELL MASTERIES!!
Because 15 seconds on your flash isn't THAT important when you have your cougars pounce, and you won't ever need the extra 20% mana on clarity. Again, this build was made to improve your early game, and armor pen is always nice. Also, Executioner is VITAL with nidalee, as in team fights you have two jobs. Power up your team's damage by healing anybody hurt (targeting your DPS if at all possible) and chasing dying enemies. Executioner does the second part AMAZINGLY well. The only thing I MIGHT change about this, is the extra mana and mana regen in utility, but with the power you lose, it isn't worth it really. Also, as nidalee, any time mana becomes a real issue you can always go into cougar form. If there happens to be a blue on the map, you can go kill it really easily, and even if you get ganked, your passive will usually help you escape (couple with pounce constantly)
This one's important. People heavily under-estimate hybrid nidalee. All of her items are VERY VERY IMPORTANT. As things should usually be done, let's start with the beginning, the boots.
Boots of speed help you position your javelin toss on your opponent, and help you put enough distance when running to throw a wayward javelin backwards if they haven't bought boots, and hit them nicely square in the face. Remember, be as far as possible, but not so far that the javelin wares out.
Side note:Another choice is Sorc boots. they'll help you out with your Q harassment, but not anywhere near as good as lucidity. Some people say "if you're such a high priority target late game, and are worried about AP only, why not get Merc Treads?" Because the tenacity and Magic Resist really aren't worth losing that cooldown. Trust me. The only other option that anyone will ever convince me is equal if used right, is boots of swiftness.
PUPPY, Y U TAKE MANA POTION IF U HAVE CLARITY? DON'T THAT WASTE THE POINT???
Yes and no. You take the two health potions as a super careful resort. You probably will need them both, as your heal is weak to begin with, but wasting a clarity just to pop your E to keep farming and stay alive is really bad. This 1 mana potion does a LOT for this build.
Now, for the ULTIMATE in hybrid items, the Hextech Gunblade. Plenty of AP, AD, and both lifesteal and spellvamp. How could you NOT want this thing? it's a cornerstone to Nidalee's play style, as you will have to constantly be agressive, especially when low on mana and forced to use your Aspect of the Cougar to fight enemies. Remember, your cougar abilities will always grant you a lot more life than your human ones, so for high DPS characters, your Cougar form will usually kill them before they can do the same. (with this item, soloing a Talon who ganks you, even with his ult, is pretty common). This also helps you farm in the jungle for life with your Cougar form, costing no mana and giving TONS of life.
This. Item. Is. Amazing. It boosts your AP, AD, AND ATTACK SPEED! And what does it ask in return? To use abilities and attacks. Luckily, with Nidalee, our fastest mode of transportation is pouncing...which with your boots of lucidity, this skill will come back with plenty of time to keep your stacks up on this WONDERFUL item, giving you a very powerful start to any fight, even though your enemies will commonly forget that you pounce around with full stacks. Also, switching between human and Cougar gives it another stack too, so during a fight it should NEVER run our of stacks.
Purely for the AP. It makes your heal even stronger, your javelin toss deadlier, and makes your guinsoo's Rageblade even more wonderful. This thing is an important item, as it gives you the power to heal even the most hurt allies, and as your heals give attack speed, this will usually result in your ally instantly winning any fight. Even with a tower.
But puppy, what do I get after Rabadons? The game's still going!!
Well. I feel like you probably haven't been doing very well if that's the case. Honestly, you don't usually get further than this build. HOWEVER should you get further, there are a few items that could warrant your attention.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter:
If you're not killing enemies with your Q as they run, this would be very useful. The slow that you deliver will be more than enough for you to cougar on up to them, and slow them some more as you shred their face with your paws. Also, helps you stay alive, which at this point in the game I must imagine is pretty hard.
AP will usually be your biggest issue. SO this will probably help you quite a bit with that pesky karthus, always ulting as you're running off to the wolves to get some much-needed heals.
Rod Of Ages.
Sort of the same purpose as Banshee's Veil, but with some extra AP. Not usually a good choice, but there are situations where it could be invaluable.
Not a bad choice. The same purpose as Rylai's, but you would have had to attack the enemy previously. Good item for stopping your enemies from escaping after an engagement (damn champions, hating commitment, how is that civilized??)
Of course, you might have to improvise, as I have vary rarely lasted longer than my rabadon's. Typically I am either dominating the game, or have no chance of winning.
A few items you DO NOT EVER GET EVER!
Honestly, no. Auto-attackers are literally the least of your worries. You are more worried about a single minion pushing your tower than auto-attacks. As nidalee, you close distance, and steal all their life before they have a chance to scream from their newly bleeding neck. NO. NINJA. TABI.
If AD is a problem, you aren't going to do anything about it with this.
No, no, no. You'll rarely crit, not worth it, auto-attacks aren't really your thing. The AD is for your aspect of the cougar. If you really want this, grab a Bloodthirster. It'll be some extra lifesteal, and more AD. Tons more use.
As nidalee, one of your strongest pros is that you can stay in lane forever if used right. I personally try to max my heal first, as it gives me the power to powerfarm those minions, which I'll get to later, and keep myself from losing much health at after being attacked by the enemy champion. In fact, if you and the enemy get in a little 1v1 action, this skill will give you a VERY powerful edge against any early-game DPS champion. Make sure to level bushwhacker last, as it's not an important skill and is only used to see incoming ganks. Even with a twitch or evelynn on the enemy team, you don't use them TOO often, and are used for their utility. Your javelin is much more important, but your heals are even more important than that.
However, if you want to be more damaging (and think you can get those skill shots in for extra mega kills) It might be worth it to take Javelin first. But you have to KNOW you'll score those hits, or it'll cost you precious health, and sustainability in case of ganks.
Mentioned briefly in the previous chapter, farming is a very powerful tool that Nidalee is particularly good at. Maxing your heal early gives you an attack speed bonus over almost all enemy champions, particularly the ones that tend to mid. Champions that could get a higher attack speed than you that early tend to be in different lanes.
Early Game Farming:
There are two important parts to early game farming. These are named Q and E. Firstly, don't try to waste Q on minions, always try to nail a champion, also, don't waste your E if you have full life. Try to work in a good angle for your Javelin toss. A good angle puts you shooting it at a minion, with the champion between you two. That way, if you miss, you score a creep kill, and it's not a total waste. Not needed, but definitely a good idea, as it gives you gold either way.
After your hit, or miss, typically your opponent will retaliate. Ignoring the enemy is never wise. There are two common reactions, them running (trying to take advantage of the fact that Q is on cooldown) or them fighting. If they run, their out of lane which lets you farm. If they stay and fight, you can heal and dish out extra damage, throwing a javelin either as you escape, or as they do. Typically this will score a kill either way, or at least put them in a bad position health wise. But what if you get hurt badly too?
Well that doesn't matter. You're nidalee. Pop that mana potion, a health potion, a primal surge, and go to town on minions. If they try to attack again, kill the minion seperating you two ( assuming their is one) and javelin toss for a free kill. If they didn't take damage at all really, you might consider recalling. However, that typically means you executed the trick wrong. IT may take practice, as perfecting Nidalee's form of burst harassment can be difficult. However, either way, a Primal Surge and lots of javelins to minions squishy little bodies is a good way to last hit and farm. Especially if your enemy is trying to harass you.
I went over burst harassment in the farming page, but let me go over another, more careful form of harassment, which typically works better when facing smarter opponents, or when expecting a gank. The way you do this, is you always try to cut a path between you and the opponent. Kill creeps between them and you, and try to work your javelin in there. Where as with the burst method, the trick is to work behind their wave and throw so it might hit a minion if they dodge, the trick to this is throwing a javelin when they don't expect it (as your minions are in the way) and hitting them when they least expect it. The down side to this though, is you typically get less chances to use primal surge, and if they dodge you get no free minion kills. It makes for a slower farming, but a better harassment. You will have to size up your enemy to see which trick will work best in different situations.
Quick rundown of my choices, and other alternatives.
Flash: A must have. As a super high-priority target, this coupled with your pounce is pretty much an instant-escape from almost any gank. Very rarely will you need any more, and nothing else will do what this does so effectively. Even if you're dominating the enemy team, a good 5-1 gank will still kill you without this.
PUPPY Y U SO NOOB Y U TAKE CLARITY!!
Because it saves you tons of money on mana potions, helps out your team in teamfights, and most importantly, very commonly gives you that last bit of mana to heal someone, saving their life, or using your javelin for the last hit. It is also really good around level 4 when you're running out of mana, but you don't have aspect yet. It is just generally a life saver. It's not as much of a noob spell as people mistake it for.
Other options that can be arguably good, but not always better.
Ghost: You're based on chasing enemies, and you run alot on foot, so this isn't a terrible choice. But honestly, your Q will usually score a kill if you practice with it, and this never really is that useful. This has much less value than any other skill you have.
Surge: Yes, it helps you a bit, but the AP isn't that good and frankly, you have a spell that amps your attack speed enough. ONly use if you personally know your team, and really think it'll help them all. Honestly though, it doesn't have room in the build.
Exhaust: Not a horrible choice. This would be something you'd grab if you plan on using your Cougar a lot harder than most people. Might be good if your team is short on melee power. Definately helps in close quarters, but again, not really needed
Spells you really shouldn't ever run.
Ignite. Yes, a few more advanced players may wish to beat my head in with a brick for this one, but really, no. You are based on chasing. This will only score kills in team fights, where you should probably be working as your teams support anyways. This is a skill that should only be used to compensate for poor javelin tossing.
Teleport. You can move really fast from place to place, and get back to your mid in a jiffy. again, wastes a very vital summoner spell for something that won't save you much time. Other, slower members of your team should take this instead.
Cleanse. If you need the CC killing power, but a Quicksilver Sash. Much better.
Heal. You have heal built in. Clarity has a lower cooldown, and is more useful
Previously Un-mentioned spells that warrant some explanation.
Garrison: it's a dominion spell, and if you use this build in dominion, I suppose it could replace flash or clarity, but you would have to know you wanted it.
Revive: I hope you don't plan on dying a lot. Though, if you're having trouble at first, I suppose this could replace flash until you get better. Trust me though, it will actually get you killed more for having it.
Smite: Nidalee shouldn't be jungling with this build. I'm a bad jungler. NO other reason to have smite.
Promote: Could, in theory, replace clarity. Interesting pick, would give you a stronger early game, but would make you spend more on mana potions, extending the time to your late game. Might be worth it if you felt like experimenting.
Clairvoyance. I'm not saying DON'T EVER TAKE IT EVER. But I am saying you have traps. They grant vision when placed for a second, and reveal people who are hit by them. They stick around a while. CV really loses it's use.
After level 6 you have some powerful ganking power. If you can, inform your team that after level 6 you're open for gank calls. Usually you've dominated your lane, and can proceed to other people's lane for some hard, quick, deadly slaughters.
But what if a teamfight occurs? Most of your spells affect one person, except for the cougars W and E, which arent much. What then? Well, obviously, you do what you can. Heal your team. Wherever it's most important. Try to throw heals on the AD carry if you can, but only if they need it and nobody else needs it more. Remember, you're not only there to keep your allies alive, you're there to make sure the enemies die. If you have the mana, throw Javelins at enemies further from you. If your team comes out on top, and sends the enemy team running (which if done right you definitely should) Then you should throw your final javelin (assuming you still have the mana) and begin chasing with your panther. Until late game it's highly inadvisable to dive into a tower, as this will usually use up flash if you have it, or force you to heal and probably recall. Most of the time, it's smartest to wait for them to feel safe behind their turret, look like you're backing up, then throw a javelin for the finishing strike.
Some champions work really well with Nidalee. Some, in fact, could definitely do with a shout-out.
First off, Sivir. Her ultimate is beautiful when working with Nidalee, and frankly, Nidalee's support on a Sivir makes her incredibly powerful. Both Sivir and Nidalee get extremely long range on their harassment, and Sivir can finish opponents through a minion wave, something that typically stops a Nidalee dead in her tracks.
Xin Zhao. A Nidalee and a Xin Zhao can, together, take on a tower NO PROBLEM. With her heal, attack speed boost, and Xin Zhao's passive in play, he will hardly lose any life as you rip through that turret's puny health bar.
Amumu. He lowers MR and has beautiful CC, mixed with the ability to cover for Nidalee. He can hold enemies in place, use the heal to lower their MR, buttering them up for a nice, powerful javelin to the back of the skull as they try to escape.
Quite a few other champions deserve to have their name somewhere, but frankly, I don't want to find them all. Any champion that survives off of lifesteal, such as nocturne or the previously mentioned Xin Zhao, will work pretty well with Nidalee. Warwick's fun too, due to his ability to chase his opponents just like nidalee. However, running them both in the same team can get frustrating.
You are a powerful champion with lot's of powerful sustain on top of that. IN fact, if you get your skillshots down, you essentially become the perfect champion. The only thing Nidalee is missing now is some good crowd control!
I know I'm missing things, and as I get raged at and trolled I'll probably be sure to edit and fix this. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing constructive feedback!!