Karthus Build Guide by BaconMonkey
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Pick Two - Sell RoA - Pick One
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.
Hello and thanks for reading my guide to achieving Sexual Interkarthus!
This build is all about the damage and being an real force to be reckoned with at almost all stages of the game. There are a few variations on the theme which I will explain later in the guide.
Carry the team, enable kills, "secure" kills, deny the opposing mid laner kills/farm, roam to gank top/bottom, solo the dragon. Karthus is all round useful.
Sure he is not as consistently bursty or supportive as other mid laners. But always remember, Karthus is DAMAGE. Enemies ignore this at their peril!
Pros / Cons
|+ Great range on Lay Waste
+ Multi utility of Wall of Pain
+ Global pressure of Requiem
+ Massive impact teamfights
+ Impressive late game
|+ Easily counter-picked
+ Early mana management
+ Lacking real escape
+ Useless basic attacks
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
- Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: These will allow you to bully effectively when you single target hit with Lay Waste. Accept no substitutes.
- Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: Must have for any AP carry especially as they will likely also have Greater Glyph of Magic Resist.
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Most of your lane opponents are going to be AP. So MR is generally a good thing to keep you in lane longer.
- Greater Seal of Armor: Just in case your lane opponent is AD these should help. Also this may help you survive a gank involving an AD jungler.
A balance of mainly damage and some early sustain. Still tweaking this.
|Max Lay Waste first as this is your bread and butter, Defile second for the passive mana regeneration and active damage. Wall of Pain is useful with 1 level invested, so max this last.
If your Jungler is particularly active and aggressive think about picking Wall of Pain at level 3 to ease early ganks. Use sparingly at low level as it is has a high mana cost.
Obviously level Requiem at every opportunity.
|Activates Defile and allows casting spells, for free, over 7 seconds.
This is a huge boon for your team during team fights. As the enemy will focus you because your long range harass hurts they will try to kill you off. If you can arrange that they do that while you are amongst them and your team hard CC them. You will do tonnes of damage.
This is also the perfect time to Requiem without being interrupted.
I tend to be able to put down a Wall of Pain, one or two Lay Waste then Requiem for full effect.
|Delayed AOE blast, does double damage to single target
ALWAYS go for the single target. This goes for last hitting and harassing your lane opponent. Lay Waste will be your main source of damage, so mastering landing this skill shot is critical.
I also use this to check bushes and over walls as it does give some vision of the blast area. This is particularly useful for initial invades.
|Slow and lower MR on enemies moving through the gate
A very useful (but mana expensive) utility ability. With the right placement this can be used in several ways.
|Mana regen when off, AOE damage when on
This will allow you to sustain a last hit farm with Lay Waste. During the laning phase it is rare you will use the "on" version of Defile as it is very mana hungry. It can be used to deter an aggressive lane opponent or an incoming gank, but watch your mana.
Later in team fights this is a key component to your damage output. If you initiate, make sure you have Defile active. Placing yourself where you will hit the most enemies, for the longest time, will often cost you your life. However with Death Defied you can capitalise on this. This wins teamfights.
|After 3 second casting time, global damage to enemy champions
The infamous Requiem. The judicial use of this ability can be a game changer. Do not expect to "Press R for Pentakill".
You will get some flack about this "noob ult" but DO NOT FLAME OR TAUNT IN CHAT! Your silence, along with their demise is enough to anger most and throw them off their game. Remain sporting.
Here are my REQUIEM COMMANDMENTS
 Thou shalt smite escaping enemies who are out of reach!
 Thou shalt assist and tip the balance in lanes without expecting a kill!
 Thou shalt only press R when safe or dead!
 Thou shalt not waste the ult with a massive CD!
 Thou shalt wait for Soraka to die or use her ult before using yours!
|Short ranged teleport
Karthus has no real escape other than using Wall of Pain. So this is really a must have from the beginning.
Flash is also important late game, for escapes yes, but also initiating. By placing yourself in the middle of their team without warning with Defile active you can do some serious damage (See notes on zhonya's hourglass for the general idea).
|Periodic tactical teleport
A tactical option.
Lane/farm > go back to base > replen/buy items > teleport back into lane.
Stock up on potions to sustain yourself in lane for longer while Teleport is on CD.
Teleport is also useful if you feel like roaming. If you tower gets pushed in your absence you can return to lane in a hurry!
|Slow, shred AR/MR and reduce incoming damage
Great gank/anti-gank tool allowing you to land Lay Waste easier and to more affect or escape with more HP.
In a team fight this can be used to survive an assasin or the enemy ADC focusing you.
I can still hear people screaming "OMG, RITO PLZ, NOOB, GG!". But I am still leaving this here as a viable option. The impact early/mid game in securing dominance during your weakest phase is extremely useful particularly in low to mid ELO games.
I still love picking this as it serves to sustain that early aggression that many opponents do not expect from Karthus players. It also lessens any reliance on the blue buff so the jungler can keep the mana advantage.
Use as early as possible (with max effect) in the early laning phase to get it on CD before using mana pots. Try switching from zoning the enemy and last hitting minions with Defile.
People often seem to forget you have this and push when your mana is low. This is a prime opportunity to Clarity > Wall of Pain > Lay Waste Lay Waste Lay Waste.
If you still have this after your jungler attempts a gank and you are also low on mana, use this to top the jungler up with mana also. Keeping your jungler happy means more ganks and better games.
Later on it can take more of a support role in topping up your team mates before/after engagements.
Remember, this tactic is all about strengthening that weak early game and crushing you opponents confidence.
I said "FWOOSH!"
|AP, HP and mana sustain. Great for farming and/or sustaining that early bully.|
|Karthus has little to no sustain, these should help! If you are feeling confident you can keep from getting hit, go for just mana pots.|
|Always build this as your first complete item, usually after Tear of the Goddess. The health, AP and mana alone is worth the investment.|
|Magic pen is always useful, it is always to have a nice little spike of damage on your second Requiem.|
|More AP, more mana and more mana regen! By the time you build this it should be about ready to transform into Seraph's Embrace. This comes with a shield, use this when initiating team fights to be most effective.|
|This is on nearly every AP carry build, it is also on this one. I do not see any reason to break this trend.|
|I tend to build this regardless, but it is especially useful if the opposition are building heavy MR.|
|CDR, some AP and reducing enemy healing, this can be great in team fights against the likes of Dr. Mundo or any champs who have built life-steal.|
|More magic pen and damage for MR built foes. Or just for when people are escaping Requiem with a sliver of health.|
|For enemy teams which like to try and run away/chase. HP, AP and greater ability to kite. This when paired with Liandry's Torment is also lots of fun.|
|Great during team fights especially if your team is heavy AP and you are in the thick of it. Nice additional MR is icing.|
|| Defile > Flash > Wall of Pain on self > Activate Zhonya's Hourglass > Death Defied > Requiem > Profit???
If you are at full build, being focused and have not built this already, sell off Rod of Ages and buy this.
I highly recommend pairing this with Abyssal Scepter.
Gameplay - Kill Me Karthus
This style is to make yourself the biggest threat. Roam and make the other lanes fear your presence. You are to be a major pain the arse.
The idea is the enemy team worries about your late game and takes their eye off of counter building/focusing your team mates.
Show your enemy who is boss, poke as often as possible (remembering to last hit farm) with Lay Waste. Use Mana Potion to sustain your mana pool and keep the pressure on, forcing the enemy out of lane (or kill them).
If your opponent is particularly difficult take up the defensive and focus on farming from range, punishing you opponent if they get complacent. Poke the enemy and call for the jungler!
DO NOT OVER EXTEND AND DO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ENEMY. Denying the enemy kills is more important than denying farm. Read how the situation is going and gauge how aggressive you can get away with without serious injury.
First thing to do is get the jungler to help gank mid. Once that is successful, then push/destroy the tower.
Then roam to the other lanes and gank. It is unlikely they will have much MR so you should be very effective. Ask your jungler nicely to cover your lane if the enemy mid laner attacks your tower.
Use Requiem to secure your kills if they escape the gank. It will annoy the hell out of them.
Return to mid behind enemy mid laner, trap with Wall of Pain and punish with Defile and Lay Waste.
Repeat process until it ends up being team fight time.
You should be high on the enemy hit list by now. They may have built defence against you and will be highly likely to focus you in team fights. Good job!
Initiate with Defile > Flash > Wall of Pain on self > Lay Waste Lay Waste Lay Waste Lay Waste > Death Defied > Lay Waste Lay Waste Lay Waste > Requiem > Profit???
You will die but not before you do some decent damage. With the enemy expending their abilities on killing you, your team should be able to mop up much easier. And push lanes/towers/inhibitors/nexus.
Recommend the Zhonya's Hourglass and Abyssal Scepter combo for this one!
Gameplay - Kidding Me Karthus
This style is to make yourself the seem to be a lower threat/noob. Stay and farm as much as possible, this along with Requiem kill assists this will be your main income.
The enemy team will focus on counter building your team mates and not building MR. You will carry the late game and destroy the enemy but if you make a mistake it can cost your team the game.
Last hit farm with Lay Waste. Take up the defensive and focus on farming from range, punishing you opponent if they get too aggressive and zoning them slightly if possible. Farm under tower as much as you can.
Stay in lane and farm. Use Requiem to weaken other lanes when they are engaged with your team-mates. It will not get you kills but you will get assists. This will also mean that the enemy will not be thinking "Ah Karthus killed me again! OMG" quite so much.
At this point you will want to start killing you mid lane opponent. By now they would be invested in damage items over MR anyway. Wall of Pain activate Defile and single target hit Lay Waste. If you are having trouble call the jungler to assist.
Having quietly built up some very dangerous items you are ready to annihilate them. They should have little to no defence against you and will in the first few engagements be less likely to focus you.
Let your tank initiate then Defile > Flash > Wall of Pain on self > Lay Waste Lay Waste Lay Waste Lay Waste > Profit???
Alternately if you die > Death Defied > Requiem > Profit???
You are more likely to survive encounters as your magic damage should destroy most enemies quickly. Do not use Requiem unless you think you can get an ACE, you may need to use it defensively.
As you can see Karthus can be very reliant on the jungler. So communication is key.
Be prepared to do things for the good of the TEAM rather than just yourself. An overly greedy Karthus can be detrimental to team morale.
These may seem simple basic stuff but it really does help!
- Watch out for the mid laner's ward and communicate to your jungler.
- Keep an eye on the other lanes to see when Requiem would be most useful.
- Ping if you see the enemy jungler cross mid.
- Ping if you are coming in to gank top/bot.
- Be courteous to your team mates.
- Do not flame the enemy or your team mates.
- Thou shalt not purposefully kill steal!