Tristana Build Guide by Ryock

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Ryock

Simple, efficient guide to Tristana on Summoner's Rift

Ryock Last updated on September 29, 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: 21

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 6

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 3

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News and version history

Version 1.31: Noted now that Dominion is out, this is a Summoner's Rift guide. This guide does not apply to Dominion's map.
Version 1.3: Cleaned up the overall format of the guide.
Version 1.2: Clarified a bit on why I chose the skill order that I chose.
Version 1.1: Edited some parts, and added icons to make the guide easier to view and understand.
Version 1.0: Guide completed. Will update as necessary.

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Few quick notes

This is a Summoner's Rift guide. For a Dominion guide, look elsewhere.

After playing Tristana as my main AD carry for a really long time, I thought a small guide could be the least I could do for the community. I believe she is one of the best AD carries in the game, and scales into late game a lot better than just about any other AD carry.

However, I will mention that this is not a full and comprehensive guide to Tristana. It's a small guide to get Tristana players up on their feet so they have a general idea of what to do. If you want a full guide, I would recommend Acid Reigns' or UberSkoobz's guide.

They are much more ideal than this guide as far as going in-depth about Tristana and her play style.

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Item Build

If you'll take a few moments to notice, the build I made at the beginning remains incomplete. This is because there is no one size fits all build for any character. Depending on the circumstances, you will need to switch your build up. I will start with some typical stuff though.


This is a typical starting build of Tristana. Berserker's Greaves for obvious reasons. Depending on the enemy's team composition, Mercury's Treads can be a much better choice. However, these are typically the items Tristana always gets without fail. Afterwards, depending on the situation, you will need to buy particular items for the situation. There are plenty of great options as seen below.

This is typically taken if you need to help your casters burn victims down quicker. It will reduce their MR down, and give you a much greater attack speed. This is a very situational item though. Use wisely.

This has always been one of my favorite items. Expensive though. This beautiful little item is good for taking your opponent's defense into pitiful amounts, especially the squishies who have no defense to speak of to begin with. Unlike Last Whisper, this item can work well on anyone regardless of what they're building.

They building a lot of defense? This is the item to go for. But this is an item with limited use. You only really build this item if the enemy team seems to be building a strong amount of armor. Good for shredding those kinds of opponents.

There's really not a whole lot to say about this item. You'll find yourself buying it a lot. A lot a lot a lot. It's anti-caster, makes you sturdier, and is a top buy in a lot of matches for a reason.

This is an awesome item. I find myself buying this item quite frequently. It gives a lot of things an AD champ loves. Tons of HP, a decent amount of attack, and a free slow. This item and Tristana's kit makes it extremely hard for a lot of champs to escape.

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Rune Choices

Why did I pick these runes? Because Tristana's early game is pretty bad, and you have to be really careful with her. She scales into late game quite nicely, and can easily become a god. Since her early game is so weak though, buffing her early game has made my laning with Tristana a lot more reliable, especially when running with someone like Janna or Sona(probably not so much Sona anymore) who can give you more defensive buffs. I will explain why I use each of these runes.

Greater Mark of Desolation : This one is pretty self-explanatory in my opinion. You want to be able to get through their armor, and this will allow you to do more damage at an earlier point in the game, especially against champs like Garen, Janna, Karma, and other champs who have a shield mechanic.

: This is for extra armor of course. Since Tristana's early game is weak, you want to be able to take as little damage and dish out as much back to the enemy as possible. Using these will keep your deaths to a minimum if you know what you are doing.

: This is for the same reason that the armor seal is there for. The extra survivability. These kinds of seals and glyphs always go a long way to keeping yourself alive.

Greater Quintessence of Desolation : This is for the same reason the marks are. MOAR DAMAGE. Tristana happens to be on the weaker side of AD scaling damage, so getting through tough armor is always a plus.

If you do not like my rune setups, other good rune setups include using and .

Since one person was curious as to why I picked flat Magic Resist and Armor seals/glyphs, I thought I should go into why I chose these runes.

It is once again for the benefit of early game durability and power. It takes until level 10 before the and Greater Seal of Defense become equal to the flat runes.

While in the long run, the scaling runes will provide more magic resist and armor, by the time it gives more, the laning phase is coming to a close and team fights will start happening. Your armor and magic resist will be lower at late game than the runes I provided, however your early game will be much stronger, and if you did a good job, the extra armor and magic resist won't really be necessary at late game.

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Summoner Spell Choices

You might be wondering why I chose these two summoner spells. There are plenty of good reasons for them. Flash is great for escaping at a much more reliable rate than using Rocket Jump. Flash is instant, Rocket Jump is not. Rocket Jump has a slow startup, and slow travelling time. Rather than using just Rocket Jump, you can flash, and then Rocket Jump, making it next to impossible for many champs to catch you.

Exhaust is used an "I win" button. You're not using it strictly for the slow. You're using it to make your opponent's attacks worthless for the most part. It basically guarantees that if you're playing right, you will win the exchange. Exhaust is also useful in all stages of the game, unlike some other summoner spells like Clarity or Ignite.

Other reasonable choices

- Good spell for early kills. Degrades into a heal reduction spell at late game though, and you already have Explosive Shot for that.

- Meh. Not a fantastic spell. You could carry this and Flash I suppose. But that's just overkill on escape in my opinion.

Bad Choices

Others that didn't make either list

You shouldn't have to run this on Tristana in a good team. It's a good spell, but not good on Tristana.

You could run this I suppose, but it's mostly a clutch spell for learners and certain organized team strategies.

You can use this actually. But wherever this would be useful you could be buying a Quicksilver Sash instead.

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Typical 21 in offense. The attack speed for offense is complete overkill, but extra minion damage always helps.

As for the defense, I got 6 points in there. 3 for and 3 for . Again, like I said earlier, this is to buff Tristana's early game durability and sustainability, since that's the area where she struggles. This, on top of the runes I suggested will make Tristana very sturdy for an AD carry.

3 into utility. I didn't grab because regen on Tristana is very useless, and your skills will see very limited use. Any time you wouldn't have mana for the skills, it's almost always because you don't need it, you killed somebody, or need to go back to buy stuff anyways.

rarely initiates, is only used as towards late game, is mostly used for escaping at late game. becomes the only skill that you'll have on a regular basis at late game pretty much every time a fight starts. Because of this, mana regen is in my opinion, absolutely useless on Tristana.

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Skill Order

This should have been mentioned earlier I suppose, but here's the skill order. This can be done a few different ways. The way I have it listed is how I generally play, but you can switch it up a little bit. Every Tristana player agrees though that you need at least 1 level of Explosive Shot at level 2, and at least 2 levels of Explosive Shot before you hit level 6.

You can start with Rocket Jump or Explosive Shot. Neither way is wrong, and it also depends on the team composition of both teams and whether or not your level 1 team is stronger than theirs, which teams have junglers, etc. Most of the time though, you will start with Explosive Shot.

Draw a Bead: Tristana's innate passive. You can ignore this for the most part, but it is pretty awesome. But this skill again proves Tristana is a late game champ. With every level up, Tristana will gain more attack range, giving her the highest innate attack range in the game. Until Tristana is about level 12 though, just about every ranged AD carry will out range Tristana.

Rapid Fire: This skill is the big reason why Tristana is so scary at late game. She can easily hit the cap attack speed with this skill and a couple attack speed items, allowing her to out damage just about any AD carry the enemy might have. It does have a bit of an annoying cool down though, so you want to save it for team fights, and fights where it would ensure a kill. Do NOT use it to harass and poke.

Rocket Jump: A lot of new Tristana players will make the mistake of initiating with this skill on a champ who is not anywhere near dead, therefore killing themselves. This is a skill Tristana players are famous for killing themselves with, because it sticks you right in the enemy's face with flash as your only escape. Can you use this to initiate on an enemy? Yes you can, but you better be sure that they're going to die. It is a great catching tool, since upon landing with the skill, enemies hit by the skill are slowed. If Tristana has red buff, a Frozen Mallet, and lands with this skill, their chance of escape is almost 0, save for a few obvious champs like Master Yi and stealth champs. But an Oracle's Elixir can clear that stealth right up.

However, the skill does have quite a bit of damage to it, but more often than not you will be using this skill to escape, NOT to initiate. There will be few instances where initiating with this skill is a good idea. Early game it will hurt and initiating will be worth it if you have been poking their health down. Once their health gets low enough, you can rocket yourself onto them, fire Explosive Shot, and auto attack them until dead. But as you scale into late game, this skill will become almost useless as far as damage goes. Use this skill WISELY.

Explosive Shot: This is one of my favorite moves. The passive will create an explosion every time you kill a minion. This lets you pick off minions in a smart fashion, punishing your enemies for standing anywhere near their weaker minions, since you will just shoot the minion, grabbing yourself gold, and poking them with the explosion. It's a very safe way for Tristana to harass.

The active on the skill is dangerous early game, as the damage is actually quite nice. The skill also has a built in Ignite, which is why I don't recommend ignite on Tristana. You take Ignite for two reasons: As a finisher, or to reduce their healing so they have trouble recovering from your attacks. Ignite's damage is nice early game, but eventually isn't too great where it degrades into a heal reduction skill and most of the time not much else. You can still make great use of Ignite with Tristana, but Exhaust is useful in all stages of the game.

Combine Exhaust and Explosive Shot, and your opponent is going to have a really hard time beating you in a fight. This means any life steal, passive heals, or active heals are going to be almost useless.

Buster Shot: Right up there with Rocket Jump, Tristana players are just as famous for this skill. You will save enemies with this skill. Get used to it, it's going to happen at some point or another and somebody is going to yell at you for it. This skill takes some practice and good eyes on the enemy's health meter to judge when this skill will kill someone.

This skill is fine to use as soon as you get it though, since its damage is extremely scary. Even if you knock someone away, it's okay early game just for the damage and harassment since it has a low cool down. This skill will fall off really badly towards late game though, so at late game you want to use this skill mostly for saving your allies, as well as yourself. This, combined with Exhaust, Rocket Jump, and Flash make it extremely difficult to catch and kill you.

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Ending Notes

And that's it! Hope it helps a little bit. Always appreciate constructive criticism. Leaves comments and feedback below and let me know what you think.