Nasus Build Guide by Turtler7
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.
2nd back after 40% cdr
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.
I have more sections I want to add but much of the core parts are here and ready. I especially have things I want to say about ideal teammates that are friends and in voice chat so they know how to help you take full advantage of the power of Nasus. They will come as soon as I have time to do them justice.
Make sure you read THE ULTIMATE SECRET at the very least, as it is the most critical part of this guide that you will not see detailed elsewhere.
I get windy, extremely detailed, and even explain full numerical relationships of things I describe in this guide a few times. If you want the TLDR version of this guide here it is.
1. Hit s while farming and only Siphoning Strike freeze farm as much as you can.
2. Buy the items listed above in that order.
3. Abuse your minions and their minions both to do more than double the damage overall that people expect to take from a Nasus during laning phase.
4. Use Barrier / Exhaust and use them when being turret dived or when you just need a tiny edge in fights. When you get the Nasus minion combos down properly you can switch to using Teleport and keeping your favorite of the original 2 summoners. If you really get confident in a draft pick against something you can easily win against grab Ghost / Teleport for the utility in helping your team better.
5. Farm farm farm farm farm farm.... KILL!
6. Wither the ADC and instantly nuke it if you can get a hand on it. If it seems too far away, Nasus can get easily kited trying to go for that kill. Keep the wither up on him and instead kill the APC or a damage dealing bruiser or whatever is in your face at the moment.
7. Win game.
The section right after this is the most critical but I will expound in detail on many other aspects of the build that I hope some of you will find quite helpful.
THE ULTIMATE SECRET
Shhh! Be careful who you let learn about this. This is the ultimate strength to Nasus during laning phase. It relies on your opponent making small but critical errors in timing and positioning. No other champion can take advantage of it quite the way Nasus can. But as this is a lack of knowledge or a momentary lapse in judgement, highlighting it can combat against it. If your opponent has never read this guide or discovered this secret for themselves, you will find it is the difference between surviving the laning phase and absolutely dominating it.
Are you ready for it?
The secret to winning lane with Nasus is...
Seriously though. In early levels opponents normally complain in all chat that they don't understand how they lost, that Nasus just got really lucky, etc. These pathetic excuses are a good sign because they still feel like they are still the stronger character. Then the next time as your Siphoning Strike continues to grow and they wait for their own minion wave to be built up to engage you, you just kill them outright and they cannot figure out how they are doing so poorly and feel so powerless against you.
The first and most obvious way that minions win a lane for Nasus is that each time he Siphoning Strike kills one, he gets the infinite scaling increase in damage. This might sound like a "duh" statement, but it is surprising how many junglers do not appreciate that minions are not just gold for Nasus but are his very source of power. I always tell my jungler at the start of the game that their job is to feed middle and bottom lanes and that they should just ignore top lane entirely. I warn them that even if I am pushed under my turret, I can safely farm. Even a perfect gank killing my lane partner sets me behind in Siphoning Strike farm because my minion wave builds up and kills the enemy minions faster than Siphoning Strike cools down. Had my enemy been there to kill some of the minions I would have been able to stretch out and farm each of the minions rather than just get the gold for last hit. Nasus scales off of Siphoning Strike farm, not off of cs gold, and not off of kills.
Here are the things to look for to engage a fight:
Having a friendly minion wave built up and the last of the enemy minions about to die.
Having a friendly wave just about to arrive while the center battle line (and your enemy) is closer to your turret and no enemy minions are still alive. Their minions will arrive too late to stop anything.
How do you take advantage of these conditions? Easy. You Wither them. Melee champions are conditioned to stay right up near the minions and avoid being zoned out so they can get the last hits without warning you of their intentions by a long run up. They are conditioned to simply back up when their own minions get killed so they take little to no minion damage before the next wave is tanking it for them. But if they have no minions (or you kill the last of them fast), while they cannot move properly for 5 seconds, the minions do shocking amounts of damage. At 10 minutes caster minions do 31 base damage and have an attack speed of .67 and melee minions do 15 damage but 1.25 attacks per second. Over 5 seconds without having trouble getting those attacks in a single minion wave of 3 melees and 3 casters does 593 damage. I assume most top laners start with around 40ish armor I am going to say they resist 30% of it. That is 415 actual damage dealt just with a single well timed Wither. If you have a double wave or a siege minion up, that damage gets even higher.
Here are the things to look for to counter engage:
At least a few friendly minions present preferably with more on the way shortly, but a large buildup of enemy minions. It is important that you have enough friendly minions for this to work if you are facing someone with AOE damage. You cannot take all the enemy minion damage after their AOE accidentally kills all of yours.
How do you take advantage of these conditions? Easy. You use your Fury of the Sands. People underestimate the amount of damage gained by converting a buildup of minions into attack damage. At 10 minutes a melee minion has 505 HP, a caster has 325 HP, a siege minon has 781 HP. With 6 of each small and 1 siege (a double wave) this results in a solid 20 extra attack damage per second. When you consider your opponents health, it is usually +25 attack damage total bonus each second. By the end of a 15 second Fury of the Sands that is 375 bonus attack damage! And oddly, that is not even the main advantage you gain! Nasus heals off the damage he does to these minions and that is an extra 340 regeneration every second that he sits with his Fury of the Sands on in such a large minion wave before even considering his passive lifesteal while dealing massively boosted damage. Not even Mordekaiser can gain such a massive advantage from enemy minions being present during a fight. Nasus cannot do this during every minion wave like Mordekaiser but that is why it is so easy for an enemy to forget about how much of a difference it makes and not instantly flash away in fear the moment Nasus pops his Fury of the Sands next to a large minion wave.
More than a few times I have seen both of these tricks chained into a single sustained fight. Wither the enemy while last hitting the final minion to get massive minion damage in along with a normal auto-attack/ Siphoning Strike double shot combo. Then backing off not letting the enemy get a trade combo in while they push back your minions. As their second wave arrives but only a few of your minions remain, walk back in to auto-attack/ Siphoning Strike "trade" but follow up with Wither/ Fury of the Sands. Many strong duelists like Irelia, Darius, and Garen will stay to fight and make you pay rather than try to escape from Wither. By the time they realize how fast you are regenerating health, a second Wither is off cooldown and it is a free kill.
So in conclusion the ULTIMATE SECRET to Nasus is how minions synergize with his abilities. Use this knowledge wisely to avoid being yet another ignorant top laner chosen specifically to "counter Nasus" that ends up feeding and suffering the most miserably frustrating loss of your career as that Nasus steamrolls your entire team without a care in the world.
How much Q-farm is enough?
One of the top things I get asked is how much Q-farm ( Siphoning Strike bonus damage) you should have at different stages of the game. If you are on par with the average and your team sticks with it to stall it out, you should never lose. The best values are not even close to the maximum possible but are nearly impossible to beat in any competitive match. If you get near the best farm numbers, your team can be super behind and easily win.
10 minutes: +99
15 minutes: +180
20 minutes: +270
30 minutes: +420
40 minutes: +600
Average values for a solid game:
10 minutes: +138
15 minutes: +270
20 minutes: +360
30 minutes: +510
40 minutes: +660
Best values to aim for:
10 minutes: +159
15 minutes: +315
20 minutes: +450 (GG surrender time!)
30 minutes: +690 (Why haven't you won yet?)
40 minutes: +930 (Good lord just kill them already!)
Most important thing in your runes is your initial cooldown reduction. 9 Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction and 1 Greater Quintessence of Cooldown Reduction are the only things that are not negotiable. If you want to Nasus, make the investment. Everything else can be attack damage, armor penetration, or defensive stats.
If you are worried about the late-game only I recommend Greater mark of armor penetration, Greater Seal of Armor, Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction, one Greater Quintessence of Cooldown Reduction, and two Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage.
If you are like me and are ONLY worried about the laning because everything else will be a q-farm snowball, take Greater Mark of Attack Damage instead of Greater mark of armor penetration, and instead of Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage take two Greater Quintessence of Life Steal to make surviving easier.
Against most matchups I prefer the gold start/gp5/pickpocket, CDR, and experience masteries to going full defense ones. This is a personal preference as Nasus is a spectacular tank and tank masteries will make him much harder to shut down end game. But having more chance to Siphoning Strike farm with 6% more CDR, faster getting the gold for a Glacial Shroud, and outleveling your laning partner (often hitting 11 as they hit 9) are very helpful to the most critical parts of the game as Nasus.
I almost never buy my Spirit Fire until I am forced to. Rare occasions might call for it early. It is a very powerful ability to reduce armor, do some last second damage at a distance, do DOT damage in a head to head fight, or get CS while being pushed far back under turret. But compared with shutting down all autoattack based champions, ensuring there is no escape, kiting under turrets when dived by multiple enemies, and calmly walking away from a charging enemy it isn't as useful as the Wither. After recent changes to his mana consumption for Siphoning Strike and Fury of the Sands, you can safely take Spirit Fire at level 4 and not level it again until much later. Before that update even an occasional Spirit Fire cast before having both the Glacial Shroud and Sheen could leave you unable to use Fury of the Sands to gain extra health while escaping an aggressive gank. I personally still don't buy it but that could just be a result of the playstyle I have become accustomed to while the other abilities had cost too much mana.
The best summoners for Nasus are probably Flash and Teleport. But that is while you are very confident in your abilities to farm in lane without appearing too scary. Flash vs Ghost is a toss up based on being up more often with Ghost and the critical Flash Siphoning Strike to finish an enemy carry in a teamfight. The teamfight potential currently has me persuaded.
When I play Nasus I find there is never an even exchange in lane. Either they work very hard to shut me down early and jungle camp me, or I quickly make my laning partner feel useless. When they are clearly losing the lane they normally ask mid and/or jungler to turret dive me. I have seen many of those ganks fail because of Wither, farmed Siphoning Strike damage and lifesteal, and kiting under turret. They often forget about the burst of health and health regen when you use your ultimate. It is a fatal error.
To take advantage of this all too common mistake in lower elo, I have taken to packing Barrier and Exhaust so I can kite 2 people at once and have a much larger burst of health. Nothing is more amusing than them pushing the lane hard, missing CS, and then feeding 2-3 kills to you and letting you freeze Siphoning Strike farm back to their turret before backing to buy large items. Barrier is easy to forget about and is back frequently enough that in a straight up 1v1 battle you rarely if ever lose. Super aggressive early laners that trade hard ( Olaf comes to mind) often feed you first blood by going all in on you and taking too much minion damage while trying to get through that Barrier because they didn't expect you to survive that long. The extra precious moments Barrier buys you lets you lifesteal and Health Potion even more health that is quite significant in a close duel that early in the game.
Until you become confident in your laning phase and especially while playing blind pick, I recommend trying Barrier and Exhaust as your summoner spell combination when first picking up Nasus as a champion you want to be serious with.
You have 2 choices for starting items. They are based on what you are up against. When I feel like I should lose my lane if my opponent knows how to play their champion right I choose either Crystalline Flask and 5 Health Potion or Cloth Armor, 5 Health Potion, and 1 Mana Potion
Against AP champs like Nidalee, Elise, Cho'Gath, Singed, etc it is nice to have some extra sustain in lane and to be able to throw wither more frequently.
Against melee bruisers that trade often it is nice to have a little more armor. Darius, Olaf, Garen, Kha'Zix, Jax, Xin Zhao, etc so I grab Cloth Armor/5 Health Potion.
Regardless of what you start with, you have only one goal in mind for early buys. Glacial Shroud and Kindlegem. As soon as you get the lane at a neutral position and have the required 1500 or 1800 gold, sneak back for your new favorite friends, the Glacial Shroud and Kindlegem to complete your 40% CDR very early in the match. The armor is very valuable in early tankiness, the mana gives you the ability to Wither as needed without fear of running out, and the cooldown reduction is critical to not missing Siphoning Strike farm opportunities.
If you use teleport to return to lane, it puts your second back on the same timer as the teleport usually. You need a minimum of 1200 gold and ideally will have 1525 or even 1825 with the second back. The most important item after 40% CDR is your Sheen so that you can lifesteal more effectively off minions, trade poke when a jungler is coming, or have a surprising amount of damage when you let them engage on you and finally fight back showing your Siphoning Strike farmed power spike to your opponent while they have already committed to the fight.
Many players look at me funny when I tell them they should have normal Boots of Speed, Kindlegem, Glacial Shroud, and Sheen with no completed items after 3325 gold to work with. Trust me, it is well worth just surviving the laning phase and farming more effectively rather than announcing to the world how strong you are by finishing something big earlier.
Now you have Trinity Force, Frozen Heart, boots, and Spirit Visage all started at the same time! Crazy right! I almost always finish my boots then Trinity Force first. Then I usually go Spirit Visage and finally Frozen Heart last of my initial item upgrades. I might do Frozen Heart first if they have a bunch of attack speed based champions but usually don't find it as effective as the Spirit Visage stats and passive.
With those 4 completed items, my 5th item becomes a toss up. If my team is doing well and I have actual carries that need a tank to stand behind, I will go Warmog's Armor next. If my team has been completely destroyed and I am really the only hope we have, I will go Blade of the Ruined King. It is surprisingly effective at adding extra active damage burst and another added slow in between Wither to hold onto and finish an enemy ADC early in a teamfight. The active also works well for an added heal boost using it on the highest HP enemy tank in range while taking concentrated fire. It also means that provided a teamfight starts with one or more significant enemy damage dealers being deleted, the additional damage and healing against tanks will make Nasus able to be neigh unkillable.
For a final item (if the game somehow lasts that long), a Guardian Angel is a solid pickup.