Build Guide by Madmack
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Tired of Noobs? Sit Back... And Blast Them Down!
Intro to build:
Karthas is one of the most fun champions to play because, when added to your repertoire, he can provide a much needed break from champions that take a lot of skill to play. Now, that isn't to say that a skilled player on Karthas is an absolute ***** to go up against, because he definitely is, but you can absolutely rock on Karthas, and without your index finger barely breaking a sweat...
A cohesive Mastery set is pretty essential for Karthas. 9 or 10 offensive is an absolute must, as you must reach at least Archaic Knowledge in the offensive tree.
Penetrate 15% of your target's magic resist. There's really not much more to say here, it cannot be overlooked.
From here, there's a couple ways you can go. I prefer, personally, to go towards Utility from here. There's a few reasons for this.
Awareness Increases the amount of experience gained by 5% which is absolutely huge, because when playing Karthas, you need to get to level 16 as quickly as possible. The difference between a level 6 ult to a level 11 ult to a level 16 ult is 150 damage at each upgrade, which of course is the difference between being a mild inconvenience, or a "ZOMG NERF KARTH!" kind of inconvenience.
Additionally, the combination of:
3% Cooldown Reduction
6% Cooldown Reduction
Reduction cannot be overlooked
I absolutely love grabbing 2 ranks of Utility Mastery:
30% Increased Duration of Neutral Monster Buffs.
This Mastery gives you an extra 55 seconds on your Golem Buff (1.5% Mana Per Second & 24% Cooldown Reduction). Holding this buff will max out your CDR at 40% giving you just over 1 minute Cooldowns on your Ultimate.
NOTE: The Baron Nashor buff will last 10 minutes and 24 seconds instead of just 8 minutes.
I Grab Burning Embers over Presence of the Master for a couple of reasons.
Reason #1: Presence of the Master, offers very little in terms of killing power, which is Karthas' most important job.
Reason #2: Ignite in solo mid, is pretty much a surefire way to get a kill at level 3. Ignite to start a fight destroys any major healing recovery, and gives you an extra 10 AP for the fight, Wall of Pain reduces magic resist by 15, defile starts ticking away at about 40-45 damage per second, and lay waste will hit either 45 or 90 damage on your target. Most champions cannot survive this.
At level 1 You need to grab:
The sapphire is important to keep you active long enough to stay in lane and get lots of minion kills. The two potions are to assist in this as well. On your first trip back to the shop, you should have plenty of gold to grab a your Blasting Wand and first level boots.
Occassionally, usually if I have enough gold for it, I will skip getting boots of speed on my first trip back and go straight for full Rod of the Ages.
Rod of Ages
80 Ability Power, 650 Health, 725 Mana. Passive: Your Champion gains 18 Health, 20 Mana, and 2 Ability Power every 1 min. Bonuses cap at +270 Health, +300 Mana and +30 Ability Power.
Rod of the Ages is a vital item to Karthas because it will give survivability with 630 extra health. Lots of additionally killing power with 80 extra AP, and once you complete your item set the extra mana will add additional AP as well. Getting this item first is important because it takes a total of 10 minutes to reach its full potential.
The second item to get would be your Sorcerer's Shoes.
20 Magic Penetration. UNIQUE Passive: Enhanced Movement 2
The 20 Magic Penetration is essential for Karthas as many champions will attempt to counter him by throwing on some extra magic resist.
20 Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: Your champion gains 8 ability power per stack, receiving 2 stacks for a kill or 1 stack for an assist. This effect can stack 20 times; you lose a third of your stacks if you die. At 20 stacks, your champion's cooldowns are reduced by 15%.
Meja's Soulstealer is an awesome item for Karthas. At only 1235 Gold, you only need to maintain around 5 stacks (40 AP + 20 base AP = 60 total) for it to maintain its cost effectiveness. But lets consider something even more important. Karthas is one of the easiest champions to keep alive. His farming capabilities make getting Zhonya's Ring incredibly easy, which of course keeps you alive when melee champs try to blow their cooldowns on you to get a quick kill. Additionally, your Wall of Pain ability can keep champions at bay who might otherwise try to tower dive you. With this kind of survivability, and your guaranteed killing power with your ultimate, maintaining at least 5 stacks is for terrible games. Maxing Mejai's Soulstealer is not difficult on Karthas.
120 Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: Increases Ability Power by 25%. UNIQUE Active: Places your champion into Stasis for 2 seconds, rendering you invulnerable and untargetable but unable to take any actions. 90 sec cooldown.
Zhonya's Ring is essential for Karthas. Obviously the 25% increased ability power takes your ultimate to a whole new level, but in addition, the active is so powerful. Karthas can actually become an initiator with a Zhonya's Ring. Throwing Down a Wall of Pain, diving on a couple champions with Defile active (about 260dmg/tick) and blowing Zhonya's Ring is a sure way to piss off the enemy team, and give your allies a few easy kills.
70 Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: +40% Magic Penetration.
Void Staff is imperative late game for Karthas. By now, any good team is going to stack at least some magic resist. Lets consider a Banshee's Veil as a common choice... 57 MR + 13 MR from runes on the typical melee champion, total of 70 Magic Resist. This would normally reduce our ultimate (we'll use 900 damage for illustration purposes) on average by 41% so now we would do 530 damage. However, our talents + Runes + Void Staff causes a 70 MR champion to be reduced down to about 18 MR which is only about 15% damage reduction so now our ultimate does 765 damage to a champion with 70 MR. Needless to say, Void Staff is essential.
45 Ability Power, 400 Mana, 25 Mana Per 5 Sec. Passive: 3% of your Max Mana is converted to Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: Each time your Champion uses an Ability their Maximum Mana will increase by 4 Mana. This effect has a 3 second cooldown. Bonus caps at 1000 mana.
I always get Archangel's Staff last. 3% Max Mana converted to ability power is very nice, and is great early game, however there are too many deficits early game when grabbing this item early. If you grab this item first you will not have the survivability that Rod of the Ages gives. If you grab this item in place of Mejai's Soulstealer, I would pick up another Archangel's Staff instead of Mejai's late game. This is a viable choice. I simply prefer Mejai's since in most games I have no problem maxing it. Placing Archangel's anywhere else in the item build order will gimp you too significantly, replacing Mejai's with Archangel's is the only viable option, and it's probably too expensive and will actually gimp you too much as you must wait longer to finish Zhonya's Ring. Archangel's is a good last item, and will push you up over 700 AP easily, and sometimes close to or over 800 AP dependent upon how many stacks of Mejai's you have.
Elixir of Brilliance
Click: Grants 31-65 Ability Power, based on your champion's level, and reduces cooldowns by 10% for 4 minutes.
Maintaining an Elixer of Brilliance is vital once you have your full item set. Sometimes grabbing one earlier is an okay choice, however I do not recommend it most of the time.
There are really lots of rune options. Here is what I prefer...
Greater Mark of Insight
8.55 Magic Penetration
Magic Penetration is an obvious must for Karthas, as he needs to deal as much damage as possible with his ultimate for maximum effectiveness. And making children QQ.
Greater Seal of Vitality
9.72 Health per level (174.96 at 18)
I prefer Health Per Level Seals for survivability. The Magic and Utility Seals just aren't very powerful, and so I find that this is the best use of the Seal slots.
Greater Glyph of Force
1.53 Ability Power per level (27.54 at 18)
I used to use cooldown reduction glyphs. However, since I almost always have the Golem Buff, and since I mastery for maximum effectiveness, I already have maximum cooldown reduction without cooldown glyphs. The obvious next best choice is more pew-pew power.
Greater Quintessence of Focus
4.92 Cooldown Reduction
I go back and forth on Quints, in that I will occasionally grab Magic Penetration, or AP Quints. Cooldown Reduction is probably my most frequent choice. Despite grabbing golem whenever possible, there are plenty of times where an ally or enemy ganks it first, and so the extra cooldown reduction becomes very helpful. I certainly consider Magic Pen or AP Quints completely viable though.
More to Come...