Nidalee Build Guide by UcGXanthos

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author UcGXanthos

Top Nidalee, The Correct Way

UcGXanthos Last updated on October 12, 2012
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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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hey guys, I'm UcGXanthøs from the team Under Cover Gaming and this is my first guild here on Mobafire. In my opinion, Nidalee is one of the greatest solo tops in the game. Her amazing strength comes from her inherent power in her skills allowing her to essentially build pure tank, and yet still dish out amazing damage. The general concepts of this build are easy to understand, but Nidalee is an extreamly difficult champion to play (or at least I think so). She has amazing rewards for anyone playing her correctly.

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Frequently Used Terms

AD-Attack Damage
AP-Ability Power
CC-Crowd Control
CS-Creep Score
AoE- Area of Effect
Ganks- Attacks directed towards in the early game you from someone who doesn't belong in your lane

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    Amazing damage without many AD items
    Great escapability
    High damage poke
    Built in heal/attack speed
    High burst
    Great at focusing single targets
    Doesn't REQUIRE Flash


    Lacks damage after burst
    Hard first 6 levels
    Relies on a strong team
    Crowd Control
    Hard to master

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My runes for Nidalee are extremely simple.


Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

Armor Pen Marks: Helps you kill things.

Flat Armor Seals: Most top laners are AD over AP so you'll need some armor from the beginning. Also, Atma's will give some armor later

Magic Resist Per Level Glyphs: Because you're not building any Magic Resist you need a lot at level 18, but not nearly as much at level 1 because, as I said previously, most top laners are AD.

Flat Damage Qunits: Damage is good.

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My Nidalee build is all about having high burst damage and surviving long enough in a fight to get them to 20% health for a final Q. For this reason I feel it's best to have 21 points into offense with 9 in defense. Executioner works very well with the Cougar's Q. Nidalee also needs the 30 additional health from Veteran's Scars . The only good alternative, in my opinion, would be 9 points in Offense and 21 in Defense, however, my items are mostly tanky therefore more damage is needed from passive effects like the masteries.

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Passive- Nidalee recieves 15% increased movement speed while in bushes and for 2 seconds after she leaves them.

Human Form

Nidalee's human form has everything scale off of AP.

Q- Javelin Toss

This is Nidalee's main form of damage early game. It's an extremely long range spear that does more damage the further it flies, capping out at 250% damage at max range. This Q is Nidalee's trademark. On an AP Nidalee it feels like it does too much damage. However, because of it's amazing 250% scaling it still deals a lot of damage when building Nidalee AD. I find the Nidalee spear is an amazing tool for harassment in the early stages of the game. It can easely provide the last bit of damage required to get a kill in an early jungle invasion, which is why I always grab my Q first and max it second.

W- Bushwhack

This spell is one of my favorites. It's a trap that lasts for 4 minutes and will reveal any Champion that steps on it for 12 seconds along with reducing their Armor and Magic Resist while adding in a little damage. With well placed traps there is no need to buy wards early game, your traps will keep you safe along with revealing invisible enemies like Shaco. You only need one point in the traps though, max it last.

E- Primal Surge

Arguably one of the best support spells in the game. A heal that increases attack speed. It's extremely similar to Nunu's Blood Boil except it heals instead of increasing movement speed. I max this spell first, at level 10, because it provides amazing health and attack speed. Early game this spell doesn't make too much of a difference, which is why I choose to get 3 points into Q before level 6, but its 60% attack speed and 200~ health heal by level 10 is amazing.

R- Aspect Of The Cougar

The spell that makes Nidalee, Nidalee. For 0 mana she transforms into a cougar giving her extra movement speed, armor and magic resist. One confusing aspect of this ultimate is it changes all of her spells.

Cougar Skills

These skills scale off of AD and are Nidalee's main source of damage. They DO NOT receive benefits from leveling up EXCEPT FOR POINTS PUT INTO THE ULTIMATE. Leveling up Javelin Toss WILL NOT increase the damage of Takedown.

Cougar Q- Takedown

This spell is the main reason Nidalee doesn't need to build AD. It increases the damage of the next basic attack in Cougar form. The increased damage depends on how much health the target is missing, dealing up to 300% extra damage.

Cougar W- Pounce

This is Nidalee's escape mechanic. An extreamly short cooldown spell that acts as a mini flash and deals damage equal to her base AD without scaling off base attack damage and AP.

Cougar E- Swipe

An AoE melee attack that scales off of base attack damage and AP.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Bushwhack should always be taken at level 1 and should be placed in the river bush as a ward for ganks. I think it's best to get 3 points into Javelin Toss by level 5 because it gives Nidalee a strong poke even from range. Her ability to harass at range is amazing. Remember, before Aspect Of The Cougar Nidalee cannot hold her own in a 1v1 fight. Leveling up your Javelin Toss allows for a decent amount of damage to be given at a range keeping Nidalee perfectly safe. Once Nidalee has Aspect Of The Cougar she doesn't need her Javelin Toss to do damage and the heal/attack speed buff from Primal Surge becomes your best friend.

If you're facing an opponent who's aggressive early on, Jayce Gangplank Pantheon you should level up Primal Surge before Javelin Toss getting 3 points in it by level 5, and maxing it by level 9, then continue to level up Javelin Toss.

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There are very few choices for boots on Nidalee.

Mercury's Treads
These are my personal choice in most games. The tenacity plus the cougar pounce allow Nidalee to escape nearly any scary situation. These boots should almost always be purchased against a team with any form of crowd control.

Ninja Tabi
If your opponents team has a heavy focus on AD and a lack of CC Ninja Tabi might just be the boots for you.

Boots of Swiftness
These boots are not very good on Nidalee. She has innate escapability with her cougar W and passive which make these boots overkill.

Berserker's Greaves
These boots should never be chosen on Nidalee. Nidalee recieves 60% additional attack speed from a full level E, she does not need more attack speed, she needs survivablity.

None of the other boots should ever be considered.

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Summoner Spells

I choose Ignite and Flash. Nidalee cannot be killed by ganks early game if you use your Bushwhack properly and Flash. Once you reach level 6, your W- Bushwhack plus your passive Prowl will make for an easy escape 90% of the time. My Nidalee build is tanky and bursty, so sometimes an Ignite gives just enough damage finish off a champion. Exhaust, Ghost or Teleport could be taken over the Ignite, but a key part to my strategy is demolishing my lane, and Ignite helps to get extra damage that can easily lead to a kill.

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Items are the most important part of any build. My items as Nidalee are unlike any I have ever seen, but everything has a good reason. Start off with Boots of Speed and 3x health potions because Nidalee needs to stay in her lane until she's level 6. Then, grab a Heart of Gold and start building your 2nd tier Boots of Speed. Sheen is an amazing item on Nidalee because Transforming in and our of cougar form costs 0 mana, along with all of her cougar form skills. That means you can basically have free critical hits whenever you want to. This means that Trinity Force is extremely effective on Nidalee. Because Nidalee is a melee champion, she has to go deep into team fights, which makes the armor and magic resist offered by a Guardian Angel a must have, not to mention reviving upon death. These are the items I will build on Nidalee in a large majority of games, but the rest of her item slots need to be adaptable for the situation you find yourself in.

Core Build

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Situational Items

This item is a must have if you're laning vs an AP opponent, i.e. Rumble Vladimir Kennen or if the other team has a really fed AP mid. If you are laning against an AP opponent, I recommend picking up a Hexdrinker either instead of a Heart of Gold or before you start building Trinity Force

If you're doing extremely well in lane, and your jungler is somewhat tanky, by all means, buy a The Bloodthirster. It adds amazing damage output and gives amazing sustain for the lane. You will probably build this before your guardian angle if you're having a good lane.

In most games I end up building this item. Nidalee doesn't have too much presence in team fights, but being able to get in the face of the other teams ADC and slow everything about him is extremely good on Nidalee. Also, if you find yourself in a lane with a melee fighter, for example Irelia, a Warden's Mail can be your saving grace because it slows their attack speed when they attack you along with giving armor.

zeke's herald If you find yourself in "protect the ad carry" mode, zeke's herald can be a great addition to your build, giving you attack speed and lifesteal, along with helping out your carry.

If you find you 100% need more health, Warmog's Armor gives the most in the game. The only situation I can honestly imagine buying this is if the other team has almost no AP presence. Pair up Warmog's Armor with Atma's Impaler and you'll win fights with bruisers all day.

Like I said in Warmog's Armor, only get this item if you're getting warmog's.

This is one of my favorite items. Gives you attack speed and magic resist. If you're opponent's AP carry is doing well, but you're laning vs someone with both physical and magic damage, Jayce for example, you may want to pick up a Wit's End for great dueling potential.

If you find you're opponent has several AD champions that are completely fed, you might consider Thornmail

I actually really like this item, decent AoE damage in a really good range, a good amount of health, and some armor. Can be a good replacement for Randuin's Omen if the other team has 3 AP champions.

This item will give a little health, some magic resist, but most importantly, extra healing. Not vary many situation's I'd recommend it, but it's possible.

The highest magic resist item in the game. Also gives 8% movement speed, which Nidalee loves.

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Example End Game Builds

Vs heavy AP

Vs heavy AD

Vs a good mix

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How to Win Your Lane

Early Game

Nidalee is an amazing laner in cougar form, but before then, she will always lose a fight. Nidalee needs to to harass a melee opponent as much as possible with basic attacks and Javelin Toss. Use Bushwhack to stay safe from ganks and Primal Surge whenever your opponent over-commits. Harassing opponents is always good, but Nidalee's priority is on killing creeps. Always take the last hit on creeps. At level 6, Nidalee gains a huge boost in damage that can easily catch her opponent off guard.

Early Cougar Form

After buying a Sheen, a couple sight wards and hopefully level 2 Boots of Speed, Nidalee becomes a laning menace. A good burst in lane is to lay down a Bushwhack to charge your Sheen. Basic attack once, throw a Javelin Toss use Primal Surge and transform into cougar and bursting with Pounce, Primal Surge and finally Javelin Toss. This will either kill your opponent, or most likely force them home, giving you free time to kill creeps and gain experience. Your only goal at this point in time is to out farm the opponent in your lane.

If executed well, the beginning of the game is impossible for Nidalee to lose. Her level 6 burst with a Sheen and Ignite will bring any champion low on health. If you can time out your attack with a gank from the jungler, it can only spell certain death for your poor poor opponent.

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Later Game

Mid Game

Nidalee is amazing at split pushing simply because it's hard to catch her. The low cd on Pounce is a great escape tool. A properly fed Nidalee will be more than tanky to survive long enough in a fight, and with a natural 60% attack speed increase plus the jump on her Bushwhack allows her to focus down any squishy champions while escaping if she needs to. Her spear Javelin Toss is great for poking down the enemy team before an engagement occurs. Don't ever hesitate to use Primal Surge on your ad carry, it will increase his damage output by a huge amount.

Late Game

Unfortunately, the damage on Nidalee's spear, Javelin Toss falls off and is only useful against carries and for charging Sheen. It is extremely important that every engagement you have Primal Surge on yourself or your AD carry. It's important to remember that human and cougar form Nidalee have the same attack damage, cougar form is only used for its spells. By the end of the game Nidalee has enough damage to essentially be an AD carry, but enough health to be a bruiser, while maintaining the ability to chase/escape from anyone.

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Cho'Gath is annoying in lane because you simply cannot harass him. His passive restores health every time he kills a minion, so it's simply not worth trying to harass him. Just play safe, and try to burst him when your jungler comes. Cho'Gath doesn't have any killing potential outside of his ultimate, but his large amount of cc means that ganks can be dangerous. Despite being AP, Cho'Gath alone isn't enough to force you to get a Maw of Malmortius. If you can dodge his Rupture, this will be an easy lane.

Nidalee can actually lane well vs Darius. Darius has no sustain naturally so harass him all day. As long as you widdle him down and don't go into any straight up fights, Nidalee wins. Dodge the Apprehend. Don't fight unless you know you can win. An early Chain Vest will never hurt.

Fiora is annoying to lane against. It's a decently even lane, just be careful of her Lunge and Blade Waltz. Harass her as much as possible, but watch for Riposte. Fiora has no sustain, so just harass her until she's low, and don't ever fight her straight up.

I haven't faced a Garen since his rework. Try to not fight him because his ultimate will destroy you. His passive makes harassing him almost impossible. You won't get any kills on Garen without jungle help.

You have to punish Irelia hard early game. Once she hits level 9, her Hiten Style makes her a monster in 1v1 fights. Because most of her damage is true damage, it's good to buy a fast Warden's Mail. This will slow her attack speed which is the only true way to reduce true damage.

jarven iv I don't know anything about this lane, just harass.

An extremely difficult lane for Nidalee. Harass when you can but be wary of his Counter Strike Leap combo. Jax will out damage you every fight so he has to be low before you start one. A combination of armor and magic resist is required for this lane.