Tristana Build Guide by Xylant

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 Xylant

Tristana : Easy to Play, Impossible to Master

Xylant Last updated on April 2, 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: 26

Honor Guard

Defense: 3

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 1

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Welcome to the ultimate guide to Tristana.

This guide describes how I play Tristana. She is my favourite character to play. I have played over 500 games with her, so I know what I'm doing.

Note This is a guide to Tristana that works. If it doesn't work for you, you need to learn to play the game better. The official forums have a lot of information on everything from facechecking to the etiquette of stealing jungles.

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Tristana is not simply an AD carry. This is what you would typically see at first glance, but there's so much more.

At the beginning of the game, Tristana has one of the lowest ranges of any ranged champion. By level 18 it becomes the longest range. We need to play according to this change. In early game, your tactics do not play to the strength of your auto-attacks. You need to make use of Tristana's utilities.
Tristana has an active DoT Explosive Shot that stacks with ignite. She has Rocket Jump that slows on impact. Her ultimate has a very strong knockback and high damage. Sure her Rapid Fire has the highest scaling AD boost in the game, but early game you need to use utility to get you ahead so it won't be very useful.
At mid-game (level 8/9), you should start building items towards your AD effectiveness. You also would want to start ganking at this time to help out your teammates. Any earlier and you are not very effective.
Your end game starts when you finish your first Phantom Dancer. Getting that (in this build) means that you should have enough damage, lifesteal and attack speed to sustain yourself in any lane with odds up to 1 vs 3 or 2 vs 5. This means you should be able to kill 1 or 2, or get away during a 3 on 1 gank against you.

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Pre-game Preparation

Get nine Greater Mark of Desolation. It is very useful to raise your creep score. Most minions do not have more than 25 armour so these marks are all you need to farm effectively.
Get nine Greater Seal of Scaling Attack Damage. it works out to about +9 damage when it actually counts.
Get nine Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist. Tristana is squishy so you want some survivability against mages. However, it is your choice between flat, or per level glyphs. It really depends on how well you can predict and dodge enemy abilities.
Get three Greater Quintessence of Life Steal. These combined with the mastery for lifesteal gives 9% lifesteal at level 1. This is essentially like having a vampiric sceptre for free. Very good for early lane sustain.

For masteries, you want to go 26/3/1. +6 armour is for a bit of extra protection and the faster recall has gotten me out of many jams. The other 26 points are standard for an AD carry.

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Item Build

To start with, I buy a Long Sword and a Health Potion. I build the sword into a Madred's Razors and if I have the money the first time I go back to buy, I'll upgrade it to a Wriggle's Lantern.
Note : You will want to lookup information on optimized ward placement to maximize the use of Wriggles Lantern.
I then buy berserker's greaves.
After that, I get an Executioner's Calling. This item may get nerfed soon because it gives so much lifesteal for only about 1500g. Even so, I would still recommend it in the future if it's still cheap.
I then pickup a Zeal, then a B. F. Sword. After I get the extra damage, I finish the zeal into a phantom dancer. Then I turn the sword into an Infinity Edge. Then I pickup a second Phantom Dancer.

At this point, your build is full, but not finished. You should save up the money to buy 3 more items. You can make them whatever you want, but I usually sell the EC and buy The Bloodthirster, then sell Wriggles and buy a Madred's Bloodrazor. If I have money left after that, I'll sell the boots for a third Phantom Dancer.

Using this sequence, there have been games where I have finished my build (Bloodthirster, Bloodrazor and third PD) by 40 minutes. At that point, the game is way to fun to play seriously, so you must start trolling the other team.

DN 8Shot commented that because of Rapid Fire's attack speed steroid, you don't need even 1 Phantom Dancer. (Paraphrased)

Rapid Fire provides an attack speed boost. This is referred to not as an attack speed steroid, but a DPS (damage per second) steroid. To argue that it boosts AS instead of AD is irrelevant. However, the more important point is that the Phantom Dancers are necessary (at least the first two). Attack speed is capped at 2.5 attacks per second. Tristana's base AS is 0.658 attacks per second. She gains about 3% of that per level. After you get the second PD and you hit level 18, you will have 0.658 attacks per second plus an additional 189% of that. It works out to about 1.902 attacks per second. With a maxed Rapid Fire activated, that jumps to 2.49. The reason I suggest a third PD after you're finished everything else is to keep up your movespeed and keep your crit chance at 100%.

ClearDays commented that an executioner's calling puts you behind in mid game and Tristana's mid game is already bad.

The purpose of getting EC early is because it provides excellent sustain so that you can stay in the lane long enough to power through her mid game. In almost every game I play, I get EC early, and then I don't have to go back to base until I have the money to purchase both a Zeal and a BF Sword. It is also effective if you happen to run across a heavy lifestealer (Yi, Nasus, etc.) because it's active halves their lifesteal and it's passive pretty much negates any HP regen.

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Skill Progression

Now, a lot of people have argued with me about which skills I choose first. They usually shut up by the end of the game so I don't take it personally.

I start with explosive shot at level 1 to allow me to hide in the bush and put a double DoT on whoever is more vulnerable. The double DoT is ignite and explosive shot IN THAT ORDER. Using ignite with the summoner's wrath mastery gives you an extra 5 AD and AP. When you use explosive shot, it does extra damage based on AP and then makes you shoot your target right after. That's why the order is important.

I then proceed to maximize Trist's [E] as early as possible. It's very effective as harass and has a short enough CD that you can harass with it 3 times every 2 waves if you time it right.
I also max Trist's Jump [W] as soon as possible after [E] as this is a very useful tool and slows your opponents. Her ulti, like almost everyone else, you want to raise as soon as possible at levels 6,11,16.
I don't put any points into Rapid Fire [Q] until level 13 because you aren't building Tristana's AD ability until then in your item build anyway.

DN 8Shot comments : Your trades are more powerful than that of the enemy ADCarry if you take Rapid Fire at levels 1 - 3 - 5.

Yes, your trades are more powerful if it's straight auto-attacks. However, early game you have such a low range that you should only be within auto-attack range if you are committed to the kill. Your range early game is about the same as the range on Explosive Shot's active so it makes sense that if you're going to be that close anyway, you should take the skill that can hit once and allow you to get away while still doing a sufficient amount of harass.

ClearDays comments : Maxing E means youre putting yourself in danger by pushing the wave too much. You'll probably be close to the enemy tower. If you get silenced or stunned and a jungler comes along, youre guaranteed dead.

Although that is a valid point, there is an offset to this fact. A lot of enemy AD carries stand behind their minions to avoid getting hit by skillshots. When these minions explode on death, the enemy champions are hit by the explosion. This is effectively extending the range of Tristana early game. As far as getting caught by junglers under turret, if you ward properly and pay attention, you should never get caught. You should also never be in turret range unless you have minions with you AND the enemy has too little health to chance attacking.

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Theory part-2

Now that you know the build, there's more theory to understand. This is more a list of information to keep in mind while playing Tristana.

You buy madred's razor/wriggles early because if it procs and kills a minion, it triggers your Explosive Shot's passive explosion. It is very effective for creep farming.

You pickup executioners calling early because it assists you with sustain. You actually feel like you can stay in lane because you can regenerate your health from half to full in about 5 or 6 hits on a minion. It also allows you to solo dragon with most/all of your health intact.

The combination of EC, IE, and 2 PDs gives you 100% crit chance. So you will be doing 500+ damage on every hit once you have them.

In early game, you want to scare your opponents a little with your utility so you'll be in the middle of the team fights most of the time, but by mid game (around when you pickup zeal) you should start hanging back in the group since you'll be targeted to be focused.

Don't be afraid to use the double DoT to get an early dragon. The AP and AD boost will make up for not using it on an enemy champion.

Make sure to use teleport. Early game its a good way to buy items without losing out on creep experience and gold. Mid game it's a good way to push two lanes at once. Late game it's a good way to backdoor turrets if you need to.

Once you finish your build, don't go off and farm lanes. If you want gold, then kill turrets, dragon or baron. Let your teammates farm the lanes to finish their builds.

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So, to sum it up, Tristana Rocks. Many people see Tristana and think "oh, the free champ you get from facebook." I see her and think, "Champion based off of Tank Girl. Probably the best Champion in the game."

If this build doesn't work for you, leave me a comment explaining how.