Tristana Build Guide by Trojan995

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 Trojan995

Tristana: The Lane Game

Trojan995 Last updated on December 10, 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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hello, this is my second guide on Mobafire, but I consider it my first guide geared towards being fully viable in ranked play.

This is going to be a guide focused on Early game lane domination, phasing into late game single-target DPS and defense. This is the strategy I find that fits Tristana best, and I will be detailing both the main item build (and all its counterparts - runes, summoner spells, masteries) and situational item paths (same items, different buying order) and situational items (different items). I'll try to keep it short and sweet because I'd like to cater mostly to Tristana's gameplay, and not the game itself.

Since I don't think there's much more I have to say right now, let's begin!

Thanks to Mowen for all the great pictures in this guide! She designed the signature.

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Tristana: A Role Explored

So, why do we play Tristana the way we do? First of all, here's why we play her as a ranged carry:

- long range at level 18 with her passive Draw a Bead

- 90% Attack speed steroid

- Rest of spells have high utility, low effectiveness as main damage source ( Rocket Jump is a great blink but puts you in the middle of the fight if used for damage, Explosive Shot is great for grabbing 2 last hits at once/clearing waves quickly but has low range and low burst, Buster Shot has high damage and high scaling but knocks your enemy back, making it only good for defense/finishing moves).

Now, why do we play her as a Crit Carry, and not as some other AD carry ( Trinity Force/pure AD as opposed to AD/crit)?

- Her AD - oriented skills are exlusively beneficial to auto-attacks.

- Auto-attacks are most powerful with a crit build.

- None of her abilities scale with AD (not directly, anyhow; crit + AD is best).

- She has high cooldown spells, so no Trinity Force.

Now that we know we should build her as a crit carry, what playstyle should we adopt?

- Tristana has a decent early game (last hitting isn't hard with range), which evolves into a strong mid-game laning phase at level 6.

- Tristana, with a combination of Rocket Jump, Buster Shot, Ignite, runes/masteries/auto-attacks, can burst an enemy champion down from nearly 3/4 health.

- Tristana, with the best late-game range in the game and best attack-speed buff in the game, has strong late-game auto-attack damage because she can build nearly pure AD/crit and still have close to 1.7 attack speed.

- Tistana's Rocket Jump gives her incredibly high built-in escapability. This makes her a generally self-reliant carry; that is, she can deal damage and survive without having significant back-up.

So, this means that Tristana should be a ranged AD carry picked to be a strong laner that scales well into late game.

Tristana is great for countering weaker mid-laners or duo-bot laners, such as Ashe or Kassadin, because she has the power to win the lane while still not losing out on late game damage. Tristana may not be as strong against some of the stronger laners, such as Urgot or Caitlyn (though these champions aren't quite as strong late game).

Tristana is also a champion great for solo queue.

While a ranged carry like Ashe might be best for an arranged premade, she doesn't have as much capacity to depend on herself to live as Tristana. Ashe has better late game utility and a game-changing ultimate, but she is a weak laner and has low escapability/mobility. Tristana is great because if she cannot win a lane (it takes a very strong laner to beat tristana), she can at least hold her lane, farm, and escape ganks effectively. Also, unlike the strongest laners (with obvious exceptions), she scales well into late game, so if your allies aren't able to end the game early on your early game triumphs, Tristana won't let you down.

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Summoner Spells

Here's the summoner spells I use.

Even with the flash nerf, it's still great. It's not vital, but it's still incredibly useful. Some of you might want to take Ghost - that's okay, but in my opinion flash is still going to save your *** more and net you more kills. So take Flash, but don't hesitate to take Ghost if you prefer it.

I take ignite because it ties together Tristana's early game dominance. At level 6, a 170 true damage DoT spell can mean the difference between life and death on an enemy, especially if you Buster Shot them away. Using this to score kills early game is undeniably fantastic.

The only other viable summoner spell on tristana:

I take ghost from time to time because virtually every champion needs an escape. It's simply essential. Since Tristana already has a built in blink ( Rocket Jump), I often feel like Ghost is better (however, that's often not the case). Take this instead of flash if you think that the double jump isn't necessary.

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I'll talk about masteries row-by-row to tell you which masteries I took and why.


Row 1:

I take 3 points in Brute Force because the 3 extra AD is better than 4 extra damage to minions, and especially better than AP. I take 1 point in Summoner's Wrath because the ignite mastery will be very useful in lane.

Row 2:

I take 4 points in Alacrity because I need it to get to the really good mastery in the next row. Also, 10 bonus damage to towers is overrated.

Row 3:

I take 1 point in Weapon Expertise because OH MY GOD is that awesome. 10% armor penetration is GODLY for 1 mastery point. I take 4 points in Deadliness because lucky crits in lane can turn the tides in your favor. I put 3 points into Havoc because the 1.5% damage boost is more significant than the alternative, 3% life steal.

Row 4:

I put 1 point in Lethality because crit damage will not only help in lane (with that extra 4% crit from row 3), but late game it will make a significant impact for only 1 mastery point.

Row 5:

I put 3 points into Sunder because armor penetration is f*$%king great. More is better. You now have lots of armor pen, no one can stop you.

Row 6:

I put 1 point in Executioner because even though it's not as good as the old Havoc, it will help you in a pinch.

In General:

The reason I go 21 into offense is because the offense tree is OP for AD carries. Attack speed, crit chance, crit damage, lifesteal, AD, armor penetration, % armor penetration... Pretty much every amazing stat, all in 1 mastery tree.


Row 1:

I put 2 points into Resistance for the extra 4 magic resist. I put 2 points in Hardiness for the extra armor. Since you won't be itemizing for defense all that much, compensating in the remaining 9 mastery points is vital.

Row 2:

I put 4 points into Durability because that 108 health will be a big boost to a champion that builds no extra defense besides Quicksilver Sash.

Row 3:

I put 1 point into Veteran's Scars because 30 health early on can really help win damage trades in lane, and to survive the really clutch fights. It helps loads more than the tiny bit of health regen.

In General:

I put 9 points in defense because the extra resistances and health will help more in general than a bit of mana regen, and the move speed in the utility tree will hardly help in the long run (because you buy Phantom Dancer, no need to get masteries for move speed).

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Rapid Fire: This skill is the reason Tristana builds heavily AD and very little AS. This skill should be active about 50% of the time in a team fight; be sure to ONLY activate it when you've got a good shot at a high-priority target. Here's a few tricks to rapid fire:

- You can activate it to push a lane more quickly, but make sure you have the mana to get out with Rocket Jump if you get ganked.

- After level 8, you can Rocket Jump - Explosive Shot - Rapid Fire - Buster Shot combo on an enemy; rapid fire isn't vital to this combo, so check your mana. If you have enough for 2 spells, only use Rocket Jump and Buster Shot. If you have enough for 3 spells, exclude Rapid Fire. Only if you have enough mana for all 4 spells should you use Rapid Fire in the combo. Moreover, the combo should be: Rocket Jump + Explosive Shot immediately, once you can AA use Rapid Fire, once they approach the end of the 550 range of Buster Shot, cannonball their ***es.

- During a teamfight, you only want to activate Rapid Fire when you're sure you can get maximum DPS out of it. Now, don't ***** out and end up never casting it, but don't cast it in advance to prepare for a fight.

Rocket Jump: This is what makes Tristana unique. A jump spell that is quickly refreshable and gives heavy burst damage. This is where Tristana's in-lane dominance comes from, believe it or not. Positioning is important on any carry, and constant positioning is what separates the good Tristanas from the bad. Here's some Rocket Jump tips:

- Tristana can kill as early as level 2 with Rocket Jump. Get the enemy down to about 300 or so health (maybe less, depending on how weak a laner they are), then Rocket Jump > Explosive Shot > Ignite > auto attack until they're dead. This combo can be used at level 6 too, where it's far more potent.

- Rocket Jump refreshes its cooldown when Tristana scores a kill or assist. There's a few ways to abuse this:
- You can towerdive easily by using Rocket Jump, burst combo, then Rocket Jump out once you got the kill.
- You can sit in the back of a fight, get a kill/assist on a front-line enemy fighter, then you can jump in range to get some more high-priority targets.

- If someone's running away, try to land Rocket Jump on them, instead of just getting closer. Rocket Jump has a slow, don't underestimate it!

Explosive Shot: One of Tristana's more mediocre spells, however it still has some uses. It adds to her early-game burst, and has some late-game utility. Here's how to abuse Explosive Shot:

- This is pretty mediocre harass in lane, being only 550 range. However, whenever you can land it early on, by all means do so. Try your best not to trade blows with the enemy if they have good harass, though.

- This does have a heal debuff, so make sure to use it. Up against Nidalee? STOP THAT HEAL! Enemy popped a potion? WHAT A WASTE OF A POTION! Go out of your way to stop potions, because that's a huge gimp on the enemy's laning phase. However, against heals, it's not so imperative to stop it, but it's still a higher priority than just harassing, because heals are on lower CD and the enemy doesn't pay money for them.

- in team fights, DO NOT get close enough to use this unless someone gets close enough to you to use it (exceptions being Dr. Mundo, Vlad, etc.). The range is horrible compared to your AA range, and this is horrible damage late-game, so only use it if someone enters your range, don't enter someone's range to use it.

- In lane, you can use the passive to deal damage too. If the enemy is standing in their own minion wave, just kill the creeps near them, and boom! Free harass. This is more difficult to pull off than it sounds.

Buster Shot: Your ultimate. In some ways this ultimate is golden, in some ways it isn't. It's great early game for damage, great late game for defensive utility. It scales well off of AP, but don't buy AP because that's just stupid. Here's the tips and tricks for Buster Shot:

- Early game, you can burst a champ down from nearly 3/4 health. Use this to your advantage to make yourself a lane god; basically just Rocket Jump on the enemy, use all your non-buster shot spells, auto attack until they're almost out of range, then Buster Shot them into oblivion.

- Late game buster shot can be used one of two ways:
- defensive knock-back, when you're being chased or otherwise.
- finishing burst damage (when they're way low on health and will die to your ultimate), for when you don't want soraka to have a kill. It's okay to KS, you're the carry.

- If you can't kill the enemy in lane for some reason, but they're semi-low health, you can Buster Shot them to deal some hefty damage. This can force them to recall, which makes it safer for you to recall. Or you can just push the tower like mad. Note that simply killing the enemy is preferable where possible.

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Skill Sequence

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

I put 1 point in Explosive Shot early on because it's just about the same range as your auto-attack to start, so it'll be about the best harass you can get at first. It's also really nice for those level 1 split last-hits; hit one, you hit both.

I take 3 points in Rocket Jump before level 6 because once you hit level 6 you've got an incredible burst combination: 160 damage on Rocket Jump, 300 damage on Buster Shot, 140 damage on Explosive Shot, 170true damage on ignite, and however many auto attacks you can get off. That's 600 magic damage before resistances and 170 true damage, for a total of close to 800 health. Unless the enemy has a doran's item, you can probably take them down from 3/4 health with your burst! Just be careful not to take a bunch of damage in return, as you might draw minion aggro depending on where your enemy is.

So, why upgrade Rocket Jump over Explosive Shot? Well, Rocket Jump deals more damage at level 5 than Explosive Shot. Secondly, the level 2 Explosive Shot and level 3 Rocket Jump (at champion level 6) totals around 300 damage, while the level 2 Rocket Jump and level 3 Explosive Shot combo totals around 285 damage.

After putting 2 points into Explosive Shot and maxing Rocket Jump, I max out Rapid Fire. This is mostly because at this point, you're starting to get some long range, and your Explosive Shot range is becoming pitiful in comparison. Not only that, but by this time your auto attacks should actually be dealing a good lot of damage - if you're within Explosive Shot range of the enemy, you have more than enough time to get in a lot of auto attacks, especially when upgrading Rapid Fire. In short, upgrading Rapid Fire gives you more DPS than upgrading Explosive Shot does.

I take my ultimate whenever I can for obvious reasons - the extra burst is invaluable, and I put the remaining points in Explosive Shot because they have no where else to go.

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Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

I take armor penetration marks because they pay off best in the long run. There's a lot of math to prove it. Also, since you'll typically be building The Black Cleaver, the flat armor pen stacks and you'll be dealing nearly true damage to enemies without armor items after 3 hits of the black cleaver. Even if you plan on taking Last Whisper all the time I recommend you take these runes; the advantage between early game (where AD runes are better) and late game (when you have your LW) is just too good to pass up.


I get flat armor seals because you're probably in a lane against an AD carry - so more soak means you'll be able to stay in lane longer, and probably win against them in a fight.


I get flat magic resist glyphs because you won't be buying much defense throughout the game, so getting some from runes is going to go a long way.


I take AD quints because the early game damage is undeniably awesome. Any time you can get an auto-attack on the enemy will be so much more worth it than without them. Also, last-hitting will be easier and pushing towers when you kill the enemy will be easier. All in all great runes for an early game crit carry.

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Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for!

The best start on any AD carry, this gives a lot of bulkiness early on, a decent amount of AD, and a tiny bit of lifesteal. We get 2 of these so that we can have all of the great early game stats that it gives - especially the survivability. This will stave off the squishiness that is intrinsic in tristana until you can get your Banshee's Veil.

I used to really like Wriggle's Lantern, because it gave so many great stats to make early game awesome, and gave enough lifesteal to last until bloodthirster. Now, however, after wriggle's been nerfed, nerfed, and then nerfed for good measure, wriggle's just can't be fully justified as a core item on an AD carry. Now, it's best to just grab the Vampiric Scepter from The Bloodthirster early on (so you can sustain in fights) and then to rush your big damage fast. Grab this and go straight for all your best items.

That's not to say wriggle's is bad - it's still good, but you need to know when to build it. That is, when the time necessary to do dragon/baron is vital beyond all accountable measures. Usually this isn't the case, where you can take dragon/baron after you've killed the enemy team sufficiently, or they're far enough away that no matter how fast you go they still won't get there. If it is important, however, then you can take wriggle's.

These are good boots because they give you a bunch of early attack speed. It's a great early boost to your DPS, and most of the other boots won't be all too beneficial. It's just nice to have more DPS early; we can always buy defense later.

Your bread and butter item. This is what makes you a crit carry - the damage, the crit, the crit damage. So many good things. Your damage will go through the roof once you get this. I get this ASAP because nothing else will boost your damage more. It's pretty much that simple.

I used to be opposed to this item, but now I've realized its true potential. The extra attack speed is great, the crit is even greater, but the deal-breaker is the move speed - tristana already has a HUGE advantage in positioning using her Rocket Jump and Buster Shot (peels enemies off of you), but now with ~440 movespeed, you can be wherever you need to be and you won't have to use Rocket Jump to get there. This doesn't make Rapid Fire redundant, contrary to popular belief.

The more and more I play AD carries, the more I realize that with good positioning (augmented by Phantom Dancer and good sustain (found in Wriggle's Lantern) are adequate to last an AD carry well into the game. Once you get to late game, you really only need one defense item. Banshee's Veil used to be the best defense item, because it gave everything - defense against burst casters, defense against CC initiation, health, and mana. But they nerfed it a lot, because it was so common. Now, the CC defense is only okay (long bubble regeneration time), the magic resist is only going to block AP carries (whereas nowadays, AD is more prevalent because it's very common in top, bottom, and jungle), the health is nice but not totally necessary, and the mana is just plain unneeded (it's nice at early levels, but late game your base mana pool is enough to use your skills as much as you need them).

So, what's our solution to that? Quicksilver Sash!!!

In general, I think Quicksilver Sash is the best defense item for AD champs, because you will be targeted with a LOT of CC. You're the AD carry, for ****'s sake! Now you may ask, "But Trojan995! Banshee's Veil
does that, and it has more defense!" Well, Banshee's Veil can be popped by literally ANY spell. So, it's not that great. You can take a phosphorous bomb to the face in stride, but you will definitely want to cleanse that Curse of the Sad Mummy. Quicksilver Sash makes it so that you WILL cleanse the right CC. And if you're thinking, "but it really doesn't provide that much defense!" but you don't need that much defense. If you can get away from the enemy, you can live. You have ~700 range, a jump, a knockback, and you move at 423 (i think) move speed. You have enough life steal to make sure you live as long as you keep attacking, and you might even conceivably have a slow on your auto-attacks (which, by the way, deal ~500 damage). Why in the world would you need defense, when a combination of positioning (thanks to skills and PD) and offense are more than enough? QSS is god-tier defense item for AD carries because it prevents the enemy from doing the one thing that can actually kill them: Crowd control.

Despite this item being totally awesome, it's probably the most replaceable item in the build. Check my situational items section for what defense item to get.

Since this is the last item, you need ArPen. Since it's between The Black Cleaver and Last Whisper, I chose the bow. Why? Because at this point, the enemy has armor. It's an unavoidable fact. Sooo, that's why we get this item. Also, sometimes you won't always be able to get off all 3 shots of TBC (or you won't be able to deal a whole lot of damage after those 3 shots).

Sell Wriggle's Lantern late game for this. This is a lot like a beefed-up lantern, sans 500 damage proc and armor. Once you get this item, you'll be able to out-DPS most other carries, and you'll be able to consistently sustain yourself throughout a teamfight. When perfect positioning isn't enough, sustain

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Situational Items

Situational Items

If you find you're being molested by a bunch of CC, get Cloak and Dagger. You might want to sell this late game, however, for more deeps. Also, this will put your core items WAY back (unless you bought i-edge first).

If the enemies have literally no armor, get The Black Cleaver instead of Last Whisper.


Which one to get?

These are both good defense items, but they should be bought in different situations.

When to buy:

- When the enemy has CC
- When they target you with CC
- When the caster is the biggest threat
- When all you need is offense to stay alive

When to buy:

- When the enemy has no CC
- When you aren't the prime target for CC
- When the AD carry is the biggest threat
- For long, drawn-out fights where you will most certainly die and staying alive longer is the best way to deal the most damage
- When you forget to use QSS active every game

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Laning Phase

I'm only going to discuss the laning phase, since that's what makes or breaks a good Tristana and every other part of the game is just going to be general platitudes that apply to every champion and/or ranged carry. If you'd like to learn about the game in general, there's other guides about that. If you'd like to learn about Tristana, this is all you need to know.

Level 1:

At this point you should be in your lane. Duo lane is best; a good sustain support and tristana can really hurt the enemy, and it gives you the best opportunity to farm. Anyways, you have Explosive Shot, and what you should be mainly focusing on is farming. Don't miss any CS (creep score) at this point. If the enemy gets close to you, don't hesitate to explosive shot their ***, but don't go out of your way to hit them every time it's off cooldown. Don't miss CS because despite being a strong early game champ, you MUST be able to perform late game as well, and that means having gold and items.

Level 2:

This is the next milestone of the laning phase. You should have a bit of CS now, and maybe you harassed the enemy a bit. Level 2 is important because you get phase 1 of your killing combo: Rocket Jump. This is the point where you can kill a weak laner (but beware of their laning partner). Harass them down with auto attacks, get them to about half health, then when they don't suspect it you jump on them, lay down Explosive Shot, and then fire away with auto attacks. Ignite ONLY if you can guarantee a kill; it's best saved for level 6. Don't go for really good laners at level 2, since they can probably kill you. Remember though, your priority is still farming.

Level 6:

This is when you have your killing arsenal complete. Rocket Jump, Explosive Shot, Ignite, and the coup de grace: Buster Shot. A high-burst spell on a ranged carry has never felt so good. Though farming is by and large the main priority throughout the game, here's how to use tristana's burst combo to kill. Try and get their health to around 600 (try and get it lower if you've already burned ignite). Whittle them down with Explosive Shot (both the passive and active) and auto-attacks; at this point, your range should be blossoming into less-than-mediocre. Wait until they're at about the mid point (don't get yourself lured into the tower), then Rocket Jump onto them. Lay down Explosive Shot immediately, then lay down Ignite when you think you can guarantee a kill.

The Buster Shot is the make-or-break at this point. Though it's a 300 damage nuke, natural magic resist will reduce it to around 230 or so (considering 30 MR). Don't dawdle on the Buster Shot or else they'll be out of range shortly before you plan on casting it (the range isn't all that great on it). The best health to ult them is around 200, but don't hesitate if they're at 300 health and you recently placed both Explosive Shot and Ignite on them.

Don't underestimate the Rocket Jump either; you need to be able to lead the enemy. Make sure they're occupied with last hitting when you do it, or else they might back off too soon. Champions with long-range farming are harder to get (primarily CAITLYN D-:<) because by the time you can get them within rocket jump range they'll be gone.

Landing the rocket jump is imperative as well. It's not just a gap closer, it's part of your burst kit. If you don't land it and the enemy starts to lay into you, it might be best to just Buster Shot them away and then back off and try again later.

Oh, and don't forget to farm.

Level 9:

This should be where you're significantly farmed up, you've sparred with your enemy, you've possibly killed them or they've killed you, and the game is transitioning out of laning. Despite being able to kill the enemy, you should still be farming like a madman (but if you can kill them, by all means do so - just don't lose too much CS on failed attempts at harass).

This is also the time where you should be helping your allies. Tristana isn't a ganking champion and should instead stay in lane and farm until she's past the laning phase, though you should always leave the lane to help out at buff/dragon fights.

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I felt obligated to include this, but it'll be brief.

I created this guide mostly because I found a lack of guides that let Tristana's early game shine through. She's a great early game champion, and should be treated as such. She's also great late game, being one of the highest single-target AD DPS champions in the game. I tried to focus all of Tristana's resources on making her a good early game champion, yet her itemization makes her more than potent late game as well.

So, I hope you go rock the lane with Tristana!