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Nilah Build Guide by wungus

ADC [14.4] A Guide to Might and Joy

ADC [14.4] A Guide to Might and Joy

Updated on February 22, 2024
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League of Legends Build Guide Author wungus Build Guide By wungus 152 9 280,789 Views 11 Comments
152 9 280,789 Views 11 Comments
League of Legends Build Guide Author wungus Nilah Build Guide By wungus Updated on February 22, 2024
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Runes: Gold Generation

1 2 3 4 5
Legend: Bloodline
Last Stand

Eyeball Collection
Treasure Hunter

+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10-180 Bonus Health


1 2 3 4 5 6
Against CC
LoL Summoner Spell: Cleanse


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Champion Build Guide

[14.4] A Guide to Might and Joy

By wungus
Hello! I have been playing League since around season 4, and I have swapped roles and champions many times, such as Azir mid and Gangplank top. At the start of the season 13, I made an alt account to one trick and learn Nilah, and hit my all time ranked peak of Master ~400lp in the first split of season 13 only playing Nilah! Ideally, you might use this guide to supplement either your own experience playing Nilah, other guides you may have read, or both; I am by no means the best Nilah player out there, but I enjoy this champion a lot and wanted to share my thoughts on how to play her!
Why Play Nilah?


Good at creating leads/snowballing
Good scaling
Good follow up engager
Great at killing tanks
Amazing objective killing
Playmaking ultimate


Easily bullied in lane
Easily kited
Weak into poke
Not very bulky
Support dependant
Difficult to learn
Ability Overview

Passive - Joy Unending
Whenever Nilah kills a minion, she and the nearest allied champion gain an additional 50% of the experience they would have lost from sharing.

Whenever a nearby allied champion uses an ability to heal or shield either Nilah or themselves, both they and Nilah receive a bonus amount equal to 7.5% of the healing or 15% of the shielding after a 0.5-second delay. Bonus shielding lasts as long as the shield that triggered the effect, up to a maximum duration of 4 seconds.

Nilah's passive does wonders for her laning potential. It allows you to create XP leads even while having to give up minions, as long as you manage to farm safely. This passive allows you to reach level 2 from the first 2 melee minions from the second wave, rather than the first 3. It also means you get level 3 from the first cannon minion, provided you are last hitting well. Nilah's passive also enhances the healing and shielding she receives from allies, making enchanters more powerful in lane.

Q - Formless Blade
Passive: Nilah gains armour penetration and post-mitigation healing from her basic attacks and Formless Blade based on her critical strike chance. Healing at full health is converted into a shield.

Active: Nilah cracks her whip-blade in a line, dealing damage to enemies hit. Hitting an enemy grants Nilah attack speed, attack range, and causes her basic attacks to strike in a cone for 4 seconds.

Things to note!: This ability's damage, both base and AD ratio, increase by 12% for every 10% crit chance Nilah has, up to 120% bonus damage. The cast time is also reduced by attack speed, up to a 20% reduction at 48% bonus attack speed, which can be achieved with the attack speed rune shard and the buff from this ability from level 7 onwards. This ability can hit structures, and applies life steal to the first target hit. You can also cast Formless Blade during Slipstream for extra damage. The ratios for the passive portion of this ability are 3.3% armour penetration and 2% healing from champions per 10% crit chance.

This is your primary way of farming minions in lane, and your primary way of dealing damage in fights, alongside basic attacks. Both the initial Q and the cone attacks are great for pushing waves fast, and the Q does massive damage to turrets. You can also use Flash during the animation to reposition the hitbox.

W - Jubilant Veil
Nilah envelops herself in mist for 2.25 seconds, becoming ghosted, gaining movement speed, reducing magic damage taken by 25%, and dodging all non-turret basic attacks.

Touching an allied champion will grant them the same effects for 1.5 seconds.

Things to note!: Jubilant Veil cannot be cast during the animation of Formless Blade, but can be cast during Slipstream and Apotheosis.

Jubilant Veil is an incredibly powerful ability, and it allows you to completely negate important on hit effects, such as Headshot, and delay other abilities, such as Explosive Charge or Second Skin. You can also stack with your teammates to give them the effects, which might prevent their deaths!

E - Slipstream
Nilah dashes towards a target, dealing damage to enemies she passes through. Nilah can hold a maximum of 2 charges of Slipstream.

Formless Blade can be cast during Slipstream for extra damage, and grants Formless Blade's enhanced attacks if an enemy is hit. Similarly, Apotheosis can also be cast during Slipstream for quicker engages.

Things to note!: Slipstream is an auto attack reset, allowing you to stack Conqueror very quickly.

This ability is the key to following up on your team's engages, and escaping from danger. Always remember that you can dash to allies, including your own minions, which can be very handy to escape ganks! The dash can pass through units, which can be quite useful for dodging skillshots or CC, such as Phantom Undertow.

R - Apotheosis
Nilah whirls her whip-blade, dealing damage to nearby enemies over 1 second and applying a 10% slow on each hit. She then deals a burst of damage and pulls hit enemies 250 units towards her.

Nilah heals herself and nearby allied champions for 20% of the post-mitigation damage dealt to champions, converting healing beyond full health into a shield.

During the cast time, Nilah is unable to attack or cast other abilities, excluding Jubilant Veil, but she is able to move.

Things to note!: The healing from Apotheosis is increased by 3% per 10% crit chance, up to a total of 50% healing from damage dealt.

Nilah's ultimate is a fantastic teamfighting tool, allowing you to deal massive damage, heal yourself and allies, and group enemies up for Formless Blade or your teammates' abilities. This ability has a level 1 cooldown of 110 seconds, meaning you can use it in lane to burn flashes and create future opportunities.
Primary Runes
Conqueror is the go to keystone for Nilah. You can stack it quickly, have good AD ratios on your Formless Blade and Apotheosis, and some extra healing is never a bad thing.
Triumph is the next pick, as managing mana as Nilah is no problem at all, so we don't need Presence of Mind. Overheal is currently bugged on Nilah, so don't take it!
For the Legend runes there are two good choices, and I think it's up to preference. If you want more attack speed, you can take Legend: Alacrity, as extra attack speed is always nice. If you want more sustain and some HP, Legend: Bloodline is great since Formless Blade can proc life steal.
Coup de Grace is always an option, but I think it's overshadowed by the other two choices. Cut Down is good against tanky teams, although you most likely won't make much use of it in lane. Last Stand is a great pick on Nilah, as you will always be missing some health in lane, and you will lose more during engages, so getting extra damage for it is good.

Nilah's primary rune tree is a very easy one to build since most options have potential. I personally advise against taking Presence of Mind since I don't think managing mana on Nilah is difficult, but feel free to take it if you experience otherwise. Overheal is also still bugged so I'd also advise against taking it, which is a shame since could be a great rune if it wasn't bugged, albeit very situational. Finally, I'd advise against taking Legend: Tenacity, and instead looking for tenacity in other sources if you need it, preferably in Mercury's Treads or even the new Tenacity and Slow Resist stat shard.
Secondary Runes

Sudden Impact provides some free lethality when you dash, which Nilah can utilise well. The lethality pairs well with the armour penetration you get from building crit chance, and can cause a lot of damage in the right scenarios.
Eyeball Collection is a great rune to take advantage of any early kills you might come across. The free AD from this rune is great on Apotheosis and Formless Blade, especially when you have a good amount of crit chance.
Treasure Hunter lets you push early leads to the limit with gold generation, allowing you to snowball kills even faster. This rune does rely on you killing your opponent, but don't be afraid to try it out!

Conditioning is great into lanes you expect to be easy, or if the enemy team has lots of late game burst that some extra resistances might save you from. Second Wind is the inverse of Conditioning; it's a life saver into poke lanes, and will greatly extend your stay in lane against harass.
Overgrowth should be taken for the same reason as Conditioning; the enemy team has burst that you want to protect yourself from in the mid/late game, and your lane should be an easy one. Revitalize increases the power of any heals or shields your support might have, and later on does the same to your built in healing, life steal, and shields you might receive from items.

Magical Footwear allows you to skip buying boots and focus purely on completing your first item, and any early kills make you receive them sooner. A great choice if you don't think you'll need early boots.
Future's Market further allows you to rush your first item spike and pairs well with Magical Footwear, although it does require knowledge of gold threshholds to be used well. Biscuit Delivery gives you some sustain in lane and a total of 120 maximum mana, which is 4 casts of Formless Blade, or 3 casts of Slipstream. A good choice for lane presence if you're looking for Magical Footwear.
Cosmic Insight reduces item active cooldowns by 9.09%, and summoner spell cooldowns by just over 15%, which is fantastic! Nilah loves having summoner spells for gap closing and turning fights.

In summary, I think choosing your secondary runes comes down to preference and how you expect the lane to play out:
I'd generally advise against taking Bone Plating since it's incredibly easy for the enemy bot lane to hit you from range and put the rune on cooldown before it can block anything. I'd also like to remind you that Revitalize does not increase the effectiveness of Second Wind or Doran's Shield, since I've seen lots of players default to those runes as their secondary tree.

The rune shards you should take on Nilah are self explanatory; The Attack Speed shard in the first row and the Adaptive shard in the second row are must picks, and compliment everything Nilah does very well.

On the third row there is a choice to make: Flat Health versus Health Scaling. From what i've seen so far, Health Scaling is generally the more popular and better performing pick of the two, but a key thing to remember with the new stat shards is the breakpoint between them; Flat Health gives 65 health, which is the better option until level 7, where Health Scaling gives 70, and continues to scale with each level. If you think that you're really going to need the early HP to survive lane, you should take Flat Health. If you think that lane will be easy and/or you won't really be fighting until level 7, take Health Scaling. Even fighting at level 6 is ok, since you're only misssing out on 5 HP, which will very rarely impact the outcome of the fight. As of updating this guide, Health Scaling is the popular pick, so you can start with that and switch to Flat Health if you're having trouble making it work!

As for the new Tenacity and Slow Resist shard, I'd personally only take this into very high CC lanes, or against Ashe to mitigate her passive.

The new health shards pair well with Doran's Shield and the Resolve tree runes Conditioning, Second Wind, and Overgrowth, and allow you to spec for either lane survivability or late game bulk depending on your game. Just remember that the bonus health will alter the threshholds for Cut Down and Lord Dominik's Regards!

Figuring out what runes will serve you best requires experience and experimentation; never be afraid to try out a new rune combination if you think it might work!
Summoner Spells

FLASH is a fantastic choice on practically every champion in the game, and Nilah is no exception. Flash can easily grant you kills if you ever need it to close the extra distance or reposition your abilities, and can save your life through dodging skillshots such as Enchanted Crystal Arrow.
GHOST can be used to close distance, similar to Flash, but it also provides a way to maintain distance from champions you just barely outrange, such as bruisers. Staying on top of carries you reach is extremely easy with Ghost, and it is always worth considering.
CLEANSE is another great choice for Nilah, as CC is one of your banes. Using it to cleanse spells in bot lane, like Death Sentence or Chain of Corruption, can severely strip the enemy botlane of options and make killing them much easier. In a similar fashion, you can use it to counter Exhaust and Ignite, and turn the fight that way as well. Cleanse can also work wonders against certain pick abilities later in the game, such as Sleepy Trouble Bubble.
EXHAUST can be used either to deny damage from burst that you cannot counter with Jubilant Veil, or it can be used to slow the enemy carries as you engage on them. It can also be very useful to save yourself from jungle ganks or mid roams.
BARRIER is a niche summoner spell pick; It is best taken when you don't think you will be in range, or have the time, to use Exhaust, such as against long range or assassins respectively. A good use case for it is with a support with Heal, and to pair it with Revitalize, allowing you to bait with low health and take advantage of the 15.5% increased healing/shielding and Last Stand.
HEAL is the old reliable spell of bot lane. It can prove very useful against longer range comps, and can help to mitigate health loss if you make a mistake. I think the previously discussed options are more useful, but don't let that stop you from taking Heal if you are more comfortable with it!
TELEPORT can be a useful summoner spell if you're into poke and would like some extra recalls, or if you're confident that you can survive lane and don't need the other summoner spells for later in the game. Teleport allows you to focus heavily on farming, and can even mitigate losses from a lost early fight. You can even use it to rotate to and fight for void grubs!
An option that has fallen off with time is to take both Ghost and Cleanse on Nilah, since both summoners are extremely useful, but I think Flash is too powerful to pass up on. If you're stuck on what other summoner spell to take, I think Ghost is always a good place to start, but always consider Cleanse if the enemy team has strong CC.
Explaining Items

Starting Items

Doran's Blade is your first option for a starting item as Nilah, and should be the one you buy most games. It gives you everything you need; AD, health, and life steal, which is applied by Formless Blade and only becomes more valuable as the game goes on. You should start this against low range bot lane comps, or against higher ranged ADCs if they have a melee support, or if you have a support that can help you survive lane.
Doran's Shield is your second option for a starting item, and is perfect against long range bot lane comps. Since Nilah is melee, she benefits from the full regen value gained by being hit by single target damage, such as auto attacks. You should only really start shield if you think you can't survive lane without it, since Doran's Blade outscales it rather quickly.

The other options for starting items are Long Sword start and Cull start, but I'd generally advise against these for a few reasons.

The experience of your lane as Nilah is generally defined by the fundamentals of the champions in the lane; meaning that you're either always looking to fight, or always being poked. You could start Long Sword and three Health Potion, but that will only serve you until your first back, where you will return to lane and start being poked again. Alternatively, you're looking for an all in fight, in which case the 100HP from Doran's Blade is much better to have than the over time healing from potions.

Long Sword and Cull both also don't give any HP, which can be manageable on ranged marksman champions. However, not only is Nilah melee, she is tied for the 10th lowest base HP in the game, and the 3rd lowest of all marksmen; buying Doran's Blade increases her level 1 HP by about 17%! This also means that Second Wind on its own is not as effective, and is best paired with Doran's Shield against oppressive poke.

First Item Choices


Nilah receives great power from building crit chance, but don't be afraid to build items that sacrifice crit chance for more survivability. Nilah is melee after all, so building tankier items isn't a bad idea in some games. She also benefits fully from melee item modifiers, so keep that in mind when choosing your build!

Building your first item on Nilah is all about assessing the trade off between damage and utility. There's a reason Collector is the most popular first item on Nilah; pure damage! The letahlity pairs nicely with the armour penetration you gain from building crit chance, and only becomes more deadly the higher your crit chance!
A personal favourite from patches past, Navori Quickblades has found favour amongst Nilah players again! The second of Nilah's first item options offers some damage and utility. Navori's Impermanence passive stacks amazingly with all your abilities, namely Formless Blade, and the Transcendence passive can reduce your ability cooldowns by hilarious amounts; around 50% with decent auto attacking! If you think fights will be long, Navori Quickblades is amazing!
In recent patches, Essence Reaver has received a 100 gold cost reduction, an increase to its Spellblade damage, and 5 more AD, making it a genuine competitor to The Collector! This item gives you a better one item spike than The Collector, and roughly two waves earlier. From my testing, The Collector will gradually deal more damage with each item purchase in burst scenarios, but Essence Reaver should outperform it provided you make good use of the Sheen proc! This item also solves any mana issues you might be having, and allows you to skip Presence of Mind if you're taking it.

Nilah's first item choice is rather simple:
  • The Collector is for pure damage, and is great for snowballing and when the fights are very short. A good purchase if you're winning early.
  • Navori Quickblades does roughly 9% less damage than Collector, but the cooldown reduction makes it a better first item when you expect fights to be longer.
  • Essence Reaver is good for short fights early and longer fights late, solves your mana economy, and does more first item damage than both previous options for 200g/400g cheaper respectively.
The thing to remember is these items, much like Nilah herself, are scaling monsters, so think ahead when picking your first item!

Shoe Shopping

Berserker's Greaves are great boots for any ADC. If you either find yourself wanting more attack speed, or have no reason to purchase boots for defensive reasons, this is a very easy purchase. Bonus attack speed also decreases the cast time of Formless Blade!
Mercury's Treads are best purchased against comps with lots of CC or lots of magic damage. Tenacity is a very helpful stat to have on Nilah. Remember not to buy Treads to deal with knockups!
Plated Steelcaps are a great purchase if you ever think you're taking too much damage from autos, even when using Jubilant Veil.

I always prefer building defensive boots over Berserker's Greaves, since Formless Blade and Apotheosis do incredible damage by themselves, and Slipstream acts as an auto reset. Mercury's Treads especially are invaluable in some games. Don't take this to mean that Berserker's Greaves are never good though!

More Crit

Your second item on Nilah should be Navori Quickblades if you haven't built it first. This item is extremely powerful and should never be skipped; it is key to a strong Nilah build. The two item spike is where your damage starts to become respectable, but the three item spike is where your damage really starts to skyrocket!
Immortal Shieldbow has recently become a popular third item, replacing the two Last Whisper items in the build order. Sheidlbow remains a reliable anti-burst item even after its change, and is the safest way to incorporate lifesteal into your build. You deal roughly 10% less damage when compared to a Last Whisper item as your third item, but you will be around 20% tankier from the passive shield alone. The passive shield doesn't start scaling until level 12, so I'd advise against building it first!
Lord Dominik's is a good item on Nilah because it enables you to stack armor penetration with the passive from Formless Blade. The item will only give you 27.9% armor penetration if you buy it as your first item (please don't), and each 20% crit chance will reduce the armor penetration you receive by 0.495%, down to a minimum of 20.1% at 100% crit chance. This may sound bad, but bear in mind Formless Blade is passively giving you 6.6% armor penetration per 20% crit chance, meaning having LDR at 100% crit will give you 53% armor penetration. Pair this with some lethality, and you will deal incredible damage to practically any enemy.
Mortal Reminder also grants slightly less armor penetration than advertised and stacks identically to Lord Dominik's Regards, but the main selling point is of course greivous wounds, which can be a game changer against fed champions like Irelia, The Darkin Scythe: Rhaast, and late game enchanters like Soraka.
Bloodthirster is the more aggressive option for life steal with its new passive that grants attack damage while above 70% health. This high health threshold can be rather difficult to maintain as Nilah, so I'd suggest only building this item if you're incredibly fed and don't think you'll need Immortal Shieldbow to survive. Similarly to Immortal Shieldbow, Bloodthirster's passive doesn't start scaling until level 13, so build it later to obtain more value.

Defautling to building Immortal Shieldbow into a Last Whisper item third and fourth item most games will serve you well for the most part, but you should always think what you're building now and will build in the future. For example, If the enemy comp has lots of magic damage, you might want to build Maw of Malmortius instead of Immortal Shieldbow, since they share a passive.

Deciding between Mortal Reminder and Lord Dominik's Regards got a lot easier with this patch! Now both items give the same amount of AD, meaning the deciding factor is purely the passive effect you would rather have. Nilah has one of the lowest base HPs in the game, so you can make good use of LDR's passive. Obviously in games where the enemy team has tons of healing it's a no brainer, but don't forget to look at the enemy's items and see how much HP they are building, and remember to keep Overgrowth in mind if you've taken it!

Situational Items


A good Nilah build has its core comprised of a combination of the previously mentioned items. For example, my go-to build is usually Navori Quickblades, The Collector, Immortal Shieldbow, a Last Whisper item, and whatever boots are best for the game. The game is usually over by the time you reach full build, but Nilah's 6th item slot is actually very flexible!

Guardian Angel is a staple defensive item for ADCs, and even allows Nilah to look for a play with Apotheosis. You can also be very difficult to kill if you revive with Jubilant Veil off cooldown. You might want to avoid building this against Caitlyn however!
Always remember: Nilah is a melee champion, and benefits from melee item modifiers, making Death's Dance incredible on her. Taking 30% of damage as damage over time, combined with her sustain, gives you a window to fight back and can make you borderline unkillable at times. Although Death's Dance is an armor item, the Ignore Pain passive works against ALL damage, meaning it can also assist you in surviving burst from mages!
If you haven't built Immortal Shieldbow to deal with burst, Maw of Malmortius is the best magic resistance item for Nilah. You gain the full shield from lifeline, and the lifesteal greatly increases your survivability. If the enemy has lots of magic damage that you're vulnerable to, but also has physical damage threats you can't ignore, the combination of this item and Death's Dance is amazing!
Mercurial Scimitar is practically mandatory if the enemy team has a Mordekaiser, Skarner, or Malzahar who enjoys pressing R on you. Also a great purchase if the enemy has lots of CC and you forgot Cleanse.
If you ever find yourself with enough damage to get the job done and an open final item slot, you can start to look at tank items. Jak'Sho, The Protean helps you survive longer in fights, and gives 65 armor and magic resist when fully active! This item pairs very well with Conditioning.
If you find yourself wanting pure defense against an all AD team, Iceborn Gauntlet is a great choice! This item gives you a slight damage increase with its Sheen proc, and the slow allows you to stick to carries easier; At level 18 with no other sources of bonus health, the field will slow for 28%. It's a great alternative to Guardian Angel if the enemy team has champions that can kill you easily from the revive, such as Caitlyn.
Randuin's Omen is an incredibly niche defensive item that you would only really buy for two reasons. The first is that you want a tank armour item, but you've built Essence Reaver and therefore cannot build Iceborn Gauntlet. The second reason is that you're against multiple crit champions such as Gangplank, Yasuo/ Yone, AD Twisted Fate, or marksman junglers, and you feel you need more than Jubilant Veil to survive.
Kaenic Rookern is a new item that has potential against teams with heavy magic damage. On top of granting 60 magic resist, it also grants you a magic damage shield equal to 18% of your maximum health. At level 18 with no other sources of bonus health, this shield is roughly 484 health. With a short cooldown of 15 seconds, it sounds very appealing against long range mages.
While not new, Spirit Visage is an alternative to Kaenic Rookern that excels when you have an enchanter on your team, or have other sources of healing and shielding such as Ocean Soul , Barrier, or Immortal Shieldbow. This item also enhnaces the healing from life steal, Formless Blade and Apotheosis!

The AD items are always reliable closers to your build, but if you ever feel like you deal enough damage and would rather build a purely defensive item, it's good to have some in mind. Jak'Sho, The Protean is easily the least niche of the tank items, but use cases for the other items do arise every now and then. It goes without saying, but Conditioning and Overgrowth pair amazingly with these items!

You might have noticed the absence of attack speed items (with the exception of Berserker's Greaves) from my guide, and that's for a few reasons:
  • Nilah is melee, so consistently auto attacking can be difficult at times
  • Formless Blade gives a decent chunk of attack speed for hitting it
  • Slipstream resets your auto attack timer

It's better to invest in more AD for the ratios on Formless Blade and Apotheosis, and the fact that the healing from these abilities is based on damage dealt. Berserker's Greaves does decrease the cast time of Formless Blade, however you can reach maximum reduction with the Attack Speed shard and the buff from your Q from level 7 onwards, so I think buying them is a matter of personal preference.


Nilah's matchups usually involve being poked to some degree, but what makes the matchups easy or hard is their vulnerability to retaliation. You can protect yourself from poke through positioning and experience, and you will eventually learn when you can safely farms minions. Easy matchups are ones where the enemy bot is short range or immobile, whereas the harder matchups involve long range, high mobility, or constant poke.

The Easy Matchups


The easy matchups consist of a lot of immobile, auto attack based champions such as Twitch and Kog'Maw. Their range is respectable, but that's all they have going for them. Use Jubilant Veil to deny stacks on abilities ( Explosive Charge, Contaminate, Second Skin) and gapclose with Slipstream to burn flashes, and repeat to pressure kills. You can take advantage of your XP lead from Joy Unending during the second and third minion waves to gain a level lead and burn flashes early. You will almost certainly hit level 6 first, letting you use Apotheosis for easy kills.

Against Samira, you can attempt to use Jubilant Veil to delay stacks of her Daredevil Impulse. Even if that fails, you can use Apotheosis to interrupt Inferno Trigger.

The Even Matchups


The even matchups all have long range and potential poke, but are all extremely immobile, with the exception of Ezreal. You will get poked away from CS if you position incorrectly, but as long as you stay in XP range you will be fine. You can always take Second Wind or Doran's Shield to make laning easier. Hitting level 2 first will be difficult, but you should still hit level 3 before them. Try to burn flashes with your level advantage to prepare for when you hit 6, and kill them with Apotheosis.

Against Varus, take Cleanse to deal with Chain of Corruption, since you can still use it against Exhaust or Ignite in fights before level 6, and do your best to farm safely and avoid poke. If Varus doesn't have Flash or his ultimate, he's an easy kill.

Aphelios always starts the game with Calibrum, the Sniper Rifle, so be careful not to get poked down. His next 2 weapons are always Gravitum, the Gravity Cannon and Infernum, the Flamethrower, so be careful not to get poked by him when he hits minions, and save a charge of Slipstream for if he roots you with Gravitum, the Gravity Cannon. Mind his weapons, and do your best not to fight him when he has Crescendum, the Chakram. If he has no Flash, he shouldn't be too hard to kill.

Jinx is a very similar story to Aphelios in that she has pretty consistent poke from level 1 with Fishbones, the Rocket Launcher. Make sure not to get hit by Zap! or Flame Chompers! and engaging on her should be no problem.

Ezreal is very difficult to reach due to Arcane Shift, but thankfully he has trouble poking you through minions, so stand behind them to preserve your hp. Unfortunately, if his E is off cooldown, it's very difficult to reach him on your own, so you'll have to look to your team for help against him.

Lane Bullies


The champions above all enjoy using their early game advantages over you and attempting to kill you before level 3. You will have to give up CS to preserve your health, but make sure you are in XP range. You will not hit level 2 first, but you may be able to get level 3 before them. Supports with CC will do wonders in creating kill pressure. If you leave laning phase with the same amount of gold as your opponent, you should have no problem dealing with them. Just remember to respect their strong early power.

Draven is a fantastic lane bully, as he can auto you for roughly 100 damage with Spinning Axe if you try to last hit the wrong minion. If you get level 3 and both you and your support have around 70%-80% of your hp, you can win fights. Make sure to block his axes with Jubilant Veil, and save a charge of Slipstream for his Stand Aside. Like almost all of the champions so far, he is extremely vulnerable without Flash. Having more gold than Draven makes him practically useless.

Jhin has good range, damage, and CC, all of which can cause problems in lane. You could take Cleanse for his W, but I don't think it's life or death since it's not too hard to dodge. You can Jubilant Veil to dodge his 4th shot, but your W has a 26 second cooldown at level 1. You should be seeing a pattern here; play for xp, last hit where you can, and burn their Flash.

Early game Kalista is very squishy, but she's also quite mobile, and Rend can deal enormous amounts of damage. If you fight her before level 3 you will lose every time. Exhaust can be quite helpful to slow her down and even reduce the damage you take from Rend. Pair this with an engage support, and you can fight her quite easily from level 3 onwards. Similar to Draven, once you get a gold lead you can kill her very easily.

Lucian also has lots of early game damage, but he isn't as mobile as Kalista. Both of you spike from levels 2 and 3, so try to get an advantage if you can, and play safe if you can't. He is short range, so reaching him isn't too difficult. Exhaust can help by reducing the damage from Piercing Light and The Culling, but be careful not to tank either for no reason. Save a charge of Slipstream for Relentless Pursuit for your best chances of killing him.

The Hard Matchups


These champions pose the biggest challenge for Nilah, as they all have good laning capabilities and great late game. They excel at staying at range and zoning you from CS, making it difficult to create leads. Engage supports or ganks from your jungler are your best bet. Second Wind and Doran's Shield are reliable tools for lane survival against these champs.

Xayah is easily the most difficult marksman to play against. She has good range, amazing zoning with her feathers, and Featherstorm can save her from your engages. Your biggest chances of killing her are before level 6, but she can easily counter your engage with Bladecaller, rooting you and dealing massive damage. If she ever uses her E to clear minions, you can try to engage on her and get her Flash, but capitalising on that is still very difficult. Exhaust increases your odds of killing her, but not by much. I highly recommend just banning her.

Caitlyn has unrelenting poke, good terrain control with Yordle Snap Trap, and can make good distance with 90 Caliber Net. She is often paired with a long range poke support, such as Lux, so Doran's Shield and Second Wind can have massive value against her. Alternatively, you could take Cleanse for her CC, but that means giving up Ghost or Exhaust, two very useful summoner spells against her. Dodge her Piltover Peacemaker, don't step on traps, and do your best to avoid the slow from her E. The distance she gains from 90 Caliber Net is actually less than the cast range of Slipstream, meaning if you were close enough to her before she cast it, you can dash on top of her again.

Thankfully, Sivir has very short attack range, meaning that getting on top of her before level 6 isn't too difficult. However, she has constant harass with Boomerang Blade and Ricochet, can block abilities with Spell Shield, and has powerful kiting with Fleet of Foot and On The Hunt. Exhaust is great for keeping her in range, just remember that she can block the pull from Apotheosis with her spell shield.

Zeri has the easiest lane out of all of the hard matchups because Burst Fire can't hit you through minions, and her Spark Surge doesn't take her far if she's in the middle of the lane. The problem with Zeri is her scaling and her late game. Zeri becomes uncatchable later in the game, so you should do your best to take advantage of her weak early game. Getting level 2 advantage isn't too difficult against her, and Slipstream dashes further than Spark Surge (provided it isn't used on a wall), and Jubilant Veil can block her Q. Exhaust is very useful for keeping her speed in check, and probably more valuable than Ghost.


The most popular mage bot laners right now are Karthus, Seraphine, and Swain, and all of them are nightmare lanes for Nilah. They can easily outrange you and chip away at your health bar, zoning you from the wave. These lanes mainly utilise positioning to avoid abilities, and crossing your fingers in champ select that your support will pick engage, since these mages are immobile.

Seraphine has respectable early damage, but her range is the problem. She can easily poke you off of the wave and harass you under tower, or she can stand far behind her wave and safely farm completely out of your reach. Cleanse can be extremely handy for dealing with her CC, which may give you your window to reach her.

Swain has annoying poke that can hit you through minions and set up for his support to combo off of. When he hits level 6, his ultimate lets him out-brawl you, so do your best to escape after he uses it. Your best bet is to take advantage of his lack of mobility before he has his ultimate, and try to generate a lead you can snowball from. If not, you should do your best to farm and reach 3 items, at which point you might be able to beat him.

Karthus is a similar situation to Swain but with 2 key differences. The first is that he can potentially match you in fights from as early as level 2 due to his E. Aim to dodge his Q and conserve your health until a window arises where you can all in him. The second difference is that while Karthus is just as immobile as Swain, he's also a lot squishier, meaning that getting that first kill on him is a lot easier. Use Slipstream to escape his passive and dodge his Q, and don't forget to use Jubilant Veil to reduce the damage of Requiem. Try to pass it to your support as well!

Veigar's damage is rather low early game, and you can look to engage on him if his Event Horizon is on cooldown. Veigar will inevitably outscale you, and you'll have to rely on your team's help to deal with him. You can use Cleanse to ignore Event Horizon, use Slipstream to dodge Dark Matter or even Baleful Strike, and don't forget to use Jubilant Veil to reduce his burst.

Ziggs is similar to Seraphine with his incredible range, but he also comes with monstrous pushing power and the ability to raze turrets very early in the game. This can potentially give your jungler opportunities to gank, but his range and Satchel Charge serve him well in staying safe. You can dodge his abilities, but he will most likely time them with your last hitting and use your minions to utilise the AOE on Bouncing Bomb.
Support Pairings

Support Pairings

Nilah is a very support dependant champion, and you should be mindful of the champion your support picks. Thankfully, Nilah works very well with both enchanters and tanky engage supports; the only bad supports to pick with her are mages. You should also keep in mind the enemy bot lane's comp, and think about how you can expect to interact with them. Joy Unending's bonuses incentivise enchanter supports, but people tend to pick engage. As long as your support makes either reaching the enemy bot lane or laning easier, it's a fine pick.


When playing with enchanters, most of the time it's up to you to take advantage of bad positioning or long cooldowns from your lane opponents. They take a lot of pressure off of laning with their healing and shielding, and use their range to make space for you to collect minions. Abilities such as Bailout and Chronoshift make engaging incredibly safe, whereas Starcall, Astral Infusion, and Ebb and Flow keep you healthy against poke. Tidecaller's Blessing is a fantastic ability for Nilah, as it gives you movespeed and adds a slow to your next 3 attacks, as well as damage.

Engage Supports

Engage supports sacrifice the range of enchanters for all-in power, so be mindful of preserving your HP to allow safe engages. All hook supports are pretty good with Nilah, as they can lock enemies down and allow Nilah to move into range, potentially letting her save Slipstream for when they attempt to escape. In particular, Rakan's Battle Dance allows both you and Rakan to follow up on each other, grouping enemies for either Grand Entrance or Apotheosis. Zac's Cell Division and Pyke's Gift of the Drowned Ones provide slight healing during lane, and both have engages that you can follow easily.

Taric is not strictly an engage champion, but he is one of the best supports to pick with Nilah. He combines an enchanter's healing, in Starlight's Touch, with great engage power through Dazzle and Cosmic Radiance. All of this comes together to create unbelievable power in standing your ground and even counter engage; If the enemy bot is an all-in comp, you will be immortal in every fight past level 3.

Engage or Enchanter?

Given the chaotic nature of solo queue, I generally think that engage supports are a more successful pairing with Nilah. Whilst Joy Unending does encourage you to have an enchanter on your team, the short range of your abilities requires you to actually have reached your opponent to damage them, so having a champion on your team that is able to lockdown or engage the enemy carries is quite handy!

This is why the best supports with Nilah are ones that can help you get into the enemy backline while still making use of Joy Unending; Pyke and Rakan come to mind, and you would be surprised how much bonus healing you can receive from Gift of the Drowned Ones and Gleaming Quill!

Some champions worth mentioning that are exceptions to this rule are Taric, who I talked about previously, and Senna. Senna can cover you in lane with her poke, and heal you with Piercing Darkness. In return, you can act as a partial frontline in the lane, and protect both yourself and her with Jubilant Veil, allowing her to stack Absolution and scale into a monster. You are very difficult to fight after about level 4, and that only gets worse as the game goes on.

We've talked about runes, items, matchups, and support pairings, so now we should address the question:

When should I pick Nilah?

Obviously you can just pick Nilah in every single game, but there are various indicators you can look for in champion select that will impact how well Nilah as a champion will perform inside of the match, and therefore how much you will enjoy the game!

The first thing to address is pick order. Generally speaking, I would advise picking Nilah early into the draft, since this allows the enemy bot lane to pick a duo that will make laning miserable, which can make or break the game for you. In most games, the bot lane comp is picked quite early, so you shouldn't need last pick, and should swap with someone if your lane opponent has already picked their champ. However, there's also a good chance that your opponents already decided what champion they were going to play before they even entered champ select, so pick at your discretion!

Next is the general theme of your team's comp (being how it aims to play the game), the theme of the enemy's comp, and how you can expect the two to interatct. I'd argue the overall theme of your team isn't really considered in solo queue, but it's still a good indicator! From either this guide or simply playing Nilah, you might have already identified that she works best against short range comps, and with other engage champions on her team, giving us the themes she works best with. Now we have some general signs of when might be a good time to pick Nilah:
  • Your team has drafted engage champions such as Jarvan IV or Nocturne
  • Your team has drafted good frontline such as Shen, Maokai, or practically any bruiser
  • The enemy team has drafted short range/engage champions while we have a good frontline to cover us
  • Bonus points if there are a lot of auto attacking champions or on-hit abilities on the enemy team!
The best spot to pick Nilah in is when your team has strong frontline that can tank for you or fight with you, and the enemy team has lots of melee/short range that are forced to interact with you!

The obvious answer is to draft an engage support, but if you've already got decent engage from you top laner or jungler and haven't picked a support yet, picking an enchanter can potentially ease your laning phase and still be valuable in teamfights!

We can also use the inverse of this idea to determine when might be a bad time to pick Nilah:
  • Your team has drafted long range poke such as Xerath or Ziggs
  • Your team has little to no frontline that will fight with you
  • The enemy team has drafted long range that you cannot reach such as Jayce
  • The enemy team has strong disengage such as Janna
The absolute worst spot to pick Nilah in is when both your team and the enemy have picked long range champions, since it gives you very little to do both in terms of assisting your team and damaging the enemy.

Team-wide coordination in drafting is rare in solo queue, so don't expect every game to have all 5 champions on each team built around a theme; people just like playing champions they enjoy, which is ok! But with experience with and against each champion as Nilah, you will come to understand which are great for you, which are awful, which are bearable, and everything in between!
Early Laning

The Bread and Butter

One of the tricks Nilah has up her sleeve is the surprise level 2 engage. Due to Joy Unending's bonus XP, last hitting the first 8 minions will give you and your support level 2, which is 1 minion earlier than the enemy bot lane. Although Nilah's early game and laning is painful, this surprise level up can decide the lane if the enemy bot lane is unaware. Slipstream instantly grants you its 2 charges upon leveling it, and each charge does around ~66 damage at level 2. On top of this, Slipstream resets your auto attack timer, allowing you to very quickly stack Conqueror for even more damage. If your support is positioned properly, you can easily burn the enemy's summoner spells, if not kill them. Either way, you can safely farm afterwards and push the XP lead even further, which can lead to easier kills down the line!

This situation won't happen every game, but keeping a mental note of this opportunity can win you lanes, and you can even utilise it at other level spikes, such as level 3 or 6!

Laning Safely

In the matchups section, I used a few different ideas, sometimes phrased differently. "Preserve your HP", "Farm safely", "Stay in XP range" and such. I'll do my best to explain in detail what I mean with these phrases. It may be obvious to some of you reading, but I'm going over it anyway just in case!

Miss Gold, Not XP

Sometimes, you'll go into lane as Nilah, and your lane opponent either won't poke you, or won't have the means to poke you consistently due to the champions they've picked. In that case: perfect! Laning should be easy at that point.

But maybe the enemy bot lane have picked a long range or aggressive marksman and a support that's good at poking;
Draven Karma for example. Now laning is very hard because of the damage that both of these champions can do to you, and if you don't repsect it and give up CS when necessary, you'll be giving free kills. Now how do you maximise your chances of winning this lane?

Preserve your HP!

This one is obvious; if you don't die, the enemy doesn't get kills! But preserving your HP in these kinds of lanes is (again, obvious) the most important thing, because it means that when you can walk up to collect CS, the enemy bot can't blow you up. What is the most effective and consistent way to preserve your HP?

Farm Safely!

The obvious way to farm safely is with Formless Blade. Use the initial cast to last hit minions, and with enough practice you can attack minions that are high health, and use the cone damage to kill low health minions. In emergencies, you can use Jubilant Veil to protect yourself, but bear in mind the long cooldown.

Farming safely requires you to look at the positions of the enemy bot laners. It's very likely that Draven is standing in the minion wave, ready to last hit, and Karma might be standing in the middle bush. Karma will try to harass you if you walk up to last hit, and Draven will do the same, provided he has no minions of his own to kill. If you are having lots of trouble farming minions, remember the next point:

Stay In XP Range!

This point is very valuable to remember as Nilah, because of how Joy Unending works:
  • In a duo lane, when a minion dies, each of you gains 61.05% of the experience you would have gained if you were solo.
  • When you kill a minion, Joy Unending grants you and your ally 50% of the experience you would have lost for sharing (that's 19.475% more xp!)
  • This means that every minion you last hit gives you AND your lane partner a total of 80.525% experience!
  • Roughly speaking, every 3-4 minions you last hit with your lane partner nearby gives you 1 minion worth of XP more than your lane opponent!
  • You can also think of this as each minion you last hit giving your bot lane 1.319x the experience the enemy bot lane would receive for killing the same minion!
If you aren't able to last hit minions but can still stand in XP range, you are able to keep up with the enemy bot lane, which is great. But if you can sneak in a last hit or two, you slowly receive more XP than they do, which can quickly catch you up if they're ahead, or even begin to create your own lead!

What does this mean in a practical sense? It means with good last hitting, you can hit level 2 from after 2 melee minions from the second wave, rather than 3. You can also hit level 3 after killing the cannon minion from the third wave.

Respect the Damage!

Now imagine, instead of respecting the enemy bot lane's damage and giving up CS in favour of XP and HP, at around 3:00 into the game, you walk up at the wrong time, and Draven is able to kill you. Assuming that's first blood, you've just given him 400 gold for the kill, probably around 120 gold from League of Draven, and chances are he's using Treasure Hunter too. Now he can finish last hitting the wave, push it under tower, and recall. With that money, he can buy Sheen, and when he comes back to lane, Spinning Axe is probably going to deal around 180 damage with the Sheen passive. Not to mention, you've just lost an entire wave's worth of XP and potential gold.

Now, think about the alternate scenario: You respect the enemy botlane's damage, and sit back in XP range, only last hitting with Formless Blade when you're sure it's safe to do so. With the wave pushing towards you, and you alive, you have some options:
  • You can try to focus the wave and surprise them with how quickly you can hit level 3
  • You could also call for a jungle gank if they are nearby
If you have preserved your HP well, you can fight the enemy bot as soon as you hit level 3. Let's say your support in this lane has been Pyke. As soon as you hit level 3, Pyke can fish for hooks with Bone Skewer. If he hits, you can look to force Draven to use his Flash or potentially kill him, giving you the advantage. If Pyke misses his hook, you can both escape using Phantom Undertow and Slipstream. Gift of the Drowned Ones will heal Pyke, and you can look for another hook once it's off cooldown.

What if I get dove?

There will be times when the wave crashes into your turret, and the enemy jungler comes in for a dive. If you have seen them early enough on a ward or you have tracked their pathing, the best course of action is to give the wave. It hurts, but it's better than giving kills.

If you haven't seen them early enough and can't avoid the dive, your only option is to try and outplay it. Against on hit junglers, such as Briar, Viego, Kindred, or Bel'Veth, your Jubilant Veil is extremely powerful if you time it right, especially to block abilities like Head Rush or Royal Maelstrom.

Jubilant Veil isn't as powerful when used against AP junglers, so you can either try to kill whoever is lowest or you can try and collect the wave. Remember that Formless Blade can be cast during Slipstream, and you can use this to clear waves quickly.

In a Nutshell!

In the early lane against tough matchups, prioritise your health above all. Do your best to last hit when you think you'll take minimal damage, and make sure to stay in xp range when possible; move in and out as minions die if you have to. This way, if you fall behind in gold, you will be even or ahead in XP, and with decent amounts of health, you can level up when they don't expect it and turn it into a surprise engage.

The early laning phase can make or break Nilah, as you are very weak at level 1. Levelling up and gaining access to Slipstream and Jubilant Veil brings incredible safety to your farming, and even allows you to fight certain enemy bot comps 2v2. Nilah becomes more powerful with each item purchase, especially if it grants crit chance, so remember to keep your farm up!
Post Laning

Mid and Late Game

After laning phase has ended, you should look to rotate to mid lane and continue farming. Nilah benefits greatly from purchasing crit chance, so your items 1-4 should give you some, unless there is a defensive item you can build that you think would be perfect against the enemy team. Nilah has an incredible damage spike at 3 items provided you've built either Lord Dominik's Regards or Mortal Reminder due to the ridiculous armour penetration she gains. If you're around level 12, Immortal Shieldbow's passive will begin to scale and become more valuable, and the same is true for Bloodthirster at level 13, so keep that in mind! If you see a large minion wave moving towards one of your towers and no one is on there may to collect it, move to it! Gold=items, items=damage, damage wins fights!

Taking Objectives

Formless Blade's low cooldown, high damage, and armor penetration make Nilah destory objectives quickly; even quicker if you have built Navori Quickblades. Be careful when sieging turrets, as your short range makes you vulnerable. If the enemy team has people defending their turrets from afar, the best you can do is try to hit the turret with Formless Blade. It does better damage the more items you have, but you should be careful of spells being thrown at you as you walk up.

You should also be mindful of your vision when looking to take towers. If you have no minion wave approaching, Slipstream will not be able to save you, and Jubilant Veil can only do so much against ability centric champions. Don't push up without your team nearby, and remember to pick up Farsight Alteration the moment you hit level 9; risk-free vision is invaluable!

Focus on Positioning!

The most important thing to remember on Nilah is that although you are melee, you are not a tank or a bruiser! Whilst you may feel tempted to stand near the frontline because you are melee, this is how you die fast! In the mid game, it is up to the bulkier champions on your team to initiate fights; you should be positioned to follow up, not to start them. Let your frontline face check for you and clear the way towards objectives.

Your role in fights is using Slipstream to dash towards the backline and catch them in Apotheosis. Patience is key on Nilah; Keep an eye out for abilities that counter your mobility, such as Taliyah's Unraveled Earth, or point and click CC, like Nether Grasp, Unstoppable Force, or Cease and Desist. Wait for the most threatening abilities to go on cooldown, and then you can go in unimpeded. Nilah is also great at dealing with tanks and bruisers thanks to her armor pen, so don't be afraid to help your team deal with the frontline if you can't reach the back!

If you find the enemy carries near a minion wave and your team is nearby, you can engage on them by using Slipstream on minions and grouping them with Apotheosis. Your team should be able to move in and clean up, and even if you die, you have made a massive play that your team should be able to easily turn into a free objective.
Nilah Bugs
Although there aren't too many, Nilah does have some bugs, and I wanted to make this section to bring awareness to them. I'll come back and change this section if they ever get fixed, because some of them are quite annoying! Below is a video of almost all of the Nilah bugs I know of, and below that is the same but in text form.

Normally, the shield you receive from Formless Blade's healing at full health is uncapped. However, taking Overheal caps the shield to be the same size as the rune's shield. Additionally, damaging an enemy champion causes the shield to disappear entirely after 4 seconds, instead of gradually decaying over time.
  • Hitting an enemy champion with Formless Blade triggers Call for Help, causing you to take minion aggro. This usually only occurs when hitting champions with targeted spells.
  • Casting Formless Blade as the duration of the buff ends will delay the next auto attack.
  • Casting Slipstream sometimes does not visually use a charge, displaying 2 charges when you only have 1.
  • Slipstream will not take Nilah over walls if the wall is thicker than the dash range.
  • Slipstream has a very small, unintentional cast time.
Thank you for reading! I hope you found this guide helpful. If you find any mistakes or have suggestions on things to add/change, please put them in the discussion page!


If the guide was updated recently with no additions to the change log, it was probably a change to grammar or spelling.

05/04/2023 Patch 13.7 - Added Soraka to synergies (oops), and changed Bloodthirster's section to not recommend it anymore due to the nerfs in 13.6.
20/04/2023 Patch 13.8 - Updated the Intro, Senna's synergy entry, and added sections to the items section for Prowler's Claw and Ravenous Hydra.
28/04/2023 - Added of my account.
22/05/2023 Patch 13.10 - Updated item builds, item explanations, and added Ingenious Hunter and Cosmic Insight to the runes section. Added E max ability order with some explanation.
23/05/2023 - Added some explanation as to how Lord Dominik's Regards stacks with Formless Blade's passive in the item explanation section, and further updated the guide to reflect patch 13.10's item changes.
01/06/2023 Patch 13.11 - Replaced Ghostblade with Eclipse in item builds and explanations to reflect the nerfs it received.
10/09/2023 Patch 13.17 - Updated item builds, rune pages, item explanations, and updated the matchups section for mages.
19/10/2023 Patch 13.20 - Added a video to the Bugs section showcasing almost all of the listed Nilah bugs.
08/11/2023 Patch 13.22 - Updated some matchups and item explanations.
23/11/2023 Patch 13.23 - Added summaries to some sections for more concise information.
10/01/2024 Patch 14.1 - Happy new year! Slightly changed the builds in the guide due to the removal of mythics in season 14.
11/01/2024 - Updated the builds in the guide with some tank item options.
17/01/2024 - Added a section in Builds for the Bloodsong build created by Enryu.
24/01/2024 Patch 14.2 - Removed the Bloodsong build due to support item changes, and updated the Runes section to reflect the new stat shard changes.
07/02/2024 Patch 14.3 - Updated the Runes section and updated Essence Reaver in the Items section.
13/02/2024 - Added to the support pairings section and added starting items to the item explanations section.
14/02/2024 - Added some text on when to pick Nilah to the Support Pairings section.
16/02/2024 - Added to the Summoner Spells and Item Explanations sections.
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