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Nasus Build Guide by Heceldi

Not Updated For Current Season

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Heceldi

AP Nasus - The Melter of the Sands

Heceldi Last updated on March 21, 2013
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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


Utility: 0

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This guide will help demonstrate how Nasus can be one nasty puppy. Your enemies, generally, will consider you 'not a threat' until you begin to eat them like kibbles and bits. When everyone realizes exactly how much you hurt, you will likely be focused before the carries.

You aren't going to be forced to farm your Q all game. You're going to bring much more to the table than your normal one-trick Nasus. A well played AP Nasus should not die often, as you're going to have the tools to prevent others from getting near you unless you want them to. Your crowd control will be invaluable in team fights. Your spells will chew through enemy health, and you'll be able to eat tanks -while- focusing their carries.

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Pros / Cons

There are definite pro's and con's to building Nasus as AP.


More durable than AP Carries, not far behind in damage
FoTS will chew through enemies, especially tanks (Always-Cap DPS)
Targeted AOE can push fast and hit hard (~550 initial damage, ~100/s after)
Wither will counter AD Carries and catch runners (95% slow + snare)
Not -forced- to farm Q all game (Lich Bane will add ~475 damage to using Q)
Great 1v1 skillset, you will be able to solo most enemies
Far more effective than Q farm in games under 40 minutes when laning


No fast escapes, you will need run speed and to use your slows effectively
Less EHP than the standard Q farming or tank builds
Less effective overall than Q farming in 40+ minute games
You will be a lot more item dependent than Q farm, best in solo top
You are far more reliant on cooldowns and mana

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For the spells, I will add additional notes for each one based on using the core set of items as-is and assuming having attained level 18. Depending how much you farm Q during the laning phase, it will gain damage as well, however it is entirely dependent on you.

Soul Eater


Nasus drains his foe's spiritual energy, giving him a natural 14 / 17 / 20% life-steal.


This helps Nasus stay in lane longer. Coupled with what Q farm you will be doing, it is very useful when harassed early.

Siphoning Strike


Cooldown: 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 (3s)
Cost: 20 Mana
Physical Damage: 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+119) (+3 [+6] per enemy killed by Siphoning Strike)

Active: Nasus' next attack within 10 seconds will deal additional damage. Siphoning Strike permanently gains 3 stacked damage whenever it kills an enemy. This bonus is doubled to 6 stacked damage if the enemy killed is a champion, big monster or big minion.

Core Item Effects
Lich Bane: +472 Damage On-Next-Hit

You won't be relying on this, however you still want to use it. Whenever possible, make sure to last hit with it, because it still works, even if not the basis for the build. Lich Bane helps make up for lost Q farm, adding an appreciable amount of damage due to your high AP.



Range: 700
Cooldown: 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 (8.4s)
Cost: 80 mana
Slow over 5 seconds from 35% to: 47% / 59% / 71% / 83% / 95%

Active: Nasus ages his target, slowing their movement and attack speed by 35%. An additional slowing effect increases over the duration of the spell. If the duration of Wither is reduced, the added slowing effect is applied faster.

Core Item Effects
Lich Bane: +472 Damage On-Next-Hit

This spell is extremely anti-carry. It is currently the single strongest snare and slow in the game. Lead teamfights by disabling their carry with it. By building your movement, you'll also be able to catch runners, allowing ganks that wouldn't have happened otherwise. Also Nasus's main escape mechanism.

Spirit Fire


Range: 650
Cooldown: 12 (9.1s)
Cost: 70 / 85 / 100 / 115 / 130 mana
Initial Magic Damage: 55 / 95 / 135 / 175 / 215 (+337.2)
Magic Damage Per Second: 11 / 19 / 27 / 35 / 43 (+67.5)
Total Magic Damage: 110 / 190 / 270 / 350 / 430 (+680)
Armor Reduction: 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40
Diameter of AoE: 800

Active: Nasus unleashes a spirit flame at a location for 5 seconds. Enemies caught in the area are dealt a burst of magic damage. Additionally, enemies in the area are dealt magic damage each second and have their armor reduced while on there and for 1 extra second.

Core Item Effects
Lich Bane: +472 Damage On-Next-Hit
Rylai's Crystal Scepter: +15% Snare
Liandry's Torment: +10% CurrentHP/s Damage for 3 Seconds

Becomes extremely potent with high AP. Drop in the middle of a team fight and if there are 6 minions and 5 champs in the ring, it will do over 6000 damage immediately, before resist calculations. By rank 3, you should be clearing entire minion waves with 1 cast, after the DoT. Fully ranked, it will clear entire minion waves as soon as it lands. Try to keep it under enemy champions in fights, as the AD debuff is useful.

Fury of the Sands


Cooldown: 120 (91s)
Cost: 150 mana
Health Gained: 300 / 450 / 600
Max Health to Magic Damage Ratio Per Second: 3% / 4% / 5% (+5.6%)
Total Max Health to Magic Damage Ratio: 45% / 60% / 75% (+84.3%)
Total Magic Damage Possible (to a single enemy): 3600
Total Bonus Attack Damage Possible (from a single enemy): 229.5
Diameter of AoE: 350

Active: Nasus becomes empowered in the sandstorm for 15 seconds, gaining bonus health, 50 bonus attack range, and 100 bonus cast range.

Core Item Effects
Lich Bane: +472 Damage On-Next-Hit
Rylai's Crystal Scepter: +15% Snare
Liandry's Torment: +10% CurrentHP/s Damage for 3 Seconds

With high AP, you will always being doing the cap damage with this, regardless what resists they have. Easily chews through anyone. Your AD will increase if you use it in team fights, and with recent changes, it adds both melee and cast range, so you won't suffer from kiting as Nasus used to be. Ghost is a -great- compliment to this, as you will be able to effectively chase runners and stick to them, regardless what they run through.

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You won't be building a lot of defenses. The core items will provide enough health to allow you to survive, however we really need to add some defense here. Run speed helps offset your lack of instant escape, as well as helps maintain stick during your ultimate.


Greater Mark of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

9x Greater Mark of Scaling Magic Resist
With your mastery tree providing a little bit of initial health, and building your Scepter early, adding an additional 500hp, scaling magic resist provides a little extra oomph over flat resist later on.

9x Greater Seal of Armor
Having a little bit stronger armor early helps in the early laning. Innate armor is already a bit higher than your magic resist. Far more useful than straight hit points, which items will provide.

9x Greater Glyph of Ability Power
If you find yourself dying a lot, you might want to consider switching these out for Greater Glyph of Magic Resist, however they provide a boost to your early use of Spirit Fire.

2x Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
You have no instant escape. You'll have a lot of ways to slow them down. These do double duty, in both helping add a gap when you are running; and also help close the gap when you are chasing. Your wither is important, and you need to get in range to make it work. This helps that. You'll have a lot less lost opportunities for your team if you can maintain lockdowns.

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Additional help in early laning, so you can build your items a little bit faster. If you find yourself having a problem with runners or harassers, you might want to consider switching this out for additional run speed.

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In addition to runes, you're going to get a little extra help here for your defense as well. You're still wanting to concentrate on damage with this build, so we are going 21/9/0.


Fairly standard AP damage build.

Summoner's Wrath - Helps both your Ignite and Ghost
Sorcery - We're going deeper in the tree, more effective than Attack Speed
Blast - Again, most effective to increase your AP damage
Arcane Knowledge - Adds a bit of magic penetration
Havoc - Need more points spent, adding additional damage helps
Mental Force - Again, pushing your AP higher
Archmage - This works best with the very high AP build
Executioner - Again, you're wanting to melt things as quickly as possible


Durability - The extra health helps you stay alive longer
Resistance - Your going to be most hurt by AP, add extra resist
Hardiness - Need another point, a little extra armor doesn't hurt
Veteran's Scars - This helps a lot in the early laning



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Summoner Spells

Primary Summoner Spells

Your ideal two summoner spells are Ghost and Ignite.

Ignite, when coupled with Summoner's Wrath , provides an additional bonus to your AD and AP, approximately equivalent to a quintessence of each. It also adds a DoT that will allow you to finish a runner before your Wither is strong enough to always make the catch. If you don't normally play with Ignite it can take some getting used to, to make sure it will finish off a running champion; and if you forget, it still provides the AD and AP bonus.

Ghost couples with your Fury of the Sands to keep you within range while your ultimate is active. People will run, and this means you can catch them. Summoner's Wrath also provides additional run speed to Ghost so it boosts two of your summoner's abilities for a single point spent.

Optional Summoner Spells

Flash can be a good swap out for times when you are up against a heavily-stunning matchup. It will add needed escape in times when it's needed, however it is not quite as good as Ghost for maintaining stick. I would likely swap out Ignite for Flash on matchups that call for it.

Teleport can be useful in the right circumstances; however for laning, Homeguard on your boots maintains lane presence quite easily without Teleport. Homeguard allows for instant healing and an extreme bonus to run speed so you can get right back to your lane. Where Teleport shines is when your team is using wards, or has a Heimerdinger dropping turrets behind enemy lines, allowing you to quickly trap enemies between a rock and a hard place. As it would be used mostly for gank, I would swap out Ignite for it.

Exhaust, in a matchup against a lot of quick-escape champions, adds one more slow to your arsenal of slows. Again, I would switch out Ignite for it on the matchups it's called for. It's the least likely optional to consider, since your Wither is already a stronger shutdown to carries and on an 8 second cooldown.

Less Useful Summoner Spells

Clarity could help your early laning more than Ignite, with the expensive cost of Spirit Fire; however mana will no longer be an issue late game, after you have Homeguard. Later in the match, when mana isn't an issue any longer, Clarity becomes next to useless. Ignite, however, scales with level so those ticks on a running champion get stronger later in the matchup so it remains useful.

Cleanse takes too much away from your damage potential to be useful. You have a hitpoint buffer with this build, and your Fury of the Sands can quickly add additional health as well. About the only time it is remotely viable is against a team made entirely of heavy stun.

Barrier can be, in the right circumstances, useful. The problem is, those circumstances are few and far between. The problem is the duration. You should be recalling early and often and using your boots to get back to the fight. Your overall survivability shouldn't be the issue. It's only good for when you rush into a large team fight, hit your ultimate, and become the center of attention. One of the situational items, Zhonya's Hourglass provides more benefit, while leaving your summoner spell slot open.

Don't Bother Summoner Spells

Heal is not useful at all with the amount of nerfs it has received. It adds next to nothing to your laning, and by the time team fights are happening, it doesn't scale well enough to make it worth the loss of your damage potential. For trying to bait out enemies, remember that your Fury of the Sands adds health, so it takes the role of Heal for baiting. Leave it to the support.

Revive isn't going to be useful, because you're going to be making use of your Homeguard often. The core build provides a good buffer, but isn't the best defense. When you take damage, recall early, recall often. Your boots will get you right back to the fight. About the only time a person should take this is in Dominion, for the super-squishy champions.

Clairvoyance provides nothing for your damage and nothing for escape. Though marginally a better idea than smite, you lose way too much to warrant taking it. You can farm faster than anyone else, so gold should not be an issue if you want to ward.

Smite is pointless since you aren't going to be a jungler with this build. You excel at multi-target damage, Wither doesn't affect monsters, and you're primarily doing spell damage so your Soul Eater won't trigger for the majority of your damage. Leave jungling to those built for it. Nasus can jungle, just not as AP.

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Core Build

The core build provides a host of benefits.

Mercury's Treads is your source of tenacity. If I'm not up against a lot of stuns or disables, I'll switch out for Boots of Swiftness. If we are steamrolling, then I'll swap out for Ionian Boots of Lucidity so I can ultimate more often. In all cases, I nearly always go Homeguard. You're going to take a lot of damage, so it will greatly help to return to base and be instantly healed, and a very quick return to the front lines. Also, with homeguard, if you've been pushed back to your base, you can get fully healed and to any tower near base in about 10-12 seconds, including Recall . You are going to be uniquely equipped to handle minions en masse, so you should be prepared to protect when the need arises.

An early Doran's Ring adds much needed mana regneration. Spirit Fire eats it up, and as quickly as it chews up minions, Doran's Ring returns it. Once you can finish a Chalice of Harmony you no longer need to keep it to maintain your mana reserves.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter is going to give you most of your bonus health. It also adds a great deal of AP to your build. The slow, even at 15%, is extremely useful when chasing, running, and when combined with Liandry's Torment. If you can get a little ahead of a few people chasing you, it's a great way to add more distance when Wither isn't enough.

Lich Bane is going to make up for your lack of hard Q farming. With the build complete, it will add as much damage to your attacks as about 30 minutes of Jungle Nasus Q farming (which tends to average about +100 damage every 8 minutes). With your extremely high AP, and a 3s spell, this will be your best friend.. ready to go every time Q is up.

Rabadon's Deathcap will be adding a total of 250 AP in the final build. Very useful. After you have your Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Lich Bane, it will make that Lich Bane suddenly have a huge spike in damage output.

Liandry's Torment is very underrated by a lot of people. It adds some AP, a bit of health, a little magic penetration, and most importantly, a huge DoT when you are using Spirit Fire with your Rylai's Crystal Scepter. That 10% CurrentHP/s is huge, especially against tanks. Building the Haunting Guise earlier gives you a hp boost to help your survivability. Finishing this as one of the last two items means it will come into play when it's most effective: in late game.

Lastly, Athene's Unholy Grail will keep your mana reserves up as well as gives you some more AP and, more importantly, magic resist. Though the final product is very useful, I tend to build the Chalice of Harmony and Fiendish Codex earlier for their benefits, and finish the grail last.

Alternate Items

If your teams gets ahead early game, then consider swapping out building your Athene's Unholy Grail and instead build a Mejai's Soulstealer. You should be getting an assist on nearly every kill, if not killing blows; so it will max out very quickly.

If you aren't getting harassed early, or they have a few deaths in the first 15 minutes, then work in a Rod of Ages early in lieu of the Athene's Unholy Grail for a lot more survivability. You're going to be shifting your big damage to later, in exchange for faster farm early.

If you are getting focused heavily, Zhonya's Hourglass is very useful with your ultimate. You run into the middle of a team fight, pop your ultimate, then the hourglass. You won't take damage, but you'll still do %damage to those around you.

If you're doing well and are just having a problem with runners, a Hextech Gunblade comes in handy as yet another snare. It also provides a lot of spell vamp which goes great with your Spirit Fire.

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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

Though you aren't focused entirely around it like most who play Nasus, get your Siphoning Strike first. Farm with it early, and farm often. You aren't Q-centric, but it never hurts to add to your bottom DPS line.

Spirit Fire is your main bread and butter. You want it max'd out as quickly as possible. By level 7, with it at 3, you should be able to one-click-clear entire minion waves. With practice, you'll be able to push a lane as fast as you can run it. Great for popping towers, or threatening a tower while you run off to pop their carry. Be wary of mana while using it, and go grab Blue if you are having issues with mana management.

Wither is just as important as Spirit Fire. You want it max'd out as quickly as possible too. It is your escape, your counter-carry, your catch-runners, and a bag of chips. You will occasionally have ragers complain about your having Exhaust on an 8 second cooldown.

Last, finish off your Siphoning Strike. By the time you go to finish it off, you'll already be hitting for about 600-800 with Lich Bane and your Q farm. Now, you'll have the sudden late spike in AD DPS the enemy team wasn't prepared for.

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Team Work

What do you bring to the fight? A lot more than some will believe. You're not full-on tank, but you will have a lot more HP than your standard AP damage dealers. The enemy will realize this eventually and focus you first.


When you get to a team fight, you should ideally have a good mana pool available and most of your cooldowns up. Your primary abilities should all be up every 1.5 minutes or so, so you should be ready to go at nearly every team fight. If you have Homeguard on your boots, stay in lane until your team is about ready for engage; recall and immediately head to the gathering. You will be instantly full health after recall, and get straight to the team fight in short order. This allows you to use your Spirit Fire heavily in lane, and not worry nearly as much about mana pools at engage.

Team Fights

The first thing you want to do is Wither the enemy carry, followed immediately by dropping Spirit Fire where it will hit the most possible enemies. Your team should focus the opposing carry, who will presently be standing around looking foolish. Once Wither wears off, if they aren't dead yet, they will most likely be running. Just Wither them again. They shouldn't be alive any longer.

If you are engaging 3 or more, don't hesitate to pop your Fury of the Sands and run into the middle of the fray. You'll not only have father cast distance to catch runners, but also gain HP and damage as well; which will help you smack things near you. The PBAoE DoT will be doing a lot of harm to everything near you. Need to catch a runner? Pop Ghost and you can stay in range with your ultimate quite easily, ignoring anyone who stands in your way. Also, if things begin to go sour, Ghost can help you escape.

If the odds are weighed heavily against you at engage, you're better off saving your ultimate. If your team is going down, the sudden health boost can mean the difference between living or feeding another kill.

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Early Farm

Start out last-hitting with Q. Don't be afraid to use S to stop yourself from auto-attacking until your Q is up again. At level 2, soften up waves, and harrass with your Spirit Fire. It becomes a lot better at level 4, so use it sparingly until then. Always be mindful of your mana, as you can quickly run out, which means a trip back to restore it. Avoid pushing very far until you have your ultimate. With well-placed Spirit Fire, you'll easily be able to add farm to your Q, as well as force the opposing team to waste health potions.


Have your ultimate? Try to pull the enemy back near your tower. If you can pull a Siphoning Strike off, you're in great position to Wither, Spirit Fire so it's just before them (make sure to still hit them on land), Fury of the Sands then Ghost. If everything is placed well, you'll wipe out their minions, while focusing them. Can easily pull off a double kill if done just right.

At level 7, your Spirit Fire should now be extremely-quickly clearing minion waves. I find it beneficial to put the hurt to the opposing champions until they recall, push to the tower, recall and go gank. Should be very easy to take the tower now if you felt so inclined.


Don't let your lane fall, but try to help in ganks. If you can sneak to middle and Wither when the opposing champion overextends, you'll easily help snowball your mid. Try to sneak in during any over-extend and Wither as it'll quickly separate the opposition. If you want to engage in the middle of a huge minion wave, by all means, just drop Spirit Fire and all of their minions vanish. This little trick is also useful when you can Wither them when they think they are safe in the middle of a dozen minions. A second later, they have no more minions.. and are moving very slowly.

Late Game

You should have a bit of farm on your Q, and most of your build completed. It is quite easy to finish a game with over 250 cs, so your build should progress quickly. You can clear huge minion pushes in a single cast of Spirit Fire, so try to protect lanes; while staying close to the fights since you stop their carry and halt their runners with Wither. By level 14 or so, mana should no longer be much of an issue... if it is, grab Blue.

As quickly as you can clear minions, you should be one of the first players to reach 18. Make use of your level advantage whenever possible. Hunt them, and if you can 1v1 anyone, you're uniquely skilled to shut down nearly anyone. Your one biggest problem will be chain-stuns, avoid anyone who can stop you entirely, eat the rest. They make good kibble.

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Changelog | Todo

V 1.2 - Made my own separators to avoid confusion in who created this, as it wasn't a template

Also tweaked several format items
Added a todo in with the changelog
V 1.1 - Added Summoner Spells and Changelog chapters
Added additional notes about survival in summary
V 1.0 - Initial publication

Todo List:
Add example usage with images, videos, ranges, and so forth.

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Nasus can do a lot of damage, very quickly. He can do even more, almost as quickly. This build takes the latter course, improving damage in the short games under 30 minutes. You will get a lot of hate from people with it, until they try it out. You won't believe the rage some people have about an AP Nasus on their team. Often, you'll be at the end-of-game chat with most kills, most assists, and least deaths and -still- be called a newbie for rolling AP Nasus.

This build works best as a solo top, with a friend in the jungle. You can harass them easily, and keep them backed off from experience gains using your Spirit Fire. When they do approach, your Wither with a well timed jungle-assist easily means chewing up enemy champions faster than they can type in their rage to chat. Having a friend who can come hold the lane while you run back to heal means you can waste mana to your heart's content on Spirit Fire.

The one thing this build lacks is strong defense. It isn't meant to be played as the main tank. If you try to play as the main tank, you will find the hitpoint buffer doesn't last a very long time. It does provide enough of a hitpoint buffer to utilize the Homeguard boot enchantment effectively. With Homeguard, you can teleport back to your base in 8 seconds, and make it to your 2nd line of towers in about 4 more seconds, at full health since you are instantly full health and mana when you touch base. Don't allow yourself to be baited! Recall early and often to maintain your buffer, and use those boots to maintain your presence. As noted in the the Team Work section, this build plays best with a friend in the Jungle, especially while you first begin practicing with it, as it plays very differently from your standard Nasus builds.

In the end, you really just need to roll him, and try it out.

Just never forget...

Wither all the things!