Build Guide by Nerbert
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This is an import of the build described at the end of the Maokai Champion Spotlight video posted by Riot.
This style plays as a very disruptive, supportive champion who can take a pretty severe beating. You won't be able to solo much and you won't stand up to much prolonged, focused fire.
The masteries and runes are taken verbatim from the video. The skill sequence is based on my own, so far limited, experience with the character and after Mercury Treads I can offer no particular advice on item purchases and merely listed them in the order they were described in the video.
Below I will go into more detail about my experiences with this build and recommendations for play styles.
The rune distribution is pretty self explanatory.
Marks: Maokai's basic attacks pack some satisfying heft but are there for healing with Sap Magic. To stick a tap in an enemy and drain their fluids for breakfast syrup Maokai needs to make sure his spells can pierce their bark. (No more tree jokes, I swear.)
Seals: Maokai will buy a lot of mana boosting items throughout a match to keep his Vengeful Maelstrom being a whiny breeze. Arcane Smash and Sapling Toss are where the majority of your mana will go, and since smashing and tossing all over the place is where its at, keep that mana flowing with regeneration.
Glyphs: After level 6 Maokai thirsts for champions to meet him in the middle of his maelstrom of death. An enemy who stands outside the ring and can blast from afar is a real pain and you'll want all the spell resistance you can muster.
Quintessences: Maokai needs more health, the end.
Exhaust and Heal are really the best two to consider.
Exhaust keeps enemies from chasing or running away and from escaping Vengeful Maelstrom.
Heal keeps Maogai in the fight longer, and his pushes and allies alive longer.
Keeping Maokai alive, and his enemies crippled are where Maokai shines. That being said, below are some of my thoughts on alternate spells that might be worth considering.
I can see an argument for Teleport. Maokai is quite slow in my experience and it can be frustrating to try to go across map.
Cleanse could conceivably be used to extend the duration of Vengeful Maelstrom.
Rally I can definitely see being useful in an organized group. Once your team knows where Vengeful Maelstrom is going to go and how to take advantage of it, it would be simple to incorporate a good rally strategy into the mix.
In my experience, I had a lot of trouble accumulating gold in the early game. Smite makes farming considerably easier.
Honestly these are very self explanatory. Some key points from the video make particular emphasis of some and I will detail those here.
Cripple and Mender's Faith: As I mention above, Exhaust and Heal are the only two summoner spells worth considering. These masteries boost those spells make it easier to go deeper into the tree. No brainer.
Archaic Knowledge: Vengeful Maelstrom is awesome for passive defense but in order to make use of that mana expense it needs to hit hard at the end. Magic penetration is key.
Strength of Spirit: Maokai needs more health. Seriously though, the longer you can stay in the field, the happier you'll be and regenerating health is the best way to do that.
Opening up with a mana stone and health potions is ideal. In the early game staying in lane and staying alive is extremely key.
An early catalyst is pretty key to Maokai's survival but he'll need more than one before the end of the day.
Boots are going to be a complex choice depending on the enemy team. Mercury treads are generally a safe choice for that sweet, sweet magic resistance.
After this point, I don't have any strong advice. The items listed above are the ones recommended in the video.
Arcane Smash is first to keep up with early pressure and to get in those last hits. Sapling Toss is necessary early on to seed brush and stop ganks, but it won't be touched again until the end of the game. This build is for tanks, not grenadiers.
In my experience, Arcane Smash is Maokai's real utility power. It is great for smashing clumps of minions for last hits, and it can be used to punch enemies back into Vengeful Maelstrom. Twisted Advance is for gaining mobility in a fight and for well timed rooting. What order these two skills get boosted in is very much a matter of personal preference. I found myself quite starved for gold, so I recommend Arcane Smash as a priority.
As always, keep that ultimate up to date!
Since this character is very new, it seems that there is a lot of confusion about how to actually play well with Maokai. There are a few key points that I am going to mention based on my experiences.
The biggest concern about Maokai is that enemies know exactly what to do when they see his ultimate: get out of the ring. When an ally sees that ultimate go down, what to do is a lot more difficult to decide.
The most important thing to note about Maokai is that his ultimate gets played at the start of fights. When Maokai lays down Vengelful Maelstrom, allies inside that ring take 20% less damage from everything but turrets. That is a big deal! Join Maokai in his ring of awesomeness. Drag enemies into the ring and try to pin them there until they are low on health. Maokai can end the zone at any time, but the more action that has been happening in the ring, the better it is for everyone.
Communicate with Maokai about when and wear to plant the Maelstrom. A good idea might be to say â��Mao, ult on meâ�� and then stand in the spot where you want the fighting to happen.
Its not obvious how to use the skill and until people get pro with him, there will be a lot of confusion. Be patient with your Maokai!
Maokai is a big old ball of fun to play. Once he has built up a big enough pool of health and mana it becomes very satisfying to stay out in the field and turn a two man push into a full blown assault.
Maokai is a great new champion with a lot of interesting flavor. I like him because his model is a big old scary tree monster. Find your own style, give me lots of feedback and keep having fun!