Build Guide by WikkedTiki
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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.
Death defied - passive This passive allowes you to cast spells for 8 seconds after your death
Best used to cast your ultimate and help your team win a teamfight. If you have the mana just toggle defile on and the enemy will drop health fast!
Lay waste Creates a delayed blast at Karthus' cursor position. After 0.5 seconds, deals 40 / 60 / 80 / 100 / 120 (+35% of ability power) magic damage to each nearby enemy, this deals double damage if it hits only a single unit.
cooldown: 1 second
Low lvl farming tool and burst damage in PvP fights.
Wall of pain Creates a 800 / 900 / 1000 / 1100 / 1200 distance wide wall through target point. Reduces enemy armor and magic resistance by 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 and reduces movement speed by up to 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80%; debuff lasts 5 seconds. The wall lasts 7 seconds.
cooldown: 22 seconds
One of the best gank tools / debuffs in the game. Set a gank or escape from enemys. This ability makes the difference in teamfights!
Defile Toggle Off: When Karthus kills a unit, he restores 20 / 27 / 34 / 41 / 48 mana.
Toggle On: Drains 30 / 42 / 54 / 66 / 78 Mana to deal 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+25% of ability power) damage to nearby enemies each second.
cooldown: 0.5 seconds after toggeling off
Very strong AoE spell. Your late game farming tool as well.
Requiem - Ultimate After channeling for 3 seconds, Karthus deals 250 / 400 / 550 (+70% of ability power) magic damage to all enemy champions (regardless of distance).
cooldown: 180/150/120 seconds The tool to finish off enemys that get away with 10HP. With this skill the line "What a lucker" will be completely banned out of the chat! It is also great to use in teamfights right before initiating. It will be a good start for your team and waiting to use your ultimate might cost you your life.
Now as most of you know a good Karthus doesnt need Clarity. And this build does not need it! I reccomend it only to those who are not so well rehearsed with his (Q). Combinning last hitting and his (Q) with the passive of his Defile (E) should allow you to have enough mana until you obtain a Tear which at that point it will be hard for you to run out of mana as long as you are consistant with blue buff.
Ok teleport is a great replacement for Clarity because ti willallow you to Recall and gain mana and health to full and teleport back in to middle tower. I think any mid with teleport is a pain so why not?
Now i really really think that this is good on Karthus. It has alot of potential. It is obviously a way to escape or hinder a dps. Putting that on a dps will allow you to win alot of 1v1's againsnt the right people. Now this can also be used to gank as well. Put it on someone while you are charging at them to make sure you can grab one or two champions. It is a very versatile spell and i love it on Karthus.
Flash or Ghost
I think all builds need some versatility toward playing style. I personally reccomend ghost over flash. But if your style suits you better any escape spell is nice with karthus cause his Wall of Pain isnt the best.
Runes and Masteries
Now I run AP runes with a splash of Magic pen. This is for early game! I feel in my builds personally the beginning is the most important part of the game. It can allow you to get fed and/or prevent yourself from falling behind. The early 30ap (without any items) will let you kill minions easier and help de-moralize your opposition.
Since the runes allow us to have additional AP I skip the usual dorans ring and get the saphire crystal to get that Tear as fast as possible.
Karthus is slow! So boots are a main priority in early game and since you will most likely be going mid with him you have to keep up with the opposing champion. So it really is up to you whether you are going to need to finish the Tear first or finish the Shoes first.
I get the early amplifying tomb because you will most likely have a gap between having enough AP to keep up, and the Tome helps wonderfully and leads toward the Scepter.
This build gets lots of mana so its obvious that archangels staff is perfect for it.
Rylais Scepter is amazing with Karthus. It will give you a much needed jump in not only AP but HEALTH! It also makes Defile much harder to get out of and when you are chasing anybody the constant slow is hard to get away from when you are bombing them perfectly.
Here is where you need to decide what to do
Here is a choice you are going to have to make depending on how both teams are doing and what the composition is for them.
Abyssal Scepter is nice when you are going up against other casters. Its just what you need if there is an anivia or a veigar. It works wonders however it unfortunately does not get the Magic Pen for your ulti. Void Staff will be a good replacement for this if you are dealing with a garen or galio or shen or anyone really who has alot of magic resist.
Zonyas Ring. Ok now this is needed in any AP build basically. Excessive amounts of AP and its active is amazing at times. I forget to use its active alot so i tend to get this ring only if the game has hit over 35 minutes.
Last but not least.... Once you have decided between some variables its always good to go back to archangels if the game is long or if you are getting alot of gold. My final build usual consists of 3 archangels, Rylais, shoes, and zhonyas.
Now if their team is just beating your team down and there isnt much you can do about it i would reccomend having a final build of a rylais, a zhonyas, boots, and 3 sunfire capes... Now this isnt the best but its nice if they dont have alot of people who can melt you down.
Now im only going to cover the beginning stages of the game because there are too many variables to cover all in one build (or atleast with enough patience to make a build).
Now depending on who you mid against, and your skill with Lay Waste, use your bombs to get minion kills. Once you have gotten good at his abilities you should be able to line up minions and the enemy champions with one bomb. It happens more often then you think when the opposing champion is evading your bombs. Try and conceal your bombs under the minions when harassing the enemy champion. It will do less damage, but they wont notice your bombs as much and it helps decieve thinking your not using them as well. (this does not always work, mainly on players who are not good against karthus or players who have not experienced a good karthus). If the other champion is being aggresive just sit back and get minions kills. You will be able to bomb alot once you get tear so dont hold back.
This build may lead you (depending on your spells) to have a really bad escape plan. If you are not running ghost or flash then all you will have is your wall and possiby exhaust. Keep a very good eye on the mini map for missing people. Unless your in an arranged team dont think that your teammates are always going to call mias. Using wall of pain gives you sight into bushes so if there is a missing bottom for instance, then when you feel the pressure wall the bushes and start to fall back.
Once you hit level 6 keep a constant eye on enemy champions for their health. You should also look at your ult to see how much damage it does periodically and keep your teammates informed. Dont trust your teammates pings or call out for mias, try and double check there health before ulting. Check quickly for any magic resist items on them. Be smart about your ulti and dont let it go to waste.
Using your ulti can be very good at initiating. It can make the opposing team retreat giving your team a chance to hit their backs. If you have alot of good teammates doing well but not getting kills you could get a meijias and try and gain some assists even through the intiating tactic but i find snowball items risky and unnessesary.