Nocturne Build Guide by PsiGuard
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PsiGuard's Jungle Nocturne
+9% attack speed and +10 ability power or +6 attack damage, adaptive
Threats to Nocturne with this build
|Jinx||Hypercarries with no escapes are perfect targets for Nocturne. Just remember that their teammates might make up for their weaknesses, so keep an eye on the rest of their comp as well.|
|Twitch||Same as Jinx. Camouflage doesn't save him as long as you target him with your ult before he stealths.|
|Kog'Maw||Same as Jinx. People like to pick Lulu with this champion though so be careful if she isn't banned and the enemy hasn't picked a support yet.|
Hi, I'm PsiGuard and welcome to my Nocturne guide. I've been playing League of Legends since November 2010 in Season 1 and have been maining jungle since the start of Season 3. My top rank is Diamond III in solo queue. I have experience against Diamond, Master and Challenger players through solo queue, ranked teams and tournament games.
Nocturne has been my favorite champion from the moment he was released. I fell in love with his lore, his art style and his gameplay mechanics. I bought him shortly after his first free-week when he was still incredibly broken. Despite repeated nerfs, I kept an eye on his strength compared to other junglers and was delighted to see him remain a viable pick. He is still my favorite champion and I've been playing him since season 3.
Before we begin, I'd like to give a big thank-you to Jovy for her awesome graphics and help with coding this guide (as well as my other guides). Be sure to check out some of her other work at her signature shop and her own guides!
When to Pick Nocturne /// Runes /// Spells
Abilities /// Ability Sequence /// Item Build
Jungle Monsters /// Plants /// Warding /// Jungle Routes
Ganking /// Invades & Counter Jungling
Wave Mangement /// Late Game /// Conclusion
Nocturne is an assassin jungler with high clear speed and sticking power. He is also a pretty strong duelist, able to go toe-to-toe with strong early game junglers. He brings a unique global presence once he has his ultimate, Paranoia. His high early game sustain and damage against jungle monsters allow him to remain on the map for long periods of time to amass a gold and experience advantage as well as being available for gank opportunities.|
Nocturne excels at ganks and picks after level 6, creating advantages for his team by killing isolated targets and then using a numbers advantage to take objectives. In team fights, Nocturne can use his ultimate to dive onto the enemy backline to help his mid or top laner kill enemy carries.
Nocturne's biggest weakness is his lack of crowd control. Having only one relatively unreliable single-target CC spell, Unspeakable Horror makes his ganking and team fighting abilities less consistent than other junglers with heavy stuns and knockups. His poor utility makes him a mediocre tank, so he depends a little more on having a few offensive items to remain a damage threat throughout the game.
LoL Terminology (for any abbreviations you don't understand)
Obviously if you want to play Nocturne every game, feel free! However, he isn't the most versatile jungler and tends to fit better in some situations compared to others. Use these generalizations as a guideline when you're in champion select to help you decide if Nocturne is a good pick for that game. Also check out the Threat Meter above for some common picks that are strong or weak against Nocturne.
Low Mobility Carries|
|Electrocute is still a good keystone but currently Lethal Tempo fills out some of Nocturne's weaknesses far too well to not pick it up. You'll have much better dueling and kill pressure on tankier targets or multiple opponents. Electrocute is better at one-shotting squishies, so if the entire enemy team is squishy and the enemy jungler won't fight you much early, you can still get away with the older Domination primary page.|
|Presence of Mind rewards you massively for successful picks and won fights. In some cases you can actually ult twice in a long team fight if you pick up a few kills. Getting a double kill bottom will also massively reduce the cooldown of your next ultimate. The mana refund can come in handy for long fights as well.|
|This is a really efficient rune and the stat is too important to sacrifice for Legend: Tenacity. If you're going Precision primary, I recommend taking this rune every game.|
|Best in slot given the options here. You'll often be finishing off low targets or killing enemies 100-0, so you'll get plenty of use out of the extra damage to low enemies.|
|This rune has some pretty fantastic synergy with Nocturne's other movement speed boosts. Between your boots, Celerity itself, Duskbringer, Waterwalking, Unspeakable Horror and sometimes Youmuu's Ghostblade's active, you can get upwards of 20 or 30 AD from this rune. You'll even get around 3 AD early game which helps your jungle clear and gives you a small edge in early fights.|
|This rune helps you maneuver and fight in the river. Since current jungle pathing heavily emphasizes rift scuttler control, this is a key rune for most junglers. Having a mobility and stat advantage in a level 2 fight for scuttler can significantly impact the game. Also helps when clearing baron or dragon. I do not recommend Nimbus Cloak as the movement speed decays too quickly to be useful to Nocturne. Gathering Storm is another good rune here but unfortunately the meta depends too much on early success for it to be a safe option.|
|You can only proc this with Flash and Paranoia but it's still worth it since Lethality is such a high value stat and compliments your item build. After level 6, most of your fights will be with your ult so you'll get some good use out of this rune.|
|Other than Electrocute, this is the main rune in the Domination tree that's attractive to Nocturne. Running the combination of Ultimate Hunter and Presence of Mind will massively reduce your ultimate cooldown, especially if you're able to get kills whenever you ult. Running Domination sacrifices the raw combat power of the runes in Precision and Sorcery, but you gain the ability to ult much more frequently. Running Domination secondary (or perhaps occasionally primary with Electrocute) is viable to more easily snowball, but it's less reliable due to the weaker combat stats, especially in the early game. Up to you if you want to risk it. I find the low ultimate cooldown to be super fun.|
This is the page I was using before I switched to Lethal Tempo. It's still quite solid as it provides great burst damage and unparalleled ultimate CDR. With the current state of the meta favoring early game control and the looming possibility of a level 2 fight for scuttler, I feel this page is risky at the moment. You might consider this if the entire enemy team is squishy and the enemy jungler isn't too threatening, as this page is pretty great once you start ulting priority targets.
|This spell is essential for jungling. Smite enables you to secure objectives, clear your jungle camps faster and purchase Hunter's Machete and its upgrades. With Skirmisher's Sabre, Smite is also a strong combat summoner, though it's good to save one charge in case you need to contest dragon or baron .|
|Flash is a core spell on most champions and Nocturne is no exception. It is indispensable as a mobility spell. You can use this spell for chasing, fleeing, initiating, ganking, juking, stealing objectives, and following another champion who uses Flash. You can also use Flash to maintain the tether of Unspeakable Horror if you Flash immediately after your target uses Flash or another movement ability to escape.|
|Umbra Blades (passive): This is Nocturne's passive ability which sustains him in the jungle. Since it scales with AD, it is useful throughout the game and is effective at pushing waves of minions, healing up in the jungle or lane, and dealing AoE damage in team fights.|
- Hit all the monsters in each camp with Umbra Blades to maximize your sustain.
- Use Duskbringer before proccing Umbra Blades when possible in order to increase the amount of AoE damage using Duskbringer's steroid.
- Umbra Blades only applies on-hit effects to the primary target.
|Duskbringer (Q): This is your primary combat ability. The initial damage from the skillshot makes it effective at farming minions/monsters and harassing champions. The movespeed allows Nocturne to chase down enemies or quickly flee from pursuers. Duskbringer also gives Nocturne increased attack damage while he's on the trail, so it's great for pretty much any situation where you're autoattacking.|
- Make sure you're on the trail when attacking so you get the AD bonus.
- Duskbringer allows you to ignore unit collision, making it a useful tool for chasing or escaping through a minion wave.
- The Duskbringer trail left by an enemy can be used to track them even if they've broken line-of-sight or entered stealth.
- Duskbringer has a brief cast time and interrupts movement and attacks, so make sure you cast it before or between autoattacks so you don't lose damage.
|Shroud of Darkness (W): This is your main defensive ability along with another autoattack steroid. The spell shield is most effective against big nukes and strong CCs, but it can also be used to negate poke or block a simple damage spell in a fight. The attack speed steroid doubles upon blocking a spell, so properly executing this ability is even more important.|
- Dragon 's autoattacks are coded as spells and can be blocked for bonus attack speed. Baron Nashor will cast a spell every 6 attacks (tentacle knockup or AoE slime) that you can block with the shield.
- Try to identify priority spells to block before using this on a minor spell, since it has a long cooldown.
- Shroud of Darkness is a painless way to dispatch traps like Bushwhack and Yordle Snap Trap without being revealed.
- Shroud of Darkness has no cast time and can be freely cast without interrupting movement, attacks or other spells.
- Learning to recognize cast animations for major abilities will help you react in time to block them. Pay special attention to when an enemy champion turns around when you're chasing them, as they might be casting a CC ability. In some cases, you may simply have to try and predict what will happen in a fight and when an enemy will use their most important ability, then time your shield for that moment. When it works, it looks pretty flashy.
|Unspeakable Horror (E): This is Nocturne's only CC spell and it relies on maintaining a 465-range tether for 2 seconds. The Flee is easy to proc if your target is fighting you but can be easily broken by dashes or blink spells. Take into account your target's mobility before you start the tether to avoid it being broken.|
- Fearing the big monster in a jungle camp with Unspeakable Horror will briefly stop their damage output, causing you to take less damage, but it's usually not worth the mana unless you have blue buff. Baron and dragon are not disabled by this spell.
- Unspeakable Horror is easiest to proc when used during an allied CC spell. Try to coordinate with your teammates and have them use their CC to help you get your fear off.
- If you suspect that your target will Flash to break the tether, move between them and their escape route to keep them in range of the tether. If you have quick reflexes, you can anticipate their Flash and use your own Flash immediately afterwards. It takes a split-second for the tether to break so if you close the distance immediately you'll still get the fear off.
- Unspeakable Horror has no cast time and can be freely cast without interrupting movement, attacks or other spells.
- Untargetability does not break tethers, so you can still fear Vladimir during his Sanguine Pool, or Xayah during her Featherstorm for example.
|Paranoia (R): Nocturne's ultimate is a two-part ability. The first cast disables enemy vision from minions, wards, towers, abilities and their allied champions for 6 seconds. Enemies will only be able to see a short distance around their champion for the duration. The second cast (during those 6 seconds) causes Nocturne to dash towards a target enemy champion (within range) and deal some physical damage on arrival. This is Nocturne's main ganking tool and allows him to reposition in team fights or keep up with enemies that use blink spells. Make sure to check the range on this ability before activating it by resting your cursor over the button. Note that this ability does not provide vision of enemy champions, so make sure your target is in sight.|
- Sometimes it is better to approach a fight normally and save Paranoia until it's needed.
- The global vision reduction can prevent the enemy team from coordinating when team fighting near multiple brushes. They will also lose all ward vision, including pink wards, so only enemy champions with stealth-detection abilities will be able to see invisible targets.
- The dash cannot be interrupted by CC, but you may still be CCd upon arrival if the duration of the CC is long enough.
- You can cast any spell during the Paranoia dash, including all of your basic abilities, items and summoner spells. Cast Q right before you hit your target to avoid the cast time.
Always start with a point in Duskbringer to help your jungle clear (and it's good for lvl 1 fights), unless you need to quickly skill W to block a Rocket Grab at level 1 or something.
At level 2 you can get Shroud of Darkness for DPS or Unspeakable Horror for a lvl 2 fight. I tend to take E at level 2 if I start at blue buff since it's pretty effective against both Gromp and the Rift Scuttler. It's also good for fighting the enemy jungler. If you're starting at red buff, most of the time it's better to take W at level 2 so you can clear Raptors and save more of your mana.
At level 3, take whichever ability you haven't taken yet (W or E). It's not worth putting a second point into Q here as you lose too much pressure by not having your third ability ready in case of a fight.
Paranoia and Duskbringer are your highest priority abilities and should be maxed as quickly as possible. Your R and Q are your mobility and damage tools, so they take priority over your utility spells.
Maxing W second and maxing E second are both viable. I currently max Unspeakable Horror second since I get a lot of attack speed from Lethal Tempo. A longer fear duration also has some synergy with the DPS from Lethal Tempo and directly boosts your AD thanks to Celerity. With the Lethal Tempo + Sorcery rune setup, I always max E second. Maxing W second is viable if you're running Electrocute as your keystone (with Precision secondary) and won't be getting as much attack speed.
|The most efficient start with a respectable first clear and great value as the game goes on. Hunter's Machete is always the strongest start for Nocturne since he makes excellent use of on-hit damage and lifesteal. Refillable Potion often outshines Health Potions and saves you a lot of money on potions.|
|Warding Totem is the strongest early game trinket and offers the most vision. Use the wards to protect your jungle in your first clear and then provide vision for your laners so they can avoid ganks. Sticking with this trinket gives you the most overall vision since the wards are hard for enemies to clear and they recharge more quickly than Farsight Alteration.|
|Farsight helps spot isolated targets for your ultimate and can also check objectives like Baron. You can use the initial vision to ult to enemies in fog of war or plant blue wards in the enemy jungle to spot rotations. Also great for checking baron/dragon or dangerous bushes, though often your team's ADC should be getting one for that purpose. The downside is these wards are slow to charge and easy to clear and therefore don't offer much actual vision control around objectives.|
|Oracle offers vision denial, but doesn't allow you to place any wards besides Control Wards. If you keep Warding Totem or Farsight Alteration, you can continue to contribute to vision while relying on Duskblade of Draktharr, Scrying Blooms, Control Wards to help control vision around objectives. If your support doesn't have an Oracle Lens or you need an extra sweeper to control vision in the jungle or around objectives, feel free to swap to this as needed.|
|Skirmisher's Sabre versus Stalker's Blade is up to preference. I personally take Skirmisher's every game since I find the damage and dueling power more valuable than a 20% slow. I also find that Warrior tends to be the best enchantment because it's the strongest power spike at the time you buy it and always the best option for killing carries which are your primary targets.|
|Duskblade gives a ton of burst damage as well as vision control. This is definitely the strongest of the lethality items at the moment, especially considering Nocturne doesn't rely on Youmuu's Ghostblade much since he can easily reach his target with Paranoia. I recommend opening with this item every game after Warrior (or even before, if you're rich enough) as it offers the perfect mix of damage, CDR and vision control for early picks.|
|CDR boots increase your impact on the map by lowering your Paranoia and Flash cooldowns. More ults and flashes means more chances to reach and kill priority targets and snowball your team to victory. The lower cooldowns on your basic abilities is a nice plus as well. These are the only "offensive" boots I recommend, as the increased uptime on your main playmaking abilities is more important than a little attack speed from Berserker's Greaves.|
|Ninja Tabi are a cost efficient counter to heavy AD threats. Armor is a useful stat in every game and the enemy team will almost always have a Marksman, so Tabi are always a pretty safe bet if you're not sure what to buy. Keep in mind these boots are more effective against autoattackers than AD casters, though the armor is often still worth it.|
|Mercury's Treads are sometimes necessary against heavy CC. A stunned or snared Nocturne isn't very threatening. Against certain compositions, you're going to be useless in fights if you don't build tenacity. These boots are really good against CC that's guaranteed to hit you like Braum's Concussive Blows. Keep in mind these boots are useless against suppression, knockups, knockbacks and location-based slows like Pillar of Ice.|
|Youmuu's Ghostblade is the most generally useful followup to Duskblade of Draktharr. This is a pretty standard extension item that gives you CDR, mobility and damage for more aggressive plays. If you're snowballing or generally doing fine and aren't in too much danger of dying in fights, this is a safe followup to Duskblade of Draktharr. Consider getting a Guardian Angel first if you're likely to die in team fights as you can always pick this up afterwards. The active also has some nice synergy with Celerity. :)|
|Edge of Night is strong against certain high-impact spells and offers good damage stats. Even though Nocturne already has Shroud of Darkness, in most cases, enemies will have at least two spells to throw at you. Against multiple important CCs or in the case of champions like Ashe who only have a couple offensive spells total, the extra spell shield can remove counterplay from your all-in. This is also another lethality item, so the stats are always going to feel good. I tend to build this only if the feel the spell shield will be particularly effective.|
|Ravenous Hydra is my preferred lifesteal option if I can afford to skip defenses. I build this at some point after Duskblade of Draktharr and often after Youmuu's Ghostblade and/or Guardian Angel. Good for keeping you topped off while attacking baron or healing up between fights, plus it adds some AoE damage which can sometimes net you a double or triple kill where normally you would have only killed one enemy. This is a bit of a luxury item but strong if no other item demands your attention.|
|Guardian Angel is a fantastic mix of damage and survivability for divers and assassins. Since your job is to jump into danger and kill a priority target, and since Nocturne has no real escapes, you're bound to get focused by the enemy team once you ult. GA can buy you some time while your team catches up to you, or at least you can waste the enemy's time waiting for you to revive while your teammates are hitting the enemy front line. Keep in mind the revive is pretty worthless when it comes to dueling, so try not to die too far from your team. You can also pick up a Stopwatch while you're building GA and use it once for a surprise stasis in a team fight.|
|Maw of Malmortius is a situational defense against heavy magic damage. You won't get as much damage as most other items in the build, but Maw is still a pretty solid option if you're facing heavy magic damage that threatens your survivability. This can also be necessary if the enemy mage is really strong (like a fed Syndra) and could kill you with their full combo. I generally build this after Duskblade of Draktharr, in place of Youmuu's Ghostblade.|
|% armor pen is situational for late game damage. Last Whisper, Lord Dominik's Regards and Mortal Reminder all penetrate a percentage of the target's total armor, which means you get the most value out of these items when your opponents already have a high amount of base and/or bonus armor. This helps to keep you relevant against tanky opponents, but generally isn't as efficient against squishy champions with low armor compared to other items. Executioner's Calling and Mortal Reminder are also situational options against heavy healers like Vladimir and Dr. Mundo. Just be sure to get your important items out of the way before you start thinking about picking up a Last Whisper since it's better in the late game than the early and mid game.|
|Gives CDR, health and armor shred, but not great damage. I don't build this item very often because your damage will suffer from sacrificing one of the more dedicated damage items (like Youmuu's Ghostblade). The armor shred can be useful if you're dealing with more heavily armored targets and it benefits your team. I generally consider this to be an option if you're having trouble being useful in fights and just want to get carried by your team, since you can shred enemy armor and you'll last longer in fights.|
|Mercurial Scimitar is a niche defense against heavy CC spells. I buy Quicksilver Sash almost exclusively against suppression ( ) though it's also quite useful against heavy stuns and snares if you aren't able to spell shield them. It's quite costly and doesn't offer as much damage as other options, so make sure you're getting really good value out of the active if you buy this.|
Familiarize yourself with these spawn times and respawn timers so you know what to expect in-game.
Spawn At: 1:27
Respawn Time: 2:30
Spawn At: 1:42
Respawn Time: 2:30
(Blue Sentinel, Red Brambleback)
Spawn At: 1:30
Respawn Time: 5:00
Rift Scuttlers (in river)
Spawn At: 2:00
Respawn Time: 2:30
Rift Herald (in Baron pit)
Spawns At: 9:50
Despawns At: 19:45 (19:55 if in combat)
Dragon (Elementals & Elder)|
Spawns At: 2:20
Respawn Time: 6:00
Elder Dragon Spawns: After 35:00
Elder Dragon Respawn: 10:00
Spawns At: 20:00
Respawn Time: 7:00
Plants are stationary, neutral units with 1 health. They can be destroyed with a basic attack to trigger an effect. Three different types of plants will spawn in the jungle and river. Their spawn timers and locations vary slightly but for the most part they are fairly predictable. The first spawn locations for all plants are predetermined.
First inner cone spawn: 1:15 - 1:25|
First outer cone spawn: 5:00 - 5:30
Inner cone respawn time: 5 - 7 minutes
Outer cone respawn time: 5.5 - 6.5 minutes
- Knocks away nearby units (including the attacker) when destroyed — even over walls.
- Blast Cones spawn in two spots per jungle quadrant, an inner point toward the center of the quadrant, and an outer point near Baron/Dragon.
First spawn: 3:00 - 3:30, always at each quadrant’s spawn point nearest to the side lanes|
Next spawn time: 5 - 6.5 minutes at either spawn point, starting once a given quadrant's Scryer's Bloom is destroyed
- When destroyed, releases vision-granting pollen in a large cone that flies in the direction the attacker was facing, revealing units and wards for 12 seconds (3 seconds on champions).
- Scryer's Bloom can spawn in two spots per jungle quadrant, close to river ramps.
- Only one Scryer's Bloom can be present per quadrant.
First spawn: 6:00 - 6:30 minutes|
Respawn time: 5.5 - 7 minutes
- Drops 5 fruits on the ground when killed.
- Each fruit heals for 3.5% of max health or 8 (+6 per level) flat health, whichever is higher.
- Eating a fruit slows you for 35% for 0.25 seconds.
- Honeyfruit spawn along river walls, starting near Dragon or Baron pits and slowly extending closer toward lanes over the course of the game.
- If a Honeyfruit isn't taken before its respawn timer completes, a second Honeyfruit may spawn. No more than two Honeyfruits can exist per half of the river.
As a jungler, you have the most agency when it comes to traversing the map to place down vision, especially in the enemy jungle. When it's safe to do so, try to place deep wards to keep track of the enemy jungler.
Placing a Control Ward near lane-dominant allies will help them avoid ganks from the enemy jungler and free up a path for future ganks from you. You can also use a Control Ward to check a bush you're waiting in to make sure it's clear (if you don't have an Oracle Lens).
As the game progresses, you may have to start placing wards nearer to your base if you're losing, or deeper into the enemy jungle if you are winning. Always remember to place a Control Ward inside the dragon or baron pit if your team is planning on taking that objective.
Below are some of the more valuable ward spots. Of course, warding is always situational, so don't feel restricted to only using these placements if the situation calls for something else.
Blue side stealth ward locations
Blue side control ward locations
Red side stealth ward locations
Red side control ward locations
Apologies for the visual crudeness of this section. I want to get the information out as quickly as possible before I worry about formatting. I'll try and upgrade this section visually in the future.
The current meta for jungle pathing is quite loose and you'll need to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. I'll give you a few basic openings to choose from, but keep in mind any Rift Scuttler you go for may be contested by the enemy jungler. Take note of where the enemy jungler is starting if you can get vision of them and decide ahead of time whether you'll be able to fight them. Also be sure to check your nearby lanes before entering the river. If your laners have priority (they're pushing in and/or are stronger early than their opponents), you'll be safer when fighting for the Scuttler in river.
You'll almost always want to save Smite for the Scuttler unless you know for sure it won't be contested. Don't use your Smite on the first camp (or two) before going for scuttle or you may find it stolen right in front of you by the enemy jungler! :(
With that out of the way, onto the routes!
Blue - Gromp - Scuttler: You can get E at level 2 for this route. This is a fairly efficient opening for red team as you can get a strong leash from your bot lane, which will give you time to clear Gromp before going to contest Scuttler. After hopefully securing Scuttler, you can clear your Wolves, Raptors, Red and Krugs if the enemy jungler is going for an efficient clear on his side of the map. If the enemy jungler is stealing your red buff (and probably other camps near it), you may need to enter the enemy jungle and steal his Raptors / Red / Krugs. Again, note whether nearby enemy laners will be able to easily collapse on you.
Blue - Scuttler: Basically the same as the last route, but quicker in case you won't have time to clear Gromp before the Scuttler spawns at the 2:00 mark. This is more common on blue team, where you'll only have a leash from your top laner. This may also be necessary if you didn't get a leash at all, regardless of which team you're on. Once you're finished the Scuttler, the same options apply, but this time you can go back and clear Gromp before continuing to Wolves.
Red - Raptors - Scuttler: Get W at level 2 for this route (you'll need the attack speed for raptors). This is an efficient start on blue team since you can get a leash from your bot lane. Similar principles apply to the Blue - Gromp - Scuttler route, only this time you'll be pathing the opposite direction. Keep an eye on your mana bar since you won't have Blue buff to sustain you early on. Weaken the small raptors and then finish them off with a second Umbra Blades to maximize your sustain on this camp. Do not clear Krugs on your first clear with this route -- it's too far out of your way and you risk giving up camps on your blue side.
Red - Scuttler: If you've read the routes above, you probably already know what I'm going to say. This route gives you faster access to the river in case you needed to clear your Red without a leash or with a minimal leash from a top laner on red team. Other than that, pretty much the same thing as the previous route. You may consider getting E at level 2 here if you expect to fight the enemy jungler or want to clear the Scuttler as quickly as possible. The downside is you'll be burning your mana more quickly and you'll have more trouble with the Raptor camp. Still, it's worth it if it nets you first blood, so keep it in mind as an option.
Triple buff routes involve a sneaky level 1 buff steal followed by a quick and efficient clear across your allied jungle. In the ideal case, this'll get you a free camp, set the enemy jungler behind and possibly reduce their effectiveness in the early game due to the loss of the buff. However you risk being collapsed on in the enemy jungle or the enemy jungle could realize what you're doing and counter it by invading your jungle and stealing multiple camps before you can get there.
Steal Blue - Scuttler - Red - Raptors - Wolves - Blue - Gromp: If you're able to sneak the enemy Blue buff, you can try and go for a triple buff and set your opponent behind. This can be pretty effective against mana-hungry junglers but it's also good just for denying experience.
Steal Red - Scuttler - Blue - Gromp - Wolves - Raptors - Red - Krugs: Same idea as the blue steal, but in the opposite direction. You may choose to delay Raptors in order to check and clear your red sooner if you expect the enemy jungler to try and steal it.
Vertical jungling is when both junglers are repeatedly clearing one half of the allied jungle and one half of the enemy jungle, favoring one side of the map. This splits the map into a "strong side" and "weak side" for each team. For example, if you're on blue team and are repeatedly clearing your red-side jungle (south) and the enemy blue-side jungle (east), your team's bottom side will be the strong side of the map. You'll be in a better position to gank bottom lane without fear of counterganks and you'll have better vision control and objective control. Likewise, the opposite side of the map will be dominated by the enemy jungler, making it your team's weak side.
Vertical jungling can be an active choice you make or a forced one due to a poor matchup. For example, you see Nunu invading to take your blue buff and other nearby camps, so you respond by stealing his blue buff and other nearby camps. This can force you to vertically jungle in the early game since you may not have the lane priority or vision control to ever contest your own blue buff. Likewise, you'll be able to place wards in the enemy blue-side jungle and you'll have more control on that side.
An example of an active choice would be if you and your team (this works better in arranged teams than it does in solo queue) decide to focus all of your team's pressure on one side lane at the expense of the other. Maybe you have a hypercarry bottom that your team will be camping and a Shen top who will just be playing safe. In this situation, vertical jungling may net your team an advantage, as long as you can set it up properly. Grouping with your teammates and pushing into the enemy jungle at level 1 can help you put down vision and possibly force the enemy jungler to start on the other side of the map. If your nearby laners have priority, it can be dangerous for the enemy jungler to enter their own jungle if you have vision of them and your laners can collapse on them to help you.
Vertical jungling is pretty complicated for new junglers and can be pretty messy outside of coordinated teams. Be open to the concepts and feel free to practice it, but for most players I recommend sticking to more standard routes or simple, quick invades while you're still learning to jungle.
That said, vertical jungle routes look something like this:
Blue - Gromp - Wolves - Scuttler - Enemy Red - Enemy Raptors - Enemy Krugs
Blue - Scuttler - Enemy Red - Enemy Raptors - Wolves - Gromp - Enemy Krugs
Enemy Blue - Enemy Gromp - Enemy Wolves - Scuttler - Red - Raptors - Krugs
Red - Raptors - Scuttler - Enemy Blue - Enemy Gromp - Enemy Wolves
Red - Scuttler - Enemy Blue - Enemy Gromp - Enemy Wolves - Raptors - Krugs
Enemy Red - Enemy Raptors - Scuttler - Blue - Gromp - Wolves
Level 1 invades happen when the enemy team groups up and enters your jungle, placing down wards and potentially looking to pick up a free kills or summoner spells on your unsuspecting team. These invades have the advantage of gaining early deep vision, but the drawback is that you can't spot an invade from the enemy team on the other side of your jungle.
There are two good ways to counter level 1 invades. The standard counter is to spread your team out across the river, using their positioning and early wards to spot where the enemy team enters and exits your jungle. Another option is to group your team up into one bush and try to fight the enemy team as they enter your jungle. This can work well if you predict where the invade will happen and it's stronger if you have strong level 1 champions. Luckily, Nocturne's level 1 is quite good with Umbra Blades and Duskbringer, but your team will have to provide the CC.
I only recommend attempting level 1 invades yourself if you have the support of your team and you have allies with strong crowd control spells at level 1 (e.g. Blitzcrank, Braum, Morgana). Crowd control is how you pin down kills or force Flashes, and you won't be able to offer any at level 1. Remember to place a ward at the enemy red or blue buff to see where their jungler starts.
One slight variation of this strategy involves the top laner, jungler and maybe the mid laner invading the top-side jungle to sneakily start at an enemy camp, gain deep vision or maybe pick up a free kill. The easy way to stop this is to simply spread out your team and have someone covering every jungle entrance. This is relatively low-risk, especially in solo queue, so feel free to use this invade to get an early ward down at an enemy buff.
Instead of clearing several of their own camps at the start of the game, some junglers will choose to enter the enemy jungle and attempt to steal camps or kill the enemy jungler, often after completing their first camp for level 2. Early invades can be a product of an information advantage (from early wards in the enemy jungle) or sometimes just a strong level 2 jungle champion.
The best way to protect against early invades is to gain equal or superior information at level one. Ward the enemy jungle early when possible -- especially their blue or red buff. Knowing the starting location of the enemy jungler is the easiest way to predict their likely routes and avoid unpleasant things like being killed at your second buff or arriving to find half your jungle stolen.
You can also choose to invade early, but keep in mind that Nocturne has no natural escapes and can't jump walls without Flash or a blast cone, so make sure you have a good reason to invade. Again, information from early wards can allow you to invade safely if you know the enemy jungler's starting location. I rarely opt to invade for kills on Nocturne now that junglers almost always start at buff camps, but it's often pretty easy to get a cheeky steal off early and take three buffs in your first clear if your team has better early coordination and gains a vision advantage.
General invades is a catch-all term that encompasses the invades and counter jungling that happens in a game. After the early game, counter jungling and jungle invades are often opportunistic, allowing tactical junglers to invade when the enemy jungler shows on the map while aggressive junglers force blind invades knowing they have a 1v1 advantage against the other jungler and the support of nearby teammates. This is the hardest type of invade to pin down since so many things can happen past the early game, but I'll give you a few tips on how to execute smart invades and respond to enemy invades.
Firstly, don't forget that vision is key. Proper use of Warding Totems, Control Wards and Scryer's Blooms can give you the information you'll need to defend against invades and make wise decisions about when to enter the enemy jungle. Again, Nocturne has no natural way to jump walls or escape enemies easily, so you always want the vision to make smart decisions and predictions to avoid putting yourself in inescapable situations.
An information advantage doesn't always mean you have more (or better) wards on the map either. Sometimes you can open up opportunities to invade simply by spotting the enemy jungler at low health or on the opposite side of the map. At most times during the early and mid game if you have vision of the enemy jungler, you probably have vision of the entire enemy team. That's kind of like having the entire map warded! Don't waste opportunities to invade, take objectives or even dive enemies on the opposite side of the map when the jungler shows themselves.
Secondly, lane pressure is what determines the safety of an invade. If your mid laner is strong and can push to the enemy tower, chances are the enemy jungler won't be able to invade your jungle and get out alive. Conversely, if the enemy mid laner has lane pressure, they're going to be able to back up their jungler's invades and punish yours. Mid lane pressure is super important when it comes to jungle control, as well as side lane pressure when it comes to invades near that lane.
Let's take an example. Say you have a top laner that's bullying his opponent really hard. He already has a couple kills and can easily dominate 1v1 and is pushing to the enemy tower. If your mid lane is ahead or at least even, you should be able to invade the enemy top side jungle for vision, to steal camps or to fight the enemy jungler. Even if you can't crush the enemy jungler in a 1v1, the support of your allies will turn the tide of any fight in that area. Now let's say the enemy has a really strong bot lane and their jungler isn't weak either. This makes the enemy bot jungle very risky to enter, and it even makes your own more dangerous, especially if you don't have adequate vision coverage in the bottom lane river. Invades from the enemy jungler are likely to happen on the bottom side of the map and you're unlikely to have much control over the river or enemy jungler.
So what do you do when the map is weighted towards one of the side lanes? A good strategy is to stay on your safe side (allied and enemy top-side jungle in this example) and avoid the bottom side of the map. This allows you to attack mid and top lane from the enemy jungle (giving you easy flanks and dives) as well as potentially catching the enemy jungler if they don't respect your team's control over the top side. The downside is you'll give up control of the opposite side of the map and leave your bottom lane defenseless against dives. It's not always clear when it's best to stick with your strong teammates and when it's time to take a risk and try to help out a weaker lane, but you'll have to experiment with both strategies to train your own judgment for those scenarios.
I know that sometimes your teammates are going to be selfish or ignorant of what's happening and won't support your invades or defend you against the enemy jungler when they really should. There's not much you can do about that other than try your best to predict what might happen and ask for help ahead of time. Having wards to spot enemy invades early or pinging for assistance when you spot the enemy jungler entering your jungle can sometimes be enough to get your teammates to help. If you're playing with a duo partner or premade, make sure to communicate when them about when you might need help and ask them to keep you informed about when they have lane pressure so that you can make good decisions around invades.
The earliest level that you should gank with Nocturne is level three with a point in all three abilities and double buff. His ganks after level 6 are very difficult to escape, but can only be executed with Paranoia once every three minutes. Remember that the slow and damage from red buff will improve your ganks a lot.
Before level 6: When your teammates are ready, initiate a gank (unless your ally has a strong initiation spell) by pinging the target, then running at the enemy while your laner engages. If you are coming from behind, get close enough to cast Unspeakable Horror and tag your target with red buff by autoattacking them. If your laner has a strong CC, you can cast Duskbringer on your way to your target, otherwise it's usually best to use it after the target is feared. Remember to be ready to block enemy CC with Shroud of Darkness.
After level 6: You can gank using Paranoia as your initiation, which allows you to completely bypass ward coverage since you don't have to use the standard gank paths which are usually warded. Walking up from your own tower and ulting into the lane is usually the safest way to avoid wards. Make sure your laner is in position to follow up on your gank because when you cast Paranoia, your target will likely retreat to his tower. Remember to check Paranoia's dash range by resting your mouse over the ability before initiating the gank. Use Duskbringer immediately after you connect with your target because it's almost impossible to dodge at point-blank range. If you think you can gank a lane through a standard gank path (or lane gank by hiding on one of the side bushes), save Paranoia to secure a kill if necessary. It has a long cooldown so try to pull off the gank without it if you can.
|Tower dives: Be careful around towers, as Nocturne doesn't have a lot of health early game. If the enemy hugs his tower, judge for yourself if you can dive him or not. Just don't take any unnecessary risks and be wary for clutch heals (most Marksmen run Heal), shields and CC if they're tower hugging. If your minions have drawn tower aggro, close into melee range before attacking. If your enemy doesn't hug the tower and keeps running (usually if they're really low), you can wait until they're between their towers and then Paranoia dash to them to avoid tower aggro entirely.|
For some lane matchups, initiating a gank yourself will be doomed to failure. If the enemy champion has a lot of mobility or a strong CC, try to get your laner to engage them in combat before revealing yourself. It's a lot easier to gank a target that over-commits and blows cooldowns before they know you're there. This strategy works best when your ally has some strong CC with which to pin the target, but it can also work if your target plays very aggressively and uses an escape spell to harass.
|A gank does not have to net a kill to be successful. You may damage an enemy enough so that they have to play passively, or even recall to base. Forcing an enemy to use a summoner spell or ultimate can leave them without an escape mechanism, giving your teammate(s) the advantage in that lane.|
If you manage to kill your target in a successful gank, you'll usually want to help your laner push the wave to the enemy tower so that your minions are killed by the tower, denying the enemy laner gold and experience. The minion waves will also reset to the center of the lane, giving your teammate time to go back to base and buy items and return to a safe position. One exception to the push-after-ganking rule is if you gank very early in the game against an enemy with Teleport (usually the top laner). If you kill someone very early, they'll respawn after only a few seconds and Teleport without missing much CS. If you push when that happens, your top laner will just lose a lot of XP since they're sharing with you and it can set them behind without denying the enemy top laner any farm.
After a successful gank, usually when pushing to the enemy tower, you may want to take a minion tax. This means you'll take some of the farm to help you keep up in gold since you had to spend time ganking rather than farming your jungle. You'll generally want to tax more heavily if your laner gets the kill off a gank and tax lightly if you took the kill. Many low-ranked players (and occasionally some high-ranked ones too) are selfish or ignorant and think that taxing their lane is going to ruin their farm and cause them to lose the lane. They're wrong, as taxing in moderation keeps a jungler's gold and experience relevant throughout the game, but if your laner freaks out because you took a few minions (or pushed their lane, some people think this is a bad thing all the time), you may want to just leave so they don't feed or AFK or something.
Holding lanes is an often necessary duty of a jungler and is something you should be happy to do (since it gives you a lot of gold and XP). If your laner dies or needs to go back to base, you may need to "hold" or "cover" their lane by clearing out enemy minions pushing to your tower. If the enemy laner goes back to base or is dead, you may wish to push the wave to the enemy tower. Only do this if you can finish pushing before the enemy laner gets back to lane or they can freeze it in front of their tower, making it difficult for your laner to farm safely. Usually holding a lane consists of either clearing the current wave that is at your tower or pushing completely to the enemy tower. Don't just sit in a lane and last-hit because it's a waste of your time.
As an assassin, Nocturne performs best when executing ganks and flanking enemies. He is also a decent split-pusher, and can quickly push down a tower if your allies can occupy the enemy team. Though Nocturne isn't quite as strong in group fights as he is in small skirmishes, he can still perform well, especially with a more durable build. Here's how to do it.
If your team has strong engage champions like Malphite or Leona and big AoE team fighters like Rumble and Brand, you'll probably be looking to force fights on grouped enemies, even under tower. In these scenarios, what you'll be looking for is where your initiator's CC is going. If you see a Solar Flare or Unstoppable Force land on a carry, use Paranoia to close the gap and get down as much damage as possible. The key thing to remember is that Nocturne has great followup, but is not an initiator himself. Make sure you don't jump in by yourself or you'll just get focused before you can kill anyone.
If the opposing team has excellent waveclear, you might need the baron buff to break their inhibitor towers. Use Control Wards to clear sight around the baron pit and make sure your team is grouped and ready to engage on enemies who try to contest the baron. If the other team isn't moving to contest, just kill the baron and use that advantage to kill the remaining towers, forcing fights when appropriate.
Team fight compositions shore up some of Nocturne's weaknesses (tank stats, hard engage, 5v5s) and can be effective if you use your mid-game strengths to put your teammates in a position to win group fights.
If your team isn't built to engage groups of enemies and dive towers, you might have a team better suited to poking and peeling. This type of team is really good at sieging towers and slowly chipping away at enemies from a safe distance. Champions like Caitlyn, Xerath and Janna are good in these kinds of compositions. In this case, you want to make sure you're close enough to your team that you can reach them with Paranoia, but you might not want to be directly with them.
Your team should win if you siege and force the enemy to engage on you, and since Nocturne is melee without meaningful poke, sometimes that means you need to splitpush or just take nearby jungle camps while being in range to ult to help your team. Keep in mind how effectively the enemy team can engage when you make the decision to leave your team to apply pressure to another lane. Make sure you help out by warding the flanks of your team when sieging a tower.
Poke/peel teams aren't very good at objective control, but you might still want baron buff against high waveclear teams. If so, you'll want to control vision of the area and use your team's poke and CC spells to weaken your opponents before they get close to the pit. Don't just start doing baron right in front of the enemy team or you could throw the game.
Siege and peel compositions work great with split-push pressure and can safely apply pressure to a lane without needing you to nearby, but like Nocturne, they aren't usually as effective when the enemy team is making all the aggressive moves. If you have a splitpusher, set them up for success in the early and mid game and use your ultimate to support them. If not, you might have to split-push yourself if your team can't take towers 5v5.
Another type of team uses high burst damage or chains of CC spells to pick off individual targets. These teams aren't great at big grouped fights or poking from a safe distance, so they look to create a numbers advantage by killing one enemy for free before the fight starts. These types of compositions usually include champions like Blitzcrank, Thresh, Syndra and Ashe.
Pick compositions work best when you have more vision and information than the enemy team. You want to force your opponents to walk through dark areas of the map and have you and your teammates pick them off while their team isn't grouped. It can even work when their team is grouped if your team can land a CC on a key target before the fight starts. In pick situations, you always want to try and kill your team's target as fast as possible and use your ultimate (if necessary) to deny vision to the rest of their team.
If you're forced to meet the enemy team out in the open, either by sieging a tower or responding to the enemy team at your own tower or a neutral objective, you'll be relying more on ranged CC from your allies to set up a good team fight. Don't jump in unless your team gains a noticeable advantage from a flank or by landing a CC on a squishy who's mispositioned. If you're defending a tower, you can help your team clear minion waves, otherwise try to stay in fog of war for the most part.
Nocturne shares his strength and weaknesses with pick compositions, as he thrives with vision advantages and can easily follow up on any picks his team creates, but both he and his team will have trouble fighting a fair fight. Make good use of pink wards and get other lanes pushing when the enemy team groups to avoid a straight-up 5v5 when possible.
Thank you for reading my Nocturne guide! I hope I was able to help you become a better jungler and a smarter player. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions, comments or criticism. I read all comments on my guides even if I don't respond to all of them. If you appreciated my guide or approve of my build, feel free to hit the green upvote button up top.
Thank you to those who have supported my guide with votes, Scout points and advice that have been instrumental in bringing my guide to the level of quality it is today. I'd also like to specifically thank jhoijhoi, astrolia, Maintained and for their insights into some coding techniques that I use in all my guides, and H4xDefender for his help with theorycrafting and testing Nocturne builds.
|A very special thank you to Jovy for her wonderful graphics used in this guide as well as her help with coding all my guides. All the fancy headers, table of contents and most of the other graphics you see in my guides are from her. Be sure to check out some of her other work at her signature shop and her own guides!|
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