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Karthus General Guide by Xandrosis

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Xandrosis

How a REAL Karthus should be...

Xandrosis Last updated on February 9, 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: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 0


Utility: 21

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Today I bring to you my way of playing Karthus. How to build him, play him and the way to push that R key will be explained here by me the way I consider to be the best.

The reason I'm doing this is because i'm tired of watching bad builds that enforce Karthus's surviability or the fact that most people build him with bad items like Rod of Ages and Will of the Ancients ... Let Ryze or Vladimir get that stuff!... You are here TO KILL even in DEATH, not to Live and Heal like a coward.

I hope you enjoy reading my guide, even when english is not my native language, and don't forget to Rate it so others can learn how to play this amazing champion.

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Pros / Cons


+ Your farming and sustain are great
+ Harrasing is easy if well played
+ Awsome damage tru all phases of the game
+ Requiem is the Best ultimate in LoL
+ Understimated most of the times


- No natural scape method
- Low HP early game
- Slow movement
- Usually focused in team fights
- Jungler's favorite prey.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Ability Power

Greater Glyph of Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Gold

Here I recommend you to get Flat Ability power runes to do more early damage with that awsome Q you have. Cooldown or AP per lvl runes aren't worth it, what we need is early dominion here.

And for those who think 1 gold every 10 secs. IS worthless I tell you now: IT DOESN'T! .. Buy 'em, Put them in your rune page and enjoy the rush of Gold and good items.

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Maybe you are thinking: "What the... only 9 in Offense?! that's an insult you noob, i'm not reading this" ... don't think, just keep reading...

Karthus is a heavy AP/DPS champion like no other (well, maybe Ziggs can aswell), but the beauty of Karthus is not the amount of AP he could get, it's the level of annoyance he can reach... and for that matter we will use Utility masteries.

Incoming Gold will be 2+3 per 10 secs. (using the right runes). That's a free Philosopher's stone... well maybe not, but you get the idea.

We will also get a 10% Cooldown reduction... that's just great for our R'r. Nothing to add there.

And also we will get a little more sustain with some extra mana and mana regeneration, wich is also a great thing on Karthus knowing that he will be spamming Q's and E's here and there.

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I Recommend the use of:


Flash is the only skill you will have to escape or, if needed, to catch a retreating foe.

Teleport, in the other hand, will provide you and your team with great laning, covers, aiding and ganks, since you can use it to teleport right behind an enemy and block his way out with your E and W.

Other options are

Wich is used by most of the mid laners and adc carrys. The problem here is that you don't need Ignite to finish one foe if you master your Q and your R. Also note that we doesnt have our Ignite improved with masteries, so pick it at your own risk.

This one is used only by noobs who can't control mana consumption. If you pick this you better be thinking in others careers such as Support. Just, try to not choose this.

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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

Now let me explain Karthu's skills the way I see them and the way I consider they must be used:

First your Passive:
Death Defied:

This is one of the best passives in the game. It allows you to cast any spell you have after being killed (That's right, you have to be death... yes, that means your life is below 0 and you need to wait for respawn at the base). Bot don't get sad just yet, because this awsome passive defines Karthus as a Troll master, for is only when he's death that Karthus become the biggest threat in the team fight. You ARE death, but you are doing a lot of damage with your E and your Q ... and don't you forget about your beautiful R... That's a Triple Kill or an assisted Ace from the grave most of the times.

Now the Q:
Lay Waste:

This is your best farming and harassing tool. By placing your mouse in the ground you'll be spamming explosions all around the area. No need to aim. No need to charge. Just place your mouse in possition and hit the Q again and again.

Now some real hints to get the most use of this beauty. First thing is that your skill can and will hit all enemies around the explosion, but the dmg of the skill will be divided among all the targets hit. You got to remember that when last hitting minions because a misscalculation will cost you some gold. If you can, try to hit 1 target at a time, so the dmg get increased.

The second thing you must remember is the delay time for the explosion to accur. It takes a 1.5 secs (aprox) to explode, that means your target can see it coming and move. So, to avoid this, you must master the use of the Force within you and aim to your enemy feets. Try to read his movements and place your Q right in front of him. It takes time, but once you master that you will be a better man.

Now the W:
Wall of Pain:

Such a skill should be in the books of Noxius. This beauty allows yo to place a translucent wall who can be penetrated by any monster or champion. The affected targets will get its magic resistence and their movement speed reduced for some seconds, wich means: "SPAM YOUR Q TO THE FEET!"

This skill allow you to hit your Q with more accuracy and reach them when trying to scape. All the ability damage your enemies suffer while the debuff is active will be increased, so Hit Them Hard.

Remember to start the Ganks and Team Fights always with this skill, you will be rewarded.

Here's the E:

This is an aura that deals magic damage to everything around you. Now that's great, but it will cost you a great amount of mana so use it wisely.

Thats a pure DPS skill wich drains mana per second while active (a problem solved with items like Chalice of Harmony early game and Blue Buff ... Great for clearing minion waves, farming close to the turret and, of course, doing awsome damage in team fights (even in death)

The main thing you MUST remember about this is the passive form of the skill. Defile will regenerate you some mana used in your Q only when you last hit a monster with it. That's an awsome sustain for you, remember that when laning.

Last but not least, The greates Ultimate in the Game:

Ever hear the phrase: "Just R to Win" ? ... Well, this is what they mean. Karthus's ultimate allows you to Blast ALL ENEMY CHAMPIONS in the game regardless of being wherever they are.

The key here is to wait for the right moment to Use it, because it have one of the longest cooldowns (wich we will be reducing with items and stuff).

Now the question is: When should I Use my Ultimate?

There are 2 answers to that:

1. The best way to use it is when a kill is secured. You need to watch a battle (yours or an allys) and calculate the best moment to hit your R so it Hits thems right after their HP goes below 15%.

No, that's not illegal. Yes, you will be called a kill stealer... so? You ARE Karthus, you are the only champion allowed to do it.

The best tip I can give you here is to remember your allies about your ultimate. Let them know that your R is ready to rain blood from the sky so they can call it in the right moment. Timing is ALL.

2. The second way to use your ultimate is to aid your teammates. Belive it or not, 60% of the times when you use your ultimate in the middle of an ally battle your side wins. That's because they get intimidated and also because your buddie gets more brave knowing that a large amount of his enemy HP is GONE. Still, I reccomend you to wait and finish them up.

AND REMEMBER: Your Requiem casting time its 3 seconds! That means it can be interrupted by skills suchs as Dazzle... If you get Stunned, Silenced, Pulled, or Knocked away while channeling your ultimate the game is over for you and the skill will be put to rest for a good amount of time.

So, use it away from bad people or after your death.

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Now this is a subject most of the Mid laners inore or just don't want to do. But this will be the best way for you to keep your lane safe from ganks (Remember you only have Flash with you, and when it's gone you will be on your own)

sight ward Warding it's NOT the support role duty. You, AND ONLY YOU, are responsable of your own lane. So keep it safe. Remember that Wards not only serve you, but the whole team will use the to know things like "mias" going to their lanes or the enemy Jungle possition.

Just keep it simple. You will only need 2 wards all game long. and you must place them right inside the river bushes in both sides of your lane. No need to put them in other places like some people do (inside your own jungle, in the middle of the river, etc) Just place them insed the bushes and you will be ok.

NOW, in case of facing an Evelynn, Shaco, Twitch, and similars, remember to Buy a Pink ward Vision Ward and place it right in the middle of your lane.

They will try to lurk invisible right in front of your noses, so you can surprise them really bad only by placing one of those beauties there. That means you should probably spend more gold than xpected, but a Safe Lane is a Happy Karthus.

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Before I start this chapter we must know our Goals:

- Plenty mana and mana regeneration.
- Maxed cooldown reduction.
- Ability power.
- Ensure Kills.
- Win.

Now allow me to explains things out:
First we start with

and x3

Karthus is slow and it's always better to have mobility in order to dodge skillshots from champions like Nidalee or Blitzcrank

Remember, in such cases you must keep calm and stay behind your own minions. Don't overxtend and, if they'r harassing you just be patient, farm from a secure distance and wait for a gank.

After you get 900 gold or more you must get back and buy:

and x2 sight ward

An early Tear of the Goddess will provide you a lot of sustain. The wards are goin to be placed in both of the river bushes, no objections. Also you can get a couple of Health Potion if you are being focused to much.

Also, if you can spend extra gold, you should get an Amplifying Tome to rush that Fiendish Codex or maybe a Mejai's Soulstealer if you are doing great.

If everything's going allright you can ask for Blue Buff now.


There only one choice of Boots here:

Sure, we could use some Cooldown reduction from Ionian Boots of Lucidity early game, but Magic Penetration = + damage, and if you watch closely we aren't buying heavy AP items just yet. And CR is going down anyway so ther's no need.

Core Items

This are your core items and thats the order you should buy them. Why? because I say it and this is my build anyway haha.

In fact ther's a reason to everything. What we want first is the constant use of Requiem, that's why we are buying Morellonomicon first. The maximun amount of Cooldown reduction a champion can get is 40%, and this item give us half of it plus a good passive that will allow our teammates to finish them off if your Requiem didn't.

After that we must get our AP higher, thats why we will need to rush a Needlessly Large Rod to get our Rabadon's Deathcap ASAP.

REMEMBER, we will need to buy our Chalice of Harmony right after the Rod or our sustain will be reduced.

Ther's No need to rush in getting all the AP possible, your job is to ensure kills either by your hand or your allies.

Now that we are probably winning (or not, it doeasn't metter your incoming gold is good enough) we must get our Athene's Unholy Grail wich will give us an awsome sustain, a great amount of AP, some MR but most importantly, 15% cooldown that will get us to the maximun cooldown availible [15% + 20% from the book +10% from masteries = 45% reduced to 40% top]

Now our mana is almost infinite and our Requiem is falling down every 60 secs aprox... time to spam it I say.

Now lets get more Ap by buying our Archangel's Staff wich will be changeing to a Seraph's Embrace once you got the 750 extra mana from Tear of the Goddess. Seraph's Embrace will provide you a nice amount of AP and sustain but most importantly, a survival active that will shield us from incoming dmg if needed. Great for taking damage from Dragon/Baron or to stay alive in Team fights. Remember to use it at the start of the battle for better results.

Finish off

Get a Void staff for greater damage and get tru enemies resistence.

Get this if you are constantly engaging face to face the enemy to amplify damage.

If you are in need of more HP (against heavy bruisers for example). The passive slow synergize with all your skills so its worth every penny.

Only if you think you need more surviability. The active effect is great and the AP is good aswell.

Defensive Items?

There's no need to waste gold in armor or other utility items. Your job is TO KILL and help your team kill the baddies. And if you DIE your job is to ensure your buddies avenge you and push lanes after they ace.

"Victory is for those who are willing to die for It"


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