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Tristana Build Guide by lycao

I'm Not a Very Clever Title...

I'm Not a Very Clever Title...

Updated on August 8, 2011
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11 2 19,175 Views 18 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author lycao Tristana Build Guide By lycao Updated on August 8, 2011
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LoL Summoner Spell: Exhaust


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash



I've finally decided to write a guide on how I play Tristana. She was the first champion I ever really started playing consistently. Effectively having mained her since I got her.

Since day one, I've loved playing Tristana. Why? Because used well, she's an absolute powerhouse with not only her dps damage, but her burst is pretty amazing too. Not to mention, that with her Rocket Jump, ultimate, and Flash, she's pretty much ungankable.

Note: Please don't just look at the item list, and make a judgement (Good or bad.) off of that. Read the whole thing, and you'll know why I chose what I chose.
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For the Newbies

Before anything else. Figured I would list some of the lingo, and terminology in League of Legends. For anyone relatively new to the game.

First things first. Don't feel bad about not knowing something in the game, and never be afraid to ask. Yes there was people out there who will chew you out for not knowing something. But just ignore them.

Remember, no matter who it is. Everyone of us started playing this game, knowing nothing, and making mistakes.

Crowd Control (aka: CC): Anything from stuns, to snares, or silences. All of them count as CC. Even Tristana's Buster Shot technically counts as CC, as it can push the target out of position.

Last Hitting: This is one I didn't learn until a few months into playing LoL.

Last hitting is simply, not attacking the minions. Letting your minions wear down their health. Then when you can kill them with one attack, you attack them. Thus getting the "Last hit" on the minion.

Why do this rather then just continually attack?

Pushing Lane(s): Constantly attacking the minions "Pushes" your lane. That means that your side kills the enemy minions faster than they can kill yours, and your minions move up closer to their turret.

Constantly attacking will also give you less "CS".

Creep Score (aka CS): This is simply the number of minions you have killed.

Note: Creeps killed in the jungle count toward this number.

Freezing a Lane: Last hitting minions will cause the minion wave to essentially stay in the same position in the lane. This is handy, as the further across the half way point in the lane you are. The more open you are to "Ganks".

Ganking/Ganks: This is simply jumping an unsuspecting person. If the enemy team has a "Jungler". Expect to have that jungler try and "Gank" you from the river (The river runs down the middle of the map.).

Jungling: Someone who doesn't start the game in lane, instead killing only the neutral minions on either side of the map. This area is known as "The jungle", hence why it's called jungling.

Cooldown: The time it takes for a skill to again be usable (After a skill is used. It will show the cooldown, in seconds over the icon on the bottom of the screen.).
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Pros / Cons


- Amazing damage at all points in the game.
- Incredibly mobile.
- Very fun to play in my opinion.
- Relatively easy to pick up and play well.
- Her Explosive Shot reduces the healing of the target by 50% for 5 seconds. This is very handy on tanks.
- At level 18 she has INSANE range on her auto attacks.


- Unless you can master the Rocket Jump + Buster Shot Combo. You will have zero utility/CC (Excluding her healing reduction.).
- Easy to pick up. But hard to master. As knowing when and where to make your move is a huge part of playing Tristana.
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Mark's (aka: The red M&M's.)

Greater mark of desolation Pretty standard marks for any dps champion. Grab your self 9 Greater mark of desolation runes, and you'll be ready to roll face with your early game armour penetration.

Seal's (aka: Don't eat yellow snow.)

For me personally. I find going flat armour, if the best way to go. It ensures that if you're against another dps champion, your added armour, will effectively cancel out their armour penetration (90% of dps champions will take Greater Mark of desolation marks.). But unless they them self's have armour, then you'll be shredding them nicely with your armour penetration.

Glyph's (aka: You're a wizard harry!)

Much like the flat armour seal's. These will help if you come across any of those pesky magic users such as Annie (Proof that harry potter is corrupting the youth of today.).

It will work in the same way, canceling out their magic penetration (Just like dps champion getting Greater mark of desolation marks. Most AP champions will get Greater Mark of Magic Penetration marks. So the magic resistance will help keep you from getting steamrolled from ap casters early game.

Quintessence's (aka: The ones no one can pronounce.)

Greater quintessence of desolation Just like your marks. This will just pile on the armour penetration. Effectively making you hit for true damage early game. Which is always nice =D.
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Not really much to explain here. Standard dps set up really...... Umm..... Yup. Next section!
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Summoner Spells

Why Exhaust on someone who should never be up front in the action, and thus not close enough to use it?

Well. Some of it is knowing where and when to get right in the middle of battle (I'll explain this later.), and some of it. Is it some old meany pants, decides to run past everyone else and slap you around a bit. You can exhaust them, then either kite them to death. or. If you have zero chance of killing them, turn around, rocket jump out of there, and run back to safety.

Can't even count the amount of times Exhaust has saved my life.

Speaking of life saving.....

It's pretty standard for squishy characters (or anyone really.) to take flash. I've seen no shortage of games, where everyone in the game, had flash.

But why use it on Tristana when she already has rocket jump to get away?

Because having two escape mechanisms is never a bad thing.

Using rocket jump, and then flash immediately after, will cover a lot of ground. If you're mid lane. Using both of these in sequence can get you 3/4 of the way, from one turret, to another.

Meaning you can be shooting their mid turret, when OH NO! Someone shows up to gank you. Not a problem, rocket jump will get you to the middle of the lane, then flash will get you rest of the way.

Like I said in the introduction. Tristana is damn near ungankable.
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This is kind of hard to show on the item builder alone. Yes these are the items I get with her. But not always in this exact sequence. In most cases, simply using common sense will dictate how you buy the items. For instance, if you're against someone with heavy ap damage, then obviously investing in a quick negatron cloak is a good idea.

Getting Started:

I always start with a Doran's Blade. While the 3% life steal is negligible. The extra 100hp, and ten damage, are very handy.

Homeward Bound (If you remember that movie, congrats, you're as old as me =P.):

Most of the time. By the time you have to make your first trip back, you should have enough for Berserker's Greaves. If things are going well, you should be able to get another Doran's Blade along with the boots. If things are going really well, you can buy the boots, and two Doran's Blade's.

Anytime you go back though, if you find you have gold left over, always, always, get one or two wards. I try to always have at least one ward on me at all times.

What about Health Potion's? If you're getting hit so much that you need them, you are either having a bad game, or need more practice with tristana. She's the queen of being able to hold way back and take pot shots. There is no reason for you to be up front, anywhere near the enemies attack range. Unless you're either going for a kill. or. Pulling off a gank.

That said. If you do really need potions, get them. I never need them, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get them if you do need them.

To Infinity Edge, and Beyond! (Yes. I totally just said that.):

So now you've got some Berserker's Greaves, and three Doran's Blades. Well damn son, you're ready to pull a leroy jenkins and just run on in to the enemy team then (Please don't do that. I can pretty much guarantee, you'll get yelled at =P.). It's a good start, but now it's time to start getting that dominating damage, that will roll all kinds of face from mid game onward.

Once you have the money. It's time to start building your first major item. An Infinity Edge. Start by getting your self a B. F. Sword. After that, grab a Pick Axe. Once you have your Pick axe your inventory should be full. So save up, and once you have the money. Finish your Infinity Edge.

So now you have some spiffy damage. But since you're Q is only level one (I'm assuming you're following my guide's suggested skill selection here.), you can hit hard sure. But your attack speed is so slow, even a snail would point and laugh at you, and if you're like me. Your fragile ego can't take a beating like being mocked by a snail. So it's time to fix that.

Snails are Total Jerks:

Suck it snails! It's time for..... Youmuu's Ghostblade!.

I never liked this item when I first started playing LoL. For the very reason it's such a good item. It has an amazing activated ability. Pressing extra buttons was far to much of a hassle when I was a newbie (Oh the days of being a newbie. I was so cute in my ignorance back then.).

If you yourself are a newbie, and aren't aware what Youmuu's Ghostblade's active ability is, or even what an active ability is. When you hit the number key corresponding to the items position in your inventory, it will activate Youmuu's Ghostblade's active ability. Which gives you 20% movement speed and +50% attack speed for 4 seconds. On top of that, when it's active, every melee attack you land, will increase the duration of the active ability by 2 seconds. To a maximum of 8 seconds total. Now that might not sound like much. But when you active this, paired with your Q, you will have almost max attack speed, for the next 7 seconds (Her Q only lasts 7 seconds.) (Completely over looked that ranged attacks will not proc the effect. My bad. Even with only a 4 second buff though, I still think the ghostblade is worth the purchase.). Factor in, that you're be hitting for a butt ton of damage, and by passing a sizable chunk of their armour ( Youmuu's Ghostblade Helps with this too, as it gives you 20 armour penetration.). You will be able to easily take someone from full health, to a rotting corpse on the ground, in a a few seconds flat.

In a team fight situation. You may be able to get two or three kills, before your Q and the active ability wear off. It's rare, but it can happen.

Potions Be Damned! Life Steal Ho!:

So now you have a bunch of damage, and attack speed. But what happens if someone decides they don't like you because you're a yordle (Damn racists.), and decide to start throwing, sticks, and stones, and magical fireballs of death at you?

Shoot them in the face!

Before that though. Grab your self a Vampiric Scepter. THEN shoot them in the face. With the amount of damage you're dealing now, you're be getting about 40-70 (Late game you're be getting well over 100hp, per attack.) hp back each attack. Which will help keep you alive, and pushing, through the game.

Stop Now If You're Indecisive:

Now comes the point in the game. Where you need to start making choices. What? I can't do everything for you =P.

The next two items you'll be getting is either a Phage. Or. Negatron Cloak. This is based on who's hitting you more. The mages, or the melee's. If you're taking more melee damage than anything, grab a Phage. If you're taking magic damage like crazy, get a Negatron Cloak.

In either case though, which ever one you get. Get the other one after it. So if you get the Phage first, grab a Negatron Cloak after it.

From there. Finish off which ever item you need more first, then the other.

Pew Pew, Bang Bang:

I'm gonna be honest. This build is not a cheap one. So I personally have never gotten this far. Generally, shortly after finishing my Banshee's Veil, and Frozen Mallet. The game ends, one way or another.

But if it does go on longer. Finish off your build with the big papa smurf of the damage world. The Blood Thirster.

Note: Bloodthirster is more of a suggestion for the rare time when you get late enough into the game, to actually get a sixth top tier item. As suggested by Toxicosis in the comments, a Hextech Gunblade would be a perfectly fine choice as well at this point.

Please see "What do you think of a Hextech Gunblade over a Bloodthirster?" in the "Questions and answers" below for a better explanation of the two items.

Good Items. That I Don't Use. (Because They Smell.)

Here I'll explain some items, that while good on some DPS champions. I personally don't use on tristana.

On the surface. This seems like an item that would be amazing on trist. I mean hey, not only does it give damage. But it goes through 40% of your targets armour? (I'm Canadian. So yes, that is how I spell armour. Screw you firefox spell check =P.), and it only costs 2290 gold?! How could you lose!


The damage it self is negligible, as the main reason you get this item is due to the armour penetration. So why is the 40% of armour penetration bad? Normally it isn't, per se. But with this build, you end up with 60 natural armour penetration. To my understanding, this is a flat amount, directly reducing the targets armour. So if you have 30 armour penetration, and are attacking someone with 30 armour. You are hitting them for true damage.

That in mind. Most squishies, even late game, have around 100 armour. Meaning that the 60 flat armour penetration you're getting, will do more than getting 40% armour penetration. This alone, makes this a pointless item to get with this build.

Note: The builder glitched out, and said I have 60 armour penetration (Never actually looked to see how much I have in game. So I was just going by the total the builder gave.), when in fact I only have 44. This may open up the possibility to get a Last Whisper at some point in this build. I'm going to play around with it, and see how it works.

and/or I see a lot of people (Even pro's.) using a Zeal/ Phantom Dancer. In my opinion, this is a terrible idea. Not as bad as starting a barbeque with gasoline (I miss you eyebrows...), but still pretty bad.

On the surface, these seem like good items. They give you attack speed, movement speed, and crit chance. So you can hit faster, crit more often, and move faster to get out of ganks. These are nothing but good things right? Yes. Just not with this build.

Lets do a comparison.

VS In my opinion. When comparing Phantom Dancer to Youmuu's Ghostblade, It's no contest, the ghostblade is better.

While the Phantom Dancer does increase you attack speed by quit a bit. It's only 5% more than the ghostblade's activated ability. A 5 Percent increase, just to avoid having to press another button, doesn't seem worth it to me.

Phantom Dancer Does give you twice as much crit change (30%, while the ghost blade only gives 15%.), which seems good. But the Youmuu's Ghostblade not only gives you crit chance. It also increases your damage, and gives you a decent amount of armour penetration (Because it gives armour penetration as well as damage. It is effectively giving you more damage than it lists.). Granted, you'll be criting 15% more often with a Phantom Dancer, but so what. Your overall damage is far greater with the Youmuu's Ghostblade.

So what about that handy movement speed increase you get from a Phantom Dancer? It's tristana. Between rocket jump, your ult, and flash. You should never have to use your raw movement speed to get away from people.

Forgot to mention the fact the ghostblade gives you cooldown reduction as well. Which is handy for getting your ultimate, and rocket jump off cooldown faster.

This can be an amazing item on melee champions. It's (Debatably) pretty much a prerequisite on xin xhao. But with this build, the extra armour penetration just isn't worth it. When held up against the other items in this build, there just isn't anything in it that would be worth swapping out for the Black Cleaver.
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How to Play Tristana (or atleast how I play her.)

Early Game/Laneing Phase

This is kind of hard to explain in text. I think I may just try to explain as much of it as I can, and try recording some footage of me actually play her, then imbed it here.

Always, always start with Explosive Shot. It will not only make your level 1 farming easier, but give you really good harass as well. Anytime someone gets close, use explosive shot on them, followed by an auto attack. This is a quick way to wear them down, so you can get your first kill.

As far as leveling up Rocket Jump, and Explosive Shot evenly.

I do it because they're both integral to getting early kills, you need them both to be doing as much as possible. Not to mention the shorter their cooldowns. The more often you can have one of your escape skills up.

Jumping into the fray.... Literally.

This is really hard to explain. There are times when you actually want to jump into the middle of the battle.

Basically. Stand on the outside of the battle, shooting the squishiest target you can get (Remember to activate your Q, and Youmuu's Ghostblade.). If however. The entire enemy team is low (1/4 health at most. or things could go poorly.) feel free to Rocket Jump right onto their heads. Followed by your Explosive Shot and ultimate (Which actually has splash damage to it, so it will hit more than one target, if they're close enough together.).

At max level, this is about 700 burst aoe damage alone. As well as your auto attacks. You're sure to wreck their team, pretty hard.
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Tips and Tricks

One major tip everyone should know. Is how to calculate kills.

What I mean by this. Is knowing how much damage you can do and any given time, relative to how much hp you target has.

For instance. At level 6, with this build, your skills should look like this:

Level: 1 Effect: Increase attack speed by 30%.
Level: 2 Damage: 115
Level: 2 Damage: 75
Level: 1 Damage: 300

115 + 75 + 300 = 490

So that means at level 6, you can burst the target for roughly 490 damage. Factor in one auto attack in that as well, and you're now over 500. So keeping an eye on your targets health, if they're at 500 or lower, you can rocket jump onto then, use explosive shot, then buster shot, and they will be dead.

Yes their defensive stats will decrease that damage slightly, but one auto attack will easily rectify that.

Note: For anyone who doesn't know. The individual bars you see on someones health bar, each represent 100 hp. So if someone has 5 bars, they have 500 health.

NEVER, EVER, under ANY circumstances go after a kill that requires you to use both rocket jump, and flash to get (By this I mean using both to catch someone.). Why? Simple. If you use both of them to get a kill, and suddenly all that persons mean old friends show up. You're pooched. It's essentially a free kill for them, as you now have no escape. Which means you would just be trading kills with the team, which is never worth it.
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Questions and Answers

If you have any questions you'd like to ask me. As well as responding directly in the comments section. I'll post the answer here, so others can easily see it as well.

-Toxicosis- What do you think of a Hextech Gunblade over a Bloodthirster?

If you're going souly off this build. Then it's rare that you'll get late enough into the game to afford Bloodthirster. But hypothetically, if you do get that late in the game. The added AP damage, won't be all that great for you. The only major improvement will be on her Buster Shot, as it has a 1.5 AP ratio. Giving you an added 112.5 damage to your Buster Shot.

I put in Bloodthirster, more as a suggestion, as to what you could buy if you get that late in game, and just need that extra bit of damage.

This is kinda tricky actually. A fully charged up bloodthirster will give you more raw attack damage. But the gunblade will give you slightly less attack damage, but more burst.

In all honesty. Getting either a Hextech Gunblade or Bloodthirster is fine.

Just look at it like this (Assuming you're late game, and have the money for either of these items.). If you're late game, and getting a lot of kills. Go with Bloodthirster. You'll be able to charge it up quickly, and have more raw damage. If you're not getting many kills though. The Hextech Gunblade would be the one I'd go with.

Note: For anyone who doesn't know. Bloodthirster has a passive, that when you get a kill, it "Charges" it. Giving you added damage and life steal. Up to a damage total of 100 damage (The items default damage is 60.), and a life steal total of 25% (The items default life steal it 15%.). If you die however, you lose these charges/stacks, and have to charge them back up again. So it is a bit of a gamble.

Have you considered a Trinity Force over Frozen Mallet before?
Or even a Trinity Force over the Ghostblade and the Frozen Mallet, it'd free up one slot for you to get something else.

To be perfectly honest. I've never liked trinity force. It's a very handy item on a melee tanky dps champion (Like Nasus, Jarvan, etc.). But even so. It's always been a "Jack of all trades, Master of none" item to me. It does a lot of things. But none of them all that well.

While the Trinity Force does give you 10 more damage than the Frozen Mallet, as well as quite a few other stats that would be handy to have. The 800 gold difference is pretty steep. Not to mention I get the Frozen Mallet more because it gives a lot of health, as well as a bit of damage. More than that though, it slows your target by 30%. Which when paired with red buff. Slows your target to a crawl. Making kiting and/or chasing very easy.

As far as Trinity Force over a Youmuu's Ghostblade and Frozen Mallet.

I personally wouldn't do this. While the Trinity Force does gives you damage, attack speed, and health. It doesn't give you as much damage, attack speed or health as the Youmuu's Ghostblade and Frozen Mallet combined do. Not to mention you get 20 armour penetration from the ghostblade (The more armour penetration you have, the more damage you do.).

-Incendiax- You may want to fix the grammar to be more consistent with the tooltip in your section where you mention using flash+Rocket Jump to get a kill. Getting a Kill/Assist refreshes the cooldown on Rocket Jump.

While it does reset. The last thing you want to do is jump in with no flash up. Simply because you think you can get the kill. Resetting your Rocket Jump, so you can jump out of danger after.

I can't even count the amount of times I've gone in for a kill, only to have it go terribly wrong (One of their teammates jumps out RIGHT as I jump in is one that happens quite a bit.). In which case, if you don't have flash up, you're as good as dead.

Another problem is mana cost. Since you have a low mana pool, and low mana regen, you do have to use your skills at appropriate times/places. For instance, using your full skill range will take you from full mana, to about 1/3 early/mid game. So if you're going in with anyless than full mana, you might not have the mana for a second Rocket Jump (I've had this happen to me more than a few times. It made me a very sad panda =P.).

-deathalo44- Good hands > Perseverence. 4% regen doesn't do much, especially since lifesteal isn't included

I genuinely don't know what you're referring to here.

Yommuu's Ghostblade, as stated, is MELEE hits. Tristanna does RANGED hits. The CDR doesn't help, and Black Cleaver/Last Whisper is better in terms of armor reduction.

The fact ranged attacks don't proc the effect is something I overlooked. Even so. I still feel that the 4 second increase, paired with the other stats, is more than enough to justify the purchase.

As far as the CDR not helping. It helps quite a bit actually. The 15% cdr knocks your ult down to a 51 second cooldown. Which might not sound like much. But given how nice it can be pushing enemies into a ganking position, or simply away from a team mate who's about to die. The more often this is up, the better.

Phantom Dancers are one thing most AD carries need. After all, high crit chance, higher attack speed is never unwelcome.

I don't agree with this at all. Relying on phantom dancers over other items that can do the same with active abilities, and give you more stats over all, just seems pointless to me.

Your Tristanna basically does weak damage and has low crit chance, but better survival.

With this build I can cut down the other teams carries in about 3 seconds flat, and live through it just fine, how is that a bad thing?

2 survival items isn't too good on an AD, reducing your damage dramatically. You may want to look into that.

This is another thing I don't agree with at all. If all you want is damage, just build infinity edge, 2 phantom dancers, and 2 blood thirsters. You're hit like a mach truck. But you'll drop in 2 seconds flat anytime anyone focuses you (And if they see you build with zero survivability, they WILL focus you.).

You can be doing all the damage you want. But if you can't survive for more than a second or two in a fight, then that damage is kind of useless.
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Update: August 08, 2011
-Posted some responses to questions/comments.
-Fixed a bunch of the icon tags not showing up properly.
-Fixed section saying ranged attacks would proc Youmuu's Ghostblade's passive.
-Added addendum regarding the Last Whisper.
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