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Karthus Build Guide by UNSTEALTHYN1NJA

AP Carry Jungle Karthus - The Forgotten Role

AP Carry Jungle Karthus - The Forgotten Role

Updated on August 30, 2014
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League of Legends Build Guide Author UNSTEALTHYN1NJA Build Guide By UNSTEALTHYN1NJA 22 4 394,569 Views 21 Comments
22 4 394,569 Views 21 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author UNSTEALTHYN1NJA Karthus Build Guide By UNSTEALTHYN1NJA Updated on August 30, 2014
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Karthus
    Jungle Karthus
  • LoL Champion: Karthus
    Mid Karthus

Hey Guys and welcome to my first ever Mobafire guide:
Jungle Karthus - The Forgotten Role

First of all I would like to say thankyou guys so much for voting the guide as the #4 Karthus guide on mobafire!

Now before I get down to the nity grity, if you want tips on being a better player and positively impacting the League of Legends community, check this out.

This guide mainly outlines Karthus in the jungle, however most of the information provided in the guide will also apply to Karthus in other lanes.

Karthus has got to be one of my favorite Champions to play, and when played well, will carry games. Jungle Karthus is hugely underrated and underestimated, and is one of the strongest choices in the current meta. Combining a nice slow with crazy amounts of damage, he has strong ganking potential, and his Lay Waste makes his clear speed amazingly fast.

Jungle Karthus was first played by Saintvicious from team Curse back in S2, and he believes it would be a viable pick in professional play.
Watch this is you want to have a look at his gameplay...
Spoiler: Click to view

Feel free to leave constructive comments if you have any suggestions, or if you find any mistakes in the guide (:

Finally, I present to you an In-Depth guide to Karthus

Karthus' tale of darkness and death...

Spoiler: Click to view

Like every champion, Karthus has Pros & Cons

  • Insane Damage
  • Great Zoning
  • Good AOE slow
  • Fast Jungle speed
  • Global Ult
  • Very Fun to Play
  • Weak early game
  • Very squishy
  • Requires good positioning
  • Must die to use his passive
  • Needs lots of gold
  • Annoying to play against </3


Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush

I take pretty generic AP jungle runes, with flat AP quints, scaling AP Reds/Blues, and armor yellows.

I take these to help out the early jungle speed, and increase the damage from your ganks.
Can be swapped for Greater Quintessence of Scaling Ability Power, or Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration

These work along with your Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power to give you a steady transition into late game, and may be swapped for Greater Mark of Ability Power if you would rather the early game power. Note that jungle monsters do not have any MR, so this renders Greater Mark of Magic Penetration useless.

Almost a necessity for surviving in the jungle. These will prevent you from taking to much damage, leaving you with more health for ganks.
Experienced junglers may wish to swap these out for Greater Seal of Ability Power or Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power

Again, works with your Greater Mark of Scaling Ability Power to boost your power late game.
Other viable choices include Greater Glyph of Ability Power or Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction

Pretty normal AP jungle masteries, taking 21 points in the ability side of offense, and 9 points in the health/neutral damage reduction.

The more experienced junglers may want to take points in utility, in which case I suggest taking all mana related masteries, as well as neutral buff duration.

Starting Items

Hunter's Machete: Needed for nearly all junglers. Increases your clear speed by an insane amount.

Health Potion: Needed to heal up after your first round of jungle clearing, giving you enough health to gank a lane.

Jungle Item

Spirit of the Spectral Wraith: Essential to increase your gold income and sustainability in the jungle. The recent buffs to the regen for the AOE junglers, and the added AP stacking makes this an essential first item.

Core Items

Rod of Ages: All around this is a very cost effective item, and all stats it gives are utilized by Karthus. The health it gives you makes you significantly harder to kill, and is made more effective by the armor from Zhonya's Hourglass. The mana it provides is needed to be able to spam your Lay Waste's, and can be very useful if you get a Seraph's Embrace. The AP it gives you is fairly decent as well, and getting this early combined with the accumulating AP from Spirit of the Spectral Wraith and your runes, you will gain decent AP by late game even if you are falling behind.

Note that if you are falling behind as Karthus jungle, then its either server lag or you're doing it wrong.

Tip: push R

Zhonya's Hourglass: An necessary item on almost all AP champions. This is what allows you to survive in teamfights, and effectively adds another 3 seconds to your passive Death Defied. The armor given by this can be used to enhance the health given by Rod of Ages, and the huge amount of AP can be enhanced by a Rabadon's Deathcap or a Void Staff.


Void Staff: An awesome item if the enemy team is stacking MR, or even if they aren't. Buy this item after you have a tonne of AP, and it will put your damage through the roof. Consider replacing your Sorcerer's Shoes with Mercury's Treads once you have this item.

Rabadon's Deathcap: An pretty strong item on all AP champions. This is what allows you to have 500+ AP, enough to make even Veigar scared of you. Note that the 30% bonus is calculated using AP from other items as well, giving you a huge boost.

Deathfire Grasp: Another great item for Karthus, providing 120 AP, 10% CDR, and an awesome active. The active deals 15% of the targets current health in magic damage, and then increases all magic damage taken by that champion by 20% for 4 seconds. This active is especially good if you have a second AP on your team (e.g. an AP mid), as the damage amplification also boosts the magic damage done by your allies.

Seraph's embrace: A pretty strong item for champions that have spammy abilities and require a lot of mana. The amount of AP it gives you is pretty good, and the bonus AP you get from your mana is pretty high. End game you will have about 3018 mana, this will give you a staggering bonus 91 AP!! On top of all this, it has a pretty sweet active that can provide you with a shield of up to 754 health for three seconds.

Mejai's Soulstealer: Possibly the best AP item for snowballing, granting (at max stack) 180 AP, and 15% CDR. On top of this it is fairly cheap. Grab this item if you are super fed, and know you wont die for awhile. If you ever get this item to max stacks, you will win, I can almost guarantee it. This combined with the other AP items has the potential to give you more than 690 ap!!! I do not recommend getting this item unless you are terrafed though.

Liandry's Torment: After this item was buffed, it became a viable item on AOE champs like Karthus. Grab this item if the enemy team is stacking health, and use it in conjunction with your Wall of Pain.

Morellonomicon: Pretty good early game item if you really need the mana regen. The CDR is pretty high, and the AP is not bad for the price. Also very strong against champions that rely on healing/sustain in fights.


Rylai's Crystal Scepter: Nice way to add some more utility to your kit. The AOE slow is huge, and this will enhance the damage delt by Liandry's Torment. Great amount of AP and a huge boost to health. Grab this if you are being kited or you need to kite.

Abyssal Scepter: Awesome item on karthus. It provides quite a bit of MR, as well as some nice AP, and a pretty good passive. The passive reduces enemy champions MR in an AOE around Karthus, which is about the same size as his Defile.

Athene's Unholy Grail: Awesome item if you are being denied blue buff by the enemy jungle, or someone on your team needs it more. Also offers a respectable amount of MR, and some good AP.

Twin Shadows: An awesome bit of CC to add to your kit, making your ganks even stronger. Comes with quite a bit of MR, and some bonus AP thrown in as well. This item is useful for chasing/retreating/scouting/frustrating the enemy ADC.

Guardian angel: Nice item if you are being burst down quickly, and need a second (third with his passive) shot at living again. The Defensive stats are pretty nice and enhance the health given by Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter.

Poor Choices

Lich Bane: A very popular item on many spammy AP champions, however to make full use of this item requires you to Auto Attack between spells. This is great, except for the fact that Lay Waste has such a low cooldown, that you will not have time to Auto Attack. Avoid getting this item.

Trinity Force: Please DO NOT GET THIS ITEM
Now I know what you might be saying, 'But it does Tons of damage!!!', True, maybe if you are Phreak, but you aren't. Just because it is the most expensive item in the game does not mean it is the right choice for your champion. More than half of the stats given by Trinity Force are wasted on Karthus, you may as well be stacking Bloodthirsters...

Good Spotting ;) Good Spotting ;)Good Spotting ;)
Good Spotting ;)
Death Defied (Passive)
Upon dying, Karthus enters a spirit form allowing him to continue casting spells for 7 seconds. During this time his abilities cost no mana.

This is a great passive when it comes to teamfights, however is rendered almost useless throughout the rest of the game. To utilize it requires Karthus to die, which you should avoid doing unless the damage you output will benefit your team greatly

As Requiem has a warm up time of 3 seconds, you must cast it within 4 seconds of dying to use it.

Remember to keep spamming those Lay Waste's!!
Good Spotting ;)
Good Spotting ;)
Lay Waste (Q)
Creates a delayed blast at Karthus' cursor position. After 0.5 seconds, deals 40 / 60 / 80 / 100 / 120 (+30% of ability power) magic damage to each nearby enemy. This deals double damage if it hits only a single unit.

This is your main damage source for most of the game. It is what makes your jungle speed so crazy fast, and what makes your ganks so bloody scary. It is on auto Smart Cast, meaning it will activate where your mouse is pointing when you press Q. It has a pretty big range, and is great for poking at the enemy team or checking brush.

This ability may take awhile to master, as it requires you to predict the enemy's movements.

This ability deals double damage if it only hits a single target. Remember this when taking the large jungle camps.

This ability reveals a small area of brush where it is used, do this instead of face checking.

Remember to keep spamming it after you die!
Good Spotting ;)
Good Spotting ;)
Wall of pain (W)
Creates a 800 / 900 / 1000 / 1100 / 1200 distance wide wall through target point. Reduces enemy magic resistance by 15% and reduces movement speed by up to 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 %; debuff lasts 5 seconds. The wall lasts 5 seconds.

One of the best zoning abilities in the entire game. Use this while ganking, fleeing, chasing, fighting, and even while singeing towers.. It covers a massive distance at max rank, provides a crazy 80% slow, and reduces the targets magic resistance by 15%. Max this last however as the base width of the wall as well as the base slow are both quite high, and the MR reduction does not change with levels.

Use this item in conjunction with Deathfire Grasp or Exhaust to deal crazy damage to a single target.

Great tool for zoning enemies out while you attack their tower.

Provides vision around the wall, use it to check over walls or in large brush areas.

The MR reduction applies to all magic damage taken by that champion, including that delt by your allies.

Don't forget to cast it when you're dead!!
Good Spotting ;)
Good Spotting ;)
Defile (E)
Toggle Off: When Karthus kills a unit, he restores 20 / 27 / 34 / 41 / 48 mana.

Toggle On: Drains 30 / 42 / 54 / 66 / 78 Mana to deal 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+25% of ability power) damage to nearby enemies each second.

Karthus' main damage source in teamfights. Toggle this on for heaps of damage, or even just to clear minion waves. The passive mana restoration given by this is a little useless, as most minion kills will come from Lay Waste, which costs about that much to cast in the first place. Also be weary of the mana being consumed while this is toggled on, it starts to add up after awhile.

You will not receive mana for minion kills while Defile is toggled on.

Try to avoid using this in the jungle, as it uses lots of mana.

Try to position yourself so that when you die, the enemy team must continue to fight on your Defile.

This will toggle on automatically at death.
Good Spotting ;)
Good Spotting ;)
Requiem (R) <3 <3 <3
After channeling for 3 seconds, Karthus deals 250 / 400 / 550 (+60% of ability power) magic damage to all enemy champions (regardless of distance).

This is what makes Karthus hated by men woman & children. Possibly the best ultimate in the game, use it to strike fear into those unfortunate souls that get matched with you. Dealing some insane damage, its best used to pick off low life enemies that are retreating. Keep an eye out for them, or ask your team mates to let you know when to ult. During the late game phase, if for some reason you die, and your Defile does not get you a pentatripplequadradoubleoctahexakill:
Its as simple as that. Please note that there are many different champions & items that counter this, such as spellshields: Nocturne's Shroud of Darkness, sivrr's Spell Shield, Morgana's Black Shield, and many more. There are also items that counter Requiem such as Zhonya's Hourglass, Banshee's Veil, and Maw of Malmortius.

If Karthus is moved, stunned, or dies during the channeling time, Requiem will not do damage.

Never overestimate the damage done by this, check your targets health before you ult, and make sure it will kill them.

Has a very long cooldown. (Something like 180 seconds at LV1)

Use this if a teamfight is breaking out and you are not able to be there for it.

It may be safer to use this after you die, to prevent you being CC'd.


The playstyle of Karthus in the jungle is fairly similar to other fast clear junglers. You should be aiming to clear both your own, and the enemies jungle as fast as you can, then proceed to gank.

Karthus is a viable jungle because of the fact that Lay Waste deals double damage if it hits just a single target. You can make use of this by dragging the Large monster of the camp ( ancient golem & elder lizzard) away from the two small ranged monsters. Aim your Lay Waste so that it will only hit the large buff.

Once you acquire the Ancient golem buff, you can use Defile for a short while to clear the camps quicker. Be weary of using it while you dont have blue buff however, as it will force you to base every time you clear the jungle because of lack of mana.

Using these two strategies you are often able to achieve level 4 before your bot lane even reaches lv2.

Jungle Route

Image outdated

Pretty simple jungle route.

Start at Blue Buff, ask your teammates to give you a leash.
You will probably have to use a health pot or two.

Move straight on to your red, take care if the enemy is a strong counter jungler. If you are unsure of how safe the area is, trinket ward the bush next to red before you start.

Clear a few more minor camps and recall once you get low on health/mana.

After another clear, you should now be looking to gank either your bot or mid lane, and should have your Wall of Pain by now.

Continue farming and ganking where possible using the below Ganking Routes. Remember not to worry to much about difficult lanes to gank, such as champions with gap closers.

The blue dots indicate common warding locations that you could possibly ask your teammates to Pink Ward. Also ask your teammates if they know of any wards placed by the enemy team, and attempt to avoid them.

It may be worth picking up a Sweeping Lens to clear out some of the wards.

As the game progresses you will find yourself standing with the rest of your team, staring down the enemies.

Welcome to the Teamfight Phase

The aim of the game here is for you to basically die, but deal as much damage as possible.
Stand back and poke with your Lay Waste until the fight starts. Let your tanks initiate first, soaking up the CC and initial damage, then your role comes in.

You want to position yourself right on top of the enemy team, or where you believe the fight will take place. Turn your Defile on, chuck down your Wall of Pain, and start melting peoples faces with Lay Waste. Once you start being focused, activate your Zhonya's Hourglass, and prepare yourself emotionally from transitioning from life to death.

Once you do die, make sure to land a few more Lay Waste's while people are still in range (They will move away from you as soon as you die), and then... the moment you have been waiting for.


This will earn you a hexatripplepentadoublequadradecaoctakill, you may then proceed to notify the other team that they may surrender now.

(tip. Make sure you don't wait more than 3 seconds after you die to activate your Requiem, as it has a charge up time of 3 seconds)

Counter Jungling

Stealing Red

Stealing Blue

Coming soon!!

Thanks for reading my Karthus Jungle Guide (:

If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. And please don't downvote until you have tried Karthus Jungle!
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