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Karthus Build Guide by Jimboom

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Jimboom

Jungle Karthus - WTF?!?

Jimboom Last updated on November 2, 2012
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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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Welcome to my Karthus Guide! I am Jimboom and despite what other players say I play Karthus as a jungler (Phreak would be pleased!). To be honest I would not recommend to do this in ranked games. Give it a try in a normal premade match and see, how great Karthus is in the jungle. This is not an In-depth guide but I will explain everything which is important.

Of course Karthus is better in the midlane, because there he gets a lot more farm and can use his power best. But jungle Karthus has also a lot advantages (See "Why jungle Karthus?" chapter).

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Why jungle Karthus?

So you ask why to play Karthus as a jungler?



  • High damage output
  • AOE Monster and therefore
    a fast jungler
  • Good ganks
  • Global ganks with his ultimate
  • One of the most useful
    junglers in teamfights
  • Low sustain in earlygame
  • Very Mana dependent
  • Very squishy
  • Needs an unusual itembuild
    in the jungle
  • Does not fit into
    every team

What kind of team do I need to pick Karthus?

  • A not mana dependent midlaner
  • AD heavy team
  • Someone who takes an advantage of your Will of the Ancients
  • Some hard CC
I think Kennen and Vladimir are the best teammates that a jungling Karthus can have.

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Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: These runes increase your damage output a lot. Your abilities deal more damage to both Creeps and Champions.

Greater Seal of Armor: These runes decrease the damage you get by jungle creeps a lot. I am using them on every jungler.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: These runes raise your damage in lategame. With Karthus your top priority is to get into lategame and win teamfights. Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist would be an other viable choice.

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: Tons of damage in early game. You could also take Greater Quintessence of Spell Vamp for more sustain.

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21/0/9 is the best setup for Karthus. You get a lot of damage for faster jungle speed. You don´t need some points in the defence tree, because of Death Defied. Executioner fits great with Requiem to finish off low-health champions.

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Summoner Spells

"Ohh you have chosen Flash and Smite, this is so common!"

Right! But it is the best choice for nearly every jungler, except Shaco or Lee Sin.

: This spell is absolutely necessary if you want to jungle. You think, you can jungle without it? Great! But it speeds up your jungle clear time a lot. And how do you want to steal Buffs, Dragon or Baron?

: This is the most flexible spell. You can use it to start a fight or get out of a fight.

Other Viable choices

: Take this if you think you will not need an escape spell. It makes your ganks stronger in Earlygame and helps in teamfights.

: Take this if you don´t like Flash. I don´t recommend it, because Flash offers more variety in both chasing and escaping.

: This spell makes your ganks stronger, but it isn´t that useful as Exhaust. If there is a Dr. Mundo or another Champion with huge heals in the enemy team you, or someone else, could think of taking it. Otherwise not.

: A nice spell on Karthus. Just die, use your passive for 7 seconds and Revive -> Ult.

: It could be useful against heavy CC teams. But in most cases Flash is to prefer.

Non viable choices

: Supporter spell. You aren´t supporting, are you?

: You should take Blue Buff. This spell is totally useless.

: This guide is designed for players on level 30 with good masteries and runes. If you are on a lower level this could help you to sustain longer.

: The Ability Power is nice, but you don´t need Attack Speed. This spell is strong on AP/AS hybrid champions, such as Teemo, Jax and Twisted Fate.

: You are a jungler. No minions help you.

: I really like this summoner spell. But as a jungler you don´t need it.

: This isn´t a Dominion guide. I don´t know if it is useful, because I am not often playing Dominion.

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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

I always max this skill first. This skill is Karthus main damage tool and totally necessary.

It´s a really nice skill. An AoE slow with magic resistance reduction. While ganking you can chase enemies easily and deal more damage. Just place the wall directly on them. In teamfights you will need to put the wall either between your team and the enemy team, if you are retreating or behind them, if you are chasing. Or simply into the middle of their team, when the fight starts.

Aoe damage. Not much in early game, but even more in lategame. The passives helps you to stay longer in the jungle. I don´t recommend to use it without blue buff, because the mana costs are too high.

Karthus ultimate is very strong and as every ultimate I max it as fast as possible. In a teamfight you shouldn´t use it before you are dead, because every hard CC cancels it.

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General Playstyle

Ok, time to talk about the general playstyle and tipps & tricks of jungle Karthus.


  • Get every blue as soon as possible
  • Don´t use your Defile for creep camps, if you are low on mana. Lay Waste deals more damage
  • Hit as much creeps with Lay Waste as possible. At your first blue it could be useful to attack only the big golem, to take him down more quickly.
  • Your Wall of Pain does not lower the magic resistance of creeps.!
  • Don´t gank if it is not absoluetly necessary. It is more important to farm fast and get into lategame, where you will rule like a boss.


  • If one of your laners has to go back then hold his lane and farm
  • Always look if some enemies are low. In that case: Ult!
  • Farm!
  • Always have baron and dragon warded. If enemies are trying to kill them and don´t have much health, you can perhaps pick up some kills with your Requiem


  • Don´t bother about dieing in a teamfight. Your Death Defied will let you deal enough damage, if your position is good. Therefore it can be good to flash in the middle of the enemy team, if you know, that you will die
  • Only use your ultimate, when you are dead. Every hard CC can stop it.
  • Don´t take blue buff if you have no mana problems. You will most likely die in teamfights and therefore other members of your team can have the buff if they need it.
  • Don´t forget to use your Zhonya's Hourglass in fights!

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There are not many options to start in the jungle. This is not optimal, but you don´t have any other choice.

You absolutely need boots. You can travel faster from camp to camp and your ganks are much better.

Philosopher's Stone
A really great item. You will need to sell it later, but it compensates the little amount of gold you get from jungling. The life and mana regeneration helps you in earlygame. Sell it if you need the slot. If this happens it made already at least 600 gold and was worth it (600 + 238 = 838 > 800 and don´t forget the earlygame sustain!).

Catalyst the Protector
Good earlygame sustain.

The best shoes for Karthus. Increase your damage a lot.

You need the spellvamp. This item will be built into a Will of the Ancients later.

Other options

Another option for Philosopher's Stone. You get AP and mana regeneration, but you will miss some gold.



This item increases your defense a lot while offering good offensive stats.

The first item you want to get in midgame. Your damage output will be incredible with Rabadon's Deathcap.

Very useful item. You benefit a lot from it and WotA helps your team.

Other options

It is really cost efficient, because you can buy Kage's Lucky Pick very early and win much gold. The active effect is really strong. After the recent nerf I don´t recommend this item.



This item is essentiell for Karthus in teamfights. Your are very, very squishy. If you activate Defile and use Flash into a crowd of enemies they have no chance. Even if they kill you instantly you can damage them for 9 seconds (2 sec from Zhonya's and 7 from your passive).

With Void Staff you deal even more damage. The enemies magic resist won´t do much.


If you are getting focussed too often and need more defense.

It is very useful against Warwick's Infinite Duress and other similar skills, so take this.

The spellshield can save lifes.

A counter against heavy AD teams.

A counter against heavy AP/CC teams.

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Blue Buff Route

This is the most common route. You don´t have many options with Karthus, because jungling without Blue Buff is not possible:

Start at wolves. Let your teammates do damage, but they shouldn`t get experience, otherwise you wouldn´t be level 4 after the route. Don´t use smite!
Head over to Blue Golem at 1:55. Let midlane pull and, if possible deal some damage. Use Smite. After you cleared the whole camp put a skill point into Defile and go to wraiths. Kill them, do Double Golems or Wolves again. After them make sure, your smite is ready and do your Red Buff. Wraiths should be up a few seconds before you appear there for the second time. Kill them. You should be level 4, so put a skill point into Wall of Pain and watch out for ganks.

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This map shows roughly, where to place wards. Top priority: Dragon and Baron. They should be always pink warded. If the enemy is counterjungling you hard, then consider to place pink wards at your buffs, too.

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: Horrible counter. You use your Requiem? She simply uses her ult and everyone stays alive. **** happens!

And, of course, champions with hard CC that interrupts your ultimate.


Every champion, who is a strong duelist or counterjungler. If you meet Lee Sin just run and pray.


All these items can save them from your ultimate.


: Or other Healing/Shielding abilities. If you try to finish someone with your Ultimate you won´t kill him.

Champions that Karthus counters

To be honest Karthus does not really counter anyone. He is good against squishy targets.
Your life in the jungle will be easy, if the enemy is a slow jungler, like Maokai or Amumu.

Counters taken from

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Karthus Patch Notes

v1.0.0.146 - 2012-08-29

•Wall of Pain◦No longer reduces Armor
◦Magic Resist reduction adjusted to 15% instead of flat 15/20/25/30/35

v1.0.0.142 - 2012-07-0

•Requiem◦Cooldown increased to 200/180/160 seconds from 180/150/120 seconds

v1.0.0.130 - 2011-11-29

•Wall of Pain ◦Wall duration reduced to 5 seconds from 7
◦Now only affects a target once (instead of reapplying every pass through)

•Fixed a bug where Leona's passive and the Dominion center Sigil could cause an immediate double kill against Karthus

v1.0.0.126 - 2011-10-05

•Fixed a bug where Requiem would sometimes not finish channeling when cast during Death Defied

v1.0.0.105 - 2010-11-15

•Clarified Wall of Pain's tooltip slightly to emphasize that target movement speeds are restored over time

v1.0.0.103 - 2010-10-18

•Lay Waste mana cost reduced to 20/26/32/38/44 from 20/28/36/44/52
•Wall of Pain cooldown reduced to 18 from 22
•Death Defied now allows all spells to be free to cast while defying death
•Fixed several usability bugs with Death Defied

v1.0.0.101 - 2010-09-21

•Death Defied (passive) has been remade to fix some of the bugs and usability issues
•Death Defied now also grants 20% death timer reduction to compensate for the 8 seconds Karthus is active after dying

v1.0.0.100 - 2010-09-08

•Wall of Pain's level up tooltip now correctly states the increased slow amount

v1.0.0.99 - 2010-08-24

•Requiem mana cost reduced to 150/175/200 from 200/300/400

v1.0.0.86 - 2010-06-01

•Fixed a bug with the tooltip for Lay Waste to display the correct Ability Power coefficient

v1.0.0.75 - 2010-02-24

•Updated the icon for Death Defied

v1.0.0.70 - 2010-01-13

•Lay Waste Range increased to 875 from 825
•Lay Waste Mana cost decreased to 20/28/36/44/52 from 24/32/40/48/54
•Base Armor Per Level increased to 3.5 from 3.0

v1.0.0.63 - 2009-12-17

• Requiem no longer reveals Karthus to enemies when cast
• Basic Attack Projectile Speed increased to 1200 from 800
• Lay Waste Ability Power coefficient increased to .3/.6 from .25/.5
• Lay Waste Damage increased to 40/60/80/100/120 (x2) from 35/55/75/95/115
• Defile Ability Power coefficient increased to .25 from .2

v1.0.0.61 - 2009-12-02

•Lay Waste Ability Power ratio increased to .25/.5 from .2/.4

v1.0.0.52 - 2009-11-11

• Lay Waste Ability Power Ration is now correct
• Fixed a bug with Wall of Pain where it was slowing units 2 second after the particle had faded


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Do you think Karthus is OP?

No. He is very strong, but not overpowered. He got nerfed a lot and can be countered easily, in Lane and in the Jungle.

I am constantly loosing with Karthus

You need to play Karthus as much as possible to master him completely. Hitting an enemy with Lay Waste is very difficult in some cases. You need to practise this. Master yourself, master the enemy!

What champions are you playing beside Karthus?
Will you create guides for playing them?

I am always jungling. Nocturne and Lee Sin are very nice champions. I won´t make a guide for Lee Sin, because I haven´t mastered him perfectly yet (In my opinion he is the most difficult champion in the game) and there are a lot of good guides already. But I already made a Nocturne Guide.

Who is the best jungler?

At the moment there is no single dominationg jungler. Lee Sin, Skarner, Maokai and Dr. Mundo are the best right now, in my opinion.

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I hope you enjoyed my guide! Feel free to correct me, if I did anything wrong. Leave a comment and I will answer.