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Karthus Build Guide by Klarry300

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Klarry300

Karthus - The Book of Death (Your source of knowledge)

Klarry300 Last updated on September 27, 2011
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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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

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Hello and welcome to my Karthus guide. This guide is an overlook and in-depth guide to the champion Karthus. The reason i started to write this guide is because i couldn't find any other guide that i thought were satisfyingly made, so i decided to make one. I strongly recommend that you read the whole guide if you think you need to, even if you are a beginner or an expert i hope you will enjoy reading it and learn something from it.

Also if you find anything in the guide that you think could be better or different, please make a comment. Constructive critisism FTW!

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If your wondering, the banner is made by me and i know it isn't all that good, but anyway.


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Chapter I: Why Karthus?

So why would you want to play Karthus in the first place? Well here's a list of what his often known as:

    Exceptional farmer
    God of harassment
    Global ultimate (hits it target no matter of distance)
    Gets a lot of gold
    Very strong damage output
    AOE Slow
    Reduces magic resist with his Wall of Pain
    Even if he's focused and killed, he can still deal damage with his passive
    Really fun to play

Okay, so Karthus is all that? Then why doesn't everyone play him?
    Squishy champion (Can't take much damage)
    Skill-shot based damage through Lay Waste
    Hard to master
    Pisses people off every game with his ultimate (aka Their going to hate you!)
    Actually pretty item-dependant, although it's depending on how you build

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Chapter II: Lore & Base Stats

The vast quantities of physical magic that were consumed and destroyed during Valoran's numerous Rune Wars have scarred much of Valoran. Many locations far from civilization have been morphed into hazardous and dangerous locales. The Howling Marsh is one of these places, and the self-appointed overlord of this land is the lich known as Karthus. It is thought that Karthus was a mage who, in life, was foolish enough to enter the fetid waters seeking his fortune, and that he was forever transformed by whatever dark magic permeates the swamp. Karthus now rules over his swampy dominion with an iron (albeit skeletal) fist. Visitors are not welcome, and those who are not scared away by the lich's terrible power most likely end up as one of the undead themselves... skeletons and zombies in Karthus' growing army of eternal servants. On the darkest of nights, Karthus is said to sing the tales of those who have succumbed to the swamp, past and present.
Karthus' tenure in the League of Legends is one of the more unusual ones in the history of the League. First, it is highly unusual that a lich who was known for isolation and hatred of life would even be a willing part of an organization which promoted the preservation of life. Next, Karthus specifically eschews the accrual of power and influence gained through service to the League; he is essentially an unpaid volunteer. This behavior is completely different than what his life outside of the League would have onlookers believe. Karthus has never spoken about his intentions in being a champion of the League, and in fact becomes quite agitated when asked about it. In the interests of not aggravating a lich, most sensible people subsequently drop the issue.

"Come visit my home, and I shall sing a dirge of your life as it once was." –- Karthus

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Base Stats

Base stats for Karthus

Health 390 (+75)
Mana 270 (+61)
Attack Damage 42.2 (+3.25)
Attack Speed 0.625 (+2.11%)
Range 450
Health Regen. 5.5 (+0.55)
Mana Regen. 6.5 (+0.6)
Armor 11 (+3.5)
Magic Res. 30 (+0)
Movement Speed 310

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Chapter III: Runes & Masteries

Primary Runes
Greater Seal of Replenishment


As a AP caster, your main damage source comes from spells. These runes will increase your damage the whole game through and is the best marks for Karthus according to me.


MP5 Seals will allow you to use your spells more freely, and is vital to be able to harass and farm properly with Lay Waste. Though, it is optional to pick defensive runes as armor or MR since Karthus is so squishy, but if you do your positioning right and play smart, mp5
seals will be optimal for you.


Most Karthus builds lack CDR since AP/Mp5 is more necessary than CDR. Still, CDR is very good and will increase your damage output and lower the cooldown on your ultimate, resulting in more kills. The reason i pick CDR per level is because i don't think you need that early CDR that much, and you will really leveling up fast with a mid lane so i just think they synergize better with Karthus.

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Tier 1: We take 3 points in Good Hands since it lets us be up and living more, and it's alot better than Perseverence since the % increase is so small, it's a waste of mastery points. I put 1 point in it because there is nothing else to take, and 1 points outshines the others anyway.

Tier 2: Awareness for extra XP, you are going to want your ultimate ASAP and it's also good for getting ahead in the lvls. I put 2 points in Expanded Mind , this is viable since you can get 1% movement speed in Quickness if you'd want the movement speed. I tend to like a balance between these, and the mana you get from this will help a bit on your Archangel's.

Tier 3: 1 point in Greed gives us a small gold boost, and Meditation helps our mana issues a bit.

Tier 4: 2 points in Quickness helps us get around with the usually slow Karthus. Viable if you want another point in it, read Tier 2:s explanation. Blink of an Eye for improving our escape and catch abilities with Flash.

Tier 5: 3 points in Intelligence gives well needed CDR. Always take this!

Tier 6: Last point in the tree goes to Presence of the Master . To use our summoners spells more often is a truly awesome mastery.

Tier 1: 3 points in Archmage's Savvy gives us more ability power per lvl, even though it's not that much. Put a point in Deadliness since there is nothing else to worth taking.

Tier 2: Sorcery is taken here for even more CDR and to be able to take our next mastery.

Tier 3: The last mastery point goes to Archaic Knowledge . 15% Magic Penetration? Yes, please! Makes your spells hit for more and MR is easier to play against.

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Chapter IV: Skills

Death Defied: Karthus passive is something many players pick him for, but in my opinion, it isn't all that good. Many people know you will be dangerous even upon death and run away. Anyway, this is a great passive letting you avenge yourself and pick up kills even after death. Even if you have this, don't think your Tryndamere and run in, the enemies will stay away from you and you will fail. Use this as your ace up the sleeve, and be smart how you position yourself before dying.

Lay Waste: This skill is your main source of damage. It pops an explosion at your cursor's position, and does more damage if it hits single targets. Spam this skill, at all times! This is what makes you a GOD of harassment and farming!!! Charge up your Tear of the Goddess, this item must have been made to synergize with this spell.

You're going to want to max out this first.

Tips and Tricks
  • Calculate how your enemies move. Most enemies will react when they hear the sound and step backwards, so it can be smart to place it slightly behind them.
  • Remember that it does double damage to single targets. Try not to hit minions with it if you are nuking an enemy champion.
  • To learn how to place is skill is vital to playing Karthus. Practice a lot with it, and you will be rewarded for your patience.

Wall of Pain: // explanation of skill ability here

You're going to want to max out this last.

Tips and Tricks
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here

Defile: // explanation of skill ability here

You're going to want to max out [SKILL ABILITY HERE] before/after/equally [SKILL ABILITY HERE] and before/after/equally [SKILL ABILITY HERE].

Tips and Tricks
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here

Requiem: // Read more in the Requiem chapter.

You're going to want to max out [SKILL ABILITY HERE] before/after/equally [SKILL ABILITY HERE] and before/after/equally [SKILL ABILITY HERE].

Tips and Tricks
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here
  • // state a tip/trick of the ability here

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Chapter V: Requiem

Well since Karthus pretty much revolves around Requiem, i decided to make an own chapter for this truly awesome skill.

Just watch this awesomeness

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Chapter : Summoner Spells


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Chapter VI: Items & Builds

Item Building

Starting Items

or +

The by far best starting item for Karthus is the Sapphire Crystal. Why, you wonder? Well, it let's you use your abilities more than choices like Boots of Speed and Meki Pendant, + that it builds into a Tear of the Goddess, one of the most important items to get on Karthus. But wait!, Meki Pendant also builds into Tear of the Goddess. The simple reason i pick Sapphire Crystal instead is because Karthus doesn't need much more mana regen than from his masteries and runes, because of his Defile which will give you back mana each time you kill a creep, and you will be able to spam Lay Waste more.

Pick Boots of Speed if you can't live without the mobility, i know alot of players simply always take this, though i don't recommend it since it isn't optimal for Karthus.

First time back


When i have 945 gold i usually go back to buy Tear of the Goddess and boots. If you have to go back earlier, just buy boots and save up for the tear. The Tear of the Goddess is simply put the best item for Karthus in my opinion. You will be able to get your mana bonus up in the roof before mid game even has started. You won't have to worry about your mana - you also get back from Defile, remember? Farm, farm farm, and you will rule the rest of the game like a boss.

End of Early Game


If you have farmed properly and got some kills with your ultimate as you should, buying Rabadon's Deathcap will let you become a truly fearsome opponent to face. That's right, a Deathcap even before mid game! This badboy will boost your damage more then any other item. Laugh at your enemies as you punish them for opposing you, and Requiem them to give them the fastest way to the grave.

Into Mid Game

This item is just awesome. Since you have spammed so much spells and got your Tear of the Goddess bonus hopefully at least 600 mana, i usually have around 700-800 when i get this depending on how well the game goes.

Summary of the build so far

This is the core in the build. It should look like this almost every game, since it is the most efficient core build i can imagine for Karthus. But now, we have to make a decision upon our next item.

Deciding your path

Im facing:
Only Physical Damage
SPACE Only Magical Damage

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Chapter VII: Gameplay

Game on!

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Chapter VIII: Different Ways to Karthus

So you discovered that Karthus can be played in other ways than Solo Mid? Well yes, of course you can. But that doesn't by ANY MEANS mean you SHOULD. Anyway, below i'll show you some different ways to play him.

Jungle Karthus

I Recommend someone's jungle guide;

Solo Top Karthus

Solo-laning with Karthus is a hard business and should only be done by an experienced player.

Bot Karthus

Laning bot with a teammate may seem like the best choice, because you can help your teammate alot with your wall and outstanding harrassment. But remember, when you are 2 in a lane, you'll lose valuable XP. Since we want Requiem as fast as possible and because it hits ALL enemy champions, a solo-lane is much more efficient.

Anyway, here's a list of champions that Karthus would benefit from laning with:

Supports like: Sona, Janna

Tanks with CC like; Amumu, Alistar, Nasus

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Chapter X: Wards


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Chapter XI: Karthus vs. Champion X

Need a tip for countering a champion? Don't worry, here is a list of champions you probably would be facing and how to play against them.

Help, im facing;


SPACE Karthus
Miss Fortune

Twisted Fate


Champion sub-name:
followed by a more in-depth explanation of the champion

The Fist of Shadow:
Until level 6, this shouldn't be too hard. Harrass the hell out of her and zone her so she won't get any minion kills, if you constantly move she won't catch up on you. Be aware when she gets her ulti Shadow Dance. Try to foresee when she's gonna jump at you and put on Defile when she gets close. Save your wall to put it right in front of you if you are being chased down to slow her down, but it can be really tricky since she can jump right trough it.

The Dark Child:
When you are facing Annie, you should be alert and passive. Try to harrass her with Lay Waste as much as possible without getting hit by her stun combo. Remember to farm well too, you ain't gonna get alot of kills on her. When her ulti is up, dont get close to her. Call for a gank and you should be fine.

The Cryopheonix:
Anivia is a tough opponent to face, due to her early game damage and the fact that she goes into an egg upon death. Try to farm alot and avoid her Flash Frost and call for a gank. She is very slow, so slowing her down will help you get in alot of Lay Waste. Don't bother using Requiem if her passive is up, check her timer constantly.