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Build Guide by Raziki

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Raziki

Maokai - Tanking Like A Tree In A Hurricane

Raziki Last updated on April 15, 2011
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Top Lane
Ranked #22 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
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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: 0

Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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**Build Started** - 4/4/11
**Build Released** - 4/7/11

4/15/11 - Edited to Require Comment to Vote.

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**DISCLAIMER** - Never knock a build until you try it, naturally. Honestly give the build a few goes before casting your Judgment upon it. It might have more health than you thought. [/badgarenjoke].

This is my first build on MOBAFire, so it might take me some time to get this all nice and pretty like other builds are.

That aside, this is a build for tanking as Maokai. This is mainly going to go over what his skills do, how and when to use them, along with your Item builds and what you should probably do pending on certain situations.

So without further ado, let's dig into how to Tank Like A Tree In A Hurricane.

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Skill Summary

We'll begin with Maokai's skills.

"Each time a champion near Maokai casts a spell, he gains a charge of Magical Sap. When he has 5 charges, his next melee attack drains energy from his target, healing Maokai for 7% of his maximum health."

Throughout the entire game, this innate ability is amazing. Granted at early game it won't get a lot of love, but towards mid-late game when there will be a lot of team fights, you'll generally be healing like crazy with this. The heal amount is merely based off a percentage, so the healing is amazing no matter what, even if it's only 7%. Like I said, in team fights it will truly shine.

Arcane Smash

"Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks nearby enemy champions back and sends an arcane shockwave forward, dealing 50/95/140/185/230(+40% of Ability Power) magic damage and slowing his enemies by 20/27/34/41/48% for 2 seconds."

Arcane Smash is the second skill that we max out. The reason I urge this skill is the knock-back and the slow. At Rank 5, Arcane Smash nearly half's enemy movement speeds for 2 seconds, which is very excellent in case the fight goes south and your team needs to retreat, or to get the enemy from retreating effectively.
While the utility of the skill is extremely helpful, it's damage isn't too shabby either, effectively capable of dealing 230 magic damage around him and in a line, before MR is taken into effect. Keep in mind that while the damage might be the low and range semi-limited, the utility is what makes Arcane Smash worth it.

"Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to an enemy champion. The target takes 80/110/140/170/200(+80% of Ability Power) magic damage and is rooted in place for 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 seconds."

This right here is Maokai's greatest skill, Vengeful Maelstrom aside. This skill is a very good initiating skill, and getting maxed out at level 9 makes mid-game team fights wonderful. You can lock down a carry/dps from their team and from escaping, you can keep a support or a tank away from their team, or even snare someone in Vengeful Maelstrom long enough to set it off for a good chunk of magic damage.
The skill itself has a variety of defensive uses as well, such as snaring someone chasing a teammate. The main targets for this skill outside of ganking and chasing should be tanks and melee champs(the exception to this rule is Master Yi because of Meditate). Most support champs will have range to get to help their teammates, like Soraka, and any ranged dps can just sit there and throw off any amount of skills, plus casters will most-likely have Zhonya's Hourglass, so snaring them for the team to bash will just be a bit futile.

"Maokai hurls a sapling, dealing 40/75/110/145/180(+40% of Ability Power) magic damage on impact. The sapling becomes implanted into the ground, warding a nearby area for 25 seconds. When enemies approach, the sapling attacks, exploding in an arcane blast that deals 80/130/180/230/280(+60% of Ability Power) magic damage to enemies."

While the amazing damage from this skill might be temping, this being his strongest skill aside from Vengeful Maelstrom, it's not worth the ranking up. Why? Because you're a TANK! The saplings last a constant 25 seconds and have the same sight range throughout all the ranks. On top of that, the skill gets more and more costly throughout it's ranks, being the most expensive skill in the end compared to Arcane Smash and Twisted Advance.
The thing about this skill though is it's utility, which allows Maokai to scout brushes and ward them. This sole factor is the main reason I get it as our starting spell. But the upgrades aren't worth it for the damage and the cost increase. His tank build benefits better from Arcane Smash(no cost increase, damage increase, slow increase) and Twisted Advance(lesser cost increase, damage increase, and increase on the snare duration).

"Maokai shields his allies by drawing power from hostile spells and attacks, reducing non-tower damage done to allied champions in the area by 20%. Maokai can prolong the effect as long as he has mana to spend on it. When the effect ends, Maokai unleashes the absorbed energy to deal 100/150/200(+50% of Ability Power)(+2 bonus damage per damage absorbed) damage to enemies within the vortex. Maximum 200/250/300 bonus damage."

Maokai's ultimate is merely that: Ultimate. Reducing 20% damage from non-tower sources for as long as you can keep it up, along with dealing extra damage for each amount of damage reduced. The skill also has a short cooldown, meaning that you can reactivated it quickly in the event of false starts, crippling low-hp enemy champions, the enemy team fleeing outside the circle, etc.
The main drawback to Vengeful Maelstrom is that it drains a lot of mana to keep it active. 4 times out of 5 I see other Maokai's just leaving their ult on for whatever reason.
If the enemy team clearly is going to run out of your ultimate, activate it to deal damage.
If they're already out of it, end it so you aren't wasting mana.
If you're soon running out of mana, and Clarity is on cooldown, end it. It's better to still have the mana for Arcane Smash/ Twisted Advance to escape rather than have you run on no mana at all.

With the skill descriptions and usage out of the way, let's move onto...

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Summoner Spells

Summoner spells are a key part to any game and any build. Certain spells have certain synergies with different champions and different roles.

We use Clarity because of Vengeful Maelstrom. The spell allows us to extend the duration of Maokai's ultimate by a significant amount, especially in the heat of battle when most champions' mana will be low.

To coincide with Clarity we take a point in Insight, allow your mana replenishment to be the same for all allies.

Overall, excellent spell for Maokai and as a mana-based tank.

Honestly no tank is a tank without Fortify. This spell protects all towers for a short period and causes them to rapid fire during that duration. With a point in Reinforce, the tower's attacks will Splash 50% damage while Fortify is active.

Having a summoner carry Fortify is a smart move for any team, pre-made or not; normal game or ranked.

This spell takes some getting used to, knowing when to time it right and the best moments to use it. The spell has a very long cooldown, so never go off wasting it.

Optimal substitute Spells for Fortify:

Ghost - Faster movement speed to help chase and snare an enemy. Also great for getting the hell out of dodge. If you do take Ghost, place the point from Good Hands to Haste, and take the point from Reinforce to Evasion.
Heal - Sometimes you end up low on health, ult on cooldown, and too much hate coming at you. Heal will be enough to survive long enough to retreat further, or stall for your ultimate. Additionally, this can very well be used to save an ally that's in Vengeful Maelstrom, since damage is already reduced inside of it. This is actually a really good substitute for Fortify since they share the same utility tree.
Cleanse - In the event that you want to prepare for a pure-CC team. This is actually a really good substitute for Fortify since they share the same utility tree.
Flash - Very situational, yet many options on when to use it. Move Reinforce to Evasion.

Spells to NEVER get as Tank Maokai:

Rally - Contrary to popular [/b]bel[/b]ief, this spell has its place on certain champs, but on the champs it doesn't, it's near useless, especially whenever you have better spells to pick from.
Exhaust - With Arcane Smash and Twisted Advance, you have enough slow and snare to be necessary. Plus any AD carry on your team is bound to have the spell anyway.
Ignite - Damage isn't your priority. Plus the latter reasoning for Exhaust.
Clairvoyance - You don't need to be dealing with creating map-awareness. You already have a skill-based ward.
Teleport - Aside from early game lane returning and situational map porting, this skill is just a waste. It's better to have the mana restoration of Clarity and the defensive power of Fortify. The only good spell that this would go well with is Revive.
Revive - Only good if you died first and you had Teleport to rush back into the battle super fast, assuming you have minions or a tower nearby the fight.
Smite - You're not jungling nor do you need to be sneaking minion kills in the lane.

Now that we've taken part of our Spells, let's move onto...

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The rune selection I've brought is simple.

Since Maokai doesn't have all that much health on his own, he benefits heavily from Health Runes.
So for Marks we get x9 Greater Mark of Health and x9 Greater Seal of Health. They give us the most health out of the basic runes.

Considering the build sequence for his items, Maokai doesn't have that much Magic Resist until later on.
Because of this, we get x9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and x3 Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist as they give us the most Magic Resist of all the rune types.

Runes are out of the way. Now we get to enter the realm of...

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Masteries are the most important part to a champion's build and how you build your mastery trees will determine how useful you are in that role you're determining.

You will take no points in the offensive tree. Tanking is your main goal. The only reason I could see taking any points into the offensive tree would be for the CDR and the Spell Pen., but the Utility tree has much more to offer for a tank.

We'll be taking 21 points into Defense:
3 points into Resistance and Hardness for the Magic Resist and the Armor.
Following that will be 3 points into Strength of Spirit, for increased Health Regen, and 3 points into Nimbleness, for the bit of dodge and the extra points needed to dump for Tenacity.
Next we'll put 3 points into Harden Skin for the reduced damage.
We'll pour 4 points into Veteran's Scars for bonus health.
One point into Reinforce to boost Fortify.
And finally the one point into Tenacity for 4% reduced damage. This 4% effectively makes Vengeful Maelstrom ignore nearly 1/4th of enemy damage while inside of it.

And then we have the Utility tree:
We place 3 points into Perseverance, increased Health and Mana Regen, and then 1 point into Good Hands, since we don't use Teleport nor Ghost. However, if you substitute Ghost in place of Fortify, take the point from Good Hands and move it to Haste.
Following up we'll place 4 points into Expanded Mind for the extra Mana to better fuel Vengeful Maelstrom, along with keeping him in the lane slightly longer with his skills early-game.
The final point we'll put into Insight. The reason it to help in team fights whenever you use Clarity to keep your Mana-Based teammates topped off on mana better than their team.

Now that Masteries are out of the way, we'll move on to the next big part...

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Core Build Sequence:

In-Depth Sequence:

At the start of the game, get Sapphire Crystal, 1 Health Potion, and 1 Mana Potion. After using the mana potion and running out of mana again, stay in the lane until you have at least 700g for Chain Vest. Return to the lane and remain there until you can buy Glacial Shroud.

Now that there's a pretty mana buff, start working on the boots. Buy Boots of Speed as soon as you can, and upgrading to Mercury's Treads whenever you hit 850g.

With the boots out of the way, we'll finish off Frozen Heart. Once you get 1250g, go back and get it.

Lastly, we're going to want to get Banshee's Veil. Buy Catalyst The Protector first for the boosted mana. If their AP is becoming a problem, get Negatron Cloak when availible, otherwise stay in the field until you can finally buy Banshee's Veil.

The final three items of the game honestly depend on what you're going against; however the best way to do it would be to go for Warmog's Armor since you already have a decent amount of Armor and Magic Resist. Next up being Force of Nature for the movement speed and the extra Magic Resist. Finally you'll get Thornmail for its passive and the bonus 100 Armor.
If their magic damage is still too heavy, rush out Force of Nature, following up with Warmog's Armor and Thornmail.
If their physical damage is too heavy, rush out Thornmail, following up with Warmog's Armor and Force of Nature.
If they have 4 or 5 AP champions, substitute Thornmail for either another Force of Nature, Quicksilver Sash if they have alot of CC and your Mercury's Treads aren't enough, or Abyssal Mask if the enemy team is stacking some magic resist and no one on your team already has it.
If they have 4 or 5 AD champions, substitute Force of Nature for Sunfire Cape and build Thornmail before it.
If 2 or more of them have built Madred's Bloodrazor, build Force of Nature and then Thornmail, finally substituting Warmog's Armor with either an Abyssal Mask, if the enemy team is stacking some magic resist and no one on your team already has it, or Rod of Ages if someone on your team already has Abyssal Mask.

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Closing Statements

That's just about it for this Maokai build. As I said in the intro, don't knock it until you try it. You won't be disappointed.

Comments are more than welcome. If I managed to miss anything that you think should be mentioned in here, or other options to the build that could be included, just drop a comment and I'll look into it. If I do decide to add it, I'll be more than happy with crediting you on adding that point.

Thank you for reading this guide, and I hope it was informative enough for you.