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Tristana Build Guide by GuideToSuccess

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League of Legends Build Guide Author GuideToSuccess

My Beautiful Tristana

GuideToSuccess Last updated on June 21, 2013
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ADC Role
Ranked #6 in
ADC Role
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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 0


Utility: 9

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Hello! I'm am that which has no life. So... I hope you'll hear me out before you dismiss this build on the grounds that it's not at all like the builds used by the pros (yet). I apologize in advance for not presenting the same old build with merely a slight variation on all the other regurgitated and hackneyed builds. But the real problem is that those builds are stupid and boring -- and they don't really play to Tristana's strengths.

But what are her strengths? Well, I'm glad you asked! Gather around and let this creepy old man break it all down for you. First of all, you'll note that she doesn't have a damage steroid. If she did... this would be good justification for building up her critical strike chance. So, then, you may notice her high AP ratios. And it's true... they are high. But, unfortunately, she has very long cooldowns. Isn't that sad? But if she's not building crit damage, and not able to spam her AP abilities, what does she have? Well... it just so happens that she has the best Attack Speed steroid in the game.

Now... what is Attack Speed good for? That's right... on-hit procs! You get a gold star! Your mother and I are very proud of you! In particular, she wields the BotRK and the Black Cleaver as well as anyone (if not better when her AS is maxed out). She also procs the Phage quickly without having to upgrade it into a Frozen Mallet right away. And she also keeps the passive Incinerate from SotEL constantly applied to her targets. And all the passive procs from these items are, of course, in addition to the plain AD they give -- which is pretty high by itself (but immensely better in combination with the procs). I'll elaborate further in the "Items" section.

Once again... I hope you'll think about this build rationally and don't trash it merely out of cynical habit. I've had many ideas for various builds for various champs, but this is the first one I've put forward in years and honestly believe that it is VERY strong. As, probably, one of the oldest players in the League of Legends community... I spend way too much time thinking about this game and am hopeful that this time I've spent, manifesting in this particular build, might actually effect high level play. It would really be a thrill for this old man to see this build used in professional competition -- and I truly believe it's that strong. Won't somebody please forward this to Doublelift?

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Pros / Cons with this build...


Long-range DPS -- (703 attack range at level 18.)
Maxed-out AS with this build -- (Able to apply more on-hit effects than any other champion.)*
She absolutely SHREDS tanks with this build -- (BotRK + BC = GG.)
She pushes incomparably with this build -- (Items + Explosive Shot.)
Her Rocket Jump makes her highly mobile -- (CDR provided by SotEL & BC.)
She's strong throughout the game with this build.
After Runaan's Hurricane she can slow and apply other procs to 3 targets at once.
She's beefier than the typical ADC (Frozen Mallet and Black Cleaver provide 900 HP.)
She can self-peel with Buster Shot or BotRK's active.
She's cute as a button and as fierce as an AK-47.


Vulnerable to hard CC.
She seems to have a thing for Teemo.
Her attack range at level 18 is only 703.
This build was conceived by a no-name scrub.
This build isn't like all the others.
There are a limited number of pretty pictures in this guide.

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This rune set is pretty basic and can be customized more to your liking. I prefer Armor Penetration marks, but more AD might be better in some situations. The defensive seals and glyphs work well on top of the 900 HP she's getting from the Black Cleaver and Frozen Mallet. The movement speed quints are probably essential because, with her short legs, she's one of the slower champions in the league.

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These masteries are fairly standard for a non-crit AD champion. I'll mention the importance of just a few. Starting with...

The Offensive Tree

Fury This mastery will put her right at the tippy top of maximum attack speed (2.5 attacks per second) when the build is complete and Rapid Fire is activated.

Sorcery Provides her with an extra bit of CDR for a total of 24% with the Black Cleaver & SotEL.

Destruction This will allow her tear through towers as if they were made out of cardboard.

Weapon Expertise & Sunder will help her deal with any opponents who stack armor.

I prefer Havoc over Brute Force because much of her damage will be coming from procs.

In the Utility tree...

Wanderer Is important because of her low base movement speed.

Runic Affinity Is good because she'll frequently be taking buffs from enemy champions.

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Unique Skills

Draw a Bead This passive is nothing fancy, but it's pretty good nevertheless. It increases her attack range by 9 every level and maxes out at 703 when she reaches level 18. This will allow her to lay down the smack down from a relatively safe distance throughout the game.

Rapid Fire Q --> This is what makes Tristana so beastly. It's the strongest AS steroid in the game. THIS is where her strength lies. THIS is what an ADC build for her should be built around. THIS is what allows her to proc so many on-hit effects -- BotRK, SotEL, Black Cleaver, and Phage/Frozen Mallet. If she had AD steroid it would make more sense to build crit on her. Or if any of her abilities scaled and did more harm with high AD items... it would make sense to build AD & crit on her. But she doesn't have AD steroids and she has no AD ratios on her abilities. Sure, she still needs some AD (and she's getting a good amount with this build) but it's her AS buff which allows her to proc powerful on-hit effects like no other champion. You also want to activate this when you need to clear waves quickly (perhaps to lifesteal) and when you are melting towers. (At level 5 this ability provides a 90% AS buff and, with this build, it is on a 15.2 second cooldown).

Rocket Jump W --> This is a great ability. It provides offensive and defensive mobility. When it lands near an enemy it not only damages them (250 HP at level 5), but it also slows them by 60% for 2.5 seconds (at all levels). Over the course of that time she can AA her opponents 5 times (when using this build with her Q activated). It's a fantastic ability for initiating a one on one fight, but you typically won't want to initiate team fights with it. Whenever Tristana kills an opponent the cooldown resets and she can immediately jump onto another target or jump away to safety. And, in general, if she needs to get out of a hair situation it provides her with a great escape -- the range of this jump is 900 and she can leap over walls with it. (At level 5 this ability, with this build, has a 10.64 second cooldown [unless reset as mentioned previously]).

Explosive Shot E --> This ability has both a passive and active element to it. Both are useful. The passive aspect makes "Enemies explode when slain by Tristana's basic attacks, dealing magic damage to enemies within 75 range." Even without proper itemization this ability, particularly in conjunction with her Q, allows her to clear waves and push very effectively. The active is on a long cooldown (12.6 seconds with this build) and does mediocre damage. But it's primary usefulness is because it "Rends the target enemy with shrapnel, reducing healing and health regeneration by 50% and dealing magic damage over 5 seconds." This is great against champions like Dr. Mundo who have a strong healing component or champions like Aatrox who depend greatly upon their ability to lifesteal.

Buster Shot R --> Her ultimate does a decent amount of damage (500 at level 5) and has a relatively low cooldown (45.6 seconds at level 5 with this build). While it can be used to add burst damage and finish off a low health opponent, you have to be careful with it. This is because it knocks the targeted opponent (and their nearby allies) back 1000 units. So if you don't knock your opponents into a wall or you team... you might actually help them escape. It's a bit tricky that way -- potentially useful, but also potentially capable of robbing you and your team of kills. Since she does a ton of damage with her high-speed auto attacks, the best use of Buster Shot may be as a self peel. If a bruiser is focusing you and is closer than you'd like... knock his a** back 1000 units and see if he feels like coming back at you again. If you can't finish him off at that point your Rocket Jump should be off cooldown by then and you can simply leap away to safety. As the great MC Hammer once said... "You can't touch this." (At level 5, with this build, Buster Shot has a 45.6 second cooldown).

Overall her abilities provide a lot of great utility. But the centerpiece of her skill set is the attack speed buff from Rapid Fire which really allows her to put the hurt on the opposing team.

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Skill Sequence

Start with a point in Rocket Jump (to attack or escape in level 1 team fights) and then prioritize thusly: R > Q > E > W. It's so simple I'm not even going to include the little chart in this section.

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Speaking of simple... I forgot to mention summoner spells. Take flash and ignite. I'm not going to explain again, like nearly every other guide does, what these spells do or why they are useful. If you don't know by now... you're probably going to help bury this guide in downvotes anyway. But if you do know what these summoner spell do and why they are useful... I strongly suggest congratulating yourself in the comment section and giving his guide an upvote!

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The items I'm about to discuss all work very well with each other and with Tristana's Q Rapid Fire. As I've mentioned before... this is primarily an on-hit AS build but I think you'll find that it provides a substantial amount of raw AD as well. I have not seen any other guide which recommend more than half of these items as part of Tristana's basic ideal build. But I truly believe I'm on to something here and I hope you'll consider my reasoning while also considering the way these items work so perfectly together. I was going to list as a "con" the relative lack of flexibility in regard to what items should be purchased on Tristana, but I really don't think that's a weakness. I believe these items are strong against almost any team comp. And if enough of you are kind enough to upvote this guide I have little doubt that this could end up being the standard Tristana build -- viable in even the highest levels of play. The main potential divergence from this build consists in the final defensive item. And I will address that in due order.


Starting Items

Boots of Speed 3x Health Potion and a Mana Potion
The boots are a good idea to start with because Tristana has fairly low MS. The potions are plainly just to keep her sustained in lane for as long as possible so that she can keep last hitting. If you're laning with a support who has powerful heals, like Sona or Soraka, the you can start with a Doran's Blade if you so desire. But I generally recommend starting with the boots.

First Back

Vampiric Scepter and consumables as needed. Sustain is the name of the game in the early part of most matches. While it's nice to get a bunch of kills early on... that just not always possible for any number of reasons. So, at the very least, you should try to stay in lane as long as you can -- and as close to top health as possible. Grab a Health Potion if you are getting zoned (as unlikely as that might be) and get a Mana Potion if you have trouble managing your mana. And, if you can, get a sight ward every now and then. If you didn't start with boots of speed you should probably get them on your first back if you can afford it.

Early Core Items

After you get your Vampiric Scepter on your first trip back to the base you'll want to get your upgraded boots. As with most ADCs, Berserker's Greaves are the standard -- Tristana is no different in this regard. They will help her overall DPS (working toward maxed AS when the build is complete) and will help compensate for here relatively slow movement speed.

Next you'll want to get your Spirit of the Elder Lizard. This is a cost efficient item even without the passives and it provides some great stats for Tristana. (+35 Attack Damage +14 Health Regen per 5 seconds +7 Mana Regen per 5 seconds +10% cooldown reduction. UNIQUE Passive - Butcher: Damage dealt to monsters increased by 30%. UNIQUE Passive - Basic attacks and spells that do not inflict damage-over-time deal 6-40 (Based on Level) bonus true damage over 3 seconds on hit.) As with blue Ezrael, "Butcher" is largely wasted on her but I believe she wields this item even more effectively. The "Incinerate" passive, while seemingly inconsequential, will be applied constantly and to three different targets after you've build Runaan's Hurricane. Even before that though... SotEL will allow you st start pushing hard as soon as you purchase it.

Next I like to get a Phage. The extra health ir provides is more meaningful earlier in the game before your opponents are capable of doing "tons of damage." The 20 AD is ok for the price and the passive Icy will proc evermore frequently as you level up Rapid Fire and add AS items. In most instances I recommend upgrading this to a Frozen Mallet as your final item.

The Brutalizer adds +25 AD, +10 Armor Pen, and provides 10% cooldown. It's a nice item for the early/mid stages of a game and you will eventually make your Black Cleaver with this item.

Final Items

Blade of the Ruined King is a very powerful item which works best on champions with high attack speed. Tristana will have maximum AS before this build is completed. Although this item works great on health stacking tanks, it does a pretty good job of ripping through squishy champions too -- especially with your other items. This builds out of your Vampiric Scepter and provides Tristana with all the sustain she'll need. BotRK's active is a mini-nuke which not only deals 15% of the targets maximum health as damage, but it also steals 30% of their movement speed and gives it to Tristana for 4 seconds. The passive on-hit effect of this item deals 5% of the targets current health. It also provides: +25 Attack Damage +40% Attack Speed +15% Life Steal. It's nice. And it''ll be nicer when it's hitting 3 targets at once after you get Runaan's Hurricane.

The Black Cleaver is another tank shredding item which also does excellent damage to squishy targets. The stats it provides to Tristana are fantastic: +200 Health +50 Attack Damage +10% Cooldown Reduction UNIQUE: +10 Armor Penetration Passive: Dealing physical damage to an enemy champion reduces their Armor by 6.25% for 4 seconds. This effect stacks up to 4 times. When her AS is maxed out she can apply all four stacks of the passive in about 1.5 seconds! And since she'll have Runaan's Hurricane, she'll can apply those debuffs to 3 opponents at a time. Ouch.

Runaan's Hurricane provides +70% attack speed and pushes Tristana's attack speed to the limit when her Q is activated. But it's the passive which makes this item so incredibly powerful in this build: UNIQUE Passive: Your basic attacks fire minor bolts at 2 nearby targets, each dealing 10 + 50% of your Attack Damage. These apply on-hit effects. OMG, there is "rocket in my pocket." That's right... this item makes it so that all your procs, from all your items (and the passive from Explosive Shot) can proc on 3 targets simultaneously! 3x the passive from BotRK, 3x the debuff from Black Cleaver, 3x the "Icy" effect from Phage/Frozen Mallet, 3x the Red Buff effect (whenever she has it), and 3 times the chance to proc Explosive Shot. This is on top of doing 50% of your total AD to two extra targets! And every other item besides your boots are providing a decent amount of AD! When you get this item... waves of enemy minions simply disappear in front of you. And in team fights your DPS and utility is inevitably effecting the whole of the enemy team. AND AND AND... because your cooldown on Rocket Jumps resets for every assist you earn... any stray bolt from Runaan's that hits an enemy which gets killed will reset your ability. And this, subsequently, is a PentaKill in the making.

Frozen Mallet is the final item in the standard build I'm presenting here. But, really, most games will be over by the time you complete this item. Did I tell you what Runaan's Hrricane does for Tristana? Anyway... Frozen Mallet builds out of Phage and makes the "Icy" proc 100% of the time. It also adds a total of 700 HP. This item makes Tristana beefier, adds to AD, and with the help of Runaan's potentially perma-slows 3 enemy champions at a time. This is my preferred final item.

Alternatively, if you are being focused hard and have plenty of other slows on your team... you might choose instead to sell your phage and equip Tristana with a Guardian Angel. This item can dramatically improve your survivability. After she revives from its passive she can then decide whether to keep applying more DPS or to instead Rocket Jump to safety. I should add that when the GA's passive is on its 5 minute cooldown you might consider selling it to buy the Frozen Mallet after all. That's most likely a good idea if you can afford it at the time. Then, when the 5 minutes have passed, you can buy another Guardian Angel.

At some point Tristana should also upgrade her Berserker's Greaves with the Encantment: Furor. It's also reasonable after the complete build to sell Berserker's Greaves and instead get more defensive boots. She won't really miss the +25% AS at that time and defensive stats might be more useful at this point.

Regarding Tristana's On-Hit Capabilities*

In the "Pros" section I made the claim that Tristana is "Able to apply more on-hit effects than any other champion." I stand by this claim and believe it to be true. Even if another champion built exactly the same, she'd still have the proc from Explosive Shot. And even if another champion also had an on-hit ability she'd still be able to achieve a higher attack speed. So let me be specific... it is my contention that Tristana at level 18, with the full build presented here (including Runaan's Hurricane) is able to apply more on-hit effects over a 2 second period than any other champion. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong on this point.

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With most champions I try to emphasize getting a good amount of CS. With Draw A Bead, Explosive Shot, and Rapid Fire activated... Tristana is one of the best farmers in the game. In fact, even in the early game you have to be cautious about pushing too hard with her. As with most champions, you should usually be trying to last hit minions in the early game. If you get a kill and/or want to head back to base... by all means start blasting away until your are at the enemy tower and the recall. Just try to keep an eye on your river ward as you're pushing to see if the enemy jungler is coming to gank you (but past level 6 you'll be pretty safe with Buster Shot to knock them back and/or Rocket Jump to make a clean escape.

Later in the game, with your most of your build complete, a couple of auto-attacks can clear whole waves. Farming and pushing will be easy as pie at that point.

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Team Work

Before Minions Spawn

In level one team fights your Rocket Jump should be ready to escape or to attack an isolated enemy. As with other stages of the game, however, you don't want to be the first to jump into the fray. Let your tanks initiate then leap in to deal damage and slow, and then leap again (if you need to) because your Rocket Jump cooldown was just reset.

Laning Phase

Although I believe Tristana is more than capable of holding down a solo lane, as an ADC the current meta suggests that you'll probably be laning with a support. If you're with an aggressive support, like Taric or Blitzcrank you can follow up on their CC with your Rocket Jump and quite possibly score an early kill. And that won't really change much in most small skirmishes as the game proceeds. If you are laning with a support who has less CC you might have to play morepassively -- but try not to miss the opportunity to score a kill when your support uses exhaust. If you can win an equal exchange with any single opponent, the damage and slow provided by Rocket Jump should be more than enough to ensure their demise.

When your jungler pings you with notice that they're about to come gank your lane... stop pushing. Try not to look conspicuous, but let the enemy push if possible. Then your jungle can come backstab them, apply CC, and you can then follow up with your combo and auto attacks. Easy. Hopefully your team will know where the enemy wards are so that your jungler can avoid them and proceed to gank with ease.

Dragon & Baron

Not much to say here that hasn't been said a thousand times before. Try to assist your jungler and the rest of your team whenever they want to make an attempt on Nashor or the Dragon. Hopefully this means that the surrounding areas are warded. A good time to attempt these objectives is when some of your enemies are respawning, your team is all alive, and the lanes are fairly pushed. Because of the passive on SotEL, Tristana can do a tremendous amount of damage to these monsters in a very short amount of time. Later in the game she can very easily solo the Dragon.

Team Fights

Most of the time Tristana should be right behind your team's tanks providing non-stop DPS with her long range auto attacks. After your tanks fully initiate you can Rocket Jump into the weakened enemies and melt them like butter. Her basic combo at that point would look something like... WEQ (& R if they show surprising resilience and start to really hurt you) followed by incessant auto attacks. When you get a kill you'll quite possible want to Rocket Jump again immediately onto another weakened enemy that is trying to escape. Rinse and repeat.

It goes without saying that you'll ideally want to be targeting the enemy team's primary damage dealers. However, it's reasonable to expect that they, too, will also be standing behind their tanks. If you can't get to them don't worry about shredding their bruisers and tanks -- this won't be a problem for my beautiful Tristana.

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Well... that's all folks! I hope you've found my guide to be somewhat unique and agreeable. I apologize again for not providing many pretty pictures and simple diagrams. But I was trying to present substance over form and looked all over and didn't see this build promoted anywhere else. If you like any aspect of this guide... the originality, the stale humor, or the verbosity... I hope you'll consider giving it an upvote -- and maybe you'll even forward it to your favorite pro! That's really what I'd like... it would really be cool to see this build used in the hands of a professional. I'm sure most of them are as stubborn as everybody else, but if they give it a chance I'm confident they'll have great success with it. And I hope you have great success with it too!