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Nidalee Build Guide by iggi

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League of Legends Build Guide Author iggi

my Nidalee

iggi Last updated on August 26, 2012
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Team 1

LeagueSpy Logo
Jungle Role
Ranked #12 in
Jungle Role
Win 52%
Get More Stats

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: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hello my name is Iggi and Nidalee is one of my favorite champions in League of Legends. Although I don't have the chance to play her as much as I would like, I always prefer her over other top champions, because of her intense gameplay.
I used to be a fanatic supporter of her AP build, until they changed her a bit. Then I tried AD Nidalee with great success and continued playing her that way ever since.
Nidalee's game-play involves 7 abilities with low cooldowns, that, if used correctly, can bring devastation to your opponents!

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Pros / Cons


  • Tanky
  • Can chase and finish off injured victims
  • Good solo-top with good sustain
  • Easy to win lane lane after 6
  • Merely ungankable
  • High mobility


  • Low mana and mana regen
  • Farm reliant
  • Lack of stun or other kind of CC
  • No AP scaling throughout the game

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My mastery setup is 21 - 9 - 0. In offense, I take every AD related masteries, while in defense, I pick some extra health ( Veteran's Scars ), while picking some armor and magic resist in the process.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

Greater Quintessence of Health

Concerning runes, I use 9 greater mark of desolation and 2 Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage for my offense, so that I have enough damage to successfully harass ans last hit. Then, I use 9 Greater Seal of Armor, 9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and 1 Greater Quintessence of Health for my defense, so as to have enough effective health for early and mid game.

With this rune setup (combined with my mastery selection above), I have the following stats at level 1:
  • 522 health
  • 60 attack damage
  • 21 armor penetration
  • 15 bonus armor (26 total)
  • 19 bonus magic resist (49 total)

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Abilities and their sequence

Prowl(Passive): This passive allows Nidalee to gain 15% extra movement when moving through brass. It's a very useful escape/chase tool!
Javelin Toss / Takedown(Q): In human form, this is a skill-shot nuke that deals increased magic damage the further your opponent is. In cougar form, it is her only ability that scales with AD, dealing 40/70/100 (+1.0 per attack damage) points of damage and also has a multiplier that deals up to x3 damage the lower the opponents health is. This ability hurts; hurts a lot!
Bushwhack / Pounce(W): In human form, this skill lays a trap that damages and lowers the defensive stats of any opponents struck. It is a useful skill, used to scout and guard potential ganking paths. In cougar form, it allows Nidalee to perform a small jump forward with a small cooldown, while dealing AOE magic damage where she lands. It is another very useful ability that provides high mobility combined with Prowl.
Primal Surge / Swipe(E): In human form, it is a heal that buffs the receiver with attack speed and while in cougar form, it deals AOE magic damage to opponents in front of Nidalee. It allows her to farm fast, after 6, combined with Bushwhack / Pounce. With this heal Nidalee can stay in lane to farm and push endlessly.
Aspect Of The Cougar(R): This is Nidalee's awesome ulty, that allows her to transform into a mighty cougar, gaining armor, magic resist, movement speed and becoming melee. In cougar form, her abilities cost no mana and have the 2nd effect of their description. It is also important to note, that Nidalee's cougar form abilities scale together with her ultimate. It means, that, no matter how many ranks you have in Primal surge, Swipe will always do the same amount of damage after 6 and until 11, when it will be upgraded the moment you take the 2nd rank of Aspect Of The Cougar.

Ability sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

I max out my Javelin Toss / Takedown first, because Primal Surge / Swipe has a mana cost increase per level. Sometimes, that brings me to a bad spot, when I need a quick heal to live through a tough situation and I don't have enough mana pool and mana regen!
Also Javelin Toss / Takedown base damage per level is pretty good and helps finish off running opponents, or it can be used before you get into cougar form and jump on them for extra damage! So I prefer to max "Q" first, maximizing my potential damage output from early on!

Of course, I take Aspect Of The Cougar when available, then max Primal Surge / Swipe and last Bushwhack / Pounce!

In most games I start with Bushwhack / Pounce first, laying traps around top lane and river, to be aware of early game ganks. By level 3, I have ranked once all my abilities!

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Summoner spells

For summoner spells, I use Ignite, for the healing reduction & the extra damage, and Flash, to get out of tough spots, escape ganks or catch up with a running opponent.

Alternative summoner spell choices:
  • Exhaust: If, for example, I lane against Tryndamere and/or my team hasn't got another Exhaust.
  • Ghost: I feel that Nidalee's speed is enough to escape ganks or chase, so I don't usually consider taking Ghost.
  • Cleanse: This is another good option, especially if the enemy team has too many CC (and you play draft mode, so you know that before game starts)
  • Teleport: Choose this if you want to get back to your lane quickly, or to participate in early and mid game team objectives faster.
  • Heal: I must admit I haven't tested this one on Nidalee and it is considered useful after buff. Use it at your own discretion.
  • Surge, Promote, Revive, Clarity: I don't think you need any of these spells, simply because there are better choices.

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If you don't want to be facing your opponents naked like the image above, here is my recommended item build for the Naughty Cougar.

I start off with Boots of Speed, a Health Potion and a sight ward. I build a Wriggle's Lantern as fast as possible, followed by a Sheen, to increase both my sustain and my damage. Then comes tier 2 boots, Mercury's Treads, for speed and CC reduction. After that, I build Phage into a Frozen Mallet for a bit of health and slow, followed by an Atma's Impaler. Next I buy a Negatron Cloak for magic resist, building it into a Banshee's Veil later on. Last, I finish off my Trinity Force.

With this build,Nidalee has the following stats at level 18 and while in Cougar form:
  • 3479 health
  • 192 armor (66% physical damage reduction)
  • 162 magic resist (62% magical damage reduction)
  • 237 Damage
  • 21 armor penetration
  • A slow on hit effect
  • And a first-spell protection shield

Here are some alternative item choices replacing Wriggle's Lantern, Banshee's Veil or both:

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Early game - levels 1 to 5

Nidalee is weaker in the early laning phase, prior to 6. You can only last hit and harass a bit, but it would be really difficult to manage a kill just by auto attacking. So, you should focus on last hit. If you face a weak laner, try to zone him with your harass, since you are a ranged champion with heal. Lay some traps in all top lane brass, to control them, and be wary of ganks. You must be extremely careful if the opponent laner has Ignite. Reserve your aggressiveness for after you reach level 6.

Early and mid game - after 6

As soon as Nidalee reaches 6, she becomes really annoying with Aspect Of The Cougar and her skillset. You should start becoming more and more aggressive, poking more often and be more insistent about it. Don't neglect farming along with harassing, but, this time, you should start pushing harder too.

Warding is essential at this point as you are more vulneruble to ganks the moment you overextend and push. Your goal is to put so much pressure top, that the enemy jungler has to visit you often to make sure you retreat. Ensure that his ganks will be unsuccesseful by warding the tri-brass, if you are team 1, or as far down as baron, if you are team 2, with your Wriggle's Lantern and/or a sight ward.

Try to destroy the enemy tower as soon as possible, then grab some sight wards and continue pushing to the next tower, farming and warding in the process. By that point you should be, either outfarming your opponent laner, or have even killed him some times. If not, then maybe you are doing something wrong.

A good strategy is: Enter the brass for a movement speed boost with Prowl and then charge to your opponent with all your Aspect Of The Cougar skills. If you take damage retreat into the brass, heal with Primal surge and repeat. I must remind you again, that farming minions should always be a priority. So, try to synchronize your harass as much as you can, with the time your opponents is between minions, or push him back first and then kill his minions undisturbed.

Mid to late game

When team fights start to erupt, you should allready be half way down your build, so you have enough health and resists to charge in the front line. Aim and hunt down the squishy enemy Carries. If your team is not good in teamfighting, then try to split-push. Always try to communicate and participate to the team objectives as much as you can.

Putting Nidalee into a team

In order to be most effective, Nidalee needs a team that has moderate CC capability. That happens, because Nidalee has no CC to keep her Carries safe. This is the reason I build Frozen Mallet instead of Warmog's Armor, to add a bit of slow. So, it is best advised, that Nidalee is picked in addition to a team with enough CC, for example: Example of bad team composition would be: I don't claim that you can't win with such a composition, but chances are that you will get run over in teamfights and Nidalee won't be able to do anything to help her team in such a situation.

Some opponents that may require extra Caution:

Laners or junglers when facing them be careful:
  • Nocturne: When he turns 6, you might not see his gank coming, so be extra careful, especially when your opponent laner starts being extra aggressive at a cost of his health maybe. Try not to overextend without your Flash available and you know he has his ultimate ready.
  • Riven: She has enough mobility and CC to pin you down and her damage and skills maybe fatal if you get surpise-ganked.
  • Rammus: Very annoying ganks early on when Nidalee is weaker.
  • Lee Sin: Blind monk Op, naf said...
  • Warwick: If he lanes, you better focus on farming...

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Change Log

24/12/2011: Major change to the Guide's Layout.

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This build may require a lot of farm, warding and pushing your lane, but it rewards you greatly! Nidalee is by nature a good farmer especially after 6 and also, so difficult to gank that, if you ward properly, you will be just fine! Her gameplay is active and intense, with low cooldowns on skills, which, when used correctly and timely, provide nice damage and mobility. Don't forget that there are some spots in the map where you can Bushwhack / Pounce from and that Aspect Of The Cougar provides a bonus of 30 armor and 30 magic resist while in cougar form at LvL 16! Nidalee requires a bit of experience and testing to be effective and successful as an AD Bruiser!

I want to thank jhoijhoi for her epic guide that really helped me improve!

I will continue adding more stuff in this guide, such as more tips about her gameplay and some screenshots. Until then, let me know what else you would like to see in this build, what feels wrong or what I missed.

Don't forget to leave a comment if you vote, I really apreciate feedback!
Have fun and thank you for reading!