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Nasus Build Guide by Khazem

Nasus - Why's this tank hitting me for half my health?

Nasus - Why's this tank hitting me for half my health?

Updated on February 13, 2012
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Khazem Build Guide By Khazem 74 14 431,193 Views 49 Comments
74 14 431,193 Views 49 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Khazem Nasus Build Guide By Khazem Updated on February 13, 2012
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Nasus is (in my opinion) best played as a tanky DPS. He will be the one standing in the middle of the enemy team taking all the beatings while wrecking the squishys. He's a very situational champion though, very vulnerable to CC, easily kited, so an easily countered champion which is why he's not seen that often in competative play.

So why even play Nasus?

I'm glad you asked! Nasus, if given the chance to farm, is a beast. He can beat almost everyone in a 1v1 situation, 2 shot squishy targets, whitstand huge amounts of damage and kill turrets/inhibitors in matters of seconds.
In this guide I will show you exactly what you need to look out for in order to get that farm, and how you should build when you get that farm.

So let's go on and look at the pros and cons of playing Nasus.
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Pros / Cons

  • Great late game damage/burst
  • Very tanky
  • High movement speed, ability to stick to a target once you can get on it
  • Great pusher, deals huge damage to towers
  • Great farmer

  • Requires ALOT of farm
  • Easily countered, highly vulnerable to CC
  • Pretty weak early game laner, quite squishy
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When to pick Nasus?

So as I mentioned in the introduction, Nasus is a very situational champion and can easily be countered. Knowing when you can or can't pick Nasus is a big part of mastering him.

First off, you need your team to have a decent amount of CC, just makes you less likely to get kited.
Few examples: Anivia, Janna, Ashe, Nunu & Willump, Sion, Taric

Your team also needs a good initiation, because Nasus, as fast as he might be with a full build, can't just run in and expect to get on his target.
Examples: Amumu, Ashe, Sona, Gangplank, Rumble

Most importantly, the opposing team must not have too much CC. You can build around dealing with some, but if they have 3+ champions that have any form of hard CC, you just won't be able to do your job properly and life will be rough for you.
Few examples of champions you don't want on the opponent team: Amumu, Ashe, Singed, Karthus, Nunu & Willump, Cho'Gath

Now obviously, this doesn't mean you can't pick Nasus if your team doesn't have Amumu and if the other team has an Ashe. It really mostly comes down to common sense and kind of prediction the mid/late-game scenarios.
This is much easier when for example you're playing a ranked game and are 3rd, 4th or 5th pick. In a normal game you should wait for your teammates to pick before you can properly make a decision.
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This is my mastery setup for Nasus. 21 points in defense for maximum survivabily and some armor penetration is everything you need, damage wise.

Offense Tree

Tier 1 - 3 points in Brute Force , cause everything else is useless. The extra damage will work with your passive for some more sustain. A point in Butcher for the same reasons.

Tier 2 - 4 points in Alacrity to get to the armor penetration next tier. While cooldown reduction is obviously great on Nasus, we're getting enough of that with the build/runes.

Tier 3 - Weapon Expertise for some armor penetration, as Nasus is a melee champion who deals physical damage.

Defense Tree

Tier 1 - 3 points in Hardiness or in Resistance , depending on who you're laning against. The other point in whichever of the two you didn't take.

Tier 2 - 4 points in Durability for a tankier late game, 3 in Vigor to help you with your weak early game.

Tier 3 - Veteran's Scars for a nice early game health boost, Indomitable also to help with Nasus' weak early game.

Tier 4 - Initiator to help deal with getting kited, Enlightenment for more Siphoning Strike spamming.

Tier 6 - Juggernaut , a must have on Nasus in my opinion. More health AND less getting kited. Makes the entire defense tree worth it.
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Summoner Spells

Teleport: Helps you get back in the lane without losing any experience if you're forced to recall or just want to get some early items to help your lane sustainability. Also good for dragon control.
Ghost: Very useful tool to avoid getting kited, or just escape bad situations.
Flash: Alternative to Ghost, can be used as gap closer or to escape.

Ignite: Good if noone else is picking it up for the healing reduction, or to help you killing well sustained lane opponents
Exhaust: Good summoner spell to further shut down people you don't like. Combined with Wither, this is a very powerful spell for Nasus.
Cleanse: Viable if you find yourself against a very CC heavy team.

So why do you take Ghost over Flash?

While Flash - in most cases - will be the better choise as an escape ability, the reason I prioritize Ghost over Flash is mainly for offensive purposes.
Flash serves as a single gap closer and instantly gets you closer to the target, this is most effective for champions who have a stun or any ability that requires some specific positioning. Flash will instantly get you in the position you need to be in.
Nasus, however, just needs to be able to close the gap on his enemies and get in their faces, without worrying too much about positioning. This is where Ghost shines as it scales so well with all the movement speed increases he already had in his build from Trinity Force and Force of Nature.
Also, while Flash will adjust your positioning in an instant, you only get one chance everytime it's off cooldown. Ghost lasts for 11.5 seconds (with Haste ) and will not only get you where you want, it will keep you where you want for at least the duration.
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Passive: Soul Eater

Passive: Soul Eater: Nasus drains his foe's spiritual energy, giving him a natural 14/17/20% lifesteal. The lifesteal value increments at levels 1, 6, and 11.

Nasus's passive. Decent passive for some laning sustainability, though nothing to rely on entirely. Becomes pretty good later in the game when your SS starts hitting critical levels of pain.

Siphoning Strike

Nasus's next attack will deal an additional 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 damage (+100% of attack damage). Siphoning Strike permanently gains 3 damage whenever it kills an enemy.

Cooldown 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 seconds
Cost 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 mana
Range 300

Your main source of damage, you'll want to level this up as high as possible throughout the entire game. Since it has no limit (yet) this can become pretty out of hand is Nasus is not controlled properly. Also works on Towers and Inhibitors making him a great pusher as well.


Nasus ages his target, slowing their movement and attack speed by 35% and reducing it further by 3 / 6 / 9 / 12 / 15% each second for 5 seconds. Wither will reach its max slow even if its duration is reduced. (ie: by tenacity)

Cooldown 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 seconds
Cost 80 mana
Range 700

One of the best slows in the game, slows both movement and attack speed making this a physical carry destroyer. It does have a really high mana cost however so when using it in the laning phase, make sure to use it wisely and only when you know you can get a kill.

Spirit Fire

After a brief delay, the target area becomes desecrated. Enemies in the area have their armor reduced by 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 and are dealt 55 / 95 / 135 / 175 / 215 (+60% of ability power) initial damage and 11 / 19 / 27 / 35 / 43 (+12% of ability power) magic damage each second for 5 seconds.

Cooldown 12 seconds
Cost 70 / 85 / 100 / 115 / 130 mana
Range 650

A good spell for zoning/farming/pushing. Early game this can be very useful to kill the creeps you can't reach or you're zoned out from. Late game this becomes a great pushing tool and zoning tool in team fights. A common mistake I see if people using this too much in the early game. Really don't do this, you do not want to push your lane in the first place and you want to always make sure you have enough mana for Siphoning Strike.

Fury of the Sands

Nasus becomes empowered in the sandstorm for 15 seconds, gaining 300 / 450 / 600 health. While the storm rages, he drains 3 / 4 / 5 (+1% of ability power)% of nearby enemies' health each second (240 damage max per second) and converts it into bonus attack damage.

Cooldown 120 seconds
Cost 150 mana
Range 20

Nasus's ultimate, and a very very good one at that. If used properly in a teamfight people just do not want to be around you. It deals quite alot of damage to everyone around him, makes him just that more durable AND makes him hit harder in the process. Not to mention the health boost scales with Atma's as well. This ultimate makes Nasus a beast for the duration, so use it well. Properly timing this ultimate can be devestating to the enemy team.
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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

Basically you want to level your ultimate whenever you can, maxing Siphoning Strike first at every other oppertunity.

At level 2 you should grab your first point in Wither in case of a gank (for or against you) and you first point in Spirit Fire on level 3 or 4 (depending on how the lane is going)
You generally want to max Wither first, because theres no real benefit from putting more points into Spirit Fire early on cause it will just push your lane and leave yourself more vulnerable to ganks. If you're having trouble early game, you can however put some more points into Spirit Fire just so you don't miss out on too many last hits.
In the end, the order you level Spirit Fire and Wither is pretty situational and down to personal preference and common sense.
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Regrowth Pendant
Great starting item for Nasus. Gives you some more health regen to sustain through his weak early game and allows you to buy a quick philosopher's stone.

Cloth Armor
Good start against early game dominant AD champions, such as Garen, Renekton, Riven, etc... I find myself getting this item at the start most games these days as Nasus gets outclassed by a lot. It allows you to also buy 5 Health Potions for more sustain.

Null-magic Mantle
For laning against AP carries, who are generally picked to counter Nasus. Combined with magic resistance runes, this item will make you durable enough to survive early game.

Mid game

Philosopher's StonePhilosopher's Stone: Your early game sustainability. Allows you to stay in lane longer, giving you more time to farm (which you desperatly need) and some nice extra gold ticking.

Sheen: Gives you that early game threat, procs off Siphoning Strike, brings pain to enemy.

Glacial Shroud: Get this item whenever you feel you need the armor, which in most cases should be straight after your philosopher's stone. The cooldown reduction will help you get Q stacks quicker while the armor makes you a lot tankier in lane.

Heart of Gold: Gives you some nice early game health, along with some more gold per 10. Builds into a Randuin's Omen later in the game.

Late game offensive items

Trinity Force: Everything Nasus needs in one tasty looking item. Yes please.

Atma's Impaler: Good endgame item for some added damage. Since I pick up Randuin's Omen / Trinity Force / Aegis of the Legion, I have a pretty scary healthpool making this item very much worth it.

Late game defensive items

Frozen Heart: Another very good tank item, loads of armor with a devestating aura for your enemies. As said before you'll be in the middle of the enemy team when fighting, making this so so good.

Force of Nature: This in combination with Trinity Force and Mercury's Treads makes you very very hard to kite, with the addition of a ton of magic resist and a good deal of health regen, this is a must-have item in my opinion.

Warmog's Armor: Item that will instantly make you much harder to kill. Scales well with his ultimate and gives you all the health you'll ever need.

Randuin's Omen: Great tank item with just another tool to annoy the enemy team as you'll be right in the middle of them when using it.

Aegis of the Legion: A very underrated item in my opinion and just too useful and cost efficient to not get. Gives you some very nice early game tanky stats and a really nice aura for your entire team, unless anyone else is planning to pick this up on your team, get this.

Guardian Angel: Good all around stats, pushes you from "damn this guy is hard to kill" to "screw this he won't die".

Sunfire Cape: I personally love using this item when I don't plan on picking up Randuin's Omen. Since you're generally going to be in the middle of the enemy team, combined with your ult you'll be doing alot of damage to everyone.

Banshee's Veil: Very good item overall, good stats and blocks an enemy spell every so often. Reason I don't have this in my main build is because with Force of Nature, Mercury's Treads and Aegis of the Legion I already have tons of MR and this would be overkill. I choose Force of Nature over this mainly because of the added health regen and the movement speed, which combined with Trinity Force is simply amazing.

Random other good items

Shurelya's Reverie: A very good upgrade from a simple philo stone if you don't want to sell it (assuming you either don't need the tenacity from elaisa's miracle or you already have Mercury's Treads. The CDR is obviously awesome to help you spam Siphoning Strike some more, along with some more health and regen AND a great speed boost.

Eleisa's Miracle: If you're not getting Mercury's Treads and the enemy team has CC, this is a great upgrade from the philosopher's stone.


Ninja Tabi: Good against a lot of top laners. Get these if you're having trouble in lane.

Mercury's Treads: Good source of tenacity and allows you to either sell your philosopher's stone to buy something totally different, or upgrade it into a Shurelya's Battlesong.

Ionian Boots of Lucidity: If you don't need any tenacity, this is a decent source of cooldown reduction. Though to be quite honest, there are definitely better ways to get your CDR. These boots are viable, but not recommended.
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Possible item builds

Balanced build

Gives you a very good mix of all the tank stats you need, as well as some nice offensive power from Trinity Force. I finish up the build with Shurelya's Battlesong to cap my CDR and to better get to my targets.

Defensive build against AD

Lots of possible alternatives for Guardian Angel. If you think you need more armor you can get Randuin's Omen or Thornmail, if you need some magic resistance get Force of Nature.

Defensive build against AP

Offensive build

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Early game:

Your early game consists of farming, farming and farming. When you pick Nasus you want to make sure you get the solo top lane, as he is most viable there. Your goal is to be able to farm as much as you want in that lane without anyone trying to take your kills. Obviously the enemy will try and prevent you from farming.
You will go to your lane with either your regrowth pendant or cloth armor. Before your first trip back you want to aim for at least your Philosopher's Stone, Boots and at least one sight ward to make sure you can farm unhindered.
Remember to try and last hit with your Siphoning Strike everytime it's up. You want to focus on getting its damage up as high as possible. As far as items go, aim for at least a philosopher's stone, Boots, a Glacial Shroud and maybe even a Sheen in that early game. Use your Teleport to get back in lane if you think you will miss out on creeps otherwise.

Mid game:

Your mid game consists of... well... more farming! You want to stay in your lane as much as possible and just keep farming that Siphoning Strike up as much as you can. Make sure to keep a ward up revealing and preventing any possible ganks on you.
If you have Teleport, you should try and keep it up to assist your team at a dragon fight if needed. (make sure IF you have Teleport you tell your team to always keep a ward up near dragon so you can teleport there at any time to secure the dragon kill, or you can even use it to coordinate a gank or counter a gank for your bottom lane)
At this point you'll want to aim to get your Frozen Heart and Force of Nature, while leveling up that Siphoning Strike to get you ready to wreck faces in any fights that may occur.

Late game:

Now you should be a beast. Your build should be near completed, your Siphoning Strike should be at a bonus damage of at least +400, people are scared of you. Again, you still want to try and get as many last hits as possible with Siphoning Strike. When there's no fight, you roam around the jungle/lanes farming minion waves/pushing lanes.
Your enemy will have their work cut out for them just trying to stop you from destroying their turrets. This is a good way to catch them off-guard, forcing a fight they don't really want to engage in and getting some free kills.
If you're farmed enough, you shouldn't be afraid to just run into the enemies faces and killing them. You basically want to 2 shot any squihsy that you can get to. If you find one out of position, lock on, slow it, press your Q, watch it's health bar disappear and collect your gold.
At this point the enemy team can't deal with you anymore and will likely either try and focus you down really hard, or try and ignore you which just makes things worse for them. Honestly if the game hits late game, unless something went horribly wrong, you can't lose.
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Teleport Ganks

So since we have Teleport and we don't have to use it to get back into the lane quickly, why not use it for an unexpected gank?
A teleport gank is where you Teleport on top of a sight ward placed by your team somewhere on the map to gank a lane or outnumber your opponents for a dragon or baron fight.

This is most efficiently used in case of a Dragon/Baron fight, where your team will engage Dragon/Baron while you're pushing a lane. When the enemy team sends a person to stop you, you teleport to the dragon/baron fight, effectively creating a 5v4 situation in your favor. Congratulations you've just collected a global gold boost, a few kills and possibly a Baron buff!

Another way to teleport gank is way earlier in the laning phase, where you gank bottom lane. This is done by asking your bottom lane to place a ward in any of the 2 brushes, depening on how far the lane is pushed up, after which you proceed to teleport on top of that ward and pick up 2 free kills.
Note however when doing it in the laning phase to make sure your tower is safe and you're not about to miss out on a ton of experience/creep kills. It is best to coordinate it with your bottom lane right after you push your lane out to the enemy turret.

Red: Possible locations for Baron teleport gank wards
Blue: Possible locations for Dragon teleport gank wards
Black: Possible locations for bottom lane teleport gank wards

Now if your team is refusing to buy wards for some reason, it is possible to teleport to nearby friendly turrets or minions, while this works fine it is much less reliable and not recommended.
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Final Words

Thanks for reading my Nasus guide! This was my first guide so be gentle.
I hope this guide will help any fellow Nasus players out, you just don't see enough dogs in this game :(
I will try and keep this up to date as best as possible and maybe even add a jungle section someday.
Any comments/feedback are always greatly appreciated!
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  • Guide published

  • Cleaned up the guide
  • Added 'When to pick Nasus?' section
  • Added 'Pros and Cons' section

  • Added 'Teleport Ganks' section
  • Added more codes to the guide
  • Added some pictures for Runes, Masteries and Teleport Ganks

  • Editted Runes section, added some alternatives
  • Editted Mastery setup slightly
  • Added some other Summoner Spell choises
    (thanks PsiGuard for the feedback)

  • Added float codes to the Items and Abilities section cos they look awesome

  • Fixed alot of small errors with the images/icons
  • Added Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed to the list of viable quints
  • Switched around the sections a bit
  • Changed the layout for summoners spells
    (thanks jhoijhoi for all the feedback)

  • Added a small section explaining my choise of Ghost over Flash
  • Added a section for boots
  • Changed skill sequence slightly
  • Changed main item build slightly

  • Added a jungle section

  • Added a "Solo Top Opponents" section

  • Updated mastery trees for the new patch.
  • Removed Greater Seal of Evasion as with the removal of Nimbleness, they are no longer the best choise of runes.

  • Updated and unarchived
  • Removed jungle section
  • Temporarily removed solo top opponents section for updating

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