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Nautilus Build Guide by cranshinibon

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League of Legends Build Guide Author cranshinibon

Nautilus - Death from the Depths

cranshinibon Last updated on April 29, 2012
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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: 1

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 8

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Chapter 1

This is my first build made, and I usually don't like to attempt at these things but after playing a past game I realized I wanted to keep record of how I want to build Nautilus in the future in case I forget, and to allow others to test out my build and give me feedback or constructive criticism. Nautilus is an outstanding character and his ability to fit in just about anywhere makes him useful and extremely fun to play.

Getting used to Nautilus can be tough, and it is definitely a learning curve due to his abnormally low starting stats and his tremendously slow movement and attack speed.

I attempted to create a build that would allow him to do the most amount of dmg, but still being able to tank somewhat effectively, and allow him more of an even fighting ground with the handicaps put on his base stats. I have tried a lot of other builds where I add a couple more defense items in place of AP items, and most often I have issues dealing enough damage to really make a difference, and usually wind up selling off the defense items before end game and reverting back to my AP build. Nautilus is in no way, shape, or form among the highest of AP damage dealers, but he has so many utilities and great tanking abilities, that you need to only add a small amount of defensive items into the build to allow him to be decently tanky, leaving the rest for damage output and surviving utility. Nautilus may be a little squishier than in some other AP builds that I have seen, and although I may have a lot of offensive items in the AP department that could give him weakened tanking abilities, I believe that the best defense is a good offense and knowledge of when to initiate, fight, tank, chase, recall, or flee.

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Playing AP Nautilus is very tough, and can take a LOT of practice in attempting new build styles, and knowing when to fight, run, and initiate. Nautilus' crowd control abilities allow him to keep people from running away from him, especially due to his slow movement speed and with his difficulty killing people quickly.

Initiating and communicating with your team and knowing which targets to go after first are key when playing Nautilus - you won't be able to take down a fast, high damage carry or dps during the mid game, but in the beginning and end, you'll stand there and laugh in their faces if they attempt to initiate or run from you. The only thing you want to avoid when initiating, is not being able to have an escape route in case friends are waiting in the jungle to gank you. Dredge line, Riptide, Exhaust, and Ghost are your best friends in these scenarios, allowing you to slow enemies enough for you to make an escape or to regroup and plan a focused attack with your team mates.

The fun part about Nautilus and this build, is that most often people assume Nautilus will be of no real threat aside from keeping them from escaping and the damage output he puts out will do little to nothing to them, so he is commonly ignored when higher priority targets are around.

I have not played with Nautilus in Dominion, so this build is purely for Summoner's Rift. I think the build could be pretty similar for Dominion - swapping out some of the items such as Zhonya's Hourglass and Force of Nature with Locket of the Solari, Sunfire Cape, Randuin's Omen, or Frozen Heart, which will allow you an edge in keeping enemies engaged with you long enough to wear them down, or allow others to come in and assist you.

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When building my runes, I looked at where I wanted to go with Nautilus, his base stat handicaps, and what would help keep him well rounded on his base stats, to allow his natural skills and abilities to shine.

I went with adding an increase to base movement speed with two Quintessences of Swiftness to allow him to keep up more naturally with enemies who aren't building up their movement speed incredibly. An additional Quintessence of Shielding was added to allow a decent steady magic resist throughout the lower levels while building up for Force of Nature, which would allow much higher survivability going toe to toe with AP casters or enemies w/ high dmg mixed abilities such as Kayle, Jax, Teemo, and Ezreal. (I would insist on avoiding going toe to toe with Ezreal unless you know you can take him - his escape abilities provide for an extreme issue with your crippled speed and almost negates half of your attempts to keep him rooted.

NOTE FOR GLYPH RUNES *** - I did not build him using Glyphs of Force, but rather Glyphs of Potency (+ 1.19 AP / per); The guide builder did not have the Glyphs of Potency on the list so I put in something that would provide for the concise purpose.

I went for increased AP because, well, Nautilus does some amazing damage with his Riptide and Titan's Wrath when AP is increased.


Okay let's face it - Nautilus was created to be a tank / jungle tank. His base armor scores are relatively low in comparison to other tank classes, so adding 9 of the Seals of Defense gives Nautilus a pretty good boost all throughout the game. It will allow his jungling to have less of an effect on his health due to decreased damage being received, and it will allow him to have more survivability against melee, carries, dps, and counter-junglers.


As Nautilus' health increases, as does the amount of damage absorbed by Titan's Wrath. 9 Marks of Fortitude allow for an increase of 32 health, which may be lower than going with something along the lines of the Marks of Vitality, but in order to get to the end game, you'll have to survive battles while you are attempting to build your items.

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I went with a typical jungling build of 1 Offense / 21 Defense Tree / 8 Utility (I skipped out of the 20% increase to having the monster or quest buffs because I really didn't notice too much of a difference when I was playing, and having an extra point in Honor Guard seems to add to his survivability more than an additional 30-60 seconds increase in buffs. )

The 1 in offense is for a slight boost to ghost and exhaust abilities, which allow for better escapes, and for catching up to / keeping opponents engaged / cced. You can swap out ghost for flash, but because of Nautilus' sluggishness and large character, keeping up / escaping from enemies through crowds of minions seems to be easier with Ghost rather than Flash, but either way could work. (I suck at Flashing since I am a spaz with it comes to using abilities in a bind so clicking ghost / dredge line works better for me due to my lack of awareness with my mouse pointer location.)

These masteries will give a great boost to his movement speed, defense, damage reduction, cool downs, and health. Increasing the chance that Nautilus will survive a battle, and be able to effectively jungle / lane without having much of anything to worry about as far as ganks unless the whole team gets mad at how good you're doing :).

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AP , AP, AP, and more AP. I know everything else has seemed geared towards making Nautilus tanky and making him more capable of surviving, so why in the world would I build him through ability power? I have to be a complete lunatic to do something like this, right? WRONG!

If you enjoy playing a meat bag who takes dmg, ccs and gets a kill/death ratio based upon luck of hitting an ability or stealing a kill then this is not the build for you. Nautilus is a tank. I built his base stats up through masteries and runes to make him a better tank, saving room for his great damage output that can be reached while purchasing AP items.

I'll explain the items a little further as a backup, and give some additional items that can be used in case you need to change things up a bit because of some hiccups like another character being fed, or your lack of minion farming (which if I didn't state previously before and I apologize but, Nautilus' ability to farm minions with AP is incredible if you know where to position yourself.)
/ - If you want to start out in a lane with a friend, I recommend going with the additional health regen / a mana pot to keep you able in lane long enough to get some minion kills, pick off an enemy champion or two and be able to recall and purchase other items.

Next you will want to buy some health or mana potions in order to stay in lane and farm minions to start building up some expensive items.

Now that you have some money saved, buy some boots to allow you to maneuver better, and something to add to AP so you can start dishing out more damage, and farming more efficiently.

If you feel that your mana becomes an issue, build a philosopher's stone and use it until you can start quickly jungling for blue buffs to maintain your mana stream. I don't recommend keeping the Philosopher's stone throughout the whole game since Nautilus' cool down's are somewhat lengthy so you won't be able to spam abilities and waste mana.

Once you are able to purchase a chain vest, your armor is on par to be able to jungle quickly and obtain the buffs you will use to gain some champion kills. This will later build into an item, and I feel that purchasing the Cloth Armor is a waste of a build so long as you aren't facing any issues early on with getting beaten on by AD characters.

Mercury Treads are now your best friend - they are a must have for Nautilus, especially because of how slow he is and susceptible to being stunned / slowed and suffering a chance of being killed because of his inability to escape. The increased magic resistance is a huge bonus as well, especially if you want to gank an AP character, or get caught up against one.

Periodically recall and build your main AP items, either piecing them together or buying them outright when you have the available funding.

- Great starting bonus to health / mana and ability power plus an instant heal when you level up, allowing for less time recovering at base. This item will provide the means to be able to become slightly more tanky in the health department, while increasing your ability power in preparation of the onslaught about to take place upon receipt of your other items.

- Rylai's Crystal Scepter is your money maker because it gives a huge increase to health / ability power in additional to slowing enemies with every successful ability hit, which helps when initiating and escaping. ( I am unable to confirm if the passive slow stacks with Riptide or not, but either way, any cc is more than helpful)

- Lich Bane is a definite force to be reckoned with when paired off with Nautilus' combo of Rylai's and Rod of Ages, bringing a total combined increase to base AP to 220 and some more mana for some more wiggle room with using skills. Your passive allows you a big boost to physical damage, especially when paired off with Titan's Wrath / Riptide if timed properly. Oh, didn't you know Lich Bane offers additional movement speed? I think that clunker of a tank is starting to gain an edge in the running department.

/ / / / / -- Force of Nature is my favorite item because of the great health regen and the highest increase in magic resistance than any other item. The increased movement speed also allows Nautilus to get around the map much easier with the combination to all of the other bonuses to movement speed.

Guardian's Angel is a must have if you feel that you do not need as much defense against AP players and you want to have the most balance survivability possible. This item is the golden ticket in any build, and it is no exception here.

Warmog's Armor is an amazing combo with Nautilus' easy farming ability mid - end game, and makes the shield from Titan's Wrath absorb a great amount of damage that will otherwise be able to turn the tide of a battle. My only issue with this item is that it is one of the priciest items on the menu, and it doesn't allow much in the defense / utility department other than a massive amount of health and a boost to Titan's Wrath absorption shield.

Zhonya's Hourglass is a decent utility item and balance for Nautilus if there is not much to worry about in need of magic resist or health. The armor bonus is decent and the ability power plus is tremendous. If you are able to build this item without having to worry about getting focus fired too often then the activated ability is a great utility to use when you feel you are about to become ganked, allowing you a moment to rethink your exit strategy. I don't necessarily prefer this item, but it is an option that can be bought. I personally think the 2 second ability and the 90 second timer don't allow much of a change unless it's a 1v1 battle.

Randuin's Omen is capable of being added to any build as the primary agent of defense, especially if you are having issues with high attack speed or AD fighters. Even so, it is an outstanding item that brings a lot of utility and survivability to the table in any game situation.

Frozen Heart is a good pair with Nautilus' horrendous cool down timers and a boost to his armor and mana. This is a good item to have, but not necessarily needed at all times. It is a situational item where you feel if you need to get just one more cast off on any said enemy, then you'll be able to gain the advantage as a team.

I personally prefer Force of Nature and Randuin's Omen over any of the other items (save possibly Guardian's Angel) because they give the most widespread amount of bonuses and utilities to be taken advantage in benefit of Nautilus.

Okay, at this point it's probably getting pretty close to end game and you are probably being fed like a morbidly obese person sitting in front of the all you can eat buffet. Some items that may be of use in further feeding your needs, or bringing about a change in the battle if your team is having some issues are as follows.

/ / / / / / --

Abyssal Scepter is my first choice to complete my amazing build, and add the icing to the cake. Since Nautilus is capable to catching up to opponents more easily, and all of his attacks are within close proximity to him, Abyssal's bonus to ability power and debuff allows for a much higher damage output with Titan's Wrath and especially Riptide.

Deathfire's Grasp is great for taking out high hp tanks and meat-bags as well as welcoming an additional cool down reduction.

Banshee's Veil is to blocking abilities as Guardian's Angel is to giving you a second chance. You can never go wrong with having a get out of stun free card with an additional boost to your health and magic resistance.

Locket of the Iron Solari is great for support when your team may be needing a little swift kick into action when facing AOE champs that otherwise rip through your entire team in seconds, leaving you having to flee to fight another battle.

Trinity force is a decent addition to your build if you want to add a few more bonuses to your overall stats, I chose not to use Trinity force primarily because it is extremely expensive, Nautilus does not benefit from all of the abilities too much to notice, and the utilities don't stack along with Lich Bane (which is a much better item for this build in my opinion)

Sunfire Cape gives you a bonus to health and adds ticking damage to all enemies stupid enough to engage you or stand anywhere close to you. Nuff said!

In summation of the items, I honestly believe that the build I have set allows for the best results when playing as Nautilus in combination with the runes, masteries, and play style.

I have not used all of the items listed as backups, but I know how to play Nautilus well enough that I know they would be beneficial or viable as substitutions in this build. Of course there are always items that have to be swapped out when you are facing various opponents, and throughout many trial and error tests with other builds in pvp, I noticed that most often times, I have highest percentage of damage in contribution to my death due to an AP caster or fighter taking swings at me and bringing my health down as if I were a fly in the wind.

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Skill Sequence

Your ability chain is pretty much geared towards Titan's Wrath, Rip Tide, and Depth Charge, while Dredge Line is key in closing the gap between yourself and your enemies.

Whether you start by jungling or laning - Titan's Wrath gives you the ability to farm, deal damage, shield yourself, and give yourself a slight heal in times of need. It also allows you to deal tremendous amount of damage when enemies are dumb enough to ignore you or attempt to get on your level and go toe to toe with you.

Rip Tide does a great amount of damage when combined with AP items, and it offers a wide range of slowed crowd control against enemies who may be slightly faster than you.

Depth Charge is a fun ultimate to use especially when enemies think they are far enough out of reach to escape or run away. It does not do a huge amount of damage, but the satisfaction of utilizing it to disrupt channel spells, and keep enemies from escaping or getting away with flash or ghost.

Your key abilities to max first are Titan's Wrath and Riptide as they are your biggest damage dealers, filling in a point or two every once in a while for Dredge line when you have no other options.

Dredge line does little damage to enemies, and should not be spammed. When you are jungling, it is great to have dredge line to get around quickly by pulling yourself around the jungle like Tarzan with a giant anchor, and grabbing enemies / getting to enemies in order to gank. When you are laning, sometimes Dredge line is a great option to go with first if you are paired off with someone who has additional crowd control and a good damage output, as it can get you an easy first blood if the enemies don't know to keep their distance or know when exactly they need to run away.

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Summoner Spells

Your key summoner's spells with this build will be
Exhaust will allow you do slow enemies down in order to catch up, keep them close, or slow them down so you can escape. In addition to the 1 point in offense it reduces their armor and magic resistance, which is a great way to tear down priority targets during team fights, or allow you to win a battle you may have lost if they had not been debuffed.

Nautilus is slow. Very Slow. He's also very, very large. This creates an issue if:

1. Someone is faster than him and is trying to kill him.
2. Someone is faster than him and is trying to get away.
3. Nautilus is trying to get to another point on the map to gank or join in on a team fight.
4. Nautilus is trying to get to an enemy / away from an enemy, and gets caught up like a noobie in the minion most pit.

Needless to say, I believe Ghost is a must have summoner spell with Nautilus because it offers a plethora of options.

Flash is a great way to get away from enemies or abilities that would otherwise keep your pinned down, or worse....dead.

Since movement speed in the Utility Mastery line is a must for Nautilus, you are required to place an additional point into the top tier in order to reach it, so the cool down for it is definitely a bonus. I think it is better to go with the bonus to Flash cool down over Improved Recall or Time Spend Dead reduction because let's face it... Nautilus is tough to kill so you won't die often, and most of the time the improved recall won't save you an important amount of time to get back to base.

I prefer Ghost over Flash because Ghost has a slightly lower cool down, it allows for more control over where you are going, and because I have been playing for quite some time, and I still have difficulty flashing over walls with the behemoth that is Nautilus.

Smite is a great ability with a low cool down timer that is perfect for shopping through the jungle for your buffs and getting in and out without having to waste too much time waiting for your cool downs to reset or Nautilus to slowly hammer away in melee.

Not too bad to have especially if you have to recall constantly to purchase items, and don't feel like always waiting a long time to waddle out to the fight or turret.

Ignite is an okay choice and can get you an easy kill if the enemy gets too far away, and their health is low. I still think that ignite may be of more use to people that can catch up to enemies quicker.

No offense, but if you are attempting to play an AP Nautilus build, you have the skills to be able to run away when you need to and not have to heal're not a support you're an AP / CC/ Tank, heal should only be used if you really feel like you have an issue getting away from people with the other, better, Summoner Spells and cannot time potions properly. Again, I said no offense!

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Okay a quick guide to farming with Nautilus.

When you are in a lane attempt to get in between the caster minions and melee minions and use depth charge with a combination of Titan's Wrath to bring down a crowd of minions to dust. Focus on the minions towards the middle of the group or those that are piled and grouped closer to others, allowing Titan's Wrath AOE to trim the excess fat off of the field.

Farming Champions Early Game / Trying to get First Blood:

Don't get greedy and try and attack head on, especially if your lane partner has great damage output. Stay in the bushes and out of site long enough for your partner to gain some minion kills and gold, and be able to slowly dwindle down the enemy champion(s). If you are unnoticed, you can Dredge Line / Rip Tide /Exhaust to keep the enemy champion with range long enough for your partner to finish the deed. The key first skill point for these situations should be Dredge line, because it is ideal for keeping enemies within deadly range of your partner, or your turret if they are silly enough to get too close with you around.

Summary of Farming Techniques:
Titan's Wrath / Riptide for easy minion farming throughout the entire game
Dredge Line / Exhaust / Riptide / Depth Charge for initiating late game or scoring an early first blood / any kill.

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Unique Skills

Just to add some additional pointers when playing Nautilus:

Dredge line will pull you to the closest enemy minion, champion or solid vertical object within its trajectory range, it is great for initiating combat, keeping enemies close long enough to kill or allow someone else to kill, getting around the jungle / map with carefully aimed shots, and also in getting away from enemies or ganks by aiming it at the nearest structure to pull yourself to.

Titan's Wrath will give you a short term damage shield that will absorb damage, apply a damage over time spell, give a slight heal to Nautilus, and will increase his attack speed slightly during the duration of the buff.

Riptide will do immense amounts of damage as you go throughout building up your AP, and its slow will bring you great crowd control in combat or getting away from an enemy. An important thing to remember when using Riptide is that even though it fans out in all directions to slow enemies - it will not follow your position so make sure to time it right when you think an enemy will walk through the spot that you used it in.

Staggering Blow (Passive) will briefly stun the enemy that is hit with a resistance cool down timer of 12 seconds on the enemy struck. You can stun one enemy, and then another on your following swing, so be knowledgeable of when to change targets to keep the cced.

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I hope that my build guide works for whoever is reading this an please give me your opinion on anything you think that should change, as I am always tweaking my build and trying new alternatives. Please don't downvote or dislike my guide because you want your guide to be of a better rating or if you don't think this play style works for you. I wanted to share how I play Nautilus in result of the successes and fun I have had using this build. I hope you enjoy it!