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Nautilus Build Guide by Elf491

Top Nautilus in Season 8

Top Nautilus in Season 8

Updated on July 13, 2018
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Elf491 Build Guide By Elf491 13 0 87,082 Views 2 Comments
13 0 87,082 Views 2 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Elf491 Nautilus Build Guide By Elf491 Updated on July 13, 2018
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Hello summoners! I'm Elf491, and this is my guide to playing Nautilus in (pre)season 8! The reason I decided to write this guide? With the massive changes to runes this year, I went looking for some inspiration on this very site for playing Nautilus, and found... well, nothing. As I'm writing this, there are a total of three Nautilus guides that have been updated with new runes. (since I started, more have popped up, but still). As such, consider this my contribution to an (unfortunately) underutilized champion. If everything goes well, I hope to add both Jungle and Support sections to this guide in the near future.

This is my first MOBAfire guide, and I would greatly appreciate any and all comments, be they on the build itself, or the layout and aesthetics of the guide. My appreciation goes to jhoijhoi for her Guide to Making a Guide, without which I likely would have drowned in a sea of BBcode. Above all, thank you for taking the time to read my guide, and I hope by reading it you can become a better player. Without further ado, let's get into it!
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Pros / Cons


+ Tons of CC
+ Good base damage
+ High engage/teamfight potential
+ Suprisingly versatile

Nautilus is a CC monster, and his abilities all have high base damage, allowing him to lane quite effectively early game. Because he has both single target and AoE CC, he remains relevant late game, bringing the utility your team needs to crush squishy and/or out of position enemies, and thus win fights.


- Low mobility
- Damage falls off late game
- Not as tanky as other tanks
- Extremely ability reliant

While Nautilus has Dredge Line for mobility, it is also his main engage, with a fairly high cooldown. His damage falls off late game, as most other champions outscale him, and he relies heavily on his abilities, especially Titan's Wrath, to survive and contribute damage. The items we buy will help immensely with these weaknesses, but won't eliminate them.
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Your primary tree should always be the Resolve tree. It offers excellent tanky options that Nautilus can use quite well, along with some extra scaling health just for existing. While there are a few different options within Resolve, I recommend the following:

Grasp of the Undying: As long as you are willing/able to get in and duel the opposing top laner, Grasp of the Undying is a pretty good rune to have. It deals extra damage, heals, and increases your max health, which can really add up over time. It does take a few seconds to charge up in combat, but you should have no problem getting there with all of Nautilus' CC.

Aftershock is also good on Nautilus, and I go back and forth between the two. It's all a matter of exchanging long term, permanent tankiness via extra health, versus short term but massive boosts to your resistances.

Bone Plating: This rune is fantastic for dueling your opponents, and can really shut down some of the damage the enemy top laner deals in short trades. Try to trade when this is ready, and avoid trades when on cooldown.

If you're not worried about your opponent's damage output, or want to push your lane, you can pick Demolish, but that's not usually how Nautilus plays.

Conditioning: Just survive to 10 minutes, and you'll get a nice boost to your resistances. Since Nautilus will be a tank/initiator in the later stages of the game, this rune really helps.

Second Wind is less useful in the late game, but can be very useful in tougher lane matchups to keep yourself alive and healthy.

Unflinching: As the main initiator/frontliner for your team, it is important for you to be in the thick of the action, not sidelined by some pesky CC. Time you're CC'ed is time you can't lock down important targets or peel for your teamates. Increases the potentail of your teleport ganks.

For your secondary tree, I recommend Sorcery, as seen below. There are other good options in the other trees however, and I shall cover them here as well.

+ Sorcery: Manaflow Band builds your mana pool to help offset Nautilus' high cost abilities. Transcendence boosts CDR, but also has a highly gold efficient conversion rate of excess CDR into AP.

+ Resolve: Presence of Mind helps with your high mana costs if you can secure some early kills. Legend: Alacrity gives even more tenacity.

+ Domination: Cheap Shot adds constant bonus true damage both in lane and in teamfights. Zombie Ward gives you greater vision control to offset your low movement speed and vulnerability to ganks-especially if Dredge Line is on cooldown.

+ Inspiration: Biscuit Delivery helps greatly with both HP and mana sustain while laning. Approach Velocity helps Nautilus stick to enemies and assist allies in danger.
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Summoner Spells

As almost any toplane champion, there are only two summoner spells you should be running:

Flash: Flash is standard on almost every champion, with good reason. In the early game, try to save it for use in case of a gank or trade gone terribly wrong. Late game, I like to use it to catch and CC enemy champions right before a potential teamfight, or to clean up a fight that we've won.

Teleport: Teleport can let you get back to lane quickly after death or recall, which is pretty useful on a slow character. It also gives you extra map pressure, and let's you get to teamfights and objectives in a timely fashion.
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> > >


Staggering Blow: Your basic attacks will deal extra damage and briefly immobilize your target. This effect has a per-unit cooldown, which you can see in game via a white circle around enemies you have recently hit.

Use this ability to help last hit minions; whenever you attack a minion with Staggering Blow ready, they will be dealt some extra damage. In teamfights with more than one enemy champion, try to switch between in-range targets. This will add a little more damage to the fight, as well as briefly immobilizing more than one enemy. Keep in mind however, just because they are immobilized does not mean they can't attack if you are in range.

Dredge Line: This is both your mobility and primary engage tool, so be careful! In lane, only use it if you know you are safe from the enemy jungler, or you are confident that you can kill or make your opponent back. Using Dredge Line outside of these situations can leave you extremely susceptible to a gank.

In teamfights, you can use this to engage on enemies caught out of position, and/or catch fleeing enemies so your team can secure kills. Try to aim so that even if your target dodges, you still hit terrain and can catch up to them.

Because of its important utility, decreasing Dredge Line's cooldown is important, so I recommend maxing it second.

Titan's Wrath: This is the main source of Nautilus' early trading power. Not only does Titan's Wrath reset your auto-attack timer to land a quick follow up hit, it also makes enemies take AoE burn damage from your attacks, and gives you a pretty decent shield. Use it after staggering an enemy champion to do a quick burst of damage, as well as prevent return damage. Be wary though; it has a high cooldown that is not reduced by leveling it up.

For increased damage and health in lane, I recommend maxing Titan's Wrath first.

Riptide: A nice AoE damage and slow complements Nautilus' kit quite nicely. Use it in team fights as often as you can to slow multiple enemy champions. In lane, use it whenever your opponent tries to flee your melee range. You will slow their retreat, letting you get some more damage onto them, and enemies that get hit by multiple waves take additional damage! Finally, you can also use this ability to slow pursuers and buy time until Dredge Line is off cooldown.

While Riptide is useful in a 1v.1 situation, its real power is in teamfights with multiple enemies. These don't usually start till later in the game, and there are better options for damage in your lane, so max Riptide last.

Depth Charge: Nautilus' ultimate is a powerful ability for both teamfights and 1v.1's. It can be used to knock up and catch a fleeing enemy, even after they flash away, and can be a wrecking ball for the enemy team's positioning. In a teamfight, allow your other slows to take their toll, and then launch Depth Charge onto a high-priority backline target. With some luck and prediction, you'll catch the frontline in the blast as well as someone else who's hanging back, and suddenly you've landed a 1 second stun on half the enemy team!

Remember that Depth Charge moves relatively slowly for an ability, so it is not instant point and click CC. Think ahead to who you want to target, and how you can position to catch as many enemies as possible with the ability.

As with most ultimates, put points into Depth Charge whenever possible (levels 6, 11, and 16).
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Starting Items

Doran's Shield: The most consistent start for Nautilus. Not only does it help you to last hit minions in lane, but the health bonuses and regeneration supplement Titan's Wrath, letting you engage in short trades very effectively. Don't forget your Health Potion!

Corrupting Potion: This start will also improve your trades by increasing your damage output and health regeneration. However, it requires a better sense of when to use it to make your burn count, so if you aren't familiar with it or feel less confident, I would recommend skipping it.

First Back

Hextech Revolver: Nautilus has strong base damage on both his attacks and abilities, so we want to push his advantage early game while we can. Hextech Revolver assists with that goal, increasing our damage significantly whenever we go in for short trades. Its bonus AA damage does have a fairly long cooldown, so try to engage based on whether or not it is up. Unless you need it first to survive, pick up your defensive option after the revolver.

Sheen: Just like with the Hextech Revolver, Sheen increases Nautilus' damage on basic attacks. The difference however is the situational usefulness of the two items. Hextech Revolver give good AP and a scaling AA buff, but has a 40 second cooldown. Sheen gives no AP and doesn't scale very well, but can be activated much more often, making it better at extended trades where all of your abilities can be used. If possible, you can actually use both to up your early game damage significantly!

Glacial Shroud: Some champions just have too strong an early game for your first item to be an offensive one. If you find yourself against a strong early game AD match up, pick up Glacial Shroud as soon as you can. Alternatively, if your opponent is more of an ADC character, like Vayne,
Quinn, or Jax, then pick up an early Warden's Mail to hamper their auto attacks.

Spectre's Cowl: While not exceptionally common, sometimes you get stuck with a spell-spamming AP champion in the top lane. Spectre's Cowl is immensely useful in such situations, not only making their poke hurt less, but granting increased health sustain. Between this item and your Doran's Shield, you should be able to lane just fine by keeping engages short and waiting for your health regen to take effect before going back in.

Early Items

Hextech GLP-800: Before this item lost the eternity passive, it was a great all around tool for Nautilus. While it is still useful, I would recommend upgrading to Iceborn Gauntlet first. Everfrost is good for three main reasons; the large amount of AP boosts your ability damage, it provides a lot of extra mana to counter Nautilus' high ability costs, and it has a great activated ability. The slow can be used to set up or escape from ganks, and the projectiles travel much faster and farther than Nautilus' other slows.

Iceborn Gauntlet: This should be the first completed item you aim for. It gives you an excellent mix of stats you can use, including CDR, lots of extra mana, armor, and some added damage/slow on your auto-attacks. There are two important things to keep in mind while running Iceborn Gauntlet. First, the area of your slow increases with the armor you build, so building more will make the slow much more useful in teamfights. Second, since Nautilus' passive will immobilize champions when he autoattacks them anyway, try to save your abilities till after the first hit. A great combo to use is AA>W>AA>E to get a large amount of damage and slows with little retaliation.

Adaptive Helm: This item fights cancer. No, really. If you ever have the misfortune of facing a Teemo or Singed in the top lane, I recomend you rush this item, and then pray to whatever Targonian Aspect you favor. In all seriousness, this item is a great defense against spammed/DoT magic damage. However, the 20% damage reduction from the passive only lasts four seconds, so if your opponent can't spam their spells that often, look to get Spirit Visage instead.


Boots of Swiftness: After finishing my early items is when I look to finish my boots. These are the boots I usually buy in order to be more helpful around the map, and to close on or escape from enemies. If the enemy team has a balanced team comp between dealing physical and magic damage, pick up Boots of Swiftness.

Ninja Tabi: If the opposing team leans heavily toward physical damage, or if they have two ADC type characters (think Yasuo or Master Yi in addition to bot lane), Ninja Tabi in conjunction with Frozen Heart lets you shut down a large part of their damage. Unfortunately, they are a bit more expensive than Boots of Swiftness, but if it keeps you alive and protecting your squishies, it's well worth it.

Mercury's Treads: Similar to the above, if the opposing team instead relies heavily on magic damage and/or has a lot of CC they can throw at you, Mercury's Treads are the way to go. This scenario is less common than facing a lot of physical damage, so I don't build these very often.


Dead Man's Plate: I recommend getting this item as your third full item (excluding boots). It helps Nautilus get around the map to assist his allies, and does some nice extra damage to boot. If you have Dead Man's Plate try to use it to engage on enemies instead of burning Dredge Line to get to them. It's also nice to have if you are trying to run away from pursuers.

Sunfire Cape: This item is a very nice one because of its passive burn aura, which has once again been changed to where it is actually useful. The passive is nice for farming minions, but its also great for teamfights. As a CC heavy tank, you will probably be in the middle of the fight anyways, and should be able to deal some nice burn damage to the enemy team as a whole.

Righteous Glory: This item has arguably better engage potential than Dead Man's Plate with its significant AoE slow. However, aside from its engage, it is a worse item overall, leaving you less mobile and with less health and armor. Still, if you absolutely need to lock down multiple enemies reliably, Turbo Chemtank can help.

Frozen Heart: With its 100 bonus armor and constant AS slow, Frozen Heart can be a good item to get; the amount of armor it gives you is fantastic, and the extra mana and 20% CDR are a great boost. However, I would normally only recommend getting it against teams with two or more ADC-type champions. If they have only one champion reliant on attack speed, get something that will help versus the whole team.

Randuin's Omen: This is another option to help shut down ADC's for your team. If Frozen Heart just isn't cutting it, Randuin's Omen will make it very difficult for the opposing ADC(s) to deal with you. Its slow is nice for when Riptide is on cooldown, but isn't really necessary. Overall a decent item, but if you only have to worry about one ADC, or if the ADC isn't based on dealing critical damage, there are better options.

Thornmail: Similar to Randuin's Omen, this is a more aggressive/damaging option to help deal with ADC's, though it can help against everyone. In general I would encourage you to rely on your team to deal the damage so you can focus on mitigating damage to yourself, but if your team isn't doing that, or you seem to be surviving teamfights just fine, Thornmail could be a better choice over Randuin's Omen.

Magic Resist

Locket of the Iron Solari: Locket of the Iron Solari is a great item that I highly recommend. The only exception would be if your team already has a larger tank than you who is running it. Because it gives both armor and magic resist, it is almost always useful, and between Titan's Wrath and the shield, you can survive quite a beating in teamfights. Always try to keep an eye on your allies' health bars during fights, because even if you don't need the shield, they might.

Banshee's Veil: This can be a good item depending on your opponents' engage/counterengage. As the engager for your team, you will often be taking some powerful abilities to the face anytime you go in. Banshee's Veil allows you to shrug off one of those hits, and still provides high magic resist and a bit of extra damage via AP. It can be especially important to block enemy engage that would wreck your team, such as Sion's Unstoppable Onslaught.

Abyssal Mask: A quick note: I already mentioned them earlier, but if you don't need them for laning, Spirit Visage and Adaptive Helm can both be useful mid-late game. Adaptive Helm especially can help deal with champs like Zyra or Ahri. If you don't need that additional defense, then Abyssal Mask is the alternative that gives you and your team some extra damage. If the rest of your team can't make use of the extra 15% magic damage though, don't get it. Your damage alone isn't high enough to justify increasing it. The eternity passive is a nice bonus, but not as necessary in the late game.

Gargoyle Stoneplate: This item fits into both the armor and magic resist sections, as it gives equal amounts of both. I really go back and forth on this item. While it can be absolutely ridiculous in the right situation, outside of that specific instance, it's fairly weak. All of it's power comes from having three or more enemy champions nearby to double your bonuses. In this situation, it's great, and the active can allow you to walk into the enemy team and wreck them with CC, not to mention peel so much damage for your team. Outside of that situation however, it really struggles. If you're constantly teamfighting, and your team is good at grouping, give it some consideration. I especially like pairing the empowered active with Locket of the Iron Solari's shield. However, if your team is bad at grouping and you're only encountering one or two enemies at a time, get something else.


Liandry's Torment: While most of the time you want to build full-on tank after laning phase ends, there will be times that you're far ahead of your opponent or your opponent's team has relatively low damage output, and you want to keep pressing your lead. In such a situation, Liandry's Anguish is by far the best option for Nautilus. Not only does it give high AP, but you will be burning enemies for 2% of their current health constantly, and continually increasing your own damage output. There are a few situations, such as a toplane Dr. Mundo, where Liandry's can be worth it even if you're not ahead.
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Nautilus is a strong champion largely because of his late game potential. He brings as much CC as the rest of his team combined, and is not only useful, but incredibly fun to play because of his ability to make picks on enemy champions and help secure kills. Thank you for taking the time to read through this guide! If you have any comments, suggestions, or would like to see additional sections added to this guide, please let me know, and I'll try to stay on top of such things. I hope you have gained a bit of insight into playing Nautilus, and, as always, have fun in League!
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7.13.18- Updated items with Abyssal Mask as Magic Resist option.
7.12.18- Guide updated to 8.13; new runes, items, a few other minor tweaks. Changelog added.
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Elf491
Elf491 Nautilus Guide
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Nautilus in Season 8

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