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Xin Zhao Build Guide by Darkjellyfish

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Darkjellyfish

No Machete Jungling:AP Rune Xin Zhao [With Video]

Darkjellyfish Last updated on March 17, 2013
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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: 9


Utility: 0

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Before we begin


Do we remember the day when Riot announce the new jungle and the community become furious of the reliance on Hunter's Machete? Especially that it provides 0 damage to champion fights and has to be upgraded to become a tad useful? I do. Over the past 3 to 4 months, I kept relying on machete, believing it's the best thing for the jungle. But not anymore. Here, take a look at my jungle clear without it.

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The Mechanics and Calculations

There's no trick behind it. I'm only making a good use of Battle Cry's 0.7 AP ratio, to mow on Greater Quintessence of Ability Power, Greater Glyph of Ability Power, and Blast which together gives 27 AP right at the start of the game.

Calculation of Health Gained Per 3 Auto-attack = 26 + (0.7*27) = 44.9

With the Addition of Doran's Blade, you get 5 health per hit.

So in total, every third attack, you get: 44.9 + 3(5) = 59.9, approximately 60 Health gained!


You may be asking questions like, does this apply to the real game? Will its effectiveness actually outweigh 5x Health Potion? Because I still can't figure a way to put up a video for now, I will refer this part to Pawnce's S3 Jungle Xin Zhao Clear Time.

You can skip it to around 35 seconds mark where he start hitting wolves. Basically, he hit 17 auto-attacks on Wolves, 19 on Blue Buff (with Smite), and 16 on Wraiths. That makes a total of 52 auto attacks, which translates into 17 times that the passive on Battle Cry give off health.

Referring to the result of the previous calculation which include Doran's Blade, the total health gained from 52 auto attacks would be 17*60 which is equal to 1020 effective Health. Of course, I don't think my runes and masteries are the same as in the video, but you get the point that you will be gaining loads of health back in the jungle.

And here, I will compare the popular Machete start with Doran's Blade.

  • 10 True Damage to monsters
  • 10% Increased damage to monsters
  • 750 health over 75 seconds
  • Upgradable into other items, but has to go through Madred's Razors and Spirit Stone which do not offer any offensive stats at all, while their defensive stats is poor compared to Chain Vest at roughly the same cost.
  • 80 more health
  • 10 more AD
  • 60 Health per hit (with my build)
  • Not really upgradable into anything. But 2 of this gives almost a Ruby Crystal, 2x Long Sword, and 10 health gained each attack, which is more than Vampiric Scepter as long as your total AD is within 100

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Xin Zhao in a Nutshell

Xin Zhao is an initiator with a very straight forward skill set. He relies on his Audacious Charge to close in the gap quickly and burst the target with Three Talon Strike and Battle Cry's active. With ghost, he can chase down any opponent that flashes away given the right situation. In team fights he can wreck the opponent's team formation with Crescent Sweep and survive through it with the increased armor and MR.

However, unlike other AD offtanks, he scales poorly with AD due to lack of bursty ultimate. And if you build pure AD items on him, chances are you will hit the floor before your third Three Talon Strike hits. This is why I focus on survivability items to get him through the team fights.



  • No escape ability
  • Very Predictable Play-style
  • Does not scale well with AD
  • Ult can't burst people down
  • His damage falls off late game
  • Successful ganks rely on the last strike of Three Talon Strike

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Greater Glyph of Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power Greater Glyph of Ability Power

This is where the magic starts, literally. These pretty runes and Blast give 27 AP right off the bat, which gives additional19 health on Battle Cry. With Doran's Blade, you get 60 health every 3 auto-attacks and 180 with every 9. That's a free health potion and 30 health right there.

Greater Mark of Attack Speed
15% attack speed, great for auto attack count on Battle Cry and jungle clear time.

Greater Seal of Armor
A must-have rune for all junglers, period.

These runes are also very common for other roles, so I think most of us have already had them. Just try it, really, and if you can't survive the jungle, please leave a comment for me to see the situation you are facing.

Alternative Set up for Traditional Jungle Xin Zhao


Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed Greater Quintessence of armor penetration

These are the viable rune set up for more offensive power. If you run Arpen, use only 2 just so that it is enough to shread jungle creep's armor. Out of this list, I would pick up Movement speed, so that ganks can be done even easier.

Greater Quintessence of Armor Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist

If you are against a team that is heavily skewed to either AD or AP, you can pick up these runes.
Keep in mind that you have to start with Hunter's Machete if you run these alternative quintessences.

Greater Mark of Attack Damage

I don't really like attack damage because in my opinion Xin Zhao doesn't scale with it very well. But coupled it with Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage and you do15 more physical damage for each auto-attack without buying anything, so yeah it works too. However, Doran's Blade do not scale with AD so you can skip it to health or attack speed items.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

These are the only viable glyphs for Xin Zhao outside of my main build. If you run Greater Glyph of Attack Speed, you trade off a lot of defensive stats for some 5.76% attack speed.

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My Offense Tree focus on dealing the most damage since level 1, with a scaling into late game with Deadliness , while Blast makes your health gain from Battle Cry scale throughout the game. In case you are wondering why Arcane Knowledge , it boosts the damage on Audacious Charge.

For the Defense tree, Tough Skin and Bladed Armor makes your jungle clear a walk in a park.

You can switch out Spellsword into Destruction to mow down turrets faster, but I just like the extra 1-2 magic damage on my autos to make a beast early game. If you are running Flash, switch out Summoner's Wrath into Fury

Alternative Masteries Set up


I use 9-21-0 mastery set up for traditional Jungling Xin Zhao since Hunter's Machete will offer a lot of damage output to jungle creeps already. Juggernaut and Legendary Armor will help your tankiness scale into late game with defensive items. You don't really need Relentless or Tenacious because of the low cool down of your kit, which allows you to jump onto the enemies at least twice in teamfights and more as long as you live through it.

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Skill Explanation

Reduce your target's armor by 15% for 3 seconds, a nice passive to shred down just anything.

Increase your auto attack damage,reduce your cool down, and the knock up is awesome. Level this second to reset your all-in combo faster.

Your sustain ability with a very high AP ratio of 0.7. As previously explained, you get a free Health Potion and 30 health every 9 attacks with Doran's Blade. Health gained from this ability does not scale with AD; all the more reason to not build pure AD on him.
Also do not forget to use the active in every fight.

This and Three Talon Strike is what makes Xin Zhao a scary ganker. You close in the gap with a slow and follow it with a knock up, and then 3 seconds later you repeat the combo again, Holy Mother of God D: With the AP from our masteries and rune, this ability will hurt even more.

There are so many ways to use this ability. You can use it right at the start of the teamfight, or as soon as you Audacious Charge into the enemy's carries to seperate them from peelers, or use it to fend off bruisers that rush into your carries. As long as you hit 3 champions or sent someone flying in your desired direction, you are doing it right. On a side note, anything you hit before using your ultimate will not be brushed off, so when a Garen come charging with his team, Dash into anything less tankier besides him and press R.

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Recommended Spells

In mid lane, a Ghost gank is almost guaranteed as long as you save up Audacious Charge for the enemy's Flash. Its cooldown is also lower than flash - by the time your next ghost is up the enemy's flash is still down.

Secure buffs and objectives. Just as a reminder, here is the timer list
Blue Buff 5.00
Red Buff 5.00
Dragon 6.00
Baron 7.00

Replace Ghost for either spell. If you feel the enemies' bruisers and carries will be hard to handle, grab Exhaust. Flash is of course, more flexible than Ghost, and is recommended against Jarvan IV or Veigar.

Ghost will also make you a juking machine.
It's also really much manlier than Flash D:

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Core Items

Your bread and butter item. Comparing to Hunter's Machete, you get 80 more health, 10 more damage, and 5 health for every attack. With this, you will win any encounter with the enemy's jungler and make your gank plain ridiculous.

Most junglers in competitive plays run these, with a good reason. Thanks to the increased health from 2 x doran's blade, you don't suffer much even it you don't invest in defensive boots such as Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads

This sword works on you as good as it is on hobbits. The 40% attack speed scales on doran's blade's passive and Battle Cry, and gets to the third strike on Three Talon Strike much faster. 10% Cool down reduction is a great bonus.

If you are fed, get this instead and you are fine with MR items until late game.

Aside from increased Health and MR, 15% more healing effects is great on your already high sustain. 20% CDR is just dumb, and have I mentioned it's so damn cheap?

Your enemies will hate you. And if they manage to take you down, just get up for round 2.

Thanks to Smokedcarperter suggestions, he reminded me that this items work on Xin Zhao just as good as other initiator junglers. Rushing into the team fight with the active and the support's shurelya's reverie is always deadly. It's also great to mitigate AOE damage from champions like Galio or Karthus' Requiem.

Buy it if the enemy's AD bruiser/AD carries are getting annoying. It has a nice balance of health and armor, and the active scales with the increased defense stats from Crescent Sweep.

*Note that I did post a possible end-game build. But on normal occasions, you will almost always either already win or lose a game before you get to buy all those things.[/h4]

Also do not forget sight ward They will win you games, not luxury items.

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Additional Items

Switch this one down because it's quite expensive to build. A no brainer item to get tankier.Just don't buy it when you see both Liandry's Torment and Blade of the Ruined King in the enemy's team.

I also switch this one out of core items because it's good only when you're quite fed. This item really shines early to mid game, but should not be picked up by late game.

Buy it if the teamfights are not going your way or the support haven't already had it. Against Heavy AP team, upgrade it into Runic Bulwark

If you hit 4 champions, it's 400 magic damage flat on the table; with critical hit 800 damage. What more do you need?

With Challenge, you will reduce the target's armor by 40%. This is equal to giving your whole team Last Whisper's passive. It also gives some nice health and CDR.

Helps you shred tanks and offtanks late into the game. The active makes you even more sticky to the enemy's carry and peel off bruisers.

Tons of damage without the need of AD items, get it if you're super fed.

I'm moving Nashor's Tooth up because this seems to work fine in real game environment, and it also builds after Stinger, so at least you don't have to sell it off.

Not Recommended

With Audacious Charge and Three Talon Strike to refresh it, you are already very sticky. If you need to be more sticky and tankier, buy Spirit Visage to reduce the cooldown on your kit instead.

Despite the fact that they build on Stinger, they are too expensive for what they offer. They just do not give more offensive power for their costs.

If you want to play AP Xin Zhao, go to Siv HD's - What Would AP Xin Zhao do

Save these for your AD carries. Maw of Malmortius might work, but I haven't tried it.

Despite whatever items I listed here, buy what you think is right in each and every game. Fixating your build everytime is boring and it's not really an effective way to play the game.

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There is no set jungle route for this guide. However, my preferred route starts with

Wolves > Blue Buff without Smite > Red Buff

This route ensures the fastest level 3 gank with both Red and Blue buff, and looking for opportunities to gank will be your role for 50% of the game. If the enemy's jungler come to contest the Red buff at level 2, look at the minimap first to see if their laners are missing or not. IF not, fight him. You have full health with far better stats than every Hunter's Machete's start.

For other jungling routes, see Xenasis' Jungling 101, and for ganking routes, see Stonewall008's Types of Ganks

._. Yeah I'm a cheap bastard here, but these two guides are concise and cover a lot of topics and examples. I can't really see myself making a better guide for all they did.

However, despite all these resources, just keep in mind that it is never worth it to risk anyone's life in the process, and getting away from a gank instead of committing to it is sometimes the best decision you can make in the game. You should also do creative things such as counter jungling and stealing buffs if you see the chance. But before you do that put sight ward in the bush between you and the nearest lane and be aware of the surroundings. Pulling a gank right after stealing a Red buff is just so rewarding x)

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Ganking and Fights

To be updated.
I intend to add up a Ghost gank, which is not covered in Stonewall008's video and screenshots of how you deal with dueling and teamfights.

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To be updated

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Other Champions that can Jungle without Machete

Yes, there are other junglers that can get out of the jungle with full health. In respect to their ganking potential, they are Kayle Nunu Sion and Warwick. Sion is actually the motivation for my guide because I tried so hard to make a jungle build for him, leading right into this rune page and masteries set up.

If anyone wants to try them, I will add this section with a brief description of skill sequence, items, and what each of them excelled at :3

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Special Thanks

jhoijhoi's bb code guide helps me a lot in crafting the whole guide. Xenasis' Jungling 101 and Stonewall008's Types of Ganks also help me cover stuff that would be too long to put in this guide.

And yeah Siv HD's AP Xin Zhao also kind of lead me into putting the idea onto Xin Zhao. If you have any suggestions or critiques, feel free to discuss, I'm happy to answer anything about this guide :]