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Nidalee Build Guide by Keizgon

Assassin [S4 4.10] The Book On Jungling AD Nidalee

Assassin [S4 4.10] The Book On Jungling AD Nidalee

Updated on June 24, 2014
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96,103 Views 4 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Keizgon Nidalee Build Guide By Keizgon Updated on June 24, 2014
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LoL Summoner Spell: Exhaust


LoL Summoner Spell: Smite


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None


[Upcoming Patch version: 4.12(?) - They are now focusing on her Jungle more, THANK YOU RIOT]

Due to the possible incoming changes to her being buffed for the Jungle, I may hold off finishing certain sections in this guide until things are solidified. I also need a brief break (don't worry it won't be for long!). Having said that, there is already a ton of content here for her Jungle and should be able to do fine.

[Current Patch version: 4.10]

This guide is focused on the most optimal jungle pattern for Nidalee, which happens to be AD Bruiser build path. Her kit does scale with AP build paths and essentially can build whatever she pleases (like Evelynn), but this won't give you any early game power and your clear speeds will be terrible until mid game transition, which leaves you vulnerable and weak. AD bruiser gives her great clearing speeds and will have good sustain for both health and mana. With this build, you should be able to accomplish two very important tasks in the game: 1) Early game dominance; 2) Vision Control ( Bushwhack) and safety for you and the team.

"She's AP! Where is her AD scalings?!"

As of patch 4.10, she has been reworked and shifted in power from broken Javelin Toss to now a melee assassin Aspect Of The Cougar. Her Takedown is loaded with nearly all her massive damage potential with high scaling AD ratios. It scales so well and synergizes with Blade of the Ruined King and Sheen based builds ( Trinity Force Lich Bane Iceborn Gauntlet). Despite it having a massive AD scaling, its true power lies in magic damage and the execute damage it provides with the less health they have.

Another note you might want to write down is her Takedown procs lifesteal (not sure if this is scaled off the magic damage itself), which is really useful for surviving and peeling with Blade of the Ruined King when they have high MR. The end results in you having strong mixed damage, making you a decent mobile bruiser (though you do lack CC still...).
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New High Skill & Powerful Jungler

Nidalee currently has an underestimated and powerful jungling kit that revolves around many roles throughout the game. Her first and primary role is actually very flexible, but requires you to make fast and pre-determined decisions the moment you step out of your base and into the jungle, choosing between Javelin Toss | Takedown (team based invading) and Bushwhack | Pounce (vision control / safety / pre-invade scouting).

Your role presence:



  • CC is your worst enemy even with a tenacity item like Mercury's Treads
  • CC that you wish you had for ganks like your older sister Elise
  • You fall off late game in team fights and still can get bursted to oblivion, even as bruiser
  • Early ganks with Javelin Toss require skill (long range but tiny width) or a point blank shot for minimal damage and a passive trigger to Prowl for a Pounce + Swipe + Takedown follow up. However, this makes you even more vulnerable than a Katarina if you go in at the wrong times.
  • Passive gapcloser relies on small width spears that can be blocked and strategic/lucky traps
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Best Choice


With absolutely no CC (aka Crowd Control) your kit provides, this is an absolute must have if you plan on getting your first gank off successfully and even safely. The utility for reducing high damage output champions also gives you a little assurance you won't give first blood instead. Late game this is your only utility you bring in a team fight to help engage and disengage from high damage priority targets.


This guide is about jungling. Expect to get your buffs stolen and completely bullied in the jungle without this. You are also capable of a Takedown execute + Smite combo for objective steals (Buffs/ dragon / baron ).












Garbage Tier


I don't have to explain why this is a troll's choice in a summoner spell. However, I will say this. You're not a laner. Your role is not to defend or rush after death. Your jungling role requires you to NOT die in the first place because you are one of the biggest play makers in the game. Garbage tier.
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Runes & Masteries

These two sections are currently the most optimal early game setup available. Please note, I just said early game because Nidalee is an early game champion and can fall off harder than champions that already do like Shaco or Lee Sin due to potentially higher skill cap and no CC in your kit for team based fights.

Everything I have chosen for this setup is taken into consideration of:
  • Early Game Power
  • Clear Speed
  • Ganking Power
  • Jungle / Skirmish Survival
  • Invading Potential


There is only two build alternatives in the situation against a heavy AD based team.

You can replace Greater Glyph of Magic Resist with:

  1. Greater Glyph of Ability Power
    For slightly better damage output. Be cautious of mixed damage champions like Shyvana. Please note, I did say slightly better damage output because her AP scalings aren't that impressive early game.

  2. Greater Glyph of Armor
    With Greater Seal of Armor being nerfed, one can finally see the appeal of these runes. They haven't been buffed in any way since the rune changes, but you can notice hardly any ratio difference between Greater Seal of Armor 1.0 vs Greater Glyph of Armor 0.7.


I'm going to explain this briefly as possible (though I don't know if I can) and why I didn't choose a set of standard offensive/defensive masteries and would never pick up utility masteries over these while jungling Nidalee.


You are an assassin champion. Your role requires you to pick off champions fast and intelligently. You are useless unless you dominate early game. If you can't close out the game fast enough, you are going to struggle even harder to win.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I can hope you understand that the standard Warlord and Devastating Strikes are useless to you.

If not, here is why the following offensive masteries are useless for Nidalee jungle:

  • Warlord

    5 extra AD for every 100 bonus AD (not total). Your starting AD is roughly ~20. That's 1 extra AD for 3 mastery slots from this mastery. 1 AD...

    Your late game presence will not benefit you with a measly ~10 bonus AD (at best). It's so bad to get this because her mediocre AP scalings still benefit you more throughout the entire game. This is why you want Arcane Mastery but are forced to grab Mental Force due to the skill tree block. They still hardly benefit you, but it is the only best alternative in full offense.

  • Devastating Strikes

    Another late game scaling mastery that does nothing for you as an assassin early game.

    Even as a late game mastery, I would argue 6% does too little for any champion to even matter over a Void Staff or Last Whisper / Black Cleaver.

  • Double-Edged Sword

    Do you have a deathwish? Maybe not the worst or useless mastery, but most certainly a stupid risk to take as an early game assassin. Javelin Toss would only benefit you with this, but guess what? The point of it is to now land the spear by any means, even if you have to do it point blank range just to trigger Prowl. Patch 4.10 reduced Nidalee's Javelin Toss to the size of a needle.

    Besides, why take the self-damaging risk when you can simply get Havoc for no bad trade-off?

  • Frenzy

    You have no good critical hit based options to build into. Iceborn Gauntlet over Trinity Force is part of what makes you a mixed damage bruiser while still sticking to your target via on-hit Takedown slows.

  • Blade Weaving

    I'm on the fence with this one. While you do benefit from total AD, it doesn't benefit you enough early on. I feel like it's crowded out with better options because you're a bruiser late game anyway.

    Though, unlike this mastery, Spell Weaving gives Takedown strong damage because it's magic damage, making execution blows better.

  • Archmage

    This guide is for AD bruiser Nidalee in the jungle. She absolutely requires AD early on to be effective.

  • Arcane Blade

    This build has no substantial AP to even be useful with this.

  • Feast

    This does not benefit junglers much because you aren't clearing enough monsters or fast as laners are capable of to be useful.

    The health sustain can be replaced easily with Primal Surge and eventually life steal from Bilgewater Cutlass or Blade of the Ruined King.

    You also hardly require mana (not that a few MP recovery points would help anyone) when you're manaless in Aspect Of The Cougar. If you really wanted to, you could give all your blue buffs away and you wouldn't even take much of a hit.


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Abilities & Ultimate Obscurity

I almost didn't write this section, but due to her Aspect Of The Cougar's abilities being obscure how they scale, I feel like I must explain all of her abilities a bit more on what maxing out provides jungle Nidalee in power and strategy.

If you want to know more in-depth of what you should be starting out with at levels 1-3 (and the tactical importance of their order), I suggest you read the next two chapters on Jungling Strategy.

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Jungle Strategy - From Spawn to Buff

This section will determine your outcome throughout the entire game and requires you to make decisions immediately and precisely while constantly moving. There currently is three options to play her, which is determined by the skill you choose at level 1:

  1. Javelin Toss | Takedown
    Tier: 2
    Role: Team invasion
    Difficulty: Medium-Hard
    Strength: Dueling and invasion potential.
    Weakness: No safety. Trading for lack of sustain or lack of mobility / vision power.
    Risk / Reward: High / Medium
    Requires: Team to have CC / strong level 1 impact.

  2. Bushwhack | Pounce
    Tier: 1
    Role: Early Vision Control / Mobility
    Difficulty: Hard
    Strength: Outweighs own weakness trade-off by potential outplay with mobility and vision/buff control.
    Weakness: No duel potential and no immediate sustain. Strategic trap usage takes skill.
    Risk / Reward: Low / High

    1. Instantly buy your items and immediately start using Pounce continuously towards the objective you want to secure.

      • Note 1: This should always be the opposite buff you are starting with to know if they are invading / stealing it.

    2. Immediate decision making and constantly moving with Pounce and Bushwhack strategically.

      • Note: You don't have time to type what you are doing once you're in-game. Unless your team is in a voice chat, you need to communicate with pings. This goes for throughout the game as well, when you're continuing to pseudo-ward the map.

    3. You need to know how long your traps will take to setup and when to start moving to your starting buff area to start trapping for its security as well.

      • Note: If you get invaded on your buff, you know where they are and you will be stealing theirs with no problem.

  3. Primal Surge | Swipe
    Tier: 3
    Role: Early Sustain / Potion Saver
    Difficulty: Easy
    Strength: Potentially can save you a potion or two at the start.
    Weakness: No safety. No buff control. No dueling potential. No potential counter play.
    Risk / Reward: High / Low
    Requires: Nothing.
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Jungle Strategy - From Buff Clears to Ganks

Once you have finished your first buff and leveled up to 2, you are now going to start making more powerful decisions that will lead you to a team victory. Alternatively, you could be planning a level 1 invasion to do the same very thing.

Starting with Q - Level 1 Invasion

This section does not tell you how to invade exclusively as a Nidalee jungle, but a generic understanding of the process for any jungling champion seeking an invade.

You should know as an experienced jungler when you want to begin the invade (preferably briefly before the buff start) so you don't give them time to react and can potentially result in simply stealing it via Javelin Toss / Takedown / Smite combos instead of picking a fight.

Having said that, any competent jungler is going to pull the buff directly into the bush so you can't visibly do this. If you can have your teammates or yourself drop a ward on that bush, then it will open your availability to steal it.

Alternatively, you can get vision on this buff via Javelin Toss if you hit the enemy jungler in the bush. This is risky though, because if you miss or accidentally hit the buff, no vision will be granted to you.

The only other vision tool you can start with is Bushwhack which will reveal any enemy (including monsters and champions), but poses an incredible risk if you're doing a level 1 team invade due to lack of dueling power.

Your best option is to simply drop a ward on the bush and assess from there. If you spot that they're incompetent to be in the bush in the first place, they won't even see the ward placed there unless an ally or vision is already granted there at the time.

Having said that, if you want to pick a fight while fighting for the buff, you can do this as well. However, this requires knowledge that your team has the potential to either CC lock enemies or burst them down fast enough that they can't react, giving you First Blood and potential multiple kills in the level 1 team fight. Not to mention, someone on your team is getting the free buff (hopefully you because you need any early advantage you can get).

If you manage to get the buff, proceed to go straight to yours, clear it, and go to straight to your other buff immediately and clear it as well. This will prevent them from catching back up by stealing your buff in return (unless they already were there at the start). Do not stop for mini monster camps on the way. This is a rush for buff control and effectively deleting the enemy jungler's early game presence, and potentially late game presence.

This is an assumption you are successful though. You could very well risk giving them the opportunity to do the same to you in a bad scenario. This requires communicating to your team right at spawn so they know which skill to choose as well as understanding which champions have a strong early game power and which ones don't.

Starting With W - Ganking / Dueling at level 2

You immediately have three choices to make if you started with Javelin Toss | Takedown (invade only) or Bushwhack | Pounce and in conjunction with both at level 2.

  1. If you for whatever reason took Javelin Toss | Takedown at level 1, you will be taking Bushwhack | Pounce as your next skill for an ultimate level 2 combo with your Prowl passive. If you can skillfully trigger it, though.

    • Note: You might have took it because the enemy was doing an invade. You might have failed at one yourself. You might have successfully completed your invade. Whatever the reason, your next skill to get is Bushwhack | Pounce. These two skills are essential to your kit at all stages of the game, but even more of an impact early on with one of the best level 2 kits for high level play.

  2. Assuming you didn't get invaded or have any trouble getting the buff you desired... and you started with Bushwhack | Pounce (in consideration of immediate start of pseudo-warding), then it is time to take your Javelin Toss | Takedown. This is where taking Bushwhack | Pounce becomes a various and flexible decision-maker immediately:

    1. If you have blue, you can choose to start Bushwhacking wherever you feel is the highest threat location for the jungler to gank your most extended / pushing laner.

      Alternatively, you can do this while also counter jungling the enemy jungler's camps.

      If any enemy laner is extremely overextended, you should be able to gank them successfully while you are making your pseudo-ward presence around the map.

      • Note: Do not expect to always get the kill. Burning a flash is just as useful for future ganks and your laner's potential dominance. Immediately move to your next tactical location.
      • Note: If you run into the enemy jungler while he has red and you don't, expect to risk losing the duel. Unless you have red buff, your kill potential will be lacking.
      • Note: You absolutely need to move in the direction of your next buff to clear it and achieve level 3 with a smaller camp.

    2. If you have red you may proceed to do this same method, but more successful in aggression. However, the trade-off is you won't be able to Bushwhack | Pounce around the map as you wish. Though, 10% CDR is negligible for your tasks. I would argue starting red would benefit you most.

The idea behind these decisions is you're blood thirsty, but at the same time you want to keep you and your laners safe by grid locking high priority locations. You want to get that first blood ASAP when the laners or jungler is least expecting.

There is a slight risk to this method and getting your [x] buff stolen if your Bushwhack 2 minute timer ends, losing your buff control. Don't waste your time playing 2v1 lane wars when your gank was unsuccessful. Move on.

Your level 2 presence should always be between the two lanes where your unacquainted buff is. Having said that, if there is no ganks to be made, proceed to take your 2nd buff / clear a small monster camp to achieve level 3. You can't **** around with Bushwhack all day and not focus on goal after goal. This can mean Bushwhack a couple lane bushes and simply going back to clearing your jungle when no gank opportunities are available.

Starting With E - More Reasons Why This Is Garbage

If you started with Primal Surge | Swipe, however, you only have two choices. Whatever you pick, you lose power in dueling potential or a level 2 gank. You are forced to farm / Bushwhack (if picked) until level 3. Pathetically unskillful and loses out on tactical advantage. Just another reason why starting with this skill is garbage tier when it comes to jungling Nidalee.

If this alone doesn't convince you that this is a beginner's trap, then let me paint a scenario for you with a smart jungling opponent who thinks you're easy meat / First Blood.

Suppose you picked Primal Surge | Swipe at level 1. Suppose the enemy jungler waltzes in your jungle with his team for an invasion. You have no good choices other than to:

  1. Fight back and hope to god your team can help you defend your buff without dying while you are near useless watching.

  2. Bend over backwards and give up your 1st buff with a bad start. Even if you manage to go to theirs, time is in their hands because they got the buff first.

  3. Never picked Primal Surge | Swipe over Bushwhack | Pounce to secure your buffs in the first place. At least with this option, you knew it was coming and can quickly go to their buff without anybody dying. Even if you picked Javelin Toss | Takedown, at least you wouldn't be useless in a level 1 team invade skirmish.

Wait, I'm not done talking about this bad starting decision with Primal Surge | Swipe. I'm going to paint a different scenario for you now. One that screws you in decision making at level 2.

Suppose the opponent enemy jungler decided to waltz in your jungle ALONE at level 2 for a counter jungle attempt. He's waiting for you in the bush at your opposite buff. However, because you didn't pick Bushwhack | Pounce to secure it first, you wouldn't know that would you? He freely waltz'd in with no consequences. At best his HP would have been shredded by not one, but two Bushwhack traps if he's still there. However, if you would have Bushwhacked at level 1 in the first place, you would have known he was there waiting for you. You would then now have lost three tactical choices by not choosing this buff control method:

  1. Not even a choice by you. His own choice to pack his bags and run scared like a sissy while injured; wasting his own time and gold on potions.

  2. Avoid him completely and go to his buff to steal his first (while he potentially wastes his own time waiting for you before he starts on yours).

  3. Destroy him in a level two duel with Javelin Toss | Takedown + Bushwhack | Pounce. I cannot stress enough that these two skills are what makes your level 2 power potentially the strongest in duel potential in the game against nearly any champion who tries to screw with you.
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Jungle Strategy - Mid Game to End

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Counter Jungling and Anti-Counter Jungling

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Closing Notes & Forewarning

Nidalee isn't a typical jungler and requires extreme skill to play successfully the harder your opponents are. She requires you to be on your feet and using her kit to the fullest throughout the game. Personally, I would rate her on the level of Shaco and Lee Sin as one of the hardest junglers to master, but can go toe to toe with the strongest if played to her fullest.

Having said that, I want to provide a list of forewarning about playing her in the jungle..


  • You are mechanically bad at her via skill shots Javelin Toss and Bushwhack planning.
  • You are playing ranked with her without massive experience of success with her
  • Your team has NO CC or a tank
  • You're not confident against a higher elo matchup
  • New to jungling
  • Never experienced counter jungling / anti-counter jungling
  • Never experienced successful invasions for yourself or the enemy invades
  • Never played an assassin type role
  • You are incompetent at understanding the importance and placement of wards/traps
  • You plan on AFK jungling like a useless Udyr via Feral Flare + Spirit Stone
  • You don't know how to close out a game fast
  • You type more than you play the game
  • You are incompetent at objective control (Base Sieges, Buffs, Dragon , Baron )

Constructive Feedback/Comments

First of all, please please leave a comment or simply rate this guide based on your experience using it.

  • Did this guide help you?
  • What aspects did you feel were confusing?
  • Did you enjoy the build path created here?
  • What tier/division/elo are you?
  • Are you an experienced jungler?
  • What can you see improved with the guide?
  • Was it accurate and punctual?

I cannot express enough that I enjoy listening to all feedback on this or any future guide(s) I may provide. My goal is to write as much in-depth about a particular champion build path as much as I can, and be accurate in my research and experience playing them.

However, as a word of warning, I will analyze your feedback with as much objectivity as I possibly (and humanly) can. This can lead to debacles on both our parties in a debate, losing track of any real form of objectivity.

If you make a strong case of why I'm inaccurate or false, I will most certainly put your suggestions to the test and see if it is most certainly a false positive on my end. The last thing I want to do is be inaccurate or misleading. If you wish for credit after a revision of your suggestion, please don't panic. Simply communicate with me and I can most certainly accommodate for your precious feedback.

I also want to say, I value constructive feedback / criticism above all straightforward and not so useful comments. Whether this be praise, trolling, or one worded/sentence comments. Please keep debates civil, and I promise not to come off as a jerk. :)

- Keizgon
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Bonus Chapter: Nidalee & Elise Compare/Contrast

Since Nidalee is a very new and fresh jungler concept right now, I want to focus comparing to Elise's play style because IMO, she's probably the closest in identity with Nidalee's kit.

This chapter can be completely skipped and is only to give people who are new to this jungling concept a little bit of an idea of what Nidalee can do. This section is suppose to give a better understanding why Nidalee jungle is viable and when to pick Elise over her and vise-versa through a compare / contrast. I will explain throughout somewhat, but I require you to use logic and intelligence to understand why with the comparison itself.



  • Scales well throughout the game and can potentially outshine Nidalee's bad late game
  • Kit is easier to manage, overall
  • Has a CC skill shot with Cocoon for ideal gank setup and team fight presence
  • Goes immune and grants vision (within radius) activating Rappel with optional mobility usage
  • Spider Queen can block multiple skill shots
  • Activating from Human Form into Spider Form gives bonus 10 movement speed + extra magic damage on-hit effect with auto attacks
  • 25 more AA range than Nidalee in Human Form

  • Has dominate early game power but requires great user mechanics and skillful planning.
  • Drops off late game with no CC to give utility to team fights
  • Has vision control with Bushwhack
  • Safety for team relies on constant/tactical Bushwhack and can provide support with Primal Surge
  • Attack speed buff for self or ally with Primal Surge
  • Activating Aspect Of The Cougar gives you abilities with no additional passives unless you trigger Prowl from human form
  • Passive gives 10% movespeed for 2 seconds while in bushes and can be increased to 30% when Prowl passive is activated
  • Can apply life steal with Takedown and other AD based itemization but isn't restricted to AD or AP
  • Requires skill to land Javelin Toss or strategic/lucky Bushwhack to even have a true gap closer for Prowl + Pounce
  • Requires Exhaust and core items to properly stick to targets effectively: Blade of the Ruined King / Iceborn Gauntlet / Frozen Mallet
  • Requires to be built around a heavy CC oriented team

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide