General Guide by Weeznaz
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+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)
1: Lockdown CC: Twisted Advance + Nature's Grasp can hold enemy champions down for about 2 seconds
2: Doesn't need to build any damage items. Between base values, built in max health values, Sunfire Cape, Iceborn Gauntlet, or Abyssal Mask Maokai doesn't need to build more damage oriented items such as Rod of Ages
3: Respectable wave manipulation.
1: Late game damage is negligible (he can't 1 v 5 carry a late game teamfights)
2: Immobile: slow base movement speed and no direct movement abilities.
3: Twisted Advance is short range: in late game teamfights it usually requires FLASH, a well placed TELEPORT, or Righteous Glory active to lock on to a primary target.
Iceborn Gauntlet: This item gives armor, 20% CDR, and lots of much needed mana. This is a great early item to help with wave manipulation and AOE CC.
Sunfire Cape: gives good HP, the AOE burn helps with wave manipulation and AOE teamfight damage.
Mercury's Treads vs Boots of Swiftness: If against high AP threats and lots of CC then M. Treads are your way to go. If you are against lots of SLOWS then B.O.Swiftness are superior.
Rod of Ages: While this item's stats all work with Maokai, it takes 10 minutes for this item to fully unlock. If you are snowballing the game, then go right ahead and get this item. However, and this is usually the case I find, I prefer to go I. Gauntlet + S. Cape as this is a more consistent item purchase.
Liandry's Torment: This item has health, high AP, flat magic penetration, and all of his abilities come with crowd control... meaning all of his abilities to extra max health damage. In most games this item is too expensive with too little tank stats to make it work. However, if you are snowballing give this item a try, it is too much fun when you get it to to work ;)
Righteous Glory: This item helps Maokai get into Twisted Advance range.
Spirit Visage: gives good HP, CDR, and Maokai has strong build in health regen effects so the unique passive on this item gets great useage.
Dead Man's Plate: A strong HP, armor, and early game item with its move speed increase.
Thornmail: A selfish item that helps Maokai stand toe to toe with AD based teams.
Locket of the Iron Solari: gives armor, magic resist, and a strong teamfight shield.
Zz'Rot Portal: Armor + magic resist + side wave pressure= options. make sure to coordinate with your team so this items pushes and you can be waiting cross map to make a play so you don't have to waste TP.
Banner of Command: See description for Zz'Rot Portal
Frozen Heart: 20% CDR + Mana + great response to attack speed based enemies.
Hextech GLP-800: Not an item I normally consider since it has no HP after the rework. It does provide 20% CDR and an active, however this active is not as useful as Righteous Glory.
Morellonomicon: This item has been reworked to grant HP, AP, grievous wounds. I normally don't take this item, however if you are snowballing it is a decent option.
Guardian Angel: While it has an awkward build path and low armor the unique passive can still be useful. Overall, a sub par armor item.
Randuin's Omen: Are you against a crit focused AD carry? Are they getting out of control. If the answer is yes then buy this item. If not, this item isn't necessary as the other armor items have more utility/ better early game benefits.
Knight's Vow: This is a sort of tag team item, it requires your ADC or your consistent magic damage AP carry to be on the ball, and if you work together you both become much harder to kill. This is a terrible item to purchase in laning phase. You need a few selfish tank items before you can make good use of this item. Just know if your damage source is on target you both can slug out drawn out teamfights.
Zeke's Harbinger: armor + magic resist + giving more power to your crit focused ADC or consistent damage carry if ahead= fun.
Zhonya's Hourglass: this item is expensive and gives low armor, but is FUN when used. This is a possibly good item against an all AD team.
Abyssal Mask: If you are fighting against an AP opponent this item can be considered worthy of rushing. However in most games I prefer Spirit Visage for its ability to work well with [Sap Magic]] or Adaptive Helm which is a better tank option. While the increase in base damage is nice, it is not worth it if you are going even or are losing top lane trades.
Adaptive Helm: A really strong response to lots of magic damage.
Gargoyle Stoneplate: Consider this a teamfight viagra pill: Gives lots of tank steroids. The item is a solid 3rd item slot pickup. The reduction in damage is not a huge deal since Maokai isn't expected to be doing the lion's share of damage in teamfights.
Trinity Force: Technically Maokai utilizes all of the stats. Maokai uses the slight AD to better last hit, he can utilize the Phage passive to bette stick to a target. Maokai can use spellblade passive decently, he has similar base AD as champions more well known for building Tri Force such as Hecarim. The attack speed is appreciated and works with Sap Magic while the move speed gives Maokai a much coveted stat. Based on that description you might believe that this item works on Maokai, and if you get an early lead it can be a fun build. The real issue is that the item goes against what you are designed to do. Maokai is designed to be played as a brick who can flash into a team and lock down one target. This item is expensive and keeps Maokai squishy. The final product is decent, but the road to get there is too difficult if you aren't hard carrying. It's more reliable to build full tank, but keep this item in the back of your mind.
Spellbinder: Gives AP and move speed, both of which work well with Maokai's kit. While building this item will make you squishy, the active move speed is a much appreciated stat as well. Be warned, this item takes a long time to fully charge and isn't necessary as in almost every circumstance Deadman's Plate is a better move speed item. Still, keep this item in the back of your mind incase you need movespeed and building armor isn't a great option.
Luden's Echo: In almost none of your games will this item be a good idea. Building this item means you aren't building tank which means you will be too squishy. The only time I have build this item is when I was against an entirely AP team, in which case my favorite mana + CDR items contained armor and were not optimal build choices. Don't build this item unless you have a comfortable snowball.
Twin Shadows: While this item does offer decent movespeed, CDR, a small amount of AP, a really good active to further support your long range engage playstyle alongside Nature's Grasp. The pricepoint isn't too expensive, HOWEVER, Maokai is expected to be a super tank. Building this item will make you too squishy for the first few teamfights. If you are in a situation where your team is winning hard, this item will help your team win harder. Otherwise I wouldn't pick it up when you could pick up a tank item.