Build Guide by Toastia
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Not Updated For Current Season
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Punish him for me, Errol.
This Malphite build is about persistence, a killer one-hit punch, and generally being a gigantic pain in the arse for pretty much every enemy you come across.
(This Malphite build is not about: jungling, sustained DPS, sustained tanking, AP. These are all things I would probably rather do on other champions.)
The entire theory behind this build is essentially based on one observation:
Burst damage is amost always magic damage.
Following from this:
- Malphite's ultimate is a great initiator.
- If you initiate a group fight, you're probably going to get a ton of abilities dropped on you. This is almost always magic damage.
- All the armor in the world won't help you if you're dead before anyone auto-attacks you.
- Trying to do everything at once usually makes you bad at everything.
From this, and from Malphite's base attributes (passive benefits from health, AoE benefits from armor, and truly terrible base auto-attack DPS), we can see that magic resist is probably good, armor is probably OK, and damage/attack speed is probably going to cost too much to make useful without sacrificing everything else.
Once I figured out that I probably wanted lots of magic resist, I started collecting MR items that seemed to synergize with Malphite and each other, and I ended up with this MR/cooldown/health regen build.
Seismic Shard is probably Malphite's best ability. If I had to choose between this and Unstoppable Force, I'd probably take this.
Why is Seismic Shard awesome?
It does good damage and always hits. In combination with Granite Shield, it makes Malphite an absurdly good harasser. You will find that, generally speaking, in the early game most other champions' Q ability (ie, their ranged attack) will do ~8-12% of your total health in damage, if you're of the same level.
Of course, you have Granite Shield, which absorbs 10% of your health in damage. Enemy Q attacks will generally never do more than 5% health damage, and you have regen so who cares?
This means that you can happily run into range of an enemy champion, pop off a Seismic Shard, and run back. They'll shoot back at you, you lose 20hp (which you regen in five seconds), they lose 120hp. Rinse and repeat.
And, of course, it's a targeted attack so it pretty much always hits, even if they're running away. Which brings us to:
It's great for catching fleeing champions. Seismic Shard slows the enemy AND speeds you up. You don't need to be a brain surgeon to see how this is useful when enemies try to run away - although bear in mind, you have no actual DPS, so this is only useful if they're really low health, or you have assistance.
It's great for saving friendly champions. An auto-hit slow on a chasing enemy is a good way to make friends with people.
It's great for running away. Same deal as above: speeds you up, slows them down. Popping a Seismic Shard at a chasing enemy is a great way to disengage from a fight. It's not foolproof, obviously, and there are times where trying it will actually get you killed due to the momentary halt while you fire, but on an ability which also lets you harass, slow, and finish, it's an awesome extra bonus.
Ground Slam is a nice AoE attack, which adds 70% of your armor to its damage. This is for farming and for adding damage to Unstoppable Force (fire it while they're in the air, it's completely unavoidable then). It's not hugely useful early game because a) you need your mana for Seismic Shard and b) you don't really want to be pushing minions anyway unless you're actually pushing the tower down. (Pushing gets you levels ten seconds earlier, and means it's basically impossible to gank the enemy. BOO!) You're ranking it up early purely so it's charged up when you start using Unstoppable Force.
The other thing to remember about Ground Slam is it does actually slow the attack speed of enemies it hits. This is another useful extra when running away (or trying to save a friendly champion), as it can significantly reduce the incoming damage.
This ability is for pushing over towers, boosting the damage of Ground Slam, and farming minions and creeps with Granite Shield. It's not taken early game because you don't really gain a whole lot from pushing hard, and the other skills are better early on. Use liberally in lategame.
Unstoppable Force is awesome. At level 18, combined with Brutal Strikes active and Ground Slam, you can punch out ~550 damage instantly plus a two-second stun to three or four champions, and then add another 270 damage to one target with a Seismic Shard. The two seconds airborne gives your team time to drop all their AoEs too and generally engage the **** out of the other team. This will win you fights fairly consistently if used right. Use early and often.
The thing that pleases me most about this item build is that pretty much every single bonus on every single item directly feeds into either health/mana regen, HP, magic resist, or cooldown reductions. The only off-piste bonuses are
Force of Nature's speed boost,
Reverie's active, and
Sunfire Cape's armor and passive, both of which are too useful to pass up. This should ensure that you're getting maximum efficiency out of your gold, because there's very little you're paying for that's not feeding into the build's primary goals.
The first target is Philosopher's Stone, starting with the Regrowth Pendant. This is a health regen build, and Malphite's also very easy to mana-starve early game. You shouldn't need potions with this item if you play sensibly, and the extra money from the get-go is a nice bonus.
Next up is Boots of Swiftness. I inherited these from Dotter's build, and they work really nicely. Malphite's a great harasser, benefits from good positioning, has a consistent slow, and likes to roam for ganks. These factors all make good speed (in and out of combat) very useful.
(In fact, I'm leaning towards Boots of Swiftness as my default boots on pretty much all characters; yes, they don't make your raw stats look as nice, but in open ground the faster champion completely controls the engagement, which IMO is way more valuable than the stat bonuses on the other options)
Third buy is Sunfire Cape. Granite Shield benefits from more health. Ground Slam benefits from more armor. Your wallet benefits from AoE damage against minions. It's one of the least synergistic items in this build, but the ease with which it lets you make money justifies its purchase, I think.
Now we start building our real tank in earnest. Spirit Visage is next, prioritizing the Kindlegem unless you're getting ganked by magic damage repeatedly. Given how ability-dependent you are, cooldown reduction is awesome. Clearly, Spirit Visage does not on its own turn you into an ubertank, but it's laying the foundations for it as well as getting you some early magic resist.
After this, build your philosopher's stonePhilosopher's Stone into a Shurelya's Reverie. Again, if you're getting ganked early, consider getting this before Spirit Visage, as it should have a more immediate effect; I try to avoid this because it's depriving you of the Philosopher's Stone's extra income.
Also, it has a speed-boost active, which I never remember to use.
Then the obligatory Warmog's Armor, which you farm up quickly with the aid of Ground Slam and Sunfire Cape. More health, more health regen. Excellent.
The final main-sequence item is Force of Nature. This is somewhat interchangeable in the order with Warmog's Armor, but I'm tending towards getting it second now because the sooner you get Warmog's the sooner you can max it, and the 0.35% health regen thing obviously benefits from having a maxed Warmog's. Plus, yay extra movement speed. On the downside, Warmog's is more expensive (meaning it takes longer to turn gold into power) and doesn't add to your magic resistance.
If you reach this point and the game's still going, we enter the bonus round.
Bonus item #1: Swap Boots of Swiftness for Sorcerer's Shoes (more burst damage), or Ionian Boots of Lucidity (more frequent bursts). You're probably running around as a group by this stage, so the extra speed is probably not that helpful any more, and either of these options will increase your overall utility.
Bonus item #2: Swap Sunfire Cape for Randuin's Omen. Ideally you'd get this earlier, but the other regen items are better for this build IMO, and Sunfire Cape is the way you pay for everything else.
With the bonus items and a fully stacked Warmog's Armor, plus a few masteries, you can get your health regen to 196 per 5. Which, along with ~150 armor and ~150 magic resist, makes you a pretty tough cookie - and lets you re-engage again pretty safely once you get out of the initial nukes.
(Also, side note: I'm not a big fan of items with cooldown passives, such as Guardian Angel and Banshee's Veil, because I feel they constrain the tempo of your play too much. If they're essential to your play then they're limiting when you can do critical things - and if they're not essential, why are you buying them? Getting something because it's "neat" or "occasionally useful" means giving up something that's always genuinely useful, and I'd rather have the latter.)
Greater Quintessence of Vigor
Health Quintessences - nice, stable addition to Malphite's stats, including ten extra damage shield.
Magic Penetration Marks - all your damage is in abilities and magic damage, so your damage runes reflect this.
greater seal of replenishment
Flat Mana Seals - I haven't run the math on this, but Malphite is very mana-hungry in the early game and has almost no trouble later on. The flat-amount runes therefore are probably better for him. (Note to self: investigate math for per-level mana runes at some point.)
Magic Resistance Glyphs - again in keeping with the overall strategy, you want to boost your magic resistance so you survive the initial nukes.
Ignite is my must-have spell on Malphite, for two reasons. First, this Malphite build has no DPS, so it's really useful for finishing people off. Second, when used alongside your Unstoppable Force combo it lets you lay down even more damage in the initial attack, even if it does take a bit to apply.
To use it really effectively, though, you need to get a really good sense of how much damage it will do. Using it on a champion with too much health is usually pointless as they'll run under a tower and you'll lose them. On the flipside though, there's nothing more satisfying than a perfectly-judged ignite that kills them three seconds after they disappear from view. This goes doubly when you're on voice comms and can reliably call kills three seconds before they happen.
My new favorite #2 is Clairvoyance. The major components of being good at LoL are positioning and situational awareness. Clairvoyance makes your situational awareness much, much better, if you know how to use it. There's basically no reason to have it not on cooldown, unless there's a specific timing you're saving it for. Spam the **** out of it.
Also, don't get stuck in the rut that it's only for you. Every time it comes up, check the minimap. Who's missing? Who's exposed? Where might the bad guys be hiding? Keep an eye on the whole map, and keep dropping the eye anywhere it looks sensible. Remember, helping your team out helps you out.
This second slot is to some degree down to preference though; I don't find Exhaust all that useful due to my lack of DPS and the fact that Seismic Shard does the job anyway; Heal should be unnecessary with your regen; Flash and Ghost I feel are useful but only when you've screwed up your positioning somehow (and you don't get better at something until you take away your crutches).
Clarity is very useful when you start playing Malphite, because it's so easy to drain his mana. I've just about reached the point where I don't need it any more, but it took me a while (not using Seismic Shard until level 3 is a big help though). If you find this is a problem, definitely take this spell.
Teleport can be handy for positioning, although its long cooldown makes it hard to rely on regularly.
Strategy and tactics
It seems like a good idea to have an overall strategy/gameplan for the champion you're playing, which leverages the skills and items you're getting.
Early game (0-12)
I generally start in a side-lane, and in most cases Malphite works really well in a solo lane if it's available. (Recent observation: don't solo-lane against Twitch, it can be painful.) Malphite is an excellent harasser by default, due to Granite Shield and Seismic Shard, and if you can level past your enemies it's even more effective.
It's very easy to burn all your mana in the first few levels, which won't achieve much. Save up until level 3 and the second rank of Seismic Shard, then start harassing. In ideal situations you can push two enemies right off the minions and starve them of XP; in other cases you probably want to just last-hit, tower-hug, and Shard them liberally.
Pick one target to harass, and try to keep them around 1/3 health. At level six, if things are going to plan you can get a free kill off the injured enemy with Unstoppable Force. Hang around in your lane for the most part and keep leveling, but be ready to run around and help others with Unstoppable Force if they could do with a hand (or a gank).
Mid Game (13-18)
By level 13 you should have your Sunfire Cape, and you pick up Brutal Strikes. At this point you can reliably kill a minion wave of any size in around five seconds, if you position well and W- E your little heart out. Take this opportunity to make lots of money and experience. Keep towers safe, keep your team safe, gank people every time Unstoppable Force becomes available.
This is also when big group fights become frequent. The thing to keep in mind whenever engaging enemies is that YOU HAVE NO SUSTAINED DPS. If you're punching something, it should be either a) a minion or creep, b) a tower or inhibitor (use Brutal Strikes active, obviously), or c) a champion with under 200hp when there are no other champions attacking you. If you try to DPS in a fight, you're probably gonna die.
Why? Because you should be starting every fight by hitting Brutal Strikes, using Unstoppable Force into the middle of a nice squishy cluster, popping Ground Slam while they're airborne, using Seismic Shard and Ignite on the weakest enemy, and then eating all of their nukes. At this point you're probably at under half health, all your abilities are on cooldown and you have no DPS. Run away. This will hopefully split their fire, keep you alive (denying a kill), and let you regen and re-engage once your abilities come back. All your damage is in your abilities.
Late Game (18+)
Stick with your team. Start every fight. Farm your Warmog's. Kill everything you can get your rocks on, and set up kills for everyone else with Seismic Shard.
Not much more to say for this part, just stay sharp and play smart. Oh, and don't go for Baron. It's always a bad idea.
This build has worked pretty well for me. I've found that you need to have a pretty good sense of positioning to play Malphite well, but once you figure that out he can be a really solid lineup to a team. He harass***es like a champ, he's an excellent initiator and can soak plenty of initial damage, withdraw, and then re-engage to chase down stragglers - plus he's a whole boatload of fun to play once you get it all figured out.
This build is something of a work in progress and I very much welcome and encourage feedback and criticism on how to accomplish its goals in a better way. I'm currently level 23, having been playing Malphite since around level 10, and I think I'm beginning to get the hang of him. Any and all advice is welcome!
The build is based off this other build that Dotter made. Thanks, Dotter!