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Tahm Kench Build Guide by Thatdudeinthecotton

Top Tahm Kench Top - The River Runs Red

Top Tahm Kench Top - The River Runs Red

Updated on November 7, 2017
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Thatdudeinthecotton Build Guide By Thatdudeinthecotton 138 4 3,029,803 Views 52 Comments
138 4 3,029,803 Views 52 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Thatdudeinthecotton Tahm Kench Build Guide By Thatdudeinthecotton Updated on November 7, 2017
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Grasp of the Undying
Iron Skin

Magical Footwear
Approach Velocity


LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
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None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None


Greetings fellow wayfarers, I'am ThatDudeInTheCotton
And this is my guide to Toplane Tahm: The River King.

Tahm is a powerful tank in top lane, being able to poke, zone and all in his opponents with ease. The damage of his Devour in trades makes him a force to be reckoned with in one on ones, and also makes him an incredible anti tank in the late game by just shutting the enemies frontline out of a fight all together. Even when behind he has the tools to assist the rest of his team in surviving, getting to where they need to be or just locking down his opponents. When ahead he does all of these things while also being able to get kills himself and requiring an entire team to take down thanks to his great lategame scaling with Devour's passive.

If you feel I have made some malodorous errors, feel free to regurgitate some enlightenment in the guides forum. I strive to keep my guide updated and optimal and will take any critiques gracefully. Credit where credit is due, this guide is based off of Dariens play style with tahm, as well as my own observations.

So without further ado, here is Tahm: The River King.
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Pros / Cons


+ Tanky anti-tank
+ Great anti-burst
+ Devour makes sustained trading fun :D
+ Can Shut enemies out of fights
+ Building defensively scales offensively
+ Can do his job even when behind.
Tahm Kench, having been designed to also work as a support has enough utility that even if he loses his lane he won't be neutered in the process. His Devour is an incredible multi purpose tool for saving your carries or decimating your opponents, and Thick Skin stops burst in its tracks. Finally Devour makes him one of the best scaling dps tanks in the game.


- A slow walker
- An Acquired Taste is an acquired taste.
- Stuns/knockups prevent Thick Skin
- His CC is all single target.
- Lacks natural hard engage.
Tahm Kench lacks the ability to deal aoe CC, meaning he can't be the teams only supply of it unlike some tanks (unless the enemy also lacks CC). Hard crowd control can cancel half of his tankiness due to Thick Skin needing to be activated. Faster enemies can avoid getting stacks of An Acquired Taste on them. Finally, Tahm Kench needs movespeed quints, as without them he's slow as molasses.

When To Pick Tahm Kench

The best time to pick him is when your team needs a tanky frontliner and already has hard CC. He also does well defensively against teams which have high single target burst as he is able to tank it for his teammates, or offensively against teams that benefit from prolonged trades as that'll allow Tahm to get his devour off in skirmishes. Because of his lack of immediate CC he suffers against teams heavily loaded with mobility (with the slight exception of mobility tied to simply increasing ones movespeed, as his Tongue Lash's slow is quite strong and he can build Turbo Chemtank to keep up).
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Grasp of the Undying:
A straight forward keystone mastery, the max health damage works well with Tahm who is obsessed with health stacking, which coincidentally is also something this keystone loves as well, as every time it is procced it increases his max health. It's the beautiful circle of life.

Unflinching/ Demolish:
The choice here is based on how reliant the enemy laner is on cc, how much cc the enemy team as a whole has and whether or not you're running Ignite. If you want to run Teleport and the enemies in general have no cc, then take Demolish to help push towers. However if the enemy botlane/mid have cc and you plan on ganking down bot with Teleport it can be worth taking Unflinching to power up your ganks and team fighting. Unflinching is also good when you're running Ignite as you can activate it in the middle of a fight with your laner, amping up your all in potential against stun reliant enemies like Jax. Note: Unflinching does not affect self slows like tahm's Devour.

Iron Skin/ Mirror Shell/ Conditioning:
If you're against an aggressive AD laner like Riven, take Iron Skin. If you're against an aggressive ap laner like Swain take Mirror Shell. If you're not against an aggressive laner, take Conditioning.

Overgrowth/ Second Wind:
More max health is just amazing on tahm so obviously Overgrowth is generally going to be the best pickup here, but on the odd occasion that you end up in a lane vs ranged harass (see Jayce, kennen, swain, etc) then Second Wind along with tahms healing passive from Thick Skin will let him soak up the blows for quite a while.


Magical Footwear:
Makes you move faster, which is good, as Tahm Kench has about the same amount of mobility as Mordekaiser. That is, none at all. This also allows him to spec into raw tank items early on while making him a little faster as the game goes on due to their slightly higher ms compared to regular boots.

Approach Velocity:
A powerful speed boost that not only more than makes up for the lack of early boots when chasing, but after ten minutes syngergizes with them, making tahm obnoxiously sticky.
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Summoner Spells

> Objectively the best summoner spell. One could make a case for Ghost being better for chasing, but that just doesn't change how powerful this spell is. Get it, every game.

> Some would say this spell is quite aggresive. Those people would be correct. This spell gives much more kill potential in lane. I generally take this top as Tahm Kench's ult essentially fulfills the purpose of Teleport once mid game rolls around. That being said, if you take this it's your duty to be vigilant that your enemy laner, should they take Teleport, doesn't get enough space wherein they can tp out of lane for free. This is an aggresive spell, be aggresive with it.

> Its a toss up between getting this or Ignite. Teleport allows one to gank bottom lane during the early game and increases one's map pressence for the rest of the game. Good if you don't see any kills happening in your lane and wish to focus your efforts elsewhere.
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Skills and gameplay

Passive: An Acquired taste
> This passive gives you immense damage and sets up all of Tahm Kench's other attacks. It's the entire reason he can build full tank and still do damage, and the stacks are a great zoning tool as enemies fear engaging when they've been tagged with them. A single Tongue Lash or minion launched by Devour can be enough to zone an enemy off of you farm, giving you the cs advantage. Using this passive is all about punishing your enemy, either by taking their farm when they run, or taking their lives when they don't.

Tongue Lash
> Your first skill and the first skill you max. The reason one gets it first is that it helps with csing, trading, poking, chasing and escaping. It also does all of these things without any need to get stacks of An Acquired Taste on a target. Because it's so reliable (and also the fact that it scales well with levels) it's the best skill to max first. You can use this to slowly poke and build up stacks on an opponent, or you can weave it into your auto attacks to get stacks rapidly. The basic, guaranteed 3 stacks combo is AA-Q-AA. Its the fastest combo as it allows for your second auto attacks CD to reset (yes I said auto attacks have a CD, they do, that's how auto attack resets work). If you find yourself having three stacks on an opponent and your Q is off cooldown, use it before devour to get an extra Auto attack in.

> This is Tahm's swiss army knife, useful in almost any situation, barring a solo tactical retreat(but he has something else for that, so it's cool). So, going through the uses in order they will most likely be used in:

1: Using Devour against an enemy champion is devastating in one-on-one trades. The percent health damage will always be relevant and the waiting period is long enough to get your Tongue Lash off of its cooldown. That being said, its best to spit your enemy out quickly, as waiting gets the enemies abilities off their CD too. You can also use it to drag them under turret, or hold them still for a gank. If one of your opponents gets big in late game you can use it to shut them out of the fight, assuming that getting An Acquired Taste stacks on them is doable.

2: Clearing waves/poking. A means of rapid wave clear is important, and this is tahms. make sure to aim it though as the aoe isn't too big and you can end up only hitting a couple of minions if you mis-aim it.

3: Saving your teammates butts. Late game you become a semi support. You'll still be brawling it out on the frontlines doing decent damage and tanking like a boss, but you'll also be able to totally nullify enemies attempts to kill a squishy target. This also lets you escape or engage better depending on the situation and who you're carrying.(Note: people do not like being eaten, they can and will eject themselves from you as soon as they are allowed. You may need to warn them that doing so when they are at 10hp may not be in their best interest. This has happened way too often to be funny anymore).

Why You Max This Second Instead Of First:

Thick Skin
>Definition of a one point wonder right here. A great anti-harass sustain tool as well as an anti-burst shield. The shield aspect really helps with surviving ganks, while the passive helps negate alot of poke damage in lane. In teamfights this is your go-to survival tool, and in lane this lets you extend fights longer than your opponent would like. The best time to use this ability largely depends on the matchup, but the rule of thumb is the bigger the damage it can stop, the better.

Abyssal voyage
> Its good, not great early game, but it becomes more useful as the game goes on. It's pretty decent for ganking, though the range at level one is short enough you'll still have to see an opportunity coming early in order to capitalize on it. It gets better with levels though, and it's also very good if you can bring someone with CC along for the ride. Unless you can get some alone time it isn't good for escaping due to the long windup and the fact that it's so easy to cancel. Still, a solid active that lets you be where you need to be, and maybe pull of some backdoor shenanigans with your teams adc.
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This is for when you're up against an ap opponent. Unlike the old Crystalline Flask this doesn't let you get other potions with it for lots of sustain, but it does give you combat stats, so if you get this you gotta be aggressive with it.


You're against an AD opponent? pick up this and 4 Health Potions. Boom, you have sustain and trading potential. It even builds into one of your core items, what more could you ask for?


Are you against a lot of single target harass? Then this is a very powerful defensive item. +it even gives health! Huzzah, very mild benefits! But really this is a very good generic defense item to start with.


Spirit Visage
> Your go-to Anti AP starting item. This is pretty much excellent at any stage of the game if your against AP. It gives big Magic resistance, 10%CDR, 400 health and a very powerful sustain passive. The bonus damage you get from this +8/16/24/, but the real synergy here is with Thick Skin, as it pumps up the sustain passive from 20% to 24% at level 1, and at level 5, turns it from 44% to 53%. Not to mention healing from other sources such as Health Potions and whatnot. Pick up this and watch mages weep at your sustain.

Dead man's plate
> The new Randuin's Omen, general purpose defense item since the juggernaut patch. This item solves Tahm Kench's problem with getting to (or away from) his meals in a timely manner, as well as giving some armor and a big dollop of health on the side making it a solid general defensive item. But it's also a very strong offense item, giving tahm the ability to chase down enemies much faster, setup his following autoattacks more easily with the slow, and the passive damage gives him a little more burst. Of all the items in the game, it also has the second highest health stat behind Warmog's Armor at 600hp. That means the bonus damage sits at +12/24/36.

Sunfire cape
> This is the best Health+Armour option in the game early on, besides Dead Man's Plate, and the best time to get it is in the early game. The stats it gives are good for the cost and the aura seriously increases your dps and wave clearing speed. Not to mention it also gives +9/18/27 magic damage to all of your attacks and abilities. Pickup Bami's Cinder first if you have the option between that and Chain Vest, the dps increase from that alone is pretty noticeable.

Titanic Hydra
> This is what people in the magic the gathering community would refer to as a "". Essentially, it's really good at pushing an advantage, but it won't get you that advantage to begin with, different items do that better. The fact that this doesn't provide resistances in exchange for damage shaves seconds off of tahm's survivability, not super bad in one on ones, but if you're getting ganked you'll die faster. The one situation where this is definitely good is when you absolutely need to waveclear faster than your enemy. If building this, immediately go for a resistances item afterwards, it might even be best to push Warmog's Armor to the sixth slot to help make up for the resistances deficit, since you'll still be scaling up Titanic Hydra's damage with the health from the resistance items anyway. The bonus damage on this is +10/20/30, as well as +1% additional scaling on auto attacks. The rend active does 10%hp damage, that's alot and is the reason this is good, if you're winning.

Randuin's Omen
> A big chunk of armor and health, with a passive that lowers attack speed and an active that lowers movespeed. It even lowers critical strike damage. Once you have this adc's without true damage just stop being a problem (>:I Vayne). The bonus damage is +8/16/24.

Warmog's armor
> DID SOMEBODY SAY BIG HEALTH!?!? Yes, yes we did. A good pickup vs all types of damage, pick this up after you've gotten some raw defenses IE: magic resistance and armor. The health pool this gives is huge, and the passive healing is immense, especially when coupled with Spirit Visage, as the passives stack. The bonus damage on this bad boy is +16/32/48, holy **** that's big. Since you'll likely be rocking between 3000-4000hp mid-late game, the healing this gives out of combat is 90-120hp per second.

Sterak's Gage
> If you just want more raw health after Warmog's Armor and specifically need to counter the enemies burst, then Sterak's Gage is for you. It's not bad per se early game, but it simply gets outclassed by it's competition of Sunfire Aegis and Spirit Visage. Like Titanic Hydra this item also provides zero resistances. This makes it a really circumstantial pickup. Tahm Kench doesn't benefit from ad all that much, so the passive has to make up for both the lack of resistances and the cost of the AD, which means you pretty much have to get Warmog's Armor either before or immediately after you get this. Honestly, just because it provides good health, doesn't make it a good item for Tahm Kench, he does in fact need more than that. Bonus damage sits at +10/20/30.

Righteous Glory
> Gotta go fast. If your teams needs engage, or your just having serious issues sticking to your enemy, then this'll help. This item lacks the defensive stats of other items in this guide in exchange for the raw power of its active. It's pretty good for simply smashing your team into your enemies or chasing down low health targets. That being said it's got a 90 second CD, so try to time it wisely. The bonus damage from this is +10/20/30.

Banshee's veil
> Is some snarky mage still giving you woes? Well then fear not for I have an absolution. Banshee's Veil provides a means of negating any crowd control effects that may be pestering you, as well as giving a chunk of health and magic resist. A good option if the enemies outputting crazy amounts of ap. Bonus damage is +9/18/27.

Frozen heart
> Are they ALL AD? Welp, time to call in the big guns. Here's a ****ton of armor, coupled with some mana and a hefty serving of CDR on the side. Since you don't get any bonus value from this due to the lack of health in it, I recommend building it after Sunfire Aegis, Dead Man's Plate and Randuin's Omen but by god, after you get this if you aren't the most impregnable anti-ad monster out there I would be seriously surprised.

Iceborn Gauntlet
> Like frozen heart, but more offensively driven. It gives you sheen procs and a nice slow to help you stick to your opponents better, but in exchange gives less armor and cdr. So I would use it in the same situation as Frozen Heart (ie: against all AD), but with the slight condition that you already have Frozen Heart, or you're winning and just want to crush your opponents.

Locket Of The Iron Solari
> Super strong against multi-ap comps. The thing about it though, is that it's normally picked up by the support. If your support doesn't buy it however (maybe they're going full ap Soraka or something) then it isn't a bad item at all for tahm to pickup. It gives CDR, health, magic resistance and hp regen in an aura, as well as having an active that shields allies from all types of damage. Really strong, but as noted, usually picked up by the support. Bonus damage is +8/16/24.


Get these at some stage, preferably early on. Ninja Tabi will help you deal with ad opponents and Mercury's Treads are good for dealing with lots of magic/crowd control effects. Boots of Swiftness aren't great as due to slow caps they only barely fight off the slow from your Devour when eating an enemy. They do help with sticking to an enemy to get An Acquired Taste stacks on them in the first place, but I wouldn't say it's worth it.
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How to: Lane

Manifesting A Meal

The goals of laning are pretty simple:
    Get more cs than your opponent
    Get more kills than your opponent
    Get more towers than your opponent
Yup, pretty simple, going about it though is not. Generally speaking, laning goes one of four ways depending on who you're facing, and each requires slightly different approaches to attain success. Here they are, in roughly speaking order of difficulty.

Enemy: Melee, weaker all in

This is the best lane for tahm and by far the easiest to deal with. If the enemy can't harass you, that'll force them to stay in their minion wave to avoid your Tongue Lash. However, it isn't too hard for you to just walk into your own minion wave and start auto attacking your enemy. Once you start getting stacks of An Acquired Taste on them, they'll either realize the danger and run, thus zoning themselves from cs, or they won't notice the danger and get Devoured, while you continue to cs with them in your belly. You might even be able to follow it up with some well placed Tongue Lashes for a free kill. This is just a win-win situation all round.

Enemy: Melee, Stronger all in

Not too common, but sometimes hard CC or super strong duelling power means Devour isn't gonna cut the mustard in brawls. When that happens we lean back on Tongue Lash to get the job done. If the enemies zoning you from cs through the threat of their damage, use Tongue Lash to harass their health down and to grab cs. Most laners who are strong early fall off as the game goes on, so don't be too afraid to just go passive in this lane. If you want kills, only go in when your opponent is low or you've got a gank coming. It doesn't matter if an opponent is stronger than him, tahm can still keep most opponents locked down for quite some time.

Enemy: Ranged, weak harass

You're going to have to be more proactive in this lane. Ranged enemies have an easier time with csing than others, so in order to zone them you'll need get ahead of your minion wave and repeatedly slap them with Tongue Lashes until they get the idea. 90% of the time, being ranged will mean they sacrificed all in power, so if they go for a fight, give it to them, but don't be surprised if they don't feel like committing suicide. Unless the enemy screws up, you'll probably just end up getting a lot of cs and poking your enemy a lot without getting much kills. But that's assuming your enemy doesn't screw up.

Enemy: Ranged, Strong harass

If the enemy can out harass Tahm, he needs to be either very aggresive or he's gonna have troubles. Even if you just zone your enemy from cs, they're gonna get your health low faster than you can get theirs down, so the goal here isn't to zone, but to kill early on, if you're not confident you can do that, well then just go super passive and try not to die, there's really no middle ground here. If you choose aggression, use the slow from Tongue Lash to close some distance on them and start getting stacks on them. If they run try to drag the chase out a little so that you can get a second Tongue Lash on them, as they'll likely turn around and smack you with their harass after you give up the ghost, and hitting the enemy twice will almost always be better than their one counter attack. That being said, if the second Tongue Lash looks to be out of range, just don't do it, chances are you're also out of your enemies range as well and there's no point in wasting mana. If you can get a Devour of on them, good job, but be wary of their retaliation.

If you can't get the kill/get killed:Roll over, the enemies gonna get a bunch of gold, and now you have to play as passively as possible. Do your best to just not give away any more kills and try to go even on cs. Call for ganks when the enemy starts pushing.

Enemy: Strong Harass, stronger all in

Just farm and pray, farm and pray.
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How to: Teamfight

There are many intricacies to teamfighting, but here are the footnotes concerning Tahm Kench. You are the frontliner, your job is to disrupt the enemy team while protecting your own. Tahm Kench's playstyle in teamfights revolves around his Devour. If a squishy ally of yours gets dove on, don't be afraid to devour them and take the heat for a little bit. Alternatively if you're capable of devouring the enemies frontliners before they mess up your backline it can be very beneficial. In an ideal world it would be good to devour the enemies backline carries, but getting to them and applying stacks while dealing with the enemies tanks is often unfeasable. Its usually better and easier to just devour frontliners before they have a chance to serve their purpose, and give your team time to either get away or position themselves to deal with the threat.

Devour is also very useful for turning the tide of smaller skirmishes that are a great distance from you, particularly if you can bring a partner. It also helps with splitpushes and objective control. If you have huge cc bots like Nautilus and Sejuani on your team you can also use it to split apart an enemy team if timed particularly well.

For moment to moment positioning, a small mental exercise that helps is to imagine lines stretching from Tahm Kench to anyone else on your team you would consider a frontliner, or at least peeler for your main carry. You can use these lines to help determine weak points in your teams defense, if an enemy has a clear line of sight to your carry that you can't immediately cut off, then that's a weakness that needs to be addressed. In terms of positioning relative to your carry in a teamfight, you want to be close, but just far away enough that any potential aoe CC cannot affect both you and the carry at the same time. This forces the enemy team to choose between who to use their abilities on, and allows Tahm Kench the luxury of being able to save his carry with Devour, should they get caught out and CC'd.
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Roll the Credits

Credits to JhoiJhoi, Who I yet again leaned on for formatting purposes. I would feel bad about it but since everyone does it I like to feel my laziness is justified.

Also credits to Darien who made me interested in playing Tahm top, and who's playstyle was the original basis for this guide.

Finally thank you the reader for getting this far (unless you skipped to this part like a dirty cheater), I really appreciate that you took the time to read this and hope it brings you good fortune :)

Oh and if you like this guide why not give it a +1 or whatever, would appreciate that, yup.
League of Legends Build Guide Author Thatdudeinthecotton
Thatdudeinthecotton Tahm Kench Guide
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Tahm Kench Top - The River Runs Red

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