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The Little Mermaid: Support Nami
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Champions who are capable of being useful to their teams with their skill set and few items take up the role of the support. They let the carry get all the minions and offer their team vision. They are usually a little under leveled since they leave lane to place wards while their carry farms. In team fights, they contribute with items like Mikael's Blessing and help protect their carry.
In this guide, I will discuss one support: Nami. Like other ranged supports, Nami is squishy and benefits from having defenses. But what she lacks in durability, she makes up for in utility. With Ebb and Flow, she can heal while damaging during engagements. With Tidecaller's Blessing, her carry can poke well. And with Aqua Prison's stun and Tidal Wave's knockup and slow, she can peel quite swimmingly for her carry. She does practically everything you would want a support to do to help an AD carry, but lacks damage compared to other ranged supports because her kit focuses on enhancing and preserving her AD carry. She compliments an AD carry who already has a strong early game because she can make them even stronger.
This guide is specifically about building and playing Nami. The generic support info (warding spots, respawn timers, thoughts on Sightstone) has been split off into its own supplementary guide designed to compliment this guide and my other support guides. It became tedious to update multiple guides.
Table of Contents
|Flash works on Nami as it does 90% of all other champions in the game. It gives her a gap closer and a way to go over terrain. Exhaust is strong in team fights to reduce damage from assassins. However, it can be Cleansed. Typically, weaker early game carries (e.g. Vayne) will take Cleanse. Heal is much better now that it heals everyone equally. It team fights, it's good versus AoE damage and you can even use it while crowd controlled. In lane, it's good versus burst damage, but weak versus strong carries who typically take Ignite or who have innate healing debuffs (e.g. Miss Fortune). No verdict on Clairvoyance yet. Its usefulness will depend on how the jungle plays out in season 3.|
As with all supports, Greater Quintessence of Gold gives you some income to buy items since you aren't farming. For the other runes, I suggest a combo of armor and mana regen. Prioritizing those runes will take care of your early game needs - armor for bot lane and mana regen to sustain Ebb and Flow's high mana cost. You can also optionally use magic resist blues. Magic resist is good on a "generic" page for blind pick where you won't know who you're against.
Examples: Armor reds + mana regen yellows + magic resist blues can be used versus supports who do a lot of magic harass damage like Sona or Zyra. Alternatively, armor reds + armor yellows + mana regen blues is better versus AD carries who poke a lot like Caitlyn or just versus laners who do low magic damage.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage work as an offensive option for autoattack harass. Nami doesn't do a ton of consistent magic damage herself to warrant hybrid pen or magic pen. Also, flat magic resist is stronger than scaling at level 1 (when laners with magic damage will try to poke you a lot) and level 6 (when people get their ultimates). Scaling mana regen is also a preference.
|For masteries, run 0/13/17. The utility tree grants basic bonuses like Meditation and Mastermind , but it also gives more support-centric bonuses like Greed , Pickpocket , Explorer , and Biscuiteer . Artificer can also be powerful on supports since they usually build a few active items. In defense, you get more base HP and defense stats. Having both Unyielding and Block is useful for harassing too, as it will reduce the amount of harass damage you take back when you trade damage with the enemy laners. Even if you take Exhaust, 13 defense is important. You could sacrifice Pickpocket , but if the enemy AD carry has Cleanse and they Cleanse your Exhaust, that point in Summoner's Wrath is useless.|
|Start off the game with a Faerie Charm, Sight Wards, and a mixture of potions. In more organized play or versus stealth champs, you can also buy a Vision Ward instead of a Faerie Charm. During early game, buy a Philosopher's Stone for the mana regen so you can poke/harass with your skills more often, Sightstone for the ward generation and flat HP (you're squishy), and Boots to defend against ganks and skill shots. You should also buy Chalice of Harmony to help with your mana consumption. It turns into the supportive Mikael's Blessing or the more offensive Athene's Unholy Grail. If the enemy laners do a lot of magic damage, buy it before Philosopher's Stone. Optionally you can also buy Chalice of Harmony, especially if the enemy laners do a lot of magic damage, or Kage's Lucky Pick if you'd like to build anything it upgrades into. (Further reading: GP10? / Sightstone)|
Next, build your core items. Ruby Sightstone is just the upgraded Sightstone. Shurelya's Battlesong which has useful support stats and a powerful active for initiating, chasing, escaping, countering kiting, and helping out carries without mobility. Locket of the Iron Solari is a very cost effective defensive item that's cheaper than Aegis of the Legion, gives cooldown, and has a useful active for team fights.
For boots, Ionian Boots of Lucidity with Enchantment: Captain work well just for the stats. Your allies can be facing you (even from the side) and they'll receive the Enchantment: Captain buff as long as they're within 1100 units of you. But 9/10 times, you will probably end up getting Enchantment: Homeguard. The regen and speed buff save you time, and time = money.
After the core items, we start moving into picking 5th/6th items which are more situational or preferential. Versus crowd control, Mikael's Blessing is a very powerful item to have for the active, though it has a ridiculously long cooldown. Having maxed
helps. If you have a lot of AD champs on your team, buy Zeke's Herald. Morellonomicon's heal reduction passive is fairly easy to apply with Nami since all 4 of her skills do magic damage. You can buy it versus teams with annoying healers or built-in sustain.
For more tankiness, you should build Aegis of the Legion. If the enemy team has a lot of AP, upgrade Aegis of the Legion into Runic Bulwark too. You can still buy it even if your jungler or top lane gets it since the aura stacks twice for both aura holders. Twin Shadows is an all around useful item - lower price tag, good stats, can be used to scout or initiate, and it also guarantees that someone will get slowed, but it doesn't fill a particular niche like the others do. It has a particular synergy on Nami too - you can scout someone out and send Tidal Wave toward them.
||Lastly, consumables. Use Sight Wards in addition to your Ruby Sightstone when you need to heavily ward up an area such as Baron. Vision Wards are powerful early game versus stealth characters and to clear enemy wards, but buying too many Vision Wards can set you behind. Later, you can buy an Oracle's Elixir before going after objectives to clear out enemy vision. And when you know you're going to group up and try for an objective, there's always Elixir of Brilliance and Elixir of Fortitude to boost your stats.|
|Nami's passive grants her allies 30 mspd when they're "hit" by her spells. "Hit" might make it sound as though only spells which can affect allies will grant them the mobility, but this is not the case. Allied champions will even receive the buff when they are in range of spells that only affect enemies. Keep in mind that Aqua Prison and Tidal Wave's AoEs double as AoE movespeed buffs for allies. The 30 mvspd is affected by % based multipliers like Nimble , Phantom Dancer, and Ghost. Also note that "allied champions" includes Nami herself.|
|A fairly low cost stun with a small, ground targeted AoE. Even though the animation makes it look like a knock up, it's really a stun and enemies with tenacity will be dropped from the bubble quicker. The animation is a little slow, so sometimes it's best cast when your enemy can't see you (e.g.: since it's ground targeted, you can also cast it into a bush before someone steps onto it) or when the enemy is already slowed (e.g.: the knockup and slow from Tidal Wave make it easier to land). No matter how far or close you are when you cast it, the delay between casting and when it hits will always be the same.|
|The description for this is kind of confusing. This is how it works: If you cast it on an ally, it will bounce to an enemy, then to another ally. If you cast it on an enemy, it will bounce to an ally, then to another enemy. But each enemy/ally it bounces to must be unique. If it's just you and an enemy, and you cast it on yourself, it'll bounce to the enemy, but not bounce again because there's no unique ally to bounce toward. It costs a lot of mana, so having it only affect one champion is very wasteful. Save it for 2v2 engagements in lane where you're bound to get all 3 hits off. Occasionally, you can use it to harass enemy laners since it only targets champions and won't push the lane.|
|Tidecaller's Blessing counts as an on-hit effect, so it'll be applied when Ezreal hits his Mystic Shot, and stack with other on-hit effects like Miss Fortune's Impure Shots. The damage and slow helps your carry kite and poke. Note that when cast on someone who has Runaan's Hurricane, one hit can use up all three procs. Like her other skills, the skill text says it affects "allied champions" which includes Nami, allowing you to self-cast it.|
|Nami's ult is a long, slow moving wave that can be launched in any direction from her location. With the knockup and slow combo, it can be used defensively for peeling when your team gets initiated on, or it can be used to catch people from far away and initiate a fight or secure kills. During lane phase, you can use it to set things up for your carry and your jungler. You can even cast it while walking back to lane to stop aggressors from chasing or prevent a tower dive.|
At level 1, you can start with any of her skills. Aqua Prison is good for level 1 fights, Tidecaller's Blessing allows you to get in some early poke damage on the enemy laners and possibly make them waste potions before they hit level 2, and Ebb and Flow allows you to heal a little so you don't get completely zoned and abused in lane at level 1.
Your first and biggest priority is to level Tidal Wave at 6/11/16, primarily for the reduced cooldown. Your second priority is to max Ebb and Flow or Tidecaller's Blessing, and your third priority to max the other one.
Maxing Ebb and Flow is good in lane because you can harass while healing and without pushing the lane. It also helps heal carries who are weaker and easily harassed. But because it can hit up to 3 people, the mana cost scales heavily. Maxing Tidecaller's Blessing is good if your AD carry can poke a ton early game. Ezreal's Mystic Shot can apply the debuff, and it goes well with Caitlyn who can harass with her longer range. You'll want both maxed by level 13.
As for Aqua Prison, max it last. With the flat 65 mana cost and non-scaling stun time, it's a textbook case of "one point wonder".
During the early game lane phase, Nami's job is support her carry in lane through sustain and harass. Luckily, her kit is designed for just that. The only thing she really can't do for them is manually spoon-feed them minions. For more about general support gameplay, check out the supplementary guide.
(Synergy) You can put anyone bottom with Nami. However, her whole kit provides utility to any carry and can be used to enhance their natural traits/abilities further. She goes best with a carry who is already incredibly strong early game.
In example, Miss Fortune is an all around strong laner. Her heal debuff on Impure Shots can reduce enemy heals while Nami heals her and damages with Ebb and Flow. With her Strut passive, she can quickly get in range to follow up on Aqua Prison's stun. And with the autoattack reset on Double Up, she can very quickly apply Tidecaller's Blessing before it expires. Tidal Wave also gives her good positioning for Bullet Time.
Tidecaller's Blessing also has particular synergy with pokers. Ezreal's Mystic Shot in exampke will apply Tidecaller's Blessing. Caitlyn has very long range that allows her to naturally autoattack poke. Plus, if you manage to land Aqua Prison, Caitlyn can Yordle Snap Trap under to root an enemy champion when they land. Caitlyn gets another special mention for her 650 range. If she grabs Enchantment: Furor and you keep Tidecaller's Blessing on her, she can poke from 650 range and kite consistently with the two movespeed buffs and slow.
But when the time comes, Nami can also play more passively and assist weaker laners in farming early game by devoting her mana to healing and defensive stuns.
(Strengths) Aside from her synergy with pokes, Nami is pretty good at peeling in lane. If Blitzcrank grabs your carry, you can Aqua Prison under Blitzcrank's AD carry while they stand there autoattacking. It gets even easier to peel when you hit 6 and get Tidal Wave, and Tidal Wave's strength can allow you to turn an unfavorable engagement into a possible kill.
(Weaknesses) As a ranged support who isn't very tanky and has no gap closer, Nami is naturally weak to burst and chain crowd control. This translates to enemy supports like Leona, Taric and Blitzcrank being threats to her. That doesn't mean you shouldn't play Nami if the other team has one of them, you just need to be careful. You should also be smart: if you get caught, it might be your innate survival instinct to ult or Flash to save yourself, but if you're as good as dead, you might as well save the cooldowns. Getting a Ruby Sightstone early on helps with her survivability. Double Ruby Crystal would also work - turn one into Ruby Sightstone and the other into Kindlegem. If you build Locket of the Iron Solari in lane, the stats will also help make you tankier.
(Receiving Ganks) When your jungler ganks for you, try to start fighting with the enemy laners beforehand. That way, they might have less map awareness, and not notice your jungler even if they walk through wards. Starting something for your jungler also helps out junglers who don't have crowd control, or don't have red buff. Also, if you took Exhaust, using it can help lock down a target for your carry and jungler.
(Getting Ganked) When you get ganked, the reverse is often true. The enemy laners might start trying to brawl with you. Taric randomly Flashing and stunning your carry is usually pretty telling that a gank is going down. Ganks can be handled the same way other aggressive laners can - with Aqua Prison and Tidal Wave. So when Taric stuns your carry, Aqua Prison and stun his carry back to reduce the amount of damage your carry is taking.
(Aqua Prison) Outside of the occasional autoattack to get Pickpocket bonus gold, Nami's other method of harassment is to try and setup a stun with Aqua Prison. The stun creates a little window opportunity where you and your carry can get in some free damage on the stunned enemy. When enemy laners start fighting back, you can heal while continuing to damage with Ebb and Flow. The one thing you need to keep in mind while using Aqua Prison though is that the animation is not a projectile. No matter how far or close you are, the cast delay between when you cast it and when it hits the ground will always be the same. And as with all skill shots, it's easier to land when the AD carry is stuck in an animation (like when they're last hitting).
(Your Carry is the Damage) You might think, "I can just cast Tidecaller's Blessing on myself and poke." But truthfully, Nami's own autoattack has a fairly slow animation with her spear, so it's not always ideal for her to self-cast it and poke people herself. If you can land an Aqua Prison, you really need your carry to follow up with autoattacks and skills on the stunned target. If he does, you two can very easily win a small exchange.
(Knowing When to Pick Fights) Part of harassing is being able to read what's going on, and knowing your enemies. Say for example you are playing Nami and you're laning with Ezreal versus Caitlyn and Zyra. Caitlyn and Zyra have a significant range advantage over you and Ezreal. If you walk up to autoattack, Zyra could snare you with Grasping Roots. And if Caitlyn reacts in time, you could very well die because of her long autoattack range. This is basically an enemy example of what I described above: The support sees an opportunity, sets something up with their crowd control, and the AD carry follows up. In this situation, it would be to your benefit to not autoattack harass unless you know Grasping Roots is on cooldown.
(Engagements) Sometimes your harassment turns into an all out 2v2 engagement. Try to be aware and know how to pick your fights. If your carry is low health, forcing them to get into a fight could mean getting them killed. On the other hand, if you know the enemy carry or support doesn't have Flash, it could very well be a free kill.
When you engage, pick your focus target wisely. Like if the enemy support is Taric and he blows all of his cooldowns to stun and damage your carry, then he's done until his cooldowns come back up, and meanwhile, his carry could very well be wailing away on your carry. Unless Taric has literally 2 HP left, your time would be better spent using Aqua Prison under his carry, not him.
The range on Tidal Wave translates to Nami being able to stay with her carry in the backline and still able to help her team initiate without putting herself in danger. Sometimes, your carry will be initiated on, but you can help them out. Even if you don't have Tidal Wave to peel, Mikael's Blessing allows you to cleanse stuns or slows for your carry, and Locket of the Iron Solari will absorb some of the initial burst damage. If you took Exhaust, that will also help get people off your carry.
While fighting, your job is basically to stick near your AD carry and assist them. You need to be in range of your carry to use items like Mikael's Blessing, and you also need to be able to cast Tidecaller's Blessing on him at all times. By the team fight phase, the magic damage from Tidecaller's Blessing is just a bonus. Casting it on your carry will give him the slow and Surging Tides's movement bonus, enhancing his ability to kite and position.
Use Aqua Prison to stun assassins if they jump on your carry, and use Ebb and Flow on whoever you can. If the enemy Katarina jumps in to assassin your carry, also remember that Aqua Prison's stun can interrupt channels like her Death Lotus. After the main bulk of the action, help your team chase by applying Surging Tides. Twin Shadows and Shurelya's Battlesong are also useful for chasing.
That concludes the guide. Thanks to my friends and guinea pigs for their assistance in taking screenshots and such. If you haven't, be sure to check out the supplementary guide which touches on subjects like objective respawns, general gameplay and warding. Or if you'd like to check out my other guides, I also have guides for Sona, Lulu, Zyra, Miss Fortune and Ashe.