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Tristana Build Guide by LameoGamer

Tristana: A Lameo's In-Depth Guide (Now with 100% more AP)

By LameoGamer | Updated on May 11, 2012
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Tristana
  • LoL Champion: Tristana


LoL Summoner Spell: Heal


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LeagueSpy Logo
ADC Role
Ranked #15 in
ADC Role
Win 51%
Get More Stats


Guide updated after heavy playtesting. Let's spread some Tristana love! <3

Tristana was my first hero when I first started playing this game called League of Legends. I played her once when she was free and I was hooked right away. I immmediately bought her, then found out I could get her for free. Imagine that! Regardless, I play Tristana heavily even today because I love her playstyle.

Unfortunately, my beginning games with Tristana were lacklaster. I didn't know how to utilize her skills to their fullest potential and didn't realize her role in a team. On occasion, I jumped in front of a fleeing ally to push back a chasing enemy only to be chopped up in the process. Fun. Hours of practice with this Yordle helped me hone my skills to the point where I wanted to share my tips and tricks to the other Tristana players who had or is having the same problems I do now.

Tell me, is that a rocket in your pocket?

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Pros / Cons

AD Carry
  • Out-ranges (almost) everyone late game.
  • Amazing burst damage early game.
  • Built in escape + slow + knock back
  • Free character + Free skin from Facebook.
  • One of the squishiest AD carries
  • Very slow base movement speed
  • Small range early game
  • Ultimate can save enemies if shot away.

AP Carry
  • Great AP ratios
  • Kill enemy mid champions and look boss doing it.
  • Built in escape + slow + knock back
  • Free character + Free skin from Facebook.

  • Your escape is your primary damage skill
  • If you try for a kill, you commit HARD.
  • Hard to harass with the short range of explosive shot
  • Ultimate can save enemies if shot away.
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Draw a Bead Increases your Attack Range as you level.
Being able to comfortably sit behind your teammates and snipe is great. However, this passive also brings a negative consequence in that your early-game range is mediocre at best. The need for leveling for range is one of the many reasons why Mid-Lane is the best for Tristana.

Rapid Fire Increases your Attack Speed by a percentage.
Attack speed on steroids. This ability is essential for mid-game and late-game fights, solo or team. This greatly increases your DPS and allows you to perhaps take down multiple turrets with only one or two waves of creep rapidly.

Rocket Jump Jumps to target location, dealing splash damage and slow at land spot.
Your initiator, escape, and chase skill. Mastering this skill and its high utility is essential in being effective with Tristana. Key things about this skill are that you can jump over walls, enemies are slowed upon being hit, and its cooldown refreshes after a kill or assist.
This is also your primary damage if you are playing AP Tristana.

Explosive Shot Passive: Killed enemies explode. Active: Damage over Time and reduced healing.
This is your farm and harass. It also minimizes the effectiveness of healing, so make those potions and healing spells useless! You can also use the passive to harass opponents sticking to their minions. Unfortunately, this skill becomes obsolete late-game due to its short range.

Buster Shot Instantly damages and knocks enemy back.
Your burst ultimate. 300 damage instantly at level six is nothing to laugh at. Keep in mind, also, that it pushes the victim and his/her companions back a considerable distance. This can be a help and a detriment. Manage the space around you wisely (see Mastering your Mechanics: Space Management).

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Summoner Spells


Exhaust: Tristana can basically kill anyone if not killed herself. Exhaust nullifies an enemy's damage and slows them down so you can keep them in your range.

Flash: Flash, after testing and more theory, is amazing. It serves dual purpose in escaping and chasing and helps manage space (see Mastering Your Mechanics: Space Management). Stands strong all game long.

Heal: How many times have you been heal baited? Hmmm?

Other viable picks in order:

Ignite: Ignite deals damage outright to make your Burst Combo more effective. The reduced healing isn't needed as Explosive Shot does the same. Great for First Blood and early game.

Ghost: Helps escape or chase fleeing enemies. Good for remedying Tristana's lack of speed.
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Skill Sequence

AD Carry
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

AP Carry
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
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Items: Overview

Core Build:

Item Sequence

Berserker's Greaves 1100
Infinity Edge 3400
Phantom Dancer 2600
Last Whisper 1450
Bloodthirster 3500

Situational/Alternate Items:

Item Sequence

Madred's Bloodrazor 3800
Frozen Mallet 3100
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Items (AD): Detailed

First Item Choices:

Possibilities for First Return:

  • Boots of Speed: Get this if you didn't start with it.

  • B. F. Sword: In an ideal situation, you should have a ton of farm and 1 or 2 kills. If you have enough money for a B. F. Sword, get it and greatly increase your damage.
    If you can afford this, you are doing superb.

  • Doran's Blade: If you didn't get one of these at the start, pick one up now. If you started with one and can't afford a B. F. Sword, consider getting a 2nd Doran's Blade, although B. F. Sword is higher priority

  • Health Potion: After your first recall, having 1 or 2 health potions help greatly in staying in lane.
    Do not underestimate the power of Health Potion.

Possibilities for Second Return:

  • B. F. Sword: You need to have this item by now.

  • Berserker's Greaves: Attack speed to farm and hit hard.

  • Infinity Edge: This will give you a huge damage boost. No Tristana should go without this item. It pains me to see any Tristana without this item. Seriously, get it.
    However, this item is indeed expensive. If you can get this, you are doing superb.

  • Pickaxe: If you can't afford an Infinity Edge, get this instead to get closer to that Infinity Edge.

Third Return:

  • Infinity Edge: You need to buy this item before 25 minutes in or you are not doing a good job farming.

  • Phantom Dancer: Huge DPS boost with the extra attack speed and the much more consistent critical chance. Hitting for ~175 damage per shot is great. Hitting for ~400 damage because of the 250% critical buff from Infinity Edge is just godly.

Mid Game:

Choice Items:

  • Banshee's Veil: Tristana is squishy. This helps you not be so squishy. If you're against a lot of AP casters or find yourself being crushed by AP damage, go for this item. Otherwise, get this item anyway. Preferred choice.

  • Madred's Bloodrazor: Everyone on the opponents team have insane health? Facing Cho'Gath, Vladimir, or the sort? Madred's Bloodrazor is for you. 4% of the opponent's health per shot means they will die in less than 25 shots, as you'll be doing your regular damage on top of the magic damage from Madred's Bloodrazor. Combined with your insane attack speed, those 25 shots will come and go very quickly.

  • Frozen Mallet: Gives your more survivability with the health boost and gives you a slow, which is great against a melee-oriented team. If the opponent team has many melee attackers, consider this.
    Not needed if your team is decent enough to give you Red Buff

  • Phantom Dancer: Two Phantom Dancer? ZOMG! Yes. If you are extremely fed and your tank is amazing, and you just want extra damage and move speed, get this. It's quite rare you'll be comfortable enough to not get any sustain items, however.

Late Game:

  • Last Whisper: By late game, there's bound to be some armor going around. Truthfully, just get this item when the first couple of armor items start trickling in. This ensures you'll keep owning. Better than Black Cleaver because armor is high enough late game even without items and no need to benefit the entire team if you're just going to kill them outright.

  • Bloodthirster: This gives you more damage per attack to go with your attack per second increase from Phantom Dancer. The lifesteal also helps your survivability. A good thing to do when you get Bloodthirster is to solo-push a lane with creeps quickly to get stacks and then Teleport immediately to join your team for team fights.
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Items (AP): Detailed

First Item Choices:

Possibilities for First Return:

  • Doran's Ring: Extra health + mana regen + AP = Everything a little yordle needs

Late game:/b]

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Burst Combo

As soon as you get Buster Shot, you are Armed to Kill with your full Burst Combo.

When your opponent is around 600 to 700 health, which is easy if you've been harassing with Explosive Shot and auto-attacks, your Burst Combo is guaranteed to severely wound, if not kill, a lone enemy.

Rocket Jump
Explosive Shot Exhaust in mid-air
Rapid Fire just as you land and Step Micro (See Mastering Your Mechanics: Common Situations #4)
Buster Shot just as the enemy's out of range to finish of the last ~200 health
  • Why Explosive Shot and Exhaust in mid-air?: When you land, all your attacks should be your auto-attacks. Not having to waste time using Explosive Shot and Exhaust when you can be auto-attacking can give you the 1 or 2 more auto-attacks for a kill.

  • Do NOT use this combo in a team-fight. In fact, using Rocket Jump in a team-fight at all, except to escape, is guaranteed to kill you.

  • Caution: Performing the Burst Combo while your opponent is surrounded by creeps is indeed possible, but dangerous. Nothing is more embarrassing than being finished off by a minion after or even during your burst combo. Tristana is squishy. Rocket Jump helps finish off creeps to make this safer, but still be wary.

  • Word of Advice: Try to land your Rocket Jump. A successful Rocket Jump gives you many benefits such as the slow, an extra bit of damage, and a lack of gap between your opponent to easily Step Micro (see Mastering Your mechanics: Common Situations #4).
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Skill Mastery: Rapid Fire

Rapid Fire is a skill that is easy to use, but difficult to master. Getting full effectiveness out of it can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Here's some obvious times to use Rapid Fire:
  • During team fights. This is your main DPS.
  • Attacking Boss Creeps: Baron and/or Dragon
  • Attacking Turrets, especially if you sense a gank. Hit hard, hit fast, and get out.
  • Attacking targets from close range. Get massive DPS in before they get out of range.

Here's some times where Rapid Fire is best saved:
  • Chasing fleeing targets from a distance. Chasing wastes Rapid Fire usage.
  • Preemptively before a fight. Activate during not before a fight.

This last point is extremely difficult to judge. Activate Rapid Fire and have the fight not happen means you've wasted your best skill late-game, endangering your team for the next couple seconds. Activate it too late and you could die before getting full use out of it.
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Mastering Your Mechanics: Space Management

First, I highly recommend everyone playing League of Legends to watch this video about zones from Shurelia:

You must learn how to manage the game space!

In general, due to her squishiness, being as far away from the enemy as possible is the safest bet. Judging how to meld the current game space to accomplish this is key to victory.

Ways to manage space:
  • Rocket Jump - Places yourself into key locations or dodge dangerous zones.
  • Buster Shot - Force enemies away to create more space.
  • Step Micro - Moving towards your opponent while attacking to maximize space (See Mastering Your Mechanics: Common Situations #4)
  • Walking - Simple, yet effective. Position yourself behind your team!
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Mastering Your Mechanics: Common Situations

Note the following are theoretical situations created to simulate common occurrences to show you how you can use Tristana's abilities to meld the playing space.
Colored circles indicate "zones." Green is yours. Blues are your allies. Reds are dangerous.

Note: You shouldn't be mid as Tristana. The pictures depict Tristana as mid as that was the meta at that time. The theory here still applies today, however.

Situation 1: Getting out of danger

You're in mid-lane against an Annie.

When a Wild Alistar suddenly appears!

Either run away from this out-numbered situation using Rocket Jump

or if Alistar is being too close and personal, preventing you from running away

Use Buster Shot to knock Alistar back and give yourself room to run away.

No ganks for us, dear Alistar.

Situation 2: Putting Opponents in Danger

You're in bottom lane with Sona. But, this Master Yi has been a bully all game long. He's been talking smack to you and harassing with his Alpha Strike. Your friendly Amumu (Yay Amumu <3) comes from the jungle to help gank.

Let's help make the situation better for Amumu's gank. Jump right over his head using Rocket Jump. Now he's sandwiched between 3 dangerous zones: Amumu's, Sona's, and yours.

And Buster Shot him directly back toward your team!

"An enemy has been slain!"
Buster Shot is powerful in that it forces your opponent to do things he/she doesn't want to, in this case overextend.

Situation 3: Avoiding Dangers

You're coming back down after ganking a lone top when suddenly your path back to your team (indicated by the dashed black line) is cut off by the enemy team. Having to go around the boulder puts you in serious danger.

Luckily, you can simply hop over the boulder to avoid approaching the enemy team alone in the first place! Now you're protected by your team and are ready to team fight.

Remember that Rocket Jump goes over walls! You can escape ganks using this fact easily!

Situation 4A: Burst Combo Without Step Micro

Step Micro was mentioned in the previous chapter, but what is it and why do it?
First, here's an example of what no of Step Micro looks like.

You initiate your Burst Combo with a Rocket Jump and proceed to let loose the fireworks on that a solo mid Ashe.

However, instead of trying to Step Micro, you sit still while Ashe runs outside your attack zone.

You chase, running along with her just out of range until halted by the enemy Turret's zone.
During your chase, you were not attacking. Therefore, your range of attack was limited to only the radius of your attack range, indicated by the yellow line.

Situation 4B: Burst Combo With Step Micro

Same situation as before. You Rocket Jump on top of Ashe.

This time, you follow Ashe as she runs, alternating between a move right-click along his escape route and an attack right-click every step of the way.

When you reach the danger zone of the enemy Turret, you stop with Ashe still in front of you. You continue to take potshots at him as you stay still and she runs away.
Attacking and running next to the enemy increases your attack space, the yellow line.

Without Step Micro for comparison.

Step Micro is an easy mechanic that can drastically improve your Burst Combo. Use it!
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Spell Mastery: Flash

Flash is a high utility summoner spell that can be used both offensively and defensively.

Defensive-wise, simply flashing over walls or away from the enemy is simple and easy enough. This is the most common usage of Flash.

Offensive-wise, flashing towards an enemy during a chase is most common.

However, all AD Carries, especially Tristana with her huge range, can use Flash for space management, similar to Step Micro.

Situation 4C: Burst Combo With Flash

Flash can become a psuedo-step micro to make your life easier.

You initiate Rocket Jump on Ashe.

Immediately Flash behind Ashe, still staying out of the enemy Turret zone.
You've now cut off Ashe's escape route.

If she tries to run back to Turret safety, she has to run all the way across the diameter of your attack range, resulting in an attack range similar to that given by Step Micro.

This is also a prime situation to use Buster Shot and force Ashe away from the turret.
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Playing the Game

Early Game:

Your early game mainly consists of farming and last hitting. If you opponent gets close, harass with an Explosive Shot and an auto-attack. Don't overextend to land an Explosive Shot, however. You are squishy.

The intersting thing about Tristana is that early game, she plays more like an AP Character than an AD character. She relies on her skills to harass and do damage. Hence, play her like one! If you spot a kill, Burst Combo in to kill them.

There's another great Tristana guide that has specific tips for many champions here. Scroll down to "Champion-specific gameplay."

Red buff es #1.

Continue harassing, farming, etc. like you were early game. Be more wary though. You do indeed do more damage with your Burst Combo and can kill the opponent quickly, but he/she can kill you more quickly as well. Also, if you've pulverized the opposing carry at least once, they're going to ask for a gank.

Late Game:

This is where Tristana shines!

Short version for Late Game: Press Q and right-click. Really though, that's it. Tristana is not all "combo oriented" like other characters. She's a Recommended character for a reason.
HOWEVER! The difference between a good Tristana player and a bad Tristana player is decision making. Whom to focus, when to engage, and when to back out.

Priorities of whom to focus:
  • AD Carries in range: Any ranged carry that's lost his/her support or dared to enter your range must perish.

  • AP Carries: Most AP Carries are squishy but deal huge damage. Kill them before they kill you.

  • AD/AP Melee Fighters: Master Yi, Jax, etc. are all prime targets to be targeted. They'll be close enough to attack because of their melee characteristic, yet still be held back by your tank and team.

  • Tanks: Your damage is severely hampered by the armor resistance. Your amazing DPS will be slowed by 1 or 2 seconds. Still, a kill is a kill.

  • Ranged carries tucked in the back: Unless you have a flank on the AD Carry, crossing into the battlefield of Tanks and Melee fighters is deadly for such a little Yordle like you. Destroy their support instead to get to the damage dealers.


Red buff is essentially a free Frozen Mallet with burn damage. Get this when you can.
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Winning and Losing with this Build

Here's a couple of my games to show you that Tristana is epic awesome AD carry.
Off topic: Amumu is epic awesome Yordle. 2nd only to the Megling Gunner.

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Tristana is not a character that requires crazy combos.
I'll be the first to admit that. Like I've said before, her builds are mostly cookie-cutter and similar.

Instead, she is a character that requires split-second decision making, prioritizing, strategy, and placement.

Do I split-push a tower at the risk of the team presence at a point weakening?
Whom do I focus down? Do I stay in this battle or run away from a losing battle?
Do I stay in the back or go around to flank, losing could-be precious seconds walking?

In my opinion, no build can give you the map on how to play any character. Only experience will. But hopefully, my in-depth guide helped guide you toward a path for you to follow.

Now get out there and make the Megling Commandos proud!

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Special Thanks and History

Super amazing thanks to:
jhoijhoi: His "Making a Guide" guide is amazing. Every guide maker must read it.
nand: His "Maximum Glass Cannon Tristana" guide is a great Tristana guide to read as well.
Trojan995: Opened my eyes to many new things that benefit Tristana.

08/01/11: Guide released. Edited introduction and Flash description.
08/02/11: "Mastering your Mechanics: Common Situations" - Situation #1, #2, and #3 images edited. Item Path redone. Skill order optimized. Item Sequence reflects most common build. Early game tips redone. Removed "Lore" Section. Added "Spell Mastery: Flash" section
08/15/11: Changed Item Path and Preferred Items. Fixed Items: Detailed to match new item choices.
08/17/11: Fixed Summoner Spell icon that was portraying the incorrect spell.
08/22/11: Added AD Tristana vs. AP Tristana because I was bashing on AP Tristana so much apparently without reasons.
10/24/11: Edited with updated build.
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