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Tristana - Death in a Small Package

Last updated on April 5, 2010
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ADC Role
Ranked #34 in
ADC Role
Win 49%
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 21

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

This guide is intended to showcase my play style for Tristana, a build I have found to be extremely effective over the course of my time playing her. It focuses on being able to deal large amounts of damage quickly and effectively, and is more of a solo build than a team-buff build. I usually take mid solo, so I have developed this build for that purpose.

Section 1: Summoner Spells
Ignite - This one should be fairly obvious. Though it starts out somewhat weak at level 1, it ramps up quite quickly, and can mean the difference between getting a kill and not getting a kill when someone runs or flashes away. Between explosive shot and ignite, you can keep someone to 50% healing for a full 13 seconds at the end of the game, or 9 at the beginning. Use this when you are committing yourself to the kill. Using it as a harassment technique is a very poor decision, as it has a 2 minute cooldown.

Exhaust - I love exhaust. Not only does it slow, but it gives the target a 100% miss chance for the duration. Combined with Cripple from masteries, it becomes a very deadly weapon, especially against other physical damage champions. I use this as I rocket jump onto the target to stop them hurting me as I hit them, especially when it is someone who relies solely on their attacks to kill you (i.e. Teemo, Twitch, Warwick, etc). One of the best parts of exhaust though is that it can be used defensively as well. If you are forced to retreat, and someone is chasing you, simply exhaust them and they will not be able to hurt you anymore. Though this is not the preferred use for the spell (I'd rather use it to stop someone escaping as I kill them), it is nice to have the "Oh S***!" button if need be.

Section 2: Masteries
Mastery choices focus on optimizing Tristana's main source of damage (physical damage), while also assisting in her ability to stay in a lane and deal some magic damage if the situation calls for it. The offensive masteries give you extra damage, while the utility masteries will help you to keep that ever-important mana while out-leveling your opponents.

Deadliness - Obvious choice over any of the other tier 1 masteries. Since so much of Tristana's damage comes from her shots, 2.00% critical chance makes you that much more dangerous. Though this is very RNG based, I still like it because of the little extra burst it will give you.

Cripple - Being that you are already using exhaust, Cripple is a great choice. Lowering the target's armor can at times mean the difference between getting a kill and them escaping. Though you are already using a lot of armor penetration runes, the extra 10, as well as the 10 magic resistance reduction can definitely swing things in your favor.

Alacrity - Tristana relies on her physical attacks for doing the majority of her damage. Attacking faster means you are doing more damage, plain and simple.

Sorcery - Tristana has long cooldowns on her Rocket Jump and Explosive shot abilities, so having the cooldown reduction allows you to use these more frequently, allowing you to more easily harass an enemy early game, or get the kill late game. Being that Rocket jump can also be used defensively, having that cooldown be done just a little bit sooner can sometimes save you from dying.

Archaic Knowledge - Not the most amazing mastery for Tristana, but 15% is 15%. This will add a decent amount of damage to your Rocket Jump, Explosive Shot, and Buster Shot. Especially early game, when your auto attack doesn't do enormous amounts of damage, I find that this 15% really makes a difference in getting a kill.

Sunder - Tristana does most of her damage with her auto attack. Lowering the armor of the target makes this shot do more damage. Against anyone but a tank, with armor penetration runes and this mastery, until around level 9 or 10 most champions have an effective 0 armor, so your shots are doing full, unmitigated damage to them. This is extremely significant.

Brute Force - 3 damage is not much, even at the lower levels. I put 1 point into here to fill out enough of the tree to reach lower tiers. It's a little bit of extra physical damage, which is nice, but overall this mastery is fairly weak. If desired, this point can be moved to Burning Embers so that you do a little extra damage with your abilities while Ignite is on cooldown.

Lethality - Especially later in the game, you will be critting on nearly (or in the case of ideal item build, every) shot, so hitting for an extra 10% on those crits factors out to be a huge damage increase (upwards of 30 damage per shot).

Havoc - Your goal is to kill people as Tristana. This is a straight 5% damage increase for everything you do. No more needs be said; this mastery is at the bottom of the tree for a reason.

Perseverence - 4% increased health and mana regeneration will keep you in the lane longer at the start of the game to get you more experience, more gold, and more opportunities to kill people. Tristana has high ability costs and low mana at the start of the game, so this mastery will help you to use her abilities to harass while still being able to use them for a kill.

Good Hands - You shouldn't be dying much, but this is nice for when you do. You aren't using Teleport or Dash, so this is the only other option in the utility tree to get you to the next tier.

Awareness - Tristana is one of those champions who scales better than linearly as she levels up. Gaining an extra 5% experience will help you to get this bonus while out-leveling your opponents even more. You will already most likely be mid, and therefore overleveled compared to your top or bottom counterparts, so this mastery makes you that much more dangerous.

Meditation - As stated before, Tristana needs her mana. Though this is only 0.33 mana per second, 1 extra mana every 3 seconds will help you to be more deadly.

Section 3: Rune Selection
Marks - Greater Mark of Desolation x9: 17.64 armor penetration will allow your auto attacks to do more damage. Being that around 80% (in my experience) of your damage comes from auto attacks, this is a huge increase in your damage.

Seals - Greater Seal of Furor x9: 5.04% critical strike damage. Tristana doesn't crit obscenely large amounts of the time at low levels, but as you get your items your crit chance will approach, and then surpass 100%. Having some extra damage on those crits on top of your armor penetration will make you hit like a truck, rather than a mere station wagon.

Glyphs - Greater Glyph of Furor x9: 7.02% critical strike damage. Same reasoning as the seals. You crit a lot, so extra bonus damage on crits will make you more deadly.

Quintessences - Greater Quintessence of Desolation x3: 11.73 armor penetration. Same reasoning as the marks above. Most of your damage is physical, so reducing the enemy armor will make this damage more effective.

Section 4: Items
Start of the Game: Start off with a Rejuvenation Bead and 3 each of Health and Mana Potions. This will give you some minor passive health regeneration, as well as the ability to restore your mana and health by a large amount at will. This will keep you in the lane longer, and will offer you more possibilities at scoring kills because you will have the mana to use abilities more frequently.

Mid Game: Once you run out of potions, or once you hit around 3500 gold, you should port back to base if you have not. Buy Bloodthirster before anything else, followed by Berserker's Greaves. With this you will be hitting a lot harder than most people, much sooner in the game than most. After finishing Berserker's Greaves, your goal is to get a Phantom Dancer and an Infinity Edge ASAP.

Late Game: After finishing your Infinity Edge, go for a second Phantom Dancer and Trinity Force. The activated ability on Trinity Force will make you hit for nearly half of a tank's health on the first shot after using Rapid Fire, and the added health/mana/move speed/crit chance will set you above the 100% crit chance mark.

*As a side note, if the game for some reason goes on long enough (or if you are being fed like crazy), I usually sell my Berserker's Greaves in favor of either another Bloodthirster or a Black Cleaver. This will set your damage to enormously high amounts, and will further reduce the enemy's armor.

Section 5: Skills
Rapid Fire: Makes you attack faster. Most of your shots will be directed at minions early in the game, so this skill is fairly weak early on. Later in the game it becomes more useful, so I don't put a point into Rapid Fire until level 7.

Rocket Jump: Deals moderate damage and puts a slow on whoever you land on. This skill can be used offensively as extra damage, as a slow, and to catch up to people. It can also be used to escape from a gank. This is a powerful skill, but not so much as Explosive Shot early in the game, so Explosive Shot takes precedence.

Explosive Shot: Makes enemies you kill explode and deal damage to surrounding enemies. Also has an activated ability to do 25 damage per second for 4-8 (depending on level) seconds. The activated also reduces the healing the enemy receives by 50% for the duration. The damage and healing reduction from this ability make it very useful for harassing an enemy early in the game, and the passive explosion on kill helps you to farm gold and clear out minion waves more quickly.

Buster Shot: Does a large amount of damage and knocks the target back a long distance. Be careful when using this that you don't inadvertently hit the enemy out of your range and prevent yourself from killing them. A good tactic is to jump behind the person and hit them into your tower, or towards your minions so that they have no chance of escape. Buster Shot has a high mana cost, however, so make sure to plan out your ability sequence before attacking so that you have enough mana to use it all.

Basically your goal is to harass the enemy early game using explosive shot, and then when they get low enough Rocket Jump in while simultaneously hitting them with Explosive Shot, Ignite, and probably Exhaust. You can usually draw first blood this way if you time it right. Both Rocket Jump and Buster Shot are useful as both offensive and defensive skills, so don't be afraid to use them to escape from a sticky situation. As previously stated, Buster Shot can be a tricky skill to use, so make sure that when you shoot someone with it you are either killing them outright, or else knocking them away from where they want to go.

This guide is by no means the end-all, be-all for Tristana, just my thoughts on my experiences after playing her for a while. I've had a lot of success playing this way, and wanted to share my experiences with everyone.

Thanks for reading! Any questions or comments are welcome! :)