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Tristana Build Guide by Ur Little Sister

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Ur Little Sister

Tristana. They did go boom.

Ur Little Sister Last updated on July 15, 2012
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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.



Offense: 26

Honor Guard

Defense: 4

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Tristana is a ranged AD carry. The reason I love her is because with decent play, she has the right kit at the right time in the game. She has high burst early game, which wins lanes; and she has huge sustained damage lategame, as a ranged AD carry should.

There are 2 main ways of playing Tristana:
- Insanely agressive (aka burst/kill lane). This setup is aimed at using Tristana's huge base damages on her spells to acheive lane dominance.
- Insanely passively (sustain lane). This setup is aimed at just surviving the early game, and trying to safely get into the lategame.

Now in the current metaview on botlane, there are 3 common types of lanes: poke, burst and sustain. They are said to have this kind of rock-paper-scizzors type of thing going on where poke > burst, burst > sustain and sustain > poke. Tristana is capable of different playstyles, but she is relatively extreme in playing them. Thus, knowing in advance what the preferred playstyle is is something you should take into account.

My personal favorite playstyle is burst, as Tristana's early game burst is amongst the highest of all champions, and Explosive Shot + Ignite destroy ennemies who think of using clutch heals to negate your burst.

If you'd ask me what my favorite characteristic of Tristana is, I'd say it's her ability to acheive almost anything she needs

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Tips & Tricks

Added this section first for those players who wish to copy the build literally, and quickly read up on some tricks. If you're reading the entire guide, it's advisable to skip this at first if you're new to Trist.

  • You scale very well with farm. Generally farming > harassing.
  • When harassing with Explosive Shot, make sure to hit with an auto-attack right after the cast.
  • When going for the kill, use Explosive Shot during the flight time of Rocket Jump.
  • Knocking an ennemy into a turret should be done using Rocket Jump AND Flash. Not flashing is too unreliable if your ennemies have any experience whatsoever.
  • In teamfights, kite between auto-attacks. Once they're not coming after you, or waste their gap closers; activate Rapid Fire and stop kiting
  • Rocket Jump is an unreliable escape skill. It usually dashes through walls, but sometimes randomly smashes you into them. Use it to hop over walls, but as soon as you see your hitbox sticks to the wall, Flash!!!

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Pros / Cons

This section describes tristana compared to other ranged AD champions.

+ Big burst damage early game
+ Insane attack speed steroid
+ Has an escape skill
+ Huge minion wave control with explosive shot
+ AoE knockback
+ Has a slow

- Cc relies on her getting close
- Can push her wave unwantingly. Can be difficult to lasthit with.
- Can save ennemy champions by accident (or by a pro flash on their behalf)
- Her rocket jump is glitchy and unreliable
- Low auto attack range early game
- Lacks the big boobs that MF and Ashe have. Hers are even smaller than Vayne's

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Skill description

Draw a Bead: Increases Tristana's attack range as she levels
This skill synergises VERY well with Tristana's kit. It gives her the safety of having the longest range in the game (except for Kog'Maw during his godmode) in the lategame, when she needs it.

Rapid Fire: Increases Tristana's attack speed by 30/45/60/75/90% for 7 seconds.
This skill makes or brakes a Tristana lategame! 90% attack speed increase is HUGE! In order for you to succeed, you will have to time this skill right in the endgame.

Rocket Jump: Tristana fires at the ground to propel herself to target location, dealing 70/115/160/205/250 (+0.8) magic damage and slowing surrounding units by 60% for 2.5 seconds when she lands.
On a champion kill or assist, Rocket Jump's cooldown resets.

This skill is part lovely and part hateful. It's her main burst damage spell, and it's also a potent escape mechanism. However, it's glitched: it has been known to slam you into walls instead of over them for no apparent reason. It's trajectory is also hard to understand. Tristana doesn't actually blink when using this spell, but her hitbox moves across the trajectory as she uses it. Hence, you can get hit by a lot of nasty things that you thought you avoided with this jump.
An interesting mechanic is that during the casting of this skill, you are NOT disabled. You can auto-attack and use ANY skill that's off cooldown in mid-air.

Explosive Shot: Passive: Enemies explode when slain by Tristana's attacks, dealing 50/75/100/125/150 magic damage to nearby enemies.

Active: Explosive Shot rends target enemy, reducing healing and health regeneration by 50% and dealing 110/140/170/200/230 (+1) Magic Damage over 5 seconds.

This skill is often reguarded as unwanted by many Tristana players, as it pushes her wave when she lasthits. The active ability is very powerful. It's one of the strongest lvl 1 nukes in the game, but is often not aknowlaged for it as the damage is dealt over time. The healing reduction is a nice bonus. The passive ability, though unwanted by many, actually gives tristana a lot of minion wave control, and the ability to push her wave if she has to.
The active ability on this skill falls off later in the game, when Tristana's attack range grows.

Buster Shot: Tristana fires a massive cannonball at an enemy unit. This deals 300/400/500 (+1.5) magic damage and knocks surrounding units back 600/800/1000 distance.
A nice ultimate. Using it wrongly will save your ennemies. Using it correctly will make them wheep. This skill is a great defence mechanism against ennemies with gap closers, a great champion-lasthitting tool, good for saving your allies if they get caught, and occasionally worth using to punch an overextending braindead ennemy into your turret.

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Skill Sequence

As you will notice, I do not differentiate my skill sequence based on playstyle. The reason for this is simple: I believe having burst damage in lane is more valuable than sustained damage reguardless of playstyle. Burst wins lanes! It allows you to trade better, and it's the best response to a gank by your friendly neighbourhood jungler.

I take 2 early points in Explosive Shot, as at low levels it's a very strong harass tool. Mind that you can actually harass ennemies standing next to their minions by lasthitting said minions. After 2 ranks, there's not much use taking any more of this skill, as it will fall off later in the game when tristana gets her levels.

Next up I max Rocket Jump ASAP. This spell has HUGE burst damage. The best part is: all of her skill damage (including this) is magic damage! The ennemy laner will generally NOT itemize against this. Lategame this skill should only be used to escape.

I max Rapid Fire second. Not first, because early game your offensive skills deal A LOT more damage than your auto-attacks. Therefore, I delay this skill a bit until the midgame, where my passive and the items I've been able to buy allow me to change roles from basically a caster to a ranged AD carry.

I grab a point in Buster Shot whenever I can, as with most ultimates.

Explosive Shot vs Rocket Jump: the early levels
I grab 2 ranks in both Explosive Shot and Rocket Jump by lvl 4 almost every game. However, every single way to acheive this levelling-wise is viable, and the optimal way depends on several factors.
- Level 1: Explosive Shot is usually the right skill to level first. It's your harass skill early on, as well as your minion wave control skill. Taking Rocket Jump is viable however, and advisable if you want to go for a lvl 1 kill (with an agressive jungler) or if the ennemy team has a hyperagressive early ganking jungler (Lee Sin, Alistar, Shaco) that started near your location.
- Level 2: You're forced to grab the skill you hadn't grabbed yet
- Level 3: What is more useful to quickly get more of? Burst power or harass/minion wave control?
- Level 4: grab the remaining point.

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Summoner Spells

Flash is mandatory! Rocket jump is too unreliable an escape, and flash allows you to position better Buster Shots.
Ignite is what you should take if you can! The extra burst makes your laning fearsome.
Heal is kind of a meta thing in bot lane since the buff. It's a decent summoner spell, but I way prefer ignite if I'm going for a burst lane. If you're in a sustain lane, this is a cool summoner to take though.
Cleanse in my mind is a very strong summoner spell. However, Tristana is a champion who doesn't really need it seeing as she has a lot of escapes. I would advise to generally not take this, keeping in mind that if your ennemy asks for it (for example by taking a botlane weak/passive/defensive botlane with little MR (Taric+Ashe is a good example), but tons of CC), you should still take it.
Exhaust is a viable summoner that however I like less than ignite. It's worth taking if your team doesn't have it yet though, and if there are anticarries / Kennen's to take care of.

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The recent mastery change is a bit of a pickle. I don't see it as a buff for Tristana (due to the source of her damage shifting from magic dmg to physical damage). I personally think the change benefitted other AD carries more.

I haven't got the definitive answer to which mastery setup is best. Tristana's damage type shifting makes grabbing both Arcane Knowledge and Weapon Expertise a tempting option, and somewhat of a necessity if you're going for a burst lane. This does however limit how deep you can go into the defensive tree. Note that Veteran's Scars is a very good mastery for Tristana, so this situation makes me a sad yordle. If you choose to go burst-style Tristana, and like Veteran's Scars (having more health when jumping ennemies can have a psychological effect where the ennemies don't dare to retaliate because their damage does relatively little against you), I would opt to take Archane Knowledge over Weapon Expertise , because BY FAR your largest early game burst damage is magic damage.

Moving on: whilst Vampirism is definately the better mastery over Havoc for sustain lanes, I still have doubts about which one to take in burst lanes. I guess it boils down to personal preference. Lethality is pretty much a must on AD hypercarries cause it maximizes damage multiplication (which is the whole damn reason AD carries become the lategame monsters they are).

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Greater Mark of Desolation and Greater Mark of Attack Damage arethe most popular choices for ranged AD carries. Which one to get is a matter of big debate, and you'll have to figure out what you like yourself. Desolation is better lategame, but they aren't amazing together with the percentual armorpen from Weapon Expertise and Last Whisper. Strength helps early game lasthitting. Which mark is better against champions depends on their runes and lane setup.

Greater Seal of Armor is a reasonably logical choice, as your opponents will most likely deal mainly physical damage, as well as their jungler in many cases. Other possibilities include Greater Seal of Vitality.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist are a personal preference of mine to build tanky early game. You can DEFINATELY pick Greater Glyph of Magic Resist if you prefer flat runes, or Greater Glyph of Attack Speed if you feel your passive is making you lose lasthits. I've seen many different runes on Tristana's in the Glyph department, and many are viable.

Greater Quintessence of Health are also debatable. Their advantage is that it's plain scary when a Tristana jumps on top of your head and has a ton more health than you. They can be replaced by Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage or Greater Quintessence of Desolation if you favor a different playstyle, or want to scare opponents with your attack damage early on.

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The 2 starting setups I value most are:
- Boots of Speed + 3 health potions for general laning, and outplaying your opponents with good positioning n all that.
- Doran's Blade if you feel like going balls-deep agressive. This is my preferred starting item when laning together with a Leona. (However, ONLY start with this item if you can succesfully pull ogg a burst lane!!!)

I like to get 1 or 2 extra Doran's Blades in lane for extra health, sustainability and damage.
For boots, I like Berzerker's Grieves as Tristana, as she can afford to stay away from harm easily, and is a freaking AD hypercarry. However, if your ennemies have a largely unbalanced teamcomp, Ninja Tabi and Mercury Treads can be the best boots.

Next up, B.F. Sword! And you can upgrade it into an Infinity Edge fast! By the time you get this, you should be getting near having Rapid Fire anyway, so you can delay your Zeal a bit.
Now, I personally strongly like a The Bloodthirster on Tristana. You shouldn't be dying much, as you have 3 skills ( Draw a Bead, Rocket Jump and Buster Shot) to keep you safe. I don't rush it though, I tend to just grab the Vampiric Scepter early, go for that Phantom Dancer and THEN finish my The Bloodthirster. PD just gives great mobility to improve your positioning, as well as some attack speed that you might crave now for when your Rapid Fire is on cooldown.

I finish with Last Whisper, because of the amazing armor pen. However, if the opponents don't feel like buying armor for some reason, go ahead and buy another Phantom Dancer.

You might have noticed I haven't mentioned a defensive item yet, despite it being a very common thing to buy a good defensive item ( Guardian Angel and Quicksilver Sash have been the most popular choices recently. But let's wait out how the QSS nerfs will play out), and often said defensive item is bought somewhere shortly after the Phantom Dancer. I feel like you can delay it on Tristana due to her many escape mechanisms and her long range.

Keep in mind that general counterbuilding and common sense STILL APPLY. This is the build I like to take to maximize my own damage output and mobility. It's NOT what I grab "every game".
Deviate from the build order if it's failing you! Getting killed repeatedly? Get the defensive item earlyer! Ennemies stacking armor fast? Get LW sooner (after PD or even zeal).
Some interesting items:
Madred's Bloodrazor: If the ennemy team consists of many high HP champions, grab it. It's great on you, as you have the attack speed to go with it, and you have the range and mobility to get those hits off. Mind that it's VERY expensive though :(
The Brutalizer: DON'T BUY IT. You deal MAGIC damage on your skills, this item is specifically designed to benefit champs with physical damage skills, like Ezreal or Urgot.
Wriggle's Lantern: This item is very situational. It's a free ward, gives you armor and helps you farm like crazy. However, it does delay your build by 1600 gold. I prefer NOT to get this item unless I have to, as you should focus on getting your expensive high damage items. Get this when getting completely zoned out of farm.
Banshee's Veil: Always a good defensive item. Get it if you need it!
Thornmail: Relatively cheap armor, good defense against attack speed champs (ashe, yi,...)
Warden's Mail: Cheap, and great against almost all physical damage dealers. Amazing against melee champs.

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Early game, you should focus on lasthitting. Stay behind your minions and lasthit, lasthit, lasthit. If any ennemy overextends, trade damage with auto-attacks and Explosive Shot.
Lower health targets that dare get too close should be met with Rocket Jump + Explosive Shot, followed by a quick Ignite and auto-attacks. If you get an idea of how much damage you deal, it's hard to counter this, as the ennemy will only receive 25% healing anymore during your initiation. At least until they nerf Ignite that is. From level 6 on, Buster Shot can be used as an additional nuke.

Midgame, you should focus on lasthitting. Getting farmed is the most important thing for an AD carry. Get those items! This is your weakest part of the game! Realize this! You need your items ASAP!

Lategame, stay back. Poke whoever you can poke, even if that's only their tank. Patiantly await the initiation, and make sure you personally are NOT the one initiated on. Once the time is right, activate Rapid Fire. It is imperative that you time this ability right! You will now wreck faces. Save allies (including yourself) with Buster Shot if needed. Never jump into the ennemies unless you are 100% certain that you'll get a kill or assist soon, so your jump refreshes.

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Lane Setups

Allied supports
Burst Tristana goes well with agressive supports. Good examples are Leona, Alistar and Taric.
Sustain Tristana can use a sustain support like Soraka.
Sona is a jack-of-all-trades, though I feel she's too weak after the last set of nerfs to actually be of much use.
I personally don't like Janna much together with Tristana.

Ennemy supports
Counterpicking a support against Tristana? Take Soraka. Soraka's passive ability gives increased magic resistance, which is a pain in the butt as virtually all of Tristana's early game damage is magic damage.

Ennemy ranged AD carries
Countering Tristana in lane is doable: pick Caitlyn. It's quite known that Caitlyn has a very strong laning phase and a lot of ozne control with her traps. She is difficult to shut down, as she can escape most burst attempts with her e. When playing against a Caitlyn, you must focus on farming forever; because you outshine her in the lategame.

Another (and maybe stronger) counterpick these days is Graves. He gets 10-20 bonus MR just by attacking or getting attacked. Together with a Soraka this adds up to 26 bonus magic resistance at lvl 1-5, and 36 bonus at lvl 6+ in the lane. Without actually doing anything special for it. (Lasthitting grants him the bonus basically.) In all, he will in this lane have 60-70 magic resistance on average, making your burst damage laughable. On top of that, his burst damage at lvl 6 in a direct exchange is exactly equal to yours, before resistances are applied, and his sustained damage is higher.

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This was my Tristana guide.
In short: play her as a caster early for maximum lolz, play her as a ranged AD late.
And if you must, play her as a boring old sustain lane carry early :(.

Feel free to comment on this guide, and if you feel I've left anything out or if you see any mistakes, please leave a comment!

Ur Little Sister.