Guide: Playing Nidalee in a post-nerf world

Leopard Nidalee.

Nidalee used to be at the top of my most-hated toon list. She was impossible to run down, near impossible to lane against, and devastating to anyone but the thickest of tanks. She received a string of nerfs that slowly but surely brought her down from the godlike status she once held, but she can still be very strong in the right hands. Eradicator for some advice on playing Nidalee so I thought I’d throw together a quick guide.

Nidalee Basics
Nidalee is one of the more complex toons in that she has four human form skills, one of which makes her a cat, which gives her a new set of three skills. Most players play Nidalee as AP these days in order to capitalize on her abilities in both forms. Nidalee, like many toons, was hit pretty hard by the Sheen/Trinity Force/Lichbane nerf, but she can still perform very well. Her heal scales very well with AP, her trap scales slightly with AP, and her javelin is deadly with even a little bit magic penetration. As with many casters, I like to focus on a magic pen build, and rushing Zhonya’s once you’re in position to do so.

Laning with Nidalee is pretty simple. Attack, heal, attack some more. She can kill off creep waves very quickly with the attack speed buff from Primal Surge, so use it as often as your mana allows. Primal Surge also gives you the ability to harass and take a few creep hits, heal yourself, and use the attack speed buff to get the minions down. Make sure you take one rank of each skill before six, though, or your cat form will be severely gimped.

Once you hit six you should be farming very quickly. Try to get a lane against a squishier toon if you can. It will make it that much easier for you to trap, Pounce, and Swipe the caster minions for quick gold and then finish off the melee and push. Remember, as a healer you can afford to stand and attack towers with your opponent attacking you so long as you don’t have tower aggro. Heal through their damage and keep pushing. A lot of players make the mistake of burning through mana to harass Nidalee when she can just heal right through it. Let them. When you’re on their tower they’ll have nothing left.

Nidalee’s passive allows her to traverse the map very quickly (though not as quickly as a certain champion). Use the brush for a little speed bump to get you to the next lane for a gank. I roll Flash/Ghost in most cases to maximize my mobility. If your ganking partner has a snare, let them snare, toss a javelin from as far as you can reliably land it (you’ll want to get good at this), Cougar Form and run in, making sure to land your pounce on your target. Swipe -> Take down and your target should either be dead or very close to it. If he flashes away, Human Form -> Javelin Toss. Nidalee’s greatest weakness in a ganking situation is her lack of CC. For this reason, positioning is everything. Make sure you strafe your opponents from the side whenever possible to maximize the amount of time you can deal damage to them. Ganking with a stun/snare partner makes your life much easier.

Nidalee is best suited to taking down carries/squishies. Group with teammates before a fight and focus on harassing with Javelin Toss before the fight starts. You can easily hit an enemy carry for 20-30 percent of his HP with just a little bit of magic pen. Land two of those and that carry has to go heal or risk dying very quickly in the upcoming fight.

When the fight starts, get to the carries by whatever means necessary. Seriously. Flash to them, ghost into the mix and Pounce. It is your sole responsibility to burn the carries and get out before the tanks can get on top of you. With the current CC/high-HP DPS metagame, this has become much harder. Nidalee is a good toon, but only in the right comp. She’s a poor choice as a first, second, or even third pick in my opinion. You need to see that your enemy has a shortage of CC. If they have 4-5 stuns/slows, pick a different toon. If there’s a squishy or two and one to two hard CC characters, you should be fine. Remember, your heals scale incredibly well with AP, so don’t be afraid to get a little low in order to bring down that Ashe/Ezreal. Heal up, and loop back around to support your teammates.

Make try to drop traps in the line of an impending team fight when possible. The magic resist/armor reduction can make the difference between a dead enemy tank and one that lives to fight. It’s a very strong skill, and if you have Rylai’s, it puts a slow on the trapped target, too. Speaking of traps, use them as often as possible. Most players ward in very common places – the little brush about a quarter of the way from middle to a side lane is almost always warded – giving you the chance to counter them. Trap their wards, Primal Surge and burn it down. Killing the enemy vision gives your team the chance to set up ganks deep in enemy territory.

My skill build is based on the following priority with the simple exception that you take one rank of your Pounce/Trap skill before six. After that, it’s the last skill you rank.

Cougar Form -> Primal Surge -> Takedown -> Trap

As for items, I’d recommend Sorc Boots, Haunting Guise, Zhonya’s, Rylai’s, Abyssal and Lichbane as solid items. Use your discretion on Lichbane, though. The nerf really did hurt the damage it provides a lot of characters, especially someone as spammy as Nidalee. Basically, you won’t want to spend all your time in cougar like you might be used to. Get out of form, use your heals/javelins to support your team. Nidalee is still a strong support character, but she is a far cry from the carry she used to be. Don’t forget that.

Hopefully this helps you understand Nidalee’s position in a team and her strengths against enemy teams. Remember, Nidalee cannot be forced into any team comp, but when the mix is right, she can be a lot of fun.


Miss Fortune Impressions

Cowgirl Miss Fortune.

Miss Fortune joins Gangplank among the pirate champions of LoL, but after playing her, I feel like that cowgirl skin should be her default. Not only is it the hottest of the three skins, but she has a run-and-gun feel to her that makes me think of games like Sunset Riders. She’s a ton of fun to play, but that may be because she is so strong.

If you were ever into Gangplank, you’ll probably find Miss Fortune really enjoyable. She has all the great things about him – a cannon ball slow, a “wtf just hit me” shot, anti-healing, a fun ult, and very high move speed – and she has the added benefit of farming from range. She doesn’t have his free cleanse, but her range and her passive more than make up for it.

As far as build goes, it seems like AD is the way to be. I’ve personally been starting with Manamune and moving straight to Infinity because her farm is nearly unstoppable. Bloodthirster is also a good rush item, though I think you’ll realize how much she needs mana early on. The key, though, is keeping up that farm. With her movespeed you should always be near creeps, always last hitting everything you can see.

As far as playing against her, you better bring a lot of stuns. Because she has no inherent escape mechanism, I think you’ll see a lot of Miss Fortune players running Flash/Ghost for summoner skills, which means you need to lock her down fast. As a mid player, you may want to think about taking a cloth armor first with a bunch of health pots. It will mitigate some of her Double Up damage, which is where she gets most of her harass, and force her to use more mana to get you as low as she’d like, which means she won’t have tons of mana for that big ult. If you’re playing a carry, Flash is almost a must. Her ult hits so hard so fast that you need to get out of there within a half second. With a minimal farm she can hit you for 800 damage at level 16, which is a LOT on a carry. Add in a 300-400 damage Double Up and you’re looking at some fountain time.

I would not be surprised to see her nerfed next patch. Despite some of the posts in the forums calling her “useless” and “way underpowered,” she has that mix of magic and physical damage that both scale off of her attack damage. It allows her to provide a heavy mix of damage that is very difficult to build against. I would love to see Riot introduce another hybrid mitigation item like Aegis of the Legion. Players need an item to help against toons like Ezreal, Miss Fortune, and even Kog’Maw, who can all provide a mix of damage in huge waves.


Who do you use to carry?


I had a pretty stellar game this afternoon as Kog’Maw. Granted, that’s not so tough these days, but I was rocking a significantly positive K/D/A ratio (22/7/7) in spite of a team of four negative K/D/As. I was playing with a friend who actually said over Skype, “You are the sole reason we are winning this game.” That’s a pretty great feeling, and it doesn’t happen very often.

More often my “carry” games are more subtle, and tell a small part of what can only be considered a team victory. I have been trying to pick champions that allow me to contribute in a big way, lately, and I think it has helped my rating. The key, to me anyway, is to pick someone that can really dish out the love. I am great at ganking, so playing gank toons allows me to maximize that part of my playstyle. I really like Vlad because he farms minions well for the entire game and his ultimate is a boon to any team. Kog’Maw is great if you have the space to farm (i.e. not laning against good harassment/stuns) and a team to distract people. Ezreal is an amazing comeback toon if your team starts down. I also like to play characters like Xin Zhao and Shaco, who can close the gap without risking too much in the process. As you all know, I’ve also been playing a lot of Master Yi recently, though I rarely feel like I carry with him. He’s often more like an annoying swarm of hornets – it hurts like hell and you can never pin them down enough to stop the pain.

So who do you use when you want to carry? I know a couple of mean Udyr players who really seem to turn games, and it’s always fun to have a pro Zilean or Morgana on your team. Drop your best carries in the comments (with a fun story if you have one)!

PS – Thanks for the pic, Miku! Front page of Google Images for Kog’maw so I linked back to your post.


Carry/Feeder adjustments coming to ranked play

ProFeed.I don’t think I’ve read better news today (granted, most of my reading to this point has been focused on either games or gadgetry, so it kinda makes sense). I found a thread in which Zileas said he would be adding feeder/carry consideration to the ELO calculations at the end of games.

This. Is. Huge. This is at least a step toward addressing the individual performance in a team setting and the penalties/benefits some players reap as a result. As a for instance, I had a game today in which I played Shaco. I got a slow start, mostly because I was on the phone and not focused on my jungling, so I didn’t gank much early. I did try for one big gank on our 1v2 lane and sent them back to base, so it wasn’t a horrible early game. Well, not to me anyway.

My teammates, on the other hand, would not stop berating me for being a terrible Shaco and a waste of a team slot and on and on. Our Olaf kept insisting I was going to be useless late game because I hadn’t ganked. As it turned out, I went 11-2-15 with two tower kills before the other team surrendered. Regardless of what my team thought was going on, I was largely the reason behind the victory, or at least the very heavy piece of leaden straw that broke the camel’s back. Our Olaf slightly below 1.00 in his K/D ratio and our Mordekaiser was 1-9. For the other team, that can be an extremely frustrating loss. They likely could have beat our team with a different player. My understanding, then, is that their ELO will not be as negatively effected because we had a strong carry. Likewise, my own ELO should receive a slight bonus for carrying.

On the flipside, if Kaiser had somehow lost us the game (which he almost did), we likely wouldn’t be as penalized because we had a heavy feeder on our team. No word on when these changes will come out, but I’m really excited about them.


Kog’Maw Impressions

Caterpillar Kog'Maw.

As with every new patch, I’ve been spending my time in game playing with the new features and the new champion, Kog’Maw. From what I’ve seen so far, Kog’Maw is a heavy-hitter with an excellent chase ability whose balance lies in his slow movement speed and low damage resilience. Oh, he’s also a load of fun.

I started out a little unsure how to build Kog’Maw, but after seeing the incredible range granted by his Bio-Arcane Barrage it seemed like attack damage would be great. I’ve spent most of my games since playing AD builds so most of these impressions will be about his position as an attack damage character. There are definitely some situations in which hybrid is probably best, and I’ll cover some of those in another post.

I think Kog’Maw’s great advantage is his ability to deal heavy damage from range. With just a little bit of attack damage and the percentage based buff from Bio-Arcane Barrage you can deal heavy damage from long range. I’m a personal fan of rushing an Infinity to get your early damage up nice and high. My basic method is to position myself lateral to the target and either hit him directly with my slow or land it behind him. From there I attack with regular attacks, using my ultimate for vision if the target runs into brush. It’s important that you save the active on Bio-Arcane for when your target is leaving. A combination of long-range shots and your ultimate should be plenty to finish off a running target. Always make sure you lead the target by just a hair. The blast radius of Living Artillery is big enough that you can miss behind your target. That’s important because it makes it that much harder to avoid for your target.

For teamfighting, Kog’Maw has to stay as far away from the fight as possible. He is extremely squishy, and while your passive can be nice in the midst of a fight, it’s not nearly as effective as your regular damage output. Another thing to remember is not to spam your artillery, at least not when you’re starting a fight. You need that mana for your percentage based damage and your slow (which is a fantastic control mechanism for any fight). Save the mortars, which get costly after a few casts, for chasing down anyone that runs or dropping on compact groups of enemies.

Overall, Kog’Maw is a very strong carry – among the strongest in the game – but he is so squishy and so easily killed that you need to have a strong team in front of you, and more specifically a team with good croud control. It’s very easy for your opponent to rip you down if they get close, so you need a team that can keep you out of trouble. If you have that, you’ll have a blast playing the newest creature from the Void.


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