AP carry Nidalee

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We all know Nidalee to be one of the most versatile champions in the game. She farms, hunts, scouts, does everything. But sometimes it's hard to figure out how to build her, or even play her for that matter, because she has so many different pathways to go. Here I'll show you how to build and play her as AP

Advantages of AP

  • Nidalee has relatively short cooldowns in human form, and very short cooldowns in cougar form. You will want to pack in lots of damage with your abilities.
  • Every ability except for takedown scales with AP.
  • Going AP allows you to be a major support in healing and long range damage.
  • Lich Bane is part of the AP build, and it has perfect synergy with her cougar form abilities, especially Takedown. Lich Bane benefits will also allow you great backdooring capabilities.
For summoner spells, I would suggest choosing exhaust and flash. Exhaust will help you chase and get kills, or even save you when near dead. Flash will help you close in on your opponent in they are near dead or to help you escape.

For masteries, I typically go 21-9-0.
Offensive masteries: 3/3 Deadliness, 1/1 Cripple, 3/3 Archmage's Savvy, 4/4 Sorcery, 1/1 Archaic Knowledge, 1/3 Brute Force, 3/3 Lethality, 1/1 Havoc

Defensive masteries: 2/3 Resistance, 2/3 Hardiness, 4/4 Evasion, 1/1 Nimbleness

The reason for this mastery selection is so that your cripple will be more effective, you gain natural AP/level, better cooldowns, spell penetration, greater spell damage, and better dodge chance (along with the nimbleness speed buff for escaping).

Final Build
  1. Boots of Swiftness
  2. Mejai's Soulstealer
  3. Rod of Ages
  4. Archangel's Staff
  5. Lich Bane
  6. Zhonya's Ring
Early game strat and build (Levels 1-6)

Items to build
  1. Doran's Ring + mana potion
  2. Tear of the Goddess
  3. Boots of Swiftness
Try to claim the middle lane. This works best for Nidalee because you won't have to fight 2 enemy champions, and worry about keeping yourself and your ally healed. Taking middle helps you achieve cougar aspect faster, farm better, and then get to supporting the rest of your team sooner. Start your build with a Doran's Ring and a mana potion. The mana regen helps you harass with javelin toss more often and keep yourself healed well. Do not be hasty with using the mana potion.

Skill Order
  1. Javelin Toss
  2. Primal Surge
  3. Javelin Toss
  4. Primal Surge
  5. Bushwhack
  6. Aspect of the Cougar
The reason you will want to build up levels in javelin toss and primal surge is for early harass and keeping yourself alive on the lane to farm. While you are laning, ALWAYS get the last hit, and when your laning enemy leaves themself open, do a javelin toss, preferrably at a long distance for max damage and at an unsuspecting time. Do not move too obviously for a javelin toss, but rather be subtle with lining up for a clear shot so you don't waste mana.

You only want to take one rank in Bushwhack at level 5, and that is mainly for having your pounce ability in cougar form so you can escape or chase down enemies once you hit level 6. Upon hitting level 6, start farming in cougar form, and when your lane enemy gets a bit too close, jump in with pounce and a swipe for mana-free harassment.

After awhile, you will see that the mana regen from the Doran Ring has really paid off, as you are able to stay in the lane for a very long time and continue farming without trouble. The next items in your build should be a Tear of the Goddess and Boots of Swiftness. To maintain your support role, you MUST have a large mana pool, good mana regen, and some speedy legs. Once you have enough gold to purchase a TotG and Boots, try to kill the champ in your lane before heading back to shop. Since you are probably on the middle lane, it is not a good idea to give a ranged dps open fire on your tower, since ranged dps are usually stuck middle. Once their tower is open for you to attack, use Primal Surge for the attack speed buff to tear it down faster.

Middle game strat and build (Levels 7-12)
Anywhere within this time, after buying your Tear of the Goddess and Boots of Swiftness, you should be able to push much harder on the middle lane since you have more mana regen and greater speed. You should be able to take down the enemy's middle tower before hitting level 10. Once taking out this tower, go to a lane that really needs help and push there, unless your middle lane enemy is attempting to counter push your middle. Lay out MANY Bushwhack traps in commonly traveled brush all over the map to look out for your team from afar.

Items to build
  1. Mejai's Soulstealer
  2. Rod of Ages
  3. Sheen
The next item you should be working on is Mejai's Soulstealer. Mid to late game, you will probably have a lot of assists by participating in team fights, so make good use of them. At the same time, work on a Rod of Ages. You need this for greater survivability and a larger mana pool, along with the nice AP.

For your skills, continue to take ranks in Javelin Toss, Primal Surge, and Cougar Aspect. Do not take levels in Bushwhack unless the game forces you, reason being that higher ranks of Bushwhack only increase the damage dealt to those caught in it, and that damage is very minuscule.

Kill minions and farm on CLEAR and SAFE lanes! Switch lanes often, and kill the jungles in between. Solo'ing dragon and getting the golem buff is a MUST to reduce your cooldowns and keep your mana pool full. Always clear out the jungle while switching lanes unless you have to join a team fight.

When it comes down to stalemate team fights, always harass with your javelin toss from a distance, to weaken the enemy team. Be sure to keep your allies healed up, and let others initiate. Once a fight has initiated, toss a javelin in, use a heal on whoever needs it, then morph into cougar and jump into the fray with all your skills. Use the exhaust on any dangerous dps champs the enemy team might have, and flash away if you start to get hit hard. If you alone have to retreat, continue to heal your allies without putting yourself in danger.

Late game strat and build (Levels 13-18)
Though you have been trying to work up to your Rod of Ages during mid-game, you should definitely have it finished by level 17 if you are farming efficiently and dying seldom. Rod of Ages is a MUST for your survivability, but must be built later in your build so your overall farming efficiency, mobility, and team effectiveness is not delayed. Continue with your strategy of switching lanes for farming and jungling along the way, while laying out Bushwhack traps during your travels.

Items to build
  1. Sheen --> Lich Bane
  2. Archangel's Staff
  3. Zhonya's Ring
Lich Bane is the item of perfect synergy with AP Nidalee in cougar form. It adds to your Takedown's bonus damage, and allows you to pack in heavy damage in a short amount of time while chasing. If you are escaping from a low hp champion, Lich Bane will help you turn the tables by pulling out your full combo. With a good 300 AP, you will be able to dish out well over 1000 damage in a very brief period of time. The Archangel's Staff should give you enough mana regeneration to keep you at a constantly stable amount of mana while in intense team fights and maintaining your allies. The 2.5% additional AP passive gives you a great amount of AP. You should have about 3300 mana by the time you get your AA Staff, yielding an additional 84 AP just from the passive. You should be such strong support and carry at this point that you won't even get to build your Zhonya's Ring because your team has secured their victory by then.

Having completed your Lich Bane, this opens many opportunities for backdooring. Your heals should be replenishing a good 500+ hp, and every time you use an ability, you will have an extra 300-500 damage. Towers will tremble in your presence, as you will be able to keep yourself alive while demolishing structures quickly. Good times for backdooring is when the enemy team is going for a 5-man push on a lane. Sneak through the jungle, tear down a tower, and gtfo. Even if the enemy team tries return and defend, their tower will already be gone, and if you have placed your Bushwhack traps in smart places, you will be able to track their paths and escape alive.

Miscellaneous Tips

Despite its short distance, Nidalee's pounce ability is capable of jumping walls. Here is a list of locations where this can be performed:
  1. The ledges near the river brush near the top and bottom lanes
  2. The dragon and baron alcoves
  3. Certain places on the treelines at the Ancient Golem
  4. The ledges overlooking the river by the middle lane
  5. The wall of the golem/wolf creep camp in the lizard buff region.
  6. NOT the base walls!!!
You are able to scout wards or Teemo mushrooms with a javelin toss. They will not be damaged upon being hit, but you can still hear the sound of contact being made. Keep an eye out for where the sound is made, and then place a Bushwhack on the spot where you think the ward or shroom is. Once you can see it, take it out!

Always keep in mind that Javelin Toss damage increases with distance. Maximize your damage by throwing from farther away, and ensure a hit by surprising your enemy with a throw from the brush.

Take huge advantage of Nidalee's innate to escape and reach places faster.

Even though Bushwhack does not provide sight around it, you do gain an area of sight for a brief moment when you place a trap. Use this to your advantage for scouting an alcove or making sure a brush is safe to enter.

Happy hunting players!

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Senior Member


Needs moar rylai's