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I've tried many different item builds and several mastery choices for Malphite but I always seem to go back to what I consider my "base" build that I've had quite alot of success with. Tank items with an aggressive playstance. This guide is for both SR and TT, they play out the same for Malph.
I'm currently at near a 60-65% win rate with Malphite with a mix of solo queue and premade over a sample of between 80-90 games. Some of the losses of course are me trying other builds that I felt worked horribly compared to the main build.
With this build Malphite has a solid early laning phase, a very aggressive and powerful midgame, and a very tanky less damaging endgame.
Red - I have armor here to help the early lane phase, you could flavor it to arpen if you wanted to but throughout the bulk of the game Malph's main dps with this build comes from his abilities and I'd probably recommend MPen if you don't want to go armor.
Yellow - I have hp/level here just because of how efficient they are throughout the game. Scaling up to 18 HP a piece at lvl 18 nets you another 170 HP or so. You could put dodge here which I've considered but the HP synergizes with your passive so I've kept it there. Malph has mana problems early game so if you want to boost his early game you can add mp/5 to help him harass.
Blue - I have cd/level here, Malph has bad mana problems early game as I said and i find at early levels I'm more likely to be out of mana than the have the appropriate ability be on cd. My build doesn't address his mana issues until around level 10ish and the cd/level are as good as the flat at lvl 13.
Quint - Flat HP, if you went with yellow dodge runes you could put dodge here I suppose, but dodge doesn't synergize with his passive and 3 flat HP quints is almost +100 hp at level 1, a serious boost to his HP total. If you wanted to another choice would be MR but that loses it's synergies and HP counters both physical and magical.
Masteries - 21/9/0
I know this seems odd for a guide proposing to go tank items, but Malphite is a dps first and a tank second, if you want to go for a pure tank build then a 0/21/9 or a 9/21/0 would be more appropriate, as the extra 60 HP and 4% damage reduction are very useful early game as well. I get crit, 15% mpen, 6 arpen, a few of the ap per level(just to unlock lower skills) I get the cd reduction, the bonus melee damage and the 21 point 5% increase to damage. From a numbers perspective 21/9/0 makes my lvl 1 autoattack go from 56-57 to 67ish. This tradeoff for my early game farming/ganking makes it worth it to me. I don't get the +crit dmg as no items in this guide are going to have +crit chance on them, I don't get the attack speed because Malph's natural attack speed at lvl 18 is pretty good and the attack speed doesn't synergize as well with his abilities as well as the extra damage per hit does.
Summoner Spells - I like Flash/Ignite
Flash is almost exclusively used defensively, and between it and shard there should be no single pursuer ever able to catch, even with ghost
Ignite is there to shore up my defensive Mal's lower killing potential, I like to be able to toss it someone running at low HP and then moving on to a new target in the team fight, using it in combo with shard/UF for the lvl 6 gank is invaluable as well to make up that last bit of dps you need. If Ignite is not for you Exhaust would be a good choice, or teleport
Exhaust would be a good choice, or cleanse, when Flash is removed though I'll most likely get teleport in SR and Cleanse in TT
Skills - just in case some of you don't know what they do
Passive - every 10 seconds Malphite shields himself for 10% of his max HP
Q (Seismic Shard) - Good damage early/mid game as well as steals run speed from target and gives it to you (great for escapes late game)
W (Brutal Spikes) - turns your auto attacks into AE autoattacks with an active of bonus damage on your auto attacks
E (Ground Slam) - short range point blank AE that gains damage based on your armor and slows enemy attack speeds from 30-50% depending on skill level, amazing end game ability
R (Unstoppable Force) - charge to the selected location (skill shot) and throw everything in the area into the air along with a decent bit of damage
My playstyle is to harass early/mid game and then to tank initiate end game. Your Q is not just for saving yourself as well, there have been many a teammate saved when I Q'd the enemy's fastest person after a gank attempt, the move speed steal lasts for a long time, 5 seconds. Brutal Spikes I get one point very early on for the additional farming utility but unless I'm hitting a tower or I'm late game with tons of mana I rarely activate it as mana per damage this is going to be your least useful spell (with rank 1 your hits go from 67 to mid 80s for 4-6 swings). E scales in effectiveness based on your armor, so I scale my ranks in it the same way, E is not nearly so useful in the very early game because you don't really want to have to run all the way over to next to ryze/annie just to be able to hurt them, but E is amazing late game when you get armored out. R is an amazing skill and the reason to get CD reduction wherever you can. Early game if there's a caster at half life in your lane then you just got yourself a kill. People discount the actual range of this ability to often and will stand where they think is safe but if you put the marker on the very edge of the cast radius you get half of the ability effect inside the cast radius and half of it outside of it. Be careful when using it though as they will see you coming and have a split second to react, and if they are moving when you use it you need to "lead" them because if you put it on them and use it by the time it goes off they will have run to a new spot. A common thing to do end game is to Ult then E, because anyone caught in your ult is also going to be in range of your E and end game that's a ton of burst from a tank 400 from ult and usually another 500 from ground slam, catch 2 or 3 people in it and you multiply.
One last use for your ult that seems counterintuitive is that you can use it to escape, only ever use it if you are sure you're going to die. It will go through walls and terrain and if flash is on CD then it may be your only choice. Not an optimal use but I've done some fun stuff like die in their base with my GA up, I rez with 2 of them camping my corpse, I UF to their base wall and flash over the wall to safety, or just ult over their wall to safety. End game the CD is only like 70 seconds(with this build), but early game it's an agonzing 2 minutes.
With all that said my skill level order is:
2: W (to get farming better with ae hits)
Shard caps at 300 base damage and at lvl 9 that's alot of damage with a long range and a snare. On Ryzes/Annies and anyone who neglects their HP/MR it will do 20-30% of their life by itself on a single cast. Once you've gotten a few tank items E caps out and will start doing nice damage, when you use your E make sure to remember there is a very short cast time, so if you are chasing someone and are right behind them auto attacking or somesuch, your E will MISS them if you use it. If you want to use your E when you pursue make sure you run ahead of them a little bit so they are next to you when it goes off.
Items: The part most people look for in a guide, this item selection plays to Malph's strengths and gives him so incredible survivability. I'm going to list them out together then put the reasons after, so read all the way through.
Start: lvl 1 Boots + 1 health pot (and sight ward if on TT, optional on SR)
Depending on how much gold I have upon return I go for Sunfire first or boots if can't afford giant's belt( get treads or tabi's depending upon your enemies, usually treads though I find)
Item 1: Sunfire Cape, start with giant's belt if you can
Item 2: Frozen Heart(maybe just part see notes)
Item 3: Guardian Angel
Item 4: Banshee's Veil
Item 5: up to you, 98% of my games don't last this long, thornmail usually when it does unless I need to help push and I get a recurve crossbow and save for bloodrazors
I play an aggressive early game hence the choice for boots over a defensive item. By taking boots if you follow my guide you HAVE to play your passive off the enemy. In order to regen your shield you have to take no damage for a full 10 seconds(tip: your shield regens before your graphic shows it by 1 second, check your buffs to see if your shield is up). More on proper shield use in the strategy section. Depending on opponents I most likely build merc treads due to the amount of CC people pack nowadays, but against a phys dps heavy team I'll still take tabi's on occasion.
Sunfire cape: I hear alot of people give Sunfire alot of flak with things like "it's only 20 damage per second to opponents end game". Sunfire is amazing on malph early/mid game because it hits all of Malph's synergies, hp for passive, armor for E, and a creep clearing always on passive. I've tried lots of other items but always feel they're lacking what sunfire provides, and thornmail is definately not better, and I've tried to make thornmail work. I usually get a sunfire around lvls 8-10, depending on how early ganking went. After you get sunfire you can clear creep waves in literally 3-5 seconds getting all the gold, you can farm any non buff jungle spawn in seconds, and any buff you can get taking a bare minimum of damage. As opposed to thornmail as well the cape hits everyone around you, which should usually be most of the enemy team. Mid game though Sunfire can be very damaging as most people are only a small ways into their builds.
Frozen Heart: Frozen heart helps out the mana problems Malph has early game. Only build the complete frozen heart if you have several enemy phys dps. If your enemies are mostly mages just build the glacial shroud and move on to the guardian angel. You really want your Ult to be up for every team fight and the CD reduction on this item helps a ton with that.
Guardian Angel: No hp but armor synergy with your ground slam and having an extra 40% hp on top of your armor/mr is never a bad thing on a tank, sunfire will continue to damage enemies while waiting for the rez.
Banshee's Veil: No armor but this one is a no brainer for someone trying to survive
The last item I barely ever get to. if we're dominating though I sometimes skip to here and don't get a banshee's veil and instead work on a Madred's Bloodrazor, but if the team fights are close I'll get another defensive item. The recurve crossbow is the first piece to help you attack towers and push. But as I said you'll almost never see this slot filled.
Note on Randuin's Omen. I've tried this item and don't like it for the same reason as Thornmail, if you're going to get this you'd replace Frozen heart with it but you only get the good effect if you're getting hit, and any good players will be hitting Ashe/Yi/etc. and not you, until it's time to mop up. The heart makes sure they're 20% slower no matter what.
Strategy: (as if the above wall of text wasn't enough)
Early Game -
You hit hard enough to get last hits fairly steadily, just be patient with timing them. If you have an aggressive lanemate use shard/ignite to try for some first blood, otherwise just shard enough to keep them scared of you. Pick the squishier of the two enemies (the guy with the regrowth pendant and vorpal blade is not squishy) and start sharding them to keep them shaky. Two tanks is the worst, if you're up against two tanks pick the one with the weaker HP regen. It really depends on your enemies how much harassing you'll be able to do. Try to conserve your mana as you have serious mana problems early game and can't just spam your skills. During an even level unless I'm full mana I don't shard the other guy because every odd level I get a huge upgrade to my shard, why shoot a shard for 60 less damage if I can wait 20 seconds for one with much higher damage? Saving your lanemate of course it doesn't matter if you're 2 kills from level, you save your lanemate. Something else I've found is that Ignite is a good way to save your lanemate as well, if your opponent's move in you can drop Ignite on the lower one and they'll instinctively back off or at least hesitate to do some quick math, hopefully your lanemate isn't a complete ****** and keeps running.
I take boots for a reason, get in, get the last hit, get out and if you get focused hope your shield held most of the damage. As soon as your shield falls unless you're going to get a kill/last hit you get back and wait until it's back up before you go in range of their harassment. With the runes/masteries your shield can absorb 60 damage at level 1 and it quickly scales up. Your opponents will want to harass your lanemate because they will tire of shooting things at your shield so use this to your advantage and play a little closer to them, getting in melee hits and try for all the last hits you can. If they still focus you make sure you only let them shoot shield, you can take a little damage for a last hit or two though, that's what the health pot is for. Remember you traded a Doran's item for boots, make sure they don't kill your or deny you last hits. Don't overextend unless you have flash up and you're sure of the kill, do NOT chase into their tower unless shield is up and you have high hp and you can shard/ignite for the sure kill. Your shield doesn't make you damage immune don't get too greedy. If they get away with 1 bub make thier lanemate pay for it with a 2v1. Be very wary of minions at this level, and this goes for all chars, too many times I see people running through enemy minions early level and losing 3/4 of their HP having never been touched by an enemy champ. if you're going to do that you better be certain of a kill.
Shard gets really strong at level 5 when it starts doing 190 damage a shot. Unless I'm very high on mana I usually save my mana during level 5 to set up for a lvl 6 ult/shard/ignite kill. Ult takes 100 mana and shard will take 100 mana. You get 40 for the level, so as long as you're at 150ish mana near the end of level 5 you're fine. Make sure you don't instinctively follow up ult with a ground slam, i've cost myself kills before because it's almost automatic to ground slam after ult, if you do this during the level 6 gank you're going to miss it because you can't shard if you ground slam. If you've been following the guide ok at this point then one of your opponents should be within or close to kill range. You get 200 damage from ult, 190 from shard and 200 from Ignite, so pick a target with 500hp or less (almost any enemy char same level at half life). I usually either hide just melee minions and explode with the combo or tower hug or hide bushes, don't just start lumbering at them because they'll expect you to shard and start backing up, your ult is fast so catch them when they think you're doing something else. People have a natural fear of your ult, even if they outnumber you, if you ult them near a tower (at pretty much any level lower than 15) they will all back up immediately. Your ult will also clear the creep wave pretty much making the tower start to lock on to champs. Your ult is on a long cooldown so farm until your opponent gets back and then pick the squishier of the two and start to wheedle him down again, once he's at half life smack him with the combo again. I've had lots of Zileans, Yis, Corkis, Ashes and other squishy chars lane change after the second one. At this stage of the game anyone with under 1k HP has a choice, stand by the tower(which doesn't really guarentee safety) or come out and die to a combo they can't defend against. Even if you get 2 ganks don't start tower diving like a tool, be very careful and planned when you do it. Usually either at this point you'll get their tower or you'll get counter ganked in a team effort, or if you get ganked earlier by their mid or somesuch and you end up at tower, here's your item priority.
Giant's Belt, if you're close to the 2500 to complete Sunfire get that before boots 2, if you get the belt and only have like 500 gold left either get Tabi's or the MR piece for the treads.
Depending on enemies I've gotten Sunfire as early as 7 and as late as 11. If you took down their tower I go help another lane, if they still look like they're laning and not roaming then I go back to my lane. If there are group fights though then you need to get there, your ult can make or break a group fight at this level, and I'm always surprised when we wipe them easily the first the group fight then lose the second because my ult isn't off cooldown yet. If you have a sunfire you can get golem buff if you want taking a minimal of damage, golem is my favorite to get because I can just burn ability after ability and by the time the next team fight comes up I have enough mana to get through it. Lizard buff is also very potent on you at this level. Late game when everyone's HP is so high it's not as great, but lizard + sunfire makes you a very serious threat that most don't realize. When running by the jungle take the few seconds to run in and ground slam/melee any Hp left on a jungle spawn, you'll find nice boosts to your exp/gold. Wraiths and wolves are a snap, ground slam only takes about half life off the golems but they usually don't break my shield before I melee them down, if you have golem buff just ground slam again. Now we move in to the mid game.
Middle Game -
If both sides are still laning go ahead and go back to your lane to push that tower or if it's down I go to a lane with an opposing tower still up to help push it. Be very aware of MIAs. If you have flash and ult up you can get out of pretty much any gank attempt. If you see mid having problems you can use your ult to help gank the opposing mid, just make sure to ping or say something so your mid is on board with the plan. Repeat this and snag jungle mobs (theirs too if you're close enough, with sunfire clearing a jungle camp is basically a runby thing) until the group fight roaming phase breaks out.
At this level you should be able to take down any opposing dps with your combo in a 1v1, this is your strongest solo beatdown phase. If there's a small group fight 2v3 or 3v3 and you can catch 2 of them in your ult, that will usually be enough to win that skirmish for you. Even though you're great at pursuing don't just start chasing a half health champ through the underbrush unless your escapes are up, usually having flash up will get you away from any counter gank at this level, unless they're stun heavy. At level 12 your ground slam will start doing 300-400 damage on top of your 300 from ult. Another 300 per shard and 350 from ignite, the sunfire ticks also usually add up to 200ish+ damage per enemy at this phase. Hopefully by the end of this phase you'll have gotten your glacial shroud at least, this is where you'll really need the CD reduction to have your ult up for every team fight.
When group fights start even if there's another tank get out front and start sharding, see if you can lure one or two from their main pack to come get you. Sadly this is the part where your team can let you down the most, they have to be ready to jump on the enemy. Pick their squishy that gets closest to your group and keep sharding him/her. The range on shard is great and someone will always stick their nose a little too far. if your combo can take down the squishy or they clump up and you can get 3-4 of them go ahead and initiate with your ult. If your team is any good at all they will then follow you in, you should have done an ult then ground slam, as the enemies are landing you shard the enemy that does the most dps and if they still need it ignite that one, overkill is fine if it gets an ace. Ground slam has an amazingly low cooldown for the damage it does with this build. After only a melee hit or two ground slam will be back up, make sure you're standing close to their squishy or melee targets and ground slam some more. If you get focused hard and they burn their CC on you, instead of hanging out in the middle of the fight flash back out. Once they've reaquired targets wade back and keep sharding/slamming. You may get targeted again but if your team is any good, they took the 2 seconds knockup time, and the 4 seconds of 50% enemy attack speed slow time to hose the enemy dps. With good teams only the tanks are left, so ground slam and shard them to keep them from killing any of your low dps chars. If your team is not so good then they probably killed alistair and all of them are almost dead, not much you can do about that, don't get yourself killed unless it's going to turn the tide of the fight, you'll just have to play that by experience.
Keep buying tank items, but you'll notice your damage gets scaled back pretty sharply. At level 18 tanks will pretty much just shrug off all your abilities. You can still drop Ashe pretty far with your abilities but even she'll have quite a few HP at this phase of the game. This is where your job switches fully into tank/intiator. I typically end the game with around 2.8k HP with 350-400 armor and 130ish MR, more if I've had time/need to build Banshee's. With your passive giving you a free 280 HP at this point unless you're focused you're going to be really hard to take down. Feel free to tank towers with no minion support. Try to initiate on a squishy to deny your opponent's 1/3 of their dps. Obviously only go in when your team is right behind you. If an enemy has been giving you problems remember you can save your ult to interrupt them. Katarina and Nunu are excellent examples of this, they do theirs and you knock them out of it, that can win teamfights. Beware of Nunu in a bush though heh, you'll usually be too late if you see him at half charge already, as you have to charge in with your ult. Be with your team at all times, don't let them wander, stay together and push together. End game there is less you can do as you are not the Rambo you were earlier, just keep your team alive and let them do the heavy dpsing. Hopefully you helped enough ganks midgame to get them farmed up sufficiently.
Your ult has many different uses, make sure you're using it for the appropriate use at the right time, it can initiate, interrupt, gank, escape.
Teemo flies like a Jigglypuff, abuse him.
PICK THE RIGHT BOOTS. If you're against Ryze, Annie, and Anivia don't take Tabi's just for the armor synergy, that's just dumb.
If you've already used your pot and need to heal, tell your lanemate to hug the tower. Don't give up a kill for no reason.
I've tried Malphite with AD goodies, and maybe it was my playstyle but I was amazed at how fast opponents ripped through me during a teamfight.
*edit* haha they censor r e t a r d?
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