Hello, everyone. I'm Luciferian, a player of LoL. Today, I'll tell you how *I* play Karthus, and hopefully you'll be able to improve your playing with him through that. Karthus is a badass lich mage from the swamps. With an affinity for heavy metal and headbanging, he was an obvious choice for me. I'll attempt to outline a way to play him that will make him a huge asset to any team.
Alright...Let's learn the skills first.
Passive - Death defied
One of the trickiest and most useful skills in the game. When you're killed, you'll enter lich form, in which you will still be able to cast all your spells, but you will not be able to move. This is a form of invulnerability as well. If you're killed right by a turret your enemy is trying to take, it will spell bad news for them.
Q - Lay waste
Karthus unleashes a delayed blast at a location, dealing damage to nearby enemies.
Creates a delayed blast at Karthus' cursor position. After 0.5 seconds, deals 40/60/80/100/120 (+0.35) magic damage to each nearby enemy, this deals double damage if it hits only a single unit.
Would be the most spammable skill in the game, if not for that purple-haired schoolteacher lady. Lay waste is your main source of damage for the duration of the game, and it's a good one. The only downside to this skill is that you must learn how to aim it. When you press Q, lay waste will cast at the location of your pointer, and you'll need to practice with it to figure out how to cast it where your enemy will be. Overall, a great skill.
W - Wall of Pain
Karthus creates a passable screen of leeching energy. Any enemy units that walk through the screen have their move speed, armor, and magic resistance reduced for a period. Creates a 800/900/1000/1100/1200 distance wide wall through target point. Reduces enemy armor and magic resistance by 15/20/25/30/35 and reduces movement speed by up to 40/50/60/70/80%; debuff lasts 5 seconds. The wall lasts 7 seconds.
This is a skill you'll be using quite often, and it's a true game changer. You're going to be using this for denial, entrapment, escape, rolling, everything. The casting range is quite large, and as you level the skill, the wall gets larger. A few important things to note about Wall of Pain:
It can slow multiple times. If a foolish champion decides it's a good idea to walk through your wall, they will be debuffed for those 5 seconds. If they then walk through the wall again, the debuff will be applied again, giving a total possible debuff time of 10 seconds. In a teamfight, casted correctly, this *will* make the difference between your team getting splashfragged or rolling the enemy team up like your 9th blunt of the day.
It's freaking huge. At level 5, it completely cuts off a lane. that means if your team needs to beat a hasty retreat, or if you're chasing down the enemy team, there will be no escape. When you cast it, try to put it in a position that will leave your enemy two choices:
1. Run into a path that means certain death
2. Run through the wall and die anyway
It provides sight. If you cast this on bushes or in the jungle, it will act as a 7 second ward, and let you see whatever's hidden, as well as apply it's slow. do not underestimate this use. It can and will completely nullify a gank.
E - Defile - Karthus passively steals energy from his victims, gaining mana on each kill. Alternatively, Karthus can surround himself in the souls of his prey, dealing damage to nearby enemies, but quickly draining his own mana.
Toggle Off: When Karthus kills a unit, he restores 20/27/34/41/48 mana.
Toggle On: Drains 30/42/54/66/78 Mana to deal 30/50/70/90/110 (+0.25) damage to nearby enemies each second.
This is also a useful skill, however, it won't be of major use offensively until later on, due to it's insane mana drain. If you can grab the golem buff early, however, feel free to flip it on anytime an enemy draws near. This skill is also well put to use for quick farming later on.
R - Fallen One
After channeling for 3 seconds, Karthus deals damage to all enemy champions. After channeling for 3 seconds, Karthus deals 250/400/550 (+0.7) magic damage to all enemy champions (regardless of distance.)
Bread and butter.
Why do I call this bread and butter, rather than Lay waste? It's simply Karthus most overall useful skill. This is a worldwide nuke, meaning it can't be escaped, and it can't be ignored. I see many, many, many players only using this to finish people who are at low health off. This is a greedy use. You can use this spell both offensively and defensively in many more ways than that.
When your teammates are fighting - This is likely one of the best uses I know of. When your teammates are caught in heated combat, using it can ensure their victory, or at the the very least, allow them to get away. When a bloody thread appears above them, agressive players will usually back off whatever they're attacking, which leads me to my next use:
When enemies are on a turret - If you need a turret protected no matter what, and nobody has teleport, casting this can scare enemies off, especially if they're running low on creeps. Do not cast it to save a turret that has 1 hp left..however if your inhibitor turret's about to eat it, and you can give your teammates those precious seconds they need to get back up, by all means, do so.
Before a full teamfight - Notice I'm saying Before, not during or after, but before. If you think your team's about to get into a brawl, just cast it. Having a third of the enemies' HP gone before anyone else ever lands a hit can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
The absolute LAST thing you should use it for is to last hit an enemy champ. It's a valid use, but don't be greedy and steal kills from your team. You will be a liability rather than an asset.
Now, let's move on to runes.
Quintessences - 3x Greater Quintessence of Force, +0.43 AP per level, 7.74 @ 18
This should be pretty obvious.
Glyphs - 9x Greater Glyph of Clarity, +0.08 Mana regen/5 sec Per level, 1.44 @ 18
Why mana regen? Can't we get this from items?
Yes, but it won't be enough. With mana regen accesories and golem buff, keeping defile on at endgame will still chip away at your mana...these glyphs can help.
Marks - 9x Greater Mark of Force, +0.1 AP/level, 1.8 @ 18
Again, quite obvious.
Seals - 9x Greater Seal of Fortitude, +5.35 Health
Simply put, you're soft as hell. these HP runes will help you have a good beginning by getting you up over 500 HP. Why is that important? It's only one more hit, right? the point is NOT to actually save your life in any sort of combat situation...the point is not to become a target in the first place. Rouges will look for tasty 4bars at the very beginning of the game, and trust me, you do not want to be one.
Now for some summoner spells.
Flash - A must take at any level of play. Early on, it will save your life many times, and later in the game, you can flash in like a fiddlesticks, scaring the hell out of people and, with high, high AP, perhaps you will score a few kills too.
Teleport - Do you feel like you don't get around fast enough? Take Teleport.
Exhaust - Always good for the early kill, this will be a supplementary skill for you, as you already have a good long range slow/armor/mr debuff. It can also be used defensively, for when a carry decides he can tank double lay waste and defile damage to take you out.
DO NOT TAKE THESE
Clarity - You have plenty of mana. You also have plenty of mana regen. If you take it, you'll use it once or twice a game at most. It's usually a waste, though.
Ignite - See that scaling on Karthus spells? Yeah. 10 AP isn't going to mean anything, and there are far more useful skills that can go here...flash will give you more than the tools you need to finish anyone, as well.
Revive - you already know this, but it bears repeating...if you PLAN on dying, just don't play at all.
Another useful skill can be clairvoyance, as often there will be a champ doing lizard or golem or just standing around who's low on HP, but out of reach of your team. If that's the case, just throw some thunder on them. Since you only have one truly essential skill in the form of flash, this can be good for you and your team.
On to masteries.
Archmage's Savvy 3/3
Archaic Knowledge 1/1
Offensive Mastery 1/2
Brute Force 3/3
Good Hands 1/3
This is really the only build I use. As karthus, you shouldn't be getting hit, so defense is bleh...but you need damage, and you need mana.
Now, finally onto the way you should play.
health Pot X2
Tear of the goddess
Boots of speed
Catalyst the Protector
Rod of Ages
Take your lay waste and a Sapphire crystal first, so you can have some offense right out of the cages. For this portion of the game, try to use your lay waste to last hit creeps. It's about as strong as a melee blow right now, so you shouldn't be using it on champs. stay back and kill those minons piece by piece. Once you get your wall of pain and level 2 lay waste, cast your wall DIRECTLY ON your enemy. If he sits there in the midst of minons, forget it, but if he starts to flee, take him out. Your lay waste should do about 100 damage if he's by himself, and it will take you 5-9 casts to kill him. Be careful though, and don't overextend, or you'll be the one feeling death in fire. When you hit six, get your eyes on the minimap for opportunities to help your allies and destroy your enemies.
within this range, you should have your archangels and sorc boots if you've been farming properly, and you should be starting on your rod of ages. Very, very important that you get with your team and stay with your team at this point. Your skills are invaluable to a good team, but only if you're around to use them. Don't try to be the hero. This portion of the game is your strongest point, before everyone starts stacking 1 million HP, and your lay waste is nuking as it should. If a lone phys carry runs up to you and starts swinging away, Be without fear. Exhaust them and lay waste them into oblivion. Even if they kill you, remember that you can get them postmortem. If you see that you can't get away, you better fight.
Welcome to endgame. You'll need to be getting your items together, but don't stray from your team to go off farming. Remember, you need to be an agressive perfector, and this means using your ablities correctly and in conjunction with your teammates. when you're pushing a lane, a good tactic is to cast Fallen one, then immedately put a wall of pain behind your enemies. They will likely run, and your team will then roll them.
Feel free to cast Fallen one just about any time during this phase. If you're fully built, you'll be nuking out at least a third of their HP at this point, and since this phase denotes constant combat, you'll be getting a good many assists, which is what you want.
Well, I think that's about it. I'm tired of breathing the fire already, so i'll hit the bed now. remember, as Karthus, you live for the kill, and to make your enemies ride the lightning. You're the angel of death for your team. you can hit them anywhere, at anytime, and cause a violent revolution.
Anyway, it's time for me to take the black. I'll talk to you later.
Please comment and leave your thoughts.
Great guide, I build my karthus a little different but very similar. I start w doran's ring to be less squishy early on and to get extra mana regen. Don't forget to encourage getting the golum buff at level 8 (full mana) and to kill dragon, if no one else is doing so on your team level 13 (full mana). I just wrote a few tips in another forum and I fogot to add the part about the gate having sight. I do think that exhaust + tele are viable as summoner skills and I go 9/0/21. How do you feel about soul stealer? Other karthus players please discuss.
Usually I find Mejai's to be highly unreliable, as i'd rather be building toward the utility of my other items...that being said, sometimes I use a completely different build if I know i'm going to be rolling some face.
Warmog's Armor(could also use another RoA or Rylai's)
With this build Karthus has some of the highest damage output in the game, and you'll be able to take out towers as easily as champs. For this build to really work, though, you need to be massively fed, which is why I rarely attempt to go godmode Karthus, and instead focus on a team-oriented mage build.
Thank you for the tips, too, I will add those.
I've had great success with my Karthus build which is similar to Luciferian's.
mana crysta + health pot + mana pot
tear of goddess
mejai's soul stealer
catalyst the protector
rod of ages.
last items change on the game. Void staff if they stack magic resist
otherwise zhonyia's ring or banshee's veil if I'm getting hammered with spells.
My mentality on getting archangel's staff last is that you want to fill up Rod of Ages faster for the HP boost. Also a few stacks of Mejai's is already more AP then archangel will give you when you build it if you happen to get Archangel earlier. Keep in mind as long as you have the tear your mana will still be going up.
Also I like to get one rank of Defile before I get Wall of Pain since WoP has a pretty high mana cost. Defile keeps ur mana pool decently high during the earlier laneing phase.
But I do like the fact you mentioned casting Fallen One before a team fight. Or even casting it while your teammates are fighting in another lane. Very often the extra damage you put on an enemy hero brings them low enough for your allies to realize they can finish the job. It is very dangerous advice though, suggesting to cast your ult before the teamfight. Since any hero will a banshee's veil won't even get hurt, you do waste your hardest hitting nuke.
Lastly about Mejai's Soul Stealer. I think its a great item for Karthus. Sure, it does glitch sometimes when you get kills and assists after death. However, often when it doesn't glitch, and you die but finish someone off during your Death Defied state you often come out with more stacks then you started. More stacks even then had you killed them before death. Since you lose the stacks when you die(lose 1/3), and then you go into death defied. Where you can get the +2 stacks for a kill. Where as if you had gotten the kill before the death defied, you'd lose 1/3 +2 stacks of what you had. I know I'm not describing it well but I hope my point comes across.
nice guide. makes me want to play karthus again actually thanks for that!
do you guys think BoS do make sense over sorc boots on karthus? it's just that i often wanted to be quicker late game while preferring sorc boots early/mid. ghost cooldown is awful thus being unreliable for utilizing defile when you really need it.
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