Malphite is my favorite hero and I've gotten numerous compliments on how I play him as well as a request or two for some tips with him. However, I don't claim to be an expert. The reason I'm posting this is because I *never* see a Malphite thread going on these boards and would like to get some great discussion going about the most effective ways to play him, and figured I guide to how I play him would be the way to get that going. Constructive criticism is very much welcomed, and I look forward to improving my play based on what other, more experienced players have to say about the rock-solid brown Kool Aid man, Malphite.
What is Malphite?
Of the few other players I see who play Malphite, most of them go with a tank build. I believe this is incorrect. The only thing tank-ish about him is his natural passive, providing a 10% HP shield. In my opinion, 10% more HP in team fights does not make anybody a tank, much as Pantheon's or Kassadin's natural passives do not make them tanks. I view (and play) Malphite as durable DPS and, more importantly, an initiator. It's important to be able to survive past team fight initiation, but don't expect to be able to stay there and tank it like Rammus or Alistar. Malphite also has the potential to do massive damage, and that is largely wasted with pure tank builds. Anyway, this guide will focus on how to bring the pain with Malphite and live to tell the tale.
I've tried various combinations and have found Flash and Ghost to be the most effective. Both of them help chase down targets when you're on the offensive, and help get you out of bad situations; for example, when you just used Unstoppable Force to start a team fight. The versatility is too much to pass up, in my opinion.
Other potentially useful skills are Teleport, Heal, Exhaust, and Rally. Personally I've found these to be not as effective as Flash and Exhaust, and more one-dimensional to boot. I can elaborate on this more if folks would like me to, but I don't think I'm saying anything too outlandish here that requires extensive justification and will just let it lie.
Having tried many combinations, I've had the most success with 9/0/21. Malphite gains so much out of the utility tree, and the CD reduction and enemy magic resistance reduction in the offensive tree are great as well. Shifting the 9 points in Offense over to Defense to pick up Nimbleness seems fine too, but I'm not currently running dodge runes so it would be a bit of a waste for me.
I'm currently running flat crit chance runes for everything but Glyphs, which are MR@18. This gives me 18% crit chance and 24 MR@18. I started off with this setup because I was playing Gangplank heavily and it worked really well with him and when I started Malphite I
didn't have the IP needed to change anything. However, now I have plenty of IP and actually really like my current setup. That being said, I am heavily considering switching my Seals to dodge. Anyway, here are some points about why I like this setup:
1. I know that over time armor penetration runes give more DPS than crit chance for character that aren't based on criticals. However, I find myself doing very little sustained DPS. Malphite is on the slow end of the move and attack speed spectrum even with increased move speed from the utility tree. Yes, Shard is a great slow and move speed buff, but generally I have to use that to be able to get into melee with them in the first place. Of the 5 second duration, about half of that is spent getting there, leaving very little time to to effectively melee. With that in mind, the burst offered by crit chance seems to offer more damage. I'd rather have the chance of bursting them down than knowing that I'll hit a bit harder on average but that my opponents will get away more often. Basically, the theory is that I get very few hits in and I want to have the highest chance of them really counting. Also, after initiating a team fight you'll generally want to back off a bit after drawing some fire, again meaning that you won't be just standing there hitting people long enough for the armor penetration to take over.
2. I like to play aggressively early on and will always go for first blood if my lane partner is remotely resembling decent. People don't like to be the first kill of the game and will pop all their summoner spells to try and avoid that, again meaning that I will probably only
get a few hits in before the opponent is back at the tower or, ideally, dead. I go for the chance of bursting them down over basically knowing that they'll get away.
I'll probably end up going dodge seals for more survivability, but I do think that crit chance are the runes of choice for maxing out Malphite's DPS potential.
Seismic Shard (Q):
This is a fantastic skill that deals respectable damage, slows and speeds you up, making it great for both ganking and avoiding ganks. Pretty much everything you could ask for at a reasonable mana cost and cooldown.
In team fights, use your best judgment when determining when to use this. If you know your team wants to burst somebody down, it may be best to use it right away on the main target. If not, it's probably going to be better to save it for when an enemy gets low and attempts to run. Again, you'll probably only get to use this once per person in a team fight so make sure it counts.
Brutal Strikes (W):
Another great skill, Brutal Strikes dramatically improves your farming and ganking ability, and can pump out some absolutely sick damage in clustered team fights as well. Make sure you activate it right before your first hit on enemy champions to ensure maximum effectiveness, as its duration is rather short.
Ground Slam (E):
A great skill as well (notice a pattern developing here?), Ground Slam enables you to deal massive aoe damage when combined with Unstoppable Force. It also helps you shut down physical carries and can be used to farm in a pinch.
Unstoppable Force (R):
Malphite's defining ability, Unstoppable Force is the best team fight initiation skill in the game, in my opinion. It's also great for solo ganks and even for escaping. It allows you to travel up or down the cliffs and through forests, but make sure that your landing zone is totally clear of terrain, as if it's not the skill can do some goofy and generally unwanted things.
One important thing to note is that if the other team has a channeled spell you really want to stop, such as Absolute Zero or Crowstorm, you may want to save this to stop them if you're unsure of your team's ability to do so.
Recommended Skilling Order:
Unstoppable Force > Seismic Shard > Brutal Strikes > Ground Slam
The first two are pretty standard, but many people reverse the last two by taking Ground Slam over Brutal Strikes. I don't like this as much as the way I do it, however. I think the constant [free] farming aid provided by Brutal Strikes and the huge increase in burst damage potential it gives to be too valuable to pass up. Better farming means more money to get your items quicker, and more burst means a higher chance of killing your enemies, as I talked about in the Runes section. Ground Slam is good, but not better than Brutal Strikes in my opinion.
The only exception to this would be if team fighting as started very early and the opposing team has a lot of physical carries that need to be shut down. If this is the case, start prioritizing Ground Slam.
Initial Buys: Doran's Shield, HP Pot.
Doran's Shield is a great starting item for most heroes. This is extra true with Malphite, as the bonus HP will buff his shield a bit. If you don't like it, buy one of the items I'm about to list.
1st Blue Pill: Boots 1, Ruby Crystal, extra HP Pots if desired.
Ideally you'll be able to get a bit more than this, but if you can't then these are what I recommend.
2nd Blue Pill: Mercury's Treads AND/OR Phage.
If you're unable to finish both, finish whichever you think will be most valuable to you given your lane opposition first, and then finish the other on your next trip. The boots are needed for survival, and the Phage addresses Malphite's problem of people getting away as well as providing additional survivability through the bonus HP, which also adds to your shield. Your base damage is high enough with Brutal Strikes that you don't need to worry about getting dedicated damage items yet.
3rd Blue Pill: Glacial Shroud.
If this is only your 3rd trip back you should be doing very well . Glacial Shroud is a tremendous item for Malphite, provided much-needed mana pool boost, as well as cooldown reduction. Malphite is rather skill dependent, so the reduction is quite necessary. This will allow you to Shard people twice in ganks, and [usually] make sure that you have Unstoppable Force up for every team fight. The extra armor is just gravy. Delicious gravy that really compliments the dish and you'd whine about if it was taken away, but gravy none the less.
This completes the core build. Very rarely will I deviate from this, as it increases damage, survivability, and utility, all quite effectively. The balance is exactly what a durable dps'er and initiator like Malphite need.
At this point you have to decide what to do with your items. Here are the top candidates in no particular order. Choose which is best based on the situation.
1. Infinity Edge: If the game is going well and your team is low on physical dps'ers, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better item. It puts your burst potential through the roof and enable you to splatter most squishies in a matter of seconds.
2. Stark's Fervor: A great item if your team has 2-3 other physical dps'ers, none of whom are currently building it. Be sure you check first. I would take this over any other item if the preceding criteria are met. It's not the best item for you, but remember, this is a team game (and it's still quite reasonable for you).
3. Glacial Shroud --> Frozen Heart: If the other team is stacked with physical dps'ers and you aren't steamrolling them, this is probably the way to go. Additional cooldown reduction is nice, but the big thing here is combining the aura with your Ground Slam and making the enemies wonder where all their attack speed went. It's also the cheapest option on this list, at a mere 1300 to complete the upgrade; a benefit when things aren't going well. It also increases your Ground Slam damage by a bit, which is more delicious gravy.
4. Frozen Mallet: I buy this if the game is going well enough that I don't want to go purely defensive, but not well enough that I want to go full-out offense, or if my team has a serious lack of slows. Also, I will get this if the game is going so super well that I'm still able to kill people rather easily without investing in more pure damage items. However, this item adds to your damage a lot more than the 20 damage it provides would lead you to think, as the slow makes it nigh-impossible to escape from you, allowing you to get much more damage in.
5. Banshee's Veil: I hate it when I have to buy this, as it generally means I need to live more than I currently am. However, if the enemy team has a lot of nasty spells and abilities that are getting out of control, Banshee's Veil is hands-down the way to go. Remember, you have to be alive to dps. Unless you're Karthus. Stupid Karthus.
6. Aegis of the Legion: This is a good item for when it's your team's survival that you're mostly worried about. If you're losing and nobody else has this, you're a good candidate for it.
Be aggressive in your lane. You deal good damage and have the survivability to back it up. If your partner has good damage and a slow or stun of some sort, you should be a shoo-in for first blood.
After Level 6:
At this point you'll want to make sure that Unstoppable Force is used to attempt to kill somebody basically every time it's off of cooldown. If your lane isn't a good call, jump to somebody else's. Make sure you coordinate with them.
To Infinity and Beyond:
Your job is to initiate team fights and live to tell the tale. You'll want to make sure Flash and Ghost are up before running in there, as it's much better if you get out at about half health and then go after stragglers than if you just run in and die. Most of this has been discussed earlier though, and is common sense.
Well, that's about all I can think of. I'm looking forward to everybody's comments!
LOL!!!! Same Build.... Same Runes.... Good To Know I'm Not The Only One Who Thinks This Build Is The Best... I Only Need 4 Items (Mainly That Is).... Dodge Boots, Twin Red Swords, IE, GA.... But I Just Adapt At Times....
Team Combo: Ulti, E, W, Q(on Someone) Then Probably Kill 2-3 Heroes...
Single Combo: Q, Chase, E, W = Kill
Imma Look Into your Builds Sometime.....
I've just started playing Malphite again and I prefer to jungle, so that changes things a bit. Right now I just stack sunfire capes for want of a better strategy. The armor powers up his ground slam and the health powers up his passive, and the burning effect keeps you relevant after blowing your skills and forces the other team to deal with your tankiness instead of just ignoring you. I'd probably throw a veil in against a magic-heavy team, but that's about it.
Typed a lot of stuff and lost it when i try to post my reply.....Grrr...
Nice guide, finally seeing people play Malphite DPS more often these days.
I just got a bit bored playing him tanky, and surprisingly sometimes i do better playing him DPS.
My build is not much different than yours, I try to fully utilize Brutal Strikes, there are 3 core items that i always get:
1) Last Whisper - You want to land as many hits as often and to ensure to hit even harder when you activate brutal strikes, this item is just awesome. The attack speed increase and armor reduction is pretty huge, not to mention u also get +dmg on this item. One of the most "bang for the bucks" item in game. Not to mention its relatively cheap
2) Infinity Edge - While Brutal Strikes is active, your over all dmg doubles, and You wanna crit big as often as possible during the time frame. IF gives you dmg, crit% and 50% more dmg on crit. Definately a no brainer.
3) Phage/ Frozen Mallet - I usually get the Frozen Mallet whenever possible. Malphite with a reliable slow is deadly, enuff said. Together with the attack speed and monster damage you deal with Brutal Strikes, they are just gonna be a walking pinata for you when you land your first hit.
Malphite is pretty versatile when it comes to items, so other items can be bought according to your personal preference.
But as the OP said, getting cooldown reduction items really helps.
For runes, crit% and cooldown reduction will be your best bet.
TIP: altho lot of people think Unstoppable Force is the best initiator, i agree it is, no doubts, but i have more success using it in the middle of the fight rather than charging in the fight.
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