NOTE: This guide is currently out of date. The recent patch severely nerfed explosive shot and it may be prudent to now go with a build that boosts rapid fire and rocket jump first, saving explosive shot for last. Explosive shot may still win out for its benefit to farming however the benefit is significantly smaller as the damage per explosion was cut by 60% or so and in exchange for that you have an activate on the same skill that applies an extremely weak dot on an enemy champion but halves their life regen. On paper this looks useless except in the extremely early game. This dot does not (to my knowledge) halve healing from direct heals or lifesteal however this requires more testing.
Tristana, Megling Gunner. Version 2.0
Tristana is a very fun and rewarding hero to play once you break through conventional knowledge. There are many different ways to play this character and each are effective in certain situations. I would say that Tristana is one of the hardest (if not hardest) champion to kill simply because she has an effective escape mechanism that few other champions can counter. She is the best lane pusher in the game, some feel she is too good at this role which increases her risk considerably but given the first point it's rarely something you can't escape from.
I personally am a fan of more unconventional strategies. I play this game for fun and while winning is generally more fun than losing I am more than willing to take a loss on my record if I can learn something about the game or my chosen champion. This guide is written based on my experiences and observations with the game. I solo queue about 70% of my games and run with premades for the other 30%. My strategies have worked extremely well in both cases but I've also had games where I did nothing but fail because of poor judgment or underestimation of my opponents.
This guide is my opinion. It may not work for you. Most people I've come across don't play Tristana like this. I don't know about you folks, but I pay attention to stuff like this because when I see someone playing my hero on the opposing team I am anxious to go up against them 1v1 if possible to see who has the better grasp of class mechanics, item build, and “skill”. So far I've only come across one summoner who has outplayed or effectively countered my strategy which I will discuss later on in this guide.
1. Pregame: Runes, Spells, and Masteries.
For runes I have tried to stick to color primaries but for blue I just couldn't find something that really felt right. You can ignore this section if you prefer to stack the same stat across all colors, I have chosen not to because I like the balance the other color primaries can provide.
For the color red I have experimented with both crit chance per level and crit damage per level. I recommend crit damage per level at this point however crit chance per level gives you much more of an advantage in the early game before you have stacked much in the way of crit chance items. Late game the bonus you get from crit damage runes combined with the “Infinity Edge” bonus is significantly better than what you would have with crit chance. I would like to experiment with stacking haste runes instead of crit damage however I don't have the patience to work that out with the current combine system.
For the color yellow the only stat that was even remotely appealing was health regeneration. The bonus I receive is small however it helps keep you in the lane early game which means more experience and gold. I have a mix of the flat rate .5 regen and the X/level regen but if I had enough of the flat rate .5's I'd switch all my regen over to those for increased effectiveness early game. Late game life regen is an insignificant factor for Tristana. I currently have some of my yellow slots runed for crit damage because the level of life regen I'm at feels comfortable.
For the color blue the only primary I use is a few ability cooldown runes. I don't think I'll be keeping them because Tristana is not heavily reliant on her ultimate and her other two activated abilities have relatively short cooldowns. I have thrown in a mix of crit damage and life regen runes to shore up those numbers from the other color primaries though this is mostly because I'm not willing to sit down and try to get enough cooldown reduction runes for the whole section.
For my quintessence runes I have two setups I am currently testing. The first is just more crit damage. Altogether they give quite a bit of bonus (6% or so). This is a reliable setup and most likely the best choice for Tristana late game. The second setup I am experimenting with is stacking Avarice (+1g/10s) runes. Individually 1g/10seconds doesn't seem like a lot however over the course of the game three runes combined with the greed mastery will yield 700+ gold out of thin air. This is gold you wouldn't have had otherwise which increases the rate at which you buy items which in turn increases the rate at which you level and gain more gold in a standard situation. I will write more about my experiences with this setup when I've played more games.
Spells really come down to personal preference. There are no mandatory spells that Tristana must have in order to maximize her effectiveness. I personally run with clairvoyance and teleport in the vast majority of my games. I've been told that this is a terrible spell combination but I disagree, I've escaped far more ganks because of my clairvoyance than I ever will with flash. This preference however is in large part because I solo queue so frequently and can't assume my team will do things like call out when their lane empties and have to watch my own back. In some team games I've been told to drop it on the promise that team mates will keep it up for me.
Teleport minimizes my time out of a lane, essential for out leveling and outpurchasing my opponents because early game buying becomes a ten second job rather than a 60 second run. Late game it lets me hop onto a wave of friendly mobs and push them to a turret/inhibitor to destroy it or force the enemy to respond to my presence.
For Masteries, I run with a 21/0/9 (offense/defense/utility) because it enhances my damage but really you could probably justify any build as long as you understand how it will alter your character. Offense happens to work best with Tristana but none of them are absolutely awful for her.
2. Strategic Concepts and Skill Purchasing.
[Q] Take Aim. Increases Tristana's attack speed by X%.
In the current build (as of 08/06/09) this skill tops out at 90% haste. It is an extremely powerful skill compared to rocket jump however its top potential isn't realized until late game. Late game this skill will allow you to absolutely dominate all but the most defensively geared champions and even they will be cut down if they are distracted as you close in to open up on them. Despite the obvious power of this skill, I prefer rocket jump in most games (explained in the rocket jump description).
Games where this is the preferable skill (note: one rank of rocket jump is pretty much a mandatory first or second level buy on Tristana) over rocket jump are ones where you are likely to be constantly threatened by gankers... say a team with multiple stealthers, a stealther and warwick, or a lot of ranged dps that can be baited into a straight up slugfest with you. Most of the games I play don't fall into these categories so this is generally the last skill I raise which actually does come with an unexpected bonus.
A lot of LoL battles are fought based on what an opponent knows about your character. If they see you have bought a bunch of new items they'll know you hit a lot harder and plan accordingly. If they see you using “Take Aim” to burn down enemy champions and creeps in the early game they'll come to the fight prepared for this. Waiting until the end game to start using this skill (almost literally) causes your character's dps to explode in a way most of your enemies won't expect. Suddenly you won't even be close to killable for their team unless they coordinate and spend the time to team gank you and even if they do this you are likely to kill their weaker champions.
Most Tristana players I have seen raise this along with Explosive Shot first which is certainly reliable... but predictable.
[W] Rocket Jump. Tristana jumps to the target location doing X magic damage and slows all enemies in the radius by 60% for 2.5 seconds.
In the current build (as of 08/06/09) this skill tops out at 280 (+5) magic damage at rank 5, level 18. Late game this is an insignificant number as your attacks will be hitting at least that hard and critting for well over double that number. In the time it takes for the rocket jump animation to go off you could have fired several shots. On the other hand, in the early and mid game 280 hp can be quite a good chunk of someone's life.
If you max this skill at level 11 as I do most games you will have a surprisingly potent attack that you can use to intimidate and defeat enemy champions. Many Tristana players use this skill exclusively for defense, it is a reliable escape however there are many good uses for this skill especially when used tactically in a team situation.
If you choose to raise this skill last your usage of this skill won't change throughout the game, it will always be your escape mechanism. If you raise this skill early, the role this ability plays evolves as the game progresses. At level 6, rocket jump followed by buster shot is a very powerful combo attack especially if you can knock someone into creeps or a tower. The damage is so high you can kill most casters outright if they're at 40% or so life. Rocket jump (if raised) will likely be the initiator and source of your early game champion kills.
Late game a champions hp quickly outgrows the damage this ability can cause so it becomes less useful as a source of damage but is still very viable for use offensively because of the snare especially when used in conjunction with “Take Aim”. Using this skill to reposition yourself for a better assault on the enemy is a tactic I use often and while it is very risky giving up your best escape chance, the rewards for such actions are also large.
My final word on rocket jump is this... It's probably the most versatile and useful skill in the game, period. It has offensive potential in its damage and snare, defensive potential in that it can get you out of tough situations, and huge utility potential for bailing out your team mates. Dropping onto enemy champions chasing one of your allies is often enough to allow the champion to escape. Using it for its offensive and utility potential is risky if that situation lands you in danger however you have to use your best judgment and weigh the risks vs rewards. It's not wise to look at this ability as purely an escape, you are preventing yourself from using this skill to it's true potential.
[E] Explosive Shot (passive). Each enemy Tristana kills detonates dealing X magic damage to all enemies in a radius.
In the current build (as of 08/06/09) the magic damage tops out at 250 (+5) at rank 5, level 18. Late game this is like landing a standard, non critical attack on everything around the target you just hit. Against heroes their life bars are unlikely to move much however against creeps this is generally slightly less than half their life. This means you can clear out entire creep waves with three last hits and make a ton of gold in the process. It should be noted, this only procs when you kill a creep with your standard attacks, this does not proc if you kill a creep with rocket jump or your explosive shot kills another creep. I have not noticed if Buster Shot causes this to go off. If you kill a champion with a standard attack they will explode for the X damage based on the rank of this skill.
Early game this skill is even more powerful as it lets you do what I like to call “soft” harassment. During the first few minutes of the game, unless my lane opponent makes themselves an excessively appealing target I rarely attack them directly. Instead I focus on last hitting, trying to last hit creeps next to the champion in particular. Often my not attacking a champion directly leads them to act in a more aggressive fashion going in for last hits or even attacking me directly which makes it very easy to last hit creeps as they get near hitting them for (generally) more damage than my standard attacks do at that time.
If you boost this skill up to max at level 9 as I do, each explosion deals 250 damage to all surrounding targets which is often the equivalent of a critical strike from my standard attack at that point. Of course for this to be viable you need an enemy champion to stand near the creeps which is why direct harassment can be counter-productive early in the game. Soft harassment is very subtle, especially if y our opponent does not know the specifics of how Tristana works and often they will let themselves get much lower because they either don't notice the damage or think it is coming from the creeps and a rocket jump buster shot can make quick work of them for a free kill. This is without exception the first skill I max out in every game I play.
[R] Buster Shot (ultimate). Tristana hits her target with a massive cannonball dealing X magic damage and knocking the target back X units.
In the current build (08/06/09), this attack does 300/450/600 magic damage at each rank. End game that's not a ton of damage, in fact you'll likely be critting everything but tanks for more than that with your standard attack. The problem (or potential advantage) with this ultimate is the knock back. If you try to use it as purely a dps increasing ability there is a chance that rather than killing your enemy you will basically give them a free flash in the opposite direction virtually guaranteeing their escape in most unplanned situations.
Positioning is everything for the effective use of this skill. Fortunately with rocket jump, positioning is often a snap. This is something you have to practice at to get good and need to have a plan or you'll just put yourself in danger and waste buster shot's cooldown. In situations where you want to use this purely for getting the last hit on an enemy champion, always assume it will do about 40% less damage than listed.
Skill Purchase Order:
* “Explosive Shot” is the name of the skill, “Detonating Shot” is the name of the passive buff granted by “Explosive Shot”. I use both names to describe the same skill.
3. Gear Choices and Purchase Order.
1. Vampiric Scepter. (450g)
This is often the first item I buy in a game however it is not always the best choice. In games where I suspect or know I will be going up against a tough lane opponent or when there is a stealth champion on the enemy team I will always buy this first so that I can keep my life up and remain generally ungankable 1v1. Lifesteal on Tristana works extremely well as a regenerative stat because the damage done by her explosive shot seems to count as an extension of your standard shot and thus heals you for quite a bit if you kill a horde of creeps.
I find this item to be most useful at the beginning of the game because it allows you to remain in your lane for longer however it has late game applications as well. If I have this item and hit level 17, have an Infinity Edge, and one other (or most of the components) of my core items bought I am able to solo Baron Nashor. This is a huge advantage in a solo queue game as most of the time when I am hitting 18 my team and my opponents are in the 12-15 range and are rarely even bothering to clairvoyance the spawn.
A single baron kill effectively pays for the scepter 5 times as it grants each person on your team 450g (2250 gold total) plus a huge amount of experience and an incredible buff to their stats. Often this is game ending... If the game does not end shortly after and the baron respawns you can do it again generating another 2250 gold. I'd say a net gain of 4050g for your team (450 for yourself) is well worth the cost and is often a far wiser investment than an Avarice Blade in the long term. Much like actual investments however there are risks as sometimes teams will be on the ball and killing baron, or even attempt to steal the kill.
For me, when I play a game, the question isn't whether or not I get this item, it's when. If I don't buy it at the beginning of the game then I buy it at level 17 for the specific purpose of killing the baron if he has not already been killed. If I do not buy the Scepter at the beginning of the game, I skip to the Avarice Blade.
2. Avarice Blade (750g)
There has been a lot of discussion about this item and its equivalents on these forums. There are many good reasons to get this because it effectively pays for itself after a certain amount of time (25 minutes if you don't sell it) and becomes profitable. On the other hand you could be buying more effective items early in the game. I've seen people buy 3 or more of these items for their champions and I personally feel that is a waste and stick to one, or sometimes two if I am gaining gold extremely quickly. If you are buying this item first, buy the crit component as your first item and if you believe you will be harassed a health potion or two would be wise as well.
If I bought the lifesteal item I will sometimes skip the avarice blade if I am particularly successful at ganking or last hitting and have a good amount of gold.
3. Berserker's Greaves. (920g)
If for any reason you do not have enough gold for this item, purchase the dagger first, this will greatly assist you in last hitting and gaining gold at a faster rate. Rocket Jump keeps the movement speed from being a huge issue early in most games.
4. Infinity Edge. (4080g)
This item is expensive, but extremely effective. Buy order doesn't really matter here, but I prefer to get the +damage items first however anything will do if you really need a boost to keep ahead.
5. Zeal (1195)
I buy Zeal next in most cases because it is cheap and grants a movement speed increase. This greatly helps your survivability as it means you won't even need rocket jump to escape most enemy champions. The haste is nice as well and it builds into a Phantom Dancer which depending on how things are at this point you may want next.
6. The Black Cleaver (3065)
The armor debuff on this weapon is very good. Most dps/caster/utility heroes in my experience don't buy +armor items or slot +armor runes which means they generally have right around 60-70 armor at level 18. After five attacks this weapon is basically ignore all of an enemy champion's armor allowing you to hit for full damage against them... or at least increased damage if they geared defensively or are up against a tank. This is most often what I purchase after Zeal but sometimes a Phantom Dancer just provides more benefit.
7. Phantom Dancer. (3395g)
This item is just excellent all around. Tristana gains a lot from haste, the dodge offers a lot of survivability, and increased movement speed makes you even harder to kill. There are times when this is a better choice than the black cleaver... I often prefer this if I am going up against a team with a lot dps (melee and ranged) because it often lets me get off two shots instead of one in run and gun situations while giving me a decent defense against counter attacks. It boils down to judgment though.
8. Frozen Mallet. (3190)
This is purely a luxury item because usually people won't be out running you. On the other hand this could be more critical than the Infinity edge if you are getting killed quite often. I virtually never buy this item and when I do it usually means I'm having a really rough game.
8. Stark's Fervor/Bloodthirster.
If you are in the game from hell that just won't end, both of these items are viable upgrades for your scythe depending on what your team needs. These two items along with the frozen mallet are completely optional and generally not needed however buying one of these is better than just letting your gold pile up. Blood Thirster is the better choice for personal dps if you can stay alive, Stark's is an excellent choice if you run with your team for battles and no one else has one.
Alternative Item Builds
I have played against another Tristana player recently who had a very interesting item build, rune setup, and mastery tree choice. Morry was the summoner name if you wish to look him/her up, needless to say they built their Tristana for defense and survival and it countered my build quite effectively. I will post more information on it once I have completed my research.
This guide is written based on my personal experiences in a number of solo queue games as well as a few pre-made team games. I will strive to keep this up to date as Tristana and LoL change. Thank you PiousFlea for posting your Fiddlesticks guide and giving me a rough template to work around while writing my own guide.
If you disagree with my analysis or wish to add something please feel free to post or send me a message via the LoL chat function. Please post your opinion in a constructive way with as much detailed information backing up your opinion as possible. Simply telling me I'm stupid for doing X won't help anyone, make a case for why you think you are right and I am wrong.
Not really sure I completely agree with this guide.
The skills you chose (Teleport and clairvoyance) don't work very well together. Without flash or boost you have little means of escape and chasing technique. Tristana is a ranged carry, so she needs to farm to be able to do anything. Being able to get out of a gank is much more important than clairvoyance. Your teammates/support should be getting clairvoyances.
As for your items, vampiric scepter is pretty much worthless in the metagame at the moment unless it's for jungling warwick (if there's something else I'm missing, let me know). A simple health pot would be MORE than enough to make up for any damage you'd take, and costs a ton less. This also lets you farm up to your infinity edge or cleaver faster, so you can actually put out damage faster and help the team earlier in the game. As for after you get your +damage item, what Tristana REALLY needs is survivability. I'd get this game's Linkens (can't remember the name off the top of my head), as it provides a good HP/MR boost with the bonus spell shield. If you're still actually getting items past that point then neither side is pushing fast enough.
And before I forget, the bonus you get from crit runes is very, very small. Tristana is weak and easy to kill - she needs HP! I highly suggest stacking those HP runes. It'll help immensely.
I play trist every 6-7 games and with the exception of a dog**** 5-4-5 game, I tend to clean up pretty good. Granted she is a carry, but I like to think I play her better than most.
I will make a shortened guide that maybe you will want to try out sometime, or some others might like to give a go because there are a few things with your build that I personally would prefer an alternative.
First off abilities. Max out "E" first. Trist can farm and farm fast, getting this going can allow you to keep up, or even ahead of other teams ashe's.
Only get 1 rank of rocket jump "W". The spell is really only good for two things in my opinion. A snare, potentially setting up buster shot, and most importantly *AN ESCAPE*. Basing a large part of your offense on this spell is a bad idea. There are times where you will put yourself in harms way using this and thus cant use it safely. Ontop of that it doesn't help you farm. Lastly because rapid fire is so much better which I will touch on next.
Rapid fire "Q". Technically her "best" ability, though you will max it out second. Rapid fire can make up the difference in damage loss from rocket jump in a fight and is so much more versatile. It helps farming, it helps pushing towers and it doesnt put you in dangerous positions while still being very solid for offense.
Buster shot is a pretty weak ulti but is still always worth getting. Use it to knock people into towers after a rocket jump, to knock back into your team or to get off a last hit on a hero who might escape.
Runes/masteries. Your best off with +critdamage runes (Im also a big fan of health/level in this game if you have nothing good for yellow) and the offense tree for the 10% bonus crit damage. While im generally to lazy to respec and I hate the rune combiner, it makes a significant difference. Secondly it dramatically increases your damage not only late game, but your only form of damage early game due to items which I will talk about next.
Items: Start with brawlers gloves and a pot. Work up 2 Avarice blades while getting attack speed boots somewhere along the way. I personally tend to get 2 avarice blades first with just regular boots, if i even get those (rocket jump and summoner skills are enough to save you early on).
This is why the runes and talents are so important. You are running around with an extra 24% crit or whatever it works out to. Getting +damage crit runes gives you SIGNIFICANTLY more bang for you buck. Ontop of the fact that those avarice blades are gold generating machines and reasonable offense for early in the game. There is really no other good way to start off with her imo.
To finish off the build you have many choices.
Black Cleaver/carver whatever the **** it is
Get whichever of those you want whenever you want. Ive mixed it up many times and all the items have their pros and cons.
If the game goes on really long, after 3 endgame items I will build and phage if i haven't already and naturally turn it into frozen mallet. Even though its a mediocre item, you need hp bad at this point and you will be out dpsing everyone on the map do to rapid fire anyways.
Summoner abilities: Take your pick. You can be a giant *** and stack stupid **** like heal/rally/promote with your team if you want. Personally I like flash because its sexy and lets you escape/finish people off and teleport. I like teleport because it lets you get quickly to creep waves to farm, it lets you defend pushes when your team needs you, and it lets you quickly jump to another pushed lane and destroy a tower before the other team can even react.
One way or another there is no strict build for these. Pick what you want, what your team wants, whatever will work. It isnt like fiddlesticks or something where you NEED to have flash to be worth a ****.
Strategies can vary. Usually you farm up at least 1 endgame item before you worry about teamfighting, ganking or anything of that sort. Ask your team if they want you to port back to defend something. Keep in mind as a carry if your team can hold off reasonably well without you, or push well enough without you, the benefits will be seen later when your farmed out the ass.
As far as her abilities it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Buster shot people into your team, to finish someone off, or into a tower after a rocket jump. Rapid fire any tower, any hero fight or even to farm if you want, just watch your mana.
Use rocket jump to go up cliffs, over treelines, anything that makes it so the other team cant catch you.
Thats about all I have at the moment.
Alright, I played two games using the alternative item builds suggested. In the first game, I ended up in a 2v2 lane situation. My opponents were very aggressive which is not a problem with my standard item build, with the recommended build from Veritas and Cwatz (potion 2x money blades) I could not level as quickly and the time I lost to being forced to heal cost me a lot more gold than the blades would have gained me.
The second game I was in a lane with cryophoenix who was also very aggressive with their harassment. I did a little bit better in this situation however once again lifesteal would have been far superior allowing me to out last and out harass my opponent.
This experience has only reinforced my opinion that the old method of thinking is out dated. I want to dominate late game and the more I dominate in the early game the easier this becomes.
Dont take this offensively but is it possible you are weak in a lane? I dont think I have ever been pushed out of a lane as trist unless I was forcing the fighting and took some heavy creep damage for a kill. Juking cryos icebolt should be easy so unless he is running right at you, you shouldnt have a problem. Even then cryo is the most dangerous laner early game from my experience so I would hardly base much on that.
Secondly do you use any health regen runes? Even just a couple can make all the difference in staying in lane. I also commonly forget to respec and have the extra regen talent from the utility tree (which I think you could still grab as offense if you wanted).
Third a flaw to lifesteal items is they force you to heavily auto attack to get your regen. This can push the creep wave far forward (especially with her "E"), which in an aggressive lane where you are outmached in early game strength you dont want because you are far safer having your tower to protect you.
Fourth did you try teleport? You can go into lanes with no regen if you have teleport and often have no issues of dying or missing exp/gold. You say farming up early and being able to keep up is a big part, teleport is the best skill in the game for this. Not only for early game, but the fact that you can ping around the map wherever you please. Im addicted to this spell because I always stay ahead of the curve in level and gold and it lets you be very effective in pushing and defending. I never feed and I never fall behind.
Lastly item builds are always flexible. Anyone who tells you there is ONE way to build a character is a moron. It depends on lane, opposition, your team and so many other factors. If this strategy doesn't work for you at the moment then by all means dont use it, stick to what works for you. In time you may want to branch out some more and try some different things. Ive seen tank Yi's and tryndameres kick ass and ive seen them feed. Ive seen dps yis and trynds kick ass and ive seen them feed. A big factor is how strong the player is and how familiar he is at playing a certain build.
Every build takes time to get used to and to be effective with. I can tell you from my personal experience though that I have tried several starts on trist, and the avarice blade accompanied with runes and mastery build is by far the most effective for me.
To be honest I think you overly rely on your life steal and thus either push lanes foreward making yourself vulnerable, or take unnecessary damage because you are used to being able to heal it off. Maybe try it again in a while or maybe even think up something new, whatever you as a player think will work.
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