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[Guide] Nasus: An Army of One

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Nasus is a melee attack hero that fits halfway between the tank and carry (dps) roles. To summarize:


  • Innate 20% life drain increases survivability and overall field presence
  • Strong single target damage and snare ability can finish off weaker heroes
  • Strong ultimate makes him a powerhouse in group fights
  • Strong AoE makes him excellent for pushing and defending turrets, and increases gold income rate
  • Can solo Dragon at level 6
  • Can destroy a fully healed turret or inhibitor in one wave of minions in the late game


  • Survivability drops when stunned, snared, or rooted because of reduced life drain
  • Abilities cost a lot of mana and must be used carefully
  • Reliant on item purchases to improve survivability

Playing Nasus well requires a strong understanding of the overall gameflow. You will need to keep track of multiple jungle spawns while pushing your lane. You'll also need to know when to break off from your group to quickly clear a wave of minions and when to stick with them.


Q: Siphoning Strike

Your next attack deals an extra 30 damage. If this kills an enemy, Siphoning Strike's damage is permanently increased by 2.
High ranks cost more mana and include more base damage.

W: Wither

Slows the target's movement and attack speed by 30% and another 3% every second for the next 5 seconds.
Higher ranks increase the snare amount but not the mana cost

E: Spirit Fire

Deals damage every second for five seconds to all enemies in the Spirit Fire's location, and reduces their armor.
Higher ranks cost more mana, deal more damage, and reduce more armor

R: Fury of the Sands

Increases Nasus' health and attack speed for 15 seconds. For the duration, each second he also drains 3% of each nearby enemy's total health and converts it to additional attack damage.
Higher ranks increase the health and attack speed gains, and the drain life amount.

As Nasus has can have issues with his mana consumption, you have to be careful not to level Siphoning Strike and Spirit Fire too fast, or you won't be able to sustain using them. A rank 3 spirit fire will almost completely kill a wave of minions, so this should be obtained as soon as possible. However, don't take rank 4 Spirit Fire until you have the mana to support it, and don't take rank 5 until level 18 unless there is a really pressing reason to do so. Similarly, don't advance Siphoning Strike past rank 1 until you have rank 5 Wither and rank 4 Spirit Fire. Extra ranks in Siphoning Strike will only increase the mana burden, while maxing out Wither does not. Typically I advance the abilities in this order, though it can change depending on the opposing team.

1: Spirit Fire
2: Siphoning Strike
3: Spirit Fire
4: Wither
5: Spirit Fire
6: Fury of the Sands
7: Wither
8: Spirit Fire
9: Wither
10: Wither
11: Fury of the Sands
12: Wither
13: Siphoning Strike
14: Siphoning Strike
15: Siphoning Strike
16: Fury of the Sands
17: Siphoning Strike
18: Spirit Fire

Additionally, it is crucial that you do not waste mana. Only cast Spirit Fire on a group containing at least 4 targets at full health or 5 targets with some damage. If there are only 3 minions, Spirit Fire will be overkill. Similarly, only use Siphoning Strike when it will kill something, and even then don't use it if doing so prevents you from casting Spirit Fire. Naturally these rules change when fighting enemy heroes, turrets, and jungle monsters. But for typical lane pushing, you must manage your mana very carefully. Casting Wither in the early game is almost always a mistake, as it reduces the number of Spirit Fires you can cast by 1.


Generally you want as many of these stats as you can get:

  • Health
  • Attack Damage
  • Attack Speed
  • Run speed

And you want just enough of these stats to get by:

  • Mana
  • Cooldown reduction
  • Life drain

Nasus has horrid returns from ability power and unremarkable returns from crit, so avoid them.

There are four items you will want to get every game, and most of the time you want to get them before working on any of their upgrades:

  • Sheen
  • Vampiric Scepter
  • Boots of Swiftness
  • Glacial Shroud

The typical early game item purchases will look like:

  • Sapphire Crystal + Mana Potion
  • Vampiric Scepter
  • Sapphire Crystal -> Sheen
  • Boots of Swiftness
  • Glacial Shroud

You can swap the order of Glacial Shroud and Boots of Swiftness if the match up demands it, but Vampiric Scepter absolutely must be the second item purchased. You cannot solo the dragon without it. Don't bother buying a healing potion by the way.

In the mid to late game, all of these upgrades are acceptable, and the order in which you do them depends on the situation:

  • Sheen -> Trinity Force (Extra damage)
  • Warmog's Armor (Extra survivability)
  • Vampiric Scepter -> Stark's Fervor (Team survivability and personal damage)
  • Glacial Shroud -> Frozen Heart (Team survivability and personal survivability)

If you somehow upgrade all these items and the game still isn't over, the last item slot can be:

  • Infinity Edge (Extra damage)
  • Guardian Angel (Extra survivability)

Keep in mind that while life drain is good, it's only as good as your maximum health. Warmog's Armor is very important if the two teams are evenly matched in the mid game. If your team is dominating, extra damage is probably a better choice.

Also, Boots of Swiftness are more important than you think. Often your team will rely on you to catch up with someone and Wither them, so the team can finish them off. Boots like Berserkers Greaves and Ninja Tabi won't do that. Having tried all boot options except Sorceror's Shoes, I'm confident that Boots of Swiftness are the best choice. And as one of your primary jobs is farming the jungle while pushing your lane, extra movement speed gives you more lane presence time.

Cooldown reduction is important, which Glacial Shroud provides (+20%). This is enough to reach the 40% cap on cooldown reduction when you have the Golem buff. For this reason, you don't need to acquire other sources of cooldown reduction. Even the upgrade to Frozen Heart should only be done for the debuff it puts on enemies, not for the additional 5% cooldown reduction.

Mastery Tree, Runes, and Summoner Spells:


As Nasus needs additional survivability, I recommend putting 21 points in Defense. The other 9 points can go in either Utility or Offense. If you do put 9 points in Utility, make sure to spend the 9th point on +15% monster buff duration.


Nasus requires a well rounded set of stats, so it makes sense to use primary stat runes rather than stacking all of the same stat. Also, the +stat per level returns are flat out better than the static +stat, so only use per level runes. I recommend:

Red: Attack damage per level
Yellow: Health per level
Blue: Mana regen per level
Purple: Run speed

Again, many people think cooldown reduction is the best choice for blue runes. This will be wasted once you have the Golem buff, and if you don't have the buff, cooldown reduction will just mean you run out of mana faster. Getting mana regen from blue runes means you can use your spells more often, and it makes you less reliant on the Golem. It also means you don't have to buy additional mana support items like Meki's Pendant.

Summoner Spells:

For summoner spells, there is only one pair to consider: Teleport and Cleanse. Nasus needs to cover large areas of the map, both for jungling, lane pushing, and to assist in ganks. It's also good to have the option of teleporting near the enemy's base and finishing off an inner turret or inhibitor before they can react. And cleanse is required because Nasus' biggest weakness is any stun, snare, or root. I've tried heal and it's just not as good. Cleanse will save you from all kinds of things that heal cannot. It also cools down significantly faster.

Play style:

I have had the best success in games where Nasus solos the middle lane. I used to cede the lane to solid late game carries, like Ashe or Katarina, but these days I believe Nasus is the better choice. The solo lane position doesn't share XP from kills, so they level up faster. There's a number of reasons Nasus is far better in the solo mid lane position:

  • Nasus can control both wraith packs, a golem, and the dragon while continuing to push the middle.
  • The 20% life drain passive ability scales with Nasus' damage, so he gains more power going from level 1 to 18 than many other heroes.
  • Nasus obtains gold faster than other champions. Its better to get support items like Starks and Frozen Heart on a high level hero.
  • Allied heroes have a harder time getting gold when they are paired with Nasus.
  • The bushes are further from the middle lane, so it's harder to gank there. This makes Nasus safer than the side lanes.
  • Nasus is very hard to kill one-on-one, so it's safer to solo a lane than going against two opponents on a side.

If your team really doesn't want you to solo the middle for some reason, take the bottom lane so you can at least solo the dragon every so often.

In the early game, just use Spirit Fire to clear waves of minions and push back towards the opposing tureet. Scoring killing blows with Siphoning Strike is nice but really not important. Don't do anything that makes you take extra damage, as you won't have a good method of healing until you buy your Vampiric Scepter. When your minions advance into enemy turret range, don't join them on the attack until at least level 10. Your early damage is relatively meaningless and it just opens you up to possibly get killed. Instead, starting at level 5, run to one of the two Wraith packs and quickly kill them. You can also kill the Wraiths at level 4 if you have your Scepter. In general, you should be in your lane whenever there is a large wave of enemy minions that will provide you with gold and XP. When they are dead, go kill something in the jungle.

By level 6, you can kill the Golem and the Dragon. Killing the Golem requires Vampiric Scepter and either Fury of the Sands or Sheen. Killing the Dragon requires Vampiric Scepter, Fury of the Sand, and either a mostly full mana bar or Sheen. You don't want to lose too much lane presence while killing these monsters, so I recommend against killing the Golem and then the Dragon in one go. I've had the best success using my first Fury of the Sands at level 6 to kill the Golem. Then with your near infinite mana, you can push the middle lane extremely hard (including using Wither on cooldown on the opposing hero). When Fury is up a second time, you go to kill the Dragon. The best solution is probably to get help killing the Golem from one ally in the bottom lane, then killing the Dragon with Fury of the Sands, and returning to your respective lanes.

Keep careful track of the Golem respawns. The longer you have the Golem buff, the more you can push off buying Glacial Shroud in favor of extra damage items, which in turn lets you press your advantage further. Once you have Boots of Swiftness, you can also kill the occasional Lizard King. This is worthwhile as long as your turret won't take too much damage in the process.

Later in the game you will obviously be moving in a pack with your allies, but remember to break off to refresh the Golem buff and kill the Dragon from time to time. It's not uncommon to be a solid 4 levels above the enemies, even when both sides have been killed the same number of times. Having a high level Nasus in a team fight virtually guarantees your side will get more kills than theirs.

Use cleanse liberally. If you are stunned or rooted for almost any reason, use it to run away. It's also useful for removing the poison from Twitch and Teemo.


Nasus has the most trouble with tanks, especially Blitzcrank and Cho'gath. There's a few reasons for this:

  • Against weaker heroes that aren't at full health, Nasus can often finish them off inside Wither's duration. Nasus can't do that against heroes with a lot of maximum health.
  • Many tanks have knockup abilities (Blitzcrank, Cho'gath) which cannot be cleansed away.
  • Many tanks have repositioning abilities (Blitzcrank, Alistar) which can separate you from your teammates and put you in range of turrets

If I have to solo against Blitzcrank, I will often ask to swap lanes with someone else. His grapple ability means it's not safe to be anywhere near an enemy turret, and Nasus' ability to push means your minions are constantly in turret range.

You might have a bit of trouble against opposing ranged heroes like Ashe, Teemo, and Twitch. These fights get a lot easier once you have practice positioning your minions between you and the enemy, restricting their ranged attacks. Also, remember that these heroes do not have much life. Just getting a little bit of damage on them is often enough to make them back off.

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Senior Member


really great guide. thx!

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Senior Member


good guide really. nasus is the one hero i pick most.

i especially agree with your skill order and the reasoning behind not leveling siphoning strike quickly and delaying level 5 spirit fire.

i hardly ever bother to get warmog's though. it's expensive and life regen is not really needed imo. i usually start with meki pendant since mana regen is my only concern when laning/jungling constantly and i can't always find the time to get the golem buff when i need it - depending on how laning worked out team-wise.

you fully rely on golem for your mana issues?

sometimes i swap cleanse for rally - just because it's great for team fights and fun.

other than that, the first really thourough and good guide in nasus.grats.

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Junior Member


i play nasus early like this:

get 2 potions
go back and get heart of gold
next stop get sheen
then get vampiric scepter
and then i pretty much mix it up. Can go bloodstealer/phantom dancer. Or cd reduc/auras. Or health/armor.
I skill 21 points in util btw.
For summonor spells i like Haste and Flash.

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Nice guide. I may have to unlock this hero to try him out. Im currtly playing kassadin and loving him but ever since i started this game i wanted to play this guy :P

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Junior Member


I play Nasus like I would play a straight dps hero. Typically my build looks like this:

-Last whisper

-These 2 items provide enough armor pen early on to devastate enemy heroes with your Siphon strike.
-mercury's treads(a MUST on nasus)
-Trinity force(sheen and early item of course)
-Infinity edge

Ideally this is my "SOLO QUE" build. In premades, the build is slightly different as survivability is obviously something to consider.

I play him as a straight up ganker/assassin, and i do well every time.

EDIT: If you're not taking advantage of nasus's most powerful ability( siphon strike ) then you are a FOOL. MAX OUT SIPHON, HIT PEOPLE FOR DEAD. Mana isn't an issue if you know wtf is going on. Golemn buff and you're golden.

Kill the hell out minions and anything else with siphon strike and then make people cry as they get hit for 1600 damage.

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i hardly ever bother to get warmog's though. it's expensive and life regen is not really needed imo. i usually start with meki pendant since mana regen is my only concern when laning/jungling constantly and i can't always find the time to get the golem buff when i need it - depending on how laning worked out team-wise.

you fully rely on golem for your mana issues?

I confess I don't buy Warmog's armor every game. If the game is swinging in your favor anyway, you are better off stacking more damage and ending it faster. Plus Warmog's is only good if the enemy team is actually attacking you.

I agree that it's expensive, but the effect is amazing. It nearly doubles your life. Even if you can't afford to finish it, just buying a Giant's Belt and Ruby Crystal is a sizable chunk of life. I completely ignore the health regen on the item, for the record. It's only useful as a way of increasing your maximum health, which in turn makes life drain more relevant. You can't drain more life than you have, so increasing your maximum health means you have a higher top end.

Regarding your mana questions, I wouldn't say I fully rely on the Golem, but I'll use the buff as much as I can. If you have Trinity Force and a Glacial Shroud but no Golem buff, you can generally stay out in the wild for three minutes before running out of mana. That's usually enough time that a Golem has respawned, but if he's still not up, well... You have to head back to your base to spend cash anyway, so often it's good timing.

I've tried over a dozen different items builds and the biggest problem I had was balancing the early mana problem. Meki's pendant factored into a number of builds. I also tried Catalyst, Chalice of Harmony, and even buying a Sage's Ring as my second item. In the end, the build that worked best was Sapphire Crystal first, killing the Golem at level 6, getting Glacial Shroud quickly thereafter, and totally ignoring any mana regen items.

That's the main reason Glacial Shroud is so important. The extra mana lets you stay out in the field a long time, and the other abilities actually help you. You can't afford to waste an item slot on Meki's Pendant, when all of the upgrades for Meki's are terrible for Nasus.

On another note, I crunched a few numbers on armory penetration and I think they flat out beat attack damage for red runes. Furthermore, I suspect that Last Whisper is a better choice than Infinity Edge, but I want to try this before updating the guide.

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Satan the Devil

Junior Member


Maybe its me, maybe it was the the teams I fought against, but I just felt very very squishy. I was able to solo Dragon np at lv6 like the guide suggests doing. But I did crystal->specter->Sheen->Boots of Swiftness-> Glacial Shroud. Then I started working on Warmog's. I'm wondering if I should have tried to fit like Aegis or something prior to Glacial to boost my survival rate. I think after some more practice I will get this style.

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Satan the Devil:
Maybe its me, maybe it was the the teams I fought against, but I just felt very very squishy. I was able to solo Dragon np at lv6 like the guide suggests doing. But I did crystal->specter->Sheen->Boots of Swiftness-> Glacial Shroud. Then I started working on Warmog's. I'm wondering if I should have tried to fit like Aegis or something prior to Glacial to boost my survival rate. I think after some more practice I will get this style.

A lot of being squishy is avoiding fights in the early game. Nasus is a powerhouse in the late game, but the trade off is that he's vulnerable early. You usually want to avoid combat altogether early, and a lot of your choices are intended to make that happen. Engaging the enemy early might get you in a situation where your options are one of "Cast Wither" and "Die"

The real question is, "Under what circumstances are you dying?" If you are dying in 1v1 lane fights, then you are being too aggressive, and probably attacking turrets. If you are dying while jungling monsters, then you should bring teammates with you when killing the golem and dragon. If you are dying in late game fights due to focus fire against opponents of similar level, then either they have been fed or you've spent too much time out of lane and lost XP. And if you're dying in late game fights to opponents that are lower level than you, then you need more health / armor / etc.

I typically work on Trinity Force before Warmogs, as the best defense is a good offense. If you are behind the 8 ball and need some quick defense right now, I recommend finishing Frozen Heart before Warmogs. Warmog's armor is best in the situation where your team is neither totally dominating nor being crushed.

Also, if you aren't spending a lot of time running, you can always push off your boots in favor of an earlier Glacial Shroud. Against some opponents this is the right choice.

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I really dont like how you talk about the Siphen Strike to be not important. Its like his best ability and one you can really go all out on. Another thing i have a problem with your guide and i already see a lot of bad Nasus players doing is pushing too good early game, don't put so many points into spirit fire, that ability just makes life harder for you. If your just lvling it up for minion kills then you suck, last hit them all with SS if your keep Spirit Fire at lvl 1 you can still one shot them with a SS and Sheen attack, without losing much to minions. Nasus is a beast early if you start racking up those SS damage boosts. I usually take 1/4 hp chuncks or even up to half on squishes with proper lvling of it.

You did however have one thing right and that was the cleanse, it is a must on Nasus and it has saved my ass more then once.