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[Guide] Nidalee - Physical damage powerhouse

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For best viewing please see: http://leaguecraft.com/strategies/guide/113,Nidalee+-+The+first+round (it has graphics and stuff!)

There are few dwellers, let alone champions, residing in the blasted and dangerous lands that lie south of the Great barrier. Much of that world still bears the scars of past Rune Wars, especially the mysterious Kumungu Jungle. There are long-forgotten treasures in these strange places which many risk life and limb to acquire. The champion known as Nidalee was only a young girl travelling with her treasure-seeking parents when they lost their way in the dense, rainy jungles. The jungle was unforgiving, and she watched her parents suffer agonizing final days at they fell victim to a mysterious and vicious disease. As improbable as it was for a child to survive in the inhospitable jungle by herself, she did just that. Her youthful innocence and a fortunate naivete caused her to appeal to the beasts of that place and she was taken in by a family of cougars and raised as one of their own. She grew and somehow absorbed the raw magic of the dense wilds, evolving beyond both her human physiology and her feline affectation. On one pivotal day in her life, standing over the torn remnants of a Noxian squad of woodcutters, Nidalee chose to rejoin the so-called civilized world, to fight in the League of Legends so as to protect the vast woods from both Demacia and Noxus. Nidalee was taught to fight by her feline family, battling viciously with tool and nail. Something in her feline ways may draw you to her, but remember that she is no pussycat.

Skills Introduction:

Prowl (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Prowl) Moving through brush increases Nidalee's movement speed by 25% for 2 seconds. - At the start try to be on the outside lines to abuse this. When you are running away this comes in real handy or when you are chasing someone the extra movement speed makes the difference. This is your champion's passive so make sure you make good use of this. In the early game try to stay in the brush as much as possible. This stays up as long as you are within the grass and only pops the 2 second duration once you leave the grassy areas. This also works while you are in Cougar form.

Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) Javelin Toss: Nidalee tosses her javelin, dealing 55/95/140/185/215 (+0.4 ability power) magic damage on impact (deals up to 250% damage the further away the target is). 7 second cooldown - This is the skillshot that she has that hits really really hard. The problem with this is it travels slow and the hit box is small. (so it is difficult to land a hit sometimes) Also this does NOT pierce creeps so it will hit the first thing in its path and deal damage. To deal maximum damage you have to hit the very edge of the maximum distance of the ability but it deals 537.5 damage (not including armor) Once you add your ability power in it hits harder.

Takedown: Nidalee's next attack deals an additional 40/70/100 damage (with up to a 200% multiplier the lower her opponent's life is). 5 second cooldown - This is a great execute ability, the lower health they are, the higher the damage. With a damage build I have seen this CRIT for 900 (while they were low health of course but it was a one shot and scared the enemies so bad they didn't want to come NEAR me) This ability can be cycled rather effectively with Pounce and Swipe as they are short cooldowns.

Bushwhack / Pounce (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Bushwhack%20/%20Pounce) Bushwhack: Nidalee lays a trap that deals 80/125/170/215/260 (+0.4 ability power) damage over 2 seconds and reveals the target for 12 seconds. Champion armor and magic resistance is reduced by 20/25/30/35/40% for the duration. Traps last for 4 minutes. 18 second cooldown - First note: TRAPS ARE VISIBLE TO ALLIES AND ENEMIES AT ALL TIMES. These are not like teemo's mushrooms that are invisible until they are stepped on, but on the flip side of the coin they CANNOT be destroyed unless they expire. Putting these on the edges of bushes where champions will walk on them is the best idea, as they will not see it coming and this will make them visible to ward off potential ganks. This also pisses off stealthers as it makes them VISIBLE for 12 seconds! Be prepared to wave hi and bye to twich.

Pounce: Nidalee lunges forward, dealing 125/175/225 (+0.4 ability power) magic damage to surrounding enemies. - This leaps forward a few yards from where you are facing. This is not only a decent damage ability which deals AOE damage (perfect with swipe!), it is great for escaping ganks. This is spamable since everything in cougar form costs NO mana, and a three second cooldown. I was able to "leap" from within the dragon's area to the outside jungle area once but have yet to do it again so at this time it is fairly safe to say you pretty much cannot leap through walls with this, but if you happen to great! This should be cycled with pounce while DPSing someone and use Takedown after pounce and swipe have already been used for maximum damage.

Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) Primal Surge: Nidalee heals an ally champion for 75/120/165/210/255(+0.8 ability power) and grants a 20/30/40/50/60% attack speed for 8 seconds. 10 second cooldown - This is a heal spell with a twist, it increases the target's attack speed for 8 seconds. When you go to hit a tower or runninging after someone hit this and DPS away. Be wary of healing reduction abilities as it will hurt this so wait until after they fade if you can before healing. This ability only costs 50 (!) mana so it is fairly cheap early, and VERY cheap later

Swipe: Nidalee claws at enemies in front of her, dealing 150/225/300 (+0.4 ability power) magic damage. 6 second cooldown - This is one hard hitting ability that deals a cone of damage, almost like Kassadin's cone but only a shorter range. Amazing farming abilities here and great damage potential. Short cooldown so smash away!

Aspect of the Cougar (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Aspect%20of%20the%20Cougar) Nidalee transforms into a vicious cougar, gaining 20 movement speed, 10% dodge, and a new set of abilities.

Swipe Damage 150/225/300
Pounce Damage 125/175/225
Takedown 40/70/100

Transforming to and from Cougar has a 4 second cooldown.


Your ultimate is VERY important as it scales up your cougar abilities damage. If you don't skill up your ultimate you will be hitting for basically nothing. This ability is also F R E E so make sure you are changing form when needed. (Such as gee I need a heal change form heal and go back in, or if they run out of range and you can't just pounce to catch up change form and try to hit them with a ranged attack.)

Nidalee was a recent addition to the champions list and everybody is raving how terrible she is at the present time. I have found her to be very powerful except for early game when she is at her weakest. She has low hit points early so you must compensate by being defensive and relying on your team to get kills. Last hitting with her early game is very important to get your income going. From the above skill lists you can see that her ability power scaling isn't very high so stacking ability power won't get you to be a powerhouse. A combination of attack damage items as well as a few ability power items will win you the day. Her skillshot is rather hard to aim at first but with enough practice you can be fairly good at landing it. It moves incredibly slow for a skillshot so we can hope for it to be increased in later patches. Theorycrafting has proven that AP build MAY be successful but will test to verify. Theorycrafting may not always mean it works as it has low farming ability early, and no lifesteal means you will be running a whole bunch.

Soloing with her is a good idea only if you have another person jungling. The reason behind this is you are at your weakest early game so don't take the solo mid lane as you don't have the brush to protect you. Soloing top or bottom lanes with someone jungling is the best idea so you can quickly escape if need be.

Once you hit level 16 you shift from being in human form primarily to being in cougar form primarily only popping out to land traps, heal and sometimes to nail someone with your skillshot as the finnishing blow or slow them with frozen mallet. Cougar doesn't deal terrific damage until a lot later and is mostly used for escape and bursting someone down quickly early game but the abilities don't deal big damage until your ultimate ranks up.

For the theorycrafting please see: http://leaguecraft.com/builder/Nidalee/4909196b2dc2809f53b471cf251f56ee
Alternate AP theorycrafting: http://leaguecraft.com/builder/Nidalee/b2c45f782fed45852d879cc841455d5c has potential with the power of lichbane adding a wopping 600 damage to every strike it procs

Item Build:

1)Vampiric Scepter (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Vampiric%20Scepter) so you can stay in your lane the longest possible. If you get harassed auto attack some creeps while playing defensively to get your health back up but try for the last hits as much as possible. -> Attack -> Life Steal
2)Chalice of Harmony (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Chalice%20of%20Harmony) HOPEFULLY before you have to return to town for the first time (890g) - Magic -> Magic Regen
3)Boots of Speed (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Boots%20of%20Speed) (350g) -> Movement
4)Phage (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Phage) (1315g) THIS IS A CRITICAL ITEM this proc slows the target. This is huge as people will just run away from you and laugh and you have no crowd control early on to stop them and popping some sort of crowd control all the time just to get a single kill is rather pointless. This is a great item so buy it early! -> Attack -> Damage

5) Boots 2 (???g) based on what you are faced against. If you are against a bunch of physical damage ranged (teemo, tristana AND ashe) get ninja tabi for the dodge, if you are faced against a lot of disables, stuns and slows (anything over 2 without summoner abilities such as teemo's shrooms, tristana, ashe, ryze, etc etc) go for mercury's treads for the reduction in crowd controls (this should be fairly often). Default is beserker's greaves OR boots of swiftness depending on how defensive the enemy is. I pass up the oppertunity of getting boots of mobility as I am stuck in combat most of the time so the run 5 is rather useless to me. If I don't use the summoner ability teleport I would rethink the decision. -> Movement
6)Frozen Mallet (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Frozen%20Mallet) (1975g) again CRITICAL item, every hit will slow your enemy. For all those champions who run from you will be scared now as frozen mallet procs off of ranged hits as well! When you pop primal surge and gain the attack speed you will be chain freezing the enemy. I know people are thinking why not just do trinity force it has it, plus sheen, and zeal all built in? The reason behind it is trinity force is a 25% chance, frozen mallet is huge for HP (big one here as yours is LOW) and is a 100% chance. When you are in cougar form and start beating on someone they will not be able to run as you can just chain slow them and pounce on them every few seconds. -> Attack -> Damage.
7)Sheen (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Sheen) (1260g) this will give you a small boost in ability power which isn't all that amazing but every time you use an ability your next hit will hit a bit harder. This becomes rather powerful in Cougar when you can SPAM abilities (remember NO COST IN COUGAR!) but also stacks with takedown to make it hit just a bit harder. -> Magic -> Ability Power
8)Lich Bane (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Lich%20Bane) (2210g) the one step up from sheen which will make you hit a lot harder. It gives you more mana, more ability power to make yout hit a bit harder but as an added bonus 7% movement speed. So while you are chasing someone through the forest jumping into the brush once in a while nobody will be able to escape (except warwick as he's crazy) -> Magic -> Ability Power
9)The Bloodthirster (http://leaguecraft.com/item/The%20Bloodthirster) (2750g) stacks up to a total of +100 damage, as well as a giant amount of lifesteal. This requires you to kill 40 creeps before it caps out but that is fairly easy by this point you should be reaching level 16 so swipe will be hitting for 300+. -> Attack -> Lifesteal
10)Malady (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Malady) (1890g) if the game is still not over and you need something to just chew through people quick this is it. This increases your attack speed by a wopping 50% as well as has a bit of lifesteal to boot. Not just that it stacks a debuff which increases the damage you deal to the enemy every time you hit them. While black cleaver decreases armor with every hit, this increases your attack speed which is great, and has more lifesteal which STACKS with bloodthirster. I have had times where I am tanking someone and after they stun me I hit them a few times and I am full health again. -> Attack -> Lifesteal
11a)Deathfire Grasp (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Deathfire%20Grasp) (2610g) I have yet to have a game go this long but create this and zap people as soon as you pounce them and it will chop off a chunk of their health allowing you to swipe for another chunk and possibly even takedown them for the kill. Go for this for tanks/high armor targets. -> Magic -> Ability Power
11b)Infinity Edge (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Infinity%20Edge) (4080g) If you are not wanting to worry about hitting an extra button you can go infinity edge and crit for large amounts and hit like a truck. Alternate item based on team of course. If they are low health/low armor pick this choice. -> Attack -> Damage
11c)Madred's Bloodrazor (http://leaguecraft.com/item/Madred%27s%20Bloodrazor) (3800g) if you are unsure of how to proceed with the above this can be a default choice and a good default choice. Hitting a target will strip off a wopping 4% of MAX hp as well as your damage. Increasing attack speed by 40% is also what this does and gives some armor and a bit of damage.

Skill Build:

1)Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) OR Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) level 1

2)Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) OR Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) level 1

3)Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) level 2

4)Bushwhack / Pounce (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Bushwhack%20/%20Pounce) level 1

5)Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) level 3

6)Aspect of the Cougar (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Aspect%20of%20the%20Cougar) level 1

7)Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) level 4

8)Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) level 2

9)Javelin Toss / Takedown (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Javelin%20Toss%20/%20Takedown) level 5

10)Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) level 4

11)Aspect of the Cougar (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Aspect%20of%20the%20Cougar) level 2

12)Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) level 4

13)Primal Surge / Swipe (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Primal%20Surge%20/%20Swipe) level 5

14)Bushwhack / Pounce (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Bushwhack%20/%20Pounce) level 2

15)Bushwhack / Pounce (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Bushwhack%20/%20Pounce) level 3

16)Aspect of the Cougar (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Aspect%20of%20the%20Cougar) level 3

17)Bushwhack / Pounce (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Bushwhack%20/%20Pounce) level 4

18)Bushwhack / Pounce (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Bushwhack%20/%20Pounce) level 5

Start depends on what you have against you. If you have a pair of nukers or heavy harassers against you pick up your heal first. If you don't go with Javelin Toss first. Priority to Javelin Toss and Primal Surge when you can't level Toss. Ultimate supersedes everything as it is critical. Bushwack can wait until later but having one point in it allows you to pounce and plant some traps around for early detection and pissing off stealthers to no end.

Summoner Abilities:

Flash (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Flash) - Allows you to jump somewhere fast. This can be fairly useful if you are someone who likes to play a bit more defensively. Use this with cleanse and you can survive many things.

Teleport (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Teleport) - Allows you to jump around the map and in the later stages farm lanes hard. Very useful early for picking up items and jumping back to your lane in seconds.

Ghost (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Ghost) - Good for defense and offense as you can get through the normal pathing if people decide to flash behind some or put something in your way to stop you. Also great for escaping through the jungle with your passive.

Exhaust (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Exhaust) - I use this for the most part. Makes the enemy's miss % go to 100% for a few seconds and slows their movement by 40%. For early game you can get a kill before minions spawn sometimes if the enemy is stupid and your partner is nearby. For later game this makes your life easier when you try to tank someone who hits hard to when you go into a 2v1 scenario. Exhaust the one who will hit you the hardest or is most prone to flee and destroy one then destroy the one that was exhausted.

Cleanse (http://leaguecraft.com/spell/Cleanse) - Defensive and offensive again. With the buff to this spell great if you know the enemy is going to chain CC you into the ground. Used with many other spells for maximum efficiency. (like ghost or flash)

Working with your team:

Don't run into the middle of a teamfight try to pick someone off who is either running away or at range. You are not enough of a tank to stand in the middle of the fray. You can do a decent job soloing someone who is important to them or to put pressure on that person to stop what they are doing and deal with you. If you get focused run. Normally this means running back or to the jungle on the sides.

Especially early on remember you can heal rather well so don't just spam toss and hope your ally will stay alive. Keep them alive and they will keep you alive. (hopefully)

If you have someone with a stun, snare or immobilize lane with them and ABUSE it. I ran with a Udar and we were tearing apart anybody who got near us as I would keep him alive, he would stun enemies so I could toss and deal massive damage and nothing could stand up to us. When it came time to flee he would pop bear stance which increases his move speed, I would pop into cougar and pounce away while jumping into the brush for movement speed. I would chain heal him as he would tank the creeps for me and eat their harassments.

Want a screenshot?

http://screenshot.xfire.com/screenshot/natural/aefb3722c67defe110da60fd3835d4b206242028.png - typical game.

**EDIT**: Did an AP build - http://screenshot.xfire.com/screenshot/natural/6b8b44e7f23bea0604986fdebc1fbf88f6bab513.png 6/0/6 But the teamscore was like 21-3...

Update: Trinity force MAY be better then frozen mallet + some other HP item but still in the works, she is very squishy otherwise.

AP build is nice for the damage but waiting until you have that much gold to have a slow PLUS! you have to land an ability on them (not just an auto attack) is really painful. I am having issues with heros popping cleanse then getting away as I can't always keep up, with frozen mallet I can at least auto attack them and boom slowed again (this is after cleanse drops)

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Not a bad guide. Its not the exact build I've been running but its close. I'll agree her skill shot is slow and a little tough to hit with. Its not my favorite skill. I think her power lies in Primal surge / swipe. The attack speed buff is crazy, the swipe damage makes farming a snap.

My games have played out a little different. Early game its all human form. I take primal surge every time its available. gank and push tower. Once i get cougar form I do a lot of jungle with ganks / push. Late game I usally find myself in human form (low hp makes you an easy target in up close fights ). I mainly use cougar to chase / finish late game.

My item builds have been going...

mana gem to start with 2 heal pots
finish boots ( varies from game to game )
phange -> frozen mallet
after that i usally start working the phantom dancer.
That adds everything a physical dps Nidalee could want. attack speed, crit, dodge, move speed..
Finish up with a life steal item and your golden. I found that with my heal, life steal is not all that important early.
Last item can be what ever. I almost never go mana regen on her, I just haven't needed it with her cougar skills costing no mana.

Overall I think she is a blast.. I totally support sheen and frozen mallet I think they are a must.

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I tried going the gem + pots route (1 heal 1 mana actually to balace things) and found I was lacking a bit more staying power (hence scepter as I was hitting stuff fairly often and with her heal that increases her attack speed it's wonderful)

Early frozen mallet/phage as I usually have problems keeping people in a spot where I can hammer them down, but I usually run an outside lane for more DPS, and we aren't a huge damage output early game so helping others get kills early so we can destroy later. Sheen first is a good idea, just personal preference frozen mallet gives me a wopping amount of hp fast before sheen -> lich (which by that point I am flying around the map farming harder then anybody can stop)

Nice to see someone else supports this, as my screenshot (and most of my games with her show) she IS a powerhouse late game.

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Let me make this quick and dirty here are the reasons this build isn't that great. You have six abilities 3 in human and 3 in cougar. 1 ability benefits from attack power and only one. Take down in cougar form. If you want to get technical and start running numbers and do some weird round about thinking I might concede that your heal that increases your attack speed also benefits from it. So essentially you are betting on the 1 ability you have to net you kills and do the most of your damage. Where as an AP build buffs the other five abilities you have, although lets be fair the increases in damage that your traps do aren't that great but that's not really the point of your traps anyway.

When in cougar form thanks to the small cooldowns and zero cost you can essentially face roll, from what I found towards mid game I was doing 300+ from pounce and around the same amount from swipe. My cooldowns where going so fast that I could pounce swipe and takedown and by the time the animation for take down was gone I could do it again. Essentially hitting for a good 600 damage plus the takedown damage which would have been an extra couple hundred and all within like 2-3sec AND I could do it again and it wasn't costing me anything. Couple that with lichbane and you should be able to blow through heroes extremely fast. Through in a rylais for survivability and the slow and you would be nigh unstoppable. Of course my runebook was set up for cooldown reduction and magic penetration.

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With an AP build you are suffering a huge loss of static HP. With this build I have 2 sources of returning health back to me, just by wacking on stuff. This way I am not going back to town every 3 minutes because I am out of life, or can't spend a minute spamming heals on myself before returning back in.

I can stay inside of a team battle even though I am getting hit and be decently effective. Pounce already deals 300 damage, increase that with lichbane and the AP (again her scaling ISN'T GREAT. 0.4 for multiple abilities where most people who stack AP are looking at pretty much 1:1 ratios)

Yeah traps are not a big thing as they are sometimes hard to get people to land on.

The attack speed bonus from a few items means if your abilities are on cooldown (they are a few seconds at least) or you get silenced (happens) you can still smash away autoattacking and kill people rather quickly. I went toe to toe with someone who stacked AP, and me stacking this method. It came down to the fact that I was hitting and draining 40% of the damage in life and they were not. They died within a few seconds and I walked away with almost half life. I got the first hit in with pounce but they responded the same way with pounce and continued from there.

As I said with AP I am going to fully test it tomorrow when I am on (at work at the moment) and going to post back the results between the two. But at the moment this is crushing every opponent I am going up against.

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My thanks for breaking the weird mental block that meant I kept going back to more or less pure AP builds :P

They've both got a lot going for them, and I've had good games with both. It's really Frozen Mallet that sells me on this one, the guarunteed slow does make a difference.

Incidentally, every says that AP is the way to go instead of DPS, but a DPS Niddy is a lot more versatile, as she can plug away in human form instead of relying on Cougar for everything. She's also a better tower killer.

That said, she's less sustainable due to lower heal, and her Cougar abilities aren't quite as mean - though autoattack somewhat makes up for that, as does the high Takedown.

One thing - I've never actually got the Chalice. I just ration my mana to begin with, and later on in the game, I've got enough reserves that I don't need to bother with a specced regen item.

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I kind disagree on Lichbane as an item for physical based Nadelee.

But, it maybe the only way to go since frozen mallet is one of your critical item.

Having trinity force and frozen mallet both together is not a good idea.

Nice guide.

By the way, have you tried critical based nadalee?

I have always wanted to build her the same way trydemere or yi would, but never got the chance.

please share your experience if you ever tried a critical based nadalee.

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Lich Bane should be doing less damage than Sheen because your base attack > your base AP, BTW. I'm not sure if I agree with that choice.

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I agree with Sanji. Sheen will be doing more damage than lichbane at the end. I suggest Zeal if you want the move speed as it comes with attack speed, crit chance, and movement speed, plus it can be made into a phantom dancer. By the time you pick up the lichbane in your build you should not have any problems with the amount of mana you have as well.

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please share your experience if you ever tried a critical based nadalee.

Crit got destroyed in the game I tried it.

Sure I had 87% crit chance (I am not even kidding that's what it was showing in the character pane)...and was critting for 300. I was extremely squishy and had no way of keeping champions from running away from me. If I want crit, I'll go for infinity + crit runes (from red) The attack speed for the crit build was also very slow and would need something to get her attacking a lot faster, and then a slow, and life steal which means we are going back into the same thing is above.

It CAN work, so swap out lichbane for phantom dancer, and get infinity edge at the end. This should boost your crit to fairly high amounts.