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[Guide] How to play Karthus balls to the wall!!

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Kritara

Senior Member

01-05-2010

Introduction:
I've read some of the other karthus' guides, and this week played with Karthus
some. I've come to the conclusion. Most people are pansies with Karthus! Yes he's a mage,
yes he's got **** for hp/armor/etc...But guess what! Even when your dead you can still
do work.

Masteries:
I prefer the 9/0/21 utility build. Making sure to get the 15% magic resist reduction,
and the majority of the mana regen in the utility tree. 21/0/9 is weaker for karthus,
since none of the mid-late tier cater's to karthus. Only the 21 point talent which is
a measily 4% bonus dmg. Considering how many points you had to waste to get there, utility
is a much better bang for your buck. Defense does intrigue me, but seems marginly better
then offense, and again does not help combat the high mana cost of karthus.

Runes:
I currently use all red Magic penetration, yellow dodge, blue cooldown reduction. Quints are 1 Magic Pen, 1 Dodge, 1 gold per 10. This adds up to 10 Magic pen, 8.8% dodge, 5.5% CD reduction, and 1 gold per 10. The avaraice quint can be switched for anything, but honestly I couldn't find a quint that was a must have for the 3rd one. So feel free to switch it for anything.

Skills:
Lay Waste- A fairly cheap aoe timebomb. Basically what it does, your point, you click
after a second it detonates for a weak amount of damage. Since it's an aoe attack it
scales pretty poorly with ap. My guess is 30% scaling give or take. The neat feature of
this ability is if it hits only a single target then it deals double damage. Basically
this is your harass/last hitting ability. Weaken multiple mobs and then seal the deal
with 1-2 well placed lay wastes.

Wall of Pain- Great for instigating/seperating/escaping tool. If i'm instigating just
drop it right infront of the weakest of the herd. This will seperate them and also making
them easier to kill. Use judiciously as it's pretty hard on your mana early on. Using it
to escape is a nobrainer. Gotta book it? Just drop and go.(If you need to that is, sometimes
the cast will slow you down enough so that they'll catch you anyways)

Defile- The bread and butter skill of my playstyle. It's a toggleable ability that deals
aoe dmg around you when on, and passivly gives mana on kills when off. Helps you a lot to
stay in a lane for longer then most.Since it's an aoe ability it's got poor scaling, again
I guess around 30%.

Requiem- What most consider the cheapest ulti in the game, and for most makes them buy a
banshee veil. It's your "Simon says everybody takes damage now" ability. Very useful, when
making sure they don't get away. AP scaling is a bit better. upwards of 40% I'd say.

Passive Skill:

Death Defied- This ability, is there reason why I play in your face, balls to the walls karthus.
For the next 8 seconds after you die, you become a mobile beacon of kickass. Once you die,(all assuming people are around you)
step 1: turn on defile.

step 2: drop 3-4(depending on your CD reduction) lay wastes

step 3: if it's up. Requiem else spam some lay wastes.

To put simply the first 4.5 seconds of your invul mode your doing as much work as you can, the last 3 seconds are devoted to Requiem. Even if it won't kill anybody there is almost no reason not to use it at this point. My reasoning for this is simple. At lvl 18, your going to be dead 60+ seconds; Guess what! That's 1/2 the CD of requiem right there. The chances your going to need it 60 seconds after you spawn are to chaotic to guess. So use your own discretion.

Summoner Spells:
I get Exhaust/Flash. Some of you may be wondering why, so let me tell you. Exhaust is a
beautiful spell. Spec'd into it reduces their armor/mr by a good amount, plus 100% miss chance for 3.5 seconds. Eve/Shaco/Twitch trying to be cute? Exhaust their ass, run up in their face and defile/lay waste to the silly low hp pansies.

Twitch a little far? Flash ontop of him and punish him for daring to leave stealth. The
enemy herd getting away? Flash into them with your defile on. drop a wall if you must, but Ryali's Scepter will help your team catch up in many cases.

Now normally, this goes against my playstyle, but you can use it to run away. But hey you
have a brain, use it.

Items:

Starter: Sapphire Crystal(you can get pots too if you want, I usually don't because I'm just that confident)

1st item: Catalyst
2nd item: Mejai Soulstealer afterwards build the Catalyst into a Rod of Ages

3th item: Rod of the Ages - Try to get this before or around the 30 minute mark. Most games don't last over an hour. (Note if your at 30 minutes and no where near the Rod of Ages, turn it into a Ryjal Scepter instead)

4th item; Sorceror's Boots, Mercury Treads are an option if the other team has a lot of disables.

5th item: Zhonya's ring

6th item: If the game is lasting this long, this item can be either a Banshee's Veil, Guardian Angel, or one of the Magic Pen rods. Banshee's Veil if there's a veigar hunting you down, it makes it a little harder for him to combo you. Magic Pen rod either abyssal or the other one if you just want to bring extra pain. Guardian Angel if it's an actual close game.

item build. All depends how farmed up your soulstealer is if you have one. 500ish without, 700+ with fully farmed. Feel free to sell your philospher's stone to get any Arch-Angel's
staff.

How to play balls to the wall Karthus:

This guide's playstyle is all about being a fight instigator, so your defile will be on 90% of
the time in a group fight. Yes defile will pwn your mana in the face at low levels, hence this guide is all about playing smart for the beginning-mid game. Getting your levels, and never forget to go say hi to the golem after lvl 6. At level 6 you can reliably solo the golem and still have some health left without having to recall to mama. Just defile and lay waste until the kobolds are dead, and then just lay waste the golem down. This will take 60-70% of your health/mana at lvl 6 though, so be prepared.

So you start the game, buy your items. Now where do you go. Head straight to the middle my friend,
it's the fast lane to lvl 6. Once there you pose a universal threat across the entire map. Always consider your target's MR before dropping Requiem. Nothing hurts more then having your target survive with enough hp that they'd die from a mere sneeze. Normally, I'd tell you to ask your teammates to call them out; but since I play majority pug games. They're about as reliable as a broken condom. So watch your mini map, if you see some tangling going on. Keep an eye on the action. Your requem serves 3 purposes.

1) Be that ****** that steals kills with it.(avoid this option please, karthus can farm hella better then most.)

2) Change the tempo of the fight. Say topside is battling, and lo your top laners run away at 20%. Look like they might not make it? Use requiem to convince their pursuers that continueing after them is not the wisest decision.(A good option, but one I rarely use in pug games because, your teammates might turn back thinking they had the chance when they didn't. Or, maybe they did but it's too random to honestly say this is the thing you should do)

3) They killed your teammate and think they got away? DENIED! Your teammates almost had it, but then the enemy got away? DENIED. This is what I generally use requiem for early/mid game. It's almost always a guarenteed kill if you watch the hp, factor in how much MR they have and what your "probably" going to be doing to them.

Early game just focus on harrasing while last hitting. Harrasing while not getting any last hits means you'll hit a brick wall of no mana soon. So try to keep your mana up. Wathc out for mia's and react accordingly. Blind/Flash is immeserably helpful avoiding ganks and getting kills. My first 3 skills are usually lay waste, defile, and then wall. Lay waste first is a must, but defile and wall are interchangeable. Just make sure to get those 3 first. After wards it's leveling lay waste and defile. At level 6, it's time to pay attention, tell your teammates to tell you when to ult, but keep your eyes on the action just incase they don't. Your leveling focus has just become:

1) Requiem

2) Lay waste/Defile

3) wall

Mid game, now it's impossible to walk you through mid game because of how chaotic it can get. Rules of thumb are:

1) Getting levels and gold. Don't forget the golem buff, because with it you can mulch through minions with defile at relative ease.

2) Unless your team is really getting steamrolled let them 4v5 or whatever, and try to take a solo lane to continue on your farming. However,always keep an eye out for possible incoming ganks and whenver somebody thinks they got away. Deny them.
This is a point of high contention, but mid game karthus is still pretty weak. Now yes, you can join in team fights and maybe get a kill or two. But it's not guarenteed and you might end up dying. Defile is your best killing ability, and you won't be keep it up for long without a golem buff. Even with one, your likely to gain more gold from farming creeps with defile then maybe getting a champion kill.

So now it's late game, you've hopefully played smart up to this point. Farming when you can, getting those kills when then think they're safe. What to do? Well my friend at this point, it's where you shine. Note: YOU WILL NOT HAVE A GOOD KDR IF THE OTHER TEAM IS COMPETENT. BUT YOU WILL, HELP WIN BATTLES. Your team rolls in a group, and you've just met the opposing team. Tell your team to charge with you, and then go balls in with defile rolling.

Get into the middle of them and start dropping lay waste until you die. Once you die, turn on defile immediately, and start dropping lay waste until you hit the 4 second mark and then Requiem. If your team capatalized on this, they'll win the encounter if not. You still did a world of damage to the other team, and they'll have to recall to heal up. If they're not really damaged, then your team probably did a world of feeding or your very weak. At that point no guide in the world is going to help you. Don't be afraid to die. Death is when your a wrecking force. Even if the other team plays smart and get's out of your attack range, that means they're not grouped up and your team can pick them apart.

You won't win every game, but your'll be a beast on the battlefield. If you take one thing from this guide, take this. Death is just the beginning.

P.S: Feel free to argue with any point I've made. Just keep it civil, tell me why you think I'm wrong. Not that it's just a terrible guide.

Edit: Updated


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Kritara

Senior Member

01-05-2010

50+ views and no replies makes me sad. Nobody has a comment?


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Basilisk9466

Senior Member

01-05-2010

Although my item order is slightly different and I use different summoner spells, this is pretty much how I roll. Generally I go

1. Sapphire Crystal, HP pot, MP pot
2. Sapphire Crystal -> Catalyst, Boots of Speed
3. Tear of the Goddess
4. Rylai's Crystal Sceptre
5. Catalyst -> Rod of Ages
6. Tear -> Archangel's (Rarely get beyond this point)
7. Zhonya's Ring
8. Frozen Heart (More CDR, more AP thanks to Archangel, more survivability)

At some point I'll get upgraded boots - I'm quite fond of Swiftness for keeping pace with people while Defiling - but there have been one or two matches where I've simply forgotten to.

I don't really consider Rylai's to be optional. Getting a slow with your spamcrazy Lay Waste is lethal, and the initial slow when you turn Defile on can give people a nasty surprise when they try to escape. Apart from anything else, it's a lot of extra health. I've considered Mejai's but I don't think it's worth it. Even with the high amount of kills and assists you get, you die too often to get much value from the stacks, IMO. Then again, all the snowball items are ones you should judge based on the match, rather than having them as a hard item to build with.

As for spells, I've experimented a little, but Teleport is very nice. I've got double kills from teleporting and defiling onto people who think they can beat on one of the side towers for that extra hit, very satisfying. It also reduces your down time (thus more XP faster), and gives you some ability to always be in the heart of the action, Defiling peoples' faces.

The other one I've swapped around a bit. I've tried Heal, but that's only really useful at early levels. Rally is no help unless you get the mastery, which isn't terribly efficient (though I have run with a full offence mastery build). Recently I've been using Clairvoyance with the idea of comboing it with Requiem, and generally having a bit more map awareness.

I can definitely see Exhaust being worthwhile, though, might try that It's already possible to almost outdamage a mid-level Yi when he's Highlanding your ass with Defile on.

Otherwise, I approve. Karthus is not a sniper. He should be the champ that makes you flee in fear when he's approaching the team fight. Sure you'll die a lot, but it'll be worth it.


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Willy Smith

Member

01-05-2010

I dig'ed it, and I'll probably try it. One question though, why do you grab your own lane during mid-game, I realise its for farming but why should karthus farm more then his team? Not that im completely opposed to it, im just wondering why. Still the best karthus guide i've read. Keep up the good work.


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Drake Tseng

Senior Member

01-05-2010

I am saddened by the significant lack of Soulstealer. He is pretty much the best candidate for this item, period. Gets stacks from his ult (even assists from across the map) and will get stacks from kills after he is dead (which is good compared to getting them before you die... think about it). Otherwise, this guide was very educational.

Edit: lack of EARLY soulstealer. I found it as your 5th item? I think its useless unless you get it early. I'd get it after you get Tear.


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Willy Smith

Member

01-05-2010

Yeah, but if your playing border line suicidel like the guide suggest it wouldnt be worth it to get Soulstealer. Ofcourse your right about the ult with asist. I think either way would work but I hardly play karthus so dw about my opion.


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Kritara

Senior Member

01-05-2010

@Willy Smith
Grabbing your own lane during midgame is because Karthus' is still rather weak for team fights without the golem buff. My guide is more focused on late game then mid game. Remember, you can still support your team with Requiem. Also my build isn't cheap either so the gold is needed.

@Drake Tseng
As for getting Soulstealer late, if their team is feeding by all means grab it early. I only push it's lower in my build because of my playstyle. I want as much time for the RoA to mature, so I can live longer, do a little bit more damage, and have more mana to work with. Even though you "die" those 8 seconds of casting still require mana. Nothing makes me sadder then running dry when t here's potential kills to be had.

@Basilsk
Boots of speed are good, don't get me wrong. However, most games I play the opposing team usually ends up stacking a bit of MR. Which is good, means they have less killing potential, but it also means my "balls to the walls" initiate deals a bit less damage. With the 9 points into Offense for 15% MR reduction plus 20 static from boots of sorcerer. I usually find that's all I need to deal 60%-80% of my magical damage.

I'm not quite sold on the CDR, I don't think it helps defile which is your bread and butter. It does significantly increase the dps of your lay waste but with 9% from talents and golem buff I sit ontop of 30% CDR already. Frozen Heart is just overkill. The armor is nice though, I still haven't decided what to get if it's a close game and I can't sufficiently stack a soulstealer.

Also as for the tear, like I said sometimes the game will bug for me and even with Arch-Angel staff my mana won't increase past the limit that tear has set. I usually don't grab tear, just get all the pieces sans tear and go straight for the staff.


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Basilisk9466

Senior Member

01-05-2010

Quote:
Willy Smith:
I dig'ed it, and I'll probably try it. One question though, why do you grab your own lane during mid-game, I realise its for farming but why should karthus farm more then his team? Not that im completely opposed to it, im just wondering why. Still the best karthus guide i've read. Keep up the good work.


You'll keep levelling, which means you get your abilities faster. You also get the gold which means that your abilities get much nastier.

Thing about Karthus is that his damage output simply won't accomodate this style of play unless you've either got a long way down his item build, or have a level advantage. You should be the first one to hit 18. No other hero benefits quite so much from levelling fast, IMO.

To take an example, the first match I played, I was very cagey, mostly relying on Lay Waste. Then I saw all five enemies hitting an inner tower, with only me in range. Burned forward, figured I'd turn on Defile and hopefully delay them. I died, and in the process got a triple kill, then scored a fourth with Requiem. They were terrified of me for the rest of the game, and I ended with something like 21/9/10.

Second game, I tried to Defile the **** out of a pair of enemies hitting a tower at about lvl 7, and got owned for my trouble, because I didn't have the items and levels to make Defile a real horror. You need to have a good feel for this guy to make him really work.


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Basilisk9466

Senior Member

01-05-2010

I've only managed to get so far down my build as to have a Zhonya's and not know what to do next once, Frozen Heart was just thrown out there randomly TBH :P Second Zhonya's is an option, another easy 145 AP isn't to be sniffed at. Alternatively, Abyssal or Void, depending on enemy MR stacking.


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Kritara

Senior Member

01-05-2010

One of the things I was thinking of getting in close games where soulstealer isn't as beneficial to my playstyle is a sunfire cape. Anybody know if it remains active during Death Defied? an extra 500 some odd hp, armor. plus another 20-30 dmg from AoE depending on MR doesn't seem like a bad deal.