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KARTHUS BUILD GUIDE: King of the Undead by DarkFuzz

by DarkFuzz (last updated 6 months ago)

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9
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration(+7.83 magic penetration)
9
Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power(+0.9 ability power per level (16.2 at champion level 18))
9
Greater Glyph of Ability Power(+10.71 ability power)
3
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power(+14.85 ability power)
View Rune Details
Summoner Spells
View Summoner Details

Starting

2

Full Item Build

View Item Details
21
0
9
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 4/4
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 2 1/1
21 Offense
mastery 1 0/2
mastery 2 0/2
mastery 3 0/2
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/3
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
0 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 1/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
9 Utility
View Mastery Details
Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Death Defied
QLay Waste
WWall of Pain
EDefile
RRequiem
View Skill Order Details

Introduction

For your listening pleasure for this guide:

Credits to PlentaKill

WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! VISUAL UPDATE!!!!!!!!! I hope this guide helps if you want to try him out over the next few days.

Karthus. Just the name brings back so many memories of destructive ults and lost opportunities to win.

Karthus is the ultimate mage. There is no dispute. He will not be beat. For those of you who think he can, look in the wake of his ult and tell me otherwise.

This guide is geared towards those in lower levels of play and how to develop skills for higher levels of play once they level up. If you're looking at this guide and are raging because it's not the "2000 ELO" build you're so used to knowing, this guide is not meant to help the top players. Anyone at 2000 ELO doesn't need help. It is those who are in ELO Hell or those who are still leveling up and learning the game who need theses kinds of guides. I'm just giving them rough builds and ideas that can be variated for higher levels of play.

Why Karthus?


Pros:

  • High damage mage
  • Ult that targets everything and almost assures damage
  • Difficult to be ganked
  • Great harass with skills
  • If he dies, his passive allows him 7 more seconds of activity
  • Easy to get fed with him

Cons:

  • Consumes mana really easily
  • Squishy
  • Easily countered in lane
  • Needs a strong team to be effective in team fights and such

Karthus can find himself effective in pretty much any team comp. Even after all these patches, Karthus still finds himself in good favor in competitive play. He's no assassin, but he can still be an influential factor in any team fight.

Runes

I try to run a full offense Karthus.

Magic Pen. Marks
AP per level Seals
Flat AP Gyphs
Flat AP Quints

This set up maximizes Karthus's damage output as well as gear him up to have the edge over most mid champs. This is helpful for both Early and Late Game dominance.

Masteries

mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 4/4
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 2 1/1
21 Offense
mastery 1 0/2
mastery 2 0/2
mastery 3 0/2
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/3
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
0 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 1/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
9 Utility
So let's go through these one by one:

Offense


-Sorcery : CDR is important for any caster.
-Expose Weakness : Karthus is important in team fights. With Karthus constantly dealing damage in team fights, it gives other team mates the opportunity to deal extra damage to them.
-Mental Force : AP per level. Standard for AP champs.
-Arcane Mastery : Flat AP.
-Executioner : Karthus needs to hurt a lot when he ults low health targets. This mastery gives more insurance to secure your kill.
-Archmage : Extra AP.
-Dangerous Game : Every time you kill a champ, which should be a lot of the time, you'll get a good chunk of health and mana back, so you can stay in a fight longer if you need to.
-Devastating Strikes : Much needed penetration for an offensive caster like yourself.
-Arcane Blade : This is just really nice to have, as you'll most likely be getting up to 500+ AP, so it's nice to bump up your auto attack.
-Havoc : Straight up damage. Hardcore.

Utility


-Fleet of Foot : Movement speed is really nice on anybody.
-Meditation : Mana regen is necessary on most casters, especially those that spam hard like Karthus.
-Summoner's Insight : You really need this. CDR on your Summoner Spells is really really good.
-Vampirism : Helps with your Early Game sustain in lane.

Notes

-Vampirism optional. Can trade for Runic Affinity or Culinary Master .
-Arcane Blade optional. Can trade for Double-Edged Sword .

Summoner Sets

Primary Set
I just take for trivial reasons. Kill off stragglers, quick escape. One of the cool things to do with Karthus is to turn on and then just over a wall into a team fight. It's the "Fiddlesticks Effect" as I like to call it, only much more prolonged and dangerous (JK don't really do this unless it's really necessary, otherwise it's a waste of a Flash).

is for those cases during Early Game when I just cannot stay in lane no matter what I do. Go back to base, heal up, back to the nearest tower in your lane and not miss a beat of farm. Also include the fact that you are able to gank any lane you want without actually having to travel there. Your R could do the trick, but use for those up close and personal ganks.

Other Spells to Consider:
-So this is the other Summoner Spell I'd heavily consider running. What counters Karthus hard is assassins like Zed and Akali . Exhaust will get you through the brute force of their combos. Also, with Feral Flare junglers dominant n the meta, like Master Yi , Nocturne , and Xin Zhao , damage reduction is the only counter measure against them.
-Ignite definitly helps with those guys trying to escape. This is definitely handy for whittling down people into the "ult killing" zone. Also for trivial purposes like annoying Tryndameres and Mundos .
-Safe farm laners like Karthus benefit from the new Heal. This can help you stay in lane for a while.

NEVER get These Spells:
-The passive for will refund a portion of mana frequently, so if you can focus on last hitting with either or your auto attack, shouldn't matter.
-I don't really like Jungle Karthus. He's a better mid.
-I wouldn't recommend this only because Karthus shouldn't be the one chasing people down unless they're right next to him. Let your AD Carries handle that.

Item Builds

Starting Build(s)
Doran's Ring Start
2
Sustain Start
Cloth-5 Start
4
Boots-Pots Starter
4
The goal of Early Game is to live up until Lv. 6. If Karthus dies any time before then, he's gonna plummet hard.

  • -I caught a lot of heat for this in Season 2 when Doran's Ring was more expensive. But now I find the need to start this on most AP Casters I play. It provides everything you need for a safe survivable lane experience: health, mana regen, pots for health regen. There is no reason not to run this for most champions.

  • -You may be trading in your move speed to dodge skillshots, but in return you're getting better sustain, mana sustain included. You can afford to take a bit of punishment as well as deal out a bit more punishment as well. I've been able to stay in lane as late as Lv. 9 with this starter, which by then, I was able to buy a or at least and something that builds into RoA. And the ward helps out a bunch early since Karthus is prone to ganks pre-Lv. 4.

  • -AD mids exist. Zed is a threat, and will probably be able to kill you regardless. Talon mid straight up counters you. And Riven mid is apparently a thing now... This advantageously rushes into .

  • -I used this starter set a lot in Season 2, and it is by no means a bad start. The Boots-Pots starter is great IMO for laning against skillshot champions like or , who literally have to take a chance, aim at you, and hope it hits. Since a lot of mid mage champs are like this, I like this starter because it allows you to dodge most of their main sources of damage, while still being able to dish out your own. The can then build into and then your Q will be able to deliver more damage quickly.

  • Trinkets

Depending on your situation, get the appropriate trinket. In most cases, you'll get the Warding Totem for the free ward, but if you feel like you need to scout out for ganking junglers every so often, Scrying Orb might be a better idea. And if there's a Teemo , DEFINITELY need Sweeping Lens .
Final Build(s)
Standard Final Items
Build focuses on late game utility with heavy damage.

-To focus on health instead of resistances, trade Abyssal Scepter or Void Staff for Rylai's Crystal Scepter or Liandry's Torment .
-You can get Archangel's Staff instead of Rod of Ages , but don't get both.
Build Order


The goal of Early Game items is to increase your survivability and Utility. Let's face it, Karthus can't do much without blowing a huge amount of mana during Early Game.

  • gives you extra Magic Pen and Move Speed.

  • gives you extra durability for Early Game. Plus, this builds into .

Mid Game Items:

WAIT A MINUTE! I'M DOING WELL!

  • - If you are extremely fed already and you don't see this turning into a potentially bad situation any time soon, get this. Grants a massive AP boost per kill and CDR for reaching 20 stacks. A reasonable demand when you're fed. Though if you're not at least 7/0 at the 15 minute mark, this might not be the item worth getting.

  • - Very good on Karthus. Spell Vamp will help your survivability in lane by miles. Gives your allies some love as well. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to buy this, but if you can afford to buy at least a in one sitting, it is well worth the buy.

If you're not massively fed or just doing average...



It's time to start making AP items.

  • Because you have , the easiest thing to build into right now is . This gives you more durability, the passive of Catalyst, and at max stacks 80 extra AP. IT IS IMPORTANT to have this item finished as soon as possible. It takes 10 minutes to fully stack and become effective to you. The latest I say you must get this item by is by 20 minutes. After that, an unfinished and starts to become a burden.

  • When building your , I would usually wait until I have enough money for a first, then second. When you finally do get your Deathcap, you will start to become a destructive force in all your fights, if you haven't already.

  • Situational: -If at any time you feel screwed over by other AP carries dominating the scene, this is the item to get NOW. You should probably start working on this relatively early on, buying a probably right before you buy your RoA, but not necessarily completing it until after your deathcap.

Late Game Items:



You can get these in either order, but you need these items.

  • gives Magic Penetration, and a lot of it at that. With Void Staff, all your moves will be dealing a crapload of damage, especially your , which will have a 9 out of 10 chance of killing a weak target.

  • -A very popular, yet expensive item. Makes you invulnerable for 2 seconds, but you can't move in that time. Grants the second largest amount of AP in the game and also a decent amount of Armor. For Karthus, you will want to position yourself in the middle of a team fight, dive bomb into it, turn on and then activate . A great way to do some damage without taking any yourself. I find myself building this item a lot, since Karthus is constantly in the heat of team fights in Late Game.

Situational Items

Abyssal Scepter
Abyssal Scepter gives Karthus much needed MR. It also gives you a massive offensive edge as it reduces the MR of surrounding enemies also. Wreck in team fights. You might even build this over Void Staff if you need durability over damage.
Liandry's Torment
I dare say, this item is probably now an AP Caster staple now. It's passive is absolutely vicious: it takes away 5% of a targets health over time every time Karthus deals spell damage. Even more so, if you manage to slow them with your , the damage dealt doubles! And to think that you'd be continually applying this damage when your is on! This is a decent item on Karthus (so many nerfs to it though) and it's worth considering if not already a must.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
So why did I demote from a necessary item to an optional item? Simply put, I found myself not really needing the extra health. Items like and the new way outclass this item in utility and damage output, and defensively, resistances cover a lot more ground than health does. However, do not think that this item is completely useless. It actually has great synchronization with , as now EVERY spell deals a slow and consequently the additional 10% damage drain. And +500 Health and 80 AP is nothing to sniff at either.
Morellonomicon
I would usually get this item if I was doing really well. It grants a decent amount of AP, but it also gives CDR, so your ult will show up more often. A great Late Game item for Karthus IMO.

Skill Order

Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Death Defied
QLay Waste
WWall of Pain
EDefile
RRequiem
Standard route for most Karthus games.

R>Q>E>W

-Always get ultimate whenever you can.
-Q is your main farming and damage tool.
-E is a good AOE spell.
-W is a great slow utility spell that doesn't need much leveling up until late.

[u]Notes[/u]

-If you fear the jungler will gank early, take W at Lv. 3 instead of your second level in Q.

Skills

Death Defied
I personally think that this is the scariest part about Karthus. Once he dies, he has 7 seconds to do as much damage as possible. In addition, the ring will automatically appear around him and still deal damage in the circle.

In the 7 seconds of your passive, your spells cost no mana, so as long as they aren't on cool down, feel free to use them. In some cases, you may want to intentionally kill yourself just because you're out of mana and you can't activate your until now.

What you should usually do in this time period is make the person who killed you feel as much pain as possible. Once you die, your ring appears. Throw down your to slow their escape, then start spamming in their face and hope that they die. You can't move in this state, so it is important that you land each Q very carefully.

As far as a team fight goes, if you do happen to die, have your teammates try to keep the battle close to or in your circle. This may coordinate better if you're in a premade team, but if you can tell your allies to coordinate with you, do it.

Unless you know you can kill some people, I would strongly advise against using during this period. Just pressing R just guarantees damage. If there's no one on the map even close to dying, refrain from using it.
Lay Waste
During Early Game, this is your main farming tool.

One mistake that new Karthus players make is trying to use this on groups of minions. Don't. It is highly inefficient. If you focus this on one minion at a time, the minion will receive more damage, and you're more likely to receive the last hit gold and mana refund. This way you won't be struggling to squeeze out mana for every Q you need and also have mana to spare to avoid ganks with your abilities.

This is a great tool for harassing your enemy mid champion, as Karthus's Q is infamous for being unexpected. The mere sight and sound of usually will make players run backwards, making your Q miss. A trick is to expect this when you're attacking a champion. Aim behind them so they'll reactively run backwards into it.

The radius of damage this does is actually relatively large considering its animation size. This can work for and against you. If you're trying to target one single champion, make sure that nothing else is remotely close to him or else the effectiveness decreases.
Wall of Pain
Wall of Pain is deceptively scary. It slows you AND lowers your opponent's defensive capabilities. This is very helpful for bashing tanky champs or those that are hard to hit with your .

If you feel very pushed in your lane, you can lay this on the enemy mid and start chasing him with your Q and E. This will scare him off real fast if it doesn't kill him. Especially helpful in the early stages of the game.

In Team Fights, you want to land this on as many enemies as possible, so your team can rush in and wreck them all. We'll talk more about Team Fighting with Karthus later, as he is rather an interesting figure.

Once you get , this skill synchronizes with this item incredibly. In team fights, you are almost required to lay this down to have the upper hand. Slowing them opens them up to the extra 10% ignite set up by .
Defile
A ridiculously strong AOE spell. Another reason to fear the Karthus.

This has two parts to it:

First off, when this move is turned off, it can give you extra mana for every last hit you perform. This could mean Karthus could stay in lane indefinitely if played correctly.

Secondly, and most importantly, this can be used to literally destroy masses of anything. Waves of minions? No sweat. Walk in and pop E. Massive team fight? No problem. Walk in and pop E. In team fights, you'll want to have this on and follow the team fight wherever it goes to do as much damage as possible. Use this in combination with other skills, and you can dominate any team fight.

With this skill, Karthus is very \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"anti-melee\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\". What idiot wants to stand inside that circle just to deal damage to you? If you can keep them engaged enough, you can keep them within the circle long enough to land plenty of on them and hopefully it'll be a 1 for 1 trade.
Requiem
The infamous potential pentakilling ult.

TBH, this ult is actually really hard to time well. Karthus is a champ that requires the player to have really good map awareness. If you're not careful, you could wind up wasting your ult, doing minimal damage, and then have to wait a whole cool down cycle before you can use it again. At lower levels, you should definitely be using this skill more conservatively, using it only for those opportune moments where the enemy literally only has 100-200 health left, for your ult doesn't really do much damage despite its effectiveness. At higher levels, then you can start using this more freely as this skill can potentially wipe out half a health bar.

One reason why people get annoyed with Karthus is that in order for Karthus to function well, he needs to kill steal. If you see an enemy being beaten to a pulp by one or more of your allies, pop your ult. Kill him before they do. When the said enemy is at a third of their health, you should probably ult then. That is the easiest way to get fed. After you get fed, then you can let your friends have some kills.

So most likely, people are going to be ulting when they're dead and they're passive goes on. That's perfectly fine. Karthus is probably the best revenge-killer in the game. However, I would like to note that in death, you only have about a 3-4 second window of opportunity to ult. Since your ult takes 3 seconds to channel, you will be unable to ult when you simply do not have 3-4 seconds left in your passive to spare. So either A) ult at the beginning of your passive period, or B) ult at the very end after you have dealt some damage. Both take intense timing and messing up your ult, well, could be fatal.

I think it's also very important to note that your ult cancels when you die. Even though Karthus goes into passive mode when he dies, his ult doesn't carry over. So when you ult, make sure you're not wide open for an attack. When you're ulting, foes have a three second window of opportunity to strike you down, which is very easy to do. So don't put yourself into situations like this.

[http://i40.tinypic.com/29e1v0z.png]

Also, beware of potential heals that the enemy could have. For example, you might not want to ult the bot lane Ranged Carry if the Support is there. If you do, the Support can heal and/or shield him from any potential harm you could do to him, thus a wasted ult. can cause a potential problem for you too. They can heal right before your ult to a point where you'll be doing minimal damage to them.

For these reasons, Soraka is the bane of your existence (if you know about her, you'll immediately know why), but we'll talk about dealing with her later.

Champion Matchups

Ahri
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Hard to some extent but you can win if you can avoid her Charm . Her nerfs made it so that she's unreliable unless you land that Charm, which is pretty easy to dodge. However, she's a mobile champ that will try everything in her power to get into point blank range so she can land her Charm.

An Ahri without ult though is a sad Ahri. You can harass her pretty well.
Akali
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Not a matchup that you want really...She'll murder you once she hits Lv. 6.

1. Hit Lv. 6 before she does. That whole part about not dying before Lv. 6 really applies here.
2. Coordinate with the jungler to beat her down first. If she's underfed by the time she hits Lv. 6, she won't be too much of a threat unless you fed just as much.
Annie
Difficulty
Favors You
Should be really really easy if you can stay out of her ranges. You can outrange most of her skills. When her passive is up, she'll most likely want to save it for you and you alone. Annie players will just auto attack for minutes at a time looking for an opportunity to stun you and combo you and kill you.

So stay clear of her until she burns her passive stun. Then you can whomp on her.
Brand
Difficulty
Favors You
Easy if you can avoid his skillshots and combos. They're telegraphed really well too. But get caught in any of them and you're probably toast. A skill based match-up.
Cassiopeia
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
A good Cassiopeia player is SCARY. She'll zone you out as hard as you zone her. In the end, whoever comes up with the most farm wins.
Fizz
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Massive damage, and he can even avoid your ult completely. Extremely mobile, especially in contrast to your slow ass. The most important thing about this matchup is to not let him get within melee range of you. He will kill you hard.
Gragas
Difficulty
Favors You
This is dependent of if Gragas knows what he's doing. He's inherently melee, so if he's going to kill you, he's probably going to charge at you first with his Body Slam first and then attack you. But you can put up a pretty good fight if he does so by turning on your Defile and Wall of Pain and just Q him around until he backs off. Now if you've been taking Barrel Rolls to the face constantly, then you might need to worry.
Jayce
Difficulty
Favors You
If you let him get into melee range, you're pretty much done. Your best option is to force him to stay in ranged mode by playing at your max range. DO NOT GET HIT BY E-Q!
Kassadin
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Even though he got nerfed, he will still murder you just based on how squishy you are and how his Q gives him a magic damage shield now. You can answer to some of his stuff now, but not really.
Katarina
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Unlike some other mid laners, you cannot stop her from ulting your face off, which makes this lane specifically hard. Her Shunpo reduces her damage taken, so you're going to have a hard time fighting her 1v1. And if she kills you, she'll Shunpo away to reduce any further damage she gets, including your ult. So unless she's really really low, you probably don't want to ult her because she'll block a good percentage of it.

Get ganks early. If you can steamroll ahead of her before she rolls you over, you'll have a chance against her in fights. Don't expect to kill her too many times though. Get your kills elsewhere.
Lux
Difficulty
Favors You
One of the few mids that outranges you. A lot of her skills are hard to dodge, and if you get caught out, you're going to die. Play this lane with caution. She can only bully you as much as you allow her to. She is about equally as immobile as you. Don't be afraid to push her around a lot.
Morgana
Difficulty
Favors You
A farm lane in its very essence. You should be farming harder than her though, so the odds should swing in your favor. She will harass you with Dark Bindings and Tormented Soils , so be careful if she tries to advance on you to get into point blank range.

One thing to note is that she is very hard to gank. Since most junglers rely on CC ganks, Morgana can Black Shield herself to avoid getting knocked up or stunned, therefore negating the gank. So most likely, this is an ordeal you must endure on your own.
Nidalee
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
The solo queue stomper right now. If she's mid, she's most likely going to be playing AP, and that mean she'll be chucking spears at you all day. Harassing her is pointless as she can just heal everything back up. If you can avoid her spears and focus on farming instead of straight up harass, you can be on the same level as her.

But it doesn't help that her spears have the hitbox the size of a brick.
Ryze
Difficulty
Favors You
Use ranges to your advantage. He has to get precariously close to you to combo you. You have a much longer range than he does, so use that to your advantage. But he is not someone that you want to get fed...
Twistedfate
Difficulty
Favors You
Stay clear from the Gold Card and you should be fine. Dodging Wild Cards shouldn't be too difficult, but it's a bit tricky. Play it right and don't get stunned.

He'll eventually want to start roaming with ult . If you brought Teleport with you, you can choose to follow him into the fray. Or if you don't, use this opportunity to farm up an advantage against him. When he returns to lane (hopefully without a kill under his belt), then you'll be frighteningly farmed up and ready to kill him.
Vladimir
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Vlad can use his kit to zone anyone pretty hard. And it goes extra for you since he can completely dodge your ult by using Sanguine Pool . Should be survivable, and will most likely be just a farm lane with occasional Q exchanges.
Zed
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Zed is going to annoy you in so many different ways. He'll poke you down, he'll zone you out, he'll try to outfarm you heavily. And if you try to ult him, he can avoid it by targeting you with his ult . And then you're probably dead.

Along with Kassadin, this is probably another lane that is impossible to win for you.

Early Game

No matter which starter items you get, your main goal as AP mid is to get all the farm possible. This includes last hitting with either your or your auto attack. Try not to push too hard, because if the enemy jungler decides to show up and you haven't got a to spare, you will pretty much be screwed. Karthus has no true escape, so the very best scenario is that he has to burn a lot of Mana to scare people off or he has to burn , neither of which you want to do.

Try to harass the enemy champion as much as possible. You can place under their feet to disrupt their farm or hurt them a bit. Like I said before, people run in reaction to the sound of your , and with it only on a 1 second cool down, its appearance is unexpected.

Then again, know your own limitations and know when to back off. The strange thing about Karthus is that if he dies before he hits Lv. 6, he's pretty much useless. So try not to have this happen:

[http://i46.tinypic.com/e5o01i.png]

If the enemy champion is pushing really hard, throw down your , chase them a bit to deal some damage, then back off, unless you can ensure the kill. If you manage to make them return back to base, you have done your job and disrupted their farm. if not, hey, you can start killing them again.

Ask your jungler for blue constantly. Karthus can be a very aggressive champion, so grabbing blue will ensure that you won't run out of mana so easily.

I tend to spam a bunch, and situations call for using and , all of which burn mana easily. Part of the reason why I bring is so I can go back to base, buy a few items, and spring right back into the action ready to go with no fear of your ult not having enough mana.

You'll get your at Level 6, and as tempting as it is to press R whenever you want, don't. You need to make sure you can get the kill for yourself. Your ult isn't that strong yet, so don't go wasting it on a tank at full health. You need to develop good map awareness. Look at top and bot lane often for any enemies that might be low on health. If you think you can finish the job, do it. If you need a checklist to see what to consider, here's what I usually consider before I ult:

  • Is the enemy tanky? If yes, do not ult.
  • Does he have or Support next to him? If yes, do not ult.
  • Is he running away? If no, do not ult.
  • Is there any possible chance that I will get kill stolen? If yes, do not ult.

Don't ult tanks unless they're at a really, really low health. If the enemy has a heal, they will see your ult and heal right before it happens. If they're not running away, that means they know they can survive your ult somehow. If you get kill stolen, you will neither pick up the kill nor the assist.

Also, announce to your teammates when you have an ult ready. They may want you to ult, and you have no idea why, but do it anyways. Your teammates may see a potential kill target that you may not be able to see. You may land the kill, you might not. It definitely is a gamble. Use good judgement in using your ult.

The main goal of Karthus in Early Game is to get kills by any means necessary. If it means kill stealing and raging teammates, forget about them. You're freaking Karthus. If you get fed this early in the game, you've pretty much ensured yourself the victory if no one does anything stupid.

Mid Game

I think Mid game for Karthus starts when he gets to Lv. 11, when he get the second level of his ult. At this stage, Karthus is allowed to operate more freely without any real fear of wasting mana or skills.

You might want to consider roaming around to other lanes if you're not doing so already. If there are huge masses of minions sieging a tower, rush there, turn on , and mow them over. You get massive amounts of gold and you can save a tower.

Team fights are bound to ensue at this point in the game. Try your best not to be the one that starts it. Instead, if your team wants to force a team fight, make sure your tank initiates. After your tank starts creating havoc, lay down your , walk in the fight with on, and start blasting people with . Works almost every single time. In the eventuality that you do happen to die, if your team is still engaged in the fight and doing relatively well, do not be afraid to use to weaken the enemy team at least. You may not be able to get the kills, but you will get the assists if your team keeps pushing.

Late Game

[http://i45.tinypic.com/5jslc0.png]

At this point in the game, you should be the one outputting the most damage on the team, save maybe for your AD Carry. Your can blow up a squishy champion in about 8-10 hits, your should wipe out waves of minions clean in seconds. Your should be getting you double kills, if not quadras or pentad.

Team fights are gonna be more or less the same, but if you're building a , you can spend the first few seconds of your invulnerability with on just dealing damage at no expense to your survivability.

Karthus tends to be very "high risk, high reward", meaning that in team fights, a LOT of people are going to be focusing him to take down the fastest, because when you're around, you will melt through their team. I always find myself dying a lot in this stage of the game, where I enter Late Game about 15/2/14 and end the game at around 29/14/23. Though a risky gamble, having you out of the way means they won't run the risk of being ulted in team fights. Just be wary of the fact that even if your tank initiates the team fight, people are gonna get smart enough to bypass him and charge straight at you.

If your enemies got smart and built MR, a and a will quickly solve those problems for you.

Elixir up, push, win. GG.

Team Fights

I've explained briefly about your role in team fights throughout the guide, but I'll take this section to explain it in full depth.

The most important thing in team fights is to not die unnecessarily. If you lose one guy because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, you do not need to go and help him. Better to lose one man than a whole team.

[http://i43.tinypic.com/33yta2q.png]

But let's say your team isn't as dumb as the picture above. Below is the ideal situation you want to have team fights happen.

[http://i39.tinypic.com/2ecnfgz.png]

If your tank is doing his job to keep the other team engaged and focusing him, you should be right behind him, the second one on your team to enter the fight.

[http://i44.tinypic.com/348iy4o.png]

Line up your to make sure that it hits as many enemies as possible. This will make them easier targets for you and your teammates to kill.

[http://i44.tinypic.com/18dgs3.png]

Once you've done all this, you and your teammates should engage, for all the groundwork has been set to ensure that the odds turn in your favor. Turn on your and charge in. Target squishies with your to ensure maximum damage. Your allies should be getting in a few kills as well.

[http://i40.tinypic.com/2vj51xc.png]

There may or may not be a few stragglers left with a measly amount of health left. So what do you do?

[http://i42.tinypic.com/2uy61rq.png]

YOU ULT THE MOTHAF***AS!!!

[http://i41.tinypic.com/2uo5nbt.png]

Dodging Requiem: Know These People Well

I know, right? Karthus's ult can be dodged. And it is just the most annoying thing in the world when you know you've done pretty much bet everything on this one ult only to have it dodged by the person you're trying to kill.

I'm not talking about characters that can heal themselves out of your ult, such as some supports of the use of . I'm talking about those that can just plain avoid it.

Avoiding Karth's ult is a matter of timing. If champs can't time their skills right, they risk being hit by your ult. Learn or approximate the cool downs of each of their abilities to know how you can find an opening for a perfect ult. In most cases, ulting right after they just used such an ability is a good idea, for most of the cool downs for these skills take longer than 3 seconds.

Anyways, here's a list of people that can completely avoid getting hit by your ult.

-Her Spell Shield blocks your ult and gives her Mana.
-His Shroud of Darkness blocks your ult, and also increases his Attack Speed.
-He can use his Sanguine Pool to dodge your ult.
-Two second invulnerability is all she needs to block all your damage from your ult. And she can even cast it on high value targets that you want to ult, but can't since they're protected.
-In her Spider Mode, she can disappear up into the air. Then she can land on you after you've ulted to finish you off.
-Playful/Trickster makes him untargettable, and therefore nullifying your ult. He has to be pretty exact though, as he can only stay that way for half a second.
-Annoying as heck, Diplomatic Immunity grants her, well, immunity from your ult for a LOOOOONGGG time provided she has targeted a champ other than you. The only limitation to this is that she has to target a champion other than you, otherwise, this trick of her's won't fly.
-Blade Waltz allows her to be untargettable, so she can dodge your ult, however, she's probably only gonna be doing this in a team fight, and you can still hit her with your E . Like Poppy, she also needs a champ to target for this to work for her.
-Uses ult to dodge you if he targets a champ, and if he targets you, count on being dead.
-Alpha Strike is a shorter lasting version of Fiora's Blade Waltz, but it still has the same effect, though even though Yi can target anybody using this trick and still dodge you, the duration varies depending on the amount of enemies there are, and even then, it is still a short time.
-Twisted Advance works the same way, needs to target someone, stays untargettable until the move is complete. Though Maokai aren't usually smart enough to dodge your ult in this way, it is still possible.

And then here are some special cases. These guys can't block your ult, but they definitely have ways to survive it.

-Her passive Rebirth gives her a second life, so even though your ult may kill her, you have to kill her egg as well. There goes your ult.
-Undying Rage gives him invincibility almost, and for 5 seconds, he could be using the time when you're ulting to smash you to pieces.
-Passive allows him to live, but split into blobs. He may not live after that, but you might not get the kill in the end.
-Bloodwell is basically a Guardian Angel for free.

The other champions not on this list may choose to itemize against you.

-Has a Spell Shield to block your ult, and frequently too. I suggest using your other skills to bring down the Spell Shield first and then ulting.
-Grants immunity and they can't be targeted by your ult.

Suicide Karthus: The Methodology in Today's Most Controversial Tactic

There's been a lot of debate over the validity of a "Suicide Karthus". It seems like a good idea, but is it really?

The main premise behind Suicide Karthus is the abuse of his passive . Kathus charges in, dies, and makes the enemies too engaged to escape his black hole of despair. This works surprisingly well, and it mirrors the tactics of Karthus's team fight role.

But some people take this as "Karthus is supposed to die" or " Die and press R". Ladies and Gentlemen Cho'Gaths, this is the complete wrong way of thinking.

Why a True Suicide Karthus Never Works


  • You will wind up feeding.

Those deaths you give off feed the enemy champions. It's giving yourself as bait, and they will always take it.

  • Your time of effectiveness in team fights decrease.

If the goal of Karthus was to die, he would only have his ring for 7 seconds, and then the ring turns off. When he dies, his range becomes limited to his circle, and the team fight will not always be in that circle. By playing Karthus a little bit safer, you are able to keep on for longer and be able to move where the team fight is moving.

How to Play Suicide Karthus


Suicide Karthus is tricky. If you're intent on playing Suicide Karthus, there has to be an aspect of "trading", meaning for your death, your team kills 3 enemies, or something like that. To ensure something like this happens, here are some tips.

  • Synchronize with another ally.

Champs like , who are good at keeping enemies confined in one area, are good for Suicide Karthus to just pop in there and wreak havoc. For example, if you and Jarvan can be trapped inside with a couple other enemies, you could very well die, but putting yourself in that danger allows you to deal up close maximum damage.

  • Dive into an enemy team composition in a way that disrupts the team.

If you can barrel straight down the middle of a mass of enemy champs and target the squishies, you know you're gonna die, but you can at least disrupt their movement in a team fight, because they don't want to be anywhere near that circle of death. The result is either the squishy carries have to sit the team fight out or they risk getting killed by you. A good method of doing so is flashing in the middle of the fray so that you encompass their entire team.

  • I'm out of mana!

Judge what situation you are in. There are very few circumstances where you just do not have the mana to pull off the perfect ult, or maybe it's in the middle of a team fight, and you are of no use whatsoever because you have no mana. This is the only situation where it is acceptable to give yourself up intentionally when in reality you could still live a little bit longer. So go ahead and dive yourself into that turret or pack of enemies. Then make them pay for it by spamming out all your skills and ult at the end of it.

  • is a must.

You've probably seen champs like Kennen and Morgana do something similar with their ults. They pop in, turn Zhonya's on, and as the enemies try to kill them, they just wasted 2 seconds trying to kill something that can't be killed, all while they're taking massive damage. You can use this method similarly with Karthus's , as you can waltz right into a battle, turn on Zhonya's, and watch the enemy team scramble, not knowing what to do. Best of all, this is almost a surefire way of making sure you don't get killed in the process. Arguably, diving without is asking for trouble.

  • You know you're gonna die in a team fight.

You're not invincible. Sometimes it's just better to bring on the inevitable and take a death. Hopefully your team will rush in at the right moment when you die while you prepare a vicious ult to bring their demise.

Soraka: The Bane of Your Existence



While not in particular a real threat, if she's built properly, you will be rendered useless.

Not only does she have a regular supply of heals and mana restores for her team and a Silence, but she too has a global ult that affects all players, but on her team. Her allows her to heal every single member on her team, no matter how far away they are.

Hey, that kinda sounds like your ult, only her ult heals people, your ult kills. If you're not already seeing the big picture, once you try to use your to try and kill a low opponent, she can use her to heal him. What's more is that it doesn't require a 3 second channel like yours does. Once the red marker appears over her head, she will be notified of the impending danger and use her ult to reduce, if not negate, the damage of . Thought you could kill that straggler trying to run away? Not anymore.

Fret not, she can be beaten at this game easily.

  • Chances are, she's not going strict AP like you are.

She's not known to be the carry. The only AP she might ever build is , and that's only if she wants to get aggressive and carry. She's most likely never going to get a . You, however, are stacking a lot of AP. So you should be outdamaging what she is trying to heal.

  • Once is on cool down, you're free to cast for a while.

Though she will try to make her cool down to a minimum, once she casts , you can be assured at least a 50-60 second window of opportunity to lay some damage down.

  • She can't ult if she's dead.

That's rather unlike you. If she dies, you can ult freely and there will be no source of heal for her team. Have an assassin type like Talon or Zed eliminate her first, then proceed to wreck the team.

  • Soraka is fairly fragile.

No matter how much MR or health she builds, you should be able to blast her apart given the opportunity. She can't heal that much.

Final Comments

Again, I'm definitely not the best Karthus player in the world, but I hope that you at least learned how to play Karthus correctly if you're new to him, or that you at least think that he's more than just pressing R.

Feel free to give constructive criticism of the guide and help me improve it. I'm open to POSITIVE suggestions.

Peace,
DarkFuzz

Comments

June 4, 2014 - 11:19 PM #1

And as for the whole RoA/AA debate, it's truly whatever you feel like building. I've seen both ways work perfectly fine. I just prefer RoA over AA.

June 4, 2014 - 11:16 PM #2

I'm just going to say, I wrote this a while ago (like S2 a while ago) and I'm still finding stuff in here that I wouldn't do now. Just give me time to edit.

In response to some questions:

-I don't build both RoA and Archangel's/Seraph's because of the time it takes to stack both. Or rather, the time and money it takes to buy both. RoA takes a definite 10 minutes to fully stack, Tear probably another 10. While yes, you could stack them simultaneously, it puts a serious drain on your gold that you could be using to buy other things. Think about what most other mid laners would get in what order: most would probably rush Athene's and try to grab a Deathcap as soon as possible. They'll have a significant AP advantage over you while you're only completed a half-stacked RoA and an Archangel's. Though if you have the gold for it (like you can buy Catalyst and Tear at the same time), go ahead and do both.

-There are a LOT of things that can dodge Karthus ult now. Technically LeBlanc can if someone hits her below 30% right when the ult drops, the Shaco thing (which many have bugged me about), Lissandra can ult to get out of your ult, and you might as well count Aatrox while recovering out of Bloodwell. But the point is: who is smart enough to actually abuse their ability to dodge the ult? Some of the ones I've already posted have incredulous conditions for dodging your ult. Yi needs to find something to Q (but I see most people Meditating through it), Fiora needs to find a champ to ult and so does Poppy. And if you can dodge Karthus ult with Shaco ult, good for you. It's just that no Shaco in their right mind would try to do that because Shaco ult is primarily to get the upper hand in on ganks. Shaco can build against it with Hexdrinker if he really needed to. But to be honest, most Shacos would probably just camp Karthus to shut him down so the ult isn't even relevant anymore.

-Yeah runes... Gotta fix those...

May 23, 2014 - 03:04 PM #3

Omg Y u no put Shaco in the list of people who can dodge Ult? He has his Hallucinate that makes him untargetable.
And Trundle can get Tanrkier with his ult, Nasus and Renekton gain hp etc.
If this is a guide for average/begginers you should make a complete list.

Y u do this troll runes? Y no guide for 2k elo? Omg now I have to think and test runes on top of afking mid and pressing r every 10 minutes.

May 23, 2014 - 03:26 AM #4

why can you not build both rod of ages and archangels staff? pls answer this seems unlogical :D

May 21, 2014 - 12:45 PM #5

Karthus is getting a major rework, idk if they're gonna change his moves, but is this guide still viable?

April 12, 2014 - 03:24 PM #6

http://www.linkbucks.com/KtnP

January 20, 2014 - 09:35 PM #7

http://sh.st/cM6P

July 28, 2013 - 03:08 AM #8

1 thing: In your masterie-section, you show different masteries then you use in the masteries you show in the top/start of the guide.



Also, the masteries I choose (in the top/start), you go Spellsword. I prefer Summoner's Wrath, because you don't use your basic attacks enough to get real use out of that masterie, but the extra AP (and unneeded AD) - But then Again: I Play with Ignite (Exhaust if vs AD champion, or Eve/Fizz-like champions.)

May 27, 2013 - 09:59 AM #9

Also, one more thing.



Glass cannon Karthus I believe is outdated, and when you analyze Karthus's scalings, I believe that AP runes are actually not very good on him. Karthus at his core is a champion that has extremely high sustained base damages, and relatively minor AP scaling. The only reason why Glass Cannon Karthus is considered a viable build is because Karthus's passive guarantees that he gets free damage.



However, Karthus's passive requires him to actually position very well in order to die in a location that is inconvenient for the other team. What Karthus might actually prefer right now are defensively oriented setups, which enable him superior freedom of positioning to wade into enemy teams and melt them with prolonged usage of Defile.



Because Karthus actually has relatively poor AP scaling, but very strong base damages, I actually run Armor Seals, MR per level Glyphs, and Spellvamp Quints. If you want damage, Mpen runes are stronger than AP on Karthus.



At any rate though, I believe that tanky Karthus is more viable right now. You actually sacrifice relatively little damage if any given Karthus has huge bases, and you become much more annoying for the other team to actually shut down, which in a way helps your team more.

May 11, 2013 - 05:33 AM #10

Then let me rephrase then: Karthus does not counter anyone, and it is tough to find a winnable lane situation for Karthus if you don't know everyone else's picks. I cannot count how many times I've picked Karthus in about the third or fourth pick and someone on the other team picks up Katerina or Akali. An immense amount of the League population knows how to play either of the two, or at least have a base knowledge of their playstyles, and most of the times, that's enough to harass a half-decent Karth player like myself out of lane. Call it ranting or QQing, it's true no matter how you look at it. For Ryze, Xerath, and Swain, they can combo on you hard, and every now and then you're bound to get caught at least once. With Karthus having a sub-par escape mechanism, this can either force you out of lane or kill you completely at times. I'm not saying they're not winnable lanes, they're just difficult if you're put in the wrong situation.



But lane matchups aside, I also feel like team comp plays a significant role. This may just be my "Karth play style" as you say, but if I'm put on a team with no clear initiator on my side, it will be significantly hard to play Karthus as little more than a Q poke damage dealer until I get a Zhonya's.



But I'm willing to try the Spellvamp Quints. Sounds interesting...

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