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NIDALEE BUILD GUIDE: They Will Fear the Wild: Patch 4.4 by JYarbz

by JYarbz (last updated 2 weeks ago)

Featured6,275,824 Views 280 Comments
9
Greater Mark of Attack Damage(+8.55 attack damage)
9
Greater Seal of Armor(+12.69 armor)
3
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist(+0.45 magic resist per level (8.1 at champion level 18))
6
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist(+8.04 magic resist)
3
Greater Quintessence of Life Steal(+6% Life Steal)
View Rune Details
Summoner Spells
View Summoner Details

Starting

Full Item Build

View Item Details
9
21
0
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/4
mastery 3 0/4
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
9 Offense
mastery 1 2/2
mastery 2 2/2
mastery 3 0/2
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 1/3
mastery 4 1/3
mastery 1 3/3
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 3/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
21 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
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
0 Utility
View Mastery Details
Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Prowl
QJavelin Toss / Takedown
WBushwhack / Pounce
EPrimal Surge / Swipe
RAspect Of The Cougar
View Skill Order Details

Introduction

Links
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jyarbz
Stream: http://twitch.tv/jyarbz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jyarbz

---

Hi I'm JYarbz. I'm currently a diamond 1 player who's been in and has stayed in diamond 1 for quite a while now. Nidalee has always been my favorite champion and I've easily logged around 1000 games with her in ranked soloq alone since season 1. I don't claim to know everything there is to know about nidalee but my hope is that through this guide I can put you on the road to mastering her with a whole lot more information at the start than I had. Thanks and enjoy the guide!

As an added note, I''ve also become a "professional guide writer" for TSM (their words, not mine). So you should be seeing a lot more guides from me from now on. If you look around the TSM website you'll already see several others.


Arist credit: http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=36456388

Pros:
  • Very strong laning phase vs most melee champions
  • Highly mobile, can apply insane pressure top lane and still get away
  • Very hard to flat out counterpick
  • Very strong mid game if you're not behind. Wins pretty much every matchup by level 11.
  • Even if you're behind, you can still always splitpush

Cons:
  • Can be vulnerable pre 6 to strong ganks and/or tough lane matchups
  • She gets outscaled by a lot of top laners making her vulnerable to the classic "win lane, lose game"
  • Her sustain is very mana hungry
  • One of the only champions that completely lacks cc, other tops have better teamfight presence (somewhat fixed by )

Runes

This rune setup can work in almost any situation. The only time I wouldn't use lifesteal quints is when I'm going straight ap. Even with an ap bruiser build, you get a lot of lifesteal out of takedown with sheen.

Marks
Hybrid pen - Probably the most consistently useful considering half of nidalee's damage is magic damage anyways. Scales well with items due to penetration formula as well.
Ad - Best for really early game. Easiest last hitting and more damage before items against most targets.

Alternatives:
Armor pen - Good, but why not hybrid pen? You don't lose hardly any armor pen and gain some magic pen.

Seals:
Armor - Pretty much the best option in all cases. Without these you have abysmally low armor and even ap champions would auto you really hard.

Glyphs
Magic resist - Great in lane vs ap matchups
Magic resist/lvl - Preferred runes for me right now after mr/armor nerfs. I just feel like nidalee needs the extra boost in magic resist late game.

Alternatives:
Cdr - Can be really useful in combination with certain masteries to grab you an additional 10% cdr.

Quints:
Lifesteal - these are actually suprisingly good and gives you lots of sustain with .

Alternatives:
Ad - Good for early lane - harassing, last hitting.
Movement speed - Really powerful with nidalee's passive and cougar form. I ran these almost exclusively for a very long time.
Armor pen - Good but I'd rather run hybrid pen if I was going for penetration. And most of the time I run hybrid pen in reds so I don't feel like I need them.
Ap - actually not bad, even on ad nid. This can help your heal fairly substantially as well as your spears/heals.

Masteries

mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/4
mastery 3 0/4
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
9 Offense
mastery 1 2/2
mastery 2 2/2
mastery 3 0/2
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 1/3
mastery 4 1/3
mastery 1 3/3
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 3/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
21 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
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
0 Utility
Defense masteries are the safest way to play nidalee top lane and are just about necessary in some situations against tough lanes, especially when combined with high pressure early game junglers. While 21 offense snowballs harder, it's very hard to come back and be useful if you fall behind with them.

Necessary Masteries
Brute Force/Martial Mastery
This is just a no-brainer. Early flat AD helps with last-hitting, harassing, etc. Your auto attacks are your primary damage for a lot of laning phase. Get this.

Recovery/Block/Unyielding/Veterans Scars
This is more or less a mini dorans shield. You definitely want this with dorans shield. But there's just not really a better way to spend your points as a laner early in the defensive tree anyways, so always take these.

Perseverance/Second Wind
These masteries are really good in lane, and while Second Wind isn't 100% necessary, I would recommend grabbing it every game as it scales well with nidalee throughout the game (especially with if vs heavy AP.

Legendary Guardian
Free resistances, dump whatever points you have left over into this.

Tenacious
Free tenacity. You're nidalee, you run away a lot. This helps. And there's no reason to go this deep into offense and not get it.

Optional Masteries
Swiftness
If there are slows in the game that are significant, you should grab this. Extremely good for a single mastery point. I only list this as optional in the case you aren't dealing with any slows that you need to worry about.

Sorcery
I prefer the attack speed for more autos early in lane and faster attack speed helps with last hitting under turret. However, CDR is a great stat on nidalee and you can't go wrong putting your points here.

Hardiness/Resistance
I tend to consider putting full points in either one of these (and taking points from either Swiftness, Oppression or Tenacious) when I'm against really heavy amounts of one type of damage, especially if it's just that one type of damage for jungle + top lane. The 4th point in both these can also be extremely good mid-late game against either high amounts of crit or aoe damage.

Summoner Sets

Primary Summoners
is great for being able to stay safe in early lane because of the relatively short distance to tower and instant reaction time to avoid skillshots/cc's. It will always be standard because of the ability to go through impassable terrain that's even longer than the actual range of the spell.

Unless you severely outplay your opponent, you need for kill potential in lane. Not much else to be said. Take it if you want to kill your lane. Leave it if you don't.
Exhaust & Flash
is great for being able to stay safe in early lane because of the relatively short distance to tower and instant reaction time to avoid skillshots/cc's. It will always be standard because of the ability to go through impassable terrain that's even longer than the actual range of the spell.


In lane, can help you survive all-ins but is far better for offensive potential. mostly shines in teamfights where you can exhaust a high damage target diving your backline like .
Flash & Barrier
is great for being able to stay safe in early lane because of the relatively short distance to tower and instant reaction time to avoid skillshots/cc's. It will always be standard because of the ability to go through impassable terrain that's even longer than the actual range of the spell.

can be great in any build to survive hard lanes. This is especially effective vs executes like .

By taking you give up pretty much all kill potential and are expecting to not lose lane the best you can and make it to midgame. This is basically the definition of top lane AP nid.

However when playing AD nid it's more of taking the secure win without the snowball potential. This means more passively pushing people out of lane over time and taking towers, not snowballing off of kills. This is much closer to competitive play where you rarely see huge insurmountable discrepancies just from the laning phase alone and Nidalee can basically always make it to midgame.
Teleport & Flash
These are the best summoners mid-late game on nidalee when you meet a few conditions:
- Your team is going to execute a 4-1 split for their main strategy late game
- You can win your 1v1 passively by taking towers and don't need ignite to secure kills and get ahead (kinda relies on your team to not lose super hard and more or less go even)
- The person splitting against you won't eventually outscale you like - if you take TP vs Nasus you better make some god damn good teleport plays to make everyone else win and close out the game with your lead. Because you won't be winning the 1v1 for very long against a Nasus who stays top to farm.

This means you will almost definitely miss out on kills you would have gotten with ignite. But teleport will ensure you have the option to back once or twice early game to buy and come back to lane (VERY helpful as a mana top laner who will probably get and have very little problems after) as well as have good dragon control and be able to gank bot lane with TP.

Item Builds

Starting Build(s)
D blade + LS quints
Vs heavy poke
Safe
Vs hard AD

Dorans blade start is really good with lifesteal quints, but is very punishing if you make mistakes. In a tough matchup one mistake can pretty much mean your entire mana bar. Two mistakes can mean you die.

The other really nice thing about having a lifesteal quint start with d blade is you start healing for over 20 every time you use takedown once you hit 6.


I love this start vs champs like . Dorans shield is the best item at shrugging off auto poke or just harass over time in the early lane, especially when coming from AP champs who also have ranged auto attacks.


This is just a safe start that works into almost anything. The only thing this really has over everything else is it gives you a ward. But you also end up with lots of sustain so if you think you need lots of pots to sustain and a ward then this start is for you.


This is the safest start vs most melee bruisers and ad casters. If the champion is something like you should consider starting this item.
Final Build(s)
Standard Final Items
The purpose of this build is a top lane bruiser Nidalee that is pretty versatile and can both group and splitpush fairly well depending on the game. You're not the same type of top lane tank that champions like are so you will rarely see items like in my builds, though they are viable in various situations. Sunfire is really only great in a full tank build that relies a lot on base damage and the extra sources of magic damage from these items to do a lot of aoe damage over the course of a really long team fight where you can tank a whole team 1v5 for extended periods of time.

Rather, you will see almost all of my choices for items be very deliberate and have actives or passives that add a lot of utility and options to Nidalee, being that she is a champion with absolutely no CC at all (one of only 9 in the game). Items like and even for added mobility are great examples of this.

Building to win lane
Nidalee doesn't farm for 30 minutes and then come out of top lane and 1v5. You need to win lane, press your advantage and make plays. At the very least, there should always be pressure on the top side of the map while you slowly take towers. Luckily, there is a way to win every lane 1v1 if you build correctly and play correctly for the matchup.

AD with kill pressure


Survive magic damage harass


Duel magic damage


Duel tanks


Triforce vs Gauntlet

This item is pretty nice on a tanky nidalee and is never bad. It helps to make up for nidalee's lack of cc. I used to build it almost every game except against heavy magic damage. Where I usually build it now is purely against teams I know I can kite really well in teamfights and when my team needs to kite the enemy team to win teamfights against 2-3 bruisers with relatively low mobility. This can kite champions like and more. However, this can't be your teams only tool for peeling. A lot of these champions with either or will simply outpace the slow from gauntlet.

This item can be fairly lackluster against heavy AP comps as it forces you to itemize armor and be in auto attack range against heavy magic damage burst. It's also fairly useless against hard initiation, especially long range initiation. One other downside is that you end up with a lack of HP for quite a while—especially when building other items like to win lane.


Nidalee makes use of every stat on this item. Most notable is the movement speed for kiting and chasing, as well as the 200% damage sheen proc. Laning nidalee, no matter how you build is going to consist mostly of auto attacking to get people low. Triforce through attack speed, crit, a bigger sheen proc and attack damage allows you to get a lot more damage off on your auto attacks than Gauntlet. And when you do go into cougar form, you have more burst for the same reasons, even the AP from both is the same. Another thing I believe most people completely underrate about triforce is the HP it gives you. This works very nicely in lane with the extra resistances from a mid tier defense item like

The other reason I really like triforce is because I just prefer the build paths it opens up. Not building gauntlet frees you up to build . Not only is this just an underrated item in general, but it works extremely well with allowing you to completely shut down an ADC's damage in the mid-late game lowering their attack speed by huge amounts as well as giving you almost 200 armor. In addition to this, I feel that becomes a viable option for nidalee builds due to the high amount of hp and the slow. While the item itself is not terribly cost efficient, that's because the slow is so damn powerful. It's also the second highest hp item in the game, which scales up incredibly well with any resistances you buy. I actually prefer this item in most situations to gauntlet now as it's much more consistent at slowing ghosted targets or targets with inherent ms boosts like when peeling for your backline.

The downside to triforce is no actual cc early on for midgame grouping, as well as less mana. You also grab no actual resistances from the item itself.


This item is best to rush for lane dominance vs high hp bruisers and tanks. This allows you to effectively duel tanks like . The passive gives you the most damage for 1 item against someone building only tanky items and the active will help you run or chase depending on the situation. The sustain also keeps you in lane and gives you an alternative form of sustain to emptying your mana pool and spamming heal. This allows you to more appropriately choose your heals not just for the heal itself but for the attack speed steroid when trading. The attack speed scales nicely with the botrk passive as well.

Building to win the game
Once you start looking out past your top lane matchup, you will have to group at some point for some objective somewhere. If you're going to start grouping and you're against lots of AD that gauntlet would be good against, you need to consider that. If you've already won top lane and need to start grouping because you're big, but your team isn't doing so hot, then start looking at what types of resistances are going to help you most. Items like also start to become really important here as the actives can be key in fights to kiting/chasing/peeling and just generally spacing and positioning correctly in fights.

Against Heavy AD


Against heavy AP burst


Splitpushing


Gauntlet Build


Optional items
These are some situational items that can round out your build.

Situational Items

Abyssal Scepter
This item is situationally good for amplifying your magic damage. If you have a big lead and another AP on your team is doing well you can get this after instead of or . This will make both of you snowball even harder and end the game quickly.

Some problems with this item though is that it doesn't actually make you that tanky and requires you to probably be close to melee range to make use of it.
Athene's Unholy Grail
is good in any AP matchup. Though even after this you can still go oom without completing .

Overall, this is a very versatile item and at least decent in almost every game on nid. This is viably built in ad or ap builds. However, In a heavy ad build this is mainly a splitpushing item. Combining this with any sort of mana pool gives you a crucial 20% cdr as well as the magic resist and more or less infinite mana when combined with a item.

In a more AP focused build, this is a great sieging item as the cdr and mana regen gives you more spear harass.
Blade of the Ruined King
This is the best item for dueling and 1v1's if your opponent is a tank/bruiser that has a decent health pool. The active also helps you kite/chase very well. Grab this against champions like if you're looking to splitpush against and duel them.
Boots of Speed

Honestly, these are always really good though I don't end up purchasing them that often. They're great against heavy AD teams but are more of a tank item that scales well with a really high hp pool because of the passive. These are never really bad as long as there's an adc on the enemy team but I often value tenacity or other things higher by the time I'm not in top lane anymore.


These are the default go-to boots for most games when grouping. It's very rare to find a team without much cc you need to worry about.


I actually love these boots on Nid, though I rarely see them purchased. I love to get them when I can get away with not worrying too much about cc. They're incredibly good in some matchups 1v1 like


These are a great snowball buy in top lane. The cdr is really nice for getting off extra heals, so I like it in combination with something like a a lot of the time. It can even be nice with something like a in a really aggressive matchup without cc like an to make up for the lost cdr from .
Frozen Heart
Frozen heart can be a great aura item on ad nidalee. In general this is outclassed by for personal combat stats. However this gives cdr and mana and the aura can be great against really heavy attack speed champions like .

I would only get this item when going or instead of
Frozen Mallet
This item is actually pretty decent, but is generally outclassed by . This is mostly due to the fact that the build path is lackluster with no mid tier items.

Once you finish this item it is incredibly potent in the 1v1 or when able to auto targets safely from range in general. Especially once towers start going down, this means that you can catch pretty much anyone out and stick on them (especially in cougar form) till they're dead.

This is actually great at peeling for your backline against single targets who like to rely on or MS increases like
Guardian Angel
The only times this item are worth it are when:
  • You're grouping
  • You can make use of the passive - this means you have lots of threats on your team that can do damage while you've been focused down and are invulnerable for a few seconds.
Guinsoo's Rageblade
Overall, I just feel this item is weak after the s3 changes. It could be ok for splitpushing if you could keep the passive going. But why by an item that:
  • Gives no resistances
  • Has a passive that doesn't give great stats on it's own that activates at 50% health and goes away after leaving combat.

The bottom line is this item is ok. And other items are op.
Haunting Guise
This is great when combined with , building a bit of AP and snowballing ahead. The health is nice to have in the tougher matchups in top lane as well.

The upgrade even synergizes nicely with and can be pretty potent when ahead. However this is only that great when you can consistently be in melee range to get the %hp ticking over multiple combos.
Hexdrinker
Great against . This can also be very nice for dueling AP's early on in lane if you want to rush it. If you want to fight and win a lane against AP, then this is your item.
Iceborn Gauntlet
Makes up for Nidalee's biggest weakness, which is lack of cc. It's incredibly easy to make use of the sheen procs and all the stats it gives you.

There's no question this is the best item on nidalee against kitable ad casters and bruisers. If you're grouping against any champoins like that, you should probably have this item. In some cases, it can even be better for splitpushing than against tough matchups.
Infinity Edge
I rarely ever build this item on nidalee and I don't think I would ever see it outside of competitive play. IE is good when
  • The game has gone on way too long - 40+ minutes and you have 6 items
  • You are splitpushing and the game is mostly a 4v4 and 1v1.
  • The matchup you're in you can mostly just auto, and IE does the most auto damage in the game.
Last Whisper
Last whisper is obviously a great pickup against heavy armor. This is a selfish buy however, and consequently is something you can usually only afford when splitpushing. Think carefully before you buy this. Grouping with a glass cannon AD nidalee usually leads to bad things.

You'll probably need this if you ever want to deal attack damage to a team.
Rabadon's Deathcap
This is the highest amount of AP in the game. This gives you the biggest heals. However, this is only the highest damage item in the game against targets who have close to base magic resist values. On nidalee, is the single highest damage item in almost every situation.
Randuin's Omen
If you're ever grouping against any attack speed based champions at all as AD nidalee, you probably need this item. The active along with the stats/passive give you too much survivability and utility to pass up. You definitely need this vs if you plan on tanking her for more than one second.
Ravenous Hydra
At first, you might think I'm trolling a little bit (as did I the first time I built it) for putting this item in here. But I've tested it and actually like this item a lot. There are a few downsides to this item:

is currently a safer and stronger choice vs a lot of the strong top laners in the current meta who build pretty much full tank.

You don't receive the aoe effect in ranged form.

Despite these two things I actually think this item is situationally very strong. If you're looking to continue splitpushing and not grouping for most of the game, this item gives you insane sustain off of creep waves and helps you push incredibly fast. It also helps you take towers faster with your E because of the high AD it gives, behind only IE and BT.

If you go hydra you're probably looking for at least 1, if not 2 more damage items meaning you are going to want a .

As an added note, I actually prefer the fact that the AOE doesn't work in ranged form. This means I can get this item and still lane and cs normally from a safe range if I need to without pushing the wave. If I'm in cougar form I'm generally using aoe to clear the wave and push fast anyways, which this does 3x as fast.
Rod of Ages
This is an ok item, but you have to rush it. The only time I would even consider it is probably in a matchup where there was true damage and I absolutely had to go AP.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
I think this could be an ok item for the utility in a 6 item build, but you rarely have the item slot to give to an item like this. I think this would almost be another inferior replacement.
Seraph's Embrace
is normally the superior item for mid nid because of the cdr. But when you build , you get a lot of mileage out of this item. And the active shield helps a lot with your survivability as well. However, it's generally not worth getting super early in the game and forgoing combat stats. This combination however will give you ~200 ap and is fairly strong with a .
Spirit Visage
This is the best all around tank magic resist for nidalee. It's recent nerf in patch 4.1 made it worse, but not below the other options. CDR is getting increasingly harder to find and spirit visage still gives 10%. It's passive also synergizes with nidalee well because of her heal. Athenes-hybrid type of builds do become a lot more attractive again though because of Athenes offering 20% cdr.
Sunfire Cape
This item can be alright, but most of the time I would leave it. Nidalee just needs utility in most of her buys. After the armor/mr nerfs to her ult she just can't sit in the middle of a fight and build full tank as effectively as she used to. So while this item is ok, I rarely pick it up. It can be ok vs hard AD matchups.

The 4.1 patch made this item even worse. I would rarely if ever look to pick this up.
The Black Cleaver
This is a utility purchase for your team, and while I rarely find myself building it, it's still good. Late game tanks with 300+ armor and are still hard for your adc to take out - even if they have . This item helps shred through that armor to an easily manageable level and just helps any attack damage on your team hit harder. It's also a 10% cdr item which fits nicely into nidalee builds.

The most lackluster part of this item is the 1600 gold you have to wait after .
The Bloodthirster
This is a great mainly in two circumstances:
  • You're splitpushing
  • Your opponent is squishy or you have the luxury of also buying or you plan to make them step on a every time they fight you or they aren't building armor.
Trinity Force
I've been building this as core in most of my nidalee games as of late. This compliments nidalee's playstyle perfectly. Nidalee as a top laner spends most of her time in human form auto attacking. Trinity force helps accentuate this with almost every stat. You get more damage from crit, attack speed, attack damage and more mobility from the phage passive. You also get a 200% damage sheen proc, which hurts quite a bit when you finish the item.
Void Staff
This is the single highest damage on AP nid for spear damage. If you want to do damage with your spears against any targets with higher than base magic resist, then build this.

This also increases cougar form damage on W and E quite a bit.

If someone ever steps on a trap, the amount of resistances you damage through is kind of hilarious.
Warmog's Armor
This item isn't good most of the time. If you want lots of HP I would look at even though it's not very cost efficient.

However, in the case that the enemy team is almost entirely magic damage and has an ADC without much consistent damage and is more about burst/poke or just can't kill tanks that well in general () then this item can be pretty godly. Make sure to combine it with if possible. This makes you basically immune to poke and your lategame regen with baron buff is crazy.

Skill Order

Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Prowl
QJavelin Toss / Takedown
WBushwhack / Pounce
EPrimal Surge / Swipe
RAspect Of The Cougar
Most of the time for bruiser nidalee, you're going to want 5 ranks in heal by level 9. This allows you the highest sustain and the highest attack speed steroid for dueling. After that, you should have at least a item by then. Your midgame spears will actually hurt in trades and doing a quick spear-auto trade with a sheen proc will do a lot of work.

As you play lots of nidalee there are situations even when building AD where maxing spear first can be good. These are generally situations where a melee is playing extremely passive out of auto range and not pressuring you. You can generally land free spear damage in these lanes and sometimes poke down people enough to land a kill at level 6. I can't really give more specific information than that. But I do this occasionally when I feel I can get away with it.

Skills

Prowl
Laning:
This passive is incredibly useful in lane for auto attack poking. You can utilize this by autoing, running into bush to drop minion aggro and running back out. Repeat. This makes nidalee incredibly annoying against champions with no gap closers especially. Sometimes being too far forward in a bush can put you in a bad position, but especially post 6, there's no reason not to utilize this most of the time. The extra movespeed is significant and helps you run away from ganks.

Grouping
This can add to nidalee's already crazy mobility in fights, especially when chasing down kills or singling out targets in the jungle and in chaotic fights in general. Any time you're fighting around bushes, which most of the time you will unless you are sieging, this gives you extra movespeed to chase and kite.If you're chasing someone and don't have to run into a bush, then make sure you slightly sidestep to do so as the extra movespeed will be worth the extra half second if it isn't too far out of your way.
Javelin Toss / Takedown
Laning:
Javelin Toss
How much damage this ability does early game is obviously pretty dependent on build and what you're maxing first. However there are some cool things this helps you accomplish in lane. You can use this as a psuedo auto attack reset. This means you can auto + spear much quicker than throwing two autos to help you last hit especially caster minions under tower. You can also apply this technique to harassing and getting a quick spear + auto with can be especially powerful trading.

Takedown
This is your biggest damaging spell when players are low hp, but can do less damage than an auto attack if they are full hp. This means when champions are high health you really never want to be jumping in to use this as it does next to no damage and you're safer just poking them down in human form first. Remember the execute though, as if you can you should use every ability you have before using takedown unless they would get too far away from you to get it off. So the optimal combo is W +E then Q.

Grouping
This ability is great for sieging, especially when building AP. Use this to poke champions down, especially squishy ones if you can find them in the back line. If you have a , this is also the best way to proc it in human form as it is your highest damage combo from range and even as bruiser can do decent damage when in the backline of fights or finding the right poke on a squishy too far forward.

Note that you can also use this to scout bushes because not only will the particle disappear early, but you will also hear the sound of it hitting someone.
Bushwhack / Pounce
Laning:
Bushwhack
You pretty much always take this at level 1. The level 1 vision this can provide is absolutely massive. It also stays with a champion for the next 8 seconds. This is massive when a jungler steps on it and can take pressure off of all your lanes. Try to place at least 1 trap in a place the enemy jungler might walk across or the enemy team might invade at level 1. The rest use to protect yourself near top lane by placing two in the tribush and 1 in the river. You can pretty much always get 4 down, and maybe even 5 if you buy quick enough.

These are also the biggest reason nidalee deals with bruisers so well in lane. You can never really have bush control over a nidalee if you lay the bushes with these traps so it's hard for someone to drop vision and abuse the positioning this allows them since traps reveal.

Pounce
This is the biggest reason nidalee is an incredible splitpusher. This mobility allows her a lot of freedom other champions don't have. Whether it's chasing people or running away, this mobility will outpace almost anyone else in the game in a long side lane. This also helps to grant you fairly consistent waveclear with repeated pounces.

Grouping:
Bushwhack
When not in fights, try to put these in heavy trafficked areas. You can use these to help scout around objectives like buffs and baron/dragon entrances. You can also use these to facecheck, which is part of their biggest utility. When you lay these it will reveal the area for a brief second, so make sure to use these when walking into fog of war.

In teamfights, try placing these on top of priority targets on your team. It's typically the easiest way to help your carries kill that bruiser. At rank 5 these are a 40% armor and magic resist shred. This means that tank that built 4-5 tank items became a whole lot easier to deal with. That's almost twice the shred of a black cleaver and more shred than void staff and last whisper provide with just penetration (shred is great for whole team, penetration only helps yourself). Otherwise, just try to place these in heavy trafficked areas or just use it as an extra cooldown to proc your .
Primal Surge / Swipe
Laning:
Primal Surge
This is your biggest form of sustain and on bruiser nidalee you will be maxing this first. However, this is fairly mana intensive so you don't want to overly rely on this and you will probably want to build some form of mana sustain through flat mana or mana regen somewhere in your build.

The best time to use this in lane is typically when a bruiser overextends a bit forward to trade with you (Think Riven using all her Q's to get to you or Renekton having to use both dashes). You can take just a bit of damage, heal immediately after and get twice the autos you would have otherwise gotten on their way out. This immediately takes away some of the damage they dealt as well as really punishing them with the attack speed steroid as they have to retreat from you.

You don't necessarily have to be below full hp to use this. If you're pushing towers and won't be punished too hard for wasting the mana (you're not going to base and have mana left over or are just that confident and strong) then definitely use this on yourself for the attack speed steroid as well as the sheen proc.

Swipe
In lane this will mainly be used as waveclear. However, if you're jumping into cougar form for a trade, the optimal way to use this is before your takedown because takedown does more damage the lower hp your opponent is. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible. If your enemy is on the retreat (most likely are if you're trading smartly), then you will have to use swipe last due to the fact that it is ranged and takedown is not so that you get every ability off.

Grouping:
Primal Surge
The boring answer to this is use this heal on the most important target that's missing hp at the time. However, you never want to neglect the attack speed steroid. 60% attack speed on your adc is an insane buff. Often I will use this on my adc even when they are full hp if the situation is right. Other than that be aware of other champions like junglers or mid laners that may use this attack speed steroid as well.

Swipe
This is simply part of your cougar damage in fights. Unless building tons of AP, this probably won't be doing crazy aoe damage. Neverthless, you can use this to get multiple targets at the same time if the opportunity arises.
Aspect Of The Cougar
This ultimate is basically what makes nidalee... nidalee. There's not too much else to say since I covered the extra abilities in the previous ability descriptions above.

The thing I see a lot of people misunderstand about nidalee's abilities is that her cougar form abilities do not correspond to ranks in her human form abilities at all. Takedown, Pounce and Swipe scale only with ranks in ultimate. So it's absolutely huge that you don't miss a rank in ultimate. If you do (especially at 6 lol) you will really be hurting.

Matchups

Aatrox
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

You MUST respect the level 2. Even if you get level 2 first, that doesn't mean anything. You're nidalee. Don't push the wave early, or else you lose. Let it push to you and be safe and wait out the position of the wave.

Don't panic past 6 when he jumps in on you. Get your cougar form damage down and then pounce away. Except for this, you probably won't be using cougar too much in this matchup the later it gets and the more sustain aatrox gets.

You have windows to beat aatrox early on. But he's incredibly hard to duel 1v1. You have to do enough damage to him that you can keep zoning him off the creep wave. If he gets a chance to just auto creeps, his sustain is ridiculous. If you're not confident, wait for jungler ganks.

Don't forget about his passive for all ins. It's so hard to duel aatrox and win 1v1. Even if you pop his passive he comes back with cd's and his sustain is ridiculous below 50% health. Most likely you can't kill him 1v1 without jungle help.

If you have a lot of trouble with this matchup or don't plan on getting any jungler help at all then try .
Akali
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

This matchup is actually really hard after the resistance nerfs. If I've faced a really good akali, I've never been able to just win the lane. Go even, sure, but not win.

I've traditionally gotten triple magic resist items in this matchup with , , .

Try to make a play early after 6 if you can. Once akali finishes it's really hard to duel her. And if she gets it's really hard to split against her in a long lane without dying.
Chogath
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 offense, Bruiser

You can bully this matchup pretty heavily early on in the game. Pre 6 and at 6. Chogath sustain is good if he can keep last hitting. This is very similiar to the
matchup except easier early game and harder in the midgame. His sustain is high if you let him sustain. Keep up the pressure and force him off the creep wave. He can get unkillable if you don't get a lead and keep it.

If you're looking to continue splitting, can be really effective at dueling chogath with the active, passive and sustain it gives you.

Magic resist is nice in this matchup. Get it if you feel you need it. Watch out for a cho who has an attack speed item too. His E hurts.
Darius
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Don't fight extended trades and let him continue to all-in you with 5 bleed stacks.

Poke, don't all-in until he's low.

Just watch his e range, try to bait it out. When his e is down he is nothing.

If you get pulled just run away, his e gives him armor penetration and you're not going to win a melee fight with darius. At most get in an E and Q in cougar form.
Drmundo
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: All builds viable

This matchup actually favors nidalee in my opinion. However, mundo does outscale you so you need to get an advantage and force him to be behind in the 1v1 instead of farming for free till he can group.

Early levels is pretty easy. Pre level 6 should just be mostly farming and poking when you can. At level 6 though, Nidalee has the advantage. The only way you can possibly lose is just by going way too balls to the wall and fighting the mundo the entire duration of his ult. Most mundo's also take so it should be really easy to outpressure him with . Even if you just burn ignite to get him out of lane and that's a tower/cs lead then it's worth it. Ignite is also a shorter cd than tp so you will have windows of opportunity no matter what.

Mundo's level 6 is actually not that strong. Sure he regens a lot, but if he does it too late, he actually immediately drops hp and can open himself up to being bursted in combination with . Mundo doesn't really start to his stride till midgame around level 11. And even then he doesn't really become unstoppable till level 16.

If you rush a this matchup should be pretty easy. Afterward you also want to look to pick up and if you can afford to not have tenacity. After that I tend to look to pick up even when splitpushing. In the mid-late game Mundo starts to put points in his E and his autos will hurt. It also helps for kiting mundo a lot. The extra burst from is nice but mundo has a really big health pool making the extra damage not as impactful. So I will typically prefer the for kiting and chasing.
Elise
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core: (also consider )
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Build magic resist and sustain (). You pretty much need to match each penetration item she buys with more magic resist. You might even want to go right after.

Elise 100% wins this matchup early. But nidalee starts to win as you get items and definitely wins if not behind by level 11. Do your best to survive the early game and sustain through it. You might even want to take . Once you get your magic resist items you should be in good shape.

One of the most underrated parts of elise's kit is the dueling potential in her W. The sustain and consistent damage is very strong. You will lose a melee trade poorly by sitting on top of her with her W on if she's building damage.
Fiora
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser (Go additional armor in either blues or quints if possible)

Fiora who maxes q makes a really difficult lane for nid. The cd goes down by over half the rank 1 cd when maxed. And the base damage is good. This allows her to trade with you often and gives you little breathing room to sustain.

Build early armor like . There's nothing you can really do about having to take damage from fiora. This lane sucks.

Don't stick around at 30-40% health when she has everything up. You're easily tower divable at low health.
Gangplank
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Try not to take every q to the face if he's spamming them to try to poke you down. If he walks up, walk back. You don't have to be up in xp range if there's no xp to be had, and evaluate whether the cs is worth the damage.

Make sure you build some early resistances in this matchup like . GP naturally beats nidalee because of his passive.

If gp ever gets into melee vs you pre 6 you lose. Don't let that happen.

GP outscales you and has a global ult, you should probably look to group early in the mid game.

Gp has no waveclear. Post 6 try to get to the point where you can continuously shove the wave as this will give you lane control.
Garen
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Just don't let him run up to you and land his Q into E. You're ranged, stay that way.

Run a little bit of armor but mostly just auto him from range. He is a melee that can literally only run at you. No gap closer. Easy lane.

makes this lane faceroll.
Irelia
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items: (have not tested this)
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

No matter what you build you have to find an early source of health. Even if you don't want to build a item, you have to fit into your build on your first back or two.

The main thing you want to watch out for in this matchup is letting irelia initiate a trade by stunning you without having to dash to you first. Try to be aware of any nearby allied minions health as she could jump to it and stun you. After getting a few autos she will dash to you and get another free auto. This is the ideal trade for irelia.

Kite her and run away when her w is activated. Punish her when it is down.

Her level 6 all in is very strong if she gets early dorans. Be very careful.
Jax
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

He outscales you. You need to build an early advantage and keep pressure up to keep jax down. If you don't beat jax by level 11 then the game might as well already be over.

Never initiate a trade with jax by pouncing into him. Constantly auto jax and make him leap to you. Switch into cougar form, Q and E then pounce backwards out of the stun. Trading like this, Jax cannot beat you 1v1.

Keep track of every third auto. He will try to jump on you with his ult passive ready to go.

Early on, Jax has lots of mana issues. Make sure he takes lots of autos on his way out in addition to losing his mana if he tries to jump on you and stun you.
Jayce
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Jayce always spends money on non combat stats with tear first. This should give you a pretty good window to gain an advantage in lane as something like a will make you win the lane at that point.

He shouldn't be able to disengage with e before you land your cougar abilties. Heal up afterward and keep trading

Watch out for long range poke. Don't take every q to the face. Either stand behind minions or away from them, not on top of them.

makes this lane easy.
Kayle
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: All builds viable.

Kayle gets strong at level 2. Abuse bush/run back, don't let her get a million free autos on you.

At 6 you should be able to trade pretty hard. If she uses cd's to cs then punish her really hard.

Dont forget about her ult. Try to bait it out and run back and wait out the duration.

If you can afford to, can be pretty strong here.
Kennen
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Always keep a track of kennen's passive stacks on you, don't let him get a free stun. Walk back out of range before he does.

will save your life and are a must buy in this matchup.

Kennen is tough to itemize against early on and just straight up beats you. Hang in there, try to hit every cs you can and wait for a mid tier item or 2.

Prioritize heavy early magic resist unless facing ad kennen (not just dorans blades, but items like ) It this happens, honestly I'm of the opinion ad kennen just flat out beats nidalee. Just build to group if this happens as AD kennen is complete shit while grouping.ield.png">
Khazix
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Respect the level 2. He will kill you in one trade if you let him. Every khazix ever will try to all-in at level 2, especially when they start .

Khazix wins all-ins, you win over time just like most matchups. Your sustain is stronger than his, especially since he levels q first. But try to keep yourself topped off and run away when you force out his ult.

Avoid being isolated. If you can survive, try to stand in creeps or something when fighting him. It makes him do significantly less damage.
Leesin
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Pay attention to what lee is maxing, and play around that. He can literally max any ability in this matchup and do well. If q, it's simply all about dodging the q. If w he's just trying to sustain and you should be able to outdamage him playing around his cd's. If e, try to avoid melee range as much as possible - which you probably should be doing until you poke him down with auto's anyways.

Just buy armor. is great. :)

His level 6 combo is strong. Expect the q-r-q.

The optimal time to gain an advantage in this lane is after your first major back before lee finishes . After that his sustain is almost impossible to deal with.
Malphite
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: All builds viable (prefer top AP)

Just watch your health pool. Don't let his q spam get you down below 40%, or else you could die to his combo. Although if you're good you can outplay this with .

Unless you mess up this matchup should be pretty easy. Trade with him, and heal up afterwards, repeat.

Try to at least get one auto in before his passive comes back up. If you let him always trade with his passive he is much harder to poke down.
Nasus
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core: Depends on build
Preferred Build: AP

You should be able to bully nasus out of lane early and often. Be mindful of the jungler but pressure nasus incredibly hard through auto poke. Once you're 6 it should be really easy to force him out. This poke becomes a lot more potent with early points in spears. I would highly suggest it.

Nasus passive with dorans shield will do a pretty good job of keeping him in lane pre 6. Don't get greedy with auto attack poke and die to a jungle gank.

Nasus WILL outscale you. You need to win lane, shove down towers and rotate to other lanes and drag. Snowball towers/dragons and global gold in general and make use of your advantage. You can shove nasus' shit in for 30 minutes, but at some point he will just start beating you 1v1 because he's nasus even if he was 2 levels down. This is a big reason why I also prefer the AP build. You beat him in lane and transition to a role where you accomplish two totally different things and he doesn't necessarily outscale you and make you completely useless.
Olaf
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
[bigItemization[/big]
Starting items: or or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense

Don't let yourself fall victim to an early all-in. Be very careful about engaging olaf in cougar form without a major hp advantage. If you pounce forward, that can instantly be a chance for olaf to all in. Poke and be patient.

Once you hit 6 the lane should get really easy. Olaf's ult doesn't mean too much against you and you should be able to run away and dodge axes with pounce.

Olaf will outscale you. And Don't do anything to him during his ulti. I would absolutely shy away from against Olaf. is ok because of the HP vs true damage.
Renekton
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Renekton is very strong early game. If he plays well and spaces correctly in the lane, then you may have to give up 5-10 cs early in the lane to avoid bad trades. After you buy some armor though, this lane is not incredibly hard. Even when renekton builds a damage item, he rarely builds armor pen. And if he does it's only .

If Renekton is building tank to group, you can always beat him in the 1v1. His all-in is stronger, and you may have to kite out his ult. But you can always win the 1v1. Items like makes that fairly easy. If Renekton is building glass cannon to 1v1 you then it's much more of a skill matchup and a harder matchup for nidalee, but you actually become more effective in grouping. And you should be able to kite him out well with .

Don't get baited by renekton's ult. It's very powerful and makes him a lot stronger than you temporarily. A lot of this matchup is baiting out the ult and then running away till it's down.
Rengar
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Basically let's you easily survive rengar all-ins and instead of having to just run away when he ults gives you options of how to deal with him and bait him.

Rengar is really annoying because this is the only matchup where nidalee has virtually 0 bush control. You still place traps of course. But you must make sure you are consistently out of rengar passive range. Taking free hits will lose the lane pretty quickly.

If he's going glass cannon, you need early armor and hp. is strong. If he's going tank, you should probably try to build some damage and sustain like unless you're building for grouping.

Try not to waste your abilities when rengar w is up. The increased armor is noticeable and will win him trades.
Riven
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Riven is all about cd's. Make her use cd's to get to you and kite back until they are gone. Once her cd's are down then punish her. Her cooldowns are long in the early part of the game before levels + cdr.

Do not be caught off guard by Riven's level 6. She can kill you, even if she's at 30%hp and you're at full. Pretty much only jump in if you can kill her in one combo. Otherwise continue to kite and auto attack poke and at least try to force her to use Q's to have to get to you and not be able to use all 3 for damage. If you do this then you can probably trade evenly on her way out.

makes this lane really easy. If nothing else, you can farm to this and then you win. However, you can also just stop at to go .
Rumble
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense

Rumble gets pretty strong at level 4-5 as flamespitter starts to deal good damage. Try not to let the wave be pushed up past river at this point of the lane. He will hit level 6 first and try to all-in you as a big creep wave builds up. If he wins, you will lose the lane right here.

Try not to get hit by both (or either) of his e's. Mind your positioning.

Itemize lots of mr. / are both very strong here. And is good as well if you get it really early.
Shen
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: All builds viable

Get an early and . Shen's passive, q and e are all magic damage.

As soon as you hit 6 just relentlessly push shen into tower. Don't give him breathing room to ult away. If he does ult away you better take a tower and deny him way more than it was worth.

I usually like vs shen, but it's not 100% neccessary. This build is an extremely 1v1 focused build where you will keep splitting (most likely you will have to against shen, or you can just group and force his ultimate. Just make sure you can keep pressuring and keep forcing him out if you're splitting against him. If he's stronger than you in the midgame that's really bad.
Shyvana
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: All builds viable

Shyv's ult makes her incredibly tanky and makes all her abilities aoe (easy to hit). You need an hp advantage before an all-in, and even then you need to know your limits. Poke with autos and spears first.

Magic resistance is incredibly important in this matchup, even moreso than armor. Don't make the mistake of not building magic resistance at some point.

is necessary in an AD build to be able to split against Shyvana. You need the sustain and dueling potential this item gives you. And god help you if Shyvana has this item and you don't.

Shyvana will try to shove you in early. If you can—especially if she's not shoving you in that hard and just trying to get cs—poke her out of lane. Though shyv has decent mobility with W, she has no real gap closer. You should be able to poke her out of lane.
Singed
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: Bruiser

Punish singed for being melee and auto him down. Even if he has you should still be able to punish him.

Don't fight singed and get flung with his ult on. Punish him when it is down, this lane is literally that simple. Singed with ult is strong, singed without ult is weak.

and building offensive in general destroys singed. A lot of singed players like to build specific items that have health or even no combat stats at all——and don't have early resistances, so it becomes pretty easy to punish this.
Teemo
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: All builds viable

No matter how you build this matchup you are going to need sustain in the form of mana or lifesteal or both. Build accordingly. I've been preferring or

Teemo blind will make your takedown miss. Try to wait out the blind duration or else you will lose trades severely.

are my preferred boots in this matchup for the mushroom slow and highest in combat movement speed. I also like to get in the early-mid game if possible as it makes a huge difference against teemo to clear out and disable mushrooms.

The easiest way to start winning this matchup is to out waveclear teemo. Try to see if you can get the wave pushing to tower but don't over commit to waveclear to take really bad trades for free. This strategy isn't always possible.
Tryndamere
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Tryndamere should start trying to push the lane early building up his rage while also pushing for an early level 2. Don't stick around too long for auto harass. Respect the level 2. That's pretty much the only way to lose this lane early. Letting tryndamere be close enough to get windslash damage on you will also lead to an auto or two at least. This will not be a good trade for you.

is pretty good in this matchup, but you still have to respect the all-in. You may also just stop at .

You need to punish trynd in the laning phase, especially once you hit 6. 6 item tryndamere is going to out 1v1 unless you outplay pretty hard. Trynd pretty much has to try to all-in you. Keep poking him relentlessly and kite him away when he spins into you. Try to dodge his slow if at all possible. I can usually accomplish this by using R>E>Q and then pouncing away. A lot of trynds waste slow when you're facing them expecting you to run when they spin forward. However you will take at least 1 auto—probably 2— and maybe the spin damage when this happens. So make sure you're healthy enough for this.

Try not to trade too much or use takedown while trynd has his w on you (even if the slow didnt land). The reduced ad makes a big difference.
Vladimir
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, All builds viable

Go for early strength and bully vlad out of lane. Only exception might be .

Vlad sustains very well over time if you let him. Trade hard and keep up the pressure every second of the lane. You can outtrade him and build an advantage by playing very aggressive. This can lead to being camped, so make sure to . And in general, if the vlad is very good he can actually win early laning. But if you're anywhere close in the matchup you win by level 11.

Vlad is way better in 5v5. Build to splitpush and keep forcing someone to come deal with you unless you've won lane so hard that you actually are just way stronger in vlad, in which case you can dominate mid game fights.
Wukong
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Wukong literally has the strongest level 2 of any champion in the game. If you don't have you will lose this lane. Let the wave push to you and don't take too many unneccessary combos. 2 of them and you are in danger of dying.

Wukong's level 6 is strong. Don't all in him at low healths. i'd want to have and a before fighting him. Wukong really isn't that strong against nid, as long as you know what to expect and don't give him free kills.
Yasuo
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Yasuo is a rough matchup. It basically comes down to the fact that you need to be able to dodge all of his knockups and the matchup becomes more in your favor.

Your main window for winning this matchup comes with a completed or at least post level 6, before yasuo completes . are very weak early laning items. Try to punish yasuo once you hit 6, during this period. Other than that, Yasuo is still melee. He does have lots of mobility, but outside of letting him good a good ulti on you when not at full health, you should be able to get good trades on him if he comes close enough to Q you post 6.
Zac
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items:
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, AD splitpush

Nidalee can pressure Zac and get his hp low, pretty easily. Be careful pre 6. If he's charging his E then the jungler is probably nearby.

The biggest mistake that most nidalee players will make in this matchup is not being patient enough and pouncing into a Zac at 30-40% hp. Zac is incredibly strong at low hp because of the way his passive works giving him crazy sustain. It's even further compounded at level 6 when you're usually looking for a kill. Each bounce of zac ult gives him a blob that regenerates %hp. Keep poking and keep pushing him into tower. Try to get his passive for free if you can and always be aware of it. You can check this by clicking on Zac and looking at the buffs he has on him.

is very strong in this matchup along with .
Zed
Difficulty
Favors You
Itemization
Starting items: or
Early core:
Preferred Build: 21 defense, Bruiser

Zed's early harass with his double Q is a little annoying. But realize you can punish him and force him off the creeps when this is down. W is a long cd, don't let him cs for free when it's down if possible

Zed's damage at level 6 honestly isn't that high. Don't just pounce straight into him when you're both near full health. If he's able to auto you and stay on you the entire duration of his ult of course he's going to destroy you. Poke him down with autos.

Try to bait out his ult and run away. If you can stay in lane after his ult is down you win. Zed is nothing without his ult.

Zed does get big later once he finishes and . Just try to have health and armor and run away during the ult just like before. Be careful though. He will outduel you if you just sit in melee the entire time with his ult. Try to at least poke him some first unless you really know how far you are ahead and can force him to try to fight you.

Early Game

Level 1
Try to place traps in level 1 invade paths or level 3 gank paths for the enemy jungler. You can generally get 4 down at level 1 without a problem. 5 if you really use your time to it's fullest.
  • No matter which side you're on it's typically prudent to place a trap in the banana bush leading up to your blue buff. This is a common invade path in soloq, especially against /.
  • You can place a defensive trap in the bush behind red buff cove to guard against an invade if you think the enemy jungler might invade your junglers red. Alternatively you can place an offensive trap in the standard red buff bush so that when the jungler pulls the buff into the bush or simply leaves the cove after finishing the buff they will reveal themselves.
  • The other important places are all around your lane. I like to put two into tri as you can block off all of tri bush access with just two traps. And having 1 trap in the river bush is also very helpful, though you shouldn't rely on this to give you enough advance notification of coming ganks.

Pre 6
Nidalee's most vulnerable stage in the game is right here. You have no escapes till you're 6 and have relatively low base health/resistance values. On top of this you have no cc or peel for yourself and the only consolation is your passive and traps hopefully being placed well enough to reveal the jungler on the way to your lane. This means the two most important concepts to understand about nidalee's early laning phase are bush control and wave control.

Bush control
Think about a vs matchup. Your first inclination is probably to think kennen can dominate the lane through auto attack harass right? There's a lot more to it than that. Bush control is what allows bruisers to survive in lanes vs ranged auto attackers (every matchup is different but this is more or less true of most matchups). Bruisers naturally beat ranged champions in melee range. If the bruiser is sitting in the bush the ranged champion can't abuse his range and auto the melee champion. He can also hold threat over the ranged champion and force them to position much farther back than they normally would for fear of being gapclosed on and taking an unfavorable trade. This is a big reason why nidalee is such a powerful laner.

  • Keep the lane bushes lined with . It takes away the option of anyone using the brush to hide against you (somewhat untrue of matchup because his passive makes it always dangerous to attack him when he's in the bush). In every other matchup though this allows you to really use your range to your advantage and not be zoned from bush by your melee opponents. Not to mention that just at level 1 this ability does 80 damage and shreds 20% armor/mr. That's pretty insane.
  • makes this kinda go out the window past level 6. If you see him lining the bushes with mushrooms you can try purchasing a or two but this can get expensive.

Wave control
This is incredibly important to nidalee pre 6 as the position of the wave determines your positioning in the lane. The farther out you are past the river the more and more vulnerable you are. There are few cases where it's a good idea to be out closer to your opponents tower than your own as pre 6 nidalee.
  • This should be obvious, but try to at the very least not auto attack more than your opponent and push the wave. I know that's basic, but just had to make sure.
  • Utilize your passive effectively when harassing. This means consistently walking in and out of bush and dropping minion aggro everytime you get an auto off. If the enemy minions are attacking you, they're not attacking your minions, which means eventually your lane will push. This helps significantly offset the time the enemy minions would be attacking you.
  • Respect the level 2. If there's an aatrox with dorans blade who's auto attacking minions, GUESS WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN? He's going to hit level 2 and immediately jump on you and all-in you. If your reflexes are slow you'll probably lose your life AND your summoners AND two and a half waves of creeps. At this point your lane is officially over. This is the worst possible thing that can happen to you. It's ok to give up 2-4 cs and let the wave push to you. If in this position though note that taking an early point in spear (before level 4) can help you last hit under tower by using it as an auto attack reset.

Post 6
Obviously, this is where every nidalee lane changes. You gain your mobility, over half the damage in your kit and all your waveclear. Now you are Nidalee.

  • Past 6 if at all possible you want to be waveclearing and pushing your lane into the enemy tower over and over and over. Make sure you up as this can draw jungler attention for obvious reasons. The reason pushing into the tower is so powerful is because you can harass for free while the enemy is trying to cs under tower with your 525 range.
  • Make sure you respect the enemy jungler. "Applying pressure" isn't an excuse to die for free over and over. The goal is to pressure your lane so hard the jungler has to make a presence there or let you take free towers and let his top lane fall behind. This is of course while not dying preferably. :)
  • If you see any opportunities to roam, strongly consider it. You can get there very quickly and have very strong skirmish potential. Roaming is very strong once you finish .

Mid Game

I pushed top tower down. Now what?
The mid game is all about transitions. You should always be moving from one thing to the next. Be thinking about where you're going to go and what you're going to do next before you even start moving there. Here are some general options you have:
  • Push down a second tower top lane if all your lanes are winning or at least have pressure.(If the jungler comes to your lane they can take things on the other side of the map)
  • Place 2 deep in the enemy top jungle ( near wraiths and bottom of red if blue side or near blue and banana bush if purple side). Take all the jungle you can in addition to either doing the option above or below this.
  • Push up your wave to tower and rotate to mid lane. Start pushing down other towers. This option is especially effective if you have built any ap as your midgame siege becomes more powerful. This can also turn into a rotate to dragon. Communicate with your team to achieve this objective.
  • Gank bottom. This generally works in two scenarios. First, you could take and your team places a behind the enemy bot lane in their lane bush or they're just pushed up pretty far. Second, if your bot lane has lost pretty hard and their bot lane is continuing to push up to your 2nd tier tower... sometimes you can just makes plays happen by running in to lane gank an enemy that is that far pushed up. Nidalee's mobility is higher than almost any champion's in the game and your 2nd tier to their 1st tier is a really long distance for you to be able to chase someone down.

I lost lane pretty hard. Now what?
Honestly you don't have too many options left at this point. There are two main scenarios I see.

Your team is not really far ahead (slightly behind, even, w/e)
  • Splitpush all day if your lane opponent is in any way more powerful than you in 5v5 EXCEPT if you know with absolute certainty you can roam to a fight and win it before he has a chance to show up.
  • The best option you have available to you is to try to gain the experience and levels you lack and keep pressure in a sidelane to force people to respond to you. Even if you're not as powerful you force the 4v4 and force them to deal with you or you take towers. Your team might just lose to hard engage against a team that is ahead 4v5 but it's not like there's much of a better option when you're really weak.

Your team is carrying you
  • If your team is just really strong and winning everywhere but where you are, sometimes it's just better to group and win when appropriate, even though you're nidalee.
  • It might be appropriate to even go for auras/team utility in your itemization in this scenario.
  • If you can avoid feeding someone who's going to become a lategame problem and keep them in a sidelane, that might be preferable if your team can just stomp 4v4.

Late Game

Obviously, always build for the game, but in general you want to try pressing nidalee's advantage as a champion before you get here. However, you still have options late game and contrary to popular belief Nidalee isn't completely useless in 5v5 when you build appropriately.

How to make the most out of nidalee mid-late game
One of the reasons Nidalee is so strong is because she's so tough to deal with as a splitpusher. Ideally in most games Nidalee can for the most part 1v1 any champion in the game or at least not die and draw attention to the top lane. If you always carry around 2-3 when you go to splitpush and ward properly you can be virtually unstoppable.

Why Splitpush? Nidalee lacks a lot of the utility and teamfight presence that a lot of top lanes can bring with less farm. -Think about a top and they probably have more utility or tankiness and a stronger 5v5 presence than Nidalee. By pushing top, you relieve pressure on the rest of the map and force their jungler to either come up to deal with you, or let you slowly force towers down. And if you're doing it right, most of the time you can force their jungler/mid to come top to try to deal with you and still get away. This indirectly helps all your other lanes and lets your jungler go gank other lanes winning those lanes while you're drawing attention.

When wouldn't you splitpush? It's a lot harder to pull off if your team doesn't know how to not get caught, and is further accentuated if the other team has loads of hard engage. To counteract this you can take a lot in solo queue if you think you can survive without ignite and try to splitpush until a fight happens and teleport to it. Nidalee with is way harder to deal with mid-late game than a nidalee with in terms of overall map pressure. You can force 4v5's by teleporting to forced fights after someone comes top to deal with you or you can take towers while your team stalls 4v5. However, I would rarely go without ignite in soloq because of how important it is to win lane. And if I did it would probably be to take barrier against a really tough matchup.

Grouping as AD Nid
If you're going to end up grouping, you need to realize that you aren't the same type of top laner as the ever popular . You can't build full tank and have the same impact by sitting in the middle of a fight. I tend to shy away from items like on nidalee because I feel like my buys need to have more utility and add options to my kit to have a viable teamfight presence. do this. The actives help me constantly reposition and space correctly in fights as well as kite the front line (one of nidalee's biggest strengths in 5v5) and peel for your backline. Bruiser Nid actually has a decent grouping presence when the enemy team has to engage into you and you can kite them properly.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

Apparently Riot doesn't like nidalee having a high skill cap. They removed pouncing away for extra damage on spears and the ranged takedown, even though they had left it in the game for years and it didn't really affect much. :(

Mid-auto sheen proc
The Spear/sheen proc harass is really significant with an early sheen. You can use spear like an auto reset and throw it first, or you can do this. You start this off by simply throwing out an auto. Then before your auto hits your target, you throw a spear proccing your sheen with your auto in mid air.

Why not just throw a spear and then auto? It's easier
  • Firstly, this holds off telegraphing the fact that the enemy is about to be hit with a sheen proc. This is especially more useful with which is a significant cc and has a very obvious sheen particle. This can be the difference between someone flashing before you auto and flashing too late before they realize it was a gauntlet slow.
  • Secondly, this does more damage when your enemy is running away. Spears do more damage the farther they travel. Your auto is 550 range. If you have to throw your spear first it's going to travel less distance because the enemy is closer to you. If you can throw your spear after your auto it's going to be able to travel slightly farther because the enemy has run farther away. Is this a huge amount of damage? Not really, but it could be the difference between a kill and not if it's really close.
  • Sometimes if you stop to throw a spear, just the animation will make you fall too far behind someone to be able to auto them. So doing this ensures that even if you don't have a gauntlet charge primed you can still hit them with a gauntlet slow if you're barely within auto range.

VIDEO COMING SOON.

Mid-air takedown
I still need to work on consistently replicating this. But this will allow you to bypass the takedown animation (more time for autos or other things) by executing a takedown mid-pounce. I actually found this on accident and can only consistently do it when I proc Q but am barely out of range of someone I'm chasing. I then press W once it's off cd and Q goes off while I am in mid air with no animation.

Changelog

This changelog has started over for the s4 patch. First day I'm keeping this updated is 11.30.2013.

11.30.2013
Updated Elise, Renekton and Rengar matchups.
Updated Lifesteal rune setup.
Updated AP bruiser and anti-ap builds.

01.07.2014
Made gauntlet build the main build and switched triforce build to an alternate build. Updated/rewrote explanation sections for both.
Added Dr Mundo matchup.
Added boots item - goes overall 4 main boot choices.
Updated masteries. 21/9/0 is now main mastery choice and added RF's 21 defense masteries.

01.13.2014
Added hydra.
Made a few changes to text for readability.

01.21.2014
Updated masteries.
Updated Spirit Visage/Sunfire.

01.23.2014
New rune page - hp quints.
Changed main build - GA out and Athenes in.

02.13.2014
Removed "AP Bruiser" build - just not efficient when compared to AP top build.
Added new AD splitpush build.
Added Yasuo matchup.

2.25.2014
Updated Masteries heavily. Redid points and provided better explanations.
Redid AD splitpush build and fixed some general wording and usability issues in Item build text.
Added preferred builds to matchups.

3.04.2014
Redid bruiser build and description almost entirely.
Updated several matchups.
Rewrote ability sections entirely.
Added mid-air takedown in tips and tricks.

Final Comments

Thanks for reading the guide! Please leave comments, good or bad telling me what was good, and what wasn't so good. I hope this guide can help you improve at nidalee and perhaps carry some of your solo que journey.

Thank you to anyone who helped me work on the guide! You proofread, helped me find typos and gave me tons of advice on restructuring parts of my guide to make it easier to use and read.