When going AP you will probably want to have at least your one big core item before grouping.
For grouping and seiging.
Enemy has strong burst damage and midgame.
This is somewhat acceptable versus heavy AD teams but you run the risk of not having enough HP to effectively get close enough to use it or having too little damage.
Nidalee's damage in the midgame can be huge and this is where Nidalee can completely take over games. This is before enemies start getting huge magic resist items even on their carries. So you really have a lot of burst to pick off targets and your siege is still really good (though not quite as good) even after the rework. So I would suggest looking for opportunities to group and do whatever your team does best. You can siege with a team for it or looks for picks and just group for drag with vision control. Nidalee has great single target burst for follow-up on CC.
Trinity Force is love. Trinity Force is life. You do a high amount of burst damage in cougar form and you have the movement speed to chase down anyone once you complete it. Once I have this item I honestly look to group a lot of the time for objectives. If you can find a good flank with this item timing you can absolutely wreck early-mid game teamfights.
There's a misconception that Nidalee is awful in teamfights. And while this is halfway true lategame, it's not at all true in midgame. Your mobility and damage wrecks fights if you use it right and don't just pounce into 5 people by yourself. Nidalee isn't Shyvana or Renekton and you aren't going to be able to sit in the middle of 4 people doing AoE damage. Play to Nidalee's strengths. She has mobility and can pick off targets really well.
Even if you continue to split you can almost always land kills 1v1 with anyone in lane at this point as well. And you can take towers in pretty much one wave with just this item as long as you keep up with the sheen procs.
Pushing down towers
As simple as this is, I feel it's important to go over, since I see many nidalee players not do this as quickly as they could. Basically, you have infinite
procs. And these help you take towers very quickly in addition to your attack speed steroid from E. When auto attacking turrets, use human form W and Q in between auto attacks—don't interrupt an auto attack animation, throw an ability right after your auto ends. But also make sure not to waste abilities and only use it after the internal cooldown on your sheen has gone by.
Once you have used this, jump into cougar form and use your Q/E/W much the same way, right after an auto animation completes after waiting for the sheen cooldown. After this, you can jump into human form and your heal should be pretty much up again. Rinse and repeat. Usually just
can help you take tower in about two waves. If you have
you can easily take down a tower in just 1 wave if someone leaves the lane unattended.
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, then this is a great option. Though it's less common in season 5 with the increased importance on objectives (seriously, no matter who you are you have to show up for dragon/baron now almost every time). But as AD Nidalee or even as a fed AP Nidalee, splitpushing can be a viable option if you think you won't get caught. But be honest with yourself and think about the enemy team's champions and capabilities. Champions like Twitch/Rengar/Twisted Fate/etc can all appear on top of you out of nowhere. So you want to coordinate with your team and either have them in position to take objectives across the map immediately or just not be splitpushing.
Place at least 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 as well. Nidalee is very strong at skirmishing and you should be looking to fight in the jungle especially if you have an advantage. Keep timers on buffs and try to punish the enemy team by taking everything you can. This will take experience, but try not to give up kills and over extend either.
Push up your wave to tower and rotate
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.
What nidalee lacks in raw tankiness and aoe damage she makes up for in mobility and raw burst. Nidalee doesn't have hard cc herself, but she can get places faster than almost any other champion due to pounce and her passive/ult passive. It's all situational, but you may be able to dive mid if it's pushed to tower or just gank it if it's not. Nidalee's roams are very effective if you land your spear.
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?
All is not lost! Keep playing your game and trying your best to keep up in levels and experience. Get the gold you can without giving up more than you already have if possible.
Most of the time Nidalee is fairly useful after
or after a few core AP items and you can still kill squishies at that point before they're fully built and have a defensive item.