The default safest start for all junglers, Elise is no exception to this rule.
Skipping this item will make you jungle slower, which mean you fight monsters longer, which means you take more damage, which means that if the enemy jungler shows up you might be screwed.
You scale ridiculously well with this item because of your W too.
Want to steal the first blue of the enemy Amumu to make him completely useless?
This is a pretty risky start and it requires some teamwork so you shouldn't get this if you don't trust your team.
Your support could help you with this trick by buying the ward and placing it instead of you, but let's face it.. not gonna happen.
Get your items as fast as possible, RUN and place that ward right here as fast as humanly possible.
These will be your first 4 items almost every game, they give you basically everything you need at earlygame stage.
Health regeneration for more sustain, faster jungle speed and your AoE skill does more damage, builds into either Spirit of the Ancient Golem or Spirit of the spectral wraith, both of which you LOVE. You should replace this item with madred's razors if you're farming the jungle a lot (more so than the usual), but if you're spending your time mostly ganking then this is the way to go.
When you buy this item you should give up on your second or third blue and so on, since you have all the mana regen you need from it. This item should be at a higher priority than even boots of speed, but it's recommended not to recall unless you can buy them both.
If you're far ahead of your enemy, just give up on upgrading this item and buy bigger stuff.
This is your first actual boost in damage. Don't underestimate it due to the small amount of AP on it. You're buying it for the cheap early stats and the penetration that scales extremely well with your % damage. Also it builds from two small items that you can easily get one of them every time you recall.
Don't treat this like a defensive item, the HP it gives is rather pathetic compared to the base HP bruisers have. If you're forced to get some health then buy a giant's belt first.
You're not going to get focused with CC, if you are then you might as well get Spirit of the ancient golem instead of Spectral Wraith. These boots have a pretty big impact on your damage output, combined with abyssal scepter and Haunting Guise you'll be doing basically true damage to the enemy squishies.
If you're feeling that you need more beef then you should get giant's belt before these, if you find yourself spending all the time in your human form in teamfights then you could consider getting ionian boots of lucidity - especially if you're building tanky.
Bonus armor and magic resistance from spider form, might as well get more HP to be beefier overall, this item builds into either Randuin's or Ryali's depending on your build. If the enemy team mostly has one type of damage then you can replace this item with an early Warden's Mail or Chain Vest to counter that type of damage.
You're not forced to get it as the last of the core items. Heck, if you're ahead you can rush it right after boots and spirit stone.. health is a great way to secure your lead earlygame since it's the stage at which all characters deal a fair amount of damage, including tanks. So you'll be taking a lot of mixed damage at this point.
I did not expect that, but Riot absolutely crapped on this item. It used to be worth buying over spirit stone if you wanted to farm the jungle but now it just feels so worthless, it's easily outdamaged by spirit stone and spirit stone builds into actual items.
Decent jungle speed (boosts your W's damage and your single target is already high enough thanks to your Q) and gives you health/mana regen. Not only that, but it actually builds into decent items. I like this one since I gank a lot and I like to tax my lanes anyways.
These give you such a delicious damage boost, it's a crime not to pick it up when given the chance.
You're not going to get focused anyways with CC since your range is pretty high and you're very unlikely to initiate teamfights since you'll usually be standing in the back of your team throwing Ws and Qs until one of your teammates does the job.
I used to buy it on everything, EVERYTHING. But then I realized that while some champions really need this, it's not quite necessary on others.
I can see these being important on bruisers but not really necessary on other roles since bruisers are the only ones who facetank in fights.
If against a team with AP on top and mid, feel free to buy these and rush abyssal.
Enemy top lane Tryndamere? Enemy junge Aatrox? Enemy ADC Vayne? Show these autoattackers how much you don't give a shit about them by buying Ninja Tabi and Randuin's Omen
If the enemy ADC is fed like hell, don't bother buying these, just go for straight up sorcerer's and buy damage items and do your best to kill him.
The ability to shut down a key target is MUCH more important than being able to survive against it for another second.
Boots of Mobility
This item is all about personal preference, some people like buying it on all junglers (Including the already mobile Lee Sin) and some people buy it only on junglers who can make the best use of it.
Take Maokai as an example, Maokai can rush these and be pretty much an unstoppable ganking machine and still use it in midgame to easily initiate teamfights.
I did like it on Elise (It makes her cocoon so easy to land that it should be considered cheating) but I just didn't like it as much as I liked Sorcerer's damage boost.
Spirit of the Spectral Wraith
Extremely fast jungle clearing, damage skyrockets, spellvamp, cooldown on smite reduced so you can secure objectives easier, and cooldown reduction which benefits Elise a lot since she is dependant on spamming skills. Buy if you're going for an assassin build. You should keep in mind that spellvamp heals for 33% of it's value for AoE skills (like your human form W)
Spirit of the Ancient Golem
Since they added CDR instead of armor to this item, it became PERFECT. Now it can be an actual viable replacement for spectral wraith, if you're going with a beefy build this item is too good to throw away, and if you're being focused with single target crowd control spells. This item is the best tenacity item you can get, it's far better than mercury treads for the sake of your full build.
-> Haunting guise -> Liandry's Torment
Perfect item for Elise, Haunting Guise gives her great stats, health and ability powers do wonders earlygame, and your damage mostly scales with magic penetration better than ability power. Also this item builds into another great item that not only shares the same great stats but it also skyrockets your sustained and poke damage. I can't see a situation where picking this item is a bad idea.
I love this item so much, it's your number one option if you want magic resistance, it also reduces the magic resistance of the entire enemy team, so if you have some crazy AoE mid laner he will worship you for having this. This item is a direct counter to runic bulwark, if one of your teammates bought it for some reason then you should not get it too, you could get something like Banshee's Veil or Spirit Visage to deal with the enemy's magic damage if necessary.
Ryali's Crystal Scepter
Let's start the list: It gives you more health, resulting in more overall damage since you're staying in the fight longer, more AP for more damage, gives you a slow which is not only awesome because almost all of your skills are spammable, but it's also awesome because it DOUBLES the bonus damage of your core item Liandry's Torment. Awesome item but if you want to buy it DON'T rush it. If you rush it you'll just go so far behind. Try to just keep an early giant's belt if you want to buy this since you might end up getting warmog's instead.
/ Iceborn Gauntlet / Frozen Heart
Elise loves cooldown reduction, Elise spams skills a lot so that mana proves to be pretty helpful. Both of these items benefit Elise greatly, but Iceborn gauntlet is directed towards more CC while Frozen heart is directed towards more tankiness.
Personally I am a fan of Frozen Heart since I find myself needing that extra beefiness and reduction in enemy ADC's attack speed more helpful, but if you're having trouble chasing or if one of your teammates already has Frozen Heart then Iceborn gauntlet is your alternative.
This is the actual defensive version of Frozen heart, what I mean here is that when you buy Frozen heart you're buying it also for the CDR and Mana for spam and general increase in DPS, but this item is just straight up tankiness. Get it if you need it, you'll most likely be buying it a lot more than Frozen heart especially since BotRK becamse so popular.
This item requires a pretty complicated situation to be viable, but it's definitely pretty effective for that situation. Basically your top laner and mid laner are both squishy AD and you're forced to build tanky even though you're the only AP on your team. This adds to your overall magic damage. Be careful because this item causes jungle camps and Baron/Drake to get aggro on you since it constantly deals AoE damage. It can also take tower aggro, so be extra cautious when you have this item. But honestly it shouldn't matter much since you'll most likely be building tank if you have it.
Health stacking ftw. Great item to counter mixed damage, low damage pokes, and burst damage. Don't get this item if the enemy team has either too much % damage (For example BotRK, Liandry's Torment, Malzahar, Kog'Maw, Vayne... etc). Also don't get this item if you're just buying it to be tankier against the enemy ADC, even a simple thornmail will give you more effective health (http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Health#Effective_Health) compared to Warmog's armor against an enemy ADC lategame
A more offense oriented magic resistance item, while it does not directly give a lot of health, it indirectly gives more health than other magic resistance items especially if you have spirit of the spectral wraith. How so? you get cooldown reduction and more health from regeneration effects, Cooldown reduction lets you spam your spells more and therefore do more spell damage and get more health back in return thanks to that health regeneration bonus. (Note: This item is outrageously overpowered on bruisers)
Decent replacement for Frozen Heart on the assassin build, helps you stay in the fight longer. and since you have spellvamp and sustain from your W, you're going to take a lot of whacking before you die again. Be careful when you have this item though.. If you die in the middle of the enemy team not only will they kill you again - completely wasting the passive you spent a ton for - but also they will get 4 assists which is pretty horrible, you just put them all ahead just because of one item. Buy this if you're cautious.
This bubble is a nightmare for combo burst reliant champions like LeBlanc and Veigar, the spell blocking effect is pretty major. The problem of this item is that bubble proves to be kinda useless against spamhappy mages like Ryze. Basically get this against burst damage, don't get it against sustained damage. (NOTE: The buff made this item ridiculously powerful)
I LOVE this item SO MUCH. If you're assassinating the ADC and someone tries to interrupt you, NOPE. Pop this and you're ready to go again. This is your third choice for a magic resistance item, the problem with this one though is that it doesn't give you any stats but magic resistance and you will have to sell it later in the game.
Do not buy:
The thing about this item is that although it's undoubtedly one of the best early/mid game counter AD items for AP champions, Elise is not a "true" AP champion. Her scalings are not as strong as other AP champions. She does benefit from AP but she benefits way more from penetration.
Literally the only champion in the entire game who can ever manage to make you buy Zhonya's is Alistar. And even then you shouldn't engage until he blew his CC. And do keep in mind if he is saving his CC for you then he is not using it on your teammates, which is always a benefit since you can play a significant role by just poking while he is desperately waiting for you to engage.
The true meaning of overkill.
This item takes a ton of time to build and it offers no defensive stats whatsoever, and you're only buying it for the penetration.
In general, most AP champions have to choose between this and abyssal scepter to pick up for penetration, but it's pretty one sided in Elise's case.
An ADC shouldn't have magic resistance high enough for you to be forced to buy this item.
Unless he for some reason bought Bansheee AND Guardian angel both at once, in this case the ADC will not even be a threat in terms of damage to begin with.
Locket of the Iron Solari
Unless you're building some sort of support Elise which is something I personally consider pointless since you're better off picking Lee Sin for that purpose if you want a high mobility support jungler.
This is now officially a straight up support item, although it's still gold efficient it's not spending it in the spot you want.
Rod of Ages
Don't ever buy this on any jungler, this includes Maokai and Cho'gath. This item forces you to rush it and you need to rush more important items. Also it's cost is so ridiculously high for a jungler to afford earlygame, and it gives too much of "meh" stats for you. Just don't. Please.
I may or may not get flamed for this, but this item has two problems. It doesn't give any defensive stats and it doesn't boost your damage like it does for other characters. Don't forget that you scale with penetration REALLY well. Also you're a freaking jungler, this thing is outrageously expensive and only focuses on one stat. Even if fed, this item falls flat against other options
Will of the Ancients
Just no, Spirit of the ancient wraith is 10 times better. It's just an overkill in spellvamp and AP. Spectral wraith gives you cooldown reduction which you need much more than just extra spellvamp and AP. If you ever find yourself wanting that extra spellvamp then tell your midlaner to get it. Other than that NEVER buy this item.
The new nashor's tooth seems pretty interesting but the real problem is that you need a completely different build for it to work (You must be running ghost, you need to build bruiser items, etc) or else you'll be peeled away and kited to death before you make any use of it.
Overall not worth the price.
(Items in no specific order)
Full assassin build:
This is probably the main build you should use, the best scenario build. If you're on par with your enemy on gold or ahead of them then don't hesitate to go for this.
It may seem beefier than the usual assassin builds but that's because you're Elise, you need a lot of magic penetration, decent amount of CDR, and a little bit of AP to become a nightmare for your enemies.
- Wards can be enough for you to take a dump on the enemy jungler. Buy wards and either place them in your enemy's jungle if you're ahead or on par with the enemy jungler or place it in your own jungle if you're behind (to secure your buffs)
- If you're against one of those 3 AP matchups feel free to replace Frozen Heart with a Spirit Visage.
- If you're against a Vayne you're forced to rush a Randuin's once she hits the spot, because she hates your guts and all Vayne players are evil machete wielding psychopaths irl who want to murder your whole family, swim in their blood, and eat their dead corpses.
- If you're ahead buy damage, apply pressure, force recalls, farm more, increase gold gap between your teams.
- If you're behind and forced to farm lanes, drop wards to prevent yourself from getting killed even more.