I build maokai as a CDR tank. You want to have tanky utility items and you also want to have max CDR.
Starting Item options:
Standard machete/pots start:
(blue path) or (
Pretty much all junglers start with hunters machete now, so this is rather basic.
The mana pot is IMO worth it if you do red path, you have enough mana to spam arcane smash on golem which interrupts its auto attack, preventing damage, and also kills it faster and allows you to use another proc of sap magic on the golem, healing you for 7% of your hp. Its pretty close but IMO the 1 mana pot is worth it for red path.
Optional buy to counter poke comps.
This isn't a must buy anymore after they upped the price from 225g to 345g, and now that I'm building spirit stone every game I don't need the sustain as much as before.
This is still very good vs enemy teams with a lot of poke, vs these comps the 360 health back on this thing is just as good as health. If you can make use of all three of the charges during an extended fight, its worth over 1000g in health and mana, easily worth the price and item slot mid-game.
Early game it's great because it gives you sustain if you're frequently ganking. although I don't think it's worth buying just for early game anymore. But if your jungling style consists of constantly ganking and then recalling in bushes to make them think you're camping the lane, this is the item for you. I still buy this item as a counter to poke comps. If they are running a heavy poke comp or something you can use the charges to sustain yourself, the 360 hp on this is just as good as hp.
You'll have to sell this back at 40 minutes or so once you're out of item spots, but Maokai is often not the most farmed champion so most games won't even get to the point where you get to 6 items and have to sell it back.
Solutions to new early mana problems
Now that jungle camps have so much hp, mao is more likely to run out of mana early just by jungling. To solve this I recommend stocking one mana potion at all times early game, and not necessarily using it. Just buy it on your first back and keep it around as insurance in case you run OOM in the jungle right as a good gank or countergank opportunity comes up.
Since you buy boots of mobility, you should always be looking for an opportunity to back so you can refill your mana bar. Don't run halfway around the map just to clear a small camp if you're low on mana when you could just back and then run from base which wouldn't take significantly more time.
If you get really fed you could also buy chalice early and plan to build it into athene's mid-game.
The other good option,
, got nerfed in season 3 and is now 150g more expensive. Boots of mobility also fits very well with the new crystalline flask item, as you'll be encouraged to recall, so you can get back to the lanes or jungle faster with mobility boots. I'd still buy tabi vs heavy physical teams but otherwise mobility boots are now preferred.
Lately I've been delaying my boots of mobility until after I get spirit stone. It seems like every lane is warded now, so spirit stone helps farm the jungle during periods where you can't really gank. It also helps you sustain so you can countergank better rather than being forced to recall after you clear a few camps.
If your bot lane is something like thresh, where a lane gank is a good option, you might rush boots of mobility if you have the 1000g handy and want to gank bot. But otherwise just rush spirit stone before you even get boots 1 IMO.
I never get
because I don't need tenacity as Maokai, and also i'm getting it from spirit of the ancient golem anyway. I see some people build merc treads into Ancient Golem on maokai and it makes me facepalm. They bought the most expensive boots available and only got 25 magic resist out of it.
A Great Debate: or ?
Well, i'm back to building
So I made a long reddit post about why
was better even on maokai
http://www.reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends/comments/16sch5/fyi_madreds_razors_no_longer_gives_attack_damage/ and then they go and buff spirit stone by reducing the cost by 100g, then they buff the hell out of spirit of the ancient golem so that I actually want to buy it now.
Madred's is still slightly better for pure jungling but the new Spirit of the Ancient golem is IMO too good to pass up, it's really strong now. So I think you should just buy spirit stone now.
is too expensive to buy early now, The support should already have one and I'd rather just buy a regular ward or two when I base.
This item is much better than it was at the start of S3: Core Item now IMO.
They replaced some of the health with a gold generating passive, and this item is still great. Only 1300g plus spirit stone for a bump up of 350 hp, 10% cdr and 35% tenacity plus up to 6.6~gp/10 (averaging probably 5gp/10) is just such a huge early game boost. You don't even need the tenacity but even if you mostly ignore that stat it's a crazy good item.
Obvious Core Item:
They rolled bulwark into locket which now builds out of aegis which is weird, but as a tanky jungler you obviously want to build this. It's still very cost-efficient and gives ridiculous team utility which should be your focus on maokai, so just buy this every game except vs very heavy physical comps.
Never sit on this, always upgrade to locket ASAP:
Aegis upgrades to locket, but unlike in previous incarnations, aegis has very poor gold-efficiency. So never sit on this, always upgrade it to locket as soon as you can.
More CDR (optional):
Frozen Heart is a great item to counter heavy physical and/or heavy auto attacker enemy comps.
Athenes is a good item to buy if you get a little bit fed... it covers your CDR and mana needs, plus it gives a bit of damage and magic resist. Now that camps have more hp, the mana regen on chalice is far more useful for general clearing. Also, the jungle gives overall more gold than before, allowing you to sometimes afford a bit of AP after you get your core tank items built.
If you need to not die to magic damage enemies, pick up Spirit visage instead for your CDR item.
Since these items all give 20% CDR, you have to pick one of them.
Nerfed too much IMO:
After the original S3 preseason patch this item became very good. But since then they've nerfed it twice, once by increasing the cost by 180 and then by reducing the hp regen from 1.5% of health to 1.0% of health. I don't think this is a good item anymore after the nerfs so I no longer buy this.
If you get really fed or farmed:
They did increase the gold of the jungle but most games maokai will still not have enough gold to buy luxury items like these. But since warmogs is nerfed once you get to 5th/6th item these are something to think about.
Abyssal is as always a great tanky/ap item vs magic teams and it gives a nice aura.
Liandry's scales with enemy current health pools and synergizes well with maokai's twisted advance, so its quite good for damage if the enemies are stacking hp.
If you're still dying to physical damage:
a good physical defensive item. Frozen heart is generally better though, so don't pick this up till late until you're already capped on CDR.
A good magic resist item to buy when you are already capped on CDR.
for late game, picking up a
would be a pretty good idea, this way you can drop wards everywhere but still gain 300 health for the inventory spot.
I don't buy sunfire cape just because its annoying how it aggros baron in the pit. It's not awful though, so if you're getting rich and like this kind of tankydps item, go ahead and pick it up.