Nasus in the News
Any news related to Nasus that I feel is important or noteworthy will be included in this section. Check here after any big item changes, Nasus buffs, tournament sightings, meta shifts, etc.
Interview with GentlemanGustaf of "A Different View" at Reign of Gaming - Feb 2013
I was recently approached by GentlemanGustaf over at Reign of Gaming for an interview regarding my thoughts on Nasus as we move into Season 3. Topics discussed: what first got me into Nasus, the progression of Nasus itemization throughout the history of League, and the impact of recent item changes / Nasus buffs as we go into Season 3. Thanks to GentlemanGustaf for another outlet for me to ramble on endlessly about Nasus. :D
Check out the article/interview here:
Seaons 3 Nasus Buffs - Feb 2013
Over the last couple patches Nasus received a series of buffs, as seen below. These were aimed at 3 things: strengthening his lane a bit by lower Q mana cost at higher ranks, helping him with being kited so badly in team fights by giving bonus attack/cast range while in ultimate form, and increasing his rate of scaling a bit by giving additional bonus dmg off big minions/monsters.
What these buffs mean: We will probably see an increase in Nasus play as people try to discover how much stronger the buffs will make Nasus. Hint: Not that much stronger. These are mostly QoL buffs that make Nasus a bit more playable but don't change much about the way his kit works or what his strengths/weaknesses are. We will/should start to see a good deal more jungle Nasus, as that has actually been made a viable choice with the +6 to big monster change.
- Fixed a bug where Siphoning Strike critical strikes were dealing more damage than intended
- Mana cost reduced to 20 at all ranks from 20/25/30/35/40
- Now increases attack range by 50 and cast range by 100 while active
- Mana cost reduced to 100 from 150
- Permanent damage bonus is now doubled to 6 when killing a champion, large minion or large monster
Nasus Q Bonus Damage Critting - Feb 2013
For a brief time Nasus Q was unintentionally critting off the full bonus damage on his Q. I created a thread in the League of Legends general discussion forum to bring this to everyone's attention. The bug was fixed in patch 3.02 which came out the next week. During the limited time the bug existed, lots of people enjoyed building crit on Nasus and made some pretty funny youtube videos showing monstrous Q crits. For more information on this, see the thread that I created in GD or my post on Reddit that brought this issue to light.
Thread in GD:
Post on Reddit:
Nasus in Pre-Season 3 - Dec 2012
I am of the opinion that Nasus is slightly better in Season 3, although he still needs a bit of help to be a truly strong pick. Why do I feel Nasus is better in Season 3? Actually , it is a culmination of lots of smaller factors, some of which you may have considered, others that you may not. Let's take a look at the things that I think are good for Nasus this season:
- Jungle changes. It is now more difficult for the enemy jungler to camp your lane. Level 2 ganks are greatly reduced, which was always a big threat for Nasus. If the jungler is intent to camp you, he still can, but that is a decision they will have to make and which will put them behind if you play super safe. On the whole I have definitely noticed a bit less jungle pressure on top lane.
- Masteries. This is a change for the better that you can see throughout the game. Defensive tree got buffed pretty good. Lots of tops that used to go 21 offense go defense now. Also the changes to tough skin make the enemies take much more minion damage when they try to harass you or try to freeze a wave. This works out to your benefit because you have greater sustain than just about everyone. Essentially many top lanes do a bit less damage to you now because of masteries, while they take more damage from minions. Also, there are new masteries that reduce slows and cc, which help a bit against kiting.
- Itemization. Trinity, FH, FoN was super strong. But two of those items got nerfed and one got removed. Bad news for Nasus right? Well actually in their place we get an amazing item that combines the benefits of Trinity and FH into one. You do lose some stats and bonuses, but you are also spending WAY less money, gaining an AoE slow, and opening an item slot. Spirit Visage is also freaking beautiful for Nasus now. Also, flask is a great new starting item option which helps to solve some of your early laning woes. I feel your early and midgame itemization is greatly strengthened, while the overall late game build may be hit a bit.
I suppose those would be my big three points. There are other points to consider, such as the fact that the penetration changes are a pretty big hit to your actual tankiness in late team fights, or that you lost a lot of MS from items, but on the whole I feel Nasus shows a bit more potential for the reasons listed above.
Who is Nasus?
Nasus can be classified as a "DPS tank", an "off-tank", a "bruiser", an "anti-carry", a "pusher", or all of the above. Nasus is a late game champion that requires a good amount of farm and some good team coordination to be truly effective. If allowed to farm for extended periods, Nasus can turn into a true hyper-carry.
Why don't I see more Nasus?
Nasus has the potential to be an incredibly strong champion. However, he also has a few key weaknesses which hold him back from becoming an OP FOTM terror. In my opinion Nasus' shortcomings can be summarized with 3 major points:
- He has a relatively weak early laning phase
- He has a very slow ramp-up time and needs to stay in lane and farm Q as much as possible
- His skill set makes him very susceptible to kiting.
Because of these facts, his effectiveness is very dependent on both ally and enemy team composition. These limiting factors make Nasus a somewhat situational champion choice. Under the right circumstances he can prove to be very strong, but if these circumstances are not met his success can be somewhat hit or miss. On the other hand, there are other threatening tanks and beefy DPSers that are much less situational, meaning they are almost always very strong picks and are not so easily shut down or countered. However, if you are in an optimal lane matchup and/or find a way to free farm your Q, you will become a much greater threat than any other bruiser, or perhaps any other champion in the game.
Why should I play Nasus?
If the statements I made above have scared you off, not so fast! In this guide I intend to explore some ways in which we can mitigate his weaknesses and allow him to turn into a true terror. In a sense, Nasus can truly be considered a hyper carry. He is a champion that literally has unlimited potential. If you can pick him under the right conditions, farm his Q well, and itemize smartly, you are playing possibly one of the the most terrifying champions in the league. Nasus is not a button-mashing face-rolling champ that can pub-stomp and carry evey solo queue game. He requires some patience, good awareness of team composition, awareness of the flow of the game, mana conservation, last-hitting, timing, and other skills that will make you a much better player. If you learn to do these things well it will truly pay off and not only will you be a beast with Nasus, you will become better at the game.
About the Guide and the Author
Scope of this guide
This guide is written for a solo top style Nasus with a build focused around getting tanky and maxing CDR. This is because his primary damage source is his Q, which gets farmed quicker the more CDR have, and can be spammed more for greater damage the more CDR you have. The tougher you are and the harder you are to kill, the longer you can keep smashing people with your Q.
Some people play Nasus in the jungle, as an AP, and even recently as a support. While I think some of these options have a limited amount of potential or merit, I do not think they currently compare to the potential of a top lane Nasus. I will not be covering those builds in this guide unless I suddenly find myself with an absurd amount of free time.
In this guide I will cover the basics you would expect to find, such as runes, masteries, his skills, item builds, etc. I will also delve deeper into other concepts such as opportune times to pick Nasus, how to play him in various stages of the game, and how Nasus fits into the current meta.
About the Author
I am an average player lacking any kind of exceptional skill. I find the old saying goes "those that cannot do, teach" relevant to my situation. If you are looking for a Nasus guide by a 2.5k elo pro player, this isn't it. Unfortunately for you, no such guide exists (until somebody decides to rip off mine). I am a gold-rated player, and I have been since Season 1. I don't play a lot of ranked games, so I have no impressive stats to boast. I started playing in open beta, leveled up to 30 playing mostly Nasus, and have played him off and on with a sort of love/hate relationship ever since.
I first released my Nasus guide in its earliest form in May 2010 on leaguecraft.com and moved it to solomid the week they created a guides section. I also created a youtube channel just to make video supplements for my Nasus guide (youtube channel: hyfe86). Some people would call me the go-to guy for Nasus information, as I've been keeping my guide updated for close to 3 years now and have created quite a few large Nasus threads in General Discussion. Others might say I don't know crap because I'm only a gold player. So there you go. You don't have to take my advice, but if you go asking for it elsewhere, don't be surprised if you get pointed back this way.
Prior to Season 1:
Before ranked games even existed normal game stats used to be visible. To show you how long I've been playing Nasus, this is what my normal game Nasus stats looked like back in May of 2010 (a few months before season 1 started).
A note on Runes:Nasus runes should be geared primarily towards helping to solve his problems by strengthening his early lane sustainability and providing more tankiness. There are a few good choices in most of the rune slots, so go with what you are comfortable with or can afford. Below I will provide some recommendations for each rune slot. Note that Quints on Nasus are probably the most frequently changed aspect of this guide, as I am constantly trying new things and modifying my rune set up.
Generic Nasus Page
9x armor pen reds
9x flat armor yellows
9x flat MR blues
3x lifesteal quints
This is the page that I run on Nasus the majority of the time. I use it in blind pick and when I'm not positive what lane I will be up against. It is a great mix of armor, MR, and sustain.
Big armor page
9x armor pen reds
9x flat armor yellows
3x flat armor blues
6x mr/lvl blues
1x flat armor quint
2x lifesteal quints
This is an armor page that I like to run vs top lane champions like Garen, GP, Renekton, Riven etc. that are almost entirely physical damage and can be very aggressive early. I wouldn't use this in blind pick because if you wind up vs a caster you are screwed. Use it when you know you are facing a scary DPS in lane.
For nerds only: This rune set up might look a bit strange to you and you may wonder why I don't just use 3 flat armor quints. It's actually because due to some weird rounding you get some free stats and greater benefit out of this set up. The armor yellows and 1 quint put you at +17 armor. The flat armor blues are only worth .7 armor, but for some reason in conjunction with your base stats, masteries, etc. you wind up getting a full 3 armor from those 3 .7 armor blues with this setup (.7*3=2.1 wtf). You actually wind up with +20 armor in game, despite what the rune page says. So if you use this rune page and recommended masteries, you start the game with 44 armor, and with a cloth+5 start you will go to lane with 62 armor. If you were to run all 3 quints flat armor, those 2 extra 4.26 armor quints wind up only actually giving you 6 more armor than my set up. In my opinion when you already are starting the game with over 60 armor, +4% lifesteal from quints is going to be more beneficial to you than 6 more armor. TLDR: This is an optimal big armor page for Nasus IMO because you are getting a free .9 armor, starting with 62 armor at lvl 1, and still get 4% lifesteal.
An analysis of what I feel to be overall best in each slot, along with some good alternatives.
Marks (Red) - x9 Greater Mark of Desolation
Armor Pen reds will make your attacks, and most importantly your siphon strikes, that much more painful. I think armor pen marks are probably the most static out of all rune options on Nasus. AD runes have recently become popular on lots of champs, but are not smart on Nasus. You don't need extra last hitting and harassing power. You last hit fine, and you shouldn't even be trying to harass.
Armor (if you want to run crazy big armor, though you sacrifice some good damage)
Seals (Yellow) - x9 Greater Seal of Resilience
Flat armor seals are the best option by a good amount. I previously ran dodge yellows, which were great when paired with the dodge and nimbleness masteries in the defensive tree. However,, dodge is no longer in the game. Flat armor will negate some harass and damage from minions, allowing you to sustain better.
HP/lvl (inferior to flat armor generally, though these can be better versus more caster oriented teams)
Glyphs (Blue) - x9 Greater Glyphs of Warding
Flat MR will help strengthen your lane against casters or hybrids. Scaling MR is statistically the better choice overall, but for weak early champs such as Nasus, these flat resists will be more beneficial and help you survive the lane.
MR/lvl (scale better into late but are not as strong in the laning phase)
Quints - x3 Greater Quintessences of Vampirism
I've started running lifesteal quints on Nasus because after working out the math I realized that even with very minimal auto attacking, the scaling on your Q winds up making these stronger than hp5 quints by lvl 4 or even earlier. I will post more details on this in the FAQ because some people have justifiably questioned this choice. With a 14/17/20% lifesteal passive, with these quints you will start with 20% lifesteal scaling to 26%. Nasus needs lane sustain, which is why I ran hp regen quints off and on. As I said, these obviously scale infinitely better as you farm your Q throughout the game. Auto attack minions to regen whenever possible (while keeping the wave position under control). Be sure to utilize the auto-attack reset on Q to double-tap Q farm minions for extra burst healing.
Note that there is a lot of leeway when it comes to Nasus quints, as there are loads of good options. You'll notice for my other rune sets I only list 1 or 2 alternatives. For quints, there are half a dozen good options. I change up my quints on Nasus more than anything else in the game. I am constantly torn trying to decide what the best quints for Nasus are and what I should list in the guide. It really comes down to personal preference and choosing a balance between taking something to strengthen your early game and something that will remain useful later. I've run every option I will list below at some point, and each of them has their merits. Do what works for you.
Alternatives (in order of viability, IMO):
HP/5 (best lane sustain quints for early levels)
Movespeed (more beneficial in the long run but not as strong in the lane)
Armor pen (more beneficial in the long run but not as strong in the lane)
Flat HP (similar laning phase boost as hp regen but not quite as strong)
Flat Armor (you can add an armor quint or 2 against super AD lanes like garen)
Flat MR (if you know you are facing a caster)
MasteriesSimilar to my runes, I feel that masteries on Nasus should be geared towards making him more tanky and more sustainable in the lane. Fortunately for us, the Season 3 defense tree is pretty amazing. I would recommend always putting at least 21 points into defense on Nasus. The other 9 points you can put into either offense or utility or a mixture of both.
The reason I choose to go into offense over utility is because I think in the end 8% more armor pen to make your Qs hit harder late game is more beneficial than what you'd get from utility. The 9th point in utility (increased buff duration) is not very useful to you as it is pretty rare that you are being given the buffs (blue will normally go to your jungler/mid, red normally to the jungler early/mid and the ADC late).
I choose to put my 9 extra points into offense ultimately for the +8% armor pen. The rest of what you put your points into in offense is not all that important. I put 2 points into butcher to make it a bit easier to last hit when your Q is down since your base AD is so low. You would want to put pts into sorcery for the CDR, but with my build you get 40% cdr from items, so those mastery points would be wasted. No reason not to get improved ghost, if you are running it.
As far as the points in defense, these should be pretty self-explanatory. Swap your hardiness/resistance depending on whether you are facing and AD or AP lane. I find the 2nd to last row pretty lackluster, so avoid that. The most important things to get in the defense tree are durability/vet scars, unyielding/block, and tenacious. As long as you get those, you can spec the rest to your personal preferences as to what you think is the best setup.
Teleport - I believe teleport is too strong of an ability on Nasus to pass up. The bottom line is this: while other summoner spells (such as heal or exhaust) can be good, none of them come close to the threat level that a Nasus with TP brings. The first benefit of teleport is that it allows you to back for items quickly and safely in the laning phase. This is huge considering so many champs are able to put a lot of pressure on Nasus in the lane in higher skilled games, and if used properly will allow you to get a slight farm/xp advantage over the enemy. Outside of the laning phase teleport is still amazing because it allows you to be side lane farming your Q practically all game with the ability to TP into a team fight at a moments notice. Staying top as long as possible and using TP to get to dragon fights is a pretty common strat in the current meta. Also having Nasus split push bottom later in the game and then TP to baron and take it with your team when the enemy comes to try and halt your push is pretty lulzy. On top of that, Nasus with a farmed Q is an amazing backdoor champion. If you are being shut down with kiting in team fights (not at all uncommon), screw that and just abuse TP for backdooring purposes when the enemy is grouped on the other side of the map.
Ghost - I personally just feel ghost is an overall stronger choice than flash on Nasus. Having prolonged increased mobility and chasing power is better on Nasus than a the miniscule blink. However, this is pretty much entirely down to preference. If you are hooked on flash and won't play any champ without it, do your thing.
I feel that these are the best alternative summoner spells for Nasus, and really the only ones you should consider.
Still good and will always be good until they either remove the ability to jump walls or remove the spell from the game. Take flash over ghost if you prefer it. I won't blame you. I've toyed with it many times in the past. Activating Q and flashing onto 200 HP enemy = happy fun times.
Exhaust is a strong pick if your team doesn't have one, as it can be used to briefly shut down the highest damage threat on the enemy team, whether it is a DPS or a caster. It's definitely a good idea to have someone on your team packing this. If you don't like running TP, take exhaust instead.
Smite is a must if you plan on jungling. In Season 3 jungle Nasus is much more viable than before. Not taking smite as a jungler is not an option. You need it to secure buffs and objectives (dragon/baron) without them getting stolen by the enemy jungler.
A quick look at TP Nasus in action:
Passive: Soul Eater
Nasus drains his foe's spiritual energy, giving him a natural 14 / 17 / 20% lifesteal.
This is a decent passive providing some lifesteal for some lane sustaining power and increased survivability in team fights. The early lifesteal was recently buffed from 10% to 14%. Don't expect to rely on this too much for early game survivability, however, as you may not be able to safely auto-attack enough to get much return out of this. However, do try to auto attack creeps when possible in order to heal up if you can do it safely. Later on you will get pretty good HP return once you get your Q buffed and are thwocking with sheen procs. The passive synergizes well with his ultimate, allowing you to return more HP with your bonus damage.
Q: Siphoning Strike
Nasus's next attack will deal additional damage. Siphoning Strike permanently gains 3 stacked damage whenever it kills an enemy.
Cost: 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 mana
Cooldown: 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 seconds
Extra Damage: 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110
This is your single target burst damage and the reason why 90% of guides (including this one) recommend sheen as a core item. This spell was recently buffed and is even more rewarding now, so much so that I now recommended maxing it early for the lower cooldowns for quicker stacking. Obviously you should focus on last hitting creeps with this in the laning phase as much as possible, but you need to do so throughout the course of the game for maximum effectiveness. Siphon strike minion waves. Siphon strike neutral creeps. Siphon strike Heimer turrets, JitB, etc. By mid-late game, if you have done a good job last hitting everything on the map, enjoy siphoning squishies for half HP with a sheen/Tri Force. An added bonus: siphon strike works on towers. Also, remember that you can auto attack and then rapidly SS by hitting Q the moment your normal attack lands. This makes last hitting much easier once your learn to take advantage of it, and also allows you to put out damage quicker on champs and towers.
Nasus ages his target, slowing their movement and attack speed by 35%. Additionally, they are reduced further to reach an extra slow at the end of 5 seconds. If the duration of the slow is reduced, the extra slow will be applied faster for it to reach its maximum at the end of the duration.
Cost: 80 mana
Extra Slow: 15 / 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 %
Cooldown: 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 seconds
This is simply one of the best snares/slows in the game because of its 5-second duration and the fact that it both decreases movement speed and attack speed, rendering a DPS carry essentially useless in a team battle for several seconds. It causes no damage but will net you an assist if you slow an enemy for an ally to pick off. This spell was recently buffed substantially, given a lower mana cost and reduced CDs. It is great for escaping, ganking, chasing, and in team fights. In a team battle use it right away on the enemy DPS carry. Since the spell does no damage, it does not draw tower aggro.
E: Spirit Fire
A target area becomes desecrated for 5 seconds. Enemies caught in the area when the desecration occurs are dealt a burst of magic damage. Additionally, enemies in the area are dealt magic damage each second and have their armor reduced while on there and for 1 extra second.
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Range to Center of AoE: 650
Radius of AoE: 400
Cost: 70 / 85 / 100 / 115 / 130 mana
Initial Magic Damage: 55 / 95 / 135 / 175 / 215 (+0.6 per ability power)
Magic Damage Per Second: 11 / 19 / 27 / 35 / 43 (+0.12 per ability power)
Armor Reduction: 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40
This is a good skill during all phases of the game, be it laning, jungling, pushing, or team battles. However, it is outshone by his other skills. It is a great tool for farming, harassing, and pseudo-zone control early on. You don't want to level it too quickly or too slowly, because early game you don't want SF killing off an entire creep wave, just taking it down enough so that you can last hit with SS. In the laning phase try to maximize its effectiveness by placing it so that the AOE will hit the largest amount of creeps as well as harass the enemy. In a team battle drop it in the middle of the action so that its armor reduction will make your entire teams attacks that much more effective. When defending pushes, simply dropping it in front of a tower can often keep enemies at bay. Keep in mind this spell will draw tower aggro. Remember that since it was recently buffed to do upfront damage, you can actually use it to accurately last hit minions from safety, or kill champions trying to escape with very low HP.
R: Fury of the Sands
Nasus becomes empowered in the sandstorm for 15 seconds, gaining extra health. While the storm rages, he drains a percentage of nearby enemies max health each second (max of 240 magic damage per second per enemy) and converts 6.375% of the damage done into bonus attack damage for himself until the sandstorm wears off.
Cost: 150 mana
Cooldown: 120 seconds
Radius of AoE: 350
Health Gained: 300 / 450 / 600
Max Health to Magic Damage Ratio Per Second: 3 / 4 / 5%
What an ultimate. This is incredibly powerful, but pretty easily countered. This spell will turn you into a force to be reckoned with, and is the reason a good Nasus is built for durability rather than DPS. In his ultimate form Nasus can really punish an enemy team. If nothing else, it will wreak havoc, causing the enemy to scatter and allowing your carries to make quick work of a clusterf*ck. Hopefully your team has some CC to keep the enemies around and you can enjoy melting the enemy teams faces off like Raiders of the Lost Ark. It will take some practice to learn when to pop this for maximum effectiveness, but the most important thing is to learn not to pop it preemptively. The enemies WILL run/kite/escape if you jump the gun and use it before the fight is properly engaged.
Levels 1-6: - - - - -
Then prioritize: > > >
Then prioritize: > > >
General Skilling Philosophy
Some champions have an almost set in stone skill order (eg: Ryze, Ashe). Regardless of the situation there is one skill path that is pretty much always optimal. Nasus is NOT one of these champions. My basic philosophy on Nasus skilling is this: put as many points into SS and farm it as much as your lane will allow. The faster you can get your SS farmed the scarier you will become. However, you may not always be able to 100% prioritize SS. Get however many levels of SF you need to keep your tower from being pushed. Remember that common sense applies. If you are getting entirely zoned out, put points into Spirit Fire. Nasus skilling is very situational and you need to be able to adapt. Just remember that you WANT to pump Q and farm it as much as possible, but it doesn't always work out that way. Be flexible.
Why prioritize Siphon Strike?
Up until SS was buffed in patch .109 I left SS at level one and focused on the other two spells. My logic was that you get +2 bonus regardless of what level the spell is at. When they buffed it to +3 I experimented with the build and realized what a massive difference the reduced cooldown makes in massively farming your Q and optimizing your damage output. The more points you put into it, the shorter the cooldown becomes, and the more free damage you can farm. Spirit Fire is great for farming, pushing, lane control, and team fights. It's a useful spell to an extent. However, in the early laning phase all it will do is push your lane, forcing you to overextend, and also missing SS last hit. You don't want to max it too fast or use it too much because you don't want it decimating creeps waves early on (unless you are 1v2 and struggling) because then you can't get your SS last hits and your lane will be pushed (not safe). At level 3 SF will drop the ranged creeps into last hit range. At level 4 it will kill the ranged creeps and drop the melee into last hit range. Wither is a strong slow but again, the benefits you get from leveling it cannot surpass the benefits of your Q.
What is best for a lvl 1 teamfight?
If you are playing a low elo solo queue 90% of the time everyone goes straight to their lanes. In a mid or higher elo premade lvl 1 team invasions are not uncommon. If you are rushing to golem or lizard to gank or protect a jungler, wither will be a huge help in picking off a first blood for your team. In this case I'd hold off on picking a skill. As you are moving or camping with your team, if a stray enemy shows up in the jungle trying to ward or something, grab the wither and pop it on them. If you are invading the enemy jungle to steal a buff, taking spirit fire will be an immense help in quickly securing the buff for your jungler or carry. If you are not buff stealing and/or don't run into enemies, proceed to your lane and grab SS.
Why the early point in E?
I like to put one early point in E because with the recent buff you can actually use the upfront damage to last hit a low HP minion if your enemy is zoning you. Time the dropping of your E to pick up out of range last hits, while also hitting the enemy champion if possible. The armor debuff even at level 1 also greatly increases your damage output on a target if you do engage when your jungler comes to gank or for whatever reason.
Item BuildsCURRENTLY BEING UPDATED - NOT COMPLETE!
- Normal start
This is a very effective and safe start for Nasus. The rejuv bead gives you some HP regen and can build into Locket and/or Warmogs. The ward lets you lane safely, protected from those lvl 2/3 ganks. The pots give you plenty of sustain that should tide you over until your first back.
- vs strong AD
This start may be better against very strong AD lanes that can really punish you early (Riven, Renekton, Garen, etc.) The additional armor will let you survive their harass a bit better. The cloth can go into Locket, Tabi, etc.
- Rush vs AD lane
- Rush vs AP Lane
Optional laning items:
+ OR +
You should have your first core laning CDR item (either locket or spirit visage) plus glacial, and should now be working towards either completing iceborne gauntlet, or building the other CDR item that you don't have already. It may be wise to upgrade your boots at this time as well, although you can afford to put them off until the laning phase is completely over.
+ + + OR
+ + + OR
Best Additional Items:
Items Not In My Build And Why
Further Item Analysis
Why this build and not TriForce/Frozen Heart?
Why this build over Warmogs + Atmas?
Atmogs is strong on pretty much every bruiser. However, there's a few reasons I think my recommended items are better on Nasus than an atmogs build.
1) All of the components of my recommended items help you early and mid game in terms of the tankiness they provide to sustain the lane and CDR they provide to help you stack Q.
2) Unlike most bruisers Nasus' dmg doesn't really come from auto attacks, it's almost entirely the huge dmg from his Q. Therefore, building CDR for Q spam will generate greater dmg output than an atmas will.
3) Nasus in team fights will be popping his ult, which gives him a big HP boost. That means building resists is going to give you much more EHP in a teamfight than just stacking more HP with warmogs.
TLDR: It's the combination of amazing resists, the fact that he gets HP from his ult, and the awesome utility/cdr of the items I recommend that makes this build stronger than atmogs IMO.
DPS Nasus vs Tank Nasus
Nasus fails as pure DPS. I shouldn't have to state that, but there it is. TriForce + tank items is immensely better than building DPS. DPS Nasus will be squishy and will get crapped on by crowd control and likely won't even be able to survive the duration of his ultimate. The way I see it, your strength is not your auto attacks. Your offense is FREE and comes from your ridiculously farmed Q. Build defense and CDR in order to stay alive longer and punish people more with those nasty Qs.
Why not AP Nasus?
Early GameIn the current meta Nasus works best in a solo top lane. Most of my descriptions and explanations will be under the assumption that you are solo top.
During the early game, your ONE and ONLY goal is to SURVIVE and FARM. Remember that getting all the last hits you can, and as many as possible on your Q, is much more important to you than engaging the enemy. In fact, you want to engage the enemy as little as possible, as the odds are they can put out much more damage early game than you can. If you are solo top you should be free to max Q and farm it (pretty much the only exception to this would be if you find yourself in some strange circumstance where you are 1v2, in which case you might need to put points into E). Learning how to lifesteal off creeps, avoid or at least negate the effectiveness of enemy harass, and Q farm effectively will take practice. Obviously, some lanes may prove to be much more challenging than others.
If the enemy can out damage you and is trying hard to harass and zone you, the best thing you can do in the first few levels is let them. Don't pick a fight early or go suicide mode for last hits. You may miss some early last hits, but its better than getting baited into an early engagement and giving up first blood. Stay back, eventually the lane will push, and you can try to pick off last hits under your tower. Once you get to level 3 or 4 and have a point in each spell, you can begin to farm a bit more aggressively. Auto attack minions whenever possible to regen hp. If the enemy is a melee champ and tries to engage on you, just wither, auto+Q, and walk away. Do not get in prolonged engagements, just Q and walk away, as you will lose almost any war of attrition this early. Ask your jungler for some early pressure if you are really struggling. Your jungler coming up, blowing an enemy summoner, and maybe just zoning them for a wave or two can be HUGE for you in terms of getting a foothold on the lane.
Don't foget that you have teleport if you are getting harassed too hard. It's better to back early and blow your TP to get back to lane that it is to give up a kill. In fact, you should be taking advantage of the fact that you have TP to back early for items (the sooner you get your philo the better). It is fairly common for a top laner to use their first TP on their own lane. After that, be looking for opportunities to use your TP in other ways, such as counter ganking bottom, or fighting for dragon.
If at all possible, try to push your lane with SF and autos before you back. Unless you have just been severely injured and are emergency blue-pilling, you can generally push the lane a bit, buy, and then walk back without missing much xp. After your first TP back, don't TP if you can make it back without missing many creeps, as its better to hang onto it for an emergency back or in the ways mentioned above.
Learning how to lane properly with Nasus against different champions just takes practice and experience. Just remember: do not overestimate yourself early. Play like a sissy, don't fight when you don't have to, and farm farm farm. The majority of the champions in the game can beat you in an early engagement, so play it safe. Take a look at the champion match-ups section further in the guide for a bit of info on how to lane against some of the common solo top champions.
(800 gold) - Philo stone is priority number one and should be rushed first in most circumstances.
(350 gold) - Boots should be gotten fairly early, after your philo. In some lanes you can delay them a bit (super passive farm-fest), while in other lanes you may want them right after your philo (vs skillshot champs, you are getting ganked frequently, etc).
(75 gold and 35 gold) - Try to always keep some of these on you between purchases, as they will keep you alive. Grab them whenever you can.
Mid GameOnce you have your boots, philo, and are working towards your shurelias/glacial/tforce, you should be fairly safe in the lane and could even begin trying to push the tower if you choose. Keep in mind that around now is the time for tower pushes, dragon battles, group roaming, etc. You will want to try to save your TP for dragon fights, clutch buff invasions, etc. Unless your team needs you in these situations, however, you should still be permanently farming your Q top. Once you get your CDR items is the critical time for your Q farming and the point at which you will really be building up the most bonus damage.
Don't forget about your early Baron potential with Nasus. Once you hit lvl 11 you can grab a surprise early baron with 2 of your allies. Just tank it with your ultimate and spam E and Q on cooldown on it. Use the buff to your advantage and push up a storm.
At this point you should be trying to push lanes with your spirit fire. You can no longer be free farming your Q at leisure, rather you should be trying to pressure lanes and take down towers whenever possible. Your SS should be getting farmed up now and does nasty damage to towers. Lead your team into tower pushes, or split push on your own if the enemy team is distracted, TPing into a teamfight if its wise, or just taking out an undefended tower. Always keep a ward or two on you to allow for safer split pushing.
(1525 gold) - This is a great item to rush after your philo vs a DPS lane. It gives you the armor you need to shuck off enemy harass, plus mana, and a whopping 15% CDR. The chain vest is your first priority.
(850 gold) - I like to grab this after philo if I'm not facing an AD champion and I can't save up enough fro glacial outright. It gives you some nice extra HP and 10% CDR. Once you have the kindlegem its only 550 more to upgrade it to Shurelyas.
/ (200 / 450 gold) - The great thing about upgraded boots is they also give you the defensive stats you need in lane. If you are facing a caster and want mercury treads, the null mantle will help you in lane. If you decide you can go for tabi, the cloth armor will help you, and the upgrade to tabi is super cheap (only 200 gold). I purchase these components and upgrades interspersed with my CDR/sustain items as I see necessary.
(550 gold upgrade) - I typically hold off a bit on finishing the shurelyas until after I have glacial and boots built. This gives me a bit more passive gold gain from the philo and then is assembled and ready to go right around when you are going to be needed at dragon fights, etc. and the active will be useful to your team.
(1260 gold) - It is only after I have my 2 big CDR items built that I start working on the TriForce towards the end of midgame, sheen first. The tankiness and CDR from glacial and shurelyas is going to be massively more beneficial to you in the lane to continue to sustain and Q farm than some extra damage. After those items, however, you have 36% CDR and are pretty beefy and are ready to start working on the coveted TriForce.
Late GameIf you are lucky enough for the game to last into late game you should truly be becoming a monster with your tank gear and massively farmed Q. With some practice your SS should be farmed up to epic proportions at this point and something went terribly wrong if you aren't on your way to winning. If you maxed out your CDR your wither will be a 6.6 second cooldown, practically allowing you to permaslow carries. Damn it sure is fun farming all day, but we do want this game to end at some point. There's not much to say about late game other than enjoy that crazy Q damage and coordinate with your team to try and push for the win, abusing TP to backdoor or split push and bait the enemy to you and then TP to baron.
All item purchases are situational at this point. Build what you need to counter the enemy threats. Analyze and determine who is dealing the most damage to you and build accordingly, or if you want more damage yourself.
Team FightsNasus truly shines in proper team fights, but it can sometimes be tricky to pull off a good one because people are so terrified of your ult. Here's some things to keep in mind:
You should not be initiating. Hopefully you've got either another main tank to iniate, or some type of stun to kick things off. Champs with some type of team stun/slow such as Amumu are optimal. You need to be early into the fray, but you don't want to be popping your ult right away. You do want to immediately wither the carry/DPSer. Let your enemies commit to the battle. Let them feel they have some slim chance of coming out victorious. Now rip all their hopes and dreams away from them. Lay down your SF in the middle of the action and pop your ult. Nasus works particularly well in conjuction with other AoE ultimates like Amumu or Morgana that can keep the enemy team contained. Siphon Strike away on the squishies, and use your discretion on who to wither next when it comes back. Pop your ghost if necessary to stick to fleeing enemies. Team battles can be chaotic and require cool nerves and lots of practice to be the most effective. It is sometimes useful to go into a team fight with objectives in mind: Who are you looking to wither? Which target should be your focus? If that target flashes some terrain, who should you focus next? This way you have a game plan in mind and aren't caught up in the chaos doing stupid stuff.
When to play NasusPossibly the most important thing to learn in order to play Nasus successfully is when to pick him. There are a lot of factors that make Nasus a fairly situational champion choice. I see lots of people pick Nasus at bad times and suffer because of it. This is true even in pro tournaments where I see the Nasus pick and I immediately think to myself "why would they do that? this isn't going to work.." In solo queue I've seen someone first pick Nasus half a dozen times, and almost every time they get completely counter picked and shut down. Nasus is what you might consider a "last pick" champion. What this means is that you pick Nasus once you see that it is safe to play him, but not before. Below I will break down what some of these criteria are, and when you should and should not be picking Nasus.
When to play Nasus
The first thing to understand about Nasus are the lane matchups and against what champions he can safely farm, and against what champs will he be zoned or shut down. In solo queue Nasus is a good pick if you see them choose another very passive, AFK farm top type champion. You should also realize that Nasus lacks any form of initiation, so he needs allies that can make up for this (Ashe, Warwick, etc). He also needs solid crowd control on his team to help counter his kiting weakness and keep the team fight in his vicinity (<3 Amumu). In blind pick where you can only see your own team composition you will need to decide whether Nasus will work well based off of that. In a ranked game or draft mode you can also see the enemy team composition and choose accordingly. Nasus is great at shutting down DPS carries (wither), melee heavy teams, and teams with lots of high HP champions (due to the % based nature of his ultimate). If you see the enemy team coming together with lots of tanks and physical DPS, feel free to let the dog out (see video below).
Nasus is a good pick when:
Enemy team has:
- A top lane champion that Nasus can farm against
- A team comp that is heavily DPS oriented
- A team comp lacking excessive CC or kiting abilities
Ally team has:
- Strong initiation
- Strong crowd control
- Capability to survive their lanes for 20 minutes without excessively feeding
If the majority of this circumstances are true, it is likely that Nasus will be a strong pick. It is rare that ALL of these conditions will be true, but if at least most are, Nasus will probably be able to shine. Nasus can still work without any of these circumstances being true, but it is much more risky and much more difficult to pull off.
When not to play Nasus
Obviously, the opposite of all of the above make for a very poor time to pick Nasus. If the enemy team is running a double AP comp with not much in terms of physical damage, Nasus is not the best choice. As stated earlier, Nasus counters physical teams, so a double caster comp will most likely just burst/cc/kite you to keep you off their carries. If your team lacks any form of initiation or strong crowd control, Nasus might not be a good choice. If the enemy team has loads of slows, knockups, and other kiting abilities, he might not be a good choice. Don't take this to mean if you see an enemy Ashe you can't play Nasus. But if the enemy team has "kite" written all over it, Nasus is not a smart route to go. You also want to consider their top lane champion and whether or not you will be able to farm vs them.
Nasus is NOT a good pick when:
Enemy team has:
- A top lane who can completely shut down your farm
- A double caster comp
- Tons of cc, kite, and mobility
Ally team has:
- No initiation
- No CC
- Weak early game
Top Lane Match-upsI see a ton of questions about who counters Nasus, etc. on the forums. I find this fairly ironic considering 75% or more of the common top lane roster is favored in a lane against Nasus, and at least a dozen can completely shut him down. Also I always see incredibly stupid shit in these threads like "Irelia hard counters Nasus" or "Cho wrecks Nasus". After seeing these threads for months I've grown tired of some of the misinformation spouted and decided to add a list of all the common top lane champions. I will briefly break down each lane, items to buy, tips and tricks, and and over all rating of the lane difficulty. Final conclusion on the lane will be given in the form of: Favorable, Challenging, and Get Wrecked. Why not just use Easy, Medium, Hard? Well, that would be pretty misleading. Even the favorable lanes I would not consider "easy", as you don't really beat anyone at all in the lane. Likewise, the challenging lanes I wouldn't consider medium, I would consider them hard, and the hard would be practically impossible. So I guess you could say the scale is Medium, Hard, Impossible, but whatever, I'm trying to be original.
Please note that this list is not a guarantee that you will win or lose said match-up, as your competence and the competence of the enemy factor very largely into this. For example, I have beaten a great deal of the "Get Wrecked" champions just because they were unaware of how badly they could have shut me down and instead sat there in a farm war with me. Similarly, I've given up first blood to Jarvan, been forced out of lane and outfarmed by Talon, etc, either because of great play on their parts or poor play on mine. These lists merely indicate how the match-up SHOULD go if the champions are played properly and to their full potential. Also, I will periodically update these descriptions and ratings based on personal experiences.
FavorableFavorable means this is a rare gem of a lane that Nasus should be able to free farm in. Don't take this to mean you can "beat" these champs and try to fight them or force them out of lane. That's not the point. Favorable means they don't have the skill-set to zone you, force you out of lane, and keep you from farming Q. They can still be tricky, put out some strong harass, and remain a threat, but typically these lanes are farm wars, and if you go equal in farm in any of these lanes, you have actually won.
Champions: Cho'Gath, Galio, Irelia, Jarvan, Malphite, Nasus, Singed, Talon
ChallengingChallenging means the lane will be, to varying degrees, a very difficult uphill battle, but is typically manageable. These lanes should generally be avoided, but if you have the runes for them, have experience with the match-up, or are just a glutton for punishment, have at it. With some early pressure from your jungler, these lanes should not be a complete lost cause. Results guaranteed to vary.
Champions: Gangplank, Garen, Jax, Lee Sin, Mordekaiser, Nautilus, Nidalee, Pantheon, Renekton, Riven, Rumble, Shen, Shyvana, Tryndamere, Volibear, Warwick, Wukong, Yorick
Get WreckedGet Wrecked means you either rolled the dice with Nasus in blind pick and got really unlucky, or you got hard countered by their last pick and are going to get your shit pushed in real good. Or you are really just that dumb and picked into it. Avoid these lanes at all costs. If you find yourself in one of these lanes, beg for ganks or a swap and try not to feed. Otherwise, consider letting your tower fall and hope they will go away and let you farm at your second turret.
Champions: Akali, Kennen, Olaf, Teemo, Udyr, Vladamir
Lane Match-Up Detailed Breakdown
First of all this better be a blind pick normal, otherwise you deserve to lose for picking Nasus against double AP. That being said, this matchup is a prime example of how vastly different a lane can go depending on the competence of the player. A bad Akali when facing Nasus will play passively, farm safely until 6, and then try to start bursting you down. At that point it might be too late, you've farmed some defense and can sustain with lifesteal from your Q. A good Akali will harass the shit out of you with Q and keep your HP too low for you to farm safely. Akali beasts Nasus in lane and can really shut you out if you don't get some ganks. Grab early mercs, HP and MR (consider Spirit Visage), and a pink to hang on to for when your jungler comes to gank. Try to auto minions for sustain between her harass, but be wary of your HP and her stupid burst. She doesn't give a shit about your wither, and contrary to popular belief her shroud radius is big enough to be able to avoid your SF if you drop it on her while hiding. Teleport, MR, and ganks are the only things that may tide you through to mid game. Beg for jungle pressure. If they can come up and blow her summoners and zone her for a wave or two, you will be immensely better off. Fortunately, if you refrain from dying and feeding the Akali, all is not lost. She needs kills to snowball, and if she can't get them off you, she may start to roam and allow you the opportunity to try and catch back up on all the Q farm you missed. It's going to be a long painful journey.
Start: Regrowth+1 or boots+3/4
Items: Philo, Mercs, Spirit Visage, Shurelias
Consensus: Challenging/Get Wrecked
One of only a handful of match-ups in the game you should be glad to see in your lane as Nasus. A truly skilled Cho may give you some fits, but for the most part he doesn't have enough damage output to threaten you in lane. Avoid his rupture and watch out for ganks. If he lands Q + W on you as a Lee Sin is coming out of the brush with summoners and red buff, you are completely fucked. Try to freeze the lane behind the river and farm farm farm. You should be able to build what you want and farm Q on CD. Cho is also pretty gankable early if you avoid his panic rupture. Don't underestimate the effectiveness of your % based ult against Cho either, you can actually take him on before he gets geared. However, if he is running flash ignite always be wary of his full combo... he can actually put out a scary amount of burst with QWR+ignite, so don't stand around like a dummy with low HP, always keep it up with lifesteal and pots.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Glacial, Shurelias
I haven't seen much of this champ in a while, but I really wouldn't mind if he made a comeback. This is another of the very few champs that can't do a great deal to Nasus in the lane. I don't have a whole lot to say considering I see him so little. Galio wants to sit and farm the lane just as much as you do, which is beautiful. His only harass is from Q and E, which isn't that strong, and he will typically just use them to farm. Don't stand in the middle of your minion wave and he has to choose between using his spells on you or on the minion wave. Build mercs and you should be OK with just a standard build. Add in some more MR if necessary.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Glacial, Shurelias
Similar situation to Akali. A bad gangplank might ignore you and farm minions with Q for the bonus gold. A good gangplank realizes how badly he can dump on you and will stand in the wave, Q you on CD, and auto attack you whenever you come up for last hits. GP is one of those champs that can firstblood you at level 1 or 2 if you play stupid and underestimate him, especially if he is running ignite. He can constantly harass you, out-damage you, cleanse your wither if you try to slow him, and generally bully you in the lane. Do not get baited into a hard engage or you will die. Run a big armor page against him and start cloth + 5 pots. Rush glacial. If you don't let him kill you early, after a trip or two back you should be OK. GP builds vary greatly, from gp/5 to double dorans to wriggles to TF rush. Just be wary of how he is building and how he is playing and gauge the lane accordingly. Hopefully he lacks the persistence to keep trying to harass you down and will eventually resort to just farming. I'm also not sure yet how much the mana cost change on his Q will affect him. While he is a real pain in the ass, if you run huge armor, play safe, and itemize properly, you can survive this lane.
Items: Tabi, Philo, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
Generally considered to be one of the hardest counters to Nasus in top, which is pretty accurate. His early damage output is enough to induce fits of rage the likes of which you have never before experienced. Have fun not being able to approach your minion wave for the majority of the early laning phase. Run a big armor page. You can start either boots 4 pots or cloth 5 pots. Dorans shield is actually OK as well. With boots you can try to just outrun his Q+E, but he's probably running boots as well, so good luck. All that being said, if you start with +60 or more armor, bait out some spins and let him push to your tower where you can farm a bit safer, and then rush tabi + glacial, this quickly becomes fairly manageable. After the big mastery changes I played this lane several times in a custom to test things out. While he could zone me for a while, he couldn't kill me, and I eventually got hold of the lane. Yeah, it sucks. No, it's not the worst match-up out there. Still, I would recommend avoiding it.
Start: Boots+3/4 or Cloth+5
Items: Tabi, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
Honestly, my favorite match-up for Nasus. I've heard Wickd insist Irelia should beat Nasus, and I have no doubt that he could shut me up real quick. However... against anyone that isn't Wickd, I just don't see it. I've played the match-up at least 30 times, and only struggled maybe once. On top of that... I don't know if this is sheer dumb luck or what, but every single time I play Nasus against an Irelia top we end up winning. This might make my opinion a bit biased, but at this point if I see an Irelia I get a huge boner, pick Nasus, and get a free win. She doesn't have the damage to push you out of lane and she will generally sit up there happy as can be AFK farming with you. Build straight to FH + shurelias for max CDR and enjoy free wins assuming your allies don't feed so hard they surrender at 20.
Items: Philo, Tabi, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
Similar to Irelia, Jarvan just doesn't have the damage to really zone you or force you out of lane. While is passive is powerful and he has some decent harass potential, it isn't so much that you can't sustain through it and largely ignore him. Try not to get in too close where he can shield slow you and set up for easy EQ combos. He can first blood you if running ignite, but only if you play poorly. Don't underestimate his early damage potential and don't try to trade with him. As always just stick to last hitting, healing off minions, and after a few levels you should be set. Try to avoid his EQ as it can set up some big damage output.
Start: regrowth+1 or boots+3/4 or cloth+5
Items: Philo, Tabi, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
Honestly, I haven't faced the tweaked Jax, so I'm not entirely sure about this. Prior to the changes I didn't have too much trouble with Jax. Obviously he hit extremely hard with WQ but he could only sustain his harass for so long due to mana restrictions, and if you could survive that he didn't have much else to offer. I think the changes made him a bit scarier, but I haven't played vs him with Nasus yet, so I can't be sure.
Items: Philo, Tabi, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
A ranged energy AP... what do you think? Kennen can dump on you, plain and simple. There's pretty much nothing you can do vs a good Kennen. He will harass you with autos, Q, and W, zone you, and force you into a non-optimal MR build to survive the lane. You can't go on him because he can just stun you and E away. Again, if you are facing Kennen its probably a double caster team and Nasus was a bad choice. He will also kite you and render you quite ineffective in team fights. Beg for ganks, stay back when you have 2 marks on you, try to dodge shurikens, and pray. You will lose your tower or your life or both unless you get heavy ganks or he plays extremely poorly.
Items: Mercs, Spirit Visage, Shurelias
Consensus: Get Wrecked
Lee Sin is one of those champions who's effectiveness in lane varies greatly due to a higher skill ceiling than most champs, as his skill set is a bit more intricate than most other champions. What this means for you is that this match-up can vary greatly, all the way from easy to rather challenging. I can't give a whole lot of insight into his intricacies, but I can at least lay out the obvious. His early damage potential is pretty high so if he is dead-set on zoning you, go ahead and let him until the wave pushes. I've found the best way to play vs a Singer is generally dance around just behind your ranged minions to avoid Q's and only move in for last hits. Try to bait out his tempests by moving in and out of range of minions erratically. If you get him to waste tempest you avoid the majority of his damage as well as his cripple and the follow-up autos. He will inevitably push the wave if he uses tempest often, where you can farm pretty well under tower. Once the lane is pushed to your tower, the majority of Lee Sin players will try to get fancy and keep trying to harass with their high mobility which allows them to juke in and out of tower range. They will inevitably start taking the occasional tower hit while trying pointlessly to keep your HP down, which you can easily regen by auto attacking under tower. Play the lane safe and move around erratically at first, and then after your first recall you should have the defense to sustain his harass.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Glacial, Shurelias
Malphite is considered to be a pretty good counter to many top lane bruisers that rely on auto-attacks, such as Tryndamere. Fortunately, Nasus isn't really a big auto attacker, he only relies on his Q. Malphite may try to bully you around a bit with his shard (Q) and groundslam, but it just isn't enough damage to push you out of lane. You can lifesteal through his harass and he will likely run OOM before doing enough to really threaten you. Realize that most of his harass is magic, and take a look at whether he appears to be building AD, AP, or full tank. This should be a relatively straight forward lane of him trying to harass you, and you simply regenerating more than he is able to dish out. Turns into a farm lane, which is what you want.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Glacial, Shurelias
I honestly haven't faced a Morde in quite some time, as he seems to just now be seeing a resurgence, and more commonly chooses to go mid. Morde poses the same problem as every other manaless caster: unlimited harass. Obviously you will need to build MR. I tend to stand off to the side of my minion waves vs a Morde so that he can't spam E on the wave and harass me at the same time. Morde's tend to push quite hard, so be sure to ask for ganks. Unfortunately, Morde is one of those champions that can harass you very effectively even when you are pushed to your tower and last hitting underneath it. You should be able to build MR and regen through his harass, but if you don't get ganks he will whittle you and your tower down pretty quickly. After 6, always ensure that you have enough mana to ult, which basically counters his when he tries to combo you.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Spirit Visage, Shurelias
I only just recently played this match-up and I was a little worried about what to expect. We ended up even in farm and neither of us died to each other or by ganks. To me this means I won. We ended up winning the game, so that reinforces my opinion. However, the lane wasn't exactly easy. For the first few levels Naut probably won't do much if anything to you. Once he gets points into all his skills though, he can start putting out some pretty serious harass, and it will chunk you for a lot. If he smacks you with his passive, riptides, and then hits you with dredge line as you are backing away, you take a pretty serious amount of damage. His shield is freaking huge and will absorb your Q if you try to retaliate. Play the lane as usual, keeping the lane frozen near your tower, and move around behind and between your ranged creeps. Try to dodge his Q and lifesteal off minions. He can chunk you pretty hard but it shouldn't be too much for you to sustain. I haven't played the champ so I can't really give insights to his CDs, mana costs, etc. Just play safe and build resists as needed. He will bully you around, but shouldn't be able to kill you.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Shurelias, Glacial or more MR if needed
Nid is such a slut. Her harass with auto attack is endless, and so is her sustain. This is an uphill battle. AD Nid is more common than AP top, but either way she builds you will want some armor early because her harass comes from her autos. Start cloth+5 and auto attack the minions a lot for lifesteal. She will be auto attack pushing the wave and harassing you as much as she can, so your autoing should help to keep the wave balanced and as well as give you some regen. Your lifesteal and pots are just enough to sustain you as she slowly whittles you down. After 6 watch out for the burst if she is building AP, otherwise its not a huge deal. More than likely she will take your tower relatively early because she pushes so hard. Fortunately none of this really stops you from farming Q, as she can't all in on you early, so just keep farming the Q until you have to back, and then return to the lane with more resists, rinse and repeat.
One of the hardest counters Nasus has ATM, Olaf will straight dunk on you. Avoid this lane at all costs. I don't really know what to say... Olaf can own you with undertow and true damage bursts. Build health and armor and hope that he is an idiot and doesn't realize he can zone you out and completely deny your Q farm. Try to dodge his Q and keep your distance, grabbing last hits where you can. Try to let him push to tower and try to last hit there, but if he's smart he will just keep the lane frozen. Consider asking for a lane swap if there is an AP mid that you can handle (eg. Kass, Morg).
Items: Tabi, Philo, Glacial, Shurelias
Consensus: Get Wrecked
This is a pretty challenging lane and he can bully you pretty hard with spears. Fortunately, he has no sustain so if you play it smart it is actually possible to regen through his harass and harass back a bit. Just dont Q his shield, if you want to hit him be sure to double tap Q. The first hit will remove his shield and then is followed immediately by the Q. Build armor and you can sustain his periodic harass, but if he tries to go all in on you just wither and back off and heal up with pots, because his damage is too great for you to trade with him in a full on confrontation. Remember that his burst is pretty nasty especially if he's packing ignite, so don't let him get you too low, not even under tower. Pantheons are not afraid to dive you if you get low when they have their shield up. This is a pretty challenging lane and you will be taking a lot of damage, but you should be able to keep yourself alive and keep your farm respectable. Just like Akali, Panth needs to snowball to be effective, so even if you fall a bit behind on farm as long as you don't let him get kills on you early you will become much effective than him later in the game. He will also probably look to use his ult to pick up kills in other lanes, so be sure to alert your team when he wanders off and take that opportunity to farm as much as possible.
Renekton is another champ that can really beat up on Nasus in the lane, and should be able to shut you down pretty hard. Fortunately, most Renekton's don't play the lane right and will inevitably push, allowing you to farm under tower. What he should do is harass you with fury on his W and avoid hitting minions with his AoE. What he will probably do is slice to you, stun, Q, and either dice away or keep attacking. This will push the wave pretty quickly. Also, he does entirely physical damage, so if you start with my big armor page and cloth+5 you can negate a lot of his early game terror. As strong as Renekton is early, if you rush a chainvest he really can't kill you unless you are being dumb. Watch out for his summoners, because if he is running ignite he is definitely going to try to pick you off around level 3 or 4. I can't think of a whole lot of tips for this lane, as you really can't evade him since he has a gap closer and a stun. Just stack huge armor and try to regen off minions and don't let him get you low enough so that he can combo you down with ignite.
Items: Tabi, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
Similar to Lee Sin, the quality of Riven's you will face in lane varies a great deal. She is definitely annoying, but in my experience you can typically sustain through her harass. She also is full physical damage so run a big armor page and start cloth+5 into quick tabi. Armor, pots, and lifesteal. Sometimes Riven's will get cheeky and try to stun you to make you miss your Q last hits. Avoid being predictable and activating your Q and then walking towards a low HP minion. This makes it easy for her. Instead be sure you are always trying to double tap Q for the animation reset and make it more difficult to predict when you are going to Q. She is going to make it difficult for you by constantly jumping on your face with Q and shielding so you can't really retaliate, but like I said, stack armor and you should be OK. As always, don't let her get you too low because her burst after 6 is scary and her ult casts much faster than yours.
Items: Tabi, Philo, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
Manaless caster. You shouldn't be in this lane, and there's a good chance you are going to pay for it. Once again, some Rumbles are terrible and this lane won't be so bad. Other Rumbles will make you want to pull your hair out. They will repeatedly try to zone you with flamespitter and somehow ALWAYS seem to drill you with harpoons. However, this is another lane that will generally push pretty hard and leave themselves open to ganks. Ask for them early and often or you are probably in trouble. Rumble can't harass you very effectively under tower as long as you keep moving, so if they are content on zoning you in the lane just let them and the pick up hits under your tower. You can build MR, but it never seems to be enough if they are really set on messing with you. Keep moving and do your best to avoid harpoons, because 1 landing typically means you are taking another + the full force of flamespitter. Auto attack minions to regen, build MR, ask for ganks, stay mobile.
Items: Mercs, Philo, Spirit Visage, Shurelias
Consensus: Challenging/Get Wrecked
I fortunately have not had to face Shen post buff since he is always banned. Ironically, I did play Shen against a Nasus right after the patch. He was pretty smart and started null mantle into mercs and chalice and I only got 1 kill on him with a jungle gank. Nasus should actually fair better than most against Shen because he has such great sustain. You are going to get some swords thrown at you repeatedly. They do magic damage, dummies, so don't build armor. Get some HP and MR and try to lifesteal off minions. Keep an eye on his passive and don't make it easy for him to hit you when its up. I'd need more experience with the match-up to really say more, but just play it safe and you should be OK.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Spirit Visage, Shurelias
I've only played this match-up once, and it was right after the IEM where M5 popularized Shyvanna counter jungle. All the Shyv did in my lane was push as hard as possible, and then go pick up jungle camps. While this was annoying because she got ahead on farm and gimped our jungle, there was nothing I could do about it because she clears so fast. At least I got to farm as much as I wanted. How the lane plays out if the Shyvana is trying to harass you I really can't say. She puts out some pretty gnarly early damage, but has not natural sustain, so she shouldn't be able to harass you more than you can manage. As I said, however, I don't know this for sure. Don't stand in her W and don't let her get free hits on you. Keep your distance and farm under tower when it inevitably pushes, or if she leaves lane just tank the minions before they get to the tower and Q them all.
Items: Philo, Tabi, Glacial, Shurelias
Singed is always an annoying champ but is actually an OK matchup for you. It's not optimal since he does magic damage and you would rather rush glacial, but at least you can farm fairly easily. Let him push the wave and then either farm under tower or block them out of range. He may start doing gay shit a while into the game like running behind your tower to clear the wave before it even makes it to your outer turret. Whatever... block his wave in front of yours and Q them all. He is annoying and you can't really kill him or stop his farm, but neither can he kill or stop you. Don't do stupid stuff like give him free flings or walk around in his poison, just let him clear the wave and then clear in return. If he tries to really mess with you and does a corny AP build that is hurting you a ton you might have to build extra MR, otherwise just build normal.
Items: Philo, Mercs, Shurelias, SV if necessary
Talon puts out pretty good damage but doesn't have the mana pool or the sustain to really be a threat to you in lane. He can put out some pretty painful harass early, but you can regen through it and make him spend his mana pool pretty quick. Use your pots and keep your HP up because his burst is pretty strong with ignite if he's got the mana. Keep moving and don't stand in the middle of your minions so its harder for him to hit you with rake. I will admit he is pretty annoying early because he can jump on you, silence so you can't wither or Q, and then walk away + rake to keep you away. He will cut you down early but just use pots and auto minions during his CDs. Sustain through his harass, and counter attack if he is taking minion aggro or playing badly. After you back and get a philo and some armor he can't really mess with you anymore. You have to play it pretty safe early, but it should turn into a farm lane once he realizes he can't take you down.
Items: Tabi, Philo, Glacial, Shurelias
A well played Teemo is one of the best "common" top lane counters to Nasus. He can constantly harass, blind, poison, and destroy you. His damage is mixed so it is hard to build against, and he will punish you every time you come in range to last hit. You will probably only win this lane if the Teemo is just a terrible player in general. His blind will make your Q miss, but doesn't take up the charge, so if another minion is low you can still use it. Ask for ganks and try not to die. Consider asking for a lane swap if there is an AP mid that you can handle (eg. Kass, Morg).
Items: Philo, Mercs, Glacial, Shurelias
Consensus: Get Wrecked
Starts out very scary and stays pretty annoying. Tryndamere is considered a relatively weak laner, but even so he can still poop on Nasus. Run big armor page, get fast tabi into glacial. He can bully you early and it can be really bad if he gets lucky crits early on. The first few levels are the most risky, so don't let him all-in on you or you'll probably die. Once you stack armor he shouldn't really be able to do that much and will probably just repeatedly push to your tower. It's a frustrating lane because he will push and harass hard, maybe even chunk you a bit under your tower, and then spin out and heal up leaving you to try to regen and last hit off just a few minions. Definitely an annoying lane, but you can survive it and farm decently unless you get really unlucky or make silly mistakes.
Items: Tabi, Philo, Frozen Heart, Shurelias
This lane really sucks for Nasus. He can put out so much damage so quickly, and a great deal of it is magical, which sucks for you considering you want glacial. He has good sustain and great harass, the worst combination for you. I avoid this lane so I really don't have much advice for it. Ask for a swap if you can handle mid. Build mercs and a spirit visage or chalice. Honestly I can't think of a reliable way to win this match up so just swap or rage quit (jk).
Items: Mercs, Philo, idkmanshit
Consensus: Get Wrecked
He has infinitely spammable harass from range, sustain, and does magic damage. Can it get any worse? Not really. The only way you are winning this lane is if you are facing a complete downs babie that doesn't Q and E you pretty much on cooldown. You might be OK the first few levels since his spells do pretty little early on. After those first few levels though he is just going to start making your life suck, and there's nothing at all you can do about it. Obviously build MR, but really... swap, or get tons of ganks, or you are boned.
Items: Mercs, Spirit Visage, Negatron, Shurelias
Consensus: Get Wrecked
I have actually not played this match-up and don't really know anything about this champ. I'm pretty sure he is a very under-rated top lane pick, but I can't say all that much. I would think this could be a very challenging lane because he has great harass potential and it is a mix of physical and magic so it's hard to build against. Looking for insights into this matc-up.
Items: Mercs, Philo, Glacial, Shurelias
Warwick top has grown in popularity immensely, and for good reason. He has great sustain, good harass, and great team fight presence. Fortunately, in my experience at least, this isn't a terrible match-up for Nasus. Granted he deals magic damage, but it is moderate and predictable. You should be able to lifesteal through his harass and farm the lane somewhat safely. Perhaps I've only faced bad Warwick's top, but I tend to not really have much trouble with this lane, and it could even move to favorable if I continue to have the same experience. Build some MR if you need it. Looking for input from others than have played this lane, because I think it might actually be favorable and a decent counter pick to a new FOTM.
Items: Mercs, Philo, Spirit Visage, Shurelias
I've had wildly different results when facing Wukong's, but I think this is really only because they tend to be so aggressive it leaves them open to ganks. If it weren't for jungler intervention, I'd probably get dunked every time. He has stupid strong burst at very early levels and will abuse you with it as often as possible. He hits super hard on low CD, and is generally too much of a threat for you to safely farm early on. Run big armor page and get fast Tabi and Glacial. Let him push and ask for ganks. After you have stacked some armor you should be OK in the lane unless you are just getting outplayed. Don't do stupid stuff like waste mana withering his clone or extending super far for a ranged creep. Same old same old, try to survive, stack armor, lifesteal when you can.
This lane is challenging but honestly as Nasus you are one of the better options to be facing Yorick with. He is considered a very strong laner, but you can actually handle the lane because his harass is constant but moderate, while your sustain is the same. Your lifesteal almost counteracts with ghouls harass. This is without mentioning the fact that his ghouls give you bonus damage on your Q, so when he drops them on you, just auto+Q one instantly. If he is smart he will wait for you to use Q on a minion and then drop ghouls on you so you can't insta-kill them and they are much more punishing. Try to gauge the timing of his harass and have Q available for them, but at the same time don't sit there not Qing minions in anticipation. This lane is by no means easy, but if you are smart about it and stay busy with your lifesteal it's so-so. Bottom line is he may be able to whittle you down and force you out, but he shouldn't be able to kill you, and you are packing TP. Once you are geared a bit it's downhill for him, and you scale like 3x harder, so GG. Overall I'd say Nasus is probably a pretty good choice vs Yorick.
Items: Mercs, Philo, Glacial, Shurelias
Nasus in the current metaIn this section I intend to analyze how Nasus currently fits into the "meta" or the big picture of League of Legends. I will try to update this section every few months, or whenever the playstyle of the game shifts one way or another in such a manner that Nasus becomes more or less "viable". Keep in mind that these "metas" are generally perpetuated by the competitive community and what players see at tournaments and on high elo streams. These metas will have varying impacts and applicability at various elo ranges. For example, higher elo players will typically emulate and abuse the latest trends, etc. associated with the current meta, while at lower elo players may oftentimes be oblivious to shifts in the meta, including what strong lanes and team comps may be, etc.
In the (almost) year since Nasus was last updated, we have seen a the cycle continue (as Nasus might say). Nasus was buffed a bit, power creep continued, and now Nasus is once again generally seen as a bit lacking and less desirable than some other tanky DPS. His shortcomings have not changed at all - a rather weak laning phase, and a serious susceptibility to kiting in team fights.
To put it simply: nothing about how Nasus fits into the game has changed. He is still a champion with a great amount of potential strength, but who is rarely able to realize that potential. If anything, Nasus has become even less desirable of a choice because of an increased focus on early game pressure and snowballing. Many teams look for their top lane to have a strong early game so that they are able to contribute to early skirmishes, dominating their respective lane, and helping the team get ahead early and snowball to a victory. As Nasus is the polar opposite of this, he is a bit "anti-meta" right now. While this can potentially work, it is hard to get a team of 4 other people that understand the concept of trying to hold out and survive until late game.
As far as I can tell, as of this update (August 21), the current "meta" is shifting back from the "double AP" popularized at dreamhack, and back to a tanky-DPS oriented setup. What this entails is generally an AD/support bottom, an AP carry mid, a tank or bruiser top, and a tank or bruiser jungler. This type of tanky lineup is designed to soak up and sustain the burst of a double-AP carry team with their beefy front line, while the other carries are able to mop up after the enemy teams cooldowns are blown on the beefy champions up front (see: TSM at gamescon).
This latest trend would actually be fairly beneficial in terms of fitting Nasus into a team comp. Nasus is renowned for being strong against beefy, physical teams. This is largely because of his % based ultimate, and his wither. Caster-centric teams with heavy CC and burst are not optimal for Nasus because he will be kited and not have many targets for his wither. Additionally, Nasus will generally have a harder time laning against the stronger AP carries in top lane than he will against another sustainable tank or bruiser. If the meta does continue to shift towards this bruiser heavy meta, Nasus may start to become an interesting counter pick.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Big Q Farm Question
I've been asked 1 question regarding Nasus more than all other questions put together. I've always shied away from directly answering it, preferring to insist that it all depends on the lane and the circumstances of the game, and that you shouldn't concern yourself with this question at all. I still get asked the same question, however, so I am finally going to cave and just throw out some numbers to get everyone off my back. What is the question?
How much Siphon Strike (Q) bonus damage should I have at various points in the game?
Ok, dummy. If you really can't accept the fact that this number relies almost entirely on what champion is in the lane facing you, and how good of a player they are, rather than how good you are at pressing the Q button and then hitting a minion, here you go.
In an "easy" lane that you are able to farm relatively freely, you should be shooting for these general goals:
9-10 minutes: + 100 bonus dmg
~ 15 minutes: + 200 bonus dmg
~ 20 minutes: + 300 bonus dmg
Past this point the "laning phase" is gernally considered over and things are starting to happen in the game which will require your attention and you probably won't be afk Q farming for a good portion of it. If you were, its completely possible to gain another +100 dmg every 3 or 4 minutes. However, all things said I generally like to aim for ~ 500 bonus damage at the 30 minute mark. If you can accomplish that, you are having a good Nasus game. Keep in mind, however, that you should be prioritizing trying to win the game by pushing down towers, taking baron, team pushing, etc. rather than just focusing on farming your Q. Q farming is fun, but winning games is more fun.
Why Lifesteal Quints?
The primary reason I think lifesteal quints are great on Nasus is because of the damage growth and CDR on his Q. The Q gives you big burst damage and big lifesteal, scaling with both levels and farm. I will throw out some numbers, but the bottom line is this: if you are auto attacking an average amount for a top lane, and farming your Q as often as possible, lifesteal quints become stronger than hp5 quints by level 3 - 5, depending on a few variables, and scale absurdly well later into the game.
A very conservative average in the top lane is 10 regular hits on minions per minute + 5 Q hits on minions per minute at the very first level, with frequency of Qs going up slightly each additional level. Those auto attacks were for the purposes of a) last hitting when Q was down and b) regen/keeping wave in an optimal position. Assuming I'm hitting minions for true dmg because of their low armor values I then just added up the dmg and multiplied by .06 to find the % of additional lifesteal the quints would be giving me. I also used conservative static bonus dmg amounts on my Q at each level. These observations were made from watching 4 different replays and taking average attack amounts.
At Level 1
10 regular attacks (60 dmg each) = 600 * .06 = 36 lifesteal
5 Q attacks (60+30+0=90dmg each) = 450 *.06 = 27 lifesteal
total of ~ 63 lifesteal/min
10 regular attacks (67 dmg each) = 670 * .06 = 40.2 lifesteal
6 Q attacks (67+50+30=147dmg each) = 882 * .06 = 52.92 lifesteal
total of ~ 93.12 lifesteal/min
10 regular attacks (78 dmg each) = 780 * .06 = 46.8 lifesteal
7 Q attacks (78+90+75=243dmg each) = 1701 * .06 = 102.06 lifesteal
total of ~ 148.86 lifesteal/min
I belive hp/5 quints give you roughly 97 flat regen/min. What these numbers tell me is that even with just completely normal minion attacking with no effort made to attack extra for additional regen, the quints are surpassing hp/5 in terms of regen per minute by level 4 or 5 at the latest. If you watch or play a top lane you will see that these numbers are actually pretty low in terms of auto attacking/min. In the case that you are attacking a bit extra to heal up and/or keep the wave balanced, these quints would surpass hp/5s in terms of regen benefits by as early as level 3. In one particular replay I observed myself playing against an AD Nidalee. She was harassing a good bit as well as auto attacking minions which pushed me to my tower. By level 3 I was at my tower trying to auto attack to regen HP and last hit. I auto attacked 15 times and Qed 5 times in a 1 minute period. Here are the numbers in this instance:
67 * 15 = 1005 * .06 = 60.3
67+50+24 = 141*5 = 705 * .06 = 42.3
~ 102.6 lifesteal in 1 minute
What is all this saying to me? Basically that HP/5 quints are better only at levels 1-3, and only if you are auto attacking very little. They are surpassed by lifesteal quints by level 4 or 5 at the latest because of your bonus Q damage. If you have to auto attack to keep the wave balanced, lifesteal is better pretty much right off the bat, as observed by my lvl 3 example. In regards to the scaling, which we all knew the lifesteal would take the cake in, by just the 15 minute mark I observed an average of 10 autos and 10 Qs per minute with a level 5 Q which in all provides 284 extra lifesteal per minute, literally 3 times as much as the hp regen quints.
Of course, you have to consider the fact that hp5 quints provide you guaranteed regen, while lifesteal quints mean that you must be attacking, which also means you must be in range of the minions, which means you are in range of harass. This skews things back in favor of hp5 quints if you are looking for the safest possible option. However, the lanes where this will come into play is against a ranged opponent such as GP or a caster. In this case, they are going to be actively trying to harass you and zone you even as you stand back from your minions, and you are probably screwed either way. Even in these cases, the creeps will eventually push to your tower where you can last hit and regen off of them to an extent.
TLDR: Lifesteal quints are not as safe levels 1 - 3 as HP5, but because of the nature of your increasing Q damage are just as strong in terms of the regen provided by level 3 - 5, and scale immensely better as the game goes on.
I have a stream set up through own3d.tv that I occasionally stream games as Nasus, along with other champions. However, my computer is not quite powerful enough to stream at a quality I find acceptable, so you may have to hold out until I get a new PC before you see me streaming much.
You can find my stream at:
I have a youtube channel which contains mostly Nasus clips. The videos found throughout my guide, along with others, can be found at that channel. I have an old Nasus video guide on there, and several short montages and other clips. Sometimes I upload random other things (all League related). Check out my videos there and subscribe to see future content.
You can find my youtube channel at:
Final CommentsNasus can be considered a high-risk, high-reward champion. You may struggle early game to farm your Q safely. You may not have a lot to offer your team for the first 20 minutes of the game. But if you play smart, build smart, and farm that Q... oh buddy.
Please keep in mind that I am not a high ELO player and am by no means an authority on this game. However, I do believe that this is the best way to play Nasus at all levels of play, including higher ELO.
Hopefully you learned a thing or two about Nasus and how to play him. I plan on continuing to touch-up this guide and add more details. If you have any questions or recommendations be sure to leave them as a comment.
Thank you for reading my Nasus guide, and best of luck on the proving grounds.
(What is this... I don't even...)
Change LogChanges that were made in the guide during the most recent updates. Only the past 2 or 3 updates will be maintained in the log as it is really just to see what changed in the last update or two, not the entire 2 year history of the guide.
15 Dec 2012
Have much less time to update than I was hoping. I am currently trying to update the chapters from top to bottom. So far I have only updated "Notes on Season 3", "About Nasus", and "About the guide and the author", although you can get an idea of all the item and mastery changes in the summary sections at the top.
06 Dec 2012
Starting Season 3 updates. This may take several days, please be patient!
23 July 2012
Updated "Nasus in the current meta" section and "Media" section. Plan on updating the "Top Lane Matchups" section soon.
27 Mar 2012
Match-up section completed for now. Will be updating descriptions, adding other champs, etc. as I get more experience with them. If you have inputs on any of the match-ups be sure to leave a comment.