Welcome to the real Nidalee guide. This guides will focus on many of the main points of playing Nidalee (Which I feel that many people miss), while also touching on some of the finer points of Nidalee Play. This guide will be kept up to date as patches are released, so you can always look back and see how changes will affect Nidalee and her playstyle. If you have any questions, feel free to message me on the solomid forums or in-game. My summoner name is Gaopow.
RoleThis is one of the most important points that I will make in this entire guide. I believe that the role of a champion is infinitely more important than knowing an optimal build or knowing what runes to use. Once you know the role of a champion, the rest of the elements of this guide should fall into place. Nidalee is a champion that simply dominates the early-mid game of any game and retains a distinct role in late game teamfights and play. Nidalee is NOT (I really cant stress this enough) an AP nuker. Yes, her spear does massive damage if it hits, however, it is not as reliable as any other AP nuke in the game and it should not be the main focus of playing a Nidalee. That is why I max Nidalee's Spear/Takedown 2nd. Nidalee's spear has very little use in early game play due to its mana consumption and its unreliability.
I find that too many Nidalee players will take spear at level one and try to nuke the enemy champion in lane until they either die or get so low that they have to leave. However, this playstyle is very very easily countered and I find that a sustained harass Nidalee is much better.
So, you may ask, if Nidalee isn't an AP nuker, then what is she?
Nidalee is a champion that relies on constant harass plus incredible lane sustainability to zone her opponents. This is an absolutely invaluable role and is something that should never be taken lightly. Let's say that the enemy team has an Ashe playing solo top lane. If you play Nidalee correctly, you have the potential to be level 8 by the time that Ashe is level 6 and her CS will virtually be nonexistant compared to yours or your mid-lane champion. By shutting down the enemy carry, the enemy's teamfight ability will be crippled and it should enable your team and you to score easy kills during teamfights. In addition, Nidalee has incredible roaming and tower pushing capabilities upon obtaining a . This item will enable her to solo Golem/Lizard buff as early as level 6 and enable her to push towers with ease. Combined with her ability to push enemy champions out of lane, the top tower should be yours within 20 minutes.
In late game, Nidalee acts more as a support character with an AP nuke. However, I find that where Nidalee shines is her early-mid game, and thus all of our masteries/runes/skill leveling are build around that aspect of her play. That is not to say that Nidalee drops off in usefulness late game however, merely that her late game has enough damage and support capabilities given a successful mid game that it is more useful to spec for early game dominance.
I run 0/9/21 on Nidalee. You may ask, Why would I not run 9/0/21 to get the extra 15% Spell pen? Well, the answer is that again, I spec to make Nidalee's early-mid game as strong as possible. The extra dodge chance, combined with Nidalee's inherent dodge with Aspect of the Cougar , enables you to be able to easily harass the enemy champion while mitigating minion aggro damage and also proccing the Nimbleness mastery (Increases movement speed by 10% upon dodging an attack). This is absolutely incredible to use for harassing the enemy champion while barely taking any damage and healing it right back. The Utility masteries include full experience gain, which enables you to outlevel your opponent (if you hit level 6 before them, they will get a nasty combo in the face, which will either lead to them dying, taking a ridiculous amount of damage, or backing and becoming zoned from exp/last hits which are all very favorable conditions). In addition, since Nidalee is not very mana dependent early game, I instead focus on getting 30% longer buffs (Since Nidalee can take buffs very easily with cougar form), and 1 extra gold/10 seconds just for fun. I get the rest of the utility tree as most people do, which improved ghost and flash, adding to Nidalee's already amazing maneuverability.
RunesThe most often used runes that I see on Nidalee, sadly, are Magic pen marks and quints.
Again, I do not tend to use spear that much early-mid game and I feel as if it is completely unnecessary given the spear's already ridiculous base damage at later levels. In addition, if the enemy is stacking Magic Resist, a is a much better choice than wasting runes. Now, you may ask, why the hell would I rune armor pen quints and marks when Nidalee does magic damage? Very good question, i appreciate your concern. Having 25 Armor pen at level 1 is something that is absolutely ridiculous in terms of harassing your opponent. Since most champions start out with about 30 armor, you will be essentially hitting true physical damage on them at level 1. This is great for harassing. I have seen some Nidalee players run Fortitude quints (+26 hp), but I find that maxing heal first negates the need for those. In addition, your takedown skill in cougar form ] does massive physical damage depending on your opponents hp (The lower they have, the more it does),and i find that armor pen greatly helps this skill, as it does physical damage. Late game, with , armor pen will once again help, since you will add all of your AP into your next base attack. Like I said before, Because Nidalee's early game is so powerful, I like to get runes that maximize her effectiveness in the early half of the game.
I get dodge seals to complement her 0/9/21 masteries as well as her (which gives her 10% inherent dodge).
The flat cooldown glyphs are used so that she can spam her abilities more often. In cougar form, this is important for keeping a sustained damage output on the enemy for constant harass, as well as being able to heal more often. Later, this enables lich bane to be procced as often as you need it to.
Because Nidalee is already very quick, these will enable her to chase any champion that she wishes to. Just keep spamming Pounce and you will catch any champion. In addition, I take flash simply because I believe it to be the best summoner spell. It is essentially a get out of jail free card. When both of these are up, Nidalee becomes almost ungankable. I have been in situations where a WW will come to supress me, Ashe will arrow me, then I will simply flash + pounce + Aspect of the Cougar + Heal and I will live. These enable Nidalee to play fairly aggressively (AGGRESSIVE PLAYSTAYLE). You may choose to run other summoner spells, but I truly feel as if these are the best that you can take.
Moving through brush increases Nidalee's movement speed by 15% for 2 seconds.
Explanation:This is not one of the best passives in the game. However, it is not as bad as some people think. It is also one of the reasons that Nidalee makes a great solo top champion. By being able to move in and our of brush while getting a 15% increased movement speed, she is able to both chase and run away better. A mark of a good Nidalee player is their familiarity with using the brush to activate her passive when needed.
Q: Javelin Toss / Takedown
Human: Nidalee tosses her javelin, dealing 55 / 95 / 140 / 185 / 230 (+65% of ability power) magic damage on impact (deals up to 250% damage the further away the target is).
Cougar: Nidalee's next attack deals additional damage based on how low her opponent's life is.
Cost 60 / 75 / 90 / 105 / 120mana
This is Nidalee's OMGWTF damage spell. In human form, she does a crapload of damage with her spear if it hits. One thing that some people may not know is that the description is in fact wrong. The damage that the spear does is not actually based on how far the spear travels, but is calculated based on the distance of Nidalee and her target at the point of impact. Thus, if you feel as if someone has low enough health that you can kill them with a spear and you cannot chase them further, throw your spear, change to a cougar, and pounce in the opposite direction for optimal damage. In Cougar form, Takedown is your main nuke spell as well, as it can deal an incredible amount of damage to enemy champions. Simply harass your enemy down, then change to cougar, Pounce, Swipe, and Takedown and they will be left crying.
W: Bushwhack / Pounce
Human: Nidalee lays a trap that deals 80 / 125 / 170 / 215 / 260 (+40% of ability power) damage over 2 seconds, reveals the target, and reduces their armor and magic resistance by 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40% for 12 seconds. Traps last for 4 minutes.
Cougar: Nidalee lunges forward, dealing damage to surrounding enemies. Pounce is not affected by cooldown reduction.
Cost 60 / 75 / 90 / 105 / 120mana
This skill is not as bad as everyone thinks it is. In fact, I think it is one of her best spells. The reason I max it last is simply because it doesn't scale as well with levels as her other two spells do. You MUST get this skill at least once before hitting level 6 so that pounce is usable. In addition, sometimes I will actually get this skill first if I am protecting my jungler at golem buff (Since you should be solo top lane). I will place one near the river and sometimes I will place on under where the golem spawns, which will greatly help your jungler kill the buff, enabling them to clear the jungle faster and start ganking. Also, this spell actually does a pretty good amount of damage at level 1. So if you can bait your opponent into one, it can do an unexpected amount of damage. In addition, in teamfights, you can just quickly put one down on the enemy team and the marked target(s) (Yes, you can hit more than one person with it), will be visible for 12 (not to be underestimated!) seconds and have their armor and magic reduced by 40%. That's like Last Whisper and Void Staff in a skill (Ok, exaggeration, but that is still an incredible reduction). In cougar form, pounce is unbelievably useful. It allows you to move faster, close the distance so you can harass, take buffs easily, jump over small walls, and enable your spear to do more damage if you pounce away. In addition, traps can reveal objects such as wards and teemo shrooms, which is incredibly helpful. Oftentimes, I will drop a trap in common ward spots and happen to stumble upon an enemy ward, which I will quickly take down, netting myself a quick 25 gold.
E: Primal Surge / Swipe
Human: Nidalee heals an ally champion for 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+125% of ability power) and grants them a 20 / 30 / 40 / 50 / 60% attack speed for 7 seconds.
Cougar: Nidelee claws at enemies in front of her.
Cost 65 / 70 / 75 / 80 / 85mana
Explanation:The ability to heal in lane, especially with the new doran's changes and decreased hp regen for all champions makes Nidalee even stronger than usual. You can exchange hits with champions in lane and you will just heal your damage back, allowing you to establish lane dominance. YOU MUST LEARN TO SELF-CAST. I cannot repeat this enough. If you want to be a good nidalee, press Alt+E to heal and you will find yourself almost instantly a better player. This enables you to focus less on clicking and more on wrecking the enemy champion. I cannot stress this enough. In addition, the attack speed bonus is not to be overlooked. Heal yourself at an enemy tower and you will also gain valuable attack speed, which can take down their tower faster. Also, use it to be able to last hit under towers better. At early levels, Allow your tower to hit the melee minions twice and you can last hit them then and for caster minions, auto attack them once, then let the tower hit them, then auto attack them again. By gaining attack speed, this should makes this infinitely easier and you will be able to last hit under tower more effectively. I will put up a tutorial on how to do this. Swipe is very useful for taking down creeps and also for chasing. It actually has a range of about one champion's length, so it is quite useful as last ditch attempt to hurt the enemy before turning back to human and chucking a spear.
R: Aspect Of The Cougar
Passive: Each additional rank increases the effectiveness of Nidalee's cougar abilities.
Nidalee transforms into a vicious cougar, gaining 20 movement speed and a new set of abilities.
This is what makes Nidalee a powerhouse. As soon as you hit level 6. Go into the brush, then pounce onto the enemy champion and they will QQ. This gives Nidalee 7 skills, rather than the 4 that most champions get and it makes Nidalee incredibly fun to play. This can be used to proc Lich Bane as well, which many people seem to forget. In cougar form, Nidalee gains movement speed and dodge chance, and attack damage, which is pretty impressive. It also makes everyone scared of you. The cooldown is admirably short and it makes for very interesting combos. You can also run away from ganks with cougar, then switch to human and quickly press Alt+E for guaranteed survival. Very very useful.
Skill OrderNidalee's skill order is pretty essential. At level 1, you must make a decision.
Option A: If it seems as if everyone is just going to head to lane, go ahead and take a point in . This will provide you lane sustainability from the start and enable you to begin harassing your opponent.
Option B: If you are protecting your jungler and/or helping your jungler take blue buff, place one point in . I usually place one trap at the entrance of the blue buff and put one on where the golem spawns. This will do some damage, leash the golem, and provide some valuable armor reduction, which is amazing. Your jungler will thank you (or at least they should).
Oftentimes, high ELO players will simply wait to see which skill to take first. Don't always just take a skill. If a level 1 fight starts and you already had taken and it would've been better to have , you will regret it. Thus, the key to skilling at level 1 is to be flexible.
Don't take . 'nuff said.
After that, I simply max and , making sure to get a point in at level 1 or 2.
Here is your priority of skills:
==> ==> ==> .
Item BuildsDISCLAIMER: This is not meant to be the be-all end-all item build for Nidalee. In fact, I don't think that there is any one right way to build any champion. The reason that I say this is that every build is simply a recommendation and every time you play a game, you should assess how you are doing, enemy team composition, Your team's composition, as well as what phase the game is in, etc.
Start: Although I said you should vary your build depending on various factors, I truly believe that is the best starting item for Nidalee. There are many reasons that I think this:
First off, it provides incredible stats for casters. +15 AP along with helpful mana regen is always something that is good and enables more powerful and frequent s. In addition, it provides Nidalee with early survivability given the HP bonus and makes Fortitude Quints overkill. The reason that Nidalee is privileged enough to be able to start with Doran's Ring and not have to get hp pots with another item is because of her heal, which is a godsend in lane. Doran's Ring will provide her with an early game advantage compared to other casters who will get + .
What to get next?
Here is where this guide may get a little more in-depth than other guides.
There are several different routes that you can take.
After your Doran's Ring, you should definitely get . Then, there are so many different paths that I can't even begin to name them all.
If you are dominating your lane
Let us say that you are completely dominating your lane. You're up by 40 CS and the enemy is 3 levels lower than you. Ideally, you want to buy + (Mercurys Treads are simply the best choice for Nidalee. CC reduction + magic resist is better, in my opinion, than any other spec that boots can give you). However, what if you don't have enough money?
If you can get + level 1 boots , that would be good.
Another idea would be to get + + + .
You must be able to balance damage output with survivability. It is a choice that you must make for yourself. Given that you are level 6, your mobility is pretty high due to your pounce skill. Thus, you may not feel as if you need to go ahead and buy your mercury treads first. If you feel that confident, feel free to simply get level 1 boots and then rush your rageblade. However, for teams that are heavy on cc, (especially the enemy's jungler), I would recommend buying mercury treads just so you can maintain whatever advantage you have/not putting yourself at more of a disadvantage.
I have experimented with getting either or first and I have found that blasting wand tends to be a better choice, although does make for a more aggressive use of (takedown). However, I would recommend getting a blasting wand in most situations because it allows you to heal for more and also do more damage with most of your spells.
From there, just build whatever you can according to the item build guide above. Make sure you that dont simply use this build as a be-all end-all guide to building Nidalee. If, for example, your a limited to more a support/poke role on your team, buy a Rabadons before Lich bane to make sure your team has better heals and you have stronger spears. Just be aware of the enemy team composition and items when building any champion.
Early GameSo, I've talked about Nidalee's early game so fondly... the question is why?
The first thing you should know is that having a heal in lane is just amazing, especially in a solo situation. With the recent patch that makes dorans + HP pot not possible for a start anymore means that many champions cannot heal themselves in the laning phase. In addition, the hp regen of all the champions was nerfed in that same patch. Nidalee, however, has a reliable heal on a medium cooldown. This enables her to establish lane dominance incredibly early. At level 1, you will have 25 armor pen from just runes, which is absolutely unbelievable. You will deal almost true physical damage to anyone that you fight, provided they dont start with + or . One common strategy that I use when playing Nidalee is making good use of the brush. This has great synergy with her passive, and enables you to poke the champion a few times, and then instantly drop minion aggro by pulling back into the brush. You can then heal, last hit a couple minions, and repeat this. Once you feel that your opponent is low enough, you can stand between them and the minions and force them to be zoned or die. This is Nidalee's greatest strength against weaker laning characters and will enable you to have a distinct level advantage over them in the early game.
One of the best things about Nidalee is her ability to completely shut down a single champion. There are times where I have played against a nasus and been level 10 when they were level 6. This level advantage is absolutely invaluable.
The hardest part of the early game is simply striking a balance between last hitting and harassing the enemy champion. If you manage to establish lane dominance early, you can effectively last hit and just harass the enemy champion when they go in for a last hit.
Always drop s in the brush and river around your lane if you are pushing the lane too far. It will give you something to do while you allow the enemy minion wave to push yours back.
In addition, if you feel that your lane is being pushed and that minions are about to hit your tower, you may choose to manipulate the minion wave in order to save yourself the difficulty of last hitting under tower. You can do this by taking minion aggro and forcing the wave to the sides of the lane, which will make the minions follow and be placed outside of your tower's range. Simply drop into the brush to drop the aggro, and then use to heal yourself. If the enemy champion is too aggressive, or you are in a 1v2 situation, simply allow the creeps to come to your tower.
Last Hitting under Tower
Nidalee's ability to hit under tower is pretty good. Although some champions may do it better, Nidalee is definitely still able to fairly well. At levels 1-4, you must hit each melee minion once, allow the tower to hit them twice, then get the last hit. For caster(ranged) minions, you must hit them once, allow the tower to hit them once, then get the last hit. Once you hit level 5 or so, you should be able to kill off the melee minions simply by allowing the tower to get two hits and then last hitting the minion. One thing that enables you to do this easier than other champions is your attack speed bonus on , which is pretty sizable. This enables you to sneak in those last hits that you may have otherwise missed.
Mid GameBy mid game, you should have gotten a Or at least boots and a . This will enable you to push towers a lot easier and safer. If you successfully manage to zone out your opponent top, you should be able to outheal their dps while simultaneously hitting their tower. This enables you to not take tower aggro (You aren't attacking them), while healing yourself AND giving yourself the attack speed bonus. Oftentimes your opponent will not be able to stop you from just continuing to push.
In addition, if your jungler allows you, you can go ahead and take buffs very easily in cougar mode. Simply go into cougar form, spam your skills, then when you get low, simply switch back to human form and heal yourself, spear, and bushwhack, then finish it off with cougar. This is actually extremely quickly and due to Nidalee's insane ability to heal herself, it is unbelievably powerful in lane.
If nobody is top and you feel that you have pushed as far as you can safely, you can go ahead and take their jungle. A popular strategy among Nidalee players is to take the enemy little golems if you have pushed down the first tower. This will give you the extra gold to buy your next item.
The reason that Nidalee is so beast mid-game is that she has better mobility than everyone, tower pushing abilities, lane sustainability via , and UNBELIEVABLE damage in cougar form. Your takedown skill should be hitting for a truck, especially with rageblade.
Speaking of which, Rageblade has some of the best synergy with Nidalee. In cougar form, her skills are incredibly spammable (no cost} and therefore should allow you to keep your rageblade stacks full at all times. In addition, it gives the best stats (when fully stacked) of any other item in terms of gold efficiency. So not only are you naturally powerful with nidalee, but due to the ease of keeping rageblade stacks at 8, you are highly gold-efficient and do incredible amounts of damage.
As a Nidalee player, you must take advantage of the Mid-game, as it is where you are strongest. Don't be afraid to tower dive with cougar and takedown, as most people won't expect it and you'll be able to heal up afterwards.
***Just as a general rule, when your summoner spells are up, you can play aggressively, but if they are on CD, just focus on last-hitting.***
Late GameNidalee admittedly drops off mid game. Although it is arguably her weakest point, you should still be able to do a lot of things. For example, you can place bushwhacks at baron, which the enemy cannot destroy unless they reveal themselves. In addition, the MOST important aspect of Nidalee play is simply map vision.
Why is map vision important? First of all, your Q is a skillshot. Thus, if you can see where people are, you can deal massive damage and still maintain safety. At this point, Nidalee can take towers down extremely quickly with + + . So, the most important item for Nidalee late game? This is the key to winning games. Fact.
Team FightsDuring teamfights, your main ability depends on what phase of the game you are currently playing in. For mid-game teamfights, you can go and take down the enemy carry extremely carry and still get away. I feel that it is very comparable to other anti-carries. Once you take down the enemy carry, you can pounce away, human form, and heal to regain your lost hp. This absolutely devastates mid-game teamfights and will allow your team to take the early lead.
During late game, however, many champions will start to surpass your DPS ability. Thus, get in a few spears and heals in teamfights, and wait to pop cougar form until you feel confident that you can clean up. Nidalee is known for her extreme ability to take down low health champions with a single Takedown or a well-aimed Spear snipe.
ResourcesOne of the most well-known players of Nidalee is HotshotGG, as everyone knows. There is a youtuber known as Generalwiser who records many of the streams that HotshotGG has. Simply search generalwiser Nidalee and you will have access to the best Nidalee resource in the world.
One video that I particularly recommend is this one:
This video shows HotshotGG, who gets off to a worse start than usual, but uses his teamwork skills and the duality of Nidalee's support/burst damage role to its fullest.
In addition, here is a video of the walls that Nidalee can leap over:
(Remember to not click where you want to leap TO, as this will cause unwanted pathing issues. Click as close as you can to the wall without clicking around it).
JargonWhen playing Nidalee, you must use words like "real" and "terror" and you will automatically gain ELO.
If a jungler ganks you and fails, type /all real gank.
This will demoralize them, enabling you to take control of your lane.
Essentially, use the word "real" in front of anything, and everyone will just assume that you are pro.
Also, the Pharoah Skin makes you look more badass.
Final CommentsIf you have any questions as to how to play Nidalee, or you have any suggestions, simply post a comment below and I will get back to you in a timely manner.