Karthus Build Guide

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Fear the Reaper

written by Ogreguy

Karthus Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Karthus is an extremely dangerous champion when played right. He's also a lot of fun =D

    This guide is a work in progress.

    (updated 10/30/10 - added Matchups section)

  • Abilities

    Death Defied
    This used to be a decent passive. But I always found myself OOM shortly after dying. However, after this latest patch, you're not restricted by mana once dead! Make sure your team fights over you if you die. You can throw down your wall, pop defile, and lay waste the crap out of anyone near. Definitely possible to get 1+ kills from oblivious champs, and you can save your teammates if they need to escape.

    Lay Waste
    This spell takes practice, but when you get it down, you will be amazed at how much damage you can do with it. Combine this with your Wall of Pain, and you will make enemy champs MELT. This is an extremely powerful nuke and you would be wise to max this first.

    1) Super short CD (1 sec).

    2) Does fair amount of damage to multiple targets. 2b) Does double damage to single targets. You can easily pull off 600dmg per hit with this.

    Wall of Pain
    I love this spell. This baby will let you control the battlefield.

    1) It's a slow. A _ridiculous_ slow. 80% at rank 5.

    2) It reduces Magic Resist & Armor which will let your LW hit like a truck, and allow your other teammates to pummel the crap out of whoever touched it. Lowers MR/AR by 35 at rank 5.

    3) It's HUGE at rank 5. Easily spans an entire lane.

    1v1: plop the wall right on your target's face. Most champs will run in fear. AKA - they run away from their minions and back to their tower. This usually proves to be fatal, since it allows you to Lay Waste them into oblivion (2x dmg + lowered MR). If they run towards you or into minions, play it safe, back off, and take note of what they did. Counter it next time by being ready for it. ;)

    Ganks: plop the wall right on your target's face. LW till dead. Makes ganking extremely easy due to the slow. And the AR/MR debuff doesn't hurt either. =)

    Team Fights: Throw it on your primary target and watch your team jump on them. This can yield first kills in team fights, as well as turning the tide of even battles.

    Escaping: Throw it down to save your entire team if they need to retreat. Throw it down to escape someone chasing you. Throw it down to deter a speedball Rammus from slamming you or someone else. Etc etc.

    Great great great spell. We max this 2nd.

    This spell is decent. It's rather puny early game, and it sucks all of your mana after a few seconds of use. Late game, this spell will let you melt creep waves and deal considerable damage champs in team fights. It's passive is pretty great though - +mana for every kill. I get one rank of this at lvl 4 to supplement my mana woes.

    Although I don't care for this spell's active all that much, it can certainly be a threat. Especially when you're dead. Not rare for this to tick at +200s and even more if they've been touched by your Wall of Pain. However, when you have Rylais, this can be a lifesaver AND it will help you nail stragglers. 15% slow by itself is enough to seal someones fate once you trap them with this. Throw a wall on them, and you're being very cruel... =D

    This spell is just icing on the cake. This is why you go mid. What's better than having a GLOBAL NUKE on your team? Please, tell me, I'd like to know.

    Does 250dmg at rank 1. And even less due to MR. Not too impressive, but it will net you kills. Always let your teammates know when you hit 6 (durr) and have them call out low HP (sub 200hp will net you a kill in most instances) runners (don't want to be a dick and kill steal if they'll definitely seal the deal. Plus, its always better to have this up to make other champs afraid. =D ).

    400dmg at rank 2.
    550dmg at rank 3.

    Scales extremely well with AP. 0.7

    Use this to pick off runners at early levels, and middle/end of team fights mid game. In late games, feel free to initiate with this. =D

    Always make sure you have enough mana to cast this bad boy. That, or make sure clarity is up.

  • Masteries + Runes



    Red: Magic Pen. Pretty sure there will be no argument here.

    Yellow: [email protected] (im sure there's something better, but it isn't bad.)

    Blue: [email protected] I'm sure some of you are saying "Bah, why not AP?" Survivability, my friends. Survivability. At lvl 3, you're already nullifying a lot of damage someone would deal to you in mid. Giving you a huge edge. It's also useful late game, especially since we don't build much MR/AR.

    Quints: Move Speed. This is personal preference. But at lvl 1, w/boots and Support Tree movement boost, you'll be running around the map at 387ms. I hate being slow.

  • Items

    Level 1: +1 Boots, 2hp pots, 1mp pot (or 3hp pots)

    1) Soul Stealer
    2) Finish Sorcerer's Boots
    3) Rylais Scepter (Belt > Wand > Tome)
    4) Void Staff
    5) Zhonya's
    6) Whatever you want, man. It won't matter at this point.

    Essentially you're rockin' AP and MR penetration. You WILL hit like a champ, be it your LW, Defile, or Requiem.

  • Skilling Order

    Lay Waste is devastating once you get a few ranks into it. By lvl 5, it'll be rank 3 and you can put the hurt on anyone you want.

    Wall is awesome CC for initiating or defending. If people run through your wall, make them pay for it. If they run through it a second time, make them dead. If you play right, your wall will get you a kill at lvl 3. Usually first blood. =)

    We get Defile at lvl 4 just to help with mana regen. I barely ever use it until mid game. It just drains mana waaaaaayyyyy too fast and doesn't do that much dmg early on.

    Requiem is unique in the sense that at any moment, you can get nuked for 200-1000+ dmg. Very psychological. It will make the enemy team play different. Usually they will be more hesitant to commit to any battle, since if they get severely injured, you can finish them off. Awesome, awesome ultimate.

  • Summoner Abilities

    I get Flash and Clarity.

    Flash lets you escape ganks and team fights where the enemy team focuses you. And Improved Clarity lets you stay in the game longer. Good for luring opponents into a false sense of security. Also great when you're short on mana and REALLY need to cast Requiem.

    Feel free to pick what you want. I have the best success with these, and it fits my play style well.

  • Early Game

    Buy your boots and hp/mp potions.

    If you aren't in mid, you're in the wrong place. You are squishy, so be wary of pushing out too far. Just play safe and farm minions w/ last hits and LW. LW is nice for softening a wave of minions, but it's better to use it to just pick off low HP creeps. You can get 2 last hits this way, one from your Auto Attack and the second from your LW.

    These are, obviously, the levels when you're most vulnerable. You can squish hard if you're not careful. If you're matched against someone who can easily auto attack you (ashe), just chill out and farm. Don't over extend and dont be too aggressive. If you run out of mana, they will make you pay.

    At lvl 3-4, you should have a decent amount of HP from your yellows, and you'll have rank 2 of LW and rank 1 of wall. It's time for you to get first blood. If you dont think you can manage a kill, wait until lvl 5 for your rank 3 LW.

    1) Clear most of their creeps (allows for sure fire hits with LW, and not the puny aoe dmg it does)
    2) Plop a wall on their face
    3) Spam your LW. Use Clarity if you need to.
    4) Profit. Literally. 400g for first blood is super nice.

    One of two things will happen here - Mid will either be too terrified of you to push very far OR they will come at you with a vengeance. Just stay out of range and laugh at them while you last hit creeps if they rage. If mid pushes you again, plop another wall on them and make them pay for it.

    Once you get +1235G, head on back to base. You're going to pick yourself up a Soul Stealer. It's important to grab this early so you can max your stacks on it.

    Usually able to afford SS by around 5-6, even with poor last hitting skills... *cough*

    Once you're level 6, notify your team, and ask them to call out sub 200hp runners. ALWAYS tell your team when your ulti is up.

  • Mid Game

    In my experience, it's very hard for Karth to push a tower solo. He can be ganked in a heart beat in mid game when there's no support around, and his auto attack does a terrible amount of damage. You're better off farming near your tower, not pushing past the middle of the map. Minions are by enemies tower? Go farm creeps in your jungle. Get blue. When you have blue, you can spam LW and you'll never run out of mana.

    Depending on how your team is doing, you can either defend mid and just farm up, while raining your Nuke down on over zealous champs. Or, you can go gank where you're needed. When you have SS and Sorc Boots, you're usually able to handle most situations, especially if you have a teammate handy.

    Important note: You are trying to build your SS right now. Try not to die. Seriously. You need those stacks. If you must die, die before you have stacks. Or, if you must die, make it worth it - at least make it so that your team nets a kill off of your death.

    Building your SS: If anyone has a chance of dying (eg - you might not get the last hit, but a teammate will), cast your ult. Either you'll kill them and get 2 stacks, or you'll tag em and get 1 stack.

    By 9 or 10 you should have enough gold to buy yourself a Giant's Belt to start your Rylais.

    /B when you need to /b. Play smart. Keep your stacks. Use your wall to discourage being chased or to secure a kill.

    Once you build Rylais, your LW and Defile will slow enemies. Good for deterring chasers (pop defile on and they usually cant catch you, but they still take dmg ^_^ ), and good for killing since the slow on LW keeps people from running very far =D. You can pick off anyone 1v1 now.

  • Late Game

    You are a force to be reckoned with.

    You should have a fair amount of stacks on your SS, if not maxed at 20. You will be hitting for over 600 with LW. Your wall will span a lane, and will cripple anyone who touches it. You can keep people at bay by casting a wall behind their turret while your team knocks it down. Defile will melt creeps. And Requiem will make their champs Rage. If possible, remember to throw a wall on people and then use requiem (a safe distance away, of course) for the added MR reduction. You can push back lanes without much fear of being ganked. Flash and wall will get you out of most situations.

    You can go where you want, and your team will most likely be following you now. Since, you know, you're making fools out of the enemy champs.

    By 15 or so, you should have a Void Staff. With this item, you will nullify a good chunk of their magic resist. If they didnt build MR... they should have.

    After this, I usually go for a Zhonya's. But rarely do the games last long enough.

    If your team protects you, you shouldn't have any problems steamrolling.

  • Matchups

    People who you should be wary of in mid (if they're competent).

    Ashe - She hurts, but she's pretty squishy. Still, she can out range you, slow you, and ping away at your health. Better to just farm up against her and call for a gank.

    Katarina - Depending on who's playing Kat, she can be extremely dangerous, or extremely squishy. If she has skill, don't be aggressive. let her push to your tower and farm up. It sucks, but at least you'll keep leveling and wont be dead.

    Anivia - A competent or defensive Anivia is tough to go mid against. Watch out for her Flash Frost (orb)/ Frostbite combo and you should be fine. Once she hits 6, watch out for her Glacial Storm (ult)/Frostbite combo. It's hard to harass her because she out ranges you, AND she has her egg passive. So you have to kill her twice... It's better to just farm like it's your job and call for a gank. Late game you'll own her face.

    Miss Fortune - She's a jerk. You can hold against her, but she can melt you early game. Better to play defensive against this champ.

    Tristana - she can usually put up a fight, but she's pretty weak. Dodge her jump slows and stay out of range. If she over extends, wall and LW her. She's great at escaping, but she cant escape your ultimate if you get her low enough.

    Vladimir - This guy is a jerk too. Stay out of range of his Transfusion. All you can do is farm against him early game. Play defensive. BUT, if he uses his Sanguine Pool, wall him and destroy him - He foolishly used his escape mechanism (with a loooong CD) to deal some paltry dmg to minions. Oh, he also hurt himself for 20% of his current hp.

    People who you will wreck in mid.

    Twisted Fate - I love being matched up against this guy. He has almost zero escape mechanisms. Just stay out of his range when he pulls a card or gets his Stacked Deck buff.

    Annie - You out range her. You out range her so hard. She has no escape mechanism either. Eat her soul. Just watch out for her stun, and you'll be fine. Play carefully when she hits 6 and has stun up. No one likes getting Tibbered.

    Teemo - Meh. I'm not a fan of this guy at all. His poison can hurt, and his blinding dart is annoying, but man, you can make him squish. Hard. Also, you out range him with LW. Just don't let him get near you. LW him when he gets close enough. Wall when he gets below half, and LW to finish him off. Poor choice for mid. (I do like his spaceman skin though ^_^)

    Morgana - If you can dodge her bindings, you don't have much to fear from her. She can be hard to take down because of her life steal, but all in all, she isn't too much of a threat. Farm up and call for a gank to make quick work of her.

    Sivir - She's annoying, and may make you tower hug with her bouncing glaives, but she shouldnt be able to kill you. She's usually pretty squishy, so harass her with LW when she gets in range. Dodge her boomerang and stay away from her glaives (both forces her to choose between going for you or creeps when throwing her boomerang, making it easier to see)

    Veigar - Cute! He's slow. He doesn't do nearly as much dmg as you can do early game (he can melt you late game if you let him stun you... dont let him stun you). His spells take a bunch of mana to cast. Oh, and they usually think they can push your sh*t in. 'Fraid not! Easy kill in mid. Just watch out for his stun and you'll own him.

    Ryze - 1) why play Ryze when there's Annie?? 2) I don't see him in mid very often, but he's never much of a threat. Watch for him calling a gank on you though...

    Twitch - Meh. Usually slow. Doesn't get ridiculous until his attack speed is boosted through the roof. Still, he can go invis, which can ruin you. Harass him when he's visible - make him b. Stay near your tower when he goes invis.

    That about covers who I've seen in mid recently. If you play smart (read: defensively) you can hold mid against almost any champ without dying. And if you're not dying, you're leveling and gaining $$$. If you have any other match ups you'd like me to comment on, let me know and I'll update this section.

  • Closing Notes

    Remember, it's just a game. Don't take losses so seriously. People disconnect. Mistakes happen. People sometimes suck at the champ they're playing (they all have learning curves!). Words of encouragement are much better than name calling and fighting. Don't be a douche to your teammates - they already feel bad for dying. No need to rub it in.

    Karth is all about learning how to LW and plop walls on people's faces. It takes some practice. But once you get it, you'll see how much fun it is to wreck entire teams.

    All comments are appreciated and welcome!


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