Maokai Build Guide

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[UPDATED on March, 18th 2011] A very detailed Maokai Guide

written by Pikachu_lvl_3

Maokai Build

Table of Contents

  • Updates

    March/1/2011: Fixxed a Counter-item mistake against [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor]
    March/1/2011: Added 3 Videos-guides
    March/2/2011: Added 1 Video-guide
    March/2/2011: Added category "Updates"
    March/2/2011: Changed my masteries
    March/2/2011: Added AP-rates.
    March/2/2011: Added new build
    March/2/2011: Added description of my skillcombos
    March/2/2011: Added another new build
    March/3/2011: Added category "Summary"
    March/3/2011: Added category "Laningpartner"
    March/6/2011: Added a few text passages
    March/16/2011: Added a few text passages
    March/16/2011: Updated the spells for Patch
    March/18/2011: Added category "Which Items I don't recomment"
    March/18/2011: Added many text passages
    March/18/2011: Added a few colors
    March/18/2011: Fixxed a few mistakes
    March/18/2011: Fixxed a Icon-mistake

  • Introduction

    First of all, I have to say, that this is my first Guide so please be lenient with me and write comments, what I can do better.

    I tested Maokai now quite for a while and tested many different builds and I have to say, that the only real way in which you can play him is as an Offtank. Of course he has the skills for being a Maintank, but other tanks, like Malphite or Rammus are much better then him.
    So just use him as Maintank, when no other tank is in your team and your enemy team got tanks like Rammus etc.
    I also tried to play him as a "caster", but his horrible AP-rates (0,35 or someting like that) avert this.
    So you shouldn't try this at all.

    His skills to Harras someone in early game are incredible. Also his passive grants him to be all the time on lane, till you need to buy something.

    In the next days I'm also doing some Videos, but for now it has to keep like this.

    And please. Even if you don't like my guide, please make a comment why you don't like it.

  • Pros / Cons

    + Amazing Harrasing skills in early Game
    + Nice skills to save your team(-mate) of getting ganked
    + You can stand 2 vs 1 really easy, because of your passive
    + Can go 1vs1 either.
    + Ridiculous harrassing skills in early game

    - Not that good in Late-Game
    - Really Low movementspeed...

  • Summary

    For the ones of you, who don't want to read the whole guide, I've got a short summary, but of course you would do better, if you read the guide completly, to understand why I do this or that.

    Masteries: 1/21/8 =


    Summoner Abilities:

    to grab early and easy kills.
    You don't need , with your and

    Most aggressive and likely way to skill is this:

    Your build should look like that normally:

    Against mixed Damage:

    Start items:

    First items after your recall:


    then build along the example.


    For teamfights I use this way:

    -> -> -> ->

    To grab some kills in early game:

    -> -> -> ->

    Videoguides are in the end of the Guide.

  • Unique Skills

    Sap Magic:

    Your Passive is a great skill which makes something like useless. You can regenerate with standing away from battle, and filling up your stacks with or spells of your opponents and mates.
    When you got your 5 stacks you autohit a creep and see.... 7% more life. -> Heal isn't that necessary

    Arcane Smash:

    "Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks nearby enemies back and sends an arcane shockwave forward, dealing 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 magic damage and slowing his enemies by 20 / 27 / 34 / 41 / 48% for 2 seconds."

    Arcane Smash is not such a nice skill... The AP-Rate of it is near to 0,3 which doesn't make such hard damage, and the slow is just really effecient on skill-level of 3-5. But it's really helpfull in teamfights, because when you set it nice, you can slow 3-5 champions by 48%!

    Since his buff on March/16/2011 this abilty is more effective in early game, but it still isn't better than or .

    AP-Rates: 0,375

    Twisted Advance:

    "Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to a target enemy. The target takes 80 / 115 / 150 / 185 / 220 magic damage and is rooted in place for 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 seconds."

    Nearly your best skill! This skill can save your life, other life, start fights, end fights etc.
    Well, because of an bug it DOESN'T make you immune to each casts, while you are charging! AOE's like [spell_icon=Heavenly Wave] CAN hit and KILL you! So care!
    You can charge between and so on.
    This spell can also save you by using to jungling creeps and then Charge over the wall to that creep with .

    AP-Rates: 0,75

    Sapling Toss:

    "Maokai hurls a sapling, dealing 40 / 75 / 110 / 145 / 180 magic damage on impact. The sapling becomes implanted in the ground, warding a nearby area for 35 seconds. When enemies approach, the sapling attacks, exploding in an arcane blast that deals 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 magic damage to enemies."

    This spell is the spell which does most damage in early game. It's incredible basic damage makes it easy to get your enemys really low. Even on Level 1. Also this Ability can ward your area, when someone called a miss.

    Initial-Dmg: 0,375
    Explosion-Dmg: 0,5625

    Vengeful Maelstrom:

    "Maokai shields his allies by drawing power from hostile spells and attacks, reducing non-tower damage done to allied champions in the area by 20%. Maokai can prolong the effect as long as he has mana to spend on it. When the effect ends, Maokai unleashes the absorbed energy to deal 100 / 150 / 200 (+2 bonus damage per damage absorbed) damage to enemies within the vortex. Maximum 200 / 250 / 300 bonus damage."

    Ap-Rates: 0,5

    Your Ultimate is a GREAT skill to save lifes or to counter other ultimates like .
    This ultimate also reduces Nashor's damage! So you can start a fight against Nashor and leave it without getting any damage! This also allows you to get Nashor on level 11 without having a fed team.
    You're also able to use your ultimate and then start your recall, while your ability is working.
    But don't forget (!!!) that only the champions which are standing IN the circle take damage!

  • Masteries + Runes

    My Maokai Masteries are allways like this:

    External Image

    As you can see I don't use Clarity or Heal at all, because i really get along with out both of them.
    Why I don't take the Magic penetration in offense instead of the experience in Utility?
    That is, because I play with , which restores you life and mana, when you get a level up -> More experience -> faster level up -> life/mana restoration.
    Either you don't need that much magic penetration... you even got marks, so you don't need much more as a tank.

    My Runes:

    I use this runes:


    9x Flat Magic Penetration

    9x Mana regeneration per Level

    9x Flat Magic Resist

    3x Flat Health


    9x Flat Magic Resist

    4x Mana regeneration per Level
    5x Flat Armor

    9x Flat Magic Resist

    3x Flat Health

  • Summoner Abilities

    Now the Summoner Abilities.
    As I said above, I don't use or/and , because there are much better Abilities and you even don't need them that much with that Runes.
    In early game you have 1-2 times Manaproblems, but they are fixxed right after you were the first time in your base, so you don't need Clarity.
    Ok it's really nice with a Laningmate who uses Clarity but it isn't necessary.

    Great Summoner Spells:

    Exhaust is, in my opinion, the greatest Summoner Spell in this Game.
    It gives you so many ways of use.

    You can use it to escape from someone, by using and right after the Cage dissappears you use Exhaust on the same target.
    If 2 Guys try to kill you, you can use on the first one and on the other, so both are slowed/stunned and you can get away easily.

    You can use this skill also nice after trying to Harrasing someone. Set your a little bit behind your enemy and then charge him with . If this combo don't kill him (with the skills of your teammate) you can hit him with and he is by 99% dead.

    Ignite is also really nice, because when an enemy is getting away with low life and your is on Cooldown you can use on a near Creep and kill him with Ignite.

    is also a great spell to counter champions like Tryndamere, Dr. Mundo etc...

    Good Summoner Spells:

    Ghost is a really nice spell on Maokai because he has such a low movementspeed, but it has a much too high cooldown to use it in each situastion when it is needed.
    The spell is able to save you and to start a Harrasment, but this can also do your .

    Ok... Counter-question: On which Campions doesn't make this ability sense, when nobody else got it?

    You are a tank, so if you don't want to use or or if your Lane also got both skills you should take something like this, because it can really save your day =)
    But it has a really high cooldown =/

    If you think you need something like this you can use it on a tank, but I think other spells got much better options then this one...

    As I said is needed in some cases in early game, but when you reached level 6 or something it's nearly useless and so I would let it take a mate or just stay 5 seconds without spamming your ;)

    As on each Champion is a great skill to start/escape from Battles, but I think it isn't necessary, because you have got you're or, if no creeps which could help you your to escape.

    Use it if you want to. I don't want to say that it's fail but their are better options.

    Useless skills:

    We don't have to talk about it, do we?

    Ok.... why the hell do you want to take when you have such a GREAT passive like you nearly have all the time 5 stacks and so you can heal yourself by hitting a creep or champion... so com'on.

    If you take this spell, I'm going to disintegrate you so hard, that you can't be revived any more!

    Well, if you think you're a great Jungler then do so....

    Why do you need this spell when you've got a ward as your E-skill? Ok it just lasts 6 times longer then this spell and got just 12 seconds cooldown, but's great to counter jungler etc, but in my opinion it is useless on Maokai, let it take a supporter or another champion.

  • Skilling Order

    The skilling Order depense hard on your Lanemate/Role in team:

    As Offtank with someone who has a Charge like Irelia or Xin Zhao etc I use this Skilling Order:

    If you want to make really high damage in early game you should choose this skilling Order (my favourite):

    This skilling Order is based on . With this skill it's really easy to kill your enemys, because of it's incredible damage output.

    When you want to be a Maintank I often choose this way to skill:

    This skill is based on a combo of and , which can funktion like a taunt.... more or less... You charge on your enemy with and then you Smash him with , which slows him really hard.
    It's also a nice combo to make your Lanemate escape.

  • Build Example

    Here are a few Build examples.

    Against mixed Damage:

    In this build you can choose your last items on your own. I prefer or [item_icon=Force of Nature] and

    Against mixed Damage2:

    You should build like that, if you're on a lane against 2 caster or if your enemy-team is so intelligent, not to take a real tank....and just caster and dps-champions.

    Against high Physical Damage:

    Yeah... what shell I say to this build? It's against Physik damage... ;)

    Against high Magic Damage:

    Ok.... like the build over this one... it's against Magic Damage :D

    Against mixed Damage3:

    If you really don't want to start with a , you can even build like this way, but then you NEED TO HAVE and to hold your lane, longer than 2 minutes....
    This is also a possible way to build, but I really didn't like to play it, because without and it is MUCH harder to grab some kills, in early game.

    I posted this build, even though I don't like it that much, because some guys really like to play this way.
    This build isn't fail, but less efficient then the other builds, so I won't explain that kind of build more in the next days. (But a guide for this build will appear in future)
    If you want to play like this you can do it, but believe me.... there are much better ways, of playing Maokai.

  • Itembuilds

    Ok, now to my Item-build order.
    First I start up with a .

    Now you could ask, why should I take a instead of ?
    Well you don't need that much, because you can regenerate enough life with .
    Also you really need the mana regeneration of although you have seals.
    And with this mana regeneration you can stand on lane even if you're OOM, because it just lasts like 4 seconds, until you can use your again.

    Now you should be able to hold the lane, until you've got 1675 gold. Then you should go back and buy a and your

    So far you should be able to grab 1 or 2 kills easily.

    When you have enough gold again you should go back an buy a and .

    But if you play against two caster, I prefer to build with , , because of your high base-damage of your skills, you don't need that much the AP of , but it is really likely if you got a squishy enemy on your lane, who doesn't do that much magic damage (AD-Ezreal, AD-Sivir, etc).

    After that you should be able to buy at level 10/11.
    I build on that item, because of its stats. It gives you mana, life and ability power which is all needed. After you got this item you shouldn't be get any mana problems in the whole game.

    When you got these 2/3 items, you can buy a , if your lane got one or even two caster as enemy.

    And from now on you need to build your items like in my build examples, because you have to tank your enemys and so counter them :)


  • Which Items I don't recommend

    Warmog's Armor:
    There are several causes.

    First this item is really easy to counter with [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor], which most Physical-Damage-Champions take.
    Then my opinion is, that resistances are better then much life... (see one line above). Of course you get incredible much life, but for this costs items like [item_icon=Force of Nature] are much better, cause it counters enemys and makes you take less damage.
    I mean what do you want to do with 4000 health when you get 750 damage by one spell-/meleeattack?[/i]
    Ok if you allready got your whole build and don't know what to buy, you can sell your for , but that situation doesn't appears that often....

    Aegis of the Legion:
    Well you have Flat-Magic-Resist-runes,( then you don't need Magic resist that much. But a little bit more mana is really great on him and so you just have to buy 1 which gives you enough mana to don't get OOM till you've got your .
    The granted Armor of can be also fixxed up with a , which doesn't give you armor, but enough life to survive against melee attacks ;)
    And so you can use your really well =)

    Frozen Mallet:

    Ok this item grants you Life and slows your enemy when you autohit them..... yeah... you would also get enough life from and the slow you can also replace with your . So please don't take that item.


    Ok this item only grants you life and when you got 20 stacks 15% reduced damage.... this item even don't make that much sense, when your team get fed really hard.... so please don't buy it.

    Shurelya's Reverie:

    This item grants you many effects, but you don't need the mana regeneration, when you've got and . The life regeneration is nice but not as likely as .
    The active with the movementspeed is nice, but I wouldn't buy an item just because of this active...

    [item_icon=Soul Shroud][item_text=Soul Shroud]:

    This item would be great in early game, because of his Life, mana regeneration and Cooldown reduction.... but you need more then just life as a tank.... it is a great item for supporter like Sona etc.

    Zhonya's Hourglass:

    Ok. I have to say this item is really nice! But not on your character.... ok 100 AP, gives you more damage output, but you're a tank and thats the reason why the active is fail for you! How do you want to focus the enemy damage on you, when you're unattackable?


    First I relly liked this item, and built it nearly every game. But now after a while I have to say that , is much better. It grants you mana, armor and Cooldown reduction! Well the mana isn't that neccessary, but cooldown reduction and armor is great.
    Now Thornmail gives you 35% damagereflect by meleeattacks....Great item, but just when you play against tryndamere etc.

    Abyssal Scepter:

    Good item.... on a caster! It gives AP, which you can take, magic resist, which you can also need, and reduces magic resist of enemys. But you often need more then this 57 magic resist.... and the damage isn't that neccessary. Let it buy a caster or a supporter.

    Lich Bane:

    Ok. Mana, AP, magic resist and movespeed. You don't need more mana then you even got. Magic resist is ok but much too less. The only stats which you could need are AP and movementspeed. The passive isn't needed, because you already used 2-3 abilities when you get in the position to autohit -> not for you.

    Trinity Force:

    7 stats.... you just could need 4 of them, but they are much to low for a tank. Let it.

  • Working in the team

    Last, but not least:
    How you should play your Champion generally.

    First of all you are a tank, so it isn't that necessary for you to get that much kills!
    I play Maokai really aggressive when I've got a supporter or Ranged-Champion on my lane.
    Then I really often use my to get the whole caster-creepwave, which gives you incredible pushing- and goldfarming-abilities.

    In early game I mostly get my first kill/assist with this combo.
    I'm waiting in the bush quite for a while, that my opponents are going to push a little bit, while my mate is "trying to hold them back" then I set my right behind one champion (so that he gets the first damage) and then come out of the bush and charge him with in this time my mate is able to close up and make also dmg.
    So now my opponent is mostly on 10% life.... For this moment I've got my and and so -> first kill.

    Here a video, of getting firstblood in a ranked game with Maokai and Katarina on level 3.

    Like this you can harrasa the whole laning time. Even if someone is trying to recall you can throw your and block it.

    When you play on that Tankbuild you should start the fight not that early but in the same way.... but you should use instead of .

    Your "normal" rotation for a early kill goes like this:

    -> -> -> ->

    This combo, is my favourite to grab some kills in early game. You set your a little bit behind your enemy and charge him with . So your does both damage. So your target just got a little bit nuked right at beginning.
    Then your saves you from the incoming damage on you/your mate, which appears right after your cage.
    Now if your enemy tries to flee you can slow and knock him away with


    -> -> -> ->

    You start fight by charging with on your target and throw, while he's caged the on his mate, (now the mate has to move, instead of doing damage, if he doesn't want to take both ability damage). Now you can use your to hold your target in range.
    Now your absorbs most damage taken and you should be able to grab the kill.

    This combo is most effective against a Caster-Melee-enemy-lane and when you skill like my "Maintank"-skill-order.


    -> -> -> ->

    This combo is focused against a double-range/double-melee lane.
    As everytime you charge your target (but care that you stand litte bit between your both enemys) and knock both away with . So they got splitted and can't do instant damage, also after your Ultimate they have to split them to get fastest out of your ultimate (if they want to do most damage/don't want to take high damage). Now your awakes. You throw it of the player, who you DON'T want to focus! That has the same effect as in the combo above -> enemy has to move instead of dealing full damage.

    For teamfights I use this way:

    -> -> -> ->

    This combo isn't very spectacular, because you charge on your target (teamfight starts normally) and right after that you use , which absorbs the high burst damage at beginning. Now you can throw your into the enemy caster/ranges which makes them move -> less damage taken. And now to make your team grab kills, slow your enemys down with

    To save yourself:

    -> -> + in some cases

    This saving-combo works like this:
    You set your right in front of you, to absorb most as possible damage taken. Now you charge on an creep which stands away of your follower/you charge on your enemy ( just if you've got enough life AND the passive proc. Also your enemy shouldn't be a caster ...). Now he's caged for 2 Seconds -> you can autohit him -> 7% hp and run! xD If you need to you can use your to slow him down.

  • Laningpartner

    In this category I'm going to show some nice laning-partner and why.

    In generell it is unimportant if you play with a ranged-/ or melee-teammate


    Katarina is a great partner on your lane, because you can start a fight really quick with your own and Katarina's .
    Katarina's is a great combo with your own Ultimate, because in Katarina's channeling phase you can easily save her with your ultimate and hold enemys away from her with your and .

    Xin Zhao:

    With Xin Zhao it is nearly the same as with Katarina, because both of you can charge on your enemy and Xin is also able to knoch enemys in the air with

    btw: Xin Zhao is your best laning partner.... play with him and you will see.... your enemys are forced to feed you/Xin Zhao =)

    Same as on top. Both of you charge in and Irelia stuns/slows with her .

    In generell I have to say, that EACH who got a stun/cage has is a great champion with you on a lane for the high stun/cage output of you two.


  • Videoguides for some Ability-Combos of Maokai

    In this Video I kill my enemy Kog'maw. It's just a 1on1, but the tactic is the same as in an 2vs2 on a lane.

    In this Video I save my life and kill Kog'maw with .

    How to save your life through walls.

    How you create your recall more safety.

    For now I've finished, so please make comments, what I can do better.

    Thank you.

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