Nocturne Build Guide

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  • Last Updated v1.0.0.115

Nocturne, the Glass Cannon

written by Arkelon

Nocturne Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Hi, I’m Arkelon, and welcome to my first champion guide of the new and exciting Nocturne. In the lead up to this hero’s release, I dreamt highly of the potential offered by art and flavour, and was hoping for another AD Jungler to add to my collection. Fortunately for me, that is precisely where he excels. I farmed a ton of IP in the last few days before his release to be the first in line, then snap locked him in queues, vowing to become good and treat him with respect.

    I’ve tried a few different builds so far, but the one I am about to explain is my favourite, arguably best, and rewards a certain style of play more than anything else. If you want to dive into 1v5s or be at the front of all-out teamfights, then this probably isn’t the guide for you. However, if you play as I suggest with my build, I guarantee you some amazing results in a short time.

  • Update Log

    15/04/11 –
    Added Release Notes v1.0.0.115 information in new section (Patch Updates - 5)

    06/04/11 -
    Added Midgame tutorial vid
    Updated link to pentakill image

    29/03/11 –
    Added full sound jungling tutorial vid

    28/03/11 –
    Added low quality and soundless jungling tutorial video.
    Added extra information in the following areas - best friends (Zilean), worst enemies (teemo), tips and tricks (skill progression)

  • Why Nocturne?

    Aside from the fact that he is incredibly fun to play (what an ultimate!), Nocturne offers a player with significant scope and role while providing insane DPS when built correctly. He isn’t a great initiator, but his ability to close gaps is phenomenal, meaning you should never lose a target on low health.

    His jungling speed is also quite fast, and obviously his ultimate offers almost guaranteed kills once you hit level 6, but it’s still relatively easy to score a few kills around level 4 as long as your teammates are keeping the enemies where you want them. Basically, you can own the early game, and once you’ve had a few meals, nothing will stop you.

  • Abilities

    Umbra Blades
    Generally a healing passive or ability is where you want to start with a jungler, and the splash damage speeds up camps like the wraiths considerably. While you’ll notice the healing aspect more in the early game, the ability is exceedingly relevant in the mid to late game when clearing or pushing lanes – with increased attack speed the passive recharges a lot faster, making minion mobs drop with ease by simply auto attacking. Bear in mind this isn’t going to trigger if you are attacking a building – sometimes it might be right to target switch to surrounding minions to make your escape a little more likely.

    Most importantly, it essentially makes every Xth attack deal 120% damage, making your initiation attack very important.

    This ability is your basic initiation, and the skill you want to max first. It isn’t amazing for escaping, but as long as you can handle skillshots, it makes pursuing academic. The increased damage bonus while on the trail is nice as well; it gives you a little bit more power in the fights where your opponent sticks around – and that’s likely where you will need it. Obviously you use this often when jungling. Just make sure you don’t give enemies in nearby lanes your position by extending the trail outside the walls of the jungle. Make sure that they never know where you are.

    It is INCREDIBLY important to connect with this skill to chase and kill several enemies. Don’t panic and wildly throw it away. Watch how your opponent is moving and try to cut off their escape route with it if possible. I often make my opponents run into it by firing where they need to run, but some players are horrible at dodging, so the direct line of fire works as well.

    Shroud of Darkness
    This is the first skill you should take if jungling. The initial 20% attack speed bonus increases the early game relevance of your passive and significantly speeds up the path you want to take. If you want to start at blue buff, you need to be taking this skill first.

    That’s the passive out of the way, now for the active. Against certain characters, timing this right will completely negate their ability to fend you off in close quarters. You block a key stun, silence or whatever, and suddenly you are free to annihilate the character before their relevant spell is off cooldown. It does take a little bit of getting used to, as it only lasts 2 seconds, but once you master it, it is basically an active AS boost, speeding you considerably for the ensuing conflict.

    Unspeakable Horror
    The range on this ability is short, so make sure you really want to engage with the champion in question. That said, a couple of seconds of fear around you should be fairly brutal, and it obviously gives you even more time to catch a fleeing target before their random escape skill recharges. Don’t forget to use it on enemies chasing you as well; not only will they take some damage in pursuit, but if they don’t get out of range (or kill you) in time, they will still be feared. From there you can either use the time to run or take advantage of the few seconds of uninterrupted smackdown to turn the tides of battle. Oftentimes in response to you fleeing and casting the horror, your opponent will just give up the chase.

    Nearby? Nice joke. For what it’s worth, the approximate range is as follows: Standing on your spawn point, level one will reach the outside of your nexus turrets. Level two reaches halfway between the turrets and inhibitor, and level three reaches the inhibitor itself. Now obviously, this skill is great for pulling off ganks, but initiating with it isn’t correct a lot of the time, contrary to popular belief. Merely landing Duskbriner gives you huge chasing potential, and paying attention to position helps as well. The power of the ability also means you don’t want to waste it the second it’s available either – you never know when you are going to have to chase down that annoying legendary character that got away on no health YET AGAIN. However, if an ally is locked in a tough battle or outnumbered, you can use it to quickly close the gap and cause significant damage to one enemy in the duel, finishing with other skills as appropriate.

    It is rare that you want to use this when you aren’t in range – but there are uses for that as well. If your team is in battle (especially if outnumbered) and the enemy is spread out on a crazy chase, popping R can give your allies a few precious seconds to beatdown the lead guy who facechecked some brush. As long as you have good team communication, you can use this ability to affect the outcome of a fight without even being there.

    It also scales amazingly well with AD, at a 1.2:1 ratio.

  • Patch Updates

    As of version v1.0.0.115 – I will update these initial thoughts as I continue to play with Nocturne.

    Duskbringer attack damage reduction – To be honest, this reduction of 5 damage per skill rank hurts, but it is in no way the end of the world. Ultimately, this little nerf shouldn’t make the difference between a kill or lack thereof – the skillshot itself still does impressive damage, remember. In addition, we are building enough attack damage to more than mitigate this reduction.

    Unspeakable horror changes – The cast range reduction is next to irrelevant unless you are completely incapable of landing Duskbringer, but the leash reduction could prove to be somewhat relevant. Now there is slightly more reason to make sure you don’t randomly leash to harass when you can’t get in close, and always keep pace with your target. All the bug fixes with regards to flashing, shield and breaking leashes are not worth discussing in terms of playability – they are bugs never intended to have been implemented, so there’s really no reason to complain about such things.

    Paranoia range reduction – the range is reduced by 500 per rank, which seems a pretty significant hit. Primarily this nerf gives Nocturne less random overlaps in map presence that crush bad players. This is again more relevant in Twisted Treeline than Summoner’s Rift, but you will notice it while playing either way. This isn’t going to make or break Noc. He still has a lot of dominance while jungling and roaming, and as I’ve already established in this guide, you rarely want to initiate with your ult anyway, meaning that the range reduction is irrelevant for getting a last hit past their tower. In the late game where you are trying to assassinate an overextended player, you shouldn’t even notice the difference.


    Wriggle’s Lantern – The slight gold increase is fair enough considering the multiple ward usage you get from the item. Considering Noc’s abilities as a farmer, you should have no trouble killing one more mob before returning to base.

    The Lifesteal increase is awesome. It will make low level jungling even safer, and improves your survivability in duels as well, in both the early and late game. It’s obviously better in champion fights, and when not proccing, but on average it is going to be more effective when fighting creeps. Considering the proc just kills them anyway.

    The proc change is really good as well. Not for you in any way, but for your opponents. They can’t just randomly farm up outside your base halfway between fights and get to full in a moment. Before, you couldn’t even risk ulting out to them, for the sake of an uneven playing field. Now? Do what you want – they’ve just been nerfed, and you are the king of 1v1s. It’s also a good change for balancing concerns, so you can’t randomly proc a minion with Umbra up and do a billion damage to a champion for no real reason. With Nocs passive in question as well, your ability to farm up health between fights is still largely the same.

    B. F. Sword – Attack damage reduction is largely irrelevant due to the fact that the gold cost is also decreased. It does less damage, but you can afford it earlier, so in the grand scheme of things it all balances out – and mathematically, it’s more damage per gold anyway. The 200 gold reduction is a LOT more relevant than 5 measly damage that will be made up in item advancement.

    Infinity Edge – OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. How is any part of this bad? Attack damage increase, and crit chance increase. This will make you hit harder and kill faster. It optimises Noc as a glass cannon. In addition, due to the BF change, it’s actually 200 gold cheaper. I might even try adding a second Edge in the uber late game just because stacking them is now far more brutal.

  • Pros and Cons (my build specifically)

    - Has ridiculous DPS. Can take down non-tank enemies in a flash from incredible distance.
    - Exceptional pusher.
    - Great at farming.
    - Fast jungler, giving your team the early game advantage.
    - Incredible chaser.
    - Able to get out of a sticky situation by killing an isolated nearby enemy champion.
    - When played correctly, always gives you a numbers advantage.
    - If you aren’t careful, getting away from multiple enemies can be tricky.
    - Highly susceptible to CC from a prepared team.
    - Not amazing in free for all team fights.
    - If focused, you will die before you manage to have an impact.

  • Summoner Abilities


    Don’t even joke about this. I’m sick and tired of hearing fiddlesticks and Shaco players saying ‘they don’t need smite’ to jungle. While this is true – I too can kill the buff creatures without smite – WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO? If you want to spend the early game roaming the jungle, you are doing your team a disadvantage by not taking this skill. It makes jungling safer (always last hit your own buffs), more profitable (the bonus gold helps) and faster. You will NOT be able to gank effectively if you are underleveled. Don’t put your team in that position by trying to prove how ‘tough’ you are by jungling without this skill.

    I really like ghost on Nocturne because it makes him more viable as both a pusher and a chaser. 500+ movement speed on your trail makes for some good times, and it’s easy to get well over 600 with actives in my build as well. I don’t just want to use my ult to be able to catch people, nor do I want to get 5 man ganked when pushing and have no shot at getting away.

    Other reasonable choices:
    I could see this as being effective with this role in mind, because you don’t want to get CC’d to death when you try and isolate your opponent’s carry. As long as you are good with your W, and pick good spots though, you shouldn’t really have a problem with your 5 second assassinations and can go without this skill.
    This skill is always pretty strong, and helps to negate the lifegain on certain characters you might want to annihilate. I always like ignite on my team, but I prefer the versatility of your other skills better. Besides, you don’t really need the last hit ignite desperation when you have ridiculous movespeed and your ultimate either. Better to get an Executioner’s Calling if healing is a major concern.
    To be honest I think Ghost is superior in almost every way due to it’s longevity, but Flash is just another get out of jail free card when trying to push the lanes solo. However, a decent team will be coming at you from all parts of the jungle, so flashing a short distance or over a wall isn’t necessarily going to get you out of trouble.

    I really don’t think this is necessary. With the build I advise, you should out damage your opponent and bust through their armour, and clearly the slow should just never be relevant. If you need this for the slow, you need to pick another champion.
    You will eventually move fast enough to not need this skill. It is also far less effective on a Jungler than someone in lane.
    Mana shouldn’t be a problem unless you are laning (mistake – do yourself a favour and get your jungle on) due to blue buff, except in reeeeeeeeeally drawn out times in the field.
    I don’t even like this skill at all, and the tiny amount of life it gives is irrelevant compared to your passive and lifesteal.
    It’s amusing, and for a laugh I would use the skill to set up a surprise ultimate, but in a competitive environment the skill is better on a support character who actually has the mastery.
    [spell_icon=Fortify] Not really your job dude.

    There, I don’t think I’ve missed any.

  • Masteries

    So far I’ve only really experimented with offense masteries, and I realise that defence masteries are just as viable for jungling, if not more so. However, my build is designed as a glass cannon. Get in, kill, and get out. You want to spend the least amount of time in conflict while still ensuring the kill. Defensive masteries don’t let you do that. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of the 10% bonus crit damage, but I find it better than other random options.

    21-0-9. This gives you two improved summoner skills, and a bunch of increased attack speed and damage. Obviously the bonus experience is exceedingly relevant when jungling, and buff duration helps a lot as well. If I wasn’t dedicating myself to a single minded strategy, I would max utility mastery.

  • Runes

    So far, I’m using fairly ‘run of the mill’ jungling/AD runes, and I’d like to try and mix it up a little more to maximize my offensive output, even if I’m sacrificing staying power and using off-strength runes.

    Greater Mark of Desolation x9
    Greater Seal of Resilience x9
    Greater Glyph of Alacrity x9
    Greater Quintessence of Desolation x3

    The starting 25 (or really 31) armour pen is just ridiculous for your damage output, and the other runes assist your jungling and ganking potential. Who wants to die when they come out of the jungle? That’s really just embarrassing. 13 armour helps considerably when fighting the creeps, and the slight AS boost just aids your early game passive. I will continue to experiment with alternate Glyphs and Seals, so expect an update on this. I’m certainly going to earn the IP with this guy on my team.

    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude – these are fine for jungling, and I can’t fault them. However, they cramp your late game explosive dives somewhat, and as long as you know what you are doing I don’t believe you ‘need’ the health. But it’s up to you – this can go either way.

    Greater Mark of Malice Greater Mark of Alacrity – Both of these paths are fine if that’s what you are going for, but armour pen runes are just sooooo good that I can’t really justify playing either of these options instead.

  • Skilling

    Shroud is more useful than Duskbringer for level 1 jungling, but not a more important skill in general. The only real reason to take Horror before level 5 is just that I find it more useful to have one more damaging spell to spam in the jungle if needed, rather than the slight buff Duskbringer focus would allow. Also, if someone infiltrates to stop your jungling, it gives you much greater chance of escape, especially seeing as your health can oftentimes be quite low and you are vulnerable to being counter-jungled.

  • Build Guide

    Logically, you start the game with core items for most junglers – and 5x. The increased defence makes you viable in the first place, and the Potions prevent you denying yourself experience from constant basing, and also stop you dying to golem/lizard. I really wouldn’t recommend trying anything else for the jungle, as this collection is the safest and fastest option.

    I make sure I have almost 800 gold before I return to base, as this lets you buy your and a on your way to the always useful . If you have a little gold left over, a potion or two will never be a bad choice. Right around here (sometimes before – but it does largely depend on your health) you want to be scoping the enemy for easy ganks. Kills give you money, money accelerates your build. The next thing you really want is lifesteal, to make sure that you are never too crippled to take advantage of a weak enemy or their overextension. I will typically upgrade my Razors into a UNLESS the enemy team is considerably tanky. If they are, I will just get the basic , to make [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor] less than unattainable. The obvious advantage of the Lantern is that you can keep Dragon (and Baron, later on) permanently warded. This is really your job, and you should be taking advantage of it whenever it’s up to escalate your power level.

    You also, quite obviously, want to upgrade your fairly early. A ganker isn’t worth much if it takes him forever to reach the lanes. You want level 2 boots sometimes even before lifesteal, dependant upon the current game. I will almost always get , even if the enemy is really low on CC or has no hard CC at all. Slows are annoying when pursuing if you miss or need multiple shields, and stuns are game over. The other options are (though without dodge runes these are next to irrelevant – melee carries like Yi are still going to beat the hell out of you, slight dodge chance and minimal armour notwithstanding) and , though I’ll only get the latter if the enemy has no CC at all (or none on anyone relevant, anyway). Even just the MR of the Treads makes them more appealing in my eyes than other choices, especially considering we won’t be building any tank or endurance items at all.

    Next you want to work on . It starts off your stats in the right direction, and the active is phenomenal for multiple reasons. It maximises your chasing potential and makes you crush towers and bail before the enemy can make it to your lane (or severely cripple said tower). If you can only afford parts of it at a time, which is usually the case, you want to build side first, purely became farming and gold isn’t an issue, and the penetration will help more in the early game.

    Once you have the full blade, you have essentially completed your starting core, which should look like this. Don’t ever forget your active item abilities.

    From here you want to increase your damage output and movespeed respectively, building , , and upgrading to , in that order. If you go on a ridiculous rampage and can outright buy IE before your Zeal, go ahead, nothing wrong with that. is typically too expensive for what I want to do on my next trip back, and I don’t want to underbuy IE items over the Zeal. Play this one by ear, but typically you should be getting things bit by bit in the order mentioned. I have outright bought BOTH IE and PD before though... sometimes the enemy is just going to keep underestimating you.

    If you’ve made it this far and the game still proceeds, your last item slot can really be anything – (especially if you didn’t get Wriggle’s)[item_icon=Stark's Fervor]... the list goes on. [item_icon=Tiamat] aren’t really useful or good ideas though, but the rest have uses depending on the enemy team’s build.

    So in the late game your items should look like this

    Yes, there are no items in this entire build that increase your chances of survival. I’m well aware of that, and I accept it. You have to respect your fragility, but your opponent’s have to respect your ability to assassinate an isolated character out of nowhere. That guy pushing a solo lane by himself better be damn sure he can outrun you before he travels off without his team. The same goes for you.

  • Jungling and You

    This guide is written for taking a jungling path, so all the items and runes listed apply to this strategy. However, a few notes on the strengths and tips for jungling will be outlined below.

    I start like a boss at the Ancient Golem, however I usually get the one character to auto it a couple of times and take the agro to maximize my health while roaming. It gives you more scope to jump on a fragile enemy, and also decreases the chances of you getting stomped at the Wraith camp. Obviously, a good team should be protecting you at the start too. You want your mid laner in the brush at the river for advance warning of a gank. If it’s just the three of you and they send their whole team, get out. If you have 5 as well, be prepared to fight and ping the squishiest champ. Don’t let them steal your golem unabated if you can help it, as it seriously slows your pace and basically resigns you to dangerously stealing. Be smart and save to last hit the golem – don’t let a wily enemy steal from outside the treeline.

    Once you have your blue buff and pick up Duskbringer, everything becomes a piece of cake. Initiate the wolf and wraith camps with it and auto attack, using potions as necessary. If you are paying attention to timing, sometimes switching focus from a minion one shot from death will increase your pace and heal you more from your passive. Be mindful of this and take advantage wherever possible.

    I move straight onto the lizard next, to add value to ganks, though dependant on how you’ve managed your health the battle can be quite close. Just don’t go in assuming you can’t lose based on previous games. Afterwards, ganks depending, I finish the golems and head back to the wolf camp and wraiths once more. You should now have the minimum gold required for your starting items.

    To recap:
    Ancient Golem, Wolves, Wraiths, Lizard, Golems, Wolves, Wraiths. Ganking and killing enemy champions negates the need to repeat earlier camps.
    You might have a slight pause at the second wolf camp, depending on your speed, but that’s fine. It won’t be more than a few seconds.

    When you are in the level 4 range, ganking is a reasonable choice, as your abilities are relevant and you have some CC and chasing potential. Make sure you let people know you are coming, and focus fire on the same target. Also keep watching the map and chat when roaming so that you can respond to people’s requests as well. You might miss a low hp enemy, but you can bet the allies in that lane won’t. And they’ll want you to float on in and mess them up.

    Sometimes one of your allies is going to extend a little too far and need you to cover for them while they base (or even worse, they have died). This is fine too. With reasonable health management you can chill at their turret and farm a bit, and when they return, spend even longer in the jungle. It’s win/win!

    Level 6 is basically critical mass as far as ganks are concerned. Now it matters very little if your target gets away on just a bit of hp. You can close huge gaps with and finish the job for first blood and cash. Just don’t initiate with this ability unless you are desperately needed at a fight. Being able to catch a fleeing enemy is better than letting them know you are coming and then failing to seal the deal. And make sure you are quick with to prevent some kind of stupid slow stopping you as well! Hit em with , cause fear, block counters and ult if necessary. First blood. You win.

    You have to keep roaming around for a bit, grabbing buffs (or stealing for the daring), warding/killing dragon, ganking overextended lanes and covering allies who have to recall. But don’t stay in the jungle forever attacking the small minion camps. After a while they lose their value and you really have to get in a lane for a gank, crush the resistance and take a turret. Also, make sure you aren’t roaming so much as to deny yourself experience. You will have almost zero value in ganks if you let your enemies outlevel you. If you are multiple levels behind your teammates, you are doing something wrong. You are roaming too much, shopping too much, or more likely, spending too much time waiting for the perfect moment to strike a weak enemy. Sometimes it is fine to give up – head to the lane, and if they start to look like they have wisened up, forget about it. Come back later with more experience and better items. Don’t waste your time getting involved in a situation without a decent chance of blood, because that denies you experience as well.

    As you practice, you’ll learn when it is time to stay out of the small minions camps and basically focus on helping your solo laner break down the first turret. Often this is the point of your ganks, to come out of nowhere and beat the tower defender. Without them there it is quite simple to take one down at lower levels, so work with that goal in mind. It is even more relevant in the duo lane, as your kill makes it a 3v1, and you should either be able to destroy the tower (or cripple it) without brave resistance, or kill both enemies with one person taking turret agro. Even losing one ally is fine here if you push that tower down right after. Don’t get scared on 50% hp and base after you have defeated the lane’s guardians – make them pay for dying, and make it that much harder for them to push you back.

    The biggest concern with middling-skill level junglers is their inability to support the solo laner. Bear in mind that sometimes this legend is up against multiple enemies as well, especially if the enemy wises on to the fact that you are never around to help. In essence, as long as the enemy’s top tower stands, your solo laner cannot leave. They can’t help out in team fights, they can’t realistically base... if you aren’t providing them with any support, you are crippling your team. The other point to note is that your ally is alone because YOU aren’t in the lane. This means that after you have reached adequate level and no longer have need of the small golems/wolves/etc that you need to return to your lane and use the higher level of your ally to push down that tower. You are meant to roam, but should be assisting the most fragile lane first, which will typically be the guy standing alone.

    As far as counter jungling is concerned, I would advise against it in most situations. If you get your early and want to ward their blue buff, it can work ok. You can either flat out steal the buff, or make a move if they look badly injured. However, Nocturne isn’t great in the early game against most of the other powerful junglers. Warwick and Udyr can annihilate you without respect, and others like Fiddlesticks can be too risky, while Shaco is a waste of time. If you are jungling against another Nocturne however, things change. It all depends on how confident you are in your abilities, and how far you are along your path. If you have kept up the pace and bought some decent items, then it can be worth a shot. Just make sure you land both and (fear first generally makes it easier to do so) and block your opponent’s fear.

  • Videos

    This first video demonstrates the Nocturne jungling path, early game, and some insight on personal play and tips for teammates.

    The second video picks up from where the first left off, with 11 minutes of additional gameplay and Nocturne roaming.

  • Quick reference

    Greater Mark of Desolation x9
    Greater Seal of Resilience x9
    Greater Glyph of Alacrity x9
    Greater Quintessence of Desolation x3


    Summoner Spells:

    Skill Priority:
    Shroud of Darkness
    Unspeakable Horror

    Starting Items:
    Cloth Armor Health Potionx5

    Completed Core Build

    Other items:

    Optional Final Items:
    [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor][item_icon=Stark's Fervor]

  • Optional Item Discussion

    Optional item discussion:

    – If the opposing team is melee heavy or stacking a little bit of armour, this should help you punch through their defences.

    [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor] – Don’t build this unless there are several tanks or toughs on the opposing team. Two tanks and a bunch of middling health guys or a tank and two tough guys (like mundo and Cho-Gath) is a rough estimate of what you need before you should be considering this. But remember – your job isn’t to solo their team or mix it up with the toughs. You really only need to be able to three-shot that caster at the back of the pack, or kill their healer before the team fight truly starts. As such, it takes a lot before I want to get Madreds, due to them not helping you in that role.

    – The extra lifesteal makes you handle 1v1s with melee carries a lot quicker and safer. If the opposing team has little to no CC, you want to pick this up, as they just won’t be able to stop you, even if you get into the thick of a teamfight or ganked by three squishies.

    – normally this isn’t going to be necessary due to your shield, but I could see some merit to it against certain team compositions.

    [item_icon=Stark's Fervor] – Same reason as the Bloodthirster. The damage is less potent, but if your team has several melee AD specialists, then the boost for all of you is great. However, since you will sometimes effectively overshoot the team fight, it might be better placed on one of those other carries so there are always multiple people getting the bonus.

    – Jax. Activate. End Film.

    – great against those anti-physical tanks, but again less relevant than something that helps you with the caster/support you are trying to kill.

    – this is the only defensive item I would recommend, and I would take it in matches with insane amounts of CC. You can’t finish your job if you are perma stunned. Hit the active and surprise them with a quick kill. Also more relevant against suppression compositions – Warwick and Malzahar, for example.

    Couple of notes: I see a lot of Nocturnes grabbing [item_icon=Tiamat] thinking the splash damage lolz are going to be great. Even though this is specific to my build in terms of reasoning, I still think the item is a waste of time.

    With intelligent blue buffing, you don’t have any mana problems, at any point in the game. Yes, you might if you are spamming your skills in the lane, but it really isn’t worth wasting gold and time buying things like mana regen or manamune. It severely inhibits your value in the early game by lowering your damage output. Also, Nocturne is simply RIDICULOUS at farming anyway – his passive annihilates oncoming creep waves with little effort, especially with the ridiculous attack speed you have later in the game. Tiamat is just unnecessary for this end, and is inferior to other choices for duelling champions. Clearly it isn’t a glass cannon item, but I would argue there are far superior choices no matter what play style you are trying to adopt.

    The other item that is often ‘recommended’ for Nocturne is , and he simply doesn’t need it. If you NEED mallet desperately, get better at landing your skill shots. If you are on a trail, very few can outrun you. Especially with and in reserve. And Paranoia as a failsafe. Besides, it’s incredibly easy to get red buff (and anyone on your team who argues they chase better is probably an idiot) without much competition from your team. In fact, they should be GIVING you red buff it’s that good for you. The best part about mallet is the bonus health. The damage can be achieved elsewhere on more useful items and the passive is next to irrelevant. Jungle or no, Nocturne benefits more by picking up the odd red buff than he does spending tons of money on a low AD item.

    – These are all just bad on Nocturne. Yes, his ult is really cool, but unless you are just playing for fun, the CDR is better found on items like Ghostblade while giving you staying power, and Mobility shouldn’t even be great for you anyway. Why would you ever want to be out of combat for more than 5 seconds? You are either chasing an enemy or fighting creeps. is enough to make your movespeed relevant without wasting money on boots that get you perma-stun killed.

    – Apparently these boots don’t get a lot of respect, but I use them all the time on certain characters. However, I just don’t think Nocturne is one of them. You are going to get enough attack speed and combat stability without boots like this, but you can’t Glass Cannon a rearline caster if they can three-shot you right back. Nor can you risk a dive against a team with more than one stun without . If Greaves provided damage as well, they might be worth considering as more ‘on theme’ but the slight resilience that Merc's provide along with your armour runes gives you just enough toughness to survive your brief conflicts.

  • What is the Glass Cannon?

    A Glass Cannon is a character with ridiculous damage output but low survivability in large or prolonged engagements. Whoever you choose to fight (within reason) should die in a few seconds just from auto attacks, and be suitably isolated from their team. You won’t last if you dive into the thick of things to kill a mark, and you might not even get the job done. Work out who is the most invaluable player on their team, or the guy your team can’t handle (again, within reason) and deal with him or her when you see a good spot. Remember that the enemy don’t share allied vision when you initiate in this way, so your target will be at half health or worse by the time the lights come back on. Even with vent, they aren’t going to be quick enough to respond.

    You have to respect the fact that you aren’t going to be able to tank towers effectively or get right up in the battle. However, building armour and MR isn’t really going to change much either. Nocturne is naturally moderately squishy as a melee champ, it’s his passive and lifesteal builds that enable him to take down a fellow combat specialist. In addition, the role of the cannon is to GUARANTEE the kill on the target required. If you aren’t pure aggression (the main reason I use offense masteries), you might slip or take too long. You need to be able to win the fight even in bad spots. I dived a team once on a turret to eliminate Soraka, who was just demolishing us in team fights. Through several heals and her entire team beating my head in, I finished her off. I died, but I had done my job and made the ensuing 4v4 a lot more favourable. Guardian Angel doesn’t help here either, as your resurrection time negates the fact that they have no abilities left/are low on hp (with healers). It also still leaves you completely vulnerable when you rez, with very little health.

    Unless there is a constant pattern of one enemy hanging at the back of the pack out of reach, or in the river brush 24/7 waiting to gank, anyone who is isolated can become a prime target. The team isn’t going to be able to focus fire or redirect fast enough when they can’t see you, and with this build you should be able to out damage most other heroes in the game, especially with appropriate use of your shroud.

    There are some candidates for optimal targets – lux is one, for when she’s played well she is always extended beyond her team, unable to be reached but still capable of dishing out serious damage. Healers like Soraka or ranged DPS champs like Miss Fortune fall into this category as well. Identify the person in this role. They are priority one. If one team is pushing with another team defending, and there’s a reasonable gap between the target and their group, go for it. You want to turbo in, through their team and obliterate the carry/support/jerk before their team can pull you off. Activating your shield will generally be enough to protect you for the fight – you should kill your opponent before the duration wears off (plus fear, as well).

    When you are doing this, make sure your TEAM knows as well. There’s no point diving in and killing your target only to see you teammates farming the minion wave between the two groups as you get 4 man ganked. You don’t have a lot of escape potential in a situation like that – mostly popping ghost/retaining some period of Ghostblade’s active and trying to run if you can. However, if your team is decent and clued in, they can leap at the enemy now that the important role has been killed. They need to take advantage of the few seconds of poor initiation, where the enemy might not focus fire, or waste skillshots and time aiming for you. They can’t ignore you completely either, otherwise you’ll dive right back in to clean up when the danger is lower. If you die, and your team gets an ace, you’ve done well (as long as you actually killed at least one player). Sometimes I will kill 2.5 guys with no chance of escaping, just to make the following teamfight completely one sided. If you trade yourself for the opposing carry and support role, how the hell are they going to stand up to 4 others, especially when another guy is at half health. And all their abilities are on cooldown.

    This strategy might not work so well in the solo queue, due to the poor communication and hating that goes on from strangers. Don’t be afraid to speak up and explain to your team what you are doing and what you want them to do. A plan is best executed when all parties know what the hell is going on.
    No matter how awesome you are doing, don’t get cocky and dive into outnumbered fights. It isn’t your job to show people how you are the man. You are needed to wreck their team composition in a dedicated push or fight. Don’t lose your team the game by not being alive when they need you.

  • Tips and Tricks

    - When jungling, don’t forget that Duskbringer is a very obvious signal to your current position (especially with the frozen skin...). Don’t shoot the trail through the wall of the wraith camp or you can bet the player in mid will start pinging at your location and signalling their jungler to come and wreck you.
    - If you aren’t very good at landing the trail, be patient and practice. It is incredibly important to learn to use this skill properly, as it does significant damage in the late game as well as making you virtually unescapable. Try leading your target and blocking off predicted escape routes with the skill against clever opponents. Sometimes even if you miss, you get a few extra attacks in due to their need to double back.
    - If the enemy team is clustered and pushing a turret in the mid-late game, feel free to harass with this skill. The damage is reasonable enough that prolonged exposure can give you scope for a thrill kill.
    - Use Unspeakable Horror to chase AND to escape. If you are being chased by one enemy, you can even turn the tides while running with a timely fear and Dusk/Umbra combo. Against multiple enemies, making the fastest/most threatening waste a precious second or two in pursuit could save your life.
    - Remember also that you can break certain channel abilities with fear, and time the targeting appropriately. Put yourself in your opponent’s shoes and pre-emptively strike with the Horror before they begin their channel. They can either waste it, or resign themselves to waiting until fear is over. With any luck, their powerful ability will no longer be relevant.
    - Try and predict when your opponent is about to use their most threatening ability and time shield well. I blocked all but one ultimate from Warwick in a game just by paying close attention to his movements and style. This allowed me to tank a tower when he had just arrived on the scene and make an inhibitor vulnerable for later.
    - Make sure you remember there is an active to Shroud of Darkness! I have died a few times pointlessly by ‘letting’ my opponent hit me with a last ditch skillshot when I thought I was safe. NEVER FORGET. Practice, and you’ll find you pick up some kills very quickly with insane attack speed buffs against opponents who expected you to be stunned or whatever. And ultimately, you will escape on low health a lot more than most other characters you play.
    - Paranoia isn’t just a teleport + damage, even if that is where it is most effective. Denying your opponents the ability to see anything outside a short radius has several other uses. You can save a struggling teammate in the jungle by giving a maximum of one enemy the chance of finding him. When enemies spread out to cut your teammate off, ult, and watch them lose any chance of scoring the kill.
    - If you are planning on backdooring a low health turret or any inhibitor, popping off your ult before you do can give you precious seconds to destroy it unperturbed.
    - If you are playing against another Nocturne, you can just ult when he’s going to crush your team with his, and he won’t even be able to teleport to a target anymore.
    - You can also use it to get away yourself to some extent, though I’d rather try to outmanoeuvre my opponents before sending Paranoia on a trip to cooldownville.
    - In regards to skill progression, the reasons for taking first and maxing first should be obvious. The reason I max Shroud before , however, is purely based on mathematics. Horror does more damage with more levels, whereas the active on your shield doesn’t change, only the passive does. However when you take into consideration the effects you get when you successfully block a spell, and the fact that one second of fear with 40% attack speed is no worse than two seconds of fear with 20% increase, it seems only logical to take shroud first. Because it scales off AP, something we completely ignore, it is never doing more than 250 damage, making it less than a standard auto attack, worse still when compared to an Umbra blade boosted attack and critical hits. You will deal significantly more damage by maxing w first, especially when you consider the possibility that you will at least once get involved in an autoattack battle with the enemy. One shot of fear loses to huge attack speed in every scenario.
    Let me explain this another way – if your auto attacks are doing less than the 50 damage increase you would get from shroud, only then is it correct to level horror first. Each level of Unspeakable Horror adds 50 damage and .25 seconds of fear. Each level of Shroud of Darkness adds a 5% attack bonus increase. You are NEVER going to be dealing less damage per hit, and you are ALWAYS going to be attacking more times in a conflict than you are casting Horror. Therefore, it is mathematically inferior to level E before W.
    - The reason I take Horror third when jungling has a few different reasons, not least of which is making the jungle that much safer for you. Nocturne is weak to counter jungling at lower levels, especially when poorly managed, and the fear for escape mechanism crushes the slight increase in damage/speed/AD on Duskbringer. Clearly you want to take it before level 6, and the damage increase from maxing Duskbringer earlier doesn’t make up for the added safety you get from a fear effect. This is, however, entirely my opinion and argument can be made for taking DB at level 2 and 3, but I would advise taking your first point in the Horror no later than level 4 for ganking stability.
    - Nocturne is a great pusher, and don’t forget it. This build in particular makes him incredibly viable for doing so. His ability to annihilate minion waves in seconds with and autos makes the process fast, and the most important advantage is they can’t realistically send one enemy to stop you. So the idea is to push mid/whatever with your team, get close to the enemy without engaging, then have them hold while you switch to another lane. Usually, they will catch on and send enemies to stop you, but as long as you play it right, you should always come out with a tower. If they send a tank, you can tank their damage while hitting the tower with your wave. This is especially true if you manage to block their attempt to CC you. Never hang around too long – you are fragile, remember. But that isn’t to say that you can’t deal a huge amount of damage to the tower even with them there. Play it smart. If they send anyone else, depending on who it is, you can choose to crush them under tower agro or just move around and get the odd hit in. If they send multiple enemies, who cares. Stay a safe distance while your team takes the tower they are at.
    - Once you’ve broken down the inhibitor turrets, you can backdoor the inhibitors freely. Using your ult to mask the initiation if you want can help ensure the destruction, but either way you should be able to beat the inhibitor without too much hassle. If you have to die to get it, sometimes that is fine as well. Just make sure your team doesn’t get aced in your absence.

  • Best Friends

    I haven’t really worked out a lot of Nocturne’s favourite allies, but there have been a few games where key interactions have proved ridiculous.

    Zilean – This guy is the best. When the Glass Cannon can’t actually die, it’s a rough situation for the enemy. In addition, the clustered enemies trying desperately to finish you off are perfectly placed for massive clusterbomb damage. I shouldn’t also have to point out how ridiculous the speed boost is either to chase down fleeing foes.
    Also don’t forget Zilean’s innate experience boost for members of his team – this gives you an exciting +13% when jungling, which might pick up an extra level here and there, depending on your route. The most obvious one is halfway through fighting the small golems.

    Shen – Roughly the same as Zil, though slightly less dominating. He can ult you when you dive to ensure a one-for-nothing trade, and taunt close enemies off your back to allow you to move into a better position. The utility of his Vorpal Blade is next to useless, but he can tank damage far better than you and give you a numbers advantage easily.

    Teemo – It’s all about the mushrooms. With the additional sight lines through the enemy jungle, provided you are winning/teemo is doing his job, it is incredibly easy to pick a stray off switching lanes when you are trying to make a final push, giving you the important numbers advantage going into their base.

  • Worst Enemies

    Again, there haven’t been a lot of enemies that I’ve really needed to stay the hell away from up to this point, and this is largely due to the active on your Shroud. If you are good enough with it within this style of play, you shouldn’t really have any troubles with 1v1 conflicts.

    Tryndamere – If his ult is up, he can be a little bit of a pain. I usually hammer him fast then start moving away when he rages. If he chases, fear him and kill him. If he runs, get him later. Either way it’s better than running the risk of a string of crits taking you out. However, if there is a suitable supply of minions nearby, you can theoretically fear him, tank a couple of hits while lifestealing from minons, then finish him off quite quickly.

    Teemo – Teemo makes both lists purely because of Blinding Dart. Now, he isn’t exactly a worst case scenario by any means, and it really only matters if he is a really buff AD build, but if you do not exercise caution he can completely negate your damage output and kill you first, due to your disregard for survivability. He IS also squishy as hell, so it is of course possible to solo him but sometimes the battle can be pretty close if you mistime your shield or he surprises you. Also, mushrooms really, really hurt when you aren't equipped with any MR to mitigate them.

  • Stats for the believers

    As soon as I had won a couple of games with this design I started recording my stats for a future guide. With this build, my stats are as follows after 18 games... (after 20 games total with Nocturne... the first two trying him out with random suggested items were sufficiently embarrassing)

    164 kills, 85 deaths, 137 assists
    Game average – 9.11/4.72/7.61
    15 wins, 3 losses

    I unfortunately didn’t record all my building statistics, but I got 7 in at least two games, 8 in one, and was averaging around 2-3 a match. Minion kills wise I was almost always the leader by a large margin, giving me a huge advantage in gold earned and build completion.

    I got my first ever pentakill against a team that consisted of Gragas, Katarina, Akali, Miss Fortune and Jarvan in a 15/1/4 stomping where I wasn’t even close to finishing my build. I picked on MF as my target of choice for obvious reasons, and after the assassination got a little help in the 5v4 for the fab five and an ace for the QQ.
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    The simple fact is that I'm 15/3 in premade games, at level 30. That should at least provide some merit to the guide I am presenting, as it works against compositions that have been theoretically designed for a winning advantage.

    Despite some games that were well outside those averages, that’s roughly equivalent to what I can expect in a standard game, especially if you take into consideration opponents who start surrendering when you are steamrolling. If anything, the deaths are a little high (skewed from 4 games making up more than HALF the total) which is really only worth mentioning to imply that doing your job right by assassinating isn’t so hard to escape from. I probably average between 2 and 3 deaths in a normal game when I’m playing well. Also these stats are from 5v5 premade games, nothing else. The two or three custom games I've played are quite obviously not included in the sample.

    I find it a little hard to reasonably jungle in the solo queue with someone who is fragile at early levels, because team co-ordination is a lot harder. Not only is it virtually impossible to get your team to protect you adequately from a level one gank (which will ruin your ability to jungle, even if you live), but I also like to get my solo laner to auto the ancient golem once or twice to ensure my health stays decent the entire loop. Try explaining that to a random without them sticking around to leech xp. Or ignore you completely.

  • Closing thoughts

    Ultimately, bear in mind this guide is for playing Nocturne as an early game jungler, and late game Glass Cannon assassin. Please comment on this guide in the forums, but bear in mind I have had a lot of success with this build playing to this particular style. If you aren’t prepared to try the particular strategies and team roles I have outlined, then suggesting alternate items really won’t prove any points. Try playing in this way, as close to this build as possible, and check out the results. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

    As far as balancing is concerned, if anything Nocturne is perhaps slightly overpowered at the moment, but a lot of that is based on the fact that players are ineffective at countering him at this stage. Once the 'new' vibe wears off and the people who are good with him continue playing, rather than any old idiot, it will be easier to determine his level respective to other characters.

    Please comment on this guide in the forums, and let me know how you go as a Glass Cannon (not a Loose Cannon). It's a very rewarding strategy to play, and it feels amazing to just annihilate an isolated enemy en route to a victory push.

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