Karthus Build Guide

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How To Play Karthus 101

written by Quicksilv190

Karthus Build

Table of Contents

  • Before you read!

    Karthus is my main and i have played at least 300 if not 350 games with him and believe me when i say that there is much more to this Legendary Lich than meets the eye. Karthus is super squishy and such usually cannot be played successfully as a glass cannon, (unless you know your team mates/are in a premade and you trust them to play and tank well, otherwise it is generally a bad idea to build him for pure AP)

    Please remember that every champion can be played numerous ways and different ways work better for different people. Minor substitutions in runes and mastery tree here or there can allow you to pick entirely different items changing your game playing style. Lastly note that a champion is only as OP as the player behind it, play smart and play FOR THE TEAM and you will achieve victory.

    This guide has A LOT of text in it. I will try to add as much visuals and summaries as i can but to really get the full potential of this guide you will need to read. I will continually update this as i figure out more math and as new patches come out, your input is always welcome :)

  • Updates

    April 2011: Guide Created, many cosmetic and informational updates to the guide.

    5/1: completely redid champions section detailing every enemy you are likely to face and the basics on how to deal with them. Warning - it is a shit ton of text

    5/2: Organized champions into smaller sub groups. Added Kassadin + finished Brand and Fiddle

    5/4: Moved the in depth notes on Requiem into the 'How to Use Your Skills Properly" section and more importantly added
    COLOR :D

    5/5: Added Sivir to champions section

    5/15: It has been a while since i have been able to update this but now that has hit it needed an update badly. Karthus just got hit with a nerf as i am sure anyone who read the patch notes would know. Riot sadly listened to the whining bitches on the forums who called for Karthus nerfs after Karthus free week and Karthus on sale week. The change to Requiem is the real nerf here as the AP ratio was dropped from .7 to .6 so our ulti will not be as strong as it once was :( However, this is manageable. You just have to be even more aware of how much damage it will do and how much MR or what items / skills the enemy you wish to kill has. Do this and you should still get the same effectiveness from your ulti.

    The change to Death Defied is annoying but also not terrible. The reduced time dead is frustrating and only having 7 seconds after death is also a wood killer. BUT! Riot was kind enough to now make it so the 7 seconds of Death Defied counts towards time dead so we are still getting some reduction from our passive. The only thing about our playstyle this will change is that if you plan to cast requiem after death we must do it sooner.

    I look at this patch more as a way to change the way noobs were playing Karthus and less as a nerf for a player who knows what they are doing. The reduced damage to Requiem forces karthus users to be more intelligent about when to use it. The changes to Death Defied force players who were building Karthus for after death damage to have to rethink their plan as they have lost a valuable second of their possible damage. So look at this patch as Riot's way of challenging Karthus players to be better and not their way of reducing Karthus' effectiveness in a game.

  • Quick Summary (Core Build #1)

    This is a more defensive build which will help a lot when you are doing solo que where your team amtes will not always be so reliable. It sacrifices some Mp5 and AP for more health, an on hit slow (very very useful and effective), and some extra MR or Armor. I also suggest it for players new to Karthus or new to a mage champion in general.

    As far as masteries i take a 9/6/15 build. The 9/0/21 build also works nicely.

    Greater Mark of Insight
    Greater Seal of Clarity
    Greater Glyph of Shielding
    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    any combination of works best

    Skilling Order


    Core Build

    Start with
    Sapphire Crystal and two Health Potion

    Build into
    Rod of Ages
    Sorcerer's Shoes
    Rylai's Crystal Scepter

    Finishing items

    Void Staff
    Archangel's Staff
    Lich Bane
    Rabadon's Deathcap

    Zhonya's Hourglass
    Banshee's Veil
    Abyssal Scepter
    Guardian Angel

    *Many people will bash my opinion and this guide solely based upon the idea of having RoA and Rylai's in the same build. To this i say go out and play karthus in Solo Que as much as i have and come back and tell me building for AP still works. With the way matchmaking is right now you will have a couple games with great teams, a couple with mediocre teams, and several with just generally bad teams who cannot and wont try to support each other. That is why i build Karthus the way i do. When playing with any sort of premade i highly suggest swapping out some of the defensive suggestions i have made with more offensive which i will list below.

  • Quick Summary (Core Build #2)

    This is a more offensive build. This build values offensive items more but sacrifices the slow from Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This removes your ability to chase / run very well but leaves you with a nice overall damage boost. I suggest using this when queing up with people you know or with a team that is doing well.

    As far as masteries i take a 9/6/15 build. The 9/0/21 build also works nicely.

    Greater Mark of Insight
    Greater Seal of Clarity
    Greater Glyph of Force
    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    any combination of works best

    Skilling Order


    Core Build

    Start with
    Sapphire Crystal and two Health Potion

    Build Into
    Rod of Ages
    Sorcerer's Shoes
    Rabadon's Deathcap

    Finishing items

    Void Staff
    Archangel's Staff
    Lich Bane

    Zhonya's Hourglass
    Banshee's Veil
    Abyssal Scepter
    Guardian Angel

    *Remember that Karth's AP ratios are close to the worst in the game for a mage. Stacking AP is not as effective on Karth as it is on other champions. I am not trying to discourage against a build like this one but it is something to keep in mind.

  • Abilities

    Death Defied
    Pretty nice passive all around. The ability to cast after death is pretty nice and so is the reduced time dead, it can help after an ace when your team needs defense.

    A few things to point out:
    1. DO NOT expect to do a whole lot besides ulti after you are dead. Nobody is dumb enough to stand there while you defile and lay waste them. Sure you can occasionally pick an enemy off after a team fight or 1v1 but the best use of this is to snag a champ or two with your ulti.
    2. DO NOT use your ulti every time you die as that will sometimes just be a waste.

    Lay Waste
    This spell is the essence of Karthus. It allows him to farm efficiently while also being great for harassing. It is on a 1 second long cooldown making it spammable and its mana cost is little to none if you kill with it. This does not mean however to endlessly spam this ability as if would just be merely a waste of mana and a Karthus without mana is quite useless.

    Balancing last hitting and successful harassing while maintaining good mana management is key to Karth. The only thing that takes some getting used to is its blast radius and just how far away from a minion to place it so that only he is damaged. Once you have this down well you can work on being as effective as possible with your lay waste. This skill is something that cant really be taught *well* here. You must learn it by using in game experience.

    Wall of Pain
    One of the best if not the best AoE CC in the game. The slow is massive and when combined with the increased damage taken it is extremely useful. This is the ability that allows you to initiate, run away, save a fleeing team mate, or defend with ease.

    An important thing to note is that people fear the wall. The initial reaction of anyone is to stop and go around or wait. So even if they dont get hit the wall the effect is still largely the same buying you or your allies time.

    Casting this behind or in front of the enemy team to start a team battle is very very useful especially if your tank is too pussy to initiate. Now i know you are all thinking, a Karthus initiating? LOLOLOLOLOLOL! but just trust me on this. When you build him this way people will fear you.

    Another great spell, the AoE damage this baby can deal out is massive and during team fights is incredibly helpful. Anytime you are entering combat with your team or with melee champions pop this on and they will start getting drained fast.

    The fear component is also strong with this as many people do not expect it to hit as hard as it can. Most will back out of its range causing them to stop attacking you or back off completely.

    Always remember to turn this on once you die as it can be very helpful for your team espeically if you were focused first and your enemies are still fighting around your body.

    One final note is be careful with this. It drains mana like a mofo if you arent careful with how you use it. A karth with no mana is less useful than a dead one with 8 seconds of free spells. If you get blue buff this helps a lot but the amount it drains will surpass your regen if you leave it on. At rank 5 it drains 390 Mp5. To put that in perspective you would need about 15 Archangel's Staff to make up for that and be able to leave defile on 24/7...

    Ahhh your ulti. The reason for all the controversy surrounding Karth. As good as it is remember to be careful when using it. it can turn the tides of a game and a great finishing move to score you several multi kills and snag that extra runner who got away from a team fight. *Can* be very helpful to use midway through a fight so it affects all enemies and provides your team a leg up in a team fight. Just remember not to waste it only to have your team fail during the fight.

    Theres a lot to know and remember about your ultimate. You will pick up on a lot of this from simply playing him in games. While i can not be there coaching you saying when to use your ultimate and when not to, i will put as much information as i can think of below in the "How to Use Your Skills Properly" section.

  • Pros / Cons

    -global nuke
    -high damage output in team battle or 1v1
    -intimidating to play against
    -makes enemies play more defensively / recall more to keep their health up
    -great mid/harass
    -can defend well
    -can initiate quite well
    -can carry a team easily
    -fear factor*
    -can fit in with most team compositions
    -can have a high amount of kills / assists
    -has a massive AoE slow

    -takes a long time to get used to
    -requires a lot of map awareness
    -requires you to be efficient with your mana
    -gets focused a lot if you are your teams main source of damage output
    -squishy early if you have all offensive runes/masteries
    -can be screwed over by shields and heals
    -terrible AP ratios

    His list of cons is long but simply by playing smart you can eliminate 3 to 4 of them. His pros make him an all around great caster and show just how deadly he can truly be.

    *The biggest advantage to Karth is his ability to strike fear into the hearts of his opponents with ease. All of his spells will normally cause an enemy to retreat or at least think twice before they go after you, the initial instinct is to run away from his abilities and even the smarter enemies you face will at least hesitate before initiating combat with you. The enemies who understand his damage capabilities will already be cautious around you. Those who do not will learn quickly...

  • Masteries and Runes


    For masteries i like to go 9/6/15 taking the bonus armor and MR in defense as it helps a lot early game. Going 3 more points in to take the health regen is not a bad idea either. The health regen is a ridiculous amount seeing as your mana pool will be quite large, it helps a great deal when laning. With this build i take the reduced time dead, increased regen, increased XP, increased Mp5, and the last 2 points go into improved Ghost/Tele/Flash depending on what i am using. 9/0/21 is always viable and is what i used to use before i made the switch. Other combinations of the trees are always possible.



    Greater Mark of Insight
    Magic penetration here, no question about it. Anything else is silly.

    Greater Seal of Clarity
    I like the mana regen per level here as it seems to be the most helpful in the long run and it surpasses the flat mana regen very quickly. If you get a Chalice of Harmony then you may be able to substitute these for armor or other runes to supplement his weak base armor. *not tested yet*

    Blue - lots of choices
    Greater Glyph of Insight
    Greater Glyph of Potency
    Greater Glyph of Force
    Greater Glyph of Shielding
    Magic pen, flat AP, AP per level, and MR per level can all go here it really depends. I like the MR per level because i find a more defensively built karthus is GENERALLY stronger and more useful than a full offensively built one.

    *CDR* - I do not suggest using CDR runes because it only really effects your ulti and building Karth around his ulti is a waste.

    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
    Greater Quintessence of Potency
    Greater Quintessence of Force
    Greater Quintessence of Insight

    Flat health quints are my favorite here although any of these would fit nicely.

  • In Depth Runes

    Lets talk AP runes, i for one am not a huge fan of them but they do work nicer than i originally thought on karth.

    For flat AP runes, lets say that you take 9 Greater Glyph of Potency and 3 Greater Quintessence of Potency, with the bonus AP per level from masteries you will start the game with ~25 AP (assuming your first item has no AP). Your lay waste has an AP ratio of .3 so 25 * .3 = 7.5. your lay waste single target BEFORE MR will now do 95 damage versus normally 80. Once you include MR at roughly 15% - 25% (including magic pen mastery and magic pen marks) your damage with AP runes goes to about 71 - 81 and your damage without is around 60 - 68. This is a 17.5% damage increase ONLY with lay waste and ONLY when you hit one person.

    The AP per level glyphs at .17 per level will surpass flat AP runes at level 6. However, the AP per level quints do not pass flat AP quints until level 12 so the call is your. Assuming you take the AP per level mastery AND AP per level gylphs and quints, you will have 3.42 AP per level. Keep in mind at level six you will be at 20 AP so you wont have the extra burst damage listed above. For those interested you pass the flat AP bonus at level 8 and at level 18 you have 62 extra AP versus 25 all game with flat AP runes. Without factoring in MR and magic pen this results in a 74 damage increase in your lay waste when hitting one target, and 37 when hitting two or more. Defile will do 16 extra damage, and your ulti will do an additional 43 damage. **Remember that by this time in the game people will have higher MR so your damage increase will be significantly less than the values i just gave you.

    **Keep in mind that the MR runes will result in a total of 30 extra MR endgame (if you took the extra 6 MR from defense tree) which is a very nice bonus especially if you dont get the merc treads. However, MR is needed more late and mid game than early game anyway as it has more effect during these times.

    So in conclusion The AP per level runes shine brightest mid game where they have surpassed your flat AP rune values and your enemies wont have too much MR yet. However, they lack the early game damage bonus and its percent damage increase will decline as you get into late game and more champs have higher MR. The flat AP runes have the highest value in the first 6 levels where they provide a very nice damage increase to your lay waste. But just like AP per level their value declines over time. The MR runes differ from these in that they increase in value over time and provide a great defensive bonus just when you need it most. It is this increase in value that draws me to the MR runes over any AP runes but the choice is ultimately yours. None of them are bad choices but each is most effective at a different point during the game.

    Quick Summary (Too lazy to read)

    Early Game Advantage
    Greater Glyph of Potency + Greater Quintessence of Potency

    Mid Game Advantage
    Greater Glyph of Force + Greater Quintessence of Force

    Late Game Advantage
    Greater Glyph of Shielding + Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

  • Summoner Abilities

    My Favorites:

    Flash - This is just all around a great spell. It can help you catch up to someone to put a wall behind them and lay waste for the kill or you can use it to dodge a skillshot / get back to your turret if you have pushed too far and are under fire.

    Teleport - I love this because it allows you to recall, heal and buy something then get back to your lane before your enemy finishes killing the next creep wave. It also ads to his defensive abilities as he can teleport to a turret, put a wall behind the enemies attacking, and run in defiling and lay wasting to scare them off.


    Other Choices That Would Work Well:

    Ignite - Not really necessary as you can usually get the kill with lay waste or your ulti but it could be useful as using it could prevent you from having to use your ulti to snag a kill n one person.

    Ghost - Another great spell but i like flash and teleport better. Ghost would help you catch up / get away from enemies for better wall positioning just like flash. With ghost, your wall and Rylai's only champs with blink like abilities can get away from you.

    Clairvoyance - If no one else takes it and you arent a fan of teleport then by all means go ahead. Karth is frail early and it can help determine if its safe to push out. It also has great use in seeing if an enemy is low enough to ult. You can eliminate the need for this simply by understanding what abilities an enemy has at their disposal and by watching the map consistently to check for low health champions.



    Exhaust - A good spell to have somewhere on your team but karthus does not benefit the most from it. You already have your wall and if you built a Rylai's Crystal Scepter you have that slow as well. Take it if you have none on your team as it helps greatly when dealing with the enemy carry.

    Clarity - Many Karth users go for this as it helps a lot with mana problems. However, good mana management can eliminate the need to use this. I would only suggest it if you are new to Karthus and havent gotten down how to be mana efficient with him yet.

    Heal - I see the occasional player go for this on Karth and for some time i used it too. It is nice as it can help you lane longer and it can give you a surprise edge in a fight if your enemy doesnt expect the heal coming. In most cases however they will make a mental note that you have this. In the end it isnt as good as the other choices listed up above. The only time i would suggest this is if you are new to champs who are aquishier and are just learning their limits as far as what they can take for damage.

  • Skilling Order

    The skilling order is pretty basic. Your Requiem has first priority, followed by Lay Waste, then Defile, and finally your Wall of Pain. Your wall is good enough at rank 1 to get the job done so get one that one point in it early. It becomes more effective late game anyway in team fights as it increases damage champions take and can help your team initiate / get away from a fight.

  • How to Use Your Skills Properly

    Lay Waste, This ability allows you to farm like a fucking boss. You should have at least 150 minion kills per game, depending on length, which will net you a lot of extra gold. When farming with this, you only want to use it to last hit (until much later in the game). When combined with the passive from defile you actually gain mana from last hitting a unit with it. Defile will also be useful in farming but it will drain mana MUCH faster than you realize. I do not advise using it to farm until the end of mid game at the earliest. Even then only keep it on for a couple seconds so you do not drain yourself too quickly. You should not be auto attacking unless you are last hitting with it to restore mana so you can Lay Waste.


    As i said Lay Waste is great at giving you the ability to harass. Even at low levels the amount of damage it puts out is very nice especially when its single target damage. There are three tricks to being a good harasser with Lay Waste.

    The best basic tactic it to try to start getting a feel for how your enemy will react to your Lay Waste. Most people will do one of two things when you Lay Waste. One is to instinctively run away from you. Because of this it is smart to always place it behind them so that they run right over it as it explodes. The second is to react by moving side to side which is usually always towards the center of the lane (if they are on the left side of their lane they will move to the right; and if the are on the right side of the lane they will move to the left). In this case try to place the Lay Waste where you think they will shift to.


    Luring / 1v1 combat:
    Once you think you are good at predicting your opponents moves, the next ability to get good at is luring. Lure the enemy into chasing you while placing Lay Wastes between the two of you. When you reach the point where they back off turn around and put your Wall of Pain right behind them so they run right through it. Now you chase and place your Lay Waste right in front of them. If instead of running away they start to commit you have two options. If they are low or you believe you can kill them, pop on your Defile and place your Lay Waste right on top of them. Champions will die much faster than they expect to when this happens. If they are not low, you are low, or they are a high damage output champ (veigar / ryze / le blanc / etc) just back off placing a Lay Wastes behind you and a Wall of Pain if it is off CD. With this you can get almost every mid champion (morde excluded) down quite low while still maintaining a good amount of health.


    Team based combat:
    In a team fight you should *usually* be one of the last people to enter the fray so you arent focused. The best thing to do is start by placing a Wall of Pain right on top of the enemy champs or slightly behind them. If they run they will have a massive slow and if they dont they will take increased damage from your whole team, this is good xD As you enter the combat zone throw out your Lay Wastes and then once you have several champions in range use Defile and continue to spam Lay Waste. You will do a heavy amount of AoE damage to anyone caught in your wrath and will be able to keep them all close enough to your team with your slows so that they can also deliver some heavy DPS. Remember that when in combat always go for the highest damage output champion or the most valuable champion to the enemy team and take them out first. Karth synergizes well with other AoE damage champions. Having a Fiddle/Amumu/Vladimir/Galio/Nunu/Anivia/Twitch/Miss Fortune etc. with you would make for a devastating combo in team fights.


    Initiating / Ganking:
    Karthus can be a great support ganker and initiator when played right. Start by placing your Wall of Pain right behind the enemy team or champ(s) you are going after. This will force them to decide if they should tank the slow to run away or (more often than not) or stay on their side of the wall until its gone. This works almost as an AoE stun as it makes the whole enemy team hesitate and can keep them in one spot just long enough for your team to get a great start in a team fight. From here on the rest is the same as the regular team based or solo combat depending on the situation you face.


    There are several things to point out with this spell:
    1. DO NOT use it every time it pops off CD as you will need it at some point later and wish you had it.

    2. DO NOT use it right before you die as dying will interrupt the cast then its QQ sad face :( long CD until the next one.

    3. WATCH for other champions health as well as magic resist. Watching a champ survive your ulti is heartbreaking to say the least. You just have to learn to get a feel of how much health the enemy must be at for you to succesfully kill him.

    4. SPELL SHIELDS and heals are complete wood killers. When going up against any champ who can heal or shield himself can cause great issues for you. Look for champs like this and just be more cautious with how you use your ulti.

    5. IF you are already fed use it to help people in another lane get the kill and help them get fed too. As fun as super fed karth is you will need a team to back you up.

    6. DO NOT be a dick and KS from your team mates, you arent helping your team by doing this and you will make more enemies than friends.

    7. You will get this a lot from a team mate in another lane...
    External Image
    While your team mates are usually only trying to help, many times they can be wrong about when to use your ulti, dont necessarily use it just because someone said to. Unless you trust the ones telling you try to check the champ yourself before you blow the long CD.

  • Core Build #1 (Defense Based / Solo Que)

    This core build is centered around being successful and as helpful to your team as possible when you have little trust in them. As i said this build is solid when doing Solo Que as it gives you the best chances of victory.

    The core build should be

    Rod of Ages
    Sorcerer's Shoes
    Rylai's Crystal Scepter

    I start with a Sapphire Crystal and two Health Potion and head mid. From here the object is to build an Catalyst the Protector which will let you lane for a long ass time with the defensive masteries taken. Here is where i like to get my Boots of Speed + Blasting Wand and soon after finish my Rod of Ages and Sorcerer's Shoes. Note that if the other team has a lot of cc just get the Mercury's Treads instead.
    Next work on your Rylai's Crystal Scepter by starting with a Giant's Belt. Once you have finished the Rylai's Crystal Scepter the rest is dependent upon how the game is going.


    By the time you have done this you will be between levels 14-17 and your base stats will be as follows.

    With AP per level quints and glyphs

    With AP per level glyphs

    Without AP per level runes

    *When clicking "click to view in more detail" to view stats the are completely messed up so DO NOT go by these. click the "click to view in even more detail" button after to actually see the stat.

    *Many people will bash my opinion and this guide solely based upon the idea of having RoA and Rylai's in the same build. To this i say go out and play karthus in Solo Que as much as i have and come back and tell me building for AP still works. With the way matchmaking is right now you will have a couple games with great teams, a couple with mediocre teams, and several with just generally bad teams who cannot and wont try to support each other. That is why i build Karthus the way i do. When playing with any sort of premade i highly suggest swapping out some of the defensive suggestions i have made with more offensive which i will list right below.

  • Core Build #2 (Offense Based / Party Que)

    This is a section for those who play more team oriented games with pre mades and/or have better luck with matchmaking than i do. I will not go as in depth as i did in the rest of the guide because if you are at this point i am assuming you wont need as much explanation behind the suggestions listed. It focuses on building AP faster

    Rod of Ages
    Sorcerer's Shoes
    Rabadon's Deathcap

    I also start with a Sapphire Crystal and two Health Potion and head mid. From here the object is to build an Catalyst the Protector which will let you lane for a long ass time with the defensive masteries taken. Here is where i like to get my Boots of Speed + Blasting Wand and soon after finish my Rod of Ages and Sorcerer's Shoes. Note that if the other team has a lot of cc just get the Mercury's Treads instead. From here build your Rabadon's Deathcap starting with whichever item you have the gold to get first as it doesnt really matter which order you go in.


    By the time you have done this you will be between levels 14-17 and your base stats will be similar to this.

    With AP per level quints and glyphs

    With AP per level glyphs

    Without AP per level glyphs

    *When clicking "click to view in more detail" to view stats the are completely messed up so DO NOT go by these. click the "click to view in even more detail" button after to actually see the stat.

    Looking at this most people instinctively say go with the second core build i listed here, the AP increase is huge. Well keep in mind without Rylais you lose your on hit slow that allows you to endlessly chase a champ or get away easily. You also are down 500 health AND depending on your runes you lose ~30 MR which is about 15% reduction around this point in the game. This is the only variation to the core build i would suggest but only in certain cases that i will get into below. I have much higher winning percentages (when playing by myself) with the first core build than with this but it is a build that requires more "up front" "in your face" style offense. Conversely i have higher winning percentages (when playing pre mades) with this core build than with the first i listed. The ability to trust and have faith in your team mates makes a world of a difference here allowing you to pick between the two core builds. When you arent the only good DPS and the only one who will initiate a LOT of new doors opens for Karthus. In the end it is your call what to do here.

  • Late Game Items

    Defensive items

    Chalice of Harmony when combined with Mercury's Treads you essentially eliminate the need for a Banshee's Veil or Abyssal Scepter BUT its 900gold you dont need to spend as long as you can manage your mana well. I would not suggest bulding this.

    Banshee's Veil If they have heavy magic damage and you are getting focused this works well. More useful against teams with champs who have nukes like veigar who will rape you.

    Abyssal Scepter If you want to go a little more offensive instead of more health and mana this would work almost as well as Banshee's Veil while giving you 70 AP to boot. I take this when the enemy team lacks heavy nukes but still puts out decent magic damage in a battle.

    Guardian Angel has its place as it provides nice armor and MR, plus this just makes you even more scary to the enemy team.

    Zhonya's Hourglass will do the trick nicely if the enemy team has heavy melee, just DONT FORGET ABOUT THE ACTIVE! This fits nicely into any build on karth as he lacks base armor. the active helps a lot as defile is not triggered off by using it and it can help you get an ult off against a team with a lot of CC capabilities. Thanks to loekiedepo for the input :D


    DPS items

    Void Staff this is a great 4th or 5th option if they are stacking MR, but do not get if you are being focused first.

    Archangel's Staff ONLY get this is you are taking very little damage in fights and you are late into the game. Its lack of survivability is painful for karth and you do NOT want to be a glass cannon.

    Mejai's Soulstealer if your game is going well and you are comfortable with your ability to survive this mejai's can be a great addition to any version of this build. i believe it requires at least 6 or 7 stacks to be worth the gold you spend so beint able to maintain this is important.

    Rabadon's Deathcap If you arent getting focused and can sit back dealing damage with little consequence then go for one of these to help built lots of AP. I usually use this as my 4th/5th item.

    Lich Bane This item does work well on Karth and can help you push a lot better than his normal abilities would allow him to. It is a really good choice as a late game item to round out a build.

  • Final Builds

    Your build will look something like this

    1. Core Build #1 (Defense / Solo Que)





    2. Core Build #2 (Offense / Party Que)





    3. Variation build (Defensive Core Build w/ late Offensive Items)




    *When clicking "click to view in more detail" to view stats the are completely messed up so DO NOT go by these. click the "click to view in even more detail" button after to actually see the stat.

    If you really cant ever stay alive long enough then working a Banshee's Veil or Guardian Angel into any of these builds should cover that nicely. Otherwise more defensive than the first 4 set of builds would be too much overkill.

  • Enemy Champions

    This is a comprehensive list of enemy champions you are likely to see while laning mid. I will give basic explanations on what you need to know about them and some tips on how to deal with them. Keep in mind all of these champions can be dangerous if the player behind the character is good.

    Hardest to Face

    External Image - Anivia can be quite difficult to mid against. Her Flash Frost and Frostbite combo can nuke you down much faster than you expect. Also, she has the ability to Crystallize behind you and place Glacial Storm right on top of you. This combined with the first combo i mentioned will fuck you up badly. On top of all of this, if you are able to harass her down she will just Rebirth on you (watch out for this as it will mess up your Requiem). My advice is to just take it easy when laning against her. Just get good at dodging her combo's and do not over extend yourself or you will die. The time to strike is when she is out of mana (watch for is she has Clarity) but until then keep her minions off your turret and just last hit all you can.

    External Image - Ah an enemy Karthus, this match up is certainly interesting. Remember he knows everything you do and has the exact same abilities. Dont let him lure you, dont stand in his Defile and try and be unpredictable with your movement. These should give you a slight edge but it comes down to which player plays smarter.

    External Image - Kassadin is a rough champ to lane against. He is not difficult to harass but his passive Void Stonewill take away from how much you can do to him. Kassadin uses "hit and run" tactics like Katarina and LeBlanc. Kass can harass the hell out of you with Null Sphere which will also silence you for quite some time. Watch out for this as if you are silenced with defile on you can not turn it off. Anyway, Null Sphere will do a fair amount of damage to you, do not let him get you low with this. If you are lowin health when he reaches level 6 start to play very defensively. He can teleport to and away from you with Riftwalk making your wall useless against him. Go for the kill when he overextends and/or runs out of mana. His Riftwalk costs a good amount of mana and it increases every time he uses it so take advantage of that.

    External Image - Katarina is a bitch to play against. She will always play aggressively as that is the style of her champion. It is vital that you understand your limits when laning mid against her. If you are not careful she will roflstomp your face with her abilities. Death Lotus will do obscene amounts of damage to you so move away as fast as possible when she casts this. Otherwise just play defensively and play intelligently, it is not worth feeding her.

    External Image - Kennen is also usually not fun to lane against. They usually have high amounts of health early game and can harass you well with Thundering Shuriken. Make sure you back off when he gets 2 marks on you as getting a third will cause you to be stunned. If this happens he WILL come after you. His Lightning Rush makes him difficult to escape from so dont let yourself get caught with your hand in your pants like a fool.

    External Image - LeBlanc is no fun to lane against. She has a very high damage output even early and can act as an agressive hit and run style character. You can never really tell when she is going to come after you since she can Distortion to you, chain you with Ethereal Chains, and silence you with [spell_text=sigil of silence]. Not only will you not see it coming, these all do significant damage on top of snaring and silencing you making it near impossible to get away alive. The best way to deal with her is play defensively and stay near your tower. If you make a mistake she will capitalize on it.

    External Image - Ryze is dangerous because of his nuking capabilities. When he can land his Rune Prison on you he will also pop everything else he has and take down the majority of your health if not all you have left. Try your hardest to avoid Rune Prison and dont let him catch you off guard or you will wind up dead before you know what happened.

    External Image - While i havent seen Tristana at all lately, she has a 99% chance to be mid when she is in a game. All of her abilites have range and because of her passive, Draw a Bead she only gets harder to harass as she levels. She will doa lot of harassing on you can like many other champs can easily get you down if she can get you out of position. If this happens she will Rocket Jump behind you and Buster Shot you back into her turret dealing tons of damage to you. She is not very fun to deal with in mid.

    External Image - While not being the best mid Veigar will always pose a strong threat to you. He can nuke you down much like Ryze and will fuck you up if he can get his Event Horizon off. Be super careful not to get caught by this and you will live but being a caster any enemy Veigar will target you first. Primordial Burst does afuckton of damage to you no matter how you build Karthus. My advice is get him early game. During this time his stun wont last long enough to guarantee him a hit from Dark Matter. He will also have very low health and should be focusing strongly on last hitting.



    External Image - Annie can go either way depending on the player. She does alright at harassing but there are two specific things to watch out for. Her Pyromania, Summon: Tibbers, and Disintegrate combo will rape your health so do not let her get in a good position to nuke you like that. Also, her Molten Shield will seriously cut down on the damage you can deal with all your spells especially your Requiem so watch carefully for this. Otherwise treat her similarly to Anivia, do your best to keep her off your turret while last hitting minions. Do not overextend yourself and put her in the position to kill you. The best time to strike is just after Tibbers has despawned leaving her with a much less effective combo. Annie is all ability based and while they are on CD she is very weak.

    External Image - Ashe is generally not too difficult to play against. Just stay behind your minions and she wont be able to use her Volley to hit you. The only things to look out for are her passive [spell_text=focus] (with which she can harass you using auto attack crits) and her Enchanted Crystal Arrow which she may use to stun you. If she gets the stun off on you she will turn on Frost Shot which will keep you in her range as she auto attacks you to death so do not overextend yourself. Usually however, she will send her Enchanted Crystal Arrow down bot or up top so if you see her shoot it warn your team. As long as you are smart about knowing your pushing limits, Ashe is easy enough to deal with.

    External Image - Brand mid is another scenario you will not see THAT often but when it happens be careful. He can harass very well with all of his spells as they are all focused on dealing damage. The only things i can say are one to move out of the way of Sear as it can stun you if you are ignited by his passive Blaze (which does 8% of your health in damage to you :/). This stun messes you up and allows him to throw his other spells at you which can hurt a lot if he is built right. Two as soon as he casts Pillar of Flame get out of it as he will use this to ignite you and then use Sear to stun you. He will then follow this up with a Conflagration and Pyroclasm which will do shit tons of damage to you. If you haev team mates with you stay far apart as these two spells will fuck you up if you are too close.

    External Image - Caitlyn is not usually difficult to mid against. She is similar to Ashe in the way you play against her. She cant really harass you all that well as long as you can dodge Piltover Peacemaker which is pretty easy. The big thing to look out for is her long range Ace in the Hole which will kill you if you let her get you too low. As long as you stay at a decent amount of health you can harass her pretty successfully without too much risk.

    External Image - Corki is not very common to see at all as not many people play him. He is also fairly weak later in the game because his ratios are not very good. Just keep yourself from getting caught in his Gatling Gun and you will be fine. The only other thing to note is that he can get away from you with Valkyrie so chasing him is quite difficult.

    External Image - Ezreal is not the hardest champion to face mid, but not the easiest either. He can harass the hell out of you with all his spells (all skillshots) and just slowly whittle away at your health, much like you should do to enemies as well. Just dont let him pick you off with Trueshot Barrage and you will be fine. Note: I once had an Ezreal on my team steal baron buff AND kill two enemies with a Trueshot Barrage, we ended up winning because of that xD.

    External Image - You will not see him mid an awful lot but when he is just watch out for his Drain as it will essentially undo all the damage you have harassed him for. After though his Drain does not heal him as much BUT the damage it can do is the same. The shorter tether on it now is easier to deal with though. He can combine this with Terrify to make you stand there while he drains so be careful. Lastly be careful of Dark Wind as the silence can be lethal.

    External Image - Malzahar is another either way champion to face in mid. His abilities can make him a great nuke but i have noticed a surprising number of stupid people that play him. He will harass you with Call of the Void which has a very long silence on it. Keep in mind that once he hits level six he can come at you with all 4 of his abilities plus a voidling with his passive Summon Voidling. If this happens you are almost guaranteed to die or be left with very little health. The combined 5.5 seconds of CC from Call of the Void and Nether Grasp make him a very efficient champ at keeping you right where he wants you (i.e. under his tower). Do not get caught out of position when against him.

    External Image - Morgana should not be taken lightly in mid. While she doesnt seem to be a great DPSer her abilities have a good amount of burst to them. The Dark Binding and Tormented Soil combo can really wear your health down, not to mention she can get this off on you while you are standing under your turret. Her Soul Shackles is also a nice spell and can certainly do a number on you when combined with the first combo listed. Lastly watch for her Black Shield as it absorbs incoming magic damage. It lasts 5 seconds so watch and wait for her to use this before you try to attack / Requiem. Remember she can cast that on anyone on her team as well.


    Just Plain Annoying

    External Image - AP Nidalee can be a pain in mid. Her Javelin Toss / Takedown will hit you like a fucking truck if you dont watch out for it. usually 3 of these will kill you. Apart from that however, nothing else about her is really all that scary. She does have Primal Surge / Swipe and Bushwhack / Pounce with which she can heal (herself / her ally) and escape without any trouble. This makes chasing much tougher to do. Watch her to see if she heals as you want to time your Requiem between her heals.

    External Image - Nocturne is not a champion you are likely to see mid but it has happened in the past. He is really only scary if he has built up a good amount of lifesteal which will make it hard to kill him. When he decides to go for you slap on Defile and Lay Waste all you can, otherwise just back out and get to safety before you die. Remember he does increased damage while on his Duskbringer trail so try to combat him when he is not standing on it. His Unspeakable Horror is very annoying as it can stop you from escaping him while also giving him a way to interrupt your Requiem so be careful of this. Shroud of Darkness makes your Requiem useless against him unless he has just used it and it is on CD. If he goes MIA then be very cautious as he can Paranoia out of no where and butt fuck you.

    External Image - Swain is an annoying shit like Fiddle because of his lifesteal. You can harass him all you want but once he hits level six he will just Ravenous Flock and get his health back while dealing a lot of damage to you. Mkae sure not to get caught by his Nevermove and you should do fine against him. Its best to just conserve your mana here so dont obsess yourself over harassing him. It will result in a loss of mana for 0 net damage.

    External Image - Twitch the bitch's difficulty to face depends a lot upon who is playing him. Assuming he is smart you will have to be wary about how far out you push. He can pop out of Ambush when you least expect it and do a number on you before you can tell whats going on. However, get an [item_text=oracle's elixir] or Vision Ward and you can eliminate his element of surprise. While he is strong in damage output, if you build Karthus right you can last long enough to kill him as he is normally a very weak champion. DO your best not to feed him as he can become a vicious carry if he gets himself going.

    External Image - Vladimir is one of the more difficult champions to face while in mid. He also is built upon lifesteal and as such can erase any harassing you do to him with just Transfusion. He can also get out of your Requiem, Defile, or Lay Waste by timing his Sanguine Pool well. This is annoying as shit so when using Requiem on him make sure Sanguine Pool is on CD and that he isnt close enough to any minions or monsters to regain his health.

    External Image - Zilean is another annoying champ to Karthus in many ways. His Time Bombs do a lot of damage early game especially if you lack defensive stats. When combined with his Rewind double bombing you becomes a big issue. His Chrono Shift will allow him to save himself or any ally from your Requiem so watch very closely to make sure the buff has worn off your target or if Zilean has recently used it.


    Hardest to Push Against

    External Image - Heimerdinger can be a pain to lane against. His H-28G Evolution Turrets will allow his to push with great ease. Do your best to keep him away from your tower but dont get caught by the H-28G Evolution Turrets as they will rip you to shreds if you stay too long fighting near them. Harass him as much as you can with Lay Waste and try and destroy his H-28G Evolution Turrets soon after he gets them up so that he cant keep good pushes going.

    External Image - Mordekaiser is the biggest pain in the ass to face mid. it wont happen often but when it does you are in for a rough day. He is a tank so unless the player using him is retarded, you wont be able to harass him well at all. On top of this he can deal out shit tons of damage, especially for a tank. Morde is 0 fun to go up against and you will need a gank of some sort to really get him down or get him to recall.


    Easier (usually)

    External Image - Akali is usually a relatively easy champion to face mid. However, you will not see her a lot as there are many other good mid champs. She is a melee so take advantage of that. While she can harass you with Mark of the Assassin, she will have a hard time being able to attack you without being in range of your Defile. You can tell when she about to initiate combat with you as she will most likely use Twilight Shroud first (making her invisible). Dont initiate combat with her, just let her come to you and then ruin her day.

    External Image - Twisted Fate is relatively easy to face mid. He lacks high damage output but his stun from Pick A Card can be detrimental to you as it can interrupt your Requiem when you arent paying attention. Apart from this you should be ale to harass and kill him quite easily without sacrificing much health at all. Remember he can teleport anywhere he wants to as well as reveal you or any of your team mates positions with Destiny.

    External Image - Kog'Maw is another champ you are not that likely to see mid or much at all really. On the off chance you do see him mid you should have a relatively easy time. Despite his higher early game health, he is not a difficult champion to harass. Just make sure to move out of his Living Artillery (which works a lot like Lay Waste) and do not stand in the slow from Void Ooze and you will be fine. Lastly watch out for his passive Icathian Surprise as it deals true damage to you.

    External Image - Lux is very easy to mid against but again you wont see her a whole lot. She doesnt really have any significant damaging abilities that would make her dangerous. The only real thing to watch out for is IF you get low her [spell_text=finales funkeln] and Illumination combo will finish you off if you dont move out of the way. The only other thing to mention is her Prismatic Barrier which can cost you (theoretically) a penta kill if she can hit her whole team with it. Anyway during the laning phase she is easy to deal with, just harass her and if you cant kill her simply dominate the lane XP starving her.

    External Image - Miss Fortune is another easy to deal with champion. She is mid in essentially every game she is in but never really presents a big threat. Her Double Up can do a decent job of harassing but none of her other abilities do all that much damage. If you can get her to commit to a fight against you, you can probably win without too much trouble

    External Image - Sivir is another really easy champion to face mid. Not many people play her because she is not very strong in general. As long as you just dodge her Boomerang Blade you can harass her with ease and take little damage. The one leg up she has over you is her ability to block your spells with Spell Shield. While you fight watch for this as you waste Requiem if she hasn't used in recently. At rank five Spell Shield has a 10 second cooldown so keep an eye on that.

    External Image - Teemo is a widely played character but not one to always be seen mid. if mid just know that he can be an effective DPS if he is built right so dont take him lightly. Watch for his Noxious Traps to make sure you dont step on them as they will take more health from you than you would expect. Normally just playing smart against Teemo will result in an advantage for you. Dont let him get the best of you.

  • Summary

    In the end Karthus is a great caster and is a great addition to pretty much any team comp that has a tank. He should ALWAYS be mid as you want your ulti as fast as possible. He can also be a great defender, DPS, nuke, initiator, and ass saver. He can single handedly turn games around if you play him smart. Remember to always have strong map awareness and always watch for champs who can ruin your ultimates power. The ability to trust and have faith in your team mates makes a world of a difference here allowing you to pick between the two core builds. When you arent the only good DPS and the only one who will initiate a LOT of new doors opens for Karthus.

    If you like it please up vote and comment :) i love to hear peoples feedback positive or negative and i will address any questions people may have.

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