Tristana Build Guide

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Tristana - farming and carrying

written by bananana

Tristana Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    She wants to shoot something! And with your help and knowledge about her strengths (a lot) and weaknesses (a few) you will ensure that she is going to shoot something. Hard!
    This guide reflects my thoughts of Tristana as a carry, pusher, and farmer. It includes analysis of every game stage, how to master them and ultimatly dominate the game.

    Be prepared for a long wall of text though. Don't start reading if you aren't sure if you got half an hour to finish it, this guide is not meant to get a quick overview of Tristana when you can choose her in the free week and read the guide shortly before the game starts.

    And if you differ or agree with me, opinions are always appreciated, as are thanks and compliments.

    UPDATED 6th May for new item and skill changes; new item suggestions
    UPDATED 17th April for new test realm changes
    UPDATED 12th April to v1.0.0.82

  • Abilities

    Draw a Bead
    Tristanas passive isn't very shiny and doenst has much bling-bling, but it's just like herself: small but powerful. Early game, it lets you harrass your opponent without getting harrassed back, mid game, it lets you farm in a safe distance, safer than any other champs (except maybe Heimerdinger) and endgame the range is so huge you can shoot from the other site of a wall. As you can see, the passive already is full of win at all stages of the game.

    Rapid Fire
    Most carries have a dilemma to solve: Shall I get more damage for more powerful hits or more attack speed for more hits in a given time? In the end they have to make a (usually bad) compromise which is mediocre damage combined with mediocre attack speed. Not so Tristana, by just hitting Q, you elegantly and easily solve this problem: With this skill, you are able to build for damage and crit%-items without sacrificing attack speed.

    Rocket Jump
    Normally, only melee characters get a range-closing move, but due to her awesomeness Tristana gets this great and very versatile skill. Early game, it ensures that you can escape nearly every gank attempts, mid game it is a wonderful initiating move for ganking the enemies and endgame it is used to pick up the chicken champs that have been waiting in the background after a team fight, and not just one of them, but all of them due to its cooldown reduction after killing a champ. Be aware of "caging" champs like Ryze or Morgana, for you can not jump away anymore when caged, only attacking.

    [spell=Explosive Shot]
    Again a skill with different uses for different situations and game stages. The active component is early game a built-in ignite and harrassement tool, mid game the exploding component makes Tristana one of the fastest minion wave removing machine and end game thie heal-reduction really begins to get useful because you now dont have to be afraid of your focused enemy carry gets healed up again.

    Buster Shot
    Tristanas signature move: think of it as a ranged Alistar- Headbutt from afar, with more damage and AOE. Nothing more and nothing less . Use it offensively to get kills or defensively for escaping, but more on this skill later.

  • Summoner Abilities

    Okay, after seeing what skills we have, we shall look at the summoner abilities and decide, which ones help Tristana most by either diminishing her weaknesses or buffing her strenghts even more. Unlike other guides, I do not want to tell you, which ones you should take, I'll try to give an overview of all spells and tell you how they can help. In the end, you have to decide for yourself.

    Let's begin with the spells definitely not to choose:

    Obviously, you shouldn't die, ever, that's the tanks job!

    You are the carry, you have more important things to do, leave this one to a support champ

    With farming abilities every other champ is envious of, you dont need this

    These spells I personally think aren't necessary if you are doing it right, but if you have really good experience with them or are somewhat dependent, go ahead:

    Early game, you should be the better one at harrassing, not them, take a health pot if you still have problems at that stage. Of course your budget at the beginning is limited and Heal will provide you great lane staying potential. Later in mid and end game, you already have two escape mechanisms, surely the more the better, but you will hardly encounter situations where only all three could save you, but two are not enough.

    Great spell for most characters. But both aspects of flash, suddenly appearing and escaping, are fullfilled with W. And keep in mind that flash has a smaller range than your jump.

    Same as flash and heal, this escaping spell is rendered worth less (not worthless though!) by having already 2 built-in escaping tools.

    As a physical carry, Tristana is not really mana dependent. The occasional uses of [spell=Explosive Shot] for harrassing and Rocket Jump for escaping a unforseen gank won't eat up your manapool. The only time you are spending mana like crazy is if you are going for real and using all 4 abilities at the same time. But after that the enemy should be dead anyway and you can recall to regen.

    Someone in your team should definitely have it, but it should be the tank, who is to decide if he is initiating a team fight or not based on the outcome of a clairvoyance. Only exeption would be if you are taking mid lane (common and desireable situaion btw) and you have bad map awareness (either your own fault or bad communication in team). Unfortunately at the moment there is only blind pick as game mode available so you can't forsee a jungler or a stealth character, which can be countered with this spell.

    You may think why Tristana still needs another DoT since she already has a wonderful one already. And you are right, it's generally a bad idea to take something for your summoner spell if you got it covered by other means. My point in taking this one is the damage component that helps you to get a first blood or at least an early kill. Late game pretty useless except there are more than one healer on the enemy team, which is a rare thing.

    Following spells are generally a good idea, if not completely against your religious believes, pick them.:

    If chosen, the upgraded version is a must. Just as Tristana it has more aspects and several uses: blind is for avoiding damage if you are in direct combat with the enemy. Armor reduction ensures you are dealing more damage. Last but not least the slow effect ensures your enemy wont escape you after he realised he has no chance. When going for first blood, definitely consider this spell.

    Mobility and map control is key to winning this game. Teleport is a great way to achieve both. There's a tower being pushed but your team is somehow stuck in mid lane? Teleport. You just killed your opponent but aren't healthy enough to stay? Recall and teleport. A team member is in distress? Teleport and help him. This list can go on and on. If you take it, don't be afraid to use it when the cooldown is off , no need to save it, every situation is worth it.

    No need for many words, removes all debuffs which would otherwise hinder you putting out some sweet damage and can help a lot if you get stunned/slowed while retreating.

    Do you like Taric's Radiance? Well who's doesnt. This summoner ability is exact it in a light version. Early on it provides lane staying power due to it's heal and after that it helps big time in group fights. The only two downsides is that it is stationary, which means if the place of battle shifts during retreating it won't help anymore. The other point would be that you cant't place it on a specified location, but only next to you, which means that your melee champs might not be in the area of effect due to your positioning at the far back.

    This concludes the short examination of summoner spells, pick the two you like most and helps your team best. I personally go for exhaust and ignite because I'm always aiming for a first kill against physical characters on mid lane.

  • Masteries + Runes

    Go with any variation of this build with your chosen summoner spell covered:

    Offensive tree is quite self-explanatory, get everything that increases your damage and buffs your summoner spell. The additional 9 points can be shifeted whereever you like. In utility tree it's either Greed or Utility Mastery you should aim for and defensive tree it's of course Nimbleness.

    Runes are really more a thing of preference, only mandatory runes are the red ones which penetrate armor. On yellow, blue and purple get whatever you want to focus more: (early game) survival or (end game) damage increase

  • Items

    Again, there will be no definite words about which items you have to take. I'll try to provide insight about each items strengths and uses. I will provide a suggested buying order, but please do try to vary it and specifically watch out if you do better or worse with it.


    In the current state of the game, there is really only one pair of boots you can take: Mercury's Treads. Every champion has some sort of crowd control and sometimes, their damage is bound to the cc, which means, by reducing the cc, you are reducing the damage (think of morgana's cage, amumu's ult etc etc).
    Do get this one, except if you feel like experimenting. Only experiment when you are 100% sure the experience you gain is more beneficial than a game won.

    offensive items

    The Bloodthirster
    This item is our easiest way to get the most damage in one item slot. Fully loaded it provides you 100 Attack damage, more than anything else. Due to its criteria, killing minions, I recommend to get it as first item. Because early game is the time to do some farming, mid/late game you should be occupied with ganking

    Infinity Edge
    Costing 4080 gold, this one's one of the most expensive items in the game. So the big question is: worth it? The answer: definitely. Not only it's a huge amount of damage, it increases your ability to burst. Getting this gem early on is crucial.

    The Black Cleaver
    Also a nice damage item, but it's the effect that makes it worth its gold: reducing 60 armor not only helps your own damage, it increases the whole teams physical damage! This item is best when the enemy team isn't stacking armor, in which case the next item is more suited.

    Last Whisper
    When an enemy player has 150 armor or more (which means every Rammus in ball mode), LW always removes more armor than BC, although only for yourself and not for the whole team. Decide every match, which one you want to get (if you want to of course), just don't get both of them, because they antagonize each other.

    The Brutalizer
    Now not everybody has enough money to buy the fancy edge. But fear not, Brutalizer is here. Due to it's cheap cost and flat armor penetration, this is a very good item for early game. If you choose to get this one, buy LW instead of BC. Why? It already provides damage, so the atkspeed comes right in handy. %armor pen and flat armor pen stacks better, you have to trust me on this.

    Avarice Blade
    Bad choice, Tristana is not a burst champ like Gangplank, solely concentrating on crit chance won't do any good. Only reason to get this is if you want to get the next item:

    Youmuu's Ghostblade
    Not as good on Tris as on melee DPS. Still, if you have bought The Brutalizer, why not upgrade it mid to late game? Just keep in mind that there are other items out there, who you can benefit more from, simply because you can never fully utilize this due to it requires melee hits.

    Frozen Mallet
    Because you lack CC you should definitely get something that prevents your prey from getting away from you. In most cases it can be done with the Lizards buff, but if you are dying too much and thus losing it, Frozen Mallet can take over. Additionally it's a good survival item.

    Sword of the Occult
    Now it's getting interesting. This item is rewarding you for playing good! The better you are, the better this item gets. Just like your Bloodthirster, only a little more tricky to fill it. Same with it, buy it soon, otherwise you are killing enemies without getting tribute.

    Wit's End
    Somehow, this item get's overlooked quite a lot, maybe because it doesn't have a damage component. But wait, it does! 42 is nearly as much as a BF sword. Combined with MR it is the caster counter weapon.

    [item=Madred's Bloodrazor]
    Let's say the average champion has 1,8k life end game, thats only 64 damage with the passive. Which means you are paying 3800 for 94 damage and attack speed. This sounds pretty good, but do consider that this is only if the champion have so may life! So only buy this item if you are really late in the game or when they are stacking tanks.

    Phantom Dancer
    As with any other items that provide no damage but attack speed: only get them end game. Early game the main focus is to harrass, which means you shoot your enemy once and he shoots you once. This one shot therefore has to do as much damage as possible. Get this item last will provide not only huge damage boost, but a increase in survivability.

    Same with the previous one, get Malady only late game for damage boost and survivability. Getting both is not advised since you would miss out too much damage.

    [item=Stark's Fervor]
    Every good team player should think about the team first. Are you a good team player? Of course you are! But still, due to its aura effect it should be bought early, but providing attack speed it's not a good choice early game. Coordinate with your team so that another physical DPS, support or maybe even tank buys it.
    Now that this item got nerfed, you should think twice or even thrice before buying it.

    Executioner's Calling
    Very situational item. Firstly it doesn't provide any attack damage. Secondly you already have a healing reducing ability. Only time to get it if you are facing a really heavy healing team and are desperate.

    So here's how I tend to buy the items:

    First will be a Doran's Shield and health pots , because they are providing everything I need to stay longer in my lane. From here on there are 2 possibilities, depending on how good I'm doing.

    If I had a good start, my first back will be with 2200 gold to buy Boots of Speed and a B. F. Sword. The next back would be with at least 1350 gold to afford the whole The Bloodthirster, sometimes, if I stayed a little longer and have excess money, I will also get level 2 boots.

    But what if the opposite is the case? When I'm forced to bluepill quite early or (let's hope it doesn't happen too often) die, there's a priority list for getting items: boots are most important, depending on how much damage the enemy champ is doing, lvl 2 defensive boots at once (use your judgement here). If there is enough money left, a Long Sword or two, to build a The Brutalizer. When this is the case, I aim to get Last Whisper next.

    At this point it's time to get the rest, depending on the current situation. Don't shy to sell your Doran's when you have your BT, you won't need it anymore if you can fund a new item by selling it.

    Here are some general rules for shopping:
    Whenever you can afford, buy a health potion, you are never too cool to use consumeables.
    Whenever you can afford, buy a sight ward, drop it when a miss is announced to protect yourself from ganks.
    Whenever you have 3 final items and you can afford it, buy green/red elixiers, use them before engaging team fights.
    When facing skillshot champs in midlane (aka Karthus, Sivir, Anivia etc) consider buying boots first, it will help you a lot to dodge their deadly but avoidable stuffs.

    last update: 6th may

    As the patches and new items are comming out, I will try to keep this list up to date. And of course if new ideas and suggestions from readers are comming, I will add them.

  • Skilling Order

    W early on to have an escape mechanism if the enemy team wants to gank, or the other way round when your teams decides to gank and you have to chase. More than one point is not necessary since it wont increase the range. Decreased cooldown is more or less useless: it'll never be short enough to use it twice in a fight or when fleeing.

    E till you reach level 6 to have a harrassing ability (passive and active!) and easier push. Afterwards, especially when you have damage items, it is less useful since Q will provide more damage.

    Q is your primary damage source, but only if you have enough attack damage. So get this one shortly before you buy your B. F. sword and max it out first while you are buying more and more items.

    R is worth upgrading not only because of the damage increase, but also because of the range increase: push the enemy even wider back into your own tower/team mates!

  • Currently on PTR

    Test Patch 1st April 2009


    no new items/relevant item changes


    no skill changes

    Summoner Spells

    no changes

  • Farming

    Farming is essential when playing Tristana: I can't stress enough how important it is to get money and to buy your items.

    Early game it's all about last hitting, don't auto attack minions (except for life steal healing), you don't want to push creeps too far to enemy tower and let yourself become gankable.

    Mid and late game farming should be done fast because your team needs you to carry them to victory. Wait for the minions to stand still, jump on them and begin the fire. Target the one with lowest health first and if you are lucky with the positioning of the minions, you should be done in a few seconds.

  • Creep Jungling

    Have I mentioned that you are in desperate need of money? Kill jungle creeps whenever it's safe and you are not demanded somewhere else. Best scenario would be lane changing after a gank, move through the jungle and stop to pick up some extra gold.
    Pay extra attention to the Lizard's buff, this jewel is perfect for you. The slow ensures your enemies won't escape your deadly cannon and the DoT makes sure that these who somehow does won't escape their fate (=dying).

  • Working in the team

    Tristana plays quite like a typical ranged carry. To do huge damage, someone must prevent you from taking huge damage. Thus be aware you are always behind your tank. Due to your superior range you can't be targeted if you are moving back in time (when your tank is moving back/enemy ranged is advancing).

    Let the big ones initiate, move immediately to the back ranks (you should be there anyways) and start firing. Put Explosive Shot on the one you want to have down first (usually the enemy carry/support), then activate your rapid fire and right-click him to death.

    If you are confident enough, jump after the fleeing enemy, Buster Shot him back to your troop and kill it. If you are really confident, you can keep on jumping to the next one, until there's no more left or you are out of mana.

  • Pros / Cons

    *huge sustained damage
    *good chasing/fleeing
    *able to counter Fiddlestick's ult
    *excellent farming
    *cutest voice in game (cuter than Annie!)

    *farming/items are very important
    *low burst/AOE damage

  • Thanks

    When you made it to this point you've probably decided to play with Tristana. So I'll use this space to thank my friends: Mah team, mah men, mah homieeees
    heavens best for introducing me to this game
    Rajel for providing my first 5vs5 team

    Thanks guys for being a friend and sharing fun with LoL!

    and special thanks to YOU for reading and (hopefully) commenting this guide

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Submitted by bananana

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