Nasus Build Guide
Hyfe's Guide to the Competitive Nasuswritten by Hyfe
Table of Contents
|The Laning Phase||11|
|Nasus in the current meta||14|
Late Game Items
[item_icon=force of nature]
Last Updated - January 2012
Welcome one and all! I would like to first say a quick thank you to everyone that has read, rated, commented on the guide, subscribed to me on youtube, etc. Your support over the past year have made this the highest rated guide of all time on leaguecraft, and I truly appreciate the feedback and kind words.
I first published this guide almost two years ago in May 2010. At that time there was no such thing as ranked games, there was no established competitive scene, and people still looked to the "top 500 players" list that Riot put out to see who was the cream of the crop. I started playing LoL in open beta and had a few hundred games under my belt (with a hefty chunk of them being Nasus games) before I ever pondered authoring a guide.
Needless to say, a few things have changed since then. Metas have shifted multiple times, dozens of new champions have been released, and the community has developed drastically in terms of individual skill and in the competitive scene. That being said, I feel that Nasus is in a slightly different place in terms of power and viability than he was when I was a fresh level 30 summoner in the early days of LoL. Let's take a closer look at who exactly Nasus is.
Who is Nasus?
Nasus can be classified as a "DPS tank", an "off-tank", a "bruiser", an "anti-carry", a "pusher", or all of the above. Nasus is a late game champion that requires a good amount of farm and some good team coordination to be truly effective. If allowed to farm for extended periods, Nasus can turn into a true hyper-carry.
Why don't I see more Nasus?
Nasus has the potential to be an incredibly strong champion. However, he also has a few weaknesses which hold him back from becoming an OP FOTM terror. He is relatively weak early in the laning phase and can be denied farm by a good deal of champions. His skill set (specifically his ultimate) make him very susceptible to kiting. Because of this fact, his effectiveness is very dependent on both ally and enemy team composition. These limiting factors make Nasus a somewhat situational champion choice. Under the right circumstances he can prove to be very strong, but if these circumstances are not met his success can be somewhat hit or miss. On the other hand, there are other threatening tanks and beefy DPSers that are much less situational, meaning they are almost always very strong picks and are not so easily shut down or countered. However, if you are in an optimal lane matchup and/or find a way to free farm your Q, you will become a much greater threat than any other bruiser, or perhaps any other champion in the game.
Why should I play Nasus?
Nasus literally has unlimited potential. If you can pick him under the right conditions, farm his Q well, and itemize smartly, you are playing possibly one of the the most terrifying champions in the league. Nasus is not a button-mashing face-rolling champ that can pub-stomp and carry evey solo queue game. He requires some patience, good awareness of team composition, awareness of the flow of the game, mana conservation, last-hitting, timing, and other skills that will make you a much better player. If you learn to do these things well it will truly pay off and not only will you be a beast with Nasus, you will become better at the game.
Scope of this guide
This guide is intended for level 30 players in mid to high elo. The guide is written for a solo-top style Nasus, unless there is a drastic shift in the meta which would require major changes. Some of the advice and strategies may not be applicable to players in lower levels of elo. I do not advocate jungle Nasus because it gimps your Q farm substantially and his jungle is not as strong as real junglers.
In this guide I will cover the basics, such as runes, masteries, his skills, item builds, etc. I will also delve deeper into other concepts such as opportune times to pick Nasus, how to play him in various stages of the game, and how Nasus fits into the current meta.
Soul Eater Nasus drains his foe's spiritual energy, giving him a natural 14 / 17 / 20% lifesteal.
This is a decent passive providing some lifesteal for some lane sustaining power and increased survivability in team fights. The early lifesteal was recently buffed from 10% to 14%. Don't expect to rely on this too much for early game survivability, however, as you may not be able to safely auto-attack enough to get much return out of this. However, do try to auto attack creeps when possible in order to heal up if you can do it safely. Later on you will get pretty good HP return once you get your Q buffed and are thwocking with sheen procs. The passive synergizes well with his ultimate, allowing you to return more HP with your bonus damage.
Siphoning Strike Nasus's next attack will deal additional damage. Siphoning Strike permanently gains 3 stacked damage whenever it kills an enemy.
Cost: 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 mana
Cooldown: 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 seconds
Extra Damage: 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110
This is your single target burst damage and the reason why 90% of guides (including this one) recommend sheen as a core item. This spell was recently buffed and is even more rewarding now, so much so that I now recommended maxing it early for the lower cooldowns for quicker stacking. Obviously you should focus on last hitting creeps with this in the laning phase as much as possible, but you need to do so throughout the course of the game for maximum effectiveness. Siphon strike minion waves. Siphon strike neutral creeps. Siphon strike Heimer turrets, JitB, etc. By mid-late game, if you have done a good job last hitting everything on the map, enjoy siphoning squishies for half HP with a sheen/Tri Force. An added bonus: siphon strike works on towers. Also, remember that you can auto attack and then rapidly SS by hitting Q the moment your normal attack lands. This makes last hitting much easier once your learn to take advantage of it, and also allows you to put out damage quicker on champs and towers.
Wither Nasus ages his target, slowing their movement and attack speed by 35%. Additionally, they are reduced further to reach an extra slow at the end of 5 seconds. If the duration of the slow is reduced, the extra slow will be applied faster for it to reach its maximum at the end of the duration.
Cost: 80 mana
Extra Slow: 12 / 24 / 36 / 48 / 60 %
Cooldown: 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 seconds
This is simply one of the best snares/slows in the game because of its 5-second duration and the fact that it both decreases movement speed and attack speed, rendering a DPS carry essentially useless in a team battle for several seconds. It causes no damage but will net you an assist if you slow an enemy for an ally to pick off. This spell was recently buffed substantially, given a lower mana cost and reduced CDs. It is great for escaping, ganking, chasing, and in team fights. In a team battle use it right away on the enemy DPS carry. Since the spell does no damage, it does not draw tower aggro.
Spirit Fire A target area becomes desecrated for 5 seconds. Enemies caught in the area when the desecration occurs are dealt a burst of magic damage. Additionally, enemies in the area are dealt magic damage each second and have their armor reduced while on there and for 1 extra second.
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Range to Center of AoE: 650
Radius of AoE: 400
Cost: 70 / 85 / 100 / 115 / 130 mana
Initial Magic Damage: 55 / 95 / 135 / 175 / 215 (+0.6 per ability power)
Magic Damage Per Second: 11 / 19 / 27 / 35 / 43 (+0.12 per ability power)
Armor Reduction: 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40
This is a good skill during all phases of the game, be it laning, jungling, pushing, or team battles. However, it is outshone by his other skills. It is a great tool for farming, harassing, and pseudo-zone control early on. You don't want to level it too quickly or too slowly, because early game you don't want SF killing off an entire creep wave, just taking it down enough so that you can last hit with SS. In the laning phase try to maximize its effectiveness by placing it so that the AOE will hit the largest amount of creeps as well as harass the enemy. In a team battle drop it in the middle of the action so that its armor reduction will make your entire teams attacks that much more effective. When defending pushes, simply dropping it in front of a tower can often keep enemies at bay. Keep in mind this spell will draw tower aggro. Remember that since it was recently buffed to do upfront damage, you can actually use it to accurately last hit minions from safety, or kill champions trying to escape with very low HP.
Fury of the Sands Nasus becomes empowered in the sandstorm for 15 seconds, gaining extra health. While the storm rages, he drains a percentage of nearby enemies max health each second (max of 240 magic damage per second per enemy) and converts 6.375% of the damage done into bonus attack damage for himself until the sandstorm wears off.
Cost: 150 mana
Cooldown: 120 seconds
Radius of AoE: 350
Health Gained: 300 / 450 / 600
Max Health to Magic Damage Ratio Per Second: 3 / 4 / 5%
What an ultimate. This is incredibly powerful, but pretty easily countered. This spell will turn you into a force to be reckoned with, and is the reason a good Nasus is built for durability rather than DPS. In his ultimate form Nasus can really punish an enemy team. If nothing else, it will wreak havoc, causing the enemy to scatter and allowing your carries to make quick work of a clusterf*ck. Hopefully your team has some CC to keep the enemies around and you can enjoy melting the enemy teams faces off like Raiders of the Lost Ark. It will take some practice to learn when to pop this for maximum effectiveness, but the most important thing is to learn not to pop it preemptively. The enemies WILL run/kite/escape if you jump the gun and use it before the fight is properly engaged.
A Note on Runes
Nasus runes should be geared primarily towards helping to solve his problems by strengthening his early lane sustainability and providing more tankiness. There are a few good choices in most of the rune slots, so go with what you are comfortable with or can afford. Below I will provide some recommendations for each rune slot. Note that Quints on Nasus are probably the most frequently changed aspect of this guide, as I am constantly trying new things and modifying my rune set up.
Generic Nasus Page
9x armor pen reds
9x flat armor yellows
9x flat MR blues
3x lifesteal quints
This is the page that I run on Nasus the majority of the time. I use it in blind pick and when I'm not positive what lane I will be up against. It is a great mix of armor, MR, and sustain.
Big armor page
9x armor pen reds
9x flat armor yellows
4x flat armor blues
5x mr/lvl blues
1x flat armor quint
2x lifesteal quintss
This is an armor page that I like to run vs top lane champions like Garen, GP, Renekton, Riven etc. that are almost entirely physical damage and can be very aggressive early. I wouldn't use this in blind pick because if you wind up vs a caster you are screwed. Use it when you know you are facing a scary DPS in lane. If you use this rune page, my masteries, and start with cloth armor, you will have 62 armor at lvl 1 along with loads of regen.
An analysis of what I feel to be overall best in each slot, along with some good alternatives.
Greater Mark of Desolation
Armor Pen reds will make your attacks, and most importantly your siphon strikes, that much more painful. I think armor pen marks are probably the most static out of all rune options on Nasus. AD runes have recently become popular on lots of champs, but are not smart on Nasus. You don't need extra last hitting and harassing power. You last hit fine, and you shouldn't even be trying to harass.
None. Arpen is far and away the best choice for this slot on Nasus.
Greater Seal of Resilience
Flat armor seals are the best option by a good amount. I previously ran dodge yellows, which were great when paired with the dodge and nimbleness masteries in the defensive tree. These masteries no longer exist, and dodge is being phased out of the game, so there is no reason to get dodge anymore. Flat armor will let you take some AD harass and damage from minions.
HP/lvl (inferior to flat armor)
Mana Regen/lvl (unnecessary)
Greater Glyph of Warding
Flat MR will help strengthen your lane against casters or hybrids. Scaling MR is statistically the better choice overall, but for weak early champs such as Nasus, these flat resists will be more beneficial and help you survive the lane.
MR/lvl (scale better into late but are not as strong in the laning phase)
Flat CDR (only if you use a different item or mastery setup)
Mana Regen/lvl (unnecessary)
Greater Quintessence of Vampirism
I've started running lifesteal quints on Nasus for obvious reasons. He has a 14/17/20% lifesteal passive, so with these quints you will start with 20% lifesteal scaling to 26%. Nasus needs lane sustain, which is why I ran hp regen quints off and on. These obviously scale infinitely better as you farm your Q throughout the game. Auto attack minions to regen whenever possible (while keeping the wave position under control). Be sure to utilize the auto-attack reset on Q to double-tap Q farm minions for extra burst healing.
Note that there is a lot of leeway when it comes to Nasus quints, as there are loads of good options. I change up my quints on Nasus more than anything else in the game. I am constantly torn trying to decide what the best quints for Nasus are and what I should list in the guide. It really comes down to personal preference and choosing a balance between taking something to strengthen your early game and something that will remain useful later. I've run every option I will list below at some point, and each of them has their merits. Do what works for you.
HP/5 (best lane sustain quints for early levels)
Flat HP (similar laning phase boost as hp regen but not quite as strong)
Armor pen (more beneficial in the long run but not as strong in the lane)
Armor (you can add an armor quint or 2 against super AD lanes like garen)
Movespeed (more beneficial in the long run but not as strong in the lane)ɉɉ
Similar to my runes, I feel that masteries on Nasus should be geared towards making him more tanky and more sustainable in the lane. Other great bonuses are some extra CDR to get you to the 40% cap, and movespeed. There are a few set-ups that I can see being effective on Nasus, but the one I currently feel is the best is 1-29-0
The defense tree is utterly amazing now. If you think about it, most of the major reasons I previously specced into utility on Nasus are now in the defensive tree, namely movespeed and CDR. With 29 points in defense you have an almost unfair amount of sustain.
There might be some other viable alternatives such as 9-21-0 or 1-21-8. I can even see 21-9-0 being an option for more offensive, but you sacrifice a good deal of EHP and risk being pushed around in the lane. 21 offense might work on more aggressive bruisers such as Ren or Garen, but for Nasus who plays the farm and sustain game, I think speccing huge into defense is much wiser.
I believe teleport is too strong of an ability on Nasus to pass up. The bottom line is this: while other summoner spells (such as cleanse or exhaust) can be good, none of them come close to the threat level that a Nasus with TP brings. The first benefit of teleport is that it allows you to back for items quickly and safely in the laning phase. This is huge considering so many champs are able to put a lot of pressure on Nasus in the lane in higher skilled games. Outside of the laning phase teleport is still amazing because it allows you to be side lane farming your Q practically all game with the ability to TP into a team fight at a moments notice. This can be somewhat an abusive strat having Nasus split push bottom and then TP to baron and take it with your team when the enemy comes to try and halt your push. On top of that, Nasus with a farmed Q is an amazing backdoor champion. If you are being shut down with kiting in team fights (not at all uncommon), screw that and just abuse TP for backdooring purposes when the enemy is grouped on the other side of the map.
Ghost is pretty much mandatory on Nasus, and if you are playing without it you are setting yourself up for failure. It can be used offensively and defensively for gap closing, escaping, chasing down carries, getting into team fights, etc etc. The mobility it provides is simply a must have in the current meta and with the weakness Nasus has to kiting. I feel ghost is generally more useful on Nasus because you don't necessarily require precise positioning in a team fight, you just want to be able to move about more quickly and freely during them.
I feel that these are the best alternative summoner spells for Nasus, and really the only ones you should consider.
Flash - Still good and will always be good until they either remove the ability jump walls or remove the spell from the game. Take flash if you prefer it. I won't blame you.
Exhaust - Exhaust is a strong pick if your team doesn't have one, as it can be used to briefly shut down the highest damage threat on the enemy team, whether it is a DPS or a caster. It's definitely a good idea to have someone on your team packing this. If you don't like running TP, take exhaust instead.
Smite - Smite is a must if you plan on jungling. I much prefer laning with Nasus, but jungling is an option.
General Skilling Philosophy
Some champions have an almost set in stone skill order (eg: Ryze, Ashe). Regardless of the situation there is one skill path that is pretty much always optimal. Nasus is NOT one of these champions. My basic philosophy on Nasus skilling is this: put as many points into SS and farm it as much as your lane will allow. The faster you can get your SS farmed the scarier you will become. However, you may not always be able to 100% prioritize SS. Get however many levels of SF you need to keep your tower from being pushed. Get 1 early point in wither for ganks. Remember that common sense applies. If shaco says he's ganking at level 2, grab early wither (otherwise save it until lvl 4 or 5). If you are getting entirely zoned out, put points into Spirit Fire. Nasus skilling is very situational and you need to be able to adapt. Just remember that you WANT to pump Q and farm it as much as possible, but it doesn't always work out that way. Be flexible.
Why prioritize Siphon Strike?
Up until SS was buffed in patch .109 I left SS at level one and focused on the other two spells. My logic was that you get +2 bonus regardless of what level the spell is at. When they buffed it to +3 I experimented with the build and realized what a massive difference the reduced cooldown makes in massively farming your Q and optimizing your damage output. The more points you put into it, the shorter the cooldown becomes, and the more free damage you can farm. Spirit Fire is great for farming, pushing, lane control, and team fights. It's a useful spell to an extent. However, in the early laning phase all it will do is push your lane, forcing you to overextend, and also missing SS last hit. You don't want to max it too fast or use it too much because you don't want it decimating creeps waves early on (unless you are 1v2 and struggling) because then you can't get your SS last hits and your lane will be pushed (not safe). At level 3 SF will drop the ranged creeps into last hit range. At level 4 it will kill the ranged creeps and drop the melee into last hit range. Wither is a strong slow but would be absolutely silly to prioritize over SS.
What is best for a lvl 1 teamfight?
If you are playing a low elo solo queue 90% of the time everyone goes straight to their lanes. In a mid or higher elo premade lvl 1 team invasions are not uncommon. If you are rushing to golem or lizard to gank or protect a jungler, wither will be a huge help in picking off a first blood for your team. In this case I'd hold off on picking a skill. As you are moving or camping with your team, if a stray enemy shows up in the jungle trying to ward or something, grab the wither and pop it on them. If you are invading the enemy jungle to steal a buff, taking spirit fire will be an immense help in quickly securing the buff for your jungler or carry. If you are not buff stealing and/or don't run into enemies, proceed to your lane and grab SS.
Why the early point in E?
I like to put one early point in E because with the recent buff you can actually use the upfront damage to last hit a low HP minion if your enemy is zoning you. Time the dropping of your E to pick up out of range last hits, while also hitting the enemy champion if possible. Go ahead and smack the enemy with a Q if they are standing in it, as the extra damage you will do to them and lifesteal back is likely to be more than they can dish out in that split second.
Typical skill build (allow for variations depending on how the game is progressing):
This is optimal and will allow for an early philo. Use this start if you do not anticipate a very challenging lane and think you will be able to farm fairly effectively. (Ex: Galio, Irelia)
This start may be necessary against very strong AD lanes that can dominate you through early levels or if they send a ranged AD top that can constantly poke at you. (Ex: Garen, Cait)
This start is sometimes a smarter choice against some AP champions, especially those that need to land skill shots on you to harass (Ex: Karth, Cass)
A note on Philosopher's Stone
Gold per 5 items are nice on champs that sit top and farm for an excessive amount of time, as they give some sustainability and further increase your gold income during this extended farm period. Philo stone is a nice item on Nasus because it provides much needed health and mana regen for lane sustainability and it has 2 very solid upgrade options for Nasus. Bottom line: this is a very cheap, very effective item for Nasus, and I get one pretty much every game.
A note on HP pots and wards
It might seem silly that I include consumables in my item build in a guide, but I can't emphasize enough the importance of warding your lane. Staying alive and farming is the most important thing throughout the early game, and potions and wards will help to accomplish this goal.
A note on boots
In the past, I have insisted mercury treads or bust. With how hard Nasus can be kited, there were no alternatives. However, with the recent addition of the tenacity mechanic and the new tenacity items, other boot options are opened up. Against AP-heavy teams with lots of CC I would still recommend Mercury Treads. However, if the team has a lot of physical DPS (which is when you should be picking Nasus), Ninja Tabi are a solid choice. I do not recommend CDR boots because with my build you get CDR from other items.
A note on Shurelyas and Glacial Shroud
I work towards completing these items before I even build a sheen. Why? They are immensely more beneficial to your early game. Shurelyas provides HP, amazing regen, awesome active, and much desired CDR for faster Q farming. Glacial shroud provides you with mana, armor, and again, a great deal of CDR. These two items give you literally everything you need to safely Q farm up a storm in your lane.
A note on Sheen
Notice that I don't recommend rushing the sheen. While sheen gives you some great cheap bonus dmg, that dmg isn't really needed while you are farming up your Q in the laning phase. However, once you've got your early regen and survivability/tankiness and the laning phase is coming to a close, you probably want to add on some nice extra deeps to that Q you've been farming. If you don't know why Sheen is amazing on Nasus, I'll catch you up: Siphon Strike procs sheen, resulting in "oh fuck my face" reactions when you crack someone with it. It's cheap and gives some mana and a solid amount of extra spammable damage. Sheen is NOT a must if you are forced into playing your teams main tank. However, this is not ideal. Also, remember that sheen upgrades into the coveted Trinity Force.
OMG WHERE IS AEGIS??!?!?
Aegis has been a staple of my build for over a year. If you were to go to the LoL forums any time in the past year and ask how to build Nasus the resounding response would be "mercs, aegis, sheen, tank items". After much deliberation, however, I believe that Aegis is not really an optimal item for Nasus. I still think it is a great item, but believe it is probably better suited on a support or another tank. In terms of tank value it is simply not ass effective as an early chainmail or negatron cloak built into true tank items. The last straw for me was when I realized that the Aegis aura no longer applies to minions (changed in patch .120). Aegis may still be a smart item for you to pick up if your team wants it, however, it is probably best suited for your support.
This is a more complete build than I think I've ever listed in my guide in the past. However, after the changes Nasus got in August, this is what I have typically been building towards in 90% of my games. Of course, the name of the game here is adaptability. A good Nasus (or any champion really) has to build situationally to be the most effective. Once you have your core of boots, shurelyas, glacial, trinity force, you must look at the enemy team composition and analyze what the biggest threats are so that you can choose the smartest tanking or damage items.
So why am I listing these items in particular? Lets break it down a little bit.
Trinity Force has so many amazing stats and provides so much to any tanky-DPS. Just read the description and revel in its awesomeness. Damage, HP, mana, movespeed, and super-powered Qs. Yes please!
I think this is a hugely underrated item. I typically upgrade my philo into this because everything about it is great, including regen, the MS active, and the much-desired CDR.
I am giving preference to FH on Nasus over all other armor items now because the passive is awesome and it gives you 20% CDR. More CDR is more Q and W spam, allowing you to wither every 6.6 seconds at 40% cdr.
Force of Nature
I believe FoN is the strongest MR item on Nasus now because BV was nerved and FoN gives you great MR, great regen, and great movespeed, all hugely important.
Other Great Options:
Banshee's Veil is a strong secondary MR item after your FoN against heavy AP teams.
Sunfire Cape gives health, armor, 40 dmg aura. While it is an all around solid choice to combat AD, it's not as beneficial as a Frozen Heart and is somewhat lackluster late game.
Thornmail is a pretty situational item for very heavy AD teams. If their team has loads of feisty stabby jerks like Yi, Irelia et all, this item is win. It's only smart to grab this if they are actually targeting you , though.
Randuin's Omen is still a pretty good tank item, even though it's been nerfed multiple times, which can be built out of an early Heart of Gold. It makes perfect sense to upgrade into this if you grab an early HoG.
Guardian Angel is a pretty good late game choice as well, I just don't like it all that much since the revive brings you back almost dead.
Eleisa's Miracle is a good tenacity upgrade for philo stone if you want to get something other than merc treads.
Quicksilver Sash is another great MR item, especially when you are facing those pesky suppression champs.
Aegis is a well-rounded tank/support item with a nice team boosting aura. Grab it if your team wants it and your support doesn't want to.
Atma's Impaler is the tanky DPSers best friend. This is a rare gem of an item that provides both damage and tankiness. A very tempting late game item.
Stark's Fervor can be a thing of beauty which isn't seen all that much because most teams these days don't have sufficient AD champs to take full advantage of it. It's a bit situational, but not a bad option on the right team.
Youmuu's Ghostblade is pretty sweet and synergizes beautifully with your ult. Great stats such as armor pen and CDR, this item just makes a lot of sense and might be a good choice if you find yourself turning into a pseudo-carry. The CDR will be wasted if you use my recommended late game build though.
If you like to go a more DPS oriented Nasus, this is probably your go-to item in terms of sheer damage output.
If the enemies are stacking armor and your team needs some more damage output, grabbing this will make your Qs freaking tear through bitches.
Here's some theoretical builds:
Example Build vs Caster-Heavy Team
Example Build vs DPS-Heavy Team
Example Build vs Balanced Team
Remember that your DPS-tankiness ratio is all dependent on the role you are playing on your team and the enemies you are facing. Your item choices should always be carefully considered according to the enemy team and the circumstances of the game.
OK, so we got all of the set up out of the way. We know what runes we want, we picked our masteries and our summoner spells, we chose a super pimp Nasus skin (dreadknight is my favorite atm), we have an item build in mind because we analyzed the enemy team during loading, we know what skills we are going to level up. Now lets put all this together and learn how to wreck a team. The following sections may be a bit wall-of-texty because there's quite a lot of information to put out. If you really want to be successful with Nasus I recommend you read on.
First of all, Remember that Nasus is not a particularly strong early game champ. Lack of a direct advantage, like impressive early game stats or a ranged stun, is a bad thing at these early stages of the game. None of your abilities are particularly effective yet. Siphoning Strike is weak as one hasn't had time to feed it, wither doesn't have significant effect yet. Spirit fire is a safe farming tool but will deny you Q farm and push your lane. You will want to play very passively and defensively. You need to be much more concerned with farming as much as possible than you are with engaging the enemy until you are much stronger.
Choosing a Lane
In my opinion Nasus works well in either solo top or duo bottom.
I used to insist that Nasus sucks unless he has the solo top, but the game has changed a bit. First of all, more and more strong laning champions are being released with spammable spells that can harasses and zone out Nasus and shut him down in a solo lane. In lower ELO you don't have to worry all that much, but as player skill level increases they will abuse your early weakness. Still, you can hold your own against MOST champions solo, especially if you have your TP as a safety net, so if the enemy team does not have a very strong top lane, and your team will let you take it, go for it.
Like I said, previously Nasus was somewhat top solo reliant to be very effective. However, after his Q buff and the change to Baron buff which makes 15 minute Nasus Baron much less feasible, Nasus fits in a duo lane much better than before. Take into consideration that a bottom lane roaming blitz/ali/taric etc is becoming more popular in higher elo. and Nasus becomes a prime semi-1v2 lane option bottom. However, you really want to ensure your lane mate is not another carry. Nasus does need farm, so it's best to lane with a support if possible. These lane set-ups are more common knowledge in higher elo but less so for newer players.
Below I'll try to cover the strategies you'll need to employ for various laning situations.
The Laning Phase
Solo top is a smart pick for Nasus, as it is basically considered the free-farm lane. If the top lane keeps wards up it can be very hard to pull off ganks up there, which basically enables you to sit top and farm indefinitely. You will want to pump your Q as much as possible and farm it every time its up. Hang out behind your creep wave and run up for SS last hits. The enemy will probably try to harass you, but no worries, just ignore them and play safe. Try to auto attack creeps for lifesteal that are not in harass range. When you have gold for philo, lvl 1 boots, a ward and some HP pots, push the lane, then recall and TP back to your lane.
If you are facing a super strong laner that is beating on you, you may have to either put some lvls into SF or beg your jungler for ganks. The aggressiveness of the enemies pushing dictates how often you will need to drop SF, if at all. You don't want to be throwing it out there every wave as you will probably run dry on mana and over-extend. In fact, use it as rarely as possible, just enough to counteract the enemies pushing. If you are confident that you can last hit well under the tower, just do that instead. Don't worry about harassing, as it's very unlikely that you will be more successful than them. Just get the gold. Use your HP potions when necessary. Of course effectively laning against various heros is just going to take practice and experience - knowing their skills, cooldowns, strength, etc. Keep your river warded. Staying alive and farming your Q as much as possible is the best thing you can do for your team as a Nasus in the top lane. Keep an eye out for opportunities to TP into a team fight, but aside from that, don't leave your lane until it's absolutely necessary.
There will probably be a smarter solo mid choice on your team, but if you find yourself there you might as well take advantage of it. Assuming there is no early action, start off with a point in SS. Basically lane in the same fashion that you would solo top. The only additional thing worth mentioning here is wraith farming. Once you have 2 or 3 points into SF you can start free farming wraiths. To do this, just auto attack the creep wave to push it, if possible, and then head to the wraith camp. Drop SF on the wraiths and grab whatever Q last hits you can (lvl 2 SF should bring them all into list hit range, lvl 3 wipes the small wraiths). You can make it back just in time for your next creep wave to arrive. You can do this every couple waves, alternating between yours and the enemy wraith camp. The enemy may catch on to what you are doing, but there's not a whole lot they can do about it unless they coordinate with their jungler. Keep in mind this may piss off your own jungler, so don't steal the wraiths if he really needs them.
If all goes well, you should be able to come out of the laning phase with the highest CS in the game. Mid is pretty vulnerable to ganks, so be sure to keep an eye on the minimap and pay attention to MIA calls and pings. Pay attention to dragon opportunities as well. Nasus' ult can rape dragon fast if your team has an opportunity to go for it.
The most important thing here is to ensure that your lane mate is not another gold dependent, creep-raping whore. Bottom lane Nasus works well with a support champ/babysitter that will allow you to farm your Q, so I would only advise trying it with a lane mate that is not going to get too upset over the fact that you are taking all the last hits.
Remember that getting all the last hits you can is much more important to you than engaging the enemy. This is an understood concept at any decent level of play, but in low level solo queue this might annoy your lane mate. It might induce raging in a less experienced lane mate who doesn't understand Nasus' play style. They might not understand that you could give two shits about their feeble attempts to dive past the creep wave and tango with the enemy. By level 3 they may be bitching at you to drop your SF. They'll probably say "omg l2p Nasus". Don't fret. If you've read this guide, you do know how to play Nasus.
Hopefully however, you are with someone with some semblance of patience and competence. At level 1 before the creeps spawn, coordinate with your lane mate to determine if you want to hang at the tower or attempt to engage the enemy in the brush. Typically SF is the better choice if you plan on engaging, as it will do greater damage to both enemies than a single SS thwock. Wither is an option if you want to chain disables. If you are going to hang back at the tower, probably just start with your SS and commence last hitting.
Only drop SF if you are trying to push or prevent being pushed, and even then try to use it when the enemies have come up to harass. Coordinate with your ally to get 1 or 2 hits in on the enemy when you have dropped SF on them, and SS them when SF is down if you get the opportunity. It will do a lot more damage than they expect. Generally use the same strategy as detailed for the other lanes. Timed aggression is the name of the game. The aptitude of your lane mate will greatly determine the effectiveness of your laning phase, but you should be farming well regardless. Get those SS last hits.
Try to keep your mana up that that you can organize a kill with your lane mate/jungler. You want 250 mana at the very least to pull of a wither + ult combo. Be sure to get a ward on your first trip back to place at dragon, in the river bush, or triangle bush, depending on which side you are.
At mid-high elo a 1v2 is very rare because both teams almost always have jungler. Occasionally you will have a roamer leaving the bot 1v2 or 1v1. At lower levels you might encounter some 1v2 top situations. It might be smart not to attempt 1v2 until you have a few Nasus games under your belt. Once you are comfortable with the Nasus lane phase, however, a 1v2 lane is usually not too difficult unless it's a very strong lane.
Same build, starting with a regrowth and HP pot. You will definitely want TP if you are going to be in a 1v2 lane. You can try to start with SS, but the odds are that you will probably have to pump SF in order to hold more difficult lanes. The aggressiveness of your lane enemies dictates how early/often you will have to start using SF. Stay far back and grab SS last hits when you can. If they are harassing hard try dropping SF on them/the creeps to back them up before running up for your last hits. Against good players you might not be able to get as many SS last hits in a 1v2 as you typically would. Against typical players, they will foolishly try to push hard to your tower since you are there by your lonesome. Little do they know you can defend that all day.
Let them push up to your tower. Melee creeps take 2 tower hits and 1 SS for the last hit. For ranged creeps auto attack them once, let them take a tower hit, and then SS last hit. With SS you should easily be able to steal last hits from your tower. If the enemies get aggressive and try to approach your tower, drop SF and SS them. If they make the grave mistake of drawing tower aggro, wither them to cause them to take max tower hits, SF, and SS them.
Aggressive lane enemies will inevitably take tower hits or stupidly hang out in your SF, or harass you and take collateral creep damage. It is not at all uncommon for you to be hanging out at 3/4 HP and have both your enemies wind up with < 1/2 HP due to nothing but their over-zealousness. As you near level 6 call for a gank from your jungler or mid solo. This should make for easy pickings. Even if no one comes for the gank, you can sometimes pull off a kill with your wither + ult combo if you wait for the opportune time. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have swung many 1v2 double kills by waiting for my enemies to do something foolish.
With your core build of Merc Treads, Philo, Aegis, and Sheen you are ready to start putting pressure on. Around now is the time for tower pushes, dragon battles, group roaming, etc. Wither stray champs for your team to catch up and kill them. Help secure buffs for your team as needed. All the while keep farming that SS.
It should also be mentioned that if you got the top lane you should have a significant level advantage. One of the benefits of this is that when you hit level 11 you can lead your team to Baron and tank it with your ult. As everyone else should be level 8-10 they probably won't be expecting you to Baron. Use the buff to your advantage and push up a storm. See my video guide for more information on this.
At this point you should try to push lanes with your spirit fire. Your SS should be getting farmed up now and does nasty damage to towers. Lead your team into tower pushes or push on your own if the enemy team is distracted. If enemies come to gank you, try to ghost to safety or optimally lead them to your team mates and pop ult for a sick turnaround. Keep farming and leveling your Q.
Team fights should be poppin up around now. Nasus truly shines in proper team fights, but it can sometimes be tricky to pull off a good one because people are so terrified of your ult. Here's some things to keep in mind:
You should not be initiating. Hopefully you've got either another main tank to iniate, or some type of stun to kick things off. Champs with some type of team stun/slow such as malphite or amumu are optimal. You need to be early into the fray, but you don't want to be popping your ult right away. You do want to immediately wither the carry/DPSer. Let your enemies commit to the battle. Let them feel they have some slim chance of coming out victorious. Now rip all their hopes and dreams away from them. Lay down your SF in the middle of the action and pop your ult. Nasus works particularly well in conjuction with other AoE ultimates like Amumu or Morgana that can keep the enemy team contained. Siphon Strike away on the squishies, and use your discretion on who to wither next when it comes back. Remember to use your exhaust on the biggest threat to your team or carry, and keep in mind that this could be a caster. Ghost if it looks like some champs might get away once the battle is wrapping up or if you are being kited. Team battles can be chaotic and require cool nerves and lots of practice to be the most effective. But once you get it down... oh baby it's a wrap. It is sometimes useful to go into a team fight with objectives in mind: Who are you looking to wither? Who will you exhaust? Which target should be your focus? This way you have a game plan in mind and aren't caught up in the chaos doing stupid stuff.
Keep pushing lanes with your spirit fire. Your SS should be getting farmed up now and does nasty damage to towers. Lead your team into tower pushes or push on your own if the enemy team is distracted. Practice with TP and good map awareness will help you learn how to best utilize it.
Keep farming and leveling your SS.
If you are lucky enough for the game to last into late game you should truly be becoming a monster with your tank gear and massively farmed Q. With some practice your SS should be farmed up to epic proportions at this point and something went terribly wrong if you aren't on your way to winning. Damn it sure is fun farming all day, but we do want this game to end at some point. There's not much to say about late game other than enjoy that crazy Q damage and coordinate with your team to try and push for the win.
Nasus in the current meta
The concept of the "meta game" in LoL generally refers to the current trends and predominant playstyles that are considered to be the "best" or "most effective" way to play the game by the majority of the community at any given moment. For example, some people might remember the "heal meta", "poke meta", and "AoE meta" from some time back. Some time after WCG a "roaming" support became popular for some time, until US players began to realize the "EU style" laning with a pure support and ranged AD carry bot was much stronger overall than the previous US bot lane preference of tank/support or tank/roamer. In this section I intend to analyze how Nasus fits into the current meta game as it progresses.
Keep in mind that these "metas" are generally perpetuated by the competitive community and what players see at tournaments and on high elo streams. These metas will have varying impacts and applicability at various elo ranges. For example, higher elo players will typically emulate and abuse the latest trends, etc. associated with the current meta, while at lower elo players may oftentimes be oblivious to shifts in the meta, including what strong lanes and team comps may be, etc.
As far as I can tell, as of this update (August 21), the current "meta" is shifting back from the "double AP" popularized at dreamhack, and back to a tanky-DPS oriented setup. What this entails is generally an AD/support bottom, an AP carry mid, a tank or bruiser top, and a tank or bruiser jungler. This type of tanky lineup is designed to soak up and sustain the burst of a double-AP carry team with their beefy front line, while the other carries are able to mop up after the enemy teams cooldowns are blown on the beefy champions up front (see: TSM at gamescon).
This latest trend would actually be fairly beneficial in terms of fitting Nasus into a team comp. Nasus is renowned for being strong against beefy, physical teams. This is largely because of his % based ultimate, and his wither. Caster-centric teams with heavy CC and burst are not optimal for Nasus because he will be kited and not have many targets for his wither. Additionally, Nasus will generally have a harder time laning against the stronger AP carries in top lane than he will against another sustainable tank or bruiser. If the meta does continue to shift towards this bruiser heavy meta, Nasus may start to become an interesting counter pick.
I have a stream set up through own3d.tv that I occasionally stream games as Nasus, along with other champions. My stream times are irregular, so it might be hard to catch me on. If you do, however, feel free to ask questions in the chat and I will definitely answer them after the game.
You can find my stream at:
You can also frequently catch me on SYDTKOs livestream:
This is a video guide I made for Nasus quite some time ago. It is pretty outdated now, but some of the information is still relevant, and I'm still proud of how it turned out so it's sticking around.
This is a freakin awesome Nasus rap by KaiCM. Check it out and rate it! Huge props to this dude. Thanks for the shoutout! :D
Nasus can be considered a high-risk, high-reward champion. You may struggle early game to farm your Q safely. You may not have a lot to offer your team for the first 20 minutes of the game. But if you play smart, build smart, and farm that Q... oh buddy.
Please keep in mind that I am not a high ELO player and am by no means an authority on this game. However, I do believe that this is the best way to play Nasus at all levels of play, including higher ELO.
Hopefully you learned a thing or two about Nasus and how to play him. I plan on continuing to touch-up this guide and add more details. If you have any questions or recommendations be sure to leave them as a comment.
Thank you for reading my Nasus guide, and best of luck on the proving grounds.
Submitted by Hyfe
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