Nasty Nidalee - Top Tier AD Build - by flankd

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*** UPDATED AS OF 2/28/2010 ***

Nidalee is an extremely versatile Champion. She's great at chasing people down, up there with Shaco, Kassadin, Nunu, Singed except the big difference is she doesn't need mana to do it, and it's not on a large cool down. She's equally great at running away and juking enemy players in the brush.

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0/9/21 - The #1 Mastery set, I was skeptical at first but now I'm a believer as I've actually witnessed this in game personally, was testing this build out and there was another Nidalee on the opposing team, he could neither catch me nor run away from me because my movement speed was increased, and so was my CDR from talents of utility. Combined w/ CDR Runes I just laugh now when I go against other Nidalees and they're so confused as to why I can chase them down so easily if need be.

0/21/9 - Decent build, if I were in a tournament pick scenario and the other team had a lot of burst damage, and they didn't pick Nidalee... I might very well pick this over 0/9/21 depending. 4% Reduced damage by everyone who is focusing is pretty good, you also get more HP at lvl 1 and reduced cooldown on cleanse, also a plus.

21/0/9 - Decent Build, level a little quicker and some more regen early game, but once again you will get out Nidalee'd if there's one on the other team that is 0/9/21. Good for pubbing, bad vs other Nidalees

21/9/0 - Decent Build, but if there's an equally skills Nidalee on the other team that is 0/9/21 you will get worked, hands down. 


9 - Greater Mark of Desolation = 17 Armor Penetration
9 - Greater Seal of Evasion = 6.7% Dodge
9 - Greater Glyph of Celerity = 5.65% CDR or 8.10% CDR @ 18
3 - Greater Quintessence of Desolation = 11.7(12) Armor Penetration
29 Armor Penetration Total


9 - Greater Mark of Desolation = 17 Armor Penetration
9 - Greater Seal of Evasion = 6.7% Dodge
9 - Greater Glyph of Shielding = 24 Magic Resist at 18
3 - Greater Quintessence of Fortitude = +97 

Armor Penetration - 
Best offensive runes to get, critical damage and critical strike are a waste, these runes work better w/ scaling of Take Down not to mention Bushwhack lows armor by a % as well and this combos w/ it.

Dodge - Best defensive runes in the game, she gets 10 Dodge in Cougar alone and this helps with nimbleness for 0/9/21 build.

Cooldown Reduction - For a purely offensive rune page, this is the way to go... once again, I was skeptical at first and then I saw the light. This definitely shines when you're chasing down enemy Nidalee's... and we all know, one of the few counters to a Nidalee is another Nidalee, so this is very important.

Magic Resist - I still use these runes from time to time, I would probably use them more if it was a tourney setting and I knew the other team was going to be caster heavy.

Health Quints - Never really a bad choice, this is especially good if you're the type of player who doesn't like to buy the Doran's Ring. Either way without some sort of HP boost at level 1, a competent solo mid will take advantage of that and possibly first blood you by level 3 or so, or deny you of XP (Tristana's especially) 

Ability Descriptions

Because Nidalee can transform into a cougar, she has two sets of abilities. One ability set for when she is in human form, and a different ability set when she is in cougar form.

Javelin Toss/Takedown - [Q]
  • Javelin Toss: In human form, Nidalee throws a spiked javelin at her target that gains damage as it flies.
  • Takedown: As a cougar, she grabs her opponent by the throat and attempts to bring them down, dealing more damage based on how wounded the target is.
Bushwhack/Pounce - [W]
  • Bushwhack: In human form, Nidalee lays a damaging trap for unwary opponents that, when sprung, reveals the target and reduces their armor and magic resistance for 12 seconds.
  • Pounce: As a cougar, she pounces forward, dealing a small amount of damage when she lands.
Primal Surge/Swipe - [E]
  • Primal Surge: In human form, Nidalee channels the spirit of the cougar to imbibe herself and her allies with increased damage and attack speed for a short duration.
  • Swipe: As a cougar, she rapidly claws enemies in front of her.
Aspect of the Cougar - [R]
Nidalee changes her form, switching her ability set in the process. Leveling up this skill improves Nidalee's cougar form abilities.

Prowl (passive)
Moving through brush increases Nidalee's movement speed by 25% for 2 seconds.

Skill Order

If there is a jungler on the enemy team, smite or no smite if there anybody you feel might take a rune at level 1 your first ability should be 
[W] Bushwhack. Quickly run over to the enemy rune which is generally Golem for most champions and start dropping them into the brush. If you have a jungler of your own, it's good to get this first too so you can protect him safely without being there, at the very least it will give him warning if someone tries to gank or smite steal.

If nobody looks to be jungling at level 1 and everyone goes to their lanes first you can get your Heal first for some good harassing right at level 1.

E, W, E, Q, E, R, E, Q, E, Q, R, Q , Q, W, W, R, W, W

Something like that, hopefully I didn't mess it up but basically you want to max heal first. Take Down base damage is the same 6-10 and 11-15, ranking up Q doesn't make you hit harder in cat form, it just makes Javelin stronger. Sometimes I'll go up to rank 3 heal and then put some points into Javelin for early kills if the other team has a lot of squishy casters like twisted fate, but this is only if I'm not worried about getting dropped instantly and need that max rank heal.

Summoner Spells

1) Cleanse/Flash - Since the patch, this is what I pick... Exhaust and Rally both got nerfed to the point where I don't care to have them. There IS an abundance of ignites though for early game kills, and considering it has the healing reduction effect. Cleanse is the perfect solution. Flash is also an extremely good spell, I use it for tower diving, Flash/Pounce closes a pretty large gap between you and whoever you're trying to finish off.

2) Ghost/Flash - If you plan on getting Mercury Treads because you don't like Cleanse, then Ghost is probably your other optimal choice for both chasing/escaping. Flash, even more so... without cleanse for AP Sion/TF stuns... you'll need flash for these situations. 

I generally get Doran's Ring, because I only solo mid Nidalee otherwise I won't play her, and since I've been either using Armor Penetration quints or Movement Speed quints I really need that extra HP at level 1 for the laning phase.


1) Doran's Ring OR Sapphire Crystal + Potions for the Doran's haters.

2) Sheen + Rank 1 Boots

3) The Brutalizer

4) Phage + Rank 2 Boots, Mercury Treads or Ninja Tabi depending on team.

5) Guinsoo's Rageblade

6) Trinity Force

7) Spirit Visage

8) Bloodthirster

Ultimately your final Build should look like something like this. Not necessarily in this order either, could always get Spirit Visage earlier than I mention if you need the extra MR and healing.

1) Boots of your Choice - 1000 gold
2) Trinity Force - 4070 Gold
3) The Brutalizer - 1337 Gold
4) Guinsoo's Rageblade - 2235 Gold
5) Spirit Visage - 1350 Gold
6) Bloodthirster - 3200 Gold

Some of you may noticed that I keep changing the guide, changing the build order etc. It's not necessarily that my old builds on the guide were bad, I'm just trying to keep the build up to date with the patch changes, and what I feel is currently best for the average game. Here's some of the reasoning behind the build changes.

For starters, I took Mejai's out of the build completely. The only reason I had it in the guide at all because it gave a decent boost to Primal Surge and Javelin. Javelin is decent early game, but it's really not worth the mana to skill up for harassing in a lane because auto attacking and healing yourself is just way more efficient. If you're not AP, unless someone is really low you're not going to get many kills with Javelin late game. Spirit Visage gives a noticeable increase in your heal, without relying on a snowball item in case the game goes awkwardly south. It's also dirty cheap and gives magic resistance and durability without the expense of Banshee's Veil. It also gives CDR, which is important.. honestly this item is amazing for the price.

The Brutalizer gives damage, armor pen and cooldown reduction for only 1337. Awesome Item for the price.

Guinsoo's Rageblade... hybrid item, but with sheen and the permanent 8 stacks you get for running around in Cougar form makes this hard to pass up, it's a mid-high tier item for only a little more than a BF Sword. Win-Win.

Bloodthirster... a great item for those games that just don't end, those long 45 minute games where it's back and forth pushing and farming and waiting for baron to respawn.


Try to stay in the back initially, let the tanks blow their major cooldowns. Try and focus the low armor/hp targets like casters, if there's stealthers try and predict where they're going to open up from or just wait til they pop out and try and hit them with a trap so they can't restealth. If no stealthers, try and hit the biggest group of targets possible with the trap... it's generally no more than 2-3 but it lowers their Armor/MR by a percent so its very beneficial for your team.

At Dragon & Baron always try and trap the surrounding areas where you're anticipating an engagement, this will give you a few seconds heads up if you have no wards to counter gank.

Try not to just run in like rambo, guns blazing in Cougar form... if you get CC'd or silenece sometimes you don't even have time to escape if all 5 enemies focus you at the same, do hit and run tactics run in, cougar combo in their face and run out if you expect CC to follow, heal... toss some auto attacks at low armor targets w/ some sheen/trinity procs and then shift back into cougar and cougar combo their face off.

The idea is to "not commit" 100%, don't ever go in with the intention of just staying cougar from 100% to 0%. You need to learn the art of dancing!

Additional info:

Originally Posted by Gandalf 007 View Post
I just don't get AD over AP Nidalee.

Cougar is simply NOT that effective for me in competitive 5man AT teamfights. There are too many AoE's flying around, especially too much point-blank AoE. Once the kitty burst CD's are down, all you have is a really watered down wanna-be carry who can give a half-assed heal.

The main proponent of AD Nidalee is huge takdowns, however....

...Most of the time their Lizard-buffed Twitch/Corki/Tristana is WAYYYYY out of takedown range, so I would have to either blow takedown on some tank or heavy-armor support, or else just hold the cooldown. If I am landing a takedown on a squishy, it means they were already probably routed, and I can catch up to and finish runners just as good as AP Nidalee with Rylai's.

Now consider, what is being abandoned with the Sit-in-cougar-after-the-initial-pounce-and-single-target-DPS-someone.........playstyle:

As AP Nidalee, I'll usually javelin as I approach (no one bothers to dodge in a teamfight), then pounce+claw+takedown, then back to human to bushwack on top of all 5 enemy champs during the teamfight. Then I'd toss a SIGNFICANT heal on the carry, and it's back to kitty to pounce+claw+takedown.

Now AD Nidalee would probably want to stay in Kitty form after the initial burst, which means she probably WON'T be sticking bushwack to everyone. Or else she won't be getting that 2nd heal off. Either way there's a significant sacrifice for that boosted single-target DPS. And once again, if you can land takedown on a squishy, your team has either already won or they have absolute s.hit positioning.

Not to mention, well aimed javs are an incredibly effective counter for tower-huggers during a push, and for tower diving. Most tanks won't even bother to dodge AD Nidalee's Jav, while with 2-3 AP items, my Jav can rip off 1/5th of a tank's HP at max range. Most tank's larger hitboxes make javs very difficult to dodge while towerhugging, especially since it can reach from outside of the fog of war.

I really don't understand what AD Nidalee brings over AP Nidalee that's significant enough to warrant the build. Not to mention, AP Nidalee is such an INCREDIBLY ridiculous pusher with golem buff mid game....
Ok, here it goes.

First off, You shouldn't even be Cougar at the start of a fight where everyone is genereally clustered up. That's just asking to die. I just posted this guide like 5 seconds ago and it seems like you just skimmed through it, i'm tired and I want to go to bed but let me clarify.

Primal Surge is an extremely short cooldown, it's an attack speed bonus similar to Twitch/Tristana and every time you cast it (which is like 8 seconds or something? I'd have to double check) Your first attack procs Trinity for 150% damage not to mention the barrage of spears thrown in a matter of seconds from RANGE mind you, where its SAFER. 

Positioning is everything in team fights, and if you're in cougar form in the middle of a fight against my team, you're going to get flopped and theres nothing you can do about it. At high Elo you really need to be cautious of when you go into a giant brawl in Cougar. Especially because you don't want to lose red rune.

Secondly, you definately DON'T need golem to push a lane of creeps, that's hardly a problem for Nidalee, not to mention she destroys towers much faster as AD versus AP. WAY FASTER.

I've played AP Nidalee too, it can be fun... but overall I think its weaker, I think there are much better AP Champions out there for high level competition, Annie, Sion, Fiddle, Twisted Fate etc... i'd rather have any one of those on my team than an AP Nidalee.

Maybe if you try my guide you'll find you like AD Nidalee better.

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