New-dalee – Nidalee Post-Nerf

Posted: September 5, 2011 by xenocidebrm in Champions, Guides, Metagame
Tags: , , , ,

Even though I love cats, I never found a reason to play Nidalee. From what gameplay I saw of her, she was a super-sustain beast with entirely too much utility and damage. I’m enjoy playing high skill-floor and skill-cap characters, but not strong (read: overpowered) ones. So I was happy to hear that Nidalee was being nerfed this last patch along with a bunch of other high-sustain characters. After picking her up (“I’ve got blue buff in my van”) and playing a few games with her, I’m ready to theorycraft.

I am not known for making popular guides to characters, but I did build Hexdrinker on Shaco before it was cool and still carry games with AD Leona. So I’m going to take a look at the recommended build, a popular Nidalee build, and HotshotGG’s build before I give out my personal take on New-dalee.

Nidalee is, at her core, an AP support character: part sustain, part utility, and part damage. Her basic abilities are Javelin Toss, Bushwhack, and Primal Surge. The first is a long range, high damage skillshot with a decent 0.65 AP ratio. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of mana and hits minions, limiting its usefulness at all times. The second is similar to Caitlyn’s traps with less damage, but they don’t snare and they instead lower Armor and Magic Resist by a ton. Again, like the spear, this ability costs a lot of mana. Finally, Primal Surge gives out an Attack Speed buff in addition to a heal with a great 0.7 AP ratio. Costs a lot of mana, but with enough AP late game you can heal better than Soraka.

Nidalee’s Ultimate gives you the ability to shapeshift into a cougar. This changes your basic abilities into three melee abilities that do damage: one a cone in front of you, one an autoattack damage buff, and one that pounces you forward. The first and last of these abilities scale off a 0.4 AP ratio while the damage buff scales of a great 1 to 1 AD ratio. None of these abilities cost mana, so they give Nidalee utility even when she’s OOM. Oh yes, and you used to get 10% dodge, but now you only get horrible Armor and Magic resist instead.

Before the recent sustain nerf patch, Nidalee was incredible as a solo lane champion because her heal had an amazing AP ratio in addition to powerful base values. Thus, she was nearly impossible to get out of lane or prevent her from farming. Her heal meant that she could autoattack harass Champions with safety, because regardless of how much damage she took from minions she would be right back at full before you knew it. If you tried to harass her back, she would just farm and heal up. Needless to say, it was not fun being in a lane with Nidalee, as was the case with any sustain character.

The nerf hit HotshotGG right in the GG. Nidalee’s early game heal got nerfed into the ground, while her Javelin received a mana and 1 second cooldown reduction, allowing it to be more spammy. Her cougar form also got nerfed, as its dodge chance was replaced by bad Resists while its damage output and Pounce cooldown was slightly increased. The nerfs hit Nidalee’s sustain while improving her offensive capability. From what I have heard, Nidalee is no longer viable as either solo lane or support. So let’s take a look at the builds people are using for Nidalee.

Riot’s recommended items for Nidalee pre-nerf are as follows: Doran’s Ring, Boots of Lucidity, Lich Bane, Guinsoo’s Rageblade, Guardian Angel, Rabadon’s Deathcap. Overall, a fairly AP heavy set of items with good tank and CDR. The Lich Bane and Guinsoo’s also hand out Attack Speed and Attack Damage, which is pretty cool, as all of this is useful for Nidalee, perhaps sans the Attack Speed.

HotshotGG is the man who shot Nidalee into the spotlight of tournament play and is probably the most well known professional LoL player. He didn’t revolutionize how Nidalee worked, but instead mastered it and refined it to a razor’s edge. His build for Nidalee reflects this, generally staying with Riot’s originally recommended build: Doran’s Ring, Merc Treads, Lich Bane, Guinsoo’s, and Rabadon’s. The only change here is really the Merc Treads, which has an invaluable stat known as Tenacity. There are very few characters who shouldn’t take Merc Treads, so we can’t quite evaluate this difference, which means that HotshotGG and Riot are thinking the same way.

One thing HotshotGG did differently pre-patch is emphasize early harass. Instead of taking AP or Magic Pen runes, he opted for Armor Pen runes, allowing him to autoattack  a champion in lane and heal up. This made Nidalee incredibly powerful. With early harass and sustain she could dominate a solo lane or let a carry farm bottom lane. At mid game, she would have the cougar form, giving her more damage output, culminating in a split push beast. Finally, in late game, her farm and AP would be high enough to give her team unlimited sustain while tossing out high damage spears and cougar form attacks.

The casual player sees one thing: AP ratios. “Mah spear can do mroe damage??? YES I WIL BILD AP!!!” Here, the real difference in build philosophy stands out. Whereas Riot and Hotshot want to capitalize on Nidalee’s all-around utility, other players are only concerned with the fact that her abilities mostly use AP. Common builds include strategies including rushing Rabadon’s, Mejai’s, Void Staff, and other AP trinkets that blast Nidalee’s burst damage and heal through the roof. Unfortunately, these items tend to be very expensive and leave little to no room for tanky items. I have even had the misfortune of seeing a Nidalee grab Ability Tome first.

Let’s review: the nerfs were aimed at reducing Nidalee’s sustain while improving her damage output. She is no longer just a healbot. Both Riot and HotshotGG reasoned that her spammy cougar form abilities and normal utility abilities emphasize a rounded out build containing AD, AS, and AP. HotshotGG turned Nidalee’s early game from that of a passive farmer to one of active harass and sustain in addition to farming. Most players, however, find it easier to build straight AP, as they only see Nidalee’s abilities, not her autoattack, as her primary source of damage and support.

I would like to suggest an alternative, post-patch build of Nidalee that I’d like to call “New-dalee”. Nidalee’s sustain has been nerfed just enough to prohibit the HotshotGG harass but still allow new players to play the AP role of passive farmer. The philosophy behind this build is such: improve Nidalee’s early game sustain while maintaining her harass capacity.

For runes, I run Flat AP Quints, Scaling AP or Magic Pen Reds, Flat CDR Blues, and Choice Yellows. For Masteries, I use 9/0/21.

But DDC, you ask yourself, didn’t Nidalee recieve an AP ratio nerf? Why are you emphasizing AP so heavily in these Masteries/Runes?

The answer is simple, dear reader. Nidalee may have received a nerf to her healing, but she received a buff to her Javelin Toss as well as her cougar form. Instead of harassing with your autoattack, your job is now to harass with your Javelin. Not only that, even though Nidalee’s heal AP ratio was nerfed, the AP from Runes make up for the healing you have lost.

For items, always start with a Doran’s Ring, as this item gives you everything you need to stay in lane. However, instead of building towards a Guinsoo’s or Sheen first, build towards a Hextech Revolver. The extra AP will again increase your healing at the same time it improves your Javelin. Even better, you will heal every time your Javelin hits because of Spell Vamp. In addition, the Hextech Revolver can be turned into a Hextech Gunblade or a Will of the Ancients, making it both flexible and powerful. While it is a strange deviation away from the extra spam or AD normally built on Nidalee, it gives her the sustain and damage she needs to remain on par with other champions early game.

While this delays you from the powerful Guinsoo’s and Lich Bane, I would contest that you can avoid building the Lich Bane altogether in this build, instead using the Hextech Revolver to build into a Hextech Gunblade. The Guinsoo’s is still non-negotiable, however, so make sure to grab one regardless.

For boots I always take Merc Treads or Ninja Tabi, but Lucidity is certainly still viable. A Rabadon’s is still a good idea on Nidalee, but I’m finding more and more that a mid-game Tear of the Goddess that I can farm up for free in cougar form or a Chalice of Harmony lets me relinquish Blue Buff, so delaying the Rabadon’s is definitely viable if you have someone else to pick up the slack in AP damage.

Riot may have nerfed Nidalee, but she is far from out of the viable roster. Her sustain is still good, but she must give up autoattack harass to stay alive. With the buffs to the Javelin and building a Hextech Revolver instead of the normal rush to Guinsoo’s, Nidalee can have just as much sustain and damage for a minimal gold setback. With AP burst coming back into the metagame, building for mana sustain instead of heading for Rabadon’s right away permits you to have another mana heavy champion use blue buff in your stead. Try out this build yourself and post your results in the comments!

  1. […] has actually been largely inspired by my good friend and fellow writer, Damndirtycat’s new article. With the exception of her Javelin Toss, Nidalee really did not receive alterations to her […]

  2. qqwerthy says:

    “Instead of harassing with your autoattack, your job is now to harass with your Javelin.”

    Stopped reading there.

    • damndirtycat says:

      I know you can’t land skillshots qqwerthy, so Nidalee probably isn’t the character for you.

      • qqwerthy says:

        Nope its the fact that auto attacks do more damage than Spear till rank 3 spear. Also you can auto attack more often and with more accuracy than a spear. Also if you are leveling spear instead of heal then you are even less solo lane efficient, which in the long run means you have less gold and are far less useful. Also leveling Spear over Heal means you don’t have an improved attack speed buff, which the attack speed makes your auto attack (that are already better than spear) even stronger. Also waiting to level heal and delaying the attack speed buff greatly hurts Nidalee’s tower pushing power.

        You Lose, Good Day Sir.

      • damndirtycat says:

        When you autoattack, you take minion aggro. When you take minion aggro, you take damage. When you take damage, you lose health. With less health, you have less sustain.

        Taking heal over spear is no longer optimal since the AP nerf. If you play Nidalee the way she was played before and insist this is the only way to play her you completely missed the point of the blanket support nerf which was to make the game generally more offensive. By playing her the same way as before, you are hands down playing an outright weaker character.

      • qqwerthy says:

        It may not be optimal but it is still the superior choice. Leveling spear is less effective.

      • damndirtycat says:

        I would just like to take a moment to gloat here and say that Nidalees nowadays are harassing with spear early in lane and building Hextech Revolvers.

  3. xenocidebrm says:

    I actually really like the initial build towards Revolver, since Will is a great support item and Gunblade has both the AD and AP you might want in late-game.

  4. strattmandoo says:

    wow, you obviously have never played nidalee, her heal was pretty much the only thing she could do late game, and riot took that away from her, shes shitty, what elo are you playing at that nidalee is still good, because playing her is putting your team at an disadvantage.

  5. […] most-searched champions (that lead to our blog).  In first is Nidalee, likely due to her fairly recent changes.  Next most popular seems to be Leona, another champ we’ve done a brief review of.  Third […]

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