Character Guide – Katarina

Posted: October 19, 2011 by xenocidebrm in Champions, Guides

Welcome to the first of many No ELO Character guides! This week’s Character Guide will be on the League’s most straightforward and deadly assassin, Katarina.

Katarina is the epitome of assassin characters. Her character design and abilities are focused around one goal: killing unprepared enemies. However, despite her focus, she tends to be one of the weakest assassins, a problem that we will discuss and hopefully remedy later on.

Let’s start with Katarina’s passive, Voracity. With Voracity, Katarina gains 25 gold and her cooldowns are reduced by 15 seconds each time she scores a kill or assist.

Katarina’s Q is Bouncing Blade. Katarina throws a dagger that will bounce from enemy to enemy, dealing magic damage. Each subsequent hit deals 10% less damage. It is important to note that unlike Brand’s ultimate, Kat’s Q will not hit an enemy more than once. For every level in Bouncing Blade, the Blade bounces an additional time, up to 6 times. It scales on an impressive 0.8 AD ratio and a measly 0.35 AP ratio.

Katarina’s W is Killer Instincts. A passive ability, it grants Kat extra damage to her autoattacks, Bouncing Blade, and Death Lotus. It also has an active component: activating Killer Instincts gives her a charge that can be used on either Bouncing Blade or Shunpo. Using Killer Instincts on Bouncing Blade makes it do full damage to all targets as well as reducing healing on those targets for 5 seconds. Using Killer Instincts on Shunpo grants Katarina percent damage reduction for a short time.

Katarina’s E is Shunpo. Katarina instantly moves to a target enemy or ally, dealing magic damage to enemy targets. It scales off a good 0.75 AP ratio.

Death Lotus is Katarina’s R. By chanelling for 3 seconds, Katarina throws up to 30 daggers at the three nearest enemy champions in a short area around her, each of which deal magic damage. A maximum of 10 daggers can hit any one champion, and each dagger scales off a 0.5 AD ratio and a 0.25 AP ratio.

It is also important to note that Katarina does not have a mana bar: she is entirely Cooldown reliant. All of her abilities have cooldowns between 6 and 12 seconds, so spamming is possible with enough CDR.

Kat’s passive clearly spells out her role: assassin. She gains extra gold and refreshes cooldowns quickly, making her an ideal character to feed kills to. Because of this passive, Katarina is also a carry: gaining gold faster than other characters means you will be that much more powerful at every point in the game.

Kat’s Q is the most interesting and useful of her abilities. With Bouncing Blade, Kat can farm quickly and efficiently, harass, and stop opponents from healing (in combination wtih her W). In a heavy harass lane, Katarina can use this to last hit. In a teamfight, she can use this to shut down enemy healing on an entire team. Against minion waves, she can deal tons of damage to all of the minions and clean up with last hits. Truly the most versatile of her skills.

Kat’s W is underestimated: the passive damage it provides is much higher than it appears and the active abilities turn Kat from just another assassin into a fun, high risk-reward champion. Because the W passive applies to Kat’s autoattack, it’s reasonable to think that the slight damage increase is negligible on all of her abilities. However, Killer Instincts actually applies to every single Bouncing Blade hit and every dagger from Death Lotus. That means that with just one point in Killer Instincts 6 Bouncing Blade hits provides an additional 48 damage, while a Death Lotus that hits with all 30 daggers deals an additional 240 damage!

The active on W enhances one of two abilities: Bouncing Blade and Shunpo. Using W with Bouncing Blade adds a lot of effective damage while reducing healing by 50%, an advantage that is often underestimated. If each Bouncing Blade normally hits for a cumulative 10% less on each additional bounce, then her total AD and AP ratio on her Q is 2.64 and 1.575, respectively. With her W active, these numbers respectively jump to an incredible 4.8 and 2.1. But the active W also has a defensive component to it. When used in conjunction with Shunpo, Kat gains a percent damage reduction against all forms of damage. This percent damage reduction is actually quite high and can help her survive what would otherwise be hopelessly lethal situations.

Kat’s R is really her best ability. She can spit out literally thousands of damage in three short seconds. Unfortunately, it is also her trump card, one that is easily countered. While Kat is using this ability she is channelling. Any stun, silence, knock-up, or fear will break the channeling on this ability. It also has a 50 second cooldown and an extremely short range. In order for Katarina to put on the amazing damage from this ability, she needs to be right on top of their entire team, a dangerous thing to do for all but the tankiest characters.

It is ultimately Kat’s reliance on her Death Lotus that turns her from a strong assassin carry into a weak one. This does not mean, however, that she is useless. Instead, she is best built as a tanky assassin carry. She is still able to do a lot of damage, but her tankiness makes her a less appealing target. Let’s look at some builds for Katarina.

Westrice’s Katarina Build

Runes: 1 Health Quint, 2 Magic Pen Quints, Magic Pen Reds, Armor Yellows, Magic Resist Blues. Here, Westrice really wants to emphasize Katarina’s survivability. By stacking flat resistances, Katarina gains a ton early game from building HP, which is great considering Rylai’s is Westrice’s first item.

Masteries: 9/21/0. Even though Katarina is technically a caster, she doesn’t benefit from the mana heavy Utility tree. Instead, Magic Pen and Cooldown Reduction from the Offense tree compliment the survivability granted by the Defense tree. Because Katarina is bound to be focused if she starts to carry plus the fact that she has to jump in to the fight to use her Death Lotus, the Defense tree is always going to be the main tree of choice for Katarina.

Starting Items: x3 OR

If you’re facing an AD character, take the shield, otherwise boots and potions give Kat the mobility and survivability she needs.

Early Game:

Non-negotiable Core items. These two items are so incredibly effective on Katarina, giving AP, Spell Vamp, and HP, plus an amazing slow effect. Play conservative to make the most of farming, punish anyone trying to harass you. With pots, you have more effective HP than the other person, so you should be fine. Use your Q to farm and your E for mobility.

Mid Game:

Mid game you really start to take off in damage. Grab Sorcerer’s Shoes or Merc Treads depending on how much CC the enemy has. Rush to Hextech Gunblade and abuse its active in conjunction with your Rylai enhanced skills. If you’re doing well, grab a Mejai’s.

Late Game:

Keep building damage. The more damage you do, the more kills you’ll get. You want to do as much damage before you get stunned and die. Buy a Banshee’s Veil to force them to pop it before they can stun you.

Total Cost: 16440 Gold Approx. Burst 1816; Approx. DPS 342

0.75 ratio on Shunpo?!?! BETTER STACK AP XD Build

Runes: Magic Pen Quints, Magic Pen Reds, Scaling AP Yellows, CDR Blues. Damage is the name of this general pubbie build, emphasizing a glass cannon Katarina.

Masteries: 9/21/0. Just because this is a pubbie build doesn’t mean they don’t realize Kat needs survivability. Sometimes you’ll see a hilariously weak Kat with 21 in Utility, and usually they’ll whiff their Death Lotus and die in two hits.

Starting Items:

Don’t ask me why, but every pubbie Kat feels that Doran’s shield is the only option for 475 Gold. It’s rare to see an AD Carry mid these days, so it always surprises me when every Kat builds it.

Mid Game:

Katarina players are at least smart enough to rush towards Gunblade and use Sorcerer’s Shoes for more Magic Pen. Some have even figured out that killing one person per death still gets you a net gain of Mejai’s Stacks!

Late Game:

Here is where it all falls apart. Katarina players begin to stack AP, hoping that it’ll give them enough damage to get kills. Once the enemy gets Magic Resistance, they grab a Void Staff after they realize they can’t kill anyone anymore. Finally, after losing all their Mejai stacks, they feel they need defense to survive, grabbing either a Guardian Angel or Warmog’s, neither of which actually help them in any significant way.

Total Cost: 15262

DamnDirtyCat’s Katarina Build

Runes: 1 Magic Pen Quint, 2 Flat CDR Quints, Magic Pen Reds, Scaling Health Yellows, Scaling CDR Blues. Building the CDR really increases Kat’s utility early game and the Blues scale into late game. Magic Penetration is a must on Katarina, as her abilities all deal significant magic damage. The Yellows help your survivability once you hit 6 against both AP and AD characters. They also eventually give you a bit more damage output on your Atma’s.

Masteries: 9/21/0.

Starting Items: x3 OR

See Westrice’s starting items. Same deal.

Early Game:

See Westrice’s early game. Same deal.

Mid Game:

The first thing you want to do is upgrade your Hextech Revolver into a Will of the Ancients. Since the Graves patch is here, the nerfed AD on the Hextech Gunblade makes it too expensive for what it does, unless you get fed really hard, in which case just go for the Gunblade. Mid game people are going to realize you do a ton of damage. They will proceed to do one of two things: build Magic Resist or build damage. If they build Magic Resist, the choice is easy, head straight to the Abyssal Scepter. If they build damage, build against the damage they’re dealing: Atma’s vs AD, Abyssal Scepter vs AP. If they have a lot of CC (they will), grab Merc Treads, otherwise just grab the Ionian Boots.

Late Game: 

For your last two items, you’ll want damage since you’ve already built pretty tanky.  You still want to keep building tanky, as the other team is certainly building more damage. Tack on a Sunfire Cape if you need more Armor, it will give you HP for your Atma’s as well as 35 magic DPS around you. Take a Spirit Visage and/or Hexdrinker for Magic Resist if you need it. I usually only get the Spirit Visage if I already have Merc Treads, as the Spirit Visage plus Ionian Boots gives me too much CDR (remember that going above base 30% CDR is wasteful because you can always buy the Elixir of Brilliance!). If you need a damage option that is none of these items, grab a Void Staff or Infinity Edge (yes, Infinity Edge) if they have lots of Magic Resist.

Total Cost: 12920 Approx. Burst 1179 Approx. DPS 484

Wait, DamnDirtyCat, isn’t this less Burst and DPS than Westrice’s build?! Why would I ever use this build over his!

Calm down and stop spraying Cheetos all over the screen. What you’ve probably forgotten is that my build is much, much cheaper than Westrice’s. If you work out the math, you’ll find that for my gold cost, Westrice’s build provides a Burst of 1427 and a DPS of 268, assuming a single target. The Burst is a little more than 200 above mine while the DPS is about 200 below mine! That means if you stay in combat for more than a few seconds, you will do far more damage. If we assume more targets, Westrice’s Burst and DPS goes far above mine, but even Westrice agrees that you’ll be stunned as soon as you pop your ultimate, making the insane damage output from Death Lotus less of an issue. Without the ultimate, Westrice’s build has only slightly more Burst and far less DPS than my build.

This tanky build allows you survive long enough to do this and your faster CDR increases your utility. You also have a lot more flexibility using this build, able to build against AD, AP, or any particular mix and end up with more EHP. With the much higher DPS, people can no longer stun you and ignore you; you still put out a decent amount of damage with your autoattack and other abilities. Overall you lose about 10 Magic Resist, 20 Flat/40% Magic Penetration, a Banshee’s Veil ability, and the unused Life Steal from Hextech Gunblade. In return, you gain 22% CDR, 35 Tenacity, 50 HP, 77 Armor, and the AoE 25% Spell Vamp from Will of the Ancients (closer to 29% with Spirit Visage).

How to Fight Against Katarina

Harass her in lane early, her level 1-5 is horrible. Stun her when she ults and then ignore her, unless she’s using my build, in which case you should burst her down afterwards if there are no more juicy carries around. Ignite or Exhaust her while she ults if you don’t have a stun. Always save a stun to stop her ult. That’s it. Really. Nothing else you need to know when fighting against Katarina.

  1. Capac Amaru says:

    Isnt this the second guide? After Xerath?

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