All respectable MOBAs are filled with so-called “skillshot” abilities, allowing players to showcase their expertise in terms of aim and prediction skills, with League of Legends being no different. If we were to ask long-time players to name some of the most iconic abilities of this sort, odds are that one of the most commonly encountered answers would be Nidalee’s Javelin Toss, the spear which gives us all flashbacks of getting burst 100-to-0!
Not only that, but The Bestial Huntress also rocks another unique mechanic, the ability to shift between two forms, which in her case feature the human, spear throwing menace and the agile cougar. What this essentially translates to is that players should not limit themselves to relying solely on the human form’s one-shot potential, as her full power is only unlocked when Nidalee shifts into her cougar stance, getting the most out of her entire kit.
Nevertheless, those sometimes disgusting spears still remain the most iconic tool in Nidalee’s arsenal, but in order to get to that point at which Javelin Toss can 100-to-0 enemy carries, players need to grind quite heavily, both in terms of kill participation and the effective gold lead.
That being said, allow us to walk you through the most effective Jungle route and clearing tactics, after we first take a look at the best Summoner Spells, Runes and Items, allowing you to pounce to victory more easily!
Flash + Smite
As a side-note, some players do prefer substituting Flash with another more aggressive Summoner Spell, relying solely on Pounce (Cougar form’s W) in order to cross terrain and make plays. It is worth mentioning however that Pounce cannot get you over as many walls or other structures as Flash, and that in order to consistently cross these formations successfully, players need a considerable amount of practice.
Conclusively, we’d advise sticking with the classic Flash + Smite combo, regardless of your level of experience with Nidalee.
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The Best Nidalee Runes
The Bestial Huntress features a relatively wide range of play styles, from the classic high-range executions to some more skirmish-focused alternatives. For this reason, we’ll also cover the secondary approach, both in terms of Runes and Items, in slightly less detail.
For the standard Runes, players should stick with Dark Harvest as their Keystone, followed by Sudden Impact, Zombie Ward and Ravenous Hunter. The Keystone pick speaks for itself, as you’ll often find yourself activating Dark Harvest from seemingly random Javelin’s or Bushwhack’s, stacking up steadily over the course of the game. The same applies for Sudden Impact, given Nidalee’s W when playing the Cougar form.
As secondary options, players should focus more on gold effectiveness rather than sheer damage, which is why Magical Footwear and Future’s Market work so well with her kit. Players can make up for the delayed Boots by pouncing over terrain and using her Passive’s movement speed boost.
Off Meta Runes
The off-meta approach plays around the new Inspiration Keystone, known as First Strike, followed by the same picks as before, Future’s Market and Magical Footwear, with a flexible last choice.
The secondary Runes also allow players to choose between some added skirmishing power, namely Triumph and Coup de Grace, or the all-powerful Absolute Focus and Gathering Storm combination.
It is worth noting that this off-meta option is still experimental at its core, being highly unlikely that it could consistently outperform the previous set of Runes.
The Best Nidalee Items
Starting Items: Hailblade + Refillable Potion
Mythic Item: Luden’s Tempest
Core Items: Sorcerer’s Shoes, Rabadon’s Deathcap, Mejai’s Soulstealer
Finishing Options: Shadowflame, Zhonya’s Hourglass, Void Staff, Banshee’s Veil, Lich Bane
As with most champions, your items should be adapted to each individual game, facilitating your team’s existent win condition, but some of the items on this list remain imperative.
We’re obviously speaking about Mejai’s Soulstealer, which requires players to buy an early Dark Seal. The same principle could also apply to Lich Bane, as the initial Sheen provides great value for money, but some players, especially in the beginning, will play considerably less with their auto-attacks than they should, decreasing the overall value for money.
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The Best Skill Order for Nidalee
Q > E > W > R
However, the first spell point should be invested into W, which facilitates the initial Jungle clear, even more so when considering the fact that players are required to play with both of Nidalee’s forms. Bushwhack + Pounce are objectively the better early-game options when looking to clear the first Buff without losing much HP.
The Best Jungle Paths for Nidalee
Before we head into the main subject of this guide, we need to stop and talk about some essential Nidalee mechanics, necessary if looking to clear the Jungle effectively.
- As a first rule, players should always use the Passive’s movement speed boost in order to navigate the Jungle more rapidly, winning tempo over their opponent.
- Secondly, one of the biggest mistakes Nidalee players make is relying on solely one form when clearing the mobs, which often leads to significantly more Health and tempo loss.
- As a last preliminary tip, Nidalee’s Passive also offers the “Hunter” mechanic, giving her extra movement speed and enhanced Cougar form abilities against the marked target. This passive works on both enemy champions and Jungle monsters alike, being applied by the human form’s Q and W abilities.
We are going to cover the most advantageous starts from each side, but players should keep a few factors in mind when deciding upon where their Jungle pathing should start. These are:
- Which laners are going to provide more help in clearing the first camp?
- Counter-jungle opportunities, based on where the enemy Jungler is likely to start.
- Which lane would you like to gank first, depending on both the allied and enemy champions.
When it comes to ganking with Nidalee, the simplest strategy is to land a Javelin Toss in order to mark the enemy, and then using Cougar form’s enhanced Pounce to close in on the target. (Pounce’s range is extended to 750 against marked enemies).
Red Side, Red Clear
Nidalee’s first clears completely ignore the existence of the Krug camp, as it would be too costly in terms of Health and tempo to conduct a full clear featuring the rocky mobs.
This leads us to a rather standard route, starting with the Red Buff. This may feel like a slightly more difficult duel, but players should not worry too much about losing Health. Remember to save your Smite for the fourth camp, as a tactic which further accelerates the so-important tempo.
The second and third stops are going to be the multi-mob camps, starting with the Raptors and followed by the Wolves. These two may require Nidalee to use the Refillable Potion in order to save some Health, but given the fact that she essentially has 4 abilities already, considering both of her forms, there is no real threat of dying.
As your fourth camp, slay the Blue Buff without refraining from using Smite. This will speed up the otherwise slow process of killing the bulky mob. After killing the Blue Buff, allow your cooldowns to reset and land a long-range Javelin Toss on Gromp, granting you the “Hunter” Passive on it.
Now, finish taking down the Gromp in haste and step into the River as soon as possible. You’re going to be using the second charge of Smite to break the Scuttler’s shield, finishing it with your other abilities. The enemy Jungler is unlikely to be there in time to contest, given how quickly Nidalee can get around the map.
This leaves you in a perfect position to gank either Bot or Mid, depending on which lane allows you to find a long-range angle for your Q.
Red Side, Blue Clear
Starting with the Blue Buff is slightly more advantageous, as always, since you’ll now have assistance from two allies instead of one. The only considerable difference is that you can now use Smite on your second camp, instead of keeping it for the Top-side Scuttler.
Slay the Blue with the extra help we’ve talked about and shift your focus towards the Gromp, using Smite to accelerate the clear.
It is now time to Pounce your way to the multi-mob camps, starting with the Wolves and heading for the Raptors afterwards, ending up in the Top side of the Map.
For the fifth camp, throw a max-range Javelin onto the Red Buff and Pounce in its face, using the rest of your kit to rapidly burst it down, leaving Smite to finish the kill once the mob has gone under its threshold. This leads you into the River with a slight disadvantage, as you won’t have any means of breaking its shield, requiring more time to slay.
As a final stop before your first back, try finding an angle on Top or Mid, in an effort to build an early gold lead through kills or assists.
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Blue Side, Red Clear
Switching over to the Blue Side, the Red Buff start mirrors the opposing Side’s perfectly, as the only notable difference is the added help gained from having two allies assisting you with the first camp.
After killing the Red Buff, you are once again required to tackle the multi-mob camps without using the first Smite charge until you reach Blue. As always, do use the Refillable Potion to regenerate some Health whenever feeling vulnerable to enemy invades.
As your fourth camp, head for the Blue Buff and fight it using Smite once again, accelerating your pace a bit. Following that, your next target is going to be the Gromp, where players should again use the same long-range Q + Cougar W combo to fasten your clear.
For the final camp, step into the River and use the benefit of having Smite to break the Scuttler’s shell, bursting it down with a few abilities afterwards. This will leave you in a favorable position to gank Top or Mid, depending on where your best angle is for a max damage Javelin Toss.
Blue Side, Blue Clear
Now for the final starting position, Blue Side’s Blue Buff, you’re going to do a mirror of the Red Side’s route.
Clear the first Buff and then head for the Gromp, using Smite to accelerate your early tempo a little bit.
After clearing the Gromp, players should keep up the pace by slaying the multi-mob camps, with the exception of the Krugs. The Wolves will prove less challenging than the fourth, Raptor camp, but players will also have the Refillable Potion as a safety net if threatened by the enemy Jungler.
For the fifth and final camp from your Jungle, land a long-range Javelin Toss on the Red Buff and use Smite to slay it quickly. Speed is rather important as this time you won’t have Smite to break the Scuttler’s shield with, requiring you to slowly chip away at its Health bar.
When arriving to the Scuttler, maximize your damage by once again using the full combo through both forms, leaving you with a gank opening towards Bot or Mid.
The Best Tips and Tricks for Nidalee
- Nidalee is a rather thirsty champion, and her in-game dominance depends largely on the gold lead she can accumulate during the earlier stages. Focus on constantly pressuring lanes, piling gold from random takedowns, as Nidalee’s Jungle clear doesn’t really allow her to effectively build a gold advantage through farm alone.
- The Bestial Huntress has a damage-oriented kit, being a combination between an Assassin and a Skirmisher. Her Javelin Toss can deal devastating damage to the enemy carries in the later stages of the game, a feature which is best achieved with a fully stacked Mejai’s, Rabadon’s Deathcap and Shadowflame. Not only do part of these items cost a significant amount of gold, but the importance of having a fully stacked Mejai’s is not to be neglected.
- In the later stages of the game, Nidalee has to lurk in the shadows, throwing spears at unsuspecting enemies, with hopes of landing them on high-priority targets. This requires a little bit of practice, but is considerably more achievable if the enemy team has no clue where the Javelin’s may be launched from.
- Finally, do not underestimate the power of a full combo, consisting of a long-range Javelin Toss and the Cougar form’s Pounce, followed by a Swipe + Takedown (Cougar form’s E + Q). Although this requires players to get close to the enemy team, it also opens up the potential for an easy pick, followed by an escape facilitated by Zhonya’s and another Pounce.
The Bestial Huntress may not be the easiest Jungler to master, but is surely one of the most satisfying champions when executed properly. Contrary to popular belief, the biggest difficulty when playing Nidalee has nothing to do with landing those perfect spears, but is rather a matter of decision making.
Some players are driven by the Assassin mentality, with a tendency of going in for full combos despite the risk of losing the Mejai’s stacks. This is very costly, as it does take a while for Nida to reach her Rabadon’s Deathcap, and during that time, Mejai’s is going to be her primary source of damage.
Once her items have been completed, Nidalee’s role is to land those massive spears, and to follow up with a full combo to delete an enemy carry, even if it means being sent back to the fountain. Given the teamfighting mechanics some carries are built with, trading Nidalee’s life for a high-value target can often convert into winning the game, as counter-intuitive as that may sound.
Lastly, make sure to have the time of your life with those devastating Dragon or Baron steals made possible by Javelin Toss!
This concludes our guide on Nidalee, The Bestial Huntress, hoping you’ve found it useful! For more League of Legends content, make sure to keep an eye out on our website where we continuously upload new material, including guides such as this one!