After Season 12 went live, the Jungle meta was destined for considerable changes. With the introduction of the new Assassin item, the Axiom Arc, champions who rely heavily on their ultimate abilities have received an unmatched opportunity to prove their value.
Although many Junglers can terrorize enemy laners with a single ability, very few champions benefit from this item as much as Nocturne, whose ultimate ability can easily be converted into guaranteed kills.
Besides Axiom Arc, Nocturne players have also been given more runes to experiment with, as Lethal Tempo is now slowly gaining ground against the classic Hail of Blades.
The current meta gave The Eternal Nightmare the opportunity to abandon the bruiser playstyle, returning to his roots as probably the most frightening Assassin who roams the Jungle.
Without further to do, here is the best Nocturne Jungle path, complete with all the tips, tricks, and gameplay tactics required to terrorize the enemy carries!
While most Assassins have at least one consistent dash or blink, Nocturne’s kit provides that only through his ultimate ability. This essentially means that, unlike his fellow Assassin Junglers, Nocturne players are more or less required to run Flash + Smite, without much room for interpretation.
Best Runes for Nocturne
For a while now, Nocturne has consistently been played with Hail of Blades, Sudden Impact, Eyeball Collection, and Ultimate Hunter, with the secondary runes coming from the Precision tree.
However, with the recent changes to Lethal Tempo, players are abandoning the classic keystone, opting for the modern approach which enables them to keep up with the fast pace of the current meta.
We recommend running Lethal Tempo, Triumph, Legend: Alacrity, and Coup de Grace, with the secondary runes being Sudden Impact and Ultimate Hunter, for reason we are going to detail right now.
The primary runes provide Nocturne with plenty of damage and attack speed to rapidly assassinate targets with, while the secondary options complement his kit and item build seamlessly. The stacking attack speed helps Nocturne to proc his passive more frequently, with the offensive stats maxed out.
His ultimate ability, Paranoia, activates Sudden Impact with every use. That spell is Nocturne’s bread and butter, so it is only expectable to go for Ultimate Hunter to significantly reduce its cooldown, even more so when considering the introduction of Axiom Arc.
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Best Items for Nocturne
Start: Emberkinfe + Refillable Potion
Mythic: Duskblade of Draktharr
Other mythic options include either Prowler’s Claw or Eclipse, but given how in the later parts of the game, Nocturne players may find themselves dashing into the enemy backline, surrounded by enemies, Duskblade’s invisibility remains the most consistent escape mechanism at Nocturne’s disposal.
Core: Defensive Boots, Axiom Arc, Edge of Night, Serylda’s Grudge
Finishing options: Sterak’s Gage, Death’s Dance, Guardian Angel
(Why Axiom Arc)
Before we continue, it’s worth taking a minute to explain why Axiom Arc has turned Nocturne into such a menace.
Given how the item’s passive reduces the cooldown on your ultimate ability, further paired the Ultimate Hunter rune and Duskblade’s mythic passive, Nocturne players can now use Paranoia with unprecedented frequency.
This is not only useful when ganking, but also later into the game, when Nocturne can one-shot enemy carries in one combo, immediately as they try to leave the base after respawning.
Q > E > W > R
Nocturne’s Q may seem like an underwhelming ability, but when analyzed in a bit more detail, it becomes clear why landing it is so important. Besides the flat damage, the movement speed boost and additional damage stats oftentimes make the difference between a winning and losing trade.
Although it could be tempting to max W second, for the added attack speed and reduced cooldown, E’s sheer utility is what commonly buys sufficient time for Nocturne players to finish the takedown, to then escape during Duskblade’s invisibility window.
The Best Jungle Paths for Nocturne
Now for the essence of this guide, Jungle pathing with Nocturne. As always, the optimal way players should approach the Jungle depends heavily on a few external factors, which can facilitate the speed and effectiveness of your ganks and pathing.
Some notable examples 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 and how likely it is for you to have to fight them over control of the River.
- Which lanes are most gankable, depending on the CC and mobility options of both your allies and enemies.
Keep in mind that as with most Assassins, your primary objective is going to be securing takedowns. Thankfully, Nocturne also possesses plenty of clear potentials, making it easy to constantly pressure lanes, while also keeping up in farm.
Without further to do, let’s start breaking down the optimal Jungle paths.
Red Side, Red Clear
In the early game, Nocturne may feel a bit weak in terms of sustain, with his only considerable healing being on his passive. With some help from your Top Laner, you should be able to clear Red Buff without Smite quite accessibly.
From there, head to the Krugs and use Smite on the largest one, clearing the rest with your Q’s bonus damage and passive cleave. Make sure to also clear the Raptors and Wolves on your way to the Blue Buff, without using your second Smite charge.
Since Blue is going to be a bit more sturdy, cast Smite on it to heal up, and then transition to the Gromp.
Lastly, rush the Scuttler and break its shield with your fear, gaining vision and control of the River.
Now you are free to gank either Mid or Bot, depending on which lane is pushed into your favor the most, but do not force it if your Laners cannot respond in time. As Nocturne it is imperative to reach Level 6 as soon as possible, unlocking your signature ability.
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Red Side, Blue Clear
As with most AD Assassins starting at the Blue Buff, this route may lead you into the Top-side River a bit sooner. With help from your Bot Laners, Blue should not be difficult to clear, heading into the Gromp next.
Your first Smite charge should be used on the Gromp in order to gain some tempo and health, as the multi-mob camps such as the Wolves and Raports, who are next on the list, will be considerably easier to kill.
After the Raports, head to the Red Buff and use Smite to maintain your pace, after which you can start seeking some action.
If there is no sign of skirmish activity on the Top-side River, head to the Krugs to complete your clear, and try picking up the Scuttler for some extra gold and vision. However, if Top or Mid seem gankable, you can skip over the Krug camp entirely and only head back to it after attempting a gank.
Blue Side, Red Clear
This start will largely mimic the Red Side – Red Buff Clear, getting the buff first, then using Smite on the large Krug, and finishing the lower side of the Jungle with the Raptors.
On the Top-side, after clearing the Wolves and using Smite to kill the Blue Buff, check the Mid and Top to see if you have an opening for some action. If not, continue by clearing the Gromp and lastly the Scuttler, and check again.
If your allied Mid is pushing heavily into his lane enemy, you can also check if the enemy Raports are still up. With Nocturne’s Q and passive, stealing away such camps when your allies have lane priority is quite safe, since you can always use W to block the first CC ability, as well as using Q to gain movement speed back to safety.
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Blue Side, Blue Clear
Starting with the Blue Buff from the Blue Side is very relatively standard and won’t leave you taking too much damage, as using Smite on the Gromp as well as the amount it restores naturally will keep you more than healthy enough for the Wolves, one of the easiest camps to slay as Nocturne.
Transitioning towards Raptors and the Red Buff, where the second Smite should ideally be used, now players have to face the same options, going to the Krugs or Scuttler or rushing an early gank on one of the more vulnerable lanes.
When your team has plenty of CC in the Bottom lane, rushing a fast gank there could prove beneficial, but otherwise, we’d still advise you to keep leveling up until you unlock Paranoia at Level 6.
That being said, it is time for us to reveal some tips and tricks regarding Nocturne in the Jungle, especially in terms of ganking and keeping control over the game.
Tips and Tricks for Nocturne
- With Jungler Assassins, your main objective should be to put the enemy hyper-carries behind as much as possible, by constantly ganking and pressuring their lanes. Use R every time you have the opportunity to catch an unsuspecting enemy out.
- Practice timing your W properly, when the enemies are trying to lock you down with hard CC or essential abilities. Do not automatically press W while jumping onto someone with your Ultimate, as it may absorb a less harmful spell than the one you should be worried about.
- Occasionally drop wards in the enemy Jungle to gain slight pockets of vision. The enemy Mid laner might want to roam to either side, which is a perfect opportunity to all-in on them with Paranoia.
- Keep in mind that your ultimate does not only deal damage and hurl you over to the target, but it also cuts the vision for the entire enemy team. Use it solely for utility if needed, such as when taking Dragon or Baron, especially if you’ve already completed your Axiom Arc, similarly to how Twisted Fate players will use R for scouting.
- Later into the game, play your ultimate with patience when seeking assassinations. Keep warding the enemy Jungle and spot their carries leaving the base, making sure they are isolated.
- Try landing the E fear on your targets by casting Q in order to gain the movement speed bonus, or if the target is already distancing itself from you, do not hesitate to use your Flash to gain in on them. This may be more costly in during the early game, but in late, getting a takedown on a high-value target is exactly what Assassins were meant to do.
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With the current meta favoring Assassins, it is only right to start playing Nocturne the way he was intended to be played. Forget about the bruiser builds and terrorize your opponents with the sudden arrival of darkness, which you can now spam through the help of Axiom Arc.
Taking your enemies by surprise is not as difficult as it may sound, as the entire strategy revolves around them thinking that you do not have a vision on them. This is why we’ve put so much emphasis on keeping hidden pockets of vision in enemy territory, as it enables Nocturne players to go in, secure the takedown, and since the rest of the enemy team won’t initially know where you ulted, that gives you plenty of time to make your escape.
Some champions are meant to be played accordingly with their lore and design, Nocturne being no exception, so hop into a game of League and start inflicting terror into your unsuspecting enemies, with The Eternal Nightmare!
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