Theorycrafting Nocturne

I’ve been a bad blogger recently! For all my complaints about League of Legends (no new non-champion content, no leaver system, poor EU servers), Riot have made a ridiculously time consuming and addictive game. They also release champions way too fast, once every 2 weeks. This means that after I earned 6300 IP for Maokai, I now have to earn another 6300 IP for the new champion; Nocturne (I skipped Jarvan IV). It takes a long time to farm that much, around 30-40 hours of play time. It does feel like a job, and it’s a smart business move… I used real money to buy another 6300 champion because I couldn’t be bothered to play for 60-80 hours to get both. Thankfully, Cassiopeia was worth the money.

Anyways, what all this means is that I haven’t been mapping very much! I’ve added respawn rooms and a working control point, so koth_jailbird is almost ready for testing. It’s now at the technical stage, working out how to change my map from a collection of boxes into a non-buggy and fully functioning collection of boxes! So, League of Legends is the reason for my neglect… therefore I think I should do some work and make it into a blog post.


Nocturne, the eternal nightmare


Nocturne is being released tomorrow, and he looks pretty awesome. Firstly, he’s a typical Jungler. He has CC, a chase skill and a steroid skill to help him murder Jungle creeps and gank lanes. Since I got Trundle, I’ve loved the jungle… so Nocturne should be familiar. This, coupled with his unique ultimate, means I’m going to be getting Nocturne on day 1. The point of this post, is to start the foundations for a Nocturne build. Eventually, I’d like to master this guy and put up a guide on LeagueCraft or MobaFire. To do this, I’m going to look at his skills and work out viable items for this melee assassin.

So, what are Nocturne’s skills?


(Q) DuskbringerNocturne throws a shadow blade which deals damage, leaves a Dusk Trail, and causes champions to leave a Dusk Trail. While on the trail, Nocturne ignores unit collision and has increased Movement Speed and Attack Damage.

It’s Spectre’s Spectral Dagger from DotA! Apart from the shameless steal (his model and ultimate are also very similar…), this is a really cool skill which I’ve always loved. I just hope it can be used across terrain as well, which was a brilliant escape mechanism for Spectre. This is Nocturne’s chasing ability, similar to Trundle’s Contaminate or Nunu’s Blood Boil.


(W) Shroud of DarknessNocturne empowers his blades, passively gaining attack speed. Activating Shroud of Darkness allows Nocturne to fade into the shadows, creating a magical barrier which blocks a single enemy spell and doubles his passive attack speed if successful.

Got to applaud Riot for this, it’s a brilliant skill. As I said in my review of Shen, I love reactive tanking moves. The skill in predicting when someone will attack you, and being fairly rewarded, is a really challenging and fun mechanic. This is also his steroid skill, so it’s going to be maxed as soon as possible… all of Nocturne’s damage will come from this (unless Duskbringer has an insane AP/AD ratio). It synergizes with his passive and will help him cruise through jungle creeps.


(E) Unspeakable Horror –  Nocturne plants a nightmare into his target’s mind, dealing damage each second and fearing the target if they do not get out of range by the end of the duration.

Riot are a fan of the tether mechanic, as am I. This is essentially Fiddlesticks’ fear but you have to have a duration of tether before it works. I’m hoping the CC duration is increased to balance it. This will be the main ganking tool of Nocturne, holding enemies in place when you pop out of the bushes.


(R) ParanoiaNocturne reduces the sight radius of all enemy champions and removes their ally vision in the process. He can then launch himself at a nearby enemy champion.

This is why I want Nocturne. It’s an ultimate that has no quantifiable power. I’ve said on the LoL forums that this is extremely difficult to balance. Like Twisted Fate’s Destiny, it doesn’t deal damage (well it does but that’s not the main point) but completely screws enemy team members in various situations. If you see a straggler, cast this and no-one will be able to help him. If you’re trying to escape but being flanked from all sides… cast this and get the hell out. It’s a perfect ganking tool, the psychological horror of it adds to its effect. Riot have done very well in keeping the theme of the champion, and when you’re the one singled out by Nocturne it’s going to be pretty scary! Using this not to just gank loners will be a true measure of a pro Nocturne. It’s working out how the enemy team reacts to Paranoia, and then using that to win you team fights or push towers, that will be most effective.


Umbra Blades (Passive) Every 10 seconds, Nocturne’s next attack strikes surrounding enemies for physical damage and heals himself for each target hit. Nocturne’s physical attacks reduce this cooldown by 1 second.

An AoE lifesteal. I love it, and it is improved with attack speed (since the cooldown is reduced on each attack). This should give him survivability in late game team fights, when he can’t pick of loners anymore.



Skill Build

With the skill build, we need jungling ability as well as the capability to chase and gank by level 4. To start, this is the only build that makes sense.

W, Q, W, E

Until I actually get my hands on Nocturne, and see the damage/durations of skills, it’s difficult to predict what to pick next.

Duskbringer Focus

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

This build will increase the nuke damage, movespeed and AD buff of Duskbringer to help you kill enemies quicker

Unspeakable Horror Focus

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

This build has much less chasing ability but will keep enemies CC’d for longer which helps your allies get the kill.


I think that Duskbringer is the obvious choice. If you’ve got the Red Buff, you won’t really need to fear an enemy. Duskbringer gives nuke damage, movement speed and attack damage… it’s like a second steroid skill. Of course, mana costs and cooldowns could effect how I feel about this build so I’ll have to update it when I know the facts!


Item Build

I love attack speed champions. Why? Because LoL has a nice range of stackable attack items and I never find a use for them on my typical champion selection. I think Jax is the only champion who finds a use for every type of stackable attack item. I was actually going to get Jax before Nocturne was announced. Stackable items are really fun and, coupled with 2 steroid skills, you’ll be stacking them like crazy. I’m going to come up with a boring general build, which is likely to be the most effective. Before that, I want to do a fun stackable item build which helps you cripple single targets (which is the point of Nocturne).


Stackable and generally cool attack items

Guinsoo’s Rageblade

+35 Attack Damage +45 Ability Power – UNIQUE Passive: Attacks and spell casts increase your Attack Speed by 4% and Ability Power by 6 for 5 seconds (up to 8 times).

The ultimate stackable item. Rageblade is great fun to use but only really applicable on 1 champion; Jax. Akali can use it, but she hits and runs… only using enough abilities and attacks to get to 8 stacks as she’s running away. With Nocturne’s uber attack speed (especially after spell blocking), this should get to 8 stacks in no time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem like he’ll have much of a use for Ability Power. Duskbringer is likely to scale with it, so if the ratio is good then this might be worth picking up. It would also be a nice finishing move with Paranoia’s damage component (you’ll be at 8 stacks for the finish, then you can get away while enemies are blinded). The attack speed is perfect (procing his passive and synergizing with all the other items in this list), so lets hope!


Youmuu’s Ghostblade

+30 Attack Damage +15% Critical Chance – UNIQUE Passive: +20 Armor Penetration 15% Cooldown Reduction – UNIQUE Active: You gain +20% movespeed and +50% attack speed for 4  seconds. Attacking enemy units with melee attacks increases the duration by 2 to a maximum of 8 seconds. 60 second cooldown.

This item has a lot of effects, and I love it. It has everything Nocturne needs.. movement speed attack speed, critical chance, armor penetration and attack damage. All this with a stackable duration. It can also be used to escape (with the movement speed). Like Rageblade, it will speed up the amount of stacks on your other items. Great stuff!


Wit’s End

+40% Attack Speed +30 Magic Resistance – UNIQUE Passive: Your attacks deal 42 bonus magic damage and remove up to 42 mana from the target.

Wit’s End is one of the most interesting and under-rated items in the game. Recently, Riot changed it so that it deals 42 bonus magic damage regardless of whether they have mana or not. This makes this a +42 damage item, in addition to the +40% attack speed and magic resistance. That’s amazing. Interestingly, it’s magic damage… so it will be more effective than general attack damage on armoured foes. This does work in vice versa though, making it less effective against enemies with magic resistance. A reason people don’t like Wit’s End is because mana pools are often so high that mana drain doesn’t really do anything. No-one really attacks fast enough while mana is low (early game), so the effect is wasted. Nocturne will have super attack speed from level 1, especially if he hits his spell block.



+25 Ability Power +50% Attack Speed -UNIQUE Passive: Your physical attacks shred your target dealing 20 magic damage and lowering their magic resistance by 6. Magic resistance reduction stacks up to 4 times.

Another item I rarely see, since not many champions use physical attacks in combination with magic damage. If combined with Wit’s End, the magic damage total is 62; which will be reduced even less because of the stackable magic resistance reduction. The ability power might end up being wasted, but perhaps not depending on numbers.


Sword of the Divine

+60% Attack Speed – UNIQUE Passive: Every fourth attack deals 100 extra Magic Damage. – UNIQUE Active: Your attacks cannot be dodged and you gain 30 Armor Penetration for 8 seconds.  40 sec cooldown.

I love Sword of the Divine, but rarely use it. Like Wit’s End, it deals bonus magic damage (works out as 25 per hit). The attack speed increase is pure baller and the active absolutely rules, especially with its tiny cooldown. While it takes up a lot of slots, combining Wit’s End, Malady and Sword of the Divine looks like a super fun build! 87 magic damage per hit, with +110% attack speed (just from items), 24 magic resistance reduction and 30 armor penetration…. oh my. It could result in something insane, and no-one has ever had a build like this! I’m gonna have to try that with bots.


The Black Cleaver

+55 Attack Damage +30% Attack Speed – UNIQUE Passive: Physical attacks reduce your target’s Armor by 15 for 5 seconds (maximum 3 stacks).

Probably the best stackable item in the game. 45 armor penetration, massive attack damage and an attack speed increase. This works on every physical damage champion and for good reason. If I try the crazy magic damage build, perhaps I can switch out the Wit’s End for this late game (combining with Sword of the Divine for a massive 75 Armor Penetration). In combination with Youmoo’s Ghostblade it’s 65 armor penetration (+30 with Sword of the Divine). You’ll be tearing through tanks.


Madred’s Bloodrazor

+30 Attack Damage +40% Attack Speed +25 Armor – UNIQUE Passive: On hit, you deal Magic Damage equal to 4% of the target’s maximum health.

Well you’re going to be getting Madred’s Razors anyway, since you’re a jungler. This is an infamous item, which is a bit misunderstood. It’s not the greatest against tanks, because it deals magic damage. It’s great against champions like Dr. Mundo and Swain (who have high health but don’t particularly build for defense). Combined with my mega bonus magic damage build above, it could be hilarious fun. Then again, that’s 4 items taken (without including boots), so I’ll be very squishy!


The Fun Build

As you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about attack speed items! Here is the first build I’d like to try (against bots of course!)…


The Fun Build


As you can probably tell, this build has very very low survivability. Wit’s End grants some magic resist, Madred’s Bloodrazor grants a little armor. This build is definitely not for late game, and it’s likely you’ll never even complete your Black Cleaver if you’ve been ganking like mad. If it does get to late game, it could be worth replacing Malady with Youmoo’s Ghostblade, Wit’s End with a defensive item and Boots of Mobility with Mercury Treads (Magic Resist and CC reduction boots). This would flip the build from Bonus Magic Damage to Super Armor Penetration and a bit of survivability.

Why Boots of Mobility? Nocturne is always going to be behind enemy lines. With his ultimate available, he is an amazing counter jungler and assassin. With Mobility he can get across the map in rapid time (even faster with Duskbringer). With his ultimate, he could kill an enemy and then avoid their allies for long enough to get the speed boost. It’s not like anyone will be able to find him to put him back into combat! Mobility boots are also great for fountain trips. This build has lots of small items (easy to farm) and Nocturne will rely on wards more than any other champion if he’s going to fulfil his role as an assassin. After kills he can escape, go back to the fountain, get the next part of his build, stock up on wards and then quickly get back out there.

As said before, this is a fun build that takes advantage of Nocturne’s super quick attack speed to quickly destroy enemies. With speed this fast, his passive will be activating almost non-stop, which provides any defence he needs. His spell block will protect him against nasty nukes or CC, so that he should be capable of killing an enemy before they can do anything back (especially with his fear). Whether it’s viable in a real game… I don’t know! Having absolutely no health items and barely any resistances is going to make it very tough to stay alive when focussed. If using this build, Nocturne has to play very very smart… perhaps too smart for a human. Everyone makes mistakes and one mistake with this build will result in DEATH! Furthermore, there might be too much attack speed! This build relies on the bonus magic damage to replace any attack damage items that some would purchase for a champion like Nocturne. There may be a stage between your Sword of the Divine and your Wit’s End where you’re attacking very fast and could have done with an earlier BF Sword (+50 damage).

The Serious Build

Shit just got real guys. It’s serious time.

The major gripes with the Fun Build are that there’s next to no HP, Mana or Resistances. What’s interesting about Nocturne is that he doesn’t really look like tanky DPS. Most junglers are tanky and do damage, they’re known as tanky DPS and are currently under the nerf hammer. They have the best of both worlds; strong survivability and high damage. Quite frankly, they’re overpowered! However, while Nocturne is obviously a jungler, he doesn’t really have the tankiness built into his standard abilities. He has lifesteal, but the amount that it steals isn’t obvious yet. His shield is a temporary spell shield, so will not protect him from 99% of the damage he’ll be taking. He’s pure offensiveness, with abilities to help him drop a ton of damage and then let him escape. Out of all the tanky DPS junglers, he seems most similar to Trundle. He is based on attack speed, he has a lifesteal that only works well with lots of people around (Trundle requires them to die), he is meant to hit and run until numbers are low… then he can commit and destroy. Still, I do feel that he’s going to be very unique, just because his ultimate gives him crazy hunting and risky gank potential. Trundle escapes with speed and his CC reduction, Nocturne will escape with deception and map awareness.

I hope he isn’t tanky DPS, but if he is (and lets face it, 90% of the new champions are!) then I can use a similar build to Trundle.


The Serious Build


This is my usual build for Trundle. Depending on my ganking early game, I’ll go for a Frozen Mallet first or Youmuu’s Ghostblade. When I’m stomping, I usually find that sheer DPS is much more effective while HP and resistances are lower. Finally, depending on how the game is going, I’ll get a Bloodthirster before a Guardian Angel. Usually the game doesn’t reach Guardian Angel stage, it doesn’t need to most of the time. Trundle can steal resistances, so he doesn’t really need to build them into his game. Nocturne cannot steal resistances, he must build all his armor and magic resist. Therefore, Guardian Angel might be a bit more useful on him.

Frozen Mallet is always useful, it grants a ton of HP and gives him a permanent slow on his attacks. It’s a good choice for any tanky DPS champion. Youmuu’s isn’t core on many Trundle builds, but I enjoy it thoroughly when I’m doing well. I’ll usually skip it if I’m playing badly. The movement speed increase is really helpful, as is the armor penetration and critical chance. For Nocturne, it could be core; since his attack speed increases his tankiness (with Umbral Blades).

Other options include Spirit Visage (increases healing on self, and grants magic resistance), but I cannot really decide on that until I see the significance of Nocturne’s healing.

I think that’s enough theories for now! When Nocturne is released tomorrow, I’ll do some playing around with him and let you know if I’ve come to any conclusions. I want to get a few games with the Fun Build so I can evaluate whether Riot has made my dreams come true of if they’ve just cloned Trundle and made him sexy and shadow-like.




PS: I’ve been working on a female tank suggestion for League of Legends. Just click the League of Legends category on the side to find it all if you’re interested!


3 Responses to “Theorycrafting Nocturne”

  1. Hi,
    Wanted to ask, how it was with your funn build with Nocturne? Is it worth it and did it work for you. Also maby you made any changes, so would be nice to hear them.

  2. Hi Haadas,

    Thanks for reading. I did a little diary of my playtests on day 1 and 2 of Nocturne here:

    In the few games I played, I definitely did pretty well with the fun build… better than with a more defensive one. Of course, that relies on you being very smart (knowing when to engage) and your team mates being good tanks.

    I actually haven’t played Nocturne since this post! I guess he wasn’t as fun as I thought he would be, he was definitely quite easy and I was hoping for a more challenging champion.


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