Karthus Build Guide

Zombie is back! Season 3 Karthus guide

Uploader Albee
Updated 4 years ago
  • 9
    Greater Mark of Magic Penetration (+0.87 magic penetration)
  • 9
    Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power (+0.1 ability power per level (+1.8 at champion level 18))
  • 9
    Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power (+0.17 ability power per level (+3.06 at champion level 18))
  • 3
    Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed (+1.5% movement speed)
Skill Order
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Hello, my name is Albericht, Alby to my friends (Alby was taken so I had to settle for Albee T_T), and this is my first guide. I main ap and while I'm pretty good with many ap champs, my favorite champion in the league by far is Karthus. Ever since I started playing the game back in the beta, I had my sights set on earning that ridiculous amount of IP for Karthus (he was 6300 in those days) because none of the other mages back then had that mage feel to them, and who doesn't love an undead lich for a mage? Karthus was my most played caster in seasons 1 and 2, and I've picked him up again now in season 3. I have a lot of experience with this caster and know how to deal with the most common lane matchups to the point that sometimes people question my pick against another mid who has the upperhand. Back in seasons 1 and 2, I would run the conventional flash/exhaust Karth, which guarantees a safer laning phase and enhanced team fight capabilities, however for season 3 I feel this is no longer the case. Karthus is a sustained damage mage meaning the longer he stays in a fight, the more damage he will put out. This is primarily the reason why in the competitive scene, the conventional flash/exhaust Karthus is favored over the risky revive/teleport version. With the new changes in preparation for season 3, I've come to realize that the new items (seraph's embrace, liandry's torment and homeguard boots) have made revive/teleport Karth less of a gamble by easing his difficult early game and boosting his already insane damage. It also makes the game essentially a 6v5 where the other team either focuses you and gets cleaned up by your team, or they focus anyone else and die to your ridiculous aoe.

For runes, you want to make sure you get damage since your early game items won't be providing immediate ability power. [.][highlight]MARKS: Magic penetration[/highlight]. No other runes boost your damage here more than magic pen. [.][highlight]SEALS: Scaling ability power[/highlight]. As I explained before, your early game items won't give you damage so you need to make sure you get it from your runes. [.][highlight]GLYPHS: Scaling ability power[/highlight]. Same as with seals, except these provide more ability power per rune. [.][highlight]QUINTESSENCES: Movement speed[/highlight]. Karth's early game is frustratingly susceptible to ganks and harass, even more so when you have LITERALLY no escapes, thus you need to always outrun your opponents. With the movement speed boost from masteries and runes, you start off with 394 MS (with janna passive on your team it becomes 405) and that will allow you to farm safely until mid game by avoiding ganks with a proper reaction time and keep your distance from enemies who try to come in to harass.

[title][img=skills/karthus/p.png] Passive: Death Defied[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] In my opinion, this is the best passive in the entire game. Sure, you could argue it does nothing for you while alive, but when you're playing zombie karth, who cares? The whole point is to deal as much damage as you can, and this passive ensures JUST THAT, even after they focus you down and kill you off. [title][img=skills/karthus/q.png] Q: Lay Waste[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is the first skill we max because it is our main damage source throughout early/midgame. The first 2 ranks are slightly weak, but all subsequent ranks start to hurt if they hit a single enemy. Also, we use this to last hit creeps since Karth's autoattack animation is ghastly (since the season 3 patch changes, it comes out faster now, but its range is still awful). Always make sure to position your laywaste in such a way that it hits only 1 creep or you will end up pushing your lane and that can be dangerous for a zombie karth. [title][img=skills/karthus/w.png] W: Wall of Pain[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] This ability is only a shadow of its former self, being able to reduce armor/magic resist by 35 at max rank and applying an 80% slow, now it only reduces magic resist by a laughable 15% at all ranks, the slow is the only thing that still makes this ability useful. [title][img=skills/karthus/e.png] E: Defile[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is the skill we max second and by the time you get your items upgraded and fully maxed, this will become your main damage ability. Always turn it on whenever you wall an enemy and begin to chase (assuming you're in range to actually do damage). Always turn it on before you get stunned, pulled, knocked up, slowed, etc. that way, your team could possibly exploit the enemy team focusing you and turn what could have been a free kill for the enemy team, into an ace for your team. Early game, try not to activate it since it consumes a lot of mana and hardly does any damage. It has the added bonus that this allows Karth to sustain his mana in lane. [title][img=skills/karthus/r.png] R: Requiem[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] The agonizing requiem of the dead... or those who are about to be! This ultimate is what allows zombie Karth to make sure his team cleans up. After you die, make sure to pop the ultimate in your first death (your goal isn't to get kills and take all the glory, your goal is to make things easier for your team to clean up and ace). After you pop this baby, revive and tp to the nearest spot and rejoin your team for the clean up if they haven't already. If they aced or if your team can kill off the remaining enemies without you, save your revive for when you actually need it.

[img=skills/karthus/r.png]>[img=skills/karthus/q.png]>[img=skills/karthus/e.png]>[img=skills/karthus/w.png] This is pretty straightforward and I've explained the reasoning in the skills section.

Since the latest changes in preparation for the new season, the main factor which has made zombie Karth a very destructive force while not being as squishy as before is the introduction of new items, mainly [imgsmall=items/seraphs-embrace.png],[imgsmall=items/liandrys-torment.png] and [imgsmall=items/enchantment-homeguard.png]. Not only that, but with the way magic penetration works now, it is no longer necessary to rush a deathcap, IN FACT, I only build deathcap as my final item if AT ALL. I will begin by explaining how these new items build up your unmatched power. [center][img=items/seraphs-embrace.png][/center] This item is the whole reason you can play zombie Karth and get away with it. Playing zombie Karth in seasons 1 and 2 was pretty risky and quite a gamble since you had to go full ap with only a [imgsmall=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png] and [imgsmall=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] for survivability. Fortunately, with the remake of [imgsmall=items/archangels-staff.png] you now get 2 things which help out A LOT: an ACTIVE ability to shield yourself for around 800 HP, and the fact that it upgrades itself when fully stacked which means you don't have to use up your gold. Not only that, but this item grants more AP than a [imgsmall=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] once you get your [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png] fully stacked. I end up with 3198 mana, 3% of which is converted to AP which makes it out to be 156 AP from this item alone. Deathcap is 150 AP just from itself, of course it counts your total AP when applying the bonus, but basically that's the reason why I feel you don't need to rush a deathcap anymore. [center][img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/enchantment-homeguard.png][/center] These boots provide magic penetration which allows you to hurt even more. The new addition of enchantments is what has also boosted zombie Karth's snowball potential. This enchantment gives you a HUGE movement speed boost when you are at your fountain and you haven't been in combat for 8 or more seconds. Basically, once you [imgsmall=summoners/revive.png] (assuming you didn't ult in the last few seconds of death) you get this bonus and you can easily [imgsmall=summoners/teleport.png] to the nearest spot to rejoin your team ASAP or catch up to virtually ANYONE who is trying to get away (except maybe [imgsmall=champ/rammus.png], that dude is fast). The bonus wears off once you get back into combat so make sure you don't activate your [imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png] until you [imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png] and you're right next to your victim, so his chances of getting away are non-existent. [highlight]PROTIP[/highlight]: Remember that [imgsmall=summoners/teleport.png] has slightly more than half the cooldown of [imgsmall=summoners/revive.png], so always use it during laning phase to gank from bush wards or as long as there is no forseeable team fight within the next minutes (dragon/baron are up, towers are getting pushed, etc) while it's on cooldown. [center][img=items/liandrys-torment.png][/center] This item is very interesting. It gives you some much needed health, a generous amount of AP, it has a very peculiar passive that does additional magic damage to your much dreaded AoE and it provides magic penetration. I haven't used it enough to determine just how useful or game changing it is, but the times I have, it seems it's a great substitute for either [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png] or [imgsmall=items/rabadons-deathcap.png]. I would think twice before using it to replace [imgsmall=items/void-staff.png] since % magic pen and flat magic pen are much stronger in combination. I should be trying it out a lot more in the next few days. [center][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][/center] This item is essential on zombie Karth for a number of reasons: 1) it builds out of [imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] which makes your weak laning phase so much smoother to just farm and become a monster late game. 2) It provides much needed health to survive initial focus in team fights. and 3) it boosts your mana making your [imgsmall=items/seraphs-embrace.png] much more powerful. I consider this a CORE item on zombie Karth now. [center][img=items/void-staff.png][/center] This item will boost your damage considerably, especially mid/late game when the enemy team starts building up their resistances. In conjunction with your flat magic pen items, it will allow you to melt the opposing team once you go all in. I usually grab this item after my [imgsmall=items/archangels-staff.png] and [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png]. [center][img=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png][/center] I usually get this as my 5th item, however if the opposing team's burst is overwhelming and the active from [imgsmall=items/seraphs-embrace.png] doesn't cut it, I will get this item before I get my [imgsmall=items/void-staff.png] [center][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][/center] Now don't get me wrong, this item is still the grand-daddy of all the ability power items but I feel getting it as your 2nd or 3rd item leaves you very vulnerable both during laning phase and in team fights. There's not much use to a zombie karth who gets stunned, focused and dies in 2 seconds even with your passive helping you out in that department. Therefore, nowadays I usually only build this as my final item or IF I have a very good lead and started snowballing from tp ganks and ult killsteals :P then I might consider getting it ONLY AFTER I get my [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png] and [imgsmall=items/archangels-staff.png] [center][img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png][/center] Honestly, I haven't bothered using this item. Back in the old zombie Karth days (before the nerf to the revive mastery), it was essential to pick this up in order to stay in lane and regain health after being harassed and also to stay longer in a team fight when you used [imgsmall=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png]. Now that [imgsmall=items/seraphs-embrace.png] and [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png] make up for those areas, I don't think its core on him now. Although it could potentially be used when the opposing team is made primarily of sustained damage instead of burst. MORE ITEMS TO BE ADDED...

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Karthus has always been feared by many for his insane late game damage. After quite a lot of nerfs during season 2, he still retains his power and is a sought out pick in competitive play. I feel the revive/teleport version is much scarier than the conventional flash/exhaust, and now, thanks to the new items, he isn't as vulnerable and burstable as before. Hopefully my guide has at the very least inspired you to try this build out and deviate a bit from convention. Good luck and have fun.

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