Karthus Build Guide

*Do you... feel a chill? Karthus guide, Updated Frequently*

Uploader DubZizzle
Updated 4 years ago
254,933
70%
Runes
  • 9
    Greater Mark of Magic Penetration (+0.87 magic penetration)
  • 9
    Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration (+0.065 mana regen / 5 sec. per level (+1.17 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 Ability Power (+4.95 ability power)
Skill Order
Q W E R
1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4
5 5 5 5
6 6 6 6
7 7 7 7
8 8 8 8
9 9 9 9
10 10 10 10
11 11 11 11
12 12 12 12
13 13 13 13
14 14 14 14
15 15 15 15
16 16 16 16
17 17 17 17
18 18 18 18

Welcome to my Karthus guide! First let me tell you, Karthus is a champion that takes time to master. Second thing I must tell you is that you should expect [highlight]LOTS[/highlight] of rage from your enemies after killing them with your Ultimate. Now that those two statements are out of the way, I would like to thank you for coming to this guide and hope it helps you out a lot! This is also a guide to make Free Karthus Week players acquainted with him and his abilities because a lot of times, people always complain about the "Free Week Karthus players" being so bad because they don't know how to play him. Even though he is not free a lot of times. *Go down to Masteries section to see the other variations of mastery set ups!*

Generic caster runes, not much explanation needed for this section. [title]MARKS[/title] MPen Reds makes every ability hit harder, nothing else even comes close to these. [title]SEALS[/title] Mana regen per level yellows are also a great choice because the synergy with his Defile mana return means running out of mana is very rare. [title]GLYPHS[/title] This is where the choice comes in. You can choose to go with the flat AP for more early game damage with your lay waste, or you can go with AP/Lvl to help scale a little better into mid game. Magic Resist is also a good choice because in the current meta the AP carry is usually going mid and the AD carries go bot with support. [title]QUINTS[/title] The quints can also be changed. You can go with Ap/lvl or Flat AP which also work quite well. If you don't feel secure about starting the game with 4 health bars, you can go with HP Quints.

**UPDATE BECAUSE OF THE NEW MASTERY SYSTEM!!** The new mastery update brought a lot to the table in terms of diversity and options for mastery pages. Before, it used to be 9/0/21 as the standard mastery pages but after the patch and changes, there are many new ways you can go with masteries. Above, I have put 21/0/9 as the build but there are other combinations that I will go over. You will definitely want to get the "Summoners Wrath" and "Summoners Insight" if you are running either flash, ghost, or ignite. Getting Mental Force, Sorcery and Arcane Knowledge is a must for all AP Casters because the increased Magic Pen, Cooldown and AP is crucial in obtaining the best mastery page for Karthus. This is where the option is: You can continue down the offense tree with Havoc, Blast, Archmage and Exicutioner. OR You can stop at 9 in the offense tree and go for 21 in the Utility tree getting "Summoners Insight". Good hands is a good choice for Karthus as it goes with his Passive ghost and reduces his death timer even more. You can go with Expanded Mind and Meditation if you like, it is really your choice. For the 3rd row it is really up to you again with the Greed/Transmutation/Runic Affinity choice. I recommend getting Runic Affinity because as an AP Caster, you would usually get blue buff early and having that for a longer time is very effective. Getting greed+weath is amazing if you start off with items that leave you with left over money which could let you get an extra health potion at the start of the game. Sage, Intelligence and Mastermind are what you would generally go into which would end up leaving you with some good utility as the AP Carry. In the end, if you feel like you want to be doing as much damage as possible, go for the 21/0/9 combination, but if you want to have a different edge over the opponent with the 9/0/21 mastery, it would be great too.

[title][img=skills/karthus/p.png] Passive: Death Defied[/title] [number]Upon dying, Karthus enters a spirit form allowing him to continue casting spells while dead for 7 seconds. [/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] AMAZING passive for team fights. You can go in with your [img=skills/karthus/e.png] active and just spam [img=skills/karthus/q.png] on the enemy carries and then if you get killed, you can STILL put out the massive damage from your abilities and have an un-interrupted channel of your ultimate. [title][img=skills/karthus/q.png] Q: Lay Waste[/title] [number]Creates a delayed blast at Karthus' cursor position. After 0.5 seconds, deals 40 / 60 / 80 / 100 / 120 (+30% of ability power) magic damage to each nearby enemy, this deals double damage if it hits only a single unit. Cooldown 1seconds Cost 20 / 28 / 36 / 44 / 52mana Range 875[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is obviously Karthus' bread and butter skill as everyone says. Learning how to use this skill can differentiate between a good Karthus and a great Karthus. This skill also reveals area hidden by the Fog of War. Anytime you are going to go into a bush, make sure that you have used your Lay Waste skill to see if the enemy is in the bush. More explanation on how to use Lay Waste will be shown in the upcoming chapters. [title][img=skills/karthus/w.png] W: Wall of Pain[/title] [number]Creates a 800 / 900 / 1000 / 1100 / 1200 distance wide wall through target point. Reduces enemy armor and magic resistance by 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 and reduces movement speed by up to 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80%; debuff lasts 5 seconds. The wall lasts 7 seconds. Cooldown 22seconds Cost 100mana Range 1000[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Great skill for all game. The wall can be placed in the fog of war or bushes and will reveal all terrain it is put on. Great for chasing and escaping as well. Can be used to reveal parts of the map that can't be seen like Dragon in the picture below. [imgext=http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg600/scaled.php?server=600&filename=leagueoflegends20110812.png&res=medium] That is useful for if you think the enemy is doing dragon or baron and you can't risk going all the way around to check. Pictures of great wall usage will be in upcoming chapters as well. [title][img=skills/karthus/e.png] E: Defile[/title] [number]Toggle Off: When Karthus kills a unit, he restores 20 / 27 / 34 / 41 / 48 mana. Toggle On: Drains 30 / 42 / 54 / 66 / 78 Mana to deal 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+25% of ability power) damage to nearby enemies each second. Cooldown 0.5seconds Range 550[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Great skill for teamfights as well as farming minions after a substantial mana pool has been created. Basically use this ability in teamfights and make sure it is always toggled on when you are in your passive ghost state. Great for restoring mana in the laning phase as well. [title][img=skills/karthus/r.png] R: Requiem[/title] [number]After channeling for 3 seconds, Karthus deals 250 / 400 / 550 (+60% of ability power) magic damage to all enemy champions (regardless of distance). Cooldown 180 / 150 / 120 seconds Cost 200 / 300 / 400 mana Range 10000 [/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] "OMG NOOB!!!!!!!! PRESS R GET KILL 2 EZ WTF OP OP OP" -People who get killed by Requiem. IMO: This skill is what makes Karthus so fun to play and amazing. This rage inducing skill is a great way to kill those not-so-lucky enemies that get away at low health early game, and ends up being a great teamfight ability to use after a teamfight or once you die and are in your passive ghost. Late game this ability can be doing half of squishy champions health...WOO!

[imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/r.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/r.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/r.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png]-[imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png] Make sure to get W at level 4 and then max Q at level 9. Max Q for better harass and farming Max E second for better farming and mana return for more Q spam so you can farm more If you feel you are getting ganked quite a bit or your team is lacking slows or a bit of CC, consider maxing Wall of Pain after getting rank 3 defile. You can also get Wall of Pain at level 2 just to be more secure from early incoming ganks or even for the extra defensive/offensive utility that you can get. Obviously upgrade R whenever possible.

[title]Starting out games, there should be some thoughts running through your mind:[/title] - Who will I be facing? - Who will win the lane? (more cs, jungler vs no jungler, does the opponent have lots of sustain, etc.) - Should you be expecting lots of harass? If expecting lots of harass I suggest starting out with [img=items/boots-of-speed.png]+[img=items/health-potion3.png] or [img=items/sapphire-crystal.png]+[img=items/health-potion2.png] If you expect to dominate the lane and don't need to get the health pots, although I do recommend either of those two choices, get [img=items/dorans-ring.png] for the extra health, AP, and mana regen. [title]After going back to your fountain to shop you should try to get these items:[/title] [img=items/boots-of-speed.png] (If you didn't start out with it) [img=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] <-- Great laning phase item because of the passive. (Can be upgraded to Banshees Veil or Rod of Ages later on.) [img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png] <-- Usually you will not be able to buy these items because in total it is pretty expensive but if you can, this is a great item that makes harassing, farming, and makes your ultimate hit much harder early game. [img=items/health-potion.png] and [img=items/sight-ward.png] are items you should be getting early on to help with the laning phase. After obtaining your[imgsmall=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] you should start building the [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png]and[imgsmall=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] Rabadon's Deathcap is a must buy item as it scales with all your damaging abilities and boots your AP that you will get later on in the game. Prioritize [imgsmall=items/void-staff.png] after getting Rabadon's Deathcap as it gives you the much needed 40% magic penetration that scales very well into late game. [highlight]Now you should have:[/highlight] [img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/void-staff.png] [title]Yay! You finished your core build! Now what should I get??[/title] Now, you have some choices: [highlight]For health: [/highlight][img=items/rod-of-ages.png][img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png] [highlight]For Magic Resistance:[/highlight][img=items/abyssal-scepter.png][img=items/banshees-veil.png] [highlight]For Armor:[/highlight][img=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png] [highlight]For more AP and Damage:[/highlight][img=items/archangels-staff.png][img=items/mejais-soulstealer.png][img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] [title]Extra item explanations:[/title] [imgsmall=items/abyssal-scepter.png]: The passive on Abyssal Scepter goes great with Defile as you get right in the action. Also the added MR and AP is always great. [imgsmall=items/banshees-veil.png]: Easily one of the best items in the game. Gives Health, Mana and Magic Resist as well as the amazing spell shield that can potentially block that CC which comes your way. [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png]: This is another choice to build your Catalyst into. If you feel like the enemy is not focusing you and you can just get away with more AP this is your best option for the Catalyst. [imgsmall=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png]: Slows on all your spells? YES PLEASE. Health and AP to go with the awesome passive makes this item a great choice for any Karthus. [imgsmall=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png]: Use the active from Zhonyas Hourglass and the active from Defile and this basically destroys the enemy team. You can also use this when the whole enemy team focuses you to save your life. [imgsmall=items/archangels-staff.png]: This is a great item that boosts your AP once it is fully stacked. Lucky for you, Karthus is great at maxing this item out because of the ease of spamming your Lay Waste to gain more mana. [imgsmall=items/lich-bane.png]: I do not normally go for this item but after obtaining a ton of AP, the Lich Bane proc can be achieved every time it is available and you can destroy towers in 3 hits. [imgsmall=items/mejais-soulstealer.png]: Another item I do not normally go for. Mejais is a good item only after you get the max stacks. Although this is easy for Karthus because of your ultimate, you probably will be dieing in teamfights and then spamming abilities in your clone to get kills and this is a hard way to be getting stacks. [imgsmall=items/will-of-the-ancients.png]: This item is good if you feel that you would like some Spell Vamp for some sustain.

With Karthus you should be taking the Middle lane. Pre level 6 you should be focusing on farming minions with your Lay Waste and Auto Attacks. If you ever feel low on mana get last hits to return mana because of the passive on defile. [highlight]The first thing a Karthus player must learn is how to last hit with Lay Waste.[/highlight] [imgext=http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg851/scaled.php?server=851&filename=leagueoflegends20110812.png&res=medium] The above picture shows the radius of the Lay Waste spell. Since it is an Area of Effect spell (AoE) it will damage multiple units. If it hits one unit it does double damage. Basically to last hit with Lay Waste you should position the spell so that it only hits one minion like the next picture: [imgext=http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg829/scaled.php?server=829&filename=leagueoflegends20110812.png&res=medium] See how the AoE of Lay Waste will only hit one minion. Although this is a good strategy for last hitting, it may also be a good idea to make the AoE of Lay Waste to hit more than one minion. In the picture above, it would have been better to hit both minions because the damage from Lay Waste would have killed both minions. Knowing the different times and places to use Lay Waste will help the Early Game laning phase as well as letting you farm a lot better. Farming over 100 minions by the 13 minute mark should be your goal with Karthus. After you consistently get there you should be doing quite well and still be far ahead of the other champions. I would suggest getting the wraith camp every time it spawns to add to your CS and making you that much stronger than your opponent. That is how you see many professional players getting such high creep scores. After hitting level 6 you should always be looking at the mini map and the other lanes to see if your teammates are engaging in a fight at either top or bot lane. If you see a fight going on, or if there is a low health enemy, don't hesitate to hit R and get the kill. Tell your teammates to tell you if there is a low health enemy and so you can secure the kill. This will usually happen: [imgext=http://troll.me/images/xzibit-happy-and-sad/i-survied-the-gank-then-karthus-ulted-thumb.jpg]

When mid game comes around you should have your [img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rod-of-ages.png] and working towards [img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] If you have anything else, this means you are doing great, if not, focus on farming a bit to get the extra gold to get to this point. At this time, your jungler should be giving up blue buff to you so you can spam Lay Waste without having to worry about mana issues. Mid Game means that dragon and a dragon fight will be soon to come. Make sure you are ready to go for dragon because it is very beneficial to the whole team if you can have dragon control. Karthus is AMAZING at killing Dragon and Baron because of Lay Waste doing double damage to single targets. I will now show you guys a good place to put Wall of Pain [imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png] to help your team with dragon. [imgext=http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg835/scaled.php?server=835&filename=leagueoflegends20110812.png&res=medium] When the enemy finds out that your team is doing dragon, they will rush from mid to dragon. This placement of Wall of Pain slows the entire choke point and secures your team the kill on Dragon.

By late game you should have your [img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png][img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png][img=items/void-staff.png] and then a couple of the situational items depending on what you built [img=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] into, and what the enemy team is up to. Mid game was all about Dragon control, and Late Game is all about Baron control. If you can get Baron Buff late game it could mean the difference between a win and a loss. As stated in the Mid Game chapter, Karthus is probably the best mage for killing Baron apart from Fiddlesticks using drain. His Lay Waste skill will start to be doing MASSIVE damage to single targets. I will now show some of the good Wall of Pain [imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png] spots to slow the enemy team from taking your Baron kill. [imgext=http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg202/scaled.php?server=202&filename=leagueoflegends20110812.png&res=medium] Use the above spot if you are on team Blue and the enemy will be coming from their base to Baron's cave. [imgext=http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg59/scaled.php?server=59&filename=leagueoflegends20110812.png&res=medium] Use the above spot if you are on team Purple and the enemy will be coming from their base to Baron's cave. Make sure to stay with your team during the Late Game phase because if you are caught alone, you will probably die to the enemy team as a group which could result in your team losing a teamfight while you are not alive because Late Game death timers are quite long.

Team fights are amazing for Karthus. Make sure you do not initiate the fight, and make sure your tank or tanky dps initiates. After the fight has started you can go in and start wreaking havoc! Toggle [imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png] on and start spamming [imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png] all over the enemy carries and squishies. Use [imgsmall=skills/karthus/w.png] to make sure the enemy can not get away from your CRAZY damage and so your team can help kill the enemies. When you die, the great thing is that you can still put out the damage without the fear of CC! Keep [imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png] toggled on and just keep spamming the [imgsmall=skills/karthus/q.png] Save [imgsmall=summoners/flash.png] to either: [number]1. [/number]Get away from the fight if you are sure it is a lost fight [number]2. [/number]Jump into the fight with [imgsmall=skills/karthus/e.png]active and to get to the carries and squishies in the back. [highlight]PLEASE NOTE:[/highlight] Do NOT start channeling your ultimate midway through the teamfight because a single silence, suppression, stun or even death will cancel your channel and stop your ultimate. When using your ultimate, wait until either: [number]1. [/number]You have died and are in your passive ghost [number]2. [/number]You have safely escaped from the team fight and have enough time to channel a full ultimate.

There are some good team mates that work well with Karthus. [img=champ/kassadin.png] Kassadin uses spell charges to charge up his force pulse ability. Since Karthus uses his Q a lot, Kassadin's Force Pulse ability will always be up which is good for him. [img=champ/soraka.png] : A Global Nuke+Global team heal? Yes please!! This combo is great, because it can turn a team fight around drastically. Karthus takes out life from the whole enemy team while Soraka heals your whole team. Sounds like a great plan. Champions that have AoE abilities also work well with Karthus because you can use Defile while the other champions use their AoE abilities. Some of these champions inclue: [imgsmall=champ/amumu.png][imgsmall=champ/anivia.png][imgsmall=champ/annie.png][imgsmall=champ/brand.png][imgsmall=champ/fiddlesticks.png][imgsmall=champ/galio.png][imgsmall=champ/kennen.png][imgsmall=champ/missfortune.png][imgsmall=champ/nunu.png]

As Karthus, you have high range using your Q to either farm or harass. In the current meta game, AP Champions (Karthus), go to the middle lane, with the AD Carries going bottom lane. I will go over the main threats and opponents you will face when playing Karthus and going mid. [img=champ/ahri.png] : Ahri is a really tough opponent due to her high mobility. She can easily push against you and then just roam. If you engage on her, she will dodge your lay wastes with her dashes and kill you so I recommend exhausting her if she does that and trying to keep up in CS, taking wraiths when they spawn. If you manage to stay even with her, you will end up on top due to your global presence with your ultimate. [img=champ/anivia.png] : Anivia is a tricky lane opponent because she has her passive which lets her basically have a free guardian angel. Make sure to stay away from her Ice Ball because if you get hit and stunned, she does a lot of damage. I would suggest asking for a gank to get her passive off and to make her feel less secure in lane. [img=champ/annie.png] : Annie. Annie is a champion when at level 6, can burst you down quite easily. Make sure to be wary of her spell charges and to check to see if she has her stun ready. Try harassing her with your longer range using Q. If you can get her low enough to kill with your ultimate, you can stop Annie from being a big threat. [img=champ/brand.png] : Brand is another tough lane opponent because he has very long range spells. Similar to Lux, Cassiopeia and Orianna, Brand's spells can hit you even when you stand behind your minions. I would suggest starting [imgsmall=items/boots-of-speed.png][imgsmall=items/health-potion3.png] to help dodge the skill shots and if you do get hit, you have health pots to get back your health. [img=champ/cassiopeia.png]: See Brand [img=champ/heimerdinger.png]: Although it is rare, Heimerdinger does get picked sometimes, and basically it will be a farm fest. He will set his turrets down and try to just farm minions. I would suggest following suit and farming by using your Q. If you can get your wall onto Heimer, Wall him and spam lay waste just behind him as he is running away to maximize the damage output. [img=champ/karthus.png]: Karthus v Karthus is fun. Basically ask for a gank from your jungler to put the lane in your favor. [img=champ/kassadin.png] : Kassadin does counter karthus due to his E ability getting charges from Karthus's Q. Pre-Level6, he wont have the ability to CS as well as you so just get an advantage through farming Wraiths and all the creeps, then have exhaust ready in case he tries to dive you. [img=champ/kennen.png] : Kennen can be a pain if he is very good with his skill shots. Just keep farming and stay on your feet. I suggest doing the same thing as you would do with Brand. [img=champ/leblanc.png] : Leblanc is one of the hardest AP Carries to lane against because her burst is just so crazy. Tell your jungler that you need a gank and just stay out of the range of her Blink combo. Basically here, if you know you are going to be going against Leblanc, I would suggest taking Teleport so you can go back to base and get back to lane quick all healed up. [img=champ/lux.png] : See Brand. [img=champ/malzahar.png] : Malzahar is a great farmer. Stay away from your minions when he puts Malefic Visions on them to chain farm. His full combo is quite scary so be careful when he puts his pool down. This is another case where I would take teleport if I knew I was facing a Malz mid. [img=champ/mordekaiser.png] : Keep Mord's shield low by using Defile or Lay Waste. He is a melee character so any time he goes to auto attack a minion, attack him to get him low. Once he gets revolver, ask for a gank to slow his farming down. [img=champ/morgana.png] : Morgana has a good farming ability with her Tormented Soil. Be careful and try to not be snared because a snare+pool combo can get you low enough for her to kill you with ignite. Get boots+3hp pots to dodge the dark binding. [img=champ/orianna.png] : See Brand. [img=champ/swain.png] : Swain has great sustain at level 6 with his ult, I would suggest getting an early catalyst to match his sustain. I might get [imgsmall=items/sapphire-crystal.png][imgsmall=items/health-potion2.png] and go back to buy once you have enough for the catalyst. Be wary of his snare as if he gets his abilities off on you he can do lots of damage while you are snared and slowed. [img=champ/twistedfate.png] : AP Twisted Fate does most of his damage with his Wild Cards and Pick a Cards. If you see him flipping through his cards and he stops at Gold Card, throw a wall on him so he can't get to you to stun+wild card you. [img=champ/veigar.png] : At level 6, Veigar can burst you down even if you have minimal AP. I would ask for a gank to get you lane dominance. Try not to let him farm up AP with his Q otherwise his abilities will start to hurt even if he doesn't have lots of items. [img=champ/vladimir.png] : Vladimir has good sustain once he gets a revolver and gets his Transfusion to a higher level. He is also hard to gank when he uses his Pool. Vlad is a good counter to Karthus because he can pool during Karthus' ultimate and he will not be affected by it. [img=champ/zilean.png] : Zilean has great harass with his Time Bombs. If you see him coming towards you to put a bomb on you, throw a wall on him and send some lay wastes his way. At level 6 he is hard to kill because of his ultimate reviving him, so try to get a gank on him to blow his ult, then you can kill him.

Karthus with blue buff is very scary because all your cooldowns are reduced, as well as it gives you infinite mana. This means you can farm all you want and you will not run out of mana. Ask your jungler if he is not very mana hungry to give you blue buff once is respawns. This should be around the 8-9 minute mark depending on when he killed the Ancient Golem the first time around. Oh No! My jungler got ganked and they stole his blue buff! Now my jungler, and I am at a dis-advantage. [highlight]What do I do?[/highlight] If this scenario occurs, I would get some mana items early. Maybe rush a [img=items/tear-of-the-goddess.png] or get some [img=items/dorans-ring.png] for the mana regen. [img=items/archangels-staff.png] is always good because you can charge it up with your Lay Waste.

Hey guys! You made it this far in the guide thank you very much for reading and I hope this guide helped you destroy the enemies on the fields of justice. If you have any questions or have some criticism or thoughts, don't hesitate to leave a comment and tell me what you think! Also if you see some mistakes or typing errors, just let me know and I will change it. Thanks again! [imgext=http://img716.imageshack.us/img716/6931/1287814743710.jpg]

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