Nidalee has always been my favorite champion in “League of Legends” since I began playing the game two years ago. She was the first champion I saved up my first batch of Influence Points to unlock. I was very excited to play Nidalee because her signature ability involves transforming into a cougar, which is my favorite kind of cat in the world. Two words: PUMA POWER!

However, as much as I love Nidalee, I never really pushed myself as a player to master her properly. I originally wanted to make her my main champion, a character I could be proud to to call as my “best.” Among the LoL community, a lot of players respect those who can play a mean Nidalee. Compared to many other champs in the LoL roster, Nidalee actually requires some genuine skill to be utilized to her full potential.

The thing about Nidalee is, she does not outright crush her opponents, instead entailing the player to exercise some finesse and sharp instincts to address a given situation. I did in fact run a “wacky” build back in the day, which was AP Nidalee. I would just rely on throwing spears from afar by attempting to snipe down foes. This strategy worked when I wanted to dink around, but it was never something I could execute in a serious match.

As a result, I have been striving to practice a “proper” Nidalee to the point where I could hang with the big boys in my Elo sandbox and beyond. Practice makes perfect, after all.

Starting Anew
First off, I needed to discard my old strategies as Nidalee so I could relearn her from the ground up. This starts with scrutinizing the abilities, one by one.

I have never been a big fan of Prowl. The speed bonus is all right, but you only get it by running into brush. The duration as you leave the brush isn’t long enough at two whole seconds, but, meh, an innate is an innate. As a Nidalee, utilizing the brush can mean the difference in escaping a dicey scenario.

This used to be my go-to move back in the day, but modern Nidalees do not rely on this nuke as much in a serious match. It can be a very iffy projectile, and so I instead choose to level up this ability last. It is always fun to bag a clutch kill from afar, but reliability is your best friend in this game. Nonetheless, I always find myself chucking a random javelin here and there and hoping for the best.

Bushwhack has certainly changed into a different kind of ability for me. I used to think of this skill as a one-point wonder, though granted this was back when Nidalees back in the day would always max their heal first, leaving no room for extra points into this ability. These traps have always been useful for their vision and scouting purposes, but I find myself now maxing the trap at the start because I only play Nidalee at top lane.

Usually, opponents often run over a trap without thinking that I am investing a lot of early points. It is a bit of a nice surprise when I can nick off a chunk off my top lane foe’s health without laying a finger on them as they mindlessly spring a trap. The armor and magic resistance reduction open up a chance for me to wail on an opponent if they are foolish enough to get near me with these debuffs in place. Overall, I have grown to love these traps.

Ahh, this has always been considered one of the best single-target heals in the entire game. Even after all its nerfs throughout various patches, this is still a great ability. This skill heals a lot of health and gives a great attack speed boost. It is a shame the mana cost got nerfed way too hard in particular, so I opt to level up this ability second instead of first. Regardless, this heal lets Nidalee be Nidalee.

And of course, there cannot be PUMA POWER without the cougar abilities. Transforming into the cat of many names (cougar, puma, mountain lion, catamount and so forth) grants Nidalee a variety of abilities and bonuses. What can I say? I just love this ultimate. It is quite fun being able to pounce and claw foes as my favorite cat. PUMA POWER!

The Skill Build

– I max trap first as a zoning and scouting tool, plus it lets me harass better if I can attack a debuffed target.
– Heal is leveled up second so I can sustain myself early, allowing me to survive both fights and ganks.
– I skill my javelins last due to the nuke being very unreliable, and because I am naturally subpar with skill-shots.
– I grab the cougar ultimate whenever I can to go Beast Mode on my foes at whim.

Runes & Masteries

Rune-wise, I run a flat AD setup with armor and magic resistance for a balance of defense.

For Masteries, same idea. I want to pack a wallop with a touch of defense for extra survival strength in any situation.

Item Builds
A proper item build is just another aspect toward creating a winning recipe for success.

Starting Items

Boots are pretty commonplace these days, especially with potions on hand in case I need them in the beginning as a top laner.

My Core Items

Mercury’s Treads are my favorite boots in the game, hands down. The Tenacity is just too good to pass up on Nidalee, a champion who must go in and out of the fray. Wading through any crowd control effect can mean life or death in a pinch. Just absolutely essential for her.

Philosopher’s Stone has always been a frequent go-to item in a lot of of my strategies. It gives you a lot of regen for lane sustainability, and the gold generation is always nice for some insurance in case I am farming a bit below par. It also has the option of being upgraded into arguably the best support item in the game: Shurelya’s Reverie.

Sheen is a killer item on Nidalee. As a champion who has to spam her abilities constantly, Nidalee will get a ton of Sheen procs left and right. It is a big reason how Nidalee packs a wallop against a careless opponent who underestimates her damage potential.

A Dream Build Example

A nice perk about Nidalee is how she can be built in a variety of manners. I like to go a mix of damage and tanky, which kind of turns Nidalee into a pseudo-bruiser who can dish out a lot of pain while taking a respectable amount of punishment herself. After my core, I often try to build the appropriate kind of defense against the enemy team, ensuring I can survive a good brunt of punishment before biting the dust. Cougars do have a penchant for survival, right?

All about the Journey

I believe I am gradually learning how to use Nidalee as she was intended. I still have to overcome some hurdles, but I think there is certainly a foundation I can use to springboard my way toward being considered competent with my favorite champion in all of LoL. I am already getting the hang of knowing when to fight and run in a lot of situations as Nidalee, so my biggest problems stem from other areas.

Some big weaknesses I need to get past if I want to be a great Nidalee player:
– Farming woes. I am a below-average farmer compared to other players. I generally main supports and junglers, where farming minions is not a huge priority. As a Nidalee who focuses primarily on playing top lane, I have to become more consistent with reeling in good farming numbers.

– Certain top lane matchups. Nidalee fares well/holds her own against a lot of top lane opponents, but certain foes can make top lane a nightmare for the cougar lady. I need to push the limit and learn how to address a tricky, top laner by struggling less and being able to stand my ground.

– Purple side. This sounds like a stupid weakness, but I tend to play worse on the purple side of Summoner’s Rift. Very irrational? Perhaps. Or maybe I just don’t like the color very much (GO COUGS).

– Team dependency. I would go out on a limb and say that Nidalee needs a great team to work with in the sense that she often cannot carry a team full of deadweight by herself. I always need my allies to be somewhat competent to make Nidalee just semi-practical.

– Late game = Nidalee’s bane. The fact is, Nidalee does not scale well into a really, really long match of LoL. She can be decent, but ultimately Nidalee’s late game presence often becomes borderline pathetic if a match drags on for too long. No matter how well you do up to this point, Nidalee can suddenly become “just there” over time. I have to learn how to overcome this biggest drawback of Nidalee, if it is even possible.

Simply put, I am happy with my progress so far. I can consistently do well in a lot of my normal matches with Nidalee. The way I see it, if I cannot do well with Nidalee in a normal game, how can I stand a chance in harder games? In time, I hope to be quite a beast with Nidalee as I try to grow as a player. PUMA POWER! Ahh yeah!


4 thoughts on “PUMA POWER!

  1. Bats June 13, 2012 / 3:16 pm

    I like playing a cougar too sometimes…


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