The AD Nidalee build has a long history in League of Legends. It is a playstyle that has transformed and readapted many many times.

But it’s a fact that the build is still alive in season 13 and there are plenty of AD Nidalee players across all servers and elos.

What I personally love about AD Nidalee is the flexibility it offers. As AP Nidalee, your only hope is to hit a long-range spear and try to assassinate a squishy opponent.

But with AD items, Nidalee can last much longer in a fight, dive the enemy backline and threaten everybody. The damage isn’t as high as it once was, but it’s still enough to get you to victory.

And in this post, I’ll go through everything you need to know about playing AD Nidalee in season 13 of League of Legends.

The Fundamentals of AD Nidalee

The AD Ratios

Nidalee's Q in-game info

In reality, Nidalee has only one AD ability in her kit. 

Her Q in cougar form, Takedown, is an ability that empowers Nidalee’s next basic attack to do base magic damage that scales with 75% of her AD.

Takedown also has an AP ratio and once it’s activated Nidalee’s base range is increased too.

This may not sound like much at all, but let me add a few things. Nidalee’s Q also does damage based on the target’s missing health.

And if you mark an enemy champion with her spear or trap, the base damage of Takedown is increased as well as the AD ratio up to 105%.

I’ll admit that it’s a shame that the rest of Nidalee’s abilities in cougar form don’t scale with AD, but even this is enough to create a decent bruiser playstyle.

The great thing about Nidalee’s Q is that it also applies all on-hit effects since it counts as an ability and an auto-attack. 

So by simply pressing Q on an enemy, you’ll essentially trigger both Divine Sunderer and Grasp of the Undying instantly. They are your two most important effects throughout the game, so you can use them easily in cougar form.

Read Also: Akali AD Bruiser Build

Strengths and Weaknesses

AD Nidalee Q Damage

The most obvious advantage that AD Nidalee has over AP Nidalee (which I mentioned above) is survivability. 

Seriously, Nidalee is one of the squishiest champions in League of Legends.

This is especially a problem in today’s meta where tanks are prevalent yet the damage is so high that Nidalee can’t survive for longer than a few seconds in any fight. 

And so, by building fighter and bruiser (sometimes even tank) items, you significantly increase your defensive stats as well as damage in melee form.

This comes in handy when you’re fighting multiple champions at once and you need extra time to do your play.

By essentially being tankier than the enemy ADC, mid laner, and even support, you can constantly be in their face and prevent them from hurting your team.

On the other hand, AD Nidalee has significantly less burst damage than AP Nidalee. 

This should be very well understood because if you’re used to connecting a Nidalee spear and jumping onto an enemy to one-shot them, you might be disappointed when you do the same on AD Nidalee and witness a different result.

Nidalee auto-attacking

For me personally, the damage of AD Nidalee is enough, especially when playing AD Nidalee in the top lane.

You get to proc Grasp of the Undying from range against melee champions there and chunk their health little by little.

When you’re confident enough, you can jump on them and use your Q a couple of times before you bring them down.

And that’s how you should think about AD Nidalee as well.

The Best AD Nidalee Build for Season 13


AD Nidalee rune page
  • Grasp of the Undying
  • Demolish
  • Bone Plating
  • Revitalize
  • Absolute Focus
  • Gathering Storm

As I mentioned above, the primary rune you’re looking to utilize here is Grasp of the Undying.

Every 4 seconds in combat it empowers your basic attack to deal bonus damage, heal you, and increase your max health permanently.

The great thing with Nidalee is that you can trigger Grasp with your ranged attacks as well as your Q in melee form. As ranged, you can absolutely torment the enemy laners with it and punish them for every CS they go for.

The rest of the runes are much simpler. We take Demolish to increase our damage against turrets and hopefully get a few plates before they disappear.

Bone Plating is a lane-focused rune that protects you when you first get damaged. It doesn’t have too long of a cooldown so it’s excellent for dueling.

And Revitalize is super effective on Nidalee because of her E in human form. It essentially buffs the healing to be 5% stronger or 10% if you’re on low HP. So since you’re going to use your E a lot, it’s a great rune to have in every game.

As for secondary runes, the important one is Gathering Storm. It will increase your attack damage passively as the game goes on so you can always rely on it to make you a bit stronger in the late game.

And Absolute Focus gives you more AD when you’re above 70% health. It’s excellent for harassing enemies during the laning phase, especially when you can always heal back to 70% HP with Nidalee’s E.

Keep in mind that you can also swap the secondary runes for Precision or Domination but I’d advise you to stick with the rune page above in 99% of the games.

Read Also: AD Blitzcrank Bruiser Build


AD Nidalee items
  • Plated Steelcaps
  • Divine Sunderer
  • Blade of the Ruined Kings
  • Winter’s Approach/Fimbulwinter
  • Death’s Dance
  • Sterak’s Gage

It’s important to mention here that you should preferably start each game with Tear of the Goddess. And if you’re a jungler or you desperately need Doran’s Shield, make sure to purchase Tear early on.

The first thing you to upgrade is your boots. Plated Steelcaps is the go-to choice against AD top lane champions and Mercury’s Treads against AP. So choose accordingly.

As for your mythic, Divine Sunderer is the best-performing one overall.

It’s a really strong item that allows you to deal extra damage after using an ability (which synergizes with Nidalee’s Q) and gives you all the necessary stats you need.

Next, Blade of the Ruined King is just an amazing damage booster for Nidalee. Even in human form, you can use it to dish out so much more damage with your auto-attack.

Just self-cast E to increase your attack speed you’ll see the real power of BOTRK.

When your Tear is ready for upgrading, you should purchase Winter’s Approach/Fimbulwinter. It’s a tank item that increases your health and makes you much more durable.

Death’s Dance is one of the most broken AD items in League of Legends I’d advise you always purchase it if you can. Besides damage, it also allows you to receive less damage which fits perfectly into a bruiser’s playstyle.

And lastly, Sterak’s Gage is an item I really like using on AD Nidalee. It’s a kind of insurance that you won’t get assassinated whenever you dive deep, so I’d suggest you finish the game with that one.

There are plenty of situational items you can build on AD Nidalee but I suggest you pick something from the image above.

Summoner’s Spells

In general, you need to be very flexible with your Summoner’s Spells, even on AD Nidalee.

For example, Flash + Ignite is your best combination for 1v1 fights, no matter the role. But Exhaust can also help you combat assassins as well as Heal.

However, if you’ve decided to play jungle AD Nidalee, you must go for Flash and Smite.


In my personal League of Legends journey (10+ years as a high elo player) I’ve had enormous amounts of fun with AD Nidalee. I’ve played nearly all versions of this build and I’ve enjoyed them all.

The build that I’ve explained above is a great one for getting familiarized with the playstyle and learning the ins and outs of playing AD Nidalee. And I honestly recommend you to try it out!

Last Update: March 2, 2024