LoL Naafiri guide: rune setup, items, and gameplay
Published: September 4 2023
Last updated: September 5 2023
Learn how to play Naafiri from League of Legends, including itemization choice, best rune setup, and gameplay for Top Lane, Mid Lane, and our opinion on Jungle position.
It’s time to learn about League of Legends latest champion, Naafiri, the Hound of a Hundred Bites. Naafiri’s unique design and immense damage output led her to take over Summoner’s Rift, becoming the strongest champion available for both Top and Mid lane positions. With the 2023 League of Legends World Championship inching ever closer, it is the perfect time to learn all you need to know about Naafiri before she starts her take-over of the event.
Let’s start with Naafiri’s abilities, itemization choices, and some tips and tricks for one of League of Legends’ most powerful champions.
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LoL Naafiri Ability Breakdown
Naafiri passive ability: We Are More
Much of Naafiri’s strength comes from the passive - We Are More, which allows Naafiri to create and control minions called “Packmates”. These Packmates are wolf-like creatures that follow Naafiri around, help her with farming monsters, and assist her in battle on Summoner’s Rift. At the start of the game, Naafiri can summon a maximum of two Packmates, with this limit increasing to three at level nine. In addition, Naafiri can exceed the Packmate limit while her ultimate ability, The Call of the Pack, is active, but more on that later.
Naafiri Q Ability: Darkin Daggers
Q - Darkin Daggers is a two-part ability that is most of Naafiri’s damage output. The ability deals three different sources of damage. The initial hit, the bleed effect, and the damage from the Recast. Worth remembering here is that Darkin Daggers affects minions, monsters, and enemy champions. As such, be sure you are prepared to push out your lane before throwing out your Daggers to try and poke your enemy. Doing so recklessly can make you much too vulnerable.
Naafiri W Ability: Hounds’ Pursuit
Naafiri’s W - Hounds’ Pursuit is one of the most absurd ganking tools in League of Legends. For those who have never faced Naafiri, the ability locks Naafiri onto an enemy minion or champion. After a short windup, she jumps at the target alongside the Packmates, immediately causing them to start damaging the target. Especially when Naafiri unlocks level six, after which the ability gains an additional eighty range, it becomes almost unavoidable in small skirmishes. However, be warned that the windup period is a big weakness, and since Naafiri is essentially a glass cannon, making the wrong engagement can be incredibly dangerous.
Naafiri E Ability: Eviscerate
E - Eviscerate is easily the most versatile part of Naafiri’s kit. The ability allows Naafiri to clear waves, jump walls, and recall her Packmates as needed, healing them back to full health in the process. Since Naafiri’s playstyle so heavily relies on moving around the map, a tool like Eviscerate is essential to her success.
Naafiri R Ability: The Call of the Pack
In line with Naafiri’s assassin playstyle, her ultimate ability, R - The Call of the Pack, is a fantastic tool for any Assassin. More damage, more speed, and some initial survivability on the first engage and the opportunity to do it all over again whenever the target dies. In addition to the serious steroid provided by the ability, the range increase to Hounds’ Pursuit does great at aiding Naafiri to be viable as the game progresses.
As for your skill-level-up order, the recommended path by League of Legends’ in-game assist system is your go-to, which makes life easy. Q first, then E, R, then W last, with your remaining points.
League of Legends Naafiri Rune Setup explained
Unlike many champions in League of Legends, Naafiri has several different rune setups that are each viable and fit certain matchups and playstyles. As with any Assassin, the most common is to use the First Strike setup with all your other favorites, such as Fleeting Footwork, for some free boots, Biscuit Delivery to help your laning phase, and Cosmic Insight because who doesn’t want to flash more often.
Similarly, Naafiri, in all her setups, runs the ever-so-common double Adaptive Force and Resistance setup, switching between Armor and Magic Resist depending on your direct opponent.
However, after that, the options go all over the place. Mid-Naafiri prefers a setup with the Domination path, including Sudden Impact and Treasure Hunter, to pursue an all-out roaming setup. Whereas Top-Naafiri focuses on scaling options, using the Sorcery path with Transcendence and Gathering Storm.
Then, there are the other options. Some players opt for your standard tank rune pages, with Conquerer, Presence of Mind, Legend: Tenacity, and Last Stand with Bone Plating and Unflinching. Yet others take a burst-oriented approach with Electrocute, Sudden Impact, Eyeball Collection, and Treasure Hunter. And the crazy part is, since Naafiri is so incredibly powerful currently, despite several nerfs, all of these rune setups dominate.
Naafiri LoL Itemization Choices, Boots, Summoner Spells, and Adaptations.
Before we delve into all the craziness that is Naafiri’s itemization options, let’s cover two of the easier ones. Your boots are (almost) always Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and your starting items are (almost) always a Long Sword alongside a Refillable potion. Similarly, you can’t do without Flash, and the choice between Ignite and Teleport depends on what you value more.
Now, for Naafiri’s itemization options.
As with all lethality champions, there aren’t “that” many possible items compared to a role like a top lane tank. However, as with many of the strongest champions, there are many different strategies and combinations from which to choose. Your mythic choice is between Eclipse, for when you need the lifesteal, or the Duskblade of Draktharr, for when you simply want to go around and murder everyone. After that, your options open up lots, depending on which Naafiri you are today.
For example, Top-Naafiri is incredibly well-suited to the Titanic Hydra path, as the champion's main goal in life is to push out the wave and see where it can find an enemy out of position. Similarly, Mid-Naafiri loves damage and is a menace for the enemy bot lane. As such, items such as The Black Cleaver work very well, as they boost the damage dealt by your Marksman, or you can opt for something like a Prowler’s Claw, for when your bot lane keeps dying too early for you to assist them, but you still want to make sure the enemy can’t have fun.
Depending on the itemization and champions on the enemy team, you may want to look into a third item Serylda’s Grudge. While most games are over (for your team or the enemy) at this point, some games end up close despite you playing a volatile assassin champion. Since all your spells, attacks, and your Packmates can benefit from the slowing effect of Serylda’s, it is the perfect item to chase down that lonesome enemy trying to find some farm.
Other occasionally beneficial items for Naafari include the Guardian’s Angel, a Maw of Mawmortius, The Collector, or the best of them all, a simple Serrated Dirk. Seriously, a Serrated Dirk is probably the best way to spend 1100 gold in this game, and it is not even close. Don’t know what to buy? It can’t hurt to have one of those in your inventory.
Naafiri League of Legends gameplay: tips & tricks
As Naafiri’s Q - Darkin Daggers’ Recast deals more damage to lower-health targets, don’t be afraid to hold onto your ability for a few seconds while you fight. The damage from your bleed may not change, but waiting until your target has lost some health can double the damage the Recast deals when both parts hit an enemy. Similarly worth remembering is the fact that this missing health damage works on all enemies, not just champions. Sometimes waiting for a second or two can make the difference between clearing the wave and leaving some alive.
Also, with E - Eviscerate having an extraordinarily short cooldown, there are many opportunities to try and avoid the enemy's wards by crossing various terrain with your E. The most important places to jump around are at the enemy’s buff camps, as especially at lower ranks, teams rarely ward their own sides appropriately.
There is a neat trick many of the best Naafiri players utilize through combining Q - Darkin Daggers and E - Eviscerate. You can utilize your Q’s to cause your minions to target the enemy under their tower and then E - Eviscerate out of tower range to deal damage without taking a hit from the tower. This may take some trial and error, but utilizing it can significantly improve your effectiveness in the laning phase. On top of the benefit of dealing damage to your lane opponent, you also save one of your Packmates this way, as they’ll almost certainly take tower aggression otherwise.
Top Lane Naafiri in League of Legends
Since Naafiri varies depending on your role and the day of the week, let’s cover some benefits and downsides. While Top-Naafiri is an incredibly potent split-pushing champion, it is sadly often overshadowed by its strength in the Mid lane. However, since many Mid-laners can’t use her properly, don’t feel bad about taking the champion yourself. Your main strength as Top-Naafiri is in your early laning phase, where aside from a few scary champions, you win almost every fight due to the strength of your Q.
The scary champions include Renekton, Riven, and Kled, so be sure to try and avoid those. After you control your lane and stop your opponent from having fun (You are now level six or seven), clear out the minion wave before you and leave your lane. You don’t have to go anywhere if there isn’t an opening, but hiding away from your lane sends the enemy team into a panic. They either have the choice to ward up to avoid your roaming, or they must give up their pressure to ensure they don’t die or lose a significant amount of their health bar.
Mid Lane Naafiri in League of Legends
Mid-Naafiri is where the champion is currently best, assuming you know what you are doing. Since Mid Lane is not in a strong position right now, you barely have anyone to worry about. You survive until levels four, six, or seven, clear the wave and take over the map.
Any chance you get, look for an enemy that looks weak; just use your W - Hounds’ Pursuit. Either they die, lose a bunch of health, or you have to make a great escape with your E - Eviscerate before trying it all over again. While it may sound silly and certainly comes with many risks, the high-risk-high-reward playstyle is exactly why we love the Assassin playstyle.
As for which scary champion you want to avoid in the mid-lane, Zed is easily your biggest enemy. Thankfully he is among the most banned champions (alongside Naafiri), so your chances of meeting are quite low. The problem for Naafiri in the matchup against Zed is that his all-in isn’t as committed as yours is. If Zed doesn’t deal enough damage, or if your jungler was in the area, he jumps back, and there isn’t much you can do. Similarly, if you all-in him, he can use his W to escape you quite easily and then just farm with his longer-range Q from a distance.
Naafiri Jungle potential in League of Legends
When the League of Legends community first learned about Naafiri, many players expected her to become the new jungler. And while Naafiri performed well enough as a Jungler on release, the repeated nerfs made her far worse for this position, for now. The nerfs resulted in Naafiri dropping to the place of worst-performing Jungler of patches 13.15 and 13.16. Still, despite its challenges, several players are looking to make Naafiri work in the Jungle role. Maybe with some more durability, the champion can return to prominence there. Right now we will advise you to stick to Top and Mid Lane.
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