Kayle - Strategy Guide - by Anansi

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Kayle can be many things, and for that reason, I'm not going to write a guide that says "do this, it is THE optimal way to play her". At the time of writing, the game is still changing a lot, so anything I write could be false or obsolete in a couple of weeks. Besides, I am definitely not good enough to be considered as a kind of authority, so I will try and explain as much of Kayle as I can in order for you guys to make informed choices.
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1- What Kayle can and can’t be: possible roles.
2- Reality check on her abilities.
3- Relevant stats.
4- Skill building and Masteries.
5- Build 1: caster.
6- Build 2: melee.
7- Build 3: pure tank. 
8- Build 4: hybrid.
9- Build 5: attack speed. 
10- Build 6: full support / lane pushing. 


1- Possible roles.

Kayle can be an awesome tank, a great chaser, a good support caster, and a devastating pushing machine. Of course, Kayle needs special builds to be able to do these things, and there isn't a build that makes her all of that. We'll get to that in a minute. I'd like to add that it is great to know more than one build with her, because different teams call for different strategies, and being versatile is key with that champion. Sometimes you must play tank because the rest of your team is Ryse, Evelynn, Master Yi and Annie and they need an igniter to make it happen. Sometimes, your team is Rammus, Soraka, Nunu and Scion and they need a solid dps input to be able to neutralize the opposing carry. You have to be able to be these two, and luckily, Kayle can deliver both.

@new players: tanks are champions that can absorb a lot of damage and act as igniters in group fights, because they can survive the initial double or triple focus for a few seconds. Chasers, or hunters, are generally called so because of their capacity to finish off an opponent that would choose to run away in a combat situation. Support characters are good at helping others so they can either survive or get kills. To "push" means to put pressure on the opposing lane by rapidly killing creeps and attacking the towers, and the the opposing base. A "carry" is a champion that, when he or she gets the chance to farm a lot of gold (therefore items), can become an amazing killing monster that can carry the whole team to victory, Master Yi, Tristana, Ryze and many others can fill this role.

Kayle is not a carry in the essence of the word. You will very rarely go 25/9/12 with Kayle. More likely, a great game will see you on 9/1/16 or something like that. If you want kills above everything else in this game, I humbly suggest you go somewhere else. If you hate dying, try her. If you like hybrids, try her. If you like pushing or staying in a lane forever, or harassing, she's great too. She's just not your best-est kill-grinding machine unless of course you're a much better player that your opponents, but that's not the point.

Last but not least, Kayle is a woman. I know the armor is intimidating, but please, if you are to play her, you might want to start referring to her as "she". 

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2- Kayle's abilities. 

(for the accurate text, please report to the champion page in the client, I'm just giving some contextual info here)


Q-Reckoning
:

an all-in-one blast that does many things. It does damage - quite a lot. It slows the target - quite a lot too. That makes it great to support a kill or to chase. Often neglected, it has a massive punitive effect on an opposing champion who just murdered one of your friend: double damage, and a very, very long stun. As an example, I would say I get a third of my kills on recent killers. The spell scales quite well, which means the percentage of Ability Power that translates into real damage is quite high. 

This guide is meant for everyone so I'm not going into number crunching here. Maybe I will give a number reference later on. As you put points into the spell, the damage and the mana cost go up.


W- Intervention
: traditionally called "Bubble", it give you immediate invulnerability to all sources of damage. Two important things to note: it does not prevent you from non-damaging effects such as slow or stun, and you can't activate it when you're stunned or silenced. Of course it's pretty intuitive, but one never knows. As you put points into it, the cooldown decreases.


E- Divine Blessing
: Because Kayle's spells are so powerful, people tend to think of Divine Blessing as weak. Granted, it's not the powerhouse that Q and W are. However, it is a pretty polyvalent spell that gives some hp and some speed. So why use it? Well, first, as every regen effect, it helps you stay in the lane for longer in the first 5-6 levels, which is key. Second, it gives you an edge when you're igniting a fight then escaping under your precious bubble: you are going faster and are regenerating precious hp when doing so. Last but not least, you can use it to help your teammates chase their prey: reckoning in the beginning, Divine Blessing on your buddy Sivir or Master Yi, and off they go to the kill.


R- Righteous fury
: Kayle's ultimate ability is like Gabriel falling down on Ghomorra, delivering news of God's anger right to your doorsteps. More damage + ranged damage + splash damage = More Damage.  
Use it mostly in 3 case: to push towers down faster, to kill an opposing champion so that you can push the tower he/she defends faster, or to destroy a big wave of creep attacking your tower so that they don't bring it down. Note: of course, inhibitors and enemy nexus count as well 


Passive- Holy fervor
: gives you and your buddies attack speed (28% at level 18). More damage, more creeps down more tower damage. Very useful passive, especially because Attack Speed is amazing on Kayle, much better than Critical strike or just +damage.


3- Relevant stats:

Defense stats are always versatile so there is no definite solution:

Armor protects against physical damage, and is key in games where the opposing team looks like Master Yi, Rammus, Jax, Sivir and Ashe.

Magic resistance is obviously good against all AP champions.

Health is pretty universal, and always a great way to become less squishy. For that reason, building up some health along with offensive stats is always a good choice when facing tough opponents.

Health and Mana regen are obviously very good, especially early in the game to be able to stay in the lane and 

Cooldown reduction (CD redux) is awesome on Kayle, for 3 reasons:

Her ulti is great, more ulti more often is good.

Her bubble is one of the most annoying spells in the game for opponents. With 40% cd reduction you get 4 seconds of invulnerability every 12 seconds. I know, insane.

Finally, and most importantly, with CD reduction you can “chain” reckoning WHILE the speed debuff is active on the target, making escape very hard for your opponent.

Ability Power is at the core of the caster and hybrid builds. It is maximized by CD redux via the reckoning chain-casting, so don’t get AP without CD redux.

Attack speed is the last important stat because it maximizes the efficiency of your ultimate. AP scales it as well, but some attack speed turns it into a huge dps boost when you’re pushing a tower or an inhibitor. You don’t need loads and loads because of your passive. 60% when fully geared is more than enough.

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4- Skill Building and Masteries

I believe that every build with Kayle should more or less use the same skill order. Tanks still want a high reckoning to be able to defend their lane effectively, everyone needs bubble, and 1 point in blessing is key to gain some speed.

Here is what I go for:

Reckoning 1
Divine Blessing 1
Reckoning 2
Intervention 1
Intervention 2
Righteous Fury 1
Reckoning 3
Intervention 3
Reckoning 4
Reckoning 5

From there it is: ulti when up, max bubble first, and finish with blessing.

Note: if you’re soloing the lane, you may want to bring blessing to rank 3 early instead of bubble, depending on how you’re being harassed. No matter what happens, you need to be able to do good damage with a high level reckoning to defend your tower. If you are being pushed, keep your ultis to fight off the creeps and reduce the time the opposing champions have to attack your tower freely.

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A word on Masteries: I don’t want to dedicate a section to masteries, because mostly, changing your mastery for each build is a bit of a pain, and it would add length to an already long guide. If you guys request some build, I’ll go into details with an edit. I personally like 9/0/21 because it gives CD reduction and a bunch of goodies that are great altogether.

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5 Build 1: Caster.

Your role will be to kill champions, on your own, or with a teammate. Period. Your pushing capability will be limited, but you will be surprisingly efficient at getting kills.

Recommended spells:

Teleport (you will leave the lane quite often because of a lack of regen, so it will help immensely)

Any good killing spell, like exhaust, boost, or flash

Recommended items:

Meki’s pendant (mana regen) + 2 health potions to be able to harass effectively

Sorcerer’s boots (you need the speed to chase, and to escape, because you’re not exactly tanky)

Fiendish codex from the pendant

Sheen

Stinger

Sheen into Lich Bane

Stinger into Nashor’s tooth

Zhonya’s ring

(additional sixth item if you’re too squishy in the game: after Sheen, get Catalyst the protector, and pump it into Rod of Ages after Stinger and before Lich bane)

Tips: you are squishy with that build. I would not recommend it to new players, or you will probably feed the opposing team without doing much. However, it is a great surprise build to do exactly the opposite: getting an early first blood with an AP runebook, and a nicely timed flash or exhaust + bubble under your tower.


6- Build 2: melee.

Like the caster build, this is quite aggressive. Many players believe that this build is less efficient to land you champion kills, but it has a better pushing capability, and can apply a lot of pressure on the opposing team.

Recommended spells:

Teleport (as a pusher, any unit close to the enemy base is a potential to down a tower in a few seconds).

Smite to help jungle and make money (talent it then, it’s worth it) or...

Promote to help push

Recommended items:

15% attack speed sword

Berserker boots + 2 health potions (go jungle a bit)

Wait until 1100 gold if possible, get Giant’s belt

Sunfire Cape – from now on you jungle as much as you can

Stinger

Phage
(spirit visage if there are a lot of casters)

Zeal

Atma’s Impaler

Upgrade Zeal into Phantom Dancer

Upgrade Phage into Frozen Mallet

Tips: your goal is very different with that build. You are kind of a ninja pusher  You should teleport where there is an opportunity to destroy a tower quickly with your ult, and jungle / defend the rest of the time.

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7- Build 3: pure tank.

Your role will be to defend, act as an igniter, stay alive under massive damage pressure, and lead pushing phases.

Recommended items depend on what the opposing team looks like in terms of magical/physical damage.

IF there are 4 or more AP-based champions, you need magic resistance (MR):

- Regen pendant
- Chalice (mana regen, MR)
- Spirit Visage (from regen pendant)
- MR boots
- Warmog
- Force of Nature
- Stark’s fervor to give leech to everyone and attack speed to you

IF there are 4 or more physical champions, you need armor:

- Regen pendant
- Into Warden’s mail
- Ninja Tabi (def boots)
- Soul shroud or Sunfire cape, it’s up to you, really. Shroud makes you a better support, Sunfire is better for pushing.
- Warmog
- Atma’s Impaler
- Stark’s Fervor

IF it is a balanced team, things are trickier. I generally go:

- Regen pendant
- Chalice because it’s cheap and useful
- Ninja tabi
- Spirit visage because I need the cd reduction
- Warmog from the pendant
- Atma’s impaler
- Guardian angel is good with that build because Kayle can almost always escape after getting killed thanks to bubble. You could still choose Stark’s fervor for support, or Abyssal sceptre if your team is caster-based.

Tips: try and “pull” opposing champions. Start fights, flee, get one of them to follow you into traps where your teammates wait for them. Play as a “bait”. End game, if people focus you in a team fight, there are probably doing something wrong, so try and be that guy that is there, al the time, pushing a bit, starting fights, harassing, so that they take the bait and follow you one by one into the fire of your dps-buddies. The reason why Atma is so great in this build is that it gives you so much damage that they can’t really ignore you even if they choose to.

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8- Build 4: Hybrid.

Probably my favourite build, this is focused on maximizing your AP while, by order of priority: make sure you stay alive, and make sure you can push effectively late-game.

Recommended spells:

I personally play Teleport and Smite for casual games. If in a pre-made I’m asked to use Clairvoyance, I drop Smite and res-pec masteries to get the utility talent. If it is a real tough game and I know I must survive, I drop Smite and get Boost.

Recommended items:

- Health Ruby (225 hp)
- Catalyst the Protector
- Rod of Ages
- Berserker’s Boots
- Sheen
- Stinger
- Fiendish Codex
- Sheen into Lich bane
- Stinger into Nashor’s tooth
- Rylai’s Scepter if game last’s long enough.

Note: if the opposing team’s damage is going to be mostly physical or magical, I encourage you to go back to the tank build and have warden’s mail or Chalice + Spirit visage take precedence over your AP boost.

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9- Build 5: Attack Speed. Credit to Almitt.

The purpose of the build is to improve the effect of your combo of intervention and ulti by adding attack speed. This will also make you an incredibly good jungler and a very good ganker due to move speed for chasing. And by adding the frozen heart in the end ( if needed) you will attain a ~1/3 time invulnerability

Recommended items:

- Faerie Charm + health pot
- Stinger
- Berserker’s Boots
- Emble of Valor
- Zeal
- Zeal
- Malady
- Emblem in to Stark's fervor
- Sell stinger
- Glacial Shroud
- into Frozen Heart

Zeals can be uppgraded to Phantom Dancers if for some reason you don't know what to do with your late game money.

Another thing I noticed is that you will be alot more efficient if you, when having grabbed your Emblem, go of and kill golem. This will make your invul have only 14 sec cooldown if you mained it.

Also a good idea is to bring smite into the fight for easier jungling and farming.

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10- Build 6: Full Support / Lane Pushing. Credit to Logo.

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The build doesn't really change your playstyle of Kayle fighting. The only change is you want to stay pushing lanes as much as possible rather than focusing on ganks and what not. Let the enemy team come to you and fight where you are going to make the most difference (your creeps).

Recommended items:

- Faerie charm x2 + 2 health potions +2 mana potions
- Boots of swiftness
- Mana Manipulator
- Aegis of the Legion
- Soul Shroud
- Sunfire Cape x2
- Starks Fervor / Atma's Impaler

Meanwhile also buying red elixirs (maybe green ones later on). You'll also want to stay somewhat stocked up on mana potions for that extra burst of regen as we aren't increasing her mana pool at all.

Rune book for me is -8% CD reduction, +4 mp/5 and +200 hp/level.

It's really hard to give a difinitive build of 6 items considering that say in the past 30-40 games of playing Kayle I've never had a game go long enough for me to even finish the first sunfire cape.

Summon abilities are Promote/Rally unless your team is already packing a bunch in which case you can get heal or flash (heal preferred I'd say).

Play tips:

Early game is standard Kayle stuff. Not really any different from any other build with her.

Mid game (starting pretty much around when your promote first comes up). You want to push with promote whenever possible. Ideally using your team's abilities as well. Pushing a tower is as simple as dropping promote and rally and going to town, the harder part is making sure you can keep the enemies away. The other strong use of promote is dropping it during team fights for the extra damage or more importantly dropping it when your opponents have creep aggro and following it up with a slow. A creep wave with a promoted unit will deal significant damage to your opponent. More so when you get Aegis. Really all its about is pushing down the lanes as much as possible and getting on those towers with promotes, ults, and team boosting abilities. Don't be afraid to roam at 3 or 4 to a weaker lane to push it with promote (assuming your partner can handle the lane solo). Know who's your buddy on your team. You want to impart your aura as much as possible to the DPS like Jax, Sivir, Yi and you want to also be near champs who you can stack auras with like Sivir, Taric, Gangplank.

Really it's standard promote use, make sure not to waste it when your opponent will just be able to down the creep wave. Find the weak or undefended lanes to push with teammates and rush them down as fast as you can.

I sincerely hope that guide will have been useful to you guys, and of course, feel free to add comments, correct my mistakes, etc. I will try to edit it from time to time with what the community seems to agree upon.

Thanks for reading!
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