Malphite - A guide to rocking out - by Auralynx

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We don't have a particularly comprehensive or up-to-date guide to Malphite. Although I am by no means any more than a mid-level player, I believe I can write one that should cover the essentials of the character and provide some useful advice, so here we go. The primary perspective I'll be working from is one of playing Malphite as a tank with some offensive potential; it's not the only way to go and you'll find acknowledgement of other approaches below. I'm going to assume that players know where to look for hard data if they want it and have some familarity with the game in practice; I won't be explaining what I mean by last-hitting, for example. I'm indebted to ChronicleX's jungling guide for some of the information about what to do with Malphite outside a lane, and to ArchPhoenix's DPS Malphite guide for information about that approach. SmecssRaege's guide to a more mitigation-heavy tank build is also of interest.

1. Malphite's Skills:

[Passive] Granite Shield: When he spawns, Malphite acquires a damage shield which lasts until he takes 10% of his health in damage. If broken, it comes back after 10 seconds not being hit. 
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This is one of the better tanking passives out there. First and most importantly, if Malphite has a bunch of orange flecks visible, this is not up; if he is a spiffy brown color, it is. Among its several uses are surviving harrassment of enemy champions unscathed by their spawns, negating a shot or two from a tower, and eating some or all of the damage from enemy nukes.

[Q] Seismic Shard: Malphite rolls a buzzsaw-looking rock shard at a target. The damage on this ability is not remarkable, but the combined effect of slowing the opponent and speeding Malphite up (both for 5 seconds) makes it dangerous anyway. It also has unusually long range (700) for a nuke.
This skill is an assist machine, and very good in rundown situations. It's not an especially good way to start a fight, and if you've got a teammate nearby with an attack of their own (say, Cryptic Gaze) which locks people in place, save it for after their effect wears off. This is a good skill to max first in most situations, as the speed-related effects improve considerably.

[W] Brutal Strikes: Malphite gains splash damage, and can activate this skill to gain a buff to his single-target damage, instead, for 6 seconds. While this is active, Malphite gains some orange glowing areas on his body.
If the cooldown were much lower, Malphite would be overpowered. Malphite hits reasonably hard, if not quickly, by default, and with a little help from items (see below) winds up with beefy rock fists. Use this ability to smash enemy structures and lower-hp champions. One level taken early on is usually enough to last until you don't have other skill selections available.

[E] Ground Slam: Malphite gains a point-blank AoE that deals pretty respectable damage. This skill receives 70% of his armor as a bonus to said damage, which can really add up, and also slows enemies' attack speed by for 4 seconds, quite noticeably so when maxed out.
Ground Slam is pretty great, and is the primary skill in jungling Malphite builds. If you're laning, meanwhile, you will probably max this second so as to step up your farming in the midgame.

[R] Unstoppable Force: Malphite charges the target location, dealing a pretty good chunk of damage and causing knockup and stun for 2-3 seconds, depending on level. Malphite can charge through trees / creeps / ice walls / cliffs with this, as well.
For an ultimate, this has a really low cooldown and mana cost, which is a good thing. This is your team-fight initiator, an excellent ganking tool, and occasionally your "Oh shit" button when something has gone wrong and you need to escape, since the charge covers a lot of ground.

2. Items:

Riot's recommended items for Malphite are a little bizarre - they don't play to his passive or ground slam's damage from armor at all - and clearly slanted towards a physical DPS approach. You can feel free to ignore them unless that's where you're aiming. Generally, Malphite will want some combination of bonus health (like Rammus, he doesn't get too much naturally), bonus armor, and bonus damage, with perhaps some magic resist or attack speed thrown in depending on your goals. Below are some key items to consider for Malphite:

Heart of Gold: Not by itself a game-changer, this is a good early purchase which will earn you back most or all of its cost through the gold / 5 attribute and resale value by the time you replace it with something more powerful.

Ninja Tabi: Usually your safest bet boots-wise on Malphite, but far from the only choice. If the other team is really heavy on magic damage or slows, Mercury Treads are a better buy. Mobility or Swiftness boots may be more your style, as well. DPS players will want to consider Berserker's Greaves.

Atma's Impaler: In my mind, the single best package of attributes in one item for Malphite. 2% of your maximum health will translate to at least +40 damage towards the end of the game, with substantial crit and armor increases as well.

Glacial Shroud / Frozen Heart: Very good mana solutions on tanks generally, the attached armor translates to ugly Ground Slam hits while the recharge bonus means there will be more of them. That said, this is the only item I myself tend to avoid that I mention particularly in this section, as I find I'm happier with a Chalice of Harmony.

Other commonly-purchased items: Sunfire Cape, Warmog's Armor, Guardian Angel, Thornmail, Warden's Mail (comes highly recommended by Smecss Raege in his guide)
Other DPS options with mitigation features: Phantom Dancer, Madred's Bloodrazor, Frozen Mallet
If you like auras and don't need magic resist: Soul Shroud

In general, you'll want to shoot for 150-200 armor and around 3000 health by the end of the game if you intend to serve as a tank, with magic resists to taste. You'll want some sort of mana-related item, with the Chalice of Harmony or Glacial Shroud being the obvious standouts.

3. Runes:

Before the recent patch essentially removed runes from the playing-field, I played Malphite with a mixed bag of survivability-related runes, leaning mainly towards health, health regen, armor, and magic resistance. It's difficult to comment on what to do with runes going forward, but it would be reasonable to build Malphite's abilities for physical damage (armor pen and crit-related runes would be good), mana regen (so as to skip needing a mana item entirely), or even to focus on dodge with your rune pages rather than following my lead and making him a tougher tank.

4. Summoner Spells and Masteries:

I play Malphite with Cleanse and Ghost. This is definitely not the only way to go, but I find that the former's low recharge time - particularly with the mastery for it - makes one of the better options available to a tank.

Recommended summoner spell choices: Cleanse, Ghost, Teleport*, Smite*, Exhaust*
Middling-useful spell choices: Flash, Heal, Rally, Revive, Clairvoyance
Probably not a good idea: Promote, Ignite, Clarity, Fortify

Smite is pretty much crucial to a jungling-oriented Malphite build and not very useful otherwise. Do not bring Teleport to Twisted Treeline; it is just not worth it there. Exhaust should be chosen if you are very commited to ganking and works rather well on DPS builds, according to others' testimony. On most champions, Flash is pretty handy, but on Malphite it's not as impressive since it's built in to Unstoppable Force.
In terms of masteries, I tend to go with 0/21/9, picking up Cleanse and Ghost's relevant masteries and otherwise focusing on mitigation and regen. I do not build for dodge, but it should in theory work and help some. Jungling Malphite, meanwhile, is probably best served by a 9/0/21 mastery spread, or even 8/0/22 or 8/1/21. Here, your focus is on increased recharge (for Ground Slam), faster XP gain, and longer neutral buff durations. You'll want Improved Smite, as well. Phys-DPS Malphite is well served by a deep investment in the Offense tree, and you can make a case for the other 9 points going into either utility or defense.

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5. Example Builds:

My usual skill build is Seismic Shard or Ground Slam at 1, depending on who else is in my lane at the start, the other at level 2, and then Seismic Shard whenever available until maxed and the first level of Brutal Strikes at 4. Unstoppable Force should be taken when available and Ground Slam is your second target for maximization. Along with those skills, I usually build my items in this general order:
At the start: Cloth Armor, 2 HP potions, 2 Mana potions

First trip back to the fountain: Boots or a meki pendant, both if possible. 

Upgrade path from there: The Cloth Armor becomes a Heart of Gold, the boots become Ninja Tabi, and the Meki Pendant becomes a Chalice of Harmony. By this time I am around level 6.

Next major purchase: A Sunfire Cape.

After that: Atma's Impaler. Usually I am now about level 13.

And then: Warmog's Armor before 18 or shortly after.

If the game isn't over: A Force of Nature or Guardian Angel depending on the other team's composition. You'll be selling the Heart of Gold for this.

This is a pretty well-rounded build. It's a fairly good initiator and so-so tank with solid damage output. There's some wiggle-room in skill selection; 3 levels of Seismic Shard is enough for most purposes if you want to switch over to Ground Slam from 7 on, for example. In the event that the other team has a lot of magic damage and the Chalice isn't cutting it, look into various MR options instead of or in addition to the Heart of Gold. The Spirit Visage is an affordable anti-caster harrassment pick. Lately I have found myself buying a FoN much, much sooner against certain teams.

An alternate jungling-focused build (adapted from ChronicleX's guide) would start with Ground Slam, take Brutal Strikes at level 2, and then max Ground Slam with a secondary focus on Seismic Shard.

At the start: Cloth Armor, 5 hp potions.

Upgrade to: 1 or 2 Hearts of Gold. Boots should still be (probably) Ninja Tabi, as discussed earlier.

Mana solution: Glacial Shroud (I don't know how long exactly it would take to have one of these, Tabi, and a Heart of Gold or two, but you can get it done by level 6-8 and then go ganking).

Finishing that off: Grab a Cape or Impaler, whichever you see as more help, then see above or make substitutions to taste.

I don't have anything in particular in mind for a physical-attack Malphite. ArchReaper's mini-guide ( should be a good starting-point for figuring out what works with that approach; what he suggests doesn't sound that good to me (I love my Impaler and suspect a Cape or Heart would help his build a little) but I haven't tried it myself as of yet.

6. Strategy:

The best analogy for Malphite's ascent up the power-curve is an avalanche. During the early game, he's dangerous but pretty easy to see coming and avoid. By midgame he's dangerous to anything in his way and much harder to avoid. By endgame there's nothing left standing. And now for the more detailed part:
Early on, you're going to be last-hitting creeps whenever possible. Granite Shield and Ground Slam, even at level 1, are really handy for this. Punish mistakes by the opposition and work together with your lanemate. Malphite does a good job working with anyone who's got a crowd control effect that keeps people in one place, such as Ryze, Sion, or Morgana; Seismic Shard is an excellent followup to any such ability.
If you plan to jungle instead, consult ChronicleX's guide ( for an outline of how to get things done. The tl;dr version is: take Smite, start with the Golem, use Ground Slam a lot.
Once you have Unstoppable Force, you are among the best initiators for teamfights in the game and a nasty ganker. Readers of the excellent metagame thread on general discussion at the time of this edit (11/3) will note that Malphite is one of two preferred choices for a tank character in tournament play as part of the "roving gank squad." 
Malphite's basic combo is to stun, Ground Slam, then hit Brutal Strikes and wail on someone. Seismic Shard is used to prevent escapes, as before. The main reason I run Ghost is to be able to keep in convenient proximity to people for Ground Slam followups once it recharges.
If you find yourself in a bad situation, Malphite is quite good at escaping. Always remember to hit the person most likely to catch up to you (or immobilize you) with Seismic Shard before fleeing. If a physical attacker such as Master Yi or Jax is going to town on you, don't forget that Ground Slam will noticeable cut their damage. You can always pretend Unstoppable Force is Flash if the situation is really bad, as well.
Learn to rope-a-dope the other team. Make it look as if they have a chance to take you down by going out ahead of your team, survive (and Cleanse out of if needed) what they hit you with, then back up. As they chase you, they'll pull into a tighter group due to LoL's pathing. Then hit them with Unstoppable Force as your team emerges from the bushes / catches up to you and go to town. This is a useful skill on other tank characters, particularly Singed (whose playstyle practically demands it) and Blitzcrank, as well. If you have a Janna or Morgana around to help out with their shields, this gets even easier.
Particularly on Twisted Treeline (which messes with some of the advice above, though it generally applies), you can really surprise people by using Unstoppable Force to go through terrain barriers. This is especially useful for freeing teammates who are being run down, but it works for ganking and as a fight-starter as well. If your team has a Twisted Fate or other sight-providing abilities, it may be worth asking for them when you suspect you can hit a surprise ultimate. Nothing disappoints like missing an Unstoppable Force.

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7. Synergy:

Malphite does not play well early on with last-hit dependant characters such as Cho'Gath, Karthus or Tristana (if she's packing Explosive Shot). Like most tank characters in LoL, a slow start can really cripple him. This is not to say that if your lane partner is getting last hits at all, you're boned, just that if they particularly need them you probably don't want to give up that many. By contrast, Malphite makes a remarkably good bodyguard for support characters such as Soraka or Morgana if they're facing aggressive opponents. If I see a Taric or Soraka, I make a point of hanging around them as much as possible; their ability to buff your armor leads to that much more damage from ground slam. Other lanemates of note are those that can quickly take advantage of the slow from Seismic Shard; Kassadin, Katarina, Jax and Master Yi stand out in this regard.
In team-fight terms, Malphite is an amazing setup man for Death Lotus, Crowstorm, and the like. If you end up teamed with Amumu or Nunu, it's an appallingly good lead-in to their ultimates as well, and your mere presence should have given them a chance to go for a more AP-heavy build than if they were the only tank, which can render Despair or Absolute Zero all the more dangerous. Regardless of build, Malphite is also one of the champions best able to ignore the enemy's frontline champions in favor of their squishier teammates; Twisted Fate and Ashe are definitely not big fans of Brutal Strikes, and you should remind them of this as often as possible.

Anyone who's got additional tips, tricks, observations or builds to share is welcome to; I'll work them into the guide as seems appropriate.