I'm going to preface this by saying that this is not a guide to Nocturne, as I can't write one for beans. There are plenty of sources on how to play Nocturne that are readily available at Solomid, Mobafire, and Leaguecraft that are mostly up to date about the shadow. This is merely, as always, a talking piece for me to rant on about something that's probably completely wrong and unfounded.
In this case? I'm going to be talking about Nocturne and why he's better than most people think.
Nocturne is an Assassin who's suffered from very routine nerfs here and there while seldom getting quality of life buffs, as many people know and have witnessed. Unlike others who used to carry the "Blatantly OP" monicker before being 'nerfed forever' the nerfs to Nocturne never really affected him too much due to his play style (melee), never really getting his damage tuned down like other champions this has happened to (Vayne). To this end, Nocturne's viablity tends to creep in and out of the public eye depending on which pro and/or streamer uses him to great effect, disappearing when another character comes along that can do his job better with certain comps. But this is all due to the evolving metagame and not Nocturne himself.
The hard truth is? Nocturne is pretty balanced, and can perform incredibly well in all forms of the game if their player knows what they're doing (as with any champion).
Right away a keen eye can see that Nocturne starts off average for a champion, but is literally faster than most with a high base movement speed and above average AS per level gain (not insane, just above average). Even odder is that Nocturne's base Armor is is one of the few 17s in the League (which is offeset by the 3.5 per level gain, being one of the lower scores for that stat). And finally, due to him being a melee he has 125 Attack range, not being one of the few melees with 175 (Fizz, Win Nhao), BUT has one of the highest base AD's in the game (with an above average gain, of course). That is Nocturne by the numbers in a nutshell.
So he starts off plenty strong and becomes more average as the game wears on, typical of champions Riot designs with jungling in mind, though laning is a possibility as it seems like Noc can take a few knocks during the laning phase.
Despite Nocturn being above average let's be honest: You can't rely on base stats to carry you through a game alone. When a Corki with 4 Bloodthirsters gets ahold of of you that +3 to your armor means jack shit.
Nocturne's kit only has one blink on a long cooldown, which most assassins wouldn't be caught dead with nowadays. But like Shyvana and being a bruiser with a lack of a gap closer (sans the ult) Nocturne makes up for this with an very oddly made kit that leads to his overall 'balance'.
The secret? All of his abilities do more than one thing. By that I mean, Nocturne's [lack of] defenses is made up by perfectly viable defensive uses of his abilities, and his lack of a blink is made up by his insane ability to chase and stick to a target. This makes for a character who plays mind games with your enemy for just doing his normal thing.
Bare with me on this, I may actually be making a point here.
Passive: Umbra Blades
Umbra Blades is what makes Nocturne able to jungle and low levels with it's small health gain and is a beautiful ability in itself for what it does. Every ~3 (with max AS) to 10 seconds Nocturne does a cleave-like attack that is like a free Tiamat. The beauty of this ability comes from it's simplicity, simply put:
- It's free, as in doesn't take up a slot or need any preparation beforehand.
- Although low, the extra 20% damage will scale with Noc's AD (and AS, to a degree) and therefore into late game
- The extra 20% damage will be applied to on hit effects, but only on the primary target. This includes lifesteal and crit.
A great bonus for nothing at all. And if this isn't a good enough passive, Nocturne is one of the few champions in the game to have two (in that an ability of his has a passive that is always on). But more on that when we get to it.
Duskbringer is a skillshot that does two things: Give Nocturne a Ghost while moving and Give Nocturne AD equivalent to a BF sword (and some change). Few champions get something like this along with Noct's passive and W!passive without some sort of scruples. Thing is, there are scruples for this.
Duskbringer is probably one of his worst abilities for a number of reasons. The static cooldown and duration prevent it from always being up all the time despite the bonuses being nice. The other drawbacks to the ability that can't be seen in the tooltip are these (summed up): It costs quite a bit of Nocturne's mana, has a somewhat slow missle speed AND has a short channel time before being cast, which can all be seen here.
To this end this is not an ability that Nocturne can spam willy nilly. Duskbringer casts need to be timed and accurately cast or otherwise become wasted time and damage.
That being said Duskbringer is NOT a bad ability. It does put into perspective how good his other abilities are, however, and does what it needs to do just fine.
W: Shroud of Darkness
Free 20% Attack speed with one rank. That in itself is amazing. At max rank, it becomes an 80% AS steroid for 5 seconds IF a certain criteria is met.
That criteria? Blocking a spell, ala Banshee's Viel or Sivir's Mana Shield. While 1.5 seconds is a small window one has to understand that there are MANY windows during a fight, namely if your opponent is using their spells each cooldown. Even if it's not the right spell, blocking one spell can dictate the outcome of a fight, or even prevent moments other champions can/will find themselves helpless.
Combo heavy champions like Lebonk or Brand in a 1v1 situation? One of their spells (usually the one that applies CC) is useless against a skilled Nocturne, not only coming out of what would be an ugly ordeal unscathed, but gaining 40% more AS to rip their opponent apart with.
And Karthus? Fughetabot 'im.
E: Unspeakable Horror
This is a tether ability that Nocturne channels to fear a target. The funny part about it? Nocturne can do other things while channeling, such as attacking, casting abilities, or moving (even while ulting). The cast range is understandably small, but the payoff is quite great. This is no ordinary 2 second fear.
Say an opponent is chasing you (or is about to), a Nocturne, and you unleash this bad boy whilst they're in range. They have the options of "Stopping and letting you get away", "Continuing to chase you and hoping that the fear doesn't kick in before they can nail you" or "Stopping, letting you run away so the fear doesn't hurt AND THEN blinking to you do continue your end". Either way your opponent has to keep this ability in mind or suffer for not doing so, something that has to come up in clutch situations. A whole 'nother method of playing the game comes into play when a Nocturne does this, and it really adds up.
Now ask yourself: How many people do you know would stop chasing?
Oh, this ult. It may be a glorified blink (lots of base damage, alright scaling, stupidly long cooldown), but it's a good glorified blink for a few good reasons, one of them for being a aestatically well done ability that WILL make your enemy shit themselves.
This ability's weaknesses are it's strengths and visa versa, and it's insane. It has a long cooldown, yes, but because it's an ult with a long range it is an ability that will usually always get the jump on people (no pun intended), with cooldown reduction only adding to the scare due to fudging the numbers. When it IS used the ability is telegraphed (DAAARKNESS), but that does not help an enemy know where Nocturne is coming from, the enemy losing ward vision and many/any safeness map awareness can give. And even if the enemy CAN see you because they're close to you? It's still a blink with a long range and great damage.
Paranoia is aptly named. It is ult that will always make you get the jump on an enemy when they least expect it, used best when the element of surprise is in your favor. Even if they've warded, even if they're surrounded by turrets, friendlies, and whatever else? Because of this ability Nocturne will bypass these safety nets. No. Matter. What.
That being said never use this ability to initiate a teamfight. Assassination is Nocturne's specialty, not initiation.
So Nocturne's a great champion, at least to those who know how and love to fuck with people's heads. Backpats and and handshakes all around. But like all characters in this game Nocturne isn't without his problems, which are what people should be playing around (IF they can). This goes for any character in any game ever, remembering the old addage "So long as there's a Zangief, no shodoclone is safe.*"
As mentioned earlier a Corki with 4 Bloodthirsters will still wreck a Nocturne regardless of the situation. Aside from the obvious Nocturne has the natural defenses (later in the game) as an [other] carry, and can be focused down with ease when they're not careful. Hell, outside of his fear and his mindgames Nocturne doesn't have anything to blatantly stop enemy threats aside from his pretty face. Also taking note that I highlighted carry for a reason, as he's not one (just an assassin who's builty around his auto attacks and gear. He CAN carry quite well, but he's not listed as such. In the same vein that Singed is not listed as a Tank).
When not built as a Carry (much of the time due to his melee range and his ease with the jungle) one can quickly see that [past the laning phase] Nocturne becomes item dependant no matter what he does. All characters need the right items to perform well, but in Nocturne's case with his reliance on his auto (3/5 abilities needing such highlight this. Lastly, he doesn't quite stop asking if you're tired yet, regardless of time of day. Nightstalker at least knows when to shut his tritrap.
Thinking about it, the two would be made for each other. Chaos would be fucked that day.
(*Except in Street Fighter IV because reasons)
It's as I've said before, keeping everything in mind, Nocturne is a great character when put in the right hands due to his exceptionally balanced nature and how easy it is to set up an enemy for a fall (or chase them during said fall). Despite being nerfed every so often he's not in the dire situation some like to believe he's in (like other champions), and is plenty playable.
The question is: Are you his nightmare, or is he yours?
...Yeah, okay, that was terrible. I'm done.