Nocturne Guide: How to Play Nocturne Like a Pro

Published: April 28, 2021 Updated: September 18, 2021
LoL Nocturne Guide Showing His Blades

For League of Legends players, Nocturne (a.k.a. Noc) has always been an interesting yet often challenging champion to master. He is one of the few champions that can really carry a whole team, and against the right enemies, he can be very good at it. This Nocturne guide will tell you how to play Nocturne, help you understand his mechanics, guide you to pick the right Nocturne jungle path, and show you how to make the most of his unique abilities. We hope you can become as excited about playing Nocturne as we are!

When to Pick Nocturne

Noc is a unique champion with a very specialized role, making him one of the top picks for skilled junglers and one of the most fun and satisfying champions to play for experienced competitors. You will want to know how to play Nocturne!

Guide to Playing with Nocturne

He is a powerful assassin that specializes in absolutely destroying the enemy carries, especially if they are foolish enough to roam or wander on their own. He has great mobility, deals a lot of damage, and is both a good initiator and a closer.

Pick Noc when your team doesn’t already have another assassin or other means of quickly eliminating enemy carries. He is also a good pick when you need more map pressure or when you want to shut down split pushing foes that are often isolated. He may not be the best pick when facing a team with multiple tanks, high mobility, or a significant amount of hard CC. Tanks, in particular, are a threat to him as his kit and most Nocturne abilities are focussed around lethality, which is wasted on enemies that stack a lot of armor.

How to Use Nocturne's Skillset

Nocturne’s skillset is simple but effective. He is a fantastic duelist who wins most 1v1s. Nocturne abilities are almost entirely focused on engaging isolated enemies and finishing them off quickly before their backup arrives.

Nocturne's Passive Skill Umbra Blades

Nocturne Passive Skill - Umbra Blades

Every few attacks, Nocturne’s passive will lash out at all enemies around him, dealing bonus damage and healing himself for every enemy hit. His Umbra Blades skill allows Noc to sustain very well in the jungle in the early game. If you can do your pathing well, you won’t even really need any pots or similar items and can stay out until an enemy takes you low or you want to buy a fancy new item. We’ll cover how to pick the best Nocturne jungle path in a later section.

Umbra Blades is also a great ability to help you clear waves of minions and large jungle camps quickly. Moreover, it’ll help in team fights if you can get your opponents all grouped up by dealing massive AoE.

Nocturne Q Skill Duskbringer with a claw reaching out

Q - Duskbringer

Duskbringer allows Nocturne to engage quickly with his opponents and stay on top of them. He sends out a wave of darkness that allows him to ghost through enemy champs and minions with a large boost in speed. You should use this early in a fight to stay on top of your enemy. Unless they are swift (e.g. Dr. Mundo or Udyr), you will be able to stay on top of them no matter where they try to reposition or run.

Beyond Duskbringer’s large boost in speed, it also grants a decent boost in AD and even deals some initial physical damage on contact.

Nocturne w Skill Shroud of Darnkess makes a shield around nocturne in LoL

W - Shroud of Darkness

Compared to some of the other more sexy and flashy abilities in this Nocturne guide, like his Ult, Noc’s Shroud gets less attention. However, when facing CC-heavy enemies like Morgana, Nautilus, or Malphite, it’s a huge lifesaver. Instead of getting pinned down and wasted, you’ll be able to dive right on top of them.

His Shroud also provides a huge boost to attack speed. This allows him to focus much more on lethality and attack damage items without wasting an item just to keep his attack speed up.

Nocturne E Skill Unspeakable Horror makes Nocturne terrorize an enemy with whisps and tendrils that enter their mind

E - Unspeakable Horror

You gotta love the name of this ability 😋. Unspeakable Horror allows you to fear one of your targets and gain a large movement speed bonus to stay right on top of it.

The only real downside to this ability is that it has a relatively long cast time. If you are evenly matched, you’ll just hope you can survive long enough for his Unspeakable Horror to kick in. Combined with Nocturne passive sustain, this is usually not a problem for 1:1 fights, but in teamfights, you may be blown away before it is able to do anything.

Nocturne Ultimate Ability lets him charge out of the shadows to strike the enemy unaware

Nocturne Ult - Paranoia 😱

Paranoia is his signature move and something you need to master if you want to learn how to play Nocturne well. It provides a global debuff to the enemy team, isolating each champion’s vision to only what they are able to see. In low ELOs, this usually has a profound effect with everyone running for cover.

In higher ELOs, especially when players are sharing comms, it’s less effective, yet it still reduces teamwork a lot. You can also hide what you are doing outside of combat. For instance, you can use it to obscure your dragon, baron, or other objective progress.

Beyond shrouding the map, Paranoia also lets Noc dash across the map and engage an enemy of his choosing. Use it to waste isolated enemies, but be careful to not charge into a fight against multiple champs that you can’t win. In particular, be careful when charging a group with more than 2 CC heavy champions. You could only possibly block one CC attempt with your Shroud.

You can also use your Paranoia to focus and engage the enemy’s carry during teamfights. During your dash, you’ll be immune to many forms of CC. As long as you don’t end up surrounded without your teammates when you dive their back line, you’ll likely take out their carry, if not many others too.

League of Legends Nocturne Attacking an Unsuspecting Enemy Player From Behind

You can use Nocturne abilities while mid-dash. In particular, you may want to ready your Shroud of Darness to prevent any incoming CC that your panicked target or ally tries to use on you when you land. Additionally, you may want to use your Duskbringer and Unspeakable Horror abilities just before landing to get a head start on damaging and fearing your opponents.

Nocturne's Skill Order

All Nocturne abilities are useful in the early, mid, and late game phases. There isn’t a huge need to rush any one ability. That being said, we generally recommend in our Nocturne guide the following skill order in order maximize his gank potential in the early game by upgrading his damage, mobility, and CC first.

Nocturne Skill Order Showing What Noc Skills to Pick and in what order

Best Nocturne Items to Delete Your Opponents

In LoL, he excels at blowing away lightly protected carries, such as ADCs, assassins, and mages. You usually can’t go wrong by stacking up a lot of lethality and attack damage. If you’re not sure what lethality is or why it’s so critical for an assassin like Nocturne, check out our in-depth lethality guide.

Noc can be built in a number of ways, and in some situations, you may prefer to deviate from his standard lethality build. Feel free to experiment with the following ideas in this Nocturne guide or check out our data-driven Nocturne build that is kept up-to-date and is based on millions of recent LoL matches.

  • Attack Speed/On-Hit: This is built around Kraken Slayer, which helps you maximize your attack speed even further. In addition to Kraken Slayer, add on-hit items, such as Blade of the Ruined Kind and Guinsoo’s Rageblade or Navori Quickblades.
  • Bruiser: Take items that add health and/or sustain while also buffing your attack damage, such as Ravenous Hydra, Sterak’s Gage, and Black Cleaver.

Nocturne Jungle Path and Strategy

We usually recommend players looking for a Nocturne guide to start out at either the Red or Blue Buff, whichever is on the bottom side of their map, so they can take advantage of the stronger leash provided by two teammates, instead of just one. After that, you want to get to level 3 as swiftly as possible while still being close to a viable ganking lane that isn’t overextended. It helps to let your teammates know you’ll be coming in to gank at level 3.

Noc in League of Legends Paralyzing an Enemy with Fear

Nocturne Guide to Early Ganks

Nocturne is extremely powerful in the early game, with one point into each of the basic Nocturne abilities. With his Q (Duskbringer) he’ll be able to close quickly; his W (Shroud of Darkness) prevents him from being held back due to CC; and his E (Unspeakable Horror) can lock an enemy down to kill it before it can get away. If your opponents do get away, they usually end up blowing most of their summoner spells in the process, which gives your lane a huge advantage from the start.

Assuming you successfully ganked the lane and at least forced them to burn their summs, you should make your way back through your own jungle, clearing the remaining camps. The next goal is to get to level 6 as quickly as possible. Once you hit level 6, you’ll again gain a large power spike and will be able to gank unsuspecting lanes from far outside of the enemies’ vision range. They’ll think they’re safe right up until the point the darkness starts to envelop them 😈.

After level 6, do your best to gank whenever possible while still blowing through jungle camps to stay gold-rich and relevant. Whenever your Ult is about to come back up, position yourself for a gank. When it’s down, farm. This cycle works well.

We always recommend in our Nocturne guide to hit up the Razorback jungle camp whenever you can. They drop a lot of gold, and their large numbers work well with your passive to give you a lot of health back quickly. Krugs have a lot of monsters too, but they usually don’t last long enough to give you much health for the time you have to put in.

Dragon Control

Dragon control with Nocturne is a bit tricky. His 1v1 focused Nocturne abilities and relatively low health means that he can’t last long in a contested dragon fight with many poking foes. You’ll need to rely on your teammates to fend off the enemy until you can smite the dragon, or you should disengage to fight them off first.

Early game, Noc also doesn’t have much sustain against the dragon. Nocturne passive only really provides good sustain against crowds of enemies, as it provides a flat bonus based on the number of enemies hit. You should first eliminate enough foes to make the enemy unable to contest your dragon before taking it.

Otherwise, too often, the enemy team will come by and steal it, and you would have been better off sticking to your regular Nocturne jungle path strategy of ganking when you have your Ult and slaughtering jungle camps when it is on cooldown.

When to Baron with Nocturne

Likewise, Nocturne’s build usually lacks sufficient lifesteal or vamp to take on the Baron early. He has a low health rating, so he ends up taking a lot of damage while trying to hit the Baron. When you attempt to take down Baron Nashor, you’ll need a lot of backup.

You’ll get farther with Nocturne by focussing on ganks and map control than on sneaking Baron or Dragon takedowns. We usually only go after these objectives after we’ve whittled our enemy’s down and they can’t contest.

Laning Nocturne Guide: An Alternative Playstyle

While Nocturne is most commonly played in Jungle to take advantage of the more global pressure he can apply with his Ult, he can still do well in some lane matchups. Nocturne top and Nocturne mid are viable laning choices against other assassins and many other melee champions.

LoL Nocturne Surprising His Enemies

Nocturne passive sustain from Umbra Blades can help him shrug off some poke and stay longer in his lane during the laning phase; however, against enemies with a lot of range, such as Tristana or Quinn, you will have a very hard time. They usually can keep you from accumulating enough CS to be much of a threat in the mid-game. Even if you fully understand this Nocturne guide and learn how to play Nocturne very well, relatively unskilled players with good mobility and range will always be a threat to you.

When to Pick Nocturne in Lane

You should avoid picking Nocturne in lane into enemies that will stack a lot of armor, such as Garen or Malphite. Nocturne really benefits from his lethality to take down enemies quickly. However, against tanks, you will need to focus more on % armor penetration, true damage, or critical strike chance in order to stand up to your lane enemy. This will reduce his effectiveness in his primary role of taking down enemy carries.

Other enemies that have a lot of shielding, such as Sett, will also be a problem no matter how well you learn how to play Noc. They will outlast you in 1v1s until you can get your damage up a lot higher. As a general rule, if you can’t take a target down by the time your fear procs and runs out, you may want to avoid that engagement. After your fear runs out, you won’t have any more tricks up your sleeves and it’ll just be a regular slugfest.

We don’t recommend in our Nocturne guide playing him in a lane, but if you want to try it out, pick Nocturne mid or Nocturne top into assassins that you can out sustain and fear when fighting 1v1.

Mid and Late Game Nocturne Guide

If there’s one theme we want to drive home with this Nocturne guide, it is to stick with what Nocturne does best: eliminating carries and providing map pressure with his Ult. That is how you should play Nocturne.

Mid Game Strategy with Nocturne

As a team, try to maximize your vision and map awareness to pick off stragglers with your ult as soon as you see them. If you don’t have good vision coverage, you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities.

Also, don’t waste your Ult frivolously. Just having the Nocturne Ult up and available means that your enemy will have to group up and be more cautious. They will be less able to split up and farm. This can help your team roam more freely and slowly pull ahead in CS.

When not fighting champions, stick to your Nocturne jungle path strategy and clear as many jungle camps and/or minion waves as possible. You need to stay on top of your gold in order to destroy your carry targets quickly before your Ult’s shroud runs out and/or their reinforcements can jump on top of you. If you don’t stay gold flush, you won’t be able to take down their carries and you’ll quickly become irrelevant and more of a liability.

Frozen Nocturne Glaring at the Player in front of Icy Mountains

Late Game Nocturne Guide

In the late game, there are a lot more team fights and 5v5 matchups. Finding isolated enemies will be a lot rarer. Still, Nocturne’s kit allows him to provide a huge benefit to his team. During team fights, stay back until your team has engaged. Then, dive their backline while there is chaos to destroy the enemy carry. Your survival rate may be relatively low, but at least you’ll take out their best champions.

You can also use your shroud to sow chaos and engage. If you see one of their champions trying to get in a position to flank who may be isolated and out of vision from most of their teammates, you can take that opportunity to use your Nocturne Ult and jump on top of them. That will hopefully turn the next battle into a 5v4 instead of a 5v5.

Focus on removing carries and isolated enemies as you learn how to play Nocturne. You will be relatively fragile, so don’t dive in until you have backup and/or can take out your target before you are likewise killed.

A Few More Pro Nocturne Guide Tips & Tricks to Maximize Your Gameplay

To wrap up this Nocturne guide, here are a few more tips and tricks to help you learn how to play Nocturne and dominate your opponents:

  • Don’t just use Duskbringer to engage enemies. You can also use it to escape from combat with its speed boost.
  • Duskbringer leaves behind a trail of shadow that you can see even behind the fog of war. You can use it to see where your enemy is fleeing in order to cut them off or coordinate better with your allies.
  • Using your Shroud of Darkness right before you finish your Paranoia dash can help you avoid the inevitable panicked CC. You can also case other abilities mid-dash, such as Unspeakable Horror. Doing so will slightly reduce the time until they are feared.
  • Dragon attacks count as spell hits. You can use your Shroud of Darkness to defend yourself against one of them and double your bonus attack speed, temporarily.
  • Paranoia is a great tool to jump on top of isolated enemies. However, don’t just use it the instant an enemy pops into your vision. Make sure they’re alone or at least in a small enough group that you can handle or you’ll just be feeding them a kill.
  • Paranoia can prevent your opponents from using their global abilities. For instance, you can use your Ult to stop Shen from Ulting and protecting one of his teammates. Likewise, you can prevent gangplank from accurately laying down his Cannon Barrage. Maybe even more importantly, you can use it to prevent your opponents from targeting their teleports and coming to the aid of their allies.
  • Nocturne may not be the best champion for beginners. He requires a good understanding of jungle pathing, enemy capability, and split-second decision-making. Furthermore, you will need to adapt your build on the fly between lethality, sustain, and anti-tank items to compensate for your greatest ongoing threats. If you are a newbie and you still want to learn how to play Nocturne, at least get a little experience under your belt with some of the easier-to-use beginner jungle champions.
Evil Nocturne Strategy Guide

We hope you have enjoyed our Nocturne guide and have a much better understanding of how to play Nocturne, especially his unique role in eliminating isolated carries. In case you’re looking for more user generated tips and tricks, check out Noc’s fandom page. Furthermore, if you are eager to try out some of these new Nocturne tips & tricks or are a long-time, die-hard Nocturne fan looking to get an epic new skin, check out our Nocturne skins review.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about this Nocturne guide, please feel free to leave us a message below or reach out to us on social media. See you on the Rift, summoner 😎!

Images Courtesy of Riot Games.