Ultimate Nilah guide: Best League of Legends runes, builds, more

Andrew Amos
nilah splash art for lol guide

Nilah is League of Legends’ newest bot laner with a twist. The skirmisher is the first of her kind, doing her bidding up close with melee attacks compared to ranged marksmen. If you want to master her, we’ve got the ultimate Nilah guide here with her best runes, builds, and tips and tricks.

League of Legends continues to evolve as Nilah prepares to break the meta as we know it. The new bot lane carry isn’t your traditional marksman but a skirmisher, getting up in your face and blowing it up.

This new style of play will definitely throw players off, but fear not. We’ve got the ultimate guide to Nilah right here so you can master her from Day 1, with her best build, runes, and some tips and tricks to get the hang of the Joy Unbound.


Who is Nilah?

Nilah, the Joy Unbound, is a warrior from a distant land on a quest to challenge the monsters of the deep. She is somewhat of a vessel having slain the demon of joy, and as such feels no other emotions but unbridled happiness as she roams Runeterra.

On Summoner’s Rift, Nilah is a bot lane skirmisher ⁠— the first of her kind dedicated to the role ⁠— who ramps up like a ranged AD carry but with all the benefits (and some drawbacks) of melee champions later on.

Nilah abilities & gameplay

Welcome to the new age of League of Legends with Nilah’s unique abilities. The bot lane skirmisher is part of Riot’s experimentation with blending roles and champion archetypes, giving players a different way to play the game.

Much like an AD carry, she suffers from a weak early game but scales hard into the late game. As a melee champion, this is doubly so as she relies on her team to do some heavy lifting. But if she can get her own way in a fight, there’s arguably no champion better at wiping the floor.

She does have some tools to help her navigate that early game. Her passive, Joy Unending, boosts healing and shielding she receives and also negates some of the shared experience lost by killing minions near allies, snowballing her ahead in levels.

Her Q, Formless Blade, lets her farm from a safe range while her W, Jubilant Veil, can get her out of a sticky situation by dodging auto attacks. If that’s not enough her E, Slipstream, is a dash (yes even more mobility is here in Season 12).

If you can navigate that precarious early game, Nilah’s late game is arguably the best in the game ⁠— period. Her ultimate, Apotheosis, can nuke enemies and keep your team alive with shields as long as they’re nearby, and the radius on that is quite large. With her high mobility she can dash around fights, and if enchanters are constantly buffing her up she’s unkillable.

As far as leveling goes, you want to put as many points as you can into Q early as its your primary farming and poke tool. After that, bringing down your E cooldown by maxing it second is a must, while your W can wait until later as it doesn’t scale as well as the other three basic abilities.

You can find a full list of Nilah’s abilities below:

  • Passive: Joy Unending ⁠— Nilah amplifies the healing and shielding abilities of nearby allies. Allies that heal or shield Nilah gain a bonus heal or shield for themselves. And when an allied champion heals or shields themselves near Nilah, she gives herself a bonus heal or shield. If Nilah last hits an enemy minion, she and her nearest allied champion will gain the normal amount of shared experience, plus half of the experience that would have been lost due to sharing.
  • Q: Formless Blade
    • Passive: Attacks and ability damage against champions ignore some of their armor and heal Nilah for part of the damage dealt. This effect scales with crit chance and converts any excess healing into a shield.
    • Active: Nilah’s Formless Blade strikes in a line, damaging all enemies hit. Hitting an enemy will briefly increase Nilah’s attack range and attack speed and empower her basic attacks, causing them to splash in a cone and deal additional damage.
  • W: Jubilant Veil ⁠— Nilah shrouds herself in a Jubilant Veil and briefly gains bonus move speed, takes reduced magic damage, and dodges all incoming basic attacks. Touching an ally champion hides them in the veil as well, but they’ll be protected for a shorter period.
  • E: Slipstream ⁠— Nilah dashes through a target unit, traveling a fixed distance every time and damaging all enemies she passes through. She can store up to 2 charges at once. Cast Formless Blade during Slipstream to pull a wave in your path, dealing damage after a quick delay and granting Formless Blade’s enhanced basic attack effect.
  • R: Apotheosis ⁠— Nilah unleashes a surge of power, lashes her whip in an area around her and, with a final burst, pulls enemies in toward the center. Apotheosis heals Nilah for part of the damage dealt, converting any excess healing into a shield. This effect scales with crit chance and is granted to nearby allies.
Nilah praying in League of Legends cinematic
Nilah boasts some pretty insane utility for an AD carry.

Best build for Nilah

Nilah has a pretty flexible build path in League of Legends, but there’s two core ideologies you can follow. The first is hard sustain ⁠— focusing on Immortal Shieldbow. This is arguably the best one given Nilah gets into the thick of things and needs survivability. It also synergizes with her passive.

Diving into some early damage with Essence Reaver and Infinity Edge lets her snowball quickly, and Death’s Dance is almost always a must as it’s just too good. You can be flexible for your final item though ⁠— anything from Bloodthirster to Guardian Angel to Lord Dominik’s Regards are all good options depending on game state.

The second, more risky option is Kraken Slayer. You’ll need an early sustain item like Blade of the Ruined King (she’s melee so she gets full value from it) to go alongside it, but you can supplement it with The Collector, Infinity Edge, and Death’s Dance for a more high-risk high-reward build.

Ultimately, we recommend the Immortal Shieldbow option, but you can choose from the best items below to craft a respectable Nilah build.

Top meta Nilah items in Season 12

  • Mythic: Immortal Shieldbow / Kraken Slayer (more situational)
  • Boots: Berserker’s Greaves / Plated Steelcaps (if against heavy AD)
  • Starting Items: Doran’s Shield / Doran’s Blade + Health Potion
  • Essence Reaver
  • Infinity Edge
  • Death’s Dance
  • Bloodthirster / Blade of the Ruined King (if you build Kraken Slayer, you need one of these for sustain)
  • The Collector (if you want glass cannon, all damage)
  • Phantom Dancer (if you need more mobility)
  • Lord Dominik’s Regards (if enemies are tanky)
  • Guardian Angel (if you need more survivability)
Nilah slashing in League of Legends
Nilah’s build path is pretty flexible with two paths players can follow.

Best runes for Nilah

Some AD carries in the bot lane already take Conqueror despite being ranged, but for the melee Nilah, it’s her best keystone rune by far. It’s the backbone of her best runes in-game with the bonus true damage and sustain ramping up twice as quick.

Beyond that though, she can take a pretty flexible mix of things. Presence of Mind helps out her mana issues, but if you can negotiate that run Triumph instead for the bonus gold. Legend: Alacrity or Tenacity are both solid options (Tenacity is great for her as she is melee and prone to crowd control), while Last Stand marries well with her ‘on-the-edge’ playstyle to maximize damage.

For secondary runes, Resolve is a solid bet in helping navigate the laning phase. Bone Plating and Second Wind should negate early game poke, while Revitalize and Unflinching give her extra utility in the late game. You can find the best Nilah runes below.

Top meta Nilah runes in Season 12

  • Conqueror
  • Triumph / Presence of Mind
  • Legend: Alacrity / Legend: Tenacity
  • Last Stand / Coup De Grace
  • Bone Plating / Second Wind
  • Revitalize / Unflinching

Example Nilah runes in League of Legends

Nilah skins in League of Legends

Nilah might feel a bit unnatural to play for bot lane mains, but if you can get a handle of her she’s bound to be a threat.

If you love your melee skirmishers like Fiora, Irelia, or Jax and want a role swap into the bot lane too, she’s a great pick for that.

Sign up to Dexerto for free and receive:
Fewer Ads|Dark Mode|Deals in Gaming, TV and Movies, and Tech