Nilah Case Study
Nilah is not designed to be a premier 4-cost carry unit that wipes out boards like Xayah, but she can be just as strong in her own way if utilized effectively. Although there are many factors that play a part in her performance, the most important one is how she scales her damage output.
Have you ever wondered why Nilah’s performance differs so much when she’s in a Lagoon comp versus when she’s not in one? She seems to do a lot better in Lagoon for some reason than any other comp. If you read into the data you’ll find her best supporting units are all Lagoon units along with some Darkflight units and Built Different units that appear due to their place in the meta. (https://tactics.tools/unit/nilah)
She does well in those comps as well, but most often than not it’s the fact that the Darkflight and Built Different boards are just strong and she just happens to be alongside them. Let’s focus on Lagoon for now where she plays a large role to decipher where her power comes from.
1. Nilah’s Scaling
Nilah has very good AP scaling for an AD carry. Her AP increases the amount of physical damage she outputs as a bonus like most 4-cost AD champions but her base numbers are much higher than all other 4-cost AD champions
Take a look:
- Nilah cracks her whip-blade at her target, dashing through them and dealing 131 AD
- Physical damage (200/225/500% AD Attack Damage + 130/200/10000 AP).
Let’s apply this formula in an test where we give her 100 AD:
- Nilah 1*
- Base AD – 70 AD
- Give her an item with 100 AD
- (200% of 170 = 340) + 130 = 440 dmg
Now with the exact same Nilah and formula let’s give her an AP of the same value instead:
- Give her an item with 100 AP
- (200% of 70 = 140) + (200% of 130 = 260) = 400 dmg
Between the two examples there is only a 40 dmg difference. Almost half of her ability damage comes from her AP scaling. This is not normal for a typical AD carry and it essentially means she benefits just as much from 1 point in AP as 1 point in AD. She’s not a hybrid DPS like Zeri per say but she does have hybrid scaling.
We can do it again with Nilah 2* which has higher AD and slightly different scaling percentages:
- Nilah 2*
- Base AD – 105 AD (base AD is increased by 150% everytime a unit levels up)
- + 100 AD
- (225% of 205 = 461.25) + 200 = 661.25
- + 100 AP
- (225% of 105 = 236.25) + (200% of 200 = 400) = 636.25
This time the difference is only 25. Now that we’ve had a basic understanding of her AP scaling let’s take a look at the 2nd part of her ability.
2. Nilah’s Kit and Versatility
“If this does damage to a shield, she gains a shield equal to 80% of the damage she deals to it for 4 seconds.
She instantly recasts if the target is killed or remains shielded.“
Now from the previous segment most of you would have come to the conclusion that even if her AP and AD scaling is identical the AD is still better because it also empowers her auto attacks. This would be a lot more significant if Nilah was a typical AD carry but because of her ability combined with her low mana pool (0/60) she’s often casting just as much as she’s auto-attacking.
Essentially while AD items are better due to the stronger autos most of Nilah’s damage comes from her spell anyway so there a lot less impact compared to other auto-heavy carries like Graves or Pantheon.
This is the same reason AS items aren’t as effective on her and you would much rather stack her with as much damage as possible so she’s likely to get resets and efficiently maximize her damage output. As well as the fact that if she’s constantly casting she’s not making use of the extra AS whatsoever.
She might not be as strong as the other 4-cost carries as a solo-carry but she’s a lot easier to play as she’s not tied down to core items. Her best item is HoJ by far given the above information; HoJ provides AP, AD, Crit and Healing. Full item information will be provided below.
3. Nilah’s Synergistic Traits
Often stated is the fact that Nilah doesn’t need any of her traits active which is definitely true to a degree but it doesn’t mean that her traits don’t help her and vice versa.
Nilah does not need Assassin activated for her ability to crit due to it dealing physical damage but that doesn’t necessarily mean activating Assassins doesn’t benefit her at all. Clearly she gets some power from having more crit (especially with IE/HOJ), but playing other assassin also means her resets can procc easier. There is the obvious fact that more units attacking the same units can kill faster or bring it to a lower HP threshold for Nilah but take a look at all the other Assassin’s mana pool:
Nilah – 0/60
6 autos to cast.
Rengar – 60/120
The most common pairing, you’ll notice that they require the exact same amount of autos to cast. By throwing Nilah on the unit with the lowest armor you can almost guarantee they cast at same time on the same target. You would want rengar to cast a slightly earlier though so throwing him on the side where he can take damage is ideal as he jump regardless.
Qiyana – 40/100
Same deal, both 60 mana. Throwing them on the same side can get them to cast on the same unit at the same time.
Diana – 50/100
A littler earlier than Nilah with 50 mana but that’s more than fine given you want her to cast before Nilah does and her spell cycle takes some time to finish.
With all the Assassins this set having almost the same first cast time you might be surprised to hear that they all have the same Attack Speed as well of 0.75, meaning that given they take no damage, they either cast before or at the same time as Nilah.
AOE damage does effect cast times as well but its is a lot smaller issue than you would think. Unless the unit is taking damage that converts into more than 10 mana the number of autos to cast will remain the same, and as assassin they rarely are aggro-ed onto before their first cast.
(mana generated = 1% of pre-mitigation damage taken and 7% of post-mitigation damage taken)
While this tech might fall off hard once it become a 1v1 and players clump, it is a very effective way of maximizing damage when it occur. Even getting one reset off with Nilah is very important because at worse its a quick +1 unit advantage and another cast while at it’s best it can trigger a whole reaction of continued resets.
Lagoon on the other hand might seem to give her stats that benefit her very little but AP and AS are pretty significant when looking at her role in the comp. We know AP is actually giving her lots of spell damage, so even 3 Lagoon gives her about a Jayce worth of stats with 8 AP and 8 AS along with being a econ trait as well.
Essentially the way lagoon works for Nilah is to giver her more spell damage and also provide her the AS to cast more. In return she helps build Lagoon stacks which farms components which Nilah isn’t picky about allowing you to greed other items. This synergy gets even stronger at 6 Lagoon for the increased bonuses but also due to the fact you play Sohm who also has great aoe and backline access allowing Nilah to get reset easier.
The same reasons help her in other comps like Darkflight where she gets easy resets off of her high crit damage and units that Rengar and Swain weaken. In BD comps her flexible itemization shines as she’s able to take the AP items that are difficult to find a carry for allowing Graves to grab the AD items he really needs like EON, BT and RB.
To Sum It Up
Nilah’s strength comes from
- Her AP scaling
- Her AP scaling is quite good allowing AP items to be utilized
- Her Versatility
- You can play her without much setup or restrictions
- Her role in the respective comps
- She doesn’t need any traits to thrive
- She helps her traits more so than the traits help her
She’s sort of the set 6 Fiora of set 7.5, a versatile 4-cost that doesn’t need its traits and can hold pretty much anything, a dollar mart Yasuo if you will.
- HOJ is by far the best item
- BT loses the mirror but its great outside of that
- TR is great if you have healing and even without
- HOJ, TR, EON are BIS in my opinion
- GS and IE are both ‘amp’ items so they’re great when you already have high AP/AD or are playing sins in IE’s case
- Rabadons and AA are both great and AA can 1v9 at the end of fights quite often.
- LW is good
- RFC, RH and RB are very poor items on her
- Mana items are very situational but Shojin is better than BB
- Collector, Zhonya’s and Tri-Force are her best Ornn items.
- Goldmancer and Draven’s are her best Shimmer items.