During his patch 5.2 rundown this week, Team Gravity jungler Saintvicious said that Nidalee jungle was an intriguing pick ever since her javelins and traps mark minions and monsters, including dragon and Baron Nashor. For longtime fans of Nidalee, it is a refreshing option to play Nidalee in the jungle. Nidalee has a mix of several ranged and melee moves that can make her a real X-factor in any team composition. The coolest part about playing Nidalee in the jungle is how many different ways you can build her to adapt to the team composition you want to run.
Tank Nidalee Jungle
This is not the most fun way to build Nidalee, but it ensures that your Nidalee jungle continues to be a positive contributor throughout the game. A tank Nidalee does not provide the early pressure during laning phase that an AP or combination jungle Nidalee would, but during team fights where the rest of the team is quite squishy, an Iceborn Gauntlet, Spirit Visage, Warmog’s Armor and Juggernaut enchantment on your jungle item makes you tough to peel away.
Against a high attack damage team, a Thornmail is a very strong item, as you can mark an AD carry or assassin with javelin, and dash straight towards them. Guardian Angel or Banshee’s Veil is a strong sixth item to provide a massive and relentless front line. The first clear of your jungle is a bit less of an issue, but your jungle clear speed and gank pressure early is a trade-off for team fight prowess.
AP Nidalee Jungle
AP Nidalee jungle is your high risk, high reward assassin. During the laning phase, you will usually trade farming for relentless early pressure and snowball potential. The first jungle clear is a bit difficult, but if you get a good enough leash on the Gromp, you can easily clear the blue buff camp and rely on your Primal Surge to heal you up for your first red buff as well. Against low mobility solo lanes, landing a javelin and dashing to your opponent can help your team rack up the kills early and snowball from there. As team fights come around, your primary job will be to use your massive damage to assassinate priority targets with your javelins or by dashing in at appropriate times, as you would playing AP Nidalee mid.
My usual build for AP jungle Nidalee is to begin Ranger’s Trailblazer with Magus enchantment, follow it up with either Morellonomicon or Tear of the Goddess (if you do not purchase one of these items, you will be starving for mana without a blue buff), Rabadon’s Deathcap, Void Staff, Sorceror’s Shoes, and the last item is up to your preference (Rylai’s Crystal Scepter/Banshee’s Veil/Zhonya’s Hourglass).
Combination Nidalee Jungle
Combination Nidalee jungle is probably the most interesting because you build a mix of tank, attack damage, and ability power to get the desired result. There is no set build for this type of Nidalee jungle, but it is rather more based off personal preference and what the team needs you to bring to later fights. I’ve experimented with Hextech Gunblade, Rod of Ages, Frozen Heart, the Devourer enchantment to my jungle item, and several other items that may help Nidalee play a niche role in one way or another.
You’re probably wondering: Hextech Gunblade on Nidalee? However, I found that Hextech Gunblade helped me win several duels in which the opposing jungler invaded me with its active. Unfortunately, I lost a bit of power in the late game with this item, and I ended up selling it for a Rabadon’s Deathcap. Nidalee’s several uses makes it so that you can find your own special potion to make Nidalee your own personal niche.