Note: Due to recent changes in the League of Legends metagame, as well as the introduction of Twisted Treeline, this guide is now outdated. In addition, Riot has stated that Kayle will be getting a rebuild in the future (no ETA at the moment), so I am postponing updating this guide until then. To clarify, this guide is not completely useless, but all information must be taken with a grain of salt, and you should test out potential strategies in practice games before using them.
Kayle, the Judicator
Hero Type(s): Melee, Tank, Support, Caster
Health: Very Strong (10/10)
Attack: Average (5/10)
Magic: Average (5/10)
Basic Overview: Kayle is one of the more instantly recognizable champions in League of Legends, both on and off the battlefield. As her design suggests, she's one of the more durable tanks in the game. That armor isn't for show. As an angel, she wields her greatsword and divine energy with equal prowess, making her capable of many roles, even though she only really excels at a few; namely, tanking and support, though she's quite a capable DPS hero and a decent caster.
Recent News: On December 2nd, Kayle got a nerf and a slight buff:
- Holy Fervor (Reworked Passive) - When Kayle kills an enemy champion or an allied champion dies near her, she goes into a state of Holy Fervor, increasing her attack speed by 25%. This effect can stack 4 times.
- Reckoning's additional damage while Holy Fervor is active now accounts for damage dealt from AP.
- Increased attack speed per level to 1.65 from 1.5
- Intervention cooldown increased to 90/75/60 from 75/60/45
- Intervention duration decreased to 3/4/5 seconds from 4/5/6
Reckoning: This is arguably one of Kayle's most important abilities, especially early-game. The damage is pretty good and it has 1:1 AP scaling, as well as a pretty decent slow attached to it. It even has a quirk of sorts; when Vengeance is active, Reckoning deals 25% more damage.
Divine Blessing: One of Kayle's two support abilities, Divine Blessing is useful early-game for laning but not much else. A level or two of this is always useful, but the amount healed is small compared to other healing abilities. It does have a movement speed boost, however, so is a decent fleeing ability. It can also be used to chase down a fleeing opponent, though it's not the best option.
Righteous Fury: With this ability, Kayle has the option to throw off the shackles of a melee hero, if only temporarily. She also gains a decently large splash percentage, especially at high levels, and a decent chunk of bonus damage. Again, however, it isn't as useful as it should be; a low cooldown is balanced by a short duration. It's good for taking out swarms of creeps and towers (just make sure you're not splashing on an enemy champion).
Intervention: Also known as the "bubble," this is perhaps the ultimate tank/support ability. While her sister can make allies immune to spells, Kayle can make a shield capable of repelling all damage for a few seconds. It can make the difference between life or death. It doesn't, however, protect against debuffs and other afflictions, such as stun, slow, silence, blind, or getting pushed, pulled, or sent flying, unless those status effects are additional effects of damage (the slow from Frozen Mallet, for example, would be negated, while that from Singe's goo wouldn't be). It can be used both to escape ganks, to push towers, or to chase a fleeing enemy past the defenses of their base.
Holy Fervor: Kayle's passive is nice if you're doing a lot of killing. It can also be a help on the defense if your team is getting their butts handed to them on a regular basis, though that's nowhere near ideal. If you're the type that likes to barge into a five-man gank squad, start killing left and right, pop a bubble, then kill the rest, you'll like this passive, as the last person will have to deal with 100% bonus attack speed.
With the right build, Kayle can easily become quite a hard champion to kill. When laning, especially early game, she can be somewhat easily harassed by ranged champions. Don't be afraid to hide behind your minions; staying in lane and getting experience is more important than getting kills. You can keep your opponent at arm's length with a Reckoning every now and then, but it costs a chunk of mana, especially early game, and most champions will be able to shrug one or two off from time to time. Again, worry more about staying in lane; if you are killed or forced back to base even once before you reach level six, you're doing it wrong. Ideally, your first trip back to base should be to buy both a Philosopher's Stone and your boots of choice. If you're having major problems with the opponents in your lane, don't be afraid to call for help.
One important thing to realize about Kayle is that her farming potential is quite low, especially early game. If you're in a lane with more than one ranged champion, you're going to have quite a hard time farming, and even melee champions can make it a pain. You can try chasing them away with a Reckoning every now and then; if they don't have HP regen, this should make the more fragile champions give you some space, especially if you have an ally who can dish out damage quickly and finish them off (someone who would normally make them stay back, in other words). If you can get some early kills off a reckless player, by all means do so; the extra gold is excellent to have, while widening the experience gap between them and you should let you farm easier. Speaking of experience, Kayle can make up for a farming disadvantage early/mid game by being ahead a level; stay in your lane, and force your opponent out of theirs. Early game, almost killing someone is close to as good as killing them; they'll be forced to run back to base, giving you time to accrue experience and gold, as well as some passive regen while they're away.
Once the game gets going, your job is all-round support and tanking. Draw enemy attacks away from allies, slow enemies on the offense or defense, and heal/boost your teammates whenever you can. If a teammate is about to die, Intervention is always a good way to save them, but try not to waste it; if the noob is feeding, chances are he'll still die anyway. Also, it's a good idea to save it for the more instant-kill ultimates, such as Warwick's Infinite Duress or Ryze's Spell Flux; the latter is especially easy to counter with a well-timed Intervention. As far as tower-diving an enemy goes, Kayle can use her ultimate to gain the time needed to kill them if they're almost dead, but it's not something to do on a regular basis.
Occasionally, I find myself drawn into the role of carry for my team. Kayle fits that role surprisingly well, even with a tank build. Her damage output is high enough to take out most champions with a bit of back-and-forth, and Reckoning keeps them from running away.
Throughout the game, your priorities should be first and foremost on the turrets and inhibitors. A turret kill is more important than a champion kill, and an inhibitor kill is easily worth three champions. This is one of the places where Divine Fury really shines; the extra damage helps you get down towers quickly, though not quick enough to backdoor one unless it's already almost dead. Also, don't be afraid to go off and farm, especially later in the game; you'll need the extra gold to tank against carries. If you can farm a lane by yourself for a bit, you can get a fair chunk of gold. Try not to push too far, though; even Kayle will fall if caught alone and outnumbered behind enemy lines.
All in all, Kayle is less built for getting kills and more built for being an immovable bastion, whether on offense or defense.
Caster/Offensive Hybrid: While Kayle really shines at defense, she can go on the offense quite effectively with a different item build. The main differences in the offensive hybrid (OH) build are those of role, but there are a few things to note about the build. First and foremost, while the OH build has higher ability power and attack speed than the tank/support (TS) build, it has less health and basically no health regen apart from Divine Blessing. That being said, it works almost like a ranged champion; you can exert much more influence from 600 units away. That's good, because you can't take hits like the TS build. Kayle will never bee as fragile as Ryze or Veigar, but she's not a suberb tank without tanking items. You'll get best results when you treat this build more like a carry and less of a tank; don't be afraid to retreat.
In the OH build, mana is almost more important than health. Mana regen is improved at the expense of durability. If you run out of mana while in lane, stay in the lane and let your mana recover. If you run out of mana while hunting enemies, go lane for a minute or two; you'll get a full bar in no time.
Reginald's Build: Whenever you discuss Kayle in detail, you cannot miss out on a mention of Reginald. One of the top players in the game, Reginald plays a very offensively-minded Kayle; he uses her more like Jax or Cho'Gath than Soraka or Tarik. As a physical-based DPS, Kayle has several unique things: a snare/nuke that also slows attack speed, a heal/movement buff, the ability to go ranged, and three-five seconds of invulnerability every now and then. This Kayle build cana fford to be aggressive because it can get kills better than the other two, at the cost of being squishier than the tank/support build. Early-game, try and get a kill or two before you need to go back to base; by the time you go back, you're getting a Catalyst and some boots. Mid through late-game, you're going to be a cross between a carry and a support, and an excellent pusher. Don't be afraid to push lanes by yourself if your team is in a good position and you're not in danger of getting ganked, and if only one person comes after you (make sure they're not baiting you), don't be afraid to kill them and keep pushing. Also, this build is good at farming, unlike the other two, so take full advantage of that and get some extra gold. Late-game, you can push towers and inhibitors down like nobody's business and kill anyone who gets in your way. This build is very good for forming the center of a major push. As a side note, Reginald is considered one of the reasons for Kayle's nerf in version 18.104.22.168.
Items: Tank/Support Build
Starting Item: Regrowth Pendant or Meki Pendant: Health and mana are your two more basic and most important resources. Both of the pendants are very useful early game, as they keep those two resources topped off. In addition, you can fuse the two of them to create a Philosopher's Stone, which is a very good item early-game.
Your early-game items focus on staying alive, viable, and productive in your lane. Health and mana regeneration are vital, while movement speed is very useful. Survivability items are good, especially for tanks, and extra gold is almost a requirement for Kayle.
Philosopher's Stone: This item is a step up from the Regrowth and Meki pendants, combining both their effects. In addition, it provides one gold every two seconds, or 30 gold a minute. This is very important; as mentioned above, Kayle is a poor farmer, and this both gives you some much-needed gold and keeps you in your lane.
Ninja Tabi: Movement speed is always a good thing to boost early-game (but not as your starting item). The Ninja Tabi is the tank's pair of boots, providing armor and a dodge chance. I tend to frown on Boots of Swiftness because they only provide extra movement speed and nothing else.
Here's where you start beefing up and getting your arsenal of spells ready. Health is important, while more mana regeneration is almost a necessity. Cooldown reduction is also quite useful, especially if you find yourself using your spells often. If you find yourself underfed at this point, a Heart of Gold might be helpful.
Soul Shroud: This is a very useful item for a tank/support. It provides a good chunk of health as well as an always-useful cooldown reduction and mama regeneration. It's generally better to get the Giant's Belt before the Force Manipulator, and don't even think of using the Manipulator to replace your Meki Pendant; the pendant builds something much better early-game.
Warmog's Armor: This is a top contender for the best tanking item in the game. Health and health regeneration in an increasingly good package. Not much to say about this one.
Heart of Gold: Not good enough in general to get early-game, but if you're hurting for gold badly, this provides more gold over time (you did get that Philosopher's Stone, right?). However, chances are, if you're underfarmed to the point where you consider buying this to help with gold flow problems, either you or your team is doing something wrong.
Most of the time, by the time it gets this far into the game one team already has a big advantage, if it's not already over already. You're approaching level 18 and the carries are dishing out huge amounts of damage left and right. Armor or magic resistance, depending on the enemy team, is going to be vital to tank out the slew of damage and/or spells. Some extra damage can help to make Kayle an un-ignorable threat on the battlefield and a solid center for the team.
Atma's Impaler: By this time, you'll have upwards of 3,000 health. Atma's Impaler will turn this into at least 70 bonus damage. The extra armor and criticals are also a plus. As a tank, you don't want to waste too much gold pumping damage, and the Impaler gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Banshee's Veil: If you're having trouble with a pesky caster, this solves most of those problems. Enough said.
Warmog's Armor (again): Yes, these stack. If you have gold to spare, you could swap your stone for a second one. Two of them let you hit 5,000 health, which is an extra 100 damage from Atma's and one nigh-impossible to kill Judicator. That being said, you might want some offense at this point.
Sunfire Cape: Passive damage is useful. If you're fighting champions at close range a lot, this can help sap their health pretty fast. In addition, it's even more health and armor. At this point, extra health might seem redundant, but it's always useful.
Frozen Heart: Armor, cooldown reduction, and extra mana. Add some slow to that, and you have an item that is useful for a more aggressive Kayle.
Frozen Mallet: Again, if you're winding up as the carry more often than not in team fights, slow is always useful. The mallet also gives a nice health boost.
Items: Caster/Offensive Hybrid Build
Starting Item: Meki Pendant: Same as for the tank/support build, Kayle tends to go through both health and mana at a decent clip. If you're stacking AP and playing more cautiously, Divine Blessing should suffice with the large amounts of cooldown redux and mana regen.
Fiendish Codex: This item makes a good early item. It builds off the Meki Pendant, which is a large plus, and builds Nashor's Tooth, which is a very nice item. The Codex itself has all the basics of the build; ability power, mana regen, and cooldown redux.
Stinger: While this is mainly important as a component of Nashor's Tooth, it's a decent item by itself. It gives bonus attack speed, which is useful for pretty much everything, as well as more mana regen and cooldown redux--two things that help you cast spells often.
Nashor's Tooth: 55 ability power is a nice boost, and should carry you through Soul Shroud and other AP-less items. The attack speed is nothing to laugh at, and the mana regen is quite useful. This item combines and increases the utiliy of the Fiendish Codex and Stinger, and is a natural choice for this build.
Berserker's Greaves: If you're going to go with any pair of boots, the Greaves are the best choice, as along with the Tooth they bump your attack speed above one per second. Not much else to say here.
Sheen: This item is optional, but gives a decent boost to attack power.
Soul Shroud: This item was made for Kayle. I cannot convey how useful this is for any build. For this build in particular, it works with the Tooth to give you the maximum 40% cooldown redux.
Archangel's Staff: More ability power and mana means more spells and much more damage. Kayle has several spammable spells; expect to max this item quickly.
Guinsoo's Rageblade: This increases damage across the board, working from both ends of the spectrum. It also boosts attack speed, making it good for beating away at enemy champions.
Zhonya's Ring: Huge amounts of mana and ability power make this expensive item worth it.
Deathfire Grasp: Spammable spells make this item particularly potent on Kayle. It is to the hybrid build what a Sunfire Cape is for a tank build.
Lich Bane: If you bought Sheen early on, this is an excellent item to upgrade to. It has ability power, mana, and even a nice movement speed boost.
Tank Items: If you still have gold to burn, grab some items from the tank/support list. Banshee's Veil is useful against mage-heavy teams, while a Frozen Mallet stops those carries in their tracks.
Items: Reginald's Build
Starting Item: Sapphire Crystal and 2 Potions of Health: The blue crystal builds your Catalyst and starts you off with enough mana to nuke someone back to the spawning pool. The potions are to keep you in your lane without any form of passive HP regen, but they're only 200 HP each, so be agressive and keep the enemy at arm's length with judicious use of Reckoning, which you have the mana pool to support thanks to the crystal.
Catalyst, the Protector: This keeps you in lane and gives you larger health and mana pools. Since this build has little else in terms of tanking, this is useful enough to warrant some early gold.
Boots: Reginald recommends Boots of Mobility or Mercury's Treads for organized teams, especially ganks, while I find that Berserker's Greaves work better in public games.
Last Whisper: Attack speed, damage, and armor penetration make this a great item for a DPS-minded Kayle. This really helps with farming as well as killing enemy champions or towers.
Madred's Bloodrazor: More attack speed, damage, and an extra 3% health dealt in damage gives the Bloodrazor a place in this build. This item kills tanks and anyone stacking HP.
Stark's Fervor: This item helps your allies as much as it helps you, which makes it useful, and is yet another solid DPS item. The lifesteal can also gelp a lot when laning or killing the Baron.
Guardian Angel: No need to explain the use of this one. It's just plain awesome once you get the damage to kill most anything once you revive.
Banshee's Veil: If you're facing a caster-heavy team or have extra gold, upgrade your Catalyst to this to gain more health, magic resist, and one get-out-of Rune Prison free card every 30 seconds.
Obviously, Reginald's build is from Reginald. You can find his original build, as well as many other guides, discussions, and replays on SoloMid (www.solomid.net).
I appreciate any comments, additions, criticisms, compliments, or acknowledgments. I consider this guide a work in progress, though it should be more stable now that the game has finally been released to the public. I'm aware that the formatting isn't very good; I wrote this in OpenOffice and pasted it into this post.
11/10/09: Added more about farming. Kayle does not farm well; this needs to be addressed more in this guide.
11/22/09: Added Caster/Offensive Hybrid build.
12/03/09: Added Reginald's build and information for version 22.214.171.124.
04/18/10: This guide is now outdated, and an update has not been planned.