Kayn is a two-faced jungler in League of Legends: You can pick either his tanky Rhaast form or his high-damage Shadow Assassin counterpart. No matter what, we’ve got the ultimate guide including the best builds and runes, and what form you should choose.
Okay, we said Kayn is two-faced, but that might be overblowing it. Kayn is an incredible flexible champion — one game he’s a tank-buster, the next a hard-to-stop assassin. Mastering the art of both forms turns a regular Kayn player into an amazing one.
Want to learn two champions at once (basically)? Then Kayn is for you, and this guide means you’re in the right place, because we’ve got the best builds, runes, and some tips and tricks to master the Shadow Reaper.
Who is Kayn?
Kayn was a Noxian child soldier, fighting against Ionia. After tearing through a village and being abandoned by Noxus, he was recruited into the Order of Shadow by Zed to fight back against the invaders.
On Summoner’s Rift, he puts the scythe he found in battle to use, tearing through enemies as a jungler — no matter whether they’re tanks or squishies.
Kayn abilities & gameplay
Kayn may as well be two champions in League of Legends. There’s Rhaast (Red Kayn), the tank-busting frontliner who seemingly never dies. And then there’s Shadow Assassin (Blue Kayn), the teleporting freak that nukes your carries in less than a second.
Picking which one is best for each game is half the battle. The general rule of thumb is if the enemy has three or more ranged champions, opt for Blue Kayn. Else, opt for Red Kayn. There’s some exemptions to this rule, but it’s a pretty solid guide to follow.
Kayn’s combos across the two forms are pretty similar, but they just do different things. You’ll want to lead by phasing through the wall with Shadow Step and slamming down on your enemies with Blade’s Reach. Follow up with Reaping Slash, execute with your Umbral Trespass, and repeat.
The two forms also get different things out of each ability, changing what he maxes. Red Kayn really loves maxing Q for the extra damage, while Blue Kayn wants to slice through enemies with W on as low a cooldown as possible.
- Passive: The Darkin Scythe — Kayn wields an ancient weapon and fights Rhaast, the darkin within it, for control. Either the Darkin will triumph, or Kayn will master Rhaast and become the Shadow Assassin.
- Darkin: Heal for a percentage of spell damage dealt to champions.
- Shadow Assassin: For the first few seconds in combat with enemy champions, deal bonus damage.
- Q: Reaping Slash — Kayn dashes, then slashes. Both deal damage.
- Darkin: Reaping Slash’s damage is modified to deal bonus maximum health damage. This damage is capped against monsters but does not include the bonus damage.
- W: Blade’s Reach — Kayn damages and slows targets in a line.
- Darkin: Blade’s Reach also knocks up enemies hit for 1 second.
- Shadow Assassin: Blade’s Reach’s range is increased. Additionally, Kayn conjures an untargetable living shadow at the casting position to perform Blade’s Reach’s sweep over 0.55 seconds in his stead, reducing the ability’s cast time to 0.
- E: Shadow Step — Kayn can walk through terrain.
- Shadow Assassin: Shadow Step’s cooldown is reduced at all ranks. Additionally, Kayn gains 100% slow resist and, upon entering terrain, the bonus movement speed is increased to 80% for the remaining duration.
- R: Umbral Trespass — Kayn hides in an enemy’s body, dealing massive damage when he bursts out.
- Darkin: Umbral Trespass’ damage is modified to deal bonus maximum health damage.
- Shadow Assassin: Umbral Trespass gains up to 200 bonus cast range and emerge range. Additionally, emerging will reset The Darkin Scythe’s The Darkin Scythe’s cooldown.
Best builds for Kayn
Kayn has some items that are good across both his Shadow Assassin and Rhaast forms. Manamune and Black Cleaver are pretty much non-negotiables in every game, and you should always build them after your mythic.
From there though, the build splits. Red Kayn’s preferred mythic is Goredrinker, because it doubles down on his drain tank fantasy. Supporting this with Sterak’s Gage and Spirit Visage only further boosts his durability.
Blue Kayn goes all-in on the damage. Eclipse is a good idea for just a bit of sustain, but from there, Youmuu’s Ghostblade and Edge of Night to max out his lethality are best in slot. Not worried about dying (say, you have a Yuumi)? Opt for Prowler’s Claw.
Top meta Kayn build in Season 11
- Mythic: Goredrinker (Red Kayn) / Prowler’s Claw (Blue Kayn) / Eclipse (Blue Kayn)
- Boots: Ionian Boots of Lucidity / Plated Steelcaps (if against heavy AD) / Mercury’s Treads (if against heavy AP)
- Manamune / Muramana
- Black Cleaver
- Youmuu’s Ghostblade (popular on Blue Kayn)
- Edge of Night (popular on Blue Kayn)
- Sterak’s Gage (popular on Red Kayn)
- Spirit Visage (popular on Red Kayn)
- Serpent’s Fang (if enemy has a lot of shields)
- Chempunk Chainsword (if you need healing cut)
Best runes for Kayn
Unlike items, there’s absolutely zero crossover for Kayn’s runes depending on the form you want to run. Sure, you can opt for Purple Kayn (running Blue Kayn but with Red Kayn runes), but it’s hardly ideal.
Kayn’s Rhaast form relies on the Precision tree, especially Conqueror. The quicker he can stack it up in a fight, the more damage he can dish out, especially to tanks. Combined with Tenacity, Last Stand, Sudden Impact, and Ravenous Hunter, and he can stay on the frontlines forever.
Shadow Assassin is a bit different though. You need to be able to one-shot enemies, and scale that damage late. Dark Harvest makes the most sense for this, as well as Eyeball Collection and Gathering Storm. Relentless Hunter is a good option for the extra movement speed too.
Top meta Kayn runes in Season 11
Red Kayn (Rhaast)
- Legend: Tenacity
- Last Stand
- Sudden Impact
- Ravenous Hunter
Blue Kayn (Shadow Assassin)
- Dark Harvest
- Sudden Impact
- Eyeball Collection
- Relentless Hunter
- Gathering Storm
Kayn skins in League of Legends
- Soulhunter Kayn — 1350 RP
- Odyssey Kayn — 1820 RP
- Nightbringer Kayn — 1350 RP
- Nightbringer Kayn Prestige Edition — 100 Prestige Points
Kayn is by no means an easy champion to learn. However, his flexibility, and high damage regardless of form, makes him a fan favorite.
If you can read the situation, get the combos down pat, and try to avoid going Purple Kayn if possible (look, it’s good in some situations, but it’s hard to explain), you’ll have an easier time getting a grasp of him and winning some games.