Jarvan IV Build Guide by Vynertje

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Vynertje

A Diamond guide to Jarvan IV jungle - by Vynertje

Vynertje Last updated on October 15, 2013
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

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I: Introduction

Welcome, dear readers, to my guide on Jarvan IV!

Jarvan IV is one of the strongest junglers in today's meta and I am here to try and teach you everything about him, and something about the jungle role in general.

I am going to keep this introduction short, but please keep in mind that English is not my native tongue so I will have made some errors from time to time. I thank you in advance for keeping this in mind.

Lets jump into the guide, shall we?

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II: About the author

Obviously you don't need to read this. However, I feel like I should give some proof why I am allowed to tell you how you should play Jarvan IV, because everyone can write a guide around here.

At the moment I am writing this, I just got promoted to Diamond 5 playing lots of J4 throughout platinum. I have had quite good succes on him and I consider him as my best jungler at the moment. You can find my up-to-date profile here if you still feel the need to check on me.

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III: Pros / Cons



[+] Great ganks with double gap closers
[+] Amazing utility with attack speed aura,
armor bonuses ( Demacian Standard and
free armor penetration ( Dragon Strike)
[+] One of the most devastating ultimates in the game ( Cataclysm)
[+] Becomes incredibly tanky without being useless for your team, even though his
damage will fall off a bit
[+] Quite easy to learn
[+] Reasonably fast jungle clear speeds


[-] Pretty weak jungle sustain, no inbuilt lifesteal
[-] His shield ( Golden Aegis) is quite useless early on
[-] Spammable gap closers can make his life hard, especially without Cataclysm
[-] At the moment he is quite often banned in ranked games
[-] Runs out of mana quickly early game
[-] Not a very great duelist in the jungle, can get invaded rather easily by champs like Udyr


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IV: Masteries

For our mastery setup, we use a 9/21/0 page, specified for the jungle role. Keep in mind that masteries like Unyielding and Block are mostly suited for lane champions because the damage reduction is only limited in the jungle.

You could also opt for a 21/9/0 page, but I would not recommend it because Jarvan IV is a tanky jungler and because of that, a 9/21/0 page would fit him better.

Overall, the utility tree does not have anything beneficial for him so I skip this completely.

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V: Runes


Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

These are my preferred marks for Jarvan IV. I feel like they synergize super well with his Martial Cadence (because the damage doesn't scale and only benefits from armor pen) and the bonus penetration from Dragon Strike to remove a huge chunk of the enemy armor.

These are a must have for every champion, and they are even better in the jungle. No alternatives.

Magic resist glyphs are the standard choice as well. The only point of debate is whether to choose flat or scaling. I opt for scaling because they will scale past flat ones around level 9 and you won't have to deal with much magic damage while jungling, and teamfights generally don't happen before that.

These quints are going to help you out in a lot of different ways. You can move around the map more quickly which makes your time more efficient, and you can also get in range for your E-Q combo easier which makes your ganks more effective.

Other optionals


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

These runes are all viable choices if you don't like any of my recommended runes, or if you don't have those.

Greater Mark of Attack Damage is a good choice overall, even though I feel like they get outclassed by armor pen marks because you only have 2 skills scaling with AD, and your passive doesn't benefit from it as well.

Greater Mark of Attack Speed is the most commonly seen choice for most junglers in season 3. The attack speed combined with the true damage on Hunter's Machete allows for faster clear speeds. The extra damage in ganks and in late game you get from it is less than for two of the other marks so I personally would not recommend these.

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist is the substitute for scaling magic resist glyphs. I would recommend these if both top and mid lane deal magic damage, and optionally the jungler. Basically, they are great when you deal with lots of magic damage early game.

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VI: Summer spells

Flash and Smite. For jungle Jarvan IV, there are no other viable spells. Flash will help you to close an even larger gap, jump out of your own Cataclysm or escape ganks by flashing over a wall. Smite is obviously the must-have for a jungler.

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VII: Skills and skill sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

After Jarvan IV's Demacian Standard has been nerfed a few months ago, maxing it is no longer worth it in my opinion. You still get increased armor and attack speed, but it does not weigh up against cooldown reduction on your Dragon Strike, extra armor penetration and more damage. This allows you to use the spell twice in the same time you could cast your flag.
Obviously, get a point in your ultimate whenever you can. Also, maxing Q first will allow you to cast it twice on your Demacian Standard before the flag dissapears and goes on cooldown - this potentially doubles your crowd control!

Finally, I would like to point out that I often skip leveling Golden Aegis till level 13, because the added armor and attack speed on your E is usually better than a tiny little shield.


Ability Explanation

Passive: Martial Cadence

This passive is quite straightforward. Every first autoattack on a target deals a percentage of their current health in physical damage. This has a cooldown of 6 seconds, meaning that you cannot get the effect on the same target (you can still hit it on others) for that time.
The passive levels every 6 levels, meaning that you'll max it at level 12.

This obviously fits your initiating role quite well, because the % of current health will deal most damage when you are the first one to go in. The total damage is capped though at 400 damage.

Keep in mind that this deals physical damage and doesn't scale with anything but armor penetration.

Q: Dragon Strike

Dragon Strike is one of the key elements in Jarvan IV's kit. Not only does this deal good damage, it also lowers the armor of every enemy hit by a substantial amount - this increases the damage of all physical damage dealers to that target, and not only your damage.

The E-Q combo

When you have placed your Demacian Standard, you can use this to pull yourself to the standard and knock everyone up you hit along the path. When doing this, try to make sure you hit both spells by executing this combination quickly. For this, I recommend using smartcast. Overall it is not such an hard combo but it requires some practice to do it quickly.

Keep in mind that when clearing minion waves, you don't want to use E-Q but Q-E, because otherwise you'll get yourself in a bad position with your escape mechanism on cooldown.

W: Golden Aegis

I previously mentioned a few things about the spell. Overall, it is quite weak at early ranks and because of that, I generally skip it and don't even touch it before the end of lane phase. It actually gets somewhat useful in teamfights because the shield increases by the amount of champions around you.

A commonly seen mistake is people activating the shield before initiating. While the shield usually lasts long enough to persist, the slow will proc at activation, so if you use it too soon, you'll waste the slow. Because of that, I recommend activating it directly after using your E-Q combo.

E: Demacian Standard

This is the second part of your E-Q combination. This is more of a utility spell, it doesn't deal that much damage and the cooldown is quite high.

This spell gives you free attack speed and armor for you. The bonuses on level one are actually really high compared to what it gives at level 5, so I recommend maxing it second.

The flag used to give both the armor and attack speed aura's. However, since this was quite overpowered they changed it and now it only gives an attack speed aura, which is not too big, but still useful. Use it when sieging down turrets or taking other objectives for that little bit of extra speed.

Ultimate: Cataclysm

This is your ultimate, and your key ability. This creates a pit which you cannot walk out of for 3.5 seconds, and deals some good physical damage. This pit is great to use in teamfights, because it will trap your enemies in all your area of effect (AoE) damage.

To use this spell most efficiently, you must make sure enemies cannot get out of it; while they cannot walk out of it, they can use gap closers (like Ezreal's Arcane Shift or Vayne's Tumble) or Flash to jump out.

To do this, try to keep an overview in teamfights of the gap closers and flashes that the enemy have available. You should never use this on an Ezreal who still has his E, rather E-Q him to waste it and ult him once it is on cooldown.
In ganks, you can ask your allies whether the enemies have Flash up or not, you can also time the flashes when you burn them in a gank. The cooldown of flash (depending on masteries) is 300-255 seconds - unless they have Enchantment: Distortion.

A few notes are the following:
  • The damage is single target, which might feel strange at first because it is a huge pit. Try to hit carries with this if possible.
  • When in teamfights, don't just use it on one target, try to trap as many targets without gap closers in there because they will also be caught in your team's AoE damage.
  • This ultimate has a whopping +1.5 scaling on bonus attack damage. Meaning that for every point of AD you get from runes, masteries and items (NOT your base ad), will be multiplied by 1.5 and added to its total damage.

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VIII: Items

Explanation of core items

This item is probably the best jungle item out there. You get 30% extra damage on creeps which increases your clear speed a lot. I would pick this item over Madred's Razors all day because the 30% also works on your spells, where a lot of your clear speed comes from. Also, keep in mind that this item gives tenacity so you don't have to get Mercury's Treads

These boots are the best boots for heavy ganking junglers like Jarvan IV. They allow you to get around the map super quickly and outrun everyone trying to run from your ganks, or when getting chased. Basically, they allow you to be a lot more effective in everything you do so you'll save a lot of time, which will end up in you getting more experience and farm.

This item gives a lot of magic resist and some health for a really low price. Because we're not getting Mercury's Treads, our build will lack magic resist in mid game. That is why we invest into this item to get some magic resist. I usually do not get Spirit Visage immediately after Spectre's Cowl because I think Randuin's Omen is a really important mid game goal. Spectre's Cowl is just an investment out of necessity.

Randuin's Omen is one of the best armor items around. The reason I consider this item core is because it combines some good armor stats with health: it is pointless to stack armor without health, or health without armor (and magic resistance). Besides that, the item has a great active which is based on the resistance numbers you have in total which synergizes with the rest of our build. Besides that, the active also synergizes with Cataclysm because the range is quite identical.

The snowball items

The snowball items are good when you are pulling far ahead of your enemy jungle, and need to carry the game single handedly. Every of those items is a cheap purchase (or has good parts which share the same utility) so it will not delay your tank build with too much.

This item synergizes well with an armor penetration centered build, which is really good on Jarvan IV because of things pointed out before. Basically, it crushes even more armor and the cooldown reduction is super good as well. The upgrade, The Black Cleaver, synergizes even better with your kit because it doesn't only penetrate armor, but also reduces, which is great for your teammates.

This is a great jungle item if you get ahead really quickly. It increases your jungle speed even more because of the added AD and the burn. The downside to this item is the lack of tenacity, in comparison to the Spirit of the Ancient Golem. Because of this, you usually want to skip Boots of Mobility which is something I don't personally like. The item is great though.

This item is great when you are snowballing but still have a few threats remaining, usually AP ones. The added magic resist and the shield are really good and this, coupled with the attack damage, can allow you to play more aggressively and do more damage while the shield is a great butt-saver. The downside is that the damage is slightly less than the other items listed.

This item is great! It synergizes so super well with your whole kit. It gives a ****load of attack damage, and the passive/active is super good with your ultimate because the range is quite the same. Finally, the lifesteal allows you to sustain better in both jungle and teamfights. The big downside of the item is that if you want it to be really effective, buying a Tiamat usually doesn't suffice.

Defensive situationals

When I was writing this guide, I noticed that I only had one magic resist item. This is because magic resist is quite expensive to get and overall there aren't as much good MR items. I would only ever recommend Hexdrinker and Spirit Visage.
The Locket and Aegis have undergone major changes recently, and that has also shifted the jungle builds around a little bit. Runic Bulwark is no longer THE item to go with on junglers, and the new locket is not a must-have as well. The aura has been nerfed super hard and doesn't give armor anymore. Because of that, the item is not worht the purchase unless you are facing a double-AP composition.

While Sunfire Cape is not the optimal armor item, it definitely is really strong if you can get it early on. Overall Randuin's Omen is a lot better for your team but if you face a full AD composition and don't know what to get besides all the other armor items, why not?

A Warmog's Armor is usually not a common purchase on a jungler. I would not recommend this item in most games as well, but it can be a great item when you are facing a full AD comp and already have 300+ armor. The downside of the item is that it gives 0 utility, and utility items are the items that a jungler likes.

I have already mentioned this item a few times throughout my core build. The most important question is why I get this over Banshee's Veil. The reasoning behind this is that a banshee's isn't a good item for a melee champion. This is because the spell shield on a melee champion is somewhat weak, it usually gets popped on the first random spell coming your way like a super weak Spell Flux, while on a ranged champion this shield can be saved for spells that have intentionally been sent your way to kill you (like Charms, and Javelin Toss). That is why Spirit Visage is for melee champions, and Banshee's Veil for ranged carries.

Frozen Heart is one of the best item to shut down champions that rely heavily on attack speed. The item gives a huge amount of armor which is great vs AD champions. Also, the cooldown reduction is godlike but perhaps overkill if you combine it with Spirit Visage and Spirit of the Ancient Golem. The main downside is the lack of health for such a hefty price. I would definitely get it though in my 6-item build if I would face someone like Vayne.

It is a somewhat trolly pick against full ad compositions because it will deal a lot of damage if they decide to attack you (which they will). I would never get it in a normal game, but versus AD teams, it is godlike.

If you decide to not get Boots of Mobility, this is the replacement. The passive is godlike and reduces incoming damage by a huge amount for a really low price. The movement speed it gives isn't that special though so I usually decide against it, but again, versus heavy AD-comps it is godlike.

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IX: Jungle route

As a jungler it is really important to move around the map effecitvely, and that is also why it is really important to have a good jungling path that connects well to your ganks.

As any jungler, I always start at the side the duo lane (support+ad carry) are going. Usually this is bot side, red buff for blue side, blue buff for purple side. The reasoning behind this is that your botlane will be able to give you a smiteless pull which speeds up your jungling a bit as well.

After grabbing this buff without using smite, I go take the other buff immediately. After taking both buffs, you should have used about 3 Health Potions and be level 3. After this buff, you should be looking to gank either top or mid. This is really effective because the lanes are just next to your buff and it will not take you much time to walk there. Also, solo lanes are usually more effective to gank early because they will buy less wards (or none) since they have no support on lane.

Keep in mind that the enemy jungler usually goes for the same path, at least for the silver+ divisions this is really common. This way you might be able to set up a countergank (trap the enemy jungler with your lane allies) if you can predict where the enemy jungler is going correctly.

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X: E-Q Ganking paths and sneaking past wards

Because of the Demacian Standard - Dragon Strike combo, Jarvan IV has quite a few interesting ganking paths to sneak past wards, or to gank from lane. This chapter will explain some of them to give you a good idea of how to sneak past wards.

The wards on the images that I placed are there to clarify the positions of the enemy wards. If you have a hard time seeing the pictures because they are too small, you can open the image in another tab to see it in full size.

Ganking botlane when dragon is warded

Spoiler: Click to view

Ganking toplane when the river-brush and the enemy wraiths or mid lane are warded
Spoiler: Click to view

Ganking botlane through the enemy turret (as blue side), or if their lane is far overextended (as purple side)
Spoiler: Click to view

Ganking bot lane when the enemy mid and river brushes are warded (purple side), or if mid and tri brushes are warded (blue side)
Spoiler: Click to view

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XI: Your role in teamfights

This chapter is all about teamfights. What should you be doing in teamfights?

The answer is simple: You are a tank. A tank should initiate a fight, keep the enemy down with your crowd control and take as much damage as possible for your carries to survive.

As Jarvan IV, initiating a fight is quite easy. Usually, you can just E-Q in the middle of their team if you know your allies are following and knock up as much people as possible. At this point you want to use your Cataclysm, when everybody is knocked up (you can easily get 3-man knockups if the enemy groups up). Try to use it on the targets without escapes, and let your team kill them with your AoE.

In teamfights, keep in mind to always check when enemies use their gap closers because all your spells are a lot more effective when those are down. Also, make sure to use your actives ( Randuin's Omen) while you have people locket up in the Cataclysm.

You know you've done a good job at initiating the fight when you are the only one dying (perhaps with your other tank) and your carries still live, while the enemy carries are dead. That is what a tank is for, in the end. That is also why you will usually end up with scores like 5/3/20 if you have a good game.

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XII: To conclude

To conclude this guide, I hope you all enjoyed it and hopefully learned a few new things. If you have any more questions or comments, you can leave them in the comment section or PM me, I will usually reply within 2 days. Feedback is always appreciated.

I will be looking to add one more chapter in the upcoming days (I'm lazy), but the rest of the guide is finished right now.

5th of September 2013: Guide release
7th of September 2013: Added a chapter about 'sneaking past wards' - more work to follow in the upcoming day.