General Guide by Nusaik
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
I am still updating this guide.
Hello everybody and welcome to my ARAM guide for The Howling Abyss. In this guide I will cover many important things such as rules, strategy, itemization and roles. Also included are tier lists for each role and information about each champion (work in progress). I hope to give you an idea about the map so that you can actually play smart instead of running around randomly like many people do ;)
I hope you like this guide and find it useful. Please leave a rating and a comment, it really helps me improve. Have fun on The Howling Abyss!
Note - read before voting please!
If you're going to vote, please comment and make sure you've read the relevant parts of the guide first. Please don't downvote just because you don't like or agree with something I say. I explain every choice in my guide and give many alternatives. If you don't like something, comment and I will reply and consider changing it.
Updated the items and champions section (still work in progress).
Updated the guide for The Howling Abyss.
Edited the General Strategy and Champions chapters.
Added more champions to the full list. Editing the tier list.
Started a list with every champion and their strengths and weaknesses.
What is ARAM?
ARAM stands for All Random All Mid. It means everybody on both teams plays a randomly selected champion and everyone plays in midlane. This game mode was originally played on Summoner's Rift, assuming that players didn't break the rules (it happened a lot though). Then Riot decided it wa a fun idea and they made it available as a custom game mode on The Proving Grounds, a map consisting of a narrow bridge. This game mode enforced the rules, so people couldn't cheat. Later on, with the Freljord patch, Riot completely remade this map visually. It now has a cool ice theme and is called The Howling Abyss.
Now that you know how this game mode was developed, let's talk about the rules. It is of coure important to know them, so you don't get surprised. They're pretty simple though.
- Champion picking is random. You can earn rerolls, which allow you to random a new champion, by playing ARAM games.
- You can't recall to heal or shop, you can only do this when you die. After moving too far off of your base, you won't be able to shop anymore. Your base simply doesn't heal you.
- Certain items are not allowed (mostly snowball items and stack items).
- You gain extra gold and experience over time.
- Healing effects are reduced.
- Health relics spawn on the map.
Apart from these things, the game works as usual. Kill minions and champions to get more gold. Destroy the turrets and the inhibitor and destroy the enemy nexus to win.
This is how The Howling Abyss looks. It's basically just a bridge with some gaps and some brush. In terms of structures, it's the same as the middle lane in Summoner's Rift. You have 4 turrets, 1 inhibitor and 1 nexus (duh).
Now for some gameplay tips. In ARAM, five things are very important: poke, sustain, teamfighting, pushing and mobility. You want to let the ranged champions poke as much as possible, while the others stand in the back assisting them where possible. If you feel like you have the edge (all enemies have low HP, you're ahead in gold...) you can initiate a teamfight. You should be very aware of your position the entire time. Evade skillshots to stay as healthy as possible. This is of course easier if you have a mobile champion. Eventually you will take damage though, one way or another. This is when sustain (regen) really helps, since you can't recall to heal back up. If you're low on health, don't panic. Stay in the back and pick up health/mana relics when they spawn. These are located past each team's first and second turret and will get you decently healthy again.
Dying in ARAM isn't a disaster because it means you will get a chance to buy items. Generally you want to stay alive as long as possible though, even if you have a lot of gold. If you're low on health and want to shop, your best option is to get executed by a turret but this is really hard to do unless all enemies are dead.
It's ok to suicide in certain situations, just try to hurt the enemy team as much as possible before you die and tell your team what you're going to do. If you are low on health, you can also use this to your advantage. Bait enemies into attacking you and then use Barrier, Heal or any other healing abilities you have. This way, you can get them into bad fights and get a few kills for your team.
In a late-game situation (which are rare), it can be really important to have your entire team at full health at the same time. If some people are low, they can't do anything for your team. They will just die if the enemy team initiates a teamfight, and one lost teamfight can cost you the game. To sync your team's health bars, people who are low either have to heal (with abilities or relics) or suicide. If one or two people suicide, you will probably be able to defend 3v5 for a while. After that, your teammates will be back at full health and you can teamfight.
Pushing is pretty much always the best thing to do in ARAM. Obviously, you are not at risk of being ganked, because there is only one lane and your team is grouped all the time. Pushing has a lot of benefits. First of all, you need to destroy structures to win the game. Destroying turrets grants gold and will reduce safety for your enemies. Secondly, you will get a map advantage. By pushing, you will control a larger area of the map. This means positional advantages (brush). More importantly though, it will give you control over relics. Getting more relics gives your team a huge advantage in terms of sustain. Finally, pushing to turrets forces enemies into a bad spot. While they are trying to get the minions off of their turret and to get some farm, you can freely try to poke them down. It will be difficult for them to respond and their movement can become predictable. Also, there's a turret in the way, so they have less space for movement.
In conclusion, pushing is a good thing. The team that can push the hardest usually wins. Pushing is not always easy, sometimes the enemy team is just stronger. But when you can push, do it!
Here you can see a map with locations of relics (also called health relics) marked with green dots. These relics spawn at 03:10 and respawn after 40 seconds when they are collected. You can collect them by simply walking over them and they will grant you some health and mana/energy. Relics provide a large source of sutain and are very important. As you can see, there are two relics on each team's side.
As I've discussed before, taking away relics on the enemy's side can be really important. Relics are an important part of the gameplay on this map and there are multiple ways to gain control over them. The most obvious way is pushing. If the enemy team has no turrets or minions near their relics, it's much easier to take them away without much risk. Another way is zoning. If you have strong abilities, you can simply scare enemies away from relics by standing near them. If they do go for the relic, you can easily hit them with skillshots, because their movement will be very predictable (towards the relic of course). It's also possible to use traps on relics. A Jack In The Box, Noxious Trap or H-28G Evolution Turret can deter enemies from taking the relics. Even if they do pick up the relic, they will be punished by taking damage and possibly getting CC'd (which will make them an easy target for follow-up damage).
All in all, relics aren't simply things you pick up to heal. You can use them in many different ways and they affect the game heavily.
Aren't they cute? These little creatures walk around the map and run away from you when you get too close. However, you can feed them Poro-Snax if you take the
mastery. This will make them love you and get fat. Don't feed them too much though, who knows what could happen?
Now you might think they just serve aesthetic purpose. Aren't they just funny creatures walking around the map? No! You can actually use them to your advantage. When you see Poros running out of a brush, you know there are enemies inside the brush. You can even ping Poros to warn your team if you see this. It just goes to show you can use the cutest things to win wars and kill people.
Your item choices can be pretty different from those in a normal game. Gold per 10 items are good because you will get only about 1/5th or less of the CS you normally would. Even though you get more gold over time on this map, some GP10s can be really helpful. Furthermore, items that offer sustain (health regen, mana regen, life steal...) are a must for obvious reasons (you can't recall and stuff). Aura items are great too because everyone will be affected by them pretty much the entire time.
Most champions should be built differently for ARAM. Below I will discuss builds for different types of champions.
Pretty much build what you normally would, but whatever this is, rush Sanguine Blade. This item is extremely overpowered in ARAM because it grants so much life steal, meaning you can stay alive forever. Manamune is pretty good on mana-hungry champions like Urgot or Ezreal. Some AD carries might be better played AP in ARAM, to increase their poke damage. Examples are Kog'Maw, Ezreal and Corki. Some resistances won't hurt against poke-heavy teams.
It depends on the kind of support you are. Usually a mix between AP and auras works well. Most supports can poke pretty well. The auras will really help your team. Build enough tankiness to survive.
Certain items are much stronger in ARAM, while others are much weaker. I will talk about some (not all) great ARAM items below. Remember that these are just some examples, there are many more good items.
Howling Abyss only items
|| Guardian's Horn
I think it's very strong on pretty much any bruiser or tank. The stats are great, the active is great (and has a very low cooldown) and on top of that it's very cheap. It can really allow you to initiate small fights and do something instead of just sitting back, dodging poke.
|| Orb of Winter
A great item against the huge amount of magic-damage poke you will see in ARAM. The shield is small but has a low cooldown, which means it will effectively protect you from a lot of damage. This is the item to buy if you're facing mages, especially as a melee champion.
Gold per 10 items
|| philosopher's stone
Good on pretty much any champion with mana. The sustain is very helpful.
kage's lucky pick
|| kage's lucky pick
A good buy on mages.
|| Avarice Blade
Good if you can take a lot of farm. AD carries benefit from this the most but it's usually not a great item.
|| Sanguine Blade
Should be rushed on all AD carries and most bruisers. Offers infinite sustain if you get a decent chance to auto-attack.
|| Athene's Unholy Grail
Great for mages. It gives all the stats you probably need. Mana regen, AP and CDR greatly improve your poking strenth, while the MR protects you against mages from the other team (of which there are probably a lot).
|| Will of the Ancients
Amazing for all mages. It gives you and other mages on your team great sustain. It's good to have 1 or 2 on the team.
|| Rod of Ages
Another great item for mages. It provides extra health and mana, and regen at each levelup. Over time, you will get even more benefit from it.
|| Archangel's Staff
Great for high range poke mages like Ziggs or Xerath. They can just stay far away from danger and spam their abilities constantly. This will slowly kill the entire enemy team.
|| Locket of the Iron Solari
A great item for supports/tanks. It gives everyone on your team nice health regen. The active shield is great too. In this map, shields are great because healing is nerfed.
|| Frozen Heart
Gives mana so you can use your abilities more. But most importantly, it slows the attack speed of all enemies near you. This will significantly decrease their DPS.
|| shurelya's reverie
Great for sustain, but the active is the best part of this item. The movement speed boost is great for initiating teamfights if you want to.
|| zeke's herald
Really good on a team with a lot of AD champions. Gives them all more damage and important sustain.
In ARAM, champions are completely unbalanced. This is why it's usually random pick, so not everyone will get completely OP champions. The best champions are usually either poke champions, sustain champions or full tanks. Below are tier lists for the main roles.
Definition: Champions that can build for magic damage.
Tier 1: Kog'Maw, Lux, Nidalee, Janna, Xerath, Ziggs, Soraka, Fiddlesticks, Galio, Katarina
Tier 2: Brand, Cassiopeia, Veigar, Karthus, Kennen, Heimerdinger, Syndra, Orianna, Cho'Gath, Zyra, Anivia
Tier 3: Malzahar, Sona, Lissandra, Vladimir, Maokai, Twisted Fate, Viktor, Morgana
Tier 4: Gragas, Mordekaiser, Zilean, Swain, Ahri, Annie, Tristana, Diana, Nunu, Akali, Rumble
Tier 5: Teemo, Ryze, Karma, Elise, LeBlanc, Fizz, Kassadin, Evelynn
Definition: Champions that can build for physical damage and/or DPS with 4-5 items.
Tier 1: Caitlyn, Jayce, Kog'Maw, Ezreal
Tier 2: Urgot, Varus, Corki, Lucian
Tier 3: Ashe, Miss Fortune, Thresh, Sivir
Tier 4: Twitch, Graves, Kennen, Draven
Tier 5: Tristana, Vayne, Quinn
Definition: Champions with heals, shields or buffs. Supports without these abilities are listed as a tank, bruiser or AP carry.
Tier 1: Soraka, Sona, Nidalee
Tier 2: Lulu, Nami, Zilean
Tier 3: Janna, Taric, Kayle
Tier 4: Alistar, Thresh
Tier 5: Karma, Shen
Definition: Champions that can build full tank (with possibly some damage) and still be useful.
Tier 1: Blitzcrank, Dr. Mundo, Alistar, Galio
Tier 2: Maokai, Cho’Gath, Nautilus, Zac
Tier 3: Amumu, Malphite, Sejuani, Leona, Singed
Tier 4: Rammus, Skarner, Warwick, Hecarim
Tier 5: Jarvan IV, Taric, Shen, Nasus, Nunu
Definition: Champions that can build for both damage (AD or AP) and tankiness, and melee champions.
Tier 1: Blitzcrank, Jayce, Cho’Gath, Gangplank, Galio, Malphite, Rumble, Urgot, Sion, Zac
Tier 2: Maokai, Hecarim, Kha’Zix, Master Yi, Kayle, Amumu, Olaf, Warwick, Talon, Lee Sin
Tier 3: Aatrox, Yorick, Wukong, Darius, Trundle, Nidalee, Pantheon, Nocturne, Irelia, Xin Zhao, Garen
Tier 4: Jarvan IV, Jax, Vi, Nunu, Skarner, Fiora, Zed, Renekton, Volibear
Tier 5: Shyvana, Tryndamere, Riven, Udyr, Nasus, Shaco, Mordekaiser, Rengar, Poppy
Currently, the tiers are simply a way of ordering the champions. Tier 5 doesn't mean 'bad', it simply means 'worse than tier 1-4'. This is the only way to possibly order the champions, because of large differences in strength. If we would, for example, define tier 5 to be very bad champions, there would be no AP or AD carries in tier 5 at all.
In case you're playing draft pick, here's what your team comp should look like in my opinion:
- 2 casters. You need them for poking. Preferably long range, high damage champions. Also they provide some CC and can be very strong in teamfights.
- 1 AD carry. For your physical damage. Most can poke really well too and have high DPS. This is your main source of damage in teamfights and can sustain themselves very well with life steal.
- 1 healer. Doesn't have to be a support, just needs heals. Most of them can be built as tank or caster too. They (obviously) help out with sustain and usually also have CC or poke.
- 1 tank or bruiser. You need 1 good tank so pick a tank if you don't have one yet (your healer or AP could be one). Otherwise, a bruiser is also a good option, but take one with good sustain or good CC.
Here is a list of all champions. I gave each champion a score (0-5) for poke, teamfight, sustain and safety. These are the 4 most important qualities in ARAM in my opinion.
Note: all AD carries have a score of 3 for sustain because they should buy Sanguine Blade. I've also given certain champions that almost always build spell vamp or life steal a higher score.
It's a really long list, so I've split it up alphabetically. Click the spoilers to display the champions from that letter.
Champion List (new edition, being updated)
Here is a list of all champions. I gave each champion a score (0-5) for poke, sustain, teamfight, pushing, assassination and safety. These are the most important qualities in ARAM in my opinion.
- Poke - This is what everyone knows is great in ARAM. No recalling or easy lifestealing from jungle monsters make poke damage very strong. The map is also very small, which makes it harder to dodge skillshots.
- Sustain - Pretty much the opposite of poke. Aside from relics and Heal, there is no way to regen, meaning any healing abilities will be very beneficial.
- Teamfight - Mostly later in the game, teamfights will become very important. This is usually where tanks and other initiators get to shine.
- Pushing - Constant pushing is a very good strategy to win games systematically. Whenever you have the edge, try to zone the enemy team away and push the minions. Especially early-game this works very well.
- Assassination - The great strength of assassins is taking down low-health targets. In ARAM, everyone will get low eventually. Assassins can clean up well and get multi-kills.
- Safety - With safety, I mean anything that will protect you from taking damage or dying. This includes shields, escapes, certain CCs and more.
Note: all AD carries have a score of 3 for sustain because they should buy Sanguine Blade. I've also given certain champions that almost always build spell vamp or life steal a higher score. Other champions who should buy lifesteal/spell-vamp 99% of the time get points for sustain too.
It's a really long list, so I've split it up alphabetically. Click the spoilers to display the champions from that letter.
Picking summoner spells isn't really straightforward. Most of the time, you should pick different ones than you would in normal games. I will now talk about each available summoner spell.
Certainly the best summoner spell in normal games, but not always in ARAM. You can't use it to escape over walls, because there are no walls on the map. Also, escaping isn't really important, because if you barely escape with a little health, you will likely get killed after anyway. You should only get this spell on champions who can initiate teamfights, like tanks or certain casters. It will get them into the enemy team quickly.
Better than Flash for escaping and chasing, but worse than Flash for initiating and dodging. It can be good on certain champions like Hecarim or Nasus.
Good for sustain, but not very good because healing is nerfed on The Proving Grounds. It's good to have 1 on your team, but more is usually not really helpful.
A decent spell. Does some good damage and reduces healing. You should use it as much as possible as extra poke damage. Take it if the enemy team has a lot of healing.
The new summoner spell only available on The Proving Grounds. It's in my opinion the best spell for this game mode. It essentially does the same as Heal if timed well. But it grants more health, is not countered by ignite and has a shorter cooldown. Most of the time, this is the best spell to pick.
Great for mages. 1 or 2 champions with Clarity pretty much gets rid of all your team's mana problems.
|| Exhaust and Cleanse
Very situational spells. You don't often see these picked because they are very champion-/team-specific.
I'd like to say that ARAM is a very cool game mode. The main purpose of it is to have fun, but it can be also played very competitively. Even though a large part of it is luck, you can really improve and win more games. That's what this guide is for.
I hope you enjoyed reading my guide and found it useful! Please leave a comment and rating if you did and tell me what I can improve.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy The Howling Abyss!