Build Guide by DaleDrengus
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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.
Let me begin by saying I hate Brand. He's annoying. He's aggravating. He's a douche. He's a tool. He has a flaming brohawk (fine, I'll admit it, I think that's dope, in its own douchey way). And yet, I find I do consistently well with him. I highly recommend him to be your next change of pace from whatever caster you've fallen head over heels in love with. Maybe he needs a nerf, and he'll probably receive just that, so take this guide with a grain of salt.
At any rate he's a fantastic new mage-carry that excels early on at antagonizing the last hope for humanity out of people, and nuking like Three Mile Island later on.
Some things to keep in mind when playing this champ:
1.) He's extremely vulnerable. Low HP combined with no escape mechanism means that you'll be a ganker's delicatessen. Further, you have to know how to stay on the edge of the fight and let your tanks tank.
2.) He's heavily combo-based. If you have trouble figuring out combos, are dyslexic, or are extraordinarily indecisive, go play Master Yi.
3.) He's heavily reliant on skill-shots, and also timing skill shots. If you've never had success aiming your spells while using other champs, go back to playing Master Yi.
"My passive already gives me like a super ignite, so doesn't that make this summoner spell redundant?" Not even, babe. What's better than an awesome DoT? Obviously TWO awesome DoTs! I can personally attest that Ignite has counted for a significant number of my kills both early and late in the game. Eating away at a percentile and a flat rate of health at the same time is just too much for me to pass up.
Brand has no escape mechanism. And while Ghost is cool, if you can't get out of harm's way instantaneously, you're dead. I will probably never play AP Brand without Flash.
Other spells to consider:
Ghost - The Ghost/Flash combo is the pretty standard squishy survival kit. Not a bad choice, but a I feel that once I have Rylai's I outpace my opponents by enough to the point that this spell is superfluous.
Teleport - I constantly regret not having this spell, but living esthetically, I would regret having this spell and not another one. It's never a bad idea to have at least one guy on your team with Teleport, so don't hesitate to pick it up if nobody else is.
Heal/ Clarity - These are pretty helpful for about the first 5-10 minutes, but after that you're not going to see much use out of them.
Don't bother with anything else
Runes and Masteries
No surprises here.
One point of contention is between Expanded Mind and Awareness. It's hard to say, but I've found level advantages have the potential to yield much more impressive results than some extra mana.
No shockers here either.
Flat AP Glyphs are cool, but I think per level AP Glyphs are cool too.
To be honest, I'm still playing with my Greater Quintessence of Health x3 because I got bored with blowing all my IP on runes, and they've been working out fine.
But I nonetheless recommend MagPen Quints to max out your damage. I choose them over AP Quints any day, because it's easy to build AP with your items, but it's fairly cumbersome to build Magic Penetration.
The thing about casters is, that there are so many options that work fine and will send you on kill streaks. Most everything provides roughly the same amount of AP and has bonus passives that you'll make use of. So what does that mean? It means that every caster can win a game relatively easily by building:
So go ahead and build that, it's fine. For those interested, I have provided a slightly more nuanced build catered to this specific champion, which I will now explain:
This is a caster's best friend. Outside of Ryze I can't really think of any mage that would be better off starting with something else. Sure, Sapphire Crystal or Meki Pendent would jump start you on your way to building the Tear, trust me, you have time to build that from scratch. In the meantime, Doran's Ring will allow you much more braggadocio in your lane than you could ever hope for from anything else.
Tear of the Goddess
Being a superb harasser, and dependent on spell combos, Brand is exceptionally reliant on mana. Tear of the Goddess practically solves any and all mana woes you may have had. Plus, picking this up early, and skill-spamming like only Brand can, will mean that you'll see a large DPS boost when you eventually build the full Staff.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
This may be very well be Brand's most important item. The slow is immense not only for keeping you alive and chasing and whatnot, but for ensuring that your skill shots actually hit their intended target. It's kind of like what Swain gets to do with his bird buddy, only you're breaking the laws of physics and freezing them with fire(?). At any rate, the HP is also more than welcome; everything about this item is perfect for you. BUY THIS ITEM.
Pretty obvious choice. More MagPen is always better. Mercury's Treads would be nice, but get real, if they CC'd you, you're probably already dead no matter how long the stuns last. You have enough range to stay out of harm's way, so buy Sorcerer's Shoes and do your job.
It would be pretty weird to have the Tear and then not have the Staff. But whatever, this will completely eliminate mana troubles and will give you some seriously gnarly AP.
Yeah buddy, you just got ripped. This is the biggest AP booster in the game, so if you're trying to nuke without it, get a life. Some people like to rush this, but I personally feel that that slows your early-game down too much, and you lose the crucial utility other items will provide to get you safely through mid-game. Once you have the farming power from other items, you should have no trouble nabbing this and then burning everybody in front of you down.
Hey, guess what: you can't do any damage when you're dead. Banshee's is one of the best options for survivability in the game, and the defensive item I get 90% of games. It blocks mean spells as well as giving you a healthy dose of Magic Resist (and I find in most games, there's more magic damage floating around than physical damage). Further, you get some HP (nice) but better yet you get some many, which with Archangel's Staff is partially converted into AP (NICE!) In the "Alternatives" section, I'll explore some, well, alternatives.
If you get to lucky item #6, my first question is: why haven't you won yet? And my second question is: can I really give you a definitive answer as to what should fill this slot? Well, no. Unless it's your wife that's asking me that (for that I've got an answer alright). Zhonya's is convenient because it gives you loads of AP, some useful armor, but one of the best survivability actives in the game, especially at a point in time when you'll likely be taking the brunt of opposing focus-fire. It generally makes sense to pick this item as it provides the best balance between killing and not-dying, but some games, balance isn't what you're after.
It's been my experience that you should never ever build without at least one item for defense, barring the obvious exceptions that you're up against one of those teams that's too bad to surrender. So which one to get?
Frozen Heart - This is the item I almost always end up with when I don't pick Banshee's. Aside from providing practically the highest amount of armor in the game (meaning that this is the item to buy against fed physical carries), it provides loads of mana (and thus, some more AP) as well as a bunch of CDR, which is a really great stat for this champ.
Guardian Angel - This is a really good item to get if you're already winning, and want to ensure that you keep on winning. It's also a wise choice if you're on a lengthy killing spree so that you can prevent opponents from getting a serious bonus out of your demise. Combining this with Zhonya's Hourglass is basically unfair, while coupling this with Banshee's Veil will make you the most durable mage out there.
There are various other options, but they're so situational I don't feel they warrant their own section (i.e. Thornmail, Quicksilver Sash).
These are all items that usually could go to replace Zhonya's Hourglass, but if you detest Archangel's Staff for some reason, could take that spot as well (though I think that would be a mistake).
Lich Bane - I frequently pick this item up, not necessarily because I think it's the best choice, but just because I think it's really cool. Getting an extra 400 or so burst proc is nice, and can be invaluable if your team is having trouble pushing towers down. MR, Movement, and Mana are also included in the price, so it's a good all-around item to have.
Morello's Evil Tome - When I first saw Brand, I thought this was the item that was made for him, being as CDR seemed to be the best thing a combo-caster could hope for. But as I played, I found my cooldowns weren't killing me that much, and I had more success stacking AP than stacking CDR. That said, this item is certainly not without merit: I'm pretty sure at max CDR, you can use Sear to apply Blaze, and then recast it to stun before the debuff wears off. Definitely something to think about. Plus MP5 never hurt anybody.
Void Staff - If you have the misfortune of facing intelligent tanks.
Will of the Ancients - I'm not sure why people are more excited about SpellVamp on Brand more than on other similar nuke-casters like Annie, Malzahar, or LeBlanc. I guess Blaze gives you a nice HoT every time you harass, but whatever. I have always thought that SpellVamp was cool, and some of the recent patches hint that it might have a bigger role to play in the game in weeks to come, so I don't really have any argument against buying this.
Abyssal Scepter - This is a good hybrid MR/AP item, but I don't think that Brand takes as much advantage from the passive aura as other champs do. As Brand, your aim is to stay out of the thick of the fight, meaning that you won't be applying the debuff to nearly as many opponents as would say Fiddlesticks or Mordekaiser.
Rod of Ages - I can't really explain it, but this item just doesn't seem to fit in my build. It just doesn't feel right to me when I use Brand. I'll keep playing and see if I can provide a more elucidating explanation for leaving it out.
An Argument Against Snowball Items
Yeah, I know they're really good against people that are just flat out much worse than you. But in real games where you're equally matched, life ain't so easy. I mean, it's a tale as old as time:
You build up a bunch of Mejai's stacks, effectively painting a massive target on your head. As a result, you inevitably get ganked. Suddenly you're only 2/3 the man you used to be. This throws off your game and your team chemistry. As a result, you guys lose the ensuing team fight. Now you're not half the man you used to be! GG. I don't know, maybe that won't happen, but I think consistency is one of the most important things in the game, and you lose that when you buy stacking items.
This is the least exciting of your abilities. It has two primary functions: (1) Applying Blaze and (2) Stunning an opponent with the Blaze debuff. Other than that it acts as just another component of your DPS for you to spam in the thick of the fight. I don't recommend starting with this skill at level one because it's more difficult to hit with, and it only has the potential to deal damage to one champ. However, your first couple of games you may want to pick this up initially anyway so you can have a relatively danger-free period of time to practice aiming and firing it so that once you're able to use it to stun, you blast enemies with deadly accuracy.
Pillar of Flame
This is your main damage spell, and for serious it hits hard if you've set the target ablaze. The timing is a little awkward, but you'll get the hang of it eventually. The best advice I can give you is: since matchmaking tends to put you against players about as good as you, you'll be playing against people that think a lot like you do, so just look at what they're doing and think about what you would do next, and then cast your spell there. But don't think too hard about it, because you'll take too long and miss the opportunity. Try to aim it near the creep wave so that if you miss the champ at least you can last-hit some minions (and not totally waste your mana).
This is a very useful spell. You should always be looking to use this spell to spread Blaze. Don't bother harassing with it, and in most cases try to avoid initiating with it (more on that below). An exception is that this is a really great zoning tool. If a minion is ablaze and your opponent is in the thick of the creep wave, cast Conflagration on said minion to hit the champ. This is useful not just for harassing, but to set up further combos such as a stun out of Sear or more damaging attacks from Pillar of Flame.
This is just a big fat ultimate that does a lot of damage. Save it for when the enemy is bunched up, and always take advantage of multiple opposing champs debuffed by blaze. When attacking a single opponent, it works best if there are creeps nearby so that it can bounce around potentially hitting said enemy multiple times.
As Many Combos as City Wok
So now we get to talk about what really makes Brand a fun champ to play, his combos. It's important that you figure these out (please inform me of more if you have them) in order to have success; casting your spells in the right sequence is the difference between a kill or not, dying or thriving.
Ideal Max DPS Spell Rotations
Your goal here is to apply Blaze using Conflagration so that you can land your stun with Sear. Because they're not moving, it'll be super easy to land your Pillar of Flame with the 25% damage boost. If they're in the midst of enemy creeps, cast Pyroclasm as it will like hit your opponent more than once bouncing around in the minion wave. If not, save it until you're ready to last-hit (which could be at the end of the first rotation).
Because team-fights generally take place in a much more confined area, stunning is less crucial for landing your skill shots. We can focus instead on maxing out our DPS on as many enemies as possible. The idea is: Use Sear to apply Blaze to the most exposed enemy champ, Conflagration will then spread Blaze to the rest of the team. Cast Pyroclasm while they're still grouped close together, so that it'll hit each champion more times, more quickly (with Blaze, the projectile speed will be much faster as well). Then try and pick off survivors with Pillar of Flame (boosted by 25%).
Of course, you may want to cast Pyroclasm last depending on how close the enemy champs are to each other.
Practical Spell Rotations
Unfortunately, more likely than not, you won't be in the perfect position to pull off your perfect combos, but these work nearly as well.
Unfortunately, Conflagration is your spell with the shortest range, so initiating 1v1 fights with it isn't all that common. You then have two options:
1.) You want to get the maximum damage possible given your situation, so you use Sear to apply Blaze and then blast them with Pillar of Flame to get the 25% damage boost, and then finish out with your other spells. This is the most difficult of all your rotations because it's easy to miss with Sear, defeating the purpose of initiating with that spell, and it can also be difficult aiming Pillar of Flame without the person being stunned. Plus, you simply can't pull this off if there are too many creeps in the way, as they'll block Sear and ruin it. But if you get it right, you can pretty much erase any and all squishies. Having Rylai's Crystal Scepter makes this infinitely easier.
2.) This is more reliable, though deals less damage. It's much easier to aim, and to get around minions with Pillar of Flame to apply Blaze. From there, you can Stun with Sear and let loose your other two spells, which should hopefully kill them. Rylai's again will keep them in range for your opening spells to come off of CD.
This is when it's simply too hectic to try and get an enemy champ with Sear (maybe too many minions, etc.). Just try and hit as many opponents as you can with Pillar of Flame. You can then use Conflagration to spread Blaze to anybody you missed, at which point nuke with the accelerated Pyroclasm. Closing with Sear will stun somebody, so it's perfect for cleaning up or foiling escape plans.
Initiating with Pyroclasm or Conflagration is never a good idea because Pyroclasm is too easy to avoid without the Blaze debuff, and Conflagration loses most of its utility without the Blaze debuff.
Other Notes on Gameplay
If you understand your combos, you're pretty much set for any 1v1 combat, lane combat, gank, or team-fight, just use the combo that produces the desired effect for each situation.
Should I Mid?
This is a good question. The short answer is: If somebody else really wants it, let them have it; if no one else can do it, take it.
Reasons to take the Middle Lane
1.) Level advantage - taking mid means that there are 4 champs on the map that you can annihilate on the slightest whim for the opening minutes of the game.
2.) You get free reign to farm minions, and if the guy across from you is significantly worse, you'll get fed without putting any effort into it.
3.) You don't have to worry about any lunatic lane buddies pulling your squishy *** into death traps.
Why you aren't the best mid
1.) You have no defensive spells - You have no escape mechanism, you have no shield, and you have no means of regenerating health. If your opponent out-harasses you, you're done for.
2.) You have no insta-kill mechanism - unike Annie, Ashe, or Malzahar (to name a few), you have nothing to catch your enemy with their pants down, and force them to take a fatal whooping. Instead you have an unwieldy stun and a lethargic skill-shot nuke.
Reasons to go the side lanes
1.) Safety - If you don't get to lane with a tank, at least you'll be with somebody that can take some of the harassment for you, making it less painful that you have no defense.
2.) You have a lane partner to distract - This makes it easier to land your skill shots, because where in mid, your opponent will be entirely involved in watching for your Pillar of Flame, side lane opponents get focused on attacking the other guy, which can allow you to catch them off-guard with your spells much more easily.
3.) Bushes you can actually use - This is huge because it not only allows you to get in range to harass without being targeted, it also provides an element of surprise so that it's not totally obvious when you're casting your spells (which makes them easy to avoid).
4.) Greater likelihood of getting kills - If your middle lane opponent is as good as you are, neither of you will get much more than one or two kills. But with a good lane partner, you can rack up big kill counts on even equally matched opponents.
Summa Summarum, Brand is a good mid, but there are far better choices.
Should I Skill Spam?
You know it, gurl. Your middle name is Harry ***, and harass you shall! Pay attention to your mana, and slow your volleys down once you get low--but not so low that you're out of mana to cast your spells. Your mana-regen with Doran's Ring should be competent to allow you to rebuild your mana pool quickly enough.
Mainly use Pillar of Flame to harass, but Sear can be useful for surprise trick shots through minion waves and the like. Your goal is to keep Blaze on your opponents for as much time as possible. Remember that once you have Conflagration anybody with the Blaze debuff can be turned into AoE damage. Always try to make your harassments hit minions at the same time as champions.
Who should I lane with?
Your best bet would be any bulky champ with any kind of CC (excepting Silences, which are only useful to you defensively, at least in many cases). This makes it much easier to land Pillar of Flame and Sear which can have devastating consequences for your opponents.
Somebody that can heal you would be your next best bet, as it dampens some of your defensive weaknesses.
If you don't get to lane with a tank or a support, try and roll with somebody really loud. If the people across from you are paying you less attention, you'll take less damage while dealing more damage--good deal!
Happy Camping - Thank You
Hey, thanks for reading through my guide!
If there's anything I didn't say that you want advice about, let me know, and I'll add it (at my leisure). I appreciate both criticism and praise (as long as its directed and informative), so be vocal, and be sure to vote! I also appreciate anybody calling me out on typos, bad grammar, and otherwise uncouth writing.
I'm sure there will be some stuff I have to change after the next patch (and patches on into the future), but I'll try to stay up to date.
Sorry to require comments to vote, but it's the best way for me to get useful feedback.
And remember, if you feel a burning or itching sensation in your crotch, it's not Brand. It's probably crabs or herpes or something worse, and you need to get that checked out immediately.