Build Guide by Althalin
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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.
Hey there, I'm Althalin (or Alex, if you prefer). You probably don't know me (I try to keep a low profile), but I hope you'll take me at my word in this guide.
Now, I know that this close to release there are going to be a lot of very similar Brand builds, and most of them are probably much like mine. However, I'd like you to look past that fact. Frankly, if this guide helps one person play or build better, I've accomplished my goal.
That said, I'd like to welcome you to my guide/build for Brand, the Burning Vengeance.
Wherein I detail when I've updated the guide, and include the changes.
April 18, 2011:
-Added two sections: Troll Votes and a Nota Bene section. The Nota Bene section is located near the top of the guide, as it addresses issues with the stat sheet at the top.
-Pointed out that Conflagration has a casting delay, instead of being instant-cast. Credit goes to ElevenEleven for pointing this out to me.
-Also updated the Items section, outlining why I have (and don't have) certain items in my build.
-The farming section was also updated to inform people why they shouldn't use Pyroclasm on minion waves.
-Updated my Masteries section with reasoning for taking Good Hands.
April 17, 2011:
-Guide finally published. The wait for Mobafire to update their database is over!
Nota Bene: Important Things
-The stat sheet doesn't take into effect all of the factors. With this rune build, and these items, your final ability power will be roughly 634.76, which is significantly higher than the amount shown in the stat sheet.
-The stat sheet also doesn't show mana from Tear of the Goddess/ Archangel's Staff, so if you farm those up, you'll have 1000 mana more. This gives about 39 more Ability Power with synergy from Archangel's Staff and Rabadon's Deathcap.
- Sear may appear to pass through a champion, or miss despite being perfectly aimed. This is an issue with the 2D skillshot target being rendered in an isometric 3D environment.
-Every section of this build has a logical argument behind it. If you troll me, and say my build sucks/is arbitrary/has no supporting evidence, it's obvious you didn't read through the rest of the guide.
Pros / Cons
Amazing early game damage
Great single-target damage
Great area-of-effect damage
Perfect for mid-lane
Great combo damage
Good synergy with disablers/support champions
Great at ganking
Slow base movement speed
The damage-over-time from Blaze will trigger turret aggro
Expect to have your kills stolen
Expect to get some grief from random queue teammates
Somewhat expensive build
Did I mention squishy?
Rune are nice, but are by no means essential to play Brand well. Personally, I'd recommend a fairly standard caster runeset, being
9x Greater Mark of Magic Penetration,
9x Greater Seal of Knowledge,
9x Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power,
and 3x Greater Quintessence of Scaling Mana Regeneration.
This will give you magic penetration, mana, mana regen, and ability power.
If you feel your Brand is too squishy, or you want to get a better for-cost bonus from your seals, you can replace your Greater Seal of Knowledge stack with 9x Greater Seal of Vitality.
I use a slightly less common 10/0/20 mastery setup, as this gives you good mana regen, better use of your summoner spells (if you use the two I've recommended), and the necessary caster masteries (including free magic penetration and an increased mana pool).
If you use different summoner spells, or if you don't care for my mastery setup, feel free to change it. It is, by no means, essential. It's merely the best way I've found thus far.
Why take Good Hands rather than Perseverance? Doesn't that imply that you're expecting to die?
Quite simply, because of the math. It's in much greater detail in this thread, but I'll summarize:
How many of your recent games are perfect games? Probably almost none of them, right? (Co-op vs. AI games don't count). Fact is, you're probably going to die. It may be your fault, you might get ganked, you may just get focused down in a teamfight before you can get away. What I'm saying is that the 10% reduced time you spend dead is going to make a difference. How many times have you seen the enemy team take out your inhibitor turret and inhibitor, while you had just a few seconds left on the clock?
And before you ask, oh sarcastic ones, I'm not going to ask you to take Revive.
Ah yes, summoner spells. If a well-built character is a hot fudge sundae, the summoner spells are the cherry on top; it's not much of a sundae without a cherry, but a bad cherry can ruin the whole thing.
Personally, I use Ignite and Teleport.
Why? Because the extra mobility from Teleport is very useful for ganking, supporting a folding lane, or getting back to your lane quickly after going back to the spawning pool.
Ignite should be obvious - true damage plus a +20 per-level damage over time element helps get that first blood, and stop escaping champions throughout the game, not to mention the 50% reduction in healing on the ignited champion.
Other worthwhile summoner spells:
Flash, since it gives a good escape mechanism.
Exhaust helps stop fleeing champions, and it's useful for stopping a physical carry dead in their tracks. True, it doesn't fully blind anymore, but it still hurts.
Ghost is also a good escape/chasing mechanism, but is often overshadowed by Flash.
Spells I, personally, wouldn't use:
Clarity give you free mana, and since Brand's combo is heavy on mana usage, particularly early game, I can see the appeal. However, if you play right, you won't need this.
Clairvoyance is good for map awareness, but it's not essential. You should be warding anyways, so unless you're trying to peep in on the opposing gender's shower room, kind of a waste.
Ah yes, Heal. Useful for escaping, boosting your health, staying in lane, and all that good stuff. However, it's not worth sacrificing other spells for. That is, unless you're not a high enough summoner level to get other spells.
Rally, Fortify, Smite, and Revive should be pretty obviously neglected. I know people who swear by Revive, but I just can't see it.
Ah, the ever-essential skill sequence. I have a disclaimer that I'm just going to offload here:
Skill sequence is largely situational. This is less the case with Brand, but you may find yourself taking points in Sear before Conflagration, just because you're a fan of skillshots.
That being said, my skill sequence is as follows:
> > >
Starting at level 1, take a point in Conflagration. It gives good damage for harassing, and will be a staple of the sequence throughout. Take Pillar of Flame at 2, and one point in Sear at 3. Look familiar? Yes, I watched his spotlight, too.
Now, focus on maxing out Conflagration first, then Pillar of Flame, picking up Pyroclasm at 6, 11, and 16, as a good little summoner should. This leaves Sear as the odd skill out, to be maxed last.
And yes, I do have a reason for this sequence.
Why Conflagration before Sear?
Well, there are three reasons.
-First and foremost is the fact that Sear is a skillshot, whereas Conflagration is not. This may not hinder some players, but it's much easier to harass someone standing behind a line of minions if you're not using a skillshot.
-Second, you're not going to be relying on Sear to be doing a majority of the damage in your combo, nor is it your opener. From early game to the beginning of late game, the main use of Sear will be for the stun, allowing you to drop a Pillar of Flame on your target's helpless keister.
-Third, Sear has less utility. It's a single-target skillshot. The bonus from Blaze lets you stun an enemy with it, so it has good synergy with your other spells, but the damage component is not a staple. Conflagration, on the other hand, becomes a multi-target spell when you have Blaze up on an enemy, giving it great utility.
Conflagration does, however, have a short (0.5 second) delay before being cast. While the damage and the Ablaze effect make it perfect for harassing, the sometimes lackluster range and the cast delay can be dangerous.
Why Conflagration before Pillar of Flame? Pillar of Flame does more damage!
True, it does. It is also an area-of-effect spell without synergy from Blaze. However, it costs a lot of mana (comparatively), and is a delayed ground-targeted skillshot.
But what about those of you that don't want to take my word for it? Okay, I have some good reasoning. Rank 4 of Conflagration (yes, this is assuming you've followed my sequence) does over twice as much damage as Rank 1 of Pillar of Flame, and for only 5 more mana. In addition, it's a targeted spell, rather than a ground-target skillshot.
True, Pillar of Flame deals more damage at an equal rank, an it is an area of effect spell without Blaze being required, but it's just not mana effective, particularly since this build focuses on Brand's ability as a single-target nuker.
Blazing Synergy: Brand's Combo
I want you to take a close look at that. A really close look. See anything spectacular? No, not the "8% of the enemy's max health over 4 seconds" part. It was actually a trick question, because there's nothing there to tell you about Brand's spell synergy. His spell synergy is what makes Brand, for without it, he'd be just another second-rate caster with some bizzare form of pyrophilia.
What you really need to look at is the excerpts on the end of his spell descriptions:
Important bit: "If the target is ablaze, the target will be stunned for 2 seconds."
Important bit: "Units that are ablaze take an additional 25% damage."
Important bit: "If the target is ablaze, the conflagration spreads to nearby enemies."
Important bit: "If a target is ablaze, Pyroclasm's missile speed increases."
Each and every one of his spells has synergy with the others. Unfortunately, this means you have to sacrifice an Ablaze effect on one spell in order to gain it on the others. Here is where you learn why I use my combo the way I do.
Since I use Brand as a mainly single-target nuker, this means that the Ablaze effect I can afford to sacrifice is Conflagration's area-of-effect portion.
As such, the combo is as follows:
-Open with Conflagration, dealing a large chunk of immediate damage and setting the target Ablaze.
-Next, hit them with Sear for the stun effect and (to a lesser extent) the damage.
-Then, drop a Pillar of Flame under them. The stun will last long enough to hold them in place and let the Pillar of Flame do what it does best: Great damage, plus an extra 25% from the spell synergy.
-Hit them with Ignite if they run.
You'll notice Pyroclasm is absent from that list; it's because Pyroclasm is only useful when the target has other enemies nearby, as you can't bounce Pyroclasm off of yourself like Ryze can with Spell Flux. However, if your target is in a group (I'd recommend one no larger than three enemies), feel free to open with Pyroclasm (Reasoning detailed below), or use it to finish them off if they've run into the group.
Now, you're probably asking me, "Alex, why in the world would I want to OPEN with my ultimate, particularly since that means I'll be sacrificing the Ablaze effect?"
-Well, quite simply, because it's the exact opposite of what your opponent will expect. If you open with your ultimate, it'll be viewed as a newbie mistake, and they'll move in for the kill. This is a terminal error on their part.
-Actually, there's another reason. Pyroclasm deals really good damage, and if you're opening with it, the Ablaze effect isn't as important, since your enemy probably won't be trying to run.
Finally, I shouldn't have to tell you to make sure you can kill your target before they can get away. Don't rely on the damage over time portion of Blaze or Ignite, particularly at early levels. Many times I've missed getting First Blood because my target got away. Sometimes, that one extra autoattack can make all the difference. This is also a good argument for using Exhaust.
And now for the fun part, the part where you get my explanation for using the items I use. If you've read the entire guide thus far, it should be fairly apparent, but if you've just skipped down here to see, Welcome! Thanks for joining us! I'd appreciate if you had actually read my guide, but that's your prerogative.
Start out with a and two . You can actually start with a if you want, but I find the flat mana to be more useful in early game than the mana per 5 regen.
I recommend staying in lane until you have enough gold to get your and , but sometimes circumstances conspire. In that case, I'd advise focusing on the Sorcerer's Shoes first, because you need the movement speed, and the magic penetration is quite helpful.
So now that you've got those done with, start building your , getting the first if you can't save up the gold to buy it in one go. The spellvamp combined with your heavy damage will give you enough survivability to last for now.
I can hear you asking already, "Alex, why would I get the Will of the Ancients first? It's not that great of an item."
Well, with the buff to its spell vamp in Brand's release patch, and the fact that it grants +30 ability power and the spell vamp to surrounding allies, I'd say it's just the ticket. It gives you +80 ability power, which is nothing to scoff at, and some survivability.
comes next. This is an amazing item, giving +155 ability power, and boosting your ability power by 30%. This means that, since it boosts its own ability power, it'll give you an extra 180+ ability power, right off the bat.
The next item is situational (actually, doubly so). If you need the extra defense, I'd recommend building the first. If not, we come to the second situational part.
If you're playing against more tanky enemies, I'd advise getting the . If you're playing against more squishy enemies, I'd advise getting an instead.
So once you've gotten your and your / , it's time to round out your build by using that that you've had for so long. Simply put, build it into an . The bonus Ability Power from your maximum mana will be helpful, and you won't have to worry about building up the bonus maximum mana, as you should have that done by now, since it transfers from the .
And that's that, the build is finished. As always, if you decide you need to alter an item or two depending on your situation, that's entirely fine. In fact, I'd advise it.
Why no Mejai's Soulstealer?
Because I, personally, don't like relying on snowball items. Yes, it has everything you'd want on Brand, but it just doesn't rest very high on my list of items. If I could get a 7th item, though, it would be a Mejai's.
Why no Rylai's Crystal Scepter?
Okay, this one is a little less clear-cut than my argument against the Mejai's. While I agree that Rylai's is an extremely useful item, particularly on a nuker like Brand (hard to nuke if they've gotten away, eh?), it just doesn't fit into my build.
-Since the Sorcerer's Shoes are pretty much non-negotiable, I'll not explain why we won't replace those.
-The Will of the Ancients provides you with +40 Ability Power, plus it has an aura of +30 Ability Power and +25% spell vamp. As squishy as Brand is, and with his damage output, this is incredibly useful. Not to mention it'll aid your allies, as well.
-The Rabadon's Deathcap should be self-explanatory. It gives +155 Ability Power, and increases your Ability Power by 30%. That means this item in and of itself gives you roughly +180 Ability Power, not to mention the boost from your other items.
-The Void Staff/ Abyssal Scepter should also be fairly simple to figure out: Magic penetration is good, and they give you some Ability Power on top of that. If the other team is stupid enough to not be getting any magic resist while playing against a Brand, feel free to get a Rylai's instead of this; just don't count on it.
-The Banshee's Veil should be fairly self-explanatory as well. It helps make Brand slightly less squishy, and it can disarm spell combinations as well.
-The Archangel's Staff is what ties this build together. Since you will have had a Tear of the Goddess for quite a while now, it's worth building it into an Archangel's. This item gives mana, Ability Power, mana per 5, and it converts 3% of your maximum mana into Ability Power. Notice that this will be affected by Rabadon's, giving it good synergy.
Why Sorcerer's Shoes instead of Ionian Boots of Lucidity?
Quite simply because Magic Penetration is good, and Brand's cooldowns are short enough already. Now, I'm going to be frank: I've not run detailed tests wherein I compared his beefier damage output with the Magic Penetration to his faster damage output with the Cooldown Reduction, but since you can never be sure if you'll be able to get that second combo off, it's better to hit harder when you have them.
Playing the Game: Phases and Lanes
This section is probably the least important for you to read, as it's still a work in progress.
Quite simply, Brand is brilliantly suited for mid-laning. He has powerful harassing capability, good last-hitting ability, and gains a definite benefit from higher levels, unlike some character, who are more item dependent.
Early Game: Levels 1-8
Yes, unlike most people, I consider early game to last until level 8 (or the 20 minute mark). I do have a reason for that, detailed in the Mid-Game section below.
Anyways, early game you should start off with your Sapphire Crystal and health potions, and head off to the middle lane. I'm not going to bore you with the details of last-hitting so as not to push, but you should be aware that you can get first blood as early as 2:30. Depending on whether your lane opponent is stubbornly staying in their lane despite having low health, you can finish them off quite easily. Once you hit level 3 and get Sear, your harassment can begin in earnest.
I recommend staying in lane for as long periods of time as possible, and not leaving to gank until at least level 8 (or after you have your Sorcerer's Shoes and your Tear of the Goddess). By that time, you'll have enough killing power to begin branching out and ganking, providing your lane will be safe without you.
Mid-Game: Levels 8-15
By this time, you should have the two aforementioned items and be able to start your ganking career, since at this point you'll have enough opening damage with Conflagration to take out a significant chunk of health. If not, stay in lane until you're built up enough to be able to gank. If all is going well, your team should have destroyed at least one enemy tower, and you likely have at least two kills.
Once you start ganking, remember your combo and focus on squishier enemies; you don't have enough damage to take down a tanky enemy yet. This is going to be one of the more boring parts of the game, as you are going to be focusing on collecting enough gold to advance your build.
Late-game: Levels 16-18
By now, you'll have three points in Pyroclasm and probably at least your Rabadon's Deathcap and Will of the Ancients. At this point, you can probably destroy nearly any enemy in the game, though you'll likely have trouble with tanks until you finish your Void Staff. You're going to want to primarily stick with your team at this point, unless you're off ganking a lone champion. The main thing you have to remember is that you're a heavy-nuking mage, but not a carry. You will not be able to face off against the entire enemy team by yourself and emerge victorious.
Note that as soon as you feel comfortable with it (and if your jungler will let you/there's nobody that'll need it mroe), try to snag the Golem Buff as often as possible. The cooldown reduction is ridiculously helpful, and you won't have to worry about mana.
Less than optimal scenarios:
Someone else takes mid-lane:
Don't worry about it. Yes, it sucks, but it's not worth raging over. If this is the case, try to stick with a disabler. If your team is lacking one (what kind of team is this, anyways?), I'd advise going to the bottom lane. True, you won't have the bonus experience of the solo top lane, but you also won't have to worry about going 1v2. In addition, your heavy AoE damage makes you perfect for intercepting enemy runs at the dragon.
You're getting focused WAY more than you should be:
Well, I can't really offer much advice on this one. Remember to stick with your team, and focus the enemy support and carries in teamfights, first. Your Void Staff should give you enough of an advantage that you can deal hefty damage to tanks, but it's better to harass their back-line and remove their support, rather than trying to kill their tank.
Brand is actually an amazing farmer once you get some Ability Power and rank up Pillar of Flame and Conflagration. If you farm right, you can take out entire minion waves with just those two spells, and my creep score is usually 50-100 higher than any of the others, even whomever I'm mid-laning against.
If and when you end up clearing creep waves quickly, whether it's for farming purposes or just knocking out a huge wave of creeps that're charging haphazardly towards one of your towers, you only need Pillar of Flame and Conflagration, even just the former once you're fully built. Drop the Pillar of Flame in the center of the mass of creeps, and use Conflagration on one of the Ablaze survivors. You should be able to clear the back row of caster minions with this combo by level 5, with some items.
Having the ability to farm so efficiently is a definite advantage, particularly since this item build isn't cheap. It's also not horribly expensive, but still.
Oh! One other thing: I've seen many Brands using Pyroclasm to farm creep waves. Now, I shouldn't have to point out why this is a bad idea, but just for the record: I know it's not the most useful ultimate for killing champions, as it bounces randomly and deals mediocre damage, but that same mediocre damage split up amongst 5 minions is almost certainly a waste. Even if you're clearing a huge minion wave, a Pillar of Flame + Conflagration combo will work better, as there's no limit to the number of targets hit.
In conclusion, I'd like to thank all of you who've read through this entire guide. I know it's kind of wall-of-text-y in parts, and for that transgression, I do apologize. However, if you waded through all of it, and became a better player because of it, I think my work here is done. As such, I'd like to offer up another picture, in hopes of breaking up some of the monotony. Also, sorry for my excessive use of commas. I'm trying to cut back on my semi-colons.
Inb4: Why I don't care.
I'd just like to throw these out here:
inb4 "Why do you build Brand as a single-target nuker? He's an AoE champion, noob!"
inb4 "Ugh, ANOTHER Brand guide? -1 for spamming guides"
inb4 "wtf is with your masteries/runes/spells? Total noob setup"
"mastery tree, low ability power/survivability, decent mana and regen though
wow, and it looks like you copied the other guide that I just voted down because I didn't like the person -2..."