Volibear Build Guide by Pidge Softpaws
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Core Build Items
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.
Introduction - Not your average Volibear
So let me start off by saying this is far from the normal build for Volibear. If you continue to read this there's first a few things that need to be made clear and that you the reader need to understand. Volibear is not a tank (at least in this guide). Just because a champion is AD, doesn't mean that you can't put some AP on them (there are only a small handful of champions that are 100% AD or AP). Lastly, just because that's how everyone else plays a champion, doesn't mean that its right, I think there are many champions that are limited in their potential because people refuse to try using them outside of their accepted norm. Now that we have that out of the way, lets talk about that bear.
Most people view Volibear as a tank, I believe this stems from two of his abilitys. His passive, which upon reaching 30% health heals him for 30% of his total health. Yes, this is enhanced by him having more health, but what champion isn't better off with more health? The way I view it is, it allows a carry champion to lane just a little bit longer then his counterpart who starts off with a comperable amount of health. Second is his W ability. Which upon three stacks deals x damage and is buffed by his total health to deal more damage. I disagree with focusing on that aspect of the ability for a few reasons, first, its got a short drop off time for the stacks (4 seconds), its got a very short range (who hasn't chased an enemy half way down the lane just for your Frenzy stacks to drop before getting in range?), and lastly, the amount of damage it does isn't all that great until the later half of the game (when you finally are stacking a lot of health). Try and look at it like this, if you build with some attack speed yourself, you'll be able to bring Frenzy to bear (pun unintended) quicker and more often, and it will buff itself by Frenzys passive which increases your attack speed. Then there is the matter of his ultimate, which for 12 seconds deals damage with each of his basic attacks. Keep in mind that it also deals an equal amount of damage to an additional three other targets multiplying its damage by that much, so the more times you can get an attack off in that 12 seconds the multiplicative effects far exceed the damage output you lose from Frenzys active.
So when I say that Voli is an AD champion, that's not entirely true. While I build my AP champions (such as Annie and Ryze) as pure AP output, AD champions are a bit more complicated and I like to build them as more of a hybrid with a focus on AD. As I said before, most champions have both some AD and AP based abilitys. AD requires sustained engagements which only a few champions like Master Yi and Teemo have the means to stay on target long enough to make that happen, so that burst damage from your AP abilitys is essential to bring down enemy champions. Not to mention it makes you that much harder to counter with armor or magic resist if your building both! The benefits of a hybrid build far exceed the negligible effects of lost AD output.
Runes & Masteries - What works for me
Starting off in the Utility tree, my choices are primarily focused around mobility. Summoner's incite, Improved Recall and Mastermind as I am constantly using these abilitys to bounce around the map. The ability to put myself anywhere on the map that I'm needed is invaluable, even on small maps like Twisted Treeline often make the difference in being able to participate in team fights, back up a teammate about to get ganked or to exploit an ignored lane that minons have pushed to an enemy turret. War Dancer is picked to further enhance my ability to "be there" when my summoner abilities are on cool down or when chasing enemies down. Don't underestimate the value of mobility! Greed and Runic Affinity are more so quality of life choices and can be reallocated as your needs and play style dictate.
Following in step with my philosophy on hybrid builds my offense tree focuses on both AD and AP enhancement. Fury is essential on any AD build (not to mention its hard to start down the tree without it). Deadliness, Blast, Weapon Expertise, Arcane Knowledge and Havoc to increase overall damage output. If you don't see the value in my utility tree choices you can go further down the tree stacking points in Brute Force, Mental Force and Executioner.
My choice in Runes continues the theme. Straight Attack speed Quintessences and AD Marks for early game damage output and minion farming. Scaling AP Glyphs and Seals for late game burst damage when everyone's stacking more health and armor. I know that some people don't like straight or scaling Runes, so feel free to swap those out per your preference, but maintaining the balance between AD and AP in this build is essential.
Abilities and Summoner Spells - What works for you
Passive: Chosen of the Storm - One of the best passives in the game. Allows you to lane longer, serves as great taunt to enemys who want to dive on a seemingly low health Volibear and effectively nurfs Ignite. Many deaths have been prevented because of this passive.
E: Majestic Roar - I like to start my game by putting a point into this. Though many disagree with this tactic in favor of Frenzy I like it for several reasons. First, its there when I need it. I don't have to build up stacks like Frenzy to use it, which can be severely hindered if your against someone who's super poky and you can't keep your stacks up from minion kills. Secondly it slows enemy champions and fears minions, which is especially helpful in keeping you engaged or allowing your lane partner or jungler to make their attacks on the target. Lastly, because its an AOE I find it very effective in farming minions, either by opening with it and picking them off while they're still feared, or by timing it just right to get the kill on several at the same time.
W: Frenzy - With its stacking attack speed passive, Frenzy only makes an AD build that much more powerful. As for its active, with its impossibly long 18 second cooldown, because it does more damage based off the percentage of health the enemy is missing, and because its the only ability of Volibears that has any range (however short it might be), Use this ability as a finishing shot or if the enemy is trying to run away.
Q: Rolling Thunder - Perhaps the most misused of all of Volibears abilities, Rolling thunder should never be used to open an attack. When you open with Rolling Thunder it makes you predictable, its highly visible when you activate it and easy to counter with a stun or a slow, or simply by staying out of range. Instead I will always open up with a simple auto attack or Majestic Roar while they're still willing to engage, save your Q for when they've decided to make a break for it and your E's slow has died off. Keeping the target engaged for the longest period of time, especially if they're trying to escape, is not only frustrating for them but makes you an unpredictable challenger. Saving your Q also makes it available for you should you need to break the engagement and run away.
R: Thunder Claws - Its powerful, there's not much else to say. With your scaling AP Runes and Masteries starting to noticeably kick in around the time Thunder Claws becomes available to you and growing there after, it only gets more powerful. The only tactics I can offer with this are, wait until your assured the enemy has committed to the engagement. Don't burn you most powerful attack right when the team fight starts only for enemys to flash out of the fight right after you do. Nothing irritates me more then burning my ult for nothing. Also, don't forget that it jumps. If you have to attack a minion mob to get those last killing shots on an escaping enemy, then do it!
Summoner Spells really come down to personal choice. That said, Flash is probably the best spell in the game, and if you don't know how to effectively use it, you should practice it until you do. There is no single spell as versatile as Flash, be it used as an escape, to chase or to engage. Seriously, if you don't use it, Start. Teleport is my second choice for the mobility it affords me but when it comes down to it, use what you like.
Items - Where people really start to question me...
I like to start my game by buying Doran's Blade. Though sometimes I pick up Doran's Shield depending on what champions the other team is rolling. Ether one offers great early game stats and with Volibears Passive, you can do without potions for the first few levels if your careful. Feel free to sell this at your discretion, I tend to wait until I'm out item slots.
Volibears Main build starts off with Berserker's Glaves and Statikk Shiv. AD Volibear is all about attack Speed and the faster you can get these two items the better. Statikk Shiv was made for Volibear, if the lightning bolts weren't a dead give away of that. It buffs just about every one of his abilities in a significant way. Believe me, you'll feel the difference in him after you get your Shiv. Next is Aegis of the Legion, A great all around defense item that buffs everyone around you to boot. Depending on how your game is going you might want start building this before you Statikk Shiv by getting the Ruby Crystal. Just remember, your not building a tank, Your priority is the Shiv. The last part of your core build is going to be two Guinsoo's Rageblades. Yes, two. While you do lose out on a unique that you would otherwise have, its relatively cheap at only 2600 gold and provides a decent amount of AD, AP, it builds attack speed just like Frenzy and once you hit 50% health you you gain 10% Spell Vamp and Lifesteal which will keep you in the fight that much longer. If your still really against the idea of getting two of the same item, then buy Trinity Force. Same goals I have in mind, just a little more expensive.
Your end game build is going to become more discretionary depending on how your game is going. Upgrading you Aegis of the Legion to the Runic Bulwark is always a good start since its only 1000 gold and it will help your entire team in team fights. If you find yourself dying more often then you'd like Warmog's Armor will be more then enough due to the Armor and Magic Resist you already have from you Bulwark. If dying is not an issue for you then I would recommend Trinity Force. It just makes every stat you've already been building that much more better. Don't forget to upgrade your boots with the enchantment of your liking. I recommend Distortion (I hope by this point that's not much of a surprise). Lastly if you find yourself bouncing between lanes or otherwise still in need of mobility, swap out your Berserker's Glaves for Boots of Mobility. By this point you won't notice the lost attack speed.
Jungling - If you decide to jungle Volibear, I would still start off with a Doran's Blade, but before starting on Berserker's Boots or Statikk Shiv, build yourself a Spirit Stone to enhance your ability to farm monsters. Later you can upgrade it to ether Spirit of the Elder Lizard or Spirit of the Ancient Golem (depending on how your game is going) just as you would have done with Aegis of the Legion.
Tanking - If for whatever reason, you do find yourself having to build as a tank. If your game is going just that bad... continue on the build as before, but instead of buying your two Guinsoo's Rageblades, grab a couple of Warmog's Armor's and finish it off with an Guardian Angel.
Summary - Just so we're clear
AS stated previously, this is not your average Volibear build, and using it effectively will require you to rethink how and when Volibears abilities should be used as well as where you should be in team fights. Your not as tanky as your used to, you should not be the first one to engage in team fights. Use your abilities to control the fight, you have a slow, fear, charge and fling at your disposal. Don't burn through them in the first two seconds of a fight. Remember, You have the advantage. The other team is expecting you to be a low damage tank.
Volibear is an extremely versatile champion who can in a pinch take up any role that needs to be filled. A strong AD/AP hybrid who's hard to negate, a decent Jungler with built in survivability and amazing ganking potential, and as much as it pains me to say so, if required, a not so bad tank should you have to use him as such.
With all that, I encourage everyone to give Volibear a second look and try him out for yourselves. Please share your experiance with and against The Thunders Roar and leave a comment. If you have ideas or suggestions please leave them. I'm always looking at ways to improve my build.