Volibear Build Guide by shukmeister

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League of Legends Build Guide Author shukmeister

Comprehensive Solo Top Volibear

shukmeister Last updated on April 6, 2014

BRUISER/AGGRESSIVE/TANK/AP

[VS]

PEELER

Guide Top

Introduction



Hello Summoners!

My name is shukmeister and welcome to my Volibear guide! Since day one playing League, Voli stuck out from the crowd as my undoubtedly favorite character. We share a lot in common:

    - We are both Russian
    - We are both furry (hell yea beards)
    - We both yell a lot
More importantly, however, is the unique mixture of health and attack speed which makes Voli the beastly champion he is. Over my League lifespan I have experimented with many Volibear builds and setups. I have seen almost every guide, forum post, and youtube video on Voli and have studied the builds of many top tier players. This guide is the accumulation of this research and my attempt to make Volibear a competitive force as a solo top laner.

As the most underappreciated champ in League, Volibear has been subject to metagolem mentality that has crippled his potential. Wrongly thought of as a tank, Voli is actually classified as a bruiser because of the ridiculous amount of damage he can deal. The traditional, metagolem builds commonly found on Voli ruin his team fight damage potential and make him look unviable in competitive circuit.

Voli is NOT a tank. Although stacking healh has dual synergy between Chosen of the Storm and Frenzy, his initiation is sub par and he has no damage mitigation ability. Building Voli as such impairs his damage and utility.

Voli is also a very sub-optimal jungler. His clears are slow, he is prone to counter-jungling, and his sustain is unreliable. As a bruiser, Voli belongs in top lane.

This guide will teach you proper Volibear gameplay, mentality, and build structure.

If confused about any terminology, the last chapter explains all the terms used in this guide.

Some example scores:



Season 3 scores:



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Mentality



I have dedicated an entire section on mentality because of how important it is to playing Volibear correctly. Without understanding the purpose behind your kit, you will not be able to harass, lane, and position yourself to full effect.

Many people misunderstand Volibear and subsequently play him incorrectly. For example, several people have asked me why Voli's ultimate is so useless. They argue that all of his skills have some inherent utility and damage, but that Thunder Claws is worthless and doesn't work with his kit. I completely disagree. Thunder Claws is easily his strongest and most important ability, even more so than Frenzy. It is so important that your build must go out of the way with items that increase its effectiveness.

Voli's ultimate has beastly single target on hit proc damage. At rank 1, this number is 75 magic damage. To put it in perspective, this doubles the damage of each of your hits at lvl. 6. Couple this with a lengthy 12 second duration and factor in the amount of hits you can land in this time span. Fortunately, all of your abilities have synergy dedicated to sticking to an opponent. Once you are landing ultimate empowered swings, Majestic Roar slows the opponent and Rolling Thunder helps you keep him in place. Frenzy's passive will also allow you to hit more times during the duration and an early Phage will give you even more sticking power.

To top it all off, your ultimate jumps to 3 other enemies! This quadruples the insane damage you already do. Not only does this make you a fearsome laning opponent, but you also have devastating team fight potential.

It is impossible to build resistances against Volibear, for the damage you deal is split between AD and AP!

In team fights, volibear also acts as an excellent carry defender. Anyone that charges your carry can be flung away and slowed for long enough to be killed. On top of that, you effectively damage the entire enemy team by hitting one champion with Thunder Claws.


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Summoner Spells

Best picks

Flash: The most versatile summoner spell for it can be used offensively, defensively, and to set up ganks. A Rolling Thunder + Flash flip combo can also catch an enemy off guard and secure your team a kill.

Ignite: Excellent for securing kills and messing with that pesky Dr. Mundo.




Viable picks

Heal: You will come across many situations in which you are bursted before Chosen of the Storm can heal you back up. This spell is the perfect solution to these situations, allowing you to boost enough health for your passive to take effect.

Teleport: Good spell to take on traditional Voli, in which farming is extremely vital. Can also be used to port in on a mid, bot, or dragon engagement so that you can help your team.

Ghost: Take this if you don't have Flash available. This spells works very well with the AP Volibear build because it allows you to stick onto targets and land more Thunder Claws strikes. You can also use it in conjunction with Rolling Thunder to catch anyone running away from a fight.

Barrier: Works wonders in conjunction with your passive. For ultimate trollage, run both Barrier and Heal!


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Runes

Runes

Greater Mark of Attack Damage
9

Greater Seal of Armor
9

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
9

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
3

Reasoning:

Greater Mark of Attack Damage - Adds more damage to your combos and helps with last hitting.

Greater Mark of Attack Speed - More attack speed gets you Frenzy stacks faster and allows you to land more Thunder Claws hits.

Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration - If you can spare the IP, these will compliment your hybrid damage the most.

Greater Seal of Armor - Almost every top laner has some form of AD, and this is a must have standard pick. Voli loves health, and this makes each point more valuable.

Greater Seal of Scaling Health - Another good defensive choice, for each point in health boost your kit in multiple ways. Consider these if you're against a passive early game opponent (i.e. Nasus).

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist - Scaling magic resist is good preparation for mage dominated mid game. Strong standard pick for all tanks/bruisers.

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed - My favorite quints. These give you sticking power, travel speed, and faster escapes. Combined with proper masteries and Rolling Thunder, you will easily escape most ganks. Once you go swiftness Quints, you never go back.

Greater Quintessence of Health - A fun quint to take if you're running the indestructible build. Although it has good synergy with your W and passive, it falls off in effectiveness as the game progresses.


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Masteries

Masteries
4/4
2/2
2/2
2/2
1/1
3/3
1/1
3/3
3/3
1/1
1/1
1/1
4/4
1/1
1/1

Reasoning:

These are the masteries I take on the majority of my games. As a melee champion, the bonus tenacity and slow reduction is huge. With these masteries and the right choice of items, it will be impossible to kite you. The survivability from these masteries also allow me to purchase more offensively oriented items.

Recovery - This large chunk of early health regen is changing the top lane meta. Adds survivability in lane where Voli would otherwise not have much.

Swiftness - An amazing mastery that, in combination with Boots of Swiftness, will make you impossible to slow down. This is vital on an auto attack dependent champion like Voli.

Legendary Guardian - In combination with Swiftness , your CC reduction will be through the roof.

Second Wind - This new mastery was practically made for Voli. Legit synergy with Chosen of the Storm, for both proc in close proximity.

Several points in the offensive tree improve your utility throughout the game.

Sorcery - I choose CDR over AS because our build innately has a lot of attack speed. What we lack is CDR, a stat vital on Volibear.


Masteries
4/4
3/4
3/3
1/1
1/1
3/3
1/1
1/1
3/3
1/1
2/2
2/2
1/1
3/3
1/1

Reasoning:

I take these masteries when my team needs more damage over defense. They compliment the aggressive build very nicely and greatly increase the strength of Thunder Claws. The large amount of armor penetration ensures that Frenzy rapes the opponent's health bar. These masteries are a must if you're aiming for first blood.

Sorcery - CDR is always a good stat on Voli.

Blade Weaving and Spell Weaving - Both of these masteries will proc on each Thunder Claws empowered hit. Excellent synergy in extended duels.

Executioner - When coupled with Frenzy, this mastery adds enormous damage to your kit. Nobody will see the massive execute damage coming.

Devastating Strikes - Voli is a hybrid damage champion, so he gets double the bonus from this mastery.


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Abilities



Chosen of the Storm (Passive): An exceptionally strong passive that helps throughout the game. When low on health in lane and playing passively, try to instigate a poke so that you'll proc your passive. It is better to have your passive on cooldown than to waste time waiting for a fight. Ignite is only a threat in laning phase - as the game progresses, nobody remembers to ignite you, especially during the madness of team fights. If your laning opponent doesn't take Ignite, god save them.

Instead of thinking that Ignite counters Chosen of the Storm, argue that Chosen of the Storm counters Ignite!

Tips and tricks:
  • Your passive is an excellent heal bait. If the enemy tower dives you, use your abilities to keep him there while you heal up!
  • If you're in lane and Chosen of the Storm procs, back away from your opponent to prevent him from igniting you.
  • Has awesome synergy with Spirit Visage and Hexdrinker


Rolling Thunder (Q): Use this to peel opponent's off your carries, manipulate enemy positions, and to make quick getaways when being ganked. This ability is the reason I take movement speed quints. The combination of Boots of Swiftness + Swiftness + Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed + Rolling Thunder gives you an insane movement speed boost. Voli is not a good initiator or tank, so avoid running into enemy teams with this ability. You are better suited following the main tank or escorting the carry.

Tips and tricks:
  • Q resets your attack timer. This can be used to burst your opponent during trades and to also secure minion kills more easily.
  • When combined with proper ward placement, escaping ganks is very easy with the speed boost.
  • Avoid initiating with Rolling Thunder. Instead, initiate trades with an AA -> Q combo, making sure to aim the fling towards your minion wave.
  • The bonus damage will proc on structures.


Frenzy (W): Hands down my favorite spell in the game. Not only does it give you an obscene 60% AS steroid at max rank, but the active also hits like a truck. Definitely prioritized first for its excellent harass and ult synergy.

Frenzy is your main source of harass, so hit your opponent as often as you can - even if he is at full health. Because of its obscenely long CD, you want to use the ability the moment it becomes available as to not waste time.
Tips and tricks:
  • You can quickly build Frenzy stacks with an AA -> Q combo.
  • Hold the tilde (~) key down when aiming W at an enemy champion. The tilde key forces your spell to hit champions only, preventing you from accidently hitting a minion (happens so often...).
  • Try to get into position for W several seconds before it’s off CD. This ensures your harass is not wasting time. Think ahead and profit!
  • Keep an eye on the timer icon above your abilities. Nothing is worse than loosing your stacks right when Frenzy comes off CD.



Majestic Roar (E): RAWR! A sweet ability that gives good utility and burst damage. E has many uses ranging from harass, combo damage, slow, fearing monsters, and sticking to targets. Because of the valuable scaling of the slow, we level this second.
Tips and tricks:
  • If you cannot catch an enemy with Q and they’re about to get away, use E to slow them down enough for the fling (this is very situational because it ruins your combo).
  • Feared minions loose their unit occlusion. If you are in dire need of a fling and minions are in the way, use Majestic Roar to fear the wave so you can run through (also situational for same reason as above).
  • Helpful, but mana costly, way to secure minion kills or push the lane.
  • Fear minions when trading in the opponent’s wave to reduce damage taken.
  • Majestic Roar will fear Shaco’s Hallucinate, Mordekaiser minion, Summon: Tibbers, or any other pet.


Thunder Claws (R): Your defining ability. Positioning is key when casting your ultimate for you must be near grouped up or vital targets. The difference between a good Voli player and an exceptional one is the timing on the Thunder Claws cast. The timing can be the difference between many hits or none.

Tips and tricks:
  • Try to cast your ult when you have 3 stacks of Frenzy. This will give you more AS with which to smack around your opponents.
  • Your ult has a .5 cast time. You can use Majestic Roar during this .5 second period to set yourself up for more hits.
  • When your ult is on, you can AA -> Q combo for a strong burst of damage.
  • Use your ult to farm large minion waves. In late game, when Thunder Claws is more important for teamfights, Sunfire Cape and Majestic Roar work just as well.
  • Did the enemy champion just escape with barely any health? NO PROBLEM! Use your ult and smack a minion. The lighting with prioritize the champion and chain towards him, giving you the kill! (best feeling ever award).


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Openings

Every matchup needs a unique opening to play well against. It is your job to analyze the enemy top laner for weaknesses, strengths, level of aggressiveness, and the threat of the jungler. Depending on your analysis, you must open the game with an item that either counteracts one of his strengths or takes advantage of his weaknesses. Also note the aggressiveness of the jungler. If the threat of a lvl. 2 gank exists (i.e. Alistar, Lee Sin), opening Boots of Speed and leveling Rolling Thunder first is very wise.

I do not run the aggressive build just because my opponent is a passive laner. Most of your games should open Boots of Speed for it allows you to zone, be offensive, last hit, run away, and harass - all of which are vital from the start.


Kremlin: Boots of Speed, Health Potion x4 -> Ruby Crystal, Stinger

Yea I gave this opening a name. Cause I'm Russian. And Voli is Russian. And i Chug Vodka. And so does Voli. YEA SON.

It's hard to find situations in which this opening goes wrong. If you are unsure of what to build, stick to the tried and true and go Kremlin -> AS Bruiser.

Defensive: Cloth Armor, Health Potion x5 -> AS Bruiser

When going up against strong early game AD champions, armor first is a top priority. Although it delays your build by a little, the extra defense is imperative to not giving kills. Top lane is a snowball lane, so every precaution must be taken not to give an uncontested first blood. Getting Cloth Armor is an investment, but if you sell it you only loose: 300g - 210g = 90g. Against certain champions ( Pantheon, Riven), I even opt for getting two.

Aggressive: Boots of Speed, Health Potion x4 -> Doran's Blade x2, Phage

For when the opponent needs to be shut down early. Phage is an excellent item against ranged harassers, for they have low health and more sticking power = more Thunder Claws strikes.

Defensive Sustain: Crystalline Flask, Sight Ward , Health Potion -> AS Bruiser

My current opening of choice. Ridiculously good sustain paired with early vision for those potentially disastrous early ganks. Top lane is all about snowballing, so use the ward to prevent the enemy jungler from interfering with your laning. The flask easily pays for itself, even bringing use late game when mana might be low. This one flask purchase eliminates the need for investing in mana items.

Offensive Sustain: Boots of Speed, Health Potion x4 -> Doran's Blade, Vampiric Scepter

A strong opening for when you are constantly trading and need sustain. When combining the life steal from your items, you get a great life steal percentage. This is also strong against high sustain, high harass champions like Yorick.

Offensive Buff: Elixir of Fortitude, Health Potion x4 -> AS Bruiser

I've been having a lot of success with this opening. Stay in base for a few seconds to afford the extra health pot, you won't miss any CS. The health and AD buff from elixir allows you to spec full 0/30/0 defensive masteries because you don't need the early game damage boost. Pop your elixir before your passive goes off so that you get the boost from the bonus health.

Triple Ruby: Boots of Speed, Health Potion x4 -> Ruby Crystal x3

Oh man, is this opening fun. Although your sustained trades won't be as strong, your Frenzy will slam the opponent into the pavement. The idea is that many of your items are built from a Ruby Crystal: Zeke's Herald, Aegis of the Legion, Phage. This opening gets those crystals early for a massive health boost. Triple Ruby is actually quite viable against no-sustain opponents because each Frenzy will hurt them even more.

Indestructible: Ruby Crystal, Greater Quintessence of Health x3

When you combine Ruby Crystal, Greater Quintessence of Health, Veteran's Scars , and Juggernaut , you'll start the game with an insane 840 health at lvl. 1. Your Frenzy with also slam for 130 physical damage at rank 1. Taking this build is worth it just to see the reaction on the enemy Gangplank's face when Parrrley does nothing. I haven't found a viable use for this opening yet, besides for showing off my enormous, overly compensated health bar ;D


Noticed how I purchased 4 Health Potions every time I opened Elixir of Fortitude? The idea behind this trick is to stand near your summoner platform several seconds after minions spawn so that you'll gain the 10g needed for another pot. You do not need to be on the platform to purchase from the shop, and this helps in getting back to your lane quickly. If you begin running the moment you buy the potion, you will not miss a single CS. I have never missed minion kills when doing this, so there is no reason not to give your self this lvl. 1 advantage.


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Build Descriptions

Volibear is an amazingly versatile character. Although many people tunnel vision into stacking health, Voli can actually be outfitted for any kind of situation. One of the most avant-garde builds I've ran was The Brutalizer, Hexdrinker, Phage and it worked great. In this guide I have included four builds of which I think are especially potent on Volibear. Depending on your playstyle, team composition, and role, choose the build that fits your needs the best. These builds are just guidelines, however, and should not be substituted for every situation in the game. Understanding the right items at the right time takes patience and game knowledge. My builds focus on a mix of offensive and defensive as to maximize Voli's damage potential while keeping him tanky for melee range.

oooooo
AS Bruiser Volibear:

My build of choice, it provides you with exceptional early game and scales strongly into late game. You are tanky from the start and will shred enemy teams with the synergy from your attack speed + Thunder Claws + Zephyr. The passive and life steal gives you great sustain while early CDR allows you to harass and combo more often.

ooooooooooooooooo
Pros
- Good mix of defense / offense
- Strong in teamfights
- Good sustain and CDR
- Inexpensive
oooooooooo
Cons
- Not a tank / initiator
- Low resistances
- Not the best 1v1


oooooo
Aggressive Volibear:

Take this build when your team is in need of damage over defense or when your lane opponent is a passive champion that needs to be shut down early ( Jax, Singed, Nasus). This build is very flexible and can be outfitted to fight any kind of lane opponent. Take full advantage of your strong AD and sticking power by zoning, harassing, and using combos. Be careful not to push the lane, however, for you won't be able to use your combo as effectively near his tower. The Vampiric Scepter is optional, depending on your need for sustain over damage.

ooooooooooooooooo
Pros
- Insane damage output
- Shuts down passiver laners
- Very underestimated
- Amazing life steal
- Frenzy + Executioner
oooooooooo
Cons
- Less health early game
- Almost no CDR
- Squishier masteries
- No GP10
- Must sell Doran's Blade


oooooo
Traditional Volibear:

The most common Volibear build used by the community. This build is the tankiest setup that still retains strong AD capabilities. Although this build follows meta golem mentality, it destroys Voli’s early game potential and hinders his teamfight capabilities due to lack of AS. This build is a strong pick if you have to be the initiating tank. Few champions can 1v1 this build late game. Because of traditional Voli's passive early game, I take Heal and Teleport to maximize my farming ability.

ooooooooooooooooo
Pros
- Most health
- Most resistances
- Frenzy hits like a truck
- Best 1v1 ability (late game)
oooooooooo
Cons
- Bad early game
- Passive laning
- Poor teamfight damage
- Little AS
- Expensive


oooooo
AP Volibear:

This build is not to be taken competitively. It is an experimental/joke setup that, when combined with the right team composition, can melt the entire enemy team in seconds. The reasoning behind this build is the .3 AP ratio on Thunder Claws. If your ultimate jumps to 3 other opponents, then each point of AP gives you .3 * 4 = 1.2 damage per point of AP. When factoring in the amount of hits you can land in the 12 second duration, we see that an AP build could completely melt the enemy team.

This build is very team composition dependent because you need melee tanks to soak damage and lots of CC to keep the enemy team in place. Good choices are Galio, Amumu, Ashe.

ooooooooooooooooo
Pros
- Unparalleled teamfight damage
- Near max AS
- Sweet farming/pushing
opower with Majestic Roar
- Did I say teamfight damage?
oooooooooo
Cons
- Super squishy
- Very team composition dependent
- Must be in melee range
- Mostly magic damage
- Pushes lane when
otrading with Majestic Roar


oooooo
Peeler Volibear:

Although Volibear has always been well-suited for a peeler role, you can specifically itemize him to be even more potent at defending the carries. With the current health stacking meta, it is your job to protect your carries from diving tanks and assassins. Blade of the Ruined King not only provides a valuable slow, but also greatly damages these tanky divers. The emphasis on CDR gives you more opportunities to CC opponent's away from your carries, while the BOTRK active functions as an "oh ****" button. Spirit Visage makes your life steal, passive, and Warmog's Armor regen more potent. For armor, you can choose between Sunfire Cape, Randuin's Omen, Frozen Heart, and Locket of the Iron Solari.

ooooooooooooooooo
Pros
- High CDR
- Maximum amount of CC
- Most self healing
- Anti health-stacking
oooooooooo
Cons
- Easily kited
- Slower movement speed than other builds
- Not a tank / initiator
- Not the best 1v1


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Build Flowchart

Warning: this flowchart is outdated from S2. After I have tested some more, I will make a new one as soon as time allows. Thank you for your patience!

I have included a flowchart detailing my usual in game thought process for build structure. Although this chart is very comprehensive, it does not cover every situation you will find yourself in. Do not blindly follow the arrows, use critical thinking and analyze all factors in each individual game. This is only to be used as a rough outline.



This chart is not to be used without reading the guide and its descriptions. Do not blindly use this flowchart and then downvote because it didn't work.


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Laning



Laning as Volibear revolves around harassing your opponent down until you can secure a kill with his kit's excellent sticking power. I take Frenzy at lvl. 1 because I begin poking immediately. Every time W is up, I bite the opponent to take away a chunk of his health. By repeating this every 18 seconds , the opponent will soon be weak enough to secure a kill.

If you think you can get the kill, initiate with an AA -> Q combo and pin him down before casting Frenzy and Ignite. Once you unlock your ultimate at lvl. 6, this combo is even more powerful and you are practically guaranteed a kill. A Thunder Claws kill combo is especially potent at lvl. 6 because the 75 magic damage per proc is very strong for that time.

Executing a Thunder Claws kill combo:

1. Check to see how pushed the lane is. You want it to be either near your side or the middle so that you'll have more time to land swings. Also check to see if the enemy jungler is at another lane and if you have proper Sight ward placement to be safe.

2. Move around his minion wave and position yourself behind the enemy champion (towards his tower). If he begins to back off and run, you're effectively zoning him from CS and this is a bonus either way.

3. Cast and start slashing away at the enemy champion. Try to have three stacks of Frenzy up before casting for the added attack speed. When the enemy champion sees your ultimate on, they will either run away or stay and fight. If he thinks he can take you on in a fight, he'll quickly realize his mistake and attempt to run away.

4. Regardless of what happens in step 3, your opponent will probably run away at one point. When he does this, use an AA -> Q combo to fling him behind you for more hits.

5. Do not cast Majestic Roar while the opponent is being flung, this wastes precious time on the slow. Instead, cast your E a second after he landed and begun running away again.

6. By this time, he will be very close to low health. Finish him off with your Frenzy execute and Ignite if you have it. If he is still alive, wack a minion to chain lightning towards him, securing you the kill.

7. Congratulations! That wasn't that hard :D

Top lane is a snowball lane, so getting the slightest advantage can have help enormously. This works both ways, however, and you must judge your opponent's strength and aggressiveness as to not give him kills as well. Play passively if needed, loosing a few cs is much better than loosing a life.

If you are being constantly harassed, pop potions to stay above 50% health. It is sometimes important to save Chosen of the Storm for a big trade or engagement.

Every day I see Volibear players initiating with Rolling Thunder, hoping to do some damage. Never run at your opponent like this blatantly. You become extremely predictable, and loose half of your sticking power just by landing the first hit with Q. Instead, open with auto attacks and flip him only when he starts running away. This is extremely integral to your Thunder Claws kill combo, for loosing your Rolling Thunder early means you loose many procs off of your ultimate.

Depending on the situation, the timing of Majestic Roar in a Q -> E combo varies greatly:
  • When trying to escape someone without a gap closer, spam E while the enemy champion is in mid air. This will prevent them from catching up to you with the distance + slow.
  • When trading, aim your fling towards your own minion wave. If your opponent takes minion aggro, E him the moment he touches the ground. If you slow your opponent earlier, you will be wasting slow time and he will receive less minion wave hits.
  • When setting up a kill with your ultimate, space your cc out to maximize the amount of ult procs you can land. Follow your Q up with E several seconds after the enemy is thrown. The best timing is when he passes you again on the way back to his tower.
  • If you are running towards someone with Rolling Thunder and you aren't reaching them, use Majestic Roar to slow them enough for the flip.


Guide Top

Team Fights



When mid and late game come around, skirmishes and team fights will become more common. As a peeler, Volibear is best suited as a carry escort. As assassins come rushing through your defensive line, you are there to fling and slow them before they can do any damage. The one problem with this, however, is that you will sometimes be too far away to chain lightning towards your opponents with your ultimate. In these situations, it is vital to position yourself so that you can damage as many people as possible while still being near your carry. Sometimes I hang back to deflect the first assassin, and then run forward to auto attack the enemy team while my primary abilities are on CD.

Important: You do not need to hit the enemy carries to do damage to them! Thunder Claws prioritizes champions, so slashing away at the enemy tank will also proc damage to most of the enemy team.


Guide Top

Items

I have included a list of good items and explanations. Your build should never be static and must change depending on your team's composition, the opponent's composition, and the situation in your lane.

Each of the items listed are, in some way, viable to Volibear. If I do not list an item, it is because I find it unnecessary and should not be taken over the items below.

Boots:

Boots of Swiftness: My boots of choice for most of my games. The synergy of this and Relentless , combined with the tenacity of Zephyr, will make you practically immune to CC. You will also be much faster than the majority of your opponents. With Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed, you will be hovering around a solid 440 movement speed. I get this very late because Zephyr provides more than enough movement speed for most of the game.

Mercury's Treads: Excellent boots for any situation. The tenacity from these and Tenacious help you enormously as a melee character, and the MR allows you to survive mage dominated mid game. Always a good pick if you're not building Zephyr.

Ninja Tabi: Good against strong early game AD champions. I almost always sell it for a Merc Treads later in the game.

General Volibear:

philosopher's stone Philosopher's Stone: A good item for when you are loosing your lane hard and being zoned from CS. The regen lets you stay in lane longer and the bonus income will help you get back in the game.

Doran's Shield: This used to be an excellent buy for stopping early aggression, but the recent nerfs and changes to defensive masteries remove its potential as a viable option. The bonus health works great against no sustain characters like Darius and Riven, for each Frenzy bite will do even more damage.

Zephyr: This is hands down the best S3 replacement for Ionic Spark. Although it does not have as strong of a synergy, the bonus movement speed and tenacity allow you to keep up with your opponents and thus land more Thunder Claws hits. As the new primary Volibear attack speed item, I highly advise picking it up in every game. The movement speed boost also allows me to save tier 2 boots until much later in the game.

Blade of the Ruined King: When your opponent's are stacking health, use this as a substitute for Zephyr Your target shifts from carries to tanks when you build BOTRK, so you must prioritize the high health champions attacking your own carries. Build two Daggers early and then chose between Zephyr and Blade of the Ruined King depending on how the game is going.

Wit's End: A very good item, albeit situational. If you are having a really rough time against AP, substitute Zephyr for this. This item adds a hefty stack of MR - making you noticeably tankier. I usually pick Maw of Malmortius instead because of the shield synergy with your Chosen of the Storm.

Sunfire Cape: An incredible item for any situation. I frequently swap this over Frozen Mallet because my team needs me to be much tankier and the armor is too good to pass up.

Spirit Visage: Has been remade into an incredible pickup for any bruiser. The huge bonus to CDR, health, and MR will turn you into an unkillable brick. The Spirit Visage + Sunfire Cape combo is ridiculously strong, providing ridiculous offense, defense, and utility. And I haven't even mentioned the Chosen of the Storm synergy. Works brilliantly with the peeler build, providing bonus healing to both Warmog's Armor and Blade of the Ruined King.

Locket of the Iron Solari: A good choice if your jungler/support doesn't have one. It's always advisable to have at least one on the team, although more never hurts. Has fun synergy with Hexdrinker - just pop the Locket active when you're low on health and laugh as you heal behind two shields!

Guardian Angel: By end game, you will be rocking a large health pool regardless of build. GA makes each point of health more effective, and as a melee character you are also always at risk of being bursted. Bonus: your passive continues healing you through the revival.

Randuin's Omen: If you have a leftover Cloth Armor from early game laning, this item is an excellent investment that will aid your entire team. Choose this item over Frozen Heart when you need health over CDR.

Frozen Heart: If you really need armor in any particular game, this is the item to go for. CDR and a hefty defensive boost will make you that much stronger against AD.

Aggressive Volibear:

Doran's Blade: Takes these if you need to get the upper hand early. The health also benefits your offensive ability, for you will hit harder with Frenzy as well.

Elixir of Fortitude: Although s4 nerfed FB gold, the health and AD gain from elixir gives you huge kill potential early. Pop the elixir early in an engagement to get both scalings off W and your passive.

Hexdrinker: Excellent item when going up against ranged AP ( Kennen, Vladimir). The Hexdrinker shield procs at the same time as your passive, effectively preventing you from being bursted down. Works well with the agressive build.

Frozen Mallet: More sticking potential means more hits wit your ult. Excellent synergy with health and a nice AD boost as well. I prefer FM over Rylai's because the components are easier to build out of. On the other hand, Rylai's Crystal Scepter does not provide a slow until its complete, and Voli needs that sticking power for Thunder Claws.

Traditional Volibear:

Warmog's Armor: Although Warmogs is statistically the most bought item on Volibear, I am an ardent non-believer. Warmogs is not only expensive, but also ruins your early game with poor sustain and no offensive stats. Although s3 warmogs is much more cost-efficient, you won't be able to secure kills without the offensive stats. If you want to play traditional Voli, however, by all means go for it.

Atma's Impaler: Very strong synergy with the traditional build's health stacking. This item has the solid mix of offense and defense we need in our items.

Phantom Dancer: Awesome synergy with Atma's Impaler critical strike chance and excellent AS boost for your ult and W. You’ll be critical striking people into the ground with PD. The choice between FoN or PD as your 5th traditional build item is largely dependent on your team comp and the enemy’s. I usually opt for PD regardless, but special cases do exist.

AP Volibear:

Nashor's Tooth: I get a lot of flame for this, but Nashor’s is my favorite item in the game. Very few champions can benefit from every stat it gives, but one of the few is AP Voli. The AS and AP will make your ult a wrecking ball of death in teamfights. CDR will keep your ult up more often, and as your primary damage source this is invaluable.

Catalyst the Protector: Gives you the health and sustain needed to farm top lane. The mana boost synergizes well with the higher cost of Majestic Roar harass.

Liandry's Torment: Fun but expensive. Dreamscholar tested the item and found that his magic damage skyrocketed because of the teamfight damage. He also swapped Sunfire Cape for Randuin's Omen in his build so that the double damage would proc more often. Fun build to try out, although leaves you more susceptible to burst than usual.

Rod of Ages: Helps you get tanky enough to enter the fray. Be cautious, however, for you will still be far too squishy to engage without support. When playing AP Voli, team cooperation is key to staying alive.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter: This item boosts the potency of your ult by a metric ****-ton. The health also has nice synergy, though not as much as Frozen Mallet. With Rylai's, Thunder Claws will slow the entire team with each proc. 'Nuff said.

Twin Shadows: Very cheap, very strong. I love grabbing this item as an end-game ult damage boost for my bruiser build. If my team is low on magic damage and I need a little MR, this item fits the bill perfectly. Awesome kit synergy with the active and passive speed boost.



ooZeke's Herald
oooooo
Wriggle's Lantern

oooovs.oooo

Early game laning items are designed to give damage, defense, sustain, and utiliy. While Wriggle's is the choice item for most solo top bruisers, Zeke's outclasses it in every respect when used on Volibear. Here’s a comparison of the stats:

Defense:
Health - 250 ooooooooooo Armor - 30

This is the big one, Voli has two scaling abilities with health. Although armor helps against AD damage in trades, health scales with both your passive and W – effectively giving you triple synergy compared to wriggle’s defensive stat.

Offense:
Attack Speed - 20% ooooooooooo Attack Damage - 23

AS is a key stat for Voli because of its synergy with his kit. While AD helps a little with last hitting and trades, AS helps you to gain Frenzy stacks faster, proc Ionic Spark, and land more hits with Thunder Claws.

Sustain:
Life Steal – 12% ooooooooooo Life Steal – 12%

Well damn.

Utility #1:
Cooldown Reduction – 15% ooooooooooo Minion damage proc – 425

One of Volibear’s biggest setbacks is his ridiculously long cooldowns. By investing in CDR, you will be able to harass with your full combo more often. In comparison, the bonus minion damage proc from wriggle’s will allow you to split push more effectively. However, Voli’s ult + E + Ionic Spark make his split pushing ability already exceptional. He doesn’t need the single target bonus damage proc. If you want to get really in depth, the CDR will also allow you to ult more often – and thus split push more often!

Utility #2:
Aura - AS + life steal ooooooooooo Sight Ward - 3 min CD

As an added bonus, your teammates gain Zeke's Herald stats also! This aids you early game when your jungler comes for a gank ( Nocturne will love the AS), and transfers great into late game. Unlike Wriggle’s, you won’t need to sell your Zeke’s! Wriggle's Lantern, on the other hand, does give you a free Sight Ward every 3 minutes. This helps you stay in lane without needed to back for wards. Although it seems like Wriggle’s wins this category for laning phase, the gold per 10 of Heart of Gold awards you a Sight Ward every 2:30 minutes. This is only 30 seconds short of Wriggle’s wards.


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Matchups



:D Darius: The almighty king of executes. If you're not careful, he will completely bypass your passive with Noxian Guillotine. This is why I take Barrier + Flash against him, for the extra burst of health will allow me to use my passive. His lvl. 1 damage is very nasty, so play passively until you got some armor. His weakness is his lack of sustain, so constantly harass with Frenzy. The triple ruby opening is also very good against him.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor -> Doran's Shield + AS Bruiser

:D Elise: Very brutal matchup, for her range and early game damage makes her a strong counter to Voli. She will continuously come on top in early level trades. Your best bet is to call in ganks while her Rappel is down, or hard engage on her with your ultimate when you hit lvl. 6. Although her damage output does not increase much, yours spikes drastically. Most importantly, don't feed. Taking inordinate amounts of damage for some creep score is not worth it.

Recommended Items: Phage, Hexdrinker, Mercury's Treads

:D Gangplank: A relatively easy matchup if you can survive his early poke damage. Many GP's run Mana Potions as to pile on lvl. 1-3 Parrrley harass, combat this with a defensive sustain opening. Avoid staying in Cannon Barrage, for the damage can quickly pile up.

Recommended Items: Open Crystalline Flask -> AS Bruiser

:D Garen: A difficult matchup to play against, for his early game damage output is very high. Try to harass him every with an AA or combo every 9 seconds, as to keep his passive from activating. If you want to trade, engage him when Judgment is down. Taking Barrier might also be advisable, for his ultimate can bypass your passive. No matter what you do, don't facecheck the bushes!

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor -> AS Bruiser

:D Irelia: Voli counters her quite nicely, but only early. Irelia has very strong lvl. 9 trading because of her true damage. Keep the pressure on and prevent her from passively healing up with Hiten Style. She's also susceptible to ganks because her dash only works on your minions. Don't tower dive her if you are below half health, for her stun can quickly turn things around. Your choice of build comes down to preference.

Recommended Items: AS Bruiser

:D Jarvan IV: Very strong early damage and good poke. As long as his mana permits, he'll be constantly harassing you. His passive does %health, so stacking Ruby Crystals doesn't help. He has no sustain, so Frenzy his face in as often as possible. If he initiates with Cataclysm on you, just pop your ult and don't let him leave the circle! Beware of his ultimate's burst, however, for it can be used as an execute.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor x2 -> Ninja Tabi, Zeke's Herald

:D Jax: With each passing level, Jax becomes exponentially more powerful. This is why it is imperative to bring the hurt on early. Use your disruption and flings to initiate trades and prevent him from farming. If he uses Counter Strike while Thunder Claws is up, hit nearby minions to chain lightning towards him. Building resistances is not worth it for he does both physical and magic damage.

Recommended Items: Doran's Blade x2, Hexdrinker, Kindlegem

:D Kha'Zix: Most Kha'Zix players focus on damage items, making him a very squishy bug. Additionally, his jump is also a mediocre distance pre-evolution. Always stay near your minions so that you don't get 'isolated,' and use your CC to lock him down in trades. Save your Rolling Thunder for after he jumps and avoid do your best to avoid Void Spike harass. Ganks are preferable pre lvl. 6.

Recommended Items: AS Bruiser

:D Malphite: This dude counters AS champions, and you definitely fall in that category. However, Malph loves stacking armor - and that won't help him against your ultimate. Don't use the aggressive build against him. Make sure you deplete Granite Shield before harassing with Frenzy. He's an easy kill once you hit lvl. 6.

Recommended Items: AS Bruiser

:D Nasus: Stopping this guy at all costs should be a time priority. No matter what you throw at him, he'll just ignore you and farm his Siphoning Strike up. Beat him down early with the aggressive build and opt for the Vampiric Scepter so you can keep up with his sustain. Wither will ruin your ultimate, so try to time Thunder Claws for when its on CD. You can also use Ignite to counter Fury of the Sands. Call ganks, ofen.

Recommended Items: Doran's Blade x1 -> Aggressive (skip Phage)

:D Olaf: This viking is one hell of an opponent. Your W outranges Reckless Swing, so try to kite him after using it. Call in ganks before he hits lvl. 6 for it then becomes near impossible to kill him. Opening with Boots of Speed helps you dodge his Undertow.

Recommended Items: AS Bruiser

:D Pantheon: Start passively for he has strong early game damage. Aegis Protection will block the bonus damage of Rolling Thunder, so make sure to AA him once before using it. If you see him channeling Grand Skyfall, run in and flip him to cancel it.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor x2 -> Ninja Tabi, Zeke's Herald

:D Rengar: Be careful of his lvl. 1 Savagery combo, for it can easily give him first blood. It is wise to play passively until lvl. 2-3 as to reduce this risk. Rengar can also spam hell out of his abilities, and you can run OOM if you try to keep up. His weakness, however, lies in his lvl. 6. When you both get your ultimates, Voli's damage potential skyrockets while his stays the same. Hold off until then and kill him.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor -> AS Bruiser

:D Renekton: His early game harass is very annoying, although resistances help against it. At lvl. 3 he gets his dash in, stun, dash out combo. Make sure you are in your minion wave when he dashes, so that he'll take aggro. When he tries to dash out, flip him back into your wave for extra damage.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor -> Ninja Tabi + AS Bruiser

:D Riven: Very strong early game AD champion. She can quickly snowball out of hand, so take precautions as to not give her kills. Your abilities counter her mobility quite nicely. Her weakness is her lack of sustain, which makes landing Frenzy even more important. Remember to flip her into your minion wave for extra damage.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor x2 -> Ninja Tabi, Zeke's Herald

:D Rumble: One of the biggest lane bullies in the game. This dude brings the hurt and he brings a lot of it. He has a weak escape, however, so your best bet is to call in ganks early. Play passive early game and go in for the kill lvl. 4+. If you time Thunder Claws to coincide with him overheating, you can get an easy kill.

Recommended Items: Phage, Hexdrinker, Spirit Visage

:D Shen: The most commonly banned top laner at the moment, and for good reason. He has sustain, poke, damage mitigation, a dash, and global presence - all in one kit! If you see him teleporting with Stand United, do everything in your power to flip him with Rolling Thunder. This will cancel his ult, effectively saving your teammates from impending doom. He doesn't have much MR, so a lvl. 6 Thunder Claws combo should do the trick.

Recommended Items: AS Bruiser

:D Singed: A very strange champion to go against. He quickly gets tanky with items so shut him down early. You can prevent him from farming by flinging him out of your minions. When trading, keep him from running away by using your disruption and an early Phage. Just remember, do not chase!!

Recommended Items: Phage, Kindlegem

:D Teemo: I would rather uninstall the game than play against this little ****er. He’ll just kite you all day and make you cry for hours. Even if you level your Q, he’ll just make you run into Noxious Traps and take massive damage. If you do catch him, by some miracle, you’ll easily take out 60% of his health with one combo.

Recommended Items: Shoot yourself. Rush Mercury's Treads, Phage

:D Vladimir: Although Transfusion gives him excellent sustain, the CD on it is very long at the start of the game. His sustain quickly ramps up, however, because each level lowers the CD by a substantial amount. By mid game, he can spam his abilities like no other. Pressure and zone him early to deny farm. If an opportunity arises, an ult combo coupled with a fast Phage can kill him. Ignite will also continue doing damage through Sanguine Pool. Beware, his burst should not be underestimated.

Recommended Items: Phage, Hexdrinker

:D Yorick: Chauster once said, "If you want to win lane vs yorick just start regrowth pendant, go tp flash, and go regen quints with mr blues and yellow armor." I honestly don't know anything that works against this monster, so I'd highly recommend trying this out. If you don't have the runes available, use the aggressive build with Vampiric Scepter and defensive masteries for its sustain. Get a Philosopher's Stone and grab an extra Ruby Crystal early to make up for the drop in health. Although a lot of Yorick's damage is not physical, Cloth 5 allows me to ignore his ghoul's damage and grants me an extra Health Potion. Yorick has no gap closer, so ganking him is top priority.

Recommended Items: Open Cloth Armor -> Doran's Blade x1, Philosopher's Stone, Vampiric Scepter

:D Zed: His high mobility and damage can be shut down with proper itemization. Zed thrives off of long games, but his weakness is his early laning. Long cooldowns, combined with high energy costs is his downfall. Try to kill him early when he burned Living Shadow and you have a minion advantage. If he pushes hard with his combo, have a gank come in to shut him down. Be wary of his lvl. 6 burst.

Recommended Items: AS Bruiser


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Videos

What is a Volibear guide without Volibear videos!


Guide Top

Volty's Response

Volty, game designer at Riot and the creator of Volibear, personally responded to a post I made on the League of Legends forums!

The post was about the possibility of gameplay changes for Volibear, which I heavily argued against. My argument was that the problem is not that Voli's kit is subpar, but that everyone is playing him incorrectly.

Link to the page: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=32684845#32684845

Here's the response:


Guide Top

Future Plans

Here is a list of the upcoming changes for this guide. Stay tuned for updates!

Also, please comment with any recommendations or changes you would like to see.

Planned:
- Warding section
- Gameplay videos
- Updating laning section with kill combo pictures
- New S3 flow chart


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Conclusion

Thank you for reading my guide! A lot of time and effort went into making an informative guide for all the experienced and aspiring Volibear players out there.

Voli is an easy character to learn, but mastering him takes dedication. Understanding a champion's capabilities is half of the learning process. Only practice can give you the experience necessary to truly dominate any opponent or situation.

With your help, hopefully we can make Volibear ‘viable’ once again.

If you are going to down vote, please let me know why and I'll do my best to improve the guide in any way. Any advice, comments, or criticism is greatly appreciated.

Good luck and have fun!
- shukmeister


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Changelog

8/27/2012:
- Added changelog
- Added conclusion
- Colored terms

8/28/2012:
- Added more matchups

8/30/2012:
- Added Randuin's Omen, philosopher's stone,
o Doran's Shield, and The Black Cleaver to items
- Created 'boots' subsection
- Added Greater Seal of Scaling Health to runes
- Fixed grammatical issues

9/13/2012:
- Fixed Thunder Claws subsection
- Fixed grammatical and aesthetic issues
- Added Sunfire Cape to items
- Updated AP Volibear description
- Added build flowchart section

9/14/2012:
- Updated and alphabetized matchups

10/3/2012:
- Added match history scores
- Added another video

10/29/2012:
- Added more match history scores

12/26/2012:
- First round of S3 editing

1/12/2013:
- Added volty response section
- Added future plans section

2/16/2013:
- Moved Boots of Swiftness to later in the build

2/19/2013:
- Fixed defensive sustain opening

3/28/2013:
- Removed The Black Cleaver from viable items
- Added Twin Shadows, Blade of the Ruined King, Locket of the Iron Solari, and Liandry's Torment
- Reorganized and updated items section
- Added new 'Peeler' build
- Redefined search terms
- Added Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration
- Added more matchups

8/11/2013:
- New primary opening: Crystalline Flask
- Removed Runic Bulwark
- Updated items section
- Reordered 'Bruiser' and 'AP' builds
- Added s3 match history scores (long overdue)
- Edited defensive sustain opening

9/12/2013:
- Minor edits

12/16/2013:
- Season 4 masteries
- Edited item descriptions
- Added Elixir of Fortitude
- Added offensive sustain opening
- Added more terms

3/3/2014:
- Updated Doran's Shield changes
- Updated defensive masteries
- Fixed grammatical errors


Guide Top

Terms

AA – auto attack
AD – attack damage
AOE – area of effect
AP – ability power
ARAM – all random all mid
AS – attack speed
CD - cooldown
CDR – cooldown reduction
CS – creep score
FB – first blood
GP10 – gold per 10 seconds
HP – hit points
LVL – level
MR - magic resistance
OOM - out of mana
Peeler - keeps enemies off the carry
Regen - regeneration
T2 – tier 2


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