Hit Your Mark (pen)
Upgrade Manamune before last item
Threats to Varus with this build
|Kindred||Not played too much, but you win anyway. Kindred needs to get close, and you can easily zone with your E. Be stingy with your ult, as Kindred's can nullify your combo. If you can bait the ult by getting Kindred low without ulting, it's almost a sure kill (assuming you don't miss and Kindred doesn't cleanse or QSS).|
Hello, and welcome to my Varus guide. Varus is a Marksman who can either be played in the bot lane as an ADC or as a mid laner. This guide focuses on his intended role, ADC. Varus has a lot of poke in his Piercing Arrow. He also excels in trades, thanks to his Blighted Quiver stacks, which are then triggered by his Q or E. With an ultimate invaluable in fights, grade-A trading, and nice scaling out of the early game, Varus is a very solid choice for the bot lane.
Pros and Cons
|+ Good DPS due to Crit/W stacks (crit build).
+ Great poke/chunking of squishies with Q (pen build).
+ Good peel with E and R
+ R good for 1v1ing
+ Great late game scaling (crit)
+ Really strong mid game if you hit Qs (pen)
+ R useful in fights
|+ Immobility is biggest glaring weakness
+ Q poke weak late
+ Hard to position in teamfights
+ Not that useful if behind
+ Q less effective against tanks (pen) (still pretty good considering the state of tanks)
+ Can be abused in fights for relative close range compared to other hurricane building ADCs (Jinx, Cait, Trist) (crit)
Which build do I take?
Varus' kit is very versatile, which allows for him to have two viable builds. These, as detailed above, are a build built for poke (Lethality/Armor Pen) and a build built for DPS (crit). As of patch 7.2, the pen build is more effective in general, allowing you to take chunks out of the enemy team while staying safe. The strengths of the Pen build are fairly clear: you can stay out of initiation range of tanks/assassins while still largely contributing to your team's damage. This is especially effective in the mid game, where you can probably do around 1/3-1/2 a squishy enemy's health bar if you charge your Q up. Considering the strength of squishy ranged supports right now, this is also strong in lane, if you position conservatively. As for enemy team comps, pen Varus is probably good with and against 90% of comps. He's especially good with assassins or other ranged poke as well as initiation tools on his team, but again, he's still better than DPS Varus with a general team comp. Against is a little more complicated. While Piercing Arrow or Chain of Corruption definitely have the ability to turn a late game teamfight in your favor with good aim onto the enemy carry, you'll probably do a little less damage late than you did in the mid game. To be fair however, your auto attacks will be much stronger in the late game once Muramana completes, so it's a bit of a trade off, albeit an incomplete one (as your Q remains your safest bet for damage and is still strong). Add this to the Bloodlust mastery as well as a lifesteal item, as well as your passive (boosts AS when getting kill participation), PLUS all the lethality you have, and pen Varus turns out to be pretty dang strong late (but not as strong as his DPS counterpart). Anyway, composition-wise, you'll probably do fine even if they have a top lane super tank like Maokai or Nautilus. Situations where maybe you'd contemplate going with the Crit build are: if there's a Braum support and they have a bursty ADC (mostly because Braum blocks your Q with Unbreakable pretty easily, so rapid auto attacks would be more effective), or if the enemy team has a lot of tanks (top/jungle/support) that scale well into the late game ( Volibear, Tahm Kench, Trundle, Dr. Mundo all scale into the late game with the sole purpose of you not being able to poke them out). HOWEVER (this is a huge however) unless the rest of your team is focused around scaling into the late game (AKA DPS mages like Cassiopeia, Azir), going Pen to shut these tanks down in the mid game is the smarter call, so unless your team really wants to scale, I wouldn't go DPS. Note: do NOT take DPS Varus into Rammus under any circumstances, you can auto him all you want but with his Defensive Ball Curl + Thornmail he doesn't need to touch you to kill you.
Well that's a pretty big wall of text. Ironically, one of the most important factors in choosing which build to take is actually preference. While objectively, the pen build is probably superior, if the crit build fits your playstyle more, all the more reason to build that instead. Hell, (SKT) Bang builds crit often even though Pen is more meta.
Passive: Living Vengeance
This passive buffs your attack speed by 20% for 3 seconds upon a minion kill, and by 40% for 6 seconds upon a champion kill. The minion aspect can be very useful in burning down towers, and the champion aspect can be useful in fights. For example, if you kill a carry early on, the increased attack speed can make it easier and faster to whittle down their front line.
Q: Piercing Arrow
Your primary source of damage and your first max. Upon cast, you draw back your bow, and upon click, you fire. You gradually gain more damage the more you charge. This ability is excellent for harass and trading due to its high damage and range. However, it doesn't do a lot before your first back, so don't go spamming it at level 1 expecting huge damage. In trades, try to get stacks of W onto your target before proc-ing them with Q.
W: Blighted Quiver
Gives your auto-attacks bonus magic damage, as well as applies stacks of Blight to the target, stacking up to three times. The "blighted" target can then be damaged with a damaging ability to pop the stacks and deal extra damage. This allows you to trade very well. A nice combo to use in trades would be three autos to apply stacks of Blight, and then either a Piercing Arrow or a Hail of Arrows, depending on whether the target is running or not (Hail if they are, Piercing if they aren't). This can be used for normal trading, but if you want to execute an enemy, get the three stacks, use Chain of Corruption to lock them down, shoot a Q in, and if they're still alive, E to slow and auto to finish them off.
E: Hail of Arrows
This ability deals decent AoE damage and also provides an AoE slow. It pops stacks of Blight, and also helps a lot with waveclear when combined with your Q. It can also help Varus kite and chase fairly well, but you should still be wary of overcommitting.
R: Chain of Corruption
This skillshot shoots some chains (that KINDA look like tentacles) at the enemy, which roots them, deals some damage, and applies 3 stacks of Blight. If other enemy champions are in the area, the spell can spread to them, considering they stick around. As you can imagine, this spell provides for great follow up. Since there are 3 new stacks of Blight, both Q and E can deal heft damage, while saving the other spell for even more follow up. Use this to quickly take down a priority target, or simply as a means of engage, chase, or escape.
You need to get a tear first back, in order to have enough mana to be useful. Don't upgrade it for a while though, as it takes longer to stack than someone like Ezreal or Cassiopeia.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Best boots on pen Varus. Lets you do Q damage more often. not much else to say.
Gives good mobility thanks to active, also some lethality and CDR. TLDR it makes your arrows start to hurt.
Edge of Night
Very good on pen Varus, takes a second to charge up but is essentially a get out of jail free card if you misposition in fights.
Lord Dominik's Regards
Take if you need hard armor pen, as in the enemy team has a Shen and Nasus. This item is especially good at helping to chunk tanks due to the Giant Slayer passive.
IMO better than Dominik's on Varus, since your arrows won't do that much to super tanks anyway.
Maw of Malmortius
Snag this puppy if you need both CDR and a way of staying alive in fights, especially against teams with AP assassins (or just AP hard carries in general). Can also be taken last.
Synergizes well with Varus. Gives you insurance against poke/burst, and you lifesteal just by hitting an ability.
The key element of this item is, of course, the Quicksilver Sash component, which pretty much denies enemy attempts to lock you down with CC. It also gives great lifesteal and damage.
The go-to boots on most ADCs. The 30% attack speed is actually quite nice, and you can notice the difference.
Your core item. The CDR (and additional CDR due to crit chance) is very useful when spamming Q, and the mana refund aspect enables you to do so. That plus some good damage and good crit makes a great early game item.
It distrubutes stacks of your W, give good on hit, attack speed and crit.
A pretty good power spike, due to the good damage and great crit damage multiplier.
A more offensive option, the high damage, lifesteal, and "over-heal" shield are great in fights to keep you healthy and dealing plenty of damage.
All other items for crit build are featured in the pen build section.
Varus, being an ability-based champion (with semblances of auto attack reliance), does damage fast and best through his ability combos. These are mainly facilitated by popping your W stacks with an ability for extra damage. Below is a list of such combos.
The Pre-6 Combo:
3 W Autos -> Q -> E -> Autos
3 W Autos -> E -> Q -> Autos
These 2 sets of moves are mainly used in lane trading, which you should almost always win, given sufficient mana. The first set (ending in an E) should be used if the enemy laner is already low and you're looking for a kill, hence the late slow for follow up. The second can just be used to harass and chunk, due to it going straight from the E to the Q, since the slow from the E can help you land the Q from a safer distance.
The Ulti Engage Combo
R -> Q -> 3 W Autos -> E -> Autos
Basically, you use this combo to take out a priority target at the start of a teamfight or objective (one that you caught out) or as a means to winning a 1v1. Before you use this combo, be sure that your damage is sufficient, as it is very mana hungry and also burns your very useful ultimate. The ulti as the first move not only prevents enemy escape, but also applied 3 stacks of Blight, which allows for a high damege Q immediately after. If their summs are up, don't hesitate to E early if you think it'll help you secure the kill (due to the slow).
The Donezo Combo
Poke with Q -> E -> As many W autos as you can (up to 3) -> Q or E -> R -> Q
This is a situational combo, so only take this if you see an opportunity. If you see an enemy get particularly low due to your or your team's poke, start aggressing more on it. E so you can get in auto range, and pop the stacks with Q. Then if you really think you can finish them off, you can ulti for 3 more stacks and fire off a Q when it comes up for a heap of damage. Due to the high damage of this combo over a long period of time, it's good for taking down tanks.
Varus' early game and laning phase are fairly strong compared to those of other ADCs. With the long sword + 3 pots start, you get a lot of lane sustain and a little more effectiveness with your poke than you'd get with a Doran's blade. Part of the reason ADCs like Jhin, Varus and even Ashe get Long Sword starts (other than getting earlier item spikes) is to increase the efficiency of poke by sacrificing the health lifesteal provided by Doran's, replacing it with 2 more pot's worth of sustain. In any case, the Bloodlust mastery helps to cover the otherwise lack of lifesteal. Try to harass with autos when you opponent goes for a cs, but be careful of ADCs like Corki (who can harass back quickly thanks to Thunderlord's), Kog'Maw (who has longer range and some of the safest harass in the bot lane), and Caitlyn (still one of the strongest laners, great lane control and long range). If anyone gets on your tail, shoot a Hail of Arrows to dissuade them. I wouldn't poke too much with Piercing Arrow before your first back. Your mana will disappear and you won't have an escape tool with your E. I'd prioritize my poke to after I've landed a couple autos, to make the most of my mana. After you get Serrated Dirk, your poke becomes far more potent, and you have the ability to use it more often thanks to Tear of the Goddess. Here, you should start to take over lane if you've gone even thus far. If you have a support like Zyra, Malzahar, Nami, Thresh, Braum and et cetera, you do have the option of looking for a kill (hopefully on an overextended AD carry) with Chain of Corruption, since your support can supply follow-up CC really easily, and you have great chunking with Piercing Arrow at this point. You are very immobile in lane, so your number one priority should be not overextending. Don't be greedy with auto attack harass, and don't flash in for kills unless you're really sure that you have the kill locked up (this means keeping track of enemy summs, having river vision so the enemy jungler won't show up). Position defensively in early fights, you're squishy and immobile, but can also be the MVP of a fight if you land your arrows.
NOTE: I'm starting to get into this guide again, so early/mid/late game, supports, and teamfight sections coming soon! :D
Thanks for reading!