Just like every champion, every item has its own place in the League of Legends. Each item functions uniquely, and the difference between a good item choice and a bad one can make all the difference for how a match turns out. For your champion has 5 abilities (one passive) that are set in stone for that champion forever, but no matter who you picked the items you purchase are entirely up to you--you could pack a Phantom Dancer on Rengar just as easily as you could buy a Rod of Ages for him (they are the same price).
Of course, just because they cost the same doesn't make them the same, especially on a champion like Rengar. As such, great care should go into what item you should purchase, who you should buy it for, and when it needs to be bought. That is what this guide is for--examining each item for its role in the game. Let's get started, shall we?
The item in question for today's guide is the Guardian Angel, a life-saving item that is common in many AD Carry and Assassin builds.
However, just because it is common doesn't make it a "Keep-it-simple-stupid" item that everyone should build on every Champion they own, or even for every AD Carry or Assassin they own. The Black Cleaver is a common item too, but that doesn't mean you should build it on Fizz just because you build it on Kha'Zix or Talon. You can throw a game surprisingly easily by building the wrong item, or even buying one at the wrong time.
Gold Advantage is important, and gold earned from being ahead in the game shouldn't be wasted (nor should gold be wasted when you are behind). Every fight is different and just because you got First Blood doesn't guarantee a victory against your opponent next time. They may have learned from their mistakes, purchased a counter-item, or bought a much-needed core item in their build. Don't waste time and money on the wrong items! In a game where everyone is constantly improving their stats and attacks, items can be just as important as maintaining your level with everyone else.
That in mind, let's examine the basics behind the Guardian Angel as well as find out where its place in LoL really is.
Pros And Cons
Guardian Angel is good in some areas and not-so-good in others:
|+ Both Armor and Magic Resist
+ Life Saving Passive
+ Game-changing potential
+ Prime defensive choice for any fed Champion
|This item can quite literally make or break the game, changing the way a team fight can play out late game due to the passive. It can make Tanks tankier, Carries harder to kill early on, and Fighters seem all the more hopeless to face off against. This item is intimidating, and for good reason. It also adds Armor and Magic Resist together, which are usually kept apart. All you need is Health, and you don't even really need that.|
|+ Insane cooldown
+ Mildly Awkward Build
+ Takes up precious build space
+ Not great Armor/Magic Resist stats
|This is not an item for idiots. The Unique Passive is easily wasted in the wrong hands and won't return for the same amount of time as the Revive Summoner Spell (and there's a reason people don't often take that). With the Passive on Cooldown, the item's other stats aren't great, and you won't see much defensive improvements on your Champion otherwise.|
Guardian Angel is primarily a defensive item. It grants 50 Armor and 40 Magic Resist. This is a rare example of an item giving both Armor and Magic Resist together, giving your Champion protection from both AD and AP damage. However, it's not a superb amount of either, and if you're buying it for the tank aspect you'll likely want more tankyness to go around than just this item alone.
Cost and Recipe:
This item costs 2750 Gold to buy. Fairly expensive, but it's not an abhorrent amount like the Infinity Edge is, so we'll survive. It builds from the Chain Vest and the Negatron Cloak, and costs an additional 1310 Gold to finish. This is an awkward build as both the required items don't build from anything themselves and are a little expensive for Level 1 items, as well as the 1000+ extra gold it costs to complete the item even with the two recipe items in your inventory. I maintain the opinion that the most convenient items cost barely anything to complete after the recipe items are purchased, but as long as you can control your spending whenever returning to base (or as long as you can lane and farm well enough without needed to Recall to save up enough successfully), you will be able to purchase it sooner or later. Just remember--it's the passive you're working towards, not these items it's building from.
Now for the Unique Passive: Guardian Angel has one of the most powerful passives in the game--the ability to revive your champion upon death. This leaves you with a small sum of Health and Mana left to continue the good fight. This not only means you can get caught and die only to return to the fight later, but it also means your enemies must do battle with the rest of your team, knowing you are about to spring back into the fray at a moment's notice. UNDER THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES THIS CAN BE GAME-CHANGING, ESPECIALLY WITH THE DEATH TIMERS LASTING SO LONG LATE GAME! This alone makes the Guardian Angel potentially one of the most invaluable items in the game.
Now, this effect doesn't hold much water with low death timers, and it does have an awkward build that can interrupt your Early-Game fighting potential. As such, this item is best suited to the Late-Game, where a single death can change the tide of the battle. It can also be useful Mid-Game as well, but only if you are indeed, that fed.
So from this we can conclude that Guardian Angel is a Late-Game item for Armor, Magic Resist, and a powerful Unique Passive. It is costly early-to-mid game, but it isn't meant to be built early on, and saves its true uses for later in the match. The use of its Passive outweighs the use of its basic stats, and isn't a prime candidate for building multiples.
Now, onto the specifics. The Guardian Angel seems like a simple item at a first glance, the usual choice for any build that's going to carry the game and boast the most kills. However, even with this strategy this item can be put to great misuse. Every item has its place, and many have the wrong idea as to where the Guardian Angel's place is. This is the Advanced Uses Section.
Long ago, back in my early LoL days, I always hated this item. It didn't give sufficient stats, and the passive never seemed to save me, thus being a completely wasted item. I have since gone on to learn more about how this item is meant to work, and the best ways to avoid wasting its precious passive ability. Yet many still fall victim to my early mistakes.
The Guardian Angel, after all, gives relatively poor stats compared to other items and it barely even outdoes its own base items (giving merely 10 more Armor and 0 more Magic Resist). Obviously then, it is the passive that makes this item worth it. But who is the passive for? Nearly anyone could build it to protect their Legendary status. But then the choice is clear: Guardian Angel isn't meant to be built on a certain class of Champion--it is meant to be built on Legendary champions.
What I mean to say about this is simple: Guardian Angel is a situational item, and should never be a part of anyone's Core Build! Because you're not always going to be Legendary, and you're not always going to be the one the enemy team needs to kill to win the match! Each game plays out differently, and each champion needs to play in an adaptable way in order to fulfill their role best, be it by going 8/2 or 2/8. If you always build the exact same way every game, you are setting yourself up for failure. If your Core Build assumes that you're going to be fed and you do poorly, then you cannot simply build those items anyway. Would a 3/6 Katarina build a Mejai's Soulstealer just because it's in her core build? Perhaps in a match where she had become fed and out of control, but not here! Certainly a better item would suffice for that situation! In this same way, a Champion cannot always build a Guardian Angel every game, regardless of performance. This is an item for fed Champions who become vital to a team's success.
This is not an item for anyone's Core Build. Guardian Angel is meant to protect your Most Valuable Player, and that can change game to game. Perhaps your Bot Lane did well. Maybe your Mid got really fed. There's a chance Top Lane did best. Your Jungle may have won out hard. At least 4 out of your 5 Champions (heck, maybe even 5 out of 5) always have a chance to carry a game. It can change with each and every match. You can't always bet on Ahri to get hyper-fed every single game.
Therefore, you can't buy Guardian Angel every single game. If Ahri is not fed, then perhaps a Zhonya's Hourglass is the better bet for a last-minute defensive item--granting more AP in exchange for less survivability.
But there's more to successfully employing the Guardian Angel than when to build it. This item can be easy to misuse even when fed. It's important to never waste the Guardian Angel's precious Unique Passive. Nowhere is this easier to do than when traveling alone. Late in the game, groups of five Champions are more common. You never want to get caught, die, die again, and have to wait five whole minutes for a reset.
Not that you can't travel alone Late-Game, but you never want to be too far off from the rest of your team or in a place where you can't escape even with the Revive. The Guardian Angel can give your team precious time to go in and engage to protect you, or give you a chance to fight back. The same goes for an actual Teamfight. Never abandon the body of an ally who is about to Revive and waste their Passive. Fighting to protect that Champion allows the Guardian Angel to utilize its full effect without being rendered useless.
The Guardian Angel can make your most fed Champions even more Unstoppable, but it can never be wasted. Never waste it by buying it on the wrong Champions. Never waste its Unique Passive by being careless. Never waste it by not communicating as a team. And never waste it by buying it when you're not going to need it.
Guardian Angel works best when used with Champions and tactics that compliment its greatest strengths:
Champions With Their Own Revives:
Champions such as Tryndamere, Zac, and especially Aatrox all have their own Death-Defying powers that stack with the Guardian Angel. This means you won't be wasting the Unique Passive so often due to your own abilities. It also means that instead of killing you twice, the enemy will have to kill you three times. Aatrox in particular is dangerous with the Guardian Angel when fed, as his Passive Blood Well makes him Invulnerable and he has a quick Escape Move to get away if he must.
The only Champions that I ever consider building Guardian Angel consistently on (and not even that all the time) are the Pure Tanks. A Tank doesn't build Guardian Angel to protect themselves--they do it for the intimidation. A 6-stacked Cho'Gath with 5000 Health and 250 Armor and Magic Resist with a Guardian Angel almost seems not worth the effort. A Super Tank can take so much heat and take so much to kill that the rest of your team will be pretty free to do as they please. The Passive effect on your Champion alone should tip most foes off not to even try to kill you. And if you are Garen, then that is their greatest mistake. Also you'll make more use of the Armor and Magic Resist this item gives, stacked up along with your other Tank items.
Quick Escape/Cooldown Champions:
Guardian Angel can be wasted on Champions who aren't quick on their feet. Reviving without a Dash or Flash in the midst of many foes can be as worthless as a hopeless, last-ditch Zhonya's Hourglass. Except Zhonya's Hourglass has a much shorter Cooldown. Champions with lower Cooldowns and quick jumps like Katarina and Fizz will probably make more use of this item in a fight than similar champions like Brand and Malzahar (those Champions may be better off with just a normal sixth item). If you're playing a Champion who can't jump right back into the fray at a moment's notice, then Guardian Angel might not be the best choice.
Things to Avoid
Needing Better Stats!
Some Champions need six items! Many Mages can have very strict Core Builds! A Guardian Angel can be a life-saver, but some people may be better off with the extra 120 (156 with Rabadon's Deathcap) AP, especially when trying to compete with other Mages! This is especially true for why you should never build Guardian Angel too early--you need to keep up with your opponent! If there's simply something you need more, then don't waste the precious space for a Guardian Angel.
Champions Who Don't Revive Well:
As I said before, some Champions cannot jump back into the fray at a moment's notice and expect not to just get clobbered again. Many AD Carries and Mages without good Escape Moves in particular can have a hard time making the most of their extra last bit of Life. Some Champions are better off sticking to their Core Build, or just trying to make their first life last longer. Such Champions are probably better off pursuing superior Health Items, like stacking Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter or just getting a flat out Warmog's Armor.
Building It Every Game:
If you build the same six items in the same order every single game, then you are a fool. Adaptability is a must in LoL, because each match can play out differently. Guardian Angel is a Situational Item. Don't build it when you are doing poorly, and don't build it when you know it's not going to do you any good. Misusing this item can have disastrous consequences, as it is costly, has a long Cooldown, and won't give you much else while its Passive is down. Don't waste your time with this item if you can't make the most of it. Remember, no two LoL games are the same--be careful how you build!
This is an item that must be employed carefully, but it greatly rewards those who make the most of it. With its Game-Changing Unique Passive, Guardian Angel can make or break a Teamfight. It can make your Tanks Unkillable, your Assassins Uncatchable, and your AD Carries Untargetable. Anyone can make great use of this item under the right circumstances, and during Late-Game this item may be more important than any other.
Used incorrectly, the Guardian Angel will do little more than cost a lot of Gold, take up a precious inventory space, and give you Sub-Par Armor and Magic Resist. This is an item that forgives Mistakes, not Foolish Players.
I hope this guide has opened your eyes to the usefulness of the Guardian Angel, and I hope you will make better use of it in the future (be it by using it properly or not at all!) All feedback is greatly appreciated. Good luck to you!