Just like every champion, every item has its own place in the League of Legends. Each item functions uniquely, an 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 an Frozen Heart on Cho'Gath just as easily as you could buy an Guinsoo's Rageblade 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 Cho'Gath. 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 Ravenous Hydra, an AD item that is common in many Fighter and AD 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 Fighter or Assassin they own. Frozen Mallet is a common item too, but that doesn't mean you should build it on Riven just because you build it on Vi or Wukong. 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 Ravenous Hydra as well as find out where its place in LoL really is.
Pros And Cons
Ravenous Hydra is good in some areas and not-so-good in others:
|+ High Damage and Lifesteal
+ Useful Active
+ Useful Passive
+ Farm and Push Lanes Lightning-Fast
|The Ravenous Hydra is useful in a number of areas. It gives a large amount of Damage and Lifesteal, and its Unique Passive, Cleave, will deal a percentage of that to all nearby foes. It's Unique Active, Crescent, is also useful, essentially giving you a free Auto Attack whenever you want once every ten seconds. This can turn the tide of a battle quickly when used correctly. Lastly the item's abilities stack with your other Lifesteal, making other common Lifesteal Item options very viable.|
|+ Melee Only
+ Very Expensive
+ Mildly Awkward Build
+ Competes Poorly with Other Expensive AD Items
|Tragically, however, the Hydra is Melee-Only. On top of that, it is very pricey, and competes poorly stat-wise against similar items. The Bloodthirster and Essence Reaver both grant more Damage (the Bloodthirster gives more Lifesteal as well). Luckily other items have since been Nerfed down, and the Hydra is now the only other item to give more than 10% Lifesteal (not including Sanguine Blade, assumedly). It also has an awkward and space-consuming build, starting from 5 total base items (second only to the Trinity Force).|
Ravenous Hydra gives 75 Damage and 12% Lifesteal. About what you'd expect from an "AD Lifesteal" Item (that's an item class now). It also gives you 15 Health Regen. You probably won't take much notice of this, but it is a nice plus nonetheless, so who's complaining?
Cost and Recipe:
This item costs 3300 Gold to buy. Very expensive, but the stats justify the price. It builds from the Tiamat, and a Vampiric Scepter, and costs an additional 600 Gold to finish. This build feels slightly awkward, building from 5 Level 1 items. Still, you probably won't buy either of the two Rejuvenation Beads, plus as long as you have the Tiamat and the Vampiric Scepter, you'll essentially have your item. I maintain the opinion that the most convenient items cost barely anything to complete after the recipe items are purchased, and this one is no exception. Building is costly but fluid. You should expect a 75+ AD item to cost over 3000 Gold. At least it doesn't have a B. F. Sword in it (the sworn enemy of fluid builds everywhere).
Now for the Unique Passive: Ravenous Hydra makes a Melee Champion's, Auto Attacks do Splash Damage to all nearby targets. This starts out as 60% Damage and is reduced to a measly 20% at the max range. This is what makes people buy this item: with it they can both Damage and Lifesteal off of all nearby foes with each strike. When fighting a multitude of enemies, a Champion wielding the Ravenous Hydra can take them all on at once. It also makes quick-healing off of Minion waves faster. The Ravenous Hydra also has a Unique Active that does the same thing with enhanced Damage (100%-60%). With a 10 second Cooldown, this Active can be used quite often.
Despite the price, most Champions who build this item will rush it as soon as possible during the Early-Game. Some still choose to get the Tiamat and wait on the Ravenous Hydra while other items are prioritized such as The Brutalizer. Even so, enough people do it to make it official: the Ravenous Hydra is an item for the Early-Game, and will continue to provide usefulness until the end of the match.
So from this we can conclude that Ravenous Hydra is an Early-Game item for Damage, Lifesteal, and for its useful Abilities. It is best rushed during Early-Game, and won't pull its punches from then on out. Though its stats are good, the Ravenous Hydra is best known for its Unique Passive and Unique Active, making Multiples a poor choice.
Most people probably wouldn't have learned anything new about the Ravenous Hydra by this point, as the basics are, well, merely basic. Despite its apparent simplicity, however, this item has several key elements that are what make it so useful as well as situational. This is the Advanced Uses Section.
Now, the real question here is simple... why build this item? Back during the days of my LoL youth (well, okay... not really), I didn't care much for this item. If you're Talon with 5 The Bloodthirsters, then sure; go ahead and make one of those a Ravenous Hydra! Still, The Bloodthirster gives more AD and more Lifesteal (even with the most recent patch to it reducing its total AD). This item is a wee bit less expensive, to be sure, but even so...
Naturally the Passives come to mind... they do offer a wide variety of uses all across the battlefield. But what specifically are those uses? And are they enough to justify the inferior stats? Even that lousy Mercurial Scimitar has more AD now (it's not lousy--more on that later). Is there more to this item? Where is its place in LoL? Does it even have one? Will it end up in the trash bin next to the Runaan's Hurricane and Executioner's Calling?
Not too likely. The Ravenous Hydra will always have a place so long as the Champions who build it consistently are still played. My real question is why do those Champs build it, and I can assure you--it's not just because they're Melee.
Here's the thing: Ravenous Hydra has inferior stats. That means that if you're not making good use of its Abilities, then you're using the wrong item. Even for many Tanky Fighters who might build this as their only offensive item the new The Bloodthirster is looking like a good choice for offensive and defensive reasons. I'll put it gently: THE HYDRA'S PASSIVES ARE THE ONLY REASON TO BUILD IT!!!
And don't feel like you're off the hook if you use this item to push nicely, too. The Ravenous Hydra's Unique Active is equally useful to the one wielding it if not more useful. The sad truth of the matter is simple: you're not going to be doing a whole lot more Damage in a teamfight with this item's Passive. It has a smallish range that is quickly reduced to a measly 20%, and unless the enemy is really clustered together you won't be hitting multiple targets often.
The Unique Active has slightly more range on the Crescent, and 60% Damage at the edges are a lot better, but you still won't be hitting too many foes most of the time. The real thing here is that you can use it without disrupting your Auto Attacks, meaning you can pretty much use it whenever you want without interrupting anything else you're doing, dealing an additional Maximum AD Damage.
Now, this is mostly all fine and good for Assassins and certain Bursty Fighters. But what about everyone else? Why don't they use The Bloodthirster nowadays? For Tankier Champions who only take this item alone and build little AD on top of it, the Ravenous Hydra serves more purpose to the Survivability Aspects. A Tank is rarely seeking 20% Lifesteal, but the more disruptive and pushing Unique Passive and the small Health Regen of the Ravenous Hydra may be more appealing. Remember, this is an Early-Game Item for Lane Dominance. With it, you can fight in Minions, deal a surprising amount of Damage with the Active, and push your lane with much more effectiveness. It also offers a great deal of Disruption in a Teamfight. Sure, Talon all the way in the back by the enemy AD Carry won't be doing a ton of AoE Damage, but a Darius after landing Apprehend? This can have a similar effect to the Sunfire Cape--you won't be doing the most Damage on your team, but you'll be doing Damage... to a lot of people. This is what makes Champions like Wukong and Renekton viable choices for this item, even when building Tankier--they offer good disruptive capabilities.
Ravenous Hydra works best when used with Champions and Tactics that compliment its greatest strengths:
The Extra Auto Attack:
Since the Ravenous Hydra gives a bonus enhanced Auto Attack that assists in AD Burst Damage, pairing this with other Abilities that enhance Auto Attacks can make for a powerful Triple-Attack. This can useful for Twin Bite, Noxian Diplomacy, Empower, and Ruthless Predator, amongst other things.
The Ravenous Hydra's Cleave and Crescent both stack with your Lifesteal, meaning hitting multiple foes will give you even more Health in return. As such, pairing this item with other Lifesteal Items like The Bloodthirster, Essence Reaver, or Blade of the Ruined King will greatly enhance your healing powers in all areas. Amongst a cluster of enemies, this can make killing you incredibly difficult. For any Melee Champion building more than one Lifesteal Item, the Ravenous Hydra is a must.
Pushing and Farming:
The Ravenous Hydra laughs at Minion Waves. This item can be used to clear advancing Waves quickly to protect your own Turrets just as well as it can be used to push the enemy's Towers as well--a job at which it is extremely effective. This also means that the Ravenous Hydra can benefit from Attack Speed, as the faster you attack the more your Passive will apply. The Ravenous Hydra is also adept at clearing Jungle Camps fast, without even needing to worry about the smaller Monsters. This of course also makes it difficult to take enemy Jungle Camps while leaving behind the smaller Monsters to delay the Timers, as you'll pretty much automatically kill them.
Things To Avoid
Pretty self-explanatory: never, never, NEVER, NEVER get the Ravenous Hydra on a Ranged Champion. Depriving yourself of the item's Abilities is basically settling for less with a sub-par version of The Bloodthirster. At least with the Runaan's Hurricane you're getting unrivaled Attack Speed--with the Ravenous Hydra there's no excuse. The only Ranged Champ you should ever even consider it on is Jayce, and if you're going to do that you may as well get the Runaan's Hurricane too, for the same reason. Then you can just be That Guy.
Attack Speed Fighters:
Certain Champions who'd only build one Lifesteal Item rely more on the Attack Speed than the Damage. In this case, it's not The Bloodthirster that gives the Ravenous Hydra the slip--it's the Blade of the Ruined King and the Feral Flare. Champions like Jax, Shyvana, Udyr, and the occasional Master Yi will often choose to go without this item.
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. If you're not making proper use of the Ravenous Hydra, then ditch it! Remember, it's the Abilities that make the Ravenous Hydra so good. If you can't use those Abilities to your advantage, then you're better off with something else. The Bloodthirster will offer better base stats and a shield to those who can't find a way to make the most out of Cleave and Crescent. Of course, most Champions who use the Ravenous Hydra build it as a Core Item, so if you still can't find a use for it there, then you probably just need to find another Champion altogether. Remember, no two matches are the same--be careful how you build.
This is a powerful tool in any AD arsenal. The Ravenous Hydra allows you to strike hard and strike often, giving you full control of your lane. With it you can come out of skirmishes on top, heal all your wounds back quickly, and dive right back into the fight. Your opponent will be outnumbered by your superior Minion Waves and your superior Auto Attacks. With it you'll thrive in the heat of battle, taking the life force of all those around you and never stopping to catch your breath for a second.
Use it unwisely, however, and the Ravenous Hydra will only serve you as a lousy version of The Bloodthirster. To those who can't use the Ravenous Hydra to control their lane and their battles this item will offer few rewards. This is not an item for the foolish player who seeks only superior AD stats. This is an item for the cunning fighter who can turn a fight to their advantage at just the right moment. You call the shots with the Ravenous Hydra, but are you a worthy tactician? Build it wisely!
I hope this guide has opened your eyes to the usefulness of the Ravenous Hydra, 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!