http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/ usually has good information on each champion and on each item. The comment threads are good places to read heated arguments about how to build characters, and even to start arguments yourself. Sometimes you pick up good insights, when it's not an all-out slapfight. Or even when it is. Check it out.
TheBMB has an item guide which I would also read. I didn't know that it existed before I started this guide, but the guides overlap less than I thought they would, and in particular, the other guide covers some important general points I didn't bother to discuss.
Quickly tried to update the blatantly outdated parts of the guide (due to item changes and champ reworks). As far as overall polish goes, I'm leaving the guide as is for now, as such a substantial overhaul is beyond my knowledge and my willingness to make spare time allows for now. It should be pretty useful for new players wanting to be more independent when it comes to building champs, though.
First draft finished 12/30/2011
The goal of this guide is to present comprehensive information about how to choose items to build a character, in a very general way that will require the reader to carefully read champ descriptions and draw their own conclusions. Masteries and runes will not be covered, except maybe mentioned in passing here and there as possible supplements to certain item choices.
The goal, roughly, is that a novice reader will know enough to go on and read individual builds and Wikia articles and know enough to come up with possible build orders, and to form hypotheses to test, come up with questions to ask, and form builds to tinker with. The reader should walk away more or less knowing not just what the numbers are, but what they generally mean in practice.
The first draft is done. I can't guarantee that I will ever seriously overhall the formatting, even if I get any really good ideas. But I'd like to make changes here and there if the discussion shows that it's warranted.
Please do not vote based on completeness. General quality and overall correctness at a novice-appropriate level is what I'm aiming at.
Hello. The purpose of this guide is to familiarize you with the items of this game and when to use them. Not much is assumed in the way of player knowledge. With this guide, it should be possible to better understand how to build any character all on your own, as long as you take the time to carefully read complete information about that character's skill set first.
Again, don't forget to check out leagueoflegends.wikia.com. This guide is intended to give you slightly more info about items so that a total novice can get to know how the whole item works and how it fits together with others before diving into the wikia, where such things might not be quite as fully explained from scratch, and the comments can be hit or miss. The other advantage to this guide is not having to click through so many links to get a first introduction to all of the items. After this guide has been read, you can probably get good info from the Wikia by posing a question and letting people argue over it some.
General principles - know your role
Not every item is valuable on every type of character. The tags Riot assigns to characters should be taken seriously. Feel free to experiment in bot games, but chances are you won't do too well building against the champion design.
For example, Master Yi is a carry. If you build Force of Nature, Thornmail, and Warmog's Armor on him together with Atma's Impaler and Trinity Force to get the best of all worlds, then the underwhelming result will be a carry who can't carry, but also isn't really a support or a tank, either. It simply isn't possible to buy that many tank items and still do enough damage. Feel free to get a little health or resists here and there, but generally carries are labeled as such because they scale well with DPS items.
Similarly, trying to squeeze too much damage out of a tank is generally a bad idea, but you're welcome to try. Also, anyone marked "bruiser" probably shouldn't build zero survival items, either.
Tanks and supports generally don't scale especially well with DPS items, so they tend to bulk up or buy GP10 items and wards, respectively.
* Supports probably won't buy items that cost over 3k.
* Tanks and supports won't buy purely offensive items.
* Carries won't buy pure tank items. If anything, they may take *one* tank item as a 5th or 6th buy, such as Banshee's Veil.
* Bruisers can arguably benefit from anything other than support items. Additionally, they tend to benefit most from offense-defense hybrid items like Wit's End, Wriggle's Lantern, Frozen Mallet, and Trinity Force.
There could be exceptions, but these are not bad general rules to start with if you're brand new to LoL.
Again, it's better to see for yourself sometime vs bots. But if you want to pvp with as little team rage as possible, do what works.
General principles - synergies
The most important principle for building a character is to decide what your character and his or her skills are good for, and what stats are needed. Also a basic understanding of what stats synergize with each other and how is important.
Dealing physical damage:The following stats increase physical damage. Many of them synergize with each other:
* Attack damage (AD)
* Attack speed (AS)
* Critical strike chance (%crit)
* Critical strike damage (from masteries, runes, and Infinity Edge)
* Armor penetration/reduction
* On-hit effects and miscellaneous unique effects
For auto-attacking, AD, AS, %crit, armor penetration, and crit damage should all be increased side-by-side. For using skills whose damage scales with AD, AD and CDR matter, and possibly armor penetration, unless the damage itself is magical. On-hit effects that do damage each attack (like Wit's End) synergize with AS, while on-hit effects with a cooldown (like Sheen) do not.
Dealing magical damage
* Ability power (AP)
* Cooldown reduction (CDR)
* Magic penetration/MR reduction
* On-hit effects and miscellaneous unique effects
CDR might not always be necessary. If you can engage and disengage after a combo, that is sometimes adequate. But continuous pressure and a fast pace can make it necessary to keep firing.
* Health (HP)
* Armor (Ar)
* Magic Resistance (MR)
* Damage reduction (From skills or Leviathan)
* Shields (From skills, Banshee's Veil, Hexdrinker)
* Lifesteal (synergizes with AD and AS)
* Spell vamp (synergizes with AP and magic pen)
Health, armor, and magic resistance should be taken together. This article explains effective health. Basically, health*(100+res)/100 is how much raw damage, before the appropriate resistance (armor for physical damage, MR for magical damage), it would take to kill you; generally you skew resistances toward whichever damage type is dominant on the enemy team, if any. True damage is an exception, as there is no resistance at all, so it's a bit of a wild card pushing you toward stacking raw health a bit more, and to play more cautiously near death.
A good build will stack whichever of these stats is the weakest, building it up to an acceptable level before building its other synergies. Most characters will want at least a little added health and resistance here and there, for example, Banshee's Veil and Mercury's Treads or incidental resistances like Madred's Bloodrazor and Abyssal Scepter, depending on their other needs. Other characters might be viably played with no survival items at all, but of course one does so at one's own risk.
Whether you want HP5 at all is up to you; Teleport can let you recall when you're low with much less harm to the team, or you might have lifesteal or spell vamp.
General principles - nothing gives you AP faster than AP
Passives like Runic Skin, Crimson Pact, and Spiked Shell are very nice, but should only be taken so far. The same goes with the unique passives on Archangel's Staff, Atma's Impaler, and Manamune. Either by reading guides, asking questions, playtesting, or some combination, you will get a feel for how to make the most of these. But the general principle is that the fastest way to build AP is to build AP, and so on. These passives are ideal when they boost a secondary stat whenever you build a primary one, since generally the gold value of the bonus effect falls far short of the initial investment.
If you want AP on Vladimir, you build AP and maybe you're more likely to pick up Rylai's Crystal Scepter or Haunting Guise than you would be otherwise. You don't stack Warmog's Armor, and probably don't even build one copy of it.
If you want AD on Rammus, then... well, you're probably playing Rammus wrong, but Warmog's Armor would be a better companion to Atma's Impaler than Thornmail, Zhonya's Hourglass, and Randuin's Omen with little in terms of health.
Galio is somewhat special, in that he can stack a somewhat large amount of MR to be turned into AP, and probably get by on not much more AP than that because he needs to be tanky, meaning health + armor should fit in there somewhere, without it really being necessary to buy AP outright (since he's not a carry; but a late-game Rabadon's Deathcap is something you might want to experiment with in games where you're doing well). If you really want to do decent supplemental damage, Abyssal Scepter could be a smart choice to stack AP in raw form and through the passive at the same time.
Xerath is just plain weird in that he wouldn't ever want to build half as much armor as he gets for free just by building like a squishy mage. I've heard rumors that they want to rework the passive, but I don't have any real word on it yet.
Also, Atma's Impaler + Warmog's Armor is a good combination, but two or more copies of Warmog's Armor will screw up your resistances and cost you a lot while only giving you another 20 or so AD, and you'll suffer. And the synergy is nowhere near the damage output of Infinity Edge + Phantom Dancer... you're honestly going to need to make good use of the tankiness aspect of the combo to even think about getting it.
Archangel's Staff is nice for AP, but if you *really* want AP, you build Rabadon's Deathcap afterward. Incidental mana from Rod of Ages, Glacial Shroud, and Banshee's Veil are nice gifts with a bit of additional AAS mana here and there, but they are attractive bits that skew the scales, not something you can profitably chase after single-mindedly for its own sake. Only take those items if you want health, armor, MR, auras, CDR, etc. ( Ryze is special in that he actually has damage scaling with the size of his mana pool, so he pretty much has to take all of those items every time, and I never see him played any other way)
Manamune is discussed in the Legendary items section, but basically you can think of it as 60-80 AD total and some MP5; it's not quite enough for most champs to want to go for it. The additional synergy of Mana Barrier could make Blitzcrank consider this item together with Glacial Shroud, though.
Finally, it's tempting to stack health on Sejuani, but don't go crazy. You really do need armor and MR. You shouldn't skimp on armor and MR mid-game with the intention to get by with less because the damage on Northern Winds makes up for it; it's just not worth it. Just build like an ordinary tank with a lot of resistances and gradually build health alongside it. An early Warmog's Armor will just make you blow up in teamfights because you didn't have a chance to stack resists yet, though a late Warmog's Armor can be useful, especially if you took resists-heavy zero-health items like Force of Nature on the way there. Similar remarks probably apply to Volibear and anyone else with weird scalings like that.
On the other hand, Ryze is totally fine stacking mana; his mana-scaling damage just about plays the role of AP on its own, compared to Sejuani, who just mostly just needs to tank and enjoy the bonus damage as it comes. There are enough mana items that offer Ryze other important stats that he generally just gets all of them, and he comes out balanced - Frozen Heart, Banshee's Veil, Archangel's Staff, Rod of Ages.
Health Potion and Mana Potion
These are good items to have early-game. They are rather wasteful long-term, but they can easily pay for themselves by preventing you from either recalling or, in the worst case, dying needlessly. Often taken with a cheap starter item like Sapphire Crystal, Boots of Speed, Cloth Armor, Long Sword, Regrowth Pendant, Faerie Charm, or Rejuvenation Bead. Cloth Armor + Health Potion is common for junglers. Long-term, you will want HP5, lifesteal, mana, and MP5 instead.
Elixir of Brilliance, Elixir of Fortitude, Elixir of Agility
The most obvious use for these is after you've already completed your entire build, in a long game. You could also consider getting them if you already have an item advantage and you want to push it harder by building a snowball item like Mejai's Soulstealer, Sword of the Occult, and Leviathan. But it's a lot of gold and I don't generally recommend it.
Sight Ward and Vision Ward
Explained well enough on Wikia. http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Vision_Ward http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Sight_Ward
Usually taken by supports and tanks together with GP10 items. This way, the team gains overall advantage while the main damage dealers don't have to pay for it.
Mid-game, conflicts over Dragon often occur. Later on, fights over Baron occur.
Lets you see invisible stuff. Lasts until you die. I don't like taking it because it's too easy to die and waste 500 gold. If you're especially good at avoiding death, this is great for helping your team clear wards and spot Akali, Evelynn, Twitch, Shaco. If staying alive for such a long time is difficult, consider churning out a Guardian Angel first, if you can. It can save you hundreds in redundant elixirs, as long as you don't wander into hopelessly outnumbered circumstances or get aced.
These are considered separately, as you will usually complete these early-mid game almost always. Move bonuses from different boots do not stack, only the highest of any particular boot.
25 ASpd makes a big difference early, if you want to rush AD items like B. F. Sword. This makes this a fairly strong item to rush. Later on, you might have a Phantom Dancer and maybe even more AS than that, in which case you may want to sell Berserker's Greaves and get an item with more late-game power. Of course, you burn 100 gold or so in the sellback process, but it could easily be worth it in many cases.
Boots of Mobility
The pros and cons are quite clear. These are often suggested on stealth champions, and can also benefit junglers. They can be sold for something else later, if you plan to jungle and gank early and tank later, for example. They are a good option for stealth characters all game long.
Boots of Speed
Nothing fancy here. You can buy these at the start of the game and have room for potions. It's a strong option.
Boots of Swiftness
Somewhat good on tanks, or characters who just need to move quickly. Garen and Master Yi, for example, have ways of shrugging off slows, and they need to move quickly. I also like these on a tank because the fast movement speed forces the enemy to use crowd control on you (rather than someone else). Caitlyn needs to avoid getting CCed in the first place, but needs to outrun to get shots in, saving her net shot for key moments or emergencies. There are definitely pros and cons; do you need tenacity? Would some tenacity item other than Mercury's Treads be worth the item slot? Will you get by with the move speed from Move: 2 boots with Zeal, Phantom Dancer, Trinity Force, Force of Nature, Lich Bane, Shurelya's Reverie, Youmuu's Ghostblade, etc? Or maybe you even want to stack it to the max with both types of bonuses?
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
CDR is often a very important stat. If you absolutely need a lot of CDR fast, this is a seriously good option. Aside from most mages who benefit from this (exceptions like Cassiopeia exist), "caster melee" characters like Renekton use CDR better than attack speed, with his impressive skills burst, compared to auto-attackers like Master Yi who may rather have Berserker's Greaves.
These are wildly popular. Tenacity and MR, valuable stats filling up your obligatory boot slot. Always a great choice when in doubt, and especially good when facing magic damage or a lot of CC, of course.
These are pretty unpopular, and dodge in the process of being phased out of the game. For the time being, these are nice on Jax, when facing an unusual amount of AD, and whenever your build would otherwise be unbalanced toward MR without it.
This is one of very few options for magic penetration items. In general, MPen gets stronger the more you have, making these a strong choice for mage damage output early-mid game. If your plan is to cast everything and then back off, then these are better than Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and you can pick up CDR elsewhere later if you wish. If your cooldowns are shortish, but you need a little help, then you have to decide which is more valuable; Fiendish Codex or Kindlegem are low-cost CDR options if you really want Sorcerer's Shoes.
Listed in a separate section, these items are useful, but not that popular, except for of course Mercury's Treads. They are gold-efficient, but not item slot-efficient, in that a more expensive item with more features often appeals more if you're shooting for a full build. If your main build does not usually use Mercury's Treads, and you absolutely don't want to switch to them, but you're up against a lot of CC, then seriously consider whichever tenacity item has stats most relevant to your character. Since boots are just about necessary and never cost much, it's not as much of a sacrifice, usually, just to get Mercury's Treads. On the other hand, all other tenacity items feel just not quite good enough to take up the space, usually.
Cloak and Dagger
Fairly decent, if a bit underwhelming, this could work well for Tryndamere after an early Berserker's Greaves and Infinity Edge. He typically gets CCed a lot after level 6, but he needs to establish a fearsome amount of DPS. Most auto-attackers could benefit from this in some situations, but Zeal and its upgrades are better offensively.
I almost never see this item. It's more MP5 than most characters need, with a really nice HP5 boost and some tenacity. In principle, supports could upgrade Philosopher's Stone to this, but the Shurelya's Reverie upgrade provides valuable CDR, and upgrading to Eleisa's Miracle puts an end to valuable GP10 which could be used toward other items and wards. Eliesa's Miracle is thus in a bit of a weird place. I personally would like it to cost slightly more and do a little more, maybe retain the GP10 bonus, or give 5% CDR or something.
Discussed in the boots section, these are boots, which are mandatory anyway, so this is definitely a guilt-free item.
Its name makes it sound like a sword-and-sorcery item, i.e., AD/AP hybrid item. But it's just a boring old chunk of AP with some tenacity. It is sometimes tempting, but somehow never quite tempting enough. Something like 5-8% spellvamp would make it really appealing, but Riot doesn't seem to want to go for it.
A basic item is an item which can not be built out of other items. An advanced item is built out of one or more basic items, and a legendary item is built out of at least one advanced item and possibly additional basic or advanced items.
This guide will be starting with Legendary and working backward, because ultimately these are often what you want to build toward (with some notable exceptions, see the next paragraph). You don't want to buy an item with no attractive upgrade routes, so it's good to know what you might want in the end, rather than what you want right now.
Some Advanced items are as costly and as good as Legendary items, and some Legendary items are only as costly and powerful as a typical Advanced item. Infinity Edge and Rabadon's Deathcap, which cost 4k gold but are technically just advanced tier. Also, Eleisa's Miracle is cheaper than a B. F. Sword, though the former is Legendary and the latter Basic. But generally, the items you'll want will be boots, a couple Legendary items and a couple Advanced non-upgradeable items. 4k gold Advanced item is a bit like an advanced item in practice, and a legendary item under 3k gold feels like an Advanced item, roughly. But the sections will group strictly according to the tiers.
Here's what I think of the Legendary itemsArchangel's Staff
The problem with this item is gold efficiency. Needlessly Large Rod grants more AP per unit gold under most circumstances, which is what matters for most of the game. Archangel's Staff potentially offers the most possible AP for a single item slot in the whole game (after you pick up a single Rabadon's Deathcap for the unique passive first)... but it takes 30 minutes or more to buy a Deathcap, shoes, and three large rods, making item slot efficiency a questionable priority. It is also problematic in that getting the most out of AAS requires getting Tear of the Goddess early so it's at least half-full by the time you upgrade to AAS. But this sets back your early game, granting you no AP at all and costing 900 gold or so. This being the state of things, it's just not an item you see that often except on Ryze and maybe mana-hungry champs like Anivia or possibly Swain, though Athene's Holy Grail makes AAS look sort of obsolete in the latter two cases.
One thing AAS has going for it is that it can combined mana+survival items for a tanky AP build, either on a mage or an AP tank. Such mana+survival items include, notably, Catalyst the Protector, leading to Banshee's Veil or Rod of Ages, both great choices for many characters. Glacial Shroud is also excellent, leading to Frozen Heart. Archangel's Staff, Sorcerer's Shoes, Catalyst the Protector, and Glacial Shroud offers a lot of AP, good CDR, and pathways to further survival and damage.
As mentioned before, Ryze can get it because the obscene amount of mana counts toward his spell damage. Anivia needs the obscene amount of MP5. Many other casters just want the raw AP and are very happy that it happens to come with all the MP5 in the world.
Overall, AAS is a decent item for spell-spamming noobs, but it is not often seen otherwise. It can be taken on someone looking for a tanky AP build on Cho'Gath or Gragas or the like, but you might experience a mid-game setback while spend too much on mana+mp5, not seeing much of a payoff until late-game.
Athene's Unholy Grail
This item has been needed for a while now, and here it is. It's not worth it unless your mana costs are truly large and frequent, but if they are, this item is excellent. Swain needs to ult constantly to recover health, which costs a lot of mana; enter the grail. Chalice of Harmony used to be a tempting dead-end item for the early game that sort of only worked well for Galio and maybe Sona in practice, but that is no longer the case.
However, you might want to consider managing your mana better depending on who you're playing as, as there are more offensive mage items out there.
A popular item for good reason, it gives health AND MR together with a nice bubble that lets you skirt the edges of a fight and brush off one spell (with some spells being ineligible for blocking). Often a carry will grab this as their only defensive item. This item will do very little to help you if you get focused in a teamfight, but it can definitely prevent that Amumu from Bandage Tossing to you and ruining your day. It feels like a worthless and underpowered item only if you expect the wrong things from it. A champion with a dash on one skill and a stun on the next won't be dissuaded at all, like Leona's Zenith Blade -> Shield of Daybreak combo, or even Alistar's Headbutt -> Pulverize. Additionally, Ashe can pop veils on multiple targets with Volley, which is on a short cooldown at high levels; you might just want to always have at least one good veil-popper on your team in any case.
The Sapphire Crystal component is sort of nice, letting you buy some mana without having to feel guilty about it that much.
An AP-oriented caster item, and one of a few CDR options. It is not as gold-per-stat-efficient as Morello's Evil Tome, and Nashor's Tooth is better for hybrid characters. Deathfire Grasp has a nice active that is appealing for any caster, but especially casters who don't quite have enough AP scaling on their other skills to burst as hard as they'd like. It is also a waste to purchase CDR over the 40% limit, so this is a natural choice if you're already at 25%. Finally, this item is a caster's item which is specifically good at dealing with enemies who stack raw health. (Most notably, enemies who get Warmog's Armor, which is often followed by Atma's Impaler, neither of which provide any MR.)
Already discussed in the Tenacity section.
I don't get this item that often because the amount of armor is obscene in most games, and mana isn't that hard to manage late-game. But it has synergies like Archangel's Staff, works well on AP tanks who need CDR (like Cho'Gath), and the aura is a strong team-wide counter to overfed AD carries.
A great item for tanks or tanky DPS, especially tanks. Tanky DPS will want to consider whether Trinity Force is good for them. If not, then often this item will help. The item by itself is a huge chunk of health, allowing you to pick an item like Atma's Impaler if you're ultimately looking for a tanky DPS setup. Carries should probably skip it, as the health is overkill, the damage output is too small, the cost too high, and CC should either come from your skill set or your allies anyway. I like this item on Leona, Renekton, and sometimes Riven. If your team has too many carries, then you can maybe get this just to be a tanky half-carry with some CC, but usually you just want better team composition in that case.
This item is good on some characters, and terrible on most. It is perhaps a controversial item since its nerf a while back, but many players swear that it's a solid item, its active ability being what makes rather than breaks this item which would otherwise be only so-so for gold efficiency. Myself, I find hybrid characters somewhat underpowered at the moment, since they lack the synergies that a pure AP carry gets from Rabadon's Deathcap + Void Staff or an AD carry gets from Phantom Dancer + Infinity Edge + The Bloodthirster.
Akali is famous for being good with it, though she is a bit of an exception in that she usually gets nothing but AP other than this item. Most other characters who get this item could probably benefit from Guinsoo's Rageblade, possibly taking Rageblade earlier for the cost efficiency and attack speed; Nashor's Tooth instead (or as well) is often helpful, the three working together for good initial attack speed that snowballs into great attack speed and AP which fuels a follow-up spell and/or skill-based bonuses to the attacks themselves. Jax is perhaps the canonical example of such a character.
This item is a solid choice for many characters for many reasons. It provides a nice chunk of AP, some MR, a little move speed, and a passive ability. If you find that a champ has decent AP scalings but not quite as much or as many as you'd like, this could be a remedy to avoid falling off late-game damage-wise. It also helps to have at least one skill on a short cooldown and a ton of AP backing it up (otherwise, you won't benefit much from upgrading from Sheen). The bonus damage works on turrets, too, allowing mages to pose a real threat to turrets.
Perhaps the classic example is of a Lich Bane user is Lux, an AP user whose passive requires her to use auto-attacks after abilities to reap bonus damage. Sona also has a passive with those features.
Even Vladimir, who doesn't need the mana, can benefit from it as a late item, with so many spammable spells, and he has a lot of sustain and range.
If you find that it's relatively safe to mix in auto-attacks, this could be a good item. If you have short cooldowns, this might be a good item. If you have long range, this might be a good item. While the active is ideal with high AP, it can be taken earlier if for some reason MR and move speed are highly valuable. Characters with low health pools usually benefit more from health+AP items like Rod of Ages, Doran's Ring, and Rylai's Crystal Scepter earlier on, though an early Null-Magic Mantle is usually valuable. (This is assuming you're not playing a glass cannon build)
Locket of the Iron Solari
A nice tanky support item, especially for supports with no healing abilities, or tanks who want to fill the bottom lane support spot. Don't forget about the active, and consider rushing this item if the enemy picks Karthus.
This item isn't seen very often. It is an AD item that helps you stack raw mana, and it is usually taken early to establish a pool of AD before moving on to either tank items or crit chance and AS items like Phantom Dancer. Blitzcrank is the character most likely to use it (because of Mana Barrier), though it is a decent choice for a Sivir or Miss Fortune player who tends to go out of mana a lot. It grants much more AD than a B. F. Sword and costs a few hundred more gold. However, it is ultimately a lost item slot when compared to the superior AD of The Bloodthirster, nor does it provide lifesteal. Also, your damage will sag for a while if you rush Tear of the Goddess. Your AD will make a brief comeback when you finish Manamune, but you will be behind on building more interesting items with more synergies like Infinity Edge. Note also that many characters have high enough innate MP5 at high levels to not need MP5 items late-game.
If you find yourself not liking this item as much as you used to, you might be getting better at saving mana.
Maw of Malmortius
This relatively recent item is decent for any tanky DPS, or possibly for an assassin or carry. It provides AD and no AS, so it sometimes works better with AD casters like Riven, Yorick, and Renekton than with pure auto-attackers. It's probably not something you want to rush, but if you pick up Hexdrinker early, you don't have to worry about losing gold in a late sellback, thanks to this new, fairly satisfying upgrade.
Morello's Evil Tome
Now that this item builds out of Kage's Lucky Pick (as of a recent-ish patch), it's a tempting mid-to-late game item for supports. Its new active ability can justify rushing it if the enemy team has a lot of healing/regeneration.
I don't get Morello's Evil Tome that often because Ionian Boots of Lucidity and mastery points together with the tome can push over the cap, where Deathfire Grasp is just right and has a useful active. You might occasionally find it useful, though. If you absolutely need MR and/or tenacity from Mercury's Treads, then Morello's Evil Tome can help reasonably rush CDR on a mage.
Athene's Holy Grail is a bit more exciting and has that touch of MR that makes it really tempting, while letting you spell spam better.
An item with a somewhat odd-looking set of features. It is one of two upgrades to Madred's Razor, with Wriggle's Lantern seen more often in games because the lantern gives free wards, grants lifesteal, and costs less. Nevertheless, the Bloodrazor is sometimes taken in special builds and in special situations.
Special builds are AS/on-hit builds. Champs like Kayle who get bonus on-hit damage to auto-attacks don't get this damage amplified by crits, but they do benefit from AS. Sometimes they can build for AS and on-hit items like Malady, Wit's End, Sword of the Divine, and Madred's Bloodrazor. Kog'Maw can also reasonably get this item too, especially if you picked him specifically to counter a bulky team with Bio-Arcane Barrage. Also, Warwick can do a lot of damage during his ultimate ( Infinite Duress) with this item, probably more than with any other single item in the game.
Secondly, the ideal time to get Madred's Bloodrazor is when an enemy takes Warmog's Armor but very little magic resistance. If an enemy is overfed and does a lot of damage while having a lot of health, such as a typical Jarvan IV, Garen, or Renekton, it can sometimes be worth deviating from your usual build to take Madred's Bloodrazor (especially in the cases just given, where the damage done to you is mostly physical and the armor stat helps you a lot). If you are playing as a mage and you notice that the enemy Jarvan IV is 10/2/6 and is wearing Thornmail, more often than not, you should beg your auto-attacker allies to get Madred's Bloodrazor. In more intermediate circumstances, use your judgment; I am often told that Madred's Bloodrazor is overpriced and underpowered on most champs in most circumstances.
Conversely, if you're building Atmog's yourself ( Warmog's Armor + Atma's Impaler) and an enemy has built (or has partially built what might later be) Madred's Bloodrazor, do the right thing and take a quick detour to build some magic resistance; ideally, this means taking an item you wanted anyway earlier than usual, but you should definitely shift gears if you see two or more copies of Madred's Bloodrazor menacing you. By building a bit of MR, you can definitely soften the impact of a bloodrazor for a lot less than the enemy spent on it in the first place.
Hybrid auto-attackers like Jax and Kayle can use this. Stinger is more usually a more valuable early item, as long as you can manage mana either by rationing or with some other item you like. While it has the most CDR of any item in the game, pure mages probably won't find it worth the gold and the item slot; consider runes/masteries and Morello's Evil Tome.
I want to also add that Kayle's Righteous Fury recently got a huge AP scaling buff - .4 AP scaling instead of the old .2. For a long time, Nashor's Tooth has been known as an item that is occasionally tempting, but never quite good as the competition, even on the rare champion who should be ideal for it. I get the feeling that these buffs have Nashor's Tooth in mind in particular.
If you can get by without MP5 and CDR from the Tooth through runes, masteries, and/or playstyle, you might get more punch from Guinsoo's Rageblade. But my overall feeling about Kayle in particular is that with the buffed ratio on Righteous Fury, Nashor's Tooth looks like a solid early item pick now. It also happens to be very beginner-friendly, letting you start with Meki Pendant and 2x Health Potion.
If you get Guinsoo's Rageblade or Nashor's Tooth, you might want to start working on Hextech Gunblade next. The three items together are strong, but after getting AS, you generally need AD, AP, and LS/spellvamp to dominate, while the other two items are a bit heavy on the AS side of things.
Another item with pretty transparent pros and cons. Some players even stack two of these, such as Master Yi. I prefer to alternate AS/crit chance with damage. This item has extremely strong synergy with Infinity Edge, either of which can be rushed first; characters who have burst skills with AD scaling may prefer Infinity Edge first, starting with B. F. Sword or Pickaxe, while characters who value move speed or attack speed can start with Phantom Dancer. For rushing damage output, Berserker's Greaves + Infinity Edge may be a more gold-efficient start-up.
AD carries (particularly auto-attackers) usually prefer Phantom Dancer over Trinity Force as an upgrade to Zeal because of the lower cost, the Infinity Edge synergy, and the lack of gold spent toward special effects. Tryndamere and Master Yi, for example. By contrast, tanky characters who have at least one skill on a low cooldown and might build only one or two offensive items often go for Trinity Force - Renekton, Nasus, Trundle. In particular, the ability to use Sheen well also makes for a good tanky DPS Trinity Force character.
This item has a somewhat odd CDR contribution, making it a somewhat awkward choice for exactly capping CDR. However, it's a solid tank item otherwise. Heart of Gold is a great item to rush on a low-damage champ for survivability. Warden's Mail is great early when facing one or more AD champs in lane. And finally, Randuin's Omen itself provides great protection from attacks and an active; pay attention to how it scales with armor and MR. This makes it a great late item, or can be taken somewhat sooner than that on characters like Leona and especially Rammus, who get temporary armor and MR bonuses they can activate before activating the Randuin's Omen active. Amumu or Galio could also use it to extend the misery of the enemy team for some time at the end of his ult.
Sometimes, a carry will even take it just because the enemy AD champs are too fed.
Upgrading Warden's Mail to Randuin's Omen is an especially good idea on tauntless tanks like Alistar, Amumu, and Leona, who can't count on the enemy AD carries wasting attacks on them to trigger the Warden's Mail passive. If the laning phase is over, there will be more targets to choose from, so the active will be important to get the most out of money already spent.
Rod of Ages
This tanky mage item is a classic Ryze item, providing mana, health, and AP. Cho'Gath benefits from it a lot, as well as almost any mage who isn't building as a glass cannon. (An exception is the manaless Vladimir) Catalyst the Protector builds into Rod of Ages, and this item is stronger when taken early; experiment and decide whether rushing Catalyst seems worth it in practice.
Perhaps easy to underestimate, this item is nevertheless useful on a variety of characters for a variety of reasons.
First of all, there is the active, which is useful on almost anyone, but which must only be taken if the item as a whole is worth it. Skarner in particular shines with this item, which gives him a little bulk and helps him spam skills while also giving a nice active that helps him land his ultimate and/or drag further with it.
Shurelya's Reverie sports a lot of highly useful stats, but no heavy damage or enough defenses to make it a hard tank item. Ultimately, this item is a decent boost for any mana-based champ who could use a bit of sustainability, and the health boost is usually welcome; however, carries may find it a bit questionable to take such an expensive detour.
One of the biggest pros for this item is the items it is made from. Philosopher's Stone is tempting for players who have mana trouble and/or have trouble sustaining through lifesteal, or for players who would rather not spend on potions early on and find it worth slowing down offenses and defenses for the sake of sustainability; it shines on Sona, who uses a lot of mana and is often expected to get by on GP10 and assist money while letting her lane mate farm most of the minions. Additionally, support characters value HP5 because such champs can often continue to be useful at a safe distance, making HP5 more sensible than spellvamp (which is also ineffective because of their low damage anyway). Kindlegem is also nice, especially on pure tanks who value CDR (such as Leona); these are also generally expected to take GP10 and to be generous with minions in lane. But even a support character looking to buy CDR that much more cheaply can see value in a Kindlegem, whose health boost also allows them to harass a bit more than would otherwise be safe.
This item is bad to rush on any character who does not farm heavily, that is, a duo-laner who gives up minions and does not generally get a lot of kills. That is, such a character should hold on to the Philosopher's Stone until late-game, build Kindlegem early only if it's worth it, and complete the item only when they judge that the active will help more than the additional gold. If the next one or two teamfights will decide the outcome of the game and no other item is near completion, definitely finish Shurelya's Reverie. Otherwise, you have to exercise judgment.
Newer players playing a mana-based carry may like Philosopher's Stone in any case, because they may not know when to attempt to use lifesteal or spellvamp and they may be better served by erring on the side of caution. Additionally, they may not be making that many kills or they may not be that good at last-hitting, even with champs who are supposed to last-hit well; such a player may find GP10 to be somewhat forgiving, though with more skill, they will find that ultimately, they will find that they will fulfill their potential more quickly by rushing a strong damage item such as the B. F. Sword.
Finally, as a single survival item on an otherwise squishy character, Shurelya's Reverie is questionable. Such a player will have to get by on a lot less than if they were to take, say, Banshee's Veil. However, Shurelya's Reverie sometimes has synergy, such as with Sivir's On The Hunt. If you don't really have a lot of mana trouble, then it might be worth getting lifesteal or spellvamp instead, or some other HP5 item. If you don't really need CDR, this item is hopeless ( Cassiopeia, for example).
This item is brilliant on some champs and lackluster on most, due to its unique passive. Alistar, Dr. Mundo, and Taric use it brilliantly; in particular, Alistar with a Philosopher's Stone and Spirit Visage has a ridiculous amount of sustain at a low price. This, an optional Doran's Ring, and some boots are the core build for The Incredible Regenerating Minotaur.
Additionally, Spirit Visage is a solid choice for tanky Vladimir after Hextech Revolver. It can help on Warwick, Xin Zhao, or on any champ who builds a lot of lifesteal, but often you might prefer synergizing your lifesteal by increasing your DPS instead; if you want to build lifesteal + CDR, finishing this after building some lifesteal is an option.
It's a cheap item with health, CDR, and MR, which makes it such a pity that it takes up an item slot and just isn't quite worth the trouble most of the time on most champs.
A tanky support item I don't see that often, Soul Shroud is useful beyond its popularity, IMO. The drawbacks are not in the item itself so much as in what builds into it and what other items might compete for the same item slot.
It is tricky to build it because a support or tank champion will often build the (popular for good reason) Philosopher's Stone for GP10 + sustain, leading to a lack of a need for further MP5 items. Additionally, Soul Shroud does not sport any HP5. Sona spams a lot of heals, though, and could possibly get by on GP10 runes/masteries to make room for Soul Shroud. On tanks, I like Warden's Mail sometimes for HP5. See build 2 from Abyssal Malletfire for an example of a way to work Soul Shroud in after starting with Faerie Charm, Rejuvenation Bead and a Health Potion.
The other reason this item isn't seen that often is that Aegis of the Legion is another tanky support item which shines early-to-mid game, when one might be tempted to get Soul Shroud. Aegis does not compete for an item slot with the beloved Philosopher's Stone, and Aegis is balanced, granting a cheap supplement of the three food groups of survival all in one package at a value rate, even before considering the aura. It is a no-brainer throwaway item one can take on a build that is otherwise totally lacking in survival, or it can be a no-brainer thrown in to bulk up an already well-rounded support tank or tanky support. It's no wonder I see them so much more than Soul Shroud, which only has health.
The third reason is CDR overkill. In a casual game with little coordination, everyone else might max CDR without your help, because they're not counting on your help, and then the aura is utterly wasted. Soul Shroud shines when everyone else builds very little CDR and your mage carry snags the blue buff and 10% CDR from items, letting them devote very little gold to CDR. If they count on Soul Shroud to fill the need, then they're free to open up their builds.
Soul Shroud is good but awkward. If you can fit it in and balance out your build, your team will benefit from it (if they plan for it anyway).
A complicated, expensive, and sometimes deceptive item, it can often be tricky to tell beforehand who will and will not use this item well. It does so many things which may or may not turn out to be worth the trouble. What is perhaps the weirdest about it is the failure of Sheen to have any item synergies, and no real synergy with the rest of Trinity Force; but the improved Sheen effect is nevertheless a useful damage booster. The other problem with Trinity Force is that it spreads stats somewhat thin, making a balanced champ with good overall damage from one item, while a hard carry might prefer to single out places to invest money with more precision.
For starters, its three parts each have other upgrades suited to other builds. AD carries usually prefer Phantom Dancer. Mages prefer Lich Bane. Pure tanks prefer Frozen Mallet, though a touch of DPS in the form of Trinity Force may be just what the doctor ordered.
Let's look at the parts. If all of them are used well by your character, then your character *might* do well with Trinity Force, or it just might not quite add up anyway.
SheenFirst of all, look at Sheen. If your champ has at least one damaging ability on a low cooldown, then Sheen might be useful. Your champ should also have good base damage and damage per level. That is because in the description "base damage" does not include ability bonuses, items, masteries, or runes. Only the AD your champion gets just by leveling up, taking nothing else into account. For this reason alone, Riven flounders with Trinity Force, since she is designed to scale well with AD and therefore isn't granted enough per level to abuse it too much. Many discussions about Riven after her release broke out, and the consensus was that Trinity Force just doesn't quite work, and that even worse, it distracts her from stacking the AD she needs in the first place. While Twitch would love to have both Zeal and Phage, his ability to use Sheen is rather hopelessly weak - his Expunge is a horrible way to activate Sheen because it wipes out his poison stacks and should not be used while champs are close enough to auto-attack anyway, generally; Ambush slowly builds up his attack speed, not maxing until his Sheen buff has expired; Venom Cask is somewhat better, but on a low cooldown; only his ult makes good sense, but of course the cooldown is rather long; good luck not spending that Sheen proc in one place.
By contrast, Nasus is absolutely brilliant with Sheen, last-hitting minions with Siphoning Strike much more easily and posing a much more serious threat to enemy champs. Vayne also does great with Tumble.
Ashe has good enough base damage and a low cooldown on Volley at high levels and could use the other items fairly well, but I think we don't see Triforce on Ashe much just because Infinity Edge + Phantom Dancer just outshines Triforce that much when it comes to damage.
PhagePhage is somewhat weak for damage, but it also grants health, making Trinity Force a slightly unsquishy item that can delay having to build survival items a little bit, making the burden of commiting 4k+ gold to a single item a little less worrisome. The attack speed from Zeal synergizes with Phage, making the wielder do that much more damage and be that much more likely to land a slow.
Sivir, lacking an innate slow, might need Phage in order to have a chance of kiting as well as Ashe. A tanky DPS might like Phage together with even more AS than comes just from upgrading Zeal, throwing in an item like Zeke's Herald for even more damage and chances to slow.
Frozen Mallet competes with Trinity Force as a potential upgrade, the former being a very tank-oriented item. I prefer Frozen Mallet on Leona, for example, and Frozen Mallet may be taken instead of Warmog's Armor to cut a corner in the Atmog's build; of course, the three may be taken together, or Trinity + Atmog's could be considered as well. It can be a tough choice.
ZealZeal is nice, doing a lot of things for not much money. Ashe loves it, using it together with Frost Shot to stay out of range while dishing out DPS. If you rush Infinity Edge, though, you may want to consider whether Phantom Dancer is a better Zeal upgrade thanks to its lower cost and narrower focus.
Will of the Ancients
This item is a bit like a caster version of Zeke's Herald. Nevertheless, it is the only fully-built pure mage spell vamp item, making it an obvious upgrade for Hextech Revolver when Hextech Gunblade is not at all appealing. It's close enough to the carry/support item boundary that either type of character can get it without feeling too bad about it.
A bulky mage looking for a bit of sustain could take this item, especially Vladimir, who spends health instead of mana to cast three out of four spells, but more than breaks even when spell spamming on minion waves with this item and gets even more health than usual from Transfusion. Cho'Gath has a lot of multi-target attacks and would probably do well with a bit of extra sustain while helping his team with the aura, once he's built some resistances first. In general, supports with decent AP scaling could consider this item, especially if they need a little help healing as much as they'd like to. This item is much less selfish than items granting raw HP5, after all, and a lot of supports are pretty good at hanging back and harassing, or getting close and precision CCing... like Lux and Morgana.
I admit that I don't take this item often, but I consider it core on Vladimir and I would like to experiment with taking it more often. Some more opinions about this item would be useful in the comments.
The iconic jungling item, often rushed. If a summoner takes Smite as a summoner spell and has Cloth Armor and Health Potion for items, 98% of the time they're going into the jungle, and 70% of the time they're probably also going to get Boots of Swiftness and Madred's Razors -> Wriggle's Lantern. Armor, AD, and lifesteal are the trio of basic jungle stats, and the passive is obviously geared toward grabbing buffs, dragon, and eventually the Nashor buff. Finally, a free ward every three minutes lets a jungler chip in with a ward when gold is hard to come by; often it is good to use the ward right before attempting something somewhat dangerous like going for Dragon.
Other champs can use Wriggle's Lantern as a standalone survival-oriented AD item, though it is not as exciting as The Bloodthirster when it comes to AD and lifesteal; on the other hand, if the other team stacks AD, you might consider Wriggle's Lantern especially for the armor... however, *tanky* AD enemies might make you consider Madred's Bloodrazor instead; even a jungler can take this option instead of Wriggle's Lantern if the enemy AD tanky DPS is getting the most fed.
This item is good on "melee casters", tanky DPS characters like Renekton, Riven, and Yorick who have a lot of AD scaling in their skill sets, but who do not have much in the way of bonuses to attack speed, crit chance, crit damage, etc. They tend to burst their skills when they have the chance and not get quite as much out of spamming auto-attacks. They primarily value AD, CDR and armor penetration, and can essentially use the active effect to stay useful during the gap between two skill rotations. The active also shines in any case, making Master Yi somewhat ridiculous if he pops his other steroids at the same time and he isn't stunned.
Ranged champs should think twice, though.Notice that the duration increase ONLY procs from MELEE attacks.
It can be a bit of dilemma deciding whether to build Avarice Blade or The Brutalizer first, though.
If the goal is to deal with armor, then this item couples fairly well with The Black Cleaver. But if the enemy team is likely to stack an especially large amount of armor, Last Whisper all on its own is the better choice. On tanky DPS, I prefer Cleaver and Ghostblade, but on an AD carry, Last Whisper is often better to maintain dominance after getting fed early-to-mid-game (in such a case, the enemy may be building more armor than usual; hold down tab to check if they are). If the enemy isn't going to extremes with armor, then The Black Cleaver on an AD carry is probably better than Youmuu's Ghostblade and Last Whisper, especially if you have allies who will make use of the armor reduction.
This used to be a totally different item, Stark's Fervor. At any rate, this item is a sort of tanky support item with some CDR. It can help out your AD carries. I don't care for it much, because it's too supporty for an AD champion, and conversely, the AS/lifesteal is usually wasted if you get it on a support champion. With Aegis of the Legion or ever Locket of the Iron Solari available to give me and my allies stats that are always welcome, I hesitate to get Zeke's Herald. It probably isn't actually bad, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth anyway.
A pretty good item on any character who uses AP well who isn't building glass cannon. Don't overload on AP, and considering skipping this to rush Void Staff if your enemies are stacking an especially large amount of MR. Also, if you plan to pick up other MR items like Banshee's Veil, this item is a bad match if you don't think you need quite that much MR. Tanks generally tolerate excess resistances better than carries, and tanks might be a better wielder for this item anyway, as they need to spend a lot of time in harm's way for the aura to stay on the enemies. I like this item on Leona because it is one of the few ways of making Sunlight do more damage. It also has synergy with Sunfire Cape, providing armor, MR, health, pushing power, and an aura that synergizes both with your cape and your entire team's magic damage... all with just two item slots.
Aegis of the Legion
This item is balanced and a bit of a solid vanilla survival item without the aura, especially nice because it builds the three synergizing defense stats side-by-side. When you take the aura into account, it's a bit OP, but your allies get to shine, not you. Just about anyone who isn't a hard carry can benefit the team by taking this, but message the team to make sure there's only one on the team. It's a good item to rush, but it's not too late to get the most out of it as long as it hasn't quite escalated into full teamfights yet.
This item can also save your team when you queue into one of those games with 4 carries all building glass cannon. If they won't spend 400 gold on a Null-Magic Mantle, you should spend 2000 on an Aegis.
This item is most famous for its synergy with Warmog's Armor. This is called "Atmog's". Fratma's is Frozen Mallet + Atma's Impaler. Health from two or more lesser health items extremes provide enough synergy to make Atma's Impaler worthwhile. Trinity Force for ASpd is enough to make Atmog's about as DPSy as a tanky DPS can afford to be, but make sure you have MR, too.
Either in Dominion or just in general, hybrid champs can profitably mix Atma's Impaler with Rod of Ages to make a fun and somewhat offbeat tanky DPS champ with a bit of AP burst damage. Such a champ is usually a bit weak in some places but deceptively strong in others, and it's just fun and it could make the enemy misjudge you in a pinch.
A somewhat bland item, it is viable, but a tanky DPS probably just wants to farm hard or, if they jungle, rush Wriggle's Lantern. It builds into Youmuu's Ghostblade, but The Brutalizer provides much more combat prowess at not much more of a cost.
If you're off to a rough start or you happen to have just this amount of gold and nothing to do with it, Avarice Blade might help. An underfed Tryndamere might take this and hope for a comeback later, by playing a bit cautious, spending more time in the jungle, aiming for safer assists, and so on.
See the section on boots.
An item Riven and Renekton would love to take... if only it upgraded into something other than Hextech Gunblade. ( Hextech Revolver fans get Will of the Ancients...) The AD isn't that great, but the lifesteal and the active can help.
Jax in particular needs additional CC to keep his auto-attacks going, so the active is great on him. Akali might take this before Hextech Revolver, maybe, for burst damage and help disengaging.
With the Hextech Gunblade nerfs, it's just hard to recommend Bilgewater Cutlass that much. It would really see a lot more use with a pure AD upgrade route.
Boots of Mobility
See the section on boots.
Boots of Swiftness
See the section on boots.
Catalyst the Protector
Builds into Rod of Ages or Banshee's Veil, so read about those in the Legendary section.
In Classic mode, Catalyst the Protector is difficult to rush, though it is more useful the sooner you get it. It will stall your damage output for most of early-game, so you might need strong farming ability just to make up for it. The items it builds into are worth it even late-game, so don't worry too much if you can't fit Catalyst in early.
In Dominion, Catalyst is a very strong starter item (you start with 1375 gold) with the glaring drawback that you cannot also get boots; it is worth it, in my opinion, as long as you go top at the beginning and you have mobile allies who won't get themselves killed like fools in the extra second or three it takes you to catch up with them. In Dominion, free experience is granted so quickly and constantly that Catalyst will sustain you about as well as having Sona follow you around.
Chalice of Harmony
Actually a decent item, now that it builds into Athene's Holy Grail. It solves most mana problems all game long, especially early, when base MP5/level hasn't kicked in enough yet. Though you'll lag behind in AP for a while, the promise of Athene's Holy Grail later *can* make it worth it, as long as you *really need that MP5* and aren't just be lazy on mana conservation.
Chances are you'll want to get this before Fiendish Codex, but either is doable. The Chalice MR will save you, and CDR from Codex might not be important if you need the MP5 so badly that you're considering the Grail in the first place. If you simply can't rein in your mana cost, or you just want to spam spells, then this is the item to get.
Note that Galio uses this item LIKE A BOSS thanks to his passive, converting MR to AP. Sona just needs it because she's Queen QWEQWEQWE.
Cloak and Dagger
See the section on Tenacity items.
Emblem of Valor
Only builds into Zeke's Herald, so it's worth rushing this cheap item if you're in a duo lane and you want Zeke's. It also chips in some sustain, which is great on supports like Lux who have no heals. See Zeke's Herald in the Legendary section.
This item is a counterpick for heals; casters can get Morello's Evil Tome for the same active. The active is best used when the enemy might be forced to blow a heal afterward anyway, or during a gradual heal like Volibear's passive or Dr. Mundo's ultimate. It can be tricky to use this item appropriately, but if you solo queue into a game against Dr. Mundo and no one took Ignite, you should definitely try to work this item into your build if you're any kind of AD champ at all, period.
You can also use the active on a target your team is just starting to focus if the enemy team has a Heal, Taric, or Soraka nearby. It can also be a bit nasty to drainers like Fiddlesticks, Xin Zhao, and Warwick.
Nice to rush if you're mana hungry early and want CDR. Builds into Nashor's Tooth, Athene's Unholy Grail, or Morello's Evil Tome. See the Legendary items section.
Force of Nature
If you want totally absurd HP5, this can be taken after Warmog's Armor. It may be a bit more typical to take Regrowth Pendant early and to later take this after some less extreme health item... however, if you somehow farm this up after Atmog's and Triforce, you'll be a juggernaut, and the other team probably deserves to lose for letting you get that far.
Sunfire Cape has armor and raw health, so for a two-item survival combination, it could work. The move speed on Force of Nature isn't great, but it's not unnoticed either.
Other people swear by it, but I find Frozen Heart to be armor overkill, usually. I can see this being quite good on Cho'Gath, and Ryze loves mana. But whatever. Frozen Heart is great. Don't pay attention to me and my weird personal misgivings. Your team will thank you when the enemy Tryndamere starts to get fed and then gets disrupted by you and your cool aura.
Glacial Shroud is a tanky CDR item, but I like Kindlegem better, but... ok, fine. Do what you want, I'm out.
This item is alright, but isn't great as standalone (no health), and a pure tank might want more team utility instead of an aura that encourages enemies to just ignore them altogether. This item might be great to help you hold on to an Oracle's Elixir, though, and the resists are just plain high. But I'd back it up with some health, like with a Rod of Ages or whatever your champion uses well.
A nice item to rush because it provides cost-effective stats and has a low overall price. However, I prefer to have a bit more AS just so I have a good shot at getting the stacks up in the first place. Berserker's Greaves is an option, though on most AP/AS auto-attackers, I'd rather just get Stinger early, anyway. Wit's End is an option if you need MR, but you might want Mercury's Treads to make it harder to disrupt your Rageblade rhythm.
Nidalee in Cougar Form can spam skills at any time and at no cost, so you can go nuts. Jax can probably do fine with it, though I see Trinity Force and Hextech Gunblade slightly more often, it feels like; the three work fine together on him. Kayle recently got her Righteous Fury AP scaling buffed from a weak .2 to a solid .4, so she's a strong candidate once more.
Definitely good on Vladimir because of his passive, but mostly avoided otherwise, Haunting Guise is another one of those awkward low-cost Advanced-tier items with no upgrade routes, notorious for inspiring lukewarm ambivalence and sighs of regret in players who wish they could take them more often.
It should probably should be taken with Sorcerer's Shoes if at all. Void Staff is usually the proper choice for most AP champs looking to overcome MR, though admittedly the health from Haunting Guise might be missed. Generally %MR penetration and flat MR penetration don't stack well because the multiplier is applied *after* the subtraction.
You might sometimes find that Sorcerer's Shoes and Haunting Guise make you stronger than you might think if your enemy is neglecting to build much MR, though. The closer the enemy gets to 0 MR, the more losing additional MR will hurt them. Try it sometime, but hit tab to make sure the enemy hasn't already gone for Negatron Cloak or more yet first; in such a case, you may just want to go work on your Void Staff anyway.
Heart of Gold
Yeah, this is good on supports and tanks and sometimes tanky DPS. It only provides health, which comes in many other forms, so tanky DPS may find it a questionable item, and supports might just get Philosopher's Stone and call it a day (but they're wrong and I think they should get *both*). If you're waffling on whether to get it or not, *definitely* pick it up if you go negative in your k/d/a score early on, it's an item made for hanging tough, trying not to feed, and crawling to a comeback. HP5 from Philosopher's Stone won't save you if you're so underfed that you're getting serial turret-dived, but the extra second or so you can stay alive under the turret definitely might.
HoG and hug, yo! It's the new spin to win. If you want to be old school about it, it's the old rope-a-dope.
Oh, and Heart of Gold builds into Randuin's Omen if you want it to, so it's often not a bad choice even if you're not feeding. Good stuff. (See also Locket of the Iron Solari.)
A decent early-game item which can be taken if you like it without remorse, thanks to the new upgrade, Maw of Malmortius.
This item is supposedly a counter to Karthus, but if he's paying attention, he can wait a little, timing Requiem so that it hits just after the shield expires. The shield might save you if you dive and kill Karthus, take some teamfight damage, and get hit by a Requiem from beyond the grave, though.
In any case, it will often save you, but it often won't. It's a decent single-item anti-mage item for an AD character, especially those who use AD-scaling skills more than they auto-attack; Wit's End is a possible companion or even substitute for auto-attackers, as long as they don't depend on crits too much.
You gain some sustain but lose some AP by rushing this (compared to other AP items). Saves you some Health Potions. Builds into Will of the Ancients and Hextech Gunblade, yay. Vladimir loves it.
Most AD carries want this item, and most other champs do not. It is one of the few Advanced items whose cost and power surpass the Legendary items. It is also the unique item which provides a bonus to crit damage, making it completely indispensable to the AD auto-attacker together with AS, crit chance, AD, and probably armor penetration (ArPen marks and masteries at the very least).
Berserker's Greaves and Infinity Edge are enough to wreck faces if you get fed early. See Phantom Dancer for more discussion on Infinity Edge.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
See the section on boots.
A sort of odd item you don't see much. It grants AS and health, and a sort of fun passive that is sort of not worth the trouble, but it's good for farming. It would probably be more useful in the early game than elsewhere, and it sort of seems alright on Volibear, but I'm not crazy about it.
Kage's Lucky Pick
People (mostly supports) actually get this sometimes now that it builds into Morello's Evil Tome Understandably, it is often passed over in favor of Philosopher's Stone by support champions, and sometimes Heart of Gold is taken as a second GP10 item so a champ can ward heavily for a good while to come. Kage's Lucky Pick can be taken next or as a substitute for either, giving a rather mediocre AP boost. However, supports can benefit from either of its upgrades: Deathfire Grasp, since they tend to benefit from AP but need a little more punch (such as the DfG active) to get the most out of it; or Morello's Evil Tome if needed.
Janna is ridiculously evasive and long-ranged, so I tend to get Philosopher's Stone and Kage's Lucky Pick and to risk the squishiness (or I get triple GP10 and go ward crazy). Sona could probably do the same as Janna.
The cheapest CDR in the game, Kindlegem is priceless on supports and CDR tanks; can be coupled with Ionian Boots of Lucidity and 9/0/21 for the quickest max CDR, or 9/21/0 if you don't mind waiting a little. I always get this item on Leona before too long, and often on Ali star I get this, upgrade it to Spirit Visage, and then buy another.
This item is important if you take Philosopher's Stone for MP5 (making Fiendish Codex MP5 overkill on most champs); Philosopher's Stone and Kindlegem together build Shurelya's Reverie, so consider whether you want that. If you want to take Fiendish Codex for MP5, then you might skip Kindlegem unless you need both CDR sources. If both items have attractive upgrade paths, you might want to take both.
See its upgrades in the Legendary section, Shurelya's Reverie, Soul Shroud, and Spirit Visage.
A nice third or fourth item after Infinity Edge on an AD carry, but don't get it if the enemy fails to build much armor. Definitely prioritize this item if you see an unusual amount of armor and/or you are getting overfed (you have Phantom Dancer + Infinity Edge before anyone else is far along, for example); in such a case, you are so far along that the enemy is either going to build armor frantically or they're already good as dead anyway. You should probably have at least a Vampiric Scepter for lifesteal by now, just for sustainable killing power, and because it's about enough to tolerate Thornmail (together with Last Whipser).
A tanky DPS might consider Last Whisper as well as a situational remedy to high armor on the enemy team. However, The Black Cleaver, The Brutalizer, Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Zeke's Herald all have flat armor pen/reduction in amounts that are appropriate for taking on squishy champions, and these items should be preferred more often, especially if the other utilities of those items fit the game and your build.
See Madred's Bloodrazor and Wriggle's Lantern in the Legendary items section. Madred's Razors can be taken as a standalone item for a little AD if you're an AD carry who's worried about the enemy Jarvan IV or something. It also can help you take Dragon a little more easily at low levels, but you'll probably want to bring help. Other than that, read about the sequels and decide for yourself.
While it's not exactly a Rabadon's Deathcap, a Phantom Dancer, or an Infinity Edge, this item can be a solid boost in the hands of the right auto-attacker, especially those who apply magic damage with auto-attacks (either innately or through itemization). It works great with that obnoxious bugger Teemo (with his deadly Toxic Shot), that jerk Kog'Maw ( Bio-Arcane Barrage), Kayle ( Righteous Fury), and sometimes Jax (various skills). It stacks well with Guinsoo's Rageblade, granting you initial attack speed to get started ( Malady) and further AS as you keep going ( Guinsoo's Rageblade), while a similar flat+accumulating AP effect snowballs your bonus damage from your skills, together with some AD to sweeten the deal. Then when Malady is at maximum stacks, you can blast away with any ranged skills you may have, like Leap Strike, Reckoning, or Living Artillery.
It also stacks fairly well with Nashor's Tooth or Wit's End, depending on your needs.
An item I wish I could more often than I actually get it, Mana Manipulator is a bit outshined by Philosopher's Stone for overall utility. However, Soul Shroud is a nice item to build, and Mana Manipulator can be great in a duo lane who really needs mana, if you want to build around it. But generally, I find myself not getting this much as I learn more about other potential starting setups.
One of the three "snowball items," it is best used by skilled players in bot games they want to go quickly, and mostly ignored otherwise. If you can win games reliably with snowball items, then chances are you could do it without them just as well.
A possible exception is LeBlanc, who *can* be strong early-to-mid game if she plays extremely well and gets early kills, but needs help sustaining this dominance into later conflicts with larger forces where single-target burst isn't quite as strong anymore, and you run the risk of failing to two-shot a squishy and facing severe aftermath. LeBlanc is sort of like an incarnation of Mejai's Soulstealer, so you might as well go double or nothing and play to win boldy. Good luck with that.
See the section on boots.
See the section on tenacity items.
See the section on boots.
See Trinity Force in the Legendary items section. Phage is a decent standalone which synergizes with attack speed (perhaps in the form of Zeal if you go for Trinity Force). It's not a very high-damage item, but if it's just the right amount of tankiness, a tanky DPS can profit from it and its on-hit effect.
This item is hard not to like, but it slows down your damage output, and is questionable on a carry or tanky DPS. It also does not boost your ability to survive a large burst damage in the same way that health and resists do, so for example, this item is bad for laning against an assassin.
If you don't like any of its upgrades, you can hold onto it for a very long time and sell it when you need the item slot back, making much more back than you spent on it.
The best item no one ever takes. It's so good that if it ever built into anything anyone would actually want to get, it would be *way too good*. Such is life.
It could possibly help you live through the end of your ultimate as Tryndamere, though. And you might find it useful in an otherwise very squishy and very expensive build, or in a very cheap support build. Janna, for example, can get into trouble trying to position for her ultimate, and this can make it safer without cutting into her ward money too much. It's just an idea, though, and not necessarily worth paying for the novelty.
The Infinity Edge for casters, Rabadon's Deathcap is THE obvious choice for any champ with great AP scaling, especially an AP carry. It has so much raw AP that it synergizes with itself, but I prefer to have a lot of AP before building Deathcap. If kills are hard to come by and it might be a short game, then you might want to go ahead and rush Deathcap; if you're in it for the long haul or you aren't particularly dominant in the game, then you might want to build lesser items first and cap it off with a Deathcap to catch up with everyone else in the end.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
This item is often debated a lot because of the various levels of effectiveness of its unique passive. An ideal user of Rylai's Crystal Scepter would need a lot of health and AP, and they would have a spammable single-target spell and a spammable multi-target spell. A carry could take this item for a little survival, but it might be too much if taken with Banshee's Veil in that case. Any non-carry with decent ratios will likely have to use the effectiveness of the passive to make the decision.
For example, Soraka is a bit mediocre at using AP, and appreciates but doesn't necessarily need a ton of health, but extra health allows her to harass more freely. What makes Rylai's Crystal Scepter shine on her, in the end, is Starcall and Infuse. When using the scepter, the first is a spammable, MR-reducing slow that is likely to hit several targets, and the second applies a silence and a slow. The result is a shutdown not only of movespeed, but of gap closers and escape mechanisms like Spinning Slash, Slice and Dice, Shunpo, Distortion, etc. This makes a single-target silence+damage an ideal skill for this item.
Taking the scepter early is a sacrifice, giving up raw damage in favor of survival and utility. Taking it late-game can be an option, especially if you have been squishy until then.
See Trinity Force and Lich Bane in the Legendary items section. Champs with strong base AD might take Sheen early, while mages generally don't; however, AP champs like Sona and Lux have passives which incentivize an occasional auto-attack, making it ok to take Sheen somewhat earlier than usual.
See the Boots section.
See Nashor's Tooth in the Legendary items section. Stinger is nice early if you value CDR and AS, and it can also make it unnecessary to build Berserker's Greaves, allowing you to take something else like Mercury's Treads. Champs who don't use AP will find it to be a bit of a dead end and probably not worth it, though it is a good item for the price when the stats are called for. I find it to be a good companion to Guinsoo's Rageblade.
Mostly you would get this item for the health and the armor. The aura is a bit of an it's-the-thought-that-counts kind of thing, though it can add up in teamfights. It also makes it easier to push lanes with otherwise bad pushers like Shen. Champs who generally do damage just by being close to you for a long time can use Sunfire Cape, like Shyvana, Dr. Mundo, Garen, Amumu, Rammus and Singed.
Sword of the Occult
Like Mejai's Soulstealer, but with AD. I can't recommend it, other than as a tool to make bot games go faster.
Tear of the Goddess
See Archangel's Staff and Manamune in the Legendary items section.
Tear of the Goddess is generally taken early, if ever, and one can take a Meki Pendant and a potion or two to start to rush it. Champions with low mana costs and low cooldowns can charge the tear quickly (like Cassiopeia), and champs with demand for a lot of MP5 appreciate how it upgrades to Archangel's Staff ( Anivia). It's up to you to decide whether you have more immediate needs than rushing this, such as boots or survival or AP. Champs looking for a lot of sustain and good AP, but who would rather be a little sturdier, might prefer Catalyst the Protector and Rod of Ages.
The Black Cleaver
A great item for tanky DPS or AD carries. It is slightly more common on tanky DPS because its unique is non-selfish, and because Infinity Edge + Phantom Dancer is the most devastating combination, generally. When facing targets with low-to-moderate armor, however, The Black Cleaver can be a more attractive choice than Last Whisper for any AD champ.
This is a nice item, but not usually too early. Tanky DPS champs sometimes want CDR or sturdiness in the form of Atmog's, or special effects like Trinity Force. Auto-attacker carries do better with Infinity Edge + Phantom Dancer. But a Vampiric Scepter on the side can help any of these for cheap, and a Bloodthirster as a fifth or sixth item is usually welcome. Champs with a lot of AD scaling who don't just right click to win can appreciate this item, such as Riven.
Generally, a tanky DPS who has this much lifesteal *and* tanky items otherwise shouldn't be taken on 1v1, if you can help it, as they'll stand a good chance of lifestealing about as fast as they take damage. It's generally much better to keep some distance and commit only when 3 or more can attack.
Caster AD champs make good use of this - Renekton and Riven especially. Ranged champs might regard it as a dead end because of the melee-specific properties of Youmuu's Ghostblade, though. This item gives an auto-attacker like Master Yi an excuse to pick up GP10 from Avarice Blade, too, and you could do it in either order.
This is a niche item, for only some champs, and also useful in rare situations. It packs the most armor at the lowest cost, but it should not be taken for that reaso, really. It should be taken for the passive, mostly only on Shen and Rammus, who taunt often, and maybe Galio, whose ult is a taunt. If you do *not* have a taunt, then this is almost always a bad item on a tank, since only tanks who play so badly as to be vulnerable to the point of being a free kill are likely to get focused that often by anyone who knows what they're doing. Since you can't reflect damage you don't take, Leona, Amumu, and Alistar should avoid this item.
If the enemy team has an overfed AD carry, especially Tryndamere, then sometimes you have to grab Thornmail no matter who you're playing as. In less extreme situations in which two or three AD enemies seem to be doing most of the damage, you still may consider Thornmail, but if you're somewhat fed yourself, you might be better off resuming a more standard build with some health and armor.
If the enemy team consists of 4 or 5 AD champs, then they deserve to face 4 or 5 copies of Thornmail.
Other than that, you'll probably get more utility out of some other defensive item, like Glacial Shroud, Sunfire Cape, Zhonya's Hourglass, Aegis of the Legion, Rod of Ages, Rylai's Crystal Scepter, etc.
A somewhat odd item, and often hated. Some say it's just a farming tool, some say it's only good on Twitch, and some say it's just plain horrible no matter what.
It suffers from Manamune syndrome, giving you decent mid-game AD and sustainability while faltering mid-to-late game; in particular, it has less AD than that but it grants good HP5. The splash radius is large enough for farming minions, but not much more than that, as it can be easily avoided most of the time in teamfights.
With Twitch, it can be hilarious if you land an Ambush with Spray and Pray in a tightly-packed teamfight, causing each enemy to get splashed several times as each bolt splashes as it passes through each target. But they can avoid this typically by spreading out and by not letting minions pile up.
I usually get this item early on Nasus. One of its appeals is that you can start with a potion, a Faerie Charm, and a Rejuvenation Bead. Sheen and boots are followed by Tiamat, and then Trinity Force. The amount of AD is strong into mid-game, and tank items are taken after that anyway. This kind of Nasus can weaken minion waves with Spirit Fire and last-hit two or more of them at a time with a regular attack followed quickly by a Siphoning Strike (only the targeted minion counts toward the damage bonus stacks, but the gold is valuable). In my opinion, Tiamat works out somewhat uniquely well here.
Last Whisper for casters. There isn't any The Black Cleaver for casters, but there are Abyssal Scepter, Haunting Guise Sorcerer's Shoes, Malady, runes, and masteries. If you do not want any flat MR reduction, then you probably want a Void Staff before too long if you're a mage. If you get Sorcerer's Shoes and some runes and masteries, then you can let the enemy builds decide for you. Void Staff makes it possible to stay potent when faced with large amounts of MR. Note that most champs don't get MR per level, so Sorcerer's Shoes is bound to be stronger early-game, even if you could rush Void Staff.
There is anti-synergy with MR reduction, in that the multiplication is applied *after* the subtraction, so that new MR = .7*(old MR - 20) = .7*old MR - 14, or just 14 less than just what it would be with Void Staff. But 14 isn't nothing, and the closer they are to zero, the more each additional point helps. So it's up to you.
See Randuin's Omen in the Legendary items section. This item is sometimes rather good when you're faced with AD, especially in lane, where they don't have the option of ignoring you as easily as in larger confrontations. It later on upgrades to Randuin's Omen, giving you more options for reducing enemy AD output even when they don't target you, so you may want to grab a Heart of Gold if you're a tank. The HP5 of Warden's Mail is very strong early, much more so than its Rejuvenation Bead, so it may often be a good idea to rush Warden's Mail if you're going to get it at all, or else you may have to spend on other HP5 or Health Potions early on. In any case, the three-item setup is pretty strong early on a tank.
Shen in particular can possibly get a lot out of Warden's Mail all game long, if he doesn't get around to finishing Randuin's Omen, since he can repeatedly taunt multiple targets.
This is a strong item that has two drawbacks: it involves putting a lot of proverbial eggs in a single basket, and it takes a while for it to reach maximum effectiveness. What makes matters worse in the latter case is that sometimes tanks farm poorly, making it difficult to farm the stacks in the absence of assists. It can be good on pure tanks if you take it early, especially if you are confident that you will get assists. Leona and Rammus have a ton of free resistances, for example, and can be extremely sturdy just by buying a single item.
Tanky DPS, however, will find this item worth the cost for sure, thanks to Atmog's, the famous synergy:
This overly powerful combination puts both the "tanky" and the "DPS" in tanky DPS for an affordably large cost. You can snag some lifesteal, some MR, or even Trinity Force after that.
Volibear abuses this combination to the extreme, getting a nice chunk of damage from Frenzy just for finishing Warmog's Armor. Olaf and his Vicious Strikes are much the same story. Any future AD champ with health scaling is probably much the same story.
However, Atmog's is so powerful that it could turn a purple caster minion into a halfway-viable champion. It can be fun to build even when it's not really appropriate, such as on Sivir or Ashe, and it's sort of wonky, but you might succeed with it; if you ever did this back before the Sivir rework to compensate for the short range by bulking up, you were far from alone.
A side note: Vladimir could be a tempting choice for Warmog's Armor, but ultimately, spending thousands of gold strictly on health to get AP and bonus damage on Sanguine Pool just isn't a proper use of his passive. His passive is great for stacking AP while staying relatively sturdy, and it makes it more than worthwhile to take Rylai's Crystal Scepter, but nothing beats old-fashioned AP when you're looking to stack damage.
Just for fun, I recommend you try stacking a bunch of these in a bot game sometime, and you'll see that your resists are so low that the extra health doesn't even help, and you can't health steal fast enough to make up for how fast you lose health with no resistances. Also, your damage output will be sort of ok, but it just can't keep up. You might be sort of average after your first Warmog's, but you'll just keep trailing off as the game goes on. It's not the worst troll build in the world, but the ineffectiveness can plainly be seen by experiment.
In most games, this item is handy on just about any auto-attacker who isn't trying to go for critical hits. On-hit effects set you back a lot in the AD + crit chance + crit damage + AS synergy scheme, but if you just want to opt out of all of that, then AS + on-hit can sometimes work, and maybe even some AP if you have uses for it. This item has no AP, but the bonus damage is good enough to make up for it in many cases, and usually you need the MR. I sometimes get this item on Jax, but you might not want to rush it, instead taking a little bit of AD and/or AP for Relentless Assault first. Teemo could probably do well with it, too.
See Trinity Force and Phantom Dancer in the Legendary items section. Zeal is pretty decent for its cost, synergizing well with a B. F. Sword or 2-3 copies of Doran's Blade early-game, and it can be taken before Infinity Edge to compromise between rushing Infinity Edge and rushing Phantom Dancer. But the quickest way to heavy damage is Berserker's Greaves + Infinity Edge. If you're more comfortable with a gradual build with a few early items, then Zeal is more your style.
This is an odd item that I don't get that often. It's a bit too magey for a tank, and too tanky for a mage. Then it has an active which can sometimes save you, but other times can be blown to no good end; I can see Akali having fun with it possibly, though.
Interestingly, it seems that Evelynn can use the active after activating Shadow Walk to prevent a poking enemy from interrupting the fade to stealth, but it would be quite the gold investment. Still, the AP would be appreciated, and sometimes that amount of armor can be justified.
I suspect that it really helps to be talented at skirting the edges of disaster before playing with this item. AP Shaco might have a lot of fun with it, too. Honestly, I hate the playstyle too much, but it's a good chunk of AP and the unique active has potential. I just don't think I totally get how to milk it yet.
Basic items are often taken as starter items in Classic. With the exception of Mana Manipulator, all items that can be bought at the start of Classic are Basic or consumable. However, a few Basic items are actually quite expensive. These exceptions build into very powerful Advanced items. To decide what items to start with, you probably need to read all sections, because what items you want to build later decides to some extent what you want to build now.
However, the Doran's items have no upgrade paths at all. You can take these just for the early boost, or you can take a couple of them early on if you wouldn't quite have as much health or some other stat with your main build for a while to come, otherwise. This section will be a bit hasty, but I'll try to make it worthwhile to read anyway.
This item usually isn't that attractive as a first item when Doran's Ring is available. However, if you really want to rush one of its upgrades, you can take one along with a Health Potion. Vladimir in particular values Hextech Revolver highly and doesn't need MP5 from Doran's Ring. It's not the only example of a champ who could start with those two items, but it's the only champ I've ever done so with, personally.
B. F. Sword
On an AD carry, I like to rush this after Berserker's Greaves and maybe a couple Doran's Blades. The AD + AS synergy is decent for that stage of the game, and if you have two Doran's Blades and Vampirism , you have 9% lifesteal, which is sometimes enough. If you have an AS steroid like Rapid Fire, you can just get Boots of Swiftness or Mercury's Treads instead.
Whenever I build a B.F. Sword, I shout, "Bourgeois Francais!!!" You should too.
Boots of Speed
It's hard to think of a champ for which move speed at level 1 isn't an advantage. It's also quite an advantage to be able to buy several potions. Any champ in any lane can make good use of this opener.
Also, this item competes with Cloth Armor as the most popular choice for the jungle. However, jungling is rather finicky and you'd be much better served by consulting an actual jungling guide, as I am mediocre at best at it and generally prefer to lane.
I don't really like these, but they might work especially well as a starter item for Gangplank, whose Parrrley gets no attack speed synergy, but does apply crits. You might get a lucky kill early if you shoot someone in the back.
Tryndamere gets rage from landing crits, so it's an option.
DPS auto-attackers get about as much DPS synergy from attack speed, which costs less, so generally I don't go for Brawler's Gloves early. Finally, if you take runes and masteries for critical hits and critical damage, this item lets you gamble on a better chance at first blood, something else I don't particularly like to do.
Nothing fancy. This is not a starter item, so check what it builds into before buying. If attractive options exist, you have the gold, and the amount of armor feels about right, then go for it.
Cloak of Agility
Another basic item above the starter tier. Somewhat boring, but sometimes you recall and that's your gold total.
On most AD or AS champs, I'd take this over Brawler's Gloves. You can still buy a potion if you want. Flat AD runes can make this item strong early, or AS runes can make Longsword or Doran's Blade strong early. The more AD you have from runes or base stats, the better this item is. If you have bonus damage such as Righteous Fury and/or you plan to receive Eye Of The Storm in lane, then this can be a strong choice.
Usually I get two, three, or none. The lifesteal doesn't quite do enough with just one copy, but you be satisfied if you have Vampirism too. But I still prefer to double up.
This item sets you back in your main build, but turns a squishy champ into a relatively sturdy one for the early part of the game while still allowing you to hit hard. You might consider building AS and/or critical strike before AD if you start with Doran's Blade, since AD starts with a small boost. However, for me this usually means just doing Berserker's Greaves before Infinity Edge, rather that getting Phantom Dancer especially early; 20 bonus AD or so just isn't *that* much.
I like Doran's Blade a lot. If you seriously enjoy rushing big-tag items and playing dangerously, you might be able to skip Doran's Blade and make it all work out with some skill.
Doran's Blade for casters, sort of. I like this one, too. Two of these give you a nice chunk of MP5 and enough health so that you're not a true glass cannon, letting you move on to an early Rabadon's Deathcap if you want to.
This item is widely regarded as bad, but I think it has its uses. Two of these are rather strong early-game, and you can buy two of them and Boots of Speed at the beginning of the game in Dominion on any tank.
In particular, I think Doran's Shieldx2 is a great beginning for Sejuani. Any champion who is supposed to be tanky, but has little sustain and no free steroids in their kit can benefit greatly from Doran's Shield early. Sejuani in particular is awesome because the 240 health feeds into Nothern Winds.
It's not as strong in the jungle as Cloth Armor and Health Potions, but if you just slow down a little and adapt, you'll be in good shape around mid-game. Mercury's Treads, Doran's Shieldx2 is a strong, tanky, and balanced early-mid-game setup on Sejuani.
Consider also Philosopher's Stone, Boots of Speed, Aegis of the Legion. This is more expensive, but accomplishes roughly the same thing and provides a nice aura.
I'm hooked on Doran's Shieldx2 on Sejuani, though, and I would be willing to try it on any melee champion who just blows up too much, even when played correctly. It solves early game problems very well.
Not a lot of MP5, but possibly enough. If you want potions or especially wards, this item is so cheap that it's an option, such as for Sona. Upgrades to Philosopher's Stone, but if I'm not warding, I'd rather have a Regrowth Pendant and a potion. I prefer to try to get by without wards in the first trip out, but avoid the gank routes if someone could be coming.
This is a solid opener for being sustainable in low-intensity damage trading: Rejuventaion Bead . The weakness is in how Rejuvenation Bead doesn't build toward Philosopher's Stone. The only upgrade they have in common is Tiamat, usually better not taken.
Nothing fancy, just badly-needed health points. Builds toward some nice items. If your resists are already both in the 60s or so and your health is under 2000, this probably will help more than additional resists, but I'm too lazy to analyze graphs of effective health per gold coin at the moment.
If you take this item at any point, you are definitely not a glass cannon.
Totally outshined by Doran's Blade, unless you really want to rush an item. I don't find myself starting with Long Sword much... or ever.
This is an option if you just want to spam spells. Long-range spammers like Viktor and Cassiopeia may consider it. Sona might consider it. Check whether you want one of its upgrades, too, such as Fiendish Codex or especially Tear of the Goddess, which is better when rushed. In the case of the Tear, you might consider Sapphire Crystal, but in either case, you can get a potion or two still.
Needlessly Large Rod
That's what she said!
Anyway, it's a B. F. Sword for casters. I prefer not to rush Rabadon's Deathcap, but you can if you want to. If you get it super early, the effect may be just that devastating, but don't get squished.
Nothing fancy here, either. But MR is important, so think twice before going straight for Blasting Wand when given the choice ten or 15 minutes in.
If you're like me, sometimes 30 minutes into the game you get that nagging feeling that you're forgetting something. Maybe you built Rylai's Crystal Scepter already and you feel like you're in good shape. Then you get blasted for half of your health bar. Then it hits you: It was Null-Magic Mantle. That's what you forgot.
Recall and buy one immediately, for the love of LoL.
(The only time I might take one as a starter item, though, is if I'm up against LeBlanc or some other crazy AP champ who's out to two-shot me at level 2. If Annie is 6, you should have one. If Karthus is 6, you should have one.)
So boring. Congratulations, you're a runner-up in the farm race. But please keep playing.
What an awkward item. Builds into some nice things, but Stinger is better as a standalone, and Berserker's Greaves can tide you over. Things like Madred's Razors and Emblem of Valor compete for the role of a component in what this builds into, as well. But if your AD is high and you want to build this into something else later, there you have it.
My favorite starter item when I want to rush Philosopher's Stone. Sorry guys, I'm not warding just yet.
A useful starter item that suffers from not having enough upgrade options. It's still useful.
A bit costly for a starter item, I sometimes get it on Soraka anyway on the way to Heart of Gold. It sounds odd, but it makes her harass power stronger.
In any case, this item has a wealth of upgrade options, and characters with low base health will appreciate it more than they will MR or armor early on. If you're playing a support champ, then this item is usually what you'd pick if you only have 500 gold or so to spend toward Aegis of the Legion early-game.
A nice item to start with when rushing Catalyst the Protector because you can still afford to buy potions. Seriously consider this as a starter item if you want to rush Rod of Ages, such as on Singed. Ryze should probably start with Sapphire Crystal every time no matter what, because his best damage scaling actually comes from mana.
This item is rather awkward as a starter. The amount of lifesteal is great, but you won't be doing enough damage. However, if you want to skip Doran's Blade, this item is incredibly valuable without any upgrades whatsoever. It's an automatic buy after Berserker's Greaves whenever I'm working toward Infinity Edge and there just isn't enough money to do something else, or after Infinity Edge is complete.
Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single champion I would play with Vampiric Scepter as a starter item. Honestly, they'd have to invent a champ whose lifesteal rating counted as bonus AD or something crazy before I'd even consider it.