General Guide by PartyMagier

Not Updated For Current Season

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League of Legends Build Guide Author PartyMagier

Mages-Do's and Dont's-A Beginners Guide

PartyMagier Last updated on May 29, 2012
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Mages, AP-carries, Casters


More AP-carries

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Hello dear readers,
this is a general guide for mages. I will talk about what they do, how they do it and what you shouldn't do when playing them.
I have played mages basically from the moment I started playing lol, only interrupted by some supporters, never have I played a AD carry (believe it!) so I think I got enough experience to write a guide like this.

The last 3 builds are never mentioned in the guide, they are example builds. I would put more in, if I had more, but sadly the space is quiet limited. And please! DONT JUDGE THE BUILD! Its all about the guide! Thank you for reading.

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What is the role of a mage

Mages are what I play mostly, their role in teamfights is to find the person doing the most damage, mostly the AD-carry ( Ashe, Caitlyn or Tristana) and just kill them :P

Opposed to AD-carries that deal high damage over a long period of time (sustained damage) AP-carries deal high damage in a shorter period of time, but are almost useless afterward (burst damage).
I play mages because its really satisfying to watch a Caitlyn die after you dropped a Summon: Tibbers on her :D
There are of course mages that fulfill a different role, Karthus or Rumble are good example for this. They have low Cooldown abilities ( Karthus), toggle abilities ( Karthus) and DoTs (Damage over Time) ( Rumble and Karthus). So these two and some others have a role that's more like a AD-carries:
Dealing crazy damage for as long as the battle goes on!

Anyway Mages are very diverse champion and can be played in many diferent ways, depending on how the game is going. I will outline just a few of them.

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What does a mage do while laning?

During the laning-phase, the mages job is pretty similar to everyone else's job: farm and stop your lane-opponent from farming. At the same time it is important to not push the lane, so the jungler can help you with a gank or two. This means that most abilities can't be used to farm the creeps, because using them would mean pushing the lane and going out of mana (oom) rather quickly. There are some exceptions, most notably Annie's Disintegrate. NOTE: If you can't farm without abilities, then use abilities. Farm is really important.

So most of the time when there isn't the chance to last hit a creep, attacking the lane enemy is the best idea: harassing him. Often just rightclicking him once and then moving out is the best idea, but you could also opt to go in with your abilities, if you have a charge up ability or passive, like Malzahar, Annie and Kassadin you should make sure its ready to use before going into a fight. If the enemy is low and you think you can get a kill, don't be afraid to use your Summoner Spells ( Flash and [[Ignite) to finish them off.

Should you ever be able to kill the enemy, or force them to go back then you have 2 options :
1. If you have more than or 70% of your life (counting health pots you use) stay in lane and push it to the tower. That way the enemy will loss last-hits and experience, meaning you got ahead.
2. If you have less than or 50% of your life push your lane to the tower, so the tower steals all the last hits from your enemy and port back.
3. If you are in between 50% and 70% your maximum health, its up to your own judgment.

Now let's say you have to go back, what should you do?
1. If you have more health than the opponent, but need to go back to buy, then you should try to attack him or her, to force him back before you, now go to the list above.
2. If you have less health than the opponent, then push the wave, so the enemy minions will take some time to get up to your tower again and go back, if he/she has only a little bit more health, you can try to first harass using your spells (you will regenerate the mana in base) and then push the wave.
3. If you have about as much health as the opponent, then its your choice what to do.

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Some characters excel at pushing without having to sacrifice last-hits and making the enemy do just that. Namely that would be Sion, Malzahar and Morgana, as they have large AoE spells Death's Caress and Tormented Soil that can take the caster minions down fairly quickly. I don't know about the exact numbers, but I think when you have level 2 in either spell, and attack each Caster minion just once, then they will die from one spell.

Because the tower is now attacking the minions your laning enemy should have trouble getting last-hits.

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Ganking, the process of going to another lane, to violently take advantage of the overextended enemies, i.e. by killing them or destroying their tower.

A lot of mages are very good at this, as their huge burst damage can kill enemies very quickly and a lot of them have skills with great ganking potential: Event Horizon, Wall of Pain, Rune Prison and more. To do this you will most times have to push the lane, then when the enemy minions can't see you, and because of that the enemy champions can't see you, make your way through the jungle/river to the one of the other lanes.

Again, when starting to gank make sure any charge up skills are charged up. You want to enter the lane in such a way that you appear behind the enemy/ies, then or possibly even before, ping the target and unload all your damage.

Should they now start to run, which they should, do NOT right click them, instead walk beside them and wait for your abilities to come back up. If you right click them, your champion will attack them with the normal attacks, which deal next to no damage, and leave you standing in one place. If they are VERY low, you can right click them, however in most situations you shouldn't.

After a successful gank, meaning you got a kill or an assist. Port back to base to heal up any damage received, buy items and walk back to your lane. The reason I recommend teleporting back is because the distance from one side-lane to your mid-lane is only a little bit shorter than the distance from base to mid-lane. Meaning you give up 5 seconds or so for :

  • Being full mana
  • Being full life
  • Having better items
Yup that is a lot.

Another nice trick is to pretend to gank, meaning walking towards another lane and then stopping in the bush. If your opponent has paid attention, he or she should follow you to countergank, however if you wait for them in the bush you get a chance to kill them.

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Even as the AP-mid you should buy wards, if you have the choice between buying a Blasting Wand or upgrading your Boots of Speed into Sorcerer's Shoes, then most times it is better to get the item that is a bit cheaper i.e. Sorcerer's Shoes and buying a ward or 2 (same goes for pots, having 2 health and 1 mana pot at all times is plain awesome).

This is so because wards protect you from getting ganked and giving gold to the enemy team. Also they can show you if the enemies are killing Baron Nashor and you have a chance to kill them all/ steal Warwick's Buff of the Ancient Golem a.k.a. "Blue".
Wards will help you a lot, I hope you think so too and otherwise...
JK :) All I want is that you reconsider your opinion.

PS: If you ward a lot, taking the mastery Scout might be a good idea.

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The next 7 Chapters will be talking about useful builds, but if you are lazy skip them, because everything important is in the TL;DR section and what comes afterwards.

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Look at the Veigar guide to see this. It is a very diverse build, and can transition into anything. You buy Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions.
Why would you use this?

  • Your enemy has a skillshot you want to dodge i.e. Cassiopeias Noxious Blast or Karthuses Lay Waste.
  • You are aiming to harass the opponent a lot, meaning you will probably take counter harassment, which you can heal.
  • If you hope to get First Blood witout going back even once you should get this, as it let's you catch fleeing enemies.

And why wouldn't you?
#1 Item to begin with, gives health, gives speed, gives the power to survive and kill. I now recommend you start with this unless there is an obvious reason why you shouldn't, even when your opponent has just little skillshots and no cc, it will help you get away from position where you would have died otherwise.

Thanks to Xenasis for reminding me to add this.

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Kage's Lucky Pick

This is an item I get almost in quiet often. It gives you quiet a bit of gold, resulting in an advantage of about 230 gold at the 20 minutes mark.
Don't believe me? Some math:

Amplifying Tome costs 435 gold and gives 20 AP. So 1 Ap costs 21.75 gold. The upgrade to Kage's Lucky Pick costs 330 gold and gives you 5 AP, this means that you pay 108.75 gold for the AP, left are 221.25 gold. This is what you give away for the gold per 10. As you get 5 gold every 10 seconds it will take you 442.5 seconds, being the same as 7.375 minutes. So if you bought the Kage's Lucky Pick around the 5 minutes mark you will gain gold after the 12.375 minute mark if you don't need to sell Kage's Lucky Pick for extra inventory space. And at the 20 minute mark you will have an 228.75 gold advantage.
In my opinion this item is just to good to pass by, one of my favorite items actually. Obviously there are a lot of cases when this item is not a good idea, they are:
  • When you have a distinct advantage (for example if you are Annie who is very strong around level 6 because of her ultimate ability (ulti) Summon: Tibbers and doesn't want to waste any power she has then and you opponent is very squishy, for example Karthus), as getting a kill gives you 300 gold, meaning, even after the 20 minute mark a kill is better than the money you got from Kage's Lucky Pick.
  • With the same reasoning if you are the Karthus you do not want to be weaker when Annie reaches level 6 than you can be, because this might give her a kill.
  • If you are rushing a certain item, a good example would be an early Catalyst the Protector into a Rod or Ages
  • If you don't get as much out of the ability power, because you are a mana based champion Ryze.
  • You started with Boots+3
Look at the Annie guide to see a typical Kage's Lucky Pick build, building a Kage's when you start with Boots is possible, however it sets you behind a bit, not yet sure if I recomed doing it.

PS: Synergizes well with the mastery Greed .

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Being the Annie in the example above

If you have a big advantage in your lane you want to use that advantage. Do NOT nuke the creeps, only last hit them, then you can place yourself between the creeps and you opponent and stop him/her from getting any last hits. You will also want to get some early power, meaning grabbing some AP-items, like a Blasting Wand. This will help you deal more damage and maybe get you a kill.

You want to increase your advantage by:
  • Last Hitting and stopping your opponent from doing so.
  • Not pushing the lane, so the minions stay away from your enemies tower.
  • Get an AP-item and look for a kill
Look at the Brand build to see what this could look like, but this can have great differences between different heroes as they need different items.

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Being the Karthus in the example above

If you have a big disadvantage n your lane, you want to stop this disadvantage. Do NOT fight the enemy, try to grab last hits when your can, but if you opponent comes to stop you back out. Try to harass the enemy, so they can't zone you anymore. You will also want to stack Doran's Rings, because they give you for a little bit of money a big amount of stats.
Buying3 of them gives you for 1425 gold:

  • 45AP, granting you more damage
  • 300HP, making sure the enemy can't burst you down
  • 15 Mana/5, letting you use your abilities more often
Do not, EVER build more than 3 Doran's Rings as you want to build boots as quickly as possible and probably 2 smaller/cheaper items. The forth Doran's Ring would have to be sold very quickly, making it useless.
This build gives you a lot of early game power, but in late game when you need to sell the Dorna's Rings for more space you will be at a disadvantage. If the enemy is still beating you, you might want to invest in an Elixir of Brilliance, this gives you some AP and CDR, but fades after 4 minutes, only use this when you have a really hard time surviving in lane.
Look at the Karthus build to see what this will look like.

Note, that when you have gotten an early kill, after starting to stack Doran's Rings STOP STACKING THEM IMMEDIATLEY! It will only take up space, if you have gotten an early tower our dragon you have received a boost of gold, same goes for a kill, this let's you catch up to your lane opponent, so do that instead of wasting more space with Doran's Rings. Thanks to Xenasis for reminding me to add this.

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Catalyst the Protector

Building an early Catalyst the Protector doesn't help you much in a fight, but if you are going to play a bit passively, you could get amazing results form this build. You will not have a lot of AP early on, but because you get some Mana and HP back once you level up you will have amazing staying power.

Use this build if:
  • Your character is mana hungry, because it gives you some mana when you level up
  • You want to play passively and just farm, as you will be weaker in a straight up fight
  • You want to reach a certain level quickly, because you won't have to go back so often
Look at the Malzahar build for a typical Catalyst the Protector build.

This is a very strong build, this is the build I recommend if you don't plan on building a Rylai's Crystal Scepter, one of the health boosts is enough and the Utility from Rylai's beats the extra mana easily. You can get both if you are playing a tanky AP, i.e. Swain.

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Spellvamp/Hextech Revolver

Please take a look t the Cassiopeia build, it shows you what a build could look like if you bought an early Hextech Revolver. This will let you sustain in lane much better, healing back most of the damage that your enemy will deal to you.
Use it when:

  • You have at least one AoE (Area of Effect) spell, so you can easily heal from minions
  • You don't go oom (out of mana) often, because you can only heal when you have mana.
  • You can still last hit safely when the lane is pushed, because you will have to nuke the minions to gain health -> When the enemy has no jungler or you have some ward coverage so you know where he is, having a strong escape spell such as Petrifying Gaze can also be enough.
  • Only upgrade to Will of the Ancients early if you have at least one other strong source of magic damage, otherwise leave it until the very end, as no one will benefit form the aura.
Thanks to Xenasis for reminding me to add this.

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Other builds

Obviously these builds aren't the only viable ones, but I feel they are the most important ones for most characters.
I say most, because Ryze has abilities that don't scale very well with AP, but far better with max Mana, so building Mana items with him is far better than any of these guides on top. On the other hand. Rumble, Kennen and Akali don't have any mana, so Doran's Ring is useless for them.

These are just some very basic builds, which will help you alot, if you are losing, winning or are tied alike.
And now to sum it up:
The Summary

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I have showed you 7 builds in this guide. I will now sum up the good and the bad things about each of them, and when to use them.

Veigar build

  • Use this in every game, unless there is a special reason why you shouldn't.
  • Don't use when the enemy bursts very well and/or you are already fast, have an escape spell.
  • A LOT of effective hp and you are very fast.
  • No protection against burst damage and no real damage increase.
  • Core depends completely on the champion, important is only that you start with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion.

Annie build
  • Use this when there is no reason to take another one -> You have no advantage or Disadvantage. And you didn't start Boots+3
  • Passively gives gold -> advantage later in the game
  • Builds an expensive item that doesn't give a lot of stats -> disadvantage early in the game
  • Core is: Kage's Lucky Pick + Boots of your choice

Karthus build
  • Use this when you are at a disadvantage
  • Gives a lot of cheap stats -> Advantage early in the game
  • You will have to sell some of the Doran's Rings later -> Disadvantage later in the game
  • Core is: 2-3 Doran's Rings + Boots of your choice
  • Buy the Elixir of Brilliance only when your opponent is beating you really badly

Brand build
Ryze build
  • Use this build when you are playing Ryze, this is just a space holder, he represents the more unusual Mages.
  • Is good for this kind of character
  • Is bad for another type of character
  • Core depends totally on the champion

Malzahar build
  • Use this in almost every game. It is very strong and if you don't have a reason not to build it, build it!
  • Regenerates health and mana when you level up
  • Doesn't give any AP/damage
  • Core is Catalyst the Protector build into a Rod of Ages + Boots of your choice

Cassiopeia build
  • Use this when you have a spammable AoE spell.
  • Don't use when pushing will put you in danger.
  • It heals you.
  • It doesn't give you you much more damage or survivability against burst damage.
  • Core is Hextech Revolver turned early or late into Will of the Ancients (early when your team has a lot of magic damage, late when you don't) +Boots of your choice.

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Summoner Spells

In each of the 10 builds I have shown you has the Summoner Spell Flash. You might ask yourself why, its quiet simple: Flash is the best summoner spell there is, it let's you chase, initiate, run, surprise and much more.

Scratch that! Flash has been nerfed significantly at the beginning of season two, so now taking 2 different summoner spells is an option again. However, at least one of them should be defensive, to help you escape i.e. Flash, Ghost or Heal

For the second Summoner Spell there are several possibilities.

Ignite is probably the best spell to take on your typical AP-carry, it gives you a good finisher, and a little bit extra damage, also lowers the healing, so popping a health pot won't save them as often.

Clarity is also used sometimes. Personally I don't really like it, because after the early game it is totally useless, giving you some mana, but you could just as well go back home, as experience isn't as important anymore, so you can afford missing some. Only take this spell when you go oom regularly, or want to harass heavily, obviously not spamming skills is a better choice, however if you go oom even when trying to conserve mana, feel free to take this. I do NOT suggest this.
Teleport, isn't a bad skill in my opinion it let's you counter push, or counter pushs^^ It also makes sure you won't loss any gold/experience when first going back, take it if you like it.

Ghost Great for kiting, running or chasing. I think you won't need won't often with Flash, but I would rather have an escape to much than one too little.
Exhaust is another possible choice, but i would rather take Ignite. You could take it if your team alreasy has Ignite.

Surge is something I pick for magic DPS, Karthus, Rumble, Soraka, etc. Most burst champions get 40 AP for the first 2 seconds and after that the spell is useless, however Karthus will be able to completely use this spell for 12 seconds
Heal got a major buff, its quiet good, and will let you win most exchanges except if the enemy has Ignite Grrrrrr....

As you can see there are many different Summoner Spells you could take, my favorite is Ignite, but you could also take Ghost and maybe Teleport, the others are not as good in most cases, but with some champions are worth it, just try around a bit.

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Annies Masteries are: Damage, Damage and more Damage! Stick to the right side of the Offense tree, get 9 points in Utility, I advice on Good Hands , Improved Recall , Swifftness and Runic Affinity .

The masteries for Karthus and Brand are almost the same as those for Annie, the main difference is that in one they take Summoner's Wrath and in the other Summoner's Inisght. Take these if there is a Summoner Spell you want improved.

then we have Ryze showing off a rather unusual Utility Tree. Again, Good Hands , Improved Recall and maybe Runic Affinity are good choices. However, often I find myself not using Runic Affinity , as I need the points to venture into Greed and Wealth for 40 extra starting gold. After that you get Awareness which is plain awesome and Intelligence and Mastermind which are just much better buffs than Runic Affinity for most champions.
Sage is a very overrated mastery. 40 experience is really only the difference of half a minion wave, and in higher level play this will be more and more useless, as kills get rarer and rarer. However you can take this and try to trade kills with the opponent, as this will set you a bit ahead, Karthus is good at trading kills.

Malzahar decided to change the Runic Affinity into Transmutation , otherwise the masteries are the same as Annies. He does this because of his large AoE Spells, but seriously, you won't gain any real health back from this. However coupled with a Hextech Revolver this can work out nicely. If you don't plan on getting any Spellvamp, this is mostly a wasted mastery point.

Cassiopeia has taken the Scout mastery. A very strong mastery, however if you have a good supporter you probably won't need this. Otherwise, it gives you just a little bit bigger headstart on any gankers.

I recommend Annies, Karthuses and Brands Masteries, but as always, trying something new won't hurt.

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+40g, what do I do?

Well this is a chapter about what to do when you got the Wealth Mastery. Obviously you have an advantage early game, meaning you should try to pressure them, maybe call for a jungler gank. Anyways, the most important thing is what you can buy by getting 40 extra gold.

I would only recommend the top two, however, having 180 hp more than your opponent or simply regenerating health or mana faster can simply transition into an advantage, if you have a decent amount of Ability Power form Runes.

Scratch what I wrote before, Offense Tree gives you huge amounts off damage even at early levels, utility tree is useless!

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Each and every build for a mage should include 9 Greater Mark of Magic Penetration.
They provide a total of 8.55 Magic penetration, these will boost your damage strongly in early, mid and late game.

Most builds will also include Greater Seal of Replenishment, as the mana regeneration lets you spam your abilities more frequently, nicely with them go some Greater Glyph of Ability Power, or some Greater Glyphs of Force giving you almost 10 AP/27 at level 18 depending on which you chose. For Quintessences I would suggest getting Greater Quintessence of Ability Power giving you almost 5 AP each. Instead you could also get Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration, further increasing your magic penetration.

If you have taken Clarity as your second summoner spell, you might not need the Greater Seal of Replenishment and could instead take 9 Greater Seal of Ability Power, this will give you 5 AP. As you know already have some AP to start with you could take Greater Glyph of Magic Resist instead of the Greater Glyph of Ability Power. This will give you quiet a bit of Magic Resistance, which will work nice if your opponents send a mage to mid, (this is the lane you should go to). This will leave you with slightly less AP, and less Mana Regeneration. For Quintessences the same choices apply.
Brand is still pretending to have no mana and has the same runes as the first example, except for the Seals and Quintessences, which he changed to Dodge chance, as he took the mastery Nimbleness and they synergize well together. He also took Greater Quintessence of Health giving him 78 extra HP, this will make you more resilient to harassment, but gives you less AP.

Then we have the runes for Ryze, flat Mana, all of it.

So which runes are best for me?
Generally speaking its best to sticking with Malzahar and Annie, the first runes i explained. Unless of course your character of choice has no mana or is called Ryze. Of course mixing it up a bit is never a bad idead and might work very well. One notable mention goes to Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction they let you use your abilities more often, meaning more sustained damage, not bad, but I prefer the extra AP from Greater Glyph of Ability Power.

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Glyphs of Force vs. Glyphs of Potency

I used to take 9 Greater Glyph of Ability Power. How ever I have gotten some feedback and looked at these runes again. Most runes that give you per level stats get better than their counterparts that give flat stats at around the level 12 mark.

However, if you use the advantage you have in early levels, this could be meaningless. However Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power is something else. It gives you 0.17AP per level as opposed to 0.99AP.

At level 18 this will give you 2.07AP more. So having 9 of them gives you some 18AP. Not too bad I would say. And around level 6 they give you the same, so unless you think you can get kills before level 6 regularly, use Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power instead of Greater Glyph of Ability Power.

PS: Also they cost half the ip, 410 and 820, making thema good choice for your first rune build, if you frequently play Mages.

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Something Vs. Other Something

This is were I will be putting different items and short description to when you want to use them against other items. You can request them by replying to the guide or sending me a PM.

[RoA] SPACE RoA is in my opinion overrated, having both RoA and [RCS] is a waste of gold since one healthboost is enough. So when you plan on building [RCS] do not, build RoA, unless you are a tanky AP, since the extra Utility from [RCS]'s slow is better than the extra mana from RoA. SPACE [RCS]

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Mage Tier List

Well... every champion is unique and gets countered by something else, so their isn't really a best mage. ^^
I will be looking into this and add a REAL tier list

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As I will not talking about the skill- sequence that depends from champion to champion this is the end of my little mage/AP-carry guide. I want to thank you for reading and hope you vote, please leave a comment as to why you voted the way you did.

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Okay yeah, this guide isn't over just yet. There are still some things left unsaid:

  • Last-Hit! Minions give you so much money! Take it!
  • Harass when possible, there is nothing wrong form attacking once or twice and then backing down.
  • Develop your own strategies, no build can tell you how to react to every situation.
  • Do not ever attack the tank, not even when he is out of position, he isn't worth wasting your Cooldowns on!
  • Ward! Always! They are like Kage's Lucky Pick at the moment they may seem like a waste, but they are an investment for the future. If a ward told you that ww was coming to gank or told you he was getting blue buff and is low life then you know what I am talking about.
  • When you are out of position and get ganked, first use your abilities, then run. This way, if they decide to follow you, you can get a kill by turning around in the bush using all abilities again, and then flashing to safety.

This guide is ALIVE! If you have something you would like changed tell me and I will look into it.

I would also like to thank everyone for their feedback, especially Acid Reigns who showed me that all the runes of Potency I wanted were runes of Focus (stupid me :P) and showed me how viable runes of Force are, also Xenasis, who showed me 2 other builds I had forgotten.

Please check out my other guide Random Combos if you liked this one.


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