Riven Build Guide by Aenemius
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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.
I've gotten a little depressed, reading through most of the Riven guides available currently. While many of them are obviously well thought-out, they fail the champion in two major respects:
- Early game survivability
- Late game versatility
Usually this is up to the skill of the player; however, addressing some of Riven's inherent weaknesses by carefully thought out use of her skills, and a tweaked item stack, can reduce - and in some cases entirely eliminate - the problem of Riven being a glass cannon.
What's a glass cannon, you ask?
There's a difference between a champion being simply squishy (low armour, low health in the early game) and needing to farm excessively to be effective, and being a glass cannon. The second class of champions can, even in the beginning minutes, crush the right opponent in 1v1. Usually this is accomplished by laying down a suppressing combo of summoner spells and abilities that forces a champion to hug their tower or recall. Very often, unfortunately, it means the glass cannon is on the wrong side of First Blood - and ends up being drastically underfed from then on.
Avoiding the Glass Cannon problem requires a bit of finesse. I've managed to mitigate the problem substantially for Riven; chances are this will work for anyone, assuming you're willing to be highly aggro in the early game, and willing to tag-team with your lane-mate quickly. If this is done well, by level 10, you should both be even in kills and assists.
One Guide, Three Builds
I've built three panes for Riven above, because different team compositions often call for some variability. All of them focus on using Riven as an offtank with huge burst potential, and my overall playstyle has worked with each different setup. However, I'll try to provide some instances where one pane might work better over another below.
- 2012-01-03 - Guide published, Pane 1 only.
- 2012-01-05 - Pane 2 added based on suggestions from tehAsian in the comments. It's pretty effective!
- 2012-01-06 - Pane 3 and individual per-pane item guides added below.
- Ghost can be used both as a chase tool, and an escape.
- It's far smoother than Flash, which can be disorienting if you play camera-locked.
- The long duration (10 seconds) means tower-diving an enemy for a last hit is far more survivable.
- Prevents healing, which helps you crush a single enemy in one maneuver without waiting for cooldown.
- It can also act as a last-hit if you crush quickly enough to leave your opponent with very little health and less-effective healing.
For example: If you're chasing a target, catch up with Ghost, stun the opponent with Ki Burst and Ignite as you attack. Even if they're close enough to their tower to make a dive a bad idea, there's a reasonable chance your DOT (damage over time) from Ignite might take them down under their tower, unless they heal.
I've opted for a mix of Attack Damage, flat Armour, and Magic Resist runes for this build.
Riven's abilities as a fighter are quite good - however, she fares poorly against ranged champs, who can kite her and kill before she can close. Using Greater Mark of Attack Damage and Greater Quint of Strength together provides a fix for this, without affecting her item sequence. I chose this over flat damage runes because it's proven more reliable, especially when combined with lifesteal Doran's Blade, and attack speed from Berserker's Greaves.
In order to mitigate some of her squishiness, I've chosen both Greater Seal of Armor and Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for flat armour and magic resist bonuses. When combined with the initial item purchases (discussed later in this guide), this gives Riven a lot more in-lane sustain than focusing on AD or AP runes.
I've used a fairly standard 21/9/0 array; simply because, with the combination of Runes above, and Riven's purpose as a CC-based DPS, augmenting her burst damage is job one.
Unlike most guides using lifesteal, I've left it out of my masteries in favour of enhanced damage instead - because, with the amount of lifesteal in her items (especially if opting for The Bloodthirster rather than a second The Black Cleaver in the end-game), more damage helps far more than additional lifesteal does.
The aim with these Masteries is, in all cases, to augment Riven's natural burst design. Because these are chosen before a match, I've built all three item streams around the same masteries, to maximize Riven's available power.
There are some areas where it can be prudent to focus more on defense. I play highly aggressive, so even as an offtank, my job is to out-AD the opposing champ, not out-health them. Defense is handy when looking for longer engagements and survivability therein - however, I've found setting an enemy off balance is far more effective. This is a play style issue, not a champion, mastery, or rune build issue.
Skill Sequence - Ki Burst Focus
This order is used in pane 1 only.
I always focus on maxing Ki Burst first, with a follow up of Broken Wings before ending with Valor - entirely because of the aforementioned "glass cannon" problem.
Ki Burst is your primary "keep them in place" tool. It charges up your passive (as do all your abilities), and does significantly more damage as a single-hit than others, making it more useful as a farming tool early on.
Broken Wings gets the most guide attention, however even with the recent rework, it's not as powerful as you always expect. Broken Wings is almost entirely built around fueling your passive - Runic Blade - and keeping the stacks high throughout an engagement.
Valor is often presented as a shield ability, but it functions far better as a gap-closer and initiating tool. The shield is just fine, however it's small. Its best use is guarding against reactionary skills other champions may have, or exiting an engagement quickly. The short cooldown often means you can both open, and close, with Valor.
Why Build This Way?
Other Riven guides often suggest building from Broken Wings into Valor because of the damage combo and gap close abilities of each. I disagree.
When you have the bonuses from Runic Blade in place, Riven is entirely too hard-hitting with her regular attacks to make the bonus from Broken Wings worth it in the late game. Once she gets Blade of the Exile, the damage bonus it provides means she can crush just about anyone 1v1 if properly fed.
However, the end game is less important than a properly managed early game. Your job in early-mid is to survive long enough, and keep your opponent CC'd enough, to let your proper attacks do their work and get your lane-mate into play. Ensuring you have levels in Ki Burst prevent it from being an impotent strike as health climbs - and makes it a good sidebar to a high attack speed Riven build.
Engagements - Initiate, Stun, Crush
When closing on a single opponent, or even count 2v1, I generally open with Valor to close a gap, then Ki Burst to stun, and alternate between auto attacks and each of the 3 pops of Broken Wings to crush the target. I hold back any subsequent Valor use until (and in case) I need to escape. Valor's defense buff is handy, especially at higher levels, but only good enough to let you hit your next action, such as Flash or Ghost, to get out of range.
Skill Sequence - Broken Wings Focus
This skill order is used in both panes 2 and 3.
Broken Wings is a powerful attack when combined with AD item benefits, especially with the AOE knockback on the third pop. However, it's main job is to stack Riven's Runic Blade buffs so you can improve your already strong auto-attack while in battle. It's by no means a primary attack until end-game. Even then, it's most useful in Xv1 engagements where you need to quickly disburse a crowd to get away. Triple-popping Broken Wings is generally a last-resort, unless you're very convinced you can manage or need the buff points for your attack.
In this focus, taking a single point in Ki Burst, then maxing out Broken Wings, means the latter is your primary damage dealer. Ki Burst itself is best used to keep an enemy in place while your other skills cool down - such as at the end of a Broken Wings sequence, or between activating Blade of the Exile and Wind Slash to make sure your opponent doesn't get out of position for your skill shot.
With the recent rework of Riven's skills, Ki Burst has been partially nerfed, and the damage on Broken Wings has been pushed up. This makes Broken Wings a somewhat more viable option to max first - but it largely depends on play style.
Valor is, in this case, used almost entirely as a positioning tool. I use it here to adjust my placement quickly while lining up a Wind Slash into a group of opponents.
Why Build This Way?
As stated above, Riven is an auto-attack nightmare when her skills and the buffs they stack are used properly. I use the Broken Wings skill focus when I have a low-mobility enemy team,
Engagements - Initiate, Peel, Chase
With a mid-to-low mobility enemy camp, Riven's mobility is her key asset. The range extension from Blade of the Exile combined with dash and jump features of both Broken Wings and Valor make her a force to be reckoned with in the late game.
When diving an enemy team, I move into position with Broken Wings - to establish myself as a threat immediately. If the team goes for it, Ki Burst locks them up while I get out of the way with Valor and activate Blade of the Exile. If properly positioned, Wind Slash gets me back into the fight - by which time, Broken Wings will have discharged, and the enemy camp is in disarray. Assuming I'm not overwhelmed, and have 2-3 team mates with me, the engagement is usually over shortly after my second Broken Wings sequence.
For 1v1, I open with a Valor charge, and immediately triple-pop Broken Wings to claim the pace of the fight. While I've likely overstacked Runic Blade because of this, dominating the pace of a solo battle is important; so I'd rather establish my dominance than worry about wasted passive stacks. Ki Burst after 1-2 autoattacks, and a second Broken Wings sequence usually end the engagement.
Items - Pane 1, Speed/Crit Striker
Most Riven builds I've read focus heavily on initial AD and regen buffs; I agree with this, however, I've noticed most of the item stacks are inefficient; calling for item sales, or with poor ordering toward final items.
In this case, I chose to focus on extremely high mobility, attack speed, and critical damage.
Use this build when you need to get around the map very swiftly - either because your opponents are ranged, or because you're the designated gank machine.
This item order is great for backing up a proper tank like Taric or Leona, or laning with a support character like Janna or a support-styled Kayle.
Getting the Phantom Dancer and Warmog's Armor early on is vital to this tactic; the additional health and movement speed makes a huge difference to keeping your opponent where you want them, and allowing your carry to get to the fight. Riven's a better closer than most offtanks - in most cases Assassins close better - so using some CC to get your lane-mate into the fight is essential, to your survivability as Riven as well.
Keep in mind this is best used with a focus on Ki Burst, as your CC abilities are what make up for the lower individual-hit damage, and your ability to get in/out of a fight and heal quickly is a strength.
Items - Pane 2, Resilient Offtank
This build still relies on attack and movement speed from Phantom Dancer, but trades out the health from Warmog's for some additional resistances and aura buffs with Mercury's Treads and Aegis of the Legion.
This build is most useful against AP champs like Lux and Viktor who rely on nukes. Note you're still building a rather significant amount of health later on with Warmog's Armor and Frozen Mallet, and finishing off your anti-tank set with an Infinity Edge.
Always a good choice when laning with a burst assassin like Nocturne or Xin Zhao.
As this build goes hand-in-hand with the Broken Wings centered skill sequence, delaying AD items into the end game is mitigated by your burst abilities early on.
Items - Pane 3, On-Hit Attack Speed
With this build, ideally, lane with another AD offtank - or an AP offtank if possible - to make the most of this build. Good choices include Nocturne and Gangplank. Some higher-damage tanks like Rammus can also be a good combo.
Where the other two panes in this guide focus on offtanking for another champ, this is a ganker's build, pure and simple. A heavy combination of Wit's End and two The Black Cleavers by end game means your attack speed is very high and, while you don't have the crit chance and pure damage of pane 1, you're buffing yourself and shredding enemy armor all over.
While this build is fairly tough, you want this to kill tanks like Singed or Volibear who tend to stack health.
This build also works best with the Broken Wings centered skill sequence, due to the reduction in CdR, which makes up for attack speed early on. Once you've got your Wit's End and Frozen Mallet this build begins to excel for team fights with less agile enemies.
I'll say again that the quality of any build relates more to a player's style than we usually expect. This build is intended for high-aggro players looking to play offtank for a DPS carry.
Given the variety of champions I've successfully laned this Riven with, I'm happy to report the build works quite well - netting me an average of 10-15 positive in kills by round's end.
General Note: Nothing can mitigate Riven's early squishiness enough to let her solo a lane, other than your own skills. I've always worked under the belief that securing a kill - even as an assist - is worth trading your death, especially on a fragile lane.