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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.
Nipping Things in the Bud:
Let's get some things straight: I am not saying this is the best build, the best way, or the best setup. This is how I play Vladimir. If you immediately disagree with it, don't try it. Simple, no? Secondly I know there was a fairly large following some time ago about doing nothing but health items on a Vladimir. I find that a bad exchange as your health gives you so little AP while your AP gives you a lot of health. Thusly, I build few health items on Vladimir.
The reason for Regrowth Pendand Is early game requires you to stay in your lane, if you don't stay in lane, you lose money and experience. Your team does not need an underleveled mage/tank. Also, I mainly play 3s matches, but on the instances i play 5s this build has relative success. Unfortunately, I cannot make up for ******s on my team, so it's not a guaranteed win, but my KDR is just about ALWAYS positive.
In case this doesn't come through well in the skill order, let me make sure I stress this: Transfusion > Tides of Blood > Sanguine Pool. Obviously your ult trumps all when its available. My general setup is Q -> E -> W -> Q -> Q -> ULT.
Sanguine Pool has 2 purposes to me, and 2 only: to initiate from brush when you know, 100%, no tricksies, no surprises, that you can kill your opponent; and the second being the ever-popular phrase: When in doubt, pool [the ****] out.
The core, the absolute MUST have item in this build is Hextech Revolver. "Why?" -- Simple answer: I like it. Complex answer:
Vladimir's health is his resource, and everything you use other than Transfusion requires health. This includes your other main-damage ability, Tides of Blood. Not only will your Q heal you more, your tides of blood (if it hits about 3 enemies) keeps your health at a neutral level, if not a little higher. This is good considering if you dont have the spellvamp, your Trides of Blood Can and will be your own demise.
Your next core item(s) are Sorcerer's Shoes and Rabadon's Deathcap. Now, depending on your team Sorcerer's Shoes is optional because you may need Mercury's Treads to avoid the constant stuns/taunts of a certain set of characters. If your game continues past the point of my given items (again, i play a lot of 3s games) then invest in both a Void Staff and Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Void staff: a LOT of of magic pen. Rylai's : Your Q now slows stuff, as well as your E. Who needs a W for offense now?
IF early game you are having trouble with your lane, invest in sorcerer's shoes and Haunting Guise It gives more health (both from your passive and from item itself) and magic pen, which is equivelent of even more damage. Remember: The more damage you do, the more you heal, and the more they hurt.
How to play against...
I obviously cannot tell you all the champions and your strategy against them, but a few cases of note:
Any character with a skill shot: Read their movements. If its Morgana or Kennen or someone whos skill shot can be blocked by a minion, keep a healthy distance away from them and behind a minion. when they are trying to line up their shot it will be obvious, and you can just rotate with them behind a minion. if there's no minion, Pool and move back to your minion wave just before they can get you. It makes you feel really pro, and them really upset (which makes them mess up later). Judge their squishiness with a Q here and there as you go, and the moment you absolutely KNOW you can kill them when your Q comes off Cd, Q them, W through the minions, E -> Q and hope they are dead.
Physical Ranged carries: are usually pretty squishy. Keep them *****ed with a well places Q / E here and there and they will mostly leave you alone. Keep in mind this will make you a ghank target to any opposing team that works together even the slightest, so keep your minions in the middle as to be able to move back effectively and with enough health to not have to leave.
Another Vlad: Vlad's all have their own playstyle. If his Q hurts a bit more immediately, stay back and use yours to farm the minions. Wait for him to do something, anything, stupid and proceed to hemomancer-esque penetrate him. Remember your Q is your essential ability. without you will die.
I use Ghost and Exhaust because I like them. Ghost makes me able to catch people who think they can get away from transfusion, as well as exhaust is in this scenario. If you want to run ignite, i can understand that. I, however, owe my life on more than 1 occasion to exhaust. If you're a Flash person, go for it. I am not.
Heal- Learning the ropes can be made a bit easier with heal.
Cleanse If you think you'll be targeted heavily, Cleanse is also good. I just dont use it.
Revive You plan on dying way more than you should. Stop playing now.
Clarity You don't use mana. Stop playing now.
Rally You don't physically attack anyone seriously, so don't even bother.
Smite ... *facepalm*