Riven Build Guide by CookieCrumblez

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League of Legends Build Guide Author CookieCrumblez

Riven- Developing the Meta (just for reference, in progress)

CookieCrumblez Last updated on December 5, 2012
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Edit History

1/12/2012 Guide published! Much more add-ons to follow~
2/12/2012 following suggestions of valued readers, item build, masteries changed, basic BB coding introduced. Add-ons in progress~
6/12/2012 massive changes to items build and masteries in progress due to preseason 3 changes. Add-ons in progress~

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About Me

Greetings Summoners!

I am a player from Garena SEA and my IGN is also CookieCrumblez. I am an average Singaporean teen. I have played LoL for over a year now. I first picked up the game when it was around the start of season 2.
I admit that I have yet to start ranked play, as I feel that I may not have the time to fully commit to this game (thanks to intense competition of education in Singapore). Thus, this is just my humble 2 cents about Riven after playing her since who knows when.
I started playing LoL when my classmates introduced it to me. I had no MOBA experience, except playing Warcraft, and even then, I admit to using cheatsXD
Singaporean teens are absolutely raving about this game at the moment. LoL is the hot topic among us at the moment.

P.S. This is my 1st day signing up Mobafire, i'm inspired by the great guides written by writers with their own unique theorycraft. Forgive me for the lack of banners, pictures, tables.... as I do not know how to apply them. I would be glad if someone could instruct me on these stuffs, and I will edit this guide accordingly. I'm not even sure if there is a private message function @Mobafire lolXD

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About Riven

It is in my opinion that Riven is a game-changing Champion. Why so?
Riven is definitely not a standard bruiser (one that is able to soak significant amounts of damage generally and deal significant amounts of damage) as she is moderately squishy from her stats (she has lower armor and armor scalings than Master Yi), nor does she has much natural sustain except high base hp regen. I do not count Valor as a natural sustain as it only provides temporary HP.

It is in my belief that Riven belongs to a special class shared only by few others-
AD Casters.

Thus, she is not the average Top laner, that one that has to be rather tanky, as dictated by the current Meta. I actually believe that Riot created Riven to add variety to LoL, to advance and take a step further at redefining the Meta, to loosen the rigidness of the current Meta, and to open up further theorycrafting, hence the title.

The cheat sheet provided above is just for quick reference although I don't encourage you to strictly adhere to it above as no 2 games in LoL is alike. One has to master the skill of building items to complement himself/herself, his/her team, as well as to counter his/her enemy laner and enemy tesm.

Warning: This is going to be a long in-depth comprehensive succinct expository guide as Riven is a high skill cap champion. One has to learn how to exploit her tier 1 mobility.

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What are AD Casters?

AD Casters are characters that relies on spells to dish out damage and utility. They are exactly like AP Casters, except that their spells scale off AD instead. This means that the damage AD Casters deal early game does not have great burst like AP casters such as Annie, where they can instagib enemies.
This is because generally, AP items are double the points of AD items of the same value, or in other words, AP items costs 1/2 as much as AD items of the same points.
However, AD tends to scale better into late game, because it is factored in auto attacks, unlike AP.

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Riven's Pros and Cons


  • Painful auto attacks when Runic Blade is activated
  • Tier 1 mobility
  • Area of Effect abilities
  • Crowd Control abilities
  • Low Cooldown abilities
  • Built-in defense, chase + run mechanism Valor that grants more health the more offensive you go.
  • Manaless
  • Insane damage throughout the game.
  • Relevant throughout the game.
  • Brings much utility, disruption to the team throughout the game.
  • Able to stick easily to enemies
  • Arguably the coolest Champion to play with.


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Greater Mark of Attack Damage: Highly recommended, even essential for Riven as her abilities scales off AD. You may even consider getting 9 of this instead, totally fine.
Grater Mark of Desolation: Recommended, helps Riven in dealing slightly more damage late game when enemies starts buying armor. Buy minimally as flat AD benefits you more directly, furthermore, armor penetration can be taken from masteries. I got 3 of this for mid-late/late game as I find Riven insanely powerful already in securing kills early/mid game.

Greater Seal of Armor: Highly recommended. Riven is very squishy early game and requires tons of armor to minimise harass and to win trades.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Highly recommended. Riven can get bursted down late game by abilities, even with some magic resist from Maw of Malmortius. This glyph goes a long way in securing your presence in team fights late game.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Not recommended. Riven does not benefit much from early magic resist as there are very few ap top laners, save Katarina and Teemo
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction: Situational. Use this glyph if you wish to be very aggressive in lane, such as when you are against a weak laner, you are a lane counter or an ad heavy team(where Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist will not be useful). However, note that these glyphs are not particularly useful in teamfights as teamfights lasts only around 7.5 seconds, while these glyphs may only allow you to squeeze in 1-2 more abilities if possible.

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage: Highly recommended. Riven benefits enormously from AD as stated above.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: Recommended. More of personal preference. Movement speed is hard to obtain in-game except from boots and Phantom Dancer(which you do not benefit much from). Movement speed is hard to prove its usefulness on paper, but I can recall many times when movement speed has enabled me to just escape ganks, spells, abilities, as well as chase down enemies, lesser time to travel from base to lane etc etc.

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I took 21 points in the Offense tree to fully utilise Riven's damage potential.
For the Defense tree, the armor and magic resist helps Riven to come up on top of trades, the health regeneration compensates Riven's lack of much natural sustain except high base hp regen such as spell vamp, so that Riven can stay in lane longer.

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The Bloodthirster(main damage outlet early/mid game)
Last Whisper (increase significantly damage done late game as enemies tend to have their armor item/s at this stage)

3 Health Potions + Boots of Speed : Usual starting items. 3 Health Potions = hidden reserve of 450HP which is a lot. Boots of Speed helps you to farm slightly easier as you last hit from minion to minion, possibly escape ganks,assists you in pulling off sucessful ganks etc etc..

5 Health Potions + 1 Cloth Armor: Use this if you are solo laning against 2 champions or against a ranged champion. The 5 Health Potions provides a hidden reserve of 750HP and the Cloth Armor helps to mitigate some of the harass taken.
Take a Boots of Speed when possible, the Cloth Armor is not wasted as it can be built into a Ninja Tabi or a Guardian's Angel.

1st trip back: You should have slightly more than 1000gold, complete tier 2 boots, grab a sight ward to prevent ganks, a Vampiric Scepter for better lane sustain and possibly even a Long Sword for better lane presence.
Remember to constantly buy wards to avoid ganks throughout the laning phase.
Im not a fan of Doran's Blade as it cannot be upgraded, I'd rather farm up to get my core items faster.
However, if you manage to snowball early game, you can simply grab a B.F sword straight and get a The Bloodthirster fast.

In the scenario where you have an okay number of gold, you can simply buy another Long Sword and later upgrade into a The Brutalizer. An accomplished Riven player is almost always able to snowball in lane due to kills/assists. It is commmon for new Riven players to be just doing meh as they are still discovering Riven's pros, cons, limitations and capabilities. In this case, The Brutalizer helps to increase damage output early game while being economical. Upgrade The Brutalizer at the very end of item build to a Youmuu's Ghostblade, replacing your 6th final item.

By early/ early-mid game, you should have tier 2 boots, The Bloodthirster +/- The Brutalizer.

Ninja Tabi: Highly recommended. Grab this when you are against an AD laner(very likely) or an AD heavy team.
Mercury's Treads: Recommended. Grab this when you are against a team full of crowd control abilities. I would definitely grab this when the opposing team has 2 or more members with hard crowd control abilities like stun/blind/taunt/charm or 3 members with soft crowd control activities such as slow/silence. Note that tenacity does not reduce duration of knock-ups, suppression or attack speed reduction. I may also grab Mercury's Treads when I'm against an AP laner or an AP heavy team.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity: Your Personal Preference. Grab this if you wish to be very aggressive in lane, to constantly harrass the enemy laner, such as when the enemy is a weak laner, or you are a lane counter to him/her. This however, is not very useful in teamfights, as teamfights are generally over in 7 secs.

Mid-game goals: Last Whisper (to counter armor), Guardian's Angel (to avoid getting bursted down)
Start building Guardian's Angel if you feel that you are getting bursted down easily, or else build a Last Whisper

Late-game goals: the last 2 items (or last item, if you have The Brutalizer) is situational.
Grab Hexdrinker if you have an ap enemy with great burst. (I grab this normally as Hexdrinker provides AD too). Upgrade Hexdrinker into a Maw of Malmortius if possible.
Maw of Malmortius complements Riven very well as it not only provides magic resistance but a minimum of 55 AD + Bonus AD the more health missing.
Grab Randuin's Omen if you are against an AD heavy team as it's active is effective in winning melee team fights. You can also consider this item if you are getting bursted down rather easily in team fights, the armor provided goes a long way in securing your presence in team fights.
Grab Infinity Edge as your very last item if you are snowballing hard or you have lots of gold. The AD provided is the greatest and the only drawback of this item is that it's expensive. I tend to buy this in one shot as I like to leave the last slot of my inventory for wards and elixirs late game.
Upgrade The Brutalizer(if you have) into Youmuu's Ghostblade at the very end of your item build, or even replacing The Brutalizer into other viable items if you have no gold problems.
Grab a 2nd The Bloodthirster if you are doing generally well: Riven is an AD caster which benefits primarily from AD. Another The Bloodthirster would tremendously increase Riven's damage output.
Grab a Frozen Heart if the above items does not fit your criteria. Frozen Heart provides tons of armor to protect squishy Riven as well as decreasing enemy's attack speed which brings much to the table for your team.

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Riven's Skills

Runic Blade(passive): Riven's abilities charge her blade, causing her to do 5 / 7 / 9 / 11 / 13 / 15 (+ 50% bonus AD) bonus physical damage on her next basic attack. Riven can store up to 3 charges, and will only expend one at a time.

This ability may not seem significant early game due to the lack of AD items early.
However, this ability can amount up to 40% of Riven's damage output after obtaining a The Bloodthirster. Do remember to not waste charges by spreading out abilities and to keep a mental count of charges Riven has when using abilities. Another thing to note is that you do not necessarily have to auto atttack after an ability use, I will explain it later at the Broken Wing's section.
Broken Wings (Q): Active: Riven steps forward and lashes out in a series of powerful sword slashes that will damage all enemies within 112.5 range. This ability can be activated a second time within 4 seconds, and a third time within 4 seconds of that. The third activation damages enemies within 150 range and also knocks them back 225 units. All three strikes deal the same damage.
Physical damage: 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+ 70% bonus AD)
Total damage: 90 / 165 / 240 / 315 / 390 (+ 210% bonus AD)

Note that the 3rd Broken Wings attack knocks back and "stuns" the target momentarily. It is a good idea to follow up the 3rd attack with an auto attack to utilize Runic Blade and not follow up immediately with a Ki Burst to fully utilize the stun duration.
Another trick with Broken Wings is that it allows Riven to unit and terrain collision momentarily, this means that Riven can by bypass minions, Jarvan IV's Cataclysm, Anivia's Crystalize for example.

Broken Wings is a 3-part area of effect ability, with each Broken Wings attack activating a Runic Blade charge. This means that full use of Broken Wings would maximize the reservoir of Runic Blade charges. As I mentioned earlier, each Runic Blade charge may not necessarily be used after an ability. Let me give you 2 scenarios:

Scenario #1: Riven uses a Broken Wings attack on the enemy laner, the enemy laner starts retreating towards enemy turret.
Riven uses an auto attack after each Broken Wings attack, with the last Broken Wings attack knocking back enemy towards his turret because Riven is unable to catch up to enemy after each auto attack.
Thus Riven lost the kill.

Scenario #2: Riven uses a Broken Wings attack on enemy laner, the enemy laner starts retreating towards enemy turret.
Riven uses an auto attack followed by 2 Broken Wings attack. The 2nd Broken Wings attack allows Riven to bypass the enemy, while the 3rd Broken Wings attack allows Riven to knock enemy away from his turret.
Riven follows up with 2 auto attacks to use Runic Blade charges, while enabling Riven to add in additional attacks compared to scenario #1 because the enemy is further away from his turret.
Thus, Riven deals more damage.

Ki Burst is a 0.75s stun area of effect ability with a 0.25s "stun" channelling duration. Thus, Ki Burst only stuns enemies for a net surplus of 0.5s. Furthermore, it is possible for enemies to be stunned for a shorter duration than Riven's self-stun if they have enough tenacity. It doesn't make sense, does it? A self-stun stun ability.
It is in my opinion that Riot should get rid of Riven's channeling duration as it spoils her image as a mobile battle dancer, weaving her abilities with ease.
Do note to follow up Ki Burst with an auto attack if possible to use a Runic Blade
Charge and exploit the stun duration. Do not immediately use a Valor or a 3rd Broken Wings attack as it wastes the stun duration.

Valor is a great utility spell that rewards Riven with more tankiness the more aggressive she builds, as well as a dash mechanism that allows her to engage/disengage team fights, stick easily to enemy carries, evade ganks and chase down enemeies.
The coupling of Broken Wings and Valor is equivalent to a mini Flash that allows Riven lesser time to get from base to lane as well as evading ganks and chasing down enemies. Thus, Riven has tier 1 mobility.

Blade of the Exile dramatically increases Riven's damage output. Enemies may even be surprised at Riven's sudden burst at level 6.
My only gripe with this ability is the 0.5s channelling time, this is akin to Riven shouting "LOOK AT MY BIG SWORD DUDE, I'M GONNA KILL YOU!"
A tactic to stop enemies from running away is to activate this ability in the brush, followed by Flash or Valor and Broken Wings (do note to not waste Runic Blade charges!) to the enemy.

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Skill Sequence

Skill Sequence R>W>Q>E

Like any other champions, max Blade of the Exile whenever possible as Blade of the Exile tremendously increases Riven's damage output.
Max Ki Burst next as Ki Burst provides a reliable source of damage.
At this point, I would decide between Broken Wings and Valor.
I would add minimum points to Valor such that the shield provided is substantial in surviving and winning 1 on 1 fights and shielding substantial amounts of damage in teamfights so that Riven can survive throughout the fight. While some may argue that maxing Valor next would be great as the cooldown time decreases, I find this claim irrelevant. There is only a small chance that Riven can get a chance to use a 2nd Valor in team fights or 1 on 1 fights as the battle is normally over in 7 seconds.
Only if possible, I would add points to Broken Wings. Broken Wings increases the damage output of Riven, giving greater burst damage. I would also max Broken Wings next after Ki Burst if i'm snowballing very well.