Poppy Build Guide by FinalFan
Recommended Runes + Notes
Starting + Notes
IMPORTANT NEWS - JUNGLING
Considering the complexity of this guide, and considering that I now have at least two separate rune/mastery setups for jungling Poppy (not just different item builds with the same runes/masteries, or even slightly different masteries but the same runepage), I'm considering splitting the jungle part of this guide off into its own independent guide. I might have to rename this, though, since if I take out the jungle section it won't be as "all purpose".
Please give me your thoughts on this. Should I leave it all in here? Should I take the jungle section out entirely and put it in the other guide? Should I make the new guide, but keep one jungle build in here? Do you simply have a name you'd like to propose for one or both guides? Suggestions and comments are welcome, as always.
Preface and Acknowledgements
There are many Poppy builds out there, many predating mine. But I want to share with you a Poppy based on a slightly different philosophy than the others. That philosophy is this: speed is king. Poppy is known for her high damage, amazing passive, and terrifying ultimate, but she lives and dies (in my opinion) by her mobility. I may recommend rushing philo and Sheen, and I may not recommend starting with boots, but keep in mind that this guide is and has always been built around the idea of a Poppy that is as nimble as possible while not neglecting other areas. I will refer to this ideal as "Runner Poppy".
I hope you find my ideas useful. Fair warning: this guide is pretty text heavy. If you don't like to read, you may not enjoy this. But I hope I've organized it well enough that it's not just disorienting walls of text. If you feel that I've failed in avoiding that fate, please do tell me how I can make it more reader friendly.
I am proud of my guide, but I'm not ashamed to give credit where credit is due: SpamHappy (AKA Zekent) is a wonderful Poppy player (and at much higher ELO) who has his own guide on Solomid.net, "SpamHappy's All Purpose Poppy Guide". This guide may be "All Purpose", but it's definitely focused on Solo Top Poppy. If you have already read my guide or otherwise are familiar with Poppy and you're looking for advanced tips and tricks, SpamHappy (AKA Zekent) has lots of videos showing you how he fights specific champions in top lane. I learned a lot from him, which, considering Poppy was already my most played character for several months before that, says something.
What is special about Runner Poppy? (Pros/Cons)
The point of Runner Poppy is to be able to engage and disengage AT WILL with enemy champions who don't have stun abilities. Escape ganks with ease, catch opponents fleeing anywhere but into a pack of teammates, all the good stuff. Stun, as I said, can ruin your fun, but Runner Poppy can often muscle right through a mere slow with Paragon and if necessary Ghost (or Exhaust for a single foe). Hit like a truck and run like the wind -- that's Poppy to a T.
(Unfortunately, Season 3 has introduced what amount to "chasing boots", which makes it a little harder for Poppy to disengage. However, Poppy is still extremely fast and you needn't put the Benny Hill chase music away just yet.)
If you've played Poppy much, it's no secret that one of the biggest challenges for her is the early game, especially farming. And farming in general. This is why I tried to give consideration to making life a bit easier for Runner Poppy in the early game.
I will try to explain the reasoning behind my recommendations. I welcome feedback.
This guide assumes basic familiarity with Poppy. If you do not have this, I recommend playing a few games versus bots, either top or bot lane.
- You will be faster than over 90% of the champions in the game. Obviously this is good both for chasing and fleeing opponents. A powerballing Rammus will outpace you in distance running, of course, and an ulting Vayne or Yi might be able to chase you down -- but that's about it.
- With health and mana regen in the early game, and lifesteal/spell vamp later on, you won't have to return to base nearly as often. Once you get the Hextech Gunblade, attacking the Buff Golem/Lizard is a good way to heal!
- Having very respectable attack speed and strong AD means that even after you do your burst combo, unless you are outnumbered and/or under a turret you can stick around to finish them off or fight the victim's partner.
- If you choose to max your CDR, your Q -- one of the harder hitting spells in the game -- will in fact have a cooldown of 2.4 seconds.
- Poppy's reputation as an awful farmer is much exaggerated, but not without a grain of truth. She is great at last hitting, including under the turret -- Poppy is probably the best turret farmer in the game -- but she is TERRIBLE at clearing waves quickly. You may find yourself facing an opponent that can clear a wave in 3 seconds that takes you five times as long. Pushing down towers can be difficult for this reason, and your tower may get pushed down if you have to recall too often. The only way Poppy can become a good wave clearer is by building Tiamat, which I don't normally recommend outside of the jungle.
- Magic Resist: Poppy does not have scaling magic resist of any kind. If you do wish to build large amounts of magic resist, the removal of Force of Nature really stings. Spirit Visage is probably the next best choice. Poppy is vulnerable to DOT (damage over time), which is found on many magic damage champs.
- Cost of Build: Although I believe this build is competitive while under construction, very few games will actually last long enough to complete it. On the other hand, that means if you are the guy getting super fed, you won't run out of things to buy! :P
Suitability for Dominion
When I first played Dominion in the beta, I saw that the recommended items were for AP Poppy. This made sense to me because Dominion de-emphasized creep kills in favor of more teamfights, especially skirmishing (not whole teams engaging). This is a strong point for AP Poppy.
Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that Rift Poppy is just as good on Dominion as an AP build.
I have a Dominion Poppy build in this guide, but it is not thoroughly tested. If you want to try a more all-out squishy-assassin style AP Poppy on Dominion, check out my guide here.
Skill sequence: since speed is so important on Dominion, Paragon is highly recommended; nevertheless, you still need to do damage once you arrive, so maxing Q is still probably the first priority. Mana regen and health pickups mean that you should be able to constantly spam Paragon while traveling, so you want it to be maxed before your charge. With luck, the initiation/wall-stun is all you'll need it for. With maxed Paragon, you'll be able to go back to base anytime you aren't defending or capping a point, and not be as worried about getting back in time to defend it.
Poppy was very strong on the old Twisted Treeline map because, in those cramped conditions, her wall stuns were a very powerful asset and her speed buff was great for getting around the map. THIS HAS NOT CHANGED. If anything, the new TT map is better for you because of how much fighting over the jungle I've experienced. Fighting in the jungle = Poppy wall stuns. Also, the map has been designed to stop people from blinking over walls all the time. Their Flash won't save them now! You are free to take Ghost and not worry about those "over the wall" escapees. Meanwhile, you have your Ghost skill, your Ghost summoner spell, and your dash/wall-stun.
Defensive masteries (1/29/0) are still effective, but less necessary when you can choose to start with boots + ruby crystal or whatever it's a lot less necessary. Moving to 21/0/9 adds a lot of damage potential and the movespeed helps too. It's your call.
If you go 1/29/0, I recommend the following runes (Marks, Seals, Glyphs, Quints): AD, Armor, M.Res/level, Movespeed. If you go 21/0/9, I recommend AD, Armor, CDR/L, Movespeed.
The item build needs updating. Here is the old text pending rewrite:
Normally, I rush Trinity, but the Pillager is just such a beautiful item on Poppy that I can't resist. You can start the game with a HoG, get Brutalizer for damage and CDR, both benefiting your Q, and then finish the item for spell vamp too? Yes please. The Chalice of Harmony gives you enough mana to keep up with your spamming. Blackfire once again gives you health, mana, and extra damage on your Q. By now the game may be ending; if not, you can get the Revolver for extra spell vamp to help your sustain in fights, or the Bilgewater Cutlass, whose active spell will help if you're having trouble sticking to enemies. By the time you finish the Gunblade, you've amassed quite a bit of AP, so Lich Bane will probably be a better way to go than Trinity. Then finish Athene's for maxed cooldown reduction and infinite spam.
Of course, you won't always have the leisure to build the items you'd like to: you may need armor (Frozen Heart, skip the Chalice/Athene), or magic resist (Abyssal or Force of Nature), or mobility (back to standard Trinity build). But I think that the above is the best bet for making Poppy as scary as possible.
MARKS: ATTACK DAMAGE, others
Flat AD will help the most in the early game, both for last hits and trading damage. Remember that your Q uses everything from your normal attack, including AD runes. If you are concerned only for the best late game advantage (not really Poppy's biggest concern), the hybrid armor/magic pen (hereby dubbed HYPEN) is best, IMO, to balance the benefit to your autoattacks and your skills.
If supporting, you will probably do most of your damage with your skills (e.g. hit-and-run harassment) in laning phase, so I recommend magic pen (MPEN). If jungling, attack speed runes are best for getting through that first clear.
SEALS: ARMOR, others
Armor seals are without a doubt the go-to choice, defending against ranged autoattack harass as well as melee trading. It also helps tank minions to freeze a lane or, again, when trading. It is, of course, also the obvious jungler seal.
If the vast majority of the damage you will take in lane will be magic (e.g. laning against Rumble) then health regen per level seals are probably your best bet. If supporting, gold per 10 seals might be best.
Here are two options I never use but which might appeal: Mana regen seals (per level) are helpful but Philo Stone/Eleisa's Miracle (or Dominion's passive) should give you decent mana regen without runes. Flat health is also not too bad, though health seals are outperformed by Quints.
(Since you get 3 Quints versus 9 each of the others, I assume a 3:1 ratio is effective equality. Health quints are almost 5 times better than seals.)
GLYPHS: MAGIC RESIST PER LEVEL, Cooldown/level
Magic resist is a pretty important stat on Poppy as she has no natural scaling. If you are laning vs. a dangerous magic user and need early help, get flat resist instead.
If, on the other hand, you aren't too worried about magic resist, consider cooldown per level. With cooldown, you don't care as much about the early game, as you are handicapped more by your mana, health, tactical movement, and even having access to the spells. So go for cool/level which is better for late game spamming.
Mana regen per level is another option. It's not quite as good as the MP5L seal, but it's close. You can also grab armor glyphs if you are desperate to stack just a little bit more armor for a tough early lane.
QUINTESSENCES: MOVEMENT SPEED, Armor, HP5, Gold/10, etc.
This is Runner Poppy, so I have to recommend Movement Speed first and foremost. But other choices may be situationally better, like flat armor for an AD top lane, or gold per 10 for supporting. Flat health regen would also help Poppy early on, especially now that health regen items got nerfed. It not only helps you withstand harass but also cooperates with your passive which makes you tougher to finish off at low health.
Two choices I don't personally recommend but which I wouldn't recommend against are flat health and HYPEN. Flat health quints significantly outperform seals.
For jungling, I used to run Life Steal quints but Machete with 5 pots gives you plenty of sustain on first clear; if you want to buy a life steal item then the quints are unnecessary. If all you get is the Spirit Stone you may want to keep the LS quints to have enough sustain.
I consider the following mastery setups viable:
1/29/0 (Solo top/mid)
1/29/0 is vital IMO for Poppy solo top/mid to help her early game (particularly for tanking minions when necessary to help manage the lane). The flat health, regen, damage reduction, and disable reduction are all extremely valuable. The percentile bonus resists and health are just gravy for late game. If you are really confident you don't need the defensive boost, then feel free to go 21/9/0 for better offense.
However, in a duo lane, IMO the utility tree or offense tree will serve you better. If you managed to convince your team to have someone support you in bot, grab 21/9/0, farm up, and then start killing that AD carry! If you are the one doing the supporting, I usually run 0/0/30. With the appropriate runes, you start the game with the equivalent of a gold generating item! You could also go 1/29/0.
In Dominion, you can take 9/0/21, getting movespeed and buff duration, or you can take 21/3/6, which is 21/9/0 without the flat health and with item cooldowns.
In the jungle, Poppy really needs the extra health to clear the jungle IMO. But going the Tiamat route, the extra rejuve bead means you can re-allocate those points towards movement speed and item cooldown (benefiting Tiamat spamming).
In deciding on mastery selection, I think it helps to compare the points to the equivalent runes. Putting points into health and mana is worth considering because the bonus is substantially better than what you get out of runes (considering Quintessences to be worth 3 mastery points).
As for going deeper into the Offense tree versus Utility, look at it this way. The Utility tree offers such things as cooldown reduction, hybrid drain (LS+SV), buff duration and movespeed, while the Offense tree offers ... more damage! (Shock.)
Poppy is certainly not the fastest jungler, but her ganks can be pretty fearsome. If you manage to wall stun, they are probably just dead unless they flash, if your lane is with you. If someone else wants to jungle, I'd consider letting them, but Poppy is more than able to fill the gap. If you can't get wall stuns, try to position yourself so you can push the enemy toward your allies -- that can be at least as good as a wall stun. (This is especially important for mid, where you may be able to sneak almost directly behind them.)
Hunter's Machete Health Potion Health Potion Health Potion Health Potion Health Potion
Rejuvenation Bead Rejuvenation Bead Health Potion Health Potion Mana Potion
Hunter's Machete is a great start for any jungler; the only issue I had with it was that the Spirit Stone was almost overkill on health regen, but not enough mana regen. But now that it got a price drop it's worth it even though you'll likely need another mana item to keep up your spamming.
I have historically rushed mana regen on jungle Poppy to help her spam her way through the jungle, but there is a different way to improve her clear times: rushing Tiamat instead. This solution gives a safer first clear due to the health regen, and is also probably better at jungle clearing once the item is complete; however, it can really hurt you if you fall behind before finishing Tiamat. It also leads you to completely different build choices: going this way means Sheen is not in your future for a long, long time. After you finish Tiamat, you have a strong incentive to build lots of attack speed as long as jungling is still relevant, so consider getting Zephyr which will let you take boots other than Mercury Treads (Zerker or Swiftness).
(I recommend against Wriggle's Lantern because although it's a great item for most junglers, on Poppy I believe getting it delays Sheen by far too long, and Trinity as well. If you are determined to get Wriggle's regardless, getting it first only makes sense considering the utility and speed it lends. Since the armor and lifesteal both help your jungle sustain, Philo Stone may not be worth the investment; if you don't get it, consider Chalice of Harmony to keep your mana up (see Items section for details). Then Phage's slow will help ganks and the Dagger's attack speed will help jungling. Then Zeal because you got the Dagger, and finally Sheen and Trinity. If you follow this build, you may want to max W first instead of Q because you can't spam Q as much without mana regen and you won't get the Sheen procs anyway. On the other hand, keep an eye on whether too many of the monsters are breaking the health cap on the skill (See Skill Sequence section for details).
(If you do choose to get Wriggle's Lantern, I'd go as far as suggesting that you consider forgoing Hextech Gunblade altogether, in favor of Will of the Ancients (for staying hybrid) or an attack speed item or AD item (for going AD). I'm not saying the Gunblade is a bad idea if you have Wriggle's, but you should definitely take a look at the situation in your game and ask yourself what the best thing to do would be considering your team composition and that of the enemy. Do you actually need the battle sustain? is the active slow going to really help a lot? et cetera.
If you can get a smiteless start from your team, go straight to red, then gank an adjacent lane if you can; if not, no problem, go back to jungling.
With a standard leash, I recommend the standard jungle path on your first pass: wolves and blue with help, or blue then wolves if solo; wraiths, red buff (if level 3), golems, red buff, (continue or not depending on health and danger from enemy jungler), recall. Of course, you can abandon this path at any time to try for a gank, and depending on what happens you might recall early.
IMPORTANT JUNGLE TIP: Poppy's passive makes her take less damage when she is at lower health, so don't use your potions until you're low health. HOW low I leave up to your judgment, based on the enemy. This will help you get through your first pass with better potion efficiency.
On your first pass through the jungle, it's important (as with any jungler) to keep an eye out for gankable lanes, but don't spend much time just sitting and waiting for something to happen when you could be jungling instead. Good times to gank might be: Right after blue or wolves if the adjacent lane is getting pushed already somehow; before/after wraiths for mid lane; after red or after golems for the adjacent lane.
If you suspect you may want to gank at level 2, take E (charge) instead of Q (hammer) since the push and potential stun from E are more valuable than the damage from Q, and your jungle won't be that much worse.
Sight Ward, Health Potion
You shouldn't need health pots for ordinary jungling, but it may be handy to have one or two available if you are lower health than you'd like to be for a gank, or you find someone counterjungling or want to go counterjungle (which is not the time to be low HP!).
Buying wards will help your team out a lot. Unless you need the gold for another item, try to keep a couple in your inventory for plugging holes in your team's coverage. You can also use them to attempt to steal the enemy's blue without being suicidally risky. The point is, you will be glad you bought one when you had some spare gold, trust me.
Chalice of Harmony Sheen Dagger Phage Trinity Force Mercury's Treads
Poppy can never really have too much mana regen IMO. If you didn't buy the Chalice of Harmony or Tear of the Goddess, just watch your mana level.
If you went the Tiamat route, get Stinger and Boots of Swiftness next, then Chalice of Harmony -- you may not be spam-dependent in the jungle but you certainly are in teamfights! Shoot for Zephyr if the enemy CC warrants it; otherwise feel free to get more AtkSpd in the form of Zeal, and hell, get all of Trinity if you are that unworried about disables.
Boots of Swiftness Tiamat Zephyr Trinity Force Ravenous Hydra Manamune The Bloodthirster
The Ravenous Hydra's AOE lifesteal makes the Bloodthirster extremely attractive in the unlikely event that you get to your 6th item, but feel free to substitute some defensive item such as Guardian Angel or Spirit Visage if you consider it more prudent.
Examples of jungling
Here are two videos of Jungle Poppy in action. I've sped up the footage because most of it is boring and it's not necessary to see every detail of the fights to get the gist of what I am doing as jungler. Be aware that the videos are from Season 2 and thus the masteries and builds are outdated.
In the first video, I play a relatively passive jungle. (This isn't as good, but shows that you don't have to fall behind if you don't succeed in lots of ganks.) Noc steals my first red, and I spend a lot of early game worried about him stealing my jungle. Top and bot always seem to be warded enough or lucky enough to not be pushed when I go to try to gank, although in retrospect I could have tried harder to make opportunities in bot lane. In any case, I'm still far from useless, putting wards in the river that save lives and pressuring mid quite a bit even though I never manage to get a kill there.
Also notice that when the enemy team is camping the tribush, Rammus was planning to initiate but I did it first, because my ult meant they couldn't burst me down as a team (I was effectively 1v1). My attack distracted and softened them up for the rest of my team going in. Often a normal tank initiation will be preferable, but in a case like that Poppy's ult is the perfect initiation device.
In the second video, I take a much more aggressive role as jungler. This is partly because of a better start, partly because of better luck (more gankable lanes), and partly because 4/5 of our team was in voice chat, letting us coordinate and giving me assurance that my teammates would correctly follow up on my gank.
Notice how I circle around to be behind the enemy as much as possible. It's a fairly obvious idea to put yourself between the enemy being ganked and their avenue of retreat, but for Poppy in particular you want to be in position to wall stun them as they try to run past you or simply push them back towards your teammates/turret. Obviously, you'll want to do as much of this positioning as possible before the enemy is aware of your presence.
Also notice how I follow this credo:the best time to use Ghost is before you ever engage the enemy! Ghost lasts ten seconds which should be plenty of time to execute your gank, so using it from the beginning will maximize its usefulness. The element of surprise is a powerful asset and you want to get the most out of it.
Of course, you don't want to use Ghost if you don't have to; but if it gets a kill you'd otherwise miss (or saves your life when you'd otherwise die), it's worth using. You will just have to try to decide before engaging whether you are going to have needed to pop Ghost, so you can get the most out of it by using it right from the start instead of desperately trying to chase down someone who got away from you. This is highly dependent on who you are ganking and who your teammates (if any) are, and it's something you will have to learn to judge for yourself.
A big reason Poppy is a strong top lane pick is that she is an extraordinarily good turret hugger. Anyone diving her not only has to overpower her passive (which is nuke defense), but also has to run the risk of getting wall stunned against the lane wall or even into the turret. If Poppy chose to equip Exhaust, the difficulty of killing her becomes simply ridiculous. Bringing help hardly even makes a difference if Poppy has her ult. Finally, if 4 or 5 enemies show up she can simply ult the one with the least CC, pop W and Ghost, and run away giggling. If, that is, she doesn't kill the one she ulted first.
Poppy does not have good lane-clearing abilities, due to total lack of AOE (unless you got Tiamat), but there is nothing the matter with her ability to last hit. She has strong autoattacks, made stronger if W is stacked, and her Q has a fast cooldown and relatively cheap cost, and can be used to "double tap" a second minion right after last hitting with a normal autoattack. (Or, to fix a failed last hit.)
Poppy can farm under turrets with the greatest of ease, due to the aforementioned. If she is not underleveled, she can one-hit a melee minion that has taken two turret hits. If she has full stacks of W, she can often one-hit a caster minion that has taken one turret hit, but this is less reliable. You can Q it to make sure, or hit it once before the turret hit and once after, if you don't have W stacked. The only difficulty is if your own minions damage an enemy minion to where you can't predict how many turret hits and autoattacks will kill it.
Buy Health Potions:
I believe I mention this elsewhere, but it's worth saying twice. Because Poppy takes less damage at low health, having a potion's massive health regen ticking will make you extremely hard to kill at early levels, unless you are also Ignited at the time. I can't tell you how many times enemies have gotten into level 1 or 2 fights and been defeated by a health potion. For the same reason, health potions will give you good sustain for surviving under your turret. They will be afraid to dive you because of how hard you are to dive, and with pots and Philo Stone they will hopefully never quite get you down far enough to where they can safely burst you down. Pots can absolutely save your life against an uphill lane.
Creative Uses of Heroic Charge:
Something I took to heart after seeing SpamHappy/Zekent use it to great effect is the fact that Charge doesn't HAVE to be used on an enemy to get close or wall stun them. You can use it on an enemy minion to cover distance to an enemy champ in a surprise maneuver, or to get away from a losing fight quickly. You can even use it simply to farm, if you are too far away to autoattack in time or somehow have already used autoattack and Q and STILL need to last hit in a hurry.
Ahh, items. The key to success. (Actually, Poppy isn't as item dependent as a lot of champs, but anyway.) Obviously Trinity is a must have, and I also strongly recommend getting an item with Tenacity -- Mercury's Treads is generally the best source of this for Poppy. Zephyr is very nice but is way too expensive for lane Poppy, who just wants Tenacity on her way to Trinity Force. Zephyr is a misdirection of funds IMO unless Poppy is jungling. Or if you are 6 items and with more money than you know what to do with, then you can shuffle items and make room for Zephyr and replace Merc Treads with something; but that would be an awfully rare situation.
But which items should you get first? It's all about what you want (and what you can get); that said, I do have a sequence of early items I adhere to in most cases.
(Keep in mind that you should always tailor your items to the enemy team comp and your particular lane opponents. For example, I normally rush Trinity Force, Sheen first, but if facing Rumble, I think I might get: Philosopher's Stone, Boots of Speed, Spirit Visage. After that, you could probably go back to trying for Trinity (Phage first); if not, maybe Warmog's. Warning: I have not tested this vs. Rumble, it's just an idea I had while revising this guide. I have laned vs. Rumble however, so I am not talking completely out of my ***.)
Rejuvenation Bead Faerie Charm Health Potionx3
After the nerf to Crystalline Flask, I am not currently recommending this item for Poppy. You'd have to buy 10 red pots before the cost equalized. I like to start with a rejuve bead for early sustain; having bought that, you can't afford boots or Crystal Flask even if you wanted to, so you might as well get one step closer to that Philo. If you want to get Sheen as absolutely fast as possible for maximum damage dealing, you can start with Sapphire Crystal and two health pots. Boots and three pots is another possibility, but I almost never do this with Poppy despite my movespeed addiction, which ought to tell you something.
Cloth Armor, Health Potionx5
This would be a useful starting selection if you are solo laning vs. an AD champ that you want to get in a fight with, or won't be able to avoid fighting with. You will be able to trade with them better and longer (until your pots run out), and you might even get Ninja Tabi before working on Philo Stone or Sheen. It's less desirable than Philo Stone, but you have to do what it takes to live/win your lane.
However, if you already knew in champ select that you would be facing pure AD, and selected a runepage accordingly (armor quintessences as well as seals, and potentially armor glyphs as well), then I believe that good old rejuve/crystal/redpots will actually help you more. You will have high enough armor already from runes and your W which you should take first that the regen will actually help you more than the extra bit of armor Cloth Armor gives you. Remember, the earlier you buy Crystalline Flask the more money you save on potions.
Start with Cloth/5 if you're facing GangplankGangplank, TryndamereTryndamere, RivenRiven, etc. and DO NOT have a special armor runepage equipped
--If you're facing OlafOlaf, he will be doing true damage to you. He is therefore one of the worst champions you can face in lane. Spamhappy (mentioned in the Introduction) recommends playing aggressively very early before he can max his true damage spell, and obviously stacking health. I recommend starting with boots/3, following up with Philo Stone and then Warmog.
--Darius is worse than Olaf, because instead of being a huge threat due to one skill, everything he has is terrible for Poppy. Heavy magic damage DOT (can't stack armor and bypasses passive), ranged AOE poke (that adds the DOT, wtfhax), a pull to grab you out from under your turret, AND a true damage nuke (bypasses passive). If Darius is intimidating you, play as passively as humanly possible, stack health and/or health regen (Philo, Eleisa, Phage, pots, Randuin or Warmog), pray for ganks, etc. If Darius gets an advantage over Poppy, he is liable to leverage it into total lane domination; however, the opposite can also be true. Poppy does serious burst damage at low levels, particularly if she lands a wall stun; this can mean you get Darius low health and scared of you, zoning him instead of the other way around.
--Teemo and Rumble are extremely nasty champs for Poppy to face, boasting large amounts of ranged magic DOT. Don't willingly lane against Teemo, especially. If you do, play passively because you will lose by attrition unless you kill them outright. Get magic resist and health regen and lots of pots. Philo, Merc Treads, Spirit Visage. Alternatively, you can rush Tiamat to clear waves faster. In particular I recommend this if you are forced to lane against Teemo as he can disrupt your normal slow-but-sure last hit protocol much better than other champs.
Philosopher's Stone, Boots of Speed, Sheen
I recommend Philo stone, then boots, then Sheen. If you chose to rush Sheen, get boots next, followed by Philosopher's Stone.
Chalice of Harmony OR Tear of the Goddess
Chalice of Harmony used to be a dead end. Now, though, it builds into Athene's Unholy Grail and Mikael's Crucible. The Chalice of Harmony is a beautiful item for mana hungry Poppy. I've often found that in extended lategame combat even Eleisa's Miracle and Frozen Heart don't give a big enough mana pool and regeneration to let me spam to my heart's content. Both Chalice upgrades will solve that problem for you. The AUG is great -- good AP, good magic resist, good CDR, and as much mana as you will ever need -- what's not to love? I usually get Mikael's: it's cheaper and the heal + CC cure is extremely tasty. You can use it on allies as well, but it's probably usually best to save this puppy for yourself -- use it near death to abuse your passive. Nevertheless, Athene's Unholy Grail is an excellent choice as well, especially if you are already ahead and more CDR/damage is going to be more appealing than the heal. I believe the mana is better on AUG as well, although you really shouldn't have mana issues with either item.
Another option for slaking your mana thirst is Tear of the Goddess (to upgrade to Manamune). This is a more offensive option, which will pay off when you achieve its final form of Muramana. The AD bonus goes better with Ravenous Hydra than Athene's AP and CDR.
Eleisa's Miracle, Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force
Trinity Force, Mercury's Treads
Eleisa's lost its Tenacity for Season 3, which made me cry, but having a regen item that doesn't take up a slot is a damn decent consolation prize! I would still recommend upgrading Philo to Eleisa unless you really need to gain 400 gold instead of spending it.
Hextech Gunblade OR The Bloodthirster
After that, I normally get the Hextech Gunblade. The Bloodthirster is another option, giving much more AD, but no AP and no spell vamp. Bigger autoattacks, but smaller Qs. Your call -- but also don't forget the utility given by the HexBlade's active. If you do get the HexBlade, it's up to you whether you get Hextech Revolver or Bilgewater Cutlass first. All else being equal, I think you should get the Revolver if you can't afford to buy the Cutlass outright when you're at base; and if you can't afford the Revolver, go ahead and get a piece of the Cutlass.
Once you've finished Hextech Gunblade (or BT), you've finished your core build. These items are what you really should get before anything else unless you desperately needed magic resist, armor, or health. Conversely, these items are all you really need to shine as Poppy; the rest is, while important, less critical.
After this core is done, the items you go for will be more situational. The rest of this section is going into considerable depth about your options, but first I'll give you the short version -- a few suggested builds for various situations.
RIFT POPPY: Eleisa's Miracle, Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade, Mikael's Crucible, (two other items)
See item list below for offensive and defensive items to consider after achieving core build.
THE DREAM - RUNNER POPPY:
Eleisa's Miracle, Boots of Swiftness+ Alacrity , Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade, Phantom Dancer, Zephyr, Maw of Malmortius
(Remember, Eleisa's turns into an aura, freeing up the item slot.)
AD HEAVY ENEMY
Eleisa's Miracle, Ninja Tabi/ Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade/ The Bloodthirster, Frozen Heart, Athene's Unholy Grail, Warmog's Armor
VERY AP HEAVY ENEMY:
Eleisa's Miracle, Mercury's Treads, Spirit Visage, Warmog's Armor, Mikael's Crucible, Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade
"The Dream" Runner Poppy is an extremely strong build IMO, but it's quite rare for me to obtain it because I would only get Boots of Swiftness after Zephyr, which I would only get after Hex-Blade, and therefore selling the already-acquired Mercury's Treads. Mostly, the game ends before I'm ready to make that transaction, especially when I've had to spend gold on some other defensive item (and probably Chalice/Mikael).
Additionally, that vision of Runner Poppy may have to take a backseat to the realities of the opponents you face. In one (true) example, the enemy Corki became extremely fed and our Vayne in turn was underfed and even underleveled, so after getting Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force, Chalice of Harmony, and Hextech Gunblade, I got Frozen Heart. I made it my job to go after Corki in all teamfights, which I did effectively, and I also became very fed and ultimately I got The Bloodthirster and Athene's Unholy Grail (not Mikael's) for the extra damage, sustain, and cooldown reduction. Even if I had had the ludicrous amounts of gold necessary to swap to the Runner Poppy build, I wouldn't have because of that Corki. (I was ulting a non-Corki champ and going after Corki more often than ulting Corki directly, but relying on that would be foolish, especially since my ult is not always available.)
In ORDINARY games, you will have two slots aside from the core to build situationally, so I will try to reflect this by giving clear options instead of trying to prescribe the complete item list in the guide.
Here are some options for the last two slots (the ones I think are most likely to be the most useful are bolded):
Spirit Visage: MRES, HP, COOL, increase regen/drain*
Warmog's Armor: HP regen, massive amounts of health*
Frozen Heart: ARMOR, COOL, mana, reduces enemy attack speed by 20%
Maw of Malmortius: AD, +AD at low HP, shield at low HP vs magic dmg
The Bloodthirster: AD, lifesteal, +AD/LS after kills (lose upon death)**
Randuin's Armor: HP, armor, reduce enemy atkspd when hit, active***
Manamune: Mana, damage, activates to use mana for extra damage#
Guinsoo's Rageblade: AD, AP, AS on-hit stacks, LS/SV/AS when low HP
Athene's Unholy Grail: AP, MRES, COOL, massive mana regen
Quicksilver Sash: MR, remove stuns etc., upgrades to +AD
Guardian Angel: ARMOR, MRES, rise from the dead ##
Void Staff: AP, 40% MPEN ###
Phantom Dancer: AS, Crit%, movespeed, ignore unit collision
Infinity Edge: AD, Crit%, CritDmg=250% -- goes with PD for massive attack**
Just pick the two that are best for you, considering how much the enemy is hurting you and what they are hurting you with, or what would be most effective against their defenses or lack thereof. If you choose Frozen Heart, you should have nearly maxed cooldown reduction; if not, or until you have it, try to take a blue buff whenever your AP carry is not around.
* Spirit Visage: For Poppy, this is the closest thing there is to Force of Nature now that FoN was removed. The MRES is decent, the CDR is good, health is OK, and the passive will help improve your pots' potency, or make Warmog's regen really impressive. Good for facing an enemy team whose main threat to you is magic dmg.
** I mostly build the Hextech Gunblade as the first damage item (after Trinity), because of its slow and spell vamp (for all your Qs), but the Bloodthirster is a good option too. It gives considerably more damage, which makes up for the loss in sustain. Consider this if you don't need the active slow. I used to consider Bloodthirster quite redundant compared with Infinity Edge to a Poppy already owning a Hex-Blade, but now that IE only has the same AD as BT before stacks, at a much lower price, BT is easily the winner. Poppy doesn't benefit from the crit bonus nearly enough to justify paying that much more for LOWER AD and lack of lifesteal.
*** Generally speaking, I find Frozen Heart's CDR and mana, and permanent aura more attractive, but there are many cases where Randuin's health is more helpful. Examples: Olaf's and Darius' AD/true dmg; Teemo's poisoned autoattacks; balancing between multiple enemy threats.
# The Manamune is a more offensive alternative to the Chalice/Mikael's path for your mana needs. You give up magic resist and the heal for damage.
## I much prefer Frozen Heart to Guardian Angel, but there may be times when the resurrection is more appealing than the many benefits of Frozen Heart.
### I would regard this as a cheap alternative to the Deathcap. Its huge magic pen will probably give as much of a boost to your skills' magic damage versus tanks as the Deathcap would, but obviously it will be far less effective against squishies with little magic resist in the first place. But you'll already be two-shotting them anyway, right?
NOTE: Banshee's Veil is a beautiful item, but IMO Spirit Visage is more likely to be better for Poppy, and will DEFINITELY be better if you have a lot of additional health (e.g. Warmog's). IMO this item will almost never be the best thing to build on Poppy, unless you chose not to build Tenacity.
I have seen many Poppy guides that neglect Paragon of Demacia (W), delaying it to level 4 or even 5. This is mind-boggling to me. There is NO WAY you should not have ALL three main skills by level 3. They are all incredibly useful. But the order in which you get them and level them up is situational. You should focus on whichever one you rely on the most.
If you think you will be able to wall stun people, go for Heroic Charge (E). Thus, always get E first in Twisted Treeline. If level 1 teamfights are probable, get E for sure. In a duo lane, I think that having the ability to wall stun and deal extra damage if the opportunity arises justifies taking it first, unless you know who you're facing and don't expect such a chance. If you want more combat power without needing to wall stun, get Devastating Blow (Q) first. If you know you will need armor, W is a good way to get it, and the extra speed and damage are also significant.
Q Devastating Blow does 8% of the enemy's max health plus .6x AP and 20-100 dmg. It has a FLAT mana cost of 55 and 8-4 sec cooldown. You will be using this a LOT. However, the damage doesn't level up well compared to E -- there is a damage cap on the 8% that increases, but you can level it up at a pretty leisurely pace and still be fine for 90% of champs, so you'll mostly invest points for the cooldown.
If you are going solo top, you may want to max this first, since it will help you harass the enemy, or make them regret harassing you, and also help clean up minions (especially if you're under your tower). If you are doing hit-and-run harass only, level two or three will be fine; but if you're sticking around long enough for cooldowns to matter (or getting opportunities to whack them that often), max it.
Level 1 cap: 75 or 8% of 937
Level 2 cap: 150 or 8% of 1875
Level 3 cap: 225 or 8% of 2812
Level 4 cap: 300 or 8% of 3750
Level 5 cap: 375 or 8% of 4687
E Heroic Charge does .4x AP and 50-150 damage, but if you wall stun you get .4x AP and 75-275 dmg ON TOP of that, as well as stunning them for 1.5 seconds. As you can see, the real meat of this skill is in the second blow, so only invest points in this if you are getting those wall stuns. It has a SCALING mana cost but points in it also improve cooldown times. You will probably max this last. (But if you are getting lots of wall stuns, especially if you wish the cooldown was shorter, consider maxing it earlier.)
One interesting thing about this skill is that you can actually go through walls on the way to your target, as long as they are thin enough and you have vision on your target. This includes stuff like Anivia's wall but also normal map terrain. AFTER you hit your target, map terrain will stop you (and stun your target), but I think you still go through champion-created terrain. I am not 100% sure though.
(Note: I don't think it HAS to be a wall; if you push them through a minion, for example, I believe they will also take extra damage and be stunned. Obviously this is harder to reliably set up, but shoving them into a minion wave has pretty good odds.)
W Paragon of Demacia lets you move 15-25% faster for 5 seconds and grants 15-35 armor and damage bonus, also lasting 5 seconds on its own. The ARM/DMG will passively stack at a rate of 1.5-3.5 upon hitting and/or being hit, which also refreshes the timer. The cooldown does NOT improve with points invested, but the mana cost SCALES anyway. Nevertheless, consider maxing Paragon for the maneuverability. The maxed speed bonus is practically the same as Ghost (unenhanced) and refreshes in 12 seconds instead of 210. Isn't that a deal?
R Diplomatic Immunity lets Poppy ignore everything but her target for 6-8 seconds. So, aside from one enemy champion, you will take no damage, no stuns, no slows, etc. However, you cannot ignore enemy terrain like Anivia's wall or Trundle's **** mountain. Diplomatic Immunity also improves ALL damage you do to the skill's target by 20-40%, including e.g. the true damage from Ignite. Remember, though, it does NOT prevent Poppy from attacking someone OTHER than her target. The shield dies if the target does. The cooldown improves with points. Aside from the obvious uses e.g. turret diving and assassinating someone in a team fight, you can use this to facilitate escape by targeting someone who is slower or lacks the CC preventing your escape.
Ghost is a must have for Poppy in my opinion. It makes sure you will be able to engage when you really need to chase that guy down, or guarantee your escape (unless you are also stunned/slowed, in which case it gives you a good shot at it). With Runner Poppy, it is not opinion, it is fact. You are already faster than everyone else, but this will let you put on rocket boots and outrun ANY mofo who thought he could escape you, or the whole-team ambush that sought to end your rampage.
I love this spell because Poppy is already hard to turret dive, and Exhaust makes her practically impossible to turret dive. It is also a great way to stick to your target if you haven't got them slowed by Trinity yet, or to escape from someone if you don't have Ghost available and W won't be good enough. Or, you could just use it in a slugging match to make sure they don't win -- and it's not like they can run. Poppy is often the designated AD carry murderer, and carrying Exhaust makes absolutely sure you can do your job late game no matter how fed they are.
There is no alternative to Ghost. Instead of Exhaust you could use Flash or Ignite or Heal or whatever floats your boat.
Ignite's true damage is overvalued by many players IMO, but it's still quite strong. Not only does it counter certain champs' special abilities like Volibear's passive and the ultimates of Singed, Mundo, Sion, etc., but it ALSO benefits from your own ultimate. 20% to 40% more true damage? Yes please.
In addition to taking ignite when I suspect it will counter the enemy champ, I also like to take ignite in certain tough lanes like vs. Olaf and Darius. Exhaust won't stop true damage, and Ignite can help secure the kill when someone ganks for you. I also take Ignite most of the time when I go mid lane.
Heal is a great for clutch saves because Poppy is hard to finish off at low health. So, Heal makes them have to do it AGAIN before they kill you for real. It's also not bad for supporting.
Barrier gives a shield that is bigger than Heal's health boost, and isn't reduced if Ignite is on you (or another heal-reduction debuff). It also has a much shorter cooldown. On the other hand, you don't get to keep the health, so the enemy might be able to just hang around for those 2 seconds and kill you after. I'd say that Barrier vs. Heal is a judgment call for Poppy based on who your enemy is and how well you can time the shield. Unless you take Heal as a support, in which case stick with that.
This spell can be incredibly useful for clutch moves like jumping a wall to escape or chase, or even to set up a wall stun you desperately want to get. And it's true that you already have a movement speed skill. In my opinion Ghost just gives more utility -- for one thing, I've been chasing down countless people with Ghost, had them Flash away, and still caught up to them and killed them with my incredible speed -- but Flash is not to be sneered at. Running Flash AND Ghost may seem like overkill, but can you ever really have too much mobility?
Wards save lives and get kills. It's really that simple, that powerful. Warding is often deemed the responsibility of the support and the jungler, but no matter who you are playing or in what lane, do whatever it takes to make sure you have a ward when you really need one. I've been in a game where there were two people who wanted AD carry, and they both picked AD carry champs and went bot lane, and neither of them was willing to be the one spending money on wards. I've asked a player to ward dragon and gotten the reply "I refuse to waste money on wards". I've put a ward in a bush and gotten an easy kill two minutes later because they thought they were undetected.
Here is a map I really like of suggested warding places. (Made by lilpwninprincess. To briefly explain the colors, bigger open circle = more important, filled-in red circle = late game and situational.)
A more detailed warding guide, and more ward placement suggestions, can be found here.
Basically, whatever lane you're in, ward the bush by the river whenever you can. If you are the AD carry and your support is dumb and doesn't want to do it or just forgets to buy a ward, get one! Even if it doesn't save your life, knowing the jungler isn't there will make you more confident in getting last hits and harassing the enemy. If you're jungling, get wards and fill any holes you see that could let the enemy gank someone or steal your buffs.
As an example, suppose you're blue team (bottom nexus) and top lane, and you're winning your lane. Consider getting two wards instead of one, to ward the enemy's triangle bush and an area further down the river. This will let you push the lane without putting you at much greater risk of ganking.
Notes on certain enemy champs
I am about to talk about a few champs that I find particularly troublesome to face as Poppy. This may not necessarily be a universal experience of Poppy players -- I find Darius very difficult to play against, though I sometimes do win, while other players swear Poppy can reliably beat Darius in lane. Bear this in mind when reading this section.
--What TYPES of champs are strong against Poppy?
Poppy's passive is best at defending against large nukes, and Poppy has naturally high armor which can be increased even more with her W, Paragon of Demacia. Therefore, champs that have spammable or DOT magic damage (Damage Over Time) are generally strong against Poppy. Champs with easy stuns or knockups etc. can also cause trouble. So Malzahar and Swain, for example, are extremely strong champs versus Poppy, but they are generally only in mid lane.
--What are some EXAMPLES of champs are strong against Poppy?
If you are in top lane, Teemo in particular has incredible harass potential, as he can apply magic DOT on every autoattack, which since he's ranged means he can easily zone you away from minions and even harass you under your turret. He can also blind you, preventing you from last hitting under your own turret! And if you are finally fed up and try to gank him, his blind can protect him, and his shrooms can let him escape. But on the other hand, he is pretty squishy, so with a good jungler you can shut him down. Just don't ever let him harass you with impunity, and I would avoid willingly going top vs. him. Try to swap lane or just don't play Poppy that game.
Darius is not as bad, but still extremely dangerous. He has a fairly long ranged harass, heavy magic DOT that applies on his autoattacks (making armor less effective vs. him), and a grab, not to mention his massive true damage ult. You can probably outdamage him at level 1, but if he wins somehow you'll be at a HUGE disadvantage. Darius can snowball really hard on you if he gets an advantage so I usually try to play safe. If you get the chance, though, feel free to drop Qs on him as he can't exchange as well in a single blow. Darius likes extended exchanges because of his passive magic DOT.
--Anything else I should know?
Olaf is a champ I want to mention because he's commonly thought to be a counter to Poppy. Even Zekent thinks this last I heard. (He recommends playing extremely aggressively to try to get an early lead on him as your only chance.) I used to believe it too -- after all, he has a true damage nuke on a short cooldown! But I've since discovered that with careful play and judicious runes and items, Olaf can be laned against quite reliably. For runes, take AD marks, HP/5 per level seals, MP/5 per level glyphs, and flat HP/5 quints. For items, start with double regen beads and 3 pots. Olaf simply won't be able to chew through that kind of regen at low levels. Rush Warmog's Armor, and again your ludicrous health pool and regen rate will be too much for him, assuming you don't just stand there and take it. Meanwhile, your Qs will still do respectable damage if you trade with him. If you get ganks, great; if not, farm away. Get Chalice before Trinity for better spamming.
Summary and Final Notes
In conclusion, I've been using Poppy for a long time now with the Runner Poppy philosophy, and I am really happy with my item choices and confident that my rune and mastery choices are sound. However, I have a relatively low ranked elo, so I cannot actually claim that it is thoroughly tested for that arena. Again, I welcome feedback. Thank you and I hope this helped you think about your Poppy.
I gravitate toward these Poppy builds because of my play style with her. Poppy is good at turret diving but that is just one part of it. Running into and escaping tricky situations is a specialty of mine. One day I was playing with some new people and they saw me scouting the bushes at the beginning -- they said, "What is wrong with you, don't check the bushes with your face!" The next game, I did the same thing and the entire enemy team was there waiting to gank me. I got away clean, my partner got a kill, and another enemy was executed by a turret. Throughout the whole game people commented on how they couldn't believe I got away from this gank attempt or that hit and run. With these builds, Poppy runs like a boss and still hits hard as hell when she gets there.
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