Not Updated For Current Season
As of patch v126.96.36.199, Ryze has undergone a sort of shift in how he is to be played. Unlike most casters, Ryze now benefits more from stacking mana and cooldown reduction than flat ability power. This is incredibly amazing due to the fact that many high-value defense items also give significant mana bonuses. Things like Banshee's Veil, Frozen Heart, and Rod of Ages have increased effect on him, and are almost vital to many champions.
Ryze is now functionally different, throwing out a massive amount of spells and using his ultimate to stay alive while contributing AoE damage. Some people have called this change a nerf, but I know it is not. I have played the new Ryze many times and love him; hated Ryze before, and now he's addictive.
So have a look at my build and see how to play the new Ryze properly! :)
Runes & Masteries
[ Runes ]
I have tried a few different rune sets, but this one just works the best:
9x Magic Pen, reds
9x Mana per level, yellows
9x Mana per level, blues
3x Flat HP, quints
The reds are a given for any caster, but the yellows and blues have caused some stir amongst my teammates. You have to understand that Ryze needs mana now more than ever. Combine this with the bonus 5% max mana from the mastery and your runes give you over 200 mana, which winds up giving double effect to abilities when you get Archangel's.
Some say mana regen is more important, but recent nerfs have reduced my interest in those. While I agree CDR blues are usually a given, this build quickly caps out 40% CDR, so they become wasted about 20 minutes in.
[ Masteries ]
My masteries are a standard caster set, except for one small change: Instead of the EXP mastery, I put those points in the bonus mana. This helps your mana scale up heavily late-game, which is important when considering the damage of your Q and W.
Ryze now functions off having two important bonuses granted from items: Mana and CDR. His AP scaling has been harshly nerfed and replaced with damage scaling from mana, which is much more easily attained. Now that his Q provides innate CDR, has a 2.2 second cooldown with maxed reduction, and his passive reduces all cooldowns by 1 when you use a spell, he basically just dishes out a ****-ton of damage. So here are the items I get:
[ Game Start ]
You'll be starting with a Mana Crystal and 2 HP pots. The mana crystal allows you to quickly build a Tear (VERY important) and the pots are just a given. Due to the Doran's Item nerfs, I do NOT advise starting with a Doran's Ring. Since Ryze cannot heal himself, you are forced to waste time b'ing should you get harassed heavily.
[ First Back ]
If all has gone swimmingly, you should only have to back when you have about 1200 gold. This is easy to do since Ryze can farm very competently and get early kills with ease. At the very least only back when you have 600 gold, so you can at least buy your Tear of the Goddess. It is absolutely essential you get Tear early so you can build up mana quickly. Always try to have leftover gold for pots and wards.
[ Mid-Game ]
Now you should have a decent chunk of gold. By the time you have Tear you can decimate entire minion waves with your ult at practically no cost, feeding you massive amounts of gold. Since early-game usually consists of 1v1 fights, which is where Ryze REALLY excels, you should also have a few kills. Use this money to buy a Catalyst (HP and mana) and Glacial Shroud (CDR and mana), and hopefully even a quick Rod of Ages. If you've farmed correctly, you should be very strong mid-game due to your overwhelming wealth of items.
[ Late Game ]
Now that team fights have erupted and you've gotten kills/assists (hopefully), you should be working towards your biggest and most powerful item: Archangel's Staff. This item is godly on Ryze. It gives you mana, AP, and even more AP scaled off your mana. Since end-game you have over 4.5k mana, this item gives you over 200 AP. HOLY **** DOOM SPELLS. Banshee's Veil is almost a must on any champion, and works even better on Ryze. Gives you survivability and the mana makes your spells hit harder.
[ Late-late Game ]
If a game drags out long enough, you may get these items. They are not inherently important to the build (as nothing that would be attained so late in the game should be), but are very effective. Frozen Heart is a powerful anti-aura, and Void Staff makes Ryze hit all that much harder.
[ Laning Phase ]
Ryze is very strong during this phase. He has more than enough mana to last-hit everything possible with Q, while also harassing his opponents frequently. You should play VERY aggressive, but do not push the lane. This means:
Last hit all you can, preferably with your auto-attack, and hit your enemies with Q every time they get in range. If you see them going up for a last hit, PUNISH THEM. Make them wish they hadn't got that 26 gold. If they have a jungler, this is all the more incentive to harass. You want to pull them away from their creep exp to come and gank you, but since you're not pushing the lane, it's a waste of their time.
Remember: Ryze was originally designed to push lanes, which meant he had incredible lane dominance. This patch has not changed that. YOU are one of the most powerful laning champs, and you must use this to your advantage.
[ Early-Mid Game]
This is where Ryze REALLY shines. If you've been farming effectively, you should have lots of high-value items and be ready to gank. You can easily get your Golem solo at level 6, and contribute heavy damage to team fights. But what you really want to do is find someone alone:
Ryze is all about 1v1. He's one of the best 1v1s in the game, only losing to smart ranged-DPS or melee-DPS with powerful dashes and CC (looking at you Xin Zhao). If you see some lonely Sivir or Olaf pushing up a lane, DESTROY THEM. Your general spell combo is:
Q - R - Q - W - Q - E - Q - W - Q - E - Q - W - Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q
No joke. When you have maxed CDR, the cooldown of your Q is just above 2 seconds. 1 second really since your passive reduces it by 1 when you use it. This means that you are spamming it constantly, and using it to unlock other abilities faster.
It should be noted that Rune Prison now frontloads all of its damage instead of dealing it over "ticks" as a DoT. This is especially useful to know since people used to be able to Cleanse Rune Prison and thus reduce your damage.
[ Mid-Late Game ]
Here you have to start playing a little differently, since finding people alone will get harder. In team fights, wait for them to group up and then hit your ult. This is maximize your AoE damage and allow you to contribute most in fights. But generally:
Try to save Rune Prison if possible, and instead "poke" the enemy team with Q and E. Save Prison for when they start thinning out, and use it to start your nuke against their carry. The aforementioned skill combo doesn't change.
[ Late Game ]
Same as earlier: You MUST play defensively, and pray you have a good tank. Nuke stragglers or enemy non-tanks that get out of position. Just try to stay in the back, because you WILL be focused. You do have a wealth of HP items, but your lack of resistances means you won't last long against concentrated focus-fire.