Annie Build Guide by Mybones
Mastery Tree Is Outdated
WARNING: These masteries are still using the old tree and have not been updated to the new tree by the guide author. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Tank Annie And You
So, you might be wondering why would anyone want to play Annie, arguably one of the most powerful and nukiest casters in League Of Legends, as a Tank. To answer this question I want to go into what I view as a requirement for any champion to call themselves a "Tank".
1. Must has some innate survivability skill, either from passive or from an ability.
2. Must have a strong form of Initiation.
3. When initiating must be able to survive any initial damage soak.
4. Must have the capability of being an actual threat. It is nice if you can tank 10K damage with 500 armor/mr, but without any form of damage, you are truly ignorable and a competent team will do just that.
With that being my view of a tank I went looking into champions that people don't normally consider "Tanks" and I came across Annie. I went down my checklist and I was surprised as to what I found.
1. Molten Shield. At Max rank this is an extra 50 armor/MR for 15 seconds. That is definitely long enough for a team fight, especially when initiating.
2. She has 2 ways to AoE stun, initiating a fight with a strong Summon: Tibbers, able to Exhaust a major AD carry, and in longer fights able to use Incinerate or Disintegrate as a secondary stun.
3. Again, using Molten Shields with Summon: Tibbers will certainly make you tanky enough to absorb any initial and over the fight damage.
4. Annie has relatively high base damage on all her abilities, and in the beginning building a Rod of Ages will result in a decent amount of AP. Late game she will close in on 200 AP which is plenty to do some serious hurt, especially on the squishier champions. In super late game you will still have the high base damage along with two fire auras. One from your Sunfire Cape and one from Summon: Tibbers. The longer a fight goes, the more AoE damage you do as well as the more stuns you get off.
I will be going into more details into my list but currently that gives a nice overview. Before you go all gung-ho and try this out, if you arn't going to read the rest of this guide at least note my Pro's and Con's.
Strong Damage over a fight
Very Tanky End Game
Needs Solo Top for farm
Many people will doubt you
No damage outside using abilities, which is problematic if you are saving for a stun
Low Base stats means a weak early game tank, solved in late game with maxed shield.
That should do for now. I will come back and update this as I further test this, but for now lets move onto the more in depth analysis.
I would like to go into a brief explanation of my rune choices.
Marks : 9x Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
This should be pretty straightforward. Early game you will still have high base damage and having the early penetration will be key in getting successful kills in top lane, with the help of a Jungler of course. Late game these will still help you have a larger damage output, when building tanky you can use all the help you can get.
Seals : 9x Greater Seal of Armor
Nice for tanks to have some early armor, especially against some of the AD Solo tops. I didn't get the per level armor runes only because it is more likely that you already have these 9 from a jungle page.
Glyphs : 9x Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
When it comes to being a tank, any help in building armor/mr is a huge help, and this does just that. I used these runes on many tanks and tanky dps champions and it greatly increases your survivability.
Quints : 3x Greater Quintessence of Health
Annie does suffer from terrible base stats and these runes are the best shot Annie has to catch up to other tanks. With these runes she is able to act tanky from level 1, and once the other items kick in stack well with Armor/mr.
The biggest goal with these runes is to help out Annie's poor base stats, and runes are a great way to help her out. If you need to swap out runes due to limitations on what you own, atleast keep that idea in mind. She is weak early game, what is going to help me to fix this?
Summoner Spells and Masteries
For Summoner Spells I choose to go with Flash/ Exhaust. Flash is a great way to initiate fights, a sudden Flash into Summon: Tibbers will be the most common approach to initiate, and will allow for surprise initiates from over walls or from bushes. Exhaust is to add more utility when it comes to Annie Tank. Being able to slow and reduce the damage of an AD carry that is trying to eat your own carries is a huge boost to your team.
I argue that Flash is needed, especially with how powerful it is currently. Exhaust on the other hand is my preference and can be swapped with other spells. Ignite for extra aggression on your initiate and to help fight supports that are healing is a good choice. Teleport to move around the map quickly. Ghost to chase (Although with Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Force of Nature I imagine this has less use). Those would be my top 3 replacements for Exhaust if you either don't like it or are uncomfortable using it.
For Masteries I continue with my goal of helping out Annie's poor base stats. I go 9/21/0 to give her additional AP, Magic Pen, Cooldown Reduction, and improved Exhaust from the offense tree and general survivability and bulk from the defense tree. There honestly isn't much else to say about this besides possible variations.
If you choose to go without Exhaust than choose another talent, although your only true option is the 1 point into Deadliness .
Before we go further into this guide I feel it is important to understand each of Annie's abilities. If you fail to understand her entire kit it might pose problems when I explain more complicated uses of her kit. With that in mind lets dive into her abilities.
Pyromania : This is Annie's passive and the most important mechanic about her to understand. After five spell casts, Annie's next OFFENSIVE spell well trigger a stun on her target(s). Seems straightforward enough, one could imagine learning to time when you will have five stacks to be ready to stun somebody would be the complication but there needs to be made two distinctions. The first is that it is the next offensive spell that will trigger the stun. This means that at 5 stacks, any use of Disintegrate, Incinerate, and Summon: Tibbers will use this, even if it hits a minion or absolutely nobody. The second thing to note is that even at 5 stacks, using Molten Shield will not use up the stacks, and you will still have 5 stacks. Now with that clarification done, lets move onto her actual abilities.
Disintegrate : This is your single target spell that does a respectable amount of base damage and also causes you to gain back the full cost of the mana used to cast it if you kill the target that you used it on. This spell is the bread and butter of your early game farm, allowing you to quickly secure last hits with no mana penalty as well as giving you a quick cheap way to build up your Pyromania stacks. It is also great at hitting the further ranged champions to get a clinch kill or stun.
Incinerate : This is an AoE fire wave that shoots out in a cone directly in front of Annie. While at a much shorter range than your Disintegrate spell, it has a higher base damage and scaling, is AoE, and can stun multiple targets. This is your second alternative to an AoE initiate if you have to initiate or stun multiple targets without Summon: Tibbers.
Molten Shield : This is what makes Annie actually Tanky enough to be considered viable. Per rank this spell will give you 10 armor and magic resistance for 15 seconds, and deal a low amount of damage to anyone whom attacks you. At max rank this adds up to a whopping 50 armor and magic resistance for 15 seconds. Using this after a Summon : Tibbers initiate will not only allow you to be tanky enough to take any damage that might come your way, but will also give you a free stack of Pyromania.
Summon: Tibbers : This is the ability that makes Annie feared. While having a fairly large casting area and an AoE impacts, it also summons a giant face eating bear that has tons of health along with a decently powerful auto attack and fire aura that damages nearby units. This will be the spell that you most commonly use to initiate with, and it is advisable to try to have Pyromania stacks up so that it stuns, and try to hit as many people with it as possible. As an important note, this is considered a pet and as such can be controlled independently from your own champion. If you alt + click your bear will move to that location, will attack targets, and can even be used to face check a bush for you. Another note is that if you are attacking a tower and Tibber's aura or auto attack hit a champion, the tower will target YOU.
Skill Sequence and Variations
Now that each ability has been explained I want to elaborate on the skill order. If you look at the skill order in the cheat sheet above you will get the general gist of what I was going for. One rank into Disintegrate, priority on maxing my Molten Shield whenever I can and I don't have to put a point into Summon: Tibbers. I am not going to say that this is the only build because I would be lying. I want to explain why that skill order is there and possible variations.
First, to address having only one point into Disintegrate. This spell is great for early lane farming and last hitting, it is essentially a free powerful quick auto attack to help in last hitting. Later on it servers as a way to get ranged single target stuns off and slow/kill enemy runners. But, for all purposes, leveling it up for damage would be better spent in upgrading the more powerful Incinerate.
Since you will be focusing on controlling the fight and getting strong initiates, damage is of little concern. Of course you will be doing some, but survivability is much more important. That is why I focused heavily on Molten Shield. Unfortunately, since you will be aiming to have a solo top lane, Molten Shield isn't the most concerning ability to have for that lane. In a one vs. one lane having that extra damage would mean the difference between a kill and a failed gank from your jungler. This is where the variation comes into play and the variation can be summed into a single sentence.
You want to have Molten Shield maxed by the time the laning phase comes to a close.
If you notice that nobody seems to be winning or losing a lane and everyone is happily farming minion wave after minion wave, put a few more points into Incinerate early on to help clear minion waves and have extra harassing potential. If you notice people are starting to push down and kill towers, put more points into Molten Shield to make sure that you have the most survivabilty possible for when you start to roam the map as a team. Below I have skill orders for each situation.
Early Team Fight Phase (Max Molten Shield)
Q > W > E > E > W > R > E > E > E > W > R > W > W > Q > Q > R > Q > Q
Middle Team Fight Phase (Balance between Incinerate and Molten Shield)
Q > W > E > W > E > R > W > E > E > E > R > W > W > Q > Q > R > Q > Q
Late Team Fight Phase (Main focus on Incinerate)
Q > W > E > W > E > R > W > W > W > E > R > E > E > Q > Q > R > Q > Q
Again, each one can be summarized by the above bolded and underlined sentence. Just watch the map and try to time as best you can to have maxed Molten Shield for your first large scale team fight.
Items And Variations
Before we begin discussing items it might help understanding what weak points Annie has before we get started. This will not only further our understanding of her as a character, but will help us decide a proper build order for her, and maybe even areas that we can have multiple solutions to.
What exactly are Tank Annie's weak points?
High mana cost
Low Base Health
Low Base Armor/MR
Decent AP Ratio's that beg for you to build AP
That is a decent list of problems we need to address to make Annie into Tank Annie. Good news for us Riot has given us a large pool of items to choose from, many which can knock out multiple things from this list. Here is my solution (Item Build) that hits all of those points.
Starting Off :
Sapphire Crystal Mana pool and health regen
Health Potion x2 Lane sustain against harassers
I choose these items to start with because you waste no time into building your first key item, Catalyst the Protector and then Rod of Ages. The extra mana will give you some regeneration from your Strength of Spirit talent and allow you to be more aggressive in spamming your Incinerate. The two health potions are there for staying power in the lane, and hopefully will give you enough time in lane to farm up gold for either the Catalyst the Protector or if you got some really good farm and a good gank on top lane, and early Rod of Ages.
Continuing the build on your next few times going back :
Catalyst the Protector For sustain and a boost to mana and health.
Boots of Speed To start getting some movement speed.
Heart of Gold Over the course of this game it will build up gold while contributing to your health pool.
Rod of Ages A great AP/Health/Mana item that only gets better.
Mercury's Treads CC Reduction and bulk, what more could you want.
And here is the base of Tank Annie. You have built Health, Mana, Magic Resistance, and Ability Power, knocking out all of Annie's problems in one swoop. Now what is missing is building to directly counter the enemy team while still trying to boost Annie's base stats issue. This can be summed up rather nicely into a few paths. The last three items on the list are all great items to get, but each of them separately lead into the three splits.
The Even Damage Path :
Rylai's Crystal Scepter Health, damage, utility
Rabadon's Deathcap Straight up damage baby!
If the enemy is running a well balanced team, at this point you have the resistance needed to fight, the biggest issue is going to be your health pool and utility. Rylai's Crystal Scepter will up your overall damage, health and utility which makes it the core item of this split. From there you have the make the call of how well you are taking damage, with this much health you will want to start getting more armor and magic resistance and that will be your biggest bang for buck value. If you are taking damage fine it might be time to build much harder AP, maybe even going for Rabadon's Deathcap.
The AD Heavy Path :
Frozen Heart CDR/Mana as well as a AoE physical damage dealer nerf, and bulk
Thornmail Optional if you need more armor.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter Optional if you need health and utility > armor
Rabadon's Deathcap Get if you have enough bulk from any of the above
If the enemy team is running hard physical damage, or their physical damage dealer is fed while the AP damage dealer became starved, building additional armor will help, especially because up to this point, you have neglected it. After much more play testing it seems like one item has come above the rest, and that is the Frozen Heart. Cooldown reduction for higher shield up-time, faster stuns, all while increasing mana pool (which helps with health regen) and giving some great bulk to not only yourself, but damage reduction to your team, all incredible stats that puts this a tier above Thornmail. Keep Thornmail in mind because if you still need more help, that would be a great go-to item. If survivability is still an issue after Frozen Heart then building a Rylai's Crystal Scepter should clean it up nicely. If it isn't, buff up your damage with a Rabadon's Deathcap.
The AP Heavy Path :
Abyssal Scepter Magic Resistance, Penetration, Damage
Quicksilver Sash or Banshee's Veil if you need further magic resistance
Rylai's Crystal Scepter Health, Utility and Damage
Rabadon's Deathcap Straight up Damage
Sometimes you will be facing an all mage team, but lucky for you with your runes, Mercury Treads, and Molten Shield you really have all the survivabilty you need. Sometimes though it is nice to feel more comfortable which means it might be time to build a little more resist, but I have found that if you can add damage on top of adding resistance, it is of great help. Abyssal Scepter does just that. Giving you extra Magic Resistance on top of damage and penetration will give you a nice edge in combat, especially against squishy casters. If this still isn't enough than building a Quicksilver Sash or a Banshee's Veil are nice secondary fall backs. Most likely this won't be an issue, so building extra health/damage with Rylai's Crystal Scepter or Rabadon's Deathcap would be a great way to follow up on this build path.
How To Lane + How To Initiate
Now that the basics of builds are out of the way, we need to talk about the mindset you need to be in to pull of Tank Annie. There are two distinct phases that will be most important for you to understand.
How To Lane :
This will generally last from level 1, all the way to as late as level 8-11 depending on how the game goes. During this time it is crucial to get as much of an advantage as possible. There are two things you need to focus on to get this advantage.
Last Hitting. As you last hit a minion and get the killing blow, you will gain extra gold. This gold can quickly add up, by the 10-12 minute mark you can if perfect close in on 100 creeps slain. If each minion averages 23 gold a hit, you can have 2,300 gold on top of your passive gold income at the 10-12 minute mark! Last hitting is important. Last hitting is important. Last hitting is important. Lucky for you, since Annie has a decent auto attack response, last hitting just takes a little practice. Keep in mind, that early point in Disintegrate will help you in getting those last hits even if you are being harassed.
Here are a few tips for last hitting :
1.Don't just sit there and auto attack, you should only be auto attacking if you are going to get the last hit on that auto attack or you are getting pushed hard to your tower.
2.Against the tower let the tower attack twice against the ranged minions and then auto attack. Against melee minions auto attack them once, and then after two tower hits, auto attack again. Those two methods will allow for successful last hitting at a tower.
3.Q is your friend.
4.If multiple are getting low, a quick Incinerate could net you multiple cs in one spell.
The second part of laning is Harassment and Ganking. If you see a chance to hurt the enemy champion, without taking damage yourself and without running yourself oom, harassing an enemy champion is a great way to have them back off, lose last hits, and even lose experience. It also helps for when your Jungler comes to your lane to try and get a kill on your opponent. The less health he has, the higher chance he will die.
Make sure during this phase to call out MIA (Missing in Action) if you cannot see your opponent, and watch the map for when other lanes go MIA. Also don't push out too far, even though you build tanky, your low base stats in the early game could lead to an unfortunate outcome if the enemy jungler comes to get you. Just focus on CS and harassment and you should be able to move into the next part of the game. Team Fight and Initiation.
How To Initiate
As the tank it is your job to know how to initiate, when to initiate, and most importantly when to back off and not initiate. The more information you know about the enemy team (Their location, what buffs they might have, how much CS and kills they have) will better inform you of when to initiate. The general rule of thumb for initiating is that if you are at a number advantage (For example, a 4v2 situation) and you know that they won't be able to suddenly outnumber you (If you know that 2 of them are at top and the two you want to initiate are mid) then it is a good time to initiate. Sometimes the situation isn't as clear cut as that and you need to judge it by ear. Is your team ahead? You guys can probably win a 5v5 as long as your initiate goes well and your team responds appropriately. Diving into a 3v3 under a tower is probably not the best initiate. It might be a 4v3 but you are behind and your team hasn't been the best at initiating with you, it might be good to back off and not engage, maybe wait to see if they put themselves into a worse position. For all the possible situations, learning from practice will be your best guide. Until you become more comfortable with initiating a fight, just follow that general rule of thumb. If you outnumber them and can stun multiple people, it is a good time to fight.
With this knowledge in hand you need to understand how Annie initiates to do this properly. Similarly to AP Annie, in a team fight you want to drop Summon: Tibbers onto as many people as possible, and use Summon: Tibbers in conjunction with your Pyromania. If you need to Flash to get more people in your stun, more power to you. Occasionally you will need to initiate without Summon: Tibbers, well lucky for you we have a second AoE stun, Incinerate. Use it similarly to Summon: Tibbers, just remember that it is a cone in front of you and re-position yourself accordingly.
If you get a good initiate, follow it up with Molten Shield to increase your survivability, and start re-stacking your Pyromania. Then used your Incinerate and Disintegrate to slow the enemy team, and continuing to build up Pyromania until you can stun again. With a good team this should be all the help they need to pick off the enemy carries and clean up the fight. If you see your teammates getting hurt by a carry, you always have exhaust, use it to help them take less damage and peel off the carry. You can even use the second stun from Pyromania to further assist in peeling off the enemy carries.
Although many games come down to these type of team fights, sometimes it is better to focus on catching your opponents out of position. If you see somebody alone and you have some of your team nearby, ping them and let your team come over and then stun them. That is called a pick and it really helps your team pull ahead, any kill is good, and now if they want to team fight your team they will be down a player for up to a minute if not more. If you guys are fighting a 5v5 and instead of them initiating or getting in range for you too, they begin to turn and run, immediately find out if any of them are trailing behind slightly and punish them for it. You can stun and slow the enemies, resulting in another pick for your team.
The key to properly initiating and getting picks will come with practice. Until you feel 100% in the zone and comfortable just make sure you pay attention to your Pyromania stacks, and stun/slow/exhaust as many people as possible when it comes to team fights.
Miscellaneous Tips For All Annies'
When back at your spawn, you can always throw out a quick W and E to build up Pyromania stacks for free.
Always try to time Summon: Tibbers with Pyromania for max damage.
You can alt + click to control Tibbers independently of Annie.
Molten Shield is the cheapest mana cost of all of Annie's abilities, if you need to get that extra stack of Pyromania for the cheapest cost, that's your go to spell.
At Level 1 if you get Incinerate first you can stay at the nexus and have a Level 1 Pyromania stack to stun if needed.
Always try to last hit with Disintegrate in the early stages. It will refund mana and makes farming a lot easier.
Annie, barring Pyromania stun and Flash lacks any real escape mechanism, try not to get caught by champions that have great chasing ability. (With Tanky Annie you will probably be able to go toe to toe with or survive long enough to get assistance against enemy pursuers. Still advisable not to get caught alone though.) Make sure your team has wards around the map to ease this.
I will add more as I see fit, I probably forgot a few but that'd what edit is for :D
Well, this wraps up my Tank Annie guide. I will continue to update as I receive feedback and as I adjust my play style and find other things that work.
Remember, your goal is to have a super strong initiate and team fight presence to lead your team to victory. You are a force to be reckoned with, but you become 10x more deadly with a team behind you. This is a team game, and you are there to assist your team :D.
Also, this is my first guide ever on any site. Rate me on two things, how well this guide is written and formatted, and how well my Tank Annie build works for you. If you have issues with either, please leave a comment to let me know what I can improve on, in both regards.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I will be sure to update and improve this guide as needed.
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