Vladimir Build Guide by Qwertyest
Not Updated For Current Season
Standard Core Items
Early Game Items
Mid to Late Game
Final Item Options
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Pros and Cons of Tankimir
-Vladimir's Hemoplague can swing teamfights your way.
-Vladimir has excellent sustain damage. By tanking, this allows you to take an enormous amount of damage while steadily pumping out your own damage to the entire enemy team.
-Tankimir still has a surprisingly high damage output. Your standard AP carry and AD carry might deal more damage than Tankimir, but you really won't be very far behind them, and can certainly take a lot more damage than they can.
-Excellent sustain. No mana pool and an ability that gives you back health mean you should generally only have to return to base to buy items.
- Sanguine Pool, combined with Flash, combined with Ghost means you should rarely die to ganks.
-Lack of any real CC. Sanguine Pool offers you a slow to use against the enemy, but you are unable to cast any other spells while in pool form, and the ability also has a high cooldown.
-Often the target of enemy CC. As an AP caster, Vlad is shutdown if he is silenced.
-His early game is not as strong as a lot of people may think it is.
The Current State and Viability of Vladimir
Vladimir has often been the target of nerfs in past patches. The days when you could spam transfusion with a sub 2 second cooldown are long gone. He also now doesn't really fit in particularly well in mid lane any longer. Most of the standard AP casters outrange you and can harass you much easier than you can harass them.
But this does not mean Vladimir is no longer a viable pick. There are many situations where he can comfortably sit in the top lane and become an immovable object against the standard AD Bruiser top laner. Most top laners are melee Champions, which can allow you to harass them at levels 1 and 2 safely just with your auto attacks.
When Do I Choose Vladimir?
This Chapter is aimed at those players who play Draft Pick (ranked or normal) instead of normal Blind Picks.
As always with selecting any champion without having any idea of which enemy champion you will be laning against, you run the risk of facing someone who can shut down Vladimir and stop you from farming CS. But what if your opponents have already chosen a likely top lane candidate. When is a good time to go top lane Vladimir?
Here is a short checklist, in order of importance, of what to look for when deciding to go for Vladimir:
- Is the enemy top laner ranged or melee? Putting Vladimir up against a melee champion will allow you the opportunity to kite them while harassing them.
- Does the enemy top laner use Mana? Because Vladimir can regenerate his own health with Transfusion, you have the ability to restore any health you may lose to enemy harass. If the enemy top laner uses mana to cast their abilities, then they are somewhat limited by the size of their mana pool as to how much they can harass you. If you can sustain that damage, they will run out of mana and you will either be free to farm and harass them without retaliation, or they will have to return to base to restore their mana, meaning they are losing cruicial cs, and perhaps also allowing you to damage, or even destroy their tower. Either way, this will put you in the driving seat.
- How strong is the enemy top laner's crowd control abilities? Can I dodge these? The worst thing that can happen to Vladimir is that he is silenced. You are then nothing more than a sitting duck, desperate for the silence effect to wear off so you can finally fight back (or escape with Sanguine Pool). If your opponent is going to be able to silence you with ease, then you may want to reconsider choosing Vladimir.
- How good is the enemy top laner's gap closer(s)? As Vladimir, you do have to get close to your opponent to harass them, but you don't want to be too close. If your opponent has a good gap closing ability on a short cooldown, you may want to reconsider choosing Vladimir. Alternatively, you always have the use of Sanguine Pool to escape any additional damage your opponent would aim at you after jumping on you. Just remember that Sanguine Pool has a rather long cooldown, so you will need to play a bit safer and keep your distance until this ability is up again.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Mark of Magic Penetration - Vladimir deals Magic Damage. These will combat enemy Magic Resistance.
Seal of Armor - By going top lane, you will usually be facing an AD Bruiser. These will reduce the early game damage they can deal to you, as well as reducing early game enemy minion damage you receive.
Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist - I prefer scaling magic resistance over flat magic resistance. If you are top lane and facing an AD Bruiser, you won't really need Magic Resistance until the laning phase is over. Scaling Magic Resist Glyphs provide more Magic Resistance than flat Magic Resist Glyphs from level 9 onwards. This should be well before the laning phase ends.
Quintessence of Movement Speed - Vladimir is pretty slow and lacks Crowd Control of his own. Movement speed quints allows Vladimir to kite those Melee AD Bruisers in top lane with ease, and makes chasing and fleeing easier before that Rylai's Crystal Scepter purchase.
Mark of Ability Power - These will provide you with slightly more health (thanks to Crimson Pact and will mean you deal slightly more damage early game, but aren't as effective late game as what Magic Penetration Marks are when the enemy are more likely to have purchased some Magic Resistance.
Glyph of Magic Resist - A good alternative if you need that early magic resist because you lane opponent mainly deals magic damage, rather than physical damage.
Quintessence of Ability Power - Again, provide you with slightly more health thanks to Crimson Pact, and will also increase your early game damage output, but reduces your ability to kite your opponent.
Quintessence of Spell Vamp - These scale nicely with your Transfusion and will also provide you with some health back that you spent on casting Tides of Blood. An excellent choice to enhance your sustain in lane, but again at the expense of reducing your ability to kite your opponent.
So my choice here has been to go for 9-21-0, instead of the standard 21 in Offense for an AP Caster.
The reason, quite obviously, is because this is Tankimir. He needs the defense to tank and soak up the damage during teamfights.
For a brief explanation of each point:
Is for the boost to Ghost
This is to get you that little closer to 40% CDR when you have Ionian Boots of Lucidity and Spirit Visage (brings you to a total of 38% CDR.
This is because Vladimir's abilities scale with AP, and so does Crimson Pact
This is why 9 points have been invested into the offense tree. The 8% Magic Penetration will help you deal more damage.
This is for more HP. Also gives a tiny boost to AP due to Crimson Pact
This has 3 points invested into it for a little extra early protection vs enemy minions and enemy AD Champions.
This has a single point invested into it to unlock the next tier, mainly. It will also provide a tiny bit extra defense vs Magic Damage.
This is pretty much for a small boost to early game protection against enemy Champions.
An extra flat 30HP gives extra early game protection, and a tiny bit extra AP with Crimson Pact
This has a single point invested into it again mainly to unlock the next tier. This has been chosen over Safeguard because Vladimir already has Sanguine Pool as his real protection against enemy towers for tower diving.
Yet another early game boost to survivability vs enemy Champions.
The full 3 points are invested into this. 3 of the more important points you are spending in the defense tree, because Vladimir needs to be free from enemy CC to continue to cast spells and pump out damage.
This again has a full 3 points invested into it for two reasons. The first is Crimson Pact scaling. The second is for tanking purposes.
Having already invested 19 points into the Defense tree by the time you reach the penultimate tier of the Defense tree, you only have a single point to invest here. I invest this into Defender because this will give you an extra 5 Magic Resistance and Armour when in the middle of a full 5v5 teamfight. This is a better option to invest a point into rather than Legendary Armor . This is because you would need to have around 250 bonus Magic Resistance and Armour for it to have the same impact as Defender .
The final point in the Defense tree gives you a nice 3% reduction in all forms of damage you receive. This could be the difference between getting off that final teamfight winning, instant cast Transfusion and death.
A Description of Vladimir's Abilities & Skill Levelling Sequence
This is Vladimir's passive ability. Crimson Pact converts any health from items, runes and masteries into extra Ability Power, as well as converting any Ability Power from items, runes and masteries into extra health. Obviously, this makes stacking health and ability power items on Vladimir a very powerful combination, and gives Vladimir some natural tankiness just from purchasing AP items.
Transfusion is Vladimir's bread & butter, and is what can give him such a strong presence in lane, restoring some of the health of any damage you may have sustained each time you use it.
Early game, this is a life saver. Late game, it is also capable of dealing a high amount of damage to the enemy team if they group up too close together.
Back to early game however, and the use of Sanguine Pool makes Vladimir untargetable for two seconds, and can be used to dodge most enemy champion abilities, ranging from Karthus' Requiem to even the damage and silence of Garen's Decisive Strike if timed correctly! (not easy, but possible)
However, it is important to note that any ability that has been cast on you that deals damage over time will continue to damage you even while in pool form. Therefore, if you have been poisoned by Singed's Poison Trail you will continue to take the poison damage while in pool form.
Early game, Tides of Blood can be used to harass your lane opponent with, as well as to last hit minions with, and also to counter-push your lane. However, you need to be careful when using this for two reasons.
The first reason is the stacks and health cost. Tides of Blood can stack up to four times if cast repeatedly, and with each casting of Tides of Blood being within 8 seconds of the last.
Each stack will mean your next use of Transfusion will heal you for 4-8% more health (depending on the current level of Tides of Blood), and each stack also means the next use of Tides of Blood will deal more damage to each target it hits. However, Each stack also means Tides of Blood costs more health to use. If you continue to use Tides of Blood too often in the early game, you will quickly find yourself running very low on health.
The second reason you need to be careful with Tides of Blood is because it is an Area of Effect ability. This means it will hit every single enemy target around you within a range of 620. This can lead to you inadvertently pushing your lane a lot harder than you wish to, and could also lead to you missing out on CS if timed wrong.
Late game, Tides of Blood is capable of dealing a massive amount of damage to all enemy champions at once when cast at a full 4 stacks. It can be a good idea at this stage of the game to continue casting Tides of Blood at least once every 8 seconds to maintain the full 4 stacks even if there are no targets within range of you to hit just so that you can go into an imminent teamfight with Tides of Blood at full power. Just remember to keep your health up by casting Transfusion on any nearby enemy target you can.
I will probably say this 100 times, but this is a real teamfight winner. For 5 seconds, any target afflicted with Hemoplague will take an additional 12% of damage from all sources. So it doesn't matter whether your teammates deal Magic or Physical damage, it is all still amplified by 12%. In addition to this, the ability detonates after 5 seconds on all targets afflicted dealing extra magic damage depending on the level of Hemoplague and how much AP you have for a nice little extra kick.
Knowing when to use Hemoplague separates the mediocre Vladimir's from the sublime, and the only way to get good with this is to practice playing as Vladimir. Usually, the best time to be using it is just as your team engages the enemy. You want to be hitting as many enemy champions as possible with it, as it will inflict every target within a range of 700 from where you place it. If you are only able to hit 2 or 3 enemy champions with it, then make sure they are the most dangerous targets that your team needs to kill first in order to win the fight.
This is the skill sequence I usually go with as standard on Vladimir. However, there is some room for variation.
Firstly, some rules on leveling up Vladimir:
- When a point in Hemoplague is available, you take it. A well placed Hemoplague can hit all 5 enemy champions in a teamfight and swing the fight in your favour with the extra 12% damage they are taking. The second and third points in this ability reduce its cooldown, making it available sooner for the next teamfight. The extra 12% damage can also be used during early game top lane 1vs1 fights to help you secure a kill against your lane opponent should the opportunity arise.
- Transfusion should reach level 5 by the time you reach level 9. Transfusion is free to cast, reduces in cooldown per level, increases in how much damage it deals and how much health it restores to you per level, and is your source of sustaining your health in lane.
- Tides of Blood is next to be maxed, for increased AOE damage.
- Sanguine Pool is last to be maxed, due to having a relatively long cooldown even at level 5, and therefore does not allow you to pump out as much AOE damage over time as what Tides of Blood does.
Now, where can you variate in how you level up Vladimir?
- It is your choice whether you take Tides of Blood or Sanguine Pool at level 2. You should choose Tides of Blood for extra harass on your opponent, and if your opponent is pushing the lane hard. The AOE of Tides of Blood will allow you to push back and stop your tower from soaking up all the cs.
Alternatively, pick Sanguine Pool if you fear an early gank from the enemy jungler, or if your jungler is coming for an early gank, and you need the slow of Sanguine Pool to stop your opponent from escaping the gank.
- You can also choose to level up all 3 skills once by level 3. This will give you the safety of having Sanguine Pool available, but at the expense of less damage, less healing and longer cooldown on Transfusion until level 4
- I like to put an extra point into Sanguine Pool at level 8, instead of Tides of Blood. This is mainly for a 3 second reduced cooldown on Sanguine Pool leveling it up gives you. This then means your escape/tower diving mechanism is back up again a bit quicker after use. There's nothing worse than dying 1 second before you could pool again to save your life!
Flash and Ghost are the main two Summoner Spells I use on Tankimir.
The options of use for Flash are almost endless. These range from (off the top of my head) flashing forwards to secure a kill, flashing over a wall to chase/escape from your opponent, flashing to dodge skillshots. I'm sure there are many more uses as well, but what you need to know is that Flash is almost irreplaceable on Vladimir.
Ghost is my preferred second choice on Vladimir. When you have such a slippery character as Vladimir, with his near infamous Sanguine Pool, selecting Ghost as your second Summoner Spell makes you almost unkillable in lane. It also provides you with an effective ability to chase with, and keep up with your opponent until your purchase of Rylai's Crystal Scepter as well.
Acceptable Alternative Summoner Spells
If you really cannot do without Ignite, then you should replace Ghost with it. While not as effective a Summoner Spell on Vladimir as it is on a number of other Champions, Ignite still has its uses, and would allow you to towerdive sooner alongside Sanguine Pool to secure that first blood should the opportunity arise.
Teleport is another Summoner Spell that has a lot of utility. It can be used to quickly get across the map to defend one of your towers from the enemy, or to quickly get into a fight that would be over by the time you got there by walking. However, with Vladimir not being known for his tower pushing abilities, and when he is also in possession of a key teamfight ultimate, Teleport does lose some of its viability on Vladimir.
Because Vladimir doesn't have any real gap closer, and the only CC he has is the slow on targets under his Sanguine Pool you could use Exhaust to keep your target within range as you attempt to kill them. However, because Vladimir has one of the best towerdiving abilities in the game with Sanguine Pool, it isn't so necessary to make sure you kill your opponent before they reach the safety of their tower, making Exhaust not as useful on Vladimir as the alternative Summoner Spell options.
Cleanse could be a good option for Vladimir if the opposing team consists of a high amount of hard Crowd Control. There's nothing worse than being left unable to defend yourself because you are being hit by a constant barrage of silences and stuns.
Wait ... Where's the Deathcap?
A controversial omission, I'm sure. Personally, I rarely build a Rabadon's Deathcap on Vladimir anymore.
Why no Rabadon's Deathcap?
Because you're Tankimir! That's why!
Rabadon's Deathcap Provides no defensive bonuses, other than roughly 200-300 extra HP from the Crimson Pact AP to Health conversion (depending on how much AP you have overall) for the rather expensive price of 3300 Gold.
Plus, there has also been the addition of a new, cheaper item for season 3 that fits in rather well with Vladimir ...
The Crystal Scepter/Liandry's Combo
I almost think Liandry's Torment was made entirely with Vladimir in mind.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter has long been a standard item for Vladimir. It gives him the slow he needs to stay on a fleeing target and continue to pump out his sustain damage. With the addition of Liandry's Torment to your item build, your sustain damage goes through the roof with a nice burn put onto your target, removing 4% of your target's health per second thanks to the slow you also put on your target courtesy of your Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
Now, just imagine Tankimir nonchalantly walking right into the middle of the entire enemy team and repeatedly casting Tides of Blood...
The addition of Liandry's Torment is probably the main reason why Rabadon's Deathcap is no longer a must-buy on Vladimir. For 400 less Gold, Liandry's Torment will give you a similar amount of HP to Rabadon's Deathcap (when you take Crimson Pact into consideration), +15 Magic Penetration, and a passive that has good synergy with Vladimir's sustain-type of damage output, and that is boosted by the fact that you have already purchased Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This passive makes up for the AP you have lost from not purchasing a Rabadon's Deathcap, and because it deals a % of your target's health in damage, this means that even the enemy's tanks are going to be taking very high damage from you.
Liandry's Torment is also built out of a number of cheap items. The Haunting Guise (which itself is built from a [ruby crystal] and an Amplifying Tome) and an additional Amplifying Tome. This is in comparison to Rabadon's Deathcap, which is built from the relatively expensive Blasting Wand and the extremely expensive Needlessly Large Rod. This means you can often pick up small parts to go towards your Liandry's Torment while in base, instead of having to leave base with 1300 Gold, because you can't quite afford that Needlessly Large Rod just yet.
Spirit Visage or Will of the Ancients?
For me, Spirit Visage is back as the No. 1 Item for Vladimir.
In season 2, Hextech Revolver was often the item you would look to purchase on your first return to shop. That 1200 Gold gave you the lane sustain you needed. This would later be built into Will of the Ancients providing you with an even larger boost to your staying power.
But for season 3, Spirit Visage has received an upgrade! Not only that, but provides the defensive bonuses you just don't get with Will of the Ancients with a rather tasty +50 Magic Resistance. The +20% Cooldown Reduction on Spirit Visage also allows you to bring the cooldown on Transfusion back down nearer to the levels it used to be at before the cooldown nerfs.
In summary, Spirit Visage now gives you the sustain of Hextech Revolver with the Magic Resistance of Abyssal Scepter, coupled with 20% extra cooldown reduction neither item provided you with, and 200HP, which is similar to what Crimson Pact would have given you for the AP of Hextech Revolver and Abyssal Scepter. The only reason to now build an Abyssal Scepter is if you are facing a team that is mainly Magic Damage and you need more Magic Resistance.
That isn't to say Hextech Revolver is no longer viable on Vladimir. But more on this later...
Item Purchase Order
While I have provided what my typical build is, to get the most out of Tankimir, you really have to consider your purchase order based on who your lane opponent is, as well as the enemy team composition.
Is your lane opponent an AD Bruiser? An early Seeker's Armguard will reduce the amount of damage you take from them.
Perhaps you are instead facing an AP Bruiser (Rumble), or you are in mid lane against your regular AP Caster. Then you want that Negatron Cloak and rush this straight into that Spirit Visage as soon as possible.
Is the enemy team composed of entirely Magic Damage Champions? Then forget that Zhonya's Hourglass and pick up an Abyssal Scepter Instead.
Or maybe the enemy team is composed entirely of Physical Damage Champions instead. Then now is the time to ditch Spirit Visage and get that Hextech Revolver instead! Because paying for 50 Magic Resistance you are not going to use is a complete waste of gold. Additionally, you'll want an early Zhonya's Hourglass and may want to later on consider another armour item. ( Randuin's Omen or Sunfire Cape perhaps)
Deciding on whether you are taking more Magic or Physical Damage during teamfights should be what influences your final item purchase as well, and whether you buy an armour or magic resistance item. However, if the other team has a good balance of Magic and Physical Damage, then a Warmog's Armor]] may be your best bet, so you can just take more of both types of damage.
Or maybe you really do want that Rabadon's Deathcap. But I would only suggest purchasing one as long as you already have a very tanky team, and that what your team actually needs is a higher rate of damage output to win that final late game teamfight to claim victory.
Choice of Boots
Your standard choice of boots will be the Ionian Boots of Lucidity. These, coupled with 20% cooldown reduction from Spirit Visage and the 3% extra from the 3 mastery points in Sorcery gives you a total of 38% cooldown reduction. Not quite the maximum 40%, but close enough!
However, this is not to rule out your main two alternatives. Ninja Tabi and Mercury's Treads are also excellent options for Vladimir if you deem them necessary. Mercury's Treads are slightly more viable than Ninja Tabi thanks to the 35% Tenacity they provide you with, and a good choice against a team with a huge amount of Crowd Control.
If your game goes on past the 50 minute mark and you have completed your build, you will want to replace Ionian Boots of Lucidity with either Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads and then keep an Elixir of Brilliance running at all times.
Early Game Laning Phase
The most important thing to remember about Tankimir is that this is not a kill lane. Your intentions are (usually) not to kill your lane opponent, but instead to harass them away from your minions, while securing as much cs for yourself as possible.
Vladimir just does not have the burst damage he used to, mainly due to the longer cooldown on his Transfusion. He is a sustain damage champion, meaning you need a significantly longer amount of time to take someone from full health to dead.
This is a big reason as to why I take Ghost instead of Ignite on Vladimir. Vladimir needs to keep up with an enemy champion to keep pumping out damage with his abilities to kill them. Ghost allows you to do this. Ghost also has the utility that means it has as much use defensively as it does offensively, while Ignite is purely an offensive summoner spell. Vladimir is also one of the best tower divers in League of Legends thanks to Sanguine Pool. Therefore, you do not need to last hit your opponent with Ignite and watch them slowly burn to death under their own tower. You can instead get right in their face, use your abilities to kill them, and then use Sanguine Pool to lose tower aggro and escape safely.
Remember to Buy Wards
Whenever you return to base, you should be purchasing at least one ward. As Vladimir, thanks to his Tides of Blood it is extremely easy to push your lane, even if that is not your intention. Therefore, if you find yourself camped just outside the range of your opponent's tower, you need the safety of a ward in the river to allow you to spot any potential incoming ganks and retreat to safety before it's too late! Like with any champion, if you feed your opponent with easy kills on yourself, you will lose your lane, and quite possibly the game as well.
As I have mentioned, with Vladimir often lacking the burst damage you need to secure kills, your main source of early game gold is through killing minions. It is a good idea to practice last hitting minions with your auto attacks. This frees up the use of Transfusion for harassment of your opponent more often. However, if it is necessary to use Transfusion to secure a minion kill because of a mis-timed auto attack, or because you just used your auto attack to kill another minion, then you should take the CS over potential harassing. Particularly in very the early levels, your auto attack is just as effective to harass your opponent with as Transfusion. While by level 9 your Transfusion will be on a low enough cooldown that it will soon enough be up again to use against your opponent.
Mid Game & Late Game - Moving From The Laning Phase into Objective Securing
This is the part of the game where you need to assess your current situation and decide when is the right time to group up with the rest of your team, effectively leaving the early game laning phase.
There is no set time for this. Each game is different, which is why I am saying that it is you who needs to assess when this is happening.
The most common time for laning phase to end is when either your tower or your opponent's tower has been destroyed. However, you may be required to leave lane to head down to a fight for the first Dragon kill, particularly if your lane opponent is already on their way there!
Once the early game has officially ended, this is where Vladimir really gets his opportunity to shine! I've said it countless times already, but Hemoplague can really swing a fight in your favour. While it's not always necessary to hit all five enemy champions with Hemoplague, you should be aiming to land this on at least 2 of the most dangerous opponents. Also, as Tankimir, it is your job to lead the front line. You are the wall between the enemy and your AD Carry. And you want them to be focusing all their anger at you, instead of the more vulnerable members of your team. Particularly as you have ways to dodge a lot of this damage aimed at you (with Sanguine Pool in particular, and also with the Zhonya's Hourglass active once purchased).
This has been the first guide I have ever written for any League Of Legends Champion. I chose to do Vladimir because he was one of the first champions I ever really enjoyed playing as, and also because the way I am building him in Season 3 is a bit different, due to the lack of a Deathcap.
I hope within this guide you have now gained an understanding of how you should be playing Tankimir, and also why I feel that Rabadon's Deathcap is no longer a vital purchase for Vladimir.
Any criticism, both what you like and what you don't like, is welcome. And I will look to add to this guide and update it in the future if there are any additional sections I see as being beneficial to add, or if future patches cause changes in the way I play or build Vladimir.
Perhaps if there's enough positive criticism, I'll consider writing future guides for some of my other favourite champions.