Poppy Build Guide by FinalFan
Not Updated For Current Season
Not Updated For Current Season
Threats to Poppy with this build
|Zed||You are the anti-AD caster with your high natural armor and burst-defense passive, which might as well be designed to make Zed cry. Meanwhile, your Q will do significant damage to him. Just avoid taking more harass than you have to and make sure to trade any time when he's in autoattack range.|
NOTE JAN. 31, 2015
I haven't been on mobafire in a long time and I'm just here for a little while today. I'll be going through the item paths on the builds but I don't have time right now to comprehensively update the main article. Please keep that in mind and thank you for your patience! I hope to be able to get this compliant with the current game soon.
Preface and Acknowledgements
There are many Poppy builds out there, some 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 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 introduced what amount to "chasing boots", which makes it a little harder for Poppy to disengage from ADCs packing Furor. However, Poppy is still extremely fast.)
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.
- With health potions and mana regen items early on, and lifesteal/spell vamp later on, you won't have to return to base nearly as often. Once you get the Hextech Gunblade, attacking jungle camps 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.
- Wave Clear (lack of): 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 arguably 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.
- Magic Resist: Poppy does not have scaling magic resist at all. If you do wish to build large amounts of magic resist, Spirit Visage is probably the best defensive choice. Mercurial Scimitar and Maw of Malmortius are good offensive choices. Poppy is vulnerable to DOT (damage over time), which is found on many magic damage champs, because it tends to bypass her passive's defense.
- Cost of Build: Poppy tends to have a very expensive 6 item goal build. This means that you'll rarely play a game that lets you complete it, but you won't have to worry about getting super fed, getting 6 items, and having nothing to do with your gold!
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 (hybrid) Poppy is just as good on Dominion as an AP build.
I have a Dominion Poppy build in this guide, but it is not as thoroughly tested since I tend not to go AP Poppy very often. For a more in-depth view of Dominion AP Poppy, check out my guide here.
Skill sequence: since speed is so important on Dominion, Paragon (W) is very tempting; 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 is very well suited to Twisted Treeline, in my opinion, as a champion. 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 as much about those "over the wall" escapees. Meanwhile, you have your Ghost skill, your Ghost summoner spell, and your dash/wall-stun.
Defense-heavy masteries are still effective, but less necessary when you have more starting money to get defense and/or movement items. Moving to 13/17/0, 21/9/0 or 21/0/9 adds significant damage potential. It's your call.
If you go defensive, I recommend the following runes (Marks, Seals, Glyphs, Quints): AD, Armor, M.Res/level, Movespeed. If you go offensive, I recommend AD, Armor, CDR/L, Movespeed. (If you have reason to believe your enemies are going AD heavy, feel free to go AD, Armor, Armor, Armor.)
For items, you still want to rush Trinity. Start with either boots, crystal flask, and maybe red pots; or boots, sapphire crystal, and 2 red pots. Get Sheen first unless you need Merc Treads. Get Chalice, then rush Trinity. Gunblade next unless you need defense. Defense items: whatever the opponents call for (see main item section).
(NOTE: When I make comparisons between quintessences and other runes, I assume a 3:1 ratio is effective equality, since you get 3 Quints versus 9 each of the others. For instance, Health quints are almost five times better than seals, so I would say the quints are better than seals; but hybrid penetration quints are only twice as good as marks, so I would say the marks are better than the quints.)
MARKS: ATTACK DAMAGE, HYBRID PEN, others
Flat AD will help the most for early game last hitting, but it also helps trade damage. Hybrid armor/magic pen (hereby dubbed HYPEN), conversely, is better for trading damage but also helps last hitting. HYPEN also scales better, of course.
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 have historically been 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.
I have not yet gauged the effectiveness of the new armor seals versus (for instance) health regen per level, so for now I am sticking with that recommendation in lanes with mostly physical damage.
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, or armor if you want to go the tank-support route.
Mana regen seals (per level) could be helpful but seldom a better choice than armor or health regen. Flat health is also not too bad, though health seals are outperformed by Quints.
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 to help sustain; after the nerf I've switched over to attack speed quints and haven't had a problem adjusting. I'd say the choice is up to you.
here are some examples of mastery setups that can work for various purposes:
13/17/0 (Solo top +AD/hybrid for better last hits/damage)
I could go on—-the standard 9/21/0 obviously could work as an in-between of the 13/17/0 and 0/27/3--but you get the idea. Feel free to come up with your own tweaks that work with your playstyle or preferences. In deciding on mastery selection, I think it helps to compare the points to the equivalent runes. Compare Quintessences against 3 mastery points, or a single point versus 1/3 of the quint.
0/27/3 is good IMO for Poppy solo top/mid to help her early game. The health, regen, damage reduction, and disable reduction are all extremely valuable. Keep in mind, however, that you are sacrificing some AD and other offense by doing this; nevertheless, Poppy's late game usually takes care of itself.
However, in a lane where you don't feel the odds are too much against you, 13/17/0 is really attractive. Poppy's autoattacks already hit really hard, and with all those AD runes and masteries your enemies will really feel every hammer blow. It also all adds to your Q, of course.
In a duo lane, IMO the utility tree or offense tree will serve you better than the defensive tree. 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 0/9/21, but 9/0/21 is another option. With the appropriate runes, you start the game with the equivalent of a gold generating item! You could also go 0/27/3 if you think you will "support" by absorbing damage.
In Dominion, I recommend 21/0/9. 12/9/9 is another option giving a little more defense.
In the jungle, 21/5/4 is another option. It's up to you if you want to risk not having health masteries in exchange for movement speed, but in any case I'd definitely put points in regen.
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.)
THE FOLLOWING IS OUTDATED INFORMATION AND IS LEFT HERE ONLY BECAUSE I AM FUNNY LIKE THAT. REPEAT, THE FOLLOWING IS NOT CURRENTLY TRUE AND IS ONLY FOR HISTORICAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES.
IMPORTANT GANKING TIP:
Poppy's dash overrides other movement, including Flash. Let me give you an example: You sneak behind the enemy mid and dash at them to push them at your mid, away from their turret. After you've charged them (but before your charge has completely finished pushing them), they hit Flash to put themselves on the other side of you, close to their turret. But it's too late! Your dash drags them back to where you were going to push them, rendering their Flash nothing more than a fancy lightshow. Harvest their bitter tears.
There are two main ways I believe Poppy can be jungled: getting good mana regen for jungle Q-spamming and then rushing Trinity; or rushing Blade of the Ruined King and relying more on autoattacks instead of spamming Q. Either way, the Spirit of the Elder Lizard is IMO the best upgrade of the Stone for Poppy; however, Wriggle's is a non-Stone possibility.
(Wriggle's Lantern used to be completely awful on Poppy, but the new Wriggle's is viable because the attack speed synergizes with her strong autoattacks. However, getting it delays your damage items significantly, and it also gives no mana. If you are determined to get Wriggle's regardless, obviously you should get it first thing for its bonuses. You may not need lifesteal if you have the quints, but you will need to either be extremely careful with your mana or get Chalice of Harmony or Tear of the Goddess to keep your mana up (see Items section for details). Get Trinity ASAP after Wriggle if you are going to build it at all, which you probably should. Otherwise, maybe Blade of the Ruined King. 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 can get a smiteless start from your team, you can go straight to red, then gank an adjacent lane if possible; if not, no problem, go back to jungling.
You have several options when jungling, and I think any of them can work depending on what you want to do:
—Blue with team aid, then straight to red, then either gank or keep jungling depending on gankability;
—Red with team aid, then straight to blue, etc.;
—Blue with team aid (or without if they're dumb), then wolves or big wraith, then the red side
Of course, regardless of "optimal" times to gank, it's more of a question IMO of how much the lanes are likely to need it or benefit from it. Just keep an eye out and try to predict what the lane will look like when you would arrive there, and ask your lanes if there are wards, and where.
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 lower health. HOW low I leave up to your judgment, based on the enemy's counterjungling potential. 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.
You always want to start with W because of the combined damage and defense boost, and the fact that you only use it once per camp, saving you mana at level 1. Only take anything else if it's necessary for a level 1 fight. I've seen people start with Q and it is doable but in my opinion the level 1 damage difference is not worth the mana you spend.
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. Also take E second if you think the enemy jungler might try invading, for defensive purposes (wall stun them and run away, or possibly kill if you have help incoming).
Stealth Ward, Health Potion
You may not 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. (Red is safer to attempt to steal wardless IMO, but a ward still helps.) The point is, you will be glad you bought one when you had some spare gold, trust me.
BOOTS: All three of the following choices are solid boots to shoot for as jungler.
Boots of Mobility I haven't gotten these much in the past, but it's obvious how they can help you roam around faster to help gank and so on.
Boots of Swiftness These boots give a more consistent speed bonus both in and out of combat, and mitigate slows as well.
Mercury's Treads As always, these boots are a solid choice to avoid getting locked down by stuns, silences, etc., which Poppy is fairly vulnerable to.
Berserker's Greaves These are the cheapest upgraded boots, and give a decent attack speed boost. Could be worth it if you want to upgrade your boots early while also maximizing your jungle clear speed, and you are building AD items that would synergize with the attack speed. They would work best if you are rushing Spirit of the Elder Lizard but I wouldn't recommend these if the enemy has a lot of CC.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity CDR is great on Poppy, but it doesn't really help you jungle that much faster IMO if going OOM is already your biggest limitation.
Jungling (Trinity rush) (recommended)
Hunter's Machete Health Potionx5
Spirit Stone Boots of Speed
You can either manage your mana carefully, or get the Chalice or Tear of the Goddess. I usually get the Chalice. After Spirit of the Elder Lizard, get Trinity Force.
Blade of the Ruined King vs. Hextech Gunblade
Both of these items are great on Poppy. But basically, just get whatever you think you need after Trinity. Consider how you and your team are doing and what the specific game calls for. BotRK obviously has more jungle speed if you are having to watch your mana, and it is probably a little better for ganking with, but the Gunblade is probably stronger in teamfights due to the spell vamp and resetting cooldown.
Jungling (Blade of the Ruined King rush)
This is a build that focuses on a way to get through the jungle at a decent speed without mana-guzzling Q spamming, while having good ganks by way of BotRK's speed-absorbing active (which helps Poppy even more than most champs). If jungling is all you care about, you can just go with Wriggle's.
With a BotRK rush, I might try maxing W and grabbing the attack speed component first. The strong autoattacks and armor should mean that your (faster) autoattacks should sustain you fine with your life steal quints. WARNING I have not tested this at all recently; consider this theorycrafted and not ranked-tested.
Hunter's Machete Health Potion Health Potion Health Potion Health Potion Health Potion
Spirit Stone Boots of Speed Dagger Dagger
Maybe even a third Dagger to put into boots or Zeal later on.
Blade of the Ruined King
Spirit of the Elder Lizard Trinity Force
As you can see, the goal of this build isn't too different from the Trinity rush -- just with a different rush, obviously.
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 are quite 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 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 simple 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 gives 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 she is actually quite good at last hitting. 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 usually only if you've taken +AD masteries or the minion has been damaged a bit by other minions. 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 mention this elsewhere, but it's worth repeating. 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 Flask and red pots 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. The fact that potions are so useful for Poppy is a big incentive to buy Crystalline Flask, but that decision is up to you.
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.
Sheen is core on Poppy. She has low base mana and the damage proc might as well have been designed to work with her Q. Poppy will have good offensive power with any of the items that build from Sheen. Trinity is my favorite, but Lich Bane is great for going AP, and Iceborn can be a good choice if you need armor and don't feel you need Trinity's movement speed for who you're up against.
I also strongly recommend getting an item with Tenacity -- Mercury's Treads is generally the best source of this for Poppy. The only situation where you should not get Tenacity is if the enemy just doesn't have enough CC that Tenacity reduces; if they only have knockups and slows, for example, you could get +3 (anti-slow) boots. Zephyr is very nice, but usually if you want Tenacity you don't want to wait until you have money to spare on building Zephyr.
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 might rush Spirit Visage. If you need wave clear, then you can rush Tiamat.
Crystalline Flask Health Potionx3
I believe the cost for health regen equalizes after 10 red pots (and then you'll have gotten a bunch of mana for free). I currently advocate the Flask for most matchups. If you win the lane hard, you can trade aggressively and use the free pots to get health and mana back while they are suffering. If you are getting hammered, the free pots and maybe a regen item will give you great endurance. I'd only recommend NOT getting the Flask if for some reason you think the lane will be so passive you won't get in enough skirmishes to need to burn enough pots to justify the cost. In that case, you could start with boots, or a Doran's item.
Cloth Armor, Health Potionx5
This is a fairly standard starting buy when facing heavily AD focused champs like Tryndamere. However, I do NOT recommend this on Poppy. This is because if you have a dedicated armor runepage, and take W at level 1, you already have about 75 armor with W at full stacks. I believe that Crystalline Flask's free potions will help you more than an additional 15 armor if you are worried about your defense.
Start with Cloth/5 if you're facing Gangplank, Tryndamere, Riven, etc. and DO NOT have a special armor runepage equipped. (Flat AD reds, armor yellows, armor blues, armor quints.)
--If you're facing Olaf, 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 Flask/3 (or boots/4 or double rejuve/3 if you don't like the Flask), following up with Warmog's Armor or Tiamat. At this point you should be all right for health and regen and can buy Sheen (or Hydra) for better trading/damage to fight back. With Sheen and maxed Q you should be able to hit him as hard as he hits you, and more often. (Or Hydra, I assume, but I haven't actually tried Hydra vs. Olaf. it seems to me that the high regen and high damage theory should be the same, but it's a more risky build because you don't have the high health buffer of Warmog's. On the other hand, you will get your damage a lot faster, so if you do win, you'll win harder and faster.)
-- Darius is worse than Olaf, because instead of being a huge threat due to a single 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, 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. If you do, don't let him harass you too much; only get into fights if they are to the death, because Teemo would like nothing more than to whittle you down over time. Teemo's squishy, so if you and/or your jungler can catch him you can probably kill him. Get magic resist and health regen and lots of pots. Merc Treads and Spirit Visage will help significantly. Alternatively, you can rush Tiamat to clear waves faster, and it also gives regen. This can help against Teemo in particular as he can disrupt your normal slow-but-sure last hit protocol much better than other champs. Rumble isn't as bad, since he can't as easily harm you or disrupt your farm, especially under your turret; but be very very careful in this lane not to give him the chance to kill you. Try not to let him get too much free damage on you, but also try to keep farming. You will be able to outdamage him later.
Boots of Speed, Sheen
If you manage to get an early Sheen, you can bully a lot of champions by just smacking them with Q anytime they try to farm; the damage will be really huge and not many champs can take that kind of punishment for long. The only question is how bad their counter-harass is and whether your mana can last. On the other hand, if the early Sheen tactic fails, you are liable to be in a worse position than if you had bought defensively, so be careful when making this choice.
Chalice of Harmony
If you are using your skills a lot, you will probably want to pick up a mana regen item since Poppy is really mana hungry. I almost always prefer the Chalice to the Tear of the Goddess, but I'll compare them and let you choose.
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. Even the substantial mana pool of (for example) Frozen Heart is often insufficient to support spamming in a long teamfight without extra mana regen; a Chalice upgrade will solve your mana issues. 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? Nevertheless, Mikael's is considerably cheaper than AUG and the heal + CC cure is extremely tasty. You can use it on allies as well, but it's very tempting to save this puppy for yourself -- use it near death to abuse your passive. This can lead to some incredible baits. Still, 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 defensive heal. The mana is better on AUG, largely due to the mana bonus on kill/assist, although you really shouldn't have mana issues with either item.
The other option for slaking your mana thirst is Tear of the Goddess (to upgrade to Manamune). Its mana pool gets pretty huge, which makes up for the lesser regen. This item will pay off when/if you achieve its final form of Muramana, giving you a lot of damage. You can see it as the offensive counterpart to the more defensive Mikael's, with AUG in the middle. Just keep in mind how long it takes to achieve the final form of this item.
Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force
Trinity Force is core on Poppy. It might as well have been designed with her in mind. It gives a little bit of everything and she uses it all well, especially the rather large damage proc. Mercury Treads isn't quite as must-have, but hard CC can really ruin Poppy's day so mitigating it is usually a high priority if the enemy has a lot of it.
Hextech Gunblade OR Blade of the Ruined King
After that, I normally get the Hextech Gunblade. The BotRK is another option, giving much more attack speed and a stronger slow (it also speeds you up), but no AP and no spell vamp. More autoattacks, but smaller Qs. Your call. If you do get the HexBlade, it's up to you whether you get Hextech Revolver or Bilgewater Cutlass first. All else being equal, just get the biggest piece you can afford when you recall.
Once you've finished Hextech Gunblade (or BotRK), you've finished your core build. These items are what you really should get before anything else unless you specifically needed magic resist, armor, or health. (Or Tiamat for wave clear, etc.) 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: Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade, Mikael's Crucible OR Athene's Unholy Grail, (two other items)
See item list below for offensive and defensive items to consider after achieving core build.
THE DREAM - RUNNER POPPY:
Boots of Swiftness+ Enchantment: Alacrity, Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade, Phantom Dancer, Zephyr, Mercurial Scimitar
(Eleisa's Miracle, shown in the cheat sheet above, was an upgrade to the old Philosopher's Stone which would eventually turn into an aura, freeing up the item slot. Basically, a permanent boost to your health and mana regen, if you were willing to spend money on it.)
AD HEAVY ENEMY
Ninja Tabi/ Mercury's Treads, Trinity Force, Hextech Gunblade/ The Bloodthirster, Frozen Heart, Mikael's Crucible, Warmog's Armor
VERY AP HEAVY ENEMY:
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 almost never buy Zephyr. It's a great item, when complete, but it just doesn't shine on Poppy while still under construction. And if I want Tenacity, I buy Mercury Treads; if I don't, Zephyr isn't as attractive. Very few games go long enough for me to spend the money on trading Mercs for Zephyr or Zephyr+Swift.
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 at most 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):
Talisman of Ascension: Speed boost, HP/MP regen, HP, cooldown reduction ^
Mikael's Crucible: Massive mana regen, MRES, active heal + CC cure
Athene's Unholy Grail: AP, MRES, COOL, massive mana regen
Randuin's Omen: HP, armor, reduce enemy atkspd when hit, active*
Maw of Malmortius: AD, +AD at low HP, shield at low HP vs magic dmg**
Mercurial Scimitar: (QSS upgrade) AD, MRES, active cleanse + speed boost**
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%*
Guardian Angel: ARMOR, MRES, rise from the dead ##
Ravenous Hydra: AD, lifesteal, big HP regen, AOE autoattacks, active, & lifesteal
Manamune: Mana, damage, activates to use mana for extra damage#
Void Staff: AP, 40% MPEN ###
Infinity Edge: AD, Crit%, CritDmg=250% -- goes with PD for massive attack
Phantom Dancer: AS, Crit%, movespeed, ignore unit collision
Guinsoo's Rageblade: AD, AP, AS on-hit stacks, LS/SV/AS when low HP
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 don't have AUG, Mikael's, or Manamune, try to take a blue buff whenever your AP carry is not around (even if you have Frozen Heart).
^ Formerly Shurelya's Reverie, this item used to be recommendable for any lane Poppy was in, but is now suitable only for support because of the build path. But it's great if you are supporting as Poppy.
* Generally speaking, Randuin's is better than Frozen Heart for defense, as it gives only a little less armor but also has a lot of health, while also having a great active. Frozen Heart gives more consistent utility; it adds mana and CDR, and the atkspd debuff helps your team instead of just you. Frozen + Warmogs would be kind of like a Randuin on steroids, but that combo is expensive and takes a long time to build. If you don't want to spend the money on the Chalice and its upgrade, shooting for Frozen Heart will keep you from running OOM too fast (and skipping Mikael's compensates for the cost).
** Malmortius gives more AD than the Scimitar, almost as much MRES, and a clutch shield that the Scimitar doesn't; but if anyone on the enemy team has a suppress or especially desdly stuns, the Scimitar's cleanse is the better choice. And you get a lovely little speed boost with it!
*** Spirit Visage: For a Poppy looking for defense, this is the best way to get magic resist. The health is good, the CDR is good, and the passive will help improve your pots' potency, make Warmog's regen truly massive, and boost your Hextech Gunblade and Mikael's Crucible healing. Good for facing an enemy team whose main threat to you is magic damage. The MRES of this item is matched only by Banshee's Veil, which is inferior as far as Poppy is concerned (see note at bottom).
# 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/CDR for more damage.
## I generally prefer Frozen Heart or Randuin's Omen to Guardian Angel, but there are 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 much more likely to be better for Poppy, especially if you have a lot of additional health. IMO this item will almost never be the best thing to build on Poppy.
Example of unusual item/skill choices due to game circumstances
I was top lane against Renekton. He is in my experience quite strong versus Poppy early game, because he can push easily and do very strong harass if you go to farm. (He can stun you and slice and dice, making it very hard to retaliate, and heal up on minions.) I started Flask and 3 potions, and got Philo stone first (this was season 3). I was usually at my turret because of Renekton's good wave clear and intimidation, but I was keeping up in farm OK because Renekton can't do much to me under my turret. I decided to max W for more armor and AD for last hitting and resisting his harass. Both sides' junglers came top a few times (the enemy Zac when I wasn't at my turret and our Jarvan when I was). Then Renekton turret dived suddenly with his ult. Jarvan was coming up the lane so he jumped in but enemy Katarina jumped in without warning and ulted as well and we both died. Then our Zed came up hoping to get a kill in revenge but he died pathetically.
At this point any hope of winning lane was gone, in fact the turret was pretty low by then. My only hope was to rush Tiamat (I was going to do this even before this disaster) to get some wave clear of my own so Renekton couldn't pin me to my turret and then roam freely while I was last hitting 30 minions. I won't describe all the other lanes and teamfights but the gist is that Renek would push the lane very hard and go pressure stuff with his team and I would play catch up.
I had Mercury Treads and, I think, Sheen before Tiamat, but then I rushed the complete Ravenous Hydra. Then I got Shurelya's for the speed boost to help me in teamfights (I was able to shut down Katarina), then I got Trinity because Trinity is really Poppy's strongest possible item.
After that, I went for Spirit Visage, not only because the enemy team had a lot of magic damage, but also because I had a lot of health regen as well as Hydra's life steal. I would have got Hextech Gunblade as my final item but the game ended before I did so. (We won. I was 12/6/6 after starting 0/2/0.)
Normally I'd get Hextech Gunblade - and Trinity, for that matter - much earlier in the game, but at every step of the way there was a good logical reason to get something else. I needed Tiamat to counter Renekton's pushing. I needed Shurelya's speed boost more than Trinity's general-purpose awesomeness. I needed Trinity because Trinity. I needed Spirit Visage because it worked better with the items I already had. (Also, Shurelya's speed boost made up somewhat for lacking Gunblade's slow, and Hydra's life steal made up somewhat for lacking Gunblade's life steal and spell vamp.)
It's also proof that losing your lane doesn't mean you can't do good work for your team. I shut down Katarina at a key time in the teamfight that marked the end of their dominance over us and lived long enough to kill the enemy Sona as well. (We didn't dominate them yet, but we stopped reeling from lost battle to lost battle.) Once I got Trinity, I was one of the biggest threats on my team (and I continued to take out Katarina and the enemy Tristana) and after I got Spirit Visage I was probably the most dangerous one to them. A lot of that income was due to my ability to use Hydra to quickly farm top lane which Renekton and I were pushing back and forth a lot.
Mid lane & bot lane
I have had success with Poppy in every lane. Top lane and jungle are what this guide focus on, but I will take a little time here to give some tips on mid, support, and carry bot.
Poppy is susceptible to harass from ranged AP mids, but with magic resist and resist per level runes (I have flat quints and per level seals and glyphs) and plenty of red potions you should be able to hold up pretty well and farm. In some cases you can actually out-farm your opponent because they are more focused on harassing you than on last hitting. After you get Sheen you will be able to counter-harass; you hit squishies so hard it may only take a few exchanges to make them recall or vulnerable to a gank or solo turret dive with your ult. Max Q, then E: being able to wall stun more often is a lot better than more armor and bigger autos in mid.
If it's Swain or Malzahar, be very careful: they are strong against you. Ganks help a lot, especially vs. Malzahar. (If he ults your jungler, I believe you can interrupt his ult with your charge; if you ult HIS jungler, his ult does nothing.) Conceivably you could see Teemo mid, and it's just as bad as top lane.
If it's an AD mid like Talon, Zed, or Kha'Zix, relax. Your high armor and burst defense passive are very strong against champs like this. Abuse the fact that they can't damage you very much to win trades early game. Later on they will try to just wave clear and roam, so don't let them get away with that ****.
You are a combat support obviously, you have no heals and only the one CC/peel: your E. You can push an enemy away from your ADC, or pin the enemy to a wall for your ADC to kill, but not both; your partner must be able to know when to commit and when to not overcommit. Caitlyn is a good partner because of her escape tools and good range, but several ADCs work with Poppy. But one that has little or no self-defense like Miss Fortune may not be the best choice.
Don't forget to ward. And not just the river: side bush control is really strong for Poppy because of her wall stun threat. See the Warding section below.
It's not meta, but Poppy can really mess up the enemy ADC with a healer support. As melee versus range, you are at an obvious disadvantage initially, but your high armor and the support's heals make you practically unkillable unless you do something pretty stupid. Buy a few potions to supplement their healing if you have to. Later on (post 6, pre-11) you at some point will become able to win trades with the ADC by charging them and using Q, even if you don't get a wall stun. When you get an opportunity, ult them and blow everything—the enemy support can't do anything but heal the enemy ADC or attack your own support! It's almost a 2v1, and Poppy is able to easily win duels with almost all ADCs. Good supports for this are Nami, Soraka, Taric, Sona, and so on. Nami and Taric have heals and excellent stuns, while Soraka can easily keep you supplied with mana as well as health.
I have seen some 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.
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. 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 only pure 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. In my opinion, for the purpose of solo laning W is probably the most balanced choice, having decent defense (+15 armor when stacked), a decent speed boost (mainly for escaping), and also significant damage (+15 AD when stacked).
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 are likely to 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 another .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 (60-80) but points in it also improve cooldown times (12-8).
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, for example the walls around Baron or Dragon. 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 very hard to reliably set up, but shoving them into a minion wave has a chance of a "bonus" stun.)
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 (12) does NOT improve with points invested, but the mana cost SCALES anyway (70-90). 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. (The nexus death laser will still kill you but turrets will not.) However, you cannot ignore enemy terrain like Anivia's wall or Trundle's pillar. They will stop you as normal unless you bypass them with Heroic Charge or Flash. Diplomatic Immunity also improves ALL damage you do to the skill's target by 20-40%, including (for example) 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 dies. The cooldown improves with points (140-100) and the mana cost remains at 100. Aside from the obvious uses, like 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 that would prevent 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.
OTHER THAN GHOST, WHAT SPELL SHOULD I TAKE?
Poppy can get good use out of quite a selection of spells, in my opinion.
Ignite's true damage is overvalued by many players IMO, but it's still quite strong. Also, it counters certain champs' special abilities like Volibear's passive and the ultimates of Singed, Mundo, Sion, etc. It used to ALSO benefit from your own ultimate. 20% to 40% more true damage? Yes please. Sadly, Riot said "No please." Since then this has been more of a spell that I take against certain champs instead of as the default.
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. The recent buff to this spell has made it much more attractive to me; I'm using it regularly as of this writing instead of rarely as before. The speed boost really helps escape sticky situations or even secure a kill. Removing Grievous Wounds can also make a big difference if you have a potion ticking. Heal is very good for supporting, though Exhaust is tough competition. Some ADCs will run Heal so you can run Exhaust.
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 Hextech Gunblade, 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.
If you're supporting, the ADC will often want you to have Exhaust to help them win a fight in lane, and you can still use it late game to murder the ADC.
Barrier gives a shield that is bigger than Heal's health boost. 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 it wears off. I'd say that Barrier vs. Heal is a judgment call based on personal preference, your opponent, 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 need 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 be overkill, but can you ever really have too much mobility?
Wards save lives and get kills. It's really that simple and 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.
Poppy also has a special reason to like wards: there are a lot of bushes next to walls. There are a lot of champions hiding in bushes next to those walls, walls that are just begging for you to WALL STUN someone into them. If you are playing support Poppy, which is a real thing, DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR WARDS.
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 enemy jungler isn't lurking nearby 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.
This section will discuss champs that I find particularly troublesome to face as Poppy, and also champs that I routinely wipe the floor with. 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 kill him, his blind can protect him, and his mushrooms 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 against him. Try to swap lane or just don't play Poppy that game. If you do end up facing Teemo, don't let him harass you. The best time to fight him is when you have built a bit of damage and you've just got back to lane (full health and mana) -- fight him TO THE DEATH and you have a better chance of winning then if you let him kite and harass you. But don't run into any shrooms that let him escape, or, worse, stop you from escaping a fight you're going to lose.
Darius is actually not as bad IMO, but still extremely dangerous. He has a fairly long ranged harass, heavy magic DOT that applies on his autoattacks (making armor less effective against 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 since 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 whatever marks, HP/5 per level seals, MP/5 per level glyphs, and flat HP/5 quints. For items, start with Crystalline Flask, or 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. If you want to fight back, you can get Tiamat instead and still have great regen, but be wary of your lower health pool! Either way, your Qs will still do respectable damage if you trade with him. If you get ganks, great; if not, farm away. Get Sheen and Chalice after Warmog's and/or Tiamat for stronger Qs and better spamming (of Q). Then, finally, get your Trinity Force.
What TYPES of champs is Poppy strong against?
As I said above, "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, Poppy is naturally going to do well against champs that rely on AD nuke skills. Such champions will find themselves doing very little damage to Poppy, while Poppy can do a lot of damage to them. Even if they push Poppy back they won't be able to kill her because of her armor and passive and potions.
What are some EXAMPLES of champs Poppy is strong against?
Talon and Zed are AD assassins that rely on their burst damage to kill their foes. This simply doesn't work against Poppy unless they have a huge advantage on her or she is very low health. They are melee, so Poppy can use her Q on them when they try to farm, and then they find out that her Qs really, really hurt. The only hard thing about laning against Talon is catching him when he uses his ult to run away! Another example of champs you can shut down pretty hard is Nasus. he Qs minions, you Q him -- it doesn't end well for him. Nasus is tankier and has more sustain so it's not as easy to shut him down, but if you do he's pretty helpless to stop you.
Anything else I should know?
Having a natural advantage against these types of champ doesn't automatically mean you win, just like I don't automatically give up when I face Rumble, Darius, or even Teemo. It just means you have an advantage. You still have to play smart. But you can still get away with some ridiculous stuff and call it "smart" because you lived through it and they didn't, with these foes.
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. I am only Gold elo, not Platinum or higher; but on the other hand, I've risen from Bronze to Gold on the back of Poppy. 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 and turret hugging but that is just one part of it. Running into and escaping tricky situations is a specialty of mine. Early in my League career I was on a team with voice chat and they saw me scouting the bot lane side bushes before minion spawn -- 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.