Jarvan IV Build Guide by Priam

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Priam

The Submachine Gun

Priam Last updated on May 19, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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There are a lot of good Jarvan builds out there, so chances are you already know the pros and cons of Jarvan. No sir, what you are looking for is how to fix up your game a little.
Look no further.

Jarvan is many things, an off tank, an initiator, a light duty carry, and a bruiser. Of all of these it's the last that comes most nearly to the mark of how this guide will teach you to use him, for Jarvan is really a sub-machine gun set to burst fire.
He's not the strongest, nor does he do the best damage, but there is nothing in the world for ruining an enemy team like J4.

In this guide I'm going to assume you have some familiarity with LOL and don't need to be told when to ward, and where, or how. I'm also assuming you read the highly rated Jarvan guides before this one, so you should know what to expect.

With that, let's get to it.

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Runes & Masteries

As a burst mode damage dealer there is only one option: go all in for offense, which is why we select the runes, masteries, and spells that are going to cause the most hurt. A secondary concern is to stay alive.

Greater Mark of Desolation and Greater quintessence of Desolation together with and means that you are going to be starting a game with 31 flat and 10% armor penetration, which is true damage to champions like Ashe. Keep in mind however that just about everyone will do the same to you.

As to the rest of our choices:
and and means you will start with an extra 26.7 armor.

and makes for an extra 5.35 magic resist at level 1 and 28.3 at level 18,

and means 36 extra health at level 1 and 136 at 18. Not too bad.

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Summoner Spells

Ignite is a must. It's damage scales with your levels, does true damage, and prevents healing. You will frequently find your opponent running in the early or middle game while your abilities are on cool down with you wishing there was a way to do that 100 extra damage to finish them off. Problem solved.
Ghost is useful for ganking. Nothing works better for picking off an enemy champion than streaming in at 100 miles per hour when that Veigar has slightly extended himself. It also is aided by Summoner's Wrath . Get this if you jungle.

Flash is useful for tower diving. A short hop across the tree line gets you out of the turret fire immediately after you picked off that low level health Riven. It's also useful for chasing after enemies across gaps, or leaving a Cataclysm if something when wrong. Select Ghost or Flash depending on your style of play. For myself, the slight edge goes to flash.

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Item Instructions

Since we are building Jarvan as a burst fire champion, we need to increase his movement, damage, life, and resistance, in that order. We would also like to do it for cheap since every gold spent sooner means an advantage over enemy champions, but unfortunately those two things aren't very compatible.
The best way I've found to do this is to trade off: health, movement, resistance, movement, damage, health, resistance, damage, etc. Below I have included my favorite build, the core of which I would not suggest you deviate from unless you have a good reason to.

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Item build order

Start with Regrowth Pendant and Health Potion (and I'll just say this once, get pots and wards when you need them, as you need them). Most Jarvan builds are going to have this as your number one item simply because it's the best for holding a lane. If you need life it's as simple as stepping out of the action for a few seconds.

When you get enough gold push the lane a little and go back for the philosopher's stone and Boots of Speed because the stone accrues gold and the boots are a must have. If you are doing very well you can jump straight to your Mercury's Treads which are a must have for almost every game.

When you have more gold make a return trip for the treads- I cannot emphasize enough that movement is combat. Those boots are going to do wonders for your ability to get in and out of trouble. While you are here also buy one or two Long Sword in preparation for the The Brutalizer which is going to do wonders for your damage, being that it adds 25 straight away, and 15 armor reduction. The cool down reduction is just a bonus. This one is worth going back for as soon as possible.

Now save your cash, and purchase Chain Vest, Ruby Crystal, and Giant's Belt together. This is the most dangerous time for you, so play smart here.
Exception: if the other team is really magic damage heavy you may skip the crystal and get a Negatron Cloak instead.

Now buy that Warmog's Armor and kiss the days of your mortality goodbye. That extra 1250 life is going to let you walk away from just about every scrape you get into, and it will be what saves you in team fights late game.

Follow it up with an Atma's Impaler and you have a good critical hit weapon that adds 50 bonus damage later in life.

That's it for the must haves. Health, regen, damage, armor penetration, and cooldown reduction are now ours in abundance. At this point let me say that even if you are 0-4-1 at this point it's okay. Your core item build really is going to make that much difference, and you will likely finish 8-5-12. Never give up! Never surrender!

So this is our core build


And here things are going to get tricky, because now you have to use your own brain. Evaluate the enemy team and pick the best combination of armor and magic resist to counter them.

In most circumstances you will want additional armor and health. That means Randuin's Omen is your best choice or Sunfire Cape (if you want to pretend to be Singed) in your remaining slot.

In many cases you will also want a magic resist item. Sell your Stone and buy a Force of Nature. If you don't need a high resist too badly and want to hit harder buy a Maw of Malmortius instead.

Now upgrade to Youmuu's Ghostblade and you are finished (Remember to turn it on before the fights!).

If the game runs long replace your boots with an expensive, high damage item. I recommend Trinity Force.

Now you've got the equipment, runes, and masteries, it's time to move on to the reason you picked Jarvan: skills.

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Martial Cadence is essential. Your damage output from normal hits isn't great, so this is going to help a lot.

Dragon Strike is the one we max first for two reasons: it grants increasing armor reduction and damage to enemies with decreasing cool down times as your level goes up. That's key for our playing style, because after you E-Q combo you can use this as soon as it's ready and not lose any time for another E-Q hit.
At level 5 is does a great job of softening up minions as well. This is all you need to clear that wave of minions successfully. Dragon Strike the line as them come at you, then it's one hit each.

Demacian Standard is helpful at high levels for doing a very modest amount of damage. It's useful to drop from the sky like you are kog maw, but it's real benefit is in the armor and attack speed that is shared by your team. Use it also to travel through trees to escape, up hills, or to make that last burst of speed to the tower to avoid their gank.

Golden Aegis sucks for us. Let's face it. It's mana intensive, doesn't block much, and has a high cool down. The only time you should be using this is to aid in a chase scene, or when you land in the middle of the enemies (more on this later). For a burst fire Jarvan it's clearly our weakest skill.

Cataclysm does a minor amount of damage but has the happy effect of causing you to jump at the target and cage them. That's what this one is for: it's terrain effect. You can trap them in range of your turret, or near a carry, or just get them to use an escape or flash. Don't use it on a ghosted enemy and always try to use it after a Dragon Strike to maximize it's damage.

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How to use your Skills

In general, keep a modest distance between yourself and any target until you are ready to engage. This is going to put you in the safe zone from any ranged champions.
When you see an opportunity to land your combo on them and safely retreat then pull the trigger, keeping in mind that you can do this only three or four times before your mana is exhausted.
Your whole combo will take 3-4 seconds to execute.
  1. Begin by landing your Demacian Standard slightly behind the enemy when they are already inside your range.
    (Note: you take a finite amount of time to travel on the E-Q pull effect, so if you try to travel to the end of your range they will have walked away from your second hit and it will be wasted.
    Also note: if they are moving and dancing a lot - land the flag almost entirely behind where you expect them to be.)
  2. After the flag lands, not while it's in the air hit Q to Dragon Strike and pull yourself towards them. You will have stunned them for roughly one second and dropped their armor.
  3. Hit them with your Martial Cadence while they are stunned.
  4. Normal hit them while they are stunned.
  5. Run. Use Golden Aegis to cover your escape, or Flash if you are desperate.
    I mean it, run, get out. Their retaliation is coming and it will really hurt, so don't be there when it happens.
  6. When their health is getting lower or your Cataclysm is ready, start the same way, but after your martial cadence hit give them a Cataclysm, and be sure to use Ignite.
It's that simple. You fly in, hit hard and fast, and get out. You do not stay and fight because most champions are going to do more damage than you, or have more life. Do not trade blows with them! This is George Foreman vs Muhammid Ali all over again. Float and sting. Now, having said that there are three exceptions to running after a burst:
  1. They are very low on life, and two or three more normal hits will finish them.
  2. You have a Youmuu's Ghostblade and they are trapped in a Cataclysm with you, and their life is low.
  3. They turn their back on you to run. Unless they are almost dead be smart, get two or three extra hits in and then let them go.

Assuming you followed my recommended item build, are playing against someone with health similar to yourself who gains 5 armor every level, and are following the instructions for burst mode, you can expect to see the following results:

Level EE Damage EE Damage w/ Ult
10 EEEEE 788 EEEEEEE 971
11 EEEEE 806 EEEEEEE 1094
12 EEEEE 820 EEEEEEE 1099
13 EEEEE 979 EEEEEEE 1251
14 EEEEE 994 EEEEEEE 1258
15 EEEEE 1014 EEEEEE 1271
16 EEEEE 1025 EEEEEE 1376
17 EEEEE 1045 EEEEEE 1383
18 EEEEE 1061 EEEEEE 1389

So if you know their life, and the damage you will do, you can make a snap decision whether to engage or not.

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Understanding the burst method is pretty much all you need to do, but to really take your game to the next level there are a few other things worth mentioning.


While bursting is always the way you fight, there is a special case 1v1 against a melee champion, and that is to abuse your Martial Cadence. It's pretty straightforward:
  • Stand near the front of your wave, close to your minion with low health.
  • When they go to last hit it for the gold, hit them. Because they have already committed to hitting the minion, you are safe.
  • Back up.
Do this every six seconds and you will see their health evaporate. Make sure they are in line when you Dragon Strike the line of minions for an additional bonus damage.

Matchups fall into one of three categories, easy, medium, and hard. In general the rule is if your opponent heals between the burst periods you are going to lose the fight. That means Warwick, Olaf, Yorick, Dr. Mundo, Tryndamere, Renekton are going to really make combat difficult for you. The exception to this rule is Alistar, Trundle, Garen, and Taric because they don't hit very hard, and you can continually harass them with your Dragon Strike. If your jungler is willing to help, you can edge them out, otherwise try to poke them with your Dragon Strike from a safe distance and only initiate fights near your tower. I might also put Xin Zhao and Pantheon in here because these two don't just hit hard, they hit really hard.

The opposite case is true, if your opponent not only doesn't heal but has low life, you will have a correspondingly easier time of it. Talon, Twisted Fate, Vayne, Akali, Fiddlesticks, and Teemo make for so much fodder because while we respect their power to do damage, they don't respect ours. You should not have much trouble here.

If your opponent is similar to you, Sion, Mordekaiser, Wukong, Nidalee, Riven, Shyvana, Jax, Fiora, Udyr then the battle goes to you because they won't be hitting you nearly as hard as you hit them. They will hit you, and it will hurt, but be patient, as the odds are in your favor.

Once you have them killed, and you have the life and mana, make a run to the middle for a gank. You can often get really good results from a quick visit, which gives you some much needed gold early on.


Believe it or not the best place for Jarvan is actually the middle, against such weenies as Karthus, Morgana, Viktor, Xerath or Ziggs. This is because they are playing the game to farm, get minion kills, and focus on mana regen and ability power, while you are focusing on killing them. It's not even a close fight if you burst properly. But you are probably not going to get a chance to do this unless it's to hold the lane temporarily when you come down for a gank.


Sometimes you have a jerk who just won't let you have the lane, and that Amumu won't let up. Don't panic, Jarvan does well bottom, particularly when paired with attack damage champions like Twitch, Caitlyn, Tristana, or Miss Fortune.

The thing to do is hide in the bushes and remember that the stakes are higher and the engagement is deadlier. Unless you have a Soraka you are going to get killed very quickly. On the other hand, one burst and some cooperation from your partner is the end of them as well. Be cautious and judicious about jumping at them and you will do just fine.
Unless of course Ashe takes every last hit. Then you are going to be gold starved and will have a real up hill battle because while ashe sucks late game, you do not.

Team Fights

Jarvan is the consummate initiator. When you see all 4 or 5 of them grouping up and your allies are nearby waiting to engage, lead them to glory. Aim for the one with the weakest armor if they are not grouped together and let them have it with a burst fire, minus the Cataclysm and the second normal hit. Then turn on Golden Aegis and forthwith run for your life. When the five of them come out of stun they are going to have one target: you, so if you don't get out as soon as possible you are dead. When your Demacian Standard has about 4 seconds left on the cool down it's time to re-engage.

At this point your next move is going to depend on what's going on, but in general you will want to come back to the fight and stay behind your carries and let them engage next. Use them as bait and let the enemies spread out the damage amongst your team so that you can come out of this alive.
  • Is one of your carries taking a beating and now running for their life while being chased? Before they die, burst their chaser, trap them in a Cataclysm and have the carry turn around to help finish it.
  • Does your team have a lot of stuns? Don't hesitate to try and trap as many of them as possible inside your Cataclysm. Veigar I'm looking at you here. Follow it up with a burst and flash out if it gets too hot.
  • Is there only one or two enemy carries? Burst them again and give them both barrels this time, then run.

That's it. You know everything you need to.

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Don't. This isn't the build for it.
No really, don't.
In a typical off tank build you will be strong enough to trade blows with an opponent, which means that you can face off well against creeps. In burst mode you penetrate armor, and creeps don't have armor.
You still want to jungle? I'd just recommend starting with Cloth Armor, and building it into a wriggles lantern instead of a philosopher's stone. Get Ninja Tabi instead of Mercury's Treads, then The Brutalizer, lastly build out as normal with emphasis on magic resistance.
Max your Demacian Standard first instead of your Dragon Strike because you will want the additional attack speed and armor.
But still, don't say I didn't warn you when you finish 3-2-8 rather than 12-4-13.

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Don't again.
Summoner's Rift is a gentleman's game, a nice easy give and take of friendly exchanges where you have the time to burst fire and back up.
The Crystal Scar is an ugly knife fight in a muddy pit, where you really can't take your time as much.
But I know you want to try it anyway so here is the best I can do:
Start with Boots of Speed and Prospector's Blade and head north. After you capture the windmill and have enough cash, head back for your The Brutalizer and boots 2.
Next, buy a chainmail vest, some magic defense, and aim to get Zeal and yomumuu's ghostblade as soon as possible.
Thornmail is more or less totally useless in the other arena, but here, where everyone has to normal hit to kill you faster, it could save your team the game. Consider getting it or Sunfire Cape next, along with some more magic resist, like Force of Nature.
Now build out your Trinity Force.

Make good use of the health stations, stay in the bushes as best you can or out of site when going bottom to help gank.

When pushing a line hit the minions for gold. Even though you are a conspicuous presence you will be helping your minions pick up momentum and keeping them busy.

When defending a tower E-Q the first person that comes to capture it, then walk away from them. Dragon Strike the second person, and Cataclysm the third. If you can't get help at that point your team deserves to lose the turret, so get out before you die.

You know the rest.

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Last Words

My person best with this style is 25-2-15.
I expect you to do better.
Good hunting out there!