Udyr Build Guide by Infinitive
Not Updated For Current Season
Not Updated For Current Season
Considerations for Patch 220.127.116.11
Good news, everyone! Udyr has been buffed!
Patch 18.104.22.168 contains some very nice quality of life buffs for Udyr. Namely: reduced mana costs across all ability levels, and severely reduced ability costs at low levels. This makes your early jungle much easier, dramatically less dependent on blue golem, more resilient to counterjungling, and puts you in position to gank much better. It's not everything that Udyr really needs to excel, but it's an awfully fine start.
The better news is that Udyr is apparently on the dev's radar screen now; if these buffs aren't enough, more and better have been promised.
What is Udyr?
Udyr is pretty much the definitive bruiser-a champion which is designed to dish out a boatload of punishment while taking some in return. He's one of the best junglers in the game. He, at later levels, can make a passable imitation of an Assassin, but he is by no means an Akali or Xin Zhao. He's not quite a carry, but he's not an early-game champ either: he gets dangerous at 5th level, and gets really dangerous around 11th. He is, in short, the second guy that you want in any fight, the one charging in right behind the tank.
What isn't Udyr?
Udyr isn't a tank, and anyone who says otherwise is simply wrong. Allow me to qualify this statement.
What makes a great tank? Someone like Shen, or Rammus, or Amumu? Well, the champion should be tough, deal reasonable damage regardless of items, and should be solidly disruptive. Udyr certainly can fulfill the first two of these conditions-especially with items, he can be very tough and will deal reasonable damage. However, he simply is not very disruptive: a single-target stun on a 6-second cooldown which is linked to your attack speed just doesn't represent a significant disruption in a teamfight-even the game's tips advises players to simply ignore a tanky Udyr. He's hugely disruptive in a 1v1 fight, but that's not what you need a tank for.
So, what should be the build goal of a good Udyr?
A good Udyr should be able to take a hit or two, even if he can't take eight. A good Udyr should be able to smash other champions liable to be in melee: tanks and other bruisers, and occasionally some melee-style glass cannons like Akali. A good Udyr should be able to stay in the fight once he's broken off any focus on him. A good Udyr, ultimately, should be the champion that sets up and/or finishes other melee fighters with the support of your ranged carries, either AD or AP. You can 1v1 well, but that's not your role-you're not Yi or Nocturne.
Monkey's Agility: A passive which is moderately handy in the early game and enormous in the late game, Monkey's Agility gives you outright late-game superiority to most other melee AD champions; passive dodge is just huge, to say nothing at all about a 30% attack speed buff that's always on when you need it. For reference, five points in Jax's Counter Strike only grants 18%. You get Agility without spending a point.
Tiger Stance: This, ladies and gentlemen, is where your damage comes from. The initiation aspect carries with it a gargantuan amount of damage-it scales with your entire (not bonus) attack damage at a 1.7 times ratio. For reference, that's 104 damage at first level, plus 30 bonus, without taking a longsword. By the end game, it's awfully easy to hit 425 damage plus a bonus 230 base. Moreover, at high levels, this stance gets you about 1200-1500 gold worth of free value in attack speed, just as its passive effect.
Do remember that Tiger's activation ability deals magic damage, not physical. That fact alone makes Archaic Knowledge worth taking. More importantly, it means that Tiger Stance can help you crack a tank who's been stacking armor, and that the activation effect can't be dodged by a pesky Jax.
Turtle Stance: Lifesteal, mana regen, and a damage shield. What's not to like? Turtle stance is what lets Udyr jungle early and saves his bacon in big team fights late.
Bear Stance: Disruption and a big move speed buff. Great. After third level, though, it turns into winmore, since you're faster than your targets anyway at that point. No need to waste build points.
Phoenix: The second damage stance, Phoenix's coexistence with Tiger has given a lot of good Udyr players a lot to argue about. It's great but, ultimately, a support DPS stance: we'll see why when we get to some math later. The five-second AOE damage aura and that bonus AP and AD from the stance's entry is great, though. The three-hit cone proc is a trap, though.
The inevitable Tiger Vs. Phoenix section
So, Tiger or Phoenix? Both-each feeds the other, and if you're not getting focused in a teamfight, Phoenix can add an awful lot of damage to the party. Still, nothing drops people like a Tiger activation. The tension comes because the two stances want different things: hard AD for Tiger, which is blah at best for Phoenix, and AS for Phoenix, which will be wasted to the AS cap when you go into Tiger. Why both then? The short version is that Phoenix feeds Tiger. The long version is more complicated.
So, in an optimal world, you want to be able to hit an ability each and every global cooldown: this gets you the most effects per second, and in those big fights, the more time you waste just standing around autoattacking, looking for that cone, the more DPS and disruption you lose. Think of it this way: if you have an AS of 1.5, which isn't uncommon with a few Agility stacks and coming off of Tiger, you have to just sit in Phoenix for two full seconds to get bonus damage. You, in essence, have to give up a full stance entry for that con-that could be a 200 damage shield and some bonus HP. That could be a one-second stun. That could be a single-target nuke for 400-600 damage. Making that trade for 125 damage in a small cone that you can't control and which won't be enhanced by your item build is just a bad idea-you'd have to hit 3-4 targets with it to break even compared to Tiger stance, and that's not on a single, hurt target.
However, the stance is worth using, and worth maxing out. Hitting that button gets you 250 AOE damage. Hitting that button gets you 48 AP and 24 AD for a few seconds, which increases your Turtle shield by 24 and your Tiger nuke by 41. That's a great payoff for one second of global cooldown. It's just a miserable tradeoff for two seconds.
Desolation: Armor Penetration is good enough for both your red runes and quints, but you already knew that, since you know that Udyr deals almost all of his damage as physical damage. Move along, nothing new to see here.
Evasion: Dodge is good, and dodge that stacks well with your passive is great. If you're against a physical team and you buy Ninja Tabi, you can get up around 27% dodge. Last I heard, that was good.
Focus: Cooldown Reduction, to a certain point, is really good for Udyr; I'll enumerate this below. The short version is that Focus runes plus a Brutalizer drops over a second off of your cooldowns; after a Golem buff, which you'll often have, you're looking at two seconds off, which is a magical number.
Shielding :If you don't dig Focus, I understand. Shielding runes fix a big hole in Udyr's growth progression, which is his MR progression.
Start with Wriggle's Lantern. This should come as no surprise, but it's still absolutely the right start, under any circumstances. As a bruiser, Udyr needs a little bit of AD and survivability early, and as an auto-attacker, he needs Lifesteal. The proc is just icing on the cake, and the free ward is the cherry on top. Wriggle's is so good for Udyr that he'd want it if he weren't a jungler. Merc's Treads should follow, unless you're facing a hard AD team, in which case you need Ninja Tabi. The same justification follows here as for Wriggle's. You need the MS, and a little more survival.
After your opening two items, you want Last Whisper, which is one of the highest overall damage-to-gold items in the game, and will make you extremely resilient to being countered-the more money they spend on armor, the more value Last Whisper amasses. Even against relatively low armor totals, the armor penetration on Last Whisper is still going to be a significant chunk of added value for you. For reference, if your target has 80 armor (squishy), 33 will be dropped by your runes, leaving 47; 19 of that will be chipped away by Last Whisper, leaving only 28. In short, Last Whisper is excellence approved for all ages.
At this point in the build, things become context-dependent. If you're taking a lot of hits, defense up with Banshee's Veil and/or Thornmail. If they're ignoring you, build damage, depending on your overall build; The Brutalizer is still great, even paired with Last Whisper, if you're going the CDR route. Alternately, ramping into a Bloodthirster is going to add an awful lot of damage to your Tiger burst, and will put your lifesteal very high. In either situation, a Spirit Visage adds a chunk of health, great CDR, and now stacks with all of your Lifesteal! A fully stacked Bloodthirster+Turtle+Wriggles=63% Lifesteal; Visage bumps it to a whopping 72%. At that point, you're going to be very, very hard to kill once you're in combat.
I don't generally recommend building your Brutalizer into a Ghostblade anymore, unless you've literally got nothing else to do. Despite the great active on Ghostblade, you just don't gain very much for the added 1300 gold you spend to buy it. This'll leave you one open slot for Wards; alternately, you could just fill it with another AD item if you want.
Why no Banshee's Veil?
Because you generally don't need it. If the other team is full of ranged nukers and stunners, get it instead of Brutalizer or Spirit Visage. Mostly, you don't want the stuns; it's not really worth your gold if you're just fighting champions like Akali, who deal damage without stuns and such, since the bubble pops on the first attack. In essence, Veil is great if you need to run, or to win a 1v1 against someone like Ryze or Mal, but it loses value in a teamfight where you can be significantly focus fired.
So, where the heck is Sheen?
Well, I've gone back and forth on Sheen, as anyone who's been looking at this guide for any length of time has probably noticed. Since I last updated this guide, someone pointed out to me that Sheen only increases base damage; I feel like something of a herp derp for not noticing on my own; I guess that'll teach me to take a few months off and miss and important item change. With the 22.214.171.124 changes added to that, Sheen just is no longer particularly relevant for Udyr.
Sheen adds 100% base damage to one attack every 2 seconds. At level 18, for Udyr, that's 101, giving us 50.5 damage per second at best. Factoring in Sheen's cost (1260 gp), we get 1 damage per just about 25 (24.95) gold per second. That's reasonably efficient... but we can do better. If we just look at The Brutalizer, for instance (1337 gold), we've got 25 base damage, 10% CDR, and some ArP. The base damage, once we factor Udyr's Tiger burst (and being generous there with a 5.4 second cooldown, factoring in only The Brutalizer's), we have an effective DPS boost of about 33 damage. With a 1.5 speed attack (pretty easy), that 33 base damage becomes 49 damage, and then becomes 1 damage per 27 gold per second, without counting the Armor Penetration (impossible to do in the abstract, as armor is constantly variable)... at all levels, not just 18.
It used to be that the bonus that put Sheen over the top was the bonus mana that came with it; in our brave new world, though, you're looking at 45-40 mana cost spells by the time that you get Sheen, instead of the 55-65 cost spells previously. The difference adds up very quickly. As a result of this, almost every component of Sheen has become dramatically less relevant, to the point that it, now, should never be a part of an Udyr build.
The fact that Trinity Force is even less efficient leaves it right out.
One of the interesting changes in 126.96.36.199 was a substantial buff to Infinity Edge, not exactly an item I'd've singled out as needing a buff. However, this means that it is an exceptionally efficient source of attack damage-in fact, the second cheapest fixed source, on a per-gold basis, in the game now, after only the barebones B.F. Sword. If that's attractive to you, buy one by all means. It's only about a thousand more gold than the Cleaver. Be aware, though, that you're going to lose significant value on it because neither your Tiger Stance activation nor your Turtle Stance autoattacks will benefit from its crit or unique passive.
An item that has floated around the periphery for Udyr ever since Innervating locket vanished is Manamune, and for the same reasons that it's so fantastic on Corki and Urgot: Udyr is an AD champion with some mana issues who spams abilities. As such, Manamune should be a perfect fit, right? Well, the problem is this: if you're jungling, you've GOT to have the Lantern and your boots first, no matter what. No time for the Tear. After that, you need to catch your DPS up a to the average as fast as you can; almost any other item is a more attractive buy at that point than Manamune. By the late game, you've lost your main game chances to build up the 1000 mana bonus that makes it worthwhile.
See the problem?
It CAN work, though. If you get stuck laning, in fact, it can be an outstanding first item buy! Since, in laning, you don't need Lantern as pressingly now, it can get you a large chunk of Udyr's most important stat for a very low price. Remember, at level 18, with a full Manamune buff and a Sheen, Manamune is worth a massive 72 damage, at a rock-bottom low price of only 29 gold per damage, making it by FAR the most cash-efficient attack damage item in the game.
If you can get it early. If.
What's with all the cooldown reduction?
We've already observed that in an ideal fight, Udyr wants to hit a button every single opportunity. With no cooldown reduction, this is out-and-out impossible, and represents a DPS loss. Secondly, we know very well that a big chunk of our DPS comes from the Tiger activation, so it logically follows that more Tiger activations = more damage. Still, I'll show my work.
If you hit Tiger once per 6 seconds, at level cap and with the item build listed above, you're looking at about 655 damage per 6 seconds, or 109 DPS. If you get the blue golem buff (17.5% CDR), you've got a five second cycle, which means you could just press Q-W-E-R repeat, accounting for the GCD and reasonable latency; this boosts the Tiger proc to 131 DPS. If you've got CDR runes and a Brutalizer on top of that, you can move on to Q-W-R-Q-E-R Repeat (assuming a Bear Charge initiate), which bumps the Tiger proc to 163.75 DPS. Upgrade Brutalizer to Ghostblade and you're up to 182 DPS; it's an exponential gain until you hit the cap. For comparative purposes, you'd need another 77 AD to match the damage bonus you get to the Tiger activation just for the first 10% of CDR and 257 AD to match the full 40% CDR. I know it's an apples to oranges comparison, since I'm not figuring autoattack damage, which is a messy thing to calculate because it depends on your AS. Even assuming a 1.5 AS, which is a bit generous but compares well against the 40% reduction, the math is as follows. 4 attacks in 3.5 seconds plus a larger Tiger proc means that you'd have to buy and charge a Bloodthirster to roughly equal the damage gain that you get from a Ghostblade, some runes, and the blue buff. Last I checked, Youmu's Glostblade is an awful lot cheaper than Bloodthirster, and doesn't lose stacks on a death, and this all doesn't count the armor penetration of the Ghostblade. And yes, I know that you could just get a Bloodthirster and the Blue buff, but in doing so you've just proven my point for me: CDR is great for Udyr.
Since you can get the CDR you need alongside to a solid AD/ArP build (as a jungler, you'll very often have the blue buff), it's not very smart not to. The only tradeoff is a mildly less robust MR; play smart and you can minimize your vulnerability.
So... jungling and laning...
Udyr is a great jungler. Buying Cloth Armor, 5 pots, and going double golem to wraiths to blue golem to wolves to lizard to whatever is a well-established curve that nets you a great leveling curve, respectable amounts of gold, and all the other well-established bonuses from jungling which have been well-documented elsewhere. I won't beleaguer the point. Regardless, it bears mentioning that a 5-6th level Dragon kill is enormous, and Udyr can solo it the moment he has a Lantern or at least Razors and some lifesteal.
So what do you do when you get paired with some obnoxious Nocturne who tosses out a "I jungle or I afk." and won't budge after you picked Udyr? Well, it's a common misconception that Udyr cannot lane. That's not true. Udyr DOES have a beast of a time laning against a good ranged character, but he can lane solidly. The first order of business is to get into a lane with another melee champion. Your Bear represents a brutal threat to such Champs, and popping into the stance and pretending to charge will often result in the defending champ running, and maybe even using an ability or summoner spell to do so. Just pop over into Tiger stance and take out a couple of minions before they muster the courage to come back to the front line and you're back to skirmishing. This works particularly well against early-level tanks, and is great when you have a laning partner that can really punish a player for ignoring your stun, like Ryze, Corki, or Mal. It's worth noting, though, that Lantern is still worth getting if you're laning, just for the stats and the fact that the lifesteal applies to the proc, randomly granting you a bunch of bonus life off of the lifesteal when you're smacking minions around. Sometimes it's even enough to just heal through hits from ranged Champs who've focused on survival items early in the game and can't nuke very well yet.
Ghost: Always, and more. If you really need to get the heck out of dodge, Ghost plus Bear means that nobody's going to catch you, even with charges, flashes, and Ghosts of their own.
Smite: If you're jungling, take it and love it. It keeps your leveling curve quick in the early game and is randomly useful later on.
Exhaust: If you're not laning, Exhaust is pretty darned good. It'll turn most 1v1 slugfests in your favor, and can help you catch a fleeing champ before they reach the safety of a tower. The range is what makes it great, where Phage is lackluster.
Ignite: It works, certainly, if you're laning, and Tiger DOT plus Ignite represents a lot of damage to a fleeing champ. Still, it feels a lot like winmore, killing a champion that you've already beaten.
Not too bad:
Flash: Flash is a common pick for many champs, since its terrain-hopping properties are well-documented and awesome. On the other hand, it's a short range dash and is on a long cooldown. Often, when I use it and I get away, I feel like I would have made it anyway, and when I don't it was because Flash didn't give me long enough of a dash. As for chasing, it's an awful lot better for ranged champs than it is for melee, and you've already got Bear Stance anyway.
Clairvoyance: Map awareness is good. Someone on the team having Clairvoyance is good. Nothing is sweeter than ambushing the other team at Baron. Two people having Clairvoyance is kind of blah. Also, a couple of gold gets you a ward instead, which lasts a lot longer.
Everything else. Most for self-evident reasons.