Varus Build Guide by ValiantGW
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.
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.
Howdy! Welcome to my guide for Varus, the latest champion from Riot. This is the first guide I've written on any champion, so please feel free to leave your feedback - it's greatly appreciated! As Varus is still very new, I won't be considering this guide complete until I've had a chance to really play around with him. For now though, this is what I feel works best when playing him as a bot lane AD carry.
P.S. A huge thanks to JhoiJhoi, whose epic guide helped to create this one!
Pros & Cons
+ Excellent AD carry
+ Amazing range on his Q
+ Great sniping potential
+ Very useful passive
- Low base attack damage
- Somewhat reliant on skill shots
- Slow movement speed
Standard AD carry masteries. I've chosen not to go with Veteran's Scars and instead opt for Summoner's Insight to boost my Flash - those 15 seconds can sometimes save your life! Of course, Veteran's Scars is a good option if you'd prefer an extra 30 HP over a 15s cooldown reduction on Flash.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
I like to use Greater Mark of Attack Damage for the extra 9 AD you get. Early game, this is crucial as Varus's base attack damage is only 46 at level 1. You may prefer to use greater mark of desolation, however I don't feel this will benefit you as much early game where runes can make a big difference and Varus will have a lower AD. If you find yourself in need of more armour penetration during a game, consider building an item with armour penetration instead.
Greater Seal of Armor are great for upping Varus's survivability, especially when faced with another AD carry in bot lane. There's no other runes I'd recommend for this space.
I've always used Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for increased survivability against mages and such, which will give you a large resistance early game. Late game, however, these runes aren't as effective as using Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist, so you may want to consider taking these instead. If you opt for the Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and find that late game you are taking heavy damage from AP, it's worth building an item to combat this.
Similarly to your marks, I feel Varus benefits most from increasing his early game AD - so I recommend using Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage.
Flash: Flash is a great utility spell and can be used defensively and offensively: you can flash over walls to escape your death or flash towards enemies to chase down that kill.
Heal: Heal is making a comeback; I've only recently begun using it on my AD carries but I already think it's a great spell to have. Like Flash it can be used defensively or offensively: you can heal to prevent your death or use it after a successful turret dive to potentially save yourself.
Ignite: Ignite is another good choice to use on Varus. Primarily it's there to help you finish off an enemy that's managed to escape - though you can also use it during a fight to help prevent an enemy from healing out. However, I'm of the opinion that if you're any good at skill shotting, Varus's Piercing Arrow should be your sniping tool to finish off an enemy that's running away (though there are of course scenarios where this won't be possible).
Exhaust: Exhaust is another viable spell that can be used to shut down your enemy temporarily, helping you to escape from them or ensure they can't escape from you.
Ghost: Some people prefer this spell to Flash and I can see why. Ultimately, it's down to personal preference on this one.
Teleport: Whilst I don't recommend this spell (especially if you're in bot lane where Varus shines), it does have its uses if you're forced into mid or solo top for some reason. It'll help you get back into lane after recalling so you lose minimal XP, minion kills etc.
Clarity: If you're having problems with mana, you're spamming your skills too much. In the sections below I'll attempt to explain when to use your skills and when not to.
Smite: Varus as a jungler? Not in this guide.
Revive: Simply put, it's just not worth it.
Surge: I can see why some people are attracted to this spell, especially if they're new to the game. On Varus especially though, you can increase your attack speed temporarily simply by killing a minion, thanks to his passive Living Vengeance. The spells outlined above will give you more benefit than this one.
Cleanse: Cleanse is only ever truly useful if you have the ability to cast it as soon as you are seriously affected by a debuff - otherwise it's a waste. Most people can't/don't do this, so it's not worth taking.
Clairvoyance: You're not playing support, are you? Best leave this one for others.
Promote: Realistically, this is a waste of a summoner spell. Minions are there to be killed, not made into demigods of their race.
Garrison: We're not playing Dominion are we?
Here I'll explain a little about my item choices for Varus and some situational items you may wish to employ. Remember: you should never follow an item guide directly as each match is different. You should be attempting to adapt to each situation, as explained below.
These are the items you should be building almost every game, regardless.
I always start off with a Doran's Blade because it gives a boost in three key areas: AD, life steal and health. Varus benefits greatly from the 10 AD due to his low base AD, and similarly the 80 HP helps with survivability. If you're having a bad game, you may want to consider taking a second one of these to help you out - they're relatively cheap and effective.
These boots are the beginning of your ability to dish out some serious DPS. Remember: Blighted Quiver deals damage upon each hit and the faster you can apply 3 stacks of Blight, the faster you can then detonate those stacks with another ability to deal some serious damage. You should buy these boots on your first recall - try and save going back until then, unless it's vital (i.e you're on extremely low health whilst your bot lane opponents aren't). You may also want to consider a few Health Potions to keep yourself in lane longer.
After your boots, next you'll want to start increasing that fairly low AD - at this stage, most of your damage comes from Varus's abilities rather than auto-attacking. By building this early, you're going to not only increase your AD to help get those kills but also your survivability from the lifesteal.
Now it's time to start dealing out that DPS. This item's what will eventually build into your Phantom Dancer; getting a Zeal at this stage gives you increased attack speed, crit chance and movement speed which will allow you to catch up to fleeing enemies and finish them with a victory snipe.
After you have bought a Zeal, look at how your game is going. If you're dying a lot, being focussed or feel you could use some extra health, consider buying a Giant's Belt before your Infinity Edge, which you can later build into a Frozen Mallet.
This item is important for almost any AD carry like Varus, giving you a large crit chance bonus (25%), a unique passive to increase critical damage by 250% and to top it all off, some increased AD too which will benefit us nicely at this stage. Getting this before you finish your Phantom Dancer will ensure you have a consistently high AD score, which is important for when using your skills.
Finishing off this item will be the cherry on the cake; your crit chance will increase to 55% and you'll get a little more attack and movement speed to round off your ability to take down enemies.
I highly recommend this item in almost (if not every) game you play as Varus. It provides much needed survivability in the form of health, as well as a little more AD and an item passive that will slow your enemies right down, allowing you to finish them off if they run away. Since it's not absolutely crucial to building a good DPS Varus, it hasn't been included in the core items list.
Once I've completed the core build, including a frozen mallet, very often the game is already over in a normal 5v5. If you do make it this far, however, Guardian Angel is a great item if you're finding you're still squishy and the enemy team is focussing you down during team fights. The passive on the item will allow you to get back up after being focussed down and get a second chance to take down those enemies! Similarly, have you been in a 1v1 and left the enemy with very little health? Just get back up, chase 'em down and fire off your Q!
If you're facing heavy CC or AP damage, this is the item to build. During team fights you'll negate the first hostile spell that would affect you, allowing you to survive longer and take down whoever's in your way. The health and mana boosts are also a welcome bonus.
vs If the enemy begins to build armour, building either of these items will help you to cut through some of that to deal more damage. I prefer using a Last Whisper because your Q will also benefit from the armour penetration, whereas with a The Black Cleaver you need to 'charge' up the armour penetration by auto-attacking first to get the full effect. That said, buying a The Black Cleaver will allow you to apply your Blight quicker, but its usefulness will be determined by how much magic resist the enemy has.
More situational items to come as and when I have time to test them.spaaaaaaace
Learning when to build your situational items is a skill you'll acquire through experience and practice as it all depends on what's happening in each game - no one game is the same. Here's a rundown of some general rules and tips:
- If things are going 'normally' during laning (i.e. you've got a few kills, pushing fairly well and haven't died or have died only once/twice) then it's probably worth following the order of items shown at the top of the guide. If once you've finished your Infinity Edge you're doing well, continue on and get that Phantom Dancer. If you think you're facing one of the situations outlined in the previous part of this section, build the appropriate situational item before finishing off your Phantom Dancer to help ensure your survival.
- If things are going great during laning (i.e. you're heavily positive, enemies in your lane fear you and you have 0-1 deaths) then there's probably little need to consider buying a survivability-based situational item before you've finished your core build in the order shown above. Beware though that if you begin to be ganked or focussed down and start to die, or can no longer kill 3+ people on the enemy team due to tankyness, switch immediately to building a situational item and then return to finishing your Phantom Dancer if you haven't already completed it.
- If things aren't going well, you've got some important decisions to make. Will your team benefit more from continuing to improve your DPS through core items or switching to items that may help you to survive longer in fights and have a chance at getting some kills (thereby earning gold to buy on core items)? Unfortunately only you can make this decision - just learn to recognise when building through all the core items first might not always be best.
Skill Sequence & Using Your Skills
Coming soon! This area requires a fair bit of researching and writing up; I've decided to put this guide out without this section for now so that I can get some feedback on the overall concept of how I've chosen to build Varus.
There's a few crucial things to take away from reading this guide:
- The items your build are completely situational
- Survival is as important as DPS
- You're the carry - so make sure you're always present to carry the team along.
I'm still in the process of completing this guide, but if you like what you've seen so far please +1 it to keep the guide updated!
Thanks for reading,
Changes made to this guide (UK date format):
18/5/12 - Items order updated in response to feedback. The section on explaining Varus's abilities is coming soon, I promise!
13/5/12 - Summary updated
12/5/12 - Added more situational items & tips on when to build them
10/5/12 - Readability for 'items' section updated
9/5/12 - Guide published