Varus Build Guide by Heydon
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.
Varus AS/AP/Blight Spread
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.
Malady is gone, but in its place is now the updated Nashor's Tooth. Without the MR shred from Malady the build has changed its focus from MPen into a more standard AP build. This change provides AP/AS Varus with a very large power increase though. Even though more costly, Nashor's Tooth provides much much more than Malady. On top of the 5% AP increase to Auto-Attack damage, you get more AP (+35) and a huge chunk of CDR (20%). The buffed Nashor's Tooth synergies with Varus better than Malady did.
I always love playing non-standard builds. AP Varus was one of the ones I enjoyed the most. It was fun to surprise people with the amount of burst damage he would do with Blighted Quiver procs. When I saw Runaan's Hurricane in the Season 3 items, I immediately thought of Varus and after playing a few games, I've found it to be pretty solid. Spellsword and the new Malady are just icing on the cake <3.
I'll work on this guide and add/update/change as I can.
Pros / Cons
+ Mixed Damage
+ Deceptively High Damage
+ Healing Debuff with Hail of Arrows
+ AoE Slow through Hail of Arrows
+ Long Range Sniping with Piercing Arrow
+ Multi-Target Snare from Chain of Corruption
+ Maximum HP % Based Burst with Blighted Quiver
- No Natural Escape
- Very Susceptible to Assassin Type Champions
- Living Vengeance Steroid Requires a Kill
- Chain of Corruption Unreliable Except Against Primary Target
- Full Burst Potential Requires some Setup
- Long Cooldowns
Pros / Cons of This Build
+ Superior, Consistent Multi-Target Damage
+ Maximizes the Potential of Blighted Quiver
+ Spreads Blight Easily with Runaan's Hurricane
+ Extreme Burst though Blight Procs
+ Chain of Corruption Hits like a Truck
+ High Cooldown Reduction for more Blight Procs
+ Allows for Non-Standard Mid Lane
+ Diving Enemy Tank Champions Generally Build HP and Armor
- No Sustain
- Weaker Early Game
- Less 1v1 Potential than AD Build if Chain of Corruption is down
- Requires AD Damage to be Covered by Your Teammates
- Your Allies Might Complain
Some Final Numbers
Since the build is so different, I thought I would showcase the damage potential of this build. Here are some final damage numbers for you at level 18 with full build + elixirs.
9,520 Core Item Gold Cost
8 Armor Pen
5|8% Magic Pen
293 (100 + 193) Damage Auto Attack to Primary Target
110 Blighted Quiver + 17 Spellsword + 66 Nashor's Tooth
253 (60 + 193) Damage on Runaan's Hurricane shots
799 Damage Potential Damage per Auto Attack
688 Magic Damage on Chain of Corruption
12%/36% Maximum HP Damage per Blighted Quiver stack/max stacks on proc
Full Build(With Elixirs)
15,915 Item Gold Cost
8 Armor Pen
5|48% Magic Pen
410 (100 + 310) Damage Auto Attack to Primary Target
175 Blighted Quiver + 30 Spellsword + 105 Nashor's Tooth
370 (60 + 310) Damage on Runaan's Hurricane shots
1,150 Damage Potential Damage per Auto Attack
948 Magic Damage on Chain of Corruption
17%/51% Maximum HP Damage per Blighted Quiver stack/max stacks on proc
453 (115 + 338) Damage Auto Attack to Primary Target
189 Blighted Quiver + 32 Spellsword + 113 Nashor's Tooth
406 (68 + 338) Damage on Runaan's Hurricane shots
1,265 Damage Potential Damage per Auto Attack
1001 Magic Damage on Chain of Corruption
18%/54% Maximum HP Damage per Blighted Quiver stack/max stacks on proc
Close to your standard 21-9-0 AP Defensive build focusing on maximizing your damage potential with the rest of your points being put into survival.
Since we are putting a lot of focus into our auto attacks as well, we will pick up Fury instead of Sorcery . Also because we are in the bottom lane, we will nab Hardiness over Resistance , but these two are interchangeable depending on the lane/team comp you will be facing.
If you decide to pick up Ignite instead of Barrier or Heal, take a point out of Archmage and Summoner's Resolve then place them into Summoner's Wrath as well as Perseverance or Resistance / Hardiness .
As an alternate build you can go 30 deep into Offense for pure power. Picking up Deadliness , Brute Force , Weapon Expertise , and then fill out the last 2 points in Summoner's Wrath / Summoner's Resolve and Sunder .
- greater mark of Hybrid Penetration: Since Varus's damage in this build will still be 25-40% Physical damage and the rest Magic Damage, these marks will give you the most damage potential overall.
- Greater Seal of Armor: Since we will most likely be fighting the enemies AD carry, flat armor will help us best survive his damage in the early to mid game.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: We will take scaling AP glyphs instead of flat because our early game is already weak. By the time we are ready to commit and force kills, these glyphs will have come close to evening out with their counterpart and still provide greater benefit later.
- Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: More damage is always good. Makes last hitting easier with Blighted Quiver and combined with Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power and your masteries will provide an extra 1% to Blighted Quiver's proc around level 6.
Alernate Rune Choices
- Greater Mark of Attack Damage: A close second to greater mark of Hybrid Penetration, grab these runes instead if you are having trouble last hitting or feel that the early game benefit of the additional AD is more useful than the penetration will be later on.
- Greater Mark of Health, Greater Mark of Scaling Health, Glyph of Magic Resist, and Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist can be used in place of their offensive counterparts if you are looking to build a little more defensive.
- Greater Glyph of Armor and Greater Seal of Magic Resist may also be used as defensive options if you are facing a full team of Physical or Magic Damage.
- greater quintessence of hybrid penetration Another viable choice for your Quints. I do think however that it is a weaker option. Less early game benefit tan and close to the same scaling potential as Greater Quintessence of Ability Power.
All around good spell. Gives Varus an escape that he desperately needs. Also useful for closing the distance offensively to hit fleeing targets with Chain of Corruption. Very close to a must have.
I've found this to be more useful than Ignite. Early on, it will be harder to secure kills in the lane without Ignite, but once you build up your first few items, your burst damage and Chains of Corruption should be able to easily secure them. The shield that Barrier grants will help enormously in your ability to survive team fights or assassin burst in the later stages of the game.
An alternate choice to Barrier. Provides passive HP with the mastery as well as the active heal. Another good survival tool to survive the damage that will undoubtedly be directed towards you. Has the added benefit of healing your allies as well. Heal however is susceptible to healing de-buff effects. Level 18 Heal Strength 355 + 90 passive HP for a total benefit of 445 or 268 if de-buffed.
Alternate Summoner Choices
Always a popular option. Provides a solid amount of extra damage and is good for securing kills early on. Loses its value in comparison to Barrier/ Heal later on, as the damage from ignite generally turns to overkill with your burst damage and Hail of Arrows provides a healing de-buff already. Still, a completely viable choice.
Pick this up if you know you will be the target of the enemy teams CC. Extremely useful against champions such as Warwick, Malzahar, and Skarner.
Provides great protection against bruisers an AD carries. Exhaust is often key to the victories in some team fights. The extra Magic Pen from Summoner's Wrath is useful too. Most likely though, your support will pick this up. If not, feel free to take it.
Varus has nothing to compliment ghost with and therefore it's not quite as good as Flash. Still, if it more suits your play style, feel free to pick it up instead.
- Living Vengeance: A nice extra bonus. Try to have it active when you engage a fight, every little bit helps. Don't forget that this will also make you stronger after participating in a champion kill.
- Piercing Arrow (Q): Maxed last because of its poor base damage scaling. In the early stages of the game it can be used to harass or last hit minions for a long range. We will primarily use it only as a quick shot to proc Blighted Quiver however. Should be used to proc the stacks after Hail of Arrows has already been used. It's long range can snipe champions who have ran or Flashed away.
- Blighted Quiver (W): The primary skill that makes this build work. Provides 25% of your AP as magic damage to your auto attack in addition to its base damage. On top of the increase in auto attack damage, stacks Blight. Both effects are considered on-hit which is very important when Runaan's Hurricane enters the picture. The second part to this skill, is the Maximum HP % magic damage that is dealt when Blight is procced. When combined with the AP of this build, the damage that stacks of Blight deals is immense.
- Hail of Arrows (E): Should be maxed second, but can be maxed first if you so choose. Has better base scaling than Piercing Arrow as well as increasing the slow as it levels. Use it to proc your first 3 stacks of Blighted Quiver.
- Chain of Corruption (R): In this build, it will hit like a truck. Your AP will ensure that it's damage component cannot be ignored. The delay in activation/damage to secondary targets will also catch them off guard. Try to use this on a target that already has Blighted Quiver stacks if possible. In team fights, try to hit the center of the group, or whichever champion is at the point of convergence of the enemy team. This will allow it to hit the most targets possible.
How It Works in Three Parts
The focuses of this build are Varus's Blighted Quiver, the new mastery
, the remade Nashor's Tooth, and the new item, Runaan's Hurricane. Together they create a very lethal combination and here's why in three parts.
AP Auto Attacks
Blighted Quiver: 25% AP ratio
Spellsword : 5% AP ratio
Nashor's Tooth: 15% AP ratio
These three things combined provide a 45% AP ratio to Varus's auto attacks. At full build they provide 338 Magic Damage on top of his base 115 Physical Damage for a total of 453 Damage. A number comparable to that of your traditional build.
The Power of Runaan's Hurricane
Runaan's Hurricane should be incorporated into any Varus for the sake of placing Blight stacks on multiple champions. It is however, vastly more important and provides an enormous damage increase in this build for two reasons.
First, Blighted Quiver, Nashor's Tooth, and Spellsword are considered on-hit effects. Runaan's Hurricane applies the full damage of on-hit effects. This means that the damage caused by these three is not halved like an AD build would be. At end build, the extra shots from Runaan's Hurricane will be dealing 406 (68 + 338) damage per hit. That's 90% of the damage dealt to your primary target. It would require 792 AD to cause the same damage on the secondary shots. An unreachable number. Runaan's Hurricane effectively causes this build to have a 135% AP ratio applied to Varus's auto attacks.
Secondly, Runaan's Hurricane causes the stacks from Blighted Quiver to build up on multiple targets at once. It has to potential to triple the amount of damage dealt by Blight stacks. It is an amazing increase in team fight damage potential. On top of this, by using an AP build, you maximize the damage potential of the Runaan's Hurricane + Blighted Quiver combination.
Varus's Max % HP Based Damage
It just so happens that Varus has the best base and scaling maximum HP % damage in the game. Blighted Quiver provides a base 5% maximum HP damage per stack. This is a potential 15% maximum HP damage at is base. On top of this, it scales at 1% per 50 AP per stack. That's a whopping 3% per 50 AP. Comparing that to Evelynn's Agony's Embrace at 1% per 100 AP, we can see that Blighted Quiver's scaling is six times more effective. On top of this, Blight can be procced by each of Varus's abilities. That's 3 times by just using each ability once. At the full build, each stack of Blighted Quiver will be deal 18% maximum HP damage for a total of 54% at full stacks. With the potential to proc 3 full stacks in a short period of time, that's a potential total of 166% maximum HP damage. Watch out for exploding health bars.
An Extra Bonus
Guess what, there's more! Chain of Corruption scales at a 1:1 AP ratio. Not bad at all. On top of all the primary benefits this build offers, your ultimate ability will now hit for almost triple what an AD build would. The amount of damage this now does will take your enemies off guard, especially when the delayed portion of it reaches secondary targets.
All these things combined make this build work. It is extremely potent even though it is far from standard.
Standard Build Order
Starting Item Options
Your best starting item. Gives everything you need early on. Increased damage for last hitting, sustain, and extra health. Just like AP Kennen will start with one, its one of if not your best starting option.
Gives you greater mobility and good sustain as well as building into your later items. It will cause last hitting to be more difficult though.
An option if you want damage at the start of the match while building immediately towards Fiendish Codex. Will provide a small bonus to your auto attacks but leaves you pretty vulnerable.
Any of these three are good pick-ups for your first backing. Use a judgement call on which will be best in your lane. You want to acquire Nashor's Tooth as soon as possible so if you are able leave the Berserker's Greaves until last, but don't sacrifice lane safety/dominance by not buying the best of these three you can on your first backing.
Get this ASAP, provides everything you need. AP/AS and the auto attack passive. On top of that the high amount of CDR is very useful. Once you pick up this item your last hitting and DPS will take a huge leap forward.
The largest possible increase to your damage output at this point. Pick up up, use it, love it.
The largest increase to your potential damage. Buy it after the rest of your core items. This is because you won't need it till team fights start to break out and the two times tend to coincide.
If the other team is building mass magic resist, pick up this item. If they aren't paying attention to your build and aren't buying MR, you might be able to skip this item.
Amazing for blowing up a single target. Provides a large AP increase as well as CDR. At a full build will increase your 54% Blight proc to 64%, with its 15% Max HP damage active, to 79% total. The active will also increase your Chain of Corruption and Auto Attack damage.
Offensive item that provides some armor. If you are dealing with assassin-type champions such as Zed, this is a great pickup. The active can let you escape large portions of damage and give your team time to peel for you after you get jumped on. Great for preventing the damage from ultimates like Requiem or Blade Waltz
If you just want your burst to be that much higher. Provides a little bit of move speed which isn't found anywhere else in the build, a good amount of AP and a nice big damage proc to follow after your Blighted Quiver burst.
Your best option if you are looking for sustain. Will decrease your damage compared to an AP choice, but will provide a very large amount of leach. Since the passive leach portion of this item is unrelated to your AD, it will scale very well with AS of this build already. In addition, the passive damage and leach from BotRK will proc on the additional Runaan's Hurricane shots. As a bonus, you also get a nice active to compliment your already high % HP damage.
Doesn't provide any armor/resist but is the largest HP increase there is. Useful if you need to survive just a little bit more damage from either source than you are now. Grab it if the revive from Guardian Angel is going to be useless.
The standard item to buy as a squishy target for survival. Brings you back after being focused down by burst damage. The only downside, if you don't have a team around when you get revived, you will most likely immediately die again.
Provides a decent amount of Magic Resist and Health though the mana portion is fairly useless. The Spell Block portion being 25s now is a great benefit. It's usefulness will depend on what you are trying to block and if you can.
Probably the best choice if your biggest threat is AD heavy bruisers or assassin's marking you as their target. Provides a large amount of armor, a solid amount of HP, and a very nice passive and active. Expensive though.
A good middle ground defensive item. Provides the most Magic Resist in a single item as well as giving a decent amount of HP and some Armor. Useful for you team too. Most likely though, someone else on your team will have already picked one up.
A more offensive alternate to Warmog's Armor. Provides a large amount of HP, some AD, and another on-hit effect to add to your Runaan's Hurricane.
Offensive items that offer some Magic resist. Maw of Malmortius will provide good protection from AP burst damage while Mercurial Scimitar will be better if you need a cleanse. Wit's End will provide the largest damage increase though the least defensive ability of the three options.
Another offensive item that provides armor. The proc is nice and will provide some extra AoE damage and slow. Varus is not a skill spam champion, but because of the timing of Blighted Quiver stacks, you might get a proc each skill use.
Purely offensive choices. I doubt that I would replace my other offense items with them, but if I felt I didn't need a defensive item, I would pick one of these up. They both provide a good amount of AD and AP as well as some sustain. Hextech Gunblade comes with another nuke, which is always nice to have while Guinsoo's Rageblade provides AS. Take your pick.
*note* After trying both out, I would almost never pick either up. Unfortunately, the only sustain you gain is from your physical damage and your ultimate. The spell vamp does not work with blight procs or on-hit magic damage. Highly unfortunate. Don't pick them up unless you want to troll with an extra nuke.
Don't do anything drastic, especially at level one. Try to farm in peace, getting off harass when you can. Once you reach level two or three of Blighted Quiver, try to get 3 stacks of Blight and proc it. Even 2 is fine, it's good harass. Don't commit to anything however, unless you are completely sure you can win the fight. Your auto-attack damage will be on par or better, but you will lose in burst damage to some champions at this point.
This will be about the time you hit level six and are getting close to Nashor's Tooth/ Berserker's Greaves. Now you will be dealing more damage as well as potentially having a mobility advantage if the opponent went a big ticket item first. Harass as much as you can and look for opportunities for a kill. The damage of your Chain of Corruption + Blighted Quiver procs is pretty significant and will now match the burst of other AD's, much to their surprise. Get the advantages you can, and force them if able. With the right support, you should be able to easily take down the squishier target in the lane.
If you find you are having trouble in lane with your sustain or HP, pick up a 2nd Doran's Blade. While not ideal, if its what you can afford, its worth picking up rather than going back to lane with nothing.
Once you pick up your Nashor's Tooth and Berserker's Greaves, this is where you will start to shine. Now your auto-attacks will be hitting hard (though in lots of little numbers), and your Chain of Corruption and Blighted Quiver procs will be doing significant damage. Harass as you can, and try to build up Blight stacks on your target. When you can, engage with your ultimate or your support's ultimate. Get 3 quick stacks of Blighted Quiver (hopefully your ultimate hit a full stack already) and Hail of Arrows. At this point they should be dead or almost dead. Just chase down and use Piercing Arrow to proc your Blight for the finish.
Once your Rabadon's Deathcap and maybe your Runaan's Hurricane has been picked up, the game should have transitioned into the mid-game. Help out where you can, your strength now is in your team fight capabilities. In addition to the full damage you will do to your main target, upwards of 75% of your damage will be hitting 2 additional targets as well. Your Blight procs and auto-attack damage be huge for your team. With Runaan's Hurricane your wave clear ability will be extremely fast. If you can, fall off and farm the other lanes then quickly return to your team.
As it moves into late game, build your additional damage or defensive items based on the situation. Your play style in both of these stages will be pretty much identical to your standard AD carry. Deal out the damage from your auto-attacks as safe as possible, try to land Chain of Corruption on as many people as possible, and proc your Blighted Quiver stacks ASAP while trying to make sure multiple people are affected.
Remember, you love high HP targets. If a bruiser or a tank is headed your way, do not be afraid to target them. The % based damage from your Blighted Quiver will destroy them unless they have a lot of Magic Resist. Beware of any high Magic Resist targets and get your team to help deal with them.
All in all, on top of being different and fun, this build works, and it works well. Your sustained damage is on par with your AD carry counterparts, while your burst potential is far greater. Another added benefit is that it allows team compositions without an AP mid or Top while still providing the AP damage threat.
I hope you like my guide, feel free to leave some feedback and please don't down vote unless you've tried it a few times =).
6-18-13: Updated with the removal of Malady and the new buffed Nashor's Tooth
12-8-12: Yay, I finished and made it look pretty! Hope you guys enjoy.
12-22-12: Made some notes to Hextech Gunblade and Guinsoo's Rageblade
Many thanks to jhoijhoi's Guide to Making a Guide for the help it gave me in making things look nice.