Build Guide by AtritusAnimus
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
Hello everyone! Let me start by saying that this is my first attempt and posting a build, and I am no real expert with Vladimir. I have however been playing him for some time, and this is what I have learned so far. This build is mostly how I am still learning the very fine details of being a great Crimson Reaper. That, and this is for people who hate relying on the Soulstealer and making themselves a larger target.
Also I noticed that most of the builds lately are a bit out of date since Vladimir's recent Sanguine Pool nerf, and his passive being thrown into the dirt and stomped. Please take note that this is roughly the build I have used since I started playing Vladimir, and have not even clawed my way to level 30 as of yet. This build just seems to work well for lower level normal games, and seems to work rather well.
These runes are fairly standard with Vladimir players. The magic penetration really does help quite a bit with early game harassment, and since Vlad is fully dependent on magic damage there really is no better choice for marks.
The seals and glyphs are where personal preference comes in to play. I am not an extremely hardcore player, and I will buy cheaper runes if they have roughly the same benefit. I choose health per level for the seals, simply because it is half the IP to purchase them and after level 5 you have went past the flat HP bonus seals. The glyphs also comes down to personal preference, but I believe that the flat AP is better this time around since the per level AP runes do not seem to have as much benefit in the long run compared to hitting just a tad harder early game. Again, pick what you would think would round out your weaknesses. If you want magic resist since you seem to be destroyed by mages early game? Go for it.
These masteries are also prone to being altered right before a game and are dependent on your own preference. Since the nerf to sanguine pool's duration, using ghost right before pooling is slightly less effective. I have taken to using flash instead, since the only real drawback of this spell is the long cooldown and the masteries here drastically reduce it. There is no real point in investing heavily into defense for Vladimir, since he is a bit of a hit and run champion. Going too deeply into offense would not yield too much of a benefit overall, so utility is the best thing to focus on.
Obviously anything involving mana should be avoided, since Vladimir does not use mana as a resource. To be honest, it is hard to find a Vlad build with too great of a variation on this type of mastery setup.
From my experience, the item order early game can really help Vladimir out. I have found that if I am going into top or bottom lane that the health regen pendant can really put a damper on early game harass, and the ability power tome is justifiable if you are looking to be more offensive and are not worried about harassment as much.
The health potion is for if the enemy team surprises you with a large burst and you slip away with flash or ghost and/or sanguine pool. The next item is a typical staple, and it is the sorcerer's boots. The magic penetration helps, and moving faster never hurts.
Depending on how the other team is playing will dictate what you buy next. If they are being defensive and not trying to fight much, I would buy the Blazing Wand and work towards the Crystal Scepter. If the enemy team is pushing hard, and you want to be able to take a little more punishment, but the Giant's Belt for the health while working toward the Crystal Scepter.
Afterwards it is time to focus more on being deadly so it is time to work towards the illustrious replacement of Zhonya's Ring; the hat. Buy the greatest AP item you can whenever you return to town with money to spare. If you can jump straight to the Needlessly Large Rod, buy it. If not, settle for the Blazing Wand.
Once you have the Deathcap, I generally get a defensive item since team fights are going to become more common at this stage in the game. I do consider Spirit Visage quite often, since the increased healing ability can keep me in a fight longer, but I have recently found that working towards a Force of Nature yields better results with just the health regeneration. If the enemy team consists of mostly magic users, I would highly recommend buying the Force of Nature next. The movement speed does also help drastically with chasing someone down or running away. Also, if you purchased the health regen pendant as your first item you have a bit invested toward this item anyway. (You can also buy a Warmog's Armor if you would rather have massive health instead of the regeneration, the pendant merges into either item.)
Generally I am comfortable with these items, and start trying to stack as much ability power and survivability as I can. The last two items I attempt to get before the game finishes soon is Zhonya's Hourglass and Guardian Angel. I do not have many games that last this long, be them good or bad. The hourglass makes you very hard to kill if you are focused in a team fight if you are good at timing the stasis field. The Guardian Angel you ask? That is just to be as annoying as possible.
The skill sequence is where I normally differ from most Vladimir users. People underestimate the extra damage of transfusion and tides of blood when used at the same time after several stacks of the Tides of Blood: Empowered are placed on Vlad. The increased damage and healing from these two abilities at even level two can be quite devastating and strike a little fear in your opponent. Sanguine pool now costs 20% of your health, instead of the previous 15%, so as long as you are good at zoning with Tides of Blood and tapping your enemy with Transfusion as they run away, Sanguine Pool should be safe to save as a level 4 skill.
Typically though, max out Transfusion as fast as possible, and use Tides of Blood in the middle of minions (and try to nick a champion with the edge of the ability,) and snake in a transfusion at the end of the combo to receive the benefit of slightly increased healing from being Empowered.
I suggest saving Sanguine Pool as a get out of jail free card. Despite my constant talk of how it was nerfed (and to be honest it was justifiable,) it is still a great escape tactic if you can anticipate when your enemy is about to throw a stun or insane burst on you.
Example: If Jax is running toward you and you see the two normal people in the lane running toward you, use your Pool as soon as you see Jax jumping in, or right before you think he is going to jump at you and run away. Or if one of the other champions are about to slow/stun you, don't be afraid to Pool in anticipation of their inevitable attempt at ganking you. If you can use Ghost right before the Pool, or Flash right after getting out of Pool, you should be able to escape almost any situation.
As with any champion getting their ultimate as soon as possible is a given, and with Hemoplague it is no exception. This ability is great in team fights and is great when used right at the beginning so your allies can deal more damage faster. The trick is to try and snag as many enemies as possible in the AoE. It's a single shot, and if you miss it could lead to disaster since the health cost is high if used at the beginning of a fight. Experiment with it. The 14% increased damage also benefits Ignite, so it is a great skill to try and nab a kill with.
The summoner spells that work for Vlad seem to be rather limited. Heal does nothing near the end of the game to his health pool, Clarity does nothing for him in the first place since he does not use mana, Exhaust does not help with killing someone as much as Ignite does since you are a magic damage dealer, Cleanse is debatable for those times you really want to get away and Pool to safety and a stun is stopping you, Clairvoyance is pretty much entirely personal preference, you should not need Revive since the Masteries give you time off from being dead, Smite is not needed to kill minions in a lane since Tides of Blood does a fine job of doing this, and Rally is very situational and you do not benefit too much from its effects. Ignite is great for snagging a kill or stopping a healer from healing a specific target, and Ghost/Flash is a great escape mechanism. Either way, spend the one mastery point on either Ghost or Flash to improve their effectiveness.
The Tides of Blood:
From all of the Vladimir users I have seen, what I find to be the most underused ability is one of my favorites. Tides of Blood seems like it is only marginally useful, but the stacking "Empowered" buff that Vladimir gains really makes people underestimate how much damage Transfusion can do. Also, Tides of Blood into a quick Transfusion can do a nice spike of damage to enemy champions early in the game if they do not know how to use zoning against Vladimir.
If you have no enemy champion that you can target or if they are playing extremely safe against you, Tides of Blood at level two really helps clear out minions and increase your income. Constantly using Transfusion to keep your health topped off, and only using Tides of Blood when the Empowered buff are wearing out is key to keeping damage and self-healing higher without costing too much health. Vladimir rides a fine line between killing himself, and killing everyone around him. Whittle your enemies down slowly, take their health as your own, and when they seem to be weak and overextending themselves run in for the kill. Ignite can really turn the tide in your favor, and don't be afraid to Pool away and try again. Better to get away instead of giving the other team a kill, even if you desperately want to kill the annoying punk that has been harassing you the last 15 minutes of the game. Just my two cents.