Vladimir Build Guide by HalcyonicHS
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.
Threats to Vladimir with this build
|Swain||One of the easiest lanes for Vladimir. Ignore until level 7, and merely avoid Nevermove- Swain has zero kill pressure otherwise. Post level 7, abuse your mobility and shorter cooldowns and Swain won't be able to lift a finger.|
|Maokai||Simply dodge and he will run out of mana. Just becareful of being overconfident and getting too close to him.|
Hello, Mobafire! HalcyonicHS here, with my first guide to contribute.
I am currently a Silver player. However, I have confidence that my current position is not out of lack of understanding of the character, but of my lack of skill, which I do believe does not interfere with the making of the guide. Before one starts to doubt me over this however, note that there are people like MonteCristo, who do not actually play, but is considered to possess one of the best level of understanding of the game in the world.
However, if you find my credibility untrustworthy, you have been warned - if you need to criticize, then do so about the contents itself, and not about my ranked standings which I have already freely admitted.
Vladimir, the Crimson Reaper
Vladimir is a versatile champion that is most frequently played as a top laner for most team compositions, although may be played mid. With clear-cut strengths and weaknesses, Vladimir requires a team composition that provides some sort of crowd control or engage to work effectively. Otherwise, Vladimir in teamfights will suffer from his lack of mobility.
It is also important to have a team that can hold their own in the early game, because Vladimir cannot carry games alone. Due to his low burst and short range, Vladimir will often be rendered useless without adequate support from his teammates.
As a top laner, Vladimir mainly focuses on poking, kiting, and controlling the lane, utilizing his ranged harass from Transfusion as well as disengage from Sanguine Pool. Early all-ins must be avoided at all costs, while knowledge of when to push, or pull the lane will be crucial.
Note that Mid Vladimir is no longer recommended since Season 4.
Vladimir is a highly difficult champion, and is not recommended for beginners, or for people who are not yet fluent with lane and range control. The seeming simplicity of his skills are but an illusion, his playstyle requires a lot of finesse and decision making.
Vladimir is also a highly team-dependent champion. Which means, don't first-pick Vladimir unless you are confident your team is sensible enonugh to come up with a decent team composition for you, and be careful not to rush into a Malzahar or a Caitlyn either.
Finally, remember that the only point that will be emphasized in this guide will be movement speed (for an explanation, see below). All other build paths and choices should be adapted to fit the current situation. Vladimir particularly excels in this due to the sheer variety of stats he is capable on scaling on, and can therefore run multiple different builds yet still be equally effective. Use this to the best of your advantage.
Teleport: Teleport is important because Vladimir possesses little to no (early) kill pressure in the first place, meaning Ignite and all-ins in general are too risky to be effective, and therefore, the rest of the choices in this guide forgo that possibility outright. Rather, it is recommended that effort be better invested in lane control and/or denying CS. Teleport also allows faster lane return, makes up for Vladimir's poor roaming, and helps make the most out of Vladimir's waveclear and pushing potential.
Ghost: Provides great synergy with Sanguine Pool and Vladimir's short range, and even has a shorter cooldown, making it superior to Flash.
(Exceptions include situations such as the obvious Jarvan IV.)
Flash: Possible, but generally pointless except against niche cases (e.g. Jarvan IV), and the temptation of using it to flash foward and clean up low health enemies. But, on the other hand, Ghost provides much more utility when combined with Sanguine Pool and the number of times Ghost will be able to save your life will more than outweigh whatever kills you may acquire with Flash.
A combination of Ghost/ Flash deserves notable mention as it solves Vladimir's mobility issues, particularly in teamfights. Beware that the cooldown of Flash is too long to use reliably, and taking Enchantment: Distortion also has the opportunity cost of losing out on Enchantment: Alacrity, as well as the additional mep pressure advantage gained by running Teleport.
Ignite: Possible, but as stated above, Vladimir's all-in potential is so low that it is a waste of effort to bother early, while Vladimir can just outrun the enemies for another round of his abilities later on. Or run away, and avoid having to engage in so risky a fight that it would be necessary in the first place.
Note that taking a mobility spell on Vladimir is essential in the League of Gapclosers as a champion without any kind of mobility within his kit.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
| Greater Mark of Magic Penetration is the standard marks for any type of AP caster.
There are no viable alternatives, as Vladimir does not autoattack often enough to make of use of its physical counterparts.
| Greater Seal of Scaling Armor is the seal of choice, above its flat counterpart due to outscaling it at level 6, and that Vladimir should not be fighting any brawls before that point. It will help deal with the majority of toplaners who deal physical damage, as well as proving useful in teamfights.
Greater Seal of Scaling Health is also a possible option, but it suffers from being inefficient compared with its armor counterpart, especially since resistances are more valuable for Vladimir than flat health. The ability power gained from Crimson Pact is also too negligible to be of much use.
| Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist is the glyph of choice for the same reasons as its seal counterpart above.
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction is also worth considering if particularly confident, but beware of the enemy's team composition before doing so.
| Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed is crucial and not negotiable because movement speed is Vladimir's only form of mobility. Movement speed is paramount for the purposes of of kiting in lane, and to avoid being kited in teamfights.
There are no viable alternatives.
Standard 21/0/9 masteries.
The reason for this is that both the Offense and Defense trees require too much investment for the really desirable masteries (e.g. Devastating Strikes , Legendary Guardian ), meaning that a full 21 investment is more effective than attemtping to take both.
Between the two, Offense is preferred due to the usage of Greater Seal of Scaling Armor and Greater Seal of Scaling Magic Resist over their flat counterparts, and thus it is more attractive to avoid fights at lower levels if possible, rather than attempt to utilise the flat values given by the Defense tree. Finally, Tenacious 's value has increasingly diminished as more and more champions resort to knockups than other forms of CC, so it is no longer as attractive an option as before.
Most importantly, remember to invest in Fleet of Foot for its additional movement speed. Do not forget, movement speed isnot negotiable for Vladimir.
||Crimson Pact's main purpose is to gain health through AP. Attempting to utilise this the other way around will prove to be highly inefficient. Remember: 100 AP = 140 Health, but 140 Health = 3.5 AP. (Therefore, no Warmog's Armor please).|
||Sanguine Pool should be taken at level 2 to escape ganks and early all-ins. Definitely by level 4 at the latest.|
||Sanguine Pool can be used to avoid not only skillshots, but all projectiles (e.g. Depth Charge or Dazzle), and delayed abilities (e.g. Requiem). Note that abilities that leash or apply DoT persist through the ability (e.g. Drain).|
||Tides of Blood being taken at level 2 or 3 is also an option if being excessively pushed and/or need to lasthit minions at the turret.|
||Tides of Blood gains increased damage with stacks, so it is therefore recommended to attempt to maintain stacks once a Hextech Revolver is obtained in lane, or before engaging in teamfights.|
||Hemoplague prevents the immediate usage of Transfusion and Tides of Blood after its cast, so beware.|
|*||Hemoplague will apply its own damage multiplier on itself.|
||Boots of Speed+4 Health Potion: This is the recommended start due to movement speed being not negotiable for Vladimir, particularly due to his need to kite the enemy laner- and that most top laners in the current meta can be kited. Remember, it's better to not take damage at all than to merely take less.|
Alternative #1- Cloth Armor+5 Health Potion: This is also a possible start when facing a champion with ranged damage (e.g. Pantheon) or instant long-range gapclosers (e.g. Xin Zhao). Generally these champions can't really be kited and their damage unavoidable.
Alternative #2- Doran's Shield+ Health Potion: This is another option when dealing with a strong early-game champion. However, due to the slew of nerfs Doran's Shield recieved, it is not recommended. Trading more than two or three autoattacks is rare, and a Cloth Armor start will generally provide more effective health until that crucial Hextech Revolver can be obtained.
|Tier 2 boots and Hextech Revolver/ Will of the Ancients are the bread and butter items for Vladimir, and should be the primary target of near all Vladimir builds. Make sure to always attempt to have equal or higher movement speed than the enemy laner for kiting (Remember, movement speed is not negotiable!)|
Apart from that, Vladimir works with multiple other stats, including resistances (tankiness), cooldown reduction, magic penetration (reduction), and sheer ability power. This is one of Vladimir's great strengths, allowing him to be versatile in item choices and also grants him higher scaling due to the multiplicative nature of raising multiple statistics.
Note that health is not included in the list, because Vladimir already has very good sources of health called sustain and Crimson Pact, making any further increase in health rather inefficient compared to resistances.
In consideration of these facts, the recommended core items are:
| Zhonya's Hourglass provides both AP and resistances, as well as the ability to deaggro the enemy team and synergizes well with Vladimir's low cooldowns.
Abyssal Scepter on the other hand grants additional AP and MPen- and because Rabadon's Deathcap will generally have higher prioity than Void Staff, it will be one of the few sources of MPen to work with until the end of the game. The fact that it also increase the damage output of the entire team is just a bonus.
These four items are flexible enough to fit near all situations, and thus if ever in doubt, they can be used as a "core" build to work towards with minimal risk regardless of the situation.
Note: In the late game, it will be worthwhile to trade out Abyssal Scepter for a Void Staff and another MR item due to increasing amounts of enemy MR. Remember, MR reduction applies before %MPen.
Note: The choice of Tier 2 boots depend on the situation, but the alternatives often suffer from a lack in laning potential. Ionian Boots of Lucidity, for example, can help increase in overall dps, but is often not as useful in lane where it is necessary to juggle both the enemy's as well as one's own cooldowns at the same time. Mercury's Treads can be extremely useful if there is too much crowd control, but once again, unless often engaging in all-ins against an enemy AP champion, doesn't have much use in lane.
Note: The same applies for enchantments. While Enchantment: Alacrity will serve well for most purposes, Enchantment: Distortion is useful if running Ghost/ Flash, or Enchantment: Homeguard if under heavy siege.
|Good||Recommended 5th/6th item. The reason it is purchased so late is because there are more important priorities than flat AP early on. By the time it is purchased however, it will be a highly cost efficient item that amplifies both damage and effectively health greatly ( Crimson Pact+ Transfusion+ Spellvamp (!)). As one would already have hefty amount of resistances from earlier purchases, this will likely be the best all-around purchase to amplify one's late-game.|
|Good||Recommended 5th/6th item to solve the lack of magic penetration, as everyone grows more tankier as the game goes on. Highly dependent on enemy composition, it will be mandatory in some cases, while merely optional in others. Consider switching an item out for this once having reached full build, since even ADCs will have bought a Mercurial Scimitar that late into the game.|
|Good||While health is less than ideal for Vladimir, its passive will allow Vladimir to effectively permaslow targets, which is wonderful for such a speed dependent champion with minimal innate CC. However, Vladimir will generally not need it due to already likely possessing the highest movement speed in the game. Consider whether the utility of this item will outweigh the more likely than not increase in overall stats through alternative purchases.|
|Decent||This can be used as an replacement for Abyssal Scepter if seeking more tankiness than outright damage. However, it is no longer as gold efficient as it used to be, and actually renders you less of a threat to enemy carries, decreasing your overall presence in teamfights until it can be coupled with further items. Note that a Void Staff is practically mandatory for this build to maintain decent damage output.|
|Decent||A possible, and personally preferred substitute for a Spirit Visage. Its personal stats are a little on the low side, but its teamfight utility is well worth the cost. However, it's preferrable that another champion- such as the support- builds the item instead of Vladimir, particularly since the range of the active is so low, and is suited for a more backline champion.|
||Standard go to item against a heavy, or full AD composition. However, it's worth considering that Zhonya's Hourglass already provides considerable armor, and that it can be more effective to simply turn to more damage to melt them quicker instead.|
|Average||Haunting Guise will provide a good mid-game power spike. And without Rylai's Crystal Scepter, it'll drop off while leaving only a rather ineffective Liandry's Torment to replace it. It is simply not worth the item slot and the opportunity cost which could be used to get other core items faster. Note that Liandry's torment comes back to prominence in the late-game as a 6th item when combined with a Void Staff.|
|Average||The recommended item of choice if one feels the need to carry - or otherwise in situations where dying would be critical, such as extreme late-game teamfights. It is also provides both armor and magic resist, which is also a nice boon. It is not cost-efficent however, and Vladimir already possesses Zhonya's Hourglass and Sanguine Pool to help shake off aggro.
Most of the time, the passive will be used to revive into a 1v5, which would make it a pretty pointless purchase.
|Bad||This is a fairly expensive purchase, and while its stats are all beneficial, its passive does not exactly synergize well due to Vladimir's lack of burst. If one is especially lacking in CDR it is often better to take Ionian Boots of Lucidity instead.
However, this may be a worthwhile purchase if one forsees some sort of dueling situation (such as splitpushing), or if the enemy AD carry is too fed and Vladimir is the only one capable of stopping him. While a mere R+DFG+EQ may not be able to kill the enemy carry, it'll at least do enough damage to zone him away for a significant portion of the fight.
|Horrible||Anyone who purchases this item as Vladimir is a troll.
Please proceed to report after the match.
On a more serious note, Vladimir's is a sustain tank. More health does not help with sustain. Rather it is redundant, inefficient, ineffective and utterly useless. Basically, do not puchase.
Note: There are further itemisation choices on Vladimir such as Thornmail or Banshee's Veil, but they will not be mentioned due to being how niche for specific and/or obvious situations, or not being notable enough.
Regardless, remember that all builds are, and should be volaile, fitting the current situation.
Laning & Teamfights
The Need for Speed
TL;DR: Movement Speed is Love, Movement Speed is Life.
Between level 1~5:
Vladimir is but a flea at this stage. Transfusion your enemies, last hit minions, pull the lane. Do not autoattack your enemies too much or else you will run the risk of pushing the lane. If you feel your lane is being overly pushed, bait the enemy into attacking so that they push it back. Also beware of the enemy pushing the lane to your turret and resetting it; utilise both your autoattacks and Tides of Blood for maximum lane control.
Transfusion still has a ridiculously long cooldown at this point, and Vladimir's sustain is weak. Denying the enemy cs will generally be superior to that of attempting to kill him. If you feel particularly aggressive, attempting to drain the enemy of his mana is also a possible strategy, and can force the enemy to back, or allow you dominance of the lane and freely deny him.
Hemoplague is a lacklustre ult compared to that of other champions in a 1v1 situation. Beware of the enemy baiting you into an all-in at this stage.
And now the flea has grown into a full fledged mosquito, complete with his own Hextech Revolver. Abuse and kite the enemy using your ridiculous Transfusion cooldowns. Maintain good stacks of Tides of Blood and surprise the enemy with its high base damage. And with all your tools prepared, push. Push, and deny, and roam, and take down the enemy's turret, and laugh as the enemy jungler tries to gank you unsuccessfully.
Turtle at your turret. You can farm more easily thanks to Tides of Blood than other champions, and Sanguine Pool makes you highly resistant to dives. If failing even that, abandon your turret. Go visit mid, go do the jungle, go do something- but don't just sit there in lane and wait for the enemy to kill you. Pull to your inner turret, and start farming from there.
Stay top and push. Vladimir's roaming potential is low, his range is low, his ability to take down turrets is low, and his ability to initiate teamfights is low. You will not be very useful outside of an outright teamfight, and the enemy top laner will likely take down your turret faster than you could ever dream of. Therefore, it's often better to come in once the fight has begun, through Teleport or coming in from the back, albeit a bit late. Otherwise, you will be made more useful by forcing pressure upon the enemy team by pushing in top lane, and forcing the enemy toplaner, and potentially the enemy jungler, to have to deal with you and allow the rest of your team to 4v4 or 4v3 instead. Remember, Vladimir has one of the best 1v2 potentials in the game, provided that he has enough movement speed.
Make sure you keep an eye on the map for Teleport opportunities as you do so, and to make full use of MIAs and pings. And finally, the enemy laner has gone to join his team, it may be beneficial to join your own team instead of pushing the lane senselessly. Always be aware of potential decisions and how you make them.
Vladimir has only two methods of initiation. One is to bait the enemy team by letting yourself be hit with the enemy's CC, then deaggroing them through Sanguine Pool as the rest of your team catches up, while the second is to simply run up at them with superior movement speed and start slathering your abilities on everyone. Both require you to be sufficiently fed, and should be exercised with caution.
Due to this, it is important to recognise that Vladimir is not meant to be a primary initiator, and stay a bit towards the back/side. While it may be tempting to trade with the enemy team, absorbing their poke with your sustain, it is also not necessary to take unneeded damage and potentially get yourself killed. Vladimir's real role begins once the teamfight has actually begun.
Vladimir's ideal positioning is between the enemy front and backline. This allows him to hit multiple targets with Tides of Blood and Transfusion the enemy carry. From here, you can attempt to kite/zone the enemy backline using your superior burst and movement speed, rendering them unable to output any significant amounts of damage, then disengage using Sanguine Pool. Even if you fail to kill the enemy carries, you will have isolated the enemy frontline and provide for easy cleanup of the fight.
Vladimir's role is not to acquire multiple kills. It is to break apart the enemy formation and output as much damage as possible. And while, it's nice to see that damage converted into kills, it's not your primary role and can be just as good to have your team clean up instead.
Remember to juggle enemy aggro through Zhonya's Hourglass and Sanguine Pool. Each second they spend refocusing is a second they spend not dealing damage, and a second closer to your next round of abilities.
Remember that Vladimir scales best into the mid and early late-game. Vladimir actually scales off in the extreme late-game due to being unable to handle and sustain through all the sheer amounts of damage flying everywhere. Particular of note goes to the enemy AD carries who will just lifesteal through your pathetic damage and slaughter you.
Finally, as Vladimir, be conservative and careful:
Vladimir is a scaling champion- he scales well for both laning and for teamfights, and due to his low cooldowns can continue contributing to teamfights as long as he is alive, all the while sustaining through enemy damage, going from near dead to full from the beginning to the end of a fight.
However, this does not mean you have a free pass to go reckless however you want. Rather, being reckless and feeding the enemy kills will means that you won't outscale the enemy at all, while being reckless in teamfights will lead you to dying. And you can't sustain anything if you're at 0 HP.
Learn to be calm. And sometimes, choose to do nothing. And then, reap your hard-earned bountiful rewards.
Thanks for reading. Good luck, and have fun~!
Credits & Changelog
* Thanks to jhoijhoi for her helpful guide for Mobafire BBcode and allowing the usage of her line dividers.
* 2015.01.01: Added Threats sections in cheat sheet. All sections revised for better formatting.
* 2015.01.01: Published.