Not Updated For Current Season
Breaking the Ice (Intro)
Yo yo yo. My name's rosen (in-game rosenfaust). This is my first guide on MOBA, and I'm writing it for a few reasons. I've been playing Vlad since he was first released those many months ago, and in that time I've seen all manner of Vlad players, from the clarity-using facepalm instigators, to the pros who can make a team pick up their keyboard and smack a kitten into a spinning ceiling fan with it. Vlad was recently free in the rotation, and I more often than not saw him misused to the point of hilarity, so I feel that it is my duty as a Vlad enthusiast to throw in my two cents as to how he should be played. I do not claim to be all-knowing or pro, but I can assure you, when played properly, Vlad (and this build) will more often than not carry you and your mates to victory. And often times, enemy rage. Which we all love to see.
Before continuing, I feel that it is important to outline what we can (and should) expect from Vlad.
What Vlad IS:
A sustained DPS mage that is a *****-and-a-half to kill. Unlike most other mages, Vlad can output a sustained amount of damage, rather than bursting and needing to run away. He can (and should always) stand and bang.
The king of farming and pushing. Utilizing your Tides of Blood towards mid and late game will wipe out minion waves in the blink of an eye. Not to mention that Transfusion is the best last hitting mechanism in the game.
A turret diving pro. Sanguine Pool DROPS TURRET AND MINION AGGRO. Never, EVER forget this valuable piece of information. This makes Vlad a monster at turret diving, and should be utilized any time you feel you can drop an enemy at their turret. Countless times have I pooled away from a turret that should have killed me, and a near equal number of times I've heard things like "BROKEN" or "**** YOU VLAD". That's the real reward, folks.
What Vlad IS NOT:
A tank. I cannot BEGIN to tell you how many fail-*** Vlads I've seen try to play as a tank. Yes, Vlad is hard to kill with his Sanguine Pool, but after that he is extremely vulnerable, and will get CC'ed down by more competent tanks. This ability is beautiful initiation against one or two squishies, but don't count on it in a teamfight. And sure, you'll have **** tons of health toward mid/late game, but health doesn't mean **** when the other team's DPS'ers get their builds on. While you could build resistance items, this wastes valuable item slots that could be better filled.
A miracle-worker. True, Vlad is the King of the Casters, but he can still be chopped down like a tree on Arbor Day. You need to know your limitations, especially since you'll be using TWO stacking items. Once you hit 20 on both your Mejai and Leviathan, you'll be able to bend your opponents over and take them to brown-town. Until then, play it safe. You're still SQUISHY.
The Man Behind the Curtain I (Rune Selection)
Quints: I personally love move speed on Vlad. Being able to outrun your opponents is a beautiful thing... especially when you throw Sanguine Pool into the mix. Most people will tell you to either go with flat health or magic pen. for your quint choices, and both are entirely viable. This is, of course, a matter of preference and difference in play-style.
Marks: Insight. Magic pen. is an obvious choice, and for obvious reasons. 'Nuff said.
Seals: Regen. Having this little boost in regen will help you tremendously, and this help retains its viability all the way to the late game, when you'll be regenerating health LIKE A BOSS.
Glyphs: Insight. Again, 'nuff said.
The Man Behind the Curtain II (Mastery Selection)
These are standard caster masteries. Not much to it, pretty self explanatory. You could choose to go 9/21/0, but again, Vlad is a tough mage, not a tank. This is up to you and your personal play style, and practice makes perfect.
The Man Behind the Curtain III (Summoner Spells)
Ghost: Ghost is a great spell for Vlad. It makes his pool more effective and gives him an extra escape if needed, something that all casters can appreciate.
Ignite: Ignite is just a beautiful spell. There's nothing quite like pointing at an enemy, screaming "BURN, *****!" and laughing as they wither away to true damage. This spell adds to our DPS, which is something no one can argue with.
Make it Happen, Cap'n (Gameplay)
When you spawn at your shop for the first time, you'll want to start off by picking up an Amp Tome and a Health Pot, taking your first point in Transfusion.
Whether you're laning or taking mid, your objectives will always be the same:
Last hit AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. Transfusion makes this easy, as does Tides of Blood later on.
Harass. Your Transfusion costs NOTHING. Use it every time it's off cool down. If you can't last hit, harass. Lest we forget, it HEALS. Come on. Easy.
Gank hard and often. With Sanguine Pool, you do have solid initiation, which you should use to start off your ganks. Make sure to coordinate with your teammates before running in like the King you are, and you'll get a kill (or two) every time.
When you have the drop on your enemies, your skill order should be:
You are only restricted by your cooldowns and health, so hit with your abilities whenever they are available (unless you are about dead, and nothing is more embarrassing than killing yourself with Tides of Blood. NOTHING).
When you do not have the drop on your enemies, the skill order is more or less the same, only save your Sanguine Pool for escaping, as it is one of the best escape mechanisms in the game (probably second only to Kassadin).
As a side note about Hemoplague: This ability increases the damage dealt to the afflicted enemy. This screams INITIATION. DO NOT try to steal kills with your ult, or I will track you down like the dog you are.
When team fights start, you'll want to hang back and run in to poke with your Q until someone commits and a fight actually begins. It is IMPERATIVE that you talk to your team and make sure they understand that YOUR ult boosts EVERYONE'S damage. Ideally, you want the other team to initiate the fight, and then hit them while they're all grouped up. If YOU should choose to initiate, your ult will more than likely make all the enemies scatter like roaches in the light, so make sure your team's CC is ready to pounce. Teammates like Nunu, Amumu, Galio, and other characters with AOE CC abilities are your best friends in teamfights. When their ult goes off, yours does, and vice-versa.
As I mentioned earlier, you're going to want to start with Amp Tome and a Health Pot.
After you've farmed up enough, head back to base and pick up your Boots 1 and upgrade that Amp Tome to Mejai's Soulstealer. You'll also want to get your Leviathan as soon as possible, but if you are unable on your first trip (which more often than not you will be unable) to purchase it, pick up either Ruby Crystal or some Sight Wards. Map awareness is key to any victory.
Now, this goes without saying, but STAY ALIVE. This build relies on two stacking items, and it is important that you gank often, participate in team fights, but most importantly STAY ALIVE. Your Sanguine Pool and Ghost should make this a relatively simple feat. Just stay focused, and you should be fine.
Alright, so we have some AP and health that are growing larger and larger as time goes on, so what we decide to build now is based on how the game is progressing. If you are having a hard time outlasting your opponents, then go for Warmog's, starting with Giant's Belt and going from there. If they're having a hard time touching you, and you're laughing at their pathetic attempts to harm you, then you'll want your Rabadon's. Both of these items should be built, so the only decision you need to make is which to build first.
Your final item:
This is completely situational. I generally go with Abyssal Scepter, as it gives me a little bit of everything awesome: AP, MR, a killer aura, and a bit of health from Vlad's passive.
If you find that you're doing a fair amount of damage but are getting shredded a little too easily, then you can go one of several ways:
If the enemy team is heavy physical, then you'll want to go with Zhonya's Hourglass. 100 AP is incredible, great passive, plus you get some armor. Ballin'.
You may also decide to build a Sunfire Cape, as it provides health, armor, and makes your pool hurt just a wee bit more.
Conversely, if the enemy team's DPS is mainly magic, then you will want a Force of Nature. This item provides us with a hefty amount of MR as well as health regen, which when added to our already beefy regen makes you a beast that never needs to go back to base ever again.
This build focuses on giving Vlad an ***load of AP and enough health to hang around. Keep in mind that while Vlad is very tough for a caster, until you hit 20 stacks on that Leviathan you'll want to play as a caster should: cautiously. It is vital that you keep your stacks up and avoid dying.
Transfusion has NO COST. Use this ability whenever possible, as it is your primary source of damage, a source of healing, a great last hitting tool, and a serious annoyance to the other team.
Sanguine Pool is both a great escape AND initiator. Use a little forethought on HOW to use it BEFORE you use it, and you will both be a master assassin and cunning escape artist.
Tides of Blood is a great at clearing minion waves and a good source of damage, but be careful that you don't underestimate its cost. You don't want to make the fight easier for your opponent.
Hemoplague can turn the tide of a teamfight. The increased damage that it causes its victims to take, along with the 800 damage it is capable of late game is just too good. HEMOPLAGUE CAN WIN FIGHTS. Do not wait to use it until the other team is weak and you think you can get a kill or two; talk to your team and coordinate an organized attack, leading with hemoplague. Your entire team's damage will be boosted, and that's far more valuable than you possibly getting a couple of kills. And hey, you probably will still get kills. You're the king.
As a side note on stacking items: I do not build stacking items on every character I play, make no mistake. In fact, I'm usually fairly against for the simple reason: most characters die. Characters like Vladimir, Zilean, and Kassadin all have abilities that make them very difficult to kill, and are the most viable options for stacking items.
A lot of people feel iffy about stack items, and when they see two here they'll just laugh. But I figure if you're going to build one and plan on not dying, you might as well build two. And trust me, when Vlad is played correctly, and your team exercises a bit of map awareness, you'll be MORE than fine. Just keep in mind what your character is capable of, and never underestimate the enemy team.
Thanks for bearing with me guys, please hit me up with comments, feedback, etc. and let me know what you thought of the first build. More to come! If you'd like to play a game, I'm always down to meet some new friends. Peace.