Vladimir Build Guide by Kesu
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.
I haven't updated this guide in a while, and to be honest I haven't actually played Vladimir in all that long. I've started to experiment with all sorts of characters, "maining" them temporarily to learn of their cooldowns, combo's, play styles, feels in order to learn this game more thoroughly and counter enemies more effectively.
Vladimir has always been the subject to much hatred, what with his supposed infinite sustain and trollpool, but Vladimir at this point in time has equal sustain to anyone with a Catalyst the Protector and have you people seen Fizz's trollvault? Trollpool doesn't even hold a candle against that.
Whilst Vladimir has become a dull blade of sorts, and is a weak pick for most team compositions and fulfils almost no roles in the current meta is still quite strong if played correctly. How does one play Vladimir correctly? I have no freakin' idea, but my guide should give you some pointers.
Since the latest nerf, nobody really complains about Vladimir any more. In fact in over 80 games since the patch I have not seen a single Vladimir, and most people treat him as sort of the "annoying little mosquito that really does no harm". Well, we're going to prove them wrong. Oh, so, wrong.
Here is my Vladimir build, there is quite a lot to go through and the guide is still in progress. Please, don't downvote without telling me why first, this is my first build and any constructive criticism in the comment section is welcome, thank you and enjoy
Pros / Cons
Here's a quick list of all the pro's and con's of playing Vladimir.
- You do a lot of damage
- You are extremely lane sustainable
- Vladimir requires a low skillcap to play.
- You are generally quite safe from overextending a little, and you're allowed a lot of leeway for bad positioning because of your Sanguine Pool
- Your Hemoplague could change the outcome of a team fight.
- Also, this:
- You have no hard crowd control.
- You are very weak early game.
- People hate you.
9 x Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
This is self explanatory. 9 magic penetration helps Vladimir a lot early game. And to be honest there's really nothing else worth getting.
9 x Greater Seal of Vitality
180 HP is great on Vladimir, especially with his passive. Gives him increased effective health and AP.
9 x Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
Since we do not want to use Spirit Visage in our build, because to be honest it's a bad late game item and even early game it offers very little to a Vladimir's overall power, we still want the maximum cooldown. This is where these babies come in.
2 x Greater Quintessence of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
These are used in conjunction with above.
1 x Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Ever since the new masteries, you don't need 3 Greater Quintessence of Scaling Cooldown Reduction to achieve 40% CDR. In it's place we get a movement speed quint, simply because movement speed is amazing and honestly a single flat health quint isn't worth it.
This summoner spell combined with Sanguine Pool will allow you escape almost any gank performed on you. You can use Flash but I like Ghost better, because it synergies will with your Sanguine Pool and it's 10 second duration allows for you to get in AND get out during a tower dive, whilst a Flash only allows you to get in, OR get out.
Furthermore, ever since the Flash nerf, the cooldown on the spell is ridiculously long and the range although seemingly insignificant does reduce it's usefulness even further, for example you can no longer flash through some walls with the 50 range reduction.
You can use this instead of Ghost. Although it synergizes less well with your Sanguine Pool it however allows you to flash over walls, flash out of Jarvan IV's Cataclysm or Nunu's Absolute Zero. But what with the increased cooldown and range reduction this is hardly worth getting anymore.
This is useful for the early kills, and even late game kills. At level 18 this summoner spell does 550 true damage and reduces healing effects by 50%.
Personally I absolutely detest this spell, but according to some quick calculations at level 18 this summoner spells heals for approximately 850 with 4 Empowered stacks. That's a significant amount and could mean the difference between life and death. But still, I like Ignite better.
- Start off with a Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion.
- Keep farming continuously until you are forced to head back to base. If you have less than 1200 gold then buy Ionian Boots of Lucidity, 1-3 Health Potion, and 1-2 Sight Ward . If you have more than 1200 gold then buy Hextech Revolver
- Go back into lane and keep farming. The laning phase shouldn't have ended by now, and if it has you either are failing at farming, or one of either teams are failing hardcore. Buy a Giant's Belt.
- Buy Rylai's Crystal Scepter
- If you dying a lot by magical damage, buy Negatron Cloak. If you are dying a lot by physical damage, buy Chain Vest. If you are not dying at all start building a Rabadon's Deathcap
- Finish Rylai's Crystal Scepter
- If you bought a resistance item beforehand, complete it into either an Abyssal Scepter or Zhonya's Hourglass. If not, check the other team and who's the biggest threat and what type of damage they do and build either Zhonya's Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter.
- Buy the resistance item that you have not bought. Unless by some chance their entire team is AD, then you buy a Thornmail or Guardian Angel. If their entire team is AP, buy a Force of Nature.
- If you have your full build, don't forget to buy the three elixirs.
- At any time you have after you build your Giant's Belt you have 900 gold spare, build Hextech Revolver into Will of the Ancients. If your team can gain a lot of utility from 30 AP and 25% Spellvamp, then buy it sooner than later.
- Every time you go back to base, if you have 75 gold spare, buy a Sight Ward. Place it somewhere, anywhere. You'll be surprised how many times it saves your ***.
These boots are for the 15% CDR to attempt to reach the cap for CDR.
Vladimir is a vamp-- I mean Hemomancer, he NEEDS the spellvamp. It makes it so that Tides of Blood can be used to cover it's own cost, and that your Transfusion heals for upwards of 300 per usage.
Even better so, the spellvamp is an aura, which allows gives your entire team 25% spellvamp if they are near you, increasing your teams ability to sustain during poke-wars next to towers.
As soon as you obtain this item, you will become a... dripping pool of awesome power! It provides 140 AP, and increases your AP by 30%.
This is everything Vladimir needs, a slow to keep people in range. HP to give you extra AP and more damage with your Sanguine Pool and more AP. Generally by the time you get this item, you probably would have already won the game (or less likely, lost the game).
Vladimir is a HP stacker, but if you have no resistances your effective HP is very low and you will die very easily. This provides armor so that pesky gap closing AD carry won't be able to kill you. At all. Ever. With your Sanguine Pool you are to become an invincible god of all knowing awesomeness. Coupled that with your Zhonya's Hourglass active and you got yourself a Vladimir that will never. ever. die.
When to use your Zhonya's Hourglass active:
-Use this as a substitute to Vladimir's Sanguine Pool. That's... pretty much it.
This is another offensive item that provides Vladimir with some resistances. It also reduces all surrounding enemy units by 20 Magic Resistances, which if the other team carry hasn't bought any Magic Resist items, this can make you do close to true damage with your runes and masteries.
If by some ridiculous reason the opposing team has only AD champions, buy this instead of Abyssal Scepter. It will make sure that your effective HP for physical damage is astronomically high, and that no one will want to attack you. This allows you to have free reign over... everyone and proceed to get a pentakill. Then watch whilst the other team screams "VLADIMIR OP!" even though they picked 5 AD heroes.
If the other team has only AP champions, buy this instead of Zhonya's Hourglass. It provides a hefty amount of MR, increases your movement speed and gives you a nifty passive of 0.35% HP Regeneration per second (which when you have 4,000 HP is close to 14 HP per second) with an additional 40 HP per 5 second.
This is an alternative to either above, essentially stacking HP to increase the effectiveness of either your Zhonya's Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter. Personally, I don't like replacing Thornmail with this, it doesn't provide you with the nifty 30% damage reflection which really punishes auto attack champions to even try to get near you, however feel free to replace this with Abyssal Scepter as that item was never really that great to begin with.
This item combined with your mastery page will give you a total of 49% Magic Resistance penetration (it stacks multiplicatively). If the enemy is stacking Magic Resistance and your damage output is starting to wither, buy this to decimate them.
When I say stack Magic Resistance I mean that more than 2-3 of the opposing team has more than 120 Magic Resistance. You should buy this item.
Depending on which resistance you need more, you replace either Zhonya's Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter.
The primary variation between two possible skilling scenarios is at level 2 you either get Sanguine Pool or Tides of Blood. I personally prefer Sanguine Pool but I actually don't know why, I feel safer, and at level 2 you don't really need that Tides of Blood to be pushing nor do you need be using it to last hit, unless you're really terrible at using your auto attack.
It's personal preference for me, probably because many a times people have tried to do a pre-level 4 gank on me, and I have unsuccessfully gotten away due to getting Tides of Blood instead of Sanguine Pool
I use to prefer alternating between Sanguine Pool and Tides of Blood but now I prefer to but now I prefer maxing Sanguine Pool at level 13, the cooldown on that baby is amazing and Tides of Blood honestly doesn't scale very well; the increased health cost balances out any potential gain from the increased damage.
- At low levels, this skills cooldown is ridiculously long. Use it primarily to harass, alongside auto attacks. If you see them they are in your range, right click, so you start autoattacking then press Transfusion; it does more damage than you would think. Don't use it to get last hits unless you are not being able to use your Transfusion due to the enemy playing smart, or if you have trouble timing Vladimir's auto attack to get last hits.
- If you are getting low and the enemy is playing smart, not getting into the range of your Transfusion then use your Transfusion on creeps to heal.
- Put this skill on smart cast if you think you know it's range off by heart.
- During team fights, just hover your mouse over the squishy and spam Transfusion + Tides of Blood.
- Transfusion does not change your auto attack target, so if you are attacking a tower and you see an oncoming creep wave, just attack the tower whilst using your Transfusion to kill the creeps.
Before I mention any uses of this skill, you must remember, this skill uses 20% of your CURRENT HEALTH, use it wisely. I will outline the possible uses of this skill below:
If you are about to get ganked, use it to prevent them from using a gap closer or CC'ing you. There is an unmentioned 0.5 second speed boost.
People will hate you for this. At level six, if they're tower hugging, you can use:
Ghost -> Hemoplague -> Ignite -> Tides of Blood -> Transfusion to guarantee a kill. Then use Sanguine Pool to safely escape. Remember, Sanguine Pool also does some damage, and even if you do damage to the enemy champion whilst in pool form you will not receive aggro afterwards, USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. If they are on 1-2 bars health, you can pool under them and fetch the kill WITHOUT gaining tower aggro.
If you think they might be able to live through all the damage you're going to deal, remember you can always charge up your Tides of Blood to four stacks before going tower diving. When you're doing something so risky, you have to get every bit of damage you can.
Keeping someone within your teams range
If you're chasing someone, and you're already next to them but your entire team has no CC. Use this to go under them and slow them. Don't use this as a gap closer it isn't. But if you have to chase someone, and they're just out of your range, use it for the unmentioned 0.5% speed boost.
Disappearing from team fights
So your entire team is a bunch of pansies and you decided to take into your hands to initiate your own team fight (don't do this) or you've found yourself in a pickle due to some bad positioning, with the entire team aiming down on you. Use Sanguine Pool. That 2 seconds will allow your team to run in and remove focus on you. It also does a handy 570 damage with full build.
During the middle of the team fight, they started chasing your Ashe, and they all start moving towards you. They give up on Ashe and decide to focus you instead. Use Sanguine Pool the same way you would above, but instead of standing static, move out towards a side or a brush, or towards the tank, to allow you some leeway.
You're running away from the enemy, you're on 1 bar health, and you think you're about die. But ahead there is a creep wave, what do you do? This is what you do. You run up, Transfusion then Sanguine Pool under the wave. You are now much healthier. If you think you can do it, turn around and decimate the person chasing you.
You can use Sanguine Pool to pop Karthus's Requiem, Ashe's Enchanted Crystal Arrow and much more. I will compile a comprehensive list later, but as a general rule of thumb, as long as it's single target and isn't a leash, you should be able to pop it.
The things you are unable to pop are leashes, such as Nocturne's Unspeakable Horror, Fiddlesticks's Drain.
Well this was pretty obvious, but there are still some skills which can hit you in pool form. Since you still have unit collision, Trundle's Pillar of Filth and Anivia's Crystallize will still obstruct you. Veigar's Event Horizon still works on you too.
Things not to do with Sanguine Pool:
- Farm. If I see you farm with this skill. I will kill you. I will kill you so hard. I will kill you til you are dead.
- Popping a pure damage projectile that'll end up doing less damage to you than if you used your Sanguine Pool.
- Use it to initiate, never use this to initiate. If you do, you have no escape mechanisms, or ability to reposition yourself. A Vladimir without Sanguine Pool on cooldown is a dead Vladimir.
- Be VERY careful when using this skill, it will use a LOT of HP if you start spamming it without using your Transfusion to regain HP.
- This is your primary farming tool, both early game and late game. But if you use it too much, you WILL push the lane, and if you don't have your escape skills up ( Ghost or Flash) there is a chance that a gank may be successful, even with your Sanguine Pool
- With a full late game build, and 4 Empowered stacks, this skill will be doing 960 damage every 2.7 seconds to a possible 5 champions. That means you can do a combined total of close to 5000 damage every 2.7 seconds if the other team some how is all clumped together. This skill is amazing.
- If you are confident you will not be ganked, use this to farm/push.
- At 4 stacks this skill gives an increased 32% healing and regeneration bonus. So as the skill costs more, your Transfusion will heal more, and so will your Spellvamp from Will of the Ancients.
- This skill has a range that is slightly better than your auto attack range.
- This skill hits stealthed units. Very useful for finishing off that pesky Akali who just used Twilight Shroud or that Wukong who just used Decoy
- Use this at the start of a team fight or at any time during the team fight you can see at least 3 people clumped together.
- It increases damage from ALL INCOMING SOURCES by 14%. That is, 14 extra damage per 100. This does not seem like a lot, but how often has the enemy gotten away on 20 health? This changes it.
- The range on this skill is actually really good, if you see an enemy recalling at the tower, you can try and see if you can hit them with the edge of Hemoplague and fetch yourself a pretty kill.
Laning and Counters
Always take mid lane. Always. You need that level 9 as soon as you can, the only times you shouldn't take mid lane is when you are new at Vladimir and unable to play against champions which counter Vladimir. These are the following champions that counter Vladimir:
Champions you have trouble with during laning phase
He has a silence, which pretty much renders you useless. He has a fear, which ACTUALLY renders you useless. Then his drain works even when you Sanguine Pool. He will destroy you. He will eat your for breakfast. If you are not good with Vladimir, do NOT lane against a Fiddlesticks in mid.
He has a silence. And... that's about it. Almost any champion with a silence can dominate Vladimir.
I only ever laned against one when I first started playing Vladimir. This was one time. And I wasn't very good at Vladimir back then, but she was ripping me. She was tearing me a new orifice. I don't know why the other team has put a Soraka in mid, but if they somehow did, let the AD carry go to mid and proceed to feed off them. You will not be able to take Soraka on in lane.
He'll heal up anything you ever do to him with your Transfusion (but only at early levels). His Unspeakable Horror works even if you pool. And then it fears you. And then he tears you apart.
Her DPS is far too ridiculous early game for you to be able to properly handle. You can still manage her to a satisfactory manner if you remember that as long as she doesn't hit you with Headshot or Piltover Peacemaker her damage output is mediocre.
Whenever your Transfusion is off cooldown, run in for a quick Transfusion combined with a Tides of Blood then attempt to dodge if she tries to use her Piltover Peacemaker which is surprisingly easy. You will out-dps her only if she continuously misses her Piltover Peacemaker.
This man rips you a new one. This is one of the only champions that even now I still have trouble laning against. Once he acquires his Catalyst the Protector he will have more sustainability in lane than you. This is because his Malefic Vision requires little to no mana cost, restores him mana, and doesn't wear off if properly managed. He also has Call of the Void skill that silences, which could be the death of you during clutch situations. His Null Zone late game, will be the death of you, as it does % of your health, and you are a HP stacker. If you see a Malzahar at the loading screen, watch out. You will be having a tough time (unless they're really bad).
- Twisted Fate
Wait what?! Twisted Fate?! Yes. Twisted Fate. Not a bad Twisted Fate, they're very easy to deal with, no we're talking about good ones. The efficient ones. The ones who build up their Stacked Deck and come in with a Yellow Pick A Card, auto attacks once, then uses Wild Cards. Since his range is better than yours, you have no way to avoid this combo or to counter harass. You will be melted quite fast.
Need I say more?
Champions that you'll have trouble with in team fight phase
Prepare to be ripped. Her % true damage combined with her already ridiculous base damage will rip you apart. The only way to counter a Vayne is hope that your team kills her before she kills you.
You won't have any trouble with him in lane. He is such a terrible laner it's actually funny. But late game when you've got your 680 AP, and he has his 1.4K AP he will practically one shot you. You can pop his Primordial Burst though, which could mean the difference between life and death, the problem being that a good Veigar will stun you first with his Event Horizon, which is one of the environmental CC's that you can't avoid with your Sanguine Pool. Watch out for good Veigars.
Same reason as Vayne, he punishes HP stackers with his % health attacks.
Champions that you have to be a little wary of
You really won't have much trouble against Tristana, she's a weak champion early-mid game, arguably weaker than you. She just deserves a mention because she does have a healing reduction skill and you must be wary of that. The skill is Explosive Shot and lasts for 5 seconds.
Same reason as above. Her healing reduction is irritating, but really shouldn't give you any trouble. She has to use both her Preparation and Bouncing Blades in order to give you a healing reduction debuff, it too, lasts for 5 seconds.
- Miss Fortune
Once again, same reason as above. Her Impure Shots last for 6 seconds.
Vladimir is a very powerful caster, he has a relatively low skillcap and is very easy to play. But even so, I have seen so many terrible Vladimir's it makes me want to weep to myself.
This guide, I hope changes that. I have tried my best to cover every aspect of Vladimir. To provide you with every single possible scenario that you will face as Vladimir. If there is anything I missed, feel free to post in the comments below.
Remember though, if you feel as if something else should be included into the core build instead of the items I have decided, please provide some proof (of the increased effective health, AP, or such, basically do some mathcrafting first). I have done many an hour of theorycrafting to provide you guys with this build.
I have compared this build to almost every single top rated Vladimir build on MOBAfire, and I believe that this is better for both normal and ranked play. It provides the best mixture of damage, survivability and sustainability. It's an all rounder build, and for those very specific and rare situations I have also provided situational items. I hope I have covered every scenario for a Vladimir player, and wish you all a good day.