Volibear Build Guide by Hirengul

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Hirengul

Volibear: The Bear of Freedom (AP Tank/Solo Top)

Hirengul Last updated on April 2, 2013
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 0

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This is my first guide, so I hope that it gets some degree of recognition and is appreciated. As a player, I find myself constantly striving to build sub-standard builds for champions well enough to be used in ranked play. So without further ado, let us delve into the basics of the build.

I've added plenty of notes in the primary build section, so consider those a tl;dr to the rest of the guide for some quick advice.

I find that this build takes advantage of Volibear's survivability and potential for high AoE damage on his Majestic Roar and Thunder Claws -- this build's primary role will be focused on engaging, peeling targets from carries, slowing the enemy team to lock in engages/chases, all while dealing significant enough damage to the enemy team to make yourself a higher priority target and thus tank more effectively.

In short, make it a difficult decision for the enemy team whether they should ACTUALLY focus the tank or not.

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Pros / Cons

  • High Health
  • Multiple Slows
  • Hook/Peel
  • High AoE Damage
  • Strong Initiate/Disengage
  • Vulnerable to healing reduction
  • Not a great deal of armor for a tank
  • Low basic attack damage
  • Dependent on abilities
  • Very fragile/weak early game

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Good Against / Bad Against/Good With

Good Against:
  • Targets with low magic resist
  • Enemies with little to no cc negation or escape abilities of their own
  • Low movement speed targets
  • Low to Medium burst targets without a great deal of hard CC

Bad Against:
  • Targets with high magic resist
  • Targets who deal % of max health/current health damage (watch out for Blade of the Ruined King)
  • Targets with healing reduction
  • Targets with ranged poke/high movement speed/escape tactics (like Teemo)
  • High burst targets, particularly with hard-cc
  • Targets who negate CC (like Olaf with Ragnarok active or Master Yi with Highlander active)
  • Targets who dodge/block autoattscks or blind, like Jax or Pantheon or Teemo)

Good With/Fun Champions to Play WIth and Why:
  • Riven: A successful Rolling Thunder can put enemies in range of Riven's stun, where they stand motionless to be bursted down and slowed with Majestic Roar after they recover from the stun.
  • Singed: Two slows make the target unlikely to escape, and double flips are fun.
  • Nunu: Blood Boil is amazing with Rolling Thunder to help initiates and makes Thunder Claws hurt that much more with the increased AS.
  • Zilean: Increased movement speed is awesome, and what is more terrifying than a bomb strapped to a charging bear?

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Champion Abilities

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Chosen of the Storm
This passive is half of what makes Volibear such an unstoppable force on the battlefield. This will not only save your life when you find yourself in sticky situations, but it also helps out sustain in the jungle/tanking turrets/etc. In some cases (if you are slightly above 30% health and have your passive ready, for example) it may be beneficial to force it to activate by taking damage that drops you below 30% health. This allows the skill to start to recharge for the future + you get to heal up to 60% of your max health for free.

Rolling Thunder
This is one of my favorite Volibear abilities due to its versatility. It, of course, allows Volibear to chase down retreating targets and flip them back to his team, but it can also be used to flip enemies into turret range or it can be used to juke enemies by quickly turning around after running inside a bush, flipping a target behind you, and retreating in the opposite direction. This would be a viable level 1 skill pick over Frenzy if your team is planning on invading.

The passive on this ability stacks on autoattacks to give Volibear increased attack speed per hit (max 3 times) at which point he can activate bite which deals flat damage + damage based on Volibear's bonus health + more damage the lower the target's health is. The passive gives AS to help clear speed + more attacks per second when his Thunder Claws ability is active, and the active is a fantastic finishing hit for low health enemies, or even enemies at any health once your max health is stacked. (don't abuse this active to steal kills!! ...unless they deserve it ^.-)

Majestic Roar
This is going to be your bread and butter ability particularly for this build. When your AP is stacked, it clears minions quick and does a great deal of AoE damage in teamfights. Of course the slow/fear is always welcome as well. I'll use this to last hit large groups of minions (more reliable than basic attacks since it is an instant cast), slow enemies at the edge of range in order to catch up that last bit while Rolling Thunder is active, slow enemies after flipped in the aforementioned juke scenario, etc. Use your imagination.

Thunder Claws
This ability is pretty straightforward. It does AoE chain lightning damage on autoattacks quite similar to that of Statikk Shiv, but the damage on Thunder Claws scales with AP. With CDR stacked, you should have it ready to use in almost every teamfight. It also helps to clear large groups of minions (only worth using on huge groups, since 99% of time if it is used on a single wave, the effect will wear off before the next wave gets close enough to hit). It can also be used to poke champions in lane at a range by attacking minions close to you while the enemies are in range of the chain lightning effect--due to this, it is an excellent zoning tool (people don't like being struck by lightning, so they will generally stay out of your way). It's even quite useful in duels, though note that you have to pause to activate it, and unless it is necessary, I would avoid using it for single targets and save it for team fights.

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A pretty standard setup for defensive masteries/damage negation. Summoner's Wrath will buff both your Exhaust and Ghost, attack speed helps clear speed/increases Thunder Claws's effectiveness, and of course extra AP and Penetration are wonderful things. *wink*

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Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Pretty standard seals and glyphs, the main controversies come in marks and quints. You have a few viable options for marks--go with one of the options or any combination of them that works for you.
As far as quints go, you generally have a few options to select from--mix & match or go one or the other.
  • 3x Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: Used for effective retreats and pursuits. 4.5% movement speed doesn't sound like much, but it can save your life or get you a kill--consider enemies with no movement speed items, just standard level 2 boots and yourself with the same setup. In this scenario, a Volibear with 3 movement quints runs faster than any champion without rune/mastery move speed enhances. (not counting champion dash skills/etc.)

  • 3x Greater Quintessence of Percent Health:Not much in-depth description needed on these. They increase your health by 1.5% each/4.5% total. How much you benefit from this depends on itemization. At a full build using my recommended items, 3 of these quints would increase health by ~165 points.

  • 3x Greater Quintessence of Scaling Health: An alternative to the above. Gives you ~145 extra points of health at level 18, might be better if you would like more in-game flexibility with itemization with no fear of not getting your quint's worth.

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Summoner Spells

Volibear actually benefits from a great deal of summoner spells, some mores than others. I'll list some of the ones I consider most viable and the reasons why.

NOTE: As a general rule, load 1 "utility/damage" spell and 1 "escape" skill ( Ghost/ Flash)

My Favorite Picks/Recommended Picks:

Exhaust is particularly useful on Volibear as another potential gap-closing slow used in conjunction with Rolling Thunder. For duels, it reduces enemy damage dealt + attack speed, and the passive on Summoner's Wrath reduces the target's MR and Armor by 10 each, allowing you to deal more damage to them. It can be used to prevent enemy escape, and is excellent to pop on a high-priority target (AP/AD Carry) during teamfights to reduce damage dealt to your team and make them more vulnerable.

Cleanse is loaded with utility for Volibear, making it my favorite defensive utility summoner spell for him ( Exhaust being my favorite aggressive one). Some basic uses are:
1. It can be used preceding Flash when stunned/silenced to allow Flash's use.
2. It can be used in combination with Ghost or Rolling Thunder (or both) when stunned/slowed/snared to allow movement for an escape.
3. It can remove common cc effects that normally seriously cripple Volibear such as blindness (much of Volibear's damage is reliant on autoattacks through Rolling Thunder, Thunder Claws, and the active on Frenzy that requires 3 preceding autoattacks within 4 seconds--bursting with Cleanse ready to activate makes Teemo a much lower threat to Volibear.
4. Can be used to break cc while in pursuit of an enemy champion.
5. Can be used upon initiation of a teamfight to quickly shed hard-cc effects like stuns or snares that might keep you from peeling targets from carries, being positioned effectively, or from doing damage altogether.

Pretty self-explanatory. Helps you move faster/avoid unit collision. The movement speed is also buffed by Summoner's Wrath , which is nice. It is generally best used to chase down escaping targets, force engagement, or escape.

Random benefit over Flash as an escape skill: It can be used while stunned or silenced.

Other Viable Picks:

A solid choice, it can be used to heal yourself if your Chosen of the Storm is down and you are near death, or give you an extra boost with an active Chosen of the Storm. Also helps heal allies/waves of minions if putting pressure on a turret, and if you opt into Summoner's Resolve you get a bonus 90 health at level 18.

Obviously this can help you get into lane faster so you can spend more time farming. Also useful to help in lanes/gank lanes, particularly when the bot lane has bushes warded.

An obligatory option. Not my favorite, Ghost with Rolling Thunder helps you catch enemies at a distance you could never dream of with Flash, but alas you can pull off Flash + Rolling Thunder flips, which are cool surprise tactics, as well as hop over walls to safety while using Flash.

Another obligatory option. It does damage so it kill stuff. Also good vs. targets with good self heals, like yourself. The ranged benefit allows you to hit targets with it in case you can't take the time to run to them. The biggest 'benefit', if any, would be the early game benefit from Summoner's Wrath .

Barrier gives you a moment of safety to heal up when your Chosen of the Storm activates and also helps you to survive 'oh ****' abilities like an impending Requiem.

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Core Early Game Items:

Mercury's Treads:
Movement speed on Volibear is important as it determines whether a Rolling Thunder will be successful or not, and is required for you to be able to poke champions without taking heavy damage yourself. Gets some quick MR for early game and reduces CC effects.

Seeker's Armguard:
Gives you some armor to help withstand hits from enemy champions/minions and some AP to buff your Majestic Roar and Thunder Claws damage.

philosopher's stone philosopher's stone:
An extremely underrated item, in my opinion. It helps money flow by gold gained, and the HP/Mana regeneration helps you to stay in lane as long as possible, further increasing gold gain.

Core Mid Game Items:

Nashor's Tooth:
I will generally build this item before Spirit Visage to help my clearing speed in lane--it also gives more AP to make your Majestic Roar pokes more painful against enemy champions. Of course, it also is the perfect item to make your Thunder Claws more effective, increasing damage via AS + AP. It also cuts down on CDR to allow more frequent ability use.

Spirit Visage:
If you are laning against an AP opponent or just would like to be generally tankier, I would recommend building this before Nashor's. It gives you the same CDR, extra health to beef you up + add damage to bite, awesome magic resist, and its passive increases the regeneration gained by philosopher's stone.

Eleisa's Miracle:
Speaking of philosopher's stone, it's fully-built form, Eleisa's Miracle, is like the bass line of this build. It gives you all the mana regen you'll ever need to use abilities frequently. Of course the health regen doesn't hurt, either. Best part of it, is it vanishes leaving behind the regen effect, essentially giving you a 7th item slot in the lategame. It's unique passive lower's the cooldown of Heal, should you choose that spell. I would recommend building this from philosopher's stone as late in the game as possible (level 15 at the latest, or it won't vanish) to soak up as much passive gold gain from philosopher's stone. If you finish it earlier, it will free up an item slot sooner, though. Your choice.

Late Game Items:

Warmog's Armor:
Some would argue this an immediate necessity, I would disagree. The aforementioned items are all relatively cheap (as far as full build items go), so allow you to get to this point in the build with relative speed. At this point you should have decent sustain & survivability between Spirit Visage, Seeker's Armguard, Mercury's Treads, and Eleisa's Miracle, but the emphasis of the build up to this point has been directed at the early-->mid game laning phase, in which clear speed is key. The addition of Warmog's Armor to your build will give your Frenzy's bite a little more bite, and your Chosen of the Storm will offer an extra 300 health regenerated. It is at this point, essentially, that you become a tank.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter:
This item offers more bonus health, which has its obvious benefits all around, as well as an AoE slow from your Thunder Claws and adds more damage to your AP-scaling abilities.

Zhonya's Hourglass:
I usually build this item last, as it is expensive. It gives you a little more armor than Seeker's Armguard, and a HUGE amount of AP, which will really make your abilities hurt if they haven't already. The stasis passive on it can generally be used to dodge abilities like Requiem or also to give you invulnerability while your Chosen of the Storm is active so that you emerge with 60% health. Use with discretion--remember you can't move once you use it, which can allow enemies time to position themselves effectively. Also effectively used in duels if you are waiting on a cooldown to finish.

Alternative Items:

Boots of Mobility:
These boots help you run between lanes faster/get into lane faster + gives you high speed initiates (you have level 5 boots until you enter combat/engage enemies with Rolling Thunder.

Berserker's Greaves:
These amp your AS, which means faster clearing, more ult hits, faster frenzy build, etc.

Frozen Mallet:
Used instead of Rylai's Crystal Scepter, this grants 200 more bonus health and a higher single-target slow, as well as more AD to increase autoattack damage. Generally a bit tankier and allows for more of a damage spread.

Guinsoo's Rageblade:
Used instead of Nashor's Tooth, you lose 20% CDR, as well as flat AP and AS, but gain more AD for a higher damage spread and also gain an awesome unique passive that can allow Volibear to enter a sort of 'God Mode' if combined with Chosen of the Storm in which he heals ridiculous amounts of health whilst dealing ridiculous amounts of damage, namely if Thunder Claws is active.

Liandry's Torment/ Randuin's Omen:
Used in the stead of Warmog's Armor and Zhonya's Hourglass, this combination of items offers more armor, magic pen, %current health burn, and a slow passive when struck as well as an AoE slow active.
The opportunity cost is 200 health, some regen, flat AP, and Zhonya's Hourglass's stasis active. This item combination would be more useful against teams who are more AD focused and/or stack health.

Runic Bulwark/ Frozen Heart:
Used in combination in the stead of Spirit Visage and Zhonya's Hourglass, these items give you more armor and useful teamfight auras (reduced enemy AS + your team gains armor/MR/health regen). The Primary drawbacks are that Seeker's Armguard which builds into Zhonya's Hourglass is a cheap core armor + AP item for the early game which has no direct replacement between these two items, you lose a cool increased regen passive from Spirit Visage, as well as a great deal of AP.
This combination would be good for a particularly long game in which your damage output isn't as important as your tankiness to your team and the fate of the game lies in important engages in which your aura's will help your team a great deal.

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Some Opening Notes:

The focus of this guide will be on the top lane, however this build can be somewhat effective in the jungle again with minor adjustments. AP-focused Volibear tends to suffer a bit more in the jungle due to high cooldowns early game and low attack damage resulting in a slower clear speed, which is somewhat remedied if a Madred's Razors is purchased. I've also run this build in the mid lane before, but it isn't extremely effective in mid, as you will likely find yourself hugging a turret for dear life for 75% Of the lane phase. You would likely be utterly shut down mid if you ran this build at any degree of high level play.

Countering With Itemization:

Assuming that you are playing in the top lane, the first question you will want to ask yourself is "what kind of a champion am I laning against?" It is very important that you build in an order that counters your enemy, especially in the early game, or you will find yourself having a difficult time. Here's some ideas to get you started:

Any High-Sustain: These will be mostly champions with no mana & potentially self-heals. Common champions of this nature might include Shen, Garen, or Rengar. Don't let your mana cripple you. Build a philosopher's stone ASAP so you can stay in lane just as long as these guys. Consistently poke while safely farming (a bite here, a roar there) to give them a reason to go back to their base other than their pockets being overburdened with gold.

Tanky/high sustain AP: You will want to focus building Mercury's Treads first, then your Seeker's Armguard to give yourself some more damage. If you take too much damage, build Spirit Visage next, if you are surviving fine, build Nashor's Tooth to do more damage and thus force them into a passive playstyle.

Squishy AP: Once again, focus Mercury's Treads first, but build Spirit Visage before Nashor's Tooth to help counter their likely higher damage output.

Tanky AD: Focus Seeker's Armguard first, then you can even keep Boots of Speed for a while to rush Nashor's Tooth. The key is emphasizing high damage output to make yourself a valid threat. If you build tanky, champions like Garen can play aggressively and keep you pinned to your turret with no fear of taking fatal damage from you.

Squishy AD: Most of the top lane squishy AD's will be melee range like Talon, so your focus after Seeker's Armguard should be stacking health and damage. Getting Rylai's Crystal Scepter after Nashor's Tooth may be a good idea to give yourself a considerable amount of damage, some health, and slow on your spells to retreat more easily/force engages when it is advantageous to you.

The Early Game:

General Laning Tips:

By now you should have a good idea of how to play versus what kinds of champions. Versus champions who have more advantages on you than you on them (see Good Against/Bad Against), it may be wise to play passively and focus farming minions until you can build enough to swing an advantage. When you DO have an advantage though, abuse it. Poke them with well-timed Majestic Roars and Rolling Thunder casts until they are forced to go back to regain health. After they go back, push creep to their turret to kill their farm (turrets killing your minions = they ARENT, thus do not receive gold) and either farm jungle, buy items, or help other lanes depending on the situation. (NOTE: This is a situation where Teleport is particularly beneficial, as you can help other lanes, buy items, and Teleport back to your lane when creep starts to return to your side of the map)

The Midgame/Lategame:


Around the midgame, the laning phase will come to a close and most champions will be roaming the map putting pressure on individual lanes with their teams and team fights will start up. Make sure even in this phase that you aren't aimlessly roaming. Have a goal. Be pushing a lane, setting up a gank, defending turrets, securing an objective, etc. at all times, and if none of these opportunities present themselves, farm the jungle when it is available/safe. Always be doing something to keep the enemy from making gold or be doing something to make your own team gold.

Team Fights

Team fights are where this build will truly shine. Communication with your team is key--make sure the whole team is present or at least that it is an even fight (like a 4v4, as long as it isnt your support jungle, top, mid with CDs down vs. adc, jungle, top, mid with ults up). As a tank, it will generally be your job to engage/start the fight. It is key to make sure that you don't get tunnel vision and charge in at light speed ( Ghost and Rolling Thunder active) and leave your team in the dust. Most of the times you will end up dead and your team will be screwed. This said, once an engagement is started, you should have a set priority list for the battle.

Order of Priorities:
  1. Peel threatening targets off of your carries by tactical use of Rolling Thunder, Exhaust, and Majestic Roar When these skills are on cooldown...
  2. Try to position yourself in such a way that the AoE from your Thunder Claws and Majestic Roar is affecting as many enemy champions as possible. Most of the time you can target a non-carry and still deal a great deal of damage to the carries in range with your Thunder Claws--hitting as many targets with it/dealing more damage is more important than autoattacking a specific target.
  3. Make the enemy carries your primary damage targets.

At this point, I think it would be important to emphasize one thing, which is:
I often see teamfights start out looking wonderfully--the carries are being targeted, everything seems to be going well. Then a carry starts to run. And people start to chase the carry while the other 4 enemies are still damaging your team. The end result is usually the carry living or dying (unimportant) but the other 4 enemies being alive and your whole team being dead.
If minimal effort is required, you can hunt down stragglers after a team fight is won, but do not over-dedicate. When the enemy team is dead is a prime time to secure objectives and push lanes--things more instrumental to the success of your team than MAYBE getting a single champion kill.

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R&R (Recap & Random Tips)

I hope you guys found this guide helpful! If you have any comments/questions/additions to make then feel free to do so in the discussion section! With that, I'll close with a quick recap and a list of a couple helpful hints!

  • Don't forget how squishy you can be in the early laning phase! Forgetting that you are still a baby bear in the beginning can lead to a lot of unnecessary death and feeding on your side, which will haunt you all game long.
  • Take advantage of your ability to poke! Most wouldn't think it, but a relatively effective poke combo is: Build 3 stacks of Frenzy on minions >> Rolling Thunder to get in range of the enemy champion (don't hit them with it!) >> activate Frenzy's 'bite' on the target champion >> Majestic Roar to slow and use the rest of the remaining speed buff from Rolling Thunder to retreat. This combo vs. most champions allows you to deal a good deal of poke damage with very little damage taken yourself.
  • Don't let ranged champions scare you. They are generally squishier than you, and if you can get in range of them, you can make them regret poking you so much and think twice before risking it again.
  • Your main job in teamfights is to be your carry's personal peeler. (sexy bear <3)
  • If you pick up Zhonya's Hourglass, note that activating it will likely lose all of your stacks of Frenzy--( Frenzy stacks fall off after 4 seconds, Zhonya's Hourglass's active lasts 2.5 seconds)
  • Be aware of your counters. To high AS champions with a Blade of the Ruined King, you are a LOT less tanky than you are vs. other champions.
  • Remember your role. Volibear can do sick amounts of damage, but after an initiation is created, he best serves the team in battle by soaking damage and peeling targets from the carries.

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03/30/13 Guide First Published
04/02/13 Mastery Tree Updated, added an alternative full item build + added Liandry's Torment & Randuin's Omen to 'alternative items'