Xin Zhao Build Guide by Clinton
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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.
This is a in-depth guide to play Xin Zhao as a tanky-dps. He will be played as a jungling off-tank in this guide. Please use the Table of Contents to navigate around this guide if you are searching for more specific things. Be sure to like, vote, and comment. Enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: This may or may not be the best guide or the best way to play Xin Zhao, do not rage if this is not what you were looking for. This is simply a role Xin Zhao can effectively play. Thank you.
07-July-2011: Published, Added pictures to "In the Jungle, Resized "In the Jungle" Pictures, Edited "Runes Explanations"
20-July-2011: Slightly Rearranged "Summoner Skill Discussion" and "Updates" Section, Edited Glyphs on "Cheat Sheet"
22-July-2011: Added Alternative Build: Cheat Sheet
25-July-2011: Edited Masteries, "Questions" Section and "Jungling Masteries" Section, Swapped Sunfire with Randuins, Added "Building Item Sequence" section
29-July-2011: Swapped Atma's Impaler for Guardian Angel, Added Attack Speed Runes to Build #1
16-August-2011: Added Build 3
18-August-2011: Masteries Modified on Play Style 3, added "PLAY STYLE 3: ULTIMATE GANKING" changed.
02-September-2011: Updated "Jungling Masteries," Changed Summoner Spell Ghost to Flash
Pros and Cons
Good Damage Output
Area of Effect Slow
Built in Attack Speed
Jungler or Laner
Fun and Easy to play
Requires Dash to reach Ranged Champions
Vulnerable to Crowd Control
No Hard Crowd Control
Asians are often Discriminated.
It has recently been brought to my attention that, a 15-0-15 would actually increase the effectiveness in the jungle versus a 0-18-12 i used to run. The reasoning behind this would seem to be that, the offensive tree will increase jungling speed, whereas the defensive aspects of the old mastery tree gave too much extra defensive stats. At the same time, the movement speed in the utility tree would increase the movement speed of your champion, to get from camp to camp. It is also viable to use a 21-0-9 mastery tree, but if you do, you will lose the unique benefits of the utility tree, and it is also recommended you have the defensive runes to compensate. These offensive masteries would be more effective because you will be able to jungle faster, leading to ealier ganks.
Credits to Slizer002 for correcting me.
Greater Mark of Desolation Armor Pen. is a pretty good choice, it allows for the extra damage.
Greater Mark of Attack Speed Allows you to take your charge over your battle cry. It also aids in the jungle.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist Very good for magic resistance overall.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Mana Regeneration These aid a little if you seem to have mana problems.
Greater Seal of Armor Armor protects you in jungle, hands down.
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration Without armor, jungling its harder. But you should never be out of mana with these.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed Helpful in game at all times.
Greater Quintessence of Health Helpful in jungle and to be a bit tankier.
Summoner Spell Discussion
THE WAY TO GO.
This guide is for a jungling off-tank. YOU MUST HAVE SMITE TO JUNGLE.
As an off-tank you need to run escapes if you are taking far to much damage. A skill like exhaust will not exactly help you too much compared to Ghost/Flash.
Flash is a excellent choice. It can be used offensively to land a charge/knock-up or defensively, when you are tanking and need to instantly fall back. It is very viable.
Another excellent choice, using it during a gank will ensure you landing all three talon strikes (considering they dont flash). It is also a very good spell to run around in a team fight.
Cleanse is a decent choice, but not the best. Flash or Ghost would have greater potential.
Ignite is not a spell the jungler should be carrying, similarly to exhaust.
anything aside from these skills are pretty much off limits if you're playing seriously (especially in solo queue)
Thoughts on Skills
Your passive is like a built in life steal effect! With some attack speed, your healing like a monster. This is what secretly allows you to play without any life steal items. Also, take advantage of this and do not underestimate it. If a fight is very very close do not run. After all, you are an AUDACIOUS WARRIOR.
This skill is in a way a burst. When you dash towards your enemy and activate this skill you put out quite a bit of damage. The final hit also knocks up your target and is very useful.
This skill passively gives you attack speed, which is great! But even better is the active! When activated your bonus attack speed from this passive DOUBLES. The most overlooked aspect of this skill though, is the cooldown effect. While this is activated, everytime you attack the cooldown of your other skills is reduced by 1. With this skill you could pull off Three Talon Strike twice, back to back! In a long fight, that could possibly mean using Crescent Sweep twice!
This skill is great for closing gaps, it can allow you to refocus onto better enemy target priorities and even aid you in your escape. Charging at an enemy minion to escape can potentially be used as an escape mechanism. Once again, with your Battle Cry active, you can be jumping all around a team fight.
Your ultimate is pretty overpowered. It does a decent flat amount of damage in addition to 20% of the enemies current heath! What more can you ask? Oh i know, lets make it an Area of Effect skill and give Xin Zhao some resistance for every enemy champion it hits!
Item Sequence Explanation (1)
Wriggle's is the cheapest life-steal item that will still give you a good amount. In addition, you get a Madred's Razors effect for jungling.
Mercury's are the best choice for boots. Refer to the boots section.
Black Cleaver provides you with attack damage and attack speed. It has an awesome passive as well. This item is recommended by me to be the best offensive item for this build.
Frozen Mallet offers a ton of health and a tad bit of damage. Its effect will ensure your prey will not escape (unless ghosting or something).
When building a Randuin's you can get gold by holding a Heart of Gold. With your Audacious Charge and this active, you'll easily lower the enemies team damage output as well as making you tankier.
Banshee's will provide you with more health and magic resistance. Furthermore, it will enlarge your tiny mana pool (not that you need much) and offer an awesome spell shield.
Atma's will really compensate for your lack of attack damage. Tanky DPS's usually get an Atma's, just because well.. their TANKY. That extra bit of armor wouldn't hurt either. The Cheat sheet shows that the end game Xin has about 3500 health points. This means 2% of your total health is added to your attack damage. That's an astounding 70 bonus damage, almost 2 B. F. Swords! HOW DOES IT GET BETTER? YOU GET CRITICAL CHANCE WITH THIS ITEM.
Building Item Sequence (1)
So, I didn't want to place the order of how to build items above in the "Cheat Sheet" area, so i want to place it here to rid of any confusion as too which component of items should be bought first. This will probably be just a line of what comes into my inventory and such.
> > > >
> > >
> > > > > >
> > > >
NOTE: I do get five Health Potions to start, but i didn't want to place it here. I sometimes get a Dagger or a Heart of Gold even before finishing my previous items. When building Banshee's Veil and Guardian Angel, feel free to buy a type or resistance before another if the situation calls for it.
ANOTHER NOTE: You are going to need to sell your Wriggle's Lantern in order to buy your 6th item. If the enemy team has too much armor to make The Black Cleaver ineffective, replace it with a Last Whisper
Skill Sequence Explanation (1)
Taking Crescent Sweep is obviously priority because it does a good amount of damage that partially scales off the target's total hp. In addition to this, it provides you with resistance. Crescent Sweep is your first priority.
Your second priority is Three Talon Strike. When beginning jungle whether its at Blue buff or twin golems or wolves, Three Talon Strike is very potent. Ranking up this skill will provide you with extra damage for each hit.
As shown in the skill sequence above, after prioritizing Crescent Sweep and Three Talon Strike, I begin to alternate between Audacious Charge and Battle Cry. I take Battle Cry at level 2 for jungling reasons and audacious charge for ganking reasons. The reason I rank Audacious Charge to level 2 at level 8 is because of the extra damage it offers and the greater slowing rate. A rank 2 charge will suffice for slowing the target you choose when ganking. After your Audacious Charge is rank 2, continue to max out Battle Cry.
PLAY STYLE 3: ULTIMATE GANKING
This section is going to be an explanation sort of thing for the build on Team 2. So, the reason why this is going to be "ULTIMATE GANKING" is because of the play style... The way this build goes is placing a single point in Three Talon Strike and then alternating between Audacious Charge and Battle Cry. This will allow for a greater slow percentage on Audacious Charge as well as a quicker knock-up due to the higher attack speed boost from a higher level Battle Cry. This build also uses flash instead of ghost unlike the other builds because it will ensure a knock-up if your target has flash as well (flash to follow). Because this is a build revolving more around your crowd control and attack speed versus the attack damage on Three Talon Strike i prefer to start
x5 in order to rush a Madred's Razor hoping for more of those PROC's. These ganks will hopefully launch your team and yourself forward in the game, however be cautious of the path you take to gank. Try to avoid wards to secure a successful gank. This build will also eventually build into the build similar to the ones on Team 1 or can be modified to whatever the situation demands.
-still in progress-
the idea of this play style was taken from Dun1007's Win Nhao guide, so credits to him.
In the Jungle
So here are a few things about starting in the jungle and such.
The standard starting jungle items would be:
You could start at a few different locations:
1. Small Golem Camp > Wraith Camp > Wolf Camp > Blue Buff > Small Golem Camp > Red Buff
Now this would be the ideal jungle route considering none of your jungle was stolen and you do not gank. But that is not always the case.
2. Blue Buff > Wolf Camp > Wriath Camp > Small Golem Camp > Red Buff
This is not my favorite jungle path but it works. It also allows you to gank after you get red buff.
Feel free the give a gank in between or hold a lane. Sometimes factors such as ganks or lane holding will cause you to modify the route. Please do. When i recall, i always try to get Boots of Speed, then if you can finish Madred's Razors go for it, otherwise i'd just get a Vampiric Scepter over a Long Sword.
A different way to start Jungle which is acually a bit faster would be starting:
1. Wolf Camp > Wraith Camp > Small Golem Camp > Recall
When you recall the ideal item to buy would be Cloth Armor and a Health Potion.
You can then reclear all of your small camps and take your buffs. Now while this is a faster route than others, i find it difficult to steal my enemies jungle with this build. Please take note of that.
NOTE: The routes above are shown if none of your jungle is stolen and stuff of that nature.
NOTICE: If you are inexperienced in the field of invading and counter-jungling please refrain from doing such. Try to stay in your own jungle and be flexible about it. Remember to gank, apply pressure, ward, and help hold lanes!
As you attempt to gank the enemies, pay attention to what they started with and what items they have at all times. You need to notice when they have a ward and when they place it down. This will maximize the effectiveness of your ganks. Ideally you should gank when you have your Audacious Charge along with Red buff. However, that does not mean you cannot gank a lane without Audacious Charge. If your enemy is pushing a bit to far and is low, you can ghost/flash and Three Talon Strike along with your teammates to get the kill. Note that ghosting can be used offensively to chase, and it will allow you to land your Three Talon Strike quicker. Gank accordingly, yet at the same time do not gank so much that you become under-leveled.
NOTE: Don't be afraid to intiate a fight when you see someone on their team out of position (not their tank). If your team is behind you, good things will happen. Just be careful about being baited.
Lets take this step by step:
Step 1: Initiation
In team fights you are quite bulky later in the game. In a head-on 5v5 the tank should be the person intiating, and you are to follow. Your job would be to Audacious Charge onto their carries and wreck some havoc while tanking a bit for your team (don't forget to use Randuin's!). When following your tank, its not a bad idea to wait a little and not follow in after he is not under attack. The enemy team WILL FOCUS YOU, if they are ignoring the tank. The best time to use your ultimate is when you can hit as many people as you can, and if you are being focused i recommend using it anyway to hit 2 or 3 for some resistance.
Step 2: Post-Initiation
Once you are on your target you should continue to destroy them, hopefully your not on their tank. If they flash out DO NOT chase them, you have to help your team by staying where all the action is at. BUT, if any enemy is foolish enough to come back while low, do not hesitate to dash onto them and annihilate them. As the fight is continue also watch your teammates. If your carries are being targeted go and help them. Your Audacious Charge and Three Talon Strike will help you peel them off your teammates.
Step 3: Chase or Flee
People die and stuff, whatever. Use your own judgement whether to flee or chase. Majority of the time though when the fight is almost a tie, I recommend fighting till death. Majority of the time you will emerge victorious (considering you arent fighting someone super-fed or you are under-fed/farmed). You will leave people saying "ARE YOU KIDING ME?"
NOTES: Activate your Battle Cry and Three Talon Strike immediately after you Audacious Charge onto someone. This will maximize your initial damage and will allow your Three Talon Strike and Audacious Charge to be available in a few seconds. Don't forget to throw in your Crescent Sweep somewhere in there.
EXTRA NOTE: DO NOT foolishly use your Audacious Charge if the enemy is already in front of you, only use it to gain distance.
More Item Builds
The items in shown in the "Purchase Sequence" is my standard build for a well balanced team.
However, that is not always the case.
In my opinion the most exciting build for Xin is when they are physical damage heavy where you could use this build:
> > > > >
The reasoning behind this build is simple: The Black Cleaver allows you to put out ridiculous amounts of damage, and with your attack speed thats not a problem. A Sunfire Cape will not only make you more tankier, it will also allow you to put out some extra damage. With a Frozen Mallet your prey has very slight chances to acually escape from you, it also gives damage and health. Randuin's Omen will give you armor, and make them move in slow-motion. It's quite rare, but sometimes you will get as far as another item. An Atma's Impaler will give EVEN MORE DAMAGE and as this build is centered around, more armor. You will have to sell your Wriggle's Lantern to make room for this item. Alternatively, a Guardian Angel would also work for this slot.
On the other hand, if the opposing team is very magical damage heavy:
> > > > >
Similarly to the other item build, Mercury's Treads, The Black Cleaver, and a Frozen Mallet i feel are the core items for Xin. We obviously grab Banshee's Veil for that awesome spell shield and at the same time a bit of hp and mp. Sunfire Cape should be grabbed just because its damage as a defensive item is too cool. In addition, the extra hp a Sunfire Cape gives will further boost the efficieny of the Force of Nature. Like the first build, start with a Wriggle's Lantern and sell it later as you require room.
PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE SITUATION, tweak your build around to be the most effective off-tank you can be.
Attack speed boots. With a Black Cleaver and your battle cry, you should have sufficient attack speed. Thus, you have better boot choices.
Mobility is NOT a good choice, as Xin this will only benefit you as you are traveling from place to place. Not Xin Zhao worthy.
These boots will help you chase people but with a Frozen Mallet and your charge, these boots are hardly necessary. There's better choices.
Cooldown reduction. You get enough of this stuff from your Battle Cry active.
These are only if your DESPERATE for armor. But with the armor stacking build, you will hardly need these. Your better off with the Tenacity on Mercury's.
This should not even be discussed. Mobility would be more useful than these shoes. (don't get either)
FINALLY. These guys are the way to go, with the Tenacity and a bit of magic resist, these shoes are a good pick every game!
Alternative Defensive Items' Discussion
Thoughts on other items will be posted here.
Not the most best choice as an item, because with your other items you should have a good amount of health. Stacking more health will cause you to lose damage or resistance. This is only good for your Atma's but shouldn't be depended on it too much. Your mass health pool will make you more vulnerable to a Madred's Bloodrazor.
This item will boost your life steal rate at a noticeable amount, but it's not as effective as it would be on say... Warwick. Similarly to a Quicksilver Sash it has a low value, and can be replaced by a higher value item later in the game.
Unnecessary attack speed, but a bit of magic resistance, in addition to adding a bit of damage. Its a decent item.
This item does provide a good amount of armor, but with it comes unnecessary mana. Compared to a Randuin's, a Randiun's would probably be a better gold efficient choice.
Alternative Offensive Items' Discussion
More thoughts on other items will be posted here.
I acually choose not to run any lifesteal on Xin. His passive along with some attack speed is sufficient recovery. Keep in mind you are not exactly the attack damage carry, you are merely a tanky-dps (an Overpowered one at that).
This item could help you melt any enemy without loads of armor, but it offers no defensive benefits. Focus would easily shut you down, I don't recommend this item.
The critical strike aspect of this item is great! But with it comes some more unnecessary attack speed. Similarly to an Infinity Edge, it offers no defensive benefits. In addition, Phantom Dancers usually are bought with an Infinity Edge. You will have to lose parts of your defensive aspects. Not the way of an off-tank.
This item will make your damage output increase by quite a bit, but does it matter if you melt down when focused? Besides, why would you take even more attack speed? Your not Master Yi.
Good Alternative Items
A Bloodrazor can be a replacement for your Black Cleaver if necessary. Under the circumstances that the enemy team is quite beefy or has so much armor that your Black Cleaver would be very ineffective. If the enemy does choose to stack armor against your team, the magic damage from a Bloodrazor would be the ideal item.
A Youmuu's is a good alternative as well. Holding the avarice blade will provide you with some gold generation. Along with the active effect and your battle cry, your damage output will be a tremendous amount. Keep in mind that your battle cry active will lower the cooldown of your other skills, everytime you attack (VERY EFFECTIVE).
This is not a terribly bad choice if your going for some armor. It will provide you with the extra HP you need for bonus damage from Atma and at the same time give you an aura of hurt. It'll increase your damage output by quite a chunk.
A very situational item that can be useful for enemies such as Malzahar, Warwick, Vladimir, or Mordekaiser. Later in the game though, you may want to sell it for an item with more value, such as a Force of Nature.
This is a decent all-around item, it provides a slow, attack speed along with critical strike, and some extra damage. In my opinion though, a Bloodrazor or Cleaver is the way to go.
This is a very good situational item. You may have to grab this item to replace your Black Cleaver if the enemy team stacks armor and renders your Black Cleaver useless. In addition, its effect also applies to your ultimate, which helps maximize your damage with it.
I took this out of the original build, because i realized that Guardian Angel is more of an item you get when you're playing as pre-made 5 (something i usually do), so that it's not always a viable choice in solo queue ranked. In solo queue, your teammates are more likely to leave you alone, and allow you to revive, just to die again. Other than that, this item will make you LEGENDARY, as you will be UNSTOPPABLE, with a good team of course.
So... No life steal?
Xin Zhao's Passive, Challenge along with a decent amount of attack speed is a sufficient way to recover your health.
Wriggle's will provide you with a pretty good amount of lifesteal for little gold. In addition, its a free ward every few minutes. It's a good item overall and could be sold when you need room and are tanky enough.
Remember. You are tanky and you already have a way to recover health, you DO NOT need a The Bloodthirster or any sort of life-steal aside from a Wriggle's Lantern.
I'd like to use this section to answer a few questions before people dislike my guide.
Why did you write a section about boots? Thats stupid.
I wrote a section about boots, because the choice between greaves and treads are quite close. And odd enough their are always some people who like to take mobility, swiftness, or lucidity. I didn't want to write a section purely for the comparison between treads, greaves, and maybe even tabis, so i did all the boots.
Your build doesn't really destroy the enemy... Why not get more damage?
I realize that Xin Zhao can be played as a very high dps champion, but i feel like Xin should be played as a more tanky character. I feel like Xin is like the second tank of the team. After all, he is melee.
Why do you perfer a Black Cleaver over some other offensive item?
Black Cleaver is usually obtained earlier on, when your enemies do not necessarily have lots of armor. With your attack speed Black Cleaver is very effective and will shred enemies early in the game. In addition, Black Cleaver provides attack speed and damage, as well as its ability to debuff your enemies. This means that while you are not exactly the guy with the highest damage per second, your helping your team do extra damage by lowering the target's armor.
Why don't you go Armor Penetration Quintessences?
Armor Penetration can be obtained from Marks and your Black Cleaver will suffice (Last Whisper if you replaced your Cleaver).
I notice you have a lot of redundant statements in this guide. Why?
Well I like to emphasize the things I repeat, or I simply added/changed things as this guide was made and did not want to change everything to follow (yes, I am quite lazy).
To be honest, every time i finish a game with Xin Zhao, I notice I have just as much Damage Taken as my tank, and as much Damage Dealt as my carries. This leads me to conclude that Xin Zhao is VERY EFFECTIVE with this play style.
Well if you actually read this entire thing, good job. This is one of my first guides, so be sure to like, vote, and comment. Feedback always makes me feel better. Thanks for reading, and good luck. (Who am i kidding? Xin Zhao is too overpowered, you don't need luck.)