Build Guide by Queso
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This is my current way of playing vlad. i try to maximize my early game by getting death cap first, so that i can focus on buying survivability items when the enemy gets more dangerous.
Read item description.
People like to take defensive because vlad has no mana, however this is exactly why you should get as much CDR for "free" as possible. The difference between 1.8 s on your Q and 3 s on your Q is a noticeable difference in damage output.
Another reason people take defensive is because, as you either know or will find out if you're new to vlad he is incredibly weak from levels 1-5. those first few levels your Q is on a huge cooldown for the tiny damage and heal it has, and you are incredibly vulnerable. if people understood this, they'd have a much easier time fighting you.
Always take ignite in solo queue. you want to be sure to get that early kill that sets you up for a good game and ignite plus your ult will almost always make sure you get you your first kill.
Chapter 2: Items
Now, to make up for not taking defensive masteries, I find it is best to start with a ruby crystal. This way you'll likely have a health advantage over your enemy. I don't like starting with pot and tome because you're just too weak early game for it to really matter. i also don't like taking boots because that's kind of pointless unless you're going up against someone with a skill you need to dodge. (eg blitz's pull) Starting with ruby means you cant buy an hp pots but that's what your Q is for. Take too much damage, just sit back and get all your health back. You will hold onto your ruby crystal up until you can get your second needlessly large rod.
Now, you need to get sorcerers shoes so try to farm up 1100 gold. this is huge. Do not take cdr boots. I've tried, it is sub-optimal. If you need CDR during game, just hog blue buff. (of course if you have someone like swain or kass, you should let them have it. but if there is nobody that really needs mana, your pool on about 7 second cooldown is a huge buff to you that you should take)
If you take CDR boots, you are forced to take haunting guise. A vlad with no magic pen would be ******ed. You won't deal nearly as much damage in early game.
The next agenda for you is to farm up enough for the rod and to try to get some kills. How early you get your death hat will likely determine how the game goes for you. Get it early enough and you'll be godlike because vlad can get on quite the roll tower diving like a boss to get even further ahead. You need to be good at farming minions in case the enemy is not gonna give up kills easily.
After Death hat, you should 9.999999 times out of ten buy your Negatron cloak. You have ****ty base magic resistance and that needs to be fixed if the enemy team even has one competent magic dealer. You're an AOE magic dealer? BUY an AOE MR Debuff. Should be common sense.
If they're literally all physical, check for madreds. If they're all physical with no madreds against you then congrats, they're ******ed.
Finish that off, then buy the needlessy large rod (selling your ruby now if you need to- thanks to vlad's passive you won't even notice the ruby has disappeared, which is why i recommend waiting til now to sell it back) Then finish off Zhonya's. Know what's even better than having a pool? Having a pool and also a golden protection charm that gives you armor and 100 more AP putting you around 450.
Assuming the game is still going, go ahead and grab Rylais. Then, finish with another death hat if necessary. (Obviously the passive doesn't stack, I'm not dumb. The death hat just happens to give the most AP in game and if you somehow weren't killing enough before now you should as each consecutive hat adds (155*1.33) = 200 AP
I don't know why people call rylais core on vlad AND rush it first. The Death Hat is CORE. The Death Hat needs to be rushed. It gives you 200 AP by itself, and as such gives you 360 health for free. The Rylai Sceptor on the other hand gives you 80 AP 500 Health, with 12.5 bonus AP and 144 bonus health for a total of 92 AP and 644 health.
They also cost almost the exact same. So What's more scary 10-15 minutes in? Vlad with around 244 AP or Vlad with around 100 AP. Easy choice. Note: I'm assuming either will be your first item, now the rylai gives you more health but your ruby crystal + the bonus from your passive should suffice.
Also I believe every slow from Rylais is considered multi-target on vlad so you're really not gonna slow people that much.
Note: Hextech Revolver and Will of the Ancients....Does not maximize damage, only marginally incre*** survivability. I can only really see getting it after you have some magic resist. But I can't see how it'd be better than any of the items I've listed.
From levels 1-5 you want to gauge your opponent. Are they weak/dumb? Focus on hitting them with Q and backing off. Last hit minions with your auto attacks.
Are they good and harrassing you? Then focus on using Q on minions and trying to keep your health up. Hopefully you have a jungler and can get an easy gank kill.
Level 6. You now have ult. You should probably let yourself get to level 7 for one more point in Q for more damage. If the enemies health is low, the spell order should be R>Q>E>W>ignite.
They should be dead now.
After level 9 its simple. Kill things with Q. Farm with it, harrass. Never let it be on cooldown.
Skilling order is to get your escape on as short a cooldown as possible as early as possible. You do not need the extra tides damage. Because it is stackable you can be doing decent enough damage with just one point. If you disagree, then fine level it higher. Always take pool at level 2 tho, it's your get out of jail free card.
Note: There are probably more counters than I can name off the top of my head but these things all hit you even if you're in pool form:
Nocturne's fear. Ridiculous that a pool of blood can be "feared"
basically the trend is if its a tether already attached to you you cannot drop it. You cannot dodge the environment either (Veiger stun).
gl hf. Could probably add more detail later...