Varus Build Guide by Yearth
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.
Please do note that this guide is currently a work in progress! I will finish it as soon as I get the time and opportunity to play more with the most amazing champion in the League.
Thanks to Jhoijhoi for "How to make a guide"!
Hello everyone, I'm Yearth and this is my guide to Varus, the newest champion in the League.
Upon catching the first glimpse of him, I fell in love. I had never really enjoyed playing AD carry until Graves was released. But then Varus was released: a refreshing new carry with a unique ability (Piercing Arrow) as well as an ultimate that is more sophisticated than merely dealing damage.
This is my first guide and I therefore ask you to take it easy on me; I will read (and, if needed, reply on) every comment posted here. If you have input to make, I will gladly consider trying it to see if it truly works out better.
This guide will be updated regularly.
Pros and Cons
+ High damage potential
+ Interesting, original mechanics
+ Amazing CC with his Chain of Corruption
+ Long-range harassment
- Squishy without his ulimate or Flash
- No escape skill
- Difficult harassment if you can't stack up Blighted Quiver
Runes on Varus are pretty standard for AD carries in the game.
Greater Mark of Lethality
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Greater Mark of Desolation x9 - Armor Penetration is good. It (obviously) empowers your auto attacks as well as the damage dealt with Piercing Arrow and Hail of Arrows.
Greater Seal of Armor x9 - You are an AD carry. This means that you are on the bottom lane. Against any team with a decent setup, their AD carry will be on the bottom lane too. This helps to prevent that Ashe or Caitlyn from harassing you too badly.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist x9 - Being the AD carry, their AP carry will also be focusing you once the laning phase is over. Because Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist gives you more MR past level 10 than Greater Glyph of Magic Resist, I prefer having these over the flat ones.
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage x3 - We have our Armor penetration, but we still need some damage to actually inflict something when that armor is gone. Using these will grant you that decent extra boost.
There are a couple of options you may consider choosing for Varus.
Heal is one of the two Summoner Spells I would recommend by default. The current metagame often includes the AD carry taking this, because it's useful in many occasions.
- It may lure the enemy team into a tower dive: you wait using Heal as long as possible, and hope that your enemy is inexperienced enough to dive you in your tower. Pop heal, CC them in there if possible, and hasta la vista.
- Later on, in mid- and lategame, you will often be focused in team fights, even if your teammates are trying to protect you. Using Heal gives you that little extra time that might grant your team the opportunity to help you, or for you to finish off your aggressor yourself.
Flash is probably the most overpowered Summoner Spell in the game. Because you don't have ANY escape plan other than using your ultimate Chain of Corruption, you will really want to have this one.
Exhaust is an optional replacement for Heal. It can be used in several situations.
- You are under attack and won't be able to survive using Flash and/or Chain of Corruption;
- You can secure a kill by using this in the chase;
- You can render the enemy's main damage dealer useless during a team fight.
I would only recommend using Ghost if you aren't level 12 yet and cannot pick Flash. You -could- replace Heal with it, but I just don't think that having both Flash and Ghost is ideal for Varus.
Teleport is a nice summoner spell, but I would have your Top laner have it.
35% attack speed is nice to quickly stack up your Blighted Quiver. However, I feel like, as this is a percentage just like Living Vengeance, is inferior to other summoner spells. I haven't had a chance to really test this, so if you can prove me wrong, I really encourage informing me about this in the comments section)
Ignite is nice in several occasions as well. However, we already have our Hail of Arrows to provide us with a reduced-healing-effect. The damage over time effect on this is nevertheless nice, but I would leave it to your midlane teammate.
A really nice defensive ability. We are at a crossroads here, however: just like with Ghost, Flash is the superior 'freedom spell' of the three. Picking both Cleanse and Flash gives you a lot of freedom and a greatly increased chance to escape a gank, but causes you to lose Heal or Exhaust.
I haven't been able to test the Cleanse- Flash combo yet. I can imagine that there's situations in which you will want to pick Cleanse rather than Heal, especially in Ranked games where you are facing a lot of CC on the enemy team. Just like with Surge, if anyone can confirm or deny this before I have had the chance to try it myself, you are more than welcome to leave your conclusion in the comments section.
We only have slight potential mana issues early game. Clarity is definitely inferior to Heal or Exhaust.
Skill explanation & sequence
The main reason I love Varus is because of his partially unique mechanics. I will explain these below.
Living Vengeance - On kill or assist, Varus temporarily gains Attack Speed. This bonus is larger if the enemy is a champion.
This is a pretty good passive. Upon killing a minion, it grants us 20% attack speed for 3 seconds, while Champion kills give a whopping 40% lasting 6% seconds.
In some occasions, especially in the laning phase, it's worth to first kill off a minion before proceeding the gank on an enemy champion. Especially when you don't have a lot of attack speed yet (Read: before purchasing Zeal, the 20% really does add that 1 or 2 extra hits you may need to be successful. In team fights, just make sure that you took part (whether it's a kill or an assist) in the first kill that is made. The 40% bonus is hard, and if your team manages to win the fight, the bonus likely lasts long enough to have helped you chaining kills.
Piercing Arrow - Varus readies and then fires a powerful shot that gains extra range and damage the longer he spends preparing to fire. While preparing to shoot Varus' Movement Speed is slowed by 20%. After 4 seconds, Piercing Arrow fails but refunds half its mana cost.
This is your main damage and harassment ability. It's a unique mechanic: The first time you press Q, Varus will draw back his bow to prepare the shot. At this point, you will see its range extending. Pressing Q a second time will fire the arrow in the direction you chose. If you didn't press Q a second time, the ability cancels after 4 seconds, refunding half the mana cost but triggering the cooldown.
This ability is amazing! Not only does it trigger the stacks of your Blighted Quiver (as explained below), it also does plenty of damage by itself and at such long distance that it can be used VERY tactically. I will elaborate on this in the Tactics chapter.
The longer you let this ability charge, the more damage it does. It is therefore often best to have it reach its full duration when used to harass, but in a teamfight or 1 on 1 duel, you may want to release it as soon as possible, because your standard attacks are disabled during the charging. If used wrongly, this can result in a major damage loss!
Blighted Quiver - Varus' basic attacks deal bonus magic damage and apply Blight. Varus' other abilities detonate Blight, dealing magic damage based on the target's maximum health.
A second passive ability, but nevertheless one that is not to be overlooked. What this ability does, is apply an effect (Blight) on the enemy for 6 seconds. This effect stacks up to 3 times. For each stack of Blight, Varus does additional magic damage on his attacks. HOWEVER, Your other abilities can detonate this effect. This causes additional percentage damage.
This means that you can first auto attack an enemy champion 3 times, run back whilst charging your Piercing Arrow, and finally hit them in the face with it, dealing the Arrow's damage as well as the detonation damage. Great harassment guaranteed!
Hail of Arrows - Varus fires a hail of arrows that deal physical damage and desecrate the ground. Desecrated ground slows enemies' Movement Speed and reduces their healing and regeneration.
This ability is similar to Miss Fortune's Make it Rain. However, there are some differences. Hail of Arrows does the damage in one burst, whereas Make it Rain does this over a few seconds. Another perk of Varus' version, is that enemies on the desecrated ground (that remains for 4 seconds) have a reduced healing effect. It also slows enemies walking this ground.
This ability is great on several occasions. I'll explain more in the Tactics chapter.
Chain of Corruption - Varus flings out a tendril of corruption that immobilizes the first enemy champion hit and then spreads towards nearby uninfected champions, immobilizing them too on contact.
A great ultimate if used correctly. Think of this one as a spreading version of Amumu's Curse of the Sad Mummy combined with Malzarhar's Malefic Visions without the requirement to kill a minion/champion before spreading. Save this ability wisely for it may very well turn the tide in a team fight. Do keep in mind that this ultimate cannot bounce onto champions it has already struck.
The focus of the sequence lies on the maxing of Piercing Arrow as soon as level 9, followed by Blighted Quiver. Put one point in Hail of Arrows at level 4, and max it last. You take points in Chain of Corruption at levels 6, 11 and 16.
Items & General gameplay
Varus is built just like several other AD carries. I have found that the below build works best (so far!).
I start off with a Doran's Blade and a point in Piercing Arrow and head to the bottom lane, killing Golems on the way (depending on which jungler you have). Get those last hits, and once you hit level 2, put a point in your W ability: Blighted Quiver.
Try to sustain as long as possible. Ideally, have 920 gold for Berserker's Greaves and some Health Potions before going back. Next, rush a B. F. Sword, followed by Zeal.
By now, you should be working on finishing your Infinity Edge. Especially with the Crit bonus on Zeal, you should really see this item ripping things apart.
Next, upgrade your Zeal into a Phantom Dancer. Take the Cloak of Agility prior to the Dagger, if your farmed gold allows it.
We now have a nice amount of damage, attack speed, critical strike chance and hell, even movement speed. So what do we need? Some lifesteal will surely increase your sustainability.
This is where you start on The Bloodthirster. If you are low on gold, buy the Vampiric Scepter first. If you are over 1600 gold, I recommend purchasing the B. F. Sword first, unless you feel that the attack damage is lost because you die so fast that you'd benefit more from the Lifesteal.
These are all the core items Varus will need. From here on, you have several choices depending on the enemy team.
Scenario A: Their AP champions are destroying you, or CC is rendering you useless.
Scenario B: Their AD champions have managed to outfarm you and are tearing you down!
Scenario C: You are doing well, and the enemy team is stacking armor!
Purchase either or , depending on how much armor the enemy team has. The Black Cleaver will give you 45 armor penetration as long as you keep the 3 stacks up, whilst Last Whisper grants you 40% at all times.
45 / 4 = 11,25.
11,25 x 10 = 112,5.
This would mean that Last Whisper is better on targets that have at 112,5 armor or more. BUT at that point we overlook one thing: you will often enough use your Piercing Arrow on targets that you didn't hit with auto attacks. You will not get the benefit of the reduced armor by The Black Cleaver, but you WILL get the 40% that Last Whisper grants. I would therefore say that Last Whisper is superior in almost any case.
Scenario D: You are doing well, and the enemy team isn't bothering to try and stop you.
Purchase a second , followed by another . However, you may wish to consider a nevertheless, because even a team slowly finishing their builds will eventually catch up on you.
If you have filled all 6 of you item slots, don't forgot to purchase Elixir of Agility, Elixir of Fortitude and Elixir of Brilliance! Also, purchase an Oracle's Elixir when needed.
Using Piercing Arrow to steal Dragon
I've managed to steal the dragon buff a couple of times from the enemy team. If your team has warded the dragon and the enemy starts attempting it, this is done in the red colored part of the image above.
Stand in the green part, (unless warded by the enemy) hidden from their team, and charge your Piercing Arrow. When the dragon nears death, release the arrow to deliver the final blow. While this may not always work because of the enemy jungler using their Smite properly, it sometimes does work.
Using Piercing Arrow to steal Baron Nashor
Similar to stealing Dragon, this also works with Baron Nashor, but is more difficult.
The enemy jungler will likely be focusing more on securing the last hit with his Smite, and you need to pay more attention to the health bar, because it has to be relatively lower than with the Dragon.
However, since it costs you pretty much nothing, you might still want to try it.
Once again, stand in the green area, and when the Baron is falling low on health, charge your Piercing Arrow. Once again, release it and (obviously!) anticipate it to have its damage deal the final blow. Once again, a small chance of success but hey, if you -do- manage to pull it off, that's a free 300 gold for each one of your teammates as well as the awesome Exalted with Baron Nashor buff!
Harassment with Piercing Arrow and Blighted Quiver
Varus has excellent harassment opportunities using the two skills mentioned above.
As you know by now, Blighted Quiver is applied by Auto Attacks and stacks up to three times, and can be triggered by using one of Varus' other abilities.
The key to harassing with these two abilities (which can be done as early as level 2) is building up the three stacks. Try to harass your target as much as possible by doing an auto attack at least once every 6 seconds. Upon gaining the three stacks of your Blighted Quiver, start charging your Piercing Arrow. Anticipate where your target is going, and have tha fired arrow trigger the 3 stacks. You can rinse and repeat this, because the only mana cost is the arrow itself.
Beware: If you get no opportunity to hit the target with your Piercing Arrow and have to wait for the duration to run out if you need the 50% mana returned, the 3 stacks have likely faded. This can be a serious loss in amount of harassment, so make sure that you at least have the opportunity to hit your victim!
Using Hail of Arrows and Chain of Corruption at level 6 in the laning phase
I've noticed that using these skills at level 6 in the laning phase can potentially cause an easy kill.
Several supports on the bottom lane ( Soraka, Taric, etc.) have healing abilities. If you start a gank, it's a guarantee that they will use their heal on themself or their laning partner, whoever is taking the damage (unless they're Sona of course, but still).
Initiate the gank with your support by using your Chain of Corruption when you are for sure that it will spread to the second victim. See if they will take on the fight or run back, and anticipate your Hail of Arrows on that. Make SURE that your focused target is on the ground when the healer is going to do their heal, to reduce the effect by 50%. Next, follow the 'regular' rotation by doing your Piercing Arrow every three stacks of Blighted Quiver.
Note: This works best with a support that can keep your enemies on the soil of Hail of Arrows. Think of Taric and his Dazzle, or perhaps Alistar's Pulverize.
Compatibility with Supports
Being on the bottom lane, you'll be laned with the Support on your team. Every support has its strengths and weaknesses, but some are just better for Varus than others.
Taric is probably my favorite champion. Every ability he has is great for us: his Dazzle can give you the stun needed to get a kill or escape, his Imbue is great to sustain and overcome the enemy, and his Shatter increases our survivability against their AD Carry.
Alistar is a great laning partner too. While his heals with Triumphant Roar are small but often, his amazing CC with both Headbutt and Pulverize can give you a really good chance at scoring a kill. Oh, and his Unbreakable Will also allows him to dive the tower to give you an ever bigger opportunity.
Soraka is a nice asset to our lane, because she increases our sustain pretty well. Not only does she have her Astral Blessing to restore our health, she also has the ability to restore our mana with Infuse. This is, however, at the loss of a CC ability.
The result? You will be potentially able to harass more with your Piercing Arrow, but there is less opportunity to nuke. It can work, but I personally prefer a support that has some CC.
Nidalee is another potentially good support. Again, this support is able to heal us with her Primal Surge. Her Bushwhack traps are also nice, by acting similar to a ward and also reducing the armor of enemies that trigger them. The biggest advantage to Nidalee, however, is her ability to also lash out pretty badly at your enemy with her Javelin Toss. Playing with her on a lane will really scare your enemies due to you having two (potentially) devastating skill shots.
If you can control your potential long-range harassment when laning with a Nidalee, you might not have a lot of killing opportunity due to her lack of CC, but you might very well manage to outfarm and outlevel your foes.
Janna is sometimes a difficult support to pull off perfectly, but has a lot of potential. She has no heal, but her Eye Of The Storm still increases your survivability. Another nice touch to this ability is that it also increases our attack damage - a decent ability in defensive situations, and great for offensive ones. The most important ability to our success is her Howling Gale. If she places this well, it can really turn around your opponent's gank or secure your own.
The same goes for Monsoon, really. Nicely placed, this is both a killer and a lifesaver.
Pentakill on my first day of playing Varus!