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Varus Build Guide by nrj6490
Face Oblivion: Varus ADC Season 8
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Choose Champion Build:
Know Agony (On-Hit)
Hit Your Mark (Lethality)
Nothing to Lose (Full Crit)
Threats & Synergies
He excels in extended trades, so try to keep your distance if possible. His lv 6 power spike is relatively weak, so you can try to abuse this is you have a support that can follow up your ulti.
What? Someone Draven doesn't counter? Your poke > his harass in lane, and you can probably win trades if you win quickly and keep an eye on your mana, but still be careful for his auto damage and adoration stacks.
She's strong in trades, but doesn't have much maneuverability. Use this to your advantage. Catch her in a combo when she's exposed and chunk her down. When she's out of mana, she has no way out.
You win the poke fight in lane, but due to the re-prominence of early Bio-Arcane Barrage, be careful in trades if his support is peeling for him. Try to lock him down with your ultimate in fights. He's one of the least mobile ADCs.
Jinx's strong suit is high DPS. This is not prominent in her laning phase. You can win trades with the Blighted Quiver passive followed by a damaging ability. She's disastrous if left in a team fight for too long, so try to burst her down early on in the fight. If you get caught in a trap (her E), you'll probably end up having to blow flash or heal if her support follows up.
If you don't get caught out, you win. You win the trade game in lane easily, as you have high chunking damage from long range, and she has to take a while at fairly close range to do her damage. Lock her down in fights and if you catch her not respecting your ultimate.
He isn't as long ranged, but his trading ability is almost unparalleled. Due to his passive, his DPS is high even in laning phase. If you get a gank and an ultimate off, you can kill him, but play extremely carefully and be wary of peel.
If he gets close, he can outtrade you. So keep your distance, watch for opportunities, poke, and CS.
Can be dangerous IF the Sivir knows when to use her Spell Shield. If they do, they'll block poke from a safe distance in lane while responding with some of their own, and will save it to block something more meaningful like your ult or a support engage if she gets caught out. Try to proc your W stacks using Q and E when poking, as she can SS one of them. She's also more useful in fights overall, so make sure to make every Q count.
Tristana is pretty powerful at all points in the game, but slightly less so in laning. Unless you get your full poke combo off quickly, she can all in with her support and probably kill you or blow your summs. However, she does need to be close to get her E off, and if her W is down, has no escapes unless it resets. Watch for her high mobility mid/late game.
A high DPS ADC, Ashe is a pretty dependable choice. She can't poke much in lane, but if she gets all 4 stacks for Frost Shot, she can win trades easily, and if used with her ult, could result in a kill. trade carefully, be ready to flash or dodge her ult if you're too close, and try to lock her down before she does the same to you.
You can usually outpoke and outtrade him, but be careful when he has 1-2 shots left. His auto-Q-auto comob can probably do half your hp bar. His laning phase is very strong, so watch for harass from his support/Jhin W and poke from his Q.
He can blow you up. Make a point of poking him down from a distance frequently, or else he can all-in you and pretty reliably get a free summ or even a kill without committing much himself. He's relatively short ranged, but can 100-0 you in a way that Varus simply can't. Stick to your long-range poke heavy playstyle and focus him in fights.
Her Marial Poise helps her easily juke around your poke and ulti, while simultaneously repositioning to land poke on you. Winning a trade against Kalista, even with a counterpick, is very difficult.
Not played too much, but you win anyway. Kindred needs to get close, and you can easily zone with your E. Be stingy with your ult, as Kindred's can nullify your combo. If you can bait the ult by getting Kindred low without ulting, it's almost a sure kill (assuming you don't miss and Kindred doesn't cleanse or QSS).
Love Tap does a lot of damage on the first hit, but after that initial burst of damage, your combo can outdamage. Be careful of a potential Make it Rain into Bullet Time combo if you're low. Be very careful of her Q bounces. She doesn't have too much kill pressure in lane but can easily force flash or heal.
Her all in is dangerous. Don't bother trying to poke her if she has her Q on you, just get away from Quinn or her all in will kill you. Don't be too aggressive when trading.
His poke is superior if he gets the chance to land it. Since yours goes through minions, you should be safe behind a wave, but your poke is much less mana efficient than his. If you opt for trades rather than poke, you will be able to carve out a lane advantage. Watch for his dodge with E.
Varus' best build in preseason still seems up for debate. For awhile it's been the lethality build, but recently the on-hit Fleet Footwork build has risen. I won't be switching which are the 1st and 2nd builds on my guide quite yet, but will be sure to once the season starts and a superior build begins to emerge. Till then, I've included both in my guide.
+ Good DPS due to on-hit/W stacks.
+ Great poke/chunking of squishies with Q (pen build).
+ Good peel with E and R
+ R good for 1v1ing
+ Good scaling (if you get peeled for in fights)
+ Great tank killer
+ R useful in fights
+ Immobility is biggest glaring weakness
+ Q poke weak late (pen)
+ Can be hard to position in teamfights
+ Q less effective against tanks (pen) (still pretty good considering the state of tanks)
+ Can't chunk out enemies as well as crit ADCs like Tristana, Xayah, Caitlyn, etc. (crit/onhit)
This build is coming back a bit after the start of preseason. With the new runes, as well as with the decline of Ardent Censer supports, the poke based lane is stronger, which helps out champions like Varus, Jhin and Miss Fortune who build lethality. I'll have to swap around the first build in this guide (again) but I'm actually content with this change, so long as it isn't as unbalanced as it was in season 7.
This on-hit, auto attack style of playing Varus first arose in patch 7.5, when Blade of the Ruined King was buffed. This build is similar to his build back then, but as the meta progressed, on-hit based ADCs like Varus and Kog'Maw started to build Guinsoo's Rageblade first item, and became a mid-game force. The first 3 items are mainly focused on bolstering his on-hit damage, with items such as Blade of the Ruined King, Wit's End, and Runaan's Hurricane.
Worse overall than Guinsoo's build, but this build excels in chunking out targets (like a Tristana or Caitlyn). However, the key difference between Varus and these champions is that Varus is highly immobile, which gives him much less insurance on risky plays. Simply put, you have two options for crit build. Either take Essence Reaver first, followed by a Zeal item and Infinity Edge, or take Infinity Edge and 2 Zeal items instead.
Essence Reaver Build:
This build was prominent in the start of the season, when utility ADCs (aka ult-bots) like Ashe and Jhin were prominent. You get 30% CDR from building Essence Reaver and the two other crit items, which lets your ulti off cooldown frequently. Also, it allows you to use Piercing Arrow for some light poke and Hail of Arrows for some self peel often. You also get good DPS with this build, albeit without much mobility.
The runes that I recommend are found in the overview at the top of the guide, but I'll explain them as well as other options here.
Primary Tree: Sorcery
This benefits your poke-based style. It can proc on either your Q, E or R, and the Q/E procs are very helpful in lane (E's slow makes the comet shot easier to land).
An alternative to Arcane Comet. It has a shorter cooldown than Comet and is harder (impossible) to dodge, but also does less damage. Given the longish cooldowns of your abilities, it's more efficient to take Arcane Comet.
This benefits your lane mana management a lot. Stacking your tear can take while, so this can keep you spamming your spells in lane to get an advantage.
This can be useful against a high AP bursty team or even an annoying AP harass support like Zyra or Bard. If you can live without it, take Band.
The Ultimate Hat
Meh. You build CDR anyway with Youmuu's Ghostblade, Ionian Boots of Lucidity and Duskblade of Draktharr. Sure, it becomes more useful than Manaflow Band later in the game, but the advantage that Manaflow gives you in lane is more useful.
Grants movement speed as well as damage based on bonus movement speed. Movespeed is always useful of course, and the extra damage just adds to the benefit.
This rune is better on Varus than on most other ADCs, since his damage is very safe. This allows you to stay topped off on HP while still enjoying the extra damage from the rune.
This gives your poke a lot of extra oomph, very strong in lane. Deathfire used to be a popular keystone for lethality Varus, and its replacement suits him just fine.
This helps with your scaling, but I think Scorch is still better, as it complements your lane as well as your item power spikes.
Secondary Tree: Precision
One of the best runes in Precision. After getting a kill or assist, you recover 15% of your missing health, which can be life saving both in lane or in fights. Recommended.
Presence of Mind
Upon a kill, assist, or level up, you recover all mana used in the last 5 seconds. It can be useful, but most of the time will probably seem like overkill. IMO Triumph is better.
This synergizes well with Varus' passive. Alacrity gives you an attack speed buff on a kill or assist. With relatively low attack speed, lethality Varus benefits from this in fights.
Coup de Grace
This gives you a little bonus AD upon a takedown for 10 seconds, but more importantly, allows you to deal 10% more damage to targets below 40% health. This is a good way to surprise low health enemies with the damage from your poke. Recommended.
Crit or On-Hit Build:
Primary Tree: Precision
Fleet Footwork Varus has begun to emerge, being pioneered by a lot of pro Korean ADC players. It goes well with either enchanter or protector (mage or tank) supports, and helps Varus' low mobility and low sustainability in lane.
Overheal adds to your improved lane sustain. It's especially good with Relic Shield.
Triumph is a great sustain rune. You recover 15% of your missing HP on takedowns, which is amazing for living through close teamfights. The 25 gold doesn't hurt, also.
Alacrity goes great with Varus' passive, [Living Vengeance]. When you get a kill or assist, your attack speed will be off the charts, setting up for the rest of the right or for tower or objective takes.
Grants lifesteal on takedowns. Your passive can act as a pseudo-Alacrity, so take this if you think Alacrity is overkill.
Cut Down synergizes with your identity as a tank killer. You already have plenty of on-hit with this build, and this rune only adds on to the tank shredding that the build brings.
Secondary Option: Domination
Good for lane sustain and helps boost your Overheal shield.
Great for improving your team's vision control, especially since ADCs generally ward less.
This passive buffs your attack speed by 20% for 3 seconds upon a minion kill, and by 40% for 6 seconds upon a champion kill. The minion aspect can be very useful in burning down towers, and the champion aspect can be useful in fights. For example, if you kill a carry early on, the increased attack speed can make it easier and faster to whittle down their front line.
Q: Piercing Arrow
Upon cast, you draw back your bow, and upon click, you fire. You gradually gain more damage the more you charge. This ability is excellent for harass and trading due to its high damage and range. However, it doesn't do a lot before your first back, so don't go spamming it at level 1 expecting huge damage. In trades, try to get stacks of W onto your target before proc-ing them with Q.
W: Blighted Quiver
Gives your auto-attacks bonus magic damage, as well as applies stacks of Blight to the target, stacking up to three times. The "blighted" target can then be damaged with a damaging ability to pop the stacks and deal extra damage. This allows you to trade very well. A nice combo to use in trades would be three autos to apply stacks of Blight, and then either a Piercing Arrow or a Hail of Arrows, depending on whether the target is running or not (Hail if they are, Piercing if they aren't). This can be used for normal trading, but if you want to execute an enemy, get the three stacks, use Chain of Corruption to lock them down, shoot a Q in, and if they're still alive, E to slow and auto to finish them off.
E: Hail of Arrows
This ability deals good AoE damage if maxed and also provides an AoE slow. It pops stacks of Blight, and also helps a lot with waveclear when combined with your Q. It can also help Varus kite and chase fairly well, but you should still be wary of overcommitting.
R: Chain of Corruption
This skillshot shoots some chains (that KINDA look like tentacles) at the enemy, which roots them, deals some damage, and applies 3 stacks of Blight. If other enemy champions are in the area, the spell can spread to them, considering they stick around. As you can imagine, this spell provides for great follow up. Since there are 3 new stacks of Blight, both Q and E can deal heft damage, while saving the other spell for even more follow up. Use this to quickly take down a priority target, or simply as a means of engage, chase, or escape. Get comfortable and familiar with its range.
You need to get a tear first back, in order to have enough mana to be useful. Don't upgrade it for a while though, as it takes longer to stack than someone like Ezreal or Cassiopeia.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Best boots on pen Varus. Lets you do Q damage more often. not much else to say.
Gives good mobility thanks to active, also some lethality and CDR. TLDR it makes your arrows start to hurt.
Duskblade of Draktharr
Good stats, also good for vision control. The other passive is also good if you can make use of it (extra damage+slow upon auto attacking after emerging from being unseen).
Edge of Night
Used to be great on pen Varus, still can be useful. Takes a second to charge up but is essentially a get out of jail free card if you misposition in fights.
Lord Dominik's Regards
Take if you need hard armor pen, as in the enemy team has a Shen and Nasus. This item is especially good at helping to chunk tanks due to the Giant Slayer passive.
IMO better than Dominik's on Varus, since your arrows won't do that much to super tanks anyway.
Maw of Malmortius
Snag this puppy if you need both CDR and a way of staying alive in fights, especially against teams with AP assassins (or just AP hard carries in general). Can also be taken last.
The key element of this item is, of course, the Quicksilver Sash component, which pretty much denies enemy attempts to lock you down with CC. It also gives great lifesteal and damage.
This has moved to first item on on-hit builds like Varus and Kog'Maw. It gives a great power spike when couples with your second on-hit item, and makes you strong in early game teamfights. Plus, it gives you a bit of AD, which can be helpful for poking.
Gives you DPS and movespeed. Simple enough.
Auto attacks on enemy champions increase your MR and drain theirs, making your on-hit autos all the more powerful and also making you safer. A fine addition to any collection.
Blade of the Ruined King
The ultimate jack-of-all-trades ADC item. Gives AD, lifesteal, attack speed, self peel, and on-hit damage. Gives you a reliable early game, and a good platform to jump off of to reach the 50% crit power spike in the mid game.
Spreads your damage around well, useful for waveclear, useful in teamfights. You also have great attack speed at this point.
This crit steroid brings your DPS to the next level. Increases crit damage as well as crit chance, all bundled with a nice 70 AD.
Keeps you healthy in fights and when pushing or sieging. Also gives good AD.
mercurual scimitar Mercurial Scimitar
Gives decent enough MR, and AD, and lifesteal, but the crucial component is the QSS active. It lets you escape hard CC, so time it well.
Lord Dominik's Regards
Take if you wanna shred armor stacking tanks/bruisers that you couldn't otherwise kill.
Take against healing champs like Vlad/Soraka/Darius/Maokai.
Maw of Malmortius
Take against burst mages like Ahri/Viktor/Vlad, or even more DPS based ones that can take you by surprise, like Cassio.
Taken rarely, make sure your team can save you while you're in the process of coming back to life.
Increases DPS in fights a lot, also increases mobility a bit (can walk through minions/monsters/champs if close to enemy champs.
The Pre-6 Combo:
3 W Autos -> Q -> E -> Autos
3 W Autos -> E -> Q -> Autos
These 2 sets of moves are mainly used in lane trading, which you should almost always win, given sufficient mana. The first set (ending in an E) should be used if the enemy laner is already low and you're looking for a kill, hence the late slow for follow up. The second can just be used to harass and chunk, due to it going straight from the E to the Q, since the slow from the E can help you land the Q from a safer distance.
The Ulti Engage Combo
R -> Q -> 3 W Autos -> E -> Autos/BORK active
Basically, you use this combo to take out a priority target at the start of a teamfight or objective (one that you caught out) or as a means to winning a 1v1. Before you use this combo, be sure that your damage is sufficient, as it is very mana hungry and also burns your very useful ultimate. The ulti as the first move not only prevents enemy escape, but also applied 3 stacks of Blight, which allows for a high damege Q immediately after. If their summs are up, don't hesitate to E early if you think it'll help you secure the kill (due to the slow).
The Donezo Combo
Poke with Q -> E -> As many W autos as you can (up to 3) -> Q or E -> R -> Q
This is a situational combo, so only take this if you see an opportunity. If you see an enemy get particularly low due to your or your team's poke, start aggressing more on it. E so you can get in auto range, and pop the stacks with Q. Then if you really think you can finish them off, you can ulti for 3 more stacks and fire off a Q when it comes up for a heap of damage. Due to the high damage of this combo over a long period of time, it's good for taking down tanks.