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Orianna Build Guide by HKSubstance

AP Carry HKSubstance's Orianna and general game guidelines

AP Carry HKSubstance's Orianna and general game guidelines

Updated on December 1, 2012
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Hello everyone,

First of all, let me introduce myself: I am HKSubstance, I'm 22 years old and live in Switzerland. I've been playing LoL for about a year, while grossly neglecting my BsC in mechanical engineering because it's such an awesome game :-)

I'm not a professional player at all. I hover at around 1250 elo, and I'm writing this guide for players in this segment, which IMO make up the largest part of the community.

As the title says, in this guide I will explain how I succesfully play Orianna in the mid lane, and I will also be giving general guidelines for this game that will surely make you a better overall player. ;-)

I've tried to make this guide as short as possible. Instead of making lists of runes/items stats which honestly everyone can look up in LoLwiki, I concentrate on giving logical reasoning for the choices I make when playing Orianna.

I will be using popular abbreviations (i.e AoE, DoT, AP) and referring to concepts (warding, farming, etc), so the reader should have a general knowledge of these before reading this guide.
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Why Orianna- Pros and Cons

Runes & Masteries

Skill Sequence


Summoner Spells

General Guidelines

Guidelines for AP carry role

Guidelines for mid lane


Early Game

Mid Game

Late Game

Final Words

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Why Orianna - Pros and Cons

The main reason I play Orianna is because she has such a teamfight oriented skillset. She synergizes very well with initiators (Malphite, Shyvana, Amumu, etc) since she can place her ball on them and activate her skills from a very safe distance, dealing lots of AoE damage to the enemy team. All of her skills deal AoE damage!

But wait, there's more. Not only does Ori shine very well in the late game (teamfights), she also has a very solid early game:
    Her passive allows you to last hit effortlessly with autoattacks
    The ball can be used as a free ward with command attack. This is very useful for preventing first blood from invades
    Command dissonance speeds you up and slows enemies down, which helps a lot when escaping from ganks
    Command protect gives you a shield which you can use to trade in your favor

Let's talk about her weaknesses now:
    She is very squishy. Squishiness is however present amongst most ranged mages, so it's obviously not a deal breaker.
    She is slow! her base MS of 300 is the lowest present in the League. You will have trouble running away from faster foes such as Diana, Veigar, and whatnot.
    Command dissonance as an escape is not as reliable compared to blink skills like Gragas' body slam or Ahri's ultimate. Hey, but at least she's got something :-)
    For an optimal mid-game, Orianna should always have the blue buff. If you happen to lose it, your mid game presence will be impaired.

As you see, I couldn't come up with any deal-breaking weaknesses. That's what makes Ori IMO such a safe and reliable pick.

In the early/mid/late game section I will discuss some of the points mentioned above in detail.
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Runes & Masteries



I pick magic penetration reds. This is pretty standard on AP carries since it maximizes your damage output in the late game. Nothing else to discuss here I guess.


I pick HP per level yellows. The reason behind this is that I don't build Rod of Ages, but I still wish to get some HP for survivavilty. 9 Of these will give you around extra 180HP in lvl 18, which equals to around 10% more life. Quite a difference, don't you think?

I've seen that a lot of people favor mana regen yellows. I don't like these because they won't scale into the late game (When you have Athene's unholy grail, the mana regen given by these runes will be irrelevant. 10% extra HP won't be irrelevant!).

So, I'm missing out in the mana regen early game. Most cases, that doesn't bother me at all due to the following reason:
    Most of the time, my opponent will be a mana-based mage as well. If he is smart, he won't push the lane, and I will be able to last hit with my autoattacks.

The only champion that gives me trouble in the early game is Morde, since he can push the lane very hard so that I have to last hit under my tower. I am forced to use my spells to last hit the creeps, which leads to early mana starvation. My solution for this is asking my jungler for a gank, or just for some help pushing my lanes.

So, that's why I think HP/lvl yellows are the best choice on Orianna.


I choose the AP per level runes, since they provide a nice amount of AP for the late game, and I like late game damage.

Some people prefer flat MR blues to make them a bit tankier for laning; I find that to be a very reasonable choice.

You might have noticed that I have zero MR in my runes/masteries. With Orianna, I am comfortable playing like this.

Choose the blues that suit your playstyle the best :-)


I choose Movement Speed quints. Orianna is very slow, and I like having that extra movement speed. It just suits my playstyle. Other people prefer other quints, so what?

I think you should choose the quints that suit your playstyle best. :-)


I go 21-0-9 on Orianna.

The 21 points in the offensive tree are for maximizing your damage output (after all, you're the AP carry).

The 9 points in the utility tree are give me some extra mana regen and expand my mana pool, which is always nice, but the main reason for putting 9 points here is so that I can open runic affinity to increase the blue buff duration ;-)

Putting 9 points in defense is also reasonable, since it makes you all the harder to kill. If you want to go the 21-9-0 way, make sure you can play efficiently without the extra mana regen/pool and blue buff duration though.

Bottom Line

Reds should always be magic penetration. The optimal choice for yellows is HP/lvl. In your blues/quints, choose whatever suits your playstyle best. I prefer AP/lvl blues and MS Quints.

I think 21-0-9 is the best choice for masteries.
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Skills & Skill Sequence

Here are the skill descriptions, shamelessly taken from LoLwiki:

Passive: Clockwork Windup

Orianna’s autoattacks deal an additional 10 / 18 / 26 / 34 / 42 / 50 (+ 15% AP) magic damage every hit. Additionally, attacking the same target within 4 seconds deals an extra 20% magic damage on the second hit, and 40% extra on the third and further hits.

Q skill: Command: Attack RANGE: 825 COOLDOWN: 6 / 5.25 / 4.5 / 3.75 / 3 COST: 50 mana

ACTIVE: Orianna commands her ball to fly towards target location, dealing magic damage to all enemies that the ball passes through and that are on the destination area. However, the ball deals 10% less damage for each subsequent target hit down to a minimum of 40% damage done. Her ball remains behind at that location afterwards.

MAGIC DAMAGE: 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+ 50% AP)
MINIMUM MAGIC DAMAGE: 24 / 36 / 48 / 60 / 72 (+ 20% AP)

W skill: Command: Dissonancee COOLDOWN: 9 COST: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana

ACTIVE: Orianna commands the Ball to emit an electric pulse around its current location, dealing magic damage to all units around it and leaving an electric field on the area for 3 seconds.
The field speeds up allies and slows enemies that walk over it. This effect diminishes to normal over 2 seconds after leaving the area.

MAGIC DAMAGE: 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 (+ 70% AP)
INITIAL MOVEMENT SPEED MODIFIER: 20% / 25% / 30% / 35% / 40%

E skill: Command: Protect RANGE: 1100 COOLDOWN: 9 COST: 60 mana

PASSIVE: The allied champion the Ball is currently attached to is granted bonus armor and magic resistance.
ACTIVE: Orianna commands the Ball to fly to and attach onto an allied champion, dealing damage to enemies it passes through and shielding the allied champion when it arrives for 4 seconds.

BONUS ARMOR & MAGIC RESIST: 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 / 30
SHIELD STRENGTH: 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 (+ 40% AP)
MAGIC DAMAGE: 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+ 30% AP)

Ultimate skill: Command: Shockwave COOLDOWN: 120 / 105 / 90 COST: 100 / 125 / 150 mana

ACTIVE: Orianna commands her ball to unleash a shockwave after 0.5 seconds, dealing magic damage to nearby enemies and flinging them into the air a set distance towards, and possibly over, the Ball.

MAGIC DAMAGE: 150 / 225 / 300 (+ 70% AP)

The passive is pretty self explanatory and makes it very easy to last hit via auto attacks.

I max Command Attack (Q) first, since it gives the highest damage/mana cost ration from all your spells.

I max Command Dissonance (W) second, to complement the damage from Command Attack and help us push faster.

Command Protect is maxed last.

I take one point in my ultimate every time it's available (lvl 6, 11, 16)

I make sure to have 1 point in each skill by level 3. Having the shield allows me to tank some harass and better yet, win trades. Dissonance gives me damage and helps me escape ganks/aggressive melee mages.

Some important comments:

command protect gives you passively extra armor and magic resist only if the ball is on the champion (this includes you). To get the bonus, pick up the ball or protect yourself if it's too far away to pick up.

command shockwave has quite a big AOE radius, so it's quite forgiving if you activate it and your enemy is not exactly beside the ball.
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You might have noticed that my guide only has 2 main items in the cheat sheet. Where is the rest, you might be wondering?

From my experience, most games tend to last around 30-40 minutes, during which you will earn enough gold to buy 2 top tier items and boots. I have Athene's Unholy Grail and Rabadon's Deathcap on the cheat sheet, and I think those are the first 2 items you always want to buy, regardless of how the game is progressing.

Some people prefer Rod of Ages as their first item. Although it is a very nice item overall, I don't like it on Orianna because it does not give me enough constant mana sustain in the early game. (compare Chalice of Harmony to Catalyst of the Protector), and that is a very important aspect for me. More on that in the early game section.

Don't worry. I will also discuss which other items to get if your games happen to last very long.

Starting Items

I always start with boots and 3 potions, because they provide the highest survivability for the early game.

If you start with another item, such as a Doran's Ring, any smart opponent will notice this and do the following:
    Call for a gank: you don't have boots, so you'll be easy prey
    Trade with you. He has potions, you don't. After 3 trades he will still have full HP, and you will be forced to back. You will lose experience and CS.

As you see, starting with anything besides boots and potions is just asking for trouble.

In the next paragraphs, I will list the order in which I build my 2 core items Athene's and Rabadon's:

First Item - Chalice of Harmony + Doran's Ring + Ward

I make sure I can buy Chalice of Harmony in my first back. It costs 890 gold, so I make sure to have that amount. If for some reason I have accrued more gold (Kill, staying longer in lane), I also pick up a Doran's Ring.

Why Chalice of Harmony?

Simple. It provides huge mana sustain, so that we can start using our spells to farm and push our lane without getting mana starved. In the mid game section, I will explain why being able to push the lane is an important aspect of the mid lane.

As a side note: Chalice of Harmony also provides 30 MR, which solves my problems of not having any in my runes/masteries. All the better :-)

Doran's Ring:

The Doran items have the highest bang for the buck in the game. For measly 475 gold, you get usable stats everywhere (HP, AP and mana regen).

I like to buy one Doran's Ring every game to make use of their cheap stats. I don't buy more because it slows down the construction of my core items.


I cannot stress this enough. Buy a ward every time you back. More on warding in the warding section.

Next items - components of Athene's Unholy Grail

As my gold allows, I will keep buying components of my core item Athene's Unholy Grail. And remember, always buy wards.

Some people like to skip on Athene's Unholy Grail and get Rabadon's directly after Chalice. I don't like this idea.

If you rush Rabadon's, you will probably get the Needlessly Large Rod as your next item, which costs 1600 Gold and gives you only 80 AP.

Finishing Athene's costs 2060 Gold over the Chalice of Harmony. It gives you the following extra stats: 7.5 mana regen, 10 MR, 90 AP, 15% CDR and mana Regen upon Kill/Assist.

So for 460 Gold over the Needlessly Large rod, we get extra 10 AP, 7.5 mana Regen, 15% CDR and the mana regen upon Kill/Assist. I think it's very obvious that finishing Athene's Unholy Grail is the preferable choice :-).

Next items - components of Rabadon's Deathcap

Rabadon's Deathcap is a must-have item on most mages, since it greatly amplifies your damage output. If you don't want to become irrelevant in teamfights, having this item is a must!

After Athene's just buy the components of Rabadon's as gold allows.

Now, if your game lasts more than ~35 minutes, you'll eventually be able to buy a 3rd top tier item.

The item you get after Athene's and Rabadon's is quite situational. To buy the optimal item, you must analyze the state of the game:

If the enemy teams have powerful initiator/focus combos that can kill you before teamfights happen

IMO, this is what ends up happening most games. Things like an enemy Skarner flashing in to Supress you, or getting flashed + snared by twisted advance by a Maokai are very annoying combos where you usually end up dying and giving the enemy team opportunities to take objectives.

In this case, I like to purchase Zhonya's Hourglass, because if you can activate the active fast enough and survive, it will give your team enough time to counter-initiate a teamfight. The extra AP and armor are vey nice too!

The enemy jungler/bruiser have stacked a lot of magic resist, and are very difficult to kill

In this case, I will buy a Void Staff so that I can shred through their MR and do damage.

If the game is lasting even longer so that I can buy a 4th top tier Item, I will end up buying the item that I didn't get in the last. So my build would look like:

Sorcerer's Boots
Athene's Unholy Grail
Rabadon's Deathcap
Zhonya's Hourglass
Void Staff

These 4 big items provide a lot of damage output, while we have the defensive aspect from Zhonya's Hourglass.

Jesus, and what do I buy if the game lasts longer and I have even more money?

I think there is only one reasonable choice for a last item, the Guardian Angel. Why? Because such late game teamfights revolve around which team's carry dies first. If they focus you, you will have another chance to come back with fresh cooldowns to do more damage.

An Item which I always purchase after Athene's and Rabadon's is the blue elixir. It gives you some AP, but I want primarily the 10% CDR. Together with Athene's, your masteries, and blue buff, you should reach 39% CDR without having to invest in any Top tier CDR items ;-)

That's pretty much what I have to say about good Items on Orianna. RoA is a very nice item, but it does not fit very well into my early game gameplay. All other AP items (archangel staff, WoTA) are not optimal and getting them won't maximize your damage output in the teamfights! keep this in mind ....
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Summoner Spells

I take flash since it's the best summoner spell in the game. Nothing else to say, I guess.

I take ignite so I can finish off my opponent when my jungler ganks. This is pretty much the main reason.
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General Guidelines

Ok, here I will discuss some important things that you should keep in mind when playing this game:

The team that wins the game is the team that can kill the enemy nexus (duh).

Killing the enemy nexus usually happens after a teamfight is won, because at around ~35 ingame minutes the respawn timer is so long, the enemy team can't defend a push into their base.

Teamfights are won by the team that can has the highest damage output over time. Better Items give you more DPS. Note that a dead champion has zero DPS. So in a nutshell:
    Teamfights are won by the team that has better items and better positioning, so that the champions with the highest DPS (the carries, and that includes YOU) survive.

Better items can be bought with gold. Good positioning can't be bought with gold and is only influenced by player skill/map awareness.

So, assuming you have reasonable skills in positioning (we all make mistakes), the key to winning teamfights and the game is to have more money and better items than your opponent. That is IMO the key to winning.

More (not obvious to some) guidelines:

Play only in a good mood; playing emotionally usually leads to mistakes on your part, where your oponnent capitalizes and has more gold -.-

Be sportsmanlike. Don't flame your teammates, even though it's so easy to curse behind the protection of your monitor, I bet it's not something you would do if they were standing right in front of you. Realize your mistakes and realize that if the enemy team is winning, they are most likely being less foolish than you.

LoL is a team game. Help your team as much as possible and always offer assistance to teammates which are having difficulties.
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General Guidelines for AP Carry Role

Your role in your team is to provide as much DPS as possible during the teamfights. As I said before, if you're dead, your DPS is zero. So it is of outmost importance that you stand behind your front line during teamfights as to not get focused.

I order to maximize your DPS, you must have good items. A requisite for buying good items is farming to your best extent!

Never facecheck bushes
Never wander off alone in the late game
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General Guidelines for Mid Lane

In the current meta, the AP Carry usually goes solo in the mid lane. There is some resoning behind this:
    Since you're solo in a lane, you get experience faster. AP Carries need experience (levels) to maximize their damage output.
    The AP carry usually goes in the mid lane because it provides easy access to the blue buff regardless of side.
    The AP carry will probably never go in the bot lane. This lane is reserved for 2 champions so that they can control the game objective dragon.

The AP carry can go top, but the current meta doesn't like that as much.

Ok, so you are an AP carry in mid. What should be your expectations?
    You're usually very squishy, which makes you a prime target for ganks (unlike the bruiser top which can take more punishment). Expect to be ganked a lot!
    Don't expect your jungler to ward for you. Warding your lane is YOUR responsibility!
    Know the enemy jungler. Some junglers have very powerful Level 2 Ganks (Maokai, Jarvan, Shaco, etc). If they decide to gank mid, they can be as early as 2:40 knocking at your lane.
    Other junglers are good at counterjungling (Shyvana comes to mind). In this case, fear not so much for your life, but for that of your jungler's. Be ready to defend him when he is about to do his 2nd buff.
    Some AP mages are very good at roaming (Akali, Katarina). If they are your opponent, always ping your lanes when they are missing, and be prepared to follow them if they are about to rape either your top or bottom lane.

And what are your tasks as the mid laner?
    Farm, Farm, Farm. This includes not being denied farm! Being denied usually happens when your opponent is better at harassing, so that you have less HP than him and are afraid to take last hits at the risk of dying to him.
    Not getting denied can be accomplished by trading efficiently. Basically: When your opponent hits you, you hit them back. Even better: you hit your opponent without retaliation. A good trick for this is attacking them when their spells are on cooldown ;-)
    If you can't trade well, then buy some kind of sustain. Potions are cheap and can keep you in lane for quite long, if you're taking extra punishment.
    Don't feed the enemy AP carry! This is accomplished by not being foolish and buying wards, and also not staying with 40% HP in lane when your opponent has all his spells available. It only takes ignite and his spells, and you
will die to him.
    In the mid game, you should push your lane so that you can help your team take dragon.
    Pushing your lane will allow you to gank either bot or top lane. Make use of this opportunity.

That's pretty much all that comes to mind right now.
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Warding is such an important aspect of the game. Always ward your lane! Warding gives you the security to push your lane, so that you can help take objectives in the mid game.

I myself always have one ward with me. I prefer two so that I can ward both sides of my lane. There are two ways you can place your wards. See the next picture:

The red dots mark the spots where I place a more "selfish" ward. The reason this warding is a bit selfish is because it doesn't give my jungler vision of the entrance to his jungle, hence, he won't know when he is getting counterjungled. The advantage to this warding is that the enemy jungler usually likes to camp the river bush, waiting for the right moment to gank. If you have your wards placed at the orange spots, but for some reason missed the jungler walking into the bush, then your ward will have served you nothing.

Use whatever warding fits you best :-)

If I only have on ward, I will place it on either side of my lane. Then I will stand on this side of the lane while I farm. This guarantess that I can stand far away from the bush where I don't have vision. If the jungler comes to gank me from the side I warded, I should see him and have enough time to walk back to my tower.
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Early Game on Orianna

As Orianna, you have quite a simple early game. My definition of early game is the part of the game where you are still working on your first core item, Athene's Unholy Grail.

When the game starts, pull the blue/red buff for your jungler. If the opposing team has a very good lvl1 invade (Blitzcrank, Lux, Morgane, Taric come to mind), then use your ball as ward in their invasion path.

After that, proceed to go back to mid lane, and farm your creeps with autoattacks. Don't use your spells! Your passive should make this very easy. As mentioned before, be wary of the 2:50 mark, since you could be lvl2 ganked depending on the enemy jungler.

Analyze your opponent. If he is mana based and pushes with his spells, he's not being very smart since he risks being ganked. Check his CS. If he's not doing well, he's clearly an inferior player since he's not doing his AP carry homework mentioned above ;-)

You can try to trade with your opponent in the first minutes of the game. The best opportunities are when he has used his spell foolishly to farm. If so, smack him with command attack and be happy that he can't retaliate.

Another good point is when you reach lvl2. Upon reaching lvl2, quickly skill command dissonance by pressing ctrl-W. Then unleash both spells on him. If he wasn't fast enough to level up his skill, he will have at most one spell to hit you with. You can win this trade easily.

If your opponent is a melee mage, then attack him with autoattacks every so often. But make sure that the minion agro you pull does less damage to you than your autoattack to him ;-)

Since you haven't been back, you don't have any wards. Do not overextend so that you cannot be ganked!

After you have around 1000 Gold, go back. Buy Chalice of Harmony and a Ward. Go back to lane and ward.

Now that you have your chalice, your mana regen is much better. You also have a ward to cover one gank path. Now, you can use your spells to farm your lane and push a bit. Try to autohit the creeps so they all have the same HP, then finish them off in groups with command attack. Try not to use command dissonance (unless the creeps survived attack with 10hp), since it has high mana costs.

If your opponent doesn't push back, he will have to farm under tower and he will no be able to CS properly. Abuse this if your opponent is not smart enough.

Ask your jungler if you can have his wraiths and the second blue. Try to push your lane before going to your blue, so that the enemy AP carry can't steal it or try to kill you on the way out. If the enemy APC is not visible while you are going for blue, then he is probably goint to try to kill you with his jungler when you're trying to get it!

If your jungler has good CC (Maokai comes to mind), you can try to kill your opponent with a gank, provided the opponent has not warded and preferably has not full HP. The best way to accomplish this is by letting the jungler initiate by rooting/stunning/knocking-up your opponent. In this small time window where the enemy is incapable of action, unload all basic spells (Q,W,E) onto him (hitting should be no problem since the enemy can't move). Ignite him as well, and save your ulti if he tries to get away by flash (flash after him -> Q -> R). Combined with some autoattacks here and there, it should be enough damage to kill your opponent.

Once you have secured blue and have chalice, try to harass the opponent a lot, while keeping an eye at your wards so you can't be ganked. Harass mostly only with command attack, because command dissonance has quite high mana costs. We basically want the opponent to go back to his base, so that we can attack and possibly destroy mid tower. Destroying mid tower will open up mid game for you.
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Mid Game on Orianna

My definition of mid game is the part of the game where you have destroyed the outer middle tower. If you have accomplished this, it will allow you to control dragon and their wraiths quite easily, which in turn will amplify your gold income. This also allows you to roam either top or bot lane. A 4 man gank bot will usually end up killing the enemy bot lane, and it will allow you to take their outer tower! That is why roaming is so important in the mid game.

In the mid game, you should have Athene's finished and Rabadon's underway. As mentioned above, ward enemy gank paths, push your lane, and then you're free to help take objectives.
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Late Game on Orianna

My definition of late game is when the big teamfights start to explode. This happens when outer towers have been destroyed, and the players are roaming the map together trying to contest other objectives, such as dragon or baron.

Late game is where Orianna really starts to shine. The best way to ensure your full potential during a teamfight is to place your ball (command protect) on your initiator, and have him charge the enemy team. Because the ball is on him, you can use your ultimate and command dissonance from a very safe distance. Use your ultimate first, because it will guarantee that all the enemies that are pulled in are hit by dissonance. If the iniator does his job correctly (hits multiple enemies at once), your DPS will profit because you will be able to hit many champions at once with your AOE abilities.

If your combo was successful, the next step is to get ready for round 2 of damage. Don't go in! wait for your bruiser to engage on the crippled enemies, as this will greatly hinder them on trying to counter engage on you. Once you have full cover from your front line, approach the enemy team (which is probably retrating) and use Q and W to lay even more damage. Remember to protect any teammate who is getting focused.

If you win the teamfight, then you have the opportunity to take an objective. Either go for Baron, or destroy one of their inner towers or even inhibitors. Once the respawn timers are long enough, you will be able to take the game won and win. Success!
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Final Words

I hope this guide is useful and easy to read. Sorry for the dull formatting, this is the first guide I've written at mobafire. I welcome any comments and constructive criticism.

I have some comments on lane matchups, so maybe I will add that section later. But honestly, I think that at this elo player skill >> champion matchup, which would make such a section irrelevant.
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