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Jarvan IV Build Guide by BaconCobra

AD Offtank Jarmacia! - A Jarvan IV Guide to Top Lane

AD Offtank Jarmacia! - A Jarvan IV Guide to Top Lane

Updated on January 2, 2013
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League of Legends Build Guide Author BaconCobra Build Guide By BaconCobra 9,350 Views 11 Comments
9,350 Views 11 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author BaconCobra Jarvan IV Build Guide By BaconCobra Updated on January 2, 2013
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Welcome to my first guide ever on the best top laner ever, Jarvan IV - Exemplar of Demacia! While Jarvan can also jungle, this guide will more focus on him being a top laner, filling the role of AD Offtank.

I fell in love with Jarvan when playing with him with a couple buddies of mine and just fooling around with him in bot lane. After noticing the power he has in harass, sustainability, disruption, and his amazing damage output, I decided to try him seriously. I have never looked back or regretted that decision. Being able to knock up a majority of the enemy team, if not all, and then trap them with you can be an amazing tool. Not to mention Jarvan IV has many tricks and nuances that will keep even the most advanced players entertained. This guide will be in depth, lengthy, and may seem like a gigantic wall of text.

I hope everyone enjoys the guide and will find it useful! Should you have any questions, concerns, comments, criticisms, or suggestions, feel free to comment and I will try to get back to you!
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Pros and Cons

As a fanatical fan of Jarvan IV, I may be slightly biased in the Pros and Cons of him, but I will of course do my best to try and outline them.

  • Good Harass Early Game
  • Good Burst
  • Can get Tanky
  • Good Crowd CC
  • Good Single Target CC
  • Good Chasing Potential

  • Susceptible to long range harass
  • Non-sustaining without items
  • Mana Hungry Early Game
  • Q + E combo costs around 100 Mana for escapes
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The runes listed above are the ones I found most useful throughout the entire game. The scaling works well when you start to get into teamfights and the initial Armor, Armor Pen, and Damage will help you survive top lane and harass better then normal.

--- 9x Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
--- I found these to be the most useful, especially when you know you will not be facing an AP based top laner ( Kennen, Vladimir, Swain, etc.). If you know that you will be fighting an AP Top laner, Greater Glyph of Magic Resist will probably be a better choice.

--- 9x Greater Seal of Armor
--- For top lane, you will usually be facing an AD Champion, and I found that flat Armor Seals are the most effective at keeping you alive. Feel free to replace these with Magic Resist or Magic Resist/lvl though.

--- 9x Greater Mark of Armor Penetration
--- Marks of Armor Penetration help your early game harass quite a bit. In addition to your passive, a single auto attack will be very detrimental to their lane presence, especially against non-sustaining top laners.

--- 3x Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
--- The base AD I found to be preferential to other Quints, simply due to the fact that it will help you last hit, and improve your base Q, Dragon Strike, damage for harass in the early game.
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Since this build is based off of playing Jarvan IV as an Offtank AD character, the 9/21/0 Mastery build is ideal, especially since you can take full advantage of the outstanding new Defensive Tree.

Explanation of Masteries

Offensive Tree

Fury -- I prefer Fury simply because the additional 4% attack speed can be quite helpful. However, a more personal choice for players may be to only get 3 points into Fury and get one in Summoner's Wrath .

Deadliness -- Twelve additional attack damage at level 18 is actually not something to laugh at. The damage can make you even more deadly, increasing your overall damage by approximately 5%, as compared to you without the Deadliness mastery.

Weapon Expertise -- 8% Armor Penetration straight off. I am quite simply not sure what else I have to say about this mastery. With the additional 8% Armor Penetration, Dragon Strike and Cataclysm will both do additional damage, not to mention your basic auto attacks.

Defensive Tree

Before I even list the masteries and the explanation for why I put them in here, I just have to say that I absolutely love this tree. The power it can contain is simply incredible.

Durability -- A scaling mastery that gives you maximum health per level is, once again nothing to sneeze at. A fairly impressive 108 additional health at level 18 for a first level mastery skill is very helpful and will be boosted by masteries specced into later in the tree.

Hardiness -- Nothing special about this one either, just 5 armor. While this may not be horribly impressive late, or even mid game, 5 armor can mitigate some damage in the laning stage, sometimes enough to keep you alive enough to escape a sticky situation, or stay in the fray long enough to pick up a kill or even first blood.

Resistance -- Pretty much the same thing as the above mastery, Hardiness . However, as mentioned in the runes, unless you are facing an AP based top laner, you could consider to spend your mastery points other places on the tree. Tenacious and Relentless are possible ones to consider. However, I like going into Resistance just because most top laners and junglers do have some abilities that base off of AP, and having the additional magic resistance can really improve your chances to survive ganks, or mitigate the damage that the enemy would throw at you.

Unyielding -- While initially this mastery may seem weak, I have found it to be an amazing addition to the repertoire that a top laner can take advantage of. This mitigates all damage, from auto attacks, to abilities, to item abilities. It can seriously help you survive close encounters or just stay in lane just a little longer.

Block -- Just a continuation of Unyielding, yet very helpful. Another 3 damage blocked can really add up with Unyielding and be helpful.

Veteran's Scars -- Thirty additional health to start off the game is pretty amazing. To put it in other words, this mastery increases your beginning base health by about 7%. And once again, this is boosted by later masteries.

Juggernaut -- Wow. Just simply wow. A 4% increase in your health from everywhere. Items, masteries, runes (should you go that way, base HP. Just simply amazing. It increases your base health from 420 to 436. If you have Veteran's Scars , you go from 420 base health to 468. I can not stress how awesome this mastery is.

Legendary Armor -- Just like Juggernaut , except this affects your resistances, which is pretty impressive in itself. Seeing as almost all items you will be getting will either get you Health or some form of resistance, your build takes advantage of both this mastery and Juggernaut .

Honor Guard -- The pinnacle of the Defensive Tree, Honor Guard simply makes you even more beefy and more tanky. Reducing 3% of damage from all sources is, once again, invaluable. This is what helps you jump into fights and just sit there like a gigantic tank of death.
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Skill Sequence

Jarvan IV's tool box of skills allows for great crowd and individual CC, buffs for allies, shields for himself, and of course, the ability to create a superawesome ARENA!


Passive: Martial Cadence -- A slightly above average passive in my opinion, very helpful in early and mid game, especially while farming. Remember that there is a cooldown on how often the extra damage will occur.

Q: Dragon Strike -- A straight line skill shot, useful for farming, harass, and reducing the armor of anything it hits. Very useful in teamfights. I almost always max this first since it is pretty much your only form of harass. Should you use this ability, and have it make contact with your E, Demacian Standard, Jarvan will pull himself to the flag, knocking up all enemies in the path. NOTE: THIS WILL REVEAL STEALTHED ENEMIES IT KNOCKS UP!

W: Golden Aegis -- When activated, Jarvan creates a shield around himself that shields a base amount of damage, with additional damage mitigated based on how many enemy champions are around Jarvan when he activates the ability. In addition, Jarvan also slows all enemies around him when he activates the ability. A very solid shield with a nice bonus. You can use this in teamfights for a very nice shield, and to slow down the enemy, use it to escape, giving you a shield and slowing the enemy, or to chase enemies. The circle that the slow affects is pretty decent, so there is a decent chance that you will catch an enemy within the slow, should you wish to try and catch up to them. I usually max this skill second for the shield, as with the banner, you really only need one point in it to make use of its combo uses, unless you wish to have more attack speed and armor earlier.

E: Demacian Standard -- Passively gives Jarvan additional Armor and attack speed. He can throw the banner to give surrounding allies the passive from the banner, and while the banner is on the field, Jarvan receives double the passive effect as long as he is nearby the banner. The banner can be used for many things with the most common being the Demacian Standard --> Dragon Strike knockup combo. Others are scouting bushes, and farming minions. More on how to use for farming later. I grab a point in this at level 2 or 4, depending on if I need the shield or not. Regardless of where I grab the first point, I almost always max this skill last.

R: Cataclysm -- Ah. Jarvan's ultimate and what an ultimate it is. Jarvan launches himself at an enemy, landing on them, doing physical damage, and creating an arena around him, trapping himself and anyone around him inside. Jarvan can activate Cataclysm again to lower the arena. Knowing how to use both the initial active, and knowing when to lower the arena will make the difference between the bad, mediocre, good, and outstanding Jarvans. To quote Phreak: "As will all ultimates, max at lvl 6, 11, and 16."
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Summoner Spells

While there are several combination of summoner skills for Jarvan IV, there is one combo that I have found most effective. However I will discuss all the summoner spells in regards to their usefulness to Jarvan IV] as a top lane AD Offtank.

Summoner Spells

Clarity -- You should not have too much mana trouble with Jarvan. If you do, just cut back a little back on the harass, unless you are getting kills. If you are having trouble with mana even after cutting back on harass, consider getting Catalyst the Protector for base mana, as it will build into more useful items then normal mana regeneration items. All in all, never get this on Jarvan.

Garrison -- This is a guide for Summoner's Rift. As this spell is not supported on Summoner's Rift, I will not discuss it.

Ghost -- Ghost is a very nice spell, handy for catching up to fleeing enemies, or fleeing yourself. However, you should have enough slows to stay on most, if not all, enemies. I prefer Flash over this, since you can use Flash to get over walls, or get out of your own ultimate. Ghost is a nice spell, I just find Flash to have better synergy with Jarvans' toolkit.

Revive -- Outside of fun, trolly things such as Zombie Karthus or Movespeed Rammus, I don't find Revive to be all that useful. It is on a very long cooldown, with not a lot of useful benefits. Also, by picking this, to make it useful you must die. In most cases, I try to not die. Just a general rule of thumb.

Smite -- Must have for junglers. Great spell for securing major buffs, or even pushing lanes. However, this guide is not for jungling, and as such, Smite will not be horribly useful to you.

Cleanse -- Since you will have resistances and health, single CC will most likely not instantly mean you will go from full to 0% health in 2 seconds. Your tenacity and shield will give you enough time to make an escape in almost all cases. If you are facing a heavy CC team, consider Mercurial Scimitar instead. While not a horrible choice, it is certainly not close to the forerunners in my opinion.

Teleport -- This is an interesting spell I have considered trying out multiple times but have never switched from my tried and true Flash and Ignite. By taking Teleport you put immediate pressure on the enemy team. Any fight can quickly have you join, or you can get to towers to defend, return to lane faster, do sneaky ganks, etc. I recommend taking Teleport if you have a team that wants to be somewhere, together, fast. A heavy ganking team, a heavy pushing team, or a team designed around getting major objectives suddenly is where Teleport will shine. I would replace your Ignite with it, as you will probably need your Flash since it is a great utility spell.

Barrier -- Create a shield around you. Basically your Golden Aegis only weaker. If you are in a tough situation, there is a very small chance that Barrier will do a better job of keeping you alive better then Flash. I just don't feel like another shield is really necessary.

Exhaust -- Slows enemy and reduces their damage. A great spell for dueling or chasing. However, I find Ignite to be better lane game as it reduces heals and can secure kills, and as mentioned before, between Frozen Mallet and Randuin's Omen, you already have good chasing power.

Ignite -- Ignite. True damage. Possibly my favorite summoner spells, Ignite gives you that extra bit of damage, reduces healing during skirmishes, finishes off low health fleeing enemies. If you decide to go into the Summoner's Wrath mastery, when Ignite is on cooldown, you will also get 5 additional attack damage and ability power.

Clairvoyance -- Reveals a small area of the map for 5 seconds. Not terribly helpful as for 75 gold, you reveal an area for three minutes. If anyone is going to pick up this spell, it should be the support, as you need to focus on winning your lane since it is just you and the enemy in most cases.

Flash -- Flash! Savior of the Universe! Basically teleport a short distance instantly. Go over walls, chase, run, initiate, etc. Some really great plays can occur because of this spell. With Jarvan, one of the most useful mechanics I have found is to Cataclysm someone or someones when you are trying to escape, then flash out. YOUR FLASH WILL NOT REACH OUTSIDE YOUR ARENA IF YOU FLASH IMMEDIATELY AFTER ULTING! YOU MUST MOVE A VERY SMALL AMOUNT BEFORE FLASHING!
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If you are reading this guide I am pretty sure you are aware of how important items are to League of Legends. Therefore, I will simply just right into what my personal preferences are for Jarvan IV, along with other potential items to consider to flavor for your taste.

Core Items and Build Order

Starting Items

Boots + 3 Health Potion

First Back

Vampiric Scepter or Phage + Sight Ward if enough gold.

After this you want to build towards you main core item set if you are facing a balanced opponent with no particular getting outrageously fed. You generally want to finish your Frozen Mallet followed by Bloodthirster. After that you want to determine who is the biggest threat to you and build that appropriate counter items, either Randuin's Omen or Maw of Malmortius

Your final item can be your choice. It is extremely rare you will get far enough into the game to actually be able to get your final item. If you do however, feel free to choose between offensive, defense, or both. I personally choose Warmog's Armor just because it turns your already impressive health into a solid bar of absolute tank.


Since you will be in the middle of the fight for the most part, the tenacity gained from Mercury's Treads will be invaluable. However, should you be facing a particular annoying AD based teamed focused around right clicking, Ninja Tabi would not be a bad choice.

As for the enchantments, I have personally found a favorite within Enchantment: Homeguard. It allows you get back to lane a little faster, and should you need to do an emergency recall back to base to defend, you will arrive with full health, mana, and a nice speed buff to surprise anyone or anything trying to destroy a precious inhibitor or turret. There are two other choices that are what I would recommend should you not find Enchantment: Homeguard to be your style:

Enchantment: Alacrity -- The base movement speed is helpful in a variety of ways, whether it be chasing, running, moving to join a skirmish, or simply returning to lane. A solid choice.

Enchantment: Furor -- Similar to Alacrity, just with a slightly more increased move speed on the condition you have dealt single target damage. I would not recommend these for Jarvan IV since he is a predominantly melee champion and multiple hits on a target will be tough before getting your Frozen Mallet. However, should you find yourself chasing a lot and falling just a little short of the kill, this enchantment could come in handy.

Offensive Items

Bloodthirster -- A very solid item for both damage and lifesteal. I find it to be the most consisten tlifesteal item and almost always worth the 3000 gold used to buy it.

Frozen Mallet -- While others may not consider this to be an offensive item, I feel that just the consistent slow alone helps you get kills, and therefore should be classified as an offensive item. It gives you great chasing power, a slight bump in attack damage, and not a small amount of health.

Black Cleaver -- Ah. Black Cleaver. Health, Damage, Armor Shredding, Cool down Reduction. All great things. I used to buy this all the time on Jarvan IV when I first started playing him. It is a great item if you wish to go for more damage in exchange for a little bit of health and resistances. If you are facing an enemy team that is particularly armor heavy, picking this item up will probably be well worth you gold.

Trinity Force -- A very solid item, albeit extremely expensive. Even though Trinity Force gives you a little of just about everything (Health, Mana, Crit, Slow, Spellsword, Damage, etc), I just don't find it to be worth the 4200 gold it is listed at, especially since you should already be getting a Frozen Mallet with your Phage.

Atma's Impaler -- With the amount of health you will be getting, Atma's Impaler is not a horrible choice. Instead of Warmog's Armor you may want to pick this up for more damage.

Last Whisperer -- Same with Black Cleaver in terms of armor penetration. More up front "armor penetration", so it is very helpful should you only be getting one or two shots off on an enemy.

Ravenous Hydra -- The alternative to Bloodthirster. I find this item to be more useful if you are facing an enemy team that has an above average amount of melee characters. If you use this item in combination with Cataclysm, you can do quite a bit of damage with a lot of lifesteal. This item is also great if you are finding yourself facing huge minion waves you need to clear quickly.

Defensive Items

Maw of Malmortius -- A very solid item, and my personal choice for magic resistance. The additional damage is also quite helpful and the passive shield has saved my life more then a couple times.

Frozen Heart -- While this is a solid armor item, it gave you mana you usually don't need and no health. You can get the armor and health from Randuin's better. Unless you are going against a heavy Attack Speed physical damage team, I would not recommend this item.

Guardian Angel -- A great item that will let you jump into the fight, tank the damage, do your damage, and come back for second helpings. As a nice final item, I usually get this if teamfights are close and that second life will make a difference in swinging the fight.

Ohmwrecker -- My favorite Catalyst the Protector item. Armor, Health, Mana, and a great passive for pushing, diving turrets, or taking down the nexus's turrets. Gives you something to build a Catalyst the Protector into later in the game.

Randuin's Omen -- Personally my favorite armor item. Both the health and armor are substantial. The first passive is enough to really slow down a tough target attacking you. The second is an amazing Active ability that allows you to kite, get away, chase. It is simply another slow to your already impressive arsenal of crowd control.

Runic Bulwark -- Oh Runic Bulwark. How I love thee. However, I find this item is more suited for the support to pick up. However, if your support does not, or you simply want a solid item that gives Health, Magic Resist, Armor, and Health regeneration in one item, definitely pick this up after as your third or fourth main item.

Sunfire Aegis -- Nice item but I just find Randuin's Omen to be better overall. The goal is to have the enemy dead before the passive can really do enough damage to make the damage worth it.

Banshee's Veil -- Once again, a nice item and something to build your Catalyst the Protector into. If you are facing a balanced team, an early Catalyst the Protector will be well worth it and will give you options later. The magic resist is nice, as is the spell shield, but the damage from Maw of Malmortius is more appealing to me personally.

Warmog's Armor -- 1000 extra health. and regenerating 1.5% of your health every 5 seconds. Both of those are solid stats, especially in combination with the resistances you already have from your items, masteries, and runes.

Mercurial Scimitar -- Unless you are facing a very heavy CC team there are better options. ( Maw of Malmorius)
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Jarvan be a great farming, with lane clear should he need it, or substantial last hitting prowess through his passive Martial Cadence. Last hiting shouldn't be a problem, and since Jarvan does have his passive, he has slightly more leniency in how much health a minion has when attempting to last hit it. However, there are some things you should remember and try with Jarvan:

As a general tip for farming: If you are not moving with your team, move to get creeps. Do not wander around. Go to whereever you can farm the most creeps in the shortest amount of time. If you are in bot lane, and top lane has a wave of about 15 creeps, it may be better for you to simply farm double golems and wraiths. By the team you would have reached top lane, some of the enemy creeps would have been dead and you would have lost both experience and gold that you could have achieved faster. If you have the time and clearing power, clear on your way. Kite the neutral monsters as best you can on your way to your destination.
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Team Work

Due to Jarvan's unusual toolkit involving his Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike combination, it is important to time your crowd control with your teammates in the laning phase while trying to execute a successful gank attempt. In general I usually let the Jungler or character ganking use their CC first, as the enemy usually is not expecting it. With their crowd control in place, make sure to time your combo as close as possible to the ganker's crowd control ending, to achieve maximum lock down. If you overlap, a portion of both crowd controls are wasted, increasing the chance of the enemy escaping.

Also, if the enemy has Flash or a flash like ability, ( Arcane Shift, Distortion, etc), wait for them to use the ability before using your knockup. This will allow you to judge if you will be able to chase and kill them. If you do not, and they use their escape mechanism after your crowd control, you will have fewer options to use and chase them. This especially applies to your ultimate Cataclysm.

Cataclysm will simply be for damage if they just flash or blink out of the arena, leaving you in it and having to react fast to deactivate and chase. However, if you burn their flash before using Cataclysm or your Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike combo, they will be stuck and you will have a better chance of killing them since they lost their escape options.

Be sure to communicate how you want to execute ganks to your teammates for maximum effectiveness.
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Final Tips and Tricks

For the final section, I thought I would share a couple neat little combinations I enjoy doing with Jarvan.

The first is your ability to make the best out of getting turret dove. As long as you have at least 130 mana, you have plenty of options. My favorite is baiting them as far into turret range as possible, then using your E + Q combination to knock them up. This will leave them in the turret for 1-2 extra turret shots, and allows you a small amount of distance. This is also useful against multiple enemies diving you, as you can usually hit most or all of them.

The second is engaging teamfights. Usually your E + Q combo to knock up as many as possible is how to want to engage. However, should you be facing a team with a lot of channeling abilities such as Nunu & Willump, Galio, Miss Fortune, Katarina, you may want to save this combo to interrupt those ultimates. Usually you should focus the squishy damage dealers with this combination. Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike + Martial Cadence will often do almost 50% of a squishy characters health. You can then either use Cataclysm to try and finish them off, or to use on a group of enemies to keep them busy while your carries poke from the safety outside the arena.

Never forgot you can use your Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike combination to close distance. If you have a low healthy enemy who is keeping their distance, but still sticking around, simply E + Q and then Cataclysm to them to finish this off. Alternatively, you can use the combo to escape over walls.
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Well guys, that's it. I know it was a long tedious ride, but if you read all of it, THANK YOU! Hopefully this will help people learn Jarvan IV. As mentioned before, if you have ANY comments, concerns, questions, criticisms, or suggestions, please let me know! I will try to keep this as updated as possible!
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Jarmacia! - A Jarvan IV Guide to Top Lane

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