Warwick Build Guide by CFCryo
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Runes: Universal Rune Page
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Ability Order Lane
Threats & Synergies
It's not that you cannot beat him, but his second Q hit (mounted) will inflict grievous wounds, severely hurting your healing. You will have to be more careful.
Shadow of his former glory, both pre and post-rework. Your held Q is excellent at dodging Qs, but you should probably be careful about engaging while his ult is up. All it takes is one W or Q hit from him to severely change the tide of battle.
Another natural Grievous Wounds applier. You're likely not laning against Kat. If she's a priority target (fed), then you can consider saving E fear or R in anticipation of her ultimate. Her ult is what applies grievous to you, so try stopping it rather than trying to outheal it. Sounds like basic advice... but things happen when we're "in the zone".
This is my cute way of saying you can rely on yourself very well. ANY tank in front of you will help you reach backlines, and any decent backline will cover you while you drain tank. Otherwise, you're a split pusher forcing 1v2s or more, allowing your team to do other things. There's no specific synergies with WW that come to mind, so I decided to put this here instead.
Champion Build Guide
Truthfully, drain tanks are mostly 'forgotten' because literally everyone who can and will use Conqueror will become a kind of sustaining drain tank in some form, and so Grievous Wounds is extremely common. Trying to build a drain tank in this gruesome meta is ridiculous, but we'll do it anyway.
Also, hello! I'm Cryo (or Cryobeat), an Off-Meta player that creates off meta builds pretty much all the time and tries to make them work in the most effective way they possibly can. My other builds include AD/Manatank Kassadin, Tank Support/Jungle Lissandra, and AD/On-Hit Thresh. The latter of these I have also done a guide for here on MOBAFire! The rest you may be able to find on my YouTube channel, Cryo.
As well as an off-meta player, my favourite champion has always been Thresh, but my second-favourite champion has and always will be Aatrox. And by that, I mean before his rework. Not too much hate for the current one, he's fine and fun to play, but barely resembles the old Aatrox at all.
In despair, I wanted to find other champions who were similar enough to Aatrox, and amongst many, I eventually, pretty much two years later, settled on Warwick. At first, I tried to be more Aatrox-y (On-hit, lots of attack speed), but later settled on the build I currently use and recommend in this guide. What I mean by this section's subtitle 'A Unique Take' is that I had no frame of reference for other Warwick builds besides what I had seen in game, which was usually Cinderhulk and Titanic Hydra, a too-tanky combination that I did not bother with. As a result, the ideas I present in this guide are purely my own, after years playing drain tanks, Aatrox, and analysing Warwick's kit for maximum drain satisfaction and viability.
Of course, there are many meta guides out there, many from very high-elo champions. I am but a humble off-meta experimenter sharing my ideas. If you want to scale elo, you have a better chance doing it by looking at those other guides.
If you're still here after that, thank you, and I hope you enjoy the guide and build!
Conqueror gives you healing off of all damage you deal, plus adaptive force on-hit. The fast-attacking nature of Warwick with his W passive and Ult, it isn't hard to stack and every attack benefits from it. Even if your adaptive force is giving you Ability Power, your Q will still scale with it and deal devastating damage and healing. For this reason and more in the next section, don't be afraid to start Doran's Ring.
Later on, as your damage scales, so does the healing on your Q, and all the healing from Conqueror. It is simply the best rune for drain-tanking like mad and forces enemies to ignite you or purchase Grievous Wounds.
Don't worry, we have ways of dealing with Grievous Wounds as well.
As for the rest of the runes, refer to the page above. You can swap things like Tenacity out for Alacrity or Bloodline as you prefer, or as enemy team compositions show less Crowd Control. You could take Resolve secondary, but Ravenous Hunter is VERY hard to pass up with our full drain tank idea. Taste of Blood gives extra healing when you trade in lane with Q, and any and all healing is great. Alternatively, change for any of the 2nd tier. Sudden Impact and Cheap Shot are not worth it.
Ability use is key to drain tanking with Warwick properly. Let's go through each one in order.
Eternal Hunger is Warwick's passive (P). It deals 10-44 (based on level) bonus magic damage on-hit. This includes on auto attacks, and your abilities that apply them, Q and R.
Below 50% maximum health, Warwick heals off of the damage (calculated POST-mitigation, meaning after magic resistance reduces it), and below 25% of maximum health, it is increased by 150%.
In combination with your E and R, this passive can have incredible healing despite not scaling with AD or AP! The ability scales with attack speed as an on-hit effect, and the heal scales with armour and magic resistance... More on that in the items section!
Jaws of the Beast is Warwick's Q ability. He dashes a short distance to deal magic damage scaling with 120% of total AD, 100% of total AP, and 6%-10% of the target's maximum health. He then heals between 30%-90% of the damage dealt by the ability, calculated after resistances reduce the damage.
Additionally, it applies on-hit and on-attack effects as well, but these do NOT count for the % healing done on this ability.
If you hold this ability, Warwick will attach to the enemy, swinging to the other side of the enemy. The ability is unstoppable when he bites them (whether you hold or not), but if you do hold, Warwick will follow enemy flashes and blinks!
This is your burst-heal, which is as it sounds, a burst of healing. It can be used early on to deal burst damage, or saved till you're lower HP in order to bait opponents. Bear in mind, it does not benefit from the increased healing on your passive.
The held part of it following flashes is something you must practice, so when you think someone's going to flash away, TRY AND FOLLOW THEM, and if you don't get it this time, maybe next time you'll get it. Eventually, you'll be getting it off quite often. Of course, it is a small dash, and greater distance is covered by holding, so always hold Q in a linear chase.
I love this ability. Blood Hunt highlights enemies below 50% of their maximum health as a passive. Warwick can see a blood trail that leads towards their exact location, and gains between 35%-55% bonus movement speed when running towards them, even from across the map.
Additionally, Warwick gains between 70%-110% bonus attack speed when an enemy unit is below 50% health.
You can activate the ability to sense nearby champions regardless of their health, and begin hunting the nearest champion. You get a blood trail so you can sense their location as well.
So on the surface, this is great for catching up to weakened foes and finish them off, and the active lets you run at someone and ult or whatever. However, you can also use this ability for recon purposes. Akali went into stealth and you don't know which end of the shroud she'll pop out of? Hit W and you'll get a blood trail telling you exactly where she is. Teemo hiding in a bush? Same thing. Soloing Herald? Hit W to check if anyone's nearby. If no blood trails appear, then there's no one nearby. DO NOT use this as a substitute for proper vision and warding though, they're just as important if not more so.
It reduces cooldown twice as fast if no one's being hunted.
Primal Howl charges between 1 second and 2.5 seconds for Warwick to howl, causing all nearby enemies and champions to flee/fear for 1 second, slowing them by 90%.
During the charge-up time, damage is reduced by 35%-55%.
^This here, this is the best thing.
Damage Reduction, much like with armour and magic resistance, increases your Effective HP (Read more on that in the Item Build section) not only of your total health pool, but also any health you get from healing and lifesteal. Therefore, try activating Primal Howl (Just the first part) when you go below 50% or 25% health. You're essentially increasing the value of your passive on-hit healing during this time! This allows you to duel and 1v2/3/4/5 at very low health and survive.
Learning to master choosing to use this for it's 1 second fear, or to save it for the damage reduction when you need it the most is essential to playing this style of Warwick.
Infinite Duress is Warwick's signature ultimate, a 1.5 second suppression dealing 6 hits of magic damage and applying on-hit and on-attack effects, scaling with 167% bonus AD for the whole attack. The leap is unstoppable and the distance you leap scales with your movement speed in the last 2.5 seconds (average). Not only that, but it heals Warwick for ALL damage dealt.
Commonly this is used as initiation or to catch out an enemy. If you use Primal Howl (E) before using R, then landing R will instantly activate E but not end the damage reduction period early as it normally does. Once again, like E, I like to save this for healing, as it's a huge swing from 1% HP to 100% a lot of the time, comboing by applying passive at <25% health to get tripled healing on the first few on-hits. It also combo's well with Wit's End at below 50% HP as well. Using the E damage reduction helps as well and can lead to huge amounts of tankiness from draining!
Once again, choosing when to ult first on a priority target, or when to save it for healing/baiting is an essential part of playing this style.
Additionally, if you miss your ultimate, Warwick slides to a halt. During this time, he can't attack or cast movement abilities. Cancel this pause by casting Q on the target if you can, additionally gapclosing back towards them. Of course, you can also save Q for healing and baiting as usual.
You can also cancel it by casting W but that's a much less likely choice.
Doran's Ring may seem like an odd choice, and has attracted plenty of allied pings in my direction at game starts, but isn't ridiculous. The AP isn't wasted, scaling your Q damage. Speaking of Q, the main reason to choose Doran's ring is the mana regeneration it gives you. This way, you can spam Q much more frequently to trade and sustain as necessary, often outscaling Doran's Shield where it is important. Naturally, as with any Doran's item, the health and last-hit passive are wonderful too. You can also pick up two potions which can help with the intense 1v1 laning you'll be going through, so that's great as well.
Corrupting Potion is what you should take for troublesome ranged laners like Teemo. Though Doran's Shield is a ridiculously good item for sustain, the Corrupting potion gives plenty of not only health sustain, but mana sustain as well, that thing we praised Doran's Ring so much for.
Hope that clears up the choices. These are my conclusions after my own experience playing Warwick. If you want to change starting items, go ahead.
Let's talk about good early game items, first as a Laner, then as a Jungler.
It's surprising how powerful 15 AD and 10% lifesteal can really be. This item will turn your adaptive force back to AD even with the Doran's Ring AP, which helps you in prolonged fights, and the lifesteal helps you heal more than just from your passive, giving even more synergy with your E's damage reduction for amazing dueling and baiting.
A quick note on raw AD (and AP), the scaling on Q damage is phenomenal, so raw AD or AP will not only increase it's damage, but also it's healing as you max Q as fast as possible. This makes the healing ridiculous on this ability and really makes me wonder why everyone rushes Cinderhulk on this boy (more on Jungle items later).
Another on-hit passive, albeit small, works wonders with your ultimate and attack speed, which it gives you more of, by the way! It's not worth rushing over vamp scepter unless you're going straight for Wit's End. In which case, you'll probably also be going for...
Resistance stats are fantastic for a drain tank, and this is a chunk of magic resistance you can buy early on to go into Wit's End in time for level 9 (when Wit's End begins scaling per level). Naturally, you only take this into troublesome AP matchups such as Teemo, Kayle, and Ryze, but never underestimate what increasing your effective HP can do against opponents like this. Must-buy if against AP top and AP jungler.
This is less common, but a decent option. Helps with mana problems, CDR allows for more Qs and other moves. Since Q applies on-hits, it grants extra damage to your Q pokes and is great for biting enemies down. The downside is that this Sheen proc damage isn't actually part of Q, therefore, does not count towards its heal. The advantage is that it builds into Trinity Force, which does even stronger procs and all-around great stats, but usually too expensive and lacking in real on-hits to buy compared to BOTRK and Wits. It's not a very drain-tanky item, but sometimes you can't go full drain anyway.
The defensive boots and other items can be bought situationally. It's rare that you'll need to outsustain someone, but against conqueror or troublesome healing champions, plus AD junglers as well, Bramble Vest can't go wrong. The next item along, Thornmail is an invaluable item for it's high armour. If not needed but you still need armour, Glacial Shroud can be bought instead to build Frozen Heart. Mercury's Treads are almost always the boots of choice since being stunned is horrible as a drain tank, but Ninja Tabi can be bought when that's not necessary to massively boost effective HP against AD and ADC enemies.
The perfect weapon in most situations, with AD, attack speed, on-hit that scales with enemy HP, lifesteal on the on-hit, and lifesteal on the item. Plus, the active deals more damage, steals life, and most importantly, steals movement speed from the target enemy. You'll probably always start this in lane unless you have a need for a different starting item.
An on-hit heal so good I feel physical pain when the enemy is full AD (that's a joke, that just means more armour). Even if an enemy is full AD, if they have magic damage passives or a support that does magic damage, I'll use that as reason enough to buy Wit's End since the healing passive is just that good. It heals 100% of its own on-hit damage on-hit when below 50% health, which is also the %HP threshhold for your passive to start healing more. While these don't directly multiply each other or anything, it is an additional heal to synergy with your E Damage Reduction + 25%-50% hp Passive drain combo. The attack speed is of course excellent as well, the on-hit applies on your ultimate and Q, and flat resistances as mentioned are fantastic for Warwick!
Don't build against 100% physical damage comps, just build more armour to increase EHP of your heals.
You'll usually finish this after jungling, but is a fair option in lane if you bought tiamat for waveclear as well. Most Warwick's I see build Titanic Hydra, and I think they're missing out on the insane healing from this item. 80 AD is a big powerup for your Q and ultimate's heal, and the on-hit applies on Q and ult as well just as it does with Titanic. More damage means more healing. Don't worry, we'll get to Grievous Wounds very soon.
I've thrown a few terms around like "EHP" (Effective Hit Points) and flat resistances, let's quickly explain this.
"Effective HP" basically means the amount of HP you have against a specific damage type by calculating your total health and armour OR magic resistance. All you really need to know is there aren't really diminishing returns on the effective HP you get from building resistances, this is a common misconception due to the damage reduction numbers the game shows you. The other thing you need to know is:
Whereas building health increases your total health pool, armour and magic resist not only increase the efficiency/effective hit points of your health pool, but any health you heal back as well.
Let's say your Q heals 100 health and you have 1000 health. It heals 10% of your total HP. Now if you have 2000 health, your Q now heals 5%, but still heals the same amount.
Now let's talk effective HP, still going with same numbers. Every 1 point of armour/magic resistance increases your effective HP by 1%, so lets say we have 50 armour. 1000 + 50% would mean 1500 effective health against physical damage if you had 50 armour. Got it?
Now for the heal. This means your Q heal of 100 also gets the 50% effective HP multiplier, if we think about it like that. Essentially, your Q would be healing 150 Effective HP against physical damage. If you had 100 magic resistance, it would be healing 200 effective HP against magic damage, and so on.
So if you were to buy Chain Vest (800g, 40 armour) instead of Giant's Belt (1000g, 380 HP), with the same numbers as before. Belt would put you at 1380 total hp, and assuming 0 armour for the sake of maths, that's your effective hp.
If we add 40 armour onto 1000 total HP, it becomes 40% more effective, so it would be 1400 effective health against physical damage, meaning it is cheaper AND more effective than buying health just going by totals.
Now let's add healing.
Q heals 100, like before (just an example by the way).
Healing back 100 on the Giant's Belt build will give you 7% of your max health back.
But if we build Chain Vest instead, we also increase the healing of the Q due to effective HP, so it heals 140 effective HP, therefore, it still heals 10% of your effective HP, unlike the Giant's belt example.
tl;dr: Resistances scale your healing, buying health doesn't.
Of course, that's one damage type. Things become more complicated with multiple damage types, like pretty much every team has, but I will often build Thornmail and Wit's End and call it a day, or even Frozen Heart, increasing resistances against what I need rather than HP that would defend against both, since I'm a drain tank, not a normal tank.
You're free to have different opinions and criticize the math as to be honest I haven't double checked it, but I know it's along the correct lines.
There is still, however, a reason to build health instead of resistances. And that's Grievous Wounds. Like how resistances and damage scale your healing, Grievous Wounds will scale it back, reducing the amount you heal back. Therefore, relying on healing become less reliable.
I have to say this before continuing Grievous Wounds does not stop healing, it just reduces it. It is not the end of the world just because the enemy has Grievous Wounds. You're weaker, yes, but you can still attempt to heal through fights, if you apply Grievous Wounds back to a Conqueror user, you even the playing field somewhat. Believe it or not, Warwick can still heal a surprising amount even during Grievous Wounds.
That said, sometimes it's too much. Welcome to the Anti-Grievous Wounds Item Section!
The first item that comes to mind is Sterak's Gage, an item that is exceptional against burst damage, which is exactly what Warwick would fear taking, especially during Grievous Wounds. What you need to survive Grievous is health that the enemy needs to shred through before "stopping" your healing. By that I mean, kill you. If you outlive the enemy that holds Grievous Wounds, or the duration of Ignite, then you can quickly drain your health back, even during small windows, such as the enemy ADC with Executioner's Calling backing off for a moment. Sterak's Gage does a great job of that with health, an AD increase and further AD increase when activated to scale your damage and healing further, and an anti-burst shield to prevent you being bursted while locked under Grievous Wounds or heavy CC.
I should also mention that CC like Stuns and Roots are even more of a counter than Grievous Wounds are. If enemies have tons of CC, these anti-Grievous Wounds items and tactics also apply for them.
A big slab of 700 health will certainly help you outlive Ignites and Grievous Wounds, at least enough to get out of there or kill the applier before you bite the dust. The slow and AD also help you catch and kill your prey.
I could replace this with any Health+Resistance item and have the same description, so remember that. DMP in particular has a nice movement speed and empowered, slowing attack as well that is nice on Warwick. In general, buying health is great against high CC or Grievous Wounds teams. Against some you can live with just a Sterak's slapped onto your build and little else, but you might need more in case of really deadly CC or kiting champions like Kalista (Slows counter her hard, so use them).
Normal Defense Items
As mentioned before, this item is great for... 110 armour?! Insane! That's insane EHP you're getting right there. Plus, 20% CDR means more ults and Q spam, and the mana helps with Warwick's mana problems outside of blue buffs. Great item.
80 armour is not as impressive as Frozen Heart, but you'll likely be buying this a lot more because it has Grievous Wounds. That's just the insane, healy, Conqueror meta we live in. That said, it's still really good!
The reason this isn't in the Grievous Wounds counters section is because it simply doesn't. Grievous applies AFTER Spirit Visage's healing increase. That said, it's great against magic damage and gives good health+resistance stats and 10% CDR. Healing increase helps our goal of being a drain tank, but this is not a core item despite that. I will sooner buy and rely solely on Wit's End when enemies have less magic damage rather than the other way around. If they have a fed AP or lots of AP, having BOTH is fantastic!
Here are some alternative complete items to care about... sometimes.
Trinity is a great ball of stats, but no lifesteal, low AD compared to other options, and the Sheen damage doesn't benefit from Q's innate healing. Still a great item nonetheless for the stats, but I think the other two options, Blade of the Ruined King and Wit's End are better.
Tenacity and EHP increases are way more important than cheesing your ultimate with meager amounts of movement speed. You get more than enough with your W anyway. That said, Boots of Swiftness do have a point against mass slows, particularly, area slows.
Great item if the enemy has grievous wounds and CC enough to cause you to need more health. I would not trade Blade of the Ruined King and Wit's End for anything when I can build them, but I can part with Ravenous Hydra for Titanic Hydra for sure when the game calls for it. It does do less damage though, so watch for that.
Amazing item, though Warwick's W is usually enough to keep up with someone. Sometimes, however, you have to be the initiator since no one else will. With both 400HP and 30 armour, this isn't a bad way to go into that role, also providing movement speed to ult further where it counts. Just bear in mind that using your ultimate to initiate is a risky play, as it is one of your main ways of burst-healing back from low health. If you can get away with Righteous Glory + W strolling into the enemy team then holding Q to get in there, THEN ulting once your HP starts getting low, it allows you to sustain for much longer.
If you have any other items that you think would work well, go ahead and try it out! After a few games, think about what went well, compare it to alternatives, and make your own conclusions. I'm just reporting on what I've found, and there's bound to be tons of items and combos I haven't tried yet.
This is How I Play Warwick (Drain Tank Warwick Montage/Compilation/Memetage)
Not too heavy on the memes in this video, nor the series really, more about the gameplay and build. (I do have a more memey video called "AD Thresh.exe" if you're into that tho).
Overall, I've had a ton of fun and great success in my games with Drain Tank Warwick. It's uncommon that I see him built this way, but it's great fun and I invite you to try it, especially if you ever think that Warwick doesn't do damage or heal as much as you want him to.
As usual, there's no freelo promise with this build or guide. If you play it in ranked, that's on you. You're welcome to try though, I know I will!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check me out on YouTube, and any other guides I may have on Mobafire!