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Varus Build Guide by CellOne

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League of Legends Build Guide Author CellOne

This is not Caitlyn. [In Depth Analysis of Varus] by 1.7k

CellOne Last updated on May 15, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 22

Honor Guard

Defense: 7

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 1

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This is not Caitlyn.

Hi and welcome to my Varus Guide!

I started to main AD as my Elo started to get higher than 1.5k and when I soon found out I really got a knock for that role. When Varus was announced, I was pretty excited to play him, as he was the first "new" AD after me starting to play those champions.

When his skills were leaked, I was like "Stfu and take my money!". Somehow I had 13k EP when he finally got released as it took so long, stopping me from buying even more RP.

However, the Spotlight shows a style of Varus which is imho not working that well. First I played some games versus Varus and recognized pretty fast, most other carrys are beating him in a direct fight if you max out Piercing Arrow first.
I did a lot of theorycrafting and maths and got to the idea to max out Blighted Quiver first (I will explain all of this in another chapter).
However, this worked out great. Varus with maxed Blighted Quiver is much more of a threat in a fight on bottom lane and in midgame.

I'm playing around 1.7k Elo atm.

So let's go ahead and find out how to play real Varus!

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Theorycrafting - Why this is not Caitlyn. Part 1: Builds.

When I read Varus's kit I was thinking of two possible builds:

This build is the one I play. It's focusing on Blighted Quiver and the use of Piercing Arrow as main trigger.
Wriggle's Lantern is great for some defense and sustain, which Varus needs in my opinion as he has no real escape skill like Caitlyn, Vayne, Graves or Ezreal.
Phantom Dancer fixes his slow Movement Speed (310, there are just a few champions who have even less, 305) as well, what makes this item that great for him.

This is more or less the build from the spotlight, which focuses on Piercing Arrow as main damage source and using the passive to make use of the high attack damage. Compared to the first build, this one is a lot weaker in laning phase, as you don't have the defense and sustain from Wriggle's Lantern.

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Theorycrafting - Why this is not Caitlyn. Part 2: Analysing Varus.

First of all, Varus has a low base damage of 47 (Graves 51, Vayne 50, Caitlyn is at 47 as well) resulting in a weaker early game than some other meta carries (I will compare a lot to Graves and Vayne) have. This is due to his passive and high early damage with either Q or E.
To still become an early threat, Blighted Quiver is just great, especially with the passive.

Let's have a look at the title now: This is not Caitlyn. I chose this title due to the spotlight, in which Piercing Arrow is used similiar to Caitlyns ultimate: fight an enemy and when he flees, grab the kill with a long-range-shot from the distance. Sadly, you got to fight the enemy first - and you got to win this fight. Otherwise you die. Obviously.

And there we have the problem which led me to my style, different from Phreak's: Piercing Arrow is almost useless in a close combat.
That's why:
- At some point you will deal more DPS with autoattacks than with the arrow.
- As it takes a bit of time to charge the arrow (and you want to charge it if you max Piercing Arrow first), you're slowed for a too long time. Not good against close combat carrys like Vayne.
- The arrow is easy to dodge with a mobile champion in a close-distance fight.

This is what made me think of the Piercing Arrow as a midgame poke and a trigger for the Blight-stacks on lane. But it shouldn't be the main damage source.

And the last point, which will be interesting for you only when playing on a "higher" elo: Piercing Arrow pushes the lane like shi*. I really don't like that, as Varus is vulnerable to ganks anyway, so it's pretty bad to even give them the opportunity to do an easy gank.

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Theorycrafting - Why this is not Caitlyn. Part 3: Quiver first, we need arr

So how to play with Varus if you don't have a long-range-spell with high damage?

Well, with his quite good range (575, which is higher than Graves' or Vaynes) he can easily stack Blight on his enemy. Remember: 3 Blight stacks triggered means 15% of the maximum health gone (excluding Magic resistance), which is a pretty high burst.

But how to trigger them?

Of course I don't want to talk about the answer "use another ability". Everyone knows that. I want to talk about the answer, which tells you, what ability to use.
If you max Piercing Arrow first, you don't really need to care that much about your Blight stacks on lane anyway. If you max Blighted Quiver first, you just want to trigger them in the best way possible. As you keep Piercing Arrow at level 1 until you reach level 8, you will just use a quick arrow (tip: smartcast works great to do this, watch the spotlight) to trigger the stacks and get a lot of burst damage - a lot more than with charged Piercing Arrow. That's one argument for maxing Blighted Quiver first. Also, remember you will still fight between those bursts - and in those pure autoattack fights Blighted Quiver is a lot more useful as well.

I will get to detailed Gameplay later on.

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Theorycrafting - Why this is not Caitlyn. Part 4: Conclusion.

Conclusion is:

This is not Caitlyn.

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Summoner Spells

Standard on AD carrys. You can use it in any situation, no matter what CC is active, even when silenced. That's why you take it, it allows you to survive bursts and CC combos.

You will mainly use and need this to escape, especially as Varus has no natural escape skill.


Pretty similiar mechanic and usage to Heal and better in a lategame, but less good in early. Don't use this against any knock-ups or pulls (on bottom: Alistar, Blitzcrank, Nautilus) as it's not cancelling them.

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I like to go flat AD on the essences and ArmorPen on the Marks (the other way around is less effective). This allows you to lasthit easier, especially under the turret and still deal with medium armor values.

Seals are for flat armor. The base armor value is ALWAYS lower than the base magic resistance value, that's why physical damage is more effective in early than magic damage. And thats why you take flat armor and magic resistance per level, because at level 18 the armor value will be the higher one.

Also the reason for placing AP champions mid and AD's bottom, but that's another story...


Marks -> Attack Damage (either flat or per level, both works)
Essences -> Movement Speed
Essences -> Armor Penetration

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Standard Carry Masteries. Take everything that's good for AD's, improve your summoners and get a bit of defense.
Not much to say about it, to be honest... if you have any questions concerning the masteries (though I can't even imagine one), feel free to leave a comment.

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Skill Sequence

> > >

First point is for Hail of Arrows as it is not dealing that less damage than the full charged Piercing Arrow, so with the time difference where you can attack the damage is equal. But this is an AoE slow plus reducing heal, which is great for early fights, where most champions are not that mobile yet, which may force their AD carry in an early fight to flash out of the area to be able to use Heal effectively.

In midgame you should max Piercing Arrow (finally) to get the poke tp prepare teamfights, siege them or to defend.

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General Gameplay, Triggering Blight

At level 2, you will need to use Hail of Arrows to trigger Blight. After, always use a quick Piercing Arrow and Hail of Arrows second.

If you use Hail of Arrows, try to root your enemy in the area with Chain of Corruption to reduce his heal as long as possible.

Also remember that you can stack Blight on different enemys at one time (unlike Vayne's W), triggering all at once with a well aimed Piercing Arrow or Hail of Arrows.

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Item Follow Up

You should buy the following items after completing the core build:

(should be always the next item)

This is also the most useful order, except the second item, GA. Don't buy GA if you're losing hard, it wont save you then, better buy another defense item if you really need to (e.g. Banshee's Veil). Also don't buy GA if they dont get close to you and you're fed, better get more damage then and delay GA.

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With maxing Blighted Quiver you wont need that much mana. This allows you to lasthit with your Hail of Arrows at level 1, if needed.

Up from level 2 farming is getting pretty easy with the extra damage from Blighted Quiver.

If you have zoning problems, get an early point in Piercing Arrow to farm creeps from the distance or even max this skill first.

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The Support

Best supports are: Taric, Leona, Janna.

Not that useful, except when maxing Piercing Arrow first as the mana costs are pretty high. With Blighted Quiver you wont need her mana. Only pick her as a counter to Urgot.

He's ok. He can keep enemys in your Hail of Arrows with his Pulverize, but his Headbutt may push them out again. Better pick AGAINST Varus as he has no burst heal, but small potions of, which is better against Hail of Arrows.

Probably the best support for Varus. (After some more games, I'm sure, Taric is better) She can chainstun an enemy, keeping him in your Hail of Arrows for a long time, denying heal quite hard.

Taric's a great choice if you need sustain and can't or don't want to pick Leona due to this. His stun can keep enemys in your Hail of Arrows as well or engage the fight. He also brings a lot of burst damage with his level 6 with him and the AP bonus is great for your Blighted Quiver.

Works well. A hard CC lane which will pay off past level 6. Though stronger on a Varus who maxes Piercing Arrow first, due to her shield. Her passive helps a lot to remove the disadvantage of the low movementspeed of Varus.

The AS-buff is nice in general, but will mess up your timings pretty hard. You wont be able to trigger the stacks often enough as all of your other spells are on cooldown for too long because you get the 3 stacks too fast. Though pretty high DPS-Lane, worth a pick against a Soraka-Lane and junglers like Udyr who can't jump to you. You may outrun them.

Quite good pick, similiar to Leona.

Blitz can be a good pick here, depending on the enemy's lane. Only take him if you're sure you can take the close combat; dont pick him against Vayne or Graves. They will rather be happy if you hook them.

Sona works with almost everything. She's ok, but not the best pick.

The movementspeed and AP buff is useful for Varus, but she's not the best pick. Better than Soraka though.

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Bot lane Matchups (AD carrys)

Pretty much free lose. Vayne hardcounters Varus. She can dodge your Piercing Arrow with Tumble easily, maybe even your ultimate and she will tumble out of your Hail of Arrows right away. She's close combat, you're not. As soon as she gets close, you're dead and you wont be able to escape her on your own.

Only way to win against Vayne is got into a lategame, where Varus' CC and range get's more important and maybe even stronger than Vayne's high DPS/Burst.
On lane your only hope can be to root her with your ultimate and outrange her. Still from my experience as a "good" Vayne player, that's a difficult thing for Varus due to Tumble and Invisibility.

Equal lane. In a fight you may win if you keep some distance and root him in a good position. As you outrange him, with your ultimate you will have 2 seconds of free damage, which is enough to kill him.

Miss Fortune


Works pretty well for Varus. Though she can jump out of your Hail of Arrows, she cant win a direct combat against you, her DPS is ridiciously low compared to yours. With Piercing Arrow you can even stop her from zoning you with her autoattack range.


Pretty hard, as he is quite mobile. You wont be able to keep him in your Hail of Arrows and maybe even miss your ultimate. Also he has a higher early DPS than you and can chase you down easily.

Similiar to Caitlyn, but his level 6 is a lot stronger than yours (dont fight him then). Try to get an advantage in early.



This guy is so strong. You will definitely need to max Piercing Arrow first to keep him out of range.

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Ranked Play

I play rankeds only. At 1.7k atm. This works. Lol.

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Early Game

As already said, use some mana for Hail of Arrows to harass or lasthit. Start with boots almost every game, you will need the movement speed.
At level 2 you can start to stack Blight on your enemy and trigger the stacks with Hail of Arrows if he has a lower attack range than you.
At level 4 start using Piercing Arrow to trigger the stacks and follow up with Hail of Arrows. Varus' level 4 is pretty strong in most matchups, make use of that.
At level 6 you can start a hard CC/burst combo if your support is either Leona, Taric, Nautilus, Blitz or Alistar. The ultimate will increase your damage furthermore and allow you to trigger at least one Blight stack (as it takes some time til the ultimate finally triggers; 'til then you should've attacked again). Always try to keep your enemy in your Hail of Arrows, that's Varus' biggest advantage against the Heal-meta.

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In midgame you will have some points in Piercing Arrow, allowing you to poke around more in lane (if you're still there) and push the turret or to get (small) advantages for an upcoming teamfight.
Due to the high range of this skill, you can stay back easily and wait for the engagement. Don't get to close to the fight, Varus is not made for that (he's not only not Caitlyn, he's also not Vayne and not Graves). You wouldn't get out again. As your ultimate is on a pretty high range as well, just wait for someone to rush onto you and stop him with Chain of Corruption, when the Corruption is able to spread (in best case), then kill.

You can also initiate fights with your ultimate, there is no reason to not do so.
I'm committed to the ultimate being the most op stuff about Varus.

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Varus is very strong in late due to his high range of both the attacks and all of his CC skills. The heal reduction will become more and more important, the ultimate will be a pure CC skill, great for both engagement and supporting your midlane and countercarry. You should concentrate a lot more on triggering Blight now as the damage from Blighted Quiver is getting very high again, though it wont be possible to make full use of this mechanic every fight. Also positioning is getting more important, as you die faster now. Keep even more distance, but make sure, your mates will be able to help you if someone flashes into you (or uses a similiar skill).

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The E.N.D.

Gratz, you made it trough my huge wall of text!
Or at least I hope so...

If you want to note anything or discuss some point in this guide, just leave a comment. If you just want to trollvote me because you have an own Varus guide and without any other reason: prepare for a report. Maybe it works, I don't know. Doesn't matter anyway, this is what worked for me at high mid Elo and I created this guide to show you this different style of Varus.
If you dont like it: gtfo.
If you like it: tell me then! Post results, experiences in matchups, ... and maybe vote up :)

Always remember: This is not Caitlyn.



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May 9, 2012
* Guide released.
Max 12, 2012
* Added a few new aspects, just some small sentences.