Rammus Build Guide by Frillen
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Runes: Read notes
+10% Attack Speed
+10% Attack Speed
+10% Attack Speed
+10% Attack Speed
+10% Attack Speed
+8 Magic Resist
Threats & Synergies
Vayne is potentially the worst thing you can meet mid to late, and she is hard to suppress early thanks to her E (Condemn) knockback that cancels powerball. If you face her, try to save power ball for when Condemn is on cooldown. Finally stacking a ton of armor on top of Thornmail is still the best way to deal with Vayne. Just don't solo her unless you are confident, and preferably ahead several items and levels!
Double abilities to interrupt poweball, wait for cooldowns before you roll. Pure cancer if playing against a good fiddle.
Rek'Sai at maximum fury can easily deal 500+ true damage mid game with his Furious Bite (E) on a less than 10 second cooldown. Exercise caution even when equal or ahead.
Kayne has a really solid interrupt for Power Ball and so much damage and sustain.
Top winrate vs Rammus, so he must be nasty. I rarely have big problems bursting him down and countering him with MR.
High win vs Rammus. I don't think I have faced really good Volibears recently.
Focus on his pathing and do everything to counter gank him to deny him the classic Kha'six snowball.
Mind the level one buff steal and the level 2 ganks. If he gets snowballing it can get nasty, if you are even or ahead Rammus counter Twitch really hard from the mid game and beyond.
Good players on stealth champs = cancer.
What Shaco said.
Kindred is more of a nuisance than a real threat, because she might force you to do inefficient paths to not give her free stacks.
Shut him down early or be sorry!
Be sure to try and turn you back to her just before she ults!
Just dont 1v1 him after level 6, unless you are several levels and items ahead, and he's not that big of an issue.
Tali is very good at kiting and dishing out big AP damage, so don't fight her unless comfortable at dodging her skillshots.
A good Anivia will make Rammus' life a living hell.
Make sure someone has Morellos or Mortal Reminder.
Shutdown early or he will become a mega tanky deathmachine.
% health damage is just rough.
I haven't really understood why Ivern can be so annoying, but he has 56% win vs rammus.
High winrate vs Rammus.
Rammus and Zac counter eachother by interrupting eachothers key abilities. He has a high winrate vs Rammus, but I rarely struggle with him.
Like Shyvana, try to not let him get free objectives. He is supposed to be the king of duels, but I've won plenty of duels vs diamond Udyrs in even games.
High magic damage tanks like Maokai, Nunu, Amumu, Galio can be difficult to deal with for Rammus.
Nunu's tankyness, sustain and objective control with consume is too damn high
I have put these three hybrid damage ADC's in the mid threat category, because if the game goes into late these champions can shred mega tanks like not others.
Anything with heals, shields and speed buffs is naturally great with tanky engagers like Rammus. Also, taunted enemies that gets chain CC'ed by stuff like Nami's Aqua Prison are usually history. Go to leagueofgraphs.com's matchups section for updated synergy/counter stats!
Sona has historically the highest synergy with Rammus across all elos. She is easy and great in low elo with her auto healing of lowest health nearby allies. She is difficult but still great in high elo, due to great CC and utility, despite being very vulnerable to burst damage.
Black Shield engages are the most fun!
Amazing duo potential. Just try it!
Champion Build Guide
Tips For JunglingBy Frillen
About The Author
Frillen, aka Excalipurr, is a Rammus specialist, who peaked in Diamond II EUW and as rank 32 Rammus world.
Frillen teaches piano for a living – check out his piano tutorials - and he is the proud owner of the King Rammus skin, awarded for playing in the closed beta in 2009. Frillen uploads gameplay on his YouTube.
Frillen hit gold elo in Season 1, and occasionally he faced pros playing Ashe mid starting with Boots of Speed + 3x Health Potions. Then he got overly interested in alcohol and women and was casually hard-stuck in gold-ish for 7 seasons.
Just before season 8 Frillen sobered up, gave up on finishing an education after 17 years in school, started his own business as a freelance music teacher and moved in with his fiancée in the quiet suburbs of Copenhagen and suddenly his League-performance skyrocketed.
Frillen ended season 8 in Diamond V having played only Cinderhulk Rammus. Then, in season 9 he peaked in Diamond II EUW playing 400+ Bloodrazor Rammus matches in soloqueue.
Bloodrazor Rammus is considered off-meta (for now), but it works with high potential in any elo, because of Rammus' ability to get 685 armor without items, while Spiked Shell turns up to 15% of this into on-hit magic damage. That's a truckload of on-hit damage. Attack speed is absolutely not a wasted stat on Rammus.
After 9.9 Aftershock changes:
Here is Frillen in the forrests of Helsingør with his Mountain Ocarina® around his neck.
Frillen suggests you listen to some music while reading. Maybe this. Or this.
The biggest thing you can do to improve in elos below Diamond right now is to focus on improving your farm by cs'ing and pathing more efficiently. In this game my enemy Nautilus lost mainly because of random pathing leading to level-disadvantage and losing crucial mid game fights that should have been in his team favor. This was solely because of his lack of items and levels.
The next biggest thing to focus on is vision and tracking enemies to minimize risk. Enemy Kennen was a threat because he was outfarming Jax with 100 cs despite me camping top lane. He was easy to camp, since he was pushing without vision.
TL;DR – Top Quick Tips
Read the Strategy Chapter for more in-depth thoughts on these tips.
- League is a marathon, not a sprint. Have patience, have discipline and have fun.
- Inspire greatness with persistance, positivity and by being a sportsman and a leader when your teams need one. Or just 1v9 for your boosted monkey team. Try to be nice, ok?
- Limit champion pool to spend less time learning micro (champion specific mechanics) and more time learning macro (strategic priorities).
- Look up live game stats on op.gg and funnel/deny players that seem most likely to carry the most possible ressources.
- Learn from high level replays and from guides, mentors & pro play
- Shutdown gold is the best way to comeback.
- Never surrender (see Magifelix interview at the end of guide).
- Have multiple accounts so you can dodge more games, distribute loses more evenly & minimize tilt from fear of demotion.
- Read patch notes. Vigorously.
- Find reliable duo partners, mentor eachother and play champs with high statistical synergy.
- Exercise, eat well, sleep well and take many long breaks for mental restitution. You don't become good by overpracticing, especially not while tilting.
- Judge your own performance over 100s, not 10s, of games. If you start losing 2-3 games in a row, take a break. Mental reset is important. Even if you played perfectly and got ****ty teammates, most people will tilt and have lower performance after any kind of loosing spree.
- Look for Rift herald between 10-14 minutes into the game and go for plates + first turret for up to 1150g. This is likely the most impactful habit you can implement as a jungler, and even as a laner you should prioritize setting up an early Herald.
- Do Outer Turrets before Inner Turrets, Inner before Inhibitor and prioritize turret pressure very highly.
- Don't pressure lanes with allied Super Minions unless 100% chance to end.
- If behind, farm under turrets and stall until you get item spikes or enemy makes mistakes.
- If ahead, force the next safest objective.
- After laning phase, shove all possible waves and don't let gold and experience go to noone.
- Never start a high risk Baron – fight for vision, but don't start if not free.
- Always start a free Baron – unless an Inhibitor is free.
- Contest drakes and ward them to make plays elsewhere if not possible to contest.
- Infernal > Cloud > Mountain > Ocean drake – ordered by winrate and priority.
- Think twice about splitpushing – don't let your team get all-in'ed 5v4. Especially late game, when one team fight will decide the outcome of the game.
- Make an aggressive/defensive plan for early invade.
- As Rammus, avoid fighting before you hit level 3.
- Identify the easiest gankable lanes, both for you and the enemy jungler.
- Look for fights when you have power spikes. See Itemization Chapter.
- Keep an eye on item/level advantages and track summoner spell cooldowns.
- Enemies with Conqueror or Void Staff should often be paid a fair amount of respect as a tank/off-tank.
- Don't take outnumbered fights unless considerably ahead.
- Target enemy carries during mid game. depends on team comps
- Peel for your own carries during late game. depends on team comps
- If facing only 1 AD or 1 AP champ consider focussing this player and itemize vs the other damage type.
- Recall with your team, and not when your team is rushing to a fight.
- From a PC download some recent master+ replays from lists like this to get inspiration for improving your first clears and ganks in particular
- Start at Red, as some junglers will invade you if don’t.
- Do the Krugs/Raptors as much as possible – as these camps are worth 160g and 112g respectively
- Track camp respawn timers – ideally you'd return to camps as they respawn.
- Don't priorize first Rift Scuttler too much as it is only worth 77 gold, later scuttles are much more valuable.
- When no ganks available & your lanes have priority, steal multitarget camps & leave 1 small raptor or wolf alive to delay respawn. Works with the first medium Krug too, but very awkward to do with Rammus AoE.
- Understand wave management, shoves, slow pushing and proper resetting.
- Ward enemy Raptors around 01:00 to track enemy jungler.
- Buy Control Wards on every back.
- Get sweeper on your first or second back to deny as much vision as possible.
- Set up and clear vision around your next objective and your flanks.
About The Guide
In this guide, I've compiled what I learned from nearly a decade of playing League, especially during season 8 & 9 where I began watching more pro matches, streamers and top level replays.
With this effort, I improved enough to climb from Gold to Diamond in one season, and I believe you can do better, if you put your mind up to it. Getting some form of mentoring along the way helps a lot, and that's what this guide aims to do.
The guide is in three parts:
- The Climb – about a healthy mindset for improved performance and having fun.
- Armordillo Adventures – about Rammus micro, because I am Rammus fanatic.
- Strategic Advice – about the big subject of macro play.
If you are a high Diamond+ player, I don't expect this guide to illuminate you, but I would love some expert feedback!
Here's a bit of gameplay with some questionable midgame decisions, but an awesome early botlane camp and one of the most hilarious Rift Heralds I ever dropped. Our Vladimir top is whining and spamming ff, because I am camping botlane and leaving him to rot top. When we finally come top enemy Irelia is in for a surprise.
If you enjoy the guide or find that parts of it are less reader-friendly, misleading or in any way in need of improvement, please leave a comment in the discussion. I have spent months editing, and I know there are still some pretty wall-of-texty sections that could need more work. I really want this to be the best jungle guide out there.
How to improve at league?
Getting better at anything takes time, it takes practice on a regular basis and it takes the right kind of practice. It also takes the right attitude.
"I deserve a higher rank, but my team is holding me back..."
Game knowledge, experience and situational adoptation is your key to success in League. You can get some way with quick reflexes, but League is most of all a game about outwitting your opponents with superior strategy – that is, when you disregard the about 10-20% ranked games that are lost to quitters, whiners, feeders and flamers.
I say about 10-20%, because even the best duo boosters/smurfers extremely rarely have over 80% winrate over a substantial amount of games. So don't be that guy, who claims that matchmaking and trolls are keeping you below your desserved rank or MMR. Sure, some games are lost no matter how well you perform. Sure, you can have a few unlucky games in a row and feel it's unfair. But you don't play a 100 games with a 50% winrate or lower, and deserve a higher rank. Any true diamond player can get to mid plat blindfolded, and master players can get to mid Diamond faster than you can say tyler1.
"I played 1000s of games, but I am still hard stuck Iron IV..."
One thing is playing a lot, making mistakes and fixing them. Another is to keep doing the same mistakes – possibly without realizing them – and expecting new results.
I doubt any challenger players got their rank before having invested thousands of hours into playing the game. I doubt they got so far without making a habit of persistent self-evaluation and trying to identify mistakes and any suboptimal decision making. I doubt they did so alone, and without some sort of support; either from a mentor, an organisation, friends, family or a lover, who encourages learning from mistakes and provides intelligent counselling.
"The learning curve is too steep..."
Yeah, about that... League is a highly competitive and very complex game. We currently have 144 champions and more than 100.000 top 2% players worldwide, who mostly specialize in one or a few champions or roles. If you try to learn more roles and many champions at the same time you will possibly get a more general game knowledge, but progress will be slower. New players are racing the veterans, who have years of head start, so you might wanna take a short cut. The fastest way to improve is to stick with one role and a few champions.
One of the best ways to master a new champion – next to playing the champion of course – is to watch challenger replays and imitate the best players playstyle. From here you can start adding your own creativity as you expand your knowledge and experience. Learning from others will save us countless hours.
Balancing Farming, Fighting, Objectives and Vision
This one takes a lot of experience, and it's what will get you flamed no matter how good you git or whatever you do, because you are the jungler, and the fourth law of Newton is that the jungler takes the blame.
Players will often expect you to gank and provide pressure in all three lanes simultaneously, whilst controlling neutral objectives, warding & sweeping intelligently and of course clearing efficiently. Whenever someone dies, naturally it's the junglers fault for not being there.
So what can you do?
Mute people trying to educate you aggressively in-game. Don't just ignore them. If they are tilted, they will spam ping you and distract you from making rational decisions. Mute them, mute their pings and focus on your own gameplay. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
Generally speaking, lower elos tend to fight way too much. They get offended if you ask them to buy a control ward. They leave wave after wave crashing into allied turrets for tons of wasted gold and experience. They would rather chase a worthless kill across half the map, than take an inhibitor or a free baron. They wouldn't dream of coordinating recalls.
You must learn to stop fighting when it's not favorable and minimize your teams risky decision. This is generally done by
- more and better vision control
- more focus on Rift Heralds, Dragons and Turrets
- only deviating from clearing/cs'ing when more profitable plays can be made.
Finding the best replays to learn from
Google your "champion name" + "rank" and hit Leagueofgraphs' list of best players on that champion. Then change region to KR, NA or EUW, so you filter out the low population servers. Browse the list for the highest tier players with the most games and download and watch their replays for the most recent high quality expert gameplay.
You might also wanna study the gameplay of low diamond players with over 65% winrate, since there is often a big difference in what is the most effective playstyle in lower elo vs high elo.
When not near my PC, I look on Youtube for recent no commentary challenger replays. For commentary gameplay, I enjoy watching Valkrin, Pants are Dragon and IWillDominate.
You should also watch & analyze important bits of your own replays. But it's so boring! Yeah, but try singing in the shower – It sounds great, right? Now record it and play it back to yourself and suddenly even the tiniest flaws or cracks in your vocal performance becomes impossible to unhear for most people (unless they are competing in national talent shows it seems). Same goes for reviewing gameplay.
I enjoyed playing duo botlane with my girlfriend. Mostly, I would play Ashe and she played Nami, otherwise I would play Sona and she played Miss Fortune. We got to mid Gold together and had so much fun. Regrettably, she stopped because of all the toxicity. I did not enjoy playing with random ADC's or Supports, so botlane kinda died to me.
Mid lane was fun to me once upon a time. I would spam Kassadin back in season 2, and before going to sleep every night, I would think excitedly about how to play him better the following day.
Then, in season 3, my interest in Rammus took flight. Rammus is sometimes accused of being too linear, predictable and boring, but I'd always seen him as an absolutely hilarious and underestimated monster. He's mechanically simple, and I love how effortlessly he can be controlled while devoting constant attention to strategic management and macro play.
Rammus was buffed hard then nerfed hard during season 9, but he can still have a high impact despite these changes.
Why play Rammus?
- Beginner-friendly, yet potent in any elo or matchup.
- Consistent high winrate below Diamond since forever
- Can achieve up to 685 armor without items – or 2012 armor with 6x Frozen Heart – and turn 15% into on-hit magic damage. That's why Rammus scales well with attack speed.
- One of the highest damage potential tanks
- Amazing mobility, engage potential and gap close
- Top duellist – can 1v1 nearly anyone after 1st or 2nd buy, when equal or ahead
- Unexpectedly high AoE magic damage
- High sustain potential (if Ravenous Hunter), does rarely get forced to back
- Few are used to facing Rammus & wont expect him to solo objectives, deal tons of dmg + still be tanky af
- Rammus is very team reliant if not snowballing with Bloodrazor which is increasingly hard in D+
- Bad level 2, which is probably why he is not in the LCS
- Vulnerable to early invades – especially just before hitting level 3 and 6
- AP heavy comps – especially in longer games
- Kite. I counter this with Ghost, Blue smite & Cloud Drakes.
- Point and click crowd control. Stuff like Condemn, Terrify, Dark Wind, Crystallize, Equinox and Whimsy can all interupt Powerball and are really hard counters.
Counters & Synergies
This varies a lot from one patch to another and from tier to tier. Go here to check the latest statistics on matchups and be sure to check stats from the different tiers+. I can highly recommend that you look for duo partners that main the statistical top synergies of your favourite champion!
My current wet dream for a premade team – based on Rammus' best statistical matchups – would be something like:
Max Q or E first?
Many Rammus players thinks E max is genious, when this is rarely the case. E max might be good for spamming ganks with mobility boots and dragging enemies back into your territory, out from their own turret range or into your turrets range. But delaying Q hurts your clearing, your fighting and gap close a lot.
Q max is so much more consistent and better over-all. The cooldown reduction from 16-6 seconds is absolutely huge. It's better for damage, better for fighting, better for clearing, rotating – you name it.
I tested and compared clearing speeds by doing a full clear at level 9 with only Boots of Speed and Stalker's Blade. The full clear took 112 seconds with Q max and 125 seconds with E max. Both runs could be optimized, and I am sloppily not chaining W patiently after E to extend the increased attack speed duration from 6-8 seconds. Don't mind the Discord notification sound that I recorded by accident – it almost made me crazy figuring out where it came from.
Red or Blue Smite?
I used to think that one day I would realize that Chilling Smite or Challenging Smite was better than the other. Turns out it's a silly assumption reinforced by streamers babbleing on about why one is much better than the other. As with most things in League, it's very situational. It's very dependent on enemy team comp, what lanes you wanna prioritize and your playstyle.
Chilling Smite is more common in high elo, because people tend to play safer and place good defensive vision. Blue smite is great for that gap close and awesome in coordinated team, when people wait for eachother and follow up on engages.
Challenging Smite is better if your opponents don't know how position or kite properly. It gives you that extra fighting potential with it's mini exhaust/ignite powers. If you are building very snowbally, can't depend as much on your team and need to 1v5 then red smite is your friend.
Viable Keystone – There Can Be Only One
For keystone Aftershock is the absolute superior choice. The best thing about Aftershock is not it's ridiculous defensive stat burst. Afterchock provides Rammus with very high "invisible in the charts" burst damage from synergy with Spiked Shell and Defensive Ball Curl. When Aftershock procs and you go into Defensive Ball Curl you get up to +240 armor, which by your passive means up to 36 extra magic damage that procs both on your auto attacks and each time an enemy auto attacks you for the next 2.5 secs. This can become thousands of extra points of damage, that does not show up in the rune stats after games. Here it only shows the Aftershock shockwave damage, which is also massive, since you should have loads of hp.
You might be tempted to go with Predator as it provides marginally more gank potential early game, but after that it gets outclassed tremormendously by Aftershock.
Conqueror on Rammus looks interesting at first glance, and it is not a horrible keystone on Rammus, but it falls in the same troll-ish category as Hail of Blades, not because they are useless, but because the synergy between Aftershock and Rammus's kit just outclasses other keystones so hard. That being said, they are fun snowball runes, when abusing lower elo players.
Since Aftershock is the only serious choice for Rammus right now, we look only at Resolve primary runes.
- First off, you have to decide between Demolish and Font of Life. Shield Bash might be a niche thing in rare team comps with 2-3 shield casters. But since you don't have a reliable way to get shielded it's not that relevant. Font of Life is mostly good for late game team fighting, because your teammates get small heals from attacking targets that are slowed by Tremors, Powerball impact or Frenzying Taunt.
Demolish is the most consistent choice for snowballing mid game leads with turret plate tactics.
- Conditioning for more late game scaling. Don't be tempted by Second Wind unless you play ARAM . It might be good for top laners when trading in lanes, but not for jungling, as you don't take frequent damage from pokes or trades. Bone Plating is of course better before 10 minutes, then much worse after that point.
- Overgrowth is great with Cinderhulk, when they have low cc or if you take Legend: Tenacity, but I most often take Unflinching - especially when running domination secondary - because cc is the Bane of our existence. Revitalize can be combined with Ravenous Hunter and possibly Spirit Visage and even Hextech Gunblade if madly snowballing or playing 3v3.
Most Common Secondary Runes
Triumph. I can not believe how many times this runes has turned the closest fatal battles into devastating triumphant victories! And it gives me roughly 200-500 gold every game.
Legend: Tenacity eliminates most of the need for Mercury's Treads, which is great, since Ninja Tabi are fantastic on Rammus. This rune let's you buy them in more games. Legend: Alacrity is the most common choice, since Rammus scales formidably with attack speed and it provides a more offensive rune page and a better jungle clear.
My Favourite Secondary Runes
The playstyle of the bloodrazor build synergize best with Cheap Shot, which is an awesome damage rune on Rammus + Ravenous Hunter as your source of sustain. These Runes can also work well with Cinderhulk, and I wouldn't live without the 10k+ healing from the average Ravenous Hunter game.
It is so awkward being forced to back after a fight or an invade with low health and lose tempo while your big jungle camps stands untouched for minutes. This never happens with Ravenous Hunter, since you only back when you can afford your next item spike.
A fun variant is Magical Footwear + Approach Velocity for some amazing sticking potential and possibly more damage potential at the cost of a substantial amount of sustain. The cost is so great, that I only run these runes in lower elo, since I start to miss the sustain from Ravenous Hunter, whenever I face halfway decent opponents.
You might consider the Domination tree for other runes like Taste of Blood, Eyeball Collection, or Ingenious Hunter or the Sorcery tree for Nimbus Cloak, Celerity, Waterwalking or Inspiration for Perfect Timing and Time Warp Tonic. These are not bad runes, but they all have drawbacks.
For instance, if we look at Celerity compared to Magical Footwear: Celerity buffs bonus movement speed which adds up to 14-125 (based on level) while power balling with upgraded boots. When not power balling, it gives 0-5.5 bonus movement depending on your boots. Boots of Mobility gets the only noticably increase with Celerity of 2.5-14. Celerity gives close to none sticking potential compared to free boots with +10 flat movement.
Waterwalking gives some rotation and fighting potential on the river. Approach Velocity easily gives 50-200 flat movement speed while slowing enemies with Tremors. This Sticking potential is much more useful. Still all these choices sacrifices the better, more essential offensive and defensive above mentioned runes.
For stat shards attack speed should be obvious, since it scales with Spiked Shell. Then go double armor vs AD heavy comps and a more healthy first clear, or double MR vs AP heavy comps – or one of each. You can also go for the scaling health shard, which should be slightly better late game.
Cinderhulk or Bloodrazor – Meta or not?
Before you play Bloodrazor Rammus you must be able to path very efficiently. The most common mistake people make with this is falling behind, and then this strategy will feel incredibly bad.
Practice farming until finish Bloodrazor around 9 minutes into the game. You can still gank in between clears, but you should only deviate from clearing if there is a very high chance of a successfull gank.
This is my average item completion times during my recent 31 games on Excalipurr – try to beat the timers every game!
Check some gameplay (btw my score in the end was 13/3/7).
If you feel confident, go ahead and play Rammus with bloodrazor. You will be flamed and you will be frustrated for the first many games, but when mastered it's viable and incredibly fun. If you don't feel confident enough to play off-meta, read on.
The most consistent early game item for Rammus is Bami's Cinder. It's the cheapest, biggest early power spike available providing great clear, fighting and formidable (proxy) waveclear.
On your first buy, you can also look to finish Skirmisher's Sabre if you need to duel or Stalker's Blade for great gap close to get in taunt range. It's takes tons of matchup experience to predict whether the true damage or the slow is just what can secure the kill. Generally speaking, people are more out of position in lower elos, which makes red smite better in lower elos and blue smite better in higher.
Next on the list is Ninja Tabi. Experiment with Ninja Tabi as first or second item, if you have a profitable clear. These boots makes Rammus absolutely **** on auto attack based champions, unless they have a big level/item advantage.
Boots of Mobility are very popular in high elo, and can be rushed if your enemy lanes are not freezing under their turrets for amazing gank potential. This can hurt your clearing a lot, so if you can't gank you might lose tempo.
I also really like Boots of Swiftness, when not behind and running Ghost instead of Flash for amazing sticking potential. Note that it reduce the self slow from Defensive Ball Curl, which often means more successful auto attacks with the +15% armor magical on-hit damage from empowered Spiked Shell. If you fall behind though, you will often miss your Tabi's or Mercs.
You don't nessesarily need to upgrade Bami's Cinder + Skirmisher's Sabre/ Stalker's Blade into Enchantment: Cinderhulk right away. The 600 gold upgrade gives you 145 more health and increases Immolate's damage significantly vs monsters. This gold is sometimes better invested in some Cloth Armor or a Null-Magic Mantle, is you look to counter a specific damage type. If not, then the upgrade is best overall.
If you are stomping your early game, snowball your lead with Enchantment: Bloodrazor and focus turret plates, rift herald, drakes and skirmishes.
After your first 2-3 clears and a few succesful ganks, you should be about level 6-7 and have your core items. At this point Rammus becomes one of League's most powerful duellers, regardless of whether you are doing the consistent build with Bami's Cinder, Skirmisher's Sabre and Ninja Tabi or the more aggressive variation with Enchantment: Bloodrazor. Ninja Tabi is the god boots for duels, whereas Boots of Swifthness or Mobility will give you more sticking potential and engage potential and make you more reliant on follow up.
If equal or ahead in levels, the only champion that I wouldn't duel at this point is possibly Trundle with his Subjugate up and a finished Tiamat. You should not fear anyone at this point in terms of stats, but of course you can loose duels, if certain high threat champions lands cc and full combos on you, before you can get to them. If your Powerball gets contact, most champions bold enough to 1v1's the Armordillo will perish or burn important cooldowns.
Try not to waste ult and smite on those, who are likely to instantly escape with Cleanses, especially built in cleanses like Rengar's Battle Roar and Gangplank's Remove Scurvy.
From here Thornmail might seem to be the obvious choice, and it often is – unless of course they have a super heavy AP team. In this case Abyssal Mask is genererally the best 3rd item - especially if your team has mages to boost their damage as well as your own - otherwise go Adaptive Helm vs spamcasters or champions with nasty damage over time abilities like Cassiopeia, Brand, Kog'Maw, Kai'Sa, Teemo, Galio etc.
Late Game & Situational Itemization
When playing full tank Warmog's Armor as 4th item is amazing. When you have Enchantment: Cinderhulk, Ninja Tabi + either Thornmail/ Abyssal Mask/ Adaptive Helm go Warmog's Armor for another great power spike that synergizes with Aftershock, Demolish and the percentage bonus health from Enchantment: Cinderhulk and your innate ressistance buff from Defensive Ball Curl - you can now go into even unfavorable fights, take their important long cooldowns and walk away if you play it smart. Then, 10 secs later you are full health again and can apply enourmous pressure this way.
Warmog's Armor is one great method of sustain, another is Ravenous Hunter. I find that Ravenous Hunter is not as good as Triumph for in-combat sustain, but it does compete well with Warmog's unmatched out-of-combat sustain. When running Ravenous Hunter you can skip Warmogs Armor for more offensive items or earlier magic resist items.
Other situational options are Iceborn Gauntlet as an offfensive utility when ahead vs AD and a lot of kite. It doesn't provide health though, so a more consistent choice is likely Dead Man's Plate that work almost like Boots of Mobility and is great for picks, engages and rotations etc. Randuin's Omen vs crit heavy teams, Gargoyle Stoneplate for amazing teamfigting. Liandry's Torment is a really powerfull snowball item on Rammus that gives tons of damage both vs champions and neutral monsters at the cost of some durability.
Frozen Heart is amazing late game vs hyper carry marksmen like Twitch. The attack speed reduction benefits your team mostly, while you benefit from the +100 armor. In this game I end up selling my jungle item for Randuin's Omen, and at 39:30 into the video I have 1k+ armor and Twitch takes 300+ thorns damage when attacking me despite lifestealing with Blade of the Ruined King. Note that this damage is converted to tons of healing with Ravenous Hunter. It's amusing!
A tempting item that I find overrated in elos below Platinum on jungle Rammus is Righteous Glory. This item is amazing in high elo, where it can be hard to get picks and engages. But in most elos I dislike Righteous Glory for the same reason I dislike Predator; You miss out on a lot of usefull fighting stats, and you don't need the extra movespeed, when you max Powerball and learn to position well. Righteous Glory gives you less armor than a Bramble Vest, and it is an item better suited for champions that lack Rammus' built-in gap closing ability. It is likely better on Rammus top though, where you can actually use the extra mana. Jungle Rammus don't need extra mana, as he gets nearly infinite mana regen from Hunter's Talisman and its upgrades. In short, it might come down to elo and playstyle:
Support/enabler Rammus with stuff like Righteous Glory and Chilling Smite for higher elo, or tank/bruiser Rammus with Thornmail/ Abyssal Mask and Challenging Smite seems better in lower elo. Both playstyles are viable and personally, I just prefer to not depend as much on my team to follow up, and to deal a lot more damage, whenever I engage, instead of a few more opportunities to engage.
Update 21/1-2019: I might have discovered a build with the best of both worlds from a korean master player named Multidrive. Instead of getting his gap close from Righteous Glory and Chilling Smite, Multidrive runs Ghost instead of Flash and often Boots of Swiftness. Then he goes Ravenous Hunter instead of Warmog's Armor, so he can rush Thornmail and Abyssal Mask after Enchantment: Bloodrazor. It's pretty clever and effective actually, even though it might seem troll at first glance.
As a side note to the best options for gap close, the synergy between Predator, Righteous Glory and Ingenious Hunter should not be underestimated on other champions than Rammus, it's just not that great on him.
Thoughts about magic penetation Rammus
Magic penetration on Rammus can be tempting. However, the extra damage you get from Sorcerer's Shoes and Morellonomicon is not as significant as you might expect compared to the passive damage from stacking armor. You get more damage with magic penetration, but you also get almost as much damage from passive when stacking armor + tons of tank stats.
If I go for full magic penetration it is only in lower elos, or when riddiculously far ahead. When facing enemies with a lot of health, sustain and heal i sometimes go Ninja Tabi into Morellonomicon and Liandry's Torment. This might be vs guys like Darius, Nasus and Vladimir, especially if noone else buys grievious wounds for the mid game. But it's tricky to balance this with some tank items, to not be too squishy.
Wit's End is also a really strong snowball item, but no longer shreds magic resistance after patch 9.7. I haven't tested the new Wit's End enough, but it still looks like an interesting snowball item on Rammus and the on-hit self heals should in theory amount to a 200-400 each fight if you don't get burst down too fast.
Before the game starts
In champion select and during the loading screen you should think about a plan for every phase of the game while considering the different matchups, player statistics and the win conditions for both teams.
This is the time to look up player statístics on op.gg to get an idea about what lanes you wanna play around. Ideally you would want to play around the lanes depending on the favor of their matchups, but the lower the elo, the less this matters compared to player stats.
Does someone have a remarkably high winrate or KDA over a substantial amount of games? You maybe wanna help a specific teammate snowball, or suppress a specific opponent to prevent this guy from taking over the game.
How many games does everybody have on their champion? Most often I find, that players with hundreds of games on a specific champion play way more consistently, than someone with only a few or no games this season. Even less mechanically demanding champions require a certain amount of experience before your gameplay becomes intuitive, and you can focus your mental resources on the important stategic management of the game.
Of course players may surprise you, but generally speaking – people on losing streaks or with bad winrates/KDA over a substantial amount of games should not be expected to carry a game. So prioritize playing around teammates that have the most reliable stats and are most likely to carry.
If one of the teams has mid game monsters like Katarina or a Jinx, they are likely gonna be high priority for both junglers in the early game. Most people wanna suppress champions like Nasus and Kassadin early, since they have weak early games and terrifying late games.
You should not ignore, nor highly prioritize tank laners like Sion, Poppy, Maokai, Ornn, Shen and Singed early, as they are most likely to remain relevant even when behind.
Preparing for Early Invades
Now, as the champions arrive to the Summoner's Rift you should by now have made an agressive or defensive gameplan for early invades. Should your team invade, or is the enemy likely to invade? Who has the best level 1 champions? This takes a lot of knowledge to determine. What makes a champion or team strong at level one is usually hard and chained cc, heals, shields, poke and spamable damaging abilities.
The most powerful level 1 champions include Draven, Braum, Blitzcrank, Morgana, Thresh, Nautilus, Lux, Zyra. Other champions with great level 1 include Karma, Ashe, Darius, Trundle, Aatrox, Udyr, Olaf, Yasuo, Tryndamere, Riven Pantheon, Ezreal, Fiora, Warwick, Xin Zhao, Bard, Teemo, Cassiopeia, Karthus, Rengar. I have likely forgotten a few, let me know in the discussion.
The team with the weakest level 1 composition should always rush to draw a line of skirmish by moving fast to cover all 4 entrances to their jungle directly from fountain at 0:15 seconds into the game. Ping your sleeping, eating, video clip-watching team mates to wake up and do this every game.
If your team gets early invaded and the enemy jungler stays at your redbuff, go ward the brush by their Crimson Raptor camp, do that camp solo, then enemy red buff and then their Ancient krug .
This path can get pretty messy if enemy laners see you and try to stop you, but if you know the other jungler is doing your red, it should mostly be safe, since the laners would not usually want to miss the whole first wave of minions and risk losing lane off of that, just to delay you a little.
Your autopilot in the jungle should always be defaulted to: Efficient pathing. Always farm, when you don't have available ganks that are very likely to blow important summoners spells or ult-cooldowns, lead to an objective, or put an important opponent severely behind. And most importantly, track camp respawn timers and be at your next camp as it respawns, not 20 seconds later.
When it comes to efficiency clearing the jungle it seems, that most players have no idea that the different jungle camps vary highly in value. One of my all time favorite tips for Rammus comes from the Team Liquid streamer IWillDominate: Do the Krugs as much as possible. It's the most valuable camp, and the fastest and safest way to level 3 and 6, where you have power spikes and wanna force objectives and picks. This is more true than ever, after the jungle experience nerfs on patch 8.10.
Take a look at the gold and experience values and keep them in mind, when you pick your next camps.Mind that Krugs take the longest time to clear, but smiting the big Krug and being an AoE jungler makes cycling this camp very gold efficient.
I recommend always starting at the Red Brambleback as many junglers will invade you if don’t. Some will even try to cheese you by stealing it and possibly killing you at level 1. So go scout for early invades. Also, I find that clearing red and then Krugs/Raptors is the fastest, safest route to level 3 and your first strong gank opportunity.
Usually you should not priorize the first Rift Scuttler , as the first one is only worth 70 gold, and often it will reveal your position on the map if there are enemy wards on the river. You should neither priotize Gromp unless you have absolutely nothing else to do and you are close to it, as it gives only 86 gold. Gromp also cost the most health to do on your first clear. The rest of the camps gives 100 gold, and Krugs gives a whopping 160 gold as well as 60-80% more experience. Rammus is so good at clearing Krugs , so this camp was made for Rammus players.
As Rammus you want to utilize his great AoE to prioritize the valuable multitarget camps. You want to mostly clear your red side and Murk Wolf , then make plays in between and then repeat this clear. This way you are very safe from invades, you waste the least time moving around the map and you have nice windows of time in between these efficient clears to make plays. With this method, enemy junglers can even steal your Blue Buff without you getting behind.
If you see the enemy jungler invading, dead or on the opposite site of the map, look for a gank. If no gank is available, look to steal his Crimson Raptor camp, Ancient Krug camp or Greater Murk Wolf camp and leave one small raptor or small murk wolf to delay the camps respawn timer. This last tip is nearly impossible to do with enemy Krugs , since you have to leave the first medium Krug alive, and it will die to your W damage; as soon as the Krugs die and split, they will despawn after being out of combat for some time. So just take the whole Krugs Camp if you are at it!
As Rammus you don't have the strongest level 2, so most often you wanna avoid fighting before you hit level 3. If a spectacular gank opportunity reveals itself after your second camp, you may go for it, but beware! It can backfire hard if you fail and lose tempo before you hit level 3. If you have to fight at level 2 be sure to hit your opponent with Powerball to proc Aftershock for 2.5 secs of massive defensive statburst. Sometime you wanna go into Defensive Ball Curl right away, but you can also wait till after the shockwave from aftershock for a few extra seconds of boost. But be careful since you don't have your attack speed from Frenzying Taunt just yet.
While doing your first 3 or 4 camps to level 3, you must identify the easiest gankable lanes – both for you and your enemy jungler. Prioritize counter ganks if possible, otherwise look to gank another lane, while you know you can't be counter ganked.
If you can gank the nearby lane now, but not in 5 seconds, don't finish the camp. Unless your laner didn't leash of course. Lol. Just kidding. Not... No, I am kidding. Never grief or troll or give up.
Look for fights when you have your power spikes. You just finished Bami’s cinder? Look for a crash dive! You just finished Skirmishers Sabre? Now you can perhaps invade the other jungler or gank? You just finished Ninja Tabi? Go solo a Rift Herald!
Keep an eye on level/item advantages. Think twice before duelling someone, who has a level/item advantage on you. In this case you would prefer backup. However, if you have such an advantage on your opponents go flex your muscle. Levels mean more in terms of stats than most people realize. Be especially careful with enemies with the Conqueror rune and mages, who buy Void Staff. Take this into the equation and think of it as about 1-2 levels of advantage.
Minimize allied deaths – especially shutdowns. Taking too many unfavorable fights, leads to unnecessary risk, loads of wasted time and often catastrofic deaths that throw the game. If you teammates has big bounties on their heads, ping them and tell them to back away from overextending and taking bad fights. Protect them when possible, sometimes it's even good to sacrifice yourself to save a teammate, who is worth 1000 gold, when you are worth considerably less. If they overextend hard and get collapsed on in a highly outnumbered fight, don't sacrifice yourself for nothing though. Learn Rammus' limits in different matchups. Take it to the limit. Not further.
Pick the "right" fights. Of course it takes a lot of knowledge to judge when to pick a fight, and – more importantly – when to not. Many factors come into play. Always ask yourself these questions before engaging or backing off from a fight:
Which team has the better 1) numbers, 2) levels, 3) items and 4) team composition?
If you are behind you need to farm as safely as possible and stall fighting until you get your core items, can outnumber the opponent or fight in another highly favorable situation. This could be if they get collapsed on in a tight spot or are low on health and mana, for instance while taking damage and having limited escape paths while fighting a Baron or Dragon.
When behind, shutdowns bonusses are the best way to comeback, so look to punish the fed opponents if they make plays that are too bold! On the other hand, be extra carefull not to give 1k shutdown bonus to an enemy carry, as it will often throw away a substantial part of your lead.
Look for early sneaky rift heralds. Ignored by many, even though it's often worth to trade it for a drake. The Rift Herald is easy to solo between 10-13 min if you attack the weak spot on its back. If you use the blast cone from behind the pit, you can get there unnoticed, even if the enemy team has taken the Rift Scuttler. Don't drop The Eye before you get some picks, or see the enemies far away on the map and ideally noone is their to defend.
You should always get 1-2 towers with the Rift Herald and sometimes even 3 – or in case of an ACE or sleeping enemy team – even the Inhibitor.
My favorite Rift Herald tactic is to get a ton of plates of a turret before they fall of at 14 minutes into the game. With good timing, Demolish, Tremors and the Rift Herald you can get all plates and first turret at once for up to a whopping 1150+ gold split among nearby allies. If possible, funnel all this gold solo into a reliable carry. This last tip can really lead to some insane individual midgame leads!
Check our this hilarious Rift Herald Play i did early season 9 in my Diamond Promo EUW
After the early game, and after your team has hopefully knocked off a lot of turret plates (3 times 800 gold is like 6 first bloods and that's a darn lot of plate gold that people tend to underestimate), you need to start applying systematic pressure on the map. This is genereally done by prioritizing all the Outer Towers, before you move on to Inner Towers. Then by taking all Inner Towers before pressuring for the Inhibitor Towers. Of course this is not a catagorical method, but a guideline. Finally, when you get an inhib, do not go to the same lane. You have a 5 minutes window, where the enemy is periodically forced to split to clear super minions, and in the meantime it's typically best for your team to apply as much pressure as possible in the other lanes. When you get 2 inhibitors, group and get the last one for the love of god. Unless you have a 100% safe opportunity for ending the game, go for the last inhibitor.
And by the way, turrets are almost always worth more than a kill. It's is the clearest sign of very low elo and games of 30+ minutes average length, where noone is pressuring the map, because they are too busy chasing someone who is 0/9 and worth 58g.
If ahead, force the next safest objective. If you can seige down a turret easily, do so. If it takes forever because the enemy team has great waveclear, then don't waste your time in a lane where 5-10 players are sharing the farm for several minutes, while noone collects the gold and experience from the sidelanes. In low elo this meaningless activity can go on for 10+ minutes, while some smurf player hits level 18 and 6 items and everybody else is level 13-14 with 4 items. Then this guy wins solo and people lose their minds; "OMG RITO PLX nerf this braindead champion!" No, Master Yi with a 4 level lead is not OP, but he can possibly win a 1v5 - like any carry champion for that matter – if they build up a lead of cosmic proportions. Consistently attaining such an individual lead is only possible in lower elos, because everyone wastes so much time.
Instead of pointless sieging with the wrong comp, ping your team to back, tell them to always 1) shove all possible waves, 2) set up and clear vision around your next objectives and ideally 3) send just enough team members to secure the next objective safely – be it a turret, drake or baron.
Don't abandon your team to die 4v5 as I did trolling in this game:
Follow your team if you can't convince them to make a safer play. Better to follow a suboptimal play than let your team down.
Don't do Barons unless they are 100% free. If teams are equal and have time to react, fighting for Baron Nashor is extremely unfavorable for the team doing it. If you don't have tons of damage, the Baron will take a long time to do and it will shred your resistances for up to -50 armor and magic resist. This makes it very risky to do. Of course if you are 30 minutes into the game, possibly you have a few mountain drakes and you spot 1-2 enemies on the bot side of the map you should probably look to rush Baron.
You want to buy Control Wards on every back. This is another huge problem in 99% elos, where people underestimate the value of control wards and good vision control in general. Most top tier player buy 5-10 controls wards on average each game. Korean pro support player Mata once bought 29 control wards in a single game. Use control wards to protect a lane from ganks, track the enemy jungler, prevent invades, avoid facechecking a risky brush, deny/check for vision on a Drake, Rift or Baron etc.
As the jungler, it is also one of your main responsibilties to deny vision. Get Sweeping Lens on your first or second back, and if you see an enemy ward and you don’t have sweeper ready, you should consider dropping a pink, just to remove that vision.
Vision control is ignored by many, but absolutely crucial if you want less chaotic games and more consistency. I will not write my own big vision guide, because Mobalytics already made a really great one here. Spend an hour reading that article and I promise you will climb a few division for free.
Be patient, be smart. It takes thousands of hours of quality practice in a stressfree environment to even start being great at League. It's a highly complex and competetive game, so don't join in on the chorus of demented devaluation of players below a certain tier. Be proud of even your smallest improvements, and expect that even under ideal conditions it takes years to become a Legend.
Depending on your level of ambition play to have fun, play to better than yesterday or play to become the best! Just try to avoid playing only to get that win. Have faith in your own judgement and willpower, and do not desperately attempt to break that losing spree. Take a break, watch or read some replays or some guides if you absolutely can't stop thinking about League. It can be hard to give yourself a much needed break, but if the game makes you too emotional, it's a clear sign that you need to do something else for some hours, days or even weeks.
Never surrender. Finally, I invite you to watch this inspirering interview with rank 1 player MagiFelix. At 6:57 he talks about, why you should never give up a game.
Oh, yeah - and #BanVayne
Gl & hf!