Varus Build Guide by Venom Stoneice
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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.
Hello, my name is Venom Stoneice, and I main Varus. Ever since I first purchased Varus, I knew he was the champion for me. His skillset works so nicely together, and he is versatile enough to deal with almost any enemy. However, Varus remains an underpicked champion. My goal with this guide is to introduce Varus as a strong champion in the ADC role, and help you to play him better! On to the guide!
Pros / Cons
The first and most important question you may ask is Why Varus? Here are some pros and cons of playing Varus; use these to decide when and how to play Varus.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed
As far as seals go, 9 Greater Seal of Armor is still the way to go in my opinion. You could mix this up and throw in some Greater Seal of Health or Greater Seal of Health Regeneration. It really comes down to what you are comfortable with, and what helps you win your lane the most.
Glyphs are straightforward, I go with 9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist 95% of the time. The only time I choose to go with different glyphs is if the enemy support is someone with low magic damage like Janna, and the enemy jungler has low magic damage. If this is the case, I like to go with 9 Greater Glyph of Mana Regeneration or 9 Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction.
21-9-0 is the best option for Varus. The only alternative I sometimes consider is 21-0-9, with the mastery points below. This option is theoretically advantageous due to the extra regen in lane from the biscuits you will be consuming. It is a more viable mastery path option after the nerf to Greater Quintessence of Life Steal.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS bring flash. It is the single most versatile summoner spell in game, and should never be passed up, especially on Varus since he has no built-in escapes.
Heal is the most preferred second summoner spell in bot lane right now. The heal and movespeed bonus are invaluable to you as Varus. Remember, no escapes!
Exhaust is another alternative to Heal. It provides extra peel to deal with assassins or bruisers that jump onto you. However, Heal will be more useful in most situations.
|I suggest these starting items in every game. Doran's Blade offers great stats for the early game. The attack damage help you to last hit and trade effectively, the health helps you trade better and can save you sometimes, and the on-hit heal makes up for the fact that you aren't running lifesteal runes. Health Potion will give you some recovery if you've taken too much damage, and Warding Totem is the best choice for trinkets, to provide yourself cover from jungle ganks, or control of your lane's bushes.|
|Your ideal first back purchase will be a B. F. Sword. You should be able to buy this by roughly the 8 minute mark if you are farming efficiently and have a kill or two under your belt. If you can't afford a B. F. Sword, your next best bet will be a Vampiric Scepter, and hopefully your Boots of Speed. Berserker's Greaves will be your boots purchase, and when you buy them depends on your income and on how early teamfights are happening. The stats they offer are not fantastic lane stats, but they help you position for teamfights.|
|These are my standard offensive items and build order. The Bloodthirster offers fantastic stats for the price, and I choose to rush this in most every game. The next item you choose to build will depend primarily on your playstyle with Varus. My playstyle relies on landing Piercing Arrows on the enemy as often as possible, with less emphasis on auto-attacks. For this reason, I usually take Last Whisper as my second completed item. Cutting through 35% of your opponent's armor makes your arrows hit much harder, particularly against foes with high armor, like that pesky Udyr that keeps ganking you. If you prefer a playstyle that emphasizes auto attacks and detonating blight stacks, your best second item choice will likely be the Phantom Dancer. The bonus attack speed will make you a superior duelist, and allow you to stack more Blighted Quiver onto the enemy to detonate. Your final item should be Infinity Edge. The extra damage on critical strike synergizes very well with the critical chance on Phantom Dancer. I choose not to build this earlier, because I find the stats to be wasted before you have a Phantom Dancer, and Last Whisper will increase your damage more in the mid-game.|
|Each of these items is viable in different situations than the offensive items I listed in the last section. Statikk Shiv offers faster waveclear from the on-hit effect, but will come out to less single-target damage than a Phantom Dancer. I don't find wave-clear to be an issue on Varus, because a fully charged Piercing Arrow fired down a minion wave makes quick work of them. Blade of the Ruined King is an interesting alternative to The Bloodthirster. The raw stats it offers are significantly lower than The Bloodthirster, and do not help the damage on Piercing Arrow very much. For this reason, I choose to avoid this item in most situations. However, if you are in a losing situation and are dealing with a fed bruiser that keeps diving onto you, the active and %hp damage on Blade of the Ruined King are good. I would choose this item in such a situation. Runaan's Hurricane is an interesting item. The ability to fire at 3 targets is attractive, and even moreso for Varus since he can add blight stacks to each target. However, the raw stats this item offers are mediocre at best, and the range on the extra bolts fired is too small to be useful in most situations. I would almost never choose this item.|
|Guardian Angel is the defensive item that I like to fall back to. The stats it offers are not the best, but the revive is very good in certain situations. Banshee's Veil will be your best option against teams with lots of magic damage and the potential to pick you off with something like Rocket Grab. Mercurial Scimitar will be effective against teams with high magic damage who would be able to blow through Banshee's Veil and stun you with something like Frozen Tomb. Make sure to use the active if you get caught by a hard cc. Thornmail has become more and more attractive lately, especially with the popularity of Feral Flare junglers. Junglers using this item tend not to build much defense, and will be eaten alive by the damage they take from Thornmail's passive. It also prevents them from drain-tanking, or tanking through your damage with lifesteal. Defensive item choice always depends on the situation you are in, and which enemies you find the most threatening. Use the information from your tab to decide what to buy.|
|(Q) Piercing Arrow:||Piercing Arrow is the most defining skill within Varus' kit. When you first activate the ability, Varus begins pulling his bowstring back. Over a short time, the range of the ability increases, up to a range of 1475, which is incredibly long. While charging, there is a range indicator which is handy for finding your max range. It is important to note that the damage is reduced per target hit, which means if you are firing through a minion wave to harass, you will do much less damage than if you fired at the enemy champion directly. One other important tip is that the range is slightly longer than displayed in-game, by about 25-50 range. This can make a difference when you are lining up the perfect shot from maximum range.|
|(W) Blighted Quiver:||Blighted Quiver is a versatile ability that allows Varus to win trades in lane, cs more effectively, and deal with bruisers as the game lengthens. Each time Varus attacks an enemy, he does a bonus amount of magic damage, and leaves a stack of Blight on the target. A target can have up to 3 Blight stacks on them. If Varus hits a target with one of his other abilities, he detonates all stacks of Blight on them, dealing a percentage of their maximum health as magic damage. The damage at max rank with 3 stacks is 15% of their maximum health, which is a lot of damage against any target.|
|(E) Hail of Arrows:||Hail of Arrows fires arrows onto a circle AoE, dealing damage while slowing and applying grievous wounds to enemies within the area. The debuffs do not linger for very long once they step outside of the AoE, so use this ability wisely. I max this last, as it consumes a lot of mana and is more useful for the slow and for detonating Blight stacks. Get a point at level 4, and use it over prolonged fights and to reduce healing, especially if you expect the enemy will use .|
|(R) Chain of Corruption:||Chain of Corruption is Varus' ultimate ability. He fires out a skillshot with 1075 range that snares the first champion hit for 2 seconds. After this, tendrils reach out from the first champion hit, and try to strike up to 2 nearby enemy champions, snaring and applying the damage of the first hit. This ability cannot hit the same enemy more than once, but can strike all 5 enemy champions in appropriate situations. Use this ability to either initiate onto an enemy, snare multiple enemies in a teamfight, or kite away from an enemy that dove onto you.|
|(P) Living Vengeance:||Living Vengeance is Varus' passive. After killing an enemy minion or neutral monster, varus gains 20% attack speed for 3 seconds. After killing or assisting on an enemy champion kill, Varus gains 40% attack speed for 6 seconds. This passive helps with CSing in lane, allowing you to chain minion kills together that would otherwise require using abilities. In teamfights, this allows Varus' damage output to ramp up after the first enemy dies. 40% attack speed increases Varus' damage by a fair amount, especially combined with Blighted Quiver.|
When leveling Varus' abilities, the priority is R>Q>W>E. Your ultimate is a must-level at 6, 11, and 16, due to the increased damage and reduced cooldown. Piercing Arrow should be maxed immediately, as it will be your primary source of damage and poke. Blighted Quiver makes more sense to max before Hail of Arrows, due to the fact that it requires no mana, and scales well into the mid and late game. I would not diverge from this skill path in almost any situation.
Varus can lane passively or as a bully, depending on what support you have and how confident you are.
If you lane with Annie, Thresh, or Leona, you should play very aggressively. Each of their kits excels at aggressing, and synergize very well with Varus' high damage in the early game. Poke with Piercing Arrow through as few minions as possible, but do not spam Piercing Arrow to the point that you run oom. Varus is one of the ADC's that is most reliant on mana to be effective. If your support engages, try to get 2-3 autos off before lining up a fully-charged Piercing Arrow.
If you lane with Janna, Soraka, or Morgana, you should play more reserved. Their skillsets are more defensive, and excel at peeling and counter-engagements rather than bullying. Laning with these supports will likely turn into a farm-fest, especially with the new meta shifting towards two Heal botlanes. In this scenario, poke with Piercing Arrow when possible, and wait for the enemy to aggress before you decide whether to turn on them or not.
In any lane, make sure to focus on last-hitting. A champion kill is worth roughly 15-20 minions, so don't waste time chasing a champion you won't kill when there is cs to be had.
Be wary of jungle ganks, you have no escapes and can be pinned down easily. Lay out Hail of Arrows across areas where the enemy jungler will cross to get to you, especially if the enemy jungler has no gap closers like Udyr.
When teamfights begin, your job as Varus is to position in such a way that enemies cannot dive onto you, but you can still deal damage efficiently. Positioning is crucial on Varus, as your only way to get away from dives is with Chain of Corruption and/or Hail of Arrows. It is more effective if you are able to use these abilities offensively, rather than defensively.
Land as many Piercing Arrows as you can before the teamfight erupts. A fully charged Piercing Arrow will hit like a truck with enough Attack Damage, and can discourage enemies from fighting, or even force them to B in good situations.
Chain of Corruption is the most important ability for you to use during a teamfight. A properly used ultimate will chain to all 5 enemies in sequence, rooting each target for 2 seconds. This is devastating to the enemy, and will often lead to a won teamfight. If your frontline engages and you can land your ult on a bundle of 3 enemies, don't hesitate to use it. Even minor slows on these enemies will allow Chain of Corruption to combo onto other enemies. Hail of Arrows will be sufficient if positioned properly, however you should not be in range to use Hail of Arrows unless you are confident that you will not get dived onto.
Tricks to Varus
There are a few helpful tricks that should help you take your Varus play to the next level.
First, Piercing Arrow can be charged through a Flash. That is to say, you can Flash while charging your Piercing Arrow. Use this to catch enemies off-guard by flashing into a max-range Q snipe. Keep in mind that if you miss, you will have no Flash for a long time.
Another trick is to charge Piercing Arrow for the full 4 seconds. Your enemies will likely try to dodge before you fire the ability, often leaving them in position where they have no room to dodge anymore; for example, enemies will juke towards a wall or in-between their turret and a wall, leaving themselves in an area with no room to move. Be patient and you will be rewarded.
In summary, I think Varus is a very strong ADC in his current state, and should be used as often as possible. His combination of poke and CC for teamfights is incredible, and if you can learn to play without an escape, you can become extremely potent with Varus. If you have any questions or feedback for my guide (this is my first after all), please post a comment!