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Varus Build Guide by IPodPulse

ADC Varus - The Whistle you hear is not the Wind

ADC Varus - The Whistle you hear is not the Wind

Updated on August 18, 2019
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League of Legends Build Guide Author IPodPulse Build Guide By IPodPulse 12 0 16,589 Views 10 Comments
12 0 16,589 Views 10 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author IPodPulse Varus Build Guide By IPodPulse Updated on August 18, 2019
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Runes: Standard

1 2
Lethal Tempo
Legend: Alacrity
Coup de Grace

Magical Footwear
Biscuit Delivery

+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor


Summoner Spells
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Heal


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Some information about the author and champion
What rune choices does Varus have available to him?
What Summoner Spells are best on Varus?

Abilities + Ability Sequence
What are Varus's abilities, and how should they be maxed?
A chapter dedicated to the itemization of Varus
What to do in and out of laning phase

A thank you for everyone reading and for everyone who helped

Hi there! My name is Pulse and this is my Varus guide. Varus was the very first champion I bought when I started playing league, mostly due to how he was the latest champion at the time, how cool he looked, and my love for bow and arrow characters. He quickly became my favourite character in the game, despite how bad he was. Nowadays, he is in a much better state compared to his original release, reigniting my love to play this champion.

Varus is a marksman, a rather simple marksman at that. His niche revolves around his Q, Piercing Arrow, a long range skill shot that pierces all targets it hits, allowing fantastic snipe opportunities, heavy poke damage, and decent burst when paired with his W, Blighted Quiver. However, he is not without flaws. He has zero mobility options, his kit is entirely skill shot based (aside from Blighted Quiver), and does not have a lot of great matchups. Despite his flaws, Varus is an easy to pick up marksman with a straight forward kit, his easy learning curve makes him a great champion for both new players and bot lane veterans.

I hope this guide can satisfy all your Varus questions and curiosities.

Lethal Tempo is the rune you will be taking most of the time. Lethal Tempo works really well with Varus, the bonus attack speed it provides synergizes with Living Vengeance, allows Blighted Quiver and Blade of the Ruined King to be applied faster, and helps speed up Guinsoo's Rageblade stacks.

Another option you can take would be Fleet Footwork. This rune is useful if you feel like you need the extra sustain in lane. Perhaps you want to focus on farming, or the enemy bot lane is poke heavy. While it isn't as good at Lethal Tempo, it is a solid alternative in the precision tree. Press the Attack is another choice that currently has the highest win rate, granted it also has a low pick rate. This is a decent option when going against tankier opponents, if you want to increase your all in damage in lane, and to increase teammate damage. However, you will lack the defensive qualities Fleet Footwork provides and the synergies Lethal Tempo provides.

Overheal, Triumph, and Presence of Mind are all options available to you. Overheal is best when paired with Fleet Footwork and enchanter support like Nami. Triumph is the most well rounded rune and a life saver in some situations. Most of the time, you'll take this. Presence of Mind is a fun rune that speeds up your ultimate cooldown and can help with mana problems. This does require takedowns, which might not be possible in some lanes. If you're looking for a casual rune to try with friends, this one is worth a shot.

The two choices you have are Legend: Alacrity and Legend: Bloodline. Legend: Alacrity will be the rune you take in practically every game. Attack speed is vital for Varus and Legend: Alacrity helps provide attack speed throughout all stages of the game. Legend: Bloodline should only be taken if you desperately need the sustain in lane or if you feel Blade of the Ruined King won't provide enough healing in the mid and late game.

Once again you have two choices, Coup de Grace and Cut Down. Coup de Grace has been a staple for marksman since runes reforged dropped. the extra damage it deals to low health targets benefits all champions that use the rune. This is the best choice for the vast majority of your games. Cut Down is starting to receive a bit more love and play. The rune is especially useful when trying to take down tank champions, and when paired with Blade of the Ruined King and Guinsoo's Rageblade, Varus becomes more reliable against tank champions. I would recommend trying out the rune against team comps have 3 tank champions.

This is the tree you will be running. Magical Footwear is free boots and extra mobility, which Varus desperately needs. Biscuit Delivery helps with early game sustain and permanently increases your mana cap by 40 with each biscuit consumed, benefiting Varus greatly.

This rune page is meant for lethality Varus and is meant to add extra power and utility to that play style. Arcane Comet is more useful than Lethal Tempo since you are focusing on poking with Piercing Arrow and not auto attacking as often. Manaflow Band helps minimize the mana drain from using Piercing Arrow a lot. Try and proc manaflow every time it's available until you hit the 250 mana cap. Hail of Arrows helps speed this process up due to its large projectile area. Transcendence provides an extra 10% CDR and additional adaptive damage if you go over the CDR cap of 40%. Gathering Storm helps make you more relevant in the mid to late game, where lethality Varus starts to decline.

The inspiration runes are taken for the same reasons as above.

These are some alternatives you can take for Transcendence and Gathering Storm. Absolute Focus can be useful in games where you predict you won't be able to achieve 40%+ CDR and want to and a little extra damage to your Piercing Arrow's. Scorch is not recommended but if you were to want your abilities to deal some extra damage, this is an option you can take.

A must, you will take this spell 100% of the time. Flash is Varus's only means of escape, it allows you to dodge important abilities that might be heading your way like Malphite's Unstoppable Force or Ashe's Enchanted Crystal Arrow, can get you out of a tricky situation and position you somewhere safer, and can be used aggressively to catch people with Chain of Corruption or secure a kill. There is absolutely no reason for you not to take this spell.
The staple for marksman ever since it's rework back in season 4. It is the most common secondary spell marksman take and the one you will take in the majority of your games. This spell should be used to save you or a teammate from dying. One of the most important things you need to learn when using this spell is when to use it against a support with Ignite. As a marksman, it's your job to try and maximize the healing the spell offers as well as trying to predict when the enemy uses Ignite. This requires practice but it is an extremely import thing to learn and practice.
Not as common when compared to Heal, but still an option. This spell is usually only taken when paired with an enchanter support that is taking Heal, Soraka is a common example of this. I would not recommend this spell as a replacement for Heal, but in some lanes, it can be alternative.
This spell is a unique choice. Teleport has seen play over the last and current season, especially in competitive play. Teleport is useful for when you want to get back lane fast. It can be used aggressively to help out other lanes, but this does require a lot of communication that most likely isn't available to you. Yuumi also makes the spell more popular since she has no need for Flash. I would not recommend this spell unless you can communicate with your team over proper Teleport usage or if you have Yuumi as your support.

On champion kill or assist, Varus gains 40% (+ 30% bonus attack speed) bonus attack speed for 5 seconds.
On minion or monster kill, Varus gains 20% (+ 15% bonus attack speed) bonus attack speed for 5 seconds.

My Description

Varus starts drawing back his next shot, gradually increasing its range and damage, then he fires it, dealing minimum 10 / 47 / 83 / 120 / 157 (+1.1 per attack damage) to maximum 15 / 70 / 125 / 180 / 235 (+1.65 per attack damage) physical damage, reduced by 15% per enemy hit (minimum 33%).

While preparing to shoot, Varus cannot autoattack or use abilities, and his movement speed is slowed by 20%. After 4 seconds, Piercing Arrow fails but refunds half its mana cost.

Piercing Arrow’s cooldown is reduced by 4 seconds if it detonates Blight stacks on a champion.

My Description

Passive: Varus' basic attacks deal bonus 7 / 10.5 / 14 / 17.5 / 21 (+0.25 per ability power) magic damage and apply Blight for 6 seconds (stacks 3 times).

Varus' other abilities detonate Blight, dealing magic damage equal to 3 / 3.5 / 4 / 4.5 / 5% (+2% of ability power) of the target's maximum health per stack. This damage is capped at 360 against monsters.

Active: Varus' next Piercing Arrow deals additional damage equal to 6 / 8 / 10 / 12 / 14% of the target's missing HP. Damage is increased by up to 50% (to 9 / 12 / 15 / 18 / 21% missing HP) based on charge time. The damage is capped at 360 against monsters.

My Description

Varus fires a hail of arrows that deal 70 / 105 / 140 / 175 / 210 (+0.6 per bonus attack damage) physical damage and desecrate the ground. Desecrated ground slows enemies' Movement Speed by 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 / 45% for .25 seconds and reduces their healing and regeneration by 40%. The slow duration is refreshed if enemies stay within the zone.

My Description

Varus flings out a tendril of corruption that deals 100 / 175 / 250 (+100% of ability power) magic damage and immobilizes the first enemy champion hit for 2 seconds.

The corruption then spreads towards nearby uninfected enemy champions, applying the same damage and immobilize if it reaches them. The corruption will continue to spread until there are no further unaffected targets in range.

Targets rooted by Chain of Corruption gain 3 stacks of Blight over the duration of the root.

My Description

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Q max is the most common way to max Varus. Piercing Arrow does has really good damage in the early game. It has 110% AD scaling and it's terrible level 1 base damage ramps up fast when leveling first. The biggest reason why you want to level Piercing Arrow first Blighted Quiver's active damage applies after Piercing Arrow's damage. This means Blighted Quiver's missing health damage takes priority last to maximize the damage. This makes Piercing Arrow a much more reliable finisher, poking tool, and burst option in close range.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

E max is another way to max Varus. Hail of Arrows is a very simple skill shot, with a huge AoE, but it doesn't provide the same damage Piercing Arrow has. However, that doesn't Hail of Arrows a bad ability. Hail of Arrows is a much more reliable skill shot, it's easier to hit, reduces healing, and gives better trading opportunities with auto attacks. This ability can be useful in lanes where you are against heavy healers, or champions with a lot of mobility. It is a less risky alternative to maxing Piercing Arrow.

Varus doesn't have a lot of great matchups, meaning laning phase will be either trying to stay even or farming. In these lanes, Doran's Blade will be the best option and your standard start. The health and lifesteal adds some extra survivability and sustain to your lane, the attack damage helps makes farming a bit easier and slightly increases your damage to enemy champions. Doran's Shield should be taken in lanes where you'll be facing lots of harassment. Twitch is a good example to take Doran's Shield against due to his poison triggering Doran's Shield every tick. If your goal is to survive laning phase and heal up some damage you will inevitably take, take Doran's Shield.

These are the two core items that you will build in practically every game. Both of the items work really well with Varus and Lethal Tempo. Blade of the Ruined King is recommended as the first item, it's components, Bilgewater Cutlass and Recurve Bow, are useful to Varus's early game. Bilgewater Cutlass helps recover any health lost in trades, gives some extra damage, and it's active can help initiate fights. Recurve Bow provides Varus with extra attack speed and synergizes with Living Vengeance. Prioritize Bilgewater Cutlass since Lethal Tempo can help remedy the attack speed lost by not picking Recurve Bow. Blade of the Ruined King works extremely well with Lethal Tempo and Guinsoo's Rageblade due to it's current % health damage. All the stats it provides is exactly what Varus wants in a first item. Guinsoo's Rageblade helps apply Blade of the Ruined King faster, allows blights to be stacked faster, and makes the 4 blight trick easier. Varus deals some AP damage due to Blighted Quiver, Guinsoo's Rageblade offers armor and magic penetration which works perfectly with Varus's mixed damage. Additionally, Guinsoo's Rageblade offers AD, AS, and AP.

Boot options

Boot options are all dependent on the composition of the enemy team. Does the enemy team have mostly AD champions? Maybe you're against a Draven and want to minimize some of his auto attack damage. Ninja Tabi's would be the best choice. Does the enemy team has a lot of hard CC? Maybe you need a little bit of MR to endure the poke the enemy support is dealing. Mercury's Treads would be the best choice. If none of these situations are relevant or you're snowballing and want to further your lead, Berserker's Greaves would be the best choice. Since Varus has no escapes aside from Flash, trying to stay alive is your next best thing, and boot choices make an impact.

After your core items, you should decide what you need to build next. Look at the enemy team and try to identify any weak areas that could be improved. If you need to spread your damage to multiple targets, Runaan's Hurricane can help. This is a common third item for Varus since blights can be spread to multiple targets and Chain of Corruption can proc them. Wit's End is a good on hit item that pairs well with Guinsoo's Rageblade. The MR can be useful for teams with more AP damage but not enough to warrant buying Hexdrinker. Infinity Edge is a damage increase, it is recommended to pair it with another crit item since 25% crit chance by itself is low. Blade of the Ruined King and Guinsoo's Rageblade don't offer a lot of attack damage, Infinity Edge is a good way to fix that problem. Bloodthirster is an additional sustain option with a lot of attack damage. Try to build and sustain the shield as much as you can, especially before team fights. Lord Dominik's Regards and Mortal Reminder are the two major armor penetration items. If the enemy has a lot of sustain and healing, go Mortal Reminder, otherwise go Lord Dominik's Regards. Armor shred shouldn't be necessary in most games but you may encounter games where the extra armor penetration is needed.
Offensive post core options

Defensive post core options

You should try and have at least one defensive item. Phantom Dancer is a good choice if you're against champions with high burst damage or you find yourself dying too fast. It also provides attack speed and 25% crit chance, which can be useful if you bought/plan to buy Infinity Edge. The shield amount that Phantom Dancer provides is much greater than Maw of Malmortius, blocks all forms of damage, and is a cheaper price than Maw of Malmortius. Mercurial Scimitar and Quicksilver Sash are staples for cc removal and an excellent choice for Varus in games where you can NOT be caught out. Quicksilver Sash is recommended as the first buy and can be purchased early into the game to make Mercurial Scimitar a late game purchase. Guardian Angel is your extra life item and a very common defensive item for marksman. This item is perfect for games where if you die, the fight can change for the worse. Beware that the enemy team will try and consume your Guardian Angel, so position well.

Youmuu's Ghostblade and Duskblade of Draktharr are similar in stats and price but offer different effects. Youmuu's Ghostblade offers an active that increases movement speed, and Duskblade of Draktharr increases damage when unseen. Both are great first items on Varus, but Youmuu's Ghostblade is probably better because of the movement speed and Varus's terrible mobility. You will most likely be building both items anyway, it's just a matter of what item you'd like to buy first. Edge of Night is another lethality item that offers an active similar to Banshee's Veil, the increased lethality is always useful as well as the defensive active it provides. Black Cleaver is your armor shredding item and well help take down enemies that your lethality can't burst down. The 20% CDR is extremely helpful, especially with Transcendence. Death's Dance gives you a sustain option while lowering the burst potential of enemies. It was recently buffed to include all forms of damage as a way to heal. Maw of Malmortius is similar to Phantom Dancer but dedicated to AP damage. Hexdrinker is a good early purchase that can be built into Maw of Malmortius in the late game. Try to buy Hexdrinker early if you think that you'll need Maw of Malmortius later.
Lethality items

AP items

Nashor's Tooth is a solid item since it gives all the stats AP Varus wants. The extra on hit damage is a nice addition to the stats it provides and synergizes well with Guinsoo's Rageblade. Rabadon's Deathcap is practically essential to AP Varus due to it's high AP stats and unique passive that increases AP. Blighted Quiver has a low AP scaling, so in order to get upwards of 40% of a targets health with 3 blights, we need this item. Zhonya's Hourglass is a good defensive item that also provides good AP stats. AP Varus is a glass cannon build, but having some defensive backup plan doesn't hurt anyone, especially when it proves 80 AP. Void Staff is the best choice for magic penetration, if magic pen isn't required, it can be swapped out with an AP alternative. Hextech Gunblade A sustain option that allows your auto attacks to pack an extra punch. The active is useful for the extra damage and slow, hitting your abilities should be easier when this item is used. Luden's Tempest is a good mana option that provides some extra burst and CDR. This would be a good mid to late game option.

Level 2 Power spike

The level 2 power spike is the significant fighting power you get when you reach level 2 before the enemy bot lane. This immediate advantage can result in an early kill, the enemies using their summoner spells, or a good trade.

The level 2 power spike can be attained by killing the first wave, 3 melee minions and 3 caster minions, and then the melee minions in the second wave. You don't want to push in the wave immediately because this may push the enemy towards their turret and leave you open to a level 2 jungle gank. Instead you want to try and freeze the wave in the centre of the lane, try to match your opponents minions kills and read the wave. If you notice your opponents are aggressively killing minions and you can't keep up, play safe and start backing up. It's better to lose some minions than lose most of your health and lane presence as a result.

If you get level 2 before you opponents, pressure them and play aggressive. Having an ability over your enemies gives you a lot of power. Coordinate with your support to try and trade or make a play. You want to try and make them use spells, get a kill, or back.

Warding and Baiting

This shouldn't have to be said but it's needed. Buy wards. They are 75 gold. You are a marksman, you have the gold for it. Your support is already slaving away with their minimum wage gold income, just help them out.

Bot lane is a hot spot for ganks and roams, and that's because it is part of your job. A good bot lane is well warded because they are trying to attract jungle attention and roams. You want to be able to waste the enemy jungler's time, by leading them to believe you are gankable, they will wait and try to find the perfect moment to gank you. This gives your jungler the opportunity to counter gank, gank other lanes, take objectives, or steal the enemy jungle. Having vision of the enemy jungler is important for every lane, and the only way you can do this is by having vision, so buy a ward. It will save your life, and you will help your team out.

Team Fighting

One of the most important parts of playing marksman if not THE most important part is positioning, which is what you will be doing a lot of in team fights. You are a significant damage dealer, so you need to play smart and position smarter.

Start off by looking at the enemy team, how many are there? Is anyone fed? Who will try and kill you? Do they have an assassin? Can you ignore their tank to focus on their back line? What abilities do they have? What will your team do? Does your team have their ultimates up? is your team even there? Are you in a good position to fight? These are all questions you should ask yourself before you engage in a team fight because they can mean life or death.

Coordinate with your team before fighting, make sure you're in a safe position and not in a place where you can be caught out. Look at your map and identify where everyone is, if someone is missing, be cautious. Look at the enemy and see what they are doing. Is someone out of place? Use Chain of Corruption for an easy catch. Do you have a 2 man advantage? Try and see if you can force a fight. Think about who you should focus when fighting. Are there enemies you can ignore? You could go for the Thresh who wasted all of his abilities, or you could attack the Sylas who is on top of your mid laner and actually making an impact in the team fight. Consider distance. Don't put yourself in a position that makes yourself easy to kill. Attack the person closest to you, and if they are negligible, attack the second closest person. Chances are someone will try to get on top of you. If it's an assassin, Flash away and try to outplay them, try and keep a distance. If it's a tank, consider whether he is worth focusing. Did he use an CC abilities beforehand? Would you be in imminent danger if he were to get close to you? Could you ignore him and focus someone else? Could you use Chain of Corruption to stop them from getting to you?

Use Chain of Corruption as a opener or a way to create distance. Always try and get 3 stacks of blight on someone before using abilities. Auto attacks will be your main source of damage. Pressing Blighted Quiver and immediately using Piercing Arrow on a low health enemy with 3 stacks of blight can often execute them. Try not to use your abilities immediately since they have long cool downs. Use Piercing Arrow and Hail of Arrows if you can hit more than one enemy with blights on them.

4 Blights

With enough attack speed, it is possible to trigger 4 stacks of blight on a target with Hail of Arrows. Guinsoo's Rageblade makes this considerably easier. It's rather simple, just make sure a target has 3 blights on them and attack them with a lot of attack speed. If timed right, you can trigger the three blight stacks already on the target and then a 4th from an auto attack. Here is a video example.

Welcome to the end and thanks for reading! If you like what you read, or had any problems, leave a comment and let me know. All feedback is appreciated.

I'd like to thank :
Jovy for motivating me to write this guide and for creating these fantastic graphics. Please check out her art store.

Maintained and Psiguard for putting up with my godlike Akali and lending BBcode

My friends for helping with descriptions.

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