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Varus Build Guide by GrandmasterD

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League of Legends Build Guide Author GrandmasterD

Varus - There Is No Salvation

GrandmasterD Last updated on October 31, 2012
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Mid Lane


Bot Lane

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: 19

Honor Guard

Defense: 11

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

Chapter 1

About the Author: GrandmasterD

I am GrandmasterD and my speciality lies in AP casters; whom I play in the mid lane of course. AD Carries are not my strongest point but when it comes to AD casters, I'm back in my comfort zone. Hence, I love to play Varus and I decided to play him in the mid lane as well. Through theorycrafting and practicing I've come up with a, perhaps slightly odd, setup for Varus which will probably feel a bit different than you're used to be when it comes to AD carries. However, if you are used to it; you don't want to go back ever again!

I - Varus Introduced
II - Preparing for Battle
III - Itemizing and Basic Builds
IV - The Final Arrow

Welcome to my third guide on MobaFire which is on Varus, The Arrow of Retribution. I realise it is a bit soon for me to release a guide on a champion whom is just available for play. Anyhow, this is just a short note on how to play Varus in general and I will present his playstyle for mid lane, top lane and bot lane.

Varus is more than a standard AD Carry such as Caitlyn and Sivir; he brings some interesting utility but also incredibly long range harass. Varus' Q, Piercing Arrow makes him one of the best AD Carries to lane against non-healing supports. Actually, Varus is more of an AD Caster than an AD Carry which makes him rather potent in the mid lane as well. Hope you will enjoy this quick guide on Varus, The Arrow of Retribution.

Yours sincerely,

Varus is a versatile champion which is his main strength. He can lane about anywhere and perform really well. His autoattack range gives him a natural advantage to most bruisers in top lane, and because of his Blighted Quiver he is very hard to counterbuild against. He also performs well in the mid lane because of his long range harass and short bursts of damage. In bot lane, Varus can be just like any regular carry with one powerful feature: long range harass! His Piercing Arrow can just deal excruciating damage to enemies, giving you an easy advantage; if you play aggressively, that is. Varus' only real weakness is the lack of a good escape ability. He only possesses Hail of Arrows which could be used to escape or at least to kite but it is far from optimal.


+ Long range poke.
+ Build-in damage based on maximum health.
+ Multi-target snare.
+ Heal reduce and AoE slow.
+ Skills do not fall off late-game.
+ Snowballs in teamfights.
+ Slightly longer autoattack range than normal carries.
+ Epic voice acting.




- No innate escape ability; only an AoE slow.
- No steroids which makes him relatively weak in 1v1 combat.
- Blighted Quiver requires other abilities to proc.
- Ultimate is easy to screw up.
- Hard to master since he solely has skillshots.
- Wears too much purple make-up.


Living Vengeance (Innate): On champion kill or assist, Varus gains 40% attack speed for 6 seconds. On minion kill, Varus gains 20% attack speed for 3 seconds.
  • Nice attack speed boost.
  • Allows for snowballing in teamfights.


Piercing Arrow (Q):
(First Cast): Varus starts drawing back his next shot, gradually increasing its range and damage.
(Second Cast): Varus fires, dealing 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.
  • Amazing Range.
  • High damage, if directly hit.
  • Great farming tool.
  • Charges rather quickly.
  • Half the cost is returned if you don't fire; which is something to keep in mind.


Blighted Quiver (W):
(Passive): Varus' basic attacks deal bonus magic damage and apply Blight for 6 seconds (stacks 3 times).

Varus' other abilities detonate Blight, dealing magic damage equal to a percentage of the target's maximum health per stack. This damage is capped against monsters.
  • Allows for a great burst.
  • Makes you really hard to counter.
  • Extra magic damage on standard attacks makes last-hitting easier.


Hail Of Arrows (E): Varus fires a hail of arrows that deals physical damage and desecrates the ground for 4 seconds.

Desecrated Ground reduces healing effects by 50% and slows enemy movement speed.
  • Pretty nice AoE.
  • Can be used to gain 4 procs of Blighted Quiver.
  • Allows for zoning.


Chain Of Corruption (R): Varus flings out a tendril of corruption that deals 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.
  • Long duration CC.
  • High burst if combined with Blighted Quiver.
  • Could potentially CC an entire team.
  • Very hard to hit skillshot.

For Varus I use two different skill orders. In both Piercing Arrow is maxed out first. We do this for harassment since it can deal quite nasty damage to squishy enemies; especially if maxed out first. After that we can either max out Blighted Quiver second or Hail of Arrows.

Bot Lane

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

When on bot lane, I tend to max out Blighted Quiver out second to gain some stronger harass and showdown. Also, we have a support to cover our *** so we don't need to max out Hail of Arrows for the higher slow. Although, we still take one point to proc Blighted Quiver.

Mid Lane

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

When on top or mid lane, I usually max out Hail of Arrows second due to the higher slow and more consistent damage output. The higher slow allows us to escape ganks more easily, to kite better and to close the gap.

Well seems pretty obvious to me; Varus lacks an escape ability so having this is a must. Flash can also be used for initiating with Chain of Corruption by simply flashing in range. Long story short: Take it!

Ghost is a lovely spell yet no replacement for Flash since Varus needs an instant escape spell. If you do want to go for Ghost, exchange it for your offensive summoner spell and go double defense. It certainly won't hurt.

Very powerful on all lanes. In the bot lane it simply counters the enemy Heal and it will allow you to secure early game kills. Overall, it simply adds something to your burst but it is not a must-have since we already have a heal reduce through Hail of Arrows.

Take Cleanse against cc-heavy teams since CC doesn't allow you to lifesteal of your enemies so that will put you down quickly. You could also just take a Quicksilver Sash in game though.

In my opinion this spell has just been nerfed to death. It doesn't seem that strong anymore and is simply shut-down by Ignite. Also, it has a cool down like hell so I'd not recommend it.

Usually the support in the bot lane goes for Exhaust but if you are solo-laning or the support decides to go for an other summoner spell; you could go for Exhaust. It makes your showdown even easier and it also allows for escaping nasty junglers.

Is not as bad as it looks, the AP gives you some extra damage on Blighted Quiver and Chain of Corruption and the 40% attack speed bonus is most certainly helpful. On Varus, this spell will fall off late-game though.

Offence Tree

Tier I: Grab Summoner's Wrath and Brute Force for obvious reasons. You could also exchange the point in Summoner's Wrath for an extra point in Butcher ; you should do this if you don't take Ghost, Ignite, Exhaust or Surge of course.

Tier II: Well here is a lot going on; we take both Sorcery and Alacrity since Varus can put both stats to very good use. CDR can be used to proc Blighted Quiver more often and AS can be used to apply it faster, as well dealing more overall damage of course.

Tier III: We get three points in Havoc just to increase our overall damage. Additionally, we get both Weapon Expertise and Arcane Knowledge here. Weapon Expertise is pretty standard but Arcane Knowledge is taken to make Blighted Quiver harass hurt even more and the mastery scales well into late-game.

Tier IV: No points here? No we simply cannot afford it. The Vampirism mastery could be exchanged for Havoc from the previous tier.

Tier V: Take the three points in Sunder here; extra armour penetration is never a bad thing to have.

Tier VI: Executioner makes for a great mastery and really synergises with your ability to snipe low health targets. Stacks with Havoc as well; which is nice.

Defence Tree

Tier I: We simply go resistances here; the distribution depends on your lane opponent. Take Summoner's Resolve if you can improve a summoner spell with it and don't take Tough Skin , we aren't jungling; even though that is possible.

Tier II: This tier is very straightforward; some extra health per level to become a little tankier throughout the game. Vigor isn't a bad mastery as well but just not as good as Vitality.

Tier III: Simply take Veteran's Scars as our final mastery. Just a little bit of extra health in the early-game; not bad at all.

Mid Lane


Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Greater Mark Of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation
A lot of mid laners don't use armour in runes and/or masteries so these Marks plus the Sunder mastery allows you to deal true damage to them for the first couple of levels.

Greater Glyph of Warding
We will be facing enemies who deal a lot of magical damage; hence these glyphs. I don't see why and how to elaborate this further; should be obvious.
Greater Seal of Clarity
Constant harass requires mana, therefore we will be needing some mana regeneration. Since the glyphs are already taken for magic resistance; we simply get it from the seals. Enjoy, harassing your opponent endlessly.

Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
Varus relies on mobility to harass and to escape, therefore I decide to go these runes. Having more mobility than your opponents helps you in chasing them down and finishing them off with a well-timed Piercing Arrow.

Bot Lane


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Mana Regeneration

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

Greater Mark of Strength
Varus has some nice AD scalings and these Marks will also improve your ability to last-hit. Greater Mark Of Desolation aren't recommended since the enemy will probably be running armour runes against you, making it less appealing.

Greater Glyph of Clarity
Varus' main strength is his long range harass. However, this does not come without a cost! Without mana, Varus is no longer Varus and he will not be able to abuse his main strength; therefore we gain some mana regeneration from these runes over the course of the game.
Greater Seal of Resilience
We will require armour to protect us against physical adversaries. Not much to tell about; pretty straightforward.

Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
Varus relies on mobility to harass and to escape, therefore I decide to go these runes. Having more mobility than your opponents helps you in chasing them down and finishing them off with a well-timed Piercing Arrow.

Below, I present the main item builds I use on Varus. Every item has been explained briefly and is listed in the current purchase order (i.e. top to bottom). I personally think this is the best purchase order but well, this is a guide; not an instruction booklet.

For mid lane, Varus requires at least one Doran's Blade to gain some health and sustainability. Two Doran's Blades is preferred but that is not always possible.

Powerful mix of AD and magic resistance. Getting it early can really shut down a lot of mages in the mid lane.

Provides Varus with a ton of AD, causing his Piercing Arrow to deal massive damage. Additionally, this is Varus' main source of sustainability. Varus can also get stacks rather quickly since he can farm quite well with Piercing Arrow.

Extra mobility for chasing and fleeing. Grants a lot of attack speed and crit chance; causing Varus' DPS to increase dramatically.

A stronger Hexdrinker. Provides a lot more damage and the passive is a lot stronger. Adds little extra magic resist. New passive makes you deceptively strong at low health.

In order for your Piercing Arrow harass to scale to late-game, we will require some armour penetration. If, for some reason, the enemy does not yet have a lot of armour by now; go for Infinity Edge first.

The cherry on top of the pie; this will make your damage go sky-high! Infinity Edge combined with the already aquired Phantom Dancer makes you deal incredibly damage; also it adds some nice AD which boosts Piercing Arrow.
Three of these awesome blades give Varus the necessary sustain, health and damage to become quite the threat in the lane. His Piercing Arrow harassment will become very strong with a couple of these.

Some enemies tend to rush an early Zeal; when they do so, you should do too. This allows us to be faster than our opponent which makes it easier to harass with Piercing Arrow and Blighted Quiver.

Huge AD boost and huge sustainability. After this, about no one will be able to trade blows with you. If they try, punish it hard! Additionally, Piercing Arrow will make them cry like little girls.

Zeal on steroids! More critical strike chance, more attack speed and more mobility. A true miracle to your DPS.

By now, enemies will probably have armour; hence we pick up Last Whisper. It makes your Piercing Arrow harass almost unbearable. Do not get this if the enemy doesn't have a lot of armour yet.

Combined with Phantom Dancer and The Bloodthirster; this thing makes you extremely powerful and pretty much completes the build.

An optional, second Bloodthirster. More damage and more lifesteal will definitely keep you alive; however, you might want a defensive item instead of this

The Brutalizer
Provides armour penetration, cool down reduction and attack damage. Hence this is a very nice item on Varus. If you plan on getting it, get it as soon as possible to maximize your damage ouput increase from the item.

The Black Cleaver
A strong item with some useful stats, yet it has lower priority than other items. The attack speed and attack damage along with the passive make up for some very nice damage increase. Although, the passive is not likely going to boost your harassment from Piercing Arrow as well is the flat armour reduction only strong against squishies. This item is not a replacement for Last Whisper.

Frozen Mallet
A great survivabilty item that also grants you the ability to kite your opponents. This item is never core on Varus but it might find it's use in certain games.

Guardian Angel
Boosts your survivability tremendously and has a very nice passive. It's great on Varus as a final item or when you reach about minute 40-50 in the game as the death timers will become unbearable.

Quicksilver Sash
Very powerful item if used right. It is pretty much a must-have against enemies like Warwick, Malzahar and Mordekaiser (i.e. you don't want a Varus-ghost taking down your team). Also, it grants a nice deal of magic resistance and it is very cheap.

Boots Of Swiftness
Wait what? Another pair of boots in the list for an AD carry? Well, these boots are that good that they deserve a honorable mention in the list of viable items. Since Varus lacks escape abilities and only has slows, pretty much like Ashe, movement speed is the only thing that keeps him alive basically. These boots allow you to build more AD earlier in the game than you normally would due to the fact you won't need Zeal. Do mind that your 'showdown' will be even worse.

Madred's Bloodrazor
Might seem a little overkill but it allows you to deal an extra 12% of maximum health to each round of Blighted Quiver. The total amount of damage will be insane! However, this item is never core on Varus due to it's low stats and situationality; also it is quite pricy.

Wriggle's Lantern
A really strong counterbuild item that could be used to replace one or two Doran's Blades. Additonally, it allows you to take Baron and Dragon even faster. I suggest you do combine this item with some attack speed, such as a Zeal.

Wit's End
Very powerful magic resist that grants a ton of attack speed. Personally, I prefer Hexdrinker over Wit's End but it is still a very strong item. The additional magic damage works well with Blighted Quiver.

Banshee's Veil
This item is always a good choice as a defensive item. It possesses a great passive and gives a nice amount of health, mana and magic resist. However, it is pretty expensive and does not contribute to your damage. It is wise to get some damage items before getting this beauty.

Well this quick guide is about to reach it's end so here is a list of helpful tips and some neat tricks you can use on Varus:
  • When harassing with Piercing Arrow; try to use brush to your advantage and try not to hit any minions before hitting your intended target.
  • When you can't hit a channeled arrow or simply don't know where to shoot; don't fire! You'll get half of it's cost returned, let's not waste mana.
  • Use Hail of Arrows in combination with Chain of Corruption in order to keep them in the heal reduction zone.
  • The Blight debuff lasts 6 seconds and refreshes with each newly applied stack. Use this to apply stacks slowly and then snipe them down with Piercing Arrow for minimal confrontation and maximum damage.
  • Chain of Corruption is usually put to better use when used as a follow-up rather than an initate.
  • An entire round of your spells can do up to 45% of a target's maximum health as magic damage.

Varus is a strong champion but he has his limits; it is useful to know which champions counter him but also on which team compositions he is at his best.


Amumu is one of the strongest synergies with Varus due to his powerful initiate and his Curse of the Sad Mummy which allows Varus to folow-up perfectly with his Chain of Corruption. Janna is a great laning partner since she provides all the protection you will ever need and Sona is just hyperaggressive which really fits Varus' playstyle. Soraka is also a good choice because of her Infuse and the fact that you will be able to win all trades.


Blitzcrank is extremely deadly to Varus since Varus has no escape abilities except for Flash so if you get grabbed and won't have your Flash up; you probably wind up dead. Kog'Maw will simply outharass Varus after level 6 with his Bio-Arcane Barrage and Living Artillery. Soraka will simply cancel out your Piercing Arrow harass with her Astral Blessing.

Well this was my quick guide and personal view on Varus, The Arrow of Retribution. Since Varus only been with us for a short time; I will do some further research on Varus as I keep playing him. Expect this guide to be updated and expanded a lot in the upcoming month so I'd advise you to keep an eye on this guide, if you liked it so far; that is. Anyway, thanks for reading and happy hunting!

Special Thanks

  • Koksei - For creating the awesome dividers/separators.
  • samgoeslol - For theorycrafting along with me on Varus.

Why did you release a guide on Varus already?
Well yes, I realise it is early but I wanted to share my ideas on him which I already put to practice, succesfully. However, I will keep updating it in the near future.

I can't find Youmuu's Ghostblade anywhere; is this an error? I mean, The Brutalizer is mentioned.
No this is no error, I simply don't find Youmuu's strong enough on Varus. The armour penetration quickly falls off and the active is not extremely useful. There are just way better items to get in mid/late-game.

Maxing out Blighted Quiver first seems very promising, is it?
Yes it's very viable and allows you to treat Varus like any regular AD carry. However, I find it a waste of his kit and I love Piercing Arrow way too much.

Guide Release: Quick guide on Varus is released; enjoy and please comment/vote.
  • Guide added, what else to say?
  • Oh well, stay tuned for updates.
Some Updates: Did some work on the items section and added Boots of Swiftness