Build Guide by Morthos
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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.
Oh vlad, you endless source of qqing...
I think all of the new heroes are OP, and Vlad is no exception. Just his 300 damage nuke that has no mana cost, AND grants life, AND has a 2.5 seconds cooldown alone would be enough reason to play him, but he also has a brilliant escape ability that essentially makes him immune to damage for 2.5 seconds. Right now he's looking pretty strong in 1v1, but weak in teamfights. But when you add in the fact that his pool of blood ALSO slows, does damage, AND heals your character, he starts looking like a valuable contributor.
Tides of blood is under appreciated. At level 1, you have a 60 damage AOE nuke that has essentially no cost. 1 transfusion easily heals the cost, and it helps your farming potential as well.
And then there is his ult. It is like the SUPER Time Bomb, not only nuking everybody for about 500 damage in 5 seconds, but essentially grants allies magic/phys armor penetration.
Just your "simple" combo of Hemoplague, Transfuse, Tides, Pool, Transfuse (Hemoplague BOOM) is enough to kill or send 2 or 3 people running from team fights.
aaand without further ado, here's version 2.0 of Vlad, the annoying.
Pros / Cons
Very high health.
Great tower diver.
Tons of survivability abilities.
Has area slow
THE laning hero
Very weak when spells are on CD
Silence is essentially a stun
Health = AP. AP = more Transfuion damage, and more life gained. Therefore, Health = Health Regen. This is a very tenable formula as soon as transfusion can be spammed around level 9, but earlier you still want a durability item. Doran's shield is great for this - you still get 5 AP from the health, and it allows you to stay in lane longer. A heath pot is always a good idea.
Once you have Transfusion maxed, you have effectively + 100 heath / 5 sec, if you spam the nuke. That's... a ton. You can use this health to spam tides, or just heal from harassment.
Even when you are at 100 hp, sanguine pool STILL costs 20% of your current HP. Yet your transfusion heals a (fairly) fixed number. By maxing transfusion, you become able to transfuse (and save your life) immediately upon coming out of your pool.
The pool dodges things that can "lock on" to a character - Akali's dash, Taric and Sion's Stun, Kat's Death Lotus... If you time it right, it even dodges requiem.
The pool removes aggro. If you kill the enemy while you're in pool form (either by pool or ignite) the tower won't target you first once you pop back up. This can help immensely with tower dives.
Guide By Level
Vlad works well as a mid, as he is item-dependent and has a great single-target nuke. He is also a great harasser, and can lane with allies too. Best lane partners are ones with disables or forced movement - Poppy, Alistar, Sion, and Blitzcrank all spring to mind.
Level 1-4: Be unobtrusive, focus on last hitting. Make their lives a pain, especially if they're melee carries - yi, tryn, and kassadin spring to mind - but still keep killing those creeps. You need your gold, and it's nice to pick up Giant's belt and boots on your first trip back.
Level 5-7: You can start getting more aggressive here; your newly improved CD for transfuse allows you to shrug off even more harassment. You can get first blood much easier than standard, because your Pool allows you to tower dive without drawing tower or minion aggro.
IF YOU TOWER DIVE: ACTIVATE POOL OF BLOOD ON YOUR WAY OUT.
I cannot stress how important this is. If you trigger before, you'll lose a greater % of your life and you will waste part of your 2.5 seconds running up to the hero. As soon as you get there, the Pool will wear off and the tower will immediately start targeting you.
As opposed to...
If you run in, the tower probably won't start hitting you unless there are no minions or you just fired off your nuke. Get close to your target, then fire all skills. The tower will fire at you, and you might take a hit or two before you sink into your pool. While in your pool, you kill the opposing hero. The tower will then start targeting creeps, allowing you to run out safely even after your pool goes away, saving you about 3 seconds of heath.
Levels 8-13: You are in your element here. You have transfusion maxed, and your enemies still do not have enough health for them to be able to shrug it off easily. By healing and using tide, you push very effectivly and shoud try to start a teamfight. This will probably end in your favor because you have AOE and nasty skills. The enemies will focus you. As soon as they do, you can pop into your pool and lay safely below while your allies walk all over the now-scattered enemy force.
Levels 14-18: As time goes on, Vlad becomes less and less effective. His AP ratios don't scale as nicely as one would hope, and he really needs to be in the center to use tides effectively. Pool of blood still is a great skill, as is hemoplague, but your role starts to shift more to assassin with your slow from Rylai's. Your goal now is to lead a giant push and end this soon, before Ashe has a chance to recover from your early game shutdown.
Health/Level passes flat health for seals at level 5. The weaker startgame is worth the cost.
Magic Penetration = More damage dealt = More damage healed. Pretty much the only good Marks.
AP quints are NICE. So are AP/level glyphs. Remember, vlad starts to be scary around level 5, right about the same time AP/level > flat AP.
Since Riot is changing all of their masteries, I didn't put too much time into thinking about this. Picking up improved ghost/ignite is nice, and so is the 15% magic pen.
Unlike most other guides, I think the 19 points in defense are nice. Veteran's Scars give me extra health, and Ardor gives extra AP. Putting points into the Utility tree is not the best idea, as you have to get both level 3 of Perseverance and Good Hands before any really useful benefits...
Ignite: Vlad is a killer. The healing reduction can help counteract last minute heals saving people from hemoplague, the 10 extra AP gives health and an edge early game, and the spell itself provides unavoidable true damage.
Ghost/Flash/Exhaust: Vlad is squishy when pool is on CD. He has no other escape skills, and is best played in long, drawn out battles. By pooling, then flashing, then activating Zhonya's, then pooling again, vlad can avoid a large amount of damage while infuriating any enemies attempting to kill him.
Cleanse also helps break out of nasty things, but it has no alternate offensive use: ghost and flash can be used to chase, and exhaust's slow and defense reduction help get kills. I'd personally pick the other 4 over cleanse.
Anything else just doesn't work as well. I suppose teleport could be used to farm/counterpush, but still...
1) Transfusion, generally.
It's a nuke/heal that can be used to last hit and farm minions. What's not to love?
2) Sanguine Pool/Tides of blood, more of a personal preference. If you're laning vs sion, taric, anivia, or some other champ with an easily pool-dodged stun, you probably want to err on the safe side. If not, tides are nice.
Reduced CD = more harassing potential, more regen, more everything.
4) Pool/tides, whatever you didn't get at level 2.
I generally take Pool for the reduced CD. Really a slot of personal preference. Same thing goes for any level in which Pool/Tides is an option.
From 10+, level them up however you need. If you're doing very well and on the offense, level up tides, but if you need the CD for Pool to escape ganks take that instead.
I've played around with these a lot. Since the latest patch where Zhonya's was split, vlad has gotten an unintentional buff. The boots of lucidity are pretty much perfect on him - they're cheap, and the CDR is a nice bonus.
Up to level 9, you're pretty squishy. Health should - in general - be maximized over AP, with Giant's belt being one of your core items. If you're doing well, then grab soulstealer: it's not uncommon to get a double or triple kill around level 9-10, and that will just start your snowballing. Scepter is quite nice on vlad, since it allows you to chain slow the enemy with tides of blood and transfusion.
Zhonya's hat is awesome. 155 ap, and 30% more ap. If you get this with more than 8 stacks on your soulstealer, it's more or less GG. If the enemies focus you, your extrodinary health and delay skills/abilities (pool, flash/ghost, possibly hourglass, pool again) will make you a hard target to kill. While they're running all over the map, your allies can take them down. if, on the other hand, they focus your teammates you can use your AOE damage to soften everybody up, while transfusing the squishy carries and supports into the ground. By the time they realize they're dangerously low, hemoplague will have been placed on them and they will be doomed.
How To Counter Him
Despite what one might think, Vlad is fairly squishy from level 1-5. His heal isn't low enough CD nor does it deal enough damage to be completely reliable, and when it is on CD he has no way to really have an effect. If he does use pool of blood, then you have killed 1/5 of his remaining heath - this is not a spammable skill. Your best shot is to play tristana or some other ranged DPS that can deal more damage than Vlad's nuke. Trist also has the added advantage of her annoying heal-counter ignite shot, which cannot be "cleansed" by diving into your pool. Her jump lets her catch up to you after your pool has worn off, and her buster shot can then propel you deep into enemy territory with your 1 escape spell on CD.
Kass is also a pain. His silence prevents you from jumping into pool, and any attempts at pooling and running will be countered by riftwalk.
Garen can be a pain for similar reasons. His silencing strike keeps you from pooling out of his spin, and Judgement doesn't allow vlad the time to recover through spamming transfusion.
In essence, vlad hates:
Silences and stuns
Large nukes and finishing moves.