Vladimir Build Guide by tomathome
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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.
Hey, 1st build so be gentle ^_____________^ Vladimir has been copping a lot of flack recently on the forums i've noticed, and that along with the present top-rated builds drove me to try and clear up some mis-conceptions about his build and capabilities as a whole. This build has worked for me in both ranked and normal games (always solo que).
To begin with, Vladimir should be played as an AP carry due to his passive Crimson Pact (discussed in-depth further down) and natural affinity for remaining in team fights for long periods due to his spell vamp! Your focus should be on dealing continuous aeo damage to as many opponents.
Such a result is best achieved by:
1. Do not initiate! You may do a lot of damage and have a great get-out-of-jail-free card in Sanguine Pool (your W), BUT if the other team has any idea what they are doing they will simply chase and wait for your pool to end then your dead. Its much better to simply stay at the edge of your team stacking your Tides of Blood (your E) on minions until your tank initiates. This will allow you to immediately contribute your max damage potential without attracting too much attention at the same time.
2. If you read Vladimir's description, you should find that he is a "fighter". Now despite this category ususally being reserved for melee ad's, Vladimir is truly as much a fighter as any Garen or Nasus due to his significant health boost from his passive, along with his spell vamp (from Will of the Ancients) and great escape move ( Sanguine Pool - W). As such, to maximise the natural synergy of Vladimir's abilities you should endeavour to position yourself so that Tides of Blood is reaching every possible enemy champion.
3. NEVER INITIATE WITH Sanguine Pool (your W). This includes: casually farming minions with your pool then *BOOM* Sion flashes out of the bush next to you; stuns you; then the resident Tryndamere spins on out and 3 hits you whilst your furiously smushing your 'W' key screaming "I WAS JUST FARMING YOU BASTARDS". Also, when chasing; as good as it may seem to just pop your pool to slow (40% movement slow for 1 second only regardless...) that guy your chasing, chances are it wont do enough for you to pick up the kill and you'll be left vulnerable to counter ganks for the next 15 seconds while sweating on your pool to come back. Just always remember: Sanguine Pool is not designed as an offensive ability!
4. Always look for the best opportunity to help your team late game by TIMING YOUR ULTIMATE Hemoplague. By this I mean make sure you hit every member of the opposition, without making it blatantly obvious (ie: hiding in that bush next to the whole enemy team which just so happens to be WARDED).
Now we're getting into the good stuff! The flat AP runes (quints and glyphs) provide vlad with both early damage (and thus spell vamp from Transfusion) and health (due to his passive). Magic penetration marks are a must for any aspiring AP looking for damage. Finally, the flat health seals provide even more early lane survivability (and thus 'harrass-ability' xD). Combined with the defensive mastery tree (21 points worth) your mid opponent will be hard-pressed to compete with you due to your incredibly high lvl 1 hp (allows you to harass and make judgement errors!) and high AP. Furthermore, by maxing your Q first ( Transfusion) you will be re-gaining any health lost! Even champ's with natural spell vamp (ie- that pesky Morgana) won't be able to keep up.
Edit: With the recent changes to Vladimir, namely health-cost reduction, I have found that you can be even more aggressive with him. That is, I have recently been replacing the flat AP quintessences with magic penetration, flat AP glyphs with magic penetration and the flat health seals with ability-per-level. This is more risky in terms of the reduced early health buff from Crimson Pact, however you will find that mid and late game the extra magic penetration is incredible when coupled with the health cost reduction changes introduced in the last patch. Skilled Vlad players will have most success however with such a rune build, so for those beginning I suggest following the above (non-edited paragraph) rune-setup.
Now, despite many Vlad players stressing the importance of cooldowns, I have found that putting points into the utility mastery tree yields very few worthwhile results early game. Sure, you might be able to use Transfusion a little more often, however you wont be able to spam it until ranks 4 and 5 (most likely 5 xD) regardless. Boots of lucidity should provide you with enough cooldown I find, but if cd's are still your thing you can always swap your AP glyph runes with CD per level runes.
Contrastingly, by maxing the defensive tree of masteries not only do you get a further 48hp, but all damage dealt to your champion will be reduced by 4%. This basically means that your mid opponent will be hitting you with spells which would usually allow them to whittle your health away gradually, but they find that they aren't dealing as much damage as usual. All in all the masteries further enhance your early survivability and pretty much allow you to harass your opponent all day with minimal damage taken.
EDIT: The new masteries have swayed me to the utility tree :) the arch-mage and executioner masteries on the offense tree are quite weak with the % based damage, whilst the ability-per-level masteries is an absolute waste of points. In comparison the cooldowns offered in the utility tree are quite a nice addition to the damage offered from the magic penetration in the offense tree. As such, 9-0-21 is now my most preferred mastery-tree arrangement.
Edit: After several games as Vlad with the above edited mastery arrangement, I felt that whilst I had cooldowns down pat, this did not necessarily convert into damage. As such, I trialled a full offense mastery tree (21 points) and found that I was a far greater threat and damage source. Furthemore, 9 points into the defense tree provides excellent health bonuses for early lane which you may find you need with the new runes I have provided in the above "rune" entitled section. All in all you will notice the damage difference!
My favourite part! Now, im guessing that if you've read any of the other guides floating around Mobafire you will have noticed a common trend of Spirit Visage and Warmog's Armor amongst them. HOWEVER, these 2 items happen to annoy me so much when I see other Vlad users wasting their time and precious gold on them.
I'll start with Spirit Visage: all I hear is "blah blah blah its made for vlad". I'm sorry, but it just is not. The AP it provides is a joke compared to any of the items I recommend above, and you will REALLY notice this if the other team has a Vlad with a Void Staff for his 6th item while your trying to beat him with 0.5 seconds taken off of Transfusion's cooldown (due to spirit visage's cooldown reduction feature). Furthermore, the "increased spell vamp" is laughable in comparison to the PURE AP DAMAGE REQUIRED FOR SPELL VAMP TO OCCUR IN THE FIRST PLACE :) If i am versing a Vlad and I see him rush Spirit Visage I will troll for the rest of the game. In conclusion, you want damage not this worthless item.
Secondly, Warmog's Armor: ok i've seen plenty of vlad's get this item and in most of these cases their reasoning is something like "it gives me health". I say to these individuals, "yes mate it does give you health, but you should be carrying as Vladimir". To which I usually receieve the reply "your an idiot, read his passive then get back to me you vlad noob". NOW, while health = AP for vlad via his passive, the reverse also occurs (that is, AP = health). Now I finish by asking you, "which of the two scales better?"
Now that i've gotten rid of those 2 embarrassments, onto the good items! By starting with the Amplifying Tome and 1 Health Potion you receive not only the highest amount of ap for an item at lvl 1, but more EVEN more health from your passive! Throw in all the information above (runes, masteries) and you have a &^$@-load of hitpoints at lvl 1 (and dont forget the potion if you get ganked due to your mid-lane opponent qq'ing to their jungler ^_^).
Next you'll want to rush boots of lucidity for their cooldown reduction on mainly your ultimate, but also for Transfusion (even more harrass-ability) and a Hextech Revolver. I usually won't B until i have enough for at least the boots (usually both though). By this time you should have enough health to begin using (and stacking) Tides of Blood (your E) to begin some SERIOUS farming and introducing some serious damage to your opponent's own health bar at the same time. The revolver is essential in this sense as it somewhat nullfiies the health cost of tides of blood due to its spell vamp, and thus allows you to stack it to 4 WITHOUT killing yourself in the process!
The reason for not completing the revolver and turning it into Will of the Ancients'straight away is that you only need some spell vamp to counter the health loss of your E, W and R. The only time to consider rushing WOTA is if your team is AP heavy (ie- Kennen, Fiddlesticks, Morgana, Brand, Cassiopeia, etc) as the unique aura will help all of you survive and dominate in general.
Now, depending on how fed you are (how much money you have) after these items (lucidity and revolver) you can go for either a blasting wan' or a Needlessly Large Rod. Rabadon's Deathcap and Ryali's Crystal Scepter both require either of these massively AP boosting items, and again the order of which to get first wont matter too much. Basically you'll want ryali's for its slow, health boost and AP (all-in-all a great item for Vlad) and Rabadon's for its pure AP boost (just an item that provides all-round domination ^_^ = you and QQ = enemy at this point in time).
The only point to note here is that if you have the money for either the Giant's Belt or Blasting Wand segment of ryali's, it is always better to go for the wand! All the while, these items are not only providing you with significant damage but simultaneously giving you around 3k worth of health, making you harder to focus whilst remaining deceptively powerful in terms of damage. That is what Vladimir is all about!
In conclusion, Void Staff is the logical next choice due to its fantastic magic penetration (40% !!!) and even more AP and thus health; but we already have that now dont we ;) Finish off the revolver by turning it into WOTA and if the game is still going at this point in time finish your build with either Guardian Angel or Zhonya's Hourglass. Personally I find GA to be most useful as you can pretty much just flash into the middle of the enemy team; pop your ultimate on them all; Ignite their carry; then chill in your Sanguine Pool while your teammates enjoy the 14% extra damage they'll be dealing :)
Edit: As a final item (ie: sell boots to make room for it), Lich Bane is pretty much gg for the other team. For those of you unfamiliar with it, basically after you use an ability your next auto attack (basic attack) will deal damage equal to your ability power which at this point in the game is just wow. This item basically does the same thing as Trinity Force does for AD carries just with AP instead.
Depending on the situation of the game (how fed you are, how good/useless your teammates are :) etc) there are several items which complement Vlad's core build and help him across several varying situations.
For example, if you get fed early in mid and your mid enemy starts telling his/her teammates to focus you in later team fights and that enemy team just so happens to have multiple stuns, slows, silences or even suppressants an item which provides a great escape and is relatively cheap is Quicksilver Sash. However, the aspect of this item you want is an active ability so be aware of this!!! Not activating it in time, or even just forgetting you have it D:, are common mistakes so practise/get use to using active abilities in key moments!
If the enemy team is majorly AP and you have your 5 core items it may be worthwhile to pick up a Force of Nature. It provides not only magic resistance but also movement speed and health regen (perfect for stacked Tides of Blood). Personally i'd go for more damage with my 6th item but in some situations this can be a life-saver.
As for fillers; DO NOT BOTHER WITH THEM. By fillers im talking about Spirit Visage *shudders* and Haunting Guise. I've tried both (due to verbal harassment from other players) and had my suspicions confirmed. Subsequently I have never again used these joke items :)
Another item which can be quite useful for CC heavy teams is Banshee's Veil as it provides a passive aura which blocks 1 enemy ability. Warmog's Armor can be useful in some situations, however I personally despise it and wouldn't consider it UNTIL I HAD MY CORE ITEMS AND LOTS OF DAMAGE :)
My personal favourite alternate item though is simply picking up a second Rabadon's Deathcap!!! Especially in games in which you are dominating proceedings and the enemy team is lacking enough damage/nukeability to bring you down, another deathcap provides you with a ridiculous amount of HP (approximately 4k) for an AP carry who doesnt actually have any health items!!! By this time, increases in AP are not very noticeable as ability power scaling drops off drastically. As such, the 2nd deathcap is basically going to make you seem even tankier/invincible to the already Vladimir-weary enemy team.
Dastardly Mid-Opponents :(
Ok, here is where it can be get tricky D: These guys are on my list of most annoying mid opponenets you could come up against, and as such should be treated with respect (unlike some other mid opponents; Tristana, Annie and Karthus im looking at you).
Caitlyn: If this ***** knows what she's doing then your basically screwed. Your CD on transfusion won't be short enough for you to be able to go toe-to-toe with her early on and unlike AP mid's she can push your tower! She can restrict your movements with her 3 traps (damn you triangle formation!), annoy you with her Q and harass and farm better with her BS basic attack range! I would advise you to avoid head on confrontations and focus on hitting her with Transfusion while she is distracted or her Q is on cooldown in order to scare her off a bit. Also, you may have to take some risks with using Tides of Blood earlier than you usually would in order to take out minion waves so she can't push your tower (allowing her to gradually whittle down your tower is the worst thing that could happen to you as Vladimir in mid as you need that tower to retreat back to when farming mid-game; Sanguine Pool won't last long enough for you to escape ganking opponents all the way back to your second mid tower). The only real edges you have over her are your ultimate + ignite + pool and flash away combo if she is low enough and the fact that you can dodge her ultimate (homing missile thingy) using Sanguine Pool (very easy to time in this case).
Kassadin: The bane of many mids, this dude (if they know what they're doing) will just silence you every chance he gets with his ranged Q ability and this is enhanced once he gets his ultimate. Prior to level 6 he is most vulnerable and due to your spell vamp from Transfusion Vlad's have somewhat less of a problem with Kassadin's than other mid champions. Still, avoid letting him harass you with his Q by staying out of range (fairly obvious to tell when he's looking to use it) and try to out-farm him as he is a poor farmer and relies almost exclusively on assassinations for gold and thus items. Also, you should exploit his early mana problems by harassing if he is squishier than you at lvl 1.
Graves: Ok this guy doesn't have as much range on you as Caitlyn however his Buckshot is incredibly annoying and hurts a lot during the early levels. Try and coerce him into using Buckshot early, then harass with Transfusion while it is on CD.
Morgana: I find her quite easy, however if you cannot consistently dodge her stun, she will proceed to out-farm you and will quickly become a problem if allowed to roam and annoy your teammates. Again, bait her into using her bind then focus on harrassing while it is on CD.
Kennen: This dude be hardcore. There are two types of kennen's out there that you will encounter; passive kennen and too-keen kennen. If your up against a passive kennen they will hang back. This will be because they are either; A. really bad or B. waiting for you to over-extend and then *BOOM* your stunned, ignited and dead for seemingly no-reason. Too-keen Kennen on the other hand will be constantly trying to keep at least one Mark of the Storm (his passive) on you via his Thundering Shuriken and then proceeding to Lightning Rush quickly over to you and finish you off with Electrical Surge. In both cases avoid pushing as your neither going to kill him (unless he's bad) nor be able to push his tower (as you have no AD). Your best bet is too be wary of picking up too many marks of the storm and waiting for him to use lightning rush by standing well back (you can coerce him into using lightning rush and electrical surge by out-farming him as like you Kennen has poor attack damage and thus relies on his aeo abilites to farm). Once these 2 AEO moves are on cooldown, then proceed to super-harass this annoying chipmunk with Transfusion.
Fiddlesticks: No matter who you are, this guy is still going to employ the same annoying, no-skill-required combination of abilites (yes I do the same thing with him) on you to get what he wants (which is your face). Terrify + Drain > Transfusion. That is, he gets more spell vamp from drain than you can ever get from 1 hit of Transfusion. Throw in his silence and you really shouldn't be trying to mess with this guy. Avoid being whittled down by his birds (or balloons xD) by staying out of range and away from your own minions (bouncey bounce). If you do find yourself getting low, be extremely weary of his Flash (if he doesn't have flash as fiddle then you can safely assume he is bad), Terrify, Ignite, Drain combo which will result in your death. Again, if he is silly enough to use drain on minions then harass with your Q whilst attempting to out-farm him. Finally, if he disappears for a while do yourself a favour and don't push his tower as he's almost certainly hiding in river salivating over Crowstorm.
Early game Vladimir basically IS Transfusion so maxing it immediately is a must for you to both survive and harass. Whilst Tides of Blood will be your primary source of damage mid-to-late game, attempting to use it during the early levels will pretty much result in you doing all the work your mid opponent should be doing.
Sanguine Pool should be taken at lvl 2 and left there till last as you want your invincibil.... oh erm uhh i mean getaway ability ready ASAP in case you get in trouble or some bastard juungling Rammus flashes out of a bush and tries to death-taunt you O.o You won't be using your pool for damage either so anymore than 1 point at lvl 2 is pretty dumb and its cd is long enough (even at 40% CD) to prevent you from spamming it ;)
Tides of Blood should be maxed second, however I wouldn't even start using it till lvl 7 as any use prior to this will most likely result in you killing yourself!
Your ultimate should be taken at levels 6, 11 and 16 as per any other champion (other than AP Sion).
For mid I find that Ignite is often a great way to get that little bit of extra damage needed on a fleeing opponent to pick up first blood. Flash is of course a staple for many 'squishies' and when paired with Sanguine Pool, it makes you near impossible to gank or even hit once by a ganking opponent!
Alternatives include Exhaust (useful for late game on enemy carries) and Teleport (some mid players swear by it but if you kill your opponent then you'll have time to buy anyway :)
Overall, not the most important decision you'll have to make!
Edit: I now consistently take Exhaust and Ghost as Flash I now find to be mostly an escape mechanism which only helps you *****-out, rather than actually contributing to your team (especially late-game team-fights). Ghost has been a revelation to my vlad as not only can you run around Tides of Blood'ing everyone but its speed boost provides a far longer sustained escape mechanism if you feel the need to run away than say that old-meta Flash.
Vladimir is quite the farmer! Early game you should be looking to last hit minions using Transfusion (aim ones at around about 1/4 health during early ranks of transfusion). However, about lvl 7 I find that I have enough HP and some spell vamp (from revolver) to begin using Tides of Blood on a regular basis. As such, your entire mid to late game you should be observing your map for any minion waves which you will be able to decimate (around about 100% of minions!) using tides of blood (especially when stacking). Don't forget, however, that Sanguine Pool should not be used to farm! Especially if you find yourself over-extended.
Thanks for reading, I hope you all gained some valuable information! Just remember to never use your W for offensive purposes and if i see any of you with Spirit Visage or Warmog's Armor.......Enjoy Vladimir and make me proud!