Build Guide by Ullrich
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Preamble: VERY IMPORTANT!
These guides must, unfortunately, be made to fit only level 30 Summoners. In order to accommodate for that requirement and still keep it newbie-friendly, everything through level 10 is explained in-depth; after that, you should be able to figure out what needs to be adjusted from this guide to work for higher-level summoners. Outside of that, I do like constructive criticism, so please give me anything you think could be improved.
*Note: The stats at the top of the page do NOT figure in Vlad's extremely powerful passive ability, so the Ability Power and Health stats are not accurate.
As the name apparently suggests, this is a build for lower-level players who have Vladimir. Because I had a hard time getting used to Vlad, particularly because my Summoner level was so low, I felt I'd do all the newbies out there a favor. Please note that there is a LARGE amount of "wiggle room" with this build.
Vlad is, in essence, a mage-tank, but mage is the most important part of that. With his epic passive and excellent nuking capabilities, you can't help but be a little happy when you play as him and a little bit frightened when you find yourself fighting him. The one thing that CANNOT be ignored is that Vladimir has absolutely no mana bar. Instead of mana, most of his spells cost him health. It can be quite handy to need to look at only one bar, but it's also imperative to be careful with how you spend your magic. Just remember; your one TRUE enemy in every game is carelessness. Make every action you take count. In Vlad's words, "That which runs through you will run you through." Fun to play and satisfying to squish, Vlad lives up to his motto.
The ever-present question of Masteries can be overwhelming for new players, but Vladimir's masteries are fairly simple. As I said previously, Vladimir is primarily a mage, and with a mage (and really any character, but especially for Vlad) comes the excessive need for Ability Power (hereafter referred to as AP); by that token, it only makes sense that the first Mastery Points you have should go into Archmage's Savvy. The point in Deadliness serves only to make the next level of masteries available. Sorcery is vital due to the long cooldown on Vlad's ultimate ability, but it also makes things just a little more spamable. Archaic Knowledge should make sense, since an enemy with high Magic Resist effectively shuts down Vlad's capabilities. The point in Haste should come last, but is very helpful for making escapes and chases just a LITTLE better.
*Note: If you decide you want to choose Exhaust rather than Ghost as your summoner spell, replace the point in Deadliness with one in Cripple and neglect the point in Haste.
When I was a lower-leveled player, I was advised against using runes until at least level 10, but with Vlad, the tiny boosts afforded by the tier one runes can make a pretty big difference. Marks for Magic Pen, Seals for Health, Glyphs and a Quintessence for AP. (Obviously, if you're a high enough level for a Quintessence, you can upgrade to tier two runes, so do that as soon as you can.)
You have several viable options with Vladimir, but many more completely worthless ones. Allow me to break it down.
Ghost is an effective spell, both for chasing and for escaping. When used in tandem with Sanguine Pool, Vladimir can flee a fight that he cannot hope to win as easy as you please. More importantly, as part-tank, Vlad has a relatively low movement speed; this helps him to overcome this weakness and be a very good chaser. This is definitely a VERY good choice in almost every situation.
Ignite has only an offensive use, unlike Ghost, but it is very powerful if used correctly. Its damage is true damage, meaning it is unaffected by Magic Resist, and it drops any and all healing by 50% for five seconds, possibly giving you the opportunity to shut the opposing player out and get the kill. This is another good call in nearly every game.
Exhaust can be used offensively or defensively, much like Ghost. The choice between Ghost and Exhaust is largely preference-based. The advantage to Exhaust is that instead of possibly forcing you into the line of fire of a turret in a chase, you can keep the enemy champion safely within range where you can nuke 'em to death. The disadvantage is that you can only use it against one champion, so if you're being five-on-oned, you're pretty much screwed, whereas with Ghost you can flee free and easy. Depending on the spell you choose, adjust your masteries accordingly.
If you have difficulty with crowd-control (stun, snare, slow, taunt, fear, etc.) or are simply paranoid, then this is probably not a bad choice for you. Not really much to say, other than that there's a pair of boots that do something fairly similar.
Exactly what it says on the tin; it reveals a section of the map for six seconds. No direct effect on the game itself, but can have a massive impact on strategies. Use for pre-mades, definitely not for randoms.
A favorite of many, and can be very useful. 'Nuff said.
It heals you, but not for nearly enough to make it worthwhile. At level 18, it heals for 500 Health. You should, by that level, have over 3000 Health (info at the top doesn't figure in passive). Not effective enough to get you out of a really tight spot. The possible use to heal an ally doesn't do much, either. Just avoid this like the plague (pun intended).
It would heal your mana... If you had any. Don't do it. Just. Don't. Do. It.
It isn't truly a bad option, especially when you're about to lose a turret, but it just pales in comparison to the other, better options. Let someone else have it; you have bigger fish to fry.
As Vlad, your cooldowns are ridiculously short. As such, you shouldn't need to physical attack at all, really. The only time it could be worth anything is against a turret and even then its value is negligible. Let a melee fighter have it; you don't need it.
The entire purpose to playing Vlad is to avoid dying; having Revive says to the other players, "I plan on dying." That's a bad message to send, and you really shouldn't die enough to bother with it.
Honestly, no champion should ever have this spell. Ever. It's really only useful against Mordekaiser, Annie, and Shaco, and you should be able to take them down easily enough without killing their pets with this. If it was usable against a champion, it might be viable; since it isn't, it's not. Just don't.
Teleport's channel-time is too long for it to be worth using; you should be able to run to safety (using Ghost if necessary) instead of Teleporting out. Just fall back and use Transfusion until you're back up to fighting shape. Skip on this one.
*Note: The one time it can even POSSIBLY be considered is if there's a Heimerdinger on your team. That's the only time you should think of this spell as viable.
My spells of choice are Ghost and Ignite, although some say they prefer Exhaust. It's really up to you; make the best of your decision.
Not so much a skill, but your passive as Vladimir is arguably the best to be found. For every extra 25 points of Health, you get 1 point of AP, and for every 1 point of AP, you get 1.8 points of Health (not 2 like the description shows). Unfortunately, this effect does NOT stack within itself, but on the bright side it IS affected by runes and masteries. Overall, it is an extremely powerful passive, and definitely not one to be overlooked.
Transfusion is your first and best spell. It costs nothing and gives you health. It is also your main harassing spell. I consider it a nuke simply because of its spamability at level 5. Max this one out at level nine, and you'll be golden for the rest of the game.
Sanguine Pool should be your second spell, and it's your escape spell. Worth noting is that it deals extra damage proportional to your bonus health. With it, you can drop turret agro (when a turret focuses on you because you damaged a champion) onto another ally, damage all those who are just a little too close, and pretty effectively cause problems in a gank situation; its true shining use, though, is to get out of unpleasant situations, such as those where you may be three-on-oned or worse. Just pop it and Ghost your way out of there. A word of caution; its health cost is 15% of current, so be careful with it, and NEVER initiate combat with it. Dropping 15% of your max health in one shot just to slow an enemy champion for a little bit is a BAD decision; avoid it. If, however, you find yourself VERY low on health, but there is a large group of minions you can hit with it nearby, do so if you're not in danger of being ganked; the healing afforded by many hits with Sanguine Pool as compared to the cost at low health is astonishing.
Tides of Blood is your third spell, and is essentially your minion-controlling move. Its cost is set, but it's a high setting at a low level, so save it for when you're surrounded. The thing that makes Tides of Blood so useful is its stacking side-effect. Upon use, healing and regeneration are increased by 8%. In addition, the next usage will cost 50% more, but deal 25% more damage and add another stack, maxing out at four. Its cost, therefore, maxes out at 455 at level five, but deals very high damage. It can be worth keeping this stack up as long as you can heal yourself to back it up.
Hemoplague is your ultimate, and rightfully so. It affects an area instead of a champion. Each champion affected takes increased damage for five seconds, at the end of which those affected take a good piece of damage. It's worth noting that it can be used against minions, as well, but I must advise against it because of its insanely long cooldown and that Tides of Blood is better-used against minions.
This is quite possibly the most controversial part of playing as Vlad. In order to maximize his insane passive, it is imperative to choose items with massive AP and Health boosts, and due to the nature of his magic, no mana boost or regen is needed AT ALL. This said, here's the items and why.
*Note: I've only included the final items up at the top, not including these few starting-up items.
Pretty simple item, gives a nice little AP boost and an even bigger Health boost that can make a world of difference in the beginning of the game.
Not too much to say, but it can prove vital (har har) to surviving the beginning phases of the game. Use it as soon as you need to, but not a moment before.
Boots of Speed:
As a partial tank, Vlad's movement speed is nigh abysmal, and this is the best way to counteract it. Only buy these if you die and have enough money to, though; don't spend time away from the lane for the movement speed one boots.
Sorcerer's Shoes/Mercury's Treads:
The champions of the other team will make your decision for you. If you find yourself consistently stunned, snared, slowed, etc., and it always worries you how little health you come away with, then go with Mercury's Treads. If you don't feel like you're doing enough damage, however, and your opponent is stacking Magic Resist, then go with the Sorcerer's Shoes for the Magic Pen.
Your first moderately expensive item. It's very useful for multiple reasons: Magic Resistance is important for Vlad, since it's definitely not his strong point, but more than that, it gives an extra 250 Health, resulting in 10 AP for you. Further, Cooldowns are reduced by 12%, but even better for Vlad, Health Regen and Healing get a 20% boost. All in all, an item almost MADE for Vlad.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter:
Your first expensive item. When you figure in bonuses for your passive, you wind up with 100 more AP and another 644 Health. This isn't the truly great part, though; any spell damage (Transfusion + Tides of Blood spam works great for this) slows the target by 35%/15% for AoE moves. It doesn't stack on itself, but it makes chases even more fun, especially when you pop either Exhaust or Ghost. Great item; you can easily understand why it's recommended for Vlad. Its unique passive will help you get the gold you'll need shortly.
Seems rather an odd choice, considering that it doesn't give any Health or AP, but it's really an excellent choice for someone like Vlad. Not only does it give 100 Armor (thereby making Vlad take 50% less damage from physical attacks), it also returns 30% of all standard attack (right-click attack) damage done to him as magic damage, made even better with a bit of Magic Penetration. Because of the insanely high health you should be racking up at this point, you can afford to run into battle (somewhat) without fear of being damaged without repercussion. This and Rylai's Crystal Scepter will help you immensely in your quest for...
The mother of all AP boosters. Not only does it give you a base 155 AP (therefore 279 extra Health), but it increases total AP by 30%, including what you get from and give to your passive. On its own, the Deathcap gives to Vlad (figuring in passive) 201.5 AP and 362.7 Health. Truly an excellent item for Vlad.
Another Vlad-magnet. Definitely choose this if you're up against a serious Magic Resist tank. The 70 AP and consequent 126 Health are a definite plus, but the Magic Pen is what makes this item great.
Alternative Item Choices
This section is for items that I wouldn't necessarily choose outright for Vlad, but they can definitely be useful in certain situations. These items should replace the Void Staff or Thornmail, but if you think they can be better placed, go right ahead and tell me in the comments.
Another fan-freaking-tastic item. 50 Armor and 100 AP (180 Health) are nothing to sneeze at, but the Stasis active is pretty cool, too. It can be the difference between winning and losing a gank if played properly. Just remember that, in Stasis, it's very easy to be surrounded since you can't move; I would advise packing Ghost if you're gonna aim for this item.
Will of the Ancients:
Not so heavy on the AP, but still great for what it DOES do; Spell Vamp. It is the best Spell Vamp item in the game (tied with the Hextech Gunblade, but that's more for melee champions), and it has an aura attached that could definitely help your fellow champions immensely. With the Spell Vamp, Transfusion becomes almost OP and Tides of Blood becomes a viable healing move (with enough minions about). Its one area of difficulty, though, is that there is no Magic Pen attached; don't go for this if you're up against a tank stacking Magic Resist.
Even if it does have Mana Regen, don't count it entirely out. It gives 60 AP (108 Health) and has a decent cooldown reduction; its true strength, though, and the one that makes it VERY usable in certain situations, is its active: upon activation, the targeted enemy champion takes 30% of their current health (+3.5% per 100 AP, and with Vlad, AP is in great supply) as magic damage, and this can be done every minute. A very attractive option, but loses its luster when facing a tank that's stacking Magic Resist.
As a Vladimir player, one of the things that you should be doing a lot is last-hitting minions, and Warmog's Armor rewards that. Without a single kill, you 920 Health (36.8 AP) and 30 Health regen per 5. With each minion kill, you get 4.5 Health and .15 regen per 5; for a Champion kill, you get ten times that. The bonuses are permanent and stack to a maximum of an extra 450 Health (18 AP) and 15 regen per 5. Put it all together, and you have 1370 Health, 54.8 AP because of that, and an extra 45 regen per 5. Very usable item.
Personally, I don't really like snowball items, but Vlad can make it work because of his survivability. At 20 stacks, the Soulstealer gives 180 AP (324 Health) and 15% cooldown reduction, but the Leviathan gives 820 Health (32.8 AP) and 15% damage reduction. In truth, it really depends on what kind of champions are on the opposing team, but the Soulstealer is nearly always the better option.
Decent item on any Champion, good for Vlad. With its 80 AP (144 Health) boost, 30 Magic Resist, and 7% movement speed boost, it can really help make you even MORE survivable; its true value, though, falls in its passive. When you use an ability, your next basic attack will have 100% of your AP added in damage, making it very, VERY deadly, especially considering that the cooldown on the effect is just longer than the cooldown on Transfusion. The one drawback is that it gives a large amount of Mana, which is perfectly useless on Vlad, but it's still usable under the right circumstances.
The 70 AP (126 Health) is nice, and the 57 Magic Resist is always nice, but the Magic Resist flat reduction is better than most Magic Pen.
Playing as Vlad
5 V 5 MATCHES
Vlad was made for middle-laning; one could even say that the middle lane was invented for Vlad. Either way, ALWAYS take the middle with Vladimir. The extra experience will help you become VERY useful VERY quickly.
First off, NEVER try to kill your enemy middle-laner all in one go. All that will do is get you killed, which serves only to feed them and get your teammates angry at you. Instead, harass with Transfusion. Hide behind your turret or, if you're feeling bold or confident (bad decision), in the bushes on the river and only step out far enough to pop a transfusion, then run back to your turret. An important thing to do is make sure you're last-hitting minions when they get close to your tower; you'll need the gold. Use the Health Potion if you need to; that's what it's for. Anyway, keep harassing your enemy champion until around level 6. At this point, you have all the makings of a smooth kill and an easy getaway.
YOUR FIRST KILL
If you've been harassing properly, your enemy champion should be at somewhere around half Health. Before going in, make sure EVERYTHING is off cooldown. Let the enemy push the minions almost to your turret, then pop Hemoplague. If it hit the champion, as it should have, pull out everything you've got; Transfusion and Tides of Blood will do even more damage than normal because of the special effect of Hemoplague. DO NOT FORGET TO USE IGNITE IMMEDIATELY AFTER HITTING WITH HEMOPLAGUE, that is a vital part of making sure they die. They should be very close to dying before the 150+ damage kicks in; if they aren't dead, don't feel bad. They should be very close to dead after all that, so kill the enemy minions as quickly as possible and get to them before they can recall. Hit them again with Transfusion and Tides of Blood, and then Sanguine Pool to do the last little bit of damage and drop the Turret agro you likely incurred. Congratulations, you just earned your first kill of many.
This begins when your first kill ends. Wait until you have enough Gold for the items you want to purchase, but make sure it's one of the big six in the Items section. There really isn't much to say other than rinse and repeat your first kill, only under better circumstances. The one big change from early- to mid-game is that you should start to gank. Coordinate with your teammates to sandwich enemy champions and pick them off. Keep your Health high; overconfidence is the only thing that can kill you if you've made it this far.
By around level 15, you should have very high health and several items that make fighting minions/creeps just too easy. Coordinate with a teammate to kill off a few champions very close together, and use the time afforded to take down the Baron/Dragon. Transfusion is your best friend in this fight; you should have no difficulty tanking their attacks as long as your teammate/s can deal enough damage, but you should be a big part of the damage. Once it's over, you've just effectively ended the game (unless the other team gets the other).
At this point, there is nothing human about you. You are an absolute killing BEAST. You should be encroaching on the other team's base by now, and if you're not, take out your turrets and help your teammates with theirs, then enter the enemy base. Very simple from this point forward: Hemoplague, Transfusion/Tides of Blood, Sanguine Pool/Ghost to get away when you're in danger, and only recall when you DESPERATELY need to or you need to buy something. By level 18, your Health should be monstrously high and you should be very good for tanking just about anything; just remember that every spell comes with a price that brings your enemies that much closer to killing you. Once the enemy team is aced, it's all over. Congratulations! You just won the game with Vladimir!
WORDS OF CAUTION
Be VERY careful when your opponent in the middle lane is ranged, like Sivir or Ashe; they may be largely weak, but their ranges are just longer than the range of your Transfusion. Be especially careful when faced with Sivir's Boomerang Blade; it is one of only a few things that can do you harm.
Know when to fall back and do so just a little bit early, so as to avoid being in a face-to-face death-match with an enemy Champion, at least early game. Later-game, you should be able to take down two, three, or even four enemy Champions at once. Don't get greedy, and don't get cocky; those are your only two weaknesses that can be your downfall.
3 V 3 MATCHES
Not too much is different between this and 5 v 5 except that around level 11, you might be able to entirely take over the lane that the other two Champions on your team were covering. After level 13, be willing to jump around between lanes to take on as many champions as possible.
Vlad in a Nutshell
Vladimir is one of the more difficult characters to master, especially for newer players, but with a little trust, a little vampiric instinct, a little adaptability, and a ton of bonus Health and AP, Vlad can be one of the most dangerous characters on the field. Remember not to be afraid to experiment with this build; it's my first, and I guarantee it's not perfect, but I love reading success stories, so share if you want. Vote as you will, and enjoy sucking the life from your poor, unfortunate opposition.