Xerath Build Guide by Lolnub
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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.
1. Why The Iron Cannon Build?
A lot has been written about the usefulness of Xerath's range. It's certainly an amazing quality, able to snipe people from an absurd distance using locus of power. However, it seems most people are neglecting Xerath's passive, which I believe is one of his strongest assists.
I've been playing Xerath a lot since his release and so far my build, which maximizes xerath's ability to absorb a bit of damage, has created some amazing games with xerath, absolutely rolling over teams with lots of AD.
1. Gets you a great +/- most games, as you will always be above the curve in terms of what damage your opponents think they can do to you.
2. Mixes up your opponents strategy to the point where they will question whether or not to target you first.
3. Does not saccrifice AP at all, as more AP means more armor.
1. Against an AP heavy team the armor makes less of a difference.
2. What is the Iron Cannon?
Most mages are traditionally called "glass cannons". They deal a lot of damage, but are very squishy. With Xerath's passive, this isn't exactly the case. With his runes and his catalyst the protector he's pretty sturdy early game, mid game his Rod of Ages kicks in to keep him above the curve, and then late game the deathcap and frozen heart set you up nicely to be an excellent, well rounded character, with a little under 500 AP, and over 250 armor, which is pretty respectable for a caster.
THIS IS NOT A TANKING BUILD.
You are "tanky", you arn't exactly "squishy", but you are no more of a tank then Kayle is.
You still play at a range, only now, when your opponents come in to hit you, they better bring at least two of them because otherwise they're gonna overextend and end up getting killed by you, your teammates, or your turret, without taking you down.
Runes and Masteries
That's easily going to be the first true WTF!? Moment in this guide, looking at those masteries. Yes, it's 9 offense, 21 defense. Rather than 9/0/21 as most casters are. So far it's been working wonders for me though. You still get Archaic Knowledge, and the extra 4% AP is like an extra amplifying tome.
Yes, you sacrifice a few pretty nifty abilities from utility including CDR, but the defensive tree is what makes this build the iron cannon. You'll always be ahead of the curve in terms of armor, and that's gonna cause some serious headaches for your opponents.
Try it out.
As far as runes go, right now I'm just using my general caster settup seen above.
As long as you max arcanopulse quickly the rest is kind of up to you.
In general I'd say R>Q>E>W
Your snare is absolutely amazing, but it's amazing with even just one point in it, the same can be said for Locus of Power.
Arcanopulse is insanely powerful, it can clear out minions incredably fast, and hits like a truck against several champions at a time once you get into team fights.
Mage Chains are also excellent for nuking a champion and then stunning them. In general, if you need to stun your opponent though, don't risk missing with the arcanopulse. The cool down on your ultimate isn't that bad so fire away with it as soon as mage chains hit. When I'm going for the kill I usually go:
Note that the last W there is in fact toggling off locus of power. Generally by that point the stun has worn off and they're fleeing.
I won't lie to you guys, Xerath is still pretty damn new so I'm not 100% sure on some of the item choices just yet, however here is what I CAN tell you from experience:
Rod of Ages is amazing. For Xerath it not only boosts his Mana, AP, and Health, it gets his armor up even higher. Whenever you're feeling a bit too squishy, it's generally because you don't have Rod of Ages yet. The first step of this of course, is Catalyst the Protector.
Health or Mana Gem first?
Most people with a bit of experience playing casters will tell you this one is easy. Not only do you need mana more than ever at the start of the game, but the two health pots you get along with it should be fine in terms of keeping you alive at least until you get the health gem anyway.
From there you want to get your boots of speed, and then finish off your rod of ages before finishing your boots.
Which Boots to Use?
Personally, I'm really enjoying Frozen Heart in this build. Therefore I go for sorcerers shoes rather than Boots of Lucidity. Frozen Heart really sends your armor from being mediocre, to fricken amazing, and getting cooldown reduction from there is enough.
Whether you directly onto the Deathcap from there, or onto the Glacial Shard and/or Hextech Revolver is up to you and can vary from game to game. If you have a positive K/D ratio, then I say treat yourself to an early deathcap. If not, then you probably could use the extra armor and CDR from the shard. So far I've always gone Hextech before deathcap, and occasionally get Glacial Shard before deathcap if I'm not doing so hot.
Remember that the deathcap adds around 30 Armor right away with your passive depending on your current AP, so getting it early is better for Xerath than most champions.
After that, things get foggy. I intend to update this section as soon as I'm a bit more sure. Personally, I'm not totally convinced that AA is necessary. Xerath really isn't that mana hungry for a caster so the tear of the goddess early doesn't make a lot of sense until it becomes an ArchAngel's staff but I think it's a flaw to buy AA only for the Ability Power that it gets you.
Right now I rock a voidstaff with my builds usually, but I've also experimented a bit with Banshe's Veil and Hourglass is worth considering as well.
Team Work and Summoner Skills
I probably should have mentioned Summoner Skills earlier on but really they depend on your team makeup, so here goes.
Xerath is one of, if not THE BEST champion for going mid. He rarely takes damage, clears out minions like nobody's business, and his range is an absolute headache for whomever is laning against him. If you're in mid, teleport is twice as useful as it normally is, because you generally don't want to disrupt your team asking for someone to cover for you every time you go back to base.
Personally I think every ranged AP champion should use flash. It's just SO good. However, if you don't want to use flash and teleport because it doesn't suit your taste, or you're not in mid and so don't really want to use teleport as much, here are my thoughts on the priority of other skills you can consider:
First up is ghost. You can never have too many ways to chase down your opponent and punish them.
Heal is another decent choice, handy for support and continues to capitalize on the theme of "I'm not as dead as you think I am!"
Clarity isn't really that useful past the early game in my opinion but if you're finding yourself mana hungry and are laning with a guy who is mana hungry then... well then you're probably doing it wrong. Like I said, go mid, and the mana regen runes should solve your mana problems. But whatever, if you've chosen to ignore the important bits of this guide then sure, grab clarity.
Ignite really doesn't work as well with xerath as you'd think. Sure it can come in handy. But eventually the limited range of it feels kind of out of place and you end up overextending yourself when you use it. I'd say pass on this one.
Exhaust is ok, you can use it after your snare has worn off and you're giving chase with the locus of power speed buff, but again I think it just feels clunky with xerath. If you're worried about giving chase, go for ghost, not exhaust. Exhaust is meant mainly for AD characters and especially melee characters as it quickly turns the battle in their favor.
Clairvoyance is actually a SICK ability. The cooldown on this can at times be ridiculously low and late game if somebody's missed a ward or two it can be a lifesaver spotting their baron attempt. Personally, I like other abilities better, but I can totally understand getting clairvoyance.
So there you have it!
Give it a try and let me know what you think. I'm going to keep this guide updated and change it as time passes, but I wanted to get it out there first.