It’s been quite well-known that the changes to mana regeneration items have made chalice less effective, making morellonomicon the go-to item for most midlaners. All the pieces are cost-effective, and the final item destroys champions who need to heal in order to trade or survive well.

What this simply means is that champions who heal in the middle of a fight, such as Vladimir or Swain, are theoretically left at a huge disadvantage now. Traditionally, Vladimir’s supposed to have a weak early game, transitioning into an offensive AOE powerhouse come level 9, when his transfusion starts to deal damage consistently with a 4 second cooldown and his spellvamp allows him to spam his E. However, anytime Vladimir gets ignited, he’s pretty much easy to kill. Morellonomicon’s “Grievous Wounds” doesn’t help in anyway. For Vladimir mains to become relevant with these season 5 changes, it’s imperative for them to adopt to a different playstyle. One that I am happy to share with you.

The Alternative Lifestyle:

Up to now, AP mids are expected to be heavy on burst damage, have significant CC and preferably with a little bit of mobility when the situation requires (i.e Ahri, Fizz before he was nerfed, LeBlanc and others). With a utility setup for Vladimir, you will obviously not be following that role completely. Here are a couple of reasons why:

(1)    Runes set for utility, not damage: I recommend 4.5% movespeed quintessences, Magic Pen. Reds, Flat armor OR Flat hp/5 yellows, and Flat CDR blues.

(2)    Masteries heavily-based on wearing your opponent down: Being able to start with 5 cookies (upgraded health potions) and close to 400 movespeed at level 1 means you’ll be able to dart in-and-out of trades pretty fast, and even if you were to lose the trade, having a total of 150+15+20= 185 x 5 = 925 hp  on stock seems extremely insane.

(3)    End-game superior utility: The reason why this whole setup works is that by highlighting Vladimir’s utility and less on damage (which isn’t the reason why you’d pick him primarily anyway), you’ll be able to go around the map faster than most champs, set up ganks easier, complement your team’s overall damage with proper hemoplagues, and even provide some soft CC from a mile away.

The Beginning:

With a total of 11% bonus to your movespeed and boots as a starting item, you’ll be able to traverse around the map faster than a majority of champions early. This will allow you to facecheck certain areas normally deemed unsafe (i.e the dreaded 5 champs in bush tactic) quite easily and put a deep ward early on (whether it’s simply for vision or setting up a potential counterjungle).

When the laning phase begins, use your superior movespeed to land ignite AND transfusion on the enemy champion, land a basic attack, then back off. You’ll be able to shave off 150~170 hp off them this way and with the reduced summoner spells cooldown on the utility tree, you’ll have your ignite back again after 2 minutes and 40 seconds, roughly around lvl 5 if the lanes go normally. If you have to, use a flash to get in range just to be able to set this all off. It’s very crucial that you do all of this since the 70 true damage at lvl 1 allows you to easily compensate for your lack of early game damage. At close to 400 movespeed, you’ll be able to maneuver around the minions easily, evading skill shots, and more importantly, setting yourself up for more transfusions. The reason why this works really well at level 1 is also because the HP you restore from transfusion and cookies coupled with your 30 base magic resist makes their supposed early game advantage (with 30~40 ap) negligible. If push comes to shove and your enemy’s not hesitant in spending all their mana at level 1 everytime you go in for a transfusion, most of the time they won’t have enough mana and you’ll win subsequent trades EASILY. With 15% starting CD, keep in mind that transfusion’s CD becomes 8.5 seconds only. That means that you should make it a point to get 3 transfusions on the enemy champion before the next wave comes.

Dominating the Lane:
At level 2, this becomes a bit more complicated. If you’ve used your flash and you’re weary of getting ganked (since you might have pushed the lane hard as a result of your lvl 1 dominance), getting sanguine pool next will allow you to maintain safety even if you’re already right next to the enemy’s turret. W’s bonus movespeed works really well with the utility masteries and movespeed Quintessences you already have.

However, if you want to continue with an aggressive style while being able to farm a little bit better (since Vladimir’s base damage is horrible and 80~90% of the time your Q’s on cooldown), get E instead. Manage E’s timer very well (as late as possible before it resets) so you get higher stacks without sacrificing too much HP. Your cookies, 3% spellvamp, and increased % from E’s passive will surprisingly keep you close to 85% health without any problems. This is also where Vladimir gets the huge powerspike traditional AP builds don’t provide. Even though the ratio won’t be 1:2 with maxed stacks of E because you’re losing flat hp while E’s damage gets mitigated by your enemy’s magic resist, it is still way too high (120 damage every 4 seconds). Keep in mind that with every trade you have against your opponent, your basic attack also gets you 3 gold.

Generally, you’ll be doing the same thing at levels 3~5 (albeit initiating trades faster and more effective the more you level up as a result of the drastic CD reduction everytime you level Q). If you’re pushing the enemy’s lane really heavily at this point, don’t be afraid to land another basic attack, a maxed stack E, and an “in-your-face” transfusion (even if you’re at the turret already). Just make sure to get the returning projectile from Q so you can recover some health before you pool out of turret aggro. If you can also carefully position yourself so that you don’t hit the enemy with the last few ticks, you can land another E before having to back out of turret range. You’ll be able to shave off 220 or so health off your opponents this way (after resists). Coupled with all the little damage you’ve already done throughout the course of the first laning phase, this normally translates into a kill at level 5.

Otherwise, you’ll have ignite and flash up by the time you reach 6 to attempt another kill. Generally anyone who’s at 400~500 hp can die from two fully-stacked E’s, a Q, and ignite.

First Back? What do I get?

As tempting as it is to farm up for 1200 gold then just get revolver, that’s generally a bad idea. Midlaners normally get their blue donated around the 7-minute mark, at which point they’ll just pepper you with skillshots and aoe explosions, while you waste transfusion on creeps. By now, you should’ve noticed that a utility-based Vladimir specializes on winning the war of attrition. You win your lane by making sure that your enemy’s always zoned out while you get your health back through Q’s and a healthy supply of biscuits. If you got a hextech and lost a trade horribly to the point that you’re left with 40% or less hp, your healing’s not going to save you against the subsequent burst.

You’re more likely to continue the pressure with a cheaper but ironically more threatening set of purchases. Codex (at 820g) provides 30 ap, and 10% cdr (which stacks with your existing 15% start). If you get 5 cookies again, you can do the same thing you’ve been doing for the early lanes and even steal blue if you’re lucky. I also have to mention that in the unlikely event that both of you have to back before reaching 1k gold, a codex solidifies your early game strategy while preparing you for midgame well enough.

Approaching Midgame:

At this point, you have to assess how you can contribute to the team. Will you be more effective by starving your enemy midlaner of their gold by zoning them out (thereby requiring more assistance from their jungler, which you can counter by instructing your jungler to focus on farming / ganking other lanes) or roaming / assisting in taking the first dragon?

You can get sorcerer’s shoes with alacrity upgrade and transform your codex into twin shadows to have some much-needed long range slows AND about 430 movespeed (about 440~450 while out of combat). Whether you’ll be using them for ganking, harassing or securing dragon safely, the beauty of it all is that these two items will fulfill all the roles easily.  Alternatively, you can just finish will of the ancients (especially if you have an AP jungler) since this will allow you to accomplish the previous objectives as well, albeit sacrificing movespeed and some scouting capabilities. Honestly though, I’d prefer twin shadows + alacrity. Even a master Yi with his ult on will have a hard time catching up or escaping from you.


Regardless of how you initially built your Vladimir, it’s very crucial that you get Will of the Ancients and Twin Shadows. You’ll need the 40% cdr and your twin shadows to provide your team with much needed utility. In team fights, so long as you use W to evade targetable stuns, roots, snares etc, you’ll be able to dart in and out (or even make a beeline for the ADC), your E at max stacks should do most of the damage while hemoplague allows your entire team to dish out more pain.

Your next big item will be Rylai’s, Rabaddon’s, or Zhonya’s (with the former two being extremely cost-efficient because of your passive, and the latter giving you the option to be an off-tank for a limited time in conjunction with your pool.) depending on the requirement, finishing with Void Staff to compensate for the fact that you have no points in the offensive tree.

Endgame, it’s very common to have around 768 AP and support your team in many ways even though you can’t one-shot anyone. You can peel for your teammates with Rylai’s slow, or twin shadow’s activation, your pool (if need be) or separate from the team and split push to your heart’s content. Shoud you desire to amp your movespeed to around 460, and transition into a split-pusher, you CAN get a lichbane and proc some more magic damage after every Q. Together with Elixir of Sorcery, you can destroy towers in less than 8 seconds tops. It’s not even an issue of additional cost to be honest. Remember that 3 gold-per-hit passive against enemy champions in the utility tree’s going to rack up really fast. You generally get 500~600 gold per game by simply whacking at your opponents during laning phase and some team fights.

On the low chance that things go wrong, keep in mind that Vladimir excels at defending against megacreeps since WOTA + maxed E means that even the biggest creep waves can fall fast. Your team has to understand this and push other lanes without worrying about turrets getting destroyed. The beauty of playing Vladimir this way has taught me that not every fight has to be won in dramatic fashion. Sometimes you just have to wear your opponent down bit by bit. That’s what this build specializes in and I hope you have as much fun as I have whenever I get to pick this guy out for ranked matches.
INTRODUCTION: It’s been quite well-known that the changes to mana regeneration items have made chalice less effective, making morellonomicon the go-to item for most midlaners. All the pieces are cost-effective, and the final item destroys champions who need to heal in order to trade or survive well. What this simply means...