League of Legends: How to get Ahead in Noxus
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG LoL Reporter
Welcome summoners, to the patch v126.96.36.199 article for League of Legends, the game that knows how to storm the Bastille. This patch includes some major graphical updates, a brand new mage item and Darius, The Hand of Noxus.
Darius is a murderous, up close and personal physical mage, in the same vein as Garen and Yorick. Once he’s in his enemy’s face, he’s going to stick on them while he hacks his victim to bits. Getting in on ranged characters can often be difficult though, so his abilities can be very binary. He’s either killing everything within his reach, or fruitlessly waving his axe at the enemy team. He can jungle well, but his top lane capabilities are truly brutal, especially against other melee bruisers.
Much like Sejuani or Brand, Darius is a character with a debuffing passive that binds his kit together. When he hits an enemy with an auto-attack or ability he will apply a single stack of Hemorrhage to them, causing them to take damage over time and increase his own movement speed based on the number of enemy champions affected. This movement speed, when combined with the slow from his Crippling Strike [E], can make him near inescapable.
His main strategy is to try and get these stack on his enemy as quickly as possible, then unleash all the benefits he gets from them in a murderous assault. His easiest and most damaging combination is to simply run at the enemy (preferably from a blind spot), auto-attack them, cut them with Decimate [Q], attack again and then deliver a Crippling Strike [W]. Both Decimate and Crippling Strike will cancel his auto attack animations, allowing for a very rapid chain if you time his abilities properly.
If the enemy tries to fight back, take comfort that if they’re trying to use auto-attacks at all, your Crippling Strike is going to be severely cutting into their damage output. With all those Hemorrhage stacks on them, its cooldown is going to be very low too, so they’ll have no chance to fight you on equal terms. If they do the smart thing and try to run, reel them back towards you with his Apprehend [E], and keep slicing off chunks of their health.
A quick fun fact about Apprehend. It will work on any target, not just champions. This means you can drag jungle creeps through walls to steal them from your enemies in safe positions. The best use of this trick is to drag the Elder Golem through the thin wall around his camp, and kill him from the brush right beside the middle lane. If you get caught, you’re in a far safer position than if you were found right in the middle of the Golem’s little nook.
Once you get five Hemorrhage stacks on your opponent, cut them down with his ultimate, Noxian Guillotine [R]. While the tooltip for the ability says it will full reset if you kill someone with this ability, it’s actually better than that. The exact way this ability has been made is if they die within 0.5 seconds of being hit by the ultimate, then it will reset. This sounds like a minor difference, but it actually allows you some leeway in its usage, especially if you use it just as your mage is letting rip with their burst.
The major temptation with his ultimate is to hold it back as an execution move all the time. However, since the only advantage of using it on someone with low health is that its cooldown resets, you can happily use it on anyone with five stacks on them, provided you don’t think reinforcements are on their way. Early fights on top are a good example of this, as the rest of the enemy are usually nowhere near, and it’s better to secure the kill than hold off and give the enemy the chance to flash away. Hell, even three or so stacks on an enemy will usually give you some good damage output early on. The major hurdle with using this ability is knowing when to just let rip with it, rather than holding it back for kills all the time.
Darius’ major flaw is his lack of a gap closer. Unless he’s burning Flash to get in on you, he’s not going to take anyone by surprise. A character that can kite well can handle Darius fairly easily. Nidalee and Kennen can be very hard matchups for him to deal with as a result. Having an Ashe, Alistar or Janna on your team can really ruin his day, as slows and knockbacks can stop him from ever getting in reach. Once he’s in range though, you’re in real trouble. Your only hope is that hopefully he’s been weakened enough while trying to get in reach that you can burst him down before he starts chunking off healthbars.
If you’re facing a jungle Darius, remember to keep your tri-brushes warded, as his main means of getting in range of his enemies is going to be to come in on them from behind. His invasion can be difficult to deal with, as he often will fight jungle camps in unusual locations. His lack of an escape makes his invasion risky though, so a single ward at a jungle entrance can alert your teammates to dogpile him when he’s in your territory.
Take a level in Decimate at level 1 and max it first. Take Crippling Strike at level 2 and max it second. Level Apprehend at level 3 or 4, depending on how murderous you’re feeling. Level it last. He’s very straightforward, really. Damaging stuff first, and utility last.
For items, start with boots and three health potions. If you just want to farm your jungle, or your jungling runes and masteries aren’t finished yet, go for cloth armour and health potions. Since his early game is strong, regardless of how he’s equipped, I like to use some gold per 10 items on him. This is to build into his late game strength, but also because Randuin’s Omen is a very good item to build from the Heart of Gold. It grants him both an activated slow, but also a slow on those who attack him as he approaches, allowing him to gain ground more easily. Other good items on him are Maw of Malmortius, Force of Nature, Phage (Possibly to build into Frozen mallet), Shurelya’s Reverie (Good gap closer to situationally build from Philo Stone, which can be a good item when jungling), and other lower priority defensive items. A surprisingly good item on him is a Last Whisper, which can stack its percentile armour penetration with his Apprehend’s passive. This can be especially potent as he often has little in the way of flat armour penetration to diminish the returns on his percentile penetration.
Once you’re tanky enough to survive anything the enemy can throw at you, build a Bloodthirster. In the late game, with three levels of Noxian Guillotine and five stacks of Hemorrhage, a Darius with Bloodthirster can hit for around a thousand true damage. If the enemy team isn’t stacking health, they’re not going to be able to stop Darius from mass executing their whole team.
Use the 9/21/0 page you most likely already have set aside for your bruisers and tanks. Attack damage marks, armour seals and magic resistance glyphs (Six flat, three per level) are his base rune loadout. When laning, I prefer using movement speed quintessences to help with his harass, but in the jungle I prefer attack damage quintessences for faster camp clearing.
Unless he gets nerfed into obscurity, expect to see a lot more of Darius from here on out. As I’ve already said, there’s no avoiding the fact that he is very strong right now. He hits like a truck, and has a good bit of utility in his kit. While he doesn’t have any abilities to help himself in one piece, he has very good base stats to compensate. His only weakness is how hard it can be for him to get in reach of his enemies, but given that melee opponents don’t have many options but to charge him, dealing with him can be very difficult. To top it off, he’s also got a very high fun factor, with excellent sounds and animations to really drive home the feeling of being this merciless executioner. His ultimate alone is satisfying as all get out. I screamed with joy when I landed it for the first time. The animation, the sound, the feel of the ability is just pitch perfect.
Riot has really upped the quality of skins and splash art lately.
The new item, Athene’s Unholy Grail, should be a boon to mana hungry characters like Anivia, Swain or Orianna. While I doubt the item is going to be a core build on many characters, on the few that often live or die by blue buff, this will be a good safety net against this invasion heavy metagame.
This patch has seen a sweeping visual upgrade to Summoner’s Rift. Farewell weird goblin shopkeeper guy, I’ll miss wondering what you were meant to be. I welcome our new Yordle overlord… erhmm.. merchant. Yes, that’s what I meant.
To discuss some of the changes yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section, or post in the comments section below. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, you’re missing out.