Riven, The Exile: A Detailed Look

Riven is my favourite champion in League of Legends. She has so much in her kit that can be exploited to win pretty much any lane situation and she is one of the champions I feel really allows me to shine as a player. As such, I thought I’d give a detailed look at the champion. Just a quick disclaimer:  this is how I play Riven; there are plenty of great guides out there so don’t take my word as law.

Riven is a Noxian soldier who was raised on ideals that she didn’t see on the battlefield during the conflict with Ionia. Her unit was gassed by Singed during combat while surrounded by Ionian forces. She managed to escape the conflict and was presumed dead by her commanders, yet now she wanders in exile, searching for atonement and a way to serve the ideals she holds dear.

As a champion in League of Legends, she is a highly mobile bruiser/fighter type who scales offensively and defensively with attack damage. She is a strong duelist in the League and has the ability to adapt to the lane she is facing against and destroy the enemy with intelligent use of her abilities.

Riven’s Kit:

Passive – Runic Blade


  • Riven’s abilities charge her blade for 5 seconds, causing her to do 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 / 45 / 50 % of her total attack damage, bonus physical damage on her next basic attack. Riven can store up to 3 charges, and will only expend one at a time.

Riven’s passive gives her bonus damage on each auto attack after she uses an ability and this damage scales with her bonus attack damage. This encourages her to auto attack in order to get the most out of her kit and interspersing your damage with auto attacks allows you to continue to gain stacks from using abilities without hitting the three charge cap.

Do not feel constrained by this cap because you will frequently find that you need to use a given ability while you already have three stacks of the passive. It isn’t the most efficient way to do damage, but a stun or a shield will most of the time be much more useful and you’ll need to react to the flow of the encounter you’re in. If you’re ahead in the fight, you could delay your stun by half a second to get another auto attack off.

Runic Blade charges last 5 seconds before they expire, and the additional damage benefits from Life Steal, but cannot crit.

Q – Broken Wings (13 second cooldown)

Broken Wings

  • Physical damage: 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+ 70% bonus AD)
  • Total damage: 90 / 165 / 240 / 315 / 390 (+ 210% bonus AD)
  • Active: Riven steps forward and lashes out in a series of powerful sword slashes that will damage all enemies within 112.5 range. This ability can be activated a second time within 4 seconds, and a third time within 4 seconds of that. The third activation damages enemies within 150 range and also knocks them back 225 units. All three strikes deal the same damage.

Riven’s Q is her bread and butter skill and is the most essential skill to master if you want to be a good Riven player. It can be used as an engage or an escaping tool, but try and land as much damage as possible on the target you’re attacking. It can be used three times before it goes on cooldown, providing a charge of Runic Blade with each application, and the cooldown timer starts ticking from after your first use of Q so you don’t need to burn all 3 charges as fast as possible to get it back.

Her first application of Q attacks enemies in front of her in a small cone and moves Riven forward a short distance during the attack. The second application does the same. The third application leaps Riven into the air and forward a short distance before slamming down into the ground damaging all enemies around and knocking them up. This third attack will interrupt channels like Nunu ult and Fiddle’s drain. Riven’s direction of travel can be changing by targeting an enemy and then using the ability.

Riven’s Q is also an auto attack reset that allows you to Q-AA-Q-AA-Q-AA for a surprising amount of damage, and, due to moving forward slightly with every application of Q, you can easily stay in range of fleeing enemies.

I tend to max this first as it does the most damage, helping you trade in lane and can even scare a jungler away due to the AoE damage. This skill has a long cooldown and you want to try and land all of the hits of Q if you want to compete in damage terms with the opposing laner. This skill has a very high bonus AD scaling.

When running back to lane you should try and use all three uses of this ability as often as possible as it is slightly faster than just running, unless you have greater than 550 move speed. Also there is no need reapply what direction you are moving as Riven will continue running after each application of Q.

W – Ki Burst (11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 seconds cooldown)

Ki Burst

  • Physical damage: 50 / 80 / 110 / 140 / 170 (+ 100% bonus AD)
  • Active: Riven damages all enemies within range and stuns them for 0.75 seconds.

Riven’s W is a small AoE stun that deals damage as well. When applying this stun make sure to continue moving so you can get ahead of your target while they are stunned and auto attacking to maximise the damage from Runic Blade. A quick tip here is to use this ability before the third application of Broken Wings because you can then use the knockback to push your targets further away from safety.

I tend to max this last because the damage increase isn’t as high as Q and doesn’t give you the utility/survivability of E. In team fights, it can be useful to blow this skill in the tank line, because it’s AoE, as it does have a relatively short cooldown or save it for stunning the character you’re intending to kill. It will also interrupt channels so it can be used to stop Malzahar or Warwick ults on your carries.

This is the main skill maxed in the jungle because you tend to gap close with Q to ensure you get on your target and then want the damage from W to help kill your target. This skill also has a high bonus AD scaling.

Ki Burst can be used straight after procing Riven’s ult to cancel the cast time.

E – Valor (10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 seconds cooldown)


  • Shield: 70 / 100 / 130 / 160 / 190 (+ 100% bonus AD)
  • Active: Riven dashes towards the cursor and gains a shield that absorbs a certain amount of damage. The shield dissipates after 2.5 seconds if not already destroyed.

Riven’s third skill is a shield with a short range dash attached. Max this skill second in most games as it’ll allow you to survive longer in fights and make more favourable trades if the lane phase is still going on. However, if you’re coming under heavy harass during the lane, adding a few extra points into E early or maxing it first can change a hard lane where you would would’ve given away several kills into a safer lane where you only lose a few CS. On top of all this, it all scales 1:1 with AD, so early offensive items also increase your tankiness.

Riven is one of the lucky few in that she has a resourceless shield; she’s not constrained by mana like Udyr or by Heat like Rumble. You can use this shield any time you expect to take damage in order to mitigate it and sustain yourself in lane/team fights. However, good players will bait your shield and then unload damage in to you. The cooldown isn’t long (especially later on), but early in the laning phase, when you’ve only got it every 10 seconds, burning it too soon can result in a full combo of damage straight in your face and you may not be able to trade back effectively with them.

In team fights, the small dash is very useful to getting back on your kill target after they use Flash, however most of the time this skill will be constantly on cooldown because you want to blow it as often as possible to mitigate damage. Though, waiting until you take damage before you blow E might be the difference between you surviving the fight and killing the carry and being aced yourself.

Valor can also be used to cancel the animation of Riven’s Ult and should be used when running back to lane as you gain distance. Make sure you reapply the direction you are moving straight after you use Valor as Riven stops moving after the cast.

R – Blade of the Exile (110 / 80 / 50 seconds cooldown)


  • Active: For 15 seconds, Riven’s sword reforms, gaining 20% increased attack damage and 75 range on her basic attacks. Also Broken Wings’ normal and third area of effect radii increase to 162.5 and 200, and Ki Burst’s area of effect radius increases to 135. She is also granted the ability to use Wind Slash once for the duration.

The first active effect gives Riven increased attack damage (which counts as bonus attack damage even for the scaling from the base damage), additional range on her basic attacks, and additional range on her Q and W abilities. On top of this she gains Wind Slash, which can be cast shortly after activating the ult.

This additional scaling will apply to all of Riven’s abilities, including her shield. If you find yourself in a situation where the enemy is attempting to all-in you, even if you know you won’t be able to fight back properly, activating this to grant yourself additional health on your shield might be the difference between life and death. There is a short cast time on this ability so it will root you in place while this is done.

The cooldown on this is very short, especially at max level, so don’t be afraid to use it during short engages especially during the mid game.

Wind Slash (900 range)


  • Base physical damage: 80 / 120 / 160 (+ 60% bonus AD) Maximum damage (25% health or lower): 240 / 360 / 480 (+ 180% bonus AD)
  • Active: Riven emits a 2200-speed arc, damaging all enemies hit. It deals up to 200% more damage as the target has up to 75% missing health.

Wind Slash is usable with another press of the R key and does a conal burst attack. This does a lot of damage against targets with low health and should be used to kill a target due to the % missing health scaling. This can frequently be used to kill a target under their own turret due to the range.

There is a minor delay of 1 second between casting Blade of the Exile and being able to use Wind Slash, so factor this in if you get dived. Make sure to get your ult up early so you can blow this skill as and when you need it.


Kit Discussion

Riven’s abilities give her strong mobility and can be used as an escape from any potential lane gank by landing a stun and using Q and E to move yourself away from the enemy. The versatility in the kit also allows Riven to max any of her skills if she requires different tools to deal with a situation, such as damage by maxing Q, survivability from E, or high damage once you get on a mobile target from W.

Riven’s level 6 is probably one of the strongest in the game because her ult benefits all other parts of her kit. on top of giving her an execute ability, so if you find yourself ahead in lane you should try and all-in your opponent soon after hitting level 6.

Most bruisers don’t benefit from auto attacking that much but Riven’s passive provides her with an incentive to try and land as many as possible.

She has insane AD scaling, which gets even better once she pops her ult, and even gains defensive benefits from building offensive items. As such, Bloodthirster is a common rush item on Riven, but due to the expensive nature of BF sword, it leaves Riven with a weakness if she is denied farm early in the game. Double Doran’s Blade can help alleviate this weakness, but does set back the purchase of BF sword.

Due to Riven’s low cooldown spammable shield, which counts as health for the purposes of how it is diminshed by damage, she scales well with resistances with Guardian Angel being a common pick up as it provides both Armour and MR.

The main drawback to Riven’s kit is that she only does physical damage and can be shut down by building Armour early. If you see your enemy investing in Armour early, then a Last Whisper, Brutalizer, or even Black Cleaver can be strong purchases and will be purchased later in the game anyway. The cooldown reduction on Black Cleaver is also very strong on Riven.

By not having mana Riven’s abilities are limited only by cooldown and as such she scales well from cooldown reduction. I suggest that CDR is one of Riven’s stronger stats because of how her survivability comes from keeping her shield active and from landing stuns to further reduce incoming damage.


Runes and Masteries

Runes are fairly standard for Riven but can change based on match up. If you’re only going to have 1 page for her I would suggest AD reds, Armour yellows, CDR blues and AD Quints. This provides Riven with the strongest early game and helps alleviate a common problem of dying with your shield only a second from coming off cooldown.

If you’re going to expand your set then cooldown reduction quints are usable, though I prefer the early AD for last hitting. MR yellows can be used if you’re battling against an AP laner, but be warned they are hideously inefficient and it would probably be better to just pick up a Null Magic Mantle earlier in the game.

riven masteries 14 / 16 / 0

14/16/0 is my current Riven mastery build picking up CDR, AD, and Armour Pen from offense and early health, resistances and damage reduction in Defense. This is one of the strongest early game mastery builds that Riven can get. It is possible to pick up the Armour Pen from Offense, but overall you ‘waste’ some mastery points in order to pick it up.

Don’t feel pigeonholed into this mastery build. If you have to build tanky because your team hasn’t got the kind of champions that will allow you to run rampant as an aggressive champion, then put more points into Defense to help you stay alive.


Summoner Spells

Riven actually works with most summoner spells in the game.

  • Flash – Useful as an offensive and defensive summoner spell. Riven already has good mobility, but it isn’t always enough. Plus the offensive capabilities of Flash usually outweighs anything you can get from other summoner spells. Personally, I’d always take it.
  • Ignite – Gives you additional killing power both in lane and in the late game. Very useful if you’re going to be able to hit 6 and all-in an opponent. It is my usual second choice.
  • Barrier – Isn’t all that useful because you gain so much extra health from your shield, however Riven does so much damage when she’s able to keep moving around and Barrier increases your survivability. I can’t think of a good reason why I’d take it, but I’ve never really tried it outside of ARAM.
  • Exhaust – Useful given that Riven frequently has to dive an AD Carry. The amount of damage reduced can be as high as 1k damage over the duration of Exhaust towards the late game. Useful if you want to play a crazy aggressive early game when paired with ignite while also useful for dropping the AD Carry later on.
  • Teleport – Not a summoner traditionally taken on Riven, but Teleport ganks are powerful no matter what character you play on and Riven has got high damage, strong CC, and the ability to execute. She’s not traditionally a character who can split push, though she does have good wave clear, sustain, and escapes so she could be a strong split pusher. Teleport has its place, but I’d rather be in the fight from the start.
  • Heal – Don’t bother. Sounds harsh, but you need to think about yourself in teamfights.
  • Cleanse – Not worth it on Riven. Although, like Ryze, you get killed by being CC’d, I think there are stronger picks out there.
  • Ghost – if you’re looking for mobility then Flash is the spell here. Riven doesn’t have an issue with being kited and usually isn’t in a situation where Ghost would save her when Flash wouldn’t.


Build Path/Team Play

Riven’s build is quite unique within League because of her AD scaling. Early on she wants +AD items and this usually comes in the form of BT, LW, BC, or even BotRK. As she moves through the game she wants to try and increase her AD, but also add CDR and survivability to the mix because she has short cooldowns that do a lot of damage. Good items here are Locket of the Iron Solari, GA, Hexdrinker and Randuin’s.

I’ve added a section at the end on Boot choices.

Starting Items

Oddly, Riven’s starting items aren’t that strong. She ideally wants to go for Doran’s Blade, but this leaves her vulnerable to ganks because she has no wards and she also has no potions so any strong harass could end up with you being zoned from very early on in the game. However, if you can take advantage of the stats you get early the Doran’s Blade can easily net you a kill.

Away from that Cloth Armour and Rejuvination Bead are options for Riven. This does cost you offensive power, but allows you to play safer and gives a better opportunity to get guaranteed farm. Consider these starts against heavy early harasses or strong AD champions like Tryndamere.

I wouldn’t really consider many other items viable, but Boots 4 and Doran’s Shield can provide you with strong starts in the right situations.

Early Game

Ideally your early game objective is to grab a BF Sword, but due to the cost this can frequently leave you with a time where you can’t make any purchases. Two Doran’s Blades can help with this problem and a Vampiric Scepter can also be purchased to give additional sustain, which Riven benefits from because she ends up purchasing so much attack damage. Ideally, she’d like some Spell Vamp, instead of Life Steal, but there aren’t any items that provide this for an AD caster.

If you think Bloodthirster isn’t a strong early item for Riven, then aim for Brutaliser because the early Armour Pen will allow you to deal a lot of additional damage on top of providing additional cooldown reduction allowing for more early shields and stuns. I would still pick up a Vamp Scepter as this gives you the Life Steal required to really dominate a lane.

Personally, I still think Bloodthirster is the strongest start on Riven, but Tiamat and Brutaliser are viable early alternatives. Just to add an obvious note here:  buy wards, wards and more wards.

During this phase of the game you want to trade as favourably as possible and use your shield to counter any harass or mitigate damage during engages. Levels 2 and 3 are incredibly strong for Riven, but be careful of pushing the lane because your damaging abilities are AoE.

Early-Mid Game

Mid game you’re looking to duel your lane opponent often and then use any sustain you have to win the fight or heal up after the engage. This is why you purchase Bloodthirster early, or at least a Vamp Scepter. The best way to build from here on out is Armour Pen, AD, and CDR.

I think Brutalizer or Last Whisper are all good items to shoot for next because they all increase your offensive and defensive power but in different ways. Brutalizer is probably the strongest item because it provides you with Armour Penetration and cooldown reduction, on top of AD, allowing you more frequent and stronger shields to help mitigate harass.

If the enemy team is building a lot of Armour, or you’re laning against a champion who’s purchased Ninja Tabi, then LW provides you with a huge damage increase for a relatively cheap item.

This phase of the game will result in many kill opportunites for Riven and you should play aggressive if you know you’re unlikely to be ganked by the mid laner or the jungler. Don’t be afraid to all in with your ult and ignite because you can get kills under the turret and then get away using your dashes/shield.

If you have taken your enemies turret, go into the jungle, see if you can steal their red buff or just take their camps. Attempt a gank mid lane, push their turret or help your team grab a dragon. Again, wards, wards and more wards.

Late-Mid Game

It might sound odd to break the mid game up, but realistically there is still some build variation and I wouldn’t call it late game so deserves its own section.

By now you should have some combination of BT/Black Cleaver or Black Cleaver/Last Whisper. This will provide you with enough damage and survivability, in the form of CDR, to duel most characters and be relevant in team fights if you don’t initiate or get focused by the enemy team.

Items you will want to aim for here is Guardian Angel if you find yourself being focused in teamfights and need more survivability, or any combination of LW/BC/BT if you don’t have either of those items.

In team fights, it will usually be your job to destroy the squishy fed members of the team and if you’ve had a strong laning phase you should be able to make short work of anyone you manage to get on. Be careful that you aren’t diving alone because, while you can easily duel an AD Carry/Support combo, if you start to take focus from other members of their team, you may end up dropping too quickly.

If your AD/AP Carry is fed then help them drop the champions that dive them and rely on your tanky characters to stay alive long enough fighting the opposing ADC/APC for you to come help them. Don’t forget the wards.

Late Game

Your build should look something like:

BloodthirsterGuardian_Angel_item Last_Whisper_item The_Black_Cleaver_itemLocket_of_the_Iron_Solari_item OR Spirit_Visage_item and choice boots

In the above item build, I would argue that Bloodthirster, Last Whisper, and GA are the most important, and Black Cleaver and Locket/Spirit Visage could be replaced if you can pick the CDR up from other items in your build, such as from boots.

Late game you’ve got to make a decision. If you can kill the opposing AD Carry and be healthy enough to contribute more to the fight, then it is usually worth doing this as you take out a high damage target and remain a high damage target yourself.

If you can’t do that, then you want to help your AD Carry stay alive in any way you can, whether this is by helping him duel the Xin who’s diving him, trying to zone the Ahri who’s looking for blood, or just keeping Nasus as far away as possible. If you keep your AD Carry alive long enough to win the team fight you’ve done your job.

If you have free slots in your build, then keep buying wards. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t be wandering around on your own anyway so you probably don’t need them as much.

Build Variations

These are all items that can be used by Riven that haven’t been discussed above in much detail.

  • Blade of the Ruined King – It might sound stupid because Riven doesn’t want to auto attack much, but it provides a strong mix of stats, though the attack speed isn’t that useful, and the active will help you stick on a carry once you’ve closed the gap.
  • Randuin’s Omen – I did mention it above. It’s a strong anti-physical damage item and has its place against full AD teams.
  • Aegis – It is a possibility, but given it being changed next patch we’ll have to see how this effects it. If your team doesn’t have one consider picking it up.
  • Sunfire Cape – It’s a strong item, but I find that Riven needs other stats outside of what this item can provide. It could replace GA against physical damage only teams or Black Cleaver if you find yourself being focused.
  • Ravenous Hydra – It can be purchased if you’re looking for enhanced dueling ability or better wave clear. I’ve not experimented with this too much outside of Twisted Treeline, where you can’t pick up Bloodthirster. It is strong, but I can’t tell if it’s worth replacing BT just yet.
Boots Discussion

Riven can pretty much purchase any boots she wants and can easily adapt to the situation of the game. I tend to buy Merc Treads because the thing that will kill you 9/10 is not being able to use your abilities and this will commonly come from CC. Riven has great survivability providing she can keep using her knockback, stun and shields.

However Ninja Tabi, CDR Boots, or even Boots of Swiftness/Mobility (though I can only think of very very niche cases where you’d buy these outside of the jungle) can provide a viable alternative. CDR boots are a great pick up if you’ve been forced to build defensive throughout the game because your team needs a tank or because you’ve been denied farm heavily because of the offensive and defensive utility discussed before.

Obviously Sorc Boots are useless. You don’t do any magical damage, and Beserker’s Greaves increase Attack Speed, which just isn’t something Riven benefits from as much as other stats.


Riven is a fun champ who has a strong main item build and a viable place in many different teams. She benefits highly from AD itemisation but can customise her build path to suit the game. She’s ideally suited to dueling in top lane and can adjust her playstyle depending on the opposing champ.

She may struggle slightly in 2v1 lanes, but this is easily mitigated by using her E to shield harass and then Q and W to clear waves under the turret. Only downside, she doesn’t fight with a giant carrot in her Battle Bunny Riven skin.

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Esports and Blogs Manager for Cloth5.com. I'm a Plat 5 all around player, I know I should pick a role but it's too much fun playing all of the champions! Add me on Fridgecake or Yawnedeverywhere and i'd be happy to have a game. Currently playing Hearthstone, Gangsters 2, GTA 5 and Football Manager. Follow me on twitter @C5Fridgecake or check out my stream

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