The ARAM Guide

Hi guys! This is my first entry as a guest writer for Cloth5. I hope you will enjoy this guide. Please comment; good criticism is always appreciated!

Know your champion strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s take Graves for example:

Graves is a ranged ADC. His Q shoots 3 missiles and the closer you are to the target, the more likely you will hit your 3 missiles on the enemy. The thing is, when people first “discover” that, when playing Graves, they want to abuse it and will use their E to get as close as they can to get the full damage from Q…. and then they will get opened on and it will result in death. Generally, in ARAM, you want to avoid dying for no reason.

Some people have asked me:  how can you know champions abilities/strengths if you play them for the first time? Well, the best answer I could give you is, to an extent, you can’t. For example, if you have played a lot of ARAMs against say, Cassiopeia and have never bought her, but one day you do so. You then later get her in ARAM and don’t really know what to do. Try to remember what annoyed you the most about this champion when you played against her. Nonstop poke? Build Chalice into Athene’s. Burning hp? Buy a Liandry’s. Of course you won’t be the best at this champion on the first try, but try to remember his strengths for the next time!

Same thing goes for the weaknesses. I guess the weaknesses come way later in the learning curve because most people will tend to go for the kills, the big plays, rather than playing safe and steady (hello Master Yi who goes 1v5 with them at full HP thinking they will one shot someone and get the reset). Take Tryndamere for example. Tryndamere’s early and mid game are kinda harsh because he cannot get his crits, cannot get to his target, and will likely die very fast. But if you can assess his weaknesses and reduce the chance of an opponent punishing them, you can make it to Tryndamere’s incredibly powerful late game.

Here are some general tips/examples of a champion’s strengths and weaknesses:
  • Soraka: She has amazing sustain but is super squishy, so try to stay  in the back line and take advantage of her healing capabilities
  • Heimerdinger: If you get Zhonya’s as a third or fourth item, try to flash in > E > Place two turrets > Ult > Zhonya’s > W. If you’re able to pull off this combo, you’ll win every fight.
  • Blitzcrank: Hook the squishy targets. There is almost zero need to hook a tank or a bruiser. But if you can’t initiate by hooking a squishy target, try to wait for the team fight to begin. The squishies will stay in the back. Hook them now, and win the game.
  • Alistar: During the mid and late game, it’s almost always better to peel for your AD and AP carries than using your W-Q to initiate.
  • Akali: Use your Shroud, please. Don’t be scared to ult a minion to get a kill because it will give you another charge of your ult if you get that kill!
  • Kayle: Start 2 in Q and 1 in E. Your Q at level two slows for 40%,  and it can wreck level 3 team fights, forcing many Flashes.
  • Rammus: Max your taunt; win the game. At level 9, you’ll have a three-second CC, which is pretty much a guaranteed kill if your team follows. At level 18, you can easily solo two ADs with Thornmail.

Know the enemy champions.

As weird as it sounds, this is probably the first reason why losses happen. People will go in a bush where there’s a Nunu; people with low life will stay in a team fight when there’s a Katarina (you should try to delay her E so people will have time to take down some of her HP). I’ve seen teams who won’t even touch a Tryndamere because he is “unkillable” and then he will proceed to ace us, therefore reinforcing the mentality of his immortality. I’ve seen teams who will chase the Singed, who will focus Alistar with his ult on (no he was not the closest target), etc.

When starting the game, as soon as you see the champions on loading screen, try to assess and understand the mechanics of their champions: how much CC do they have? Do they have poke?  Are they AD or AP? Do they have a tank? Do they have any reset mechanics? Once you answer these questions, you can start to elaborate a quick strategy to deal with them.

Again, some general tips with dealing with any enemy’s strengths:

– Focus your CC on Katarina, Master Yi, Kah’Zix, Tristana, Miss Fortune, Twitch, Akali, Tryndamere, Sion, Leblanc, Kog’Maw. These are some champions that if you’re able to get good CC on them, they will die in the duration of that CC (except Tryndamere).

– Get Oracle’s Elixer or Hextech Sweeper against Teemo and Twitch; your life will be ten times easier.

– Don’t go in a bush against a Nunu or a Blitzcrank. Conversely, go in a bush versus a Teemo, Shaco, Rengar. If you let these champions “control” the bush, their chances of winning increase considerably.

Dodge the poke.

Seriously, do it. I cannot stress this enough. Your job in ARAM is to dodge stuff. Stay at max range. I guess I don’t need to explain why! Just to say there is no need to get that last CS under tower. Ignore it and play safe. Stay as far as you can from that poke!

If you are on purple side, unlock your camera. It’s weird and I don’t know what it is still like that, but you will likely not see poke incoming if you play locked screen on purple side. Nidalee spears become almost impossible to dodge and you won’t even see Janna tornados forming and then they will hit you super easily. Unlocking your camera allows you to see from maximum range and thus, easily see the incoming poke. Dodging will become a walk in the park. Blue side seems okay with locked screen, but for maximum efficiency, especially against Nidalee spears and Blitzcrank hooks, unlock the camera as well.

You’ve guessed it! Poke the enemy.

Poke as much as you possibly can. For maximum poking potential, choose items that will help you regenerate mana–Chalice, Tear of the Goddess, or Catalyst are all very good options.

If you have a tank in your team, follow him.

From my experience, in a game with five ranged champions vs. four ranged champions and pme tank, the 5 ranged will lose 85% of the time because the tank will usually jump on them, soak much of the damage and let his team clean up. See, most tanks (or like, all tanks) have some sort of AoE CC or single-target suppress. If you follow up on your tank’s CC, the damage you take vs. the damage you deal on them is better than playing the poke game.

Pro-tip: if you are said tank, please build tank.

Use your reroll.

Okay, okay, I’ll be honest here. There clearly are champions that will lower your chance of winning. I’m not saying these champions are bad. Don’t get me wrong. But they do lower you chances of winning. Some champions like Evelynn or Shaco were built for their ganking potential; they can shove their lane, go invisible, gank another lane, and just win the game with their surprise factor. In ARAMs, you lose this surprise factor.

There’s also the 20% reduced healing effect that cripple some champions like Swain, Mundo and Aatrox (to an extent). Mundo without Warmog’s is no Mundo.

So if you feel uncomfortable with a champion or if you feel this certain champion won’t help you win: reroll. Don’t be scared, use it. If your sole purpose is to have fun in ARAM and accept the randomness of it, that’s fine. Any champion can shine in ARAMs (end-game Tryndamere, Evelynn, full AD/Crit Shaco, etc.) but I’m only proposing that rerolling might be the best option if you are looking to win!

Dealing with the Early Game:

  • Safety is the #1 rule.
  • Generally, you don’t want to go in the bushes early game because people will tend to focus their poke in the bushes because the chances of hitting something is better than just throwing it in the field. If you stand close to the wall on the other side, you’ll have 2 advantage: 1.) Vision:  you will know where the enemy is, you will know if things come at you. There is almost no poke that can get you from the bushes if you stand on the wall, except maybe Janna tornado in which case you’ll have to see it coming in your direction 2.) Free from the poke! You will know that you are safe because of your vision and I’m telling you, people will still focus the bush even if they see you on the field. They may be thinking you are baiting for your team! In any case, the safest route is the best.
  • Buy as fast as you can. You will want to get on their side as soon as you can to grant vision for your team. The team that pushes on the tower has the advantage because if the other team wants to poke you, they will have to go around minions. (Related tip: don’t touch any of your spell before buying. You will have plenty of time to level your spells while you are walking.)
  • Generally, it’s better to level poke oriented spells. The best example for this is Malphite. Malphite’s W increases your AD and allows your auto attacks to deal splash damage. It is a good spell, but early game it’s better to go something like 2 in Q, 1 in E to get the maximum from your poke. Don’t level your W until level 7. Same thing goes for Twisted Fate:  level your Q and W and don’t touch your E until those 2 are maxed. You’ll be way more potent as a result.
  • Kind of related but try to put two points at the start into your high damage spells. Things like AP Master Yi’s Q, Nidalee’s spear, Ashe’s Volley, Fiddlestick’s Dark Wind (your heal isn’t that useful level 3), Malphite’s Q, etc.

What to build?

Early Game
For APs:

Only go for AP items if you are 100% you won’t run out of mana. It’s almost always better to go for sustained poke than level 3-4 burst.

If you are a mana heavy champion and rely on skill shot poke, go for Chalice. Also consider what you can build next. Athene’s next is really good for champions like Soraka, Lux, Orianna, Lulu, Sona and even Zyra. It can also be good on champions like Alistar or Zilean because they need a lot of mana early game and a late Athene’s can always be good – it gives MR!

Build Tear of the Goddess if you can. This item is extremely good on champions like Jayce, Kha’Zix or Nidalee because their poke is on a relatively long cooldown, but they have other spells they can use to charge up their tear. Anyways, this is common knowledge, but it’s always good to buy Tear first because you have the whole game to stack it rather than 50% of the game.

Build Rod of Ages for champions like Singed, Amumu, Leona, Nunu, Morgana who all need some hp to go in melee. If you buy a Catalyst first, there’s a good chance you’ll have enough money to buy RoA on your first death and make it stack ASAP. Also, the passive on Catalyst is really good early game, as it’s pretty much a free HP and mana potion every level.

For ranged ADCs:

– Go for boots-double Doran’s-two potions if you have a good level 3 comp (good poke, good fighting potential) for maximum early game potential.

– Go for Zeal if you are going for the late-game build (Kog’Maw, Twitch, Tristana, Vayne).

– Go for Boots-Vampiric Scepter-Potions if you are looking for a sustained build with Blade of the Ruined King.

– Build Last Whisper, at least as a third item.

Start with a Tear for Ezreal (for maximum poke) and champions like Graves, Miss Fortune and Sivir. They all have a high mana cost poke mechanic which can be insanely good for level 3 fights if you put two points into it. Their auto attack isn’t that good at this level so a Tear+Doran start can do miracles for Sivir as she can run out of mana after 3 Qs without Tear.

-Start with a Sheen on Corki and gotwo points in Q. The Q-auto attack combo is awesome. Rush Triforce; win the game.

– Don’t be scared to go full Crit build (IE, PD and Youmuu’s) on champions like Twitch and Tristana. It can do wonders.

For Tanks:

Go Bulwark or Locket, or both. There’s no need to rush any of these because you build every tank differently depending on their abilities, but Bulwark is a must-have for any tank. Build it.

– Go with CDR on champions like Alistar (Locket+Shurelya’s = win) and Taric.

Building AP is generally bad. You’ll have very good games against squishy targets but the moment they have some MR, you won’t be able to burst them and you will die by the time you reach them. If you want to go AP, try going RoA, Athenes, Rylai’s, Abyssal Scepter and buy some blue potions (awesome on Amumu/Malphite for the CDR).

– For tanks/assassins like Jax, Tryndamere (tank to an extent), Irelia, Lee Sin, Olaf, Udyr, go Zephyr. It’s an incredibly good item. There are many ways to build around it, so try what you want, but there are teams where you’ll want another pair of boots (like Boots of Swiftness on Olaf+Zephyr+CDR items? They will never be able to kite you, even with your ult down).

Some must-have items for champions:
  • Liandry’s Torment on Teemo, Cassiopeia, and Brand.
  • Deathfire Grasp on Leblanc, Veigar, and Ahri.
  • Zhonya’s Hourglass for Kennen, Fiddle, Morgana, Twisted Fate, and Diana.
  • Muramana/Seraph’s Embrace (from Tear) for Singed, Jayce, Kah’Zix, Ezreal (if you’re going “Blue Ez”), Nidalee, Karthus, Urgot, Ryze, and Sona.
  • Athene’s Unholy Grail for Lux, Heimer, Soraka, and Sona (maybe Ziggs).
  • Void Staff for ALL APs (at least third or fourth item) and for champions like Nunu, Katarina, Master Yi, Veigar, and Leblanc, it’s a must-have.

For most champions, you will be able to build it the way you want. If you don’t know what to buy, go to websites like lolpro.com or solomid.net and check out any guide. Generally, always think “teamfight!” and “early game” rather than “laning phase” though.

Interesting tips you may not know:

Since there is no recalling in ARAMs, you can only buy if you die or if you haven’t touched anyone or went to far. You cannot come back to base. Everybody knows that. But there is a simple tactic called “executing yourself.” Basically how it works is if you die and you haven’t been touched by any champion before you die (15 seconds before), you will get executed. You will not give any gold to the enemy and you will be able to buy and have an even greater advantage!

  • After every team fight, try to think if you have time to execute yourself. If you have a clean ace and their death timer is 20 seconds+, you should have plenty of time to reach a tower and die.
  • It is always better to execute yourself than staying in the back to get the best KDA you can (with zero deaths). If you have time to execute yourself, do it.
  • The best time to execute yourself is after you get a bounty on your head. If you’re able to get three or four kills in a row and have no opportunity to execute yourself, maybe try to delay the next team fight and manage to win a fight 4v5 or stay very far from the fight (this is easy for champions like Lux, Xerath, TF, Janna, Ziggs who all have long range poke). After the fight, go execute yourself.
  • My own rule is if you are sitting on 3k+ gold, you need to die. You will be better dying with better items than staying there with what you have. Even if you give them your bounty, it’s not that bad. It’s better to come back stronger and just give them some gold for your head. The best you can do is try to only die from 1 champion or give your bounty to their less useful champion. If you can execute yourself, it’s always the best situation. But in any case, you need to die.

And then there are the Poros. If you didn’t know, Riot implemented small Poros in ARAMs to alert you if someone is in the bush. It works both ways! If you go too far in the first section of the bush, one Poro will go out and your enemies will see that you’re here. If you see a Poro come out, someone is in the bush! There’s a small trick to cheat the Poro system. If you have the Biscuiteer mastery (in the Utility tree), you will be given a biscuit and Poros will detect that you have a biscuit. Feed it to them and the Poros will stay in the bush, giving you a small edge against the enemy team!

General advice about playing ARAM:

  • Communicate. Try to sync your combos, to time the the long ultimates, to communicate when you go in, when to retreat, the pings are still there in ARAMs! Talk about things like Orianna E on Wukong when he goes in then double ult, syncing Sona or Annie’s ult with Miss Fortune’s, syncing Amumu’s ult with Ryze’s, etc. Combos can win teamfights by themselves, so don’t be shy to ask your teammates to follow your specific ult!
  • Mute the trolls. You will play way better without communicating with them, than doing so. Believe me.
  • Play with unlocked screen. It’s only ARAM so if you fail for the first week or two, it’s not that bad. Unlocked screen will allow you to see your opponents’ position, to see poke coming your way, and will give you a better aim for long ultimates like Lux or Ziggs!
  • Be patient; tides can change fast in ARAMs. A tanky melee team will outscale a squishy ranged team. An end-game Tryndamere will make you win, just like an end-game Ryze, Tristana, Vayne or even Udyr, Poppy, or Vladimir!
  • Don’t be sad or upset about your losses. Unlike in Summoner’s Rift, there are some games that are won from a good roll of the dice, and some that are lost because of the randomness of ARAM…

That being said, never give up. Anything can happen in ARAMs.

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