Jarvan IV Build Guide

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Welcome to the Thunderdome: A Comprehensive Guide to Jarvan IV

written by DVogan11

Jarvan IV Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Well hi! I'm DVogan11, and this is my first guide. I've been playing since roughly October, but I've played a lot of games in that time. I just hit 400 normal wins a few days ago, and I've played a little over 100 ranked games. I spent a lot of this time playing casters (Vlad was my main, and I played a lot of Kassadin, Akali, and Anivia.) I was also decent with some tanks, and I could play a solid Warwick.

    I realized after about 20-30 ranked games that I really needed to get better with AD champs. I was forcing players into roles they didn't want to play, and my record was suffering. I picked up Renekton and tried him out, but he just wasn't quite what I wanted. Flash forward and Jarvan comes out. I loved his skillset, thought he looked sweet, and had been dying to scream out Demacia. I picked him up the day he came out, and played him for almost a week straight. I tried out every build I could think of, read a few guides, and just generally experimented with him. After a 3 game stretch that totalled up to 17-2-41 (all wins, one being 7-0-12 in ranked) and just generally putting in solid games every time I picked Jarvan, I decided to write this guide.

    TL;DR This guide isn't just theory. I've put in the time and tested everything out, and have results to back it. I hope this guide can help you post some great games. Hope you enjoy it!

    I plan on updating this guide at least once per patch, so stay tuned for those. In addition, if you find something you think works well, leave a comment with your idea. If I test it and like it, I'll throw it into a section of reader-submitted suggestions and give you credit.

  • Update log

    4/08/11: Fixed a typo in the section detailing runes. Credit to Josidiah for pointing this out!

    As of this update, I've got almost 2000 views, and only 6 votes and 2 comments. If this guide gets up to 20 votes, I'll make a video tutorial and add that to this guide. If it somehow gets to 50, I'll livestream some hot steamy Jarvan action. GET TO IT! :]

    4/17/11: Typo found in Twisted Treeline section. HoG nerf means a few changes to this guide are in order. Also tested a user suggestion and liked it quite a bit, so there's officially something in that section! Remember to vote up if you like the guide, and get out there and beat some ass.

    5/11/11: Welp, we got hit a bit with a nerf. It wasn't much (and admittedly I haven't played Jarvan since the patch) but it is going to affect your gameplay. The added mana on Dragon Strike isn't a big deal, but that extra second cooldown just might cost you a kill early on. There are plenty of times where before I would land the lance RIGHT as it came off CD and was just barely in range still. What this nerf means is you're going to want to be a bit more careful before going in for a kill. Nothing sucks more than thinking you have them only to not get the kill and have to bluepill, or worse, getting yourself killed.

    We also saw the addition of Tenacity items in this patch, although I personally will continue using Mercury's Treads.

    I have changed the way I play tanky DPS champs in general recently. I have made some changes to what I feel is the ideal runepage, as well as adding an alternate item build. Masteries have remained the same. Give these changes a shot and see if you don't like them more than the current build.

  • Abilities

    Martial Cadence
    Your passive is somewhat meh. It allows for some great damage in laning phase, but later on you're not going to be running around trying to smack everyone on their team. That just makes for bad focus-fire.

    Dragon Strike
    This is probably your best skill. The range isn't too bad, it deals decent damage, and also gives you armor reduction. You're going to be leveling this skill first, and it's your main source of in-lane harass, as well as what will most likely be sealing kills for you.

    Golden Aegis
    This skill isn't really amazing with my skilling order, but does provide you a decent slow. Later on, it can save you from somebody trying to snipe you off, or keep you toe-to-toe with someone just long enough to get that kill. I can't count how many times I've seen that Karthus ult over my head or a Lux Laser about to snipe me and this saved me.

    Demacian Standard
    On its own, it's good for pushing down towers and checking bushes. Anytime you're hitting a tower, throw this down and go nuts. Not sure if that Alistar really left lane to roam? Chuck one of these in that bush and find out. This skill should save you from those embarrassing face-checks.

    The knock-up effect when combined with your Q is pretty obvious, but the combination of the Q and this will most likely destroy minion waves. When farming, you want to actually use the Q first and then this so you won't get ripped to a position you might not like.

    Ah, your ult, and the namesake of my guide. Yes, you will be putting people in the Thunderdome with you. This skill is probably one of the biggest differences between bad Jarvans, decent Jarvans, and great Jarvans. You could catch that Ashe in here and leave her wide open to your teammates smashing her, or you could wall you and a friend in with an angry Tryndamere and get flamed for the next 20 minutes. Learning to properly use your ult will be key to mastering Jarvan.

    Obviously some champs have the ability to escape, but lucky for you you also have that knockup to try to force them into using those skills early. I was chasing down a Kass who had just used Riftwalk. I threw standard, lance, and then ulted him. Pop Ghostblade and save the other skills for when he flashes out, and he should be dead.

    I can't say specifically when to use this. It's going to require a lot of trial and error to build the necessary intuition. If you do this though, you provide your team with a very strong off-tank with some great DPS.

  • Pros / Cons


    + Solid farmer
    + Very strong in lane, even with no items.
    + Naturally tanky
    + Equally strong in duo or solo lane
    + Significant DPS
    + Extremely disruptive in teamfights
    + Strong off-tank choice


    - Somewhat mana hungry in lane
    - Not a main tank
    - Not a main DPS
    - Not for those who are greedy for kills
    - Must be right up in the fray to be effective

  • Pre-game decisions: Masteries

    Masteries Link

    I go for 1-8-21 Masteries. Yes, I know this doesn't seem normal, but hear me out. You've got mana problems, and no inherent healing. In addition, the utility tree provides you with so much more than the upper echelons of the other two trees. So instead of the extra bit of life, bonus attack speed, and small bit of damage mitigation (4% really doesn't seem like much when you think about it) or the lackluster offensive tree (I hate the offensive tree) you get roughly the equivalent of a Regrowth and Meki Pendent, 6% CDR, 3% Movespeed (which is huge since you're melee), and more frequent summoner spell use (which is also a big advantage I think.)

  • Pre-game decisions: Summoner Spells

    I take Exhaust and Ghost. The extra slow from Exhaust, as well as 10 more armor reduction tacked on to the hefty amount you're already packing, is just great. Ghost allows you to not only escape, but chase down anyone who's trying to get away from you. I feel like any melee champ without some sort of movespeed ability should be packing Ghost.

    Here are some other options you could also use.

    Cleanse: I don't really like Cleanse personally, but since you are going to have to get right in there, this might not hurt. A lot of casters rely on landing their CC in order to hurt you, and this completely ruins their plans.

    Flash: Good on any champion, but since you already have a "blink" built in, I prefer to roll with other things.

    [spell=Fortify]: I don't think this belongs on Jarvan, but somebody on your team should take it. You're not going to be missing out horribly by taking it, so if you feel you need it, you can get away with it.

    Ignite: Also pretty solid on most champs. If you're in ranked and the other team has a Mundo, Swain, or anyone else who heals a buttload, go ahead and pack this. Otherwise, I think Exhaust is probably better.

    Teleport: I think this spell is great. In an organized team, you can quickly rescue that guy who's screaming "HELP" into Vent. On a matchmade team, you can quickly rescue that guy who won't communicate with the team because you have Teleport and superior map awareness. I would never yell at anyone who took this (except certain junglers.)

    Finally, the ones you shouldn't ever take.

    Clarity: My masteries take care of your mana problems, and late game, you won't have any mana problems. This spell isn't good enough for you, so don't take it.

    Clairvoyance: Somebody on your team should take it, but that's not you. You can already check bushes near you to provide some map awareness.

    Heal: Just an underpowered spell. Don't take it.

    [spell=Rally]: Does anybody even take this anymore? No? There's a reason for that: it sucks.

    Revive: Useful for letting your teammates know you intend to feed a lot.

    Smite: If you are a jungler Jarvan, you should take it. My guide, however, doesn't cover Jarvan as a jungler, and as such, I don't think you'll be needing it.

  • Pre-game Decisions: Runes

    Runes are very important to your early game, but generally there are a lot of options open here. My particular runepage is quite expensive(24,600 IP), but I've found that it is extremely effective if you have it available.

    I'm not going to list all the runes that could ever work on a champion. You're going to have different runes available to you, so use what you have if you don't have my choices. I'm simply listing ones that I have tested and found effective.


    9x Greater Mark of Desolation: Pretty standard for anyone whose primary source of damage is physical. Also, just about everyone has a set of these. I don't think there are any other real options here.


    My Choice
    9x Greater Seal of Resilience: I stopped loving my precious Dodge Seals as much. Sure it's sweet to get that clutch dodge, but more often than not, they're not going to be doing you much good. These provide you an extra bit of tankiness at level 1 and allow you to shrug off harassment as well as minion aggro and even turret hits to an extent. A very solid choice of seal.

    Other options
    9x Greater Seal of Vitality
    9x Greater Seal of Clarity
    9x Greater Seal of Alacrity


    My Choice
    9x Greater Glyph of Warding: Oh man. With my masteries this puts you at 51 MagRes at level 1. This lets you just laugh at any mage's harassment, and coupled with Merc Treads it puts you really close to 100, or 50% damage reduction. I found that making myself a bit tankier through resists allows me to play extremely aggressively, which allows me to establish lane dominance particularly early.

    Other Options
    9x Greater Glyph of Alacrity
    9x Greater Glyph of Focus
    9x Greater Glyph of Celerity


    My Choice
    3x Greater Quintessence of Desolation: I have found that the extra Armor Pen is probably the way to go. If you are confident in your ability to play the champion, the extra 78 HP probably isn't doing you too much good. I also find that good players tend to be a bit more aggressive, and these lend to your ability to do just that.

    Other options
    3x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
    3x Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
    3x Greater Quintessence of Focus

  • Skilling Order

    This one gives you the most offensive ability. You'll attack faster, have more armor, and your lance will hit hard as early as possible. The Lance really is an awesome skill, and you should be using it a lot. I find that this is the most effective option for skilling.

    Don't. Just don't. The flag is not as good of a harass tool, nor will it seal kills like the lance will. The shield isn't that good either, as it eats through mana. Stick to the first order, or if you really have to have the shield, max it second.

  • Items: Quick Reference Builds

    A lot of people like to check a guide right in champion select, and those people want to check the skilling order and items out. So here's a quick reference of the core build and a few endgame builds.

    Starting Items
    Boots of Speed
    3x Health Potion

    Core Build #1
    Mercury's Treads
    [item=Heart of Gold]
    Philosopher's Stone
    The Brutalizer
    Sunfire Cape
    Banshee's Veil
    Cost: 9487 Gold

    Core Build #2
    Mercury's Treads
    Wriggle's Lantern
    The Brutalizer
    Sunfire Cape
    Banshee's Veil
    Cost: 9462 Gold

    Balanced Team
    Mercury's Treads
    Warmog's Armor
    Youmuu's Ghostblade
    Sunfire Cape
    Banshee's Veil
    Atma's Impaler
    Cost: 14617 Gold

    Against Heavy Magic
    Mercury's Treads
    Warmog's Armor
    Youmuu's Ghostblade
    Sunfire Cape
    Banshee's Veil
    [item=Force of Nature]
    Cost: 14822 Gold

    Against Heavy Physical DPS
    Mercury's Treads
    Warmog's Armor
    Youmuu's Ghostblade
    Sunfire Cape
    Randuin's Omen
    Atma's Impaler
    Cost: 14827 Gold

    Trinity Force DPS
    Mercury's Treads
    Trinity Force
    Youmuu's Ghostblade
    Sunfire Cape
    Banshee's Veil
    Atma's Impaler
    Cost: 15687 Gold

    Heavy DPS
    Mercury's Treads
    Infinity Edge
    Youmuu's Ghostblade
    Sunfire Cape
    Banshee's Veil
    Atma's Impaler
    Cost: 15982 Gold

  • Items: Core Build

    Start off your game with Boots of Speed and 3x Health Potion. The extra speed gives you so much in lane. You are fast enough to run in and out for last hits against anyone else who didn't start with the boots, and you'll also be able to catch up for kills much easier. In addition, you can roam a bit if you need to help somewhere and know you'll get there just a bit quicker. Coupled with my Runes and Masteries, if you play smart you probably won't have to use all 3 potions.

    Build Option #1
    [item=Heart of Gold]
    Philosopher's Stone
    Mercury's Treads
    The Brutalizer

    This is my older build, and still a very effective one. You gain extra gold, great lane staying power, and some solid offensive and defensive options with this. You can grab any of these items first depending on how the laning phase is going. If it's a very poke-ish lane, grab Phil Stone first. The extra mana regen will allow you to spam your Lance a bit more. If it's a slugfest, get HoG or The Brutalizer so you can either take or give more punishment. Mages or CC giving you trouble? Upgrade those boots.

    Build Option #2
    Wriggle's Lantern
    Philosopher's Stone
    Mercury's Treads
    The Brutalizer

    Honestly, with this build all you NEED is Wriggle's. You'll obviously grab the other items eventually, but cranking out Wriggle's first is priority. This build works best in a solo lane, and is a fantastic counter to other tanky DPS champs. You get more armor, more damage, and some lifesteal, as well as a perpetual ward to help keep the ganks away. I just really love the shit out of Wriggle's as an item, and so I get this more often than not.

    Second Trip Back

    This is really where Judgment calls begin. Sometimes, you have such a good laning phase that you can buy a Sunfire Cape outright. Do this. The extra HP, along with the armor and extra damage, are to die for. It'll also help your farming substantially (not that you really need the help.)

    If your start wasn't so great, finish up your The Brutalizer and Mercury's Treads. Maybe you had the great start, but after your first trip back, you got shut down hard. In this case, you'll generally be able to afford a Giant's Belt, which is not so bad. Make sure you have your The Brutalizer before you do this, however, as there's nothing like AD, Ar.Pen, and CDR to help you get some kills in-lane.

    Either way, continue to pick up wards and pots as needed.

  • Items: Finishing Your Build

    At this point, laning phase is likely over. You've probably got your core build of Mercury's Treads, [item=Heart of Gold], Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Sunfire Cape finished, but if not, you should continue to finish that.

    If their team is balanced:

    Pick up a Banshee's Veil. This gives you some nice resist to keep up with your great armor, more HP, and the little bit of mana you need to completely obliterate your mana issues. The shield is obviously good (even though it ate that 15 second nerf this past patch.)

    After this, you can go back in for some more offense if you want. I frequently opt for Atma's Impaler. More crit chance (coupled with Youmuu's Ghostblade this gives you 33%), more armor, and a lot of attack damage. At level 18, and with the previously mentioned items, you have 3143 hp, giving you over 60 more AD. For the cost, this can't be beat.

    As your final item (and you'll rarely ever get to this point), you can either finish [item=Heart of Gold] into Randuin's Omen or you can sell it in lieu of Warmog's Armor. This puts you at 4313 HP and means your Atma's Impaler gives you 86 AD.

    If their team is caster-heavy:
    Usually, your Banshee's Veil is going to be enough MR, but sometimes you run up against a caster-crazy team. Honestly, I've almost never had to go this route, but you never know. The good news is you have a lot of options here, and can pick whichever item you feel most comfortable with.

    Aegis of the Legion- Gives you more HP, more armor, and more Mres, all for quite cheap. Make sure nobody else is getting this before you decide to.

    [item=Force of Nature]- This is a very good item, and you shouldn't hate yourself for picking it up. The 7% extra movespeed, HP/5, and whopping 76 MR all for a relatively low price, is great.

    Guardian Angel- I honestly hate this item. It gives you no HP, and leaves you with only 750 when it pickes you back up (that could be gone in two spells flat.) That said, it is an option, and if you like it then fit it into this spot.

    Hexdrinker- Okay, so it's really not that good. It does give you some AD, some MR, and that shield though, so if you like it, go ahead and get it.

    If their team is AD heavy:
    This is really not too different from your normal build. You can probably skip out on the Banshee's Veil, but where to go from there? Here are some ideas.

    Aegis of the Legion- See above.

    Atma's Impaler- It won't give you quite as much AD since you'll be missing the Veil, but it's still an amazing item for any tanky DPS.

    Guardian Angel- See above.

    Randuin's Omen- Finish your [item_text=Heart of Gold]. You'll get another 100 HP, over 50 armor, another slow, and a small bit of CDR. Not bad considering you had that HoG sitting in your inventory anyway.

  • Items: I WANNA DO TEH DPS!

    I haven't done a ton of testing with this build, but I have done a bit, and you can up your DPS if you choose to. Your Lance and ult will hit like a bus, and then they're stuck in the Thunderdome with an angry Demacian.

    As with the other build, start with Boots of Speed and 3x Health Potion. Regardless of how you want to play, this gives you the best early game, which will snowball into your late game.

    You have two real options here: Do I go with Trinity Force and build some survivability, or do I build some heavy AD items like Youmuu's Ghostblade and a B. F. Sword item, such as Infinity Edge?

    Personally, of the two I LOVE the Trinity Force route. Throw flag in, land lance, hit like a bus, ult them, hit like a bus, shield, hit like a bus, then flag/lance afterwards. That's a LOT of damage. It also gives you a lot of other stats, such as the movespeed. Built like this, you're going to want to build similarly to Irelia. Build Trinity Force, then build either tank items or Youmuu's Ghostblade depending on how aggressively you're being focused.

    Your other option is relatively similar to the first presented build. You're going to build The Brutalizer and Avarice Blade. If your first trip back was great, you might even be able to go back to lane with a B. F. Sword. Personally, I like The Brutalizer regardless, but it's really up to you.

    After you've finished your Youmuu's Ghostblade, get started on an Infinity Edge. Buy the B. F. Sword first if you can, but if not take your pick of the other two ( Pickaxe or Cloak of Agility). Once you've finished this, build something with some survivability ( Sunfire Cape or Banshee's Veil). Build the other if you still need it, or skip both and build the combo of Warmog's Armor and Atma's Impaler. You'll have a decent amount of HP, a very high chance to crit, and a buttload of AD. Pop the active on Youmuu's Ghostblade, go in the Thunderdome and dare anyone to come out.

  • Laning Phase: Solo Lane

    I prefer having solo top with Jarvan. He does solid damage, is pretty tanky, and has the ability to farm a buttload. You're also pretty hard for one person to drop, and with Demacian Standard you can frequently check the bush if you feel like you're susceptible to a gank.

    Always last-hit. Don't stand there and autoattack minions. That'll push your lane and leave you open to a gank. Because of your high armor and dodge runes, if a few caster minions are all that's left, stand there and eat the hits for a few. This will keep them from getting into tower range and allow you to always keep minions just in front of your tower (the ideal position.) Your masteries and pots will keep you up on HP, so don't worry about it. Now, don't do this if a huge wave is coming at you, just if there are only a few remaining minions.

    Try to harass your opponent with Dragon Strike. It does substantial damage, and if they're close enough, the armor reduction will make the following autoattack hit quite hard (due to Martial Cadence.) When you want to go for the kill, hit them with the knockup, Exhaust them, and continue to autoattack. Try to save Cataclysm until just before you'd be in tower range, or use it immediately following an enemy Flash.

    Use your abilities sparingly. Don't ever use Demacian Standard unless it's going to get you something, be it minion kills, line of sight in the brush, or a knockup on your opponent. This will allow you to save enough mana to stay in lane. Your job is to hold down the top lane and leave your opponent open to ganks from your jungler. You can't do this if you're constantly spamming abilities, since Jarvan does have some mana issues regardless of your runes/masteries.

    If you send your opponent back (be it through a kill or otherwise, take a second to either go back yourself or check out their jungle. Maybe you can get a quick gank off on mid. Push the minions to their tower, but don't stick around to hit it unless you can account for the majority of their team. There's nothing worse than hitting a tower only to have an Ashe arrow hit you and then see Udyr coming in from behind you like a truck.

    Try to just stay in your lane as long as possible so you can get an advantage both in level and gold. The better your early game, the stronger you'll be when lanes begin to break down.

  • Laning Phase: Duo Lane

    As far as how you use your abilities, the duo lane is quite similar to the solo lane. Don't spam abilities, try not to push, and generally just play smart. The key difference is brush dominance. Try to camp out the brush whenever possible, hitting your opponents with Dragon Strike when you have a good opportunity. If they rush you, smack them in the face and retreat. Likewise, when your partner goes in, hit the enemy with the knockup, slow them with the shield/exhaust, and go to town. This is one place where you want to try to hit both in order to proc Martial Cadence as much as possible. It does a lot of damage in lane, and might be the difference between one kill and two.

    When your jungler is ready to go kill dragon, go help him out. You do a good amount of damage, and with your help dragon should be down in no time. Don't hesitate to go gank mid if your jungler is busy (which they often are) and a good opportunity arises. When you do go back, try to grab some wards. Keep dragon warded (much better than a bush ward for bot), and possibly ward somewhere in their jungle. This could just net you a kill when their unsuspecting jungler goes and starts taking down golem or dragon.

  • Your Role in Teamfights

    You are a tank that also does some great damage. This might cause some teams to focus you in the heat of battle, which is great for that super-squishy, crazy fed Ashe on your team. You don't want to go in first. That is your tank's job. However, once the fight has initiated, you need to get in there quick and knock some people up. You can either knock up several at the front of the fight, or use the blink aspect of the combo to get to the back and disrupt their DPS. Sometimes you'll get lucky when you go to the back and the DPS will run before their team responds. In this case, use Cataclysm to wall them off from any aid and beat them down.

    Another thing you can do is try to wall in several opponents with you. This might get you killed, but could also mean your team gets to move freely onto the opponent's heavier DPS. Remember to always focus proper targets when possible, but also disrupt the enemy team. Jarvan is great at breaking up formations.

    TL;DR Go in second, and try to disrupt the enemy formation as much as possible. Rush the DPS if you can, since you're tanky enough to take the punishment from them.

  • The Twisted Treeline

    Jarvan is also a great champion for 3v3. He does good damage with little to no items, functions well in duo or solo lanes, and can blink through walls to start up a gank. This allows you some great map presence. You can also make great use of the red buff.

    The only difference between my item build for 5v5 and 3v3 is Wriggle's Lantern. I rush this, and then begin to clear jungle camps and gank. For this reason, I take the solo lane so I can level faster and get Wriggle's Lantern as quickly as possible.

    With Wriggle's Lantern, you can comfortably solo dragon around level 9. Do this if you can, as it provides your team with 280 gold each (this feels wrong considering how easy it is to drop.) The buff is also pretty nice.

    Make sure you're ready to gank whenever possible, and push turrets when a gank is successful. One final point about Jarvan in TT is that Cataclysm can wall off passages in the jungle quite easily. Try to wall yourself in with a teammate as well, and laugh as you beat down an opponent while the enemy team has to stand outside helpless.

  • Reader Suggestions

    Any good suggestions from readers will be placed here along with credit to that reader. Check up frequently!

    TuShan: Suggested the Philosopher's Stone as a viable replacement/complement to HoG. I find that I like to grab one of each to give me that bit of extra HP as well as the regen to keep me out there earning gold and exp longer. Thanks!

  • Conclusion

    Thanks for checking out my guide. I hope you enjoyed it. Now go welcome people to the Thunderdome, bitch.

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