Volibear Build Guide

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Volibear - The Tank

written by Oberon Vex

Volibear Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Volibear is a very powerful champion (like so many are at launch) who presents some interesting and very fulfilling gameplay capabilities. He has two builds that I know of at the moment, one which is tanky-dps and the other is a true tank build that has a very nasty nuke. I have a few additional ideas for builds that I haven't tried yet, so I'll update this once I've had a chance to try them out. At present I prefer the straight up tank build. For those of you not sure whether or not to buy him yet, I'll give you a run-down as to what he can do, how he plays and general tips and tricks. I'm sure this character will be receiving changes in the near future as quite frankly he's over-powered at the moment, and I'll try to keep up with the updates.
                                                                                                                                ~~~Oberon Vex

  • Abilities

    Chosen of the Storm
    Chosen of the storm will make you regenerate 30% of your maximum health over time and triggers automatically when damage takes you to or below 30% of your health on a two minute cool-down.

    This is broken. This is basically a lower level Dr. Mundo's ultimate and you get it at level one. This will let you tank for as long as you like, or stay in the fight long enough to do your damage depending on your build. This will let you tower dive if necessary and this will let you get away from seemingly insurmountable odds. As far as passive's go this is one of the best. *****

    Rolling Thunder
    Volibear drops to all fours and gains a speed boost while running towards enemy champions for four seconds. The next enemy hit by Volibear takes additional damage and is flipped behind your champion.

    This is Vayne's passive and Singed's Toss rolled into one. The additional damage isn't all that great and the flip distance isn't as large as Singed's, but the movement speed bonus will let your chase down your enemy and the toss will allow you to position your target how you want it. As an added bonus: this interrupts channels and is on a fairly low cool-down. As mentioned in the spotlight, always try to position yourself so that the flip moves the enemy further from safety, this seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, but a little reminder always helps. I get this at level one when I'm in bottom lane to help support your lane-mate. Max it second always. ****

    Frenzy passively gives you a stacking attackspeed bonus and once you've attacked a target three times you may use an activated version of this skill to deal damage; this damage is modified by your bonus health and further modified by an additional 1% per 1% health the ENEMY is missing.

    This is a nuke. The attackspeed bonus only applies once you've hit an enemy so every additional hit afterwards will have the bonus, which stacks up to three times. You keep your stacks of 'Frenzy' for about five seconds after an auto-attack has been made, if the timer runs out you must attack three more times before being able to use the activatable portion of this skill. It is important to note that this skill does not require you to hit the same target three times -- you can hit a creep twice, or even three times to proc the active and let you use your skill whenever you want on the enemy champion, as well as having the full attackspeed bonus at the start of the encounter. The ratio on this runs off your bonus health, and this is the main reason I like playing the tank build: stacking health makes this skill very powerful, almost an execute like Garen's ultimate, and it only has a 16 second or so cooldown at max rank. In my games as Volibear, I often am able to hit for at least 700dmg at level 13 WITHOUT the added bonus for the enemy's missing health. The spotlight says you want attack speed runes to boost this, but this is incorrect -- this will only let you use the active portion faster, as the cooldown is not affected by attackspeed, therefore attackspeed runes just let you attack faster... Seeing as you can build up stacks before you engage, and you can last till the end of most teamfights, you won't have an issue with getting the three hits you need to use the active. I take this skill first when jungling or solo laning and always max it first. *****

    Majestic Roar
    Majestic Roar damages nearby enemy units and applies a slow to enemy champions and a short-duration fear to hostile minions and monsters. This ability has an ap ratio.

    The damage on this skill is pitiful, but I haven't tried a build with some substantial AP yet, so I'll reserve final judgement. The slow can help you keep an enemy in range but the main draw is the fear on creeps. This will let you drop minion aggro on either yourself or your teammate instantly, provided the creeps are near you. Using this skill appropriately will net you some early kills but your other skills are more important. I take this at level four and max it last. ***

    Thunder Claws
    Thunder Claws, when activated, makes all auto-attacks in the next twelve seconds deal bonus damage (modified by your ap) and splash to deal damage to up to four other targets that are nearby.

    A nice aoe damage ultimate but the damage itself is a little lack-luster without some ap behind it, and you need some heavy attackspeed to get the most out of it, which my usual build doesn't include, therefore this ulti is pretty blah in the tank build. On the plus side, however, the 'nearby' range is quite decent and as you'll be in the thick of the action you will almost always hit the maximum number of targets. I want to try an ap/attackspeed build to see if that makes this ulti (and majestic roar) a little sweeter, I'll update that soon. Take as often as possible. ****

  • Masteries + Runes

    Greater Mark of Resilience x 9 Greater Seal of Vitality x 9 Greater Glyph of Fortitude x 9 Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    I find Volibear's starting armor is a little low (its only 18) so I like to get a little armor in my rune set up. Yes armor seals are better value, but health-per-level seals are also a better value and will help you more in the long run. I've tried using cool-down blues but I've found I get more bang for my buck out of flat health blues tied in with flat health quints. Volibear's passive work's off our maximum health and having a more effective passive at level one can net you some nice first bloods. With our starting item in top or bottom lane ( Doran's Shield ) this will give us plenty of health, health-regeneration and armor with which to accomplish things. The added armor is also a boon in the jungle.Whether in the jungle or in lane I am taking 0/22/8 masteries at the moment.
    I max Summoner's Resolve, Resistance, Hardiness, Vigor, Durability, Veteran's Scars, Initiator, Honour-guard and Juggernaut in the Defense Line and Expanded Mind, Improved Recall and Swiftness in the Utility Line.
    This setup lets me tank well due to the extra health I get from Durability, Veteran's Scars and Juggernaut while sill being able to move about with Initiator and Swiftness. If you wanted you could drain the three points in Honour-Guard and put them into either Enlightenment for cooldowns or Mercenary for some added gold generation, but as this is a full tank spec, I prefer the damage reduction.

  • Summoner Abilities

    Ghost & Heal in lanes
    Smite & Heal in Jungle.
    I like ghost over the recently reduced range Flash on Volibear for two reasons: Ghost lets you position better, lasts longer, and keeps your enemy aware of your presence. If you flash you can miss the direction of your flip from your Q, and flashing often makes enemies stop targeting you. Volibear is a tank and your passive will let you keep tanking at low life, so you want your enemies to keep hitting you, even when you are running away, to give your team more time to kill them; just trust your passive and make a controlled escape. 
    Heal is also very good since the re-work, and lets Volibear stay in tough situations even longer, which is just funny, and Smite is a no-brainer in the jungle.
    The other summoner abilities do not fit well with my build and playstyle with this champion but I'll give the run-down:
    Exhaust : this is almost worth getting. Snares the person you just flipped and takes some armor/mr from them if you take the mastery point. This can be used on an off-tank or tanky-dps build but it is unsuitable for my playstyle as TANK Volibear.
    Ignite : this ability is usually used for last hitting, and of course the heal-reduction. As an offensive summoner ability, this is better left to your attackers. Also: Frenzy's active portion will kill any enemy that ignite will finish off instantly and has a very similar range.
    Teleport : this could help you keep up your farm in solo top but as Volibear is a poor pusher it's usefulness is somewhat degraded.
    Promote : this could theoretically help you push and farm better, but it is more beneficial to practice proper last-hitting than to waste a summoner skill slot for something you can do yourself with just a little practice.
    Cleanse : this is much more useful since the re-work, but with as tanky as Volibear is when built for it, you don't need to remove disables instantly. Though there are likely many occasions where this would save you, the new heal would save you almost as certainly.
    Clarity : Volibear has low mana-costs and I haven't had an issue with his mana-pool so this is a waste.
    Clairvoyance : if your team does not have one you MIGHT want to consider dropping heal for this, but most team compositions include an honest SUPPORT champion which would carry this.
    Revive : It can get you up to defend a tower after a bad teamfight, and it DOES have a nice bonus to your health and movespeed, but the recharge is quite prohibitive and in most situations you won't get back to the fight before its over.
    Surge : interesting ability, might have use on an ap/attackspeed build, but has no place in a tank-spec. EDIT: Synnister has pointed out that this summoner ability makes a fairly decent increase to your ultimate damage. Therefore, if you are comfortable with Volibear's tankiness and want to get a little more damage out of him, you should try taking this.
    Flash : personal preference really, but I much prefer Ghost in general since the range reduction a patch or two ago.

  • Items

     I start with a Doran's Shield for the added survivability. The bonus health makes your Frenzy pack a bit more of a punch and the regen will keep you in lane.
    Hopefully by your first back you will have enough for Boots of Speed and at least a Ruby Crystal if not also a Regrowth Pendant. If you are in a very good situation get your boots and a Giant's Belt instead. 
    Next we want to finish our Warmog's Armor as soon as we can. The health and regen will make Frenzy hurt a LOT for our level and the high health and regen will make Chosen of the Storm even better.
    Our next item will either be a Sunfire Cape or Banshee's Veil depending on enemy team composition.
    After either Sunfire or Banshee's it starts becoming a game by game call, so I'll list items here that work well with Volibear:
    Sunfire Cape : if you didn't pick one up this is a VERY nice item and one I almost always get at some point. Extra health = more damage to go along with the nice damage per second aura.
    Banshee's Veil : good against casters and gives you more mana to play with. The health is only so-so in comparison to some of our other choices, but the unique passive makes this worth it.

    Atma's Impaler : this item will make you hit like a truck on every hit with how much hp this build stacks. A very compelling choice and a must have after your Sunfire if the enemy team is heavy on attack damage.
    [item=Force of Nature] : For those caster heavy teams, or simply as a final item, this is a VERY nice addition. Our high maximum health will make the most out of the unique passive and the extra movement speed is always nice.

    Aegis of the Legion : A solid buy, but this is usually an early item and we want our high flat health Warmog's first and likely a Sunfire right after. Get this if your team isn't able to last in fights since it gives your allies a little boost to their armor/magic resist, but if they are doing fine then get a better item.

    Spirit Visage : Interacts nicely with Warmog's and your passive, but has low resists and flat health. A good buy if you are having trouble getting the gold for the bigger items since it gives a decent bonus for less price.
    Shurelya's Reverie : a good item for when you are having trouble farming, since you can sit on the Philosopher's Stone portion for a while, and the speed boost is nice, but again, the actual stats of this item are fairly lack-luster and I'm sure you've noticed my preference for high flat-health items on Volibear.

    Situational items:

    Frozen Heart : This item solves any mana problems you might have, has nice armor rating, excellent cooldown reduction AND a very team-friendly aura. Buy this if the enemy team's AD carry is doing well and your team needs a little help staying alive. This is a good item, but build it after you get some solid HP.
    Thornmail : this has great armor bonuses and has the added effect to reflect a small amount of damage back to your attacker if they auto-attacked, but even though our playstyle makes us get attention from the enemy team, it is not often that you will be focused by their ad carries. Keep an eye on what the enemy is doing, and if you need this item get it, but don't put this on any sort of standard build.
    Frozen Mallet : more health = more damage and the slow keeps enemies from being able to escape. Get this if you have the gold and don't need defenses, but this isn't a priority.
    [item=Soul Shroud] : a bulk-health item for when you don't particularly need armor OR magic resistance. The cool-downs and mana-regen are nice, and its an aura, but there are better options to choose from. Get this if you have the gold and your team will benefit, but I suggest other items first.
    Rylai's Crystal Scepter : the game recommends this item, and it does give you some health, but for the amount of ap you get its not really worth it. This would work well if you got some additional ap, but otherwise I'd only suggest this if you have some excess gold and just want the bonus health it gives. The Slow on this is nice, don't get me wrong, but frozen mallet will do the trick more reliably. EDIT: Consider this if you are bringing surge, as the combined AP bonuses will give you around 150, which is actually a decent number for him without spending all that much money for it.
    DO NOT GET: items I've tried or seen others try and that don't really work out and why :x
    Trinity Force : very expensive, we don't have very good cool-downs and our base attack damage (which is what gets modified) isn't very good. This WILL make your Rolling Thunder hit harder, but its just not worth it in my opinion.
    [item=Malady] : Attackspeed and Ap DO make your ulti hurt more, but the loss of a defensive item makes you much squishier and you don't get all that much more damage from this. If you want Attackspeed try Wit's End.

    GENERAL NOTE: it is better to buy resists before hp up to 100 armor or 100 mr. Between runes, masteries and boots, you will mostly be there with this set up, but you do need Sunfire Cape to get above 100armor. After 100 armor & MR, health begins to become more efficient than buying more resists, but every little bit more resists you get makes your health go farther. As Voli has a skill that scales with HP I prefer to get high HP items, but often pick ones that have secondary defensive stats like MR or Armor.
    Mercury's Treads Warmog's Armor Sunfire Cape Atma's Impaler[item=Force of Nature] Frozen Mallet
    This build costs 15k. That is not gonna happen in most games, but this would be ideal. This gives you 233 AD, 13 500 Effective Health and a Frenzy that hits for 890 damage without the % modifier from the enemy's missing health.
    Replacing the FoN and Frozen Mallet with a Spirit Visage and a Aegis of the Legion is a much more manageable 12k build that has competitive stats and an aura, but you lose the unique passive move speed and slow.
    ***Most games don't last long enough to get six items, most of your games will probably end with you just finishing either your sunfire or banshee's or maybe one other item. This still gives you good stats for Volibear and comprises my CORE build.***
    Start with cloth armor and pots, build a Wriggles and go from there.

  • Skilling Order

    Bot Lane

    Solo lane/Jungle

    I level Rolling Thunder over the Majestic Roar mostly for the improved cool-downs, flipping the enemy is a harder form of CC than slowing and interrupts usage of skills, if you autoattack someone with this just as they initiate a jump (flash, Shunpo etc) the game SHOULD react by moving the enemy behind you and putting their escape skill on cool-down -- just like if you hit a blitz grab at the same moment, the game applies the LAST ABILITY USED as the final say, its all in the timing. Also, so long as you land an auto-attack, Rolling Thunder is guaranteed to cause its damage (which is ADDED ONTO YOUR ATTACK DAMAGE) -- the radius on Majestic Roar isn't very big, similar to Malphites Ground Slam ability and thus, while it does do more flat (since this doesn't get added onto your attack damage) damage than Rolling Thunder, it is not 'guaranteed' in the same way as your Q. ADDITIONALLY, I prefer to keep my Majestic Roar for when they start trying to move; the damage, even at max rank, is quite pitiful for an ability and you often waste the cool-down of it if you use it for damage, letting them run away at full speed and since you don't have a reduced cool-down Q (from it being higher leveled) you may or may not be able to catch them again.

  • Working in the team

    Volibear is perhaps the strongest tank in the game right now. I liken him to OLD Mordekaiser: he gets in there and he DOESN'T CARE what the enemy throws at him, he KNOWS he's gonna do what he's gotta do, and there is almost nothing the enemy can do about it. You are the First In. You are the Last Out. 
    Be a bully. You have high health, you have decent starting armor, and once you get your Majestic Roar you can drop minion aggro whenever you want, so take these advantages and press your opponent. There are some opponents you must be careful of, such as Renekton or Tryndamere, but always at least TRY to obtain lane dominance. This will let you farm better, keeps them from getting minion fed, and will help your team in the long run. Volibear can take a lot of punishment, just make sure your enemy comes out worse than you do. Be aware that while your ultimate will give you more damage in a particular engagement, it has a high mana cost (three times the cost of your frenzy) and can leave you with low mana -- if you do not succeed in killing or driving your opponent from the lane, you may lose the initiative as you can't use your spells as freely.

    Between his damage and cc, Volibear is a decent supporting tank bottom. Taking his flip move first can net you first blood if you have a high damage lane-mate or taking Frenzy can also work if your lane-mate has a decent slow or cc themselves. If you are supporting a ranged champion, you should pressure your opponents by using the bushes -- run out at them with your Q to keep them on edge and away from minion farm. You should get a Philo Stone and consider getting Shurelya's Reverie if you go bottom lane. Volibear isn't invincible, but if you get ganked, use your flip to clear the enemy jungler from your lanemate, as they are most often the target of the gank, this forces them to focus you in most cases -- but due to your high health, regen due to your passive and your Majestic Roar, you have a very good chance of getting out.

    Volibear is a very action-oriented champion and is an excellent initiator: run up with your Q, fling your target, slow with your E and lay into them with well timed Frenzy's --the cool-down is low enough that you can use it once while the opponent is high health and once to finish them in most cases but not always, so be aware of how much damage you do to particular characters and use your skills accordingly. If a champion will die before you can get a second Frenzy in, it is often worth-while to wait a little longer to use the skill, so you get more damage out of it for your one use. Cracking your ultimate just goes without saying.
    - His play style is to single out an opponent in front of the enemy team, entering first so that the enemy either focuses him and possibly saves their teammate, or ignores you and you kill your target. Volibear can deal with being focused, especially with my build set up, so don't freak out when you start getting low -- your passive will let you sit in their damage for ridiculously long periods of time. After your focus target is killed, or if the enemy team gains the advantage and rushes your back line, then you want to run interference with your Majestic Roar and [spell=Rumbling Thunder] to keep your opponent's distracted and away from your team's squishies.

  • Creep Jungling

    I don't much like Volibear in the Jungle, but it does work and is a fairly safe, if not a particularly fast or interesting... jungle. Taking Frenzy first and your AoE control (Majestic Roar) next will let your jungle safely, especially since the patch, since now all 'small camps' now have a health gain when you kill the larger unit. Volibear, having a flip and a slow (and redbuff) is a very good ganker, and is much better at this portion of the Jungler's role than he is at clearing the camps. Select your target, wait for them to over-extend and then close the trap. With as much cc as you bring to the table (plus whatever your allies can pitch in) it is fairly difficult to NOT get at least one kill on a gank

  • Pros / Cons

    + Is a Bear. With armor. Possibly on fire. That runs out of bushes at you on all fours. Is there anything scarier?
    + High health coupled with his passive makes him insanely durable+ High Health gives him a VERY solid nuke+ Excellent control via slows and flip+ Excellent Initiation+ Good mobility for his role (especially with masteries)
    - Usual 'Tank' damage when Frenzy is on cool-down- Vulnerable to Bloodrazer and Vayne in particular

  • Summary

    Volibear is a VERY fun champion to play and I highly recommend getting him. He has good control, good damage and is one of the most durable tanks in the game, even at lower levels. I'm sure he will be adjusted in the next patch, but even so he is just plain fun to play. I hope you enjoyed my guide and that it helps you with your games. If you have any comments please feel free to leave them, and please rate as well. If you disliked my guide or have found an issue with it, please leave a few suggestions on how this guide could be improved. Thank you.
                                                                                                                                  ~~~~Oberon Vex

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