Zilean Build Guide

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So it goes...

written by Galice

Zilean Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    I personally thing my guide is pretty sweet, hopefully you will too. I have spent alot of time playing Zil (probably around 200 games), and I've spend alot of time writing this. I enjoy thinking about how to build and play Zil. If you have a suggestion, or a critique, or just wanna talk Zil, throw me a comment. Enjoy.

  • Change Log

    Dec 15, 2010 (
    *Added Strength of Spirit starting build & mastery section.
    *Removed EXP Quins from runes section

    Jan 20, 2011 (
    *Been working on updating the guide. Ionian Boots of Lucidity had a particularly big effect on Zil. I'm not done yet, but I updated some sections, most notably the Items!!

    Feb 16, 2011 (
    *Added 1v1 laning section
    *Added a couple tips
    *Removed Pros and Cons. I don't think Pros and Cons are very informative.
    *Waiting for the new item in!! That thing is sweet!

    March 3, 2011 (
    *Many Misc updates
    *Big update to Runes section

  • Quick Refrence

    Masteries: 9/0/21
    Greater Mark of Insight
    Greater Seal of Replenishment
    Greater Glyph of Focus
    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    Flash Clairvoyance

    Start with:
    Sapphire Crystal and 2x Health Potion
    2. Rod of Ages
    3. Ionian Boots of Lucidity
    4. Fiendish Codex

  • Abilities

    Heightened Learning
    What can I say about this passive? I think its good. Its a pretty straight forward passive. It allows your team to level faster than theirs. This coupled with the 5% exp gained from masteries should allow you to keep a tangible advantage over opponents. The passive effect is not active while you are dead, so your death will hurt your team even more than usual. This should be an incentive to be careful!

    Time Bomb
    Damage 100/155/210/270/330 (+0.9 AP)
    Cooldown 10
    Mana 60/75/90/105/120
    Range 650

    Your only damaging spell. This thing is awesome! You can rip up low health champs and get some kills early game that you really don't deserve. Effective at clearing large creep waves, farming and harassing.

    Cooldown 18/15/12/9/6
    Mana 50

    This is the ability that makes Zilean work. Allows you to double-bomb, to chain Time Warps, and to have Chrono Shift ready for every fight!

    Time Warp
    Duration 2.5/3.25/4/4.75/5.5
    Cooldown 20
    Mana 100
    Range 650

    Speeds up, or slows down a target champion. Has a few applications. Most obviously being moving quickly and slowing an enemy to catch. The strength of this spell comes from:
    1. The option to target either an enemy or an ally
    2. More importantly, being able to chain the spell via use of Rewind.

    Chrono Shift
    Duration 10
    Heal 500/750/1000 (+3.0 AP)
    Cooldown 180
    Range 900

    This ability is more or less why you play Zilean. It received a few nerfs in, meaning its nearly pointless to rank up. Still a powerful skill though.

    I once read someone say, "If your ulting yourself, your doing it wrong." I've really tried to work my play style around that mentality, and I will encourage those of you to do the same.... DON'T DIE

  • Skilling Order

    Skilling order... Its mostly straight forward, but I'll highlight a couple points:

    1. You want to max bombs every chance you get. I can see no scenario when you would not follow this rule.

    2. After ranking each Time Warp and Rewind once, I focus on Time Warp until its level three. Here is my reasoning for this:
    * You don't have a big enough mana pool to support Rewind spamming, and you wont be in the situation where spamming is necessary anyway.
    * Time Warp is a tad weak in the 2.5 second range, so getting it up to a more lasting time is important.
    * Once you rank Time Warp to 3, it should be late enough in the game where you want to be hitting Rewind often, and Time Warp will have a reasonable effect.

    3. After your first rank in Chrono Shift at level 6, any further ranks of it are nearly pointless. Sometimes I'm tempted to not rank it at all at 17.

  • Masteries

    Redirion encouraged me to consider Strength of Spirit, and since then I now believe there are two viable mastery specs: 9/0/21 and 0/9/21.

    *NOTE: A few people have been explaining to me just how underwhelming Perseverance is. I agree that its not good, but I also think [mastery_text=Good Hands] is crummy. They both suck. Just choose which ever one you want.

    Strength of Spirit vs. Archaic Knowledge
    I'm uncertain which one I prefer. 9/0/21 is more traditional, and makes it far easier to reach the CDR cap. SoS, I feel, got a big buff because of the CDR boots, but is still demands alot out of your runes and/or items.

  • Summoner Spells

    Clairvoyance and Flash are the two I prefer.

    There are a few cases when I like to grab Teleport, notably: when I have a solo lane, when there are no other teleports on my team, or when I’m just plane lazy.

    I still feel that Ghost is a good choice, but despite all the situations when it is good, there are still those games when you just wont pop it much, and there will be times where having a spell that does something that Zil can’t do on his own can be very… helpful (for lack of better word).

    Flash provides huge amounts of survivability, and the recent nerfs really haven’t been too harsh. You can still pop over walls, can still jump out of range of an attack, and can still catch up to people to stick a last minute bomb for a kill, or slow them for your team to catch.

    Clairvoyance is a spell I have been warming up to. I don’t like it so much if you don’t have most of a premade, or if the opposing team doesn’t have a jungle. This spell is substantially, SUBSTANTIALLY, better or worse depending on those two factors.

    I really only believe that Teleport should be taken in your lazy. Its nice at times, to hop over to a lane to save a turret, or to clear a creep wave, but really… You're no Sivir. You wont be back dooring them with it. Flash and Clairvoyance are most likely better in most every game. When you are solo in a 2v1 lane is the only time this might be an exception.

    I have taken a closer look at Clarity, and I still believe that it’s not needed. You may consider this spell if your not yet level 30 (although, Teleport is probably still better in that case), or you just plane don’t know how to manage mana.

    I’m not going to address every spell, because its not useful to read “Don’t pick this” 10 times. These are the spells I feel are most worth your time. Comment if you want an explanation on another spell.

  • Runes

    Runes I use:
    Greater Mark of Insight
    Greater Seal of Replenishment
    8x Greater Glyph of Focus
    1x Greater Glyph of Celerity
    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    I use this setup, because with Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and any 10% CDR item, you will reach the cap. If I ran with 9x flat CDR glyphs, I would be 0.15% CDR away from the cap, and that's just not good enough!

    Discussion on Marks:
    There is no other reasonable alternative to Greater Mark of Insight.

    Discussion on Seals:
    A mana regen seal is the most typical thing to run with, although I have heard reports that you don't really notice the loss of regen when running without them.

    1. I do use mana regen seals, and since the big mana regen change in, I use Greater Seal of Replenishment. If you still prefer Greater Seal of Clarity, that is perfectly acceptable too. I personally like the flat regens now because it allows me to capitalize on an overall regen buff to early game. Also, by level 7 (which is when the Greater Seal of Clarity surpass the Greater Seal of Replenishment), you should have, or be getting a Catalyst the Protector soon.

    If you choose not to run with regen seals, then there are only a couple other options I think are reasonable, both of which are defensive.
    2. Both Greater Seal of Vitality and Greater Seal of Resilience. I don't know what else to really say about these. Hey, if you don't need the regen, and want some defense? Here ya go.

    Discussion Glyphs:
    CDR is important, on Zil. Glyphs offer good CDR options. Don't use non CDR glyphs!

    1. I use Greater Glyph of Focus because it works well with masteries to achieve 15% CDR. Mathematically, they just work out better. I'd advise them over Greater Glyph of Celerity for that reason even if you spec into Strength of Spirit, because with 6% CDR in Utility, and 8.1% @ lvl 18, you still don't reach 15% CDR, which is a crucial milestone.

    Discussion of Quins:
    I feel that choice for Quins are much more open, but at the same time, but more limiting. Reason for this, people will often times comment on how important they feel it is to start with at least 500HP. I don't much like starting with a Doran's Ring any more because it slows down your build, and doesn't leave you access to any Health Potion. Because of this, I must

    1. If I intend to follow that rule, then I must grab Greater Quintessence of Fortitude (because I don't like Doran's Ring for reasons stated elsewhere).

    2. Lets say I'm either: A) ignoring that 500hp rule, or B) starting with a Doran's Ring, then I do indeed have several other options. Greater Quintessence of Focus is one of those options. I have never used them though. I imagine they may encourage a different build, and/or open up more options since you have about 5% (actually 4.92%) additional starting CDR. Options like Strength of Spirit and forgoing Ionian Boots of Lucidity for a different boot are the main ones that come to mind.

    3. For personal ease, the last option I will highlight are Greater Quintessence of Potency. If you do choose to run with these Quins, I'd suggest to start with a Doran's Ring, That way you have roughly 30 starting AP. This option is only really there for those who want to be aggressive dominate as much as possible from levels 1-5. Much after that, you won't notice the additional damage in your bombs.

    4. There certainly are many more options. These are just the most obvious ones to me. I find that the build I use is very tight, and editing aspects of it, can causes drastic changes to how your item/mastery/runes will play out.

  • Items

    OK! Time for an overhaul of my item section. Pretty much need an entirely new one.

    Item Order
    1. Sapphire Crystal or Doran's Ring and the rest of your gold on Health Potions
    2. Rod of Ages
    3. Ionian Boots of Lucidity
    4. ***10% CDR Item***

    Reasoning for Starting Items
    I personally prefer to start with a Crystal, because I find that Doran's Ring is unnecessary. I have pretty good mana management, so mana regen isn't as necessary for me. Also, the second Health Pot provides alot of lane sustainability. I don't like the argument "XXX is better than Doran's XXX because it starts you into your build quicker", but since your rushing Rod of Ages, that extra 400 gold is some what relevant. But, it is a perfectly good item, and I would not fault anyone for starting with it.
    *NOTE: If your not level 30, Doran's Ring is probably superior to the Crystal.

    My Reasoning In Favor of Rod of Ages
    I'm starting to lose track of how many times I've flopped between starting with Rod of Ages and Archangel's Staff. I'm pretty certain that with the new CDR boots RoA is the way to go. The CDR boots are amazing. They make you build cheaper and easier, but causes a little problem... I used to advise Mercury's Treads and Glacial Shroud, but CDR boots fulfill most the CDR requirement while taking up your boots slot. You suddenly lost a ton of survivability. You can remedy this problem one of two ways:
    A. Stick with AAS, and be nearly required to buy some defensive item(s)
    B. Go with RoA

    The problem with option A, is that you get the survivability later in game, possibly already giving up a death because of it... and you still need CDR to fill the gap. This rules out options like [item_text=Rylai's Scepter], instead forcing you into something like [item_text=Soul Shroud]. Now, Soul Shroud is a great item, but by buying it, you are losing out on AP (which is half the reason you get AAS, because of it's superior AP). Also, flat health has never been a strong way to make yourself more durable (Armor and MR are usually better).

    So, lets say its mid game, and you have your Rod of Ages and Ionian Boots of Lucidity. You have an OK ammount of AP, but you got a buffer of health, and 30% CDR. You have 2 real options:
    A. Buy a Fiendish Codex
    B. Buy a Kindlegem
    You make this decision based upon how well your team is performing. I'll explain in more detail below.

    Lastly, Rod of Ages works well if you find RoA isn't enough survivability. If you had chosen AAS, then you'd need to build into more survivability, you will likely need to grab items that have both health and the resistance of choice. With RoA, you can simply itemize into an Abyssal Scepter or Zhonya's Hourglass granting the defense your looking for, while maintaining respectable am mounts of AP.

    There shouldn't be much to say here, but I'll add the section for consistency sake.
    Ionian Boots of Lucidity will be what you buy 95% of the time. If the opposing team really calls for it, then grab Mercury's Treads. Your not really in the business for any other boot, aside from maybe [item=Berserker's Greeves], but only grab those if your a real badass and going Attack Speed Zilean!!
    *NOTE: If you do get a different pair of boots, this will alter the rest of your build. You'll still need to work max CDR into it some how. [item_text=Morello's Evil Tomb] might be a good choice in this situation.

    Finishing the Gap
    I mentioned this in my RoA discussion, here is my explanation.
    So you need to close this CDR gap. The best choices for this are Fiendish Codex and Kindlegem
    *NOTE: If your going SoS, then you should still be out about 3% CDR, your best option is to probably just upgrade on of these.

    If your not losing, go with the Codex. If you are behind, grab a Gem. Both are pretty darn cheap, and do exactly what your build's #1 goal should be: reach the CDR cap. Don't bother upgrading the Codex (unless you're SoS), just leave it there. The two other stats should be welcomed too. The Gem can be built into two great support items, which is a role you will likely have to be focusing on if your doing poorly. I prefer [item_text=Soul Shroud], only because I'm awful at remembering to activate items.

    After This...
    If your doing OK to good, this shouldn't take all that long to build, just over 5k gold. Now your job is to assess the game, and decide what you need. Having a concrete 6 item plan for a game is silly. You build changes depending on the game. Take a second to look at the teams. What should you get?

  • Laning

    You shouldn't be mid. That should be reserved for a ranged carry. You wont be able to carry even if you get a million kills. You simply can't put out enough damage.

    Grab your starting items and rush out into lane. Try to get into the brush by 45-50 seconds ish. If you make it there in this time, it is highly unlikely that the enemy champions will have beat you to it. Securing the bush right away is helpful because it will give you better control over the lane and increase your survivability. Try to hang out in it. Pop out quickly to get last hits and to bomb, then dive back in.

    Last Hitting:
    I can't believe that people will still auto attack creeps. Don't be one of those guys! You should only use your auto attack if your going to last hitting a minion, or harassing an enemy champion. You will decrease the amount of gold you get if you are continuously attacking. If your new to last hitting, you gotta practice it. Get good at it. It will drastically effect your performance throughout all games.

    Because of Zilean's huge range, he can auto attack harass enemy champions pretty well. If a melee range enemy champion comes up to last hit a mob, start auto attacking him. You'll probably land 2-3 hits, and wont take much damage because your so far back. Do this a couple times, and they will be burning through Health Pots just to stay in lane. You may even be able to double bomb them to force them to blue pill. If your lucky and you lane partner is paying attention, you might even get some kills this way :)

    I usually only place one or two bombs before level three. At that point, you can double bomb and do pretty good damage. Level one bombs wont kill many minions, and they wont do fantastic damage to enemies either. Higher ranks of bombs are also a lot more mana efficient:
    lvl 1 bomb: 100/60= 1.66 dmg/mana
    lvl 2 bomb: 155/75= 2.06 dmg/mana
    lvl 3 bomb: 210/90= 2.33 dmg/mana
    lvl 4 bomb: 270/105= 2.57 dmg/mana
    lvl 5 bomb: 330/120= 2.75 dmg/mana
    *NOTE- Obviously, these numbers apply before Ability Power is factored in.

    Laning 2v1
    If your fortunate enough to have a jungler, you might even get to have solo top lane :)
    In this case, its probably even more important to secure the bush. If you dont, then you have to play way back to avoid getting wrecked by them. Most PUG 5's wont coordinate well enough to deny you exp. So you just sit back, get last hits when you can, and wait for them to push the creep waves up to your turret. Unfortunately, I dont have much experience being denied, so I can't pass on any advise as to what to do if this does happen to you. Probably need to run up in time to grab exp from a dying mob, then run back. Time Warp can help alot in this case. Lanes are short enough that a rank 1 Time Warp can wisp you back to your turret in no time.

    Laning 1v2
    If your up against a single enemy, you should have a super easy time. Try to deny them, and hope that your partner is decent and follows along with the plan. Bomb the guy when he tries to come up into lane. Just be mindful of their junlger. If a WW pops up and uses his ult on you, you'll be in pretty bad shape by the time its over :/

    Laning 1v1
    If you find yourself in a 1v1 lane, you'll want to gauge your opposition. You should focus on sticking a bomb on them ever chance it is up. Doing this will keep most opposing champions at pretty low health ranges. If the opposing champion isn't very durable, its entirely possible to deny that that player by yourself. If they start to our harass you (like a Mundo or Cho who can shrug off damage and still fuck you up of you're too careless), you'll have to start playing more defensive. This isn't a problem though, Zil can float around at a safe distance and run back up to throw a rock across the creep wave to kill a creep, all while avoiding any great danger.

    *NOTE: If you're receiving a solo lane worth of experienced, a single level 4 or 5 bomb can clear a caster minion group. If you have a [item_text= Catalyst the Protector], you can begin to consistently farm at level 7. Realize that doing this too much will quickly push you're wave, resulting in both:
    1. You are more vulnerable to ganks.
    2. Your opposition is less vulnerable to ganks.

  • Team Fights

    Team Fights are a major deciding factor during any game. It is not likely you will complete any game without encountering a handful of these.

    Safety is important with Zilean. Chrono Shift is far more effective on your allies than yourself. Be careful and avoid burning it on yourself. Your kinda like a carry in that you are very weak and melt quickly. You want your tank, and other more durable champions, to initiate fights and take most the damage. As said 400 times so far in this guide, Zilean has low health values and has no strong escape mechanism (as Time Warp rarely is enough to get you away from 3 or more champions).

    If your properly positioned, and not getting attacked, then your job is to throw bombs every second they are up! This can add up to a large amount of damage, because of the AOE component of your bombs. If you are in range of bombing their carry, make sure to do that!

    More important than bombing, watch your allies health. If an ally is taking a large amount of burst damage, quickly Chrono Shift them. Try to wait till the last second to ult an ally. I have wasted many ults by using it too early, and its the most dissatisfying feeling. This doesn't mean that you should ult anyone that is dying though. Try assessing the situation and decided when to let an ally die.
    Example, I was in a game with a Twitch. He was seemed to be feeding throughout the game, and was under performing as a result. When a team fight would break out, he would get focused quickly and die. I had the choice to ult him, but chose not to because I knew any other player on our team would do more for the team while alive.

    Typically, I find that Chrono Shifting the first person to die is perfectly acceptable. Some games however, you'll have to decide who to save, and who to let go.

  • General Tips

    * Consider buying a Sight Ward on your first recall and sticking it in the river side bush. As long as you pay attention, this will help tremendously at preventing ganks.

    * Keep buying wards! Most players don't seem to like buying these amazing guys. Get in the habit of garbing a couple when you have some spare coin. They are a bargain. They prevent you from dying, and helps your team get kills.
    Refer to this post for some great info about warding:

    * Because of Zilean's naturally low HP, Health Potion has reasonable effects even until mid-game. You can buy a few of these within your first couple recalls while yielding reasonable effects.

    * From the summoning platform, you can cast Time Warp on yourself and Rewind immediately. This wont provide a huge benefit, but the well should refresh your mana right away, so you wont be at a loss.

    * Holding 'alt' and using an ability will self cast that spell. I have found this helpful (mainly with Time Warp) because it avoids miss clicks and has a quicker effect.

    * During team fights, try to cast Time Warp on an opposing champion before you hit Rewind. This will prevent both: the target from escaping, and having multiple teammates chase them for the sake of a single kill.

    * Always bomb the weakest target in a group of minions.

    * If an enemy champion is roaming around minions, you can double bomb a weak minion, causing both bombs will explode simultaneously. This really has the same effect as simply double bombing the champion, but will do all the damage quickly enough so that they do not have time to react (such as Black Shield or Sanguine Pool). It also just makes you feel cool when an entire creep wave falls over, and they lose 50% of their health :P
    *NOTE- This only works if a single bomb worth of damage would suffice to kill the minion on its own.

    *Regarding [mastery=Archaic Knowledge]:
    1. Flat Penetration is applied before % Penetration is (this is true for both Magic and Armor Pen)
    To quote the Missing Manual:
    "For example if you fight a target with 120 magic resist while you have 20 flat magic penetration and 40% magic penetration, you would deal damage to your target as though he had 60 magic resist."

    2. Also, "Stacking Magic Percent Penetration will yield diminishing results as it stacks multiplicatively and not additively. Archaic Knowledge and Void Staff would grant 49% Penetration and not 55%."

    For more detail on these, or other useful LoL related information, check out RobertMeta's Missing Manual.

  • Ending Words n Stuff

    I believe this guide to cover most the information needed to play Zilean well. I do intend to keep it updated through patchs, and hopefully to add more content in the future.

    I praise those of you who get the Slaughter House Five reference. Hopefully it makes sense if you've read Zilean's lore.

    Thanks for reading! Please leave me feedback! I'd love to know how I can improve the guide :)

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