[Guide] Gentleman Tibbers is Off to the Ball: A Laning-Focused Annie Guide
This guide was written for version 1.12.17, and last updated 8/27/10, on version 1.17.12. If there have been major Annie changes since then, I make no promises as to the efficacy of this guide.
Tibbers is going to the ball, and he needs a fancy new tux or he'll never hear the end of it from Cho'gath. Never fear! This is a guide specifically about being Annie and getting lots of money so your companion won't embarrass you in front of the other rich people. As such, this is mostly a pre-game and early-game guide. Annie's late game is partly trivial (get a stun, and then kill some people with it, and then get another stun) and the difficult parts are also those that are hard to teach (when to turn a flee into a last stand?). While I will offer some late-game tips, this guide is mostly to ensure that you end the laning phase awesome enough that you don't really need to know what you are doing to carry your team.
This is a solo mid guide. While many of the lessons applied here work in a side lane, I am writing this guide assuming you are taking mid and if you are in a side lane I make no promises as to the usefulness of this guide.
Keeping Track of All the Latest Fashions: The Pregame
Your first summoner spell is teleport. Non-negotiable. This is a guide about getting money, teleport gets you more money. It also helps for ganking (if you're weakened you can b, tele, come back, gank) and in a pinch you can help a side lane by complete surprise and still make it back mid before too large of damage is done to your stomping grounds.
It's also noteworthy that in the later game, Annie is tailor-made to stike down the backdoor happy characters (shaco, pantheon, twitch, tf) in a one-on-one, meaning that you can teamfight with your friends and tele if a tower needs it. When my team has a naked inhib, I usually put a ward by it so I can stealth tele in and wreck any would-be backdoorer.
Flash can set you up for some sweet ganks, but if you flub it you've got a long time without it. Ghost is also a solid option. It's good for initiating and chasing. I'd say that a good second summoner spell is one of these two. I prefer ghost personally.
Honestly, there aren't really other options. Mana shouldn't be an issue with the other regen you'll be packing (and you can use your tele as a free b) so you don't need clarity overmuch. Healing isn't worth much, and while Fortify, Rally, and Clairvoyance all have their moments the proletariat non-carries can worry about those trifling matters.
Ignite deserves special mention because it seems so good on the face of it. I know I've gotten a lot of first bloods off of it in my early games with Annie - but it's a crutch. The key with Annie is to weaken them down and then burst them from half-health to nothing, and all ignite does is cover for you when you've got your sums wrong. The -50% healing can be useful against certain enemy teams, but in general its not worth giving up the money and utility of teleport or the maneuverability of Flash/Ghost.
One option stands head-and shoulders above the rest - the 9/0/21 spread.
3 Archmages Savvy
1 Archaic Knowledge
No civilized caster would be caught dead outside their mansion without their trusty Archaic Knowledge.
1 Spatial Accuracy
1 Blink of an Eye (Haste if you chose Ghost)
1 Utility Mastery
1 Presence of the Master
The utility tree is full of helpful accessories. Experience, regeneration, movement speed - all of these will go well with the festive indiscriminate justice you'll be applying to the lane. The utility mastery may seem a bit out of place, but generally you can count on one of your foes to kindly fetch you a golem buff.
Red: Spell Pen. This may as well be your ticket to the party. If you don't have spell pen, go back to cleaning your sisters fireplace.
Yellow: You should start with mana regeneration per level seals. They cross over with flat regeneration seals at fourth level, which you should reach disgustingly quickly. Once you step up your last-hitting game, you can look in to swapping these for Dodge seals, since you won't need much mana once you've mastered the art of last-hitting.
Blue: Cooldown or Cooldown/level. Speaking of mundane matters, can you believe the gall of these people? Limiting Tibber's guest appearances by some silly number. Best make that as low as you can.
Quints: Flat HP. Your ultimate goal is to exert control over your domain and deny money to your opponent. The early health does wonders for your laning presence.
Making an Entrance: The Early Game.
Open with a Doran's Ring. The more health you have, the more you can trade harasses. Yes, this is making your Rod of Ages take a little longer, but your increased lane presence will quickly refund the difference. If you're worried about a harass happy mid and you have mana regeneration/level seals, you can take a Doran's Shield With your spare change, get a health potion.
Get disintegrate as your first level skill. I know a lot of Annie players get incinerate to charge a stun at the fountain. This can have limited use in a side lane when you have a companion who can pummel the stunned opponent, but in the middle you do not want to be getting that close to anyone else alone first level.
Last hitting disintegrates for free is the key to Annie's legacy. Train in a practice game and get the feel for it. It's tough to do level one because the margins are so slim, but it's possible. With all of your regeneration you can stand a few misses. In fact, until you hit level five, ignore your passive and just last hit as often as possible. The fact of the matter is, disintegrate 1 and 2 is comparable to an auto-attack, which means that trading it with the other hero is usually a bad idea. There's no reason to stun an enemy when you have nothing more to do to them. If you gank your enemy before fifth level, it is NEVER because you are good but ALWAYS because your enemy is bad. The main reason an enemy dies before fifth level is because they have less than 500 flat hp. Take this easy gank and enjoy it, but don't go commissioning the local bard to write an epic about you crushing the incompetent.
For your next skills, take:
After this, R > Q > W > E.
Your W is not a tool for laning early game. That's what your free Q is for. Your W is only to use on a hero you stunned with your Q or to cycle a pyro stack.
"But wait!" some of you may be saying. "Surely your E is the best skill to cycle pyro stacks!" The answer is - only when you know you will be doing no fighting until it recools. Many Annie players think of Magma Shield only as a way to cycle pyro, and while we'll be leaving it level one at long as possible, it is still a SHIELD, and if you ever lose a close fight without a magma shield up you win the stupid commoner award.
Now, Disintegrate 3 is when your Q starts doing really good damage, and you can harass with it. Simply last hit creeps until you have a stun up, then throw the stun Q at the opponent. Don't even use your W at first - while it's first level, it's not worth the mana. The stun lets you get an auto-attack in and the stun Q HURTS. Be careful against a Sivir mid - you'll have to bait her shield out and only go for her when it's down.
I'm sure a lot of you are thinking something along the lines of, "While I am an aristocrat (and thus view all others as sub-human), I can't help but feel that walking towards the opponent every time I am surrounded by swirling doom is a little obvious." Yes, it's obvious - and that's exactly what you want. If your opponent walks out of range every time you approach with a stun Q, simply drive them out of last hit range, last hit with your stun q, then walk back. If they are careful to get out of range every single time you have a stun, they'll only be widening the money gap between you and them. And, of course, you can always throw a non-stun Q at them if they are a little too quick to rush back to the minion wave when you last hit with your stun-Q. Zone control is your ultimate ambition.
Once you get Tibbers, the game changes. Many Annie players will use Tibbers the first time they hit with a stun. People who use all of their skills on a full health enemy aren't going to kill - these are the ones who think ignite is necessary. But it's not. The trick is to wait until they are in kill range before committing everything. One thing to remember is that, as far as kill range is concerned, cleanse can be considered an "extra life"; you'll need to knock their health down AND get them to use cleanse before going for a killing blow.
You'll have to learn by practice when a champion is in kill range. Just keep harassing them with stun Q's, throwing in a W once it's at least second level. Your opponent will constantly have to wonder, "Is this the time Tibbers gets thrown in?". If they're overly cautious and back whenever they're in kill range, they're denying themselves and letting you free farm. If they try to stay, you can gank them. Remember, too, that even if they escape with a smidgen of health, you didn't "fail" - you get free farming, tibbers gets tower hits, and they get denied.
The Simple, Bare Accessories: The Mid Game
Try to leave your lane as little as possible. Tele if an ally really needs it, but you make more money last hitting creeps than bailing out your less-adept friends. While ganking in another lane may seem appealing, be realistic - there's a good chance it won't happen, and if you walk to the lane and back to yours without killing anything, you just wasted a lot of potential gold. It's better to focus on being an excellent carry than an excellent friend, and I usually only leave mid to intercept a fleeing friend or foe who is coming mid-ward or when I tele behind a weakened enemy champ (this generally happens when the enemy tower-dives past my creeps - I enjoy punishing people for that, and it's a much more certain kill.)
Now, while you're staying in-lane as long as possible, it's true that sooner or later, you have to B. Fortunately, you will be well compensated for your travels. Start with these items.
Get these in any order you like. I advocate Ruby>Boots>Sapphire, but it's generally worth forsaking boots if you can get Catalyst in one go. After that, grab a Blasting Wand and finish your Rod of Ages. Then, finish your boots - the most stylish choice are Sorcerers Shoes but there are some enemy team compositions that ensure Mercury's Treads are always in fashion.
After that, it's time to be reactive. Hold down tab and look at the items in play and the characters stats. Pick the most appropriate scenario, buy the item, then re-react. If you're rushed, my general policy is "Buy a Blasting Wand and worry about it later." Remember to buy wards whenever you have the spare change.
I'm crushing the rabble.
This one is pretty common. You got your Rod of Ages in twelve minutes, you've already ganked twice, and there's no one to be scared of. Get a Mejai's Soulstealer. Codon's commandment does apply here - if you have yet to get a kill, hold off on that snowball item.
They are singling me out as a person of high personage.
If your tank isn't too good, people will be gunning for you, particularly if you already have Mejai's. Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a good option here. You still get a lot of AP, and the health is a real life saver, especially because the HP synergizes with Magma Shield.
Many of them are feebly working on resisting magic in a desperate bid to avoid my awesome power.
Get a Void Staff. Note that one hero is not a 'they' - if just the tank is getting magic res, it's not worth a staff. Annie is very good at focusing her damage where she wants whether or not there's a tank in her way.
I feel I need to re-iterate my greatness. My Mejai's has more than ten stacks and I am an unstoppable combination of combustion and etiquette.
Get a Zhonya's Ring and then a Guardian Angel to preserve the twenty stacks you doubtlessly have by now. If you don't have a Mejai's Soulstealer and you feel it's too late to get one, then skip the Guardian Angel for Needlessly Large Rods, building them into spare Zhonya's Rings when you run out of slots. (Yes, the abilities don't stack, but 120AP is still the most you can get in one item slot.) If the game is still ongoing, start drinking Elixirs of Brilliance and Fortitude.
I am unfortunately having some issue with the mongrels.
If you're losing, the easiest way to keep losing is to just slowly build your normal build. If enemy physicals are hurting you, buy a Chain Vest. If enemy casters are hurting you, get a Negatron Cloak or two Null-Magic Mantles. You can finish the Vest into a Guardian Angel, the Cloak into an Abyssal Scepter or Banshee's Veil, and the mantles into Mercury's Treads and an Aegis of the Legion. The important thing is that even if you don't finish the resistance items into a recipe, they do a world of good for you on their own.
I realize that these are hardly the only choices and invite readers to share their item choices and when they'd get them (keeping in mind that the Rod of Ages comes first). One thing I know I'm neglecting right off the bat is the Deathfire Grasp. I just have a personal thing against it, but the interim codex is a great item and there are probably a lot of people who could do well of themselves using a Deathfire. My lack of experience with it prevents me recommending a good "when" for it. As for the Will of the Ancients (including the Hextech Revolver that is an ingredient), I find that if you have teammates who could benefit from the ability then those teammates are much better candidates to buy it. Ask your local Zilean or Soraka to consider adding it to their build, but it's not something you should be getting.
Make Them All Leave Unfashionably Early: The Late Game
These skills are the hardest to teach. If you have been lording it over the others as intended, of course, you are not exactly in a position where you should be having much trouble. Still, here are some bits of knowledge it would behoove you to have as the festivities become more chaotic.
Now, as you walk to the middle of the map, quickly assuring that your good friend Mr. Tibbers will be able to make his presence known quickly and repeatedly, remember: you are winning because it is your birthright.
+1 Pretty decent Annie guide, people would benefit from reading it.
Nice, easy-to-read guide; looks pretty good overall too. Andbytheway, nice writing style.
Thanks for the compliments! :)
I'm still curious as to what people think on the Hextech Revolver and Will of the Ancients for Annie.
Sorry but Annie has been my main for quite a while now and you're guide is severely flawed. The whole point of Annie is to burst. Leveling up Q is great for last hitting easier and harassing a bit harder but you won't be able to get as many kills as you would otherwise. And seriously, opening up with Q stun? You're just asking to have your enemy flash out of it. That's probably the worst part of your guide. You always open up with W or R stun. Q stun is for people who don't know how to aim. I have more to say but I'll just leave it at that, I'll probably be writing my own guide on Annie soon. Didn't think she needed one but after seeing this along with the +votes it has I'm compelled to tell people how to ACTUALLY play Annie.
I think you're -rightly! - pointing out that this guide isn't a teamfighting oriented guide. If I were to expand the late-game tactics section, it'd sound more like what you're talking about. But if two annies square off mid, one leveling W and W-stunning and the other leveling Q and Q-stunning, the Q annie will level faster, get more gold, and still be at team-fighting peak by the time it matters.
The best way to put it is this: annie needs to be a burster when it's time to burst. But if annie plays as a burster the whole game she'll be sub-optimal. If she focuses on being a farmer when it's time to farm, she'll be a better burster when it's time to burst.
EDIT: You do have a point that W-stunning can't be flash-canceled while Q-stunning can. Generally I find enemies will burn flash on the first harass, but if their flash is up when you go in and you're in W range it's better than Q. I'll edit that in the guide.
While I'm only level 8, this guide has been great for me. I bought Annie last night and read this guide and followed it to the T in my very first game. It's been a very satisfying experience playing Annie, and following this guide has netted me 106 kills, 15 deaths, and 30 assists over the course of 8 games. Every single game I've played with her has been well over 10 kills, maybe 1 or 2 deaths, and a handful of assists.
Good guide from my experience.
Wow, thanks for sharing that story. Fills me with smiles, it does.
It's also a relief because I wasn't sure how effective this would be without a max level rune book and masteries. I will say that, as awesome as Archaic Knowledge is, at ninth level you're probably better served staying in utility for the experience and regen than grabbing that spell pen. I would recommend staying pure utility until 20th level, at which point 9/0/11 gives you Perseverance 3, Spatial Accuracy, Awareness 4, Meditation 3, and Archaic Knowledge. From there, just add one to utility each level - it's never worth dropping Archaic Knowledge for Presence of the Master.
Sorry but this guide is still wrong. You underestimate your opponents too much, and hey, maybe rightfully so if you've been getting matched up against pushovers. The thing is, Annie is about burst. I don't care if that burst is against 5 people or against 1, the theory doesn't change. Annie doesn't have ANY chasing mechanisms outside of her stun. By the time you open up with stun and launch your other two spells your opponent is ready to break free and escape via any summoner spells and any innate mobility methods they might have themselves, something which Annie doesn't. W does more damage than Q. That's a fact. If you level up Q over W then you aren't bursting as hard as you can and you aren't going to be getting as many one-shot kills on your lane-mate and/or will lack the pressure from pushing them out once they realize you took Q over W and know you can't OHKO them anymore.
Don't really see how you can argue with that above statement.
As for opening up with Q. Sure, it might work, congrats. It's a bad habit to fall into though. Q takes time to travel and gives your opponent those few extra split seconds to think about how to escape, get ready to cleanse, flash, check the minimap for allies, etc. etc. Opening up with a W or R stun is instant and not only takes the enemy by surprise but sends them into a state of panic where the first thought to come to their mind is usually the course of action they will take, even if it might be bad. Also, anytime R is up, you should be opening up with R stun. ALWAYS. Why? Tibbers constantly burns your enemy and will attack them as they are stunned in place. Opening up with Q makes you lose out on this time tibbers could be damaging your enemy.
Hope that helps you. Btw, summoner spells are Flash and Ignite. Not Teleport and Flash. "Non-negotiable," (see reasons pertaining to "bursting" above.)
The ignorant -1s and +1s being stupidly applied in this thread are what make me wish there was a level/skill restriction as to who can post "guides." Just add me in game and I can demonstrate to you first-hand how to play Annie since obviously my words have no effect on you.
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