[Guide][LONG] Zilean, that Clock Guy. AP Playstyle.
I don't come across many zilean players who aren't me, let alone ones who play it in the fashion that I deem "Correct".
I believe Zilean should be played as a super-strength nuker, by stacking AP, Cooldown reduction and a bit of HP and Mana.
A Guide To Zilean's Abilities
Look, i don't remember the exact values of each rank of Zilean's abilities, nor do I care, but I do know how to use these abilities to their full extent.
General: Deals Huge Damage to Targets Near the enemy you hit with this spell after 4 seconds.
General: Simply Lowers all Zilean's cooldowns by 10 Seconds.
General: Snares Enemies, Boosts Friends
General: Makes enemies back off from your target, yes, it does that. Enemies notice the floating hourglasses, they ignore that target in team fights, if you have even shifted a friendly target, it's as good as a team fight anyway.
General Zilean Tips
Item Guide - CD Redux + AP
This build focuses on reducing cooldowns as well as making you stronger.
In a recent change to Rewind, CD Redux isn't as useful as it used to be, making this build, in my opinion, equal to the newer pure AP build that will be below.
This build makes supporting on the side of your burst easier and can offer a better late game if you don't do so well early game.
YOU HAVE 3 CHOICES
How To Pick
Assess the situation. Are your foes aware of how annoying Zilean can be during the early game (Time Bomb Spam against anyone who goes near your minions)? If So, get an Amplifying Tome, make the bombs you do make count.
If not, do you think you will be spamming bombs until the enemy learns? Go Sapphire Crystal.
If you aren't sure, Go Pendant.
Then add any potions that you prefer.
Now, the MOMENT you can afford one of these items, buy them, depending on what item you started out with.
If you have a Pendant, and you are having mana Issues, go Chalice, if not, Codex, I prefer Codex myself, you are going for a deathfire grasp.
Now, look back on what you have bought. Your goal for the beggining of Mid Game (About lv 10) is a deathfire grasp, which will fix what you have most issues with, Tanks.
Now, during this phase, hold out for as long as you can, do not return to your base with the only goal shopping.
When you are next forced to return to your base from mana starvation/low health look on how much money you have.
400: If you went with Sapphire Crystal, Amplifying Tome, or Chalice of Harmony, go for a Meki Pendant.
770: Buy a Kage's Lucky Pick or one of the two Components for Fiendish Codex, your choice which component. Buy whatever one you don't have. If you went Chalice, go for Lucky Pick.
975: Sage's Ring. Yes, this may be unrelated to deathfire grasp, but you will need mana. If you went Tear, go for a Blasting Wand.
If you have Enough: Fully Buy the Deathfire Grasp. Yes, this is Higher Priority than the Sage's Ring or Blasting wand, BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN OUTRIGHT BUY IT AT THIS POINT.
Once you Get Enough Cash, do one of the following.
If you Went Lucky Pick or Codex: Upgrade to Deathfire Grasp, if you Already have Deathfire Grasp, Buy a Sage's Ring or Blasting Wand. (Your Pick, but make sure to only have one sage's ring)
If you have a Tear and Blasting wand, Upgrade to Archangel's Staff, then Work towards deathfire grasp.
If you Have Chalice, Work towards Deathfire Grasp, if you went chalice, sell the chalice the moment you get your sage's ring.
By now you should have deathfire grasp or Archangels Staff.
If you have both, you either solo'd mid or had tower dived like a pro, i like you.
You should only have an archangels staff if you started with Sapphire Crystal.
If you have deathfire grasp, your next goal is Zhonya's Ring.
Hopefully you should have atleast one blasting wand or the sage's ring.
The Moment you can afford the rest of Zhonya's Ring, recall and buy. I don't expect you to have both Zonya's Ring and Archangel's Staff, but if you do, have a cookie, you are already a good Zilean.
Once Zhonya's Ring is complete, you should have atleast 212 Ability power, and you will be extremely powerful.
Once Zhonya's Ring is Complete, you have a choice.
You Are Dying
Buy a Giant's Belt -> Rylai's Scepter
Boots (Boots Guide Coming Further Down)
Do Both, which one first is your choice.
You are Still Stomping on Enemies(Preferable)
Sapphire Crystal -> Archangel's Staff
How To Choose Boots
Boots of Mobility
These can be quite effective on Zilean.
Chronoshift's Resurrect animation counts as Out of combat, coupled with casting time warp on yourself before resurrection, you can escape at warp-speed.
This also helps with extremely Zilean Tower Diving.
Only Take If you Know What You Are Doing With Zilean.
Note: In light of recent changes, and time warp being multiplicative, these boots are even more effective than they used to be.
Boots of Swiftness
I use these boots most often.
Good all-rounders, great for running in, bombing then running out and can be very good for tower diving.
Best All Rounders.
Against Enemies Stacking Magical Resistance, These are on-par with Swiftness(Sometimes More Useful), if not they usually aren't as good.
More Tower-Diving Tools.
If you are fighting enemies with snares and stuns, tower diving becomes far more dangerous, these can fix that. In a gank situation, these are not as useful as mobility, but often more useful than Swiftness.
The Chronoshift you will trigger allows snares and stuns to run their course while you resurrect, this means you normally have time-warp off cooldown (Thanks to rewind) and have no snares, stuns or anything on you (unless the enemy was smart enough to stun AFTER the res) but these make a nice just-in-case.
Well... actually.... your abnormal attack range can be useful when paired with attack speed.... NO. SHUT UP!
Now, you should have the following Loadout.
Your Goal Late Game: Get a Frozen Heart. If you Already have one, go for either staff you want.
Your Ultimate Goal late Game: Get All 3 of the Items and another item fitting the situation.
Final Item Pick
Void Staff if you need the resistance penetration. You can also get an abyssal staff if you prefer.
Guardian Angel to purely annoy enemies, same goes with banshee's veil.
Warmog's Armor, while not my prefered of these, i have used this item on Zilean for very annoying results. As you can one-hit final creep lanes, you can charge it up rather easily.
(Only go Warmog's If you have been fed and have time to buy this before you invade the enemy base, and only if one of the other 3 items are useless in your current situation, which they probably aren't unless you're fighting a team of 5 Yis.)
This Final Slot may also stay empty for the use of potions, wards or any other item you may want to try out with Zilean.
Item Build - Pure AP and Offense
This build is a bit more popular lately, I gave the generic one i've been seeing lately whirl and... nah.
This is what has worked best for me. It rezzurects tanks with Full HP and you hit like a freaking truck. Your attacks are just not so overwhelmingly fast and time warp chasing/slowing is a bit more difficult to pull off against intelligent enemies.
You only have two choices with this build. Regen is not an option.
You will hit like a truck with Amplifying Tomb and I reccomend that you take that over the crystal, but it really is a choice.
The Crystal will help with mana, in the case of you not getting first blood/assist, it is vital that you are not required to leave your lane after the fight.
The crystal is also reccomended if you are soloing mid, as playing Zilean in solo mid will be documented below, it is now a viable strategy.
If you are forced out of your lane, you have a choice.
If you went Sapphire Crystal here are your options based on the money you have.
Buy the most expensive option that you can afford.
If you have enough money to buy more than one item, the Soulstealer and Boots of Speed is the only option. You must stockpile money for your soulstealer if not.
If you went with Amplifying Tome:
Buy mejai's, top priority.
If you can afford something in addition to the Soulstealer, go with a Sapphire Crystal in addition to the soul stealer, boots are not required if you have a soul stealer, your firepower should out-rank the boots at this point.
If you have both Tear and Soulstealer, then grab your boots of speed.
Again, look back on what you have.
You should by now have began generating a reasonable amount of mana via the tear and have gotten at least 2 Mejai Stacks.
Here are the new options, organized by how much money you have.
Your goal is to get an early Zhonyas. Which is oddly important on Zilean.
If you were poor, you will go for the Catalyst first. If you were rich, you get a nice boost on your AP on the way to Zhonyas.
Your goals are listed below.
The preffered order of gaining these items is:
But you must make sure that if you can gain one of these earlier and easier due to lack of cash flow, get that one first and put Zhonya's last.
At any moment during the mid game you find yourself with only a small amount of money but at the summoning pool, upgrade your boots.
You can select boots via the boots guide above.
The moment you reach >300 AP you must get a Lich bane.
If you have all the ingredients for one of the three items listed above, get that item first then start building Lich Bane.
Coupled with your insane attack range, Lich Bane becomes amazing at finishing off runners or making sure that the bomb hovering over their head will get the kill.
This is where things get interesting.
If you don't have these items already, here is your priority.
Now, if you noticed, Rod of Ages wen't down in importance.
That is because if you don't have the rod by this point, it really won't be too much benefit for you.
You can even interchange it for a Crystal Scepter if it is that late, as you would only really be getting the Scepter for some HP, and a Crystal Scepter offers the same AP as a capped Rod of Ages (Excluding Archangels effect)
If you get all of these items complete (Remember, get either a Crystal Scepter or Rod, never both) here is what you do.
That's it. You can pick from anything you want, as long as there is a large quantity of AP waiting at the end of it, Deathfire grasp is a nice option, as the nuke is great.
You can delve into the depths of the 'Final item' guide above in the CD Redux build if you want, or you could just get another Zhonya's for the heck of it.
Runes and Masteries
What you Want from Runes - CD Redux
Do you have enough mastery points for both Sorcery and Intelligence?
If so, you only need 16% CD reduction from Runes, the rest goes into AP or anything else you want.
If you gain the 16% from runes and the 9% from masteries, then you don't need a Frozen Heart, and can get something else you want toe experiment with.
If you don't have enough points for both, do you have enough for Intelligence?
If you get 3/3 Intelligence and can't go into sorcery, you probably aren't high leveled enough to gain 16% CD reduction, let alone the 19% required to skip Frozen heart.
With 3/3 Intelligence, you can not bother to waste gold on upgrading your Glacial Shroud to a Frozen Heart, put that money elsewhere.
If you don't have enough points for Intelligence, but have enough for 4/4 Sorcery, you should easily have enough rune slots to gain 2% CD reduction. With 4/4 Sorcery and 2% on runes, don't upgrade your glacial shroud into a frozen heart, put the money elsewhere.
If you cannot reach either masteries, you should think about trying a different champion first before you jump into zilean.
What you want from Runes - Pure AP
The Mastery Build remains the same, but you may choose to avoid some of the CD reduction in favor of anything else that takes your fancy, but I really, really recommend you take the same build listed below.
Runes are the following
Red - Magic Penetration
Makes your bombs hurt.
Yellow - Dodge, Health, Mana Regen or anything that takes your fancy.
I do recommend dodge myself, simply because melee carries hurt, especially Yi.
Dodge runes also allows you to moonlight on other champions come the need for it.
But anything is Viable.
Blue - CD Reduction or AP/Level
Quintessence - Health
1/1 In Haste or Spacial Accuracy if you use either mastery. otherwise 1 point into Good Hands.
4/4 Expanded Mind
2/2 Utility Mastery
1/1 Blink - If you use flash or put another point into meditation.
One More into Meditation
1/1 Presence of the Master
3/3 Archmage's Savvy
1/1 Plentiful Bounty - If Smite is Used or 1/3 Deadliness
1/1 Archaic Knowledge
Leveling Build (You cannot yet reach Intelligence)
3/3 Archmages Savvy
1/1 Plentiful Bounty - If Used or 1/3 Deadliness
1/1 Archaic Knowledge
NOW! Once you have enough masteries to reach tier 3 masteries in Utility remove the following masteries, but for now, use them.
1/1 Burning Embers (OPTIONAL ONLY IF YOU USE IGNITE)
1/1 Either Summoner Spell Boosts or 1/3 Good Hands
4/4 Expanded Mind
REMOVE ALACRITY AND/OR BURNING EMBERS
Now finish the build until it matches the Optimal Build
As useful on Zilean as it is on any other champion. Unless you plan on having boots of mobility and rank 5 time warp, you're probably going to save the most time you can when returning to a lane.
This is for one purpose, big time blasts during the Laning Phase.
You Bomb one Minion, rewind before first bomb explodes, bomb a new target.
The Moment your target is within the blast radius of both time bombs, smite one of the bomb-carrying minions, this will cause the bomb to explode instantly, this should catch the second bomb carrier and make it die too, exploding their bomb, dealing a huge amount of damage to the enemy instantly (So they can't react with a heal).
Unfortunately, this only works with Rank 5 Time bomb, otherwise the bomb-chain will not work properly.
You WILL have mana issues until you get your first sage's ring, unless you went chalice.
Mobility+Time Warp+Ghost = A Zilean moving faster than a Virgin at a Year 11 Ball.
You can use this for an amazing escape combo.
This is fiendish. Chronoshift yourself, and when you know you're going to die, park yourself next to a wall. The moment you become capable of doing so, flash over the wall, time warp, and run like hell.
Cleanse is you're worst nightmare. All of your offensive abilities are debuffs.
Morgana can completely block the time bomb, or just mitigate the damage and block the time warp.
Tanks won't die until you reach maximum firepower, but you can scare them off if they don't realize you've used up all of your cooldowns.
Other Zileans will blow you up before you blow them up, simple as that.
Banshee's Veil simply sucks. Make sure to remove the shield with a time-warp, not a time bomb.
Sivir is the same as banshee's Veil, remove the shield with a warp.
Guide to the Game
You can solo if you really want to, it's not exactly such a good idea, seeing as how you can't kill enemies as Zilean alone unless they're mentally handicapped, but you can harrass them enough to keep them away from you and your creeps.
Try to lane against melee enemies, you will be able to completely keep them away from your creeps by time bombing anyone stupid enough to get near them. If a meleee character attacks you, slow them down, your minions will take a nice hunk of their HP.
Once you gain Rank 5 Time Bomb, bomb last row creeps, if both causes enemy champions hanging out near them to move backwards, out of XP range and one shots the minions.
Remember that you are TEACHING the enemy champions.
Enemies will learn not to attack your friendly minions, they will lose a quarter of their HP to a time bomb.
Enemies will learn not to get anywhere near you, let alone attack you.
Enemies will learn that they simply can't kill you thanks to chronoshift.
If they already know all this, then you are going to get ganked by the entire enemy team, sorry mate.
Now, if an enemy champion is low on health, and you have chronoshift, make sure to allow them to return to their tower, where they think they're safe.
Get near, and dive. Speed yourself up, autoattack the enemy once if they are about to successfully recall then bomb them once, or if required, bomb-rewind-bomb. If you are going to die from tower, shift yourself, and leave. Simple as that.
During the laning phase you are an amazing last hitter.
You hit like a truck. Too bad you have to wait 4 seconds to deal damage.
That's why you make sure you steal kills.
Enemy about to die, bomb a nearby minion and smite or bomb-rewind-bomb the enemy who is about to die.
Trust me, it's not being an ass if you need the gold more than that annoying jax laning with you.
Once you have "taught" the enemies, prepare to get ganked.
Buy boots early if you must, just remember that you will get ganked by a smart team.
During this Phase, you will be a Prime target for ganks, you must always be on edge.
Remember that if a team fight breaks out, you are the team fight king, capable of dealing 1000+ damage via a double time bomb to all enemies at once if they stand near eachother. If they try to retreat, snare the weakest one. if your team is going to retreat, boost yourself, chronoshift a near-dead friend.
When attempting to destroy towers, remember that you can one-hit last row creeps with time bomb (smite is a bonus), if you're autoattacking a tower, make sure to cast a bomb if an enemy wave is incoming. You can also push lanes like mad with time bomb.
By now you should be dealing far more than 500 damage per time bomb, and you should have maximum cooldown reduction.
This allows insane damage output by spamming timebomb and rewind.
Remember to ALWAYS use rewind whenever it's off cooldown if chronoshift is on cooldown.
If you are fed, go hunting, if you're fed enough your time bombs can take out enemies solo easily.
You're only issue now is in team fights against players with banshee's veil, sivirs and morganas, you should also avoid tanks with huge amounts of HP. Definitely watch out for those stacking magical resistance.
3: Time Warp
1. Chronoshift - Upgrade whenever possible.
2. Time Bomb - Your bread and Butter
3. Rewind - Bloody Useful
4. Time Warp - The Bonus Duration isn't much more useful until late game. Just make sure you have one rank of it.
You are Now Ready to go Time Bomb some people.
Send me responses if you want, any tips i should add, whether or not I made mistakes and even submit alternate item builds, there's possibly a better item build for AP Zilean out there.
Sorry About it being So Long.
Great guide. Lots of good tips for those thinking of taking the plunge. I would offer a word of caution though for those who may think after reading it that Zilean is somehow a caster carry that can put out insane amounts of damage and terrorize the battlefield. By going AP, you WILL do decent damage but you should still consider yourself support and should always be mindful of where your allies are in order to slow a fleeing enemy, ult a dying ally [if he isn't surrounded and it won't be a waste], or speed someone up that has overextended themselves. I have NEVER seen a Zilean carry a team before. He just isn't built for it. That doesn't mean that you have to be a waste of space though and I think this guide makes you far more useful than 90% of the Zileans I've run across.
One thing I would note: I'm pretty sure that you don't have to use two minions for a double bomb, you can just put both on one minion, placing the second detonates the first, killing him and thus setting off the second. Great for making people wonder why they just lost half their hp when you didn't even put a bomb on them.
Also, most players (at least at my elo bracket) don't seem to notice bombs on minions anywhere near as often as they do bombs on themselves or friendly champs.
Yes, I've tried to show that he isn't a caster carry by saying things such as 'Don't Solo' and 'Stay with friends' but I have carried teams before, it's just not as easy as with a true carry, but a fed Zilean can carry teams simply by having his teammates never ever die.
And yes, you are Support, but you indeed do put out some of the largest burst damage in the game.
Also, I'm not sure if double bombing a dying minion works, i'll give it a shot, if it's comfirmed, i'll put it in the guide.
Malphite is a great choice for timebombing, just before he initiates with his ult stick one on him- you're guaranteed to hit everyone he does. Rammus, Amumu, Blitz, and other initiators are also great for proxy timebombs.
Also, might want to add the standard Zilean combo- timewarp timebomb rewind timebomb.
Also, I didn't exactly right out the combo, but I did talk about it in the section about Brush.
Timebomb-Timewarp-Rewind-Timebomb Works pretty much the same too, sometimes better because Pub teammates react earlier.
I've only played straight support Zilean (mp5, cooldown reduc, mobility boots) but I seem to be getting more and more kills from good ol' rank 3 timebomb and cocky heroes. Deathfire is an interesting choice, I'll have to try this.
Also: Thoughts on masteries?
I used to like AP Zilean, but have found that I get best results with: Rod of Ages, Wit's End, Frozen Mallet.
For most of the game I have more HP than the tankiest of tanks, and no one is scary when they have no mana.
I was looking for guide like this, thank you.
I will try this out.
I might write out some masteries, but pretty much anything works for zilean.
Offense is an okay choice, but once you have your 15% magic penetration you aren't going to get much more from the tree, and utility becomes far more useful.
Either way, Zilean is a huge harasser throughout the entire game, as you said, even lower ranks of time bomb make cocky heroes wet themselves.
And rEv3, that sounds like a strange build alright, Wit's End sounds like an interesting choice for the Laning Phase, seeing as how enemies don't realize how large your range is.
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