Riven - Mastering the Art of War
Welcome to Lynk the Hero’s Riven Guide.
The goal of this guide is not to familiarize you with the champion; there are plenty of resources that explain her basics (Other guides, Phreak’s Spotlight etc.) The goal is to teach the proper skills necessary to use her powerful tools to their greatest effect.
Too many times have I seen Riven players build improperly, prioritize abilities blindly instead of strategically, and rush into battle spamming her abilities and wasting potential damage. Everyone knows about spacing out her auto attacks and weaving them into ability use, but how does one do that exactly? In what situations is that most effective? What abilities should be used for mobility and control, and what should be used for building the passive?
The goal of this guide is to give you the tools to make those decisions, instead of giving bland general advice.
Why pick Riven?
Riven has almost no direct counters. There isn’t a single hero in this game who gives Riven a great deal of trouble, and she is a dominating figure in the top solo meta. She is a high-skill mobile dps, and while you could call her ‘tanky’, she isn’t very beefy naturally. I would describe her most as a semi-carry, she has the tools to deal damage and has some very minor CC. She would also function well as a jungler and a roamer, but I will focus on her laning (since her strategy does not change much between the three)
She scales insanely well with AD, benefiting from it much more than other AD heroes, similar to how Malphite or Rammus benefit from armor more than others, so keep this in mind when selecting her. aka Don’t pick Riven if your team already has Gangplank, Shyvana, and Graves
“The mongrel who tucks its tail between its legs and runs away from battle without fighting should not bark!”
Q - Broken Wings: Riven steps forward and lashes out in a series of powerful sword slashes. This ability can be activated up to 3 times in a short period.
1st Use/2nd Use: Deals 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+0.7 per bonus attack damage) physical damage to a small area in front of her.
3rd Use: Jumps into the air and slams downward, causing a larger impact nova that deals 30 / 55 / 80 / 105 / 130 (+0.6 per bonus attack damage) physical damage and knocks nearby enemies back. Cooldown: 13 seconds
This ability is one of her most important in regards to mobility, but one of the least in regards to damage. The main time one would use this JUST for damage is in cases of AOE. Even in BIG team fights, when the enemy team just happens to be standing still in a perfect cone for you, I wouldn’t recommend spamming this. While Riot apparently wants this to be Riven’s main tool for damage, they must not want it that bad because the recent change (that took a little damage out of her next ability and put it into this one) was simply not enough. What this ability should mainly be used for is positioning, escaping, chasing, and stacking your passive. I will go into more detail on how and when to use Broken Wings effectively later. Note that leveling Q does not decrease its cooldown.
W - Ki Burst: Riven stuns nearby enemies for 0.5 seconds and hits them for 50 / 80 / 110 / 140 / 170 (+1.0 per bonus attack damage) physical damage.
Cooldown: 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7seconds
Hrm. Best spell ever? It is certainly one of Riven’s strongest. Luckily, it is also one of her most self-explanatory: hit W, stun enemies. People tend to underestimate 0.5 seconds, but any time spent standing still and not being able to defend yourself is prime time to get cut in half. After landing one of these, you’ll find it fairly easy to spend at least one of your precious passive, in addition to the powerful damage that it does alone. It also aids Riven in escaping, but not as much as her other two abilities. I will go into how to use this ability in those situations in more detail later.
E - Valor: Riven dashes forward and gains a shield that protects her from up to 60 / 90 / 120 /150 / 180 (+1.0 per bonus attack damage) damage for 2.5 seconds.
Cooldown: 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 seconds
Oh man, this ability is pure genius. The dash does not go very far, only 325 units. To give you an accurate idea of how far this is, consider that Xin Zhao’s Audacious Charge has a range of 650 units. So Riven can dash half that distance, for free, and gain a damage shield that scales with AD. This ability is amazing, as it makes your escapes easier but also can be used to make your harassing simple and free, not to mention allowing last hits to be easier during the laning phase (thanks to Riven’s amazing passive).
R - Blade of the Exile: Riven's sword reforms, giving her a bonus 20% Attack Damage, and extended range on her damaging abilities and basic attacks for 15 seconds. Riven can activate the ability to emit a shockwave in a long cone in front of her that deals physical damage to all units hit based on their missing health.
Cooldown: 75 / 60 / 45 seconds
Skyward S…Wind Scar…Wind Slash: Minimum Damage: 80 / 120 / 160 (+0.6 per attack damage)
Maximum Damage (25% health or lower): 240 / 360 / 480 (+1.8 per attack damage)
In general, a hero’s ultimate ability should sum up the hero. It should allow the hero to perform their job in some way, or (as such in this case) just improve the hero; gaining 20% additional BONUS AD and increasing Riven’s range (including her abilities). This means she just becomes better, in every single way: AoE’s get bigger, attack range is longer, and you hit harder. It’s pretty good! The cooldown is pretty forgiving, so don’t be afraid to pop this just to kill one hero.
Oh, and if somehow someone manages to escape your clutches despite your amazing mobility (cough cough flash) or the more likely situation where the enemy team somehow prevents you from finishing your plate, you do have your final option: A ranged AOE execute. Thanks Riot, I guess you thought your anime fighting game tribute character was too subtle.
Passive – Runic Blade: Riven's abilities charge her blade, causing her to do 5 / 7 / 9 / 11 / 13 / 15 (+0.5 per bonus attack damage) bonus physical damage on her next autoattack. Riven can store up to 3 charges, and will only expend one at a time.
Oh man. This passive is incredible. I saved it for last, because this ability is what makes Riven amazing. This makes you the scariest top solo, and a fearsome early warrior. Proper use of this ability is what makes and breaks Riven, in addition to defining her. Because this ability scales with AD, every bit of bonus AD you get can basically count for 1.5 times the amount it would on other heroes if you play proper. Note that this is BONUS AD, so it only counts damage you get from items (Or runes and masteries, which I will cover below)
Whether soloing top, or laning elsewhere there is really only one way to go:
Q – W – E.
This must be done. Riven is one of the strongest champions in the game come level 3, as you can pull off your entire combo on heroes who don’t have the means to defend yet. By level 3, you simply must have at least one level of each of your abilities.
After that, in a lot of ways it is up to you. I still recommend leveling E and W before Q; Riven is only limited by her cooldowns, and the only ability that doesn’t get a lower cooldown while leveling is Broken Wings.
E should be prioritized if you feel as though you are taking a lot of damage, as the extra mobility and damage shield with a lower cooldown will give you some space to either escape or regenerate some health from creeps.
W should be prioritized if you are doing well, which allows you to control your victims better once you catch up to them. Blade of the Exile should be leveled at every opportunity, it makes you great.
Runes & Masteries & Summoner Spells
Building your advantage before the game starts
In this regard, Riven is simple. For masteries, I recommend this:
This build best supports a highly aggressive Riven, because of its boosts to physical damage and defenses. The points can of course be moved around, but I recommend at least keeping the straight AD from the first tier of the offensive tree: This (along with my rune build) gives you greater benefit to your passive
Because AD is so powerful for Riven (As it also provides her with some survivability with E in addition to just pure damage) basic AD runes will work:
Red: Armor Pen OR Flat AD
Yellow: Armor OR MR
Blue: Cooldown Reduction (These are important.)
Quints: Armor Pen
However, there is a build that I personally use:
Red: 5xFlat AD 4x Armor Pen
Yellow: Armor or MR
Blue: Cooldown Reduction
Quints: Flat AD
With this build, you keep some of the benefit of early armor penetration, while also gaining a great deal of flat AD. The reason I prefer this build is because the bonus AD totals (with masteries) 14. With a Doran’s Blade, that gives you 24 bonus damage. This means that in addition to a lot of early damage, you get 12 bonus damage to your passive (at level 1, equaling 17 bonus damage). That means after one Q, an auto attack can deal up to 95 damage(54+24+17= 95). That is HUGE at level 1, and gives you a fairly decent chunk of HP through the 6% lifesteal you have through masteries and Doran’s Blade. With this in mind, you can also stick to flat AD. I personally like to hybridize to gain benefits from all ends, but as your mastery grows you should try different things to see what you prefer.
Further examining the differences between Armor Pen and AD reveals that at early levels they are more or less the same. Flat AD wins out by a teensy margin, but Armor Pen can come into play in regards to abilities that deal physical damage (like Riven is chock full of). In general, it is probably more effective to roll with flat AD, but having some armor pen is not a bad idea either.
As for summoner spells, I highly recommend exhaust. It allows escapes, makes prey easier to kill through masteries, and can shut down dangerous enemies. Your other spell is up to you; Flash and Ghost are good choices, or Ignite if your team lacks that sort of debuff.
Getting to work on some Health Bars
Okay, if you wanna be good with Riven, you need to learn her Bread and Butter:
c.l c.m c.h S (jump) j.m j.for-H dash j.m (land) c.h S (jump) j.m for-h dash j.m (land) c.m c.h S (jump) j.m for-H j.m (land)
You can use this anywhere on screen and it takes all the way to the corn…
To summarize: Use intelligent aggression. Riven is powerful early, and she has the tools to take advantage of her power by level 3. In general, during the laning phase you want to close distance with one use of Q, auto attack, stun with W, auto attack, Q to keep on the pressure, auto attack (if possible), and finally Q and auto attack. E should try and be saved to leave a dangerous situation, unless it can be used to secure the kill. Don’t waste it trying to land an auto-attack, since that will create another stack of your passive that may go unused, and leave you without an escape in case things go awry or the inevitable gank.
When soloing top, focus on abusing your superior mobility to poke and escape unharmed. Your vast early damage makes you dangerous even to tanky heroes. Aggression is the key: Use your Q to move in on opponents, and when they retreat use the space they have given you to take advantage of your passive and last hit more easily. If they do not retreat, engage with as much of your combo as possible, very few enemies can face you like that at this juncture.
Against ranged foes, you will have to use E to close the gap. Try to save it in cases where you are dealing with heroes with natural escapes, like Tristana or Vayne. Wait til they use their jumps or tumbles, then take advantage of their vulnerability with your superior technique.
When engaging in team fights, always turn on your R if possible. This allows your abilities their greatest range, in addition to just increasing the damage you do. In addition, always try to use Wind Scar during the 15 second duration of the buff. It’s a ton of aoe damage, and it deals its maximum possible damage when enemies are at or below 25%. With that in mind, it is best to save this ult for when you can hit as many low health enemies as possible. Also keep in mind using Skyward Strike does not remove the AD and range buff, so don’t be afraid to use it early. Because your damage is buffed, your survivability is also buffed through use of E. Again, be aggressive intelligently. Initiate if you can safely, you have a fair amount of bulk on you if you build as I instruct.
Of course, there is much more to it than I can possibly cover here; each individual hero must be approached in a different way. Try to adapt my advice to each hero: Abuse early power and mobility, mind enemy ability use, and react to vulnerability.
The sword reflects the soul
As a player, I believe in reactive builds. I am hesitant to list too much advice here, as your item build should really just depend on your opponents. The main thing you need is AD, it has almost double as much worth to Riven than other heroes. For almost any occasion, I would recommend starting with Doran’s Blade. The 10 damage boosts your survivability via E and the sustain through your life steal and all of your bonus damage, while also boosting HP. The next step should be boots, eventually upgraded to Mercury Treads in almost every single case. Magic Resist and Tenacity is too good, and your mobility should be sufficient in catching just about everyone (short of flash. Sigh.)
From there, focus on building as much AD as you can…intelligently. What I mean is, you’re going to be in the thick of battle, and need to be able to survive. This means you need more than the bonus armor and MR that masteries and runes give you. A good solution is Wriggles Lantern: Lifesteal, AD, Armor, and Wards. If you can get this early, do it. Don’t be afraid to buy additional Doran’s blades in situations where you are trading damage instead of just dealing tons of it, but I would recommend no more than three.
What you need as Riven (to give a clear prioritization): AD - Survival stats [aim for items that mix the two, like Atma’s or Frozen Mallet –CDR (again, aim for items that mix things that you need. Kindlestone, Youmuu’s.)
Critical strike is iffy on Riven. It’s still good, but it doesn’t appear to function correctly with her passive. It’s good, but not imperative. If you can farm up all the gold in the world, IE is for sure a good option, it’s so much **** AD.
Advanced Ability Usage
Speed superior to god
Riven can use her abilities to great effect outside of just damaging enemies. Valor can’t jump over most walls and trees like other movement abilities can, however it can pass through created walls. Anivia, Jarvan, and Trundle cannot stop Riven. Abuse the brush with Valor when being chased by especially persistent and mobile foes like Akali or Singed, breaking line of sight and dashing past the enemy in a direction they wouldn’t suspect. If you can, wait for them to chase you into the brush and stun them before dashing out. Stalling as much as you can like this will allow the short cooldowns of your abilities to end, letting you create more distance (or dealing damage and turning it around). Juking like this is safer on Riven than most heroes because of the leeway that the Damage shield from Valor.
When chasing, try not to use Q at once if you can help it. It may be able to close the gap, but you are giving up damage and mobility if you use it to no real effect. When escaping or being chased alternate between hitting Q and giving movement commands in the direction you intend to go, This will ensure you will not accidentally turn around.
Note also that Valor cannot give you a bonus shield if you cannot dash. When snared in place you do not gain a shield at all, but dashing into a wall still does give you a shield.
What Blind Guardian song should I listen to while I play?
For Riven, I would recommend Valhalla. This high energy song perfectly matches the ferocity in which you should be seeking battle. Honor your ancestors and charge valorously into battle!
To Asgard forth she flies.
To close, no guide can give you the thing you need to become a master: experience. You need to learn your limits before you can surpass them, and that is truer still of Riven. She awards intelligent aggression, and proper spacing and positioning. In the hands of a master, she can devastate any team and succeed beyond all expectations.
So go practice! Take the advice I have, and apply it! I have given you knowledge; now use it against your foes.
Update 1: Added information in the Rune area about Flat AD runes.
Update 1.1: Changed information around within the guide about Flat AD versus Armor Pen.
Update 1.2: Added very important Blind Guardian related information, and a whole new section "Battle Anthem"
In jungle, its good to go with Q-W-E skill order, but in lane its always better to go with W-Q-E. W allows for better harass in lane. Early game is what matters. What happens at levels 1-6 will probably decide your lane. Riven is a character that can usually overwhelm her lane opponent greatly at very early levels with extreme aggression. So flat AD IMO is better than Armor pen. Flat AD will do more damage early on than Armor pen.
My rune set up is Flat AD everything and blue cool downs, giving me 79 ad to begin with.
Also did you just post a Doom BnB from marvel? looooooooool.You probably are familiar with the name Marn. Funny story. I once queue'ed up and he popped up on my team. He picked Riven, went top, and fed 10 kills in 15 minutes...
As for runes, I mix between Armor Pen and Flat AD because I (personally) enjoy hybridized builds. I like getting mixes of both benefits, but I will add that pure AD works well also. Just remember that flat AD is well and good, but against high armor heroes you won't be as effective as you would be if you had a little bit of armor pen.
Also lol yeah, it is the Doom BnB. I did remember hearing that Marn is totally awful at LoL.
I also prefer the Q to start for maximizing any trades that may happen. I don't actually expect to get a kill, so I don't see the point in having the stun. (Even an early-game kill for Riven is going to happen at 2-3, not 1 unless there's some weird team-play going on) I also think even if a lvl 1 kill is going to happen, Q makes it a lot more likely than W.
I was actually referring to maxing W first, then Q second, then E last. Not starting W. Sorry for the confusion. I start Q too.
Funny how Marn has not played fighting games much for LoL, yet hes kinda bad at it
In regards to your level order, yeah, that can be good. I find that Riven's skill order (past level 3) is pretty fluid and can change more easily to your environment than other heroes. However, in the interest of maximizing her potential damage, I do think that focusing on the two abilities she has that have lower cooldowns with levels is of higher priority than the static Q.
ArP works better vs. low armor champions, while Flat AD works better vs. high armor champions
Having done a bit of research into the topic, I don't think my stance in the guide has changed. I think its good to have a mix, because they appear to be about equal in usefulness at level 1 (when including items bought). However, there is for sure a strong argument for flat AD on Riven because of just how much more weight AD has for her.
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