What Happened to the Cat? A Guide to Brand
This is my first guide written for League of Legends, and I hope it finds favor where it is published. This guide is not to be republished outside of the game forums, and no part is to be reproduced without crediting the author.
Also, if you’re a veteran player looking for a reason to like or not like how this guide, I advise you to skip straight to the Core Item Build section – this is likely where you will find whether you want to consider reading this guide in full or not.
One last disclaimer, this has not been tested in ELO. I normally solo queue or queue with a team of five in normal games.
C. Summoner Spells
A. Ability Selection Order
B. Core Item Build
C. Picking a Lane, Strategies
D. Chaining Abilities
i. Minion Waves
ii. 1v1 and Ganks
V. Closing Remarks
Welcome to the guide for one of LOL’s newest champions: Brand, the Burning Vengeance. The purpose of this guide is to build Brand into badass, damage dealing machine, especially in teamfight situations (although 1v1 is included). He also has an invaluable stun that makes him a great solo champion as well.
Brand is classified by Riot as a “ranged mage”, and the classification fits. Brand can shell out large amounts of damage based on his mana pool, although part of this damage is his passive damage over time (DOTs). One disclaimer that I want to get out of the way right now – depending on your team composition Brand is either going to be an unstoppable mass killer, or an assist god. In other words, YOU HAD BETTER MAKE PEACE WITH GETTING ASSISTS BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN, AND OFTEN!
Brand is NOT melee, tank, support, carry, jungler, or assassin (debatable, but I find that the dot component makes it high damage, but not burst like most other assassins), so if you’re looking for a champion that plays as such, you may want to consider another champion.
I do find that Brand can make an excellent pusher with the right equipment. His W->E combo clears minions with high efficiency regardless, although knocking down towers will require at least a Sheen, trumped by Lichbane.
I hope that you find this guide useful, and thank you for taking the time to read. Suggestions are welcome, but I can’t guarantee they’ll make it into the guide (if it does, I will of course give credit where it’s due).
The only note I want to make here is that Brand’s AP coefficients are very strong, most sitting around 0.5.
(Passive) – Blaze: Blaze is a dot that is applied every time you successfully land an ability on a target (includes creeps/neutrals). Blaze does 2% of the enemy’s health per second for 4 seconds, and maxes out at 80 damage on minions. Blaze also allows secondary effects from other abilities when a target affected by it. Blaze is awesome; I can’t tell you how many times champions have just barely made it back to their turrets with minimal health. Blaze will make sure they don’t!
Q – Sear (50 mana, 80/120/160/200/240 base damage): Sear is your basic skill shot fireball. It does moderate single target damage when cast alone, but the real bonus here is the 2 second stun if the target is affected by Blaze. This can make a huge difference in neutralizing AOE nukes from enemies, or saving your ass on a retreat! Also, it’s a very good initiator during the laning phase.
W – Pillar of Flame (70/80/90/100/110 mana, 80/125/170/215/260 base damage): Pillar of Flame calls down… well, a pillar of fire at the target location. It has a short delay (akin to Karth and Cass spells), so it takes a bit of skill to land on multiple creeps, and quite a bit more to land it against talented player with boots. Pillar of Flame’s bonus due to Blaze is a 25% increase, and while substantial, you’ll almost always be opening with Pillar of Flame. The secondary effects of other abilities are just too valuable to pass up for this bonus.
E – Conflagration (60/65/70/75/80 mana, 70/105/140/175/210 base damage): Conflagration is a targeted ability that simply does moderate damage. You’ll notice once you hover over a target, the cursor will change to one that contains a larger circle surrounding the target. This is the secondary effect: if the target you cast Conflagration on is affected by Blaze, then Conflagration will bounce to ALL other targets within that circle. This is extremely useful following a Pillar of Flame to do additional damage to creeps, and passing the Blaze effect on to players!
R – Pyroclasm (100/150/200 mana, 150/250/350 base damage PER BOUNCE): Pyroclasm is Brand’s ultimate ability. Brand hurls a large meteor of fire towards the target (non-skill shot), and it bounces to 5 additional targets, doing massive damage. The bounces can repeat targets, so against a lane of two enemy champions in the absence of minions, this spell can be absolutely brutal. It shines even more in a team fight, and it will force your enemies to scatter, stun lock you, or burn. The major drawback to the spell is that it travels at a slow speed; however, if targets are ablaze, the projectile moves faster after each bound of a Blazed target. Long story short, it’s a good panic button, but the lethality is vastly increased in the hands of a calm and calculating player. The cooldown is sufficiently low that it should be used often, but never wasted on creeps.
It’s really hard to go wrong with masteries on Brand, so long as you pick up 9 points in the Offense tree for Archaic Knowledge (15% spell penetration through enemy magic resist). I find the rest of the Offense tree to be too AD based, so I usually go 21 points into Defense or Utility.
In the Defense tree, you’re going to make a Brand that has more staying power in a lane. In my personal experience, however, you’re still going to have to enhance defenses with items, and you’ll get more out of them.
I prefer the Utility tree, and while it doesn’t offer 5% AP that you would get from the Defense tree, you can VASTLY improve the mana efficiency of Brand, and you’ll get a LOT more use out of the enhanced Summoner spells in this tree. You should be hitting all of the multi-point masteries in this tree with the exception of the Awareness (EXP gain), and Greed (you should be killing tons of creeps, and 4 points is a lot for a mastery that diminishes in usefulness at level 6, and completely at 18). I also leave out the Utility Mastery, because there are other champions that will need blue buff more than Brand, and you can get Rylai’s Scepter in place of red buff. Done this way, you’re left with the 21 point mastery (Presence of the Master), and 1 point leftover for whichever spell you like most, be it Ghost, Clarity, Flash, Clairvoyance, or Teleport. This is just a suggestion, and part of it depends on the runes you take.
Before we begin, let me start by saying if you’re a low Summoner level, SAVE YOUR IP! Don’t spend on anything less than tier 3 runes, because it’s wasted time and currency. If you want to be competitive, it’s go tier 3, or go home.
1. Marks: It’s all magic penetration here. There’s no better option for Brand to do damage.
2. Seals: Here’s one point where things get a bit fuzzy. You should use whatever you prefer – dodge is expensive, but it can potentially pay off if you’re dropping 21 points in the Defense tree. You could spend these on AP, CDR, or mana regeneration and be okay, but be reminded that your yellow runes are most efficient when they provide defensive values.
3. Glyphs: I go AP/level here, although arguments can be made for CDR and straight AP. I prefer AP/level, because by level 18 you essentially have a free Amplifying Tome (compared to straight AP).
4. Quintessences: This is personal preference, whichever of your stats needs more power, give it to quints. I really like having move speed, as it stacks with the masteries, and I ALWAYS take Sorcerer’s Shoes so they really help me get around.
C. Summoner Spells
These are something of a matter of preference, depending on how you manage Brand’s mana pool, and how you spent that point in the Utility tree (if you’ve been following my suggestions).
Spells that are potentially worth taking: Exhaust, Ghost, Teleport, Cleanse, Clarity, Clairvoyance, Flash
These are all spells that could be affected by the Offense and Utility trees, and they’re the most useful for Brand, coincidentally. Chances are, you’re getting improved Exhaust (Cripple) from the Offense tree anyway, so that’s an option – I prefer Ghost or Flash in its place. They can be used without putting yourself in danger, and as such function as a better escape or initiating mechanism, but they do lack the defensive reductions that exhaust gives. Also, Brand has the ability to stun opponents, so slowing them isn’t a huge need. Cleanse has good situational uses, but it’s not going to propel you into or out of the fray like Ghost and Flash – and if you need to cleanse a stun off of Brand, there’s a good chance you’re going to be dead anyway.
That leaves Teleport, Clarity, and Clairvoyance as a second spell. Teleport is an okay spell with any champion, Brand is no exception. Clairvoyance is really handy if no one else on your team has it – and Brand has the potential to really wreck an enemy jungle if used properly and with a bit of luck. Clarity is a really solid choice because it will exponentially increase your staying power in the lane, and potentially feed into other champion mana pools.
I personally use Clarity and Flash.
Spells to avoid: Heal, Revive, Smite, Fortify, Rally, Ignite
Here’s why: Revive is not going to save you a tower in many cases, and you never want to plan on being dead – this will teach you to avoid skill shots and play better in the first place. Smite is a jungling spell, and Brand doesn’t belong there without a consistent way to replenish health. I’ve never seen Rally used effectively, but even if you did take it, it doesn’t benefit your AP build very well. Leave Heal off the roster and use spell vamp items/potions – also if you’re lucky you’ll have a healing support champion on your team as well. Leave Fortify for tanks, they’ll probably have the masteries for it anyway. Ignite is the only controversial one here, and I choose to leave it off because of Brand’s great ability to stun, and his Blaze passive applies damage over time already (though it doesn’t prevent healing like Ignite does). It feels a bit redundant on Brand, and so I don’t use it – also the mastery point is in the Offense tree, and the point is much more useful in the Utility tree. Oh, and Ignite does NOT count as the Blaze debuff when trying to apply secondary effects of Brand’s abilities.
A. Ability Selection Order
The following is the order I select my champion abilities for Brand, and by no means is the be-all and end-all to using Brand:
1) W – Pillar of Flame
2) E – Conflagration
3) Q – Sear
4) W – Pillar of Flame
5) E – Conflagration
6) R – Pyroclasm
7) W – Pillar of Flame
8) E – Conflagration
9) W – Pillar of Flame
10) E – Conflagration
11) R – Pyroclasm
12) W – Pillar of Flame
13) E – Conflagration
14) Q – Sear
15) Q – Sear
16) R – Pyroclasm
17) Q – Sear
18) Q – Sear
In not so few words, what I do is I get Pillar of Flame first to start clearing minions early. I follow with Conflagration at level 2 so that I can chain cast the two abilities for maximum pushing power. At level 3, I get Sear so that I have my full arsenal including stun. From here on out, I alternate Pillar of Flame and Conflagration, but making sure to take Pyroclasm as it becomes available. The last four ranks of Sear wait until the end because of the low damage (comparatively) and the stun length doesn’t change based on rank (so, I more or less use it purely as a stun).
The reason for the alternation is to minimize mana costs while maximizing damage. By alternating, we lose a bit of damage on each skill individually, but since we’ll be chaining abilities anyway, that loss is negligible compared to the frequency at which we can cast them without running out of mana.
The only thing I might change about this build on the fly is trading Conflagration for Sear at level 2 (and only at level, leaving the rest of the build the same in an alternating pattern). The only reason to do this is level 2 ganking with a jungler or lane partner – make sure to coordinate a target, and be mindful that this will be a double skill shot, and if you miss, it’s over and your EXP gain will slow for a level. If successful, however, this will propel you to level 3 in a BIG hurry (kill or assist), and give you a fantastic gold boost for boots and upgrades to your first item.
B. Core Item Build
This build contains 6 core items, some of them being variable depending on your play style, and some of them being dependent on the enemy team composition or defenses. Take this with a grain of salt, as it will not work for every situation, but used properly should bring you successful games. The six items are listed first, with a recommended order later.
Item #1: Mana Efficiency
There are two main ways to release the mana limitations on Brand. My preferred way is through mana regeneration, and so I tend to lean toward Fiendish Codex, building into Morello’s Evil Tome or Deathfire Graps (depending on how much gold is available, and whether or not you need the tank-destroyer). These two items not only enable mana regeneration, but also give strong ability power bonuses, and COOLDOWN REDUCTION!!! This is another reason I prefer these items over the next, because I don’t use CDR runes and the CDR provided here is going to have you firing off spells in a much faster and more devastating manner. The downside is that I often find myself taking Clarity to supplement this build until late game.
On the other hand, we have Siren’s Tear building into Archangel’s staff. Again, a good deal of mana regeneration and ability power, but at the loss of the CDR. You shouldn’t EVER run out of mana with this item, but on the other hand, what good is a ton of mana if you’re dead because you can’t cast spells fast enough? Rod of Ages may work in a similar, cheaper (less powerful) capacity. Herein lays the trade-off that you must decide for yourself based on your play style, rune choices, and masteries.
Item #2: Movement
This is hands down Sorcerer’s Shoes, no doubt about it. Combined with my recommended runes and masters, Sorcerer’s Shoes should be enough Magic Penetration to carry you through the game.
If you were to pick anything else, for any other reason, I would dump the magic penetration runes and possibly the Offense tree masteries and go for a Void Staff later on to avoid unnecessary stacking of magic penetration.
Item #3: The Badass Item
I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title for this one. Basically, this item slot is to pump Brand into an absolute monster, and there are two ways to accomplish that. The more novice route is to build Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. This weaves in nicely with the early build order, and by mid game will make you a force to be feared. You get some health, some decent AP, and a slow on ability strike, which can absolutely WRECK enemy teams by casting Pyroclasm while they’re ablaze.
The more advanced route (for those of you that think you have a pair that clank) is to build Mejai’s Soulstealer. This may come easier for veteran players that can really use the stun effectively and make escapes without dying to snowball this item properly. Note again that I hope you’ve made peace with being an assist god, but you have so much AOE that Mejai’s should still be easy to stack. If you make it to 20 stacks, the additional CDR will upgrade you from Fiery Deathdealer to Apocalyptic Lord of the Hellacious Inferno.
Item #4: Arming the Nukes
Rabadon’s Deathcap. That is all.
No really, the only other thing I see going here is Abyssal Scepter – but that’s only if you’re losing and getting completely deep-sixed by enemy AP carries and tanks.
Items #5 and #6: Filling in the gaps
Items 5 and 6 don’t really have to be the last of the order. It depends on how well the game is going for you, and fortunately, a lot of the items crossover. Example, if you’re finishing Archangel’s Staff with a Blasting Wand, you made end having a really good streak of kills and instead finish Rabadon’s Deathcap first. Here are some possibilities for the last two items:
Will of the Ancients: This is a cheap, solid pick. You get some nice Ability power, and some major spell vamp to replenish you and your allies. If you get this, I would try and sneak it in earlier.
Banshee’s Veil: Always a favorite, grab this one if you’re getting nailed by AP classes, or even if there’s a pesky champion that stuns you first in teamfights. The bonus to health, mana, and magic resist is great too. Quicksilver Sash is another good pick for a free Cleanse, but doesn’t match Banshee’s for health and mana that give Brand a boost he needs.
Lichbane: I really, REALLY like Lichbane on Brand, but it’s rare that a game goes long enough that I finish it (usually my 6th item). Once you get it though, after every spell, Brand will do 100% of his Ability Power in damage on next regular attack. This, is, huge! Especially if you’ve been following this build, you’re looking at 600+ AP (more if take a loaded Mejai’s), and since your spells don’t work on towers, this will really knock them down. Casting Pillar of Flame or Sear or Combustion into minion waves (or not) will activate this unique part of Lichbane, so your next attack just scorches tower health…Did I mention it gives more AP, mana, magic resist, and move speed?
Haunting Guise/Void Staff: If you didn’t grab the masteries or the runes for magic penetration, you may need to supplement or substitute your Sorcerer’s Shoes.
Zhonya’s Hourglass: Another pick along the lines of Banshee’s Veil, this one is superior in terms of AP, and the stasis is great if teams start to focus you (and they probably will in some, if not most games). You HAVE to be able to use the hotkey to activate it though – keep in mind you can move items to different slots (I always keep consumables and active ability items in slots 1-3). The armor is also nice when facing a heavy AD team.
Here’s how I build my items in a typical game:
Start: Doran's Ring. Without health runes, you need this item to be competitive.
First Recall (usually around level 6): Boots, and pots if needed. If I have a kill or assist at this point I grab Amplifying Tome. Wards with leftover cash.
Second Recall: Fiendish Codex, Sorcerer’s Shoes (gold permitting, in that order). Restock Potions and Wards as needed.
Thereafter: Start Rylai’s/Mejai’s/Will of the Ancients, Finish Mana Efficiency Item, Finish Rylai’s/Will of the Ancients, Deathcap and items 5 & 6 as needed.
Theoretical Yield with Nashor’s Tooth, Will of the Ancients, Lichbane, and 20 stacks of Mejai’s (without runes included):
722 Ability Power, 40% CDR, 25% Spell Vamp, +50% Attack Speed, 20 Magic Penetration, Lichbane Passive. BURN THE HOUSE DOWN!!!
C. Picking a Lane, Strategies
Brand can really do any kind of lane, be it 1v1, 1v2, 2v1, or 2v2. There are some better picks for 1v2 to be sure, along with 1v1, but be prepared to solo if needed.
1v1: Start with a Meki Pendant, 1 Health Potion, and 1 Mana Potion. This should let you last until you kill your enemy champion, or at least level 6. This is a good opportunity to go level 2 Sear if you have a Jungler supporting. If you kill an enemy, push to the tower and then return to base and pick up boots and continue working on Siren’s Tear or Fiendish Codex. Wards wouldn’t hurt you either.
1v2: Same start as 1v1. Turret hump, big time. I’ve been in games where I had the capacity to push 2 enemy champions back to their turret, but it usually doesn’t end well. You can easily stand near your turret and clear minion waves before they have a chance to damage your turret. ONLY go level 2 Sear if you know the player jungling and have an easy target to gank. The object here is to hold your lane until someone else on your team kills a tower, or loses one. At that point you’ll be getting aid. Let it be known, however, that eventually, two enemy champions coordinating ultimate abilities will kill you with proper gear.
2v1 and 2v2: Little more flexibility here to get Amplifying Tome and a Mana Potion instead if you want, because you can Recall more often. In a 2v1 you should be dominating your lane, and letting your partner go for ganks – unless you’re better suited to it. In a 2v2 make sure you’re focusing a target that doesn’t have the capacity to heal itself since we left ignite out of our Summoner Spells. In a 2v2, try not to push your lane too hard so enemies stray from their turret. If you harass them down to half health, it should be a quick kill if you can land a stun.
D. Chaining Abilities
This is one of the most important aspects of the guide, although it might have been very intuitive to an astute player. These are combinations of abilities that will keep you dominating your lane and enemy champions:
1) Minion Waves: W -> E on Blazed target. You’ll light everything up with Pillar of Flame and finish with Conflagration on all targets. This is especially helpful for waves containing the siege minion, as they come last, but usually wander to the middle of the pack. If you catch enemy champions in the mix, all the better. Hitting 3 minions is okay, 6-7 is better. Do NOT cast Conflagration on a non-Blazed target, however. Also, this should frequently be used on Wraiths and Wolves with permission from your jungler – this doing this often will net you even more cash for items.
2) 1v1 and Ganks: E -> Q -> W (->) R. This is for a stand-up fight 1v1 on another champion to do heavy damage and get out quick (or go for the kill). Conflagration will light them up for sure, and so you only need to hit the Sear skill shot to get a stun. Once they’re stunned it’s a free +25% Pillar of Flame, and you should punish them with it EVEN IF you plan on running. You can also opt to missile them with Pyroclasm. If the target isn’t a tank, they’ll probably be running from you, which is a great opportunity to finish the kill with another chain. If it’s a tank, you should be running for help. This chain also works great if you’re going for buff monsters.
If you're assisting in a gank against multiple opponents, it's also very plausible to go Q -> E -> W (->) R. This one is tricky to pull off because you'll be doing without the stun, but since you'll be assisting another player, hopefully it will easier to line up.
3) Teamfights: W -> E -> Q -> R. Light as many people up with Pillar of Flame as possible, and nail them again with an AOE Conflagration. Sear the highest priority target (fortunately, many targets are blazed and you’ll land the stun on SOMEONE one way or the other), and then Pyroclasm. The target for Pyroclasm varies, but I usually like to start it on someone with low health, or someone the team wants to stay with (a tank or support); this way you’re going to be napalming multiple members of the team for sure. Be wary of teams that abandon the Sear-stunned target, as this could lead to a wasted Pyroclasm on a single target – you need to deliver on that AOE threat in a teamfight.
Kiting is the term for attacking and luring a target while taking minimal damage. This is usually done on a retreat while moving towards help or the base. Kiting in the jungle is much easier because you can toss out Pillar of Flame while moving around a corner. When you get them where you want them (or they start to retreat), toss in a Sear stun.
V. Concluding Remarks
Thanks again for taking the time to read this guide, and I hope that you have found it informative. I welcome all comments, questions, and criticisms with the request that you go easy on me – it’s my guide, and I hope to make more if this one turns out well. I may add FAQs to this section if they come up.
Catalyst > T2 boots (yes the mpen is god tier early on) > rabadons > *if enemy team has MR void staff if not and they have a fed caster / heavy casters Bveil, if not rylais* > *if enemy team still doesnt have MR rylais or bveil, if they do void staff > *enemy team MUST have MR by now, so Void staff, get whatever you didnt get before when you got void staff instead here* > Zyonas
I love Brand. I also use the Lichbane toward the end. I'll have to try Rylai's, with the stun I've never really needed it, but I hadn't thought about it in conjunction with pyro bouncing around. Does conflag proc Rylai's on the secondary effect(ablaze)?
I usually start with W, followed by stun, and then E. The reason being is that E has such a short range that it puts me more in harms way. So i'd rather use it when their stunned already
Time to start buyin some Tier 3 mag pen runes :\
In reply to the 2 most recent posts:
Yes, conflag does proc rylai's, but it only get's the AOE slow bonus instead of the single target.
I will be revising this guide soon to include Doran's ring, and to take out Nashor's, among some other small changes. I do not think that stacking Doran's rings (As is common on Annie and Leblanc players) will benefit Brand.
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