[Guide] Zen Malzahar: How to Learn Patience

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Setimo

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Junior Member

10-08-2010

not what i'm saying at all... by the way, where did u come up with "less effective version of Anivia/Annie"? i see u still got a pretty wrong idea of what malzahar can do.
and no, i dont wait 6-10 seconds OR position myself half way across the map, sometimes i even initiate when my team is too uneasy... of course u cant do that in a CC heavy team, and thats only to flash out of the way when the fight starts obviously... have u ever seen a good ez play? a good ez rarely gets targetted simply because you cant get to him behind all those heroes. Malzahar currently have great range btw.

what i'm saying is simply that not every1 sees that as an issue. if EVERYONE is ALWAYS targetting you first you just change strategies, the only item i get for survival is rylai which for me solves the whole squishy problem completely. You can't get focused of course, but you can say that about most heroes.


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reaver99

Senior Member

10-08-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretebuddha View Post
The comparison to Morgana is a good one, and I'd like to start there.

Call of the Void = Black Shield. A 3 second ranged aoe silence is effectively the same thing as an 8 second shield on one character. Morgana can save one person from spells if you are running away or initiating (but not your entire team), whereas Malz can ranged harass silence multiple enemies, which effectively gives your entire team Black Shield versus those enemies you hit. Which is super when you are about to tower dive, or you need to delay one of their OMFG abilities from hitting your team. Neither needs AP to be effective.
Well Call isn't that easy to land, and you can't always choose who gets silenced since generally people are shifting around in a standoff. On the other hand, you can always shield the most important member of your team. Even if you land it on the major caster of the team, the other team can just wait until it wears off (if you're playing him as a nuker though, this is an opening for your team to go in). Also, Black Shield can prevent harassment as someone like Ashe goes up to poke them. On the other hand, you do need some AP to really make use Black Shield which is a point in Call's favor. And you can interrupt ultimates with it. I'd still say that Black Shield is generally more useful than Call of the Void, especially from a defensive point of view. I'd say Call of the Void shines a little more in teamfights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretebuddha View Post
Null Zone > Tormented Soil. 8% of their max health every second is way more damage than (85 + .2 AP). Assuming equal AP, which they will be if Morgana is building tankish, then Malzahar deals 240 damage each tick to a 3k hp enemy, while Morgana with 100 AP is going to be dealing 105. That's double damage.
I don't own Malzahar (otherwise I really would try this guide) so I don't know whether one Null Zone can wipe a creep wave. The main use for Soil is for pushing a lane quickly though, since it can wipe an entire wave. Both Morgana and Malzahar suck at actually taking down towers though, it's mainly just to keep your lanes pushed. Throwing it or Null Zone out as harassment is a pretty big waste. Null Zone works better in teamfights when people can't as easily walk out of it, while Tormented Soil can be used for harassment if you land a Binding. I'd see this as another argument to play Malzahar for teamfights rather than harassment. Side note, Soil also increases your team's damage with the MR reduction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretebuddha View Post
Darkbinding is a skill shot. Neither MV or Nether Grasp are. Also, you can't really initiate with Soul Shackles, while Nether Grasp you can easily pick one person and ranged initiate on them.
The skill shot nature of it means it has a great range. Also, the fact that it's not an ultimate means that even if you land it, it's not a commit, and you can just throw a Soil and back off. I'd say that Flash initiating with Soul Shackles/Zhonya's is actually a bit better than initiating with Nether Grasp (although there are tons of better initiations). If you open with Nether Grasp (even assuming you hit an ideal target) then the other team is going to throw out all their CC and break it pretty quickly. On the other hand, Soul Shackles takes a while to activate, so throwing it out first (along with its minor slow) is not that bad of an idea, since it will probably trigger as your team's first wave of CC wears off.

It's an interesting idea, but I think that Malzahar is really better suited for teamfights than harassment and Morgana does the harassment/pushing/offtank game a lot better.


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JungleHunter

Senior Member

10-08-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretebuddha View Post
"Entering the forest he moves not the grass;
Entering the water he makes not a ripple."


Short Version:
  • Tank Caster Hybrid
  • Masteries 9 0 21
  • Runes: magic pen reds, health yellows, up to 6% cdr blues, and flat health quints, replace anything with mana regen if you need it
  • Summoner Spells: Ghost, Flash, Teleport (pick two)
  • Skills: R > E > W > Q Early point in W and Q
  • Core Build: Archangel's Staff, Sorcerer's Shoes, Force of Nature, Glacial Shroud
  • Optional Items: Frozen Heart, Abyssal Scepter, Zhonya's Ring
  • Strategy: Enable your team by softening up targets with dots/aoe and use your ult on their carry. Don't die.

Let me summarize this guide for you. Wait until Malzahar gets another buff.

Long Version:

Malzahar is misunderstood. He has seen the depths of the void, and has transcended his own individuality to become something more. He's generally considered pretty weak, however, he would beg to differ. Let me translate his sacred writings, so that you too might attain enlightenment.

"When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy or wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work."


The first thing to realize about Malzahar is that he is not a burst caster. Oh people have tried to shoehorn him into that role, but he is really outshined by other better nukers. He does not make entire teams explode like Annie, neither does he three shot people like Kassadin. He is a subtle caster, and cares nothing for glory.

So what is he good for? Two functions: enabling your team, and pushing. Malzahar should be compared more with a support mage like Morgana than any burst caster. You support your team by clearing minions, whittling away their team, and saving your ult for when your carry decides to destroy the enemy. You are a workhorse, and you must clear your mind of all thoughts of pentakill ambitions.

...

Malzahar requires patience. His skill set contains 3 dots and a skill shot with a delay. The very definition of "dot" is damage over time, and waiting the necessary time requires patience. Anything that lengthens combat so that your team can maintain a push is a desirable item. Malzahar enables pushes. Like Heimer, he makes it so that your team can sit on a tower and whittle it away.

Glass cannon Malzahar builds are useless. Perhaps on certain team comps where everyone uses their cc just to save you, you might want to stack AP, but in most comps, there are better people to save. Your primary late game abilities do not require AP to be effective (ult, hp% aoe, and silence), and regardless they are ineffective if you are staring at the grey screen of death anyway. You are also useless if you can't spam your abilities because either you are oom or they are on cd.

"Truth has no counterpart,
It is motionless like the Void,"


Your other function is to defend towers. You have an aoe that perfectly fits a wave of minions, a dot that transfers whenever the towers kills someone, and an ult to keep people in tower range. Since you are tanky, you will also be able to hold off an attack until help arrives, unlike any squishy Malzahar build that crumples to any tower-diving Garen.

...

Core Build

Leveling Build:
R > E > W > Q Early point in W and Q, though you can get away without any Q until late game, since its only real use early game is to check the bushes. Protip: don't walk into bushes.

Starting Items: Meki Pendant and 2 hps. (Buy Tear and boots 1 at least after first trip back for 955g.)

Sorcerer's Boots: You need magic pen. This is the best place to get it for this build. What about merc treads? If the enemy wants to stun you they will, and what will save you is your tank items, not the -35% duration. Use the extra time to meditate about your positioning failure.
Archangel's Staff: You need a huge mana pool and mana regen to fulfill your basic function, and this item fits the bill perfectly. Tear should be your first purchase, but you can hold off buying the full item if you need survivability.
Force of Nature: Huh? That's a tank item! Absolutely, but think about what it gives you--hp regen, movement speed, and magic res, everything you need to outlast a team in a sustained push. Wouldn't banshee's be better? No way. Banshee's doesn't heal, and you need to be zipping around the map at a faster speed. Pick up 1-2 regen pendants asap so you can sit in a lane indefinitely.
Glacial Shroud: I list this item separately from Frozen Heart because against a caster heavy team this is all the armor you might need. You gain more mana which stacks with your staff, armor, and most importantly a huge amount of CDR, which lets you go oom faster.

Optional Items:

Frozen Heart: vs any team with a phys dps carry that loves eating you. Master Yi, Warwick, Trist, etc. With it you'll have ~180 armor, so they'll have to work to kill you, instead of destroying you in four hits.
Abyssal Scepter: vs any team with a mage that loves opening on you. Annie, Anivia, etc. With this you'll have around ~180 mr, so you won't explode when a giant bear lands on your face.
Situational: Zhonya's, Banshees, Thornmail. Generally games end somewhere around the end of Frozen Heart or Abyssal Scepter, so the sixth slot you can use for wards, or if the game really goes into overtime, then pick up whatever you feel you need (which 90% of the time for me, it's Zhonya's.)

With your core build, you have ~130 armor and mr, a decent amount of AP, a huge mana pool, CDR of 35%, and enough regen to stay in a lane indefinitely. Late game, after you get Frozen Heart/Abyssal Scepter, your defenses bump up to about 180, and you have two important enemy debuff auras.

...

Do's and Don'ts:


Don't die. This one should be obvious, but it isn't. A lot of people think it's super to tower dive a low hp enemy that is retreating, even though you could stay put and kill the tower. The low hp dude has to run all the way back to their base to heal, while you get to take free shots at their building. If you kill the enemy but die as well, then the tower remains standing. Remember towers > kills.
Do put dots on minions to help clear pushes. Most likely when the back row minions die, they'll transfer the dot to an enemy.
Do not run around oom. You are useless with no mana. Conserve your mana when farming, so that when you need to zoom off and help a teamfight, you are ready and useful.
Do not ult the tank. Always ult a squishy, preferably after having dot/aoe/silenced them first.
Do not initiate. You are not a tank, even though you are tanky. It's not your job to run in and ult someone first. You will be cced then die, regardless of your items.
Do defend towers. You need to watch the minimap at all times, and when mid is in trouble gtf over there and stop their push.
Do Call of the Void into the bushes before you walk into them. Garen is probably in them.
Do not respond when people hate on your build. You will see some variation of "OMFG Y U BUILD TANK ITEMZ ON MALZ, U SUK." No one bugs Morgana when she builds a Frozen Heart, but apparently on Mal it is heresy. Of course, you are the chosen prophet of the void, and as such, you must put up with a little madness. /ignore is your friend.


"Empty-handed, I hold a hoe.
Walking on foot, I ride a buffalo.
Passing over a bridge, I see
The bridge flow, but not the water."


...

Link to Other Guides by me:
Sun Tzu Teemo: How to Control a Map
Let me summarize this guide for you. Wait until Malzahar gets a rework.


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simplygnome

Senior Member

10-10-2010

Just tried this build out and was kill heavy one game, assist heavy another....very good survivability and I could push without fear (within reason of course).

I went with Teleport and Ghost...Find Frozen heart needed only after Zhonyas...but thats only after a whole TWO games experience.

Im not here to fight about optimal or not...just that I had fun and made some pretty impressive games.

TY. I might post back once I know more about how to play the champ.


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simplygnome

Senior Member

10-11-2010

More testing, and I have replaced a bit of the build. Archangels has turned into a Deathfire grasp, with an early pick and codex, milking the picks gold gen for a bit...getting the Force, THEN combining the DFG and then zohnyas/glacial in whatever order seems to be needed. I find it adds a decent amount of burst since we arent going all ap,

I really enjoy the fact that I can hold lanes 1v3 or more even, barring an all out tower dive.

It helps in sustained pushes and defenses.

Thanks again. Bought Mal after this weekend (which was the free champ week, which is when I got the chance to play him). Now Ive just got to see the yellow skin in game before buying it, to see if I like it xP

EDIT: I do have more mana problems than if I had AA, but it rarely comes into play. Usually is fixed after Glacial anyhow


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concretebuddha

Senior Member

10-12-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by simplygnome View Post
More testing, and I have replaced a bit of the build. Archangels has turned into a Deathfire grasp, with an early pick and codex, milking the picks gold gen for a bit...getting the Force, THEN combining the DFG and then zohnyas/glacial in whatever order seems to be needed. I find it adds a decent amount of burst since we arent going all ap,

I really enjoy the fact that I can hold lanes 1v3 or more even, barring an all out tower dive.

It helps in sustained pushes and defenses.

Thanks again. Bought Mal after this weekend (which was the free champ week, which is when I got the chance to play him). Now Ive just got to see the yellow skin in game before buying it, to see if I like it xP

EDIT: I do have more mana problems than if I had AA, but it rarely comes into play. Usually is fixed after Glacial anyhow
Glad you found my guide useful. I'm also pleased that you made substitutions based on your own playstyle and experiences, because my guide is intended more as an abstract loosening of prejudice, than as a concrete definitive authoritarian mandate on the best and only way to play Malzahar.

I absolutely agree that you should tailor your build to your opponents, and if you prefer a DFG over an AA, then go for it. I personally love the 1k mana on AA, and I generally at least get a glacial shroud, so it is wasted CDR if you are building that and a DFG. (20 + 15 + 9 + 6)

If you are set on a DFG, however, I highly suggest you switch to a randuin's omen instead of a frozen heart. Get an early HoG, and if you need more armor you can always upgrade it later. You also can substitute out your CDR runes for mana regen or whatever, since the full build with randuins and DFG is (15 + 15 + 9) You gain more burst and utility, at the cost of the huge mana pool, which hurts your sustained power.


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concretebuddha

Senior Member

10-12-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by survient View Post

He needs AP to be worthwhile, especially considering malefic visions needs a decent amount of ap to drain a minion down enough to be dropped with only one or two auto attacks to help it out. Otherwise you need a lane partner to help it along. This spell is critical to successful farming. Call of the void drains too much mana to be useful farming, and besides, malefic visions was basically designed for this.
This is a point of your post that I have a far different experience with. I normally level WEEWEREWEWRWQQQRQQ, and have zero problems with farming. I blue pill back once I have 955g, or 1300 if I need the hp regen, then quickly teleport back. That gives me a tear, boots, and a regrowth pendent, most likely by level 6-7. The way I farm is to lay down a Null Zone first, just like Morgana would put down a Tormented Soil. Then I stick an MV on a melee minion, and auto attack if needed. Generally I can wipe out the entire wave of minions faster than anyone except Mord. I've out pushed Trist and Morg before, and always have a full mana pool.

If you use both Null Zone and MV to farm, then you can easily kill a creep wave with only two spell casts, and MV regens you mana x6, plus your mana regen from a tear, plus runes and masteries. The only stumbling blocks are harassment and siege engine minions, and if they try to harass directly, then they are walking through Null Zone to get to me, which means they are already taking damage.

I also don't waste casting MV directly on enemy champions, since it is generally too much mana for too little harassment. I'd rather clear a wave, and hit them if they are staying too close to their dying minions.

I'm assuming that by your post that you level Q before W, which makes for a tough laning phase, since Q isn't as good at farming. I normally never get it until L13 anyway, since it is generally a waste of mana until I have a full AA, but becomes devastating during late game tower pushes and jungle scouting.

I actually have to watch myself pushing, because I can quickly overextend the lane if I'm not careful.


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simplygnome

Senior Member

10-12-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretebuddha View Post
Glad you found my guide useful. I'm also pleased that you made substitutions based on your own playstyle and experiences, because my guide is intended more as an abstract loosening of prejudice, than as a concrete definitive authoritarian mandate on the best and only way to play Malzahar.

I absolutely agree that you should tailor your build to your opponents, and if you prefer a DFG over an AA, then go for it. I personally love the 1k mana on AA, and I generally at least get a glacial shroud, so it is wasted CDR if you are building that and a DFG. (20 + 15 + 9 + 6)

If you are set on a DFG, however, I highly suggest you switch to a randuin's omen instead of a frozen heart. Get an early HoG, and if you need more armor you can always upgrade it later. You also can substitute out your CDR runes for mana regen or whatever, since the full build with randuins and DFG is (15 + 15 + 9) You gain more burst and utility, at the cost of the huge mana pool, which hurts your sustained power.
I really should look at replacing Frozen...but...that little bit o mana (because I didnt get AA) and that amazing passive is just too sexy. =D Yeah, I'll work on it.

Yup, I have definitely decided that FoN is just amazing on him. I know for a fact that pure AP malz wouldnt beable to get into the spaces I can bc of the extra damage I can absorb. I just LOVE shutting down MF's ult and basically put a KILL HER sign on her forehead. Also, just so much more resilient during the HEAL - POKE metagame.

I really need to used DFG more though. Im not activating it as much, bc I usually worried about the positioning of my ult, zone, and silence.

Now that Ive got a few more games, I do need to go BACK to AA, just to play with it again. Its been SOOO tempting to get a Soulstealer, considering ive been maxing at 2 deaths, most of the time. But, I dont want to delay anything else in my build.


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BarxBaron

Senior Member

10-13-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by NecBromancer View Post
So, what you're saying is that while your team focuses one player, the other 4 on the team have no way to come to you? You position yourself halfway across the map, because that is the only guarunteed place you won't be hit in a team fight? Shen\Blitz\Rammus\Urgot\Amumu all have ways of making your awesome positioning not so awesome anymore, not to mention any hero with flash, or a way to disable mobility inhibitors.
Not to mention that Singed and Blitzcrank are living "Your position is a moot point" champs :/

In all honesty I am a bit skeptical and afraid of the damage output the OPs idea holds but will probably give it a try during my next 5man for the lols. One thing that will hold always true is how necessary CDR is on Malz.


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concretebuddha

Senior Member

10-13-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarxBaron View Post
Not to mention that Singed and Blitzcrank are living "Your position is a moot point" champs :/
I get so many Galio + Flash nowadays. That and the everpresent Garen/Olaf. Or heck, even Panth/TF ports. It seems like every champ has some way to close the distance, and their first target 95% of the time is the squishy mage.

Quote:
In all honesty I am a bit skeptical and afraid of the damage output the OPs idea holds but will probably give it a try during my next 5man for the lols. One thing that will hold always true is how necessary CDR is on Malz.
Skepticism in this case is healthy. I can understand that I'm taking the traditional build of Malzahar and tossing it out the window, and that can be a tough sell for a lot of people.

I just had a game where the opposing team Malz had a sorc ring, sorc boots, and was just getting Rylai's when their team surrendered. Granted, I was mid and he was a side lane, but I had an AA, sorc boots, and a FoN, and was pretty much unkillable. I outlaned their Kat, then snowballed the team with side ganks, holding their squishies still while our Cho ate them. I went 2-0-7, and their Malz was like 1-5-2.

Granted, I've had crappy games too. I tried 1v2ing versus Panth and Xin at top, and they destroyed me. Unfortunately our Warwick wasn't smart enough to lane when it required it. ("Sit under the tower, noob!," he says, which I did, and they tower dived me at L3 when I was L2. "See, Malz is a waste of a pick.")

Though all in all, I've had more success as a tankier Malz than as a full AP one, and this build isn't really down that much on the dps scale, and can farm like a monster. Rylai's Malz is stuck just using MV to farm, which means he is getting half the gold I am. They might have Rylai's at the same time I have an AA and am almost done with a FoN. I almost always have the most minion kills in every game (except for maybe Heimer and Mord), and the only person with more gold than me is possibly a top notch jungler/ganker.