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[Guide] AP/Hybrid-y Poppy -- The fine art of carbonizing damn near everything

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((Okay whoa, I did NOT mean to post this thread just yet, so this is incomplete. Sorry about that! I'll finish this up soon.))

Hello, I'm Dunkelzahn. You may remember me as "The Big D", or as the seventh president of the United Canadian and American States. I was also tragically assassinated in a conspiracy to empower an artifact that would protect the world against a coming darkness. You may want to read my will one day. Perhaps you're in it!

You may remember the guide on AP Poppy (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=235822) I wrote two years ago (hot damn, it's been that long). Much has changed since then, and instead of editing that guide, I decided to write a new one. I've learned a fair amount about LoL since then (and took some breaks among other things), and with this new knowledge I've decided to write this guide from the viewpoint of someone who doesn't totally blow at the game finally.

Before I continue, some very important things:
1. Carbonization or carbonisation is the term for the conversion of an organic substance into carbon or a carbon-containing residue through pyrolysis or destructive distillation. Which is the fancy science way of saying "this guide will show you how to use Poppy to hurt people so bad they turn into a fine blackened mist". AP Poppy (with a sprinkle of other items if things go that way) is all about finding one person and absolutely frying them. If you do your job, people will be very, very angry and hate you.

2. As much as I love Poppy and have played her (I have all of her skins minus Scarlet Hammer Poppy with her goofy pennies-for-eyes and ugly armor), she is not a good hero. It's hard to put her anywhere in today's game; most people top are gonna spank you around, putting her bottom means you won't have a carry with reliable farming and most importantly, range, she's an awful jungler and putting her mid is silly. Therefore, this guide is intended for people in normal games or low Elo solo queue. If you're looking to use this guide for a foolproof recipe to get you to the top, you're outta luck. At higher levels of play (or against smart opponents in normals), playing Poppy can be very rough. The "best" lane for Poppy is to pair her bottom with someone that'll help you smack the enemy around, like a Blitzcrank, Leona, Alistar or Volibear. Alternatively, you can do the same type of lane but go top and beat the **** outta the enemy top. However, as previously said, these aren't optimal in the least.

3. This guide is sort of intended for new players. I may sound like I'm stating the obvious in some parts, but that's intentional.

If you're not deterred by the prospect of playing a really farm-dependent, terrible early game hero, then Poppy is a serious blast to play. So if you're intrigued, read on!


CHAPTER THE FIRST: On Poppy's abilities and passive, her playstyle, as well as pros and cons of playing Poppy.

Poppy's official Riot tags are "Fighter", "Assassin" and "Melee", and as far as Riot's tags go, this is pretty accurate. AP Poppy embodies the Assassin stereotype to a T, perhaps too much so; your job is to find the most dangerous person on the enemy team and do everything in your power to kill them or otherwise make their lives hell on Runeterra. 98 times out of 100, the target of your ire is going to be the enemy's AD carry; until very late in the game (after they get Guardian Angel for example), they are very very squishy, which makes your job very easy if you can get to them and you're competing in items. They need a little time to do their damage, which means you'll be useful if you blow them up beforehand; focusing the enemy's AP, for example, won't do you much good if they drop every spell they have and do their damage before you delete them from existence. There are very, very rare times when focusing the enemy mage is a good idea, especially if they're somebody like Karthus, Ryze or Cassiopeia who do sustained damage, and there will be those rare times when focusing somebody like Riven or Nasus may be good. But when you pick Poppy, assume that your job will be to smash the enemy carry so hard they go soaring back to the Paleozoic.

So, here's a pros-and-cons list about Poppy to sum it up and add some other bits of info:

-- Arguably the best burst damage combo in the game once you get the right items
-- Can potentially carry a game if it gets very long and you have space and money for carry items
-- Surprisingly tough to kill thanks to your passive
-- Ultimate allows you to do your job with almost no complications
-- Pretty sweet skin selection for the most part
-- Pigtails
-- Yordle
-- Very hard to put in a team or lane
-- Awful early game
-- Worst farmer in the game, without a doubt. And you're very farm dependent, so until you get your core items, you're not that great, and being a terrible farmer compounds this need.
-- AP Poppy can only take out one person before she's really lackluster in a fight, and either you absolutely destroy them, ooooor...you don't do much. I have had games where I have 25+ kills and we lose because of this + the fact that I am sometimes very incompetent.
-- Soulja Boy /dance.
-- Not that great of a voice actress. One of her /laugh clips is pretty damn cute though.
-- She has no mouth in-game.
-- Goofy charge animation

And now, here's Poppy's ability set!

(Passive): Valiant Fighter: Any damage dealt to Poppy that exceeds 10% of her current health is reduced by 50%. This does not reduce damage from structures.

This passive is easily one of the top ten, if not top five, passives in the game. The exact mechanics are lost on me, but this passive basically makes you deceptively difficult to kill at lower health. You'll really screw with bursty abilities with this passive; Karthus's Requiem and Garen's Demacian Justice really cry when Valiant Fighter kicks in.

However, do note that this passive does not reduce tower damage, nor does it reduce True Damage. Ignite is just as effective, towers will tear you up if you're not careful, and Darius's Noxian Guillotine really just ruins your day.

(Q): Devastating Blow: Poppy crushes her opponent, dealing attack damage plus a flat amount and 8% of her target's max health as magic damage. The bonus damage cannot exceed a threshold based on rank.

As auto-attack buffs go, Devastating Blow is king. Very hard hitting, relatively reasonable mana cost, and a very short cooldown later on makes Devastating Blow a kickass ability. When you hit it, it resets your auto-attack timer, so an auto-attack + Devastating Blow gives you two attacks in a very short frame; this aspect also allows you an easier time farming, which you really really need.

Some pointers/aspects of Devastating Blow:

1. It converts your entire attack to magic damage. Even things like Sheen that add physical damage get converted to magic damage when D-Blow lands.
2. It can crit...sort of. If you crit, your base damage is doubled (or goes up by 250% if you have IE), with damage from Sheen/TF/Lichbane added afterwards, then the ability's modifiers before converting it all into magic damage. I've had crits of over 2,000 with an Infinity Edge using Devastating Blow.
3. Blind will prevent Devastating Blow from landing. However, I don't believe Jax's E can dodge it, it goes right through Pantheon's passive and Fiora cannot Riposte it.
4. Because it is a spell, spell shields such as Sivir's E, Nocturne's W and Banshee's Veil will eat it. Morgana's Black Shield, Hexdrinker and Maw of Malmortius will absorb some of the damage.

(W): Paragon of Demacia: (Passive): Upon being hit or attacking an enemy, Poppy's armor and damage are increased for 5 seconds. This effect can stack 10 times. (Active): Poppy gains max stacks of Paragon of Demacia and her movement speed is increased for 5 seconds.

Nothing much to say about this ability. Be careful about spamming it in a lane, as it can eat up mana pretty quick. Other than that, it's a decent stat boost and the movement speed is very nice to have.

(E): Heroic Charge: Poppy charges at an enemy and carries them further. The initial impact deals a small amount of damage, and if they collide with terrain, her target will take a high amount of damage and be stunned.

I really like Heroic Charge...when I land it right. It could use a little more usability tweaks, but this ability is great. In a lane, you won't have very many opportunities to plow somebody against a wall, especially if they're playing smart. However, when you do find those opportunities, Heroic Charge is an amazing ability. If you rank it up first, it hits extremely hard; the base damage at rank 5 is 450 if you hit them against a wall and it has a decent combined AP ratio. You can also use it to get away if there are minions behind you, and it will break channeling abilities, so tackle Katarina if she's spinning on you!

Note that towers and tower debris count as terrain for Heroic Charge.

(R): Diplomatic Immunity: Poppy focuses intently on a single target, dealing increased damage to them. Poppy is immune to any damage and abilities from enemies other than her target.

While Poppy isn't that great of a hero, her ultimate is easily one of the best ultimates in the entire game, and your effectiveness and usefulness lives and dies with this ability. When it's off cooldown, you are very scary indeed; when it's on cooldown, you're considerably less terrifying. You're the best at tower diving when it's up, and multi-person ganks get a lot more complicated for your would-be offenders when this is up.

Some pointers and trivia about Diplomatic Immunity:

1. It amplifies all damage you deal (although I think they changed it so Ignite is not affected). Auto-attacks, Devastating Blow and Heroic Charge are obvious, but Deathfire Grasp, Bilgewater Cutlass, Hextech Gunblade and [techically] Executioner's Calling are amplified by this ability. DI + DFG forms the core of AP Poppy and is the reason why your burst is beyond silly.
2. I've seen people advocating using it on the person you don't intend to kill so that it's impossible for your target to fight back, and I personally think this is a silly idea.

a) Most of the time, you're going to be focusing the AD carry, and except for Ashe, Varus and Vayne to a lesser extent, they don't possess any hard crowd control. They may have slows, but between Paragon of Demacia, Heroic Charge and the element of surprise, they'll be largely irrelevant.
b) Support heroes (the most common candidate for ulting that people preach) do have forms of hard CC. A Soraka with quick reflexes will silence you, Janna will knock you up/away, Taric will stun you, Alistar will headbutt you, Leona will...you get the picture. They also tend to pack Exhaust, which really ruins your day.
c) AP Poppy is very burst-heavy, so you definitely want that extra damage buff that DI gives.

3. Diplomatic Immunity can be removed by Quicksilver Sash; this removes the damage amplification on your target, but you are still immune to other people.
4. While Diplomatic Immunity does make you immune to tower damage, tower damage values will still ramp up, so if you're still being shot by a tower when Diplomatic Immunity wears off, it is going to hurt. A lot. Also, the spawning pool tower goes through Diplomatic Immunity, so don't even try to dive them at spawn.
5. As with all spells, Diplomatic Immunity can be blocked by spell shields. Just be wary when targeting Sivir, Nocturne or anybody with a Banshees Veil. Morgana's Black Shield does not block its application (it used to and man was that just dumb).

When it comes to skill order, this is what I generally go:

1. Heroic Charge
2. Devastating Blow
3. Heroic Charge
4. Paragon of Demacia
5. Heroic Charge
6. Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomatic Immunity > Heroic Charge > Devastating Blow > Paragon of Demacia. At least for me, Heroic Charge hits a LOT harder than Devastating Blow early on, and while you can argue that it's not good if they're not hugging walls, you generally won't be able to kill anybody unless you pin them against walls anyway, so if you can wall 'em, might as well wall 'em hard!


CHAPTER THE SECOND: On how best to rune and set masteries for Poppy.

I'm a big believer in the generalist rune builds. I don't like having to swap runes out for every character I play because I can't min-max like that. I also don't have any extra rune pages. So here's what I use:

Red: Magic penetration. Devastating Blow, Deathfire Grasp and Heroic Charge do magic damage. Magic penetration helps.
Yellow: Armor. Everyone uses them (mostly) and for good reason. Great value and it combines with your Paragon of Demacia to give you some decent tankiness.
Blue: Magic resist per level. Poppy, Shen and Maokai are the only melee heroes in LoL who do not have scaling magic resist. Correct that with these runes.
Purple: Flat HP. This is purely personal preference, since I'm too lazy/cheap to buy new quintessences, so I keep these around from way back when when Flat HP Quints were everywhere.

For masteries, I generally use a 19/11/0 build, picking up Summoner's Wrath, Mental Force, Butcher, Sorcery, Arcane Knowledge, Havoc and Blast in Offense, while grabbing Resistance, Hardiness, Durability and Veteran's Scars in Defense.

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This is a good guide, but just a note on her passive: It only reduces the damage that exceeds 10% of her health. So if someone takes 14% of your health, it deals 10% + (1/2 x 4%) damage, or 12% of your max health. It's still a good passive, especially against APCs who rely on one, hard hitting skill for all of their damage, but it isn't quite as good as many people say.