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Putting the Pieces Together - A guide to Riven

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Senior Member


Hello fellow Summoners! Cinderfang here with my third written guide. Ever. THREE IS A CHARM, as they say. Ironic that Riven is missing three parts of her blade without her ultimate active, because she is the very champion I have chosen to cover in this guide. The information found within this forum post will contain all the knowledge of Riven that I personally test, for both casual and competitive play, and will have tip's and tricks that will enable you, the reader, to play the strongest Riven you possibly can. I will cover in detail my build, both pre-game and item-wise, as well as go in depth as to what I do and how I do it. As always, remember that is falls to you to put this knowledge to use.

But enough blathering, let's wreck some face!


Innate - 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 damage on her next autoattack. Riven can store up to 3 charges, but only expends one at a time.

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 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+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 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+0.6 per bonus attack damage) physical damage and knocks nearby enemies back.

W - Ki Burst: Riven stuns nearby enemies for 0.5 seconds and hits them for 50 / 90 / 130 / 170 / 210 (+1.0 per bonus attack damage) physical damage.

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.

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.
While Blade of the Exile is active, Riven can reactivate the ability to activate Wind Slash, emitting a large cone shockwave that deals 80 / 120 / 160 (+0.6 per bonus attack damage) - 240 / 360 / 480 (+1.8 per bonus attack damage) physical damage to all units hit based on their missing life.

Her toolkit is both straight forward and full of hidden combo techniques that help make Riven a truly unique champion and play experience. Her AD Ratio's are very high on all of her abilities, making any large AD boosting items very effective for her. Her skill order is also different from most champions, as you benefit from putting a point into ANY skill early on. This is slightly different from many champions in the game, who typically max a single skill first and have one ability that scales into the late game. All of Riven's abilities scale well into late game in addition to them all being great early game. Oddly enough, this can result in Riven having a sub-par mid game, especially if you lack defensive items to help Valor's shield be more effective.

Riven's Innate is amazing once you figure out how to maintain it almost constantly. It is a flat damage boost on her auto-attacks. Her Q is able to stack it's maximum the quickest of her three skills. The trick is to never waste a single charge of it. This is pretty easy to do as long as you relax when using her skills. Don't spam Q and then instantly cast her W or E on top of that unless it's more beneficial to do so (example: if the movement and stun will result in a quick in and out kill/harass). You want to throw every point of damage you can at your opponent, and spamming her skills past 3 will waste stacks of huge damage boosts to her attacks. Also keep in mind that the buff's duration reset's if you consume a stack and have another one waiting.

Broken Wing's is the most interesting spell to hit this game in a long time: It's three part use is unique and takes getting used to, especially if you play Karthus or Cassieopeia. You will want the spell to cast at mouse point, but it only does that if it is above a target, other wise it is like Nidalee's pounce, lunging her face-forward. Mastering it's use also requires you to figure out where you can place the 3rd cast to be as disruptive as possible. This is the cast that knock's enemies back, giving her a good mini-stun and break for channeled abilities. This ability is spread out across three hit's, but it is also her best source of sustained damage, especially when you factor in that each cast will give you a Runic Blade charge. Putting point's into it early will increase your sustained damage and make lane farming very easy, so if you are looking to be an early to mid game damage dealer, max this skill first. You should strive to hit your opponent's with auto attacks in between each cast to use up the Runic Blade charges as they come. Take note that this skill cannot be used to jump over walls.

Ki Burst is one of the two burst skills Riven has, with a small stun attached to it. This skill is an instant AoE Physical Nuke, and is her best source of burst damage. The cool down get's to be very low at max rank, and it's 1:1 AD ratio means it scales incredibly well into the game. You should always try to hit as many targets as possible, so it's most effective to use this skill in the thick of combat when everyone is grouped up. You can use Valor to position yourself better for it's use, as the AoE it covers is pretty much directly next to her without her ult active. Maxing this skill first gives Riven the best burst damage of her skills early, as well as a very low cool down, resulting in better CC. The stun is minor, but it really can make all the difference when used at the right moment. Remember to give an attack command to your target after you cast it, this way you won't miss out or take too long to use up an attack boosted by a Runic Blade Charge.

Valor is Riven's shield, and also has a small dash at mouse point attached to it. The dash is very low, almost too low, but is similar to Vayne's Tumble. This skill is her best utility skill: it can be used to move across the map a bit faster, to dodge enemy skill shots, to close distance for better Q and W placement, to flee bad situations faster, and of course, to block damage. It cannot dash over walls unfortunately, so bear this in mind when you get into a fight. It's 1:1 AD Ratio means every point of AD you purchase will increase your defense by the same amount, and it's cool down becomes very low as point's are poured into it. Right now, it's base value and duration are low, but it's still a great skill and compliment's her tool kit very well. I've often gotten kill's just by using Valor to get into melee range and finishing someone with an Auto-Attack, Ki Burst, Auto-Attack combo.

Riven's Ultimate, Blade of The Exile, is both a great AD steroid, and her only Ranged attack all in one. It boost's her AD by a flat 20% at all ranks, as well as giving her 75 bonus range on her attacks and skills. This boosts her attack range to 200 total, making it easier to secure kills as people run from you. However, as if that was not enough, activating this skill gives you access to your second burst skill: Wind Slash. This ranged AD Nuke has a tiny cast time attached to it, sending a large cone wave skill shot towards where it is cast. This wave has a large radius and range, and deals physical damage to every target it hits. The damage it deals is based on the enemy target's current missing health. This of course means the lower their health is, the harder it will hit. This skill should be activated at the start of a fight, as it lasts a whopping 15 seconds. This is more than enough to get two rounds of her skills, even three if you max CDR late in the game. Wind Slash is best combo'd with Ki Burst, as the mini stun will assure no one can move out of it. Smart cast it immediately with Ki Burst for large AoE physical burst damage. It should be noted that activating Wind Slash will NOT remove the passive damage and range boost. Instead, you must cast Wind Slash within the 15 second buff duration or it will be wasted.

In other news, it's quite entertaining to yell this when you activate it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dJolYw8tnk

Skill Order:

Riven can be built a variety of ways to fit different compositions and situations. Her Q is her best source of sustained AoE damage, while Ki Burst is her best burst skill. Valor is your defensive and utility option, and while this and Ki Burst's cool down's drop significantly as point's are poured in, her Q remains at a base 13 second cool down even at rank 5. Because of this, I typically put three point's into Valor by level 5, with one point in Q and W, and then max Ki Burst, followed by Valor, and then Broken Wings, with a point into Blade of the Exile whenever possible. This is the skill order I use most often, but I have switched it up to 3 points in Ki Burst early. This is based mostly on if I am jungling or not. And yes, Riven can Jungle. Quite well actually, but she is easily counter jungled because she is cool down based.

Masteries, Runes, and Items

Masteries for Riven come down to a simple choice: Do you want to be offensive or defensive? Thanks to the way Riven's tool kit is set up, she can benefit from both the Offensive and the Defensive tree. I currently roll 21/6/3 for lane and 21/0/9 for Jungle, improving Exhaust or Smite in Offense, and boosting my physical damage wherever I can. Riven is purely physical, so ignore anything AP related (you can take the cool down reduction over crit damage, but do not bother with spell penetration). I have also used a 0/21/9 build in a pinch, improving her defense and dodge and taking gold per 5 and XP in the utility tree for lane. This works pretty well in making her an off-tank, but it will not let her main tank at all. Her base stat's are too low for it anyway, and her tool kit require's that AD be built in every slot you can afford to. Beyond XP increase and improving Ghost or Teleport if you decide to take them, point's in utility don't have much purpose for her.

Riven's Runes should be either Offensive to boost her tool kit further, or defensive to cover her weakness of low base stat's and no range in lane. I use a mix of the two, and when paired with my starter items, have had a lot of success with them. It should be noted that because Riven is heavily cool-down based, attack speed is not something you need to strive for in her pre-game and item builds. A little is fine of course, but don't expect to want to max your attack speed at all.

Red: Flat Damage. These runes are the ones I like to use the most, even over armor pen. It might seem odd, but I have tested both types, and I can tell you that Flat damage benefits her more than Armor Penetration early in the game. This is due to her W and E having 1:1 AD ratios. When stacked with a Doran's Blade, it boost's her defense by about 20 points on Valor, and her burst by about 20 point's on Ki Burst. Not to mention making her Q hit for about 135 total. The only other Option here that I consider really good is Armor Penetration, as it applies to all of her damage in addition to auto's, but her tool kit's high AD ratio's mean that flat damage is better over all. Armor Pen does not help Valor, after all.

Yellow: Flat Armor. I have been using Flat Armor almost exclusively and it seems to fill this slot out very well for her. I jungle more often than I lane with her, and the armor helps her stay in the forest longer and gank with more health. You can roll Health per Level here, as well as Flat health if you lane and want a bit of a health boost for it. Attack Speed can be used as well, but you don't need very much attack speed on Riven anyway.

Blue: Blue has more options than her Red and Yellow slots. I use MR per Level for Lane, and Attack Speed for jungle. This slight boost in speed when paired with the 4% offensive boost is all you need in the jungle to do it quick. The MR per Level helps her scale better into late game against all the magic damage that is usually flying around. You can also elect to take flat CDR or scaling CDR since she is a cool down based champion.

Purple: I use flat Health Regeneration for Lane or Flat Damage for Jungle. The health regen when paired with a starting Doran's Blade or Shield gives her great regen since it stacks with the small life steal/regen given from these items. More damage in the jungle boost's her Innate and her burst to quickly kill forest camps and minimize damage taken as a result. You can take Armor Pen, Flat Health, Attack Speed, or a defensive stat here, but I wouldn't take any of those over the two I use. Only because I've had the best results with them.

Note: I strongly feel her innate has a bug somewhere when it comes to critical strike damage at this point. Sometimes her crit will apply the innate bonus damage seperate from the crit itself, yet other times I have seen spike crit's that could rival Tryndamere's. As such, I don't rule crit out as a good stat for her, but I would suggest going for more pure AD items as that is a 100% chance to increase your abilities effectiveness, whereas crit is a chance anyway unless you plan to max it. And maxing crit makes her weaker in general and far less durable without the room for defensive items.

Your item order should be as follows: Doran's Blade, Boots + Second Doran's (if laning and needed), Wriggle's Lantern, CDR or Merc Treads, B.F. Sword, Blood Thirster, Phage, Frozen Mallet, sell Dorans towards Guardian's Angel, sell second Doran's towards situational item, sell Wriggle's towards situational item. This is the build I have been using with very good result's. The life steal stacking of Wriggles and Blood Thirster let's her regen ton's of health while her ult is active. I have experimented with tossing a Spirit Visage in the build early after Blood Thirster, and it makes her a great life steal tank and 1v1 opponent. I've only done this against teams with very little hard CC though. Your last two items should be either flat AD boosters, or defensive items like FoN against heavy AP teams, Thornmail against heavy AD teams, or hybrid stat items like Ghost Blade. On a side note, you can switch up some of the major AD items for things like Infinity Edge and Atma's Impaler, as her innate boosts her critical hit's over all damage significantly.

Note: This build changes often based on the enemy team I face, but I wanted to give you an example of item's that Riven benefits from. You want a Blood Thirster on her. It's a core item due to her AD Ratio's and the life steal keeps her alive longer. She also need's health to be able to go into a fight without instantly evaporating, so Frozen Mallet provides that on top of a great slow and some more AD. All that health is worth squat without defensive stat's, and GA provides a good Armor boost and decent MR boost, with the always handy revive. Wriggle's keeps to the aspect of keeping her alive and boosting her damage out put, all while providing a free ward. Any and every AD boosting item in the game will help her, but some of them should only be built against specific teams. You won't need Ghost Blade unless you need it's active to chase people like Skarner or Kayle, for example. On the other hand, Hexdrinker is a great anti-caster item, especially in 1v1 situations.

Summoner Spells: Exhaust + Flash if Lane, Smite + Flash if Jungle.

Summoner Spells play key roles in what you want to do with your champion. For Riven, this means being mobile and disruptive, and Flash + Exhaust let her do just this. Exhaust shut's down enemy carries for a few seconds, and Flash is hand's down the best summoner spell in the game right now. It's uses are unlimited, and range from flashing into a fight for a kill, to flashing over walls for an escape. Riven rewards you for being able to think around the layout of the map and paying attention to where you want to go, and she is a great 1v1 champion once she has her Blood Thirster and Wriggles up, so these two spells compliment all of that.

On the other hand, you must take Smite to jungle with Riven, and Flash is simply too good to give up over your other slot for it. If you really feel you do not need or want to take Flash, other option's can include Ghost, Teleport, and Ignite.

Ghost is a great utility spell for chasing and fleeing. Teleport makes for awesome ward ganks, as well as lane control if you are solo. Ignite helps give her a damage boost and counter's healers, which can make life hard for Riven as her burst is on the low side til she get's her items.

Lane Phase

Riven makes for a good solo top pick, especially against anyone who lack's burst or control. She can farm and harass well thank's to her Q and W being AoE, and her Innate makes last hitting a breeze. Valor can be used to quickly close distance or flee out of melee range to prevent counter poke. Once level 6 her ult let's her control a wave once every minute or so, and it's active will finish anyone you can manage to harass to near death. Just be aware of your weakness: Range. You have no skill that has range on it before you gain your Ultimate, and even then you won't have access to it often. You need to assess your lane opponents. If you are not solo top and have a lane partner, good partners are people like Janna, Taric, Blitzcrank, or Garen. These people can take advantage of your Q and W's small CC effects, or help Riven by boosting her harass potential while minimizing any punishment she takes in return. Riven is amazing at supporting a gank from her Jungler, especially if you get a good Lee Sin or Udyr that ganks at level 2. Her Q and W usually can stop the enemy long enough for them to catch up and use their CC also. If you have Exhaust on top of this, even an enemy with Flash isn't likely to get away.

Mid Game

Riven's Mid Game can go either way based on how well you did early. In the least if you were able to farm well you should be nearing a B.F Sword with your Boots, Dorans and Wriggles complete. It's important for you to help get a Dragon at this point, as Riven really needs to finish Blood Thirster ASAP. Team fight's are likely to be breaking out by now, and your job is to disrupt the enemy carries, especially ranged. Let your team's tanks lead the charge, but stay close enough to Valor into range when you can, and slam everyone with your Q. Ki Strike should be used shortly there after to keep as many people locked down for that extra .5 seconds. If you were sure it was a fight you could likely win quickly, activate your Ultimate before you do this. Remember that your Ult will boost every single ability you have, INCLUDING Valor's shield. Try to save Wind Slash for after people blow Flash, as it has a charge time and is easy to avoid using that summoner. It's damage isn't very high unless an opponent is at least at half health, so don't blow it at the start of the fight either. Use it to mop up kills.

Late Game

Riven's Late Game is where she really starts to shine. While she is not quite as hard of a carry as many others, her ratio's make her spells the strongest they can be once your item's are finished. By now you should have Blood Thirster finished and filled, as well as Frozen Mallet and be working on GA. Now it's time for you to mess with your enemies all at once. Help start fights and bait people using Valor to dodge damage and block what can't be dodged. It's a great bait tool into brush. Charge your Q by targeting the enemy ranged with it after their front line uses their cool downs. This will cause you to slice your way through your opponents while their cool down's aren't ready, and knock back the enemies rear, disrupting their damage further with a follow up Ki Burst, not to mention some hard hits. Use your ult prior to using Ki Burst to boost it's damage and make your follow up attack hit extra hard, too. You can typically free chase anyone who is not defended at this point, using Valor and Ki Burst to keep them in range for your Q's and Auto's and finishing them with Wind Slash. You should only chase a single target if you are confident your team can handle themselves with the rest of the enemy group. Remember that it is your job to spread physical damage and disruptive CC across as many opponent's as possible.


Riven is an excellent, fast, and surprisingly safe jungler before counter jungling is factored in. Her high damage nature early game lets her melt the camps quickly, and her use of no resource means she does not need Blue buff at all to do it. It can be done with or without a leash on the buff creep of your choosing. I will detail a few tips that help the process go quickly and smoothly.

No Leash

Level 1 Item: Cloth Armor + 5 Health Potions

Runes: 9 Flat Damage Marks, 9 Flat Armor Seals, 9 Attack Speed Glyphs, 9 Flat Damage Quintessences

Masteries: 21/0/9 improving Smite and physical damage, as well as XP gain and Buff Duration

Summoner Spells: Smith and Flash

Skill Order: Q, W, E, W, W or Q, E, W if you gank early.

Camp Order: Start at the small wolves, casting Q once at 1:28, and following up again whenever the Q buff is about to deplete. This will give you 3 stacks of your innate as soon as the wolves spawn, though you will have about 1-2 seconds to react and use them, and her Q will be available again by the time your last innate charge is used. The increased damage from her innate makes this camp cleared so fast you often don't even need to use a health pot yet. Make your way to your wraith's, smiting the big wraith and immediately taking a point into Ki Burst, using it to mini stun them and hitting one. Follow up with Q and auto's on them to finish them quickly. You often still will not need to use a health potion yet. Make your way to your small golems, attacking and then immediately stunning them and drinking one pot. Use your Q and W spam to clean them up, taking a point in E when you level, and B to base if no one is gankable. Buy boots, then make your way to blue buff. Clear it using auto attacks in between Ki Burst, Valor, and Broken Wings, and drinking another potion. Then it is on to your wolves again, using Valor to start the fight, then Ki Burst, then Broken Wings, with auto attacks in between all of this. Then clear your wraith's in the same manner, focusing the blue one this time so you can save smite for Lizard. Use a pot between the golem and wraith camps, then clear your small golem camp. You should wait a little bit for smite if you have to, as well as heal up using another pot. Use your final pot during the fight, then look for a gank target.

I often elect to gank earlier than this though, using every potion I have during small golemns and Red buff fights without going back to base. This takes people by surprise, as a level 3 gank from Riven with Red and a point in all three skills is dangerous, though depending on the lane you help, not 100%.


Level 1 Item: Cloth Armor and Health Potions X 5

Runes: Same as No Leash

Masteries: Same as No Leash

Summoner Spells: Same as No Leash

Skill Order: Q, E, W, E, W

Camp Order: Start by having your team beat the Golem, then smite kill it when you can. Finish off the mini lizards and take a point in Valor when you level, making your way to wolves. You can pot if you took alot of damage from Golem despite the leash. Open with valor to block a little damage, and finish them with Q's and Auto attacks. You may pot again if needed, though you probably won't. Fight the Wraiths, taking down the blue one first. Put a point in W when you level from this and drink two pot's. This let's one tick on your way to small golems, and the other start ticking mid fight. Use your Ki Burst to start the fight with one auto, immediately using Valor afterwards. This is so you mitigate as much damage as you can, not wasting any shield from Valor since they can't attack you while stunned. Finish them with Q and Auto combos, then make your way to lizard. Use your last potion to heal up a little and await smite to be around 15 sec cooldown before you start the fight. Begin with Ki Burst, then Valor, and Q combo whenever you can, using smite to finish the big boy. Slay the minor ones, then look for a gank.

I often elect to have my team leash Red instead, in which case you treat it the same as Golem, finishing the Lizard off first instead. This let's you gank at level 2 with Lizard buff, but you will not have access to Ki Burst or Valor, depending on where you stick your second point. So make sure you communicate with your team on this one.

An in depth guide to playing Riven in Dominion can be found here: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=15315501#post15315501

Again, I thank anyone who reads this for their time, and encourage you all to please leave your feedback in a comment. More information will be added as I discover it.

COMING SOON: Twisted Treeline Section

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Senior Member


Pro tip: Make the template in a word document, and then copy/paste it on the forums instead of making a guide post with a blank guide.

Edit: Glad to see the guide is complete.

As far as the guide is concerned, I really don't see anything wrong with it, it's a viable way to play Riven and very similar to what I run on her.

To those who are concerned:

I take flat ArP Marks over Damage, simply because ArP scales better throughout the game than AD marks, and to be honest (though it seems like everyone on the forums would disagree with me.) I feel like Riven has a fairly strong early->mid game, not to the point of being able to get kills at level 2, but she can harass and last hit well enough, and at level 6 kills become much easier to secure, AD or ArP.

I start with a Doran's Shield, and don't really bother stacking Doran's Blade unless needed.
BLASPHEMY! Some people might think, but I've tried both Doran's stacking (2) and not buying a single Blade, and I've done similarly well in both situations, while not wasting the gold on the blades, I try to keep my Riven build as tight as possible gold wise.

I start with Doran's Shield usually, because it really does make her sustain so much stronger, without overly destroying her early game damage.

I'm an Atmogs Riven, many people hate that type of build, but it really is a strong build for her that keeps you from being a glass cannon, throw Yommu's, (or Brut.) BT, Lucidity, Warmogs, Atmas, and then either QSS, 2nd BT, or some type of ArP and you're good.

All that being said, I like your build, which is more offensive focused than mine, both seem viable and it's really just a matter of preference.

Also, thanks for not throwing Trinity Force in there, it's so over rated.

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Senior Member


Guide is officially released. I'm gathering information on Twisted Treeline play with Riven, and will include it in a large update once I feel I have enough. It may end up being a seperate guide entirely, as I did with my Leona one.

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Senior Member


Upsetting to be down voted so quickly. Please let me know what I can do to improve the guide. ^^

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Senior Member


Updated Broken Wings to reflect the increase in AD Ratio.

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This is a good guide and i didnt even think to use riven that way, i tend to get twitchy on the controls and ill slow down my stuff and give this a go

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Senior Member


The only thing i notice this build lacks is any Armpen. a full brutilizer is cheaper than a BF sword, provides 20 less dmg, decent CDR and Pen, why skip it?

EDIT: You are also wrong about crit, I tested it last game after reading this. With (total) 167 AD i was hitting 440~crits with passive up

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I would put some focus on crit, I've had much success using a crit setup so it shouldn't be overlooked .
it also sucks that she is so squish early. I always feel like she demands attack damage but she needs thins like health, magic res, cooldowns, and attack speed. she's just underwhelming in comparison to others who are similar (irelia, xin, akali...).

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An interesting and very detailed guide, thanks.

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I think I've found a typo:
"The life steal stacking of Wriggles and Phage"

Also have you thought about choosing Aegis of the Legends (don't forget it also gives you 10 AD on top of a very cost-effective EHP boost) over GA, or The Black Cleaver over Blood Thirster?
Black Cleaver would probably not be so good though because you are going to space your attacks.