@Riot: A few thoughts on Vlad

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Maybe

Senior Member

10-01-2011

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TL : DR - Vlad doesn't really need work in my opinion, even though he is outshone by some other mages like Brand. If anything, he could use some increased CDR on his early Q (Transfusion), and some minor fixes to the confusing nature of his W (Sanguine Pool), but there's really nothing that glaringly wrong with Vlad. Over-nurfing or Over-buffing any piece of Vlad's kit has far reaching implications to the entire rest of his playstyle, and creative cooldown adjustments while keeping Vlad's damage numbers close to what they are now would provide Vlad a bit more of an edge versus his role's current competition.
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Hello.

Vlad has been my main for many many patches. I've seen him at the heights of his power and in his current state (which I don't really feel is all that under-powered as so many people seem to think). Vlad has some obvious and interesting issues early-game, but they aren't terribly challenging issues. This post will attempt to expound on my takes on Vlad as a champion, and provide some thoughts on possible directions his future development could take.

A Brief Overview of Vlad in 5v5

Vlad's best lane is a solo lane, be it mid or top. Vlad can do either well if the player knows how to be defensive. The main lane phase consists of rushing your Q (Transfusion) to max level as soon as possible, while taking ranks in W (Sanguine Pool) or E (Tides of Blood) as a secondary skill to max, depending on your strategy. Some Vlads attempt to play aggressive during the early levels, but I find that without a gank from Jungle or being against a careless lane opponent, it's very difficult to get a kill before you have R (Hemoplague).

My typical strategy is to buy a Doran's Shield, head to mid preferably, and play a last hit poking game with my lane opponent to get as close to tower as possible. From tower, with one rank in E (Tides of Blood) and a few ranks in Q (Transfusion), I can out-farm almost any typical middle lane, even sitting on the tower. It's very easy to learn how to play Vlad defensively while you need to farm Vlad is a preppy vampire aristocrat with expensive taste after all, and he does best if you can rush a Needlessly Large Rod and Boots with your first buy (my earliest first buy for both of those items was right around level 7).

As soon as I hit 9, i'm ready to push out middle and roam, because my Q (Transfusion) is at a low enough cooldown to effectively gank/harass/bully someone in bottom or top lane, or assist with Dragon fairly effectively. Hopefully I get a quick kill, or assist a lane in pushing a tower, and then I make my way back. If I got a kill, I'll usually go back to mid unless I'm below a quarter health. Vlad is great because even if he's low, unless your lane opponent can burst you down immediately, you can out-sustain if you just hug your tower right. If creeps are pushing too hard, Vlad's E/Q/W combo (Tides of Blood -> Transfusion -> Sanguine Pool) is a pretty effective wave clearer, but I usually make sure to keep the creeps up long enough to heal up to around half HP.

After this point, Vlad is pretty versatile. It really just comes down to build and play. Some people prefer to be very aggressive on Vlad lategame, which can be good. I prefer to play him as artillery, poking from the back or side of teamfights after dropping his R (Hemoplague). But that all really depends on your item build.

Item Builds

Vlad has two main concerns for his build; AP and HP. I prefer to focus on his AP, because his pool doesn't do much as far as consistent damage because the cooldown is so long.

You can build him defensively (which I prefer) and rush Zhonya's Hourglass to give yourself added survivability. This item also turns you into an incredibly baiting tool. If you pool towards your hiding team mates while being chased, you can pop Zhonya's after you emerge from your pool and your team initiates the gank.

You can also build Hextech Revolver to increase your sustain and damage, which combos well with Spirit Visage. This improves Vlad's sustain by massively increasing his healing capabilities. Popping Vlad's E (Tides of Blood) in a large creep wave or teamfight will heal you for more than the ability costs. Often with these items I can last indefinitely in the enemy's base during the endgame.

If you are building Vlad more offensive, you probably will want to rush Rabadon's, but I personally think Vlad is better off using his massive health to his advantage and being played more defensively in his current state.

I don't find HP items incredibly viable on Vlad, even considering his W (Sanguine Pool) stacks damage well with increased HP. The cooldown on his W simply doesn't make building HP to boost the pool's damage viable over buffing his AP to make his healing and sustain better from his Q (Transfusion) and E (Tides of Blood, if you build Hextech Revolver). The most HP I usually build on Vlad is a combo of Rylai's Scepter and Spirit Visage, but that's only if the game requires me to be playing incredibly conservative.

A Brief Overview of Vlad on Dominion

Vlad is great on Dominion. His consistent early-game nukes with his E (Tides of Blood) and his low cooldown poke and AoE late-game make him an awesome contributor to any fight. And that's not even mentioning how much 15% increased damage from his R (Hemoplague) does on Dominion, where characters are already hitting stupid damage heights never seen in Summoner's Rift. Even though Dominion reduces healing effects significantly, this only really seems to affect Vlad's early game, because his late game healing output is still pretty high if you build a humble amount of spell vamp.

I find that rushing Rylai's, followed by Will of the Ancients and then Zhonya's Hourglass makes you an incredibly mean fighter as well as tower defender. If you play right, and hit and run, you will be able to harass a lot of different characters that have currently been shutting people down as immovable tower guards.

I've dueled with Leona, Garen, Gangplank, Anivia, Akala, Alistar, Heimerdinger, Singed, and Mundo, ALL ON THEIR TOWER ON DOMINION, and STILL came out on top. Many of these were 2v1 situations. Because of the range on Vlad's Q (Transfusion) and E (Tides of Blood), Vlad is able to poke enemies, EVEN ON THEIR TOWER. It's a great counter to some of the turtles you see out there. Most of this is after you've reached level 9, because it requires you to be spamming fairly consistently and clearing out minions quickly, both of which Vlad excels at post 9.

Early game though, even despite Vlad's slow Q (Transfusion) ramp up, he can still be a threat if you effectively utilize his E (Tides of Blood). He can be a threat to anyone who's capping a point, whether they are doing it solo, duo, or whatever, as long as you can jump in there and range your AoE effectively. I've hit-and-run disrupted towers with Vlad very effectively, even versus as many as 3 opponents. It's not difficult, and it makes you an incredible asset to teams.

I wont cover Dominion build options in depth, because I haven't extensively tested too many alternative builds. I have been meaning to make note of the Hextech Sweeper though, because I think it could be a pretty mean item on Vlad. I'd really like to see a Hextech Sniper Rifle, built out of Revolver and Sweeper, so I wouldn't have to feel like I'm holding up a slot with an item which would be better filled with any number of other AP items.


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Maybe

Senior Member

10-01-2011

Abilities

Vlad has a strong set of abilities. Such a kit presents a problem to Riot, because balancing a kit of very powerful abilities all coupled with one another can make nurfing any of them seem as if they removing a core piece of Vlad, because they are mostly damage dealing abilities. Vlad doesn't really have CC, unless you're able to offensively use pool, which is always risky because of the cooldown until lategame. In this section, I'll explain each of Vlad's abilities and my perceptions of their pros and cons. I'm going to wait until the end of my posts before I say anything about how I think Vlad could be changed.

Passive - Crimson Pact

Every 40 points of bonus health gives Vladimir 1 ability power and every 1 point of ability power gives Vladimir 2 bonus health (does not stack with itself).

Vlad's passive is amazing. Since Vlad can't effectively make use of many of the items in the game designed for casters because he's not a mana-based champion, he needs an alternative means of generating value out of items. This passive does that very effectively. Build heavy AP and you're automatically beefy. Buy an HP item like Rylai's and you're not only increasing your CC, you're also increasing your AP and HP by more then the item would grant any other character.

The ratio has been nurfed a few times, but it makes sense. When the initial split of Zhonya's Ring occured, any Vlad who bought Rabadon's and Zhonya's was nearly unkillable. It was expensive, but the passive's ratio made it so easy to rick-roll people early, so it wasn't generally a problem to have both of these items before 25 minutes. All in all, the passive is solid. It doesn't really need work.

Q - Transfusion

Vladimir drains the lifeforce of his target, dealing 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 (+60% of ability power) magic damage and healing himself for 25% (+100% of ability power) of that amount.

Cooldown 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4seconds
Range 550


This is Vlad's bread and butter ability. It's been tweaked more often and more drastically than any of the other abilities in his kit. Early in Vlad's history, this ability was game breakingly overpowered because of it's high damage and low cooldown. Lately, this ability has taken small hits to damage and a noticeable hit to it's lowest cooldown. Previously, with runes and items, you could get this ability to be castable on a 1.8 second cooldown, but now you can only get it down to 2.4 seconds.

This ability is problematic for a number of reasons to Riot. First off, there are two sets of numbers, each of which have unique AP ratios. Second off, it's Vlad's sustain ability and his most consistent source of damage endgame, both rolled into one. Thirdly, the ability is very powerful, so early-game it has to be balanced, which makes it seem weak early game, but necessary because the quicker you get it to 5, the quicker you can reach the ability's max utility.

I love this ability, and even with all of the nurfs, it's one of the most satisfying abilities in the game to use. It hits the target instantly. You don't have to wait for a projectile speed before your nuke demolishes the first part of their HP while your E (Tides of Blood) makes it's way over to them. It's great on any game mode, and it shines in Dominion, EVEN THOUGH one of the key aspects of the ability is fundamentally nurfed in that mode. I've reached a lot of turrets which were about to be fully capped, only to Q someone at the LAST SECOND to deny them the turret support.


W - Sanguine Pool

Vladimir sinks into a pool of blood for 2.5 seconds, becoming untargetable and slowing enemies above him by 40%.

Vladmir deals 15% of his bonus Health in magic damage over the duration and heals himself for 12.5% of that amount.

Cooldown 26/23/20/17/14 seconds
Cost 20percent of health


This is Vlad's escape, and it's one of the most infuriating escapes in the game to try to go against. This ability is essentially a steerable, slow motion, AoE flash. You can dodge projectiles, escape Lux's laser, be a scared little puddle of death if you get feared, or just troll just about any hero by pooling away from their main ability which was about to demolish you. This ability can also be used offensively if you are careful. The slow has been nurfed, but it's still viable if you are about to demolish someone with help from a gank/jungle. I use it often if I'm initiating a gank I've communicated to my team as a method of assisting my team mates as they close the gap.

This ability is also pretty complex and problematic for balance purposes.
-It deals Damage
-It slows
-It costs health
-It potentially heals if it damages enough enemies
-It has a scaling cooldown
-It is effective both offensively and defensively depending on the context of its use.

It's obviously meant to be a powerful escape, but it's also very powerful late-game as a dot/heal, and very powerful as a mid-game slow for ganks. It's also effectively a ghost, which makes it great for juking, but that's probably the lowest utility of the skill.

Historically, this ability has been fixed and nurfed a few times. It used to grant a tiny move speed increase while Vlad's character animation shifted into the pool, which was an unintended bug. The slow on the move speed has been nurfed by 10%, and the cooldown has been increased.

Regardless of the changes, this ability remains one of the best escapes in the game. A Vlad with flash, cleanse, Zhonya's, and Quicksilver Sash is ridiculously tough to kill.


E - Tides of Blood

Vladimir unleashes a torrent of blood dealing 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+45% of ability power) magic damage to nearby enemies.

Each cast gives him an Empowered stack (max 4), increasing his healing and regeneration by 8% each. Additionally, his next Tides of Blood deals 25% more damage and costs 50% more Health per stack.

Cooldown 8seconds
Cost 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 health
Range 300


Another amazing ability. In 5's, this increases your ability to farm exponentially. There's no max target number on this, which means if there's a creep-wave that's been building up for a long time, you can use one or two uses of this ability coupled with W (Sanguine Pool) to make hundreds of gold instantly. In Dominion, this ability allows you to hold a point without having to worry about a team of champions coming to assault you. Because of the AoE, it's very difficult for champions to juggle your turret while the other one attacks you. It keeps your turret as an effective weapon for you as the defender. I notice that E is a more effective ability early-game in dominion and have been considering altering my skill progression because of that fact and Q's (Transfusion's) slow ramp up.

Because this ability has no maximum number of targets and a flat health cost, in some situations it can generate health when coupled with Spell Vamp items. I always build at least one spell vamp item on Vlad because of this fact. The heal/damage stacking buff you get on this ability also stacks well with spell vamp.

This ability has never really been nurfed, and it's never needed to be. Because of the fact that this ability is so balanced, I think it may be the ultimate key to getting Vlad to a balanced and universally accepted champ.


R - Hemoplague

Vladimir infects the target area with a virulent plague. Affected enemies take 10 / 14 / 18% increased damage for 5 seconds.

After 5 seconds, infected enemies take 200 / 300 / 400 (+75% of ability power) magic damage.

Cooldown 120seconds
Cost 15percent of health
Range 700


Vlad's ult is and always has been great. It's a damage amplifier for your entire team, and it's an AoE. That alone makes it fantastic, even without the powerful delayed nuke. The demoralizing effect this ability has on an enemy team is astounding. When I land an ult on the majority of the team, I can see them scatter. The graphic, the sound, and everything about this ult makes it threatening. It's great versus Trynd, or any other character with spell/damage immunity.

Some people say that this ult is the only reason to play Vlad, but to me that is ludicrous. This ability is powerful, but the cooldown is fairly long and it DOES cost health to cast, unlike his Q. The damage amplification for your team makes this a great opener to fights, but I tend to drop it right after both teams have committed to the battle.

This ability is one of the main reasons you're able to stand your ground in a lane. Around level 6, some mid characters ramp up more quickly than Vlad and begin to try to bully him out of the lane. Dropping this while they are about to take a tower hit can be devastating when combined with your other abilities.

This ability also makes Vlad very viable in Dominion because of the bursty nature of the battles in that mode. Popping an extra damage buff on top of Poppy, Leblanc, Yi, Xin, Warwick, Trynd, or any number of other characters can spell doom for the enemy team. It also helps direct your team's focus if they are paying attention.


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Maybe

Senior Member

10-01-2011

So, What Does Vlad Really Need Going Forward?

In my honest opinion, Vlad doesn't need much. Even in his current state, I do fine with him. I've always done fine with him. Because of the recent changes to Rylai's, Vlad is very effective at snaring enemies with the right amount of cooldown.

However, the recent consensus of the message boards and apparently Guinsoo is that Vlad needs work. I can understand these sentiments. I don't agree with them, but because of Vlad's intended role and previous heights of power, I could see how they have come up. What I believe Vlad needs depends very much on who's playing him. Some players might want more burst out of his Q (Transfusion) and might not care about a longer cooldown, whereas some players might want Q to be on a lower cooldown with less damage, and still other players might just want more health per use of Q. Because of the complex nature of Vlad's kit, it's hard to buff/nurf any piece of it without the entire kit feeling effected.

Vlad's main point of weakness is his early game, and it mostly stems from his cooldowns. His Q (Transfusion) isn't on a low enough cooldown to be effective until 9, but it's too important to rush to level because of it's last-hit utility, it's innate spell vamp, and it's range. His W (Sanguine Pool) is usually necessary to level second, because it's his escape, but it's also on a very long cooldown at early levels. If you pop your pool to avoid a skillshot and a jungler is hiding nearby, you're probably dead if you don't have flash. Because of the importance of these two abilities, his E (Tides of Blood) is usually left unlearned until 4th, and then usually left alone until W (Sanguine Pool) is at a comfortable cooldown at 3rd or 4th rank. I think it's a shame that Vlad's skillset pigeon holds him into a very cookie-cutter skill-up order.

Beyond his early game weakness, Vlad can easily be out-shone by other mages late-game. Brand is a good example of this. Why would I want a Vlad on my team, who, at max can have a slow if he chooses to build into it, when I could have Brand on my team who will be able to out-burst, out-CC, and out-damage Vlad? Sure, Vlad has a nifty escape and some cool survivability for himself, but how useful is that when Orianna could provide a ghost to the whole team that's also an AoE slow for the enemy team? Because of this, Vlad's last shining point is his ultimate, which keeps him unique, but it's a pretty big trade-off when placed next to the sheer damage that other mages in his class can generate with their ultimates.

So what can we do about these perceived issues? I've thought about how I'd tweak Vlad if given the chance for a very long time, and here's what I've come up with so far. Note that these ideas for tweaks aren't all meant to happen together, they are just ideas for changes based on my experience and understanding of Vlad. Vlad is too complex of a character to apply a large amount of changes to at once without damaging balance significantly.


Adjustments to Cooldown

Vlad's ability to pump out damage early game is very poor. Before 9, he can usually only pop his combo once before having to attempt to kite around the enemy while his Q (Transfusion) refreshes. His early game damage/healing is not high enough in my opinion to warrant as long of a cooldown as it has. I think on Q (Transfusion), the cooldown scaling should change from 8/7/6/5/4 to 6/5.5/5/4/3.

It's difficult to suggest a straight cooldown buff to the W (Sanguine Pool) because it's a very powerful escape. However, because of it's strength as an escape, it's rarely used offensively. I don't believe this is the intent of the design, because it has obvious offensive abilities. I think W (Sanguine Pool) should receive a bonus to it's cooldown one of two ways:

-If this ability does damage, make the damage done translate into increased cooldown to reward offensive play

-Link the pool to the buffs given from using E (Tides of Blood), and decrease the cooldown of pool by 5% - 8% per stack of Tides of Blood (maxing at 20% - 32% increased cooldown depending on the value assigned per stack). This would cause W (Sanguine Pool) to eat the buff stacks from E (Tides of Blood).

I think buffing the cooldown on W from using it offensively would make the ability less counter intuitive and more useful in varying situations. It would allow Vlad to utilize his only CC, which is a good CC move, but it's so risky to use as one currently.

Vlad's R (Hemoplague) also has a pretty long cooldown considering what it does. Brand's ult gets as low as 75 seconds without cooldown runes/items, and it does far more damage then Vlad's Hemoplague AND sets them up to potentially get stunned. Lux's Laser can get as low as 24 seconds, and can contribute to team-fights from great distances.

I think Vlad's Hemoplague should be buffed in a way that would reward skillful play. For every champion that Vlad kills or gets an assist on after Hemoplague, reduce the cooldown by 10 seconds.


Adjustments to Abilities

The heal from Q (Transfusion) is currently pretty lackluster unless you build spell vamp and stack your Tides of Blood pretty well. I think it would be better off if Vlad's Q always just healed him for a percentage of his health with a bonus % per 70 AP. This would allow for more variety in build options for Vlad, who is already pretty limited by the fact that he loses out on a lot of AP items by not having mana.

E (Tides of Blood) is a confusing skill to many new Vlad players. It's difficult to learn when to stack up the buff/debuff. Every cast makes this ability cost more to cast, but increases the vamp of your Q (Transfusion) and the heal from your W (Sanguine Pool). Do something more with this ability, because currently the buff is mediocre compared to the cost. I'll maybe heal 10-30 more HP off of my Q (Transfusion) endgame with 4 stacks. I really think there are valuable potential cooldown applications to this buff. It could work like Casseopeia's Deadly Cadence, but for cooldowns instead of mana.


Well, this wall of text is China Sized, and if you made it through the whole thing, you must really care about Vlad. I hope you've enjoyed my insights, and I'll be checking back in to respond to thoughts/criticisms.


TL : DR - Vlad doesn't really need work in my opinion, even though he is outshone by some other mages like Brand. If anything, he could use some increased CDR on his early Q (Transfusion), and some minor fixes to the confusing nature of his W (Sanguine Pool), but there's really nothing that glaringly wrong with Vlad. Over-nurfing or Over-buffing any piece of Vlad's kit has far reaching implications to the entire rest of his playstyle, and creative cooldown adjustments while keeping Vlad's damage numbers close to what they are now would provide Vlad a bit more of an edge versus his role's current competition.


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theguyuknow

Member

10-01-2011

whoa wall of text op. Morello must nurf!


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Koldheartedjsp

Senior Member

10-01-2011

tldr version please


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Maybe

Senior Member

10-01-2011

Bumping once for the night owls. Bumping later for the early birds.


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DuelistX

Senior Member

10-01-2011

Very well written, I am proud to say i read them all

Only part i may disagree with you is the % healing of transfusion, because it will probably cause the following problems:

-Early game healing is too low
-Mid game healing is ok
-Late game healing will be magnificent

It still depends on the numbers but this is what i think will come up and the qq will start again


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Maybe

Senior Member

10-01-2011

Bumping for the daytime folk.


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Blakk Majikk

Senior Member

10-01-2011

Holy massive wall of text.

I did read the part about Q and E's range on Dominion... If those have such a nice range... what the hell do you call Brand, Lux, or any other real mage's range?!


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Maybe

Senior Member

10-01-2011

Obviously other mages can out-range Vlad, but they are typically very squishy. Vlad's benefit from his passive is that he doesn't have to be too afraid of wading into battle, at least if there's support from his team or a turret nearby.

On Dominion, this is useful because he can walk up to a tower that's getting assaulted, walk right up to the people assaulting it, pop his E, and both of them are off of it, and any creeps that are assisting the assault are damaged.