Okay so I've seen some weird stuff, including, but not limited to, rushing Runaan's Hurricane, AP Lucian, and "Blucian."
I've done a lot of thinking, number crunching, and build testing, and I've watched the streams of some pros trying him out, most notably Chaox. I feel like I can speak with some authority on what makes sense.
Things to keep in mind (if you just want to see what to build, skip this and read past the break):
1) Lucian's passive procs after ability use. Every time he uses an ability, his next attack will shoot twice. The second shot does reduced damage but still procs on-hit effects, and it gives Lucian a lot of burst potential for early trades, as well as late game.
2) Lucian is a high-mobility champion, with two abilities that lend themselves to chasing, or possibly escaping. Lucian wants to be able to pick his spots, stick to enemy champions, and to be very difficult to escape or to chase down.
3) Lucian's ultimate depends on multiple factors when determining its overall damage, including movement speed, attack damage, and ability power. Since his ultimate can be a make-or-break factor in teamfights or single engagements, and it has a relatively small cooldown, maxing its DPS is a consideration.
4) Lucian's abilities scale off of bonus AD, rather than just AD, meaning buying high attack damage items affects his abilities much more. (For example, if an ability scaled off of total AD, then the difference between a Black Cleaver or a Blade of the Ruined King on a level 18 Lucian would be 125 vs 150, or 16% difference. Off of bonus AD, it's 25 vs 50, or 50% difference.)
5) Lucian's cast times make on-hit effects from his passive less feasible than just simply autoattacking. In other words, his passive applies on-hit effects, but attempting to proc more on-hit effects by using his passive means casting a spell every time, which actually averages fewer shots per second than simple autoattacking.
6) Lucian is not a mana-hungry champion late-game. Much like many AD casters, he can run into mana management issues early, as his starting mana (271) at level 1 would allow him to cast his Q only four to five times before he's out of mana. However, at level 18 he naturally has 968 mana, and while casting all his abilities at level 1 would cost 280, at level 18 the combined cost for his abilities actually goes down to 240, with his E being completely free.
7) Lucian should be using abilities in-between autoattacks. Not only do his damaging abilities scale well off of bonus AD and thus stay relevant late-game, they also proc his passive, so more damage will be done if you autoattack between abilities, rather than just blow your combo and then attack a few times.
Okay, so all that's super neato. Now let's get into the nitty gritty number crunching (everyone's favorite!).
1) Attack damage will improve Lucian's ult more than other stats. Lucian's ult does 60 damage per shot, plus 25% bonus attack damage and 10% ability power. There will be 7.5 shots, plus 10.5 times his attack speed, which at level 18 is about 1. This means if you build no items on him, at level 18, his ult will shoot 18 times and do 1080 damage.
Now, this is something I've done a lot of number crunching on, so I can tell you off the top of my head that his base attack speed is .638, that his attack delay is -.02, and if you know what that means, you're a huge nerd. He gains 3.3% attack speed per level, which is fairly standard, but it means that in order to bring his attack speed to 2.5 attacks per second (and get that amazing 850% bonus attack damage on his ult that the wiki promises), you'd need to buy 225% attack speed for him. This is because his attack speed is going to be
.651*(1.594 + X), where X is the amount of attack speed you buy.
If you set that expression equal to 2.5 and solve for X, you get 2.246, which is about 225%. So if you want to figure out how many extra shots on your ult any single item's going to give you, solve
Y= 10.5*(.651*[1.594 + X]-1.04), when X is the amount of attack speed that item has.
For example, put Runaan's in here and you get 4.7, so it's going to add 5 shots. Those 5 shots will do an extra 300 damage.
Meanwhile, buying an Infinity Edge will add 70 bonus damage, meaning you're adding 18 damage per shot. This to just the standard 18 shots adds 324 damage. A fully stacked Bloodthirster adds 450 damage to your ult.
Once your bonus attack damage is high enough, however, it'll become easier to increase your damage with more shots (attack speed) than it will with more damage per shot. After adding 250 attack damage, for instance, your shots do 123 damage each. Adding another 100 attack damage would add 450 damage, same as before, but adding 5 shots with Runaan's would add over 600 damage to your ult.
2) Bloodthirster is usually better than Blade of the Ruined King for a Q and autoattack w/passive. Assuming only one target, a Bloodthirster will add 120 damage to a max-level Q, then 100 damage to the first basic attack and 50 to the double shot. This is a total of 270 damage. The Blade of the Ruined King will add 30 damage to the Q, then 25 + .05X to the first autoattack, and 13 + .05X to the second autoattack, where X is the enemy's current health. In order for this to be effective, X has to be above 2020 at the time of the autoattack, which is true of many champions, but often won't be the case.
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So with all this in mind, here's the good and bad for building Lucian.
Trinity Force is GOOD. Lucian's gameplay tactics mean procing his passive a lot, which is exactly the same thing you do to proc Trinity Force's Spellblade passive -- you use an ability, then attack. Trinity Force has recently had the damage for Spellblade increased to 200% base attack damage, which, in Lucian's case, means an extra 200 damage every time. More, the Rage passive and 8% movement speed work very well with Lucian's status as a high-mobility champion. Rage synergizes with his W to add 60 movement speed after hitting a marked enemy. Finally, every stat on Trinity Force is useful to Lucian. While he shouldn't be building AP, the 30 AP will still add some damage to his W and his ult.
Manamune is ONLY OKAY. Lucian doesn't have enough mana problems to justify building it, and the Muramana bonus damage applied to attacks doesn't increase the damage on any of Lucian's abilities, including his ultimate. Late-game, it's mostly just giving a boost of almost 60 attack damage, and adding almost 120 damage to his autoattacks (or less, when his mana isn't full). Most of the time, you can find another item that will be more efficient.
Front-loading attack damage is GOOD. Building attack speed eventually will be good, but because you're using abilities in-between autoattacks, your attack speed is less relevant for Lucian than it is for other champions like Caitlyn who will be autoattacking almost exclusively. Consider building your attack speed item as your last or second-last item, and instead focusing on increasing that bonus attack damage.
On-hit builds are BAD. The people going around thinking, "His passive procs on-hit effects, but does reduced damage, so that second shot will be best with more on-hit effects" are correct. That second shot becomes much cooler if you build on-hit effects for it. That said, even with that passive, he'll get fewer on-hit effects off than he would if he simply built to autoattack exclusively, and forego his passive entirely. In order to get that second autoattack from his passive, he has to use an ability, which requires him to stop autoattacking. For that reason, it's a bad idea to think of his second shot AS a second on-hit effect proc, and think of it more as his autoattacks being "a shot and a half." If you want to build Wit's End, Black Cleaver, Blade of the Ruined King and Spirit of the Elder Lizard, then yes, his second shot will be much more potent, but he'd apply all his on-hit effects more often if he just stood there attacking, and there are other champions who are better at that.
Iceborn Gauntlet is PRETTY DECENT. It at least has the Spellblade passive, which, as mentioned before, is pretty awesome on Lucian. The AOE slow is always cool, and with Lucian's mobility, you can play him a bit like a Blue Ezreal. Cooldown reduction on Lucian is also quite useful. The item is strong on Lucian in its own right, but unfortunately, doesn't stand up well to a side-by-side comparison with Trinity Force, which was just buffed significantly. More, unlike Ezreal, Lucian doesn't have an ability that procs Spellblade the way Ezreal's Mystic Shot does, so while Ezreal can slow you with a long-range Q, Lucian has to get into autoattack range to proc the Iceborn slow on you. Still, this would be a great item if it didn't have to compete with Trinity Force.
Black Cleaver is GOOD. There's been lots of back and forth about Last Whisper versus Black Cleaver, and Last Whisper is still an awesome item and very good on Lucian, but as I just mentioned, CDR is pretty strong on Lucian. The 200 health gives him a nice little bit of tankiness (especially if combined with the 250 health from Trinity Force). It's true that Last Whisper is better in terms of armor penetration, and against a Malphite or Rammus or someone else who's really stacking armor, Last Whisper will probably be the better armor penetration item, but Black Cleaver's additional bonus damage (which his abilities scale from) and health are strong, and the Black Cleaver, simply put, allows Lucian to use his abilities more often, which means more passive procs and more Spellblade procs.
Bloodthirster is GOOD. The highest bonus attack damage (besides the always risky Sword of the Occult), and 18% lifesteal. Everyone loves Bloodthirster on an ADC, but keep in mind that on Lucian, every fully stacked Bloodthirster increases the damage on The Culling by 25 per shot.
Blade of the Ruined King is DECENT. It adds valuable lifesteal and adds percent damage to your basic attacks, but keep in mind that you're going to be autoattacking less often than other ADC's, so its passive is less useful. That said, it's got a great active, the attack speed is useful (for The Culling, if nothing else), and it can shred teams who stack health. The major downside is that it only adds a quarter of the bonus attack damage that a fully stacked Bloodthirster does, so in my builds it usually loses out.
Phantom Dancer is SITUATIONAL. If you're only going to build one big attack speed item (not counting boots, Trinity Force or a Blade of the Ruined King), you've got to pick between Phantom Dancer, Zephyr and Runaan's Hurricane. All three have advantages, and Phantom Dancer's advantage is the critical chance. Basically, if you've built Infinity Edge and Trinity Force, this item will almost double your crit chance, bringing it from 35% to 65%, or about 2 out of 3 attacks. If you didn't build IE, then you probably shouldn't build PD.
Zephyr is GOOD. The attack speed helps your ult, the CDR is, as mentioned, strong on Lucian, Tenacity is always great, and it adds more bonus attack damage. The 10% movement speed adds to Lucian's already speedy nature. If you didn't build IE, this item can be strong on Lucian.
Runaan's Hurricane is SITUATIONAL. Its passive will proc twice with Lucian's passive, which means he can lifesteal pretty hard off of it, or proc Blade of the Ruined King twice onto three champions at once. You're not likely to notice much difference between the 70% attack speed from this item and the 50% attack speed from Zephyr or Phantom Dancer, so you mostly have to balance its passive with the other stats available from Zephyr or PD.
Berserker's Greaves are GOOD. Since attack damage is more efficient to build than attack speed, and you don't want to build too many attack speed items, it's nice to have this smaller attack speed buff. It'll tack another shot onto your ult, if nothing else.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity are GOOD. Cooldown reduction, like I keep saying, is strong on Lucian. It allows him to use his abilities AND proc his passive more. Which boots to take tends to fall more on personal preference. I usually wind up getting the Berserker's Greaves because they're cheaper.
Frozen Mallet is OKAY. It's nice to have the extra bit of tankiness, and making the enemy slow helps the team to chase, but Lucian should be able to escape enough that he shouldn't need the extra health. If he's getting locked down by CC, a Mercurial Scimitar will handle that easier, and has the added benefit of adding more bonus attack damage. Mostly you buy this for the Icy passive, which is cool for team chases, but is unnecessary 1v1 if Lucian has ANYTHING else allowing a chase (Furor or Alacrity boots, his W, Phage or Trinity Force, a Blade of the Ruined King slow... there's a lot). Mallet's still probably better than Warmog's as a defensive item, so it's got that going for it.
Mercurial Scimitar is SITUATIONAL, as it is with every AD carry. Lucian shouldn't find himself in too many spots he can't get out of. His E cleanses slows, and whatever he builds, he should wind up out-running most enemy champions. If you're playing draft or ranked and see a lot of lockdown CC on the enemy team, taking cleanse should cover a lot of it. Still, Mercurial Scimitar is an efficient item if dealing with just ridiculous CC, or in situations where you have a Death Mark or something similar you need to remove.
Building AP is JUST BAD. AP scales only into two of his abilities (his W and ult), and scales favorably in comparison to damage in only his W. A Rabadon's Deathcap would add 16 damage per shot to Lucian's ultimate, but a Bloodthirster adds 25, and also benefits his Q and autoattacks. AP Lucian can do burst damage with his W and Lich Bane, but it's vastly inferior to any other build -- even Wit's End.
That said, Wit's End is BAD. It looks nice -- steal magic resist, keep a little for yourself, and add on-hit magic damage for your passive and basic attacks. It would be awesome if your passive's on-hit effects mattered much, but recall that you're going to proc on-hit effects more by ignoring your abilities (and thus your passive) and simply autoattacking, which you can do on ANY ADC, and much better on others. This goes double for Nashor's Tooth.
That pretty much covers it.
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Okay, so sample builds.
If you want to have a really strong ultimate, building two Bloodthirsters, a Black Cleaver, Zephyr, Blade of the Ruined King and Lucidity Boots will give you 300 bonus attack damage, 35% CDR and 90% attack speed, making your ult do 3375 damage (25 shots at 135 damage per), and allows you use your ultimate around every 30 seconds. Your Q does 600 damage to everyone it hits and can be spammed every 3 seconds, and you can use your dash for repositioning every 6 seconds. Your W does 400 magic damage.
If you want a balanced build with crits, build Phage into Trinity Force, a Bloodthirster, Black Cleaver, Infinity Edge, Phantom Dancer and Lucidity Boots. You've got 65% crit, 250 bonus attack damage for your abilities, and 25% cooldown reduction.
If you want to focus on mobility and kiting, build Phage into Trinity Force, Black Cleaver, Zephyr, Blade of the Ruined King, Frozen Mallet and Lucidity Boots with the Furor enchantment. You'll have 25% CDR so you can dash once every 7.5 seconds, you'll have 18% increased movement speed to complement the bonuses from Rage, Furor and Ardent Blaze. If that's not enough, you slow with Mallet and Blade of the Ruined King's active. If slows are more important than speed, substitute Iceborn Gauntlet for Trinity Force, although even Lissandra will say that's excessive.
Or just pick some items that work well and put together your own build. Maybe you like boots of swiftness for even more mobility, because you're a freak. Whatever. No one should be super confused by Lucian's builds, and I DON'T WANT TO SEE ANY MORE AP LUCIAN RUNNING AROUND MID LANE WITH HEXTECH GUNBLADE AND LICH BANE.
I'm going to bump this thread as much as I please because DAMN it took me a long time.
Very nice comparison and breakdown.
However, I've been trying Lucian with a Hextech Gunblade. He gets some crazy returns with his Q, his W does a fair bit more damage, as well as his ult, and gives the added bonus of still returning life while shooting in his ult(albeit not too much of a return from his ult). The AD doesn't really match up to, say, a bloodthirster, but 45 AD isn't too bad, either, considering he can utilize the AP somewhat okay.
Getting a Trinity makes this even better, since it adds a little more AP, which goes to the ult and W, but also adds just a tiny bit more to the Gunblade active.
Edit: Yes, I'm talking about building Gunblade with an otherwise AD build. With just that, hitting a few minions with Q can easily return 100+ health, without the lifesteal you'll still get from the passive. Your sustain goes through the roof.
Great thread. Botrk is overrated on him and I tend to only get it first when I'm really far ahead of everyone else in kills and levels. But bloodthirster is a core item on him, and his passive really synergizes with it. I find that moment I build that, that's when I start really piling on the kills. I went 15/0 with BT and botrk alone. As for building cooldown reduction to take advantage of his passive, you're right that mid-late game, his mana problems tend to somewhat alleviate...that's usually when I start with the BC and Zephyr builds, with a strong preference towards BC. Frozen mallet can be overkill though, especially if you have trinity force and furor and regularly get off shots with your W. It's great for top lane though if you want that extra health
Bork is a good item to get against tanks and champs with high hp. Lucian doesn't need to do that early-mid. A Bork Rush on Lucian is akin to rushing Youmuu's on him. Also a decent boost, but really pales in comparison to other items.
You are adding 30 to your auto and 5% of their current hp, 15 to your passive and 5% of their current, and 36 to your Q with Bork.
With BT you add 100 to your auto, 50 to your passive, and 120 to your Q. That's 189 extra damage above BoRk.
You can get BoRK later on him, and do great. but get early AD on him, please. IE or BT, your pick. Zerks is all the attack speed you'll need until later. High damage is crucial on him.
I definitely believe in the Dorans > Zerks > Bloodthirster > Trinity Force start. In my mind this is pretty core, and what you should build.
I'm just not sure what comes next. I think my main goal on Lucian is to slam super hard on the Q/passive poke. So I'm guessing Infinity Edge and Last Whisper would be coming up next. I think Black Cleaver might have potential, but it's shred ramps up too slowly for his Q/passive pokes. Last Whisper will deal the full damage up front with the Q/passive without any buildup. I'm also guessing I would have a GA, or some other defensive item in there late game, so that takes up a slot. BT, Trinity, IE, LW, GA, Boots.
I guess that's the build? It does seem very attack speed light. I hate to say it but the IE looks like all that can be cut. Gotta have boots, gotta have BT and Trinity. Gotta have LW. Gotta have a defensive slot late game. So I guess that big choice comes down to that 3rd/4th item.
Is it Infinity Edge? Is it Phantom Dancer/Statikk Shiv? Is it BotRK? Is it something more unorthodox like Black Cleaver/Zephyr? I'm not sure.
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