Recent Update: Added beginning of Strategy section
Udyr- The Animal Spirit
I started playing Udyr since the day he came out. I love the hero and I love the design. However, as many remember, he was really terrible at release. This was remedied by an overzealous buff to Phoenix and Turtle, which due to the multiplicative properties of his Attack Speed boosts, was nerfed. The nerf more affected Monkey’s Agility than anything else. From that point, he was cast out of the social limelight and placed on the “queue dodge” list. I have had so many games with people complaining about my Champion and leaving citing mostly either incorrect or blatantly exaggerated claims. I am here to straighten it out as I have seen plenty of requests as of late for more information. I am in the high-end ELO bracket and have had great success with Udyr in many different forms, including multiple Skill builds. Now on to the Skills.
I am not going to restate the descriptions of the skills as you can read them on their own. I will however, state the strengths and weaknesses of each and other specific properties of it. A thing to note is that Udyr has four BASIC skills that can be leveled to 5. However, due to the max level of 18, you will only be able to max THREE leaving one skill with three ranks.
Tiger Stance: This ability is often over-looked in light of Phoenix Stance. There is a valid justification for this as Phoenix provides much more damage output for less items. Tiger Stance is built around a high Damage and proper use of BEAR/Phoenix, not specifically Tiger Stance. I will go more into that later.
Notes on Tiger Stance: While this stance splits his attack into 3 separate attacks, this difference is for the most part, cosmetic. On-hit effects DO NOT apply to the latter two attacks, but only the first. Life leech DOES work on all 3, thus allowing you to get the same returns as you would from your single attack. Tiger’s ACTIVE DoT carries over into other stances. This is extremely important as you are ideally having it active in Bear/Phoenix to hit the target and then proceed to cycle into another Tiger hit --> Turtle after the first DoT wears off. This will allow you to get major burst early with essentially two beefy criticals.
Turtle Stance: This stance saves lives. Not just your life either. The amount of uses for this stance is practically endless. However, I will only address a few. First, it saves your butt. Time it to activate as you are getting hit by a projectile to often nullify its damage. This is fantastic for early game as if you are laning, which is a perfectly legitimate strategy, this will make you rather hard to harass. Also, this stance provides MANA leech. It does not work on towers, but other than that always plan to end up in this stance if you are low on mana. This will allow you to regenerate enough mana for another two to three stance switch after beating on some minions. Pre-charging this shield and rushing in with Bear will often make you a perfect baiting tool. You will most likely be in this stance 70% of the time. Udyr fights a lot like Boo from Mario. When they are facing you, Turtle up. However, the moment they turn their back on you feel free to open up with a Bear to Phoenix or Tiger,Bear, Phoenix combo. Make sure you don't over commit to it or you will get caught with a beefy nuke that you could have absorbed with Turtle.
Bear Stance: This is where you become useful. This stance is hands down your best stance. Funny enough, this stance is also the one you will most likely level as your third or fourth primary skill. This ability allows you to literally seize control of a given battle. Placing stuns where you want them, and disrupting the flow of battle. This is why I have given Udyr the nickname, the Adam Smith of LoL, for he utilizes is the Invisible Hand that guides the outcome of battles. Remember to count when you play Udyr, as counting off the amount of time for the stun to come up often separates the good Udyr’s from the bad.
Phoenix Stance: The farming stance. This stance provides a creep-wave clearing AoE damage pulse, a brief AP and AD boost, and a mini-Jax ultimate. More often than not, you will level this as your primary damage.
Notes on Phoenix: The way the bursts work in Phoenix is actually based on a three attack timer, which is independent from when you are actually IN the stance or not. Here’s how it ends up folding out: There is a mini-timer which starts after each attack which counts the three attacks, then gives you a burst on the third. This will wear out after a while, I would say around 5 seconds, but don’t quote me on that. This means you can’t just attack twice, wait in a brush, and ambush with a proc. You CAN pull this off if you attack a minion twice and then move on to the enemy champion for your third smack. Next, if you go into Phoenix and attack four times getting one proc, then switch to Turtle and attack once more followed by another switch to Phoenix, you will notice that you will get a proc on your FIRST hit. This is because that mini-timer was not up yet so your “hit counter” was still counting your Turtle hits. This is very important in team battles to maximize your damage output while not having to maintain in your vulnerable Phoenix Stance.
This seems the part that everyone cares about. I find it silly, but I must give into the masses. I will tell you that my Udyr build is EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE. Udyr has the wonderful ability to adapt more than any other hero to a given situation. Do not limit yourself to staple “item builds”. Despite saying this, I will give two generic builds that coincide with how I normally play Phoenix Udyr and Tiger Udyr, or as I like to call him Sagat or God-Tier Udyr. (TIGGGERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR GENOCIDE amirite?)
- Boots of Speed + 1 Mana pot + 2 Hp potions.
- Sapphire Crystal + Mini-book -> Sheen.
- Finish Bezerker Boots
- Chain Armor + Rejuv. Bead -> Warden’s Mail
- Null-Mantle + Recurve Bow à Wit’s End
- Zeal + Phage -> Trinity.
- Negatron Cloak + 2x Regrowth Pendants -> Force of Nature
- Blasting Wand + Pickaxe -> Guinsoo’s Rageblade
I start off with boots because I lane 80-90% of the games I play as Udyr. Just because Udyr CAN jungle extremely well, doesn’t mean he HAS to. The jungle has its benefits as well as its downsides. With the new and increasingly popular trend of “let’s gank the jungler” has really deterred me from going that route. Also, I find that other heroes that are more reliant on the jungle should take it first, like Shaco or Warwick or Fiddle. That being said, I also run with Movement Speed Quints. Speed is your biggest weapon as Udyr and you will be maintaining a 512 movement speed almost 100% of the time. Also, Bear Stance is your primary control and only is effective IF you can reach your target. An early Turtle will give you more mana/health regeneration that you will need.
Sheen early is almost a must for Udyr. He needs the mana early on as the cost of his skills at low ranks are rather expensive for your small initial mana pool. Also, each stance does proc Sheen, so these procs will be your primary source of damage early on. This is because you simply don’t have the attack speed to be able to get more than one proc in a Phoenix Activation.
I get these most of my games because of the IAS. Phoenix relies on it and so does a good initial regeneration in Turtle. I will switch it up to a Ninja/Merc’s if I see a heavy Physical/Magic presence. However, smart switches to Turtle + your already insane movement speed allows for plenty of running opportunities.
I am a firm believer that this could be the BEST defensive item, in terms of overall damage mitigation, in the game. The impacts of this relatively cheap item are immense. What if I told you that Udyr’s Passive gave in addition to its current effects, a 20% chance to slow the attack and movement speed of attackers on hit by 35%. I can almost guarantee people would scream OP. However, Warden’s Mail offers just that. When you are moving at 512, slowing the enemy most likely means they have no chance in catching you. It also makes you a perfect bait, which after all is your purpose on the field of battle. UPDATE - In the most recent patch Warden's Mail got a change when the Cloth Armor was removed. Now it's even easier to pick it up fast and thus reduce the amount of time you are in your squishy state.
Magic Resist (since I don’t get Treads, this beefs me up a bit) and Attack Speed for Phoenix + the 42 UNMITIGATED damage per hit. Udyr outlasts his opponents. That is what he is good at. If you are beating on an Ashe (which you should, as your main goal is to run past the fray and start screwing with their carries) then you will soon find out that all those hits in addition to the meager use of some of her skills, will place her at 0 mana. For carries like Corki, this makes him quite useless and severely hinders his damage capacity. Not too bad for this cheap item
Heavy MR and Movement speed, what’s not to like?
Thornmail: This bad rascal got buffed in the patch and 30% return is nothing to laugh about, especially on maps like TT where Mundo's are a plenty!
Also, pretty much explains itself. You will have max charges almost all the time and the attack speed + AP helps so much.
Another Clense, if one wasn't enough, imagine two! Also, I think this item DOES allow you to remove silence effects, as Clense the summoner spell does not. *Needs a confirmation however* Update: This item just got its cost reduced and cooldown reduced in the patch. All the more reason to use it!
So, finally I have decided to put together my Sagat Udyr build. Now, this is pretty much gonna be the shortest section as it is almost identical to my Phoenix based build. The real reason is this, I now basically run a Hybrid between the two as it have found it ends up being all-around better. Here's why:
- Tiger fails early game. It just doesn't provide anything more than a harder time last hitting. Your damage is piss-poor early so the TStrike (the active portion which I dubbed this, to make it easier to write this) hits like a wet noodle. Phoenix level 5 is just too devastating to pass up.
- Like above, Tiger is extremely dependent on getting a Bloodthirster.
So, my Sagat build works out to be something like this.
I level up my skills the same as I do Phoenix. It follows something like this: Phoenix --> Turtle--> level 3 Bear--> Max Tiger. I do this because when Tiger is getting maxed out, you will already have good damage on top of a highly probable Trinity. Adding the Trinity proc to Tiger helps A LOT.
Now, if you wanted to go Tiger earlier, then I would recommend getting some strong early game teammates to carry you. From there, replace maxing Turtle (or Phoenix if you want to be a bit more Tanky, especially since you will have a period pre-B.F. Sword where you'll be quite squishy and weak, and only rank Phoenix to 3) early with only level 2. From there, get rank 1 Bear, and go on Maxing Tiger. Tiger really depends on your items as I have said before, so if you don't have an early BF sword by the time your Tiger is getting up there, then just transfer into a Phoenix build.
-Boots -> Beserker's (After Sheen)
-Mana Crystal + Amplifying Tome -> Sheen (First completed item after Boots)
-Chain Mail --> Cloak of Agility --> Atma's
- Here I normally gauge whether I need the health or the movement speed. This lets be decided which component of Trinity to build second.
- Finish Trinity
- B.F. Sword --> Bloodthirster OR Giant's Belt + Chain Mail --> Sunfire Cape.
- The reason for this is either you need the upfront damage, or you need to swap into a more beefier role. Either way, Atma's is gonna give you damage. If you aren't savvy on math, if you reach an easily attainable 2.5k hp, that's the equivalent of your Atma's having a B.F. Sword attached.
I normally run the same Runes and Masteries for any form of Udyr I take. This goes 9 into Defensive for Nimbleness, stressing MR over the AR. From there I put 21 into Utility for the Experience, Mana Regen, Movement Speed, Cooldowns, and Improved Ghost.
For Runes, I run:
Marks: Attack Speed (14%)
Seals: Dodge (6.8%)
Glyphs: Flat/Scaling CDR (8.65% at 18/ 5.85%) OR MR/Level (24 at Level 18)
Quints: Movement Speed (4.5%)
I run Ghost/Clense. Ghost pretty much makes you run across the map in like 5 seconds. It’s fantastic for chasing and baiting. Flash is great, but seems to me to be wasted on Udyr. However, I can still see its merits. Clense on the other hand is invaluable. Crowd Control is what destroys Udyr. It doesn’t allow him to Stance-Dance which leads to him dying. Clense is a must. So much so, I often find myself using a Quicksilver Sash whenever the team has three Champions with some HARD-CC (these would mean stuns or immobilizers, not slows).
Strategy and Skill Builds:
As you may have noticed, I did not put a skill order section in this guide. I did so because I wanted to make a little point that skill builds aren’t the same with Udyr as they are with other Champions. Udyr is rather flexible and each skill level gives moderate upgrades. Normally when I skill, I keep them balanced out often having three skills at level 3. The reason I do this is because of Stance-Dancing. The heart of Udyr is the ability to be in three different stances. Only fully utilizing two because of early Mana restrictions really, really hurts Udyr’s game. However, I will make a tentative “guide” for the Phoenix/Sagat builds.
INDEX: BS = Bear, TS = Turtle, TGS = Tiger, PS = Phoenix
1. BS/TS (Bear normally, but if it's a tough lane and they are aggressive early, go Turtle)
2. BS/TS (What you didn't pick for #1)
3. TS/PS (Again, harassment determines how fast you level turtle. Normally casters mean higher levels early due to their bursty nature)
*see the Sagat Udyr section for explanation*
You should be able to get the idea now. Udyr is very fluid and should be getting his Turtle levels to allow him to survive say, a nuke of their carry. Phoenix by rank 4/5 will do some nice damage, but staying alive long enough to cycle multiple hits is what you need to focus on. If you farmed early, your defensive items will compliment your offense so pick up early ranks of Phoenix. Also, leveling a few points into Bear early will really help you with your early mana problems as a 75 mana shift is quite draining, especially since you tend to go into Bear a lot while fleeing/chasing.
Rules of Engagement
Throughout this guide I have mentioned several times about the Udyr "psychological effect". I am going to explain this a little further. This effect is aimed at getting into the opponent's head and therefore make his actions more predictable, which subsequently makes them easier to counter. There are two types of psycho-warfare when it comes to Udyr, which I fittingly call either the Flight or Fight types. I will discuss both below:
This refers to either entering or fleeing the battlefield. An important part about playing Udyr is understanding one simple fact. Out of all the stances of Udyr there is but one that scares the living beejesus out of the enemy more than all the rest. This stance is Bear Stance. There is a simple reason for it. People don't rage because of damage, rather it is non-responsiveness. People HATE, I repeat, HATE being controlled. Bear Stance provides a very short stun, but that stun will piss of your opponent more than Phoenix procs or Tiger DoT's. If that Annie is spamming her Q button to nuke you only to have her not do it because of a stun and then dies, then you are most likely gonna hear some rage. Stunning an opponent is literally like a back-handed slap to their face. I don't know how many people played Dota, but the Voidwalker who had a passive Bash was perhaps the most rage inducing hero out there because he could lock you down without you being able to do anything. Even if it is for a second, no one wants to be locked down. It's fitting that Bear Stance makes that sound when you hit something with it or even just activate it. The Bear Slap is perhaps your greatest tool for engaging in psycho-warfare. People will learn to fear your Bear and if you prove yourself in game this will be your greatest weapon. Simply turning on Bear and running at the enemy will sometimes provide some great results. These results would include, blown Summoner Spells such as Ghosting away or Exhausting you, wasted slows or self-buffs, or the best wasted Ultimates. I don't know how many times I've been beating down on a middle lane Annie enough that when I Bear rush her she'll predict my oncoming assault and will thrown down a Tibbers only to have me U-Turn it and run the other way. Like G.I. Joe said it best, "Knowing is half the battle.....G.I. UDYR!!!". Not quite, but still.
The next part is the running away process. Staying in melee range is not often the best strategy for playing Udyr. As you become more of a threat, they will begin to commit more to killing you. It is often more advantageous to run away briefly to lure your pursuers into a more advantageous position for your team....say a Fiddle ult? Baiting with Turtle is what makes this so great. Often players will try and throw a final spell on you as you run out of their range. Utilize this knowledge and wait to pop Turtle to absorb that spell, then turn right around and Bear Slap his face since you now know that ability is on cooldown. Knowing how long the cooldown is becomes even more invaluable as you can count these seconds and right before its up, pop a Turtle to block that incoming nuke which you know they are breaking their fingers spamming. Mind games like these not only provide a tactical advantage by distributing the enemy's damage output in the most mitigated manner possible, but it also provides you with the ability to somewhat control the enemies actions based on your knowledge of their most likely reaction.
This section is a little bit trickier. The one beautiful thing about having an on-command shield is that coupled with the knowledge of the enemy champion's cooldowns you can really mitigate a lot of burst damage. For instance, when fighting an Annie take a look at their build. Unless the have a Glacial or some other cooldown reduction, you can normally be able to Turtle every Q thrown at you. It will come at you about every 4 seconds so prepare and predict.
Another useful tool in your arsenal is knowing when to burst, and when not too. Normally the goal is to kill your enemy as fast as possible. However, there are times when this route may not be optimal. If your opponent has a strong snare such as Whither or a Stun then this strategy becomes more useful. The best strategy to run away from a chasing enemy is to snare him and then run. This is common knowledge and 99% of your opponents will most likely do just that. So, utilize this to your advantage. Take some extra damage only timing Turtles for their bursts like in the case of Nasus, his Q. My strategy is to hang in their long enough for them to blow their Whither, then immediately Bear Stun. From there Clense and enjoy your free chase down. The real object however is to NOT use Clense. When you get good enough at reading your opponents you can skip this whole process by baiting them into blowing a Whither, waiting it out, then bursting them within the cooldown to be well into chasing them before it is up again. The second Whither is what you ideally want to Clense. Nasus is a beefy Champion and similar Champions require the same finese. They are designed to take beatings so the brute force strategy may not apply when say, you know an Alistar has all his skills and is at half HP. If you are as well, take some damage and eat the combo. Once he blows his Ultimate, Bear stun and simply run with him in Turtle, attack-moving in the process. Wait 5 seconds, and then proceed to stun and charge your Phoenix to ideally have it proc right when the ultimate wears off.
The above section may have been a bit confusing for some but to clarify a little more, this aspect of your game play usually goes under the presumption that you are working with FOUR stances, not just Turtle/Bear/Phoenix, which is most common. Tiger Stance and it's split-attack provides an equal flow of damage, but less burst. DoT's are deceptively strong and often work to keep an enemy in close range (and away from that tower range) just long enough for you to flip into a Bear--Phoenix finish.
This is probably the first Udyr guide that I respect. I've gone 97 - 65 with him, and played him a TON, and this guide reflects a genuine understanding of him.
Having said that, I find that Phoenix-Tiger isn't necessarily an either/or. You will tend to lean on one or the other, and your item build will reflect which one is your primary, but I'm a big believer in using both. Mana permitting, for example, a tiger prep makes sense in almost any circumstance. What are you thoughts on the role of both stances?
I have to say, this is a great guide. As you say though, there are several ways to play/build Udyr, like the one explained in my guide that you responded to.
What´s your opinion on a Locket Udyr? I am trying Locket/Ninja Tabi/Spirit Visage/Force of Nature/Sheen (these last 2 can sometime change order). Runes and masteries are pretty much what you use in this guide. Obviously it is not perfect but it allows you to stay around forever.
Wow, thanks for all the great replies. I'll try to answer all your questions to the best of my ability, pending I can actually REMEMBER what you asked =)
1. As far as using Tiger and Phoenix, I do. I use tiger even as a phoenix build, but it doesn't come out until much later (the last 3 levels tbh). The reason is that I am addicted to the speed boost of Bear for general movement and so I need the mana cost to be low. That aside, I always do a pre-charge tiger-->bear (tiger proc)--> tiger --> phoenix etc when I initiate late game. However, it's the mana cost that kills me. I am going to try building him where I only get 3 ranks in Bear and get Tiger a bit earlier on.
2. Locket Udyr. Haven't tried it, I can see some nice potential to it. Builds from Catalyst, early mana regen is nice. The refunding of a skill every 3 seconds is really nice, and since you are chain casting it would be nice in team battles. I just find that the cost is too high as a primary item. Udyr needs his early items to do anything really. Putting that off even longer could be dangerous, but I'm open to new ideas. I may try it out. The spirit visage part is a key component especially if they got around to fixing its interaction with life steal, which would make Turtle that much more potent. I would suggest getting a Catalyst-->sheen -->boots THEN finish locket --> visage. Sheen provides that much needed early game damage output to put you on par with the rest. You don't have the mana capacity to support the switching needed to keep phoenix always up WHILE maintaining your shield. Having Sheen procs for your constant Turtling (the summary of Udyr's early game) allows you to survive while being able to have a formidable offense to deter persistent harassment. I also remain skeptical about the practicality of your Ninja Tabi choice as your attack speed is going to be horrendously low and since there is no physical damage in this item build, Tiger is out. So you'd be relying on Phoenix with only your 3x Monkey boost. With only this much attack speed, you won't get 2 Flames from a single phoenix switch before you have to reset your Monkey.
3. Malady. Yes the attack speed is sweet and the life steal is nice + the pure damage boost is also killer. However, I just don't have any place for it early on in my build and after that part I would rather get a Stark's over a Malady at that point. I think it's a great item, I just don't have much use for it in how I play. (I rarely need extra life leech early anyway as I normally lane).
I'm relaly interested in your sagat udyr lol, i imagine hes going to be a dps build, i love playing udyr, but i find hes slow leveling at start hurts my team a little bit, anyways i like to play an agressive udyr dps, but havent really found anything that puts a dent on other champions, dont get me wrong i can hold my owen but im still trying to find a solid demage dealing build that im content with, also i like putting 1 point in turtle at start and then maxing out phonix asap for faster laning/leveling if your good at predicting your opponents move one or 2 points in turtle at start should be enough, it has worked very well for me letting me keep up with all the other players leveling..
Anyways looking forward to this udyr build
Edit: Also i wanted to ad that picking up a green elixir pot (cant remember the name)
around level 4-6 can be god sent ive found that around this levels moust champions are hanging around 50% hp from harrasing each other, i normaly let them push me near tower i pop the pot hit them with bear and then turtle, and finishing them off with a phoneix, they go down like a brick ive often taken out two champions with this strat also you need exhaust for this to work.
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