Oh boy. Oooh boy. I’ve been  waiting on this. The newest addition to League of Legends, provided by the one and only Meddler of Riot Games. I was eagerly awaiting this champion, because Meddler also made Ziggs. Dying to know if that was a one-off or if he’d keep up the same quality of work. And did he ever nail. Meddler’s now sitting with Xypherous a favorite designer, and that’s about the biggest compliment I can give. Now, with that out-of-the-way, let’s take a look at how Varus actually functions, and break down his playstyle.

Varus, The Arrow of Retribution:

(Passive) Living Vengeance: Varus gains attack speed for a short time after killing a target. Minion kills grant Varus 20% attack speed for 3 seconds. Champion kills or assists double this, giving Varus 40% attack speed for 6 seconds.

Piercing Arrow:  (first cast) Varus draws his bow back, charging up a powerful shot. Range and damage are increased as you charge, up to a cap. If the spell is held for too long, Piercing Arrow is cancelled and refunds half its mana cost. (second cast) After charging, Varus fires a long-range attack, dealing damage based on how long the skill was charging, up to a cap. This ability does diminishing damage the more targets it passes through.

Blighted Quiver (Passive ability): Varus’ arrows apply blight to any target hit, along with a small amount of bonus magic damage. Blight stacks up to three times, and can be proc’d by any of Varus’ other abilities, dealing a percentage of the target’s maximum health as magic damage for each stack of blight.

Hail of Arrows: Varus fires a hail of arrows at target location, desecrating the ground under it. Enemies on desecrated ground suffer a move speed penalty and receive 50% less healing.

(Ultimate) Chain of Corruption: Varus fires off a tendril of corruption, binding the first champion hit. This corruption will spread to any nearby enemy champions, rooting them in place if the tendril makes it to them. This effect can continue to spread until all no targets are available, but can not spread to the same champion more than once.

Varus excels at poking and long-range harassment, even more than most other carries. His Piercing Arrow ability has the single largest range of any non-ultimate skill shot when fully charged, and hits like an absolute truck at full charge. Varus has an insane amount of tricks up his sleeve, allowing for truly impressive play. With proper vision, Varus can easily snipe red or blue buff, dragon, or even Baron Nashor with a well placed Q, easily granting himself and his team a large advantage. Hail of Arrows applies a decently sized area that slows enemies and reduces healing, making it an essential skill against enemies with sustain, such as Soraka or Dr. Mundo. His ultimate can easily change a team fight, spreading out and binding an entire team if they clump together.

At the start, his laning phase is pretty basic. Starting with boots and three potions seems like the best solution, since Varus already has very low mobility to start with. While you can’t proc it at level one, an early point in Blighted Quiver will make last hitting much easier, granting ten free bonus magic damage to all auto-attacks. As you level, focus on leveling Piercing Arrow, with a single point in Hail of Arrows early on. Landing three shots on an enemy and then darting out of their sight for a fully charged Piercing Arrow will shred any opponents over time. Last hitting is the goal here, but getting an edge with early harass or even a kill will go a long way to gaining lane superiority.

Mid-game, focus on leveling Blighted Quiver. Hail of Arrows will apply the full 50% healing debuff at level one, so after maxing Piercing Arrow, Blighted Quiver provides the next best jump in damage. Start using your superior range to actively harass the enemy, sitting in brush or out of line of sight and then nailing your target with a long-range Piercing Arrow. Varus can harass well outside any range an opponent can respond too, so use that well. If a straight up fight starts, land three basic attacks to get a full stack of blight before using Hail of Arrows. If you’re in a good position, Hail of Arrows can even proc an immediate fourth auto-attack, ramping up damage as blight starts to stack up. Chain of Corruption is useful for fleeing targets, as is Piercing Arrow to snipe off running targets. Never assume you’re safe from Varus until you are a massive distance from him. Underestimating Varus is the easiest way to the afterlife when an arrow flies from fog of war. At this point, always have vision on the nearby enemy buff and dragon. Even if your team can’t secure these goals, you can with Piercing Arrow. Use that to your advantage.

Finally, we come to late game. Here, Varus lags a bit behind other carries like Graves or Vayne who have an innate damage steroid from the beginning of the fight, but his ultimate becomes a game changer in team fights. Keep in mind that after the initial target is hit, any tendrils that spread will still proc blight. Once he has a single kill or assist, Varus’ passive kicks in, granting him massive attack speed and putting him back on par with any other carry. Using Hail of Arrows on your priority target to negate healing early on can help secure a kill. Piercing Arrow falls off her for damage, since it will take a few seconds to charge, and you can not use basic attacks while it’s charging. Still beautifully effective at harass or sniping off runners at low life, so never forget this powerful tool.

All in all, Varus is one of the most insanely fun carries available. Using the range on Piercing Arrow makes him feel like a legendary archer, and nothing feels quite as satisfying as sniping off a kill from someone who thinks they are safe from you at max range. Proper use of his kit and abusing his range make for fun trades and ridiculous comebacks as he snipes away precious resources and objectives. He’s quickly catapulted to my favorite carry, and I’ve been playing him almost non-stop when I can.

And I didn’t even like ranged AD. Now I can’t get enough of the snipes and corruptions. Happy hunting!