Gaming My Way

19 Mar

League of Legends General AD Carry Build Guide


Want to know how to build an AD carry in simple terms, without learning the specifics of each character, but instead getting a general feel for how to build for the role? This guide is for you! Looking for character specific strategies and how to tailor your build to the specific champion in question? You may be better served looking at the featured guides on SoloMid or LoLPro. This guide is for those ortlooking for easy to pick up advice on playing an AD carry.

First thing to remember? Damage first. If it helps us put out damage, it is good. If it helps us put out more damage, it’s better. Survivability comes second. There are a few things we’ll go over to improve survival, but the big lesson for AD carries is that the best defense is a good offense, so pump the damage and let it fly. We’ll go over just enough defense to keep you standing to pump out more damage. So with that out of the way, let’s get into the builds.


First up, you’ll need some runes. Since we want this to work for a variety of carries, we’re going to go with simple and practical.

9 Greater Marks of Attack Damage
9 Greater Seals of Armor
9 Greater Glyphs of Scaling Magic Resist
3 Greater Quints of Attack Damage

Why these runes? We take the AD marks and quints for more early game damage. This makes it easier to last hit for gold, and makes you more dangerous early game against your opponent. Armor seals make you more able to shake off physical damage early game. This is good, because your opponent is also likely running AD runes, and being able to soak more damage will keep you in lane longer. The scaling magic resist is more an investment in the later game. We have very few sources of magic resist that we’ll be using, so these help make up for that a little bit by the time we have to face mages later in the game.

Below are some variations you may wish to make on these rune choices.

9 Greater Marks of Armor Penetration instead of 9 Greater Marks of Attack Damage:
This trades early game damage for late game damage. ArPen marks make more of your damage count, so when you have tons of it from your item build, pushing more of it through the opponent’s armor is always welcome. Armor penetration tends to be less powerful than damage early game because not a lot of armor tends to be built until later game, and it also makes it harder to land last hits on minions to farm gold for better items.

9 Greater Glyphs of Magic Resist instead of 9 Greater Glyphs of Scaling Magic Resist:
Flat MR runes are good for those of you who find yourself laning against champions who start dishing out the magic damage early game. In this case, having the flat MR runes will help you survive your lane better, since you’ll be better able to shrug off the early magic damage more easily than with the scaling MR runes. Of course, the flat MR will be of less consequence late game, but those are the tradeoffs we make here. This is probably not common, but if you plan to take your AD carry mid lane to counter the opponent’s mage, or expect to see a bottom lane mage, this may be the route to take.


Next, we’ll need some masteries to go with our runes. We’ll be focusing on dishing out the damage, since that is the job of an AD carry. We’ll round things off a bit with some defense and mana at the end.

22 Offensive:

4 Fury
1 Summoner’s Wrath
4 Deadliness
3 Havoc
1 Weapon Expertise
2 Lethality
2 Brute Force
1 Frenzy
3 Sunder
1 Executioner

These masteries give you increased physical damage, increased attack speed, more armor penetration, more damage from crits, and enhancements to the summoner spells exhaust, ignite and ghost (among others). What more could you want?

4 Defensive:

4 Durability

More hp. Not a lot more, but hey, more hp is always welcome.

4 Utility:

1 Summoner’s Insight
3 Meditation

Summoner’s insight is for the reduced cooldown on flash, the best summoner spell in the game. Meditation is for the improved mana regeneration. This will help you stay in lane longer if you’re managing your mana use well.

The above is a little uncommon, but I like it better than the standard builds since it lets me get a little more of what I like. If you want something more standard you might try the following instead.

21 Offensive:

4 Fury
1 Summoner’s Wrath
4 Deadliness
3 Havoc
1 Weapon Expertise
2 Lethality
1 Brute Force
1 Frenzy
3 Sunder
1 Executioner

Like above, these masteries give you increased physical damage, increased attack speed, more armor penetration, more damage from crits, and enhancements to the summoner spells exhaust, ignite and ghost (among others). What more could you want?

9 Utility:

1 Summoner’s Insight
3 Meditation
3 Mastermind
1 Expanded Mind
1 Runic Affinity

Like above, you get better flash, and better mana regen. You also gain reduced cooldowns on all summoner spells, a slightly enhanced mana pool, and jungle/baron buffs will last longer when you obtain them.

Summoner Spells

Flash and exhaust. Flash is an instant small range teleport that let’s you escape from those who would do you harm, or quickly close in for the kill on an escaping enemy. It’s also handy for jumping barriers to make the most of your escape or surprise your fleeing enemies. Exhaust will slow the enemy to keep them in your sights for a longer period of time. As long as you took Summoner’s Wrath above as indicated, it will also lower their armor during this time, making them slightly more susceptible to damage.

You may wish to replace exhaust with ignite. Ignite is great for slapping on an enemy just before they try to heal, as it reduces the effectiveness of healing while active. It’s also great to hit an enemy with as they are just escaping your range to finish them off, since as a dot, it’s the gift that just keeps on giving a little more damage.

Ghost is sometimes a nice replacement for flash. If you don’t want the instant movement flash grants, ghost will get you a longer distance faster and is better for a sustained chase or escape. However, it lacks the instantaneous movement flash grants, so you won’t be making any last second dodges or jumping walls with it. If you take ghost over flash, take your mastery point out of summoner’s insight and put it somewhere it will do some good. Really, anywhere else (except summoner’s resolve) is better in this case.

The Item Build

This is the heart of your power. The items you build have the greatest effect on your power. Everything above is to tilt the odds in your favor. The items you build will define your champion on the Field of Justice and determine if you can stand against your foes or fall before their might. I’ll be starting with a simple build plan in order, then discuss ways you may wish to consider changing it for different circumstances. If you just need a solid build because you aren’t used to the game yet, you can stick with the original build presented. If you’re comfortable mixing things up, consider reading about the circumstantial changes listed below the build.

1) Doran’s Blade

This gives you a little extra damage and some life steal for some minor sustain in lane. A nice, simple first pick to get us started.

2) Boots of Speed

Get your first level boots, and improve your move speed to get better positioning on the battlefield.

3) B.F. Sword

This will be your first moderate damage item. You should notice a good jump in your damage after picking this up.

4) Zeal

Now that you have the damage, add some speed. This will give you enhanced move and attack speed, as well as better crit chance.

5) Vampiric Scepter

More life steal and more damage. This will help you sustain yourself better in lane since you’ll now heal a decent amount by autoattacking.

6) Upgrade Vampiric Scepter and B.F. Sword into a Bloodthirster

This will enhance your damage and sustain even further, and free up space for more items.

7) Upgrade Zeal to Phantom Dancer

This will add more attack speed and move speed to an already awesome item.

8) Upgrade Boots of Speed to Berserker Greaves

Get more attack speed and faster movement.

9) Last Whisper

Get yourself some armor penetration and make them regret their silly armor purchases. Continue doing awesome damage.

10) Infinity Edge

Massive boost to attack damage, improves crit chance, and improves crit damage.

11) Sell Doran’s Blade, buy Guardian Angel

You don’t really need the minor boost from Doran’s Blade anymore. Some armor and magic resist would sure be cool th0ugh, as is an auto-resurrect upon death once every five minutes. If you can’t buy the whole thing at once, pick what you need more, the armor or magic resist item, and get that first.

12) Upgrade Berserker Greaves with the Alacrity enhancement

This will improve your move speed further for better positioning.

Final Build: Berserker Greaves, Bloodthirster, Phantom Dancer, Last Whisper, Infinity Edge, Guardian Angel, Alacrity

Now, while the above is a nice standard build, when playing the game it may not always be optimal for the situation at hand. So you may need to mix things up on the fly to keep up with the opposition. Here are some thoughts on that.

-If the gold isn’t coming in as fast as you would like, you may want to upgrade your boots to berserker greaves before moving on to your b.f. sword.

-If you’re getting beat down in lane and can’t seem to sustain your health, consider building your vampiric scepter as your next item to up your health gain and improve your sustain.

-If you’re getting burst down quickly, build armor or magic resist for your next item, based on the kind of damage that is taking you out, then continue moving forward with your build.

-If your opponents are stacking hp, build a blade of the ruined king instead of a bloodthirster. Blade of the ruined king is designed specifically to counter high hp characters, and also offers lifesteal and decent damage against other targets. If you do this, I’d suggest going straight for the infinity edge next, then building your phantom dancer afterward.

-If you want more pushing power at the expense of slightly lower stats, you can replace Phantom Dancer with a Statikk Shiv. After building up charge through moving or attacking, Statikk Shiv will hit all enemies in a reasonably large area with an aoe lightning attack.

-If you’re dominating early game, you may consider going for an early infinity edge for more early game damage at the expense of less sustain. In this case, build your infinity edge directly after your b.f. sword or zeal, and build your bloodthirster when you would normally build your infinity edge (if the game lasts that long).

-Finally, you will often want to tailor your defensive item to the biggest threat their team poses to you. Guardian angel is a nice general defensive item, but often there are better specialized choices you can make. Banshee’s veil is great against heavy burst damage, especially magic damage. It provides magic resistance, and a spell shield the blocks the first spell an enemy throws at you, often the big start to their burst combo. Nullifying that can often save your life. Quicksilver sash gives you an active ability to remove all debuffs from your champion on a 60 second cooldown, which is great against teams with lots of crowd control. It also builds into mercurial scimitar, which gives you some additional attack damage as well. Randuin’s omen is the order of the day if they just have way more heavy physical damage than you can take, and is also a great counter to blade of the ruined king.

Final Thoughts

As an AD carry, you want to be cranking out large amounts of physical dps. The above is a good way to get started on doing just that, with just enough survival to keep you alive and kicking. Once you’re comfortable with the general build, start branching out with some of the variations I’ve listed or some of your own to adapt your champion to the circumstances at hand. And when you find an AD carry you love, adapt your builds further to play to their specific strengths and guard against their weaknesses, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself with a couple favorite AD champs you can bring in to mop the floor with your opposition.

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