PAX East 2012: League of Legends ‘Varus, the Arrow of Retribution’ abilities and impressions

It's been a busy week for Riot Games who not only revealed Hecarim, the Shadow of War, but earlier today gave a sneak peek at another champion: Varus, the Arrow of Retribution. 

While we knew of Hecarim prior to PAX, it was just last night that his abilities were revealed.  Varus, on the other hand, was a surprise as Riot just announced him today.

As promised, both champions were made available to play at PAX East and I did get to demo both of them.  And while I'm more of a top lane player and tend to lean towards Hecarim, I have to admit Varus was a ton of fun to play and will probably be my new favorite AD carry.  Also, seeing as how Hecarim's abilities have already been revealed, I think you all want to know just what Varus is capable of.  So before I begin my impressions on the new AD carry that will likely arrive in the patch following Hecarim's (according to Riot), check out his abilities:


Passive: Living Vengeance: On champion kill or assist, Varus gains 40% Attack Speed for 6 seconds.  On minion kill, Varus gains 20% Attack Speed for 3 seconds.

Q: Piercing Arrow: First Cast: Varus starts drawing back his next shot, gradually increasing its range and damage

Second Cast: Varus fires, dealing 77 to 115 physical damage, reduced by 15% per enemy hit (minimum 33%).  While preparing to shoot Varus' Movement speed is slowed by 20%.  After 4 seconds, Piercing Arrow fails but refunds half its mana cost. **This was with 3 points in it.

W: Blighted Quiver: Passive Varus' basic attacks deal 10 bonus magic damage and apply blight for 6 seconds (stacks 3 times).  Varus' other abilities detonate Blight, dealing magic damage equal to 2% of the targets maximum Health per stack (Max 360 total damage vs Monsters). **This was with 1 point in it.

E: Hail of Arrows: Varus fires a hail of arrows that deals 60 phsycal damage and desecrates the ground for 4 seconds. Desecrated Ground slows enemy Movement Speed by 20% and reduces healing effects by 50% **This was with 1 point in it.

R: Chain of Corruption: Varus flings out a tendril of corruption that deals 150 magic damage and immobilizes the first enemy champion for 2 seconds.  The corruption then spreads towards nearby uninfected champions, applying the same damage and immobilize if it reaches them. **This was with 1 point in it.

Varus' recommended items are Doran's Blade, Berserker Greaves, Bloodthirster, Phantom Dancer, Last Whisper, and Angel Armor

As his abilities suggest, Varus wields a powerful bow consumed by dark magic.  Combined with "an unrelenting thirst for vengeance in his heart", Varus is a deadly ranged AD champion, capable of striking beyond the turret's range.  Individually, Varus' abilities may not seem like much, but combined in a perfect rotation, Varus can be a powerful carry.

I'm not going to focus on his animations or character model too much because we do have footage that will be uploaded soon.  I will however say that I was very impressed with his bow, which changed color when 3 stacks of blight were applied to an enemy.  It was a nice subtle difference that is just one of the things that makes this character fun to play.

Before I get into the abilities, I should mention his passive is incredibly strong and should be taken advantage of.  What does this mean?  It means only initiate if you have that buff after killing an enemy minion or champion.  That attack speed could mean a ton of distance and is important to get those blight stacks on the enemy champion for additional damage.

So now to the good stuff, his ability damage.  Yes, Varus can deal a ton of damage from quite a distance as his Q is one of the most unique things I've seen in League of Legends.  Here's a quick rundown of how it works.  You press Q and the ability's striking range appears.  The longer you wait to cast the skill, the further the range grows and the more the damage builds.  It will do this for 4 seconds, at which point it either fails and you receive half of your mana back, or you cast it at an enemy.  Although you must click on the enemy you wish to attack, it is still a skillshot which travels in a straight line towards the target.  This means that enemy champions do have the ability to dodge and sidestep this attack.  Unfortunately, the further you are away, the longer they have to dodge.  But it also means if you do land it, you will dish out some serious damage.  From my brief experience with Varus, I found that using this as a last shot to enemies attempting to escape could kill them similar to Caitlyn's ult.  The range is also so far that you can hit an enemy champion if he is low health and teleporting back to his Nexus at a safe distance from the enemy turret's attacks.

As I mentioned, you are going to want to stack blight on the enemy champion as quickly as possible.  So here's what I suggest: kill a minion, auto attack the champion with Blighted Quiver automatically stacking damage increasing blight on them. Once you've got the stacks, you can cast Hail of Arrows which will not only dish out a ton of damage but will also slow the enemy and decrease their healing.  At this point they'll have so much damage they'll be forced to run.

But thanks to your ult, Chain of Corruption, they won't be able to run.  If you effectively land this skillshot they will be rooted in place and vulnerable to your attacks.  If they survive this, finish them off with your Piercing Arrow as they attempt to run.  The increasing range of that ability should be far enough to reach them.

Unfortunately, I was only able to play Varus against bots, so take that for what its worth.  If you aren't a believer in how strong he is yet, you should at least take away from this preview that his abilities are fun and work well together; there's no denying that.  If done right, Varos could be incredibly strong.  He seemed to do quite well in Dominion, especially when teamed with a Hecarim who was able to initiate quite nicely. 

Speaking of Hecarim, be sure to check back as I will have my hands-on demo impressions with Hecarim, the Shadow of War, soon.  We will also have footage of both champions in action this week!