Today we’re going to talk about building armor and magic resist on Ryze. Ryze’s first two core items are both known and standard: he’s building Rod of Ages and Seraph’s Embrace, giving him a pile of AP, mana, and a bunch of health (HP and a shield). The follow-on items are usually resist items that give armor and magic resist along with some kind of secondary effect, particularly CDR. I’m Eph289, and today, we’re going to evaluate the different options available for Ryze to build resist items. Note that because Ryze gets more damage by building tanky, we usually want to consider items that have a secondary offensive benefit.
When we’re talking about armor items for Ryze, there are four candidates. While most everyone would tell you that Frozen Heart is the go-to item for Ryze, let’s keep an open mind about the matter and also consider Guardian Angel, Zhonya’s Hourglass, and Iceborn Gauntlet. The other big-ticket armor items generally are not worth it on Ryze. He’s not melee, so Sunfire is not good, and while Randuin’s is good on everyone, Ryze probably won’t be able to use the active as well as a melee champion. Aegis/Bulwark and Locket are more supportive items and that’s not usually Ryze’s role. Of course, if your team really needs Aegis/Bulwark and nobody else wants to buy it, it’s still a good idea to get it, but it’s not something you’d want to plan into your build.
Where was I? Right. Frozen Heart, Guardian Angel, Zhonya’s, and Iceborn Gauntlet.
Defensive benefit: 95 armor and a -20% attack speed reduction aura. If you’ve read my armor item comparison piece, you know that this is a pretty significant reduction in DPS. This item ranks #2 out of our 4 choices for pure defensive stats (not counting the aura, as its impact will vary). The added mana also helps boost the Seraph's Embrace shield by up to 80.
Offensive benefit: 400 mana gives 31 damage to every Overload (Q), 25 damage to every Rune Prison, and 8 damage to every hit of Spell Flux (I assume you at least have an Archangel’s Staff). Frozen Heart also gives 20% CDR, which is a pretty key stat on Ryze. Going from 10% CDR to 30% CDR on Ryze takes the cooldown on Overload down to 2.5 seconds, Rune Prison and Spell Flux to 10 seconds, and Desperate Power down to 35 seconds. This item ranks #3 of our 4 choices for offensive stats (not counting the CDR).
Pros: Out of all the options we’ll consider, Frozen Heart gives the most armor and a 20% attack speed reduction aura is very good lategame, especially against the four hypercarries (Tristana, Twitch, Kog’Maw, Vayne), or if the opposing team has multiple auto-attackers (such as Jax, Irelia, or Tryndamere along with an AD carry). The build path is very nice, including both a Chain Vest and a Glacial Shroud, both of which are good stepping-stone items, as is Warden's Mail.
Cons: Frozen Heart’s CDR is of little value if you already have high CDR from another item (cough, Spirit Visage). Its aura is less useful if the other team’s AD carry relies more on spell-casts than auto-attacks, such as Blue Ezreal or Miss Fortune, or they don’t have multiple auto-attackers.
Conclusion: Frozen Heart doesn’t give as much defense as Guardian Angel, nor does it give as much offense as an Iceborn Gauntlet or Zhonya’s Hourglass. It’s a solid in-between item that maximizes your CDR and significantly hinders opposing auto-attackers. If the enemy team doesn’t rely heavily on auto-attacks and/or you don’t need CDR, there may be better options.
Defensive benefit: 50 armor, 30 MR and on death, this item will revive you with 30% of your maximum health and mana, on a 5 minute cooldown. Assuming Ryze has a Rod of Ages and not much else for HP, that’s worth about 750 HP. Factoring in the passive, Ryze gets the most raw defensive stats out of this item against physical damage, which also comes with some very nice magic resist as well. This is the #1 armor item in terms of effective physical HP, assuming the passive is up. If the passive isn’t up, it drops to a tie for 3rd.
Offensive benefit: None. That’s not really what Guardian Angel is about.
Pros: Very helpful against massive burst damage, or if your survival in fights is more important than getting additional offensive utility or CDR. Also happens to be the cheapest of our four options. If you buy more health, say from a Banshee’s Veil or Spirit Visage, you’ll add more HP to your revival. Build path is pretty good, a Chain Vest and a Null Magic Mantle, but the combine cost is high.
Cons: No offensive power at all. Relies on a 5 minute passive cooldown to be truly effective.
Conclusion: What’s more annoying than having to kill a mage who happens to be built like a tank yet does stupefying damage on low cooldowns? Having to do it 1.3 times! Guardian Angel is pretty useful in those situations where you just want to cheat death and come back for revenge, but the lack of any offensive punch means that this would be a very situational buy, especially if the other team has a stupidly fed burst champion who can one-shot anyone. Guardian Angel can allow you to tank their burst and come back for some revenge.
Defensive benefit: 50 armor and an invulnerability active that places you in stasis for 2.5 seconds. Note that your cooldowns will tick down while in the stasis, so you’ll at least have Overload available when you come back with some decent CDR. This item has the lowest effective physical HP of our four items, tied with a GA on cooldown.
Offensive benefit: 120 ability power can pump out some considerable damage. That’s 48 extra damage on Overload, 72 on Rune Prison, and 42 damage on Spell Flux. People forget that Ryze has AP ratios, but he has them, and they hurt.
Pros: Out of our four choices, Zhonya’s comes with the most offensive punch. It also has an active that is very good for avoiding key burst spells/combinations, particularly Zed’s or Fizz’s.
Cons: Zhonya’s has low armor values and doesn’t come with CDR. It’s also the second priciest of our four choices. The build path is fairly awkward. While Seeker's Armguard is a good item, Needlessly Large Rod is expensive and the Armguard alone isn't that great mid to lategame until you get stacks on it.
Conclusion: Zhonya’s is pretty underrated on Ryze since he’s usually beefy enough that he doesn’t usually need the active to survive. On the other hand, it can save him a lot of pain, especially if the opposing team has one of those one-shot-you solo laners such as Syndra or Veigar. Whether you value Guardian Angel or Zhonya’s for that purpose depends on how much offensive firepower you’re already packing, as well as CDR, since neither item has CDR.
Defensive benefit: 70 armor gives it the third-most effective physical HP of our choices and it doesn’t come with any other defensive stats, though the 500 mana does add up to 100 HP on the Seraph's Embrace shield once you complete the transform.
Offensive benefit: Iceborn Gauntlet gives 50 damage on Overload, 50 damage on Rune Prison, and 20 damage on Spell Flux. Then there’s the 10% CDR. It also comes with the Sheen passive as well as the slow field from the Iceborn Gauntlet. Knowing Ryze’s lategame attack damage, the Iceborn Gauntlet proc will do around 240 physical damage before resists (and we’re not itemizing armor penetration).
Now, I know there’s already going to be some skeptics saying “Ryze has no room in his combination for a Sheen proc.” If you’re going for the 3-second burst Ryze combo (QWRQE, or QERQW), then you’ll only have one Iceborn Gauntlet proc out of that, and unless you wait to cast the 3rd Q, you won’t have another proc when Q comes off cooldown again. So yes, in that scenario, it’s true.
However, if you’re afforded the luxury of being able to stagger your spells, something along the lines of QRQEQWQ (could also be QRQWQEQ or any combination that places Q in between every spell cast), then you can get up to 3 or 4 Iceborn Gauntlet procs in a rotation, which is a lot of AOE slow.
Pros: You buy Iceborn Gauntlet primarily for the proc. Now granted, getting something in neighborhood of an extra 50 physical damage on top of your basic attack is nothing special, but it is at least AOE and slows enemies inside the field. After the duration of Desperate Power expires, Ryze is pretty slow, and if your team lacks chasing or kiting capability, the Iceborn Gauntlet can help with that. Furthermore, it does give a fair amount of offensive punch and some CDR along with decent armor. The build path is pretty good, as it includes Chain Vest, Glacial Shroud, and Sheen.
Cons: If you’re not good at managing your spell rotations, this item will be wasted. It’s the most expensive of the choices, doesn’t max out your CDR, and its defensive stats, while solid, don’t have any additional component beyond raw stats and kiting potential from the slow field.
Conclusion: I would consider this item as a situational choice versus Frozen Heart, particularly if your CDR is already filled up and the enemy team has a number of champions that need to be kited, such as Udyr or Darius. However, if you’re only ever burst-comboing with Ryze, it’s not worth it.
Now lets look at magic resist. There are only six items worth considering on Ryze for MR: Twin Shadows, Quicksilver Sash, Guardian Angel, Spirit Visage, Banshee’s Veil, and Abyssal Scepter. Banner of Command, Mikael’s Crucible, and Runic Bulwark are supportive items. Athene’s places a ton of gold into a wasted stat on Ryze (mana regen).
Defensive stats: 40 MR is the lowest of any of our choices. The ghosts can help Ryze kite or escape.
Offensive stats: 6% movespeed and 40 AP is nice and the ghosts can also help Ryze stick to a target. The AP gives 16 damage to Overload, 24 to Rune Prison, and 14 to Spell Flux.
Pros: Cheap and has movespeed. Builds out of a Kage’s Pick, so even cheaper when that’s factored in. The active is good to help avoid facechecking, especially when vision wars around Baron occur, or to help slow targets down for more nuking. Build path is Null Magic Mantle and a Kage's Pick, so that's pretty handy.
Cons: You get what you pay for. Low offensive stats. Low defensive stats. No CDR. You’re buying this for the active and the MR is a bonus.
Conclusion: I almost excluded this on the basis of being a supportive item, but certain mids (Twisted Fate) have been known to buy it. I would only buy this if you need the slow/reveal from the active and some cheap MR, maybe as a last-ditch buy if your base is getting shoved in and you can't ward it. Otherwise, the stats don’t justify the purchase when you have solo lane farm. It’s a great item for your support to pick up lategame though!
Everything that was said above about GA also applies here. The 750 HP and +30 MR gives more effective HP than any of the other options, plus it comes with armor and is relatively inexpensive. Still has no offensive benefit and relies on the passive not being on cooldown. Next!
Defensive stats: 45 magic resist and an active that removes any debuff. Once again, the defensive stats are quite low.
Offensive stats: None.
Pros: This is another “buy this for the active” item. The fact that it has MR is a nice bonus, but you’re buying this because it helps you break CC or another ridiculous debuff. It’s also cheap. Builds out of a Negatron Cloak, which is nice.
Cons: No offensive stats. Weak defensive stats. Reliant on an active with a 90 second cooldown.
Conclusion: I can only think of a few cases where I’d actually want this over Zhonya’s or Guardian Angel. Ryze often buys Mercury Treads, so it would need to be a case where you’re getting chain-CC’d, such as a team with a lot of long duration silence spells, or against certain 3-second CCs (Terrify, Puncturing Taunt). Against Zed or Fizz, you’re better off with Zhonya’s in most cases, but if you’re really attached to QSS, it’s not terrible.
Defensive stats: Banshee’s Veil gives the second-most defensive stats out of any MR item listed, with 400 HP and 45 MR. Additionally, its passive helps reduce spell damage, even if it’s only from a poke spell such as Mystic Shot. Also, the mana can boost your Seraph's Embrace shield by up to 60 once you complete the transform.
Offensive stats: Banshee’s Veil does come with some offensive stats, namely 300 mana. That’s 23 more damage on Overload, 19 damage on Rune Prison, and 6 damage on Spell Flux, again counting the Archangel’s Staff passive. This is the second most raw offensive stats of any of the items considered, though it’s fairly close with Twin Shadows.
Pros: Has good defensive stats while also providing some offensive power. Like Frozen Heart, this is a fairly balanced items in terms of offensive and defensive power. Builds out of Catalyst the Protector and a Negatron Cloak (at least for now), which is pretty convenient.
Cons: For a close-range mage like Ryze, the passive is fairly unimpressive. The damage values are nice, but not that high, and while most champions would love to have a Catalyst the Protector in their build path, Ryze has no such need, since he’ll already have a Rod of Ages.
Conclusion: Think of this as the MR version of Frozen Heart for Ryze. It’s a solid go-to item that balances offensive and defensive stats, but the passive is only situationally good.
Defensive stats: 200 HP and 50 magic resist is fairly nice and is the third-highest defensive stat value for a magic resist item. The healing boost could be considered a defensive stat increase, but the gains you’ll get out of increased healing from spellvamp during the duration of the effect of Desperate Power are single-digit numbers per spell even with a Rod of Ages and Seraph’s Embrace.
Offensive stats: No direct offensive stat gain, but it does come up with extremely cheap 20% CDR.
Pros: Extremely cheap CDR while also giving MR and health. If you don’t want Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage could be very useful, as its effective HP stats aren’t that far from Banshee’s Veil. The passive is nice, but not the reason you buy the item on Ryze, though you do get more out of it if the team has a Will of the Ancients. Great build path, as Kindlegem and Negatron Cloak are great items.
Cons: If you already have high CDR, you don’t need this item. Passive is fairly useless.
Conclusions: Spirit Visage is heavily underrated on Ryze, particularly if you don’t need the Frozen Heart. The only reason I wouldn’t buy this is if I needed Frozen Heart. It’s cheap, gives good defensive against magic damage, and that all important CDR stat boost.
Defensive stats: 45 magic resist is relatively low in terms of raw defensive stats and it doesn’t come with any other defensive stats.
Offensive stats: The 70 ability power on Abyssal Scepter gives 28 more damage per Overload, 42 more damage per Rune Prison, and 25 more damage per Spell Flux, and that’s before considering the magic resist reduction, which has incredibly synergy with Ryze, who won’t be building an early Void Staff in most cases. This is by far the most offensive of the magic resist items.
Pros: If you want to blow people up, yet still have some survivability against magic damage, this is your item. Ryze already has flat magic resist reduction from Spell Flux, and adding more to that helps his damage appreciably, particularly since he doesn’t often build Sorcerer’s Shoes. Build path is a Blasting Wand and Negatron Cloak, which is good, but the combine cost is pretty high.
Cons: It also happens to be the second most expensive MR item on the list and its defensive stats are fairly low. If someone else on your team already has the item, it’s not worth building because the aura doesn’t stack.
Conclusion: This is another heavily underrated item on Ryze. Abyssal is the magic resist version of Iceborn Gauntlet on Ryze. You sacrifice a lot of defensive stats for ability power and some utility that’s going to bring more damage to your team. If you’re looking for more offensive punch, Abyssal wins out over Banshee’s Veil. If you’re not taking serious magic damage and don’t need CDR, I would consider this over Banshee’s Veil. Ryze synergizes extremely well with flat magic penetration/reduction, particularly since he doesn't get Void Staff until very late, if at all.
A couple of quick notes here to wrap things up before I leave you with two pretty infographics to wrap things up
Riot is considering buffs and changes to Spirit Visage, GA, and Banshee’s Veil. Since it’s all subject to change, I won’t get into specifics, but those items may be different in the future.
Second, you need to consider item synergy when you buy your resist items as well as what you need in the game. Spirit Visage and Frozen Heart have very low synergy: you’re overbuying CDR and not getting many offensive stats. In contrast, pairing Spirit Visage with Iceborn Gauntlet or Zhonya’s Hourglass gets you CDR and offensive stats, likewise for Frozen Heart with the Abyssal Scepter. Each particular game and its needs will dictate what your choice should be. In games where your Ryze just needs to stay alive, going Guardian Angel+Frozen Heart may just be what you need, or perhaps you can go pure offense against a very mobile team and so you opt for Iceborn Gauntlet + Abyssal Scepter and buy a Blue Elixir along with CDR masteries to max your CDR. You may not even need both resists if the opposing team is very heavy on one type of damage. As Stonewall has blogged about in the past, learn to build dynamically.
Most of Ryze’s resist items synergize fairly well and he can be built flexibly to fit the needs of the game. There are only two lasting rules I want to leave you with for building Ryze beyond Seraph's Embrace and Rod of Ages.
- Have an item/rune/mastery build that gets you to 30% CDR (Ryze gets 10% free from maxing Overload). Don’t have it depend on having blue buff.
- Don’t overbuy CDR. This particularly applies to buying Spirit Visage and Frozen Heart, but could also mean adjusting your masteries if you plan to go Spirit Visage and Iceborn Gauntlet, as you won’t need CDR masteries.
Please feel free to leave comments, questions, or other thoughts below! Thanks for reading!