Establishing the Meta: AD Carry Preview

Gentleman Gustaf here today to talk to you about all of the new AD Carry stats we have at our disposal in Season 3. First, runes and masteries have been changed. Second, and more importantly, there are a number of new items. So while in Season 2, this series was designed around finding a new, champion-specific build which beat the single-target dps of IE PD (something which was really only relevant on a few champions), we now have a number of other concerns. In this post, I will discuss the item combinations that I think are viable, as well as the mastery and rune pages which go along with them.



It will look at first that rues have become, if anything, more static. Armor Penetration runes saw a nerf to reflect the changes to penetration. However, as shown in a recent post by VVinrar, you have pretty much the same dichotomy as before: AD better early, Pen better late, with the loss of a small time window in between where Pen got better briefly. As such, I imagine that most people will continue to run AD marks, AD quints, Armor yellows, and MR blues. However, there are a few small tricks that I like.

The first applies only to Draven, because of his high base damage. Running Armor Pen Marks and Quints can give him incredible trade potential early game, allowing him to be a bully. This is because his passive does not scale with AD, and his Q already has an incredibly high damage. I am not the only person to suggest this: Aphromoo does it as well to great effect.

Next, when against a lane with little magic damage, I like to run MR/lvl glyphs. Combining this with Armor Pen is a very confident move, and suggest you think you can survive your lane easily. As such, it is best done on champions who can play passively early, but couldn't be dominant with the flat AD or MR early.

On a few champions (Kog'Maw, Kog'Maw, and Kog'Maw), I don't object to a few AS marks, but I think it is safe to say that you will get enough AS on Kog'Maw from items, should you follow my recommendations.

Finally, I like to run at least one crit chance rune somewhere. Often times, this is a glyph (you'll probably miss the MR the least), but it could just as easily be a mark (you get more efficient returns). Why? With the new masteries, when you do crit, you get an AS buff. As such, you can play the harass game in lane as you normally do, and use the triggering of that passive (not to mention the crit you just landed) as a sign to go aggro. It may seem like a small advantage, but in an otherwise even lane, it can turn the tide. And it should hardly affect your dps or tankiness. With one mark, you have almost a 1% chance to crit, which means if you harass every 30 seconds (a pretty low estimate, in my opinion) for the first 10 minutes, you have about an 18% chance (.99^20) of at least one crit, which can snowball your lane. If, instead, you go with two glyphs, this drops to about a 9% chance (.995^20). The more you harass, the more potential for this to happen, and the more potential for your lane to snowball,and at the cost of 2 MR or 1 AD. I do not run this if I do not plan on building crit heavily, however, as I will often ignore that mastery then.


There are several pages I run. First, I consider the following masteries core on AD Carries. It gives them good base damage, tower damage for pushing, and AD/lvl, % Armor Pen, and Attack Speed, all stats that are crucial on an AD Carry.

 On top of that, there are two core defensive/utility trees I run:

The former is for mana hungry champions: now that mana regen is in the first row, it's much less of an investment for mana hungry AD Carries like Corki.

The latter is for pure tankiness.


This leads me to three main pages.

First, the standard page (This would look like 21-6-3 on Corki):

However, more commonly, I run a more defensively oriented page, focused on trades in lane. I don't feel bad sacrificing the 21st point in offense because so often, as an AD Carry, you don't get to pick your targets based on health, but rather on safety and proximity.

And finally, if I want the mana regen, I sacrifice the crit.


There are a lot of items available, and I will just detail them briefly

Black Cleaver

It's hard to be objective about this item at the moment, because of its strength. I stand by previous claims that it's not really an AD Carry item. On the other hand, it's such a ridiculous stat stick that it's hard not to buy.


It's hard to dislike a chunk of AD and lifesteal.

Executioner's Calling

I see no reason to get this at this point. I never really have, but now that it's lost its lifesteal, it's even more underwhelming.

Infinity Edge

For late-game scaling and single target damage, this is still the best item on the game.

Last Whisper

In concept, this item should beat out Black Cleaver, but, again, hard to say at the moment.


Not really strong on most AD Carries, but I'd buy it on Urgot for sure. Maybe Ezreal, but probably not; you shouldn't have mana problems on Ezreal.

Maw of Malmortius

This used to be an ok defensive item if you need MR. But its % health missing stat isn't great on AD Carries, and its stats, while buffed, still aren't great. Now, why not get...

Mercurial Scimitar

More MR and AD than Maw of Malmortius, plus a crucial active ability vs CC heavy teams. AD Carries may not get the movement speed, but I think they'll live

Phantom Dancer

Still has most of the goodness of old school PD, but is the slowest of all AD Carry AS items. Heavy crit investment is still sexy with Infinity Edge; probably don't get PD without IE.

Runaan's Hurricane

This item is ludicrous on a few champions, and sort of just there on other champions. Plus it forces your build paths pretty heavily. Call it a niche pick.

Statikk Shiv

Sacrificing 10% Attack Speed and 10% Crit Chance for 1% Movement Speed and the multi-target passive? That almost sounds like it might require mathcrafting to get to the bottom of. Boring answer? It depends on the champion. This item charges faster while moving than walking, and charges from dash or blink abilities, if that gives you a hint as to who it might be best on. It pushes lanes hard, and counter-pushes well, too.

Sword of the Divine

I have yet to see where I'd want this over another item, but I'm sure there is some niche.

Trinity Force

Nerfed, and yet the same overall goodness you're used to.


This is my favorite new item, and I won't say much more than that.


In my opinion, there are a few archetypes of champions who will build the same items. Most builds are based around one, key item. In my opinion, there are four key items: Infinity Edge, Bloodthirster, Trinity Force and Runaan's Hurricane.

First, everybody likes the IE/PD/LW build. There is simply no question, and there is no AD Carry who won't do well with it. Hell, a ranged AP Carry could probably pick up those items and do decently enough. However, they are best purchased on champions with no on-hit effects and no AD scaling abilities. The IE guarantees late game scaling due to crit multipliers, while adding extra AD. The PD gives you AS, and more importantly, Crit Chance. Finally, LW allows you to kill tanks efficiently. With this build, I will go 17-13-0.

Then, there are the AD Caster carry builds. These are champions like Graves and Draven, who scale exceedingly well with their abilities. Bloodthirster is a good first item, as it gives you tons of AD. I like Zephyr and Black Cleaver as follow up items. Zephyr gives a lot of attack speed and more AD for your abilities, and CDR for more ability-use. On top of that, it gives high movement speed, which is useful for kiting. Finally, Black Cleaver works well with your ability damage, allowing you to shred lots of armor, while getting more CDR and AD. With this build, I will typically go 14-13-3, due to the lack of crit. These are the only champions who prefer Armor Pen over AD, and even then, only really Draven.

Third, there are the Trinity Force carry builds. These champions have spammable abilities, good ability to kite, and good burst. On them, I like Trinity Force First (to take advantage of ability spamming), followed by either Bloodthirster or Infinity Edge, depending on the context of the game, and finally followed by Last Whisper or Black Cleaver. You will notice that this build is more varied than the other ones; it is essentially one of the previous builds, but replacing the AS item with a Trinity Force. As such, it is more expensive, and should not be pursued while behind. With this build, I will go 17-13-0 or 14-13-3, depending on how much crit chance I get. Typically, Ezreal will take 17-13-0 and get IE + BC, while Corki will take 14-13-3 and get BT + LW.

Finally, there is a new build opened up by Runaan's Hurricane applicable to champions with strong on-hit effects. Given that Hurricane nullifies some of the effectiveness of crit items, I prefer not to get much critical chance. As such, I consider the core to be Runaan's Hurricane, Bloodthirster, and either Zephyr or Statikk Shiv, depending on the value of CDR on the champion (On Varus, I get Zephyr, on Kog, Statikk Shiv). This gives you high AS, a lot of lifesteal to be had, and good overall multi-target damage. I run 17-13-0 on these champions, but replacing the crit masteries with Havoc. These are the champions who may benefit from AS runes.

I will be giving the math on these builds over the next 4 posts, as while these classes do exhibit marked differences, there are also champion to champion variations (mentioned briefly in my descriptions), which are worth going over in depth.

 For more of my work:

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 Song of the Day



  • #67 leatherneck65

    Hey man, I love all the work you do and think you help the community out a lot!

    I was just curious when you play varus and do the build you described in this, what order do you build all of your stuff in, ive been using the standard adc build on him and it works well but I wanna work on the new one. I Just have trouble with when I build what.


  • #64 VaeTV

    I'm asking myself about Vayne's build? keep old build ( PD + IE + PD full dps build or BT + PD + IE i don't die build)? No one answered to CrazedMcCrazy !  New options are available?

  • #65 Douggie

    She doesn't benefit as much from crit so honestly BT > IE. There are few more options for Attack Speed, but PD remains the better choice overall. Hurricane would just be an AS stat stick (the other shots don't get Silver Bullets) so the only other one would be Static Shiv which isn't to bad since it generates charges when she tumbles. I would start BT and either go PD->LW->IE or Static->LW->Zeph, the later is a little more expensive but has crit multipicativly, the latter is more AS based and revolves around Silver Bullets more.

  • #66 VaeTV

    Thx u for your advice

  • #62 Douggie

    I at first liked Zephyr but I started to "grow out of it" because I could never find the right moment to build it. I was either better off buying a piece of my core items or was behind and could never finish it. I guess my experiences with it have been mediocre, would like to hear more about what you think.

    Side note: I'm glad one other person "agrees" with me and doesn't get full 21 down offensive.

  • #53 Rykoz

     Hi there ! I've got some questions about Kog'Maw and his runes since S3 :

    Do you think it's actually good to use 9 AS marks with 9 AS glyphs on him ? Is it better with a standard 15 AD / 13 Arm / RM ? What about using AS Marks and Glyphs with 3 AS Quintessences ?

    I really like AS on him, and added with the new Runaan's Hurricane, i'm not sure of it's a good idea to start with a 21 AS / 13 Arm / 6.8 AD rune page ( or 31 AS / 13 Arm with AS Quintessences ) instead of a typical 15 AD /13 Arm /13 RM page :3


  • #54 HPBEggo

    For me, there are two answers...

    If you're playing with someone you know bottom, and you're both setup to take advantage of it, AS in runes is great on Kog'maw. This is especially useful if you have a support that can help pin the enemy in your slow or whatnot.

    If you're by yourself and not really communicating well in the pick phase, AS will get you screwed. Your support won't be used to the setup and will try to play the lane normally, which doesn't work with early AS or the more overall consistent AD.

    In related news, Doran's Blade with AS is great early, although, again, you need to be setup to take advantage of it.

  • #56 Rykoz

    Ok thanks i'll try this with à Nunu mate ;) ! But should i use only Attack Speed runes or a mix of AD and AS ( considering i'll always take armor seals ) ? Starting the Game with nearly 35 AS without the buff from seems really powerful imo ! But then farming is a lot harder no ?

  • #57 HPBEggo

    W makes it a bit easier to last hit, and you can start Doran's Blade without a problem with a Nunu support, so last hitting shouldn't be a huge problem.

    Even if you start Boots instead, having AD Quints will make all the difference, tbh. I've never had a problem with that, so long as I get up to 60 or so AD. You might have to make some adjustments, but it will be far from impossible.

  • #63 Rykoz

    Thanks !

  • #49 Clayment

    Just à question about the interaction between statik shiv and Runaan's Hurricane : does the Statik passive stack faster with the multi shot of Hurricane, just like Caitlyn's passive? That would be a very interesting combo for pushing minions waves :3 .

  • #50 Dj0z

    it does, depending on how many targets it is hitting (so not 1v1).

  • #55 BuddyBoombox

    Also, it still stacks faster in bushes, so you can proc it almost every shot if you stand in a bush.  However the %150 damage does not apply to the two side shots, only the main target.  So interestingly, Runaan's on Caitlyn is a pretty good increase in single target damage.


  • #46 CptObviousSWE

    What about Caitlyn, I like to start with BT and then go for IE/PD/LW and GA( the order of the last 4 varies a lot). Caitlyn might not be an AD caster, but her abilities have a lot of scaling with AD, which makes it an attractive choice to start with BT. My runes are Armor Penentration on both Quints and Marks.

    Last edited by CptObviousSWE: 12/13/2012 11:13:17 AM
  • #43 GurthC

    Hi Gustaf,

    Which one is Tristana?

  • #44 HPBEggo

    Still straight critical build.

    Why? Because she has AP scaling, no AD scaling, no on-hit affect, and one of the best AS steroids in the game.

    In other words, she fits every criteria he put down for the build, and also benefits a ton from critical chance because she can afford to build less AS than other carries - leading to more of the other key statistics at the same gold level.

  • #47 GurthC


  • #51 GentlemanGustaf

    That beautiful moment when my comments have become self-moderating, and people will even quote my article to do so.

  • #61 Douggie

    Quote from GentlemanGustaf »

    That beautiful moment when my comments have become self-moderating, and people will even quote my article to do so.

    They grow up so fast

  • #45 Gameguy301
    Tristan's has no physical damage spells or abilities that scale with AD, maximizing your right click DPS is the way to go, infinity edge, PD, BT, last whisper may be stale from the last season but you'd be hard pressed to top it in raw output.
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