Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dominating Dominion: Ahri Style

Disclaimer: What this series is about:

This series is a chronicle of one optimistically average Dominion player (me) as I play each champion through to a degree of proficiency on the Crystal Scar. It's not a guide to the harsh battlefields of high ELO play, but rather a tale of dark-alley skirmishes in the muddy playgrounds of what is (probably) low-to-middling ELO,  from the viewpoint of me.

Now that we have that out of the way...

Ahri is completely different from my normal roster of champs. While I have played every champ in co-op games, I have not done nearly as many in normal games. So yes, I probably wouldn't have selected Ahri in champ select if it wasn't for this series. Back before Dominion came out, I had the idea to write a similar series for Summoner's Rift when I was a mere level 23 summoner. I started with Alistar  and hashed out how to build and play him from the ground up. I found a really splendid starting build with two philostones. Then both Alistar and philostones got nerfed at the same time, which really derailed my attempts to play him. I moved on to Amumu, but didn't have the runes for jungling, and laning got me yelled at a lot. Plus, Summoner's Rift was really hard for me. The losing-forever games, the last-hit-or-starve requirement of farming, the counterintuitive not-pushing-the-lanes, the acidic teammates...

Then Dominion came out. I looked at the Crystal Scar, picked up my (and by my, I mean Yorick's) shovel, and headed over. I haven't gone back, except to visit. And, like some family visits, it's a good reminder why I don't stick around for very long.

So...yup. Ahri. She of the nine tails, dubious morality, and voice like slightly warm, suspicious syrup. And a squishy.

As of now, I tend to broadly categorize champions into two categories: Squishy and Not-Squishy.  I favor Not-Squishies, as any Squishies I play tend to suffer from the Imploding Healthbar Syndrome. You know...you're waltzing around in bottom lane, tending to your own business, or sauntering through the jungle with your teammates, when suddenly the entire enemy team decides to pounce on your soft squishy fluffiness, and your healthbar disappears with a small clap of thunder.

So I approached Ahri with a bit of terror and suspicion. I wondered how many games I would have to lose before I stopped blowing up at every passing Jax.

Out of my first ten games with Ahri, I lost seven and won three. Skillshots are hard, m'kay? And Ahri is very squishable. I experimented with a variety of starting items, runes, and masteries. I read the champion guides for her on the DD forum, then, feeling a bit incomplete, optimistically and fruitlessly trawled the rest of the internet. I bravely questioned in the DominateDominion chatroom whether Hextech Sweeper should be a staple item. I run the risk of asking stupid questions because it cuts a lot of time out of the general process of discovery, as anyone who grew up shy and isolated and entered college with a stunning ignorance of modern culture doubtlessly knows. I finally settled on the following mastery and rune pages:

Item build and order was a bit more puzzling. There are items you can build, and then there's optimal builds, and then there's the enemy team. A general rule of thumb advised to me was to start with Prospector's Ring and Boots of Speed if going bottom, and to start with Ruby Crystal, Amplifying Tome, and Boots of Speed if going top. This idea worked splendidly, except for the bit where some other person would decide right after I bought items that they wanted whatever direction I had thought I was heading.

At least the Ruby Crystal + Amplifying Tome gave me a head start on Hextech Sweeper. I waffled (still do) on whether the head start granted by the Ruby Crystal + Amplifying Tome was worth not have the starting stats granted by Prospector's Ring.

I won 6 out of the following 10 games, as my ability to not liquify upon enemy contact and my aim with skillshots improved significantly. That seems to be the key to squishies: arrange to not be where the enemy is. That is common sense, but it's hard to remember. Also, skillshots when you're slowdancing with Fiora can be hard to aim correctly.

I finally settled on the following build for most situations:

I've also built the following items, depending on the situation:

Rylai's seems to be a very essential item. It turns Ahri from a darty damage dealer to a slowing darty damage dealer. It means that Ezrael can't get away as fast as he would like. Hextech Revolver is helpful for long-term away-from-home sustainability. Hextech Sweeper is...Hextech Sweeper. And it has an active! I did not know this until someone commented on me not using it while I was streaming.

Ahri in a Nutshell:

Ahri is a darty, bursty champ that, one you have a Rylai's, turns into the Queen of "you're not getting away." One a person gets the hang of positioning and skillshots, Ahri is quite fun to play. Some of my fondest memories are of blowing a kiss to a freshly ult'ed Tryndamere who suddenly forgets to spin away. But do you trust her? Nope!

Below is a video of some Ahri gameplay. Hope you enjoyed my experience learning Ahri!

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