Counter-building in Vainglory10 min read
Hello and welcome to my very first Vainglory article! Today, I will be focusing on counter-building, a key part of Vainglory. Counter-building means reacting to the enemy builds. It requires you to be constantly aware of what items your enemy bought. In addition, your decision on what to build and how to react to enemy’s builds varies depending on the position or the hero you play.
Click on the role below to jump to specific sections. I recommend to read the specific counters as well or just the whole article!
Before we go into detail, let’s start with the basics. Vainglory offers a great variety of items you can buy. SEMC introduced numerous items that either make you deal more damage, decrease the damage you take or provide your team utility. Depending on your role or hero, you have to react differently to your enemy’s builds. If done right, counter-building can offer you a great advantage and will eventually help you win the game.
We’ll be looking at how to react to enemy builds per role / position as some counter items, even if your position allows it, may not be suitable for your hero, and end up being ineffective. For example, if you play utility Lorelai (whether Roam, Top or Jungle), you don’t get an Atlas Pauldron. Why? Simply because you’ll need to get to your enemy’s melee range to apply it which is not how you play ranged heroes.
Counter-building as a Captain/Support
The most important thing to know when playing captain is that the items you buy should support your team. When thinking of what to build, always ask yourself what item would benefit your team the most. You don’t only react to the builds the enemy team goes for. Also the enemy’s team composition impacts your item choices.
Your 2 must-have items are Fountain of Renewal and War Treads. The other four items slots can be used very differently.
If the enemy team has AoE CC that can disable-disrupt your entire, or most of your team (Phinn’s Hook, Catherine’s Slience, Baptiste Fear, Adagio’s Stun) you will need a Crucible. It provides a Reflex Block for all nearby allies when activated. It can block any CC ability, but I recommend using it to block the enemy’s most impactful ability. If the enemy team has more than one AoE CC (in 5v5), ask your other utility teammate to buy a second Crucible.
Another great support item is the Atlas Pauldron. If your enemy builts a lot of attack speed items like Tornado Trigger or Breaking Point you should buy it. Atlas Pauldron is a counter to attack speed since it reduces the attack speed of hit enemies by 65%. But you should also buy an Atlas if there are enemy heroes that have innate attack speed, like WP Saw and Varya (both heroes have atk speed perks).
See numbers below to see the difference:
|items||Overall Attack Speed (lv1)||After Atlas||Attack Speed Reduced by Atlas|
|Tornado + Breaking Point||160%||56%||104%|
|Tornado + Breaking + Bonesaw||180%||63%||117%|
The more attack speed your enemy has, the more effective Atlas Pauldron is.
When facing stealth heroes like Flicker, Kestrel or Taka, buying items that provide vision is a must. I recommend to get a Flare Gun before you even finish your Fountain of Renewal. Then going for a Super Scout 2000 is the best idea. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t only build a Super Scout when facing stealth heroes. You should also get one if you have a stealth hero in your own team. Assuming the enemy support will also buy vision items it’s good to have that Super Scout if you don’t wanna lose the battle of vision!
A more situational item you could go for as a support is Nullwave Gauntlet. If you see the enemy support buying a lot of activatable items, Nullwave Gauntlet is a great pickup denying him from activating any of them or to force out a block. I would recommend to buy a Nullwave Gauntlet after getting some of the more important support items like Fountain of Renewal, War Treads and Crucible.
Another situational item for supports is Rook’s Decree. If the enemy has great burst potential, the barrier that Rook’s Decree provides will help you and your allies survive. Since Rook’s Decree is based on the amount of HP you already have, I recommend to buy it after getting some of the more important support items.
Capacitor Plate is a good item if you play a hero that provides heals or barriers such as Lyra, Adagio or Ardan. Similar to Rooks Decree it can help your team survive longer. As most Captains barriers and heals scale with health, I recommend to buy Capacitor Plate after finishing other important support items that provide HP.
Counter-building as a Carry
As a carry you are the source of damage in your team. This means that most of the items you buy should be items that make you deal more damage. Nonetheless you need to find a good balance with buying defence. It won’t help anyone if you get killed instantly every team fight.
Your very basic defence item is a Reflex Block (rush it if going against CC-heavy enemies). An item you should almost always buy, the later you buy it the more time your enemies have to potentially gank you. I recommend buying it after your first T3 damage item. Reflex Block is to counter enemy CC and as a backline-carry you really want to avoid that.
Shield, Aegis, Slumbering Husk, Metal Jacket
If you see a lot of CP items built on the enemy side, you should buy shield. I recommend to buy a kinetic shield mid-game and then later go for a Celestial Shroud. If the enemy team comp has a lot of CC and buys a lot of CP, you can alternatively buy a Warmail, which you then can turn into an Aegis. Shield especially helps against the burst damage of assassins, so if you see yourself getting annihilated by the enemy Anka, Taka or Reza – shield is the way to go!
Speaking of burst damage, another great counter to it is Slumbering Husk. If facing burst heavy enemies, Husk is the best item to buy. It offers you shielding and armor and it allows you to stay alive longer in team fights. If you play a hero that already has a Reflex Block in his kit (e.g. Gwen, Baron), Slumbering Husk is a great item to go for. Since you won’t have to buy an extra Reflex Block you will have space for four damage items! But it is also a good item for other backline carries since you can pair it up with an Aegis, three damage items are usually enough.
Metal Jacket is almost never needed by backline-carries but if you are mid-ranged or if you have an enemy wp carry that hurts, pick one up to pair with your reflex block or husk or shroud, leaving three damage items.
Shield / Armor Pierce
As a weapon-power carry, you will often see your enemies buying armor. The perfect counter to armor is Bonesaw because it shreds the enemy’s armor and allows you to eventually deal more damage. But make sure to keep attacking one single target to get as many Bonesaw stacks as possible! Another good counter to armor is Tension Bow which provides you with armor pierce, but only buy it if it fits your hero kit (heroes that are able to deal burst damage and that are not reliable on stacking up).
If you are building CP, enemies will usually buy shield against you. An item to counter shield is Broken Myth. It is a key item in every CP item path and it lets you pierce through your enemy’s shield.
Defence is most valuable between 100 – 150 shield/armor. You typically reach 100 shield/armor after buying a kinetic shield or a coat of plates (considering you are already level 12). 150 is about the amount of shield/armor you have after buying a Celestial Shroud or a Metal Jacket. Consequently, I would recommend buying a Broken Myth or Bonesaw when your enemies have bought either kinetic shield/coat of plates or if they already finished their Celestial Shroud or Metal Jacket (typically mid to late-game). Aegis and Slumbering Husk have similar defensive stats to kinetic shield and coat of plates.
Against an enemy team with lots of healing (enemy team with healers such as Adagio and Lyra) and self-healing (Krul, Ozo, Rona, etc.) it’s imperative to get Spellfire (as a CP hero) or Poisoned Shiv (as a WP hero). These items make you apply mortal wounds on the enemies you attack which weakens their heals and makes you kill them faster.
Counter-building as a Jungler / Toplaner
Similar to the situation that backline carries are in, as a jungler or a top laner you have to find the right balance between damage and defence items. This is also because as either role, you can go full damage, full utility or hybrid. Counter building as a jungler or top laner is often more an art than a skill. On the one side you need to frontline for your team and try to take out the enemy carries, on the other you need to peel for your own carries.
If there are carries on the enemy team that need to be taken out at all costs, you will need items that help you dive into the enemy backline. A great item for that is Pulseweave. It provides you with an extra speed boost once you take damage from enemies, so be careful to not take damage until the team fight starts (because it has a cooldown)!
War Treads, Defence
Another great item is War Treads, it provides your whole team a speed boost that helps reaching the enemy backline or getting out of sticky situations. Similar to when playing support, if you see the enemy carries buy a lot of attack speed or if they have heroes on their team that rely on attack speed, make sure to buy an Atlas Pauldron (if you are melee). If you generally see a lot of weapon power on the enemy team a Metal Jacket is also great to make you tanky. When diving into the enemy team you will get focused so if they have heroes on their team that deal burst damage, a Slumbering Husk is great to keep you alive.
A counter to the burst damage of true damage (Stormcrown) is Health Points. If you see one or multiple Stormcrowns on the enemy team, buy an Oakheart or a Dragonheart.
If you see some of your enemies going for glass cannon builds (no defence) you should straight up go for raw damage (Shatterglass/Sorrowblade). If the opposite happens and your enemies buy defence, I recommend to buy stacking items (Dragons Eye/Breaking Point) and pierce items (Bonesaw/Broken Myth).
Sometimes there’s a certain hero on the enemy team that keeps diving your backline to kill your carries (e.g. Krul) or heroes that are too mobile and your team has a hard time pining them down. Consider buying a Shiversteel to slow them down. Shiversteel is also a good counter to the speed boost provided by Pulseweave.
If the enemy team has one or multiple power spikes (for example Celeste & Phinn who will both reach a power spike at lv.8) and you are scared that they might make use of it to gain a lead, you can answer it with an Infusion. Sometimes it is enough to buy an Infusion without activating it, if your enemies see that you’ve got one in your inventory they might decide to play less aggressive or to not fight. If the enemies still decide to force a fight, you can just activate it and get a power spike yourself.