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The intent is for a short, concise, and to-the-point guide that outlines what I have found to be important. I try my best not to repeat things that items have in their descriptions.
While this guide can certainly be used for people who are new to the game or god, I made it more in mind for people who have a relatively decent amount of experience with the game.
I hope this is helpful to some of you.
Nearly everything in this game is situational. It's why I try to avoid telling you how and when to use your abilities. It simply changes from match to match. There are a lot of variables, therefore a lot of different paths to choose from.
I believe Magic Bruiser to be more of a standard Guan Yu build. As it is, he does a lot of damage even if you build him as more of a tank. If you are the only tank, then it might even be the best choice to opt some of the damage items out of the build for other more resilient items.
I still find myself more often than not going with the Full Damage build. It's often because I'm doing well in the match or because I simply already have another strong tank or two in the game. As Full Damage, Guan Yu can be very reckless and deal massive amounts of damage while still retaining a decent amount of survivability with his heal and lifesteal.
Blink is simply a mandatory active for all tanks with the exception of Vulcan. It is more often than not the best way to engage a fight, close the gap with a runner, or surprise your enemy early game with that blink + ultimate at level 5.
Hand of the Gods
Hand of the Gods is also a mandatory active more often than not. There is a scenario where this would not be an optimal item, but that will be explained below.
Hand of the Gods is especially good for quickly taking Gold Fury, Fire Giant, or the enemy Minotaur in clutch situations. It's also very good for stealing buffs. This + Blink is often used for taking GF or FG in those situations where your team is dead or you're unable to get a good engage at the camp.
Girdle of Might
Girdle of Might is to be used when someone on your team already has Hand of the Gods. If you're in a 5man premade and you're building an optimal team, then one of your supports should have Blink + HoG and the other should have Blink + GoM. This item is pretty self explanatory. It's fantastic for team fights and getting the edge in your laning phase.
Gem of Isolation
An item you might think is unnecessary because Warrior's Will effectively does the same job. In a team fight, you're likely not going to be hitting multiple people with that ability. On the other hand, when you are using Taolu Assault, you have the option of hitting multiple targets. In a hectic team fight, it might also be the case that your dash in on CD, and that debuff from Taolu Assault is priceless. This makes Guan Yu a very deadly show stopper.
Breastplate of Valor and Chronos' Pendant
These are for the two separate builds. Never together. As with many gods, cooldown reduction is excellent. Guan Yu is already very hard to escape from with Gem of Isolation, but shortening his CDs simply makes him that much more threatening.
Of course, you're going to choose Breastplate of Valor if you need the physical protection over Chronos' Pendant, which is better if you're focusing on damage in a case where you already have another strong tank or two.
For the Full Damage build. Adds even more sustain and damage. Keeping in mind how the item actually works, it's a good idea to stagger your abilities to make sure you're getting the full use of it during a fight (in some cases).
Spear of the Magus
Often times is an amazing item. Simply adds to the already very effective Taolu Assault. Stacks quickly and allows you and your teammates to shred through your enemies.
Bancroft's Talon (Optional/Situational)
Guan Yu does a lot of damage. If you're using a bruiser build, you're not going to be doing as much healing early-mid game as you might like. Bancroft's Talon helps to keep you in those important team fights while also contributing a significant portion of magic damage to your arsenal.
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