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I've, a while back, reached god Rank 10 on Guan Yu and during this time from Rank 1 to Rank 10 I've put many play styles and the builds that support them to the test. I'm going to attempt to share some of the most enjoyable builds I've had the pleasure of playing with.
I would like to let it be known that I am not writing this to teach someone who's played 5 or 6 games with Guan Yu. But rather someone who's nearing 15 or 20. The reason behind this is because guides are written from a perspective that differs from yours. While it may be a viable way to play you could find that by skipping the trial and error and go right to a guide, you've adopted how someone else likes to play Guan Yu , and you've also lost about 10 god ranks of poking and prodding. And that's the best bit.
Unlike the general Bruiser available Guan Yu does not function at his best by soaking incoming damage to the extent Tyr would, or Hercules.
Instead Guan Yu can really works his magic by playing as a support God as well as a God that initiates fights, but not as a God that is in the middle of things at all times.
So for example if I were to be making my way toward a team fight and I had all abilities off cool down, I could use my ultimate to initiate the fight for the team if there is a nice enough opportunity. When I use my ultimate I pick a specific target to aim for as your hits need to be uninterrupted by misses to put out your real damage potential.
The ultimate ends by stunning anything in the AoE , this is when your team will try and pick off your target. I generally like to end the ultimate with the target between me and my team so I can use Taolu Assault with enough time to apply the full duration. Should I be taking a large amount of damage the positioning also makes for a well placed Warrior's Will. At this point Conviction has been charged , at least somewhat, and I can support my team as well as reduce my cooldowns by 2 seconds.(Warrior's Will also reduces cooldowns)
My target is slowed by Warrior's Will so I generally look for other opportunities or whether we're going to need to back off soon before I dive back in to kill secure or prevent team deaths. Warrior's Will is a very useful tool for both offensive and defensive support
Painless(Passive) - This provides a bolstering effect on your Conviction ability. For each hit you take, your initial heal will be multiplied by 0.05 and the resulting number will be added on top of your initial heal. Having 20 stacks will result in 2x the healing power you'd have without them.
Conviction - Since I'm playing things fairly safely , and since I can do this with Guan Yu's 'toolkit' , I play support until I complete Transcendence. I put two points into Conviction right after my first point goes into Taolu Assault, and when you combine this with Painless it should be okay to leave until level 12 or so.
This is important: Each time you heal one, or multiple team mates, all of your cooldowns are decreased by two seconds. Spam this if your ult is on Cooldown, regardless of everyone being at full health.
Warrior's Will - This can pack a punch in the form of a single hit, but it doesn't compare to Taolu Assault. I take the opportunity careful play gives me and put two points in it before I get to work on Taolu Assault. I like to finish all points of Warrior's Will right after the third point in Conviction, it still packs a punch.
Like Conviction, Warrior's Will decreases all cooldowns, but only when it hits enemy Gods. Don't find this as an excuse to charge into the opposing team, but keep it in mind when you're applying damage , you can use abilities in a very efficient manner if you pick the right order. That order varies depending on the situation. Play around with it.
Taolu Assault - I put just one point into Taolu Assault to start with so I can have some form of minion harassment, but as soon as you get the support skills set up, you should have this maxed right as, or soon after you finish the 25 stacks on Transcendence.
Cavalry Charge - There's not much to say here. While this ability is an Area of Effect ability, it's much more practical to focus a specific target and make sure every single hit lands, rather than trying to hit as many multiple targets as you can. The damage is multiplicative if your following hit is not the first after a miss. Missing a hit isn't the end of the world, unless you miss the last. This last hit stuns anything caught in the Area of Effect. Don't miss it!
Also don't hesitate to use the cooldown to escape. The movement speed increase stacks with your movement, and combined with immunity to CC it makes for a nice escape.
Note that it's best to pick either Heartseeker or Transcendence and build off that.
Heartseeker - When replaced with Transcendence , Heartseeker will compliment your mobile toolkit so incredibly effectively. Also, it has a large chunk of Physical Power.
Warrior Tabi - Initially I toyed with the idea of taking Ninja Tabi for the cooldown reduction. But, after trying to fit it into a build without wasting stats like Cooldown % and Physical Pen, or lacking some burst, I've found it best to just stick with Warrior Tabi.
Transcendence - This is the heart of the build. If you have a look at the tooltip you'll see it gives Physical Power in the form of 2% of your total Mana Pool, and MP5.
The MP5 is very important; Without this item I find myself depending on Mana Potions and the Blue Buff a lot, so having a way to constantly sustain your abilities makes it fantastic.
The Physical Power that you get from the 2% of your total Mana Pool is not that much, but it makes items like Hide of Leviathan and Jotunn's Wrath all the more attractive.
Hide of Leviathan - This provides a very quick 'all round' feel to Guan Yu allowing you to sustain some damage, but it also lets you get out if you've taken too much.
Directly benefiting Transcendence, it will increase your damage potential along the way, even if slightly.
Jotunn's Wrath -Another 'all round' item - notice a pattern ? - providing Physical Penetration and Power, as well as Cooldown reduction , useful in offense and defense while also being supported by Transcendence.
Shield of Regrowth + Voidblade - At this point what you're looking for is not a boost to offense, but mainly Defense. The Power, and in the case of Voidblade, Penetration is a nice perk which is why I stuck with these two.
Hydra's Lament - Cool down reduction is very important, and very useful when it comes with a large chunk of Power. It also makes your basic attacks effective should you have to rely on them.
Titan's Bane - Not terribly complicated. It will assist in melting a tanky opposition.
Meditation - If you're out of mana and are not looking to get more mana it's very likely you will die soon. I generally make this Active a must-have.
So that's really what I have to say right now.
Please let me know your thoughts on what I have shown, but I'd ask that any feed back be positive. After all I am trying to have a positive effect through this guide.
I'm sure I've missed somethings that should be included, but looking at the time I won't waste sleep hunting them down right now.
09/09/2013: Updated build order for more timely use of damage.
09/10/2013: Updated Skill Sequence to better reflect the intention of updated build
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