During season 12, Varus was a highly contested pick in League of Legends, even by pros.

He had two builds that were particularly prevalent – Kraken Slayer/attack speed ADC build and full lethality poke Varus build.

However, after Riot Games nerfed Varus a couple of times, the best way to play this champion in season 13 is with a full AP build.

If you aren’t familiar with the full AP Varus build, I’d be happy to help you. In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know about playing Varus AP successfully, even in high elo.

I’ll start by explaining how his abilities and AP ratios work and then I’ll tell you about the runes and items you’re going to need.

So without further ado, let’s see how you should play Varus AP in season 13!

HOW TO CARRY INTING TEAMMATES WITH AP VARUS MID - 21/1/4 KDA | League of Legends AP Varus Season 12

Varus AP or AD – Explained

AP Varus Guide S12 - R ability

Varus was initially designed as an AD marksman champion in League of Legends. Players usually build Varus with AD items and deal damage with auto-attacks and Varus’ Q.

However, Varus’ W and R have high AP ratios and deal magic damage too.

And with enough AP, Varus can also be a solid AP Carry.

Because of this, Varus can also be categorized as a hybrid champion in League of Legends (like Ezreal). And depending on what you build, you can have a different playstyle. 

The way you play AP Varus is vastly different than the traditional AD Varus. For example, you don’t focus on auto-attacking. Instead, AP Varus is all about one-shotting the enemies with a full R + W + Q combo. 

So even though you can play Varus as an ADC and be successful with it, you can also play him as an AP mage too. Both builds work well, but the AP has an advantage because it’s safer and much better for solo queue.

Here’s what you should know about Varus’ AP damage in LoL.

Read Also: Full AP Ashe Build Guide

Is Varus’ Q AP or AD?

Varus’ Q – Piercing Arrow is an AD ability in League of Legends. It does physical damage and only scales with attack damage. And the longer you charge Varus’ Q, the more AD damage it deals.

However, when you combine Varus’ W and Q together, Piercing Arrow can do both AP and AD damage.

Simply put, Varus’ Q only does AD unless it’s used together with his W. In that case, Varus deals both AP and AD damage through one ability.

So, if you want to deal magic damage with Varus’s Q, make sure to activate his W first.

Does Varus Scale with AP?

AP Varus Guide S12 - W ability

Does Varus do AP?

Varus has two abilities that scale with AP – W and R. His ultimate – Chains of Corruption deals base magic damage and has a 100% AP ratio.

Meanwhile, Varus’ W – Blighted Quiver allows Varus to deal bonus on-hit magic damage (30% AP) and empower his Q to deal bonus magic damage (2.5% per 100 AP).

Many players don’t realize this, but Varus’ W is one of the most broken abilities in the game. Aside from its AP scaling, it can take up to 21% of the target’s missing health (based on level).

Because of this, AP Varus is known for one-shotting even the biggest tanks such as Cho’Gath and Ornn in League of Legends.

Don’t believe me? Watch this YouTube video where AP Varus simply deletes Cho’Gath from full HP!

Read Also: AP Tristana Build Guide

Is AP Varus Still Viable?

AP Varus is a super strong and viable playstyle for carrying in season 13 of League of Legends. The build offers explosive damage and potential for one-shotting even the enemy tanks.

You can play AP Varus in mid or bot lane and win games by deleting your opponents from full HP.

Not only is AP Varus still a viable playstyle in LoL, but it’s also a recommended playstyle in many games.

For example, if you’re team is already full AD, switching to AP on Varus is always a good solution.

On the other hand, if the enemy team has multiple melee/diving champions (Irelia, Katarina, Master Yi), AP Varus is much better because it deals damage from afar and often doesn’t need to enter the auto-attack range.

Because of this, I urge you to try the AP Varus build below. It focuses on many strengths that Varus has and gives you many advantages.

Check it out!

Read Also: AP Miss Fortune Build Guide

Varus AP – Runes (Explained)

AP Varus Build Guide S12 - Runes
  • Arcane Comet
  • Manaflow Band
  • Transcendence
  • Scorch
  • Cheap Shot
  • Ultimate Hunter

ARCANE COMET is the most recommended keystone for AP Varus. This is a simple rune that allows you to deal more damage every 20-8 seconds.

It improves Varus’ poke and allows you to dominate your lane opponent in the early game, especially in the mid lane.

With Arcane Comet, you can constantly pressure your enemy and force them out of lane. This will make it easier for you to get one or two items and excel in the mid game.

Varus is a weak champion early on, so playing aggressively with Arcane Comet actually makes him safer.

MANAFLOW BAND is a great rune for mana management early on. It grants you a total of 250 maximum mana during the laning phase.

And once it’s stacked, it regenerates 1% of your missing mana every 5 seconds for the rest of the game.

Manaflow Band is especially useful if you play mythic items like Night Harvester and Riftmaker and not Luden’s Tempest.

TRANSCENDENCE is a key rune for AP Varus because it greatly reduces the cooldown of his W. When you score a kill or an assist, Transcendence resets the remaining 20% cooldown of your basic abilities.

Varus’ W is a 30-second cooldown spell, so this rune allows you to use it much more frequently, even 2-3 times in a team fight.

Aside from that, Transcendence grants a total of 10 ability haste by level 8.

SCORCH is another early game rune that helps you pressure your lane opponent. It does a bit of burn damage that scales with levels. Scorch only has 10 seconds cooldown, so you can constantly abuse it in lane.

CHEAP SHOT is a rune that greatly synergizes with Varus’ kit and his AP playstyle. Basically, it allows you to deal bonus damage to enemies that are stunned, slowed, or rooted.

In other words, every time you use your R to quickly one-shot an enemy with W + Q, Cheap Shot will increase your damage.

ULTIMATE HUNTER is the last rune you want on AP Varus. It’s clear, Ultimate Hunter lowers the cooldown if Varus’ R and it works on Bounty Hunter stacks that you get with champion takedowns.

Combined with the ability haste from items, Ultimate Hunter turns Varus’ R into a 20-second cooldown ability.

As I mentioned above, Varus’ Chains of Corruption scales with 100% of his ability power, so you’ll want to have your R available as much as possible in every game.

Read Also: Lethality Caitlyn Build Guide

Other Runes for AP Varus

Keep in mind that you don’t need to stick to the rune page above in every single match. In fact, there are a few different rune combinations that work well with AP Varus.

For example, playing AP Varus with Dark Harvest is super powerful, especially in the late game. Dark Harvest is a great rune for all situations.

Varus can easily collect souls with his Q and E, so his power is almost guaranteed later on.

Another great keystone is First Strike. Unlike Dark Harvest, First Strike increases the damage done to your target at the start of the fight and not at the end.

It also allows you to take super useful runes in the Inspiration tree, such as Perfect Timing, Biscuit Delivery, and Approach Velocity.

But if you’re new to playing AP Varus in League of Legends, I’d recommend you to skip with my Arcane Comet rune page you see above! You can later experiment however you like!

Read Also: Full AP Lucian Build Guide

Varus AP – Items (Explained)

AP Varus Build Guide S12 - Items
  • Manamune
  • Luden’s Tempest
  • Horizon Focus
  • Rabadon’s  Deathcap
  • Void Staff
  • Sorcerer’s Shoes

MANAMUNE is the first item you want on Varus in every possible scenario. Despite this being an AP Varus build, Manamune is simply too good of an item.

With its flat damage and bonus ability haste, it turns Varus from a weak laner to an early game monster. It will help you deal tons of damage with both abilities and auto-attacks.

This also means that you should always start the game with Tear of the Goddess or at least purchase this item early on. Varus can’t stack Tear very fast, so getting it soon is super important.

LUDEN’S TEMPEST is simply the best mythic item for AP Varus. Aside from its obvious benefits of AP, ability haste, and mana, Luden’s Tempest increases your initial damage and poke.

It can help you when you’re trying to burst one enemy champion or trade with your lane opponent.

Luden’s Tempest also gives you 5 magic penetration for each legendary item you have.

HORIZON FOCUS is a great AP item that fits Varus perfectly. When you snare an enemy champion with Varus’ R from range, Horizon Focus will reveal that champion and increase your damage done to them by 10% for 6 seconds.

This means that you’ll always do more damage with your R + W + Q combo simply by having Horizon Focus with you.

RABADON’S DEATHCAP should be a no-brainer. It’s the strongest AP item in League of Legends and Varus needs it too. Rabadon’s Deathcap gives you 120 AP and increases your total ability power by 35%.

In other words, it makes your damage in the mid-late game deadly!

VOID STAFF is another late game item that you’ll definitely want to have on AP Varus. Void Staff grants 40% magic penetration and it’s always needed.

It is actually the item that will let you one-shot even tanks, so make sure to purchase it in every match.

SORCERER’S SHOES are the best boots upgrades for AP Varus. Depending on how early you get them, they can be a very valuable purchase.

Having magic penetration before your enemies have any magic resist is super useful, especially on Varus and his W.

Read Also: AP Kai’Sa Build Guide

Optional and Situational Items

As with the runes, there are plenty of viable items for AP Varus. And depending on which champions your opponents have, you should prioritize different items.

Night Harvester can be a great mythic option. It offers a stronger burst than Luden’s Tempest, but it doesn’t give you any mana.

Nashor’s Tooth increases your attack speed and can help you put Blight stacks on your target very quickly.

And in the end, you can always get Zhonya’s Hourglass or Banshee’s Veil to protect yourself against AD or AP champions in League.


There you go! The AP Varus build you see above is crafted out of my personal experience with the champion. It’s an explosive playstyle that guarantees you kill from afar, even if you’re behind.

I’ve personally played this build even in Master elo and I definitely recommend it!
If you’d like another build that I also enjoy a lot, make sure to check my Lethality Jinx guide!

But you can also check my off-meta guides category to see all the crazy playstyles in League.

Read Also: AP Corki Build Guide

Last Update: April 2, 2024