A Beginner’s Guide to Bruiser Items
In this LoL items guide, we’ll cover when and why to build the best items for bruisers. A bruiser can be considered as a champion who is a fighter, a juggernaut or even a diver. Riot themselves class this group of champions in their client as fighters.
Fighters or bruisers – whichever name you want to go by, are most commonly found dominating the top lane, but are frequently seen in the jungle and sometimes even in the middle lane.
There are quite a few champions in League of Legends that fall into the category of a bruiser, or who have a bruiser play style. While many classes exist and while we have covered a variety of other classes in this series of guides, the bruiser class has a variety of champions and subclasses that are built into it. This is why we think it is important that you know what items are available to you when you’re playing in this multi-genre class.
In our previous articles on ADC items, support items, tank items, AP items, situational items, and assassin items, we provided the terminology and a bit of background information to help you understand how itemization works. If you haven’t read those already, I would recommend you do so. Here’s a TLDR for those who haven’t:
Core items are almost always bought by your champion.
Situational items are things that you may not necessarily purchased every game apart from when you need them.
Pre Game Bruiser Build
Here is an example build for a bruiser champion , Camille. You can find information about builds for bruisers like this one and other information by checking out the Pre-Game or Camille champion page.
Here is an example of a Pre Game for Camille:
To try out the Pre Game, simply sign up for a free account. It’s only one of the many tools in the Mobalytics platform to help you improve and climb.
Starting Items for Bruisers
Most bruisers will stick to one or two starting options but are able to switch out their starting item if needed. For example, they might wish to start 1 item in a good matchup and another in a hard matchup.
The first starting item option for a bruiser is the Corrupting Potion. This item is a refillable consumable that allows the user to regenerate health and mana throughout the game. Each Corrupting Potion stack can be consumed during the laning phase to allow you to sustain and survive the game.
Corrupting Potion can hold up to 3 charges, allowing it to be consumed 3 times before needing to be refilled by heading back to base. While this item doesn’t do much more than provide you with sustain, it does have a small passive – Touch of Corruption, that gives you a slight increase in magic damage when trading and consuming at the same time.
You will usually pick this item up if you need to survive the first few levels, or if you can’t really do too much before your first back. You may also favour taking this item if you’re playing against somebody with a lot of sustain.
Examples of champions who benefit from taking it: Sion, Camille, Poppy.
The second starting option, which is usually the favored start for most fighters is the Doran’s Blade. This item gives health just like Doran’s Shield, but it also gives additionally attack damage and life steal. This makes it really good on bruisers and fighters who like to trade with the enemy.
For most, this is the starting item you will take regardless of the matchup because it actually allows you to deal damage and potential snowball your lead. If you’re taking Ignite, then this is the starting item you will always want to take because it gives you increased kill potential.
Examples of champions who benefit from taking it: Riven, Renekton, Illaoi.
The final starting option that a bruiser may like to take is Doran’s Shield. This item provides bruisers with health and health regeneration. It also gives them a small increase of damage to minions which allows them to last hit them more efficiently. Not every fighter has a great auto attack animation, so picking this up can allow you to last hit more consistently.
You may wish to take this item if you’re in a difficult matchup like if you’re against a ranged champion such a Teemo, or against someone where you cannot really do too much. If you’re out ranged in lane, then this item is a must.
Examples of champions who benefit from taking it: Darius, Aatrox, Garen.
Advanced Bruiser Items
Advanced items also known as upgraded, or tier 2 items are items that have only been upgraded once. They consist of one or more basic items to be created, and they will be what you’re sitting on when you have no finished items.
It’s very difficult to talk about every advanced item that is available to a bruiser because there are so many variations and different items available. You will need to look at the next item and from there, you can check to see what advanced items are needed to complete said item.
Take a look at the stats that it provides and choose the advanced item you want.
Example Situation: Renekton vs Sylas
Renekton is a champion who prefers to trade blows with the enemy every so often: mostly playing around his basic abilities, as well as his Fury. While many players like to play over aggressively and trade consistently- Renekton doesn’t always have to maintain or play hyper aggressive.
For him to be able to deal damage when trading, he should opt for an early Executioner’s Calling (as a first pick up) to reduce Sylas’ healing. Executioner’s Calling has a passive that reduces the healing one can receive by inflicting grievous wounds which will reduce self healing for 3 seconds- which you will find comes in handy.
He may invest in this highly situational item and not upgrade, or finish it at all because it isn’t a traditional item that is brought on Renekton. However, when you’re in a matchup that has lots of sustain, you need this item to stop them from out healing you when you trade with them.
Since Renekton will not really upgrade this item afterwards, he may wish to sell it later on. Or, he can keep it and upgrade it if he wishes.
Complete (finished) Bruiser Items
Completed items are items that can no longer be upgraded and are basically finished. As a bruiser, you have a plethora of item choices and potential purchases to make, so it’s important that you always make the right decision. Let’s discuss the items available to you.
For the most part, you’ll be buying items that provide you with damage and protection. Some items will be mostly damage, while others will be pure tank. No matter what item you’re buying, always take into account what the enemy has available to them in terms of damage to pick the right item at the right time. If the enemy has mostly AD, get armor items- if the enemy has mostly AP, get magic resistance.
Adaptive Helm is a great item that provides bruisers with a variety of stats such as cooldown reduction, health and magic resist. It also has a very useful passive that reduce magic damage that is dealt over time. This is because it reduces damage taken from a spell with multiple ticks such as Rumble and his ultimate.
While you probably won’t be getting this item first, it does come in handy in the later stages of the laning phase as well as during team fights. A bruiser may wish to pick this up later in the game if the enemy has multiple AP champions.
Examples of champions who benefit: Darius, Irelia, Volibear.
Dead Man’s Plate
Dead Man’s Plate is a good item on bruisers because it gives health and armor. This allows you to be more tanky during team fights and during the laning phase. This isn’t usually an item you will get early, but it is definitely an item to look into when the enemy has lots of AD champions or ranged ones thanks to the stats it provides as well as its passive.
Dead Man’s Plates’ passives can be confusing for beginning players, so let’s break down what they do. When moving around the map, you will gain stacks that can accumulate up to 100 which can be consumed by auto-attacking the enemy. No matter how many stacks you have, you’ll deal a slight increase in damage and slow the enemy briefly, but the more stacks you have- the better.
Examples of champions who benefit: Darius, Shyvana, Garen.
Death’s Dance is an item that provides the user with a lot of healing whenever they deal damage to an enemy. It gives 10% cooldown reduction- allowing you to use your abilities more frequently, and 80 extra damage. It has two passives, the first heals the user instantly for 15% of all damage dealt.
But area of effects and pet damage (like Yorick ghouls, Illaoi tentacles, Malzahar voidlings and Elise spiders) only heal for 5% for every unit hit, so the healing provided by pets is not as effective but still useful.
The second passive stores 30% of all damage received and instead of inflicting it immediately, it is taken over time as true damage instead. In League of Legends, this term is called “Damage over Time” or DoT. It’s rather confusing, so let’s clear it up.
If a champion auto attacks you once for (let’s suggest) 100 health, it will only deal 70% (70) damage to the champion immediately and the remaining 30% (30) damage will be dealt over 3 seconds after the initial auto-attack.
Usually, this item is taken on champions who can deal lots of damage over time. It is also found on characters who like to get into the backline with their pets. This item increases the champions survivability which allows them to deal more damage in exchanges and team fights.
Examples of champions who benefit: Riven, Urgot, Illaoi.
Frozen Heart is an item that gives armor, cooldown reduction and mana. It is one of the stronger defensive items around because it gives a huge amount of armor. If your champion relies heavily on mana, this item might be for you. Frozen Heart reduces the enemies attack speed by 15% which will definitely come in handy if the enemy has multiple AD champions, especially if they rely on attack speed.
This item is usually seen on champions who invest heavily into the defensive side of being a bruiser and do not buy many offensive items.
Examples of champions who benefit: Nasus, Trundle.
Frozen Mallet is an item that is really expensive- one of the most expensive items on our list. It does give 700 health which is very nice on the bruisers who take it because it allows them to become tanky quickly. In addition to the tasty amount of health, it also gives 30 additional attack damage.
It also has a unique passive that slows targets movement speed for 1.5 seconds when they’ve been auto attacked by yours truly. The slow is increased if the champion you’re playing is melee. This passive can come in handy if you’re chasing squishy targets or need to get into the backline.
Examples of champions who benefit: Gnar, Shyvana.
Gargoyle Stoneplate provides the user with a nice amount of magic resistance and armor, which makes it fantastic in team comps that have mixed damage. It also has a really strong passive that works wonders in team fights. When there are multiple enemies nearby, you will gain additional armor and magic resist.
It also has an incredibly unique active, Metallicize, which basically reduces your outgoing damage in exchange for an increased amount of health. Activating it at the start of a team fight will give you a range of bonus stats which can definitely save your life.
For bruisers specifically, this allows them to be the frontline monster that some team compositions need. If you’re playing a bruiser that needs to get into the enemies line, then this item might help you.
Examples of champions who benefit: Urgot, Tahm Kench (top), Sion.
Guardian Angel is a very strong item in the later stages of the game. It provides attack damage and armor, which makes it a good defensive item. Most bruisers will buy Guardian Angel for its passive. Upon taking lethal damage, you will go into a stasis. After you’re out of the stasis, you will come back alive with 50% of your base health and 30% of your maximum mana.
Traditionally, bruisers are hard to kill in the first place and take quite some time to do so. Having to kill you twice during a team fight will be relatively difficult for the enemy which can swing team fights in your teams advantage. Bruisers, unlike other roles, can always go for an early Guardian’s Angel if they are ahead to increase their kill pressure too.
Examples of champions who benefit: Camille, Renekton, Riven.
Iceborn Gauntlet is a defensive item that provides armor, cooldown reduction and a huge chunk of mana. Iceborn Gauntlet is usually brought on champions who invest heavily into the defensive line because of the variety of stats it provides. However, as it doesn’t provide any attack damage, it limits who may wish to pick up this item.
It’s passive – Spellblade, is an AoE slow that is granted after using an ability. For example, using an ability will grant the passive. When you auto-attack an enemy champion or minion with the passive activated, it will deal bonus damage and create an icy zone around the target that slows them briefly.
As Iceborn grants a lot of mana, it should be avoided like the plague on champions who do not use mana like Renekton or Riven.
Examples of champions who benefit: Nasus.
Maw of Malmortius
Maw is a rather powerful item that some bruisers like to pick up when they’re facing off against team compositions with lots of burst or magic damage. This is because Maw has a passive that provides the champion with a shield that absorbs incoming magic damage.
This shield is granted when the enemies damage would take you below 30% health- invaluable against burst champions. When this effect comes into play, you will also gain attack damage, spell vamp and lifesteal until you’ve left combat.
Additionally, Maw also provides magic resistance to reduce the enemies damage output, 50 attack damage to enable you to deal more damage when trading and, 10% cooldown reduction which will allow you to use your abilities more often. All in all, a very good item when playing against a laner with magic damage and an enemy with lots of AP.
Examples of champions who benefit: As this item is super situational, you don’t usually see it as a core item on many champions. However, here is 3 that can pick it up. Olaf, Renekton, Pyke.
Mortal Reminder (Executioner’s Calling)
Most bruisers will not upgrade or get this item. But, some will opt for Executioner’s Calling. Executioner’s Calling infects champions you attack with Grievous Wounds.
Champions infected with the Grievous Wounds debuff reduces all the enemies healing effects by 40%. This makes it an incredibly handy item when playing against champions or teams with heavy sustain and healing like Dr. Mundo, Soraka or Vladimir.
It is also a necessity in the early game if you’re against a champion with lots of sustain like Sylas, Dr Mundo or Fiora as it reduces their healing ability.
I wouldn’t recommend upgrading this item because most bruisers will not need it. You may wish to sell it later on in the game and buy a different item instead, but upgrading it isn’t a bad idea altogether. It does give 45 attack damage and 25% armor pen once upgraded.
Examples of champions who benefit: Riven, Camille, Gangplank.
Randuin’s Omen is a defensive item that will protect you against auto attacks and AD damage. It provides the user with armor and health, while also reducing the enemies critical strike damage which will help you stay alive against enemies who build lots of crit items like Yasuo or Caitlyn.
Bruisers don’t always pick this item up, but they do like it because it provides health and armor and it does reduce damage taken from critical auto attacks. As bruisers have to get into the backline and take down the enemy, the tankier bruisers will be able to survive for longer thanks to this item and its passive.
Randuin’s also has an active that slows nearby enemies. If your champion finds it difficult to get onto mobile champions- then this active will come in handy.
Examples of champions who benefit: Renekton, Shyvana.
Ravenous Hydra is similar to Titanic Hydra but slightly different. It is upgraded from Tiamat just like its sister item, but you will see this item picked up more often. Tiamat is a must-have item on many bruisers because it allows them to trade more consistently thanks to its active and damage output.
If the champion you’re playing is ahead, or if you’re really good at dueling, 9 times out of 10 the champion will upgrade their Tiamat to Ravenous Hydra. This is because this item gives 80 additional damage, increased health regeneration and 12% life steal.
When you’re auto-attacking an enemy champion, you will gain additional damage and additional life steal. This will increase your dueling power and also increase your survivability- making you a real threat in a side lane. Hydra also has an active that deals damage to units around you, just like Tiamat.
Tiamat and this item, in general, can be challenging to use effectively because it can cancel your auto attacks if you use it at the wrong time. I would recommend trying to auto-attack first, and then use this item’s active afterward.
Examples of champions who benefit: Riven, Renekton, Camille.
Spear of Shojin
One of Riots latest bruiser items to hit live is Spear of Shojin. This is an item that is picked up on AD champions who like to fight and trade often- most notably, bruisers. This item gives attack damage, some additional health and a nice amount of cooldown reduction. As you can tell, it’s perfect on AD champions because of these stats.
Spear of Shojin also has a passive. After you cast your ultimate, your next basic attack grants Awaken Dragon for 6 seconds. Awaken Dragon gives you an additional 50% attack speed and basic attacks refund 20% of your remaining non-ultimate cooldowns.
So, casting your ultimate and auto-attacking an enemy will reduce the cooldown of your other abilities by 20% each time you auto in the 6-second window.
Examples of champions who benefit: Riven, Renekton, Jax.
Spirit Visage is a great item on tank and bruiser champions who have a lot of healing in their kit. For example, champions such as Darius, Renekton, and Yorick all have a lot of healing thanks to their abilities. Spirit Visage increase your self-healing effects- which makes it quite strong in team fights and during the laning phase as it offers you increased sustain.
In addition to this healing increase, it also has bonus health, health regeneration, magic resistance, and cooldown. This stats are perfect on a bruiser because they allow you to deal more damage with your abilities thanks to the cooldown reduction, and also allow you to sustain and become tanky thanks to the other stats.
I would recommend picking this up on a bruiser if the enemy has lots of magic dealing champions thanks to the magic resistance it provides.
Examples of champions who benefit: Yorick, Darius, Renekton.
Streak’s Gage is an item that provides a lot of survivability during team fights and trades. This is thanks to its passive that gives you a shield when you’ve taken over 400 damage within 5 seconds. The shield is equal to 75% of your bonus health. When you are given this shield, your size is increased, and you gain additional tenacity for 8 seconds.
As most bruisers will need to get into the thick of it during team fights, Sterak’s Gage is really good because it allows you to survive for longer and stay in the fight for as long as possible before dying.
Examples of champions who benefit: Renekton, Yorick, Camille.
It provides you with armor, health and an incredibly useful passive called Immolate. Immolate is basically a small AoE burn that deals damage to enemies who are close by. This will help you when it comes to trading blows with the enemy during team fights as while you’re attacking the enemy- they will also take damage from Sunfire Cape.
Examples of champions who benefit: This item is not picked up by anybody as default. However, if you are really behind in lane and can’t do to much, you could get this item early to help survive the laning phase.
The Black Cleaver
Most bruisers in the game will get The Black Cleaver because it is such a good item that works well with what a bruiser does and what they represent. The Black Cleaver gives 40 attack damage, which is great when it comes to trading. 20% cooldown reduction which is really strong on bruisers because it allows them to trade more frequently with the enemy.
As bruisers usually rely heavily on their abilities to deal damage, having this amount of cooldown reduction early is desirable. It also gives 400 health which will allow them to survive for longer during the laning phase and in team fights.
It also has a passive that reduces the armor of an enemy champion when you auto attacks them- this works great against tanks. It also gives you additional movement speed when you’ve auto attacked an enemy via Phage.
Examples of champions who benefit: Urgot, Riven, Darius.
Thornmail gives the user lots of armor, which makes it perfect against team comps with multiple AD champions. Thornmail is also one of the few defensive items that actually deal damage to the enemy. Thormail reflects a small portion of the incoming damage the enemy deals through basic attacks and deals it straight back to the attacker.
In addition to this passive, it will also slow the attack speed of enemies who attack you: making it ideal against teams with multiple AD threats.
Examples of champions who benefit: Urgot, Darius.
Titanic Hydra is an item that is built from Tiamat which is a core item for many bruisers because it provides them with a lot of trading power and wave clear. Titanic Hydra provides 40 attack damage, 450 health, and health regeneration.
These stats are really good for bruisers because it gives them some defensive stats and extra damage. Most bruisers will need these two things, which makes this item perfect for them.
It has a passive that deals additional damage and provides a small but noticeable AOE buff to your auto attacks. This can sometimes work against you though if you’re trying to freeze or maintain proper wave etiquette because it will slow push the minion wave.
It also has an active that is an auto-attack reset, which deals extra damage to the target enemy and damage to enemies behind them (who are closeby). This can be helpful in the later stages of the game if you’re trying to wave clear or kill the enemy. For maximum damage output, you should use this combo: AA (auto-attack) then proc Titanic Hydra.
Examples of champions who benefit: Irelia, Jax, Volibear.
Trinity Force is an item that gives a variety of stats that would help any champion in the game. Usually, Tri-Force is purchased on bruisers who have single target abilities or an auto attack resets This is because of Sheen and its passive: after using an ability, your next auto attack deals bonus damage.
Tri-Force has a secondary passive that also grants additional movement speed after auto attacking an enemy. Kills also grant additional movement speed.
It’s usually a first purchase for the bruisers who take it because it is rather cost effective- even though it costs an arm and a leg! You will be sitting on the advanced items for a long time before you complete it.
Examples of champions who benefit: Jax, Gangplank, Hecarim.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some itemization tips when playing as a bruiser:
- Pick up suitable defensive items.
- Most bruisers will start building defensive items after 1 or 2 offensive items (depending on who you’re playing). If the enemy has mostly AP champions, pick up items that give magic resist. If the enemy has mostly AD, get armor items.
- Learn when to adapt.
- Every champion has multiple choices when it comes to which items they should buy. While our build paths and item suggestions are a good basis to go by, make sure you adapt your build path to whatever circumstances and situations you’re faced with.
- Remember to buy Control Wards.
- It’s not just the Supports job to buy Control Wards. Make sure you purchase and place them as the game goes along. Many bruisers are great duelists and making sure you secure vision can help you find more favorable 1v1 opportunities by limiting gank angles.
- Build defensive items when behind.
- Bruisers are quite lucky in the fact that they can adjust their build paths when behind. Instead of continuing to buy damage items, start investing in defensive items so you’re able to be a threat in team fights.
How to find the right build path
If you’re struggling to find an appropriate build path for your champion. You have a few options available to you.
1. Use the Mobalytics Pre Game or Champion Pages
In the Pre-game, you can see what we recommend to build on your champion and when. This is useful as you can just launch it automatically before every game and get a build without having to search prior to the game starting.
If you have more time to do research and want to learn more about how to play a champion, check out the champion pages for any champion.
2. Trial and error
Sometimes just playing the game and getting a feel for what different items do can be a better way to learn outside of just copying a build.
By understanding the pros, cons, and limitations of every item, you can better understand how to use a build, but also start to create your own.
3. Follow high-level players
Find a pro, high ELO streamer, or community of players that use your champions. If you’re able to talk to them about the reasons why they make their choices, you can get some great insights for how to get the most from your champion and their build.
That about rounds up our itemization guide for bruisers in League of Legends! Make sure to check out our other item guides if you’re looking to understand what other champions or classes should build.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants stream.