I've been playing LOL for about a month now, taking a couple of games to check out each champion. Zilean (being a Z) came up last but soon became my favourite. Having replayed him a number of times over the last few days to refine my strategy, I’m ready to offer this guide to:
ZILEAN: THE GIANT FLYING CLOCK
Note: this guide is current to LOL v0.9.25.21
- Awesome late game map control.
- Low dependence on expensive items (due to a low dependence on AP).
- Huge presence, particularly in skirmishes.
- Unique play-style and fun to play.
- Incredible support and chasing abilities.
- Slow attack animation (and I still haven't worked out what he's shooting - little clocks? chunks of time?)
- Reliant on having a competent team.
- Highly interactive - requires good map awareness a knowledge of all the other champions and their abilities to be effective.
- Negligible damage output (particularly poor burst damage).
Q: Time Bomb
Places a time-bomb on the head of ANY unit. After 4 seconds the bomb explodes dealing damage to all enemies in a small AOE (maybe 300?). Note this spell is castable on both allies and enemies.
Mana cost: 80/95/110/125/140
Cooldown: 10 seconds.
AP scaling: 1 AP = 1 Damage.
Zilean's only damage spell is also the spell that is most commonly overused by inexperienced players.
Time bomb is fantastic for early lane harassment. Placing the bomb on a hero doesn't draw tower aggro (although the explosion does) so it’s possible to harass enemy heroes even when they are pushed back to their tower. Placing a second time-bomb on target that has already been bombed, explodes the first bomb and replaces it with another.
However in gang battles, casting time-bomb should be a low priority. The damage isn’t significant later in the game and the 4 second delay is enough time for the target to either inflict considerable damage, or simply be killed by your allies. If you can anticipate a gang battle placing a preemptive bomb on the head of an allied tank is a better plan.
Reduces all cooldowns by 10 seconds. This INCLUDES rewind's cooldown.
Mana cost: 50
Cooldown: 38/34/30/26/22 seconds.
No AP scaling.
Early game rewind is useful for double cast bursts of bombs/warps. Late game with cooldown reduction items this skill turns Zilean into an absolute monster. With 40% cooldown reduction rewind is castable every 3.2 seconds. That’s fast enough to permanently reduce 2 enemy heroes to snails or keep a couple of allies moving at virtual light speed. And by L18 if you’re constantly spamming rewind, your Chronoshift will be available every 20 seconds!
E: Time Warp
Increases/Decreases the speed of an Allied/Enemy unit by 65%.
Mana cost: 110
Cooldown: 20 seconds.
No AP scaling.
An incredibly versatile skill - Zilean's best. This skill lets you move at permanent warp speed in the late game, boosts allies out of trouble and locks down fleeing enemy champions. Using it effectively requires good judgement and unselfish play.
Note that although the speed increase/debuff claims to be 65%, with diminishing movement returns, movement above 400 is reduced by 20% and movespeed over 450 is reduced by 50%. Despite that it still makes you go ridiculously fast.
Buffs an ally for 15 seconds. If they take lethal damage in that time, they are revived on the spot with HPs based on chronoshift’s level.
Mana cost: 200
Revived Health: 500/750/1000
Cooldown: 180/160/140 seconds.
AP scaling: 1 AP = +3 revived health.
The Z-man’s ulti is a nightmare for opposing teams that try to engage in small skirmishes. As with all of Zilean’s abilities it requires good positioning and timing to pull off a successful Chronoshift, especially with spell effects flying all over the screen. Used right it can completely turn the tide of a battle. A 3 vs 3 fight that was going to be a push at one death each side can suddenly become a 3-0 wipe.
Ideally you want to time the cast as late as possible but sometimes a slightly earlier cast can alert your ally to your presence and stop them from retreating. Note that the buff is also clearly visible to your opponents, so avoid casting it too early or they’ll simply ignore the Chronoshifted champion and take down someone else. If your ally does go down, try and stay close enough to Time-Warp them to safety as soon as they respawn.
Your mastery and rune setup should revolve around hitting the 40% cooldown reduction cap by the endgame. I usually take a total of 15% cooldown reduction @L18 from masteries/runes, planning to pick up a FROZEN HEART for the final 25%. It would also be fine to take just 5% from masteries/runes planning to get a FIENDISH CODEX for the rest.
Masteries : 21 points in the Utility tree is an obvious choice for movespeed, XP gain & 6% cooldown reduction. For the final 9 points the defence tree offers STRENGTH OF SPIRIT (0.3% of your mana in HP regen/sec) - a very strong mastery for any high mana champion. With 3 ranks, every 1000 mana translates to 15 HP/5secs of health regeneration. For those reasons I usually go with 0-9-21.
Runes: I like 4.5% move speed in the Quintessence. Round out with enough cooldown reduction @18 to get to 15% before items, and the rest in Health@18 or Mana/5@18.
Spells: I think teleport is overpowered at the moment (especially on only a 3 minute timer with Utility Mastery) so I take it with every character. Being able to blue-pill back to base for heath/mana/items and teleport straight back out to push the most attractive lane is incredibly strong. Late game it’s even more useful both offensively and defensively.
For the second spell, I usually take something that helps out your team. Clairvoyance would be a strong choice, but I’m usually too busy micro-managing a giant, flying clock to use it well. Heal is easier to use, keeps you in the lane longer, and can also be used on an ally as they come out of Chronoshift. Improved heal is also nicely within reach at the top of the defense mastery tree.
I’ll usually wait to see the lane before picking a first skill. If you forced me to choose I’d take time warp. At L1 it is more likely to save your life (or help get you a kill) and 90 damage time-bomb isn’t going to be a game-breaker. At L3 an extra level of Time Bomb is my default choice for extra harassment, but in a difficult lane (or against an over-aggressive opponent) rewind, allowing a double Time Warp/Time Bomb combo, is the better choice.
1) Time Warp
2) Time Bomb
3) Time Bomb/Rewind
4) Rewind/Time Bomb
5) Time Bomb
If my team is looking strong and starting to roam at this point, I’ll usually stop leveling Time Bomb, focusing instead on Rewind and Time Warp for extra mobility. A level 3 time-bomb and a couple of auto-attacks still clear the ranged creeps easily. When farming a double or triple wave simply rewind two level-3 bombs to clear them all. I pick up the 4th level of Time Bomb when the creeps grow big enough to survive two level-3 bombs. Extra levels of Chronoshift are also better spent elsewhere – more levels in rewind reduces the cooldown faster than the 20 seconds reduction from L2
Chronoshift, and in the mid-game the revived character’s health is less likely to matter. A typical build might be something like:
10) Time Warp
11) Time Warp
13) Time Bomb
14) Time Warp
15) Time Warp
18) Time Bomb
Perhaps the most unique thing about my suggested item set, is that I finish the game with 0 AP.
MEKI PENDANT (390G)
HEALTH POT (35G)
One health pot enough to recover from a failed gank early. If I’m really struggling early on I’d rather just blow all my mana to push the lane back a bit, then teleport back to base to fully heal and grab a REGROWTH PENDANT.
First Shopping Trip:
PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (725G more – 1115G total)
Although the health regen is possibly excessive, it allows you to play very aggressively and still never have to leave the lane to heal. The 12 mana/5 is second only to Archangel’s staff and becomes critical later. The fact that it generates 5 gold/10 is really just a bonus (but also a good reason to get this item first).
BOOTS OF MOBILITY (1000G)
It’s hard to put into words how good these boots are on Zilean. They turn him into a giant blue ambulance that can also turn and chase down any hero in the game. Late game you’ll have a sustainable movement speed of over 600 making you completely uncatchable.
GLACIAL SHROUD (1675G)
The perfect item for Z and it’s cheap too. Providing much needed armour for survivability along with big chunk of mana and cooldown reduction. Note that if you’re using STRENGTH OF SPIRIT this item also provides 7.5 HP/5 seconds.
CHALICE OF HARMONY (890G)
All that speed comes at a price – travelling at 600 all the time guzzles mana like you wouldn’t believe! While the mana that the Chalice provides by itself isn’t great, the fact that it doubles your TOTAL mana-regeneration - when you need it the most - makes it a must have. Don’t forget about the magic resistance this item grants either - It usually translates to about 15-20% magic damage reduction which can often be a lifesaver.
CATALYST THE PROTECTOR (1350G)
The extra health/mana is always useful, and increases the amount of time you can spend out on the battlefield before you have to return to base to refuel. You should still have a few level-ups left to take advantage of its special ability. Another plus is that the parts are cheap and useful by themselves.
FROZEN HEART (1125G more – 2800 total)
You should be nearing maximum level by this point so upgrading from GLACIAL SHROUD should almost max out your cooldown reduction, while providing another big boost to armour and a useful aura. Note that if the enemy team is comprised of mostly physical DPS heroes I’ll grab the CHAIN VEST earlier and build this as a higher priority.
BANSHEE’S VEIL (1365 more – 2715 total)
Spell block and magic resistance combined with a 600 move-speed should make you virtually invulnerable by this point. All you need to do now is keep the rest of your team alive! Note that if the enemy team is comprised of mostly spell casting heroes I’ll build this as a higher priority.
With a total cost of only 8520 this basic item set is realistically achievable in a normal game, and turns you into a beast.
If the game continues I’ll usually pick up an INNERVATING LOCKET which further boosts your mana regen, offers a little more survivability, cheapens your spells and helps to slightly heal allies on a long push. ARCHANGEL'S STAFF would also be a fine choice for maximum mana regeneration.
PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (1115G)
BOOTS OF MOBILITY (1000G)
FROZEN HEART (2800G)
CHALICE OF HARMONY (890G)
BANSHEE’S VEIL (2715G)
[INNERVATING LOCKET (2650G)]
General Gameplay Advice
Unselfish play and teamwork are the keys to success. Zilean has incredible mobility – use it to your advantage. Watch the map closely at all times, and be ready to drop everything and zoom to the rescue if an ally is ganged. The LOL map is small and you travel ridiculously fast. You’ll be amazed how many daring rescues (and subsequent kills) you can pull off if you’re on the ball.
DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME FARMING! Try to farm efficiently, multi-bombing large creep waves if you have to, but never give up the chance to participate in a team battle just to finish farming “one more wave”. You’re a support hero, not a carry!
When chasing down an escaping hero, the default technique should be to Time-Warp YOURSELF first so you can get in range of them quickly, then if you have allies nearby, Rewind and Time-Warp to slow them. If you’re flying solo Time-Warp yourself, chase them down then Time-Bomb, Rewind, Time-Warp, Time-Bomb. Auto attack some small clocks at them if required.
NEVER TIME-WARP YOURSELF WHEN AN ALLY WOULD BE MORE EFFECTIVE. This is where knowledge of the other champions comes in useful – if you’re chasing a distant runner on very low HP, Master Yi, a rolling Rammus or even Mundo (make him feel good about himself for once) are the best people to Time-Warp. If the escaping group is 3 heroes, Amumu might be able to ulti and trap them all. If the runner has stealth, Corki is your man (helicopter?). Often it’s right to simply haste the closest hero and, if your micro is good enough, pop a bomb on their head for good measure.
In big team battles the most important thing to be aware of is your positioning. The Big-Z is very much a support hero so you should try to remain about a spell casts range BEHIND the action. Particularly the first few times you attempt to play Zilean, don’t worry so much about casting time-bombs. Instead carefully watch the movements of your allies, following in behind their advances so that you’re always in Chronoshift range if they go down and can Time Warp them as soon as they start to retreat. If your opponents move to engage you, simply Time-Warp yourself (or them) and kite them
around while your allies mop them up.
As soon as the tide of the battle starts to turn in your side’s favour, be ready to chase. This is when Z really comes into his own. As always don’t be greedy with kills. It’s usually right to leave the closest runner for your allies to finish off while you zoom past to lock down the other. By the end-game (and with some good micro) you should be able to
permanently slow two escaping heroes.
That’s about all I’ve got. I hope you enjoyed this guide and hope you have as much fun playing the GIANT FLYING CLOCK as I do!
Ps. Thanks to Ryoshi and Vangu whose Zilean guides came out before mine, and set me on the right track!