Introduction: Many people think Annie is a "cheese" or "easy-mode" character. They can go to hell. Yes, at the end of the day, all you are doing is pressing QWER and clicking your mouse but then again who isn't? There's more to playing a champion skillfully and Annie is no exception. There are deeper elements to her gameplay that you learn and master after hundreds of games with her I will introduce you to them and teach you how to lead your team to victory. I like to say that Annie is one of those characters that you can just pick up and play at 90% efficiency. That last 10% however comes with a lot of practice and skill.
Disclaimer: I'm not going to cover anything basic. (Skill descriptions, base stats, simple mechanics, etc. etc.) Read up on that yourself if you need to.
Updated as of 11/10/2011
Table of Contents:
- Mission Statement
- Skill Order
- Item Build
- Advanced Techniques
- Countering Other Solomids
1. Mission Statement
I. General: Our mission is to provide as much damage to as many enemies as possible, neutralize main threats, and stay alive.
II. Laning: Our mission is to take the solo mid lane and both out-farm and deny the enemy solo. We will always be opportunists and actively pursue getting first blood against the enemy solo. We will also attempt to aid allies with frequent and effective ganks, allowing them to be dominant of their respective lanes as well.
III. Team Play: Our mission is divided into two separate roles in team play. We are either the initiator or the follow-up. As initiators, our responsibility is to catch an enemy squishy off-guard and immediately tip the ensuing team-fight 4v5 in our favor. As follow-ups, we seek out the dominant threat on the enemy team after the fight has already begun, with the intent of neutralizing them quickly and cleanly.
No, I'm not talking about throwing back a couple of shots. We need to get the right runes, masteries, and summoner spells.
Red: Magic Penetration
Yellow: MP Regen per level, Dodge, HP, HP per level
Quints: Flat AP or Flat HP
Pretty straightforward. I used to run dodge, HP and HP per level at times for yellow. I've settled on MP Regen per level though for extra staying power and less reliance on golem in case someone else on my team might need it. Blue runes have been changed from CDR to AP/level. This is because the metagame has shifted to a point where junglers are now giving blues very early to their AP mids and generally each game there is only one major candidate for blue buff, (the AP mids.) This eliminates the need for CDR blues. Scaling AP runes keeps are damage going a bit stronger as the game progresses. Quints are flat AP for the early game power they provide. They will make your spells hurt that much more and could turn a close early game exchange in your favor.
Masteries: 9/0/21 (If you can't figure this out yourself please stop reading my guide)
Summoner Spells: Flash/Ignite
Flash is staple on almost every hero. It has too much utility to forgo. On a character like Annie, especially, who is all about burst damage, Flash is the most valuable summoner spell in getting us into and/or out of battles quickly and safely. Ignite syncs well with Annie's naturally high burst, making us that much more potent. It's heal debuff is also valuable.
3. Skill Order
- Disintegrate (Q)
- Incinerate (W)
- Molten Shield (E)
- Summon: Tibbers (R)
- Summon: Tibbers
- Molten Shield
- Molten Shield
- Summon: Tibbers
- Molten Shield
- Molten Shield
The first point in Q allows us to be very effective farmers right off the bat. Some of you may argue that a W stun charged at the fountain at level one is more useful for zoning but you forgot to take your Vicadin. Any competent opponent will understand that you only have one spell at level 1. If you pressure too hard and push past your creep line, they will just take the stun and eliminate any zone control you previously had. First point into Q allows for safer harass as well as infinitely better farming.
According to our mission statement, we need to apply the most damage to the most enemies. That being said, maxing W first is the best option. Some people will pretend to be smart and use theorycrafting to say Q's lower cooldown and comparable damage actually make it the best spell to max first. Don't listen to them, they failed grade school. We will max W to be able to burst a bit harder and hit multiple enemies at once, among other reasons which will be covered in the "Advanced Techniques" section.
At level 4, we take a point in E to be able to cycle through stun counters more quickly. This is invaluable in a gank or when escaping from one as we will see later.
4. Item Build
- Doran's Shield
- Sorcerer's Shoes
- Rod of Ages
- Zhonya's Ring + Permanent Elixir of Brilliance
- Void Staff
- Abyssal Scepter
- Banshee's Veil
- Guardian Angel
According to our laning mission statement, we need to be in complete dominance of our lane. Sometimes this is unrealistic as a good enemy Katarina or Pantheon will be able to out-zone us; however, the Doran's Shield start gives us the best chance at controlling our enemies. Some of you may find it weird to take Doran's shield on a caster but with the recent nerf to Doran's items it's necessary to do so. Early game regeneration (via potions or healing spells) is just too valuable and since Annie can't heal herself, she's forced to take the Doran's shield. Against some opponents you might win taking Doran's Ring, but if you want to be 100% sure that you can hold your lane no problem take the shield. Mana crystal + 2 HP potions is also a viable option. It let's us get a quicker catalyst as well as giving that earl regen. However, keep in mind that it limits your ability to pick early level fights because of the decrease in your starting HP. Next up, we rush the Sorcerer's Shoes. The magic pen it provides in conjunction with your masteries and runes should be bringing enemies without any extra MR down to 0. The +2 move speed early in the game gives us a huge advantage over most enemies as well since it's not uncommon to see people going boots 1 + mid-tier item these days. The next best item to get is a Rod of Ages. I used to get a Mejai’s but I’ve recently been turned off to it. If you are able to get kills and snowball, the gold and level advantage from that alone should be winning the game for you if you keep up the good work. You don’t need to have “extra” snowballing. Also, Mejai’s gives very poor initial AP for its cost so it actually hurts your snowball ability in the early phases. A quick catalyst will allow you to stay out in the battlefield longer, farming up more gold and kills and pushing towers, while at the same time beefing you up from potential ganks. If you can’t afford the catalyst in one go you might just want to settle for the blasting wand instead and come back for the catalyst. You’ll notice that around the time you buy catalyst first, back row creeps become immune to 1-shot W’s. The blasting wand tips it back in your favor for that easy farm. After your RoA, most of the time we will be going for the Zhonya’s. It has an incredibly useful active and provides an awesome chunk of AP. If you feel like you’re the first target of every team fight and that the enemies won’t even look at your 300 HP Soraka until you’ve died, you might want to consider throwing on another RoA instead of the Zhonya’s. With two RoA’s you’ll be pretty tanky and have acceptable AP. Either way, at this point you need to be popping Elixirs of Brilliance like happy pills. The cooldown reduction and AP it gives are a great deal for the price. The last item to buy depends on the enemy team comp and item choices. It’s pretty self explanatory. Void staff is to counter a tanky team and/or enemies piling on the MR. Abyssal scepter is great on you if the enemy has some heavy casters and/or your team does as well. Banshee’s veil is a must if the CC is just off the charts. A fiddlesticks pretty much warrants Banshee’s veil every game. Getting it against enemy Annie’s is also very effective at deterring them from comboing you as they will be unable to open with R stun. Other characters to watch for and consider a veil are, Blitzcrank (if you’re operating as Initiator,) Malphite, Veigar, Amumu, and AP Sion just to name a few. Lastly, GA just provides some all around excellent armor/MR and let’s you function as an initiator even better.
Note: Always build for what you’re doing, (Hurr?) If you’re dying, you buy survivability and die better, if you're killing, you buy AP and MPen and kill better. Don’t think you’re hot **** and buy a soulstealer or Zhonyas if you’re 1-9. Likewise, there’s no need to get a Banshee’s Veil instead of a Void Staff if you’re 6-0.
I’m getting tired of repeating it, but basically our mission statement says we need to own, and this section will show you how to do that.
Simply put, be aggressive. Annie is an incredibly strong lv. 1 champion. You will need to be farming with Q and harassing with your auto-attack. 625 range is HUGE, longest in the game bar Tristana after her passive kicks in. Don’t be afraid of minion aggro, throw an auto-attack and back off immediately after and you can avoid most aggro. Keep up the harass while you last hit with Q. If your enemy engages you, Q him as well but otherwise you want to only attack them with your auto. With your HP pot and Doran’s Ring, you should be able to farm up enough gold for Sorc shoes on your first trip back to base, and you should usually be outlasting your opponent. Pay attention to the minimap in case your jungler needs help, etc. There’s no point in saving a stun pre level 3 unless you want to zone chicken opponents out of exp. The mana you burn to hit your enemy with a lv 1 Q and W isn’t worth the damage you get from it most likely. Unless your lane opponent is pretty squishy, just keep farming up with Q. At level 3, you can start looking for Q/W stun combos. Open up with Q stun to safely get it off, (and get its cooldown running first), and follow up with a W, 1 auto-attack, and then back off. If you’re feeling uber pro, Q->auto-attack->W->auto-attack. You gotta be quick though and hit with the tip of the W hitbox. At level 6, you need to be looking for (Flash, if necessary)->R Stun->W->Q->Ignite->auto-attack for pretty much a 1HKO on most of the common solo mids, especially after some harass. If your opponent is lacking in escape mechanisms, don’t auto-attack. Instead follow them and get ready to Q->auto-attack for the kill in case your initial combo falls a bit short. Don’t forget to micro Tibbers, (alt+right click,) he has ADD sometimes and will stand in place once you stop attacking enemies.
Note: Sometimes you might accidentally switch to full-Tibbers control and be unable to move Annie. This happens when you left click on him and usually right after you summon him. (It still happens to me sometimes) Don't panic, just press the space bar and you'll automatically switch back to controlling Annie.
OK so after you try/succeed a first blood on your lane opponent, you’ll want to go grab your golem (or theirs if you’re think it’s safe) with Tibbers. You can get Tibbers to tank it for you if you stand far away from it first and send in Tibbers ahead of you. Once he has aggro, you can run in and help him.* Return to base after you have golem and buy your next items. You should take a couple HP pots your first couple trips back just to be safe. If there are any ganks available in the side lanes go for them. If not, go back to farming up mid. Dropping a ward at dragon on your way to bottom lane for a gank never hurt anyone either. Be a team player.
*Note: I've discovered that as of the most recent patch, Tibbers is no longer able to draw minion aggro even at max range. Creeps will try to reach you before being leashed at their max range and returning to camp. Not only that, but Tibbers can now "steal" jungle buffs from you if he gets the last hit on them so make sure to send him away in time if you use him to help you get one. **** you Tibbers, you're fired.
So when you guys start pushing as 5, you need to decide which of the two roles you will be providing in the upcoming fights. Always be on the lookout for opportune Tibbers drops. If an Ashe or Ezreal is getting too ahead of their group to drop some harass, it might be wise to R-Stun->combo them (even if you have to blow your flash) for an instant 4v5. Be wary of healers and savers though. You shouldn’t be doing this if they have a Soraka or Kayle or something. Another case in which you could initiate is if a clump of people are just asking for it. If their 5 is huddling up like a football team you need to be all over that with an R Stun->combo even if it means burning your flash and getting killed after they recover. (Who knows? You may even live if your team is quick on the draw and comes to your rescue fast enough) R + W on multiple enemies is just too brutal and you give your team an easy time cleaning up the team fight and pushing towers/getting baron.
If you are a follow-up, however, you need to always stay behind your tank/initiator. (You can pretty much tell right from the first team fight if you are going to be a follow-up by how bad the enemy team tries to kill you.) Once the battle starts, you need to be singling out the main threat. This will usually be another follow-up character such as Fiddle or Twitch. It could also be a Zilean or Kayle. Force them to either ult themselves or ult a teammate prematurely. Either way, you eliminate the majority of their contribution to the team fight. As a follow-up, your main focus is usually 1HKOing squishy targets, however, if you have other, reliable damage-dealers on your team (aka farmed carries), you may want to go for quantity and not quality with the intent of stunning as many people as you can. Use your judgment and reflect on what works and what doesn’t and you’ll know what to do in time.
6. Advanced Techniques
Oh hi so you’re ready to learn uber skillz? K. Pay attention.
1. No vision casting:
W and R don’t need a target. Get a good feel for their respective cast ranges and learn how to hit your enemies with them even when you can’t see them.
Ex .1: Entering top lane for a gank and the enemies disappear into the brush? Pretty good strategy right? They’ll stay there and wait for you to come close enough, Taric will throw down his stun, and then they’ll both flash out. Haha, that’s cute. Drop your Tibbers into the brush like you have maphacks, type “/j” real quick, and then proceed to W, Q, Ignite, auto-attack and/or Q-chase for the kill. Remember, once Tibbers is in the brush, you gain vision inside of it.
Ex. 2: Chasing an enemy through the jungle after you comboed them. They are juusssttt about dead but need just a hundred or more damage for the kill. You’re about to drop your Q for the last hit when they walk up the ramp leading to the river and around the corner and you lose sight of them. Instead of flaming them about how lucky they got in all chat or even wasting your flash to jump the ramp, simply lead them with a W across the ramp for the kill, yay! Always be mindful of where and how your enemies are moving and you will get so many more kills and die less too (which leads me to uber pro Ex. 3)
Ex. 3: What’s a Shaco? So you’re laning against a Shaco, perhaps each of you is holding the lane for your teammates to get back. He’s got fort pot, and you’ve already dropped Tibbers to try and kill him but he cleansed out of the ensuing combo. He’s low on HP and you’re low on mana, maybe only enough for one W cast, (and he knows this.) What does he do when you push the lane too hard? He deceives in for the kill which he would get 90% of the time against any regular old Annie. We, however, are constantly aware of what our enemies might be trying. We have kept Tibbers close by and saved our stun counter. As soon as he deceives, we drop a W into thin air in front of us and micro Tibbers to stand in front of us right on top of the invisi-stunned Shaco. W takes him to barely alive (get it? Bear-ly? Haha) and Tibbers burns away what’s left for him. GG come back soon. (Actually did this once, without the stun up though. I lived with like 100 HP and the Shaco typed “…”)
No vision casting is also another benefit of maxing W instead of Q first.
2. Microing Tibbers
As we discussed earlier, Tibbers can tank neutral creeps for you if you stay sufficiently out of range when he first damages them. There are other great ways to micro him too. Probably the most simple “micro” is always opening up with R stun. Most people open up with Q because they are afraid of missing R. Get over it. If you miss, so what, you’ll do better next time. Always be opening up with R stun for a gank and you will do at least 200 more damage on your combo from the burn and auto-attack he provides. Aside from that, you need to constantly be aware of microing Tibbers in teamfights. Using him as a meatshield to avoid skill shots could save you and your teammates from lots of unnecessary damage. Also, during teamfights, if you find yourself nearly dead after escaping, don’t port back to base!! Stay a safe distance from the fight and micro Tibbers to help your teammates! I’ve actually gotten several kills and lots of assists from microing Tibbers after escaping from a death. Don’t underestimate the damage he is capable of doing. Lastly, Tibbers has base 325 move speed. This means he out-speeds almost every champion in the game without any buffs. Even if you know your combo might fall short of killing someone, his ability to chase and burn off 80 HP a second could net you some extra and unsuspected kills early game.
3. Baiting Cleanse
Cleanse pretty much ruins our day. It gets people out of R Stun before we can hit them with anything else as well as overriding ignite. The solution? Bait cleanse with Q->W combos. At around lv 5, Q->W->auto-attack combos will be doing some serious hurt. If you open with Q, opponents will know that the next thing coming is the much harder-hitting W. Do it this way and attempt to bait the cleanse. They’ll think they did the right thing and avoided 250+ damage. They actually just secured their own deaths. Once we hit level 6, we can R stun->combo them and drop our ignite without fear of it being cleansed. Remember, NEVER bait cleanse with an ignite. The cleanse cooldown is the same as ignite’s and if they have the mastery for it, it will be quicker than ignite’s cooldown, even with your 21 utility spec.
4. Advanced Stun Cycling
This section is more mathematical than any of the other parts in this guide so you should be able to logic it out for yourself. But, basically, it applies to ganks and teamfights. When you’re going to gank, NEVER finish your stun cycle with an E just prior to going in for the gank. The E cooldown is enormous and you’ll lose out on a cycle for the gank most likely. Instead, either finish charging before you reach the gank, or finish with a W in thin air. I know it’s a lot of mana but being able to stun cycle is more important. Remember that the stunning spell you cast counts towards the next cycle. So if you open up with R Stun->W->Q, you’re already at Pyromania x3 for the next cycle. Now you can hit E, be at Pyromania x4, hit Q when it cools down (faster than W), and hit W for your second stun just a mere 5-8 seconds later (depending on how much CDR you have.)
As a second example, let’s say you’re in an epic teamfight and have blown a ton of mana but it’s still raging on. You have enough to cast 1 Q, but unfortunately your stun counter is at 4 and shield has 20s left to cooldown. Your teammate is getting beaten on or maybe an enemy is escaping. Launch Q anyways and base? Maybe, but first, are there any creeps around? Last hit one of them with Q! Get the refund back on your mana and 3s later you can drop that stun before you bail, (and of course by bail I mean retreat while microing Tibbers from a safe distance )
Those are pretty much the 4 main things. There are other tiny things you might pick up on after multiple games, (ex. If your main target has Banshee’s Veil, keep stun counter at 4, hit them with Q, then Stun with R->W.) etc. Also, I thought I'd just remind everyone that E provides respectable MR and armor. Just killed a Karthus and got 240 HP left? Hit shield and you just saved yourself a death.
7. Countering Other Solomids:
I'll link explanations of how to go against other solomids here whenever I write one.I don't plan on doing many of them, just a few of the harder ones.
Vlad and Mordekaiser
That’s about it. I'm playing for a bit over the summer only. I'll try to update the guide with tips against tough solomids when I can and keep it up to date. If you have questions, please ask. Good luck!