Since the opening of Season 3 League of Legends has been ruled by bruisers. Champs who used to be banished to the top of Summoner’s Rift or forced to wander the jungle looking for creeps are now given free reign and are played in nearly every position at every skill level. Buffs to defensive items and the addition of new items has only added to the popularity, and caused a stampede of tanky champs to be played on a regular basis.
This new world needs a hero. One who can withstand the barrage of his opponents and rain down terror, a champ who strikes fear into the hearts of those he lanes against, someone who can lead the charge into an enemy team and strike fear into their hearts…A truly outrageous hero.
Disclaimer, this is clearly a cheese strat. I am in no way under the impression that Taric is a better top lane than other, more traditional, bruisers. Other than the element of surprise and the fact that your enemy might ease up thinking you have no idea how to play, Taric does actually bring some interesting advantages to lane.
Let’s start at the very beginning of the game. Taric has an immediate advantage early game as he has the third highest starting base health (beat only by Amumu and Gangplank). Taric also has the highest level 1 base damage of all champions in the League (according to LoL’s wiki). So from the get go the Gem Knight is bringing an advantage to lane.
Taric can sustain better in lane than nearly any other champion. His passive, Gemcraft, replenishes mana with each basic attack equal to 7.5% the damage dealt. Running out of mana is easy if spamming spells while playing as a support, but with the ability to attack minions to your heart’s content mana is no longer an issue. Also, Taric has Imbue to heal himself back up from harassment damage taken. Imbue’s cooldown is also reduced per basic attack, meaning that as long as you are laning properly (harassing and farming while taking as little damage as possible) you will never run out of mana or be poked down.
Another reason top lane Taric works: You become tanky passively. Anyone who has played Taric knows that you only need 1 point in Dazzle (stun), and you only need as many in Imbue (heal) as necessary to keep yourself sustained. The rest of your points get poured into Shatter which gives you passive armor. Having Shatter at a mere level 3 (easy to get in the laning phase before the real action starts) gives you an extra 20 armor. That is more than Cloth Armor, which means you have gotten a 300+ gold’s worth of item stats for free. Plus, Shatter provides armor bonuses in an aura, increasing your ability to fight as a team or to tank up during a gank.
The last big reason I love playing Taric top is that his skill set makes him allows him to control the lane early game. With his passive and heal to sustain, Taric gains the ability to dictate when he and his lane opponent recall. If his opponent recalls early, Shatter gives him the power to push the lane quickly denying experience from his foe. Dazzle can be used to prevent the enemy from killing large cannon creeps, set up easy ganks, and escape any attack/gank from the opposing team. Also, if you have the Armor of the Fifth Age skin, the shiny pink will mock your enemies as you roll over them in lane.
Now we get to the obvious down side, the bane of battle Taric, the reason he is still considered full-on cheese instead of legit. You won lane, you’ve roamed successfully, and now you have to make yourself useful and hunt down and 1v1 enemy carries during team fights. With the correct build soloing a non-fed carry is surprisingly easy, but with the enemies peeling to protect them you usually end up throwing yourself to the lions. I have found that I am most successful in team fights if I build with a tanky focus. By the end of laning I usually have boots, a Phage, and a Wit’s End. Those items, along with your upgraded Shatter, give you a good balance of armor, magic resist, attack speed, damage, and health. Combine that with your hard CC, Phage procs, and the ability to heal yourself and you can hold your own in the mid game.
Obviously, Taric falls off into the game and your team would benefit more from having a traditional top laner, but, like I said, this is a strategy created for fun. It just so happens that it is also very successful. I have enjoyed playing Taric top, spamming my taunt, and winning lane nearly every game. Honestly, how could Taric possibly lose? He is, after all, truly, truly, truly outrageous!
Is Taric worth the hassle after the new changes?