I recently played a warm-up coop match as AD carry with a karthus that stacked 6 archangel staffs which made me think of this question:

At the current patch level (Darius) Assuming a basic ranged AD Champion with the following properties:

  • Level 18
  • Base Attack Damage 100
  • Base Attack Speed 1.00
  • Base Health 1500
  • Base Crit Chance 25%
  • 1 Item Slot will always be Boots (probably berserkers)
  • 1 Item Slot is reserved for defensive or utility items
  • Minion Stacks can be assumed maxed
  • Champion/Assist related Stacks can be assumed to be at 50% of maximum stacks

against a single level 18 target assumed at 5000 Health and 100 Armor.

What is the highest possible average DPS using any 5 items and including crits, armor penetration, etc. but ignoring any champion skills/passives and jungle buffs?

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    Not sure this is useful. Against 100 armour (Black Cleaver usually) you'd build differently to 300 armour (Last Whisper). If you ignore Armour+Reduction+Penetration, then you can calculate max DPS easily enough given you have an Attack Speed cap of 2.5 – gbn May 24 '12 at 16:39
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    This question won't be useful because the answer will not apply to very many situations in game - the matchup matters a lot. I recommend changing the question for a specific champion, or just ask for general AD carry advice. – Sadly Not May 27 '12 at 18:22
  • 2
    There is no point in asking or answering this question. It has no use for anyone since you will always have different opponents/teammates. – Adam Arold May 27 '12 at 20:22
  • Just to note that it's not possible to have base crit chance of 25%. All the champions have 0% base crit chance and even with full crit runes, it still won't reach 25%. – Jay May 30 '12 at 18:30
  • Wild tryndamere appears. – ChaosPointDK Jun 28 '12 at 13:38


You can expect to achieve a DPS of approximately ~524 against an opponent with 200 armor, including one survivability item that provides no DPS. The build is:

  • Berserk's Greaves
  • x2 Phantom Dancer (my preference)
  • Infinity Edge
  • Black Cleaver
  • Quicksilver Sash (my preference)

If you were against an opponent with 5000 hp and 100 armor it would take you approximately 6 seconds to kill since your DPS will be slightly higher (~862).

The 200 armor value is a pretty decent estimate for average armor, and you should actually swap the Black Cleaver for a Last Whisper when your opponent has >200 armor (see below). I will try to present more calculations but for now you should test this and tell me how it works. I apologize for any bad English, hope you can understand my train of thought.

For future reference, you should look at this source of damage comparison charts when trying to decide which items to pick.

If you want to maximize damage as an AD carry then Berserker's Greaves, Phantom Dancer, and Infinity Edge are necessary 99% of the time. They simply provide high stats and if you want to consider crits at all then Phantom Dancer and Infinity Edge provide the highest chances to crit without skimping out on other stats.

So that leaves only three item slots, one of which you would like to be defensive. Unfortunately for AD carries there are no great defensive items that also provide a damage boost like some AP items. The first item that comes to mind is Quicksilver Sash, because it removes all debuffs and crowd control from you which is essential for staying alive as an AD carry, especially given the number of ways for teams to perma-stun you during a teamfight. Another great item is Guardian Angel, not necessarily because it revives you (in most cases if you died once you'd probably die again given another chance) but because it provides a good boost in both armor and magic resist. Another consideration that helps maintain damage is Hexdrinker --> Maw of Malmortius, but it is only super effective against AP champions when you can maintain a relatively low health (PS. an AD carry is not good at doing this).

I don't consider lifesteal defensive because it rarely comes with armor and magic resist (only a few items provide both) and without armor/magic resist you really don't have a lot more effective health.

So you can choose whichever defensive item you want, and I will assume it doesn't increase your damage for simplicity. To consider your last two items, there are standard items to choose from.

The first pair to consider is Black Cleaver vs. Last Whisper. They are necessary to choose between because without armor penetration and the damage boost from these two items you simple won't hurt. The small exception is getting to full stacks on Bloodthirster or Sword of the Occult, but you should not count on that happening. People will stack armor against you and you won't be able to hurt them.

Despite what people say about Black Cleaver losing damage late game, Black Cleaver is better than Last Whisper until enemy champions have ~200 armor (source)! That is a significant amount of armor, and don't forget that:

  1. High importance targets tend to have under 200 armor, and you should focus these targets (i.e. enemy AD carry or AP carry, if you can safely engage them)
  2. Black Cleaver reduces their armor for the rest of your team as well, whereas Last Whisper does not

So depending on who you are making it your job to kill, if they have <200 armor (and will probably not stack more) use Black Cleaver, otherwise use Last Whisper.

Another possibility for ignoring armor is using Madrid's Bloodrazor, but because of its high cost and mediocre synergy with your first three items I consider it impractical for standard AD carry purposes. Don't get me wrong - there are situations when it is good. But I don't think your situation is one of them.

The last items to consider are only polish on the rest.

For Bloodthirster DPS, assuming max-stacks and you are already using Berserker's Greaves, Infinity Edge, Phantom Dancer, and Black Cleaver with 100 AD, 1.00 attack speed, and no base crit chance (assuming 25% base is extremely high!) you have:

  • 100% (base) + 25% (BG) + 30% (BC) + 55% (PD) = 210% attack speed
  • 25% (IE) + 30% (PD) = 55% crit chance with 250% crit damage (IE)
  • 100 (base) + 55 (BC) + 80 (IE) + 100 (B) = 335 AD

That's an effective DPS of 2.1 (AS) + (0.55 * 2.5 + 0.45 * 1) (expected crit bonus) * 335 AD ~= 1284. Factor in armor of 200 (a reasonable average value) - 45 from Black Cleaver means an effective DPS of ~503.

Now consider another Phantom Dancer:

  • 100% (base) + 25% (BG) + 30% (BC) + 55% (PD) + 55% (PD) = 250% attack speed (some loss due to attack speed cap, unfortunately)
  • 25% (IE) + 30% (PD) + 30% (PD) = 85% crit chance with 250% crit damage (IE)
  • 100 (base) + 55( BC) + 80 (IE) = 235 AD

That's an effective DPS of 2.5 (AS) + (0.85 * 2.5 + 0.15 * 1) (expected crit bonus) * 235 AD ~= 1337, which of course is more leet than 1284. Factoring in armor of 200 - 45 from Black Cleaver again means an effective DPS of ~524. That's marginally more than Bloodthirster, so consider other differences:

  1. Bloodthirster gives 20% lifesteal, and with its DPS that means ~101 health regen per second (your effective health for a teamfight lasting 8 seconds is only 800 more, or 400 with a 50% regen debuff on you)
  2. Phantom Dancer gives you an additional 12% movement speed, which is a very noticeable boost in kiting

So if you believe you will keep max stacks on your Bloodthirster and be able to constantly auto-attack (not terribly easy to do) without getting ignited, then take Bloodthirster. If kiting is possible, you definitely want the Phantom Dancer because you will not need an extra 800 effective health when you can simply stay away from all damage. It's up to you to decide which pick is more practical. If you assume Bloodthirster is at half-stacks, your effective DPS is ~473. Now that is a whole 50 DPS less than taking Phantom Dancer, so in that case I would say Phantom Dancer from a pure DPS perspective.

So the final build is:

  • Berserk's Greaves
  • x2 Phantom Dancer (my preference)
  • Infinity Edge
  • Black Cleaver
  • Quicksilver Sash (my preference)

Which is ~524 DPS against an opponent with 200 armor with your generic champion stats. I believe this is about as high as you can achieve with the base champion you described (minus the 25% crit chance which is far to high for a base, you would need a rune book dedicated to crits to do that when there are better rune books, see posts on SE). This doesn't consider rune books or champion, which honestly are extremely important and you should be calculating best builds on a champion-by-champion basis.

There is a lot more to consider than what I've talked about, but hopefully it points you in the right direction for how to do lots of damage as an AD. I didn't consider any goofy builds like 6 archangel's staffs because AD carries have to consider attack speed, AD, and crits being a form of sustained damage, which focusing hard in one tends to not work. Lots of AP carries are burst, so they only really care about AP and a little bit about cooldown reduction if they have short cooldowns like Cassiopeia or Karthus. That means they can focus on AP exclusively with some magic pen and be assured that they do high amounts of damage.

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  • Now that Season 3 is out this is all wrong, I will have to hit the books again :S – Sadly Not Dec 5 '12 at 7:02

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