LoL Aphelios guide: How to play and build the Lunari marksman, Part 1

Published: 19:23, 01 December 2019
Updated: 09:16, 02 December 2019
Riot Games
League of Legends - Aphelios
League of Legends - Aphelios

Riot Games are about to drop a marksman equivalent of a Swiss army knife on us in League of Legends patch 9.24 so we put together a guide that will help you understand Aphelios, the champion that requires the most game knowledge to date.

Aphelios' difficulty mostly comes from the fact that you have to memorise a mix of five champion kits all thrown into one. Out of those five, you will then be given access to two of them at the same time. Overall, it is a lot of champion knowledge that will present the main challenge in mastering Aphelios as he is not mechanically demanding.

Due to the sheer size of the guide, we had to split it in two parts. This part covers the breakdowns of Aphelios' weapons, levelling essentials and abilities. covers items, tips on playing Aphelios through laning phase, team fights, suggested weapon combos and champion synergies.

The weapons

Aphelios' kit consists of five weapons - Calibrum, Severum, Gravitum, Infernum and Crescendum. Each of them have unique traits that will be useful in various situations. We will also give these weapons alternate name below, so you can memorise them easier.

Calibrum is the rifle. While this weapon is in Aphelios' arms, he will mimic Caitlyn's behaviour. It boosts his attack range to 650 and generally serves for poking but it can have a surprisingly high burst as well.

Severum is Bloodthirster, conveniently placed in Aphelios' kit. It is amazing for kiting, sustain and taking objectives.

Gravitum is the Frozen Mallet. You can kite for days with this thing equipped. Or at least until you run out of ammo.

Infernum is Flamethrower/ Titanic Hydra. It deals splash damage on all auto attacks and can be activated for higher splash damage. Absolutely devastating in team fights, especially in Baron and Dragon pits.

Crescendum is the duelist/Heimerdinger turret weapon. This one is unique and can be extremely powerful when the enemy team dives you. The game tells you attack speed does not increase this weapon's attack frequency but it does indirectly. Crescendum gets auto-attack reset when the chakrams come back to Aphelios and AS increases the flight speed of these gizmos. 

Levelling essentials

Aphelios essentially has two passive abilities, one semi-active and only two are active, but their function varies with each weapon.

The active first ability, bound to Q, will become available at level 2 while the other active, bound to R, will become available at level 6. You do not level these abilities in any form, they automatically become available and upgrade themselves at appointed levels.

The ultimate levels up at 11 and 16 while Q's active part levels up at 3, 5, 7 and 9. This means all your basic ability will reach its full potential at level 9 for all of the weapons. On the other hand, the passive part of some weapons will keep getting stronger all the way up to 18. In other words, you will get a power spike at level 9 which will translate into being ready for the mid-game sooner than other marksmen.

Instead of levelling abilities, you are levelling attributes with Aphelios. You can get up to 24 attack damage, 36 per cent attack speed and 18 per cent armour penetration. Depending on what you are building, you can level these in different ways but you will always max them all out at level 18. 

That armour penetration stacks additively with other sources so having Lord Dominik's Regards will result in 53 armour penetration. It is either great for taking down tanks if you build traditional ADC items or great for one-shotting squishies if you go down the Lethality road.

Overall, prioritising attack speed into armour penetration yields the best results. Levelling AD is not bad, it's just that the other two are better since they will get you through mid and into late game sooner. In the Lethality build described below, prioritise armour penetration into attack damage.

Riot Games League of Legends - Aphelios League of Legends - Aphelios

Ability breakdown

Each of Aphelios' weapons has 50 ammo before it has to go to the back of the queue. Auto attacks cost one ammo while Q ability costs 10 ammo, on top of the mana cost.

Using the Q ability for one weapon does not affect the cooldown of it on the off-hand weapon. In short, you can use Q, switch weapons and use Q again.

Instead of listing the abilities the old fashioned way, we sorted them under their respective weapons as it's easier to memorise that way instead of reading one ability for Calibrum, then Severum, etc. Additionally, the first portion of the ultimate does not change which is why we will list it first.

Moonlight Vigil, the ultimate

Aphelios shoots a semi-skill shot orb that will lock onto a nearby enemy but can still miss prior to the lock. It will deal some AoE damage that is decent but not exactly game-changing. It is the additional effects from the weapons that make it awesome.

  • Calibrum (Rifle) is fantastic for poking and keeping at a safe distance in team fights as it gives you the same range Caitlyn has. This is valuable since Aphelios doesn't have much mobility and is usually easy prey for assassins. Use this gun whenever you prefer safer gameplay.
    • Moonshot (Q) - Fires a projectile in a straight line, dealing decent damage. It will stop on first enemy hit, marking them. The mark can then be consumed to hit the target once again, at any range.
      • This ability complements that Caitlyn playstyle that Calibrum emphasises. You can use it for additional poke like Piltover Peacemaker but you have to aim around minions because they can catch the shot as well. 
      • The auto-attack that consumes the mark deals roughly half the damage of a regular auto-attack if it consumed only one mark. 
      • The mark will always be consumed by the other active weapon. Therefore, you can land a long-range slow with Gravitum (Frozen Mallet) or AoE with Infernum (Flamethrower)
      • Moonshot can be used for burst as well. Auto-attack -> Moonshot -> Auto-attack can take out half of an enemy AD carry's health in early game but it would be advised to just go for autos instead in late game.
      • The skill shot has a longer range than auto attacks so you can use it to reach a target that's running away.
      • Mark consuming auto attack is not counted as a projectile and can bypass Yasuo or Braum walls
    • Moonlight Vigil (R) - If Calibrum is equipped when casting the ulti, all enemies hit by the AoE damage will be marked. You can then auto attack one of them from any range, with the other equipped weapon.
      • Calibrum is the most reliable team fight weapon to use ulti with, next to Infernum (Flamethrower) as it deals the most precision damage
      • When your Calibrum is equipped together with Infernum, the ultimate and auto-attack can decimate an entire team in Baron or Dragon pit. Calibrum+Infernum deals a lot of AoE damage but it will also make sure that your unlimited range auto-attack target gets the grey screen. That is, if you are aiming at something that's not a tank.
      • Hitting three or more targets all but guarantees a one-shot kill on a squishy when consuming the marks.

  • Severum (Bloodthirster) is the weapon with innate lifesteal. Combined with Conqueror and the lifesteal mastery, it will cover all your sustenance needs, saving you the money you would normally spend on BT, Blade of the Ruined King or something along those lines. It is great in team fights when you are trying to stay alive as it's the only weapon that offers some mobility and higher survivability in one package. The weapon also grants a shield if you heal to more than max HP.
    • Onslaught (Q) - causes Aphelios to attack quickly for 1.75 seconds, on his own. It speeds you up by at least 20 per cent (scales with AP) and you can move freely while he is shooting projectiles that alternate in function between Severum and the other equipped weapon.
      • You don't pick the target of Aphelios' Onslaught attacks. He will attack the nearest thing and prioritise champions
      • This ability can , just make sure no other targets are in the vicinity
      • If you are running away from bruisers, it will be helpful if you have Gravitum as the offhand weapon. That way you will deal massive damage, heal up and keep the enemies slowed down, ready to be rooted after you switch to Grav.
      • Onslaught is probably the fastest way in the entire game to get 10 stacks of Conqueror, which will then continue healing you. However, it doesn't stack Guinsoo's Rageblade
    • Moonlight Vigil (R) - With Severum equipped, the ulti will simply heal you a flat amount after the orb hits. The amount will be increased for each additional champion struck by AoE
      • Useful when trying to survive a Zed or pesky bruisers
      • Having good positioning will eliminate the need for Severum ultis. It's better to focus on dealing more damage with Calibrum or Infernum amplifications

  • Gravitum (Frozen Mallet) is exactly what the words in the bracket mean. Each auto-attack slows enemies by 30 per cent and marks them. It is highly useful when trying to escape high-speed bruisers like Skarner or Hecarim or chasing down helpless targets. However, this weapon suffers from low damage output.
    • Binding Eclipse (Q) - Consumes the marks from auto-attacks to do some damage and root targets for one second.
      • Pairing this weapon with Runaan's Hurricane can mark up to three targets with a single auto-attack, meaning you can slow down an entire pain train and then root them by popping Q
      • Both the weapon and the Q ability are self-explanatory. You use them to turn into Ashe for additional kiting potential.
      • It has the lowest damage output of all weapons so use it only if there is no other way to survive
    • Moonlight Vigil (R) - AoE damage also slows all targets by 99 per cent.
      • This is only useful for setting a kill up for a teammate
      • Occasions where you, a marksman, are setting a kill up for a teammate should be rare and so should be such usage of the ulti
      • Similarly, you can use it to stop a chasing pack in its tracks. Again, this should be a rare occasion and there are better ways to use Moonlight Vigil

  • Infernum (Flamethrower) has the biggest DPS potential of all weapons in a team fight. All auto attacks will cleave as if you had Titanic Hydra equipped. After level 9, the cleave will do the same damage as your auto attacks. One of the best ways to successfully play Aphelios is to make sure you have Infernum ready for team fights. Wave clearing with this weapon is good but the damage will be reduced against minions. 
    • Duskwave (Q) - Shoots a cone of flame that damages and marks enemies. Marked enemies can be shot at from any range with your off-hand weapon.
      • Pairing this ability with off-hand shots from Severum can keep your health topped off while dishing out tons of damage
      • Pairing it with Crescendum (Chakram) can easily stack spectral chakrams that amplify the damage of Aphelios' auto attacks
      • You can use Duskwave, switch Infernum to off-hand and auto-attack again for AoE with no range limit
    • Moonlight Vigil (R) - After the orb lands, all affected targets will be hit by Infernum auto attacks that have circular splash damage instead of a cone.
      • Popping ulti with Infernum is one of the best choices for damage output. It is only surpassed by Calibrum ulti while Infernum is the off-hand weapon and you don't hit 4+ targets
      • Using this in Baron or Dragon pit or even as a followup to a good hard engage from the likes of Malphite or Sejuani can easily result in an ace

  • Crescendum (Chakram)is the quirkiest weapon in Aphelios' arsenal. Attack speed does not directly affect the rate of auto-attacking but increases projectile speed. Whenever a chakram returns, Aphelios can attack again. Therefore, it still helps dish out more damage. What's interesting here is that Aphelios will effectively attack faster the closer an enemy is. If you have trouble with a bruiser that's sticking on you - Phantom Dancer, Death's Dance and Crescendum can decimate them extremely fast while keeping you safe even at point-blank range.
    • Sentry (Q) - Creates a turret that lasts for 20 seconds. Lifespan is shortened to 4 seconds when it enters combat. Creating a new turret reduces the eldest one's life to 4 seconds so stacking them is a bit of a pain. These turrets benefit from Aphelios' attack speed and critical chance and damage.
      • If a turret (objective) starts shooting a resilient minion, be it a super or canon, popping a Sentry can wear that turret down quickly
      • You can pop two in a brush if you like that kind of ambushes
      • Turret attacks are based on off-hand weapons.
        • Gravitum in off-hand can create an inescapable kill zone that will force a kill, flash or Zhonya
        • Pairing with Severum creates life-stealing turrets. Subsequently switching the weapon and using Onslaught does massive amounts of damage while healing tons of health
        • Infernum Sentries have the highest AoE potential
    • Moonlight Vigil (R) - At least three spectral chakrams will appear after orb detonation.
      • Use this version of the ulti if you prefer amplified auto attacks instead of upfront damage from Calibrum or Infernum
      • The extreme auto-attack speed at point-blank range with the chakram amplification can melt tanks
      • With enough spectral chakrams, it's possible to out-damage Draven, mano-a-mano
      • Two chakram-empowered autos usually kill squishies outright
      • Spectral chakrams activate only on Crescendum auto attacks
    • Additional Crescendum notes:
      • With 20 spectral chakrams, 53 per cent armour penetration, 416 attack damage a single auto-attack crits for ~2,200 damage on a target with 100 armour. Roughly 1650 damage on 200 armour and ~1400 damage on 300 armour
      • Moonlight Vigil adds 3 spectral chakrams plus one for each champion hit
      • Onslaught (Q from Severum) adds 6 chakrams over the duration
      • Duskwave (Infernum Q) adds one chakram for each target hit. Large enough minion wave can max out chakrams in on Duskwave

continues with items, full builds, laning phase, team fights, weapon combos for team fights and champion synergies.

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