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‘Just Beginning’ to ‘Vainglorious’: Explaining Items Part 3: Defensive Items

‘Just Beginning’ to ‘Vainglorious’: Explaining Items Part 3: Defensive Items

  • Vainglory
  • |
  • Oct 27, 2016


Are you new to Vainglory? Or, are you perhaps struggling to keep up with your allies and enemies? This series will bring new players up to speed and help those 0-10 players break the slump and start consistently succeeding. Here, we’re going to explain defensive and utility items. We’ve already covered red (weapon) and blue (crystal) items in earlier articles, which we recommend players read first.

Have you ever been frustrated by an enemy SAW riddling you with bullets? Or wondered how to detect an enemy Taka? Or maybe you’re flustered by an enemy Skye’s ability to flee from you? Ever wonder why, when you attack an enemy, it never seems to do enough damage — but when they attack you, you die nearly instantly? Then read on, dear reader, because you’re in the right place! Today we’re talking about defensive items. Defensive items, simply, are designed to help keep you alive by giving you more life and preventing damage.


The fourth tab in the Item Shop is dedicated to defensive items. There are three types of defensive items: Shield (which is yellow in color), armor (which is bronze) and health (which is green). While all three will keep you alive for longer, each focuses on something different.

Shield, meanwhile, is designed to counter blue (crystal) items. If your enemies are using their abilities to do damage to you, buying shield is always a good idea. In order to determine what kind of damage your enemy is doing, you can tap on the Scoreboard icon in the right corner of your screen. That will show you what items your enemies have purchased. If your enemy has a great deal of blue (crystal) items, then buying something like a Light Shield is exceptionally important. This is called “counterbuilding” and is a core concept of Vainglory.

Armor makes every point of health more effective. It’s a great counter to enemies who are using red (weapon) items. The best way to explain how armor works is to use an example: Let’s say you have 1000 health and are facing an enemy who has bought exclusively red (weapon) items. If you have 100 armor, it’s as if you have 2000 HP.

Simply put, armor and shield makes your base health/HP last longer.

Green items increase your base health. Buying green items is good against both weapon and crystal damage because it will take more hits to kill you. If an enemy hero’s basic attacks do 50 damage and you have 300 health, you’ll die in six hits. But if you have 500 health, you’ll die in 10 hits. That extra health grants you extra time to defeat the enemy hero or flee — in both cases, keeping you alive for longer.



As we’ve discussed in previous articles, you should think of purchasing items as purchasing ingredients; you want to have a powerful Tier III item in mind and then see what you need to buy first in order to get it. So, if you want to purchase that Fountain of Renewal — a great item to help revive the health of your team — you’ll first need to purchase a bunch of lesser items including an Oakheart and a Lifespring. Occasionally, you’ll have so much gold that you can buy both the ingredients and the final powerful item at once, but that’s probably an indication that you should have spent your gold a while ago! Better to increase your power in small steps than be weak for a long time and then have a massive power spike.

When you first start a game of Vainglory, you’ll start out with just enough gold to buy an Oakheart. An Oakheart is a Tier I item, meaning you can get it immediately without purchasing anything else. You’ll also notice that it’s an ingredient for several Tier III defense items in the game. After purchasing it, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade it to a Tier II item if you have sufficient gold. In order to get more gold, you’ll need to kill minions, monsters and enemy heroes. The great thing about buying any lower-tiered item is that you’ll get the next tiered item in that progression at a discount — so there’s no downside in buying that Oakheart while you save up for that Tier II Dragonheart or Lifespring. Again, it’s always good idea to spend your gold.

So let’s say you’ve bought that Dragonheart. You now have 400 + health. That means you’re that much harder to kill AND if you’re roam/support, your healing abilities are that much more effective. We’ll talk more about who should be purchasing green items below.


All heroes benefit from defensive items. Since there are three different types of defensive items, it is hard to generalize which heroes should purchase which. That said, roam heroes such as Lyra, Phinn, Adagio and Ardan benefit from green (health) items. As a roam hero, you want to buy items that help the team such as Crucible and Fountain of Renewal. It’s best to try to avoid things that are “selfish” that only keep you alive, such as Aegis.

Why do roam heroes purchase so many defensive items? Often, roam heroes like Lyra and Adagio have healing abilities that can bring their allies back from the brink of death. These healing abilities are based on their own life total. Essentially, by purchasing green items, they are not only augmenting their own health, but their allies’ as well.

Non-roam heroes also benefit from defense items, of course. How many defensive items you purchase, and which ones, largely depends on two factors: your opponents and your individual hero. If you’re a ranged hero, you might want to buy an item or two that is defensive oriented with at least one being a direct counter to your opponent’s builds. If you’re a melee, then you’re more likely to take damage and therefore should pick up two to three defensive items. Roam, in contrast, is usually buying five to six defensive items.


fountain-of-renewalFountain of Renewal: Currently, Fountain of Renewal is the most important item for team defense and is usually purchased first by nearly every roam hero. It grants a team-wide heal upon activation. The lower your team’s health, the more they’ll be healed. The great thing about Fountain of Renewal is that there is never a point in the game where they don’t need more health.

crucibleCrucible: Crucible is fantastic at blocking ultimates or large stuns. When Adagio is about to line up his ultimate or Celeste is about to unleash a core collapse or Joule is going for her rocket jump, Crucible can save the day. Tired of getting hooked by Phinn? Quick reflexes on Crucible is your answer.

atlas-pauldronAtlas Pauldron: Atlas Pauldron is used to reduce the attack speed of the enemy damage-dealer or harasser. Against an enemy Krul equipped with a Breaking Point? Then, Atlas Pauldron is the best item to counter-build. As soon as you see that an enemy has built a Breaking Point, build an Atlas Pauldron ASAP. But be aware that Pauldron is difficult to use — requiring you to activate it when virtually face-to-face with the enemy. While it counters anyone with high attack speed, you have to get close enough to use it. So usually only warriors, assassins and roam heroes will buy it.

AegisAegis: Aegis gives the player the highest amount of shield in one item. It also grants the player a Reflex Block to protect themselves from crowd control attacks.


metal-jacketMetal Jacket: Metal Jacket offers the highest amount of armor in one item and is used primarily to protect you from weapon damage. Keep dying to weapon damage? Buy a Metal Jacket or two. If remembering (or having the proper reflexes) to trigger Atlas Pauldron at the right time is too much, then this is the item to buy instead.


Everyone can buy defensive items, just remember the following:

  • Armor counters weapon
  • Shield counter crystal
  • Health makes you live longer but is especially important for roam characters
  • Roam heroes should buy a mixture of health, shield, armor and utility items
  • Fountain of Renewal, Crucible are high-priority purchases for the roam hero.
    Tier III defensive items all counter some enemy strategy. Experiment to see which ones work best for you!

As informative as any guide can be, there is nothing better than hands-on experience. Play a game with bots to try out the different defensive items in real-time. Maybe you find success playing Ardan and focusing on building a ton of health to keep you and your teammates alive, or maybe you feel better buying shield to counter an enemy mage. The combinations are endless, and learning what works best for you is part of the fun!

Check back soon for another ‘Just Beginning’ to ‘Vainglorious’ guide to playing Vainglory.