Ardan has taken the Rise by storm, becoming a primary contender in the top lane. Equipped with an ensemble of mobility and damage, Ardan’s presence alone is enough to scare off foes. However, his one punch man dominance does not come into effect on its own. Let’s take a comprehensive look at how to play Ardan in the top lane.
Why play weapon Ardan?
Ardan’s B ability Blood for Blood is the reason to play weapon Ardan. Being a gap-closing basic attack with a respectable amount of base damage and a 40% damage boost on overdrive, weapon Ardan is notorious for providing the sweet, sweet satisfaction of one-shotting squishy heroes. Although weapon Ardan is mostly seen in his natural habitat of Blitz mode with a high-level Epic talent, weapon Ardan can provide surprisingly consistent and satisfying results in 5V5 when played correctly.
The Update 3.8 meta is heavily contributing to weapon Ardan’s current viability. Between the buff to Tension Bow, prevalence of squishy ranged bottom laners, and nerf to Slumbering Husk, weapon Ardan now finds bursting down enemies far easier. Previously, junglers would stick alongside their bottom laners a lot more, but now the declining popularity of laners clearing jungle together with the jungler makes it easier for Ardan to pick off unsuspecting bottom laners who are unaware of his high 1v1 potential.
Weapon Ardan can be played in top lane, jungle or bottom lane, but this guide will focus on top lane, as it is the most effective position for him. Playing weapon Ardan in top lane instead of jungle or bottom lane provides a high enough amount of gold in the current meta to carry without sacrificing the team’s need of a consistent damage dealer in bottom lane.
Players who are opportunistic and thrive by capitalising on mistakes will find weapon Ardan uniquely rewarding.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Strong early and mid game
- High base defenses and damage with Blood for Blood grant Ardan great 1v1 potential
- Very high burst damage and range with Blood for Blood melts squishy heroes and applies passive pressure through mere presence
- Strong power spikes to capitalise on and bounce back from being snowballed in top lane
- 1v1 potential and high basic attack damage make Ardan a successful split-pusher
- Strong jungle and wave clear speed, thus Ardan can solo dragons from mid game onwards
- Diverse (though situational) mobility options allow Ardan to get in and out of a fight with proper setup
- Low basic attack range leaves Ardan particularly vulnerable to kiting
- Weaker teamfight presence due to lower tankiness and survivability in the late game
- Weak utility options for a top laner
- Selfish itemization required to function properly
- Very vulnerable to crowd control (CC)
- Weak against tanky heroes, who can’t be bursted down easily
Heroic Perk: Julia’s Gift
Julia’s Gift is comprised of 3 smaller passives:
- Whenever Ardan takes damage, he heals for 0.8% of his missing health, but no more than 75% of the damage taken. 0.8% is very small and often barely noticeable, but it adds slightly to Ardan’s overall survivability. This heal becomes very useful when soloing lane minions or taking damage over many hits, such as from Skye’s Forward Barrage.
- Instead of energy, Ardan uses a yellow meter called Vengeance. This mechanic can be somewhat confusing. All you need to know is that Ardan will never run into energy problems.
- Because Ardan doesn’t need regular energy, 5% of bonus energy and 50% of bonus energy recharge are converted into crystal power. Though this is useful when building energy items, it has no implications on this weapon Ardan build.
Ardan dashes to protect an ally, granting them a 2 second barrier and burst of move speed. This also slows and damages nearby enemies. Using this ability on himself results in only half the barrier and speed boost. During the 2 second duration, any damage taken by the ally will reduce Blood for Blood’s cooldown by 1.2-6 seconds depending on the level of Vanguard. If self-cast, any damage taken by Ardan will reduce Blood for Blood’s cooldown by 0.6-3 seconds. On overdrive, casting Vanguard on an ally will reduce Blood for Blood’s cooldown by 7.2 seconds. The barrier scales up with 30% of Ardan’s bonus health.
Vanguard is a swiss army knife, but should be used in two main ways: Reducing Blood for Blood’s cooldown and getting Ardan or an ally out of trouble.
To maximise the cooldown reduction for Blood for Blood, Ardan should use Vanguard when Blood for Blood is down on an ally that is about to take multiple hits of damage. For example, casting Vanguard on himself when being targeted by a large minion wave or Forward Barrage can reset the cooldown on Blood for Blood in no time. This cooldown reset is key for surprising enemies that do not expect a second Blood for Blood. It becomes especially useful in the laning phase when using Blood for Blood on an enemy hero draws aggro from lane minions, which when used with Vanguard allows Ardan to burst down the enemy laner with another Blood for Blood.
Using Vanguard to save himself or an ally is fairly simple: the small burst of move speed allows Ardan or an ally to get out of a sticky situation, though the barrier itself is close to negligible on weapon Ardan. Because Ardan dashes to the ally Vanguard is used on, Vanguard can be used on a distant ally as a repositioning tool or to pass through walls such as the dragon pit. The small burst of move speed can also be used to dodge some abilities such as Lance’s Impale or Skye’s Forward Barrage.
Other uses for Vanguard include sticking to enemies for basic attacks, using the small damage burst to last-hit minions out of range, or simply using the speed boost outside of combat to allow Ardan or an ally to get somewhere quicker. Although Vanguard is a great tool, Ardan’s other abilities are more important. As such, Vanguard should not be overdriven or prioritised.
B: Blood for Blood
Ardan rushes forward and punches his target. Blood for Blood is a basic attack, gaining an additional 40% damage and 2 meters of range when overdriven. Basic attacks, critical strikes and abilities all help to reduce Blood for Blood’s cooldown. The yellow meter beneath Ardan’s health bar tracks Ardan’s Vengeance. This bar can also be used to track the cooldown on Blood for Blood, which can only be used when the bar is full. Below is a table summarising all the ways in which Blood for Blood’s cooldown can be reduced:
|Cooldown Reduction For Blood For Blood (seconds)|
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3||Level 4||Level 5|
|Ally Vanguard Damaged||1.2||2.4||3.6||4.8||6.0|
|Self Vanguard Damaged||0.6||1.2||1.8||2.4||3.0|
|Vanguard Cast on Ally||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||7.2|
Blood for Blood is weapon Ardan’s bread and butter damaging ability, as it has a high damage output and allows him to stick to his target. Blood for Blood also gives Ardan fairly good jungle and lane clearing speed, with the high burst damage and range making it useful for stealing jungle camps and dragons. As both Vanguard and Gauntlet as well as his basic attacks help to reduce Blood for Blood’s long 24 second cooldown, smart cooldown management on Blood for Blood is key to maximizing damage output for weapon Ardan, allowing him to have both burst and sustained damage. Ardan should try to initiate a fight with Blood for Blood in most scenarios in order to capitalise on the cooldown reduction from his other abilities and basic attacks. Due to the huge damage increase when overdriven, Blood for Blood grants Ardan a significant power spike at level 8, which can be accentuated by purchasing Tension Bow.
Although Blood for Blood is a great damaging ability, it also has uses as an escape tool. Blood for Blood can be used to cross over walls when a visible enemy or jungle camp is on the other side and is especially useful with the additional range when overdriven, which allows Ardan to pass through even more walls such as the dragon pit. Blood for Blood can also be used in the direction Ardan is fleeing towards as an escape tool.
Ardan leaps to the target location and projects a circular perimeter around him. Enemy heroes who touch or cross the perimeter are stunned and take crystal damage. Using Gauntlet resets the cooldown on Blood for Blood and the perimeter is destroyed when Ardan leaves.
Gauntlet is a very impactful ability with a long cooldown of 130s at level 1 and 110s at level 3. Due to its long cooldown, Gauntlet should only be used to secure a kill or escape, or in a teamfight. Gauntlet is a great kill-securer due to the long range of the leap, the inability for the target to leave the perimeter, and the cooldown reset on Blood for Blood. As an escape tool, it allows Ardan to jump over walls and the perimeter acts as a good deterrent. Gauntlet can be used to its greatest potential in teamfights, where Ardan should aim to separate key targets from the rest of the enemy team, or to peel for an ally being dived on.
With sufficient practice and good intuition, Ardan players can also land Gauntlet such that multiple enemies are stunned by the initial projection of the perimeter or to interrupt abilities with long casting time such as Adagio’s ultimate. Gauntlet is more useful against some heroes than others. Ranged and mobile heroes, such as Skye and heroes with long dashes, such as Glaive and Kensei, will be significantly more restricted by the perimeter, whilst Gauntlet should not be used to solely separate heroes that can pass through the perimeter with ease, such as Blackfeather or Lyra.
Though a lot of this comes down to intuition, here are some basic ability combos to get used to:
Since Blood for Blood resets basic attack cooldown, this is the bread and butter combo for clearing lane and jungle minions.
Used to get within basic attack range of a hero, saving Blood for Blood as a finisher instead of an initiator. This is particularly useful in the early stages of the game when an enemy tries to save a Healing Flask for the last moment but can be suddenly bursted down by Blood for Blood instead.
The main combo for bursting down enemy heroes using two Blood for Blood activations. Using this in lane is especially effective, as Vanguard will reduce the Blood for Blood cooldown quicker thanks to lane minion aggro.
Used for bursting down an enemy hero that attempts to flee using a sprint or an ability after the initial Blood for Blood. Gauntlet will help catch up to said hero and allow for the reactivation of Blood for Blood.
Weapon Blade is an obvious pickup, as it will help build towards Sorrowblade quicker. Being a melee top laner that will find himself in a 2v1 situation from time to time, the investment on Book of Eulogies is very much worth the gold. The healing from killing minions is a key factor in winning 1v1 lane trades in the early game, and the lifesteal is a small but not insignificant factor in a 1v1 or 1v2 situation.
The jungle shop spawns at 5:00, and it is of the utmost importance for Ardan to plan ahead to be present at the jungle shop before the enemy bottom laner as the significant gap in power level after shopping will allow you to win a 1v1 or even 1v2 to pick up a kill. If this is not possible due to enemy pressure, stay under turret until the enemy leaves or rotate to the jungle shop from behind the top turret. Sorrowblade is the optimal pickup here and Ardan should have just enough gold to buy it if farming as best as possible. The huge increase in sheer weapon power makes Sorrowblade a good choice as it allows a level 3 Blood for Blood to deal huge damage and lets weapon Ardan surprise enemies unaware of his damage output. This is Ardan’s first powerspike. If farming poorly due to enemy pressure, Heavy Steel + Six Sins will still be sufficient to come out on top of many 1v1 situations and Sprint Boots is a good failsafe.
Ardan should build towards Tension Bow the next time he heads to the jungle shop. Tension Bow is crucial to the build, as the burst damage that scales with the previously built Sorrowblade and the armor pierce synergise very well with Blood for Blood, which applies the burst due to being a basic attack in itself. It also complements his Blood for Blood overdrive at level 8, making this Ardan’s primary power spike. This power spike can be further capitalised upon by picking up a Weapon Infusion, but only if Ardan is confident that he can make good use of it by participating in fights. Book of Eulogies should be sold to build towards a Blazing Salvo, as faster basic attacks help Ardan rack up DPS and accumulate Vengeance to get Blood for Blood up faster, unless selling the Book of Eulogies won’t be enough to buy the next item. Light Armor/Light Shield are good defensive choices when prolonged fights are expected, especially when up against more durable melee heroes that can survive the initial burst damage from Blood for Blood and retaliate. Depending on whether the first enemy turret has been destroyed and how strong the enemy is, it may be worth investing in Traveler Boots to roam around the top side of the map to clear jungle camps quicker, pick off enemies, or to get out of a sticky situation.
Depending on how well Ardan has been farming and dominating, he should be able to afford at least a Tornado Trigger by 14:00. Tornado Trigger is chosen over Tyrant’s Monocle, as it builds from Blazing Salvo and provides the much-needed attack speed. Depending on how much money Ardan has left, he can pick up a Minion’s Foot or Lucky Strike to build towards Tyrant’s Monocle. Building more crit on top of Tornado Trigger allows Ardan to pull of crits far more consistently and allows Blood for Blood to deal even more damage. However, those who find themselves in prolonged brawls or taking too much damage from the enemy bottom laner may want to pick up a tier 2 defensive item, keeping in mind that Kinetic Shield and Warmail build towards Slumbering Husk and that Coat of Plates builds towards Metal Jacket/Atlas Pauldron.
Depending on how many kills Ardan has, it’s possible to purchase Tyrant’s Monocle as early as 14:30. Ardan should complete Tyrant’s Monocle by 17:00 at the latest, as it provides a considerable damage boost and allows Ardan to crit on basic attacks and Blood for Blood much more consistently. Ardan should then prioritise a tier 2 defensive item, as he will need more survivability at this point in the game to live through and contribute to teamfights. After building the tier 2 defensive item, Ardan can buy a Weapon Infusion to maximise his damage output. However, not investing in a Weapon Infusion is advisable if Ardan is playing from behind; in which case he should save the gold for a tier 3 defensive item.
Ardan should prioritise a tier 3 defensive item for survivability in late game teamfights. Slumbering Husk will be the most common choice, as it provides a high amount of shield, a decent amount of armor, and a passive that facilitates weapon Ardan’s playstyle of jumping into teamfights to pick off important targets before returning to a safer position. However, Metal Jacket should be bought over Slumbering Husk when the enemy team is comprised of more weapon carries than crystal carries, as it gives far more protection against weapon carries. Atlas Pauldron will be a poorer choice than Metal Jacket in most situations, as Ardan requires selfish defense to survive through late game teamfights, but it should be bought against an enemy Krul or SAW if Ardan’s teammates did not buy Atlas Pauldron or are not using it to full effect. Journey Boots’ passive allows Ardan to have frequent mobility, which helps in both escapes and chasing down low-health enemies, while War Treads is a good utility option with an added bonus of more survivability.
While lifesteal would have contributed significantly to Ardan’s ability to win small teamfights and survive in bigger ones, there is simply no room for it in the build. A viable alternative to the current build would be to replace Tornado Trigger and Tyrant’s Monocle with Serpent Mask and Breaking Point. However, the crit build is recommended, as it suits Ardan’s burst-oriented playstyle better; critical hits also reduce Blood for Blood’s cooldown much faster!
Spellsword is a good item on weapon Ardan, as it allows him to get Blood for Blood up far quicker. Despite this, Sorrowblade is a better choice for the sheer base weapon power that will be magnified by crit. However, those who want to experiment can try replacing Sorrowblade with Spellsword, as there isn’t a huge gap in the weapon power provided.
The nerfs to Breaking Point have rendered it less useful than it used to be. Breaking Point also does not synergise well with a crit-oriented Ardan build, which relies on a hit-and-run playstyle.
Tension Bow is a far more synergistic item on weapon Ardan than Bonesaw and provides more than enough armor pierce. Furthermore, Tension Bow offers a huge power spike in tandem with the Blood for Blood overdrive at level 8 – something that Bonesaw cannot replicate.
While Aegis gives a mixture of both armor and shield, Slumbering Husk is a better option protection-wise due to the greater shielding. The Reflex Block from Aegis is often overshadowed by the guaranteed protection from Slumbering Husk’s passive.
Shiversteel allows Ardan to stick to enemies and basic attack to reduce the cooldown of Blood for Blood, but it does not give enough stats to justify its inclusion.
In the early game, Ardan should prioritise farming and seek to gain as much gold as possible. In Update 3.8, staying in lane yields far more gold than jungling given good last hitting. As such, Ardan should try to gain an advantage in top lane through Book of Eulogies and well-timed Blood for Bloods. Through applying pressure with Blood for Blood, Ardan can eventually force most enemy laners out of basic attack range in order deny farm and make it easier to focus on last hitting. Many bottom laners will seek to rotate to jungle with their jungler in the first few rotations — use this opportunity to clear minion waves as quickly as possible to push your own wave into the enemy turret. Using this time to teleport back to base to build towards Sorrowblade is also a good idea, as the raw weapon power can make a big difference in early fights.
Though Ardan has a strong early game, it’s not always possible to gain an advantage over an enemy laner depending on which hero they are playing, or how close the enemy jungler stays. Try to keep an eye out for the enemy jungler, and capitalise when the enemy laner is unprotected. If bullied, farm safely under the protection of the turret and avoid fighting. With proper knowledge of last-hitting, Ardan should be able to consistently last hit minions even under turret with the help of Blood for Blood and Vanguard, which both deal damage and act as basic attack resets.
The Healing Treant on your side of the top lane presents opportunity for both you and your opponents alike, as it’s barrier and healing can be crucial to winning early fights. It can be difficult to secure in the first rotation due to the enemy jungler, but Ardan should rotate to the Healing Treant periodically past the first rotation and seek to utilise the barrier.
The jungle shop spawns 5 minutes into the game. Plan ahead to be at the shop when it spawns before the enemy laner, as the item advantage can let Ardan apply immense pressure for a short period of time.
Ardan is at his strongest in the mid game, when he has the burst and sustained damage to either snowball or swing the game back in his team’s favour through capitalising on enemy mistakes.
When Ardan’s team is ahead or at the same pace as the enemy team, he should have no problem dominating the mid game. Through capitalising on the Tension Bow and level 6 power spike, Ardan can choose to apply pressure to the enemy team in various different ways.
When ahead or at the same pace as the enemy team:
- Pushing turrets
- At the very least, Ardan should aim to take down the first top lane turret. Doing so gives your team greater map control and makes it take longer for the enemy to clear waves and push the same lane. Furthermore, it gives Ardan more freedom to exit the top lane and engage in fights towards the middle lane or steal jungle camps.
- If Ardan’s team does not need much help in other areas of the map, Ardan can push to take down the second top lane turret. Doing so puts a large amount of pressure on the enemy team, as they will have to more carefully juggle and divert heroes to the right areas of the map at the right time.
- Stealing jungle
- Ardan should stay aware of the state of enemy camps, either through observing enemy rotations or Scout Cams. Ardan’s immense mid game strength grants him high jungle clearing speed and makes it hard for the enemy to contest jungle camps.
- Capitalising on these opportunities to steal camps can further Ardan’s impact significantly. The Weapon Treant greatly improves Ardan’s teamfighting capability, while the other camps are also a source of both healing and gold.
- Picking up kills
- Ardan’s high burst damage is terrifyingly effective in picking up kills. Ardan should take any fight he knows he can win. Every kill gives Ardan more gold, but more importantly, it gives Ardan’s team opportunities to take down turrets and win even more fights (snowballing).
- Depending on how far ahead Ardan’s team is, getting the Ghostwing buff can be the final nail in the coffin for the enemy team. As long as Ardan’s team has proper vision and enemies are preoccupied, Ardan can even consider taking down Ghostwing himself. Doing so takes a surprisingly small amount of time thanks to Blood for Blood.
When playing from behind:
- Defending lane
- If Ardan’s team is losing, it can be difficult to defend against a ranged bottom laner. In this case, seek to last hit as much as possible while under a turret, and avoid dying to defend the first top turret, as it will go down eventually either way.
- Situational defensive items should be prioritised to improve Ardan’s odds in a fight against the enemy laner.
- After losing the first turret, Ardan should be strong enough to defend the second turret. Use your burst damage and the bushes close to the second turret to your advantage.
- Punishing mistakes and grasping opportunities
- Ardan must play smartly when playing from behind, especially since his mid game power spike and burst damage give him and his team great comeback potential. Failure to capitalise on enemy mistakes when already losing greatly decreases Ardan’s odds of winning.
- Winning teams can become overconfident, which can lead to many mistakes, such as poor positioning or underestimating Ardan. A winning team is often more spread out across the map, which benefits Ardan, who thrives in 1v1 situations. Know your limits, and use Ardan’s burst damage to take advantage of these mistakes and turn the tide.
- Due to the change in gold bounties in Update 3.8, it’s important to take any easy kill opportunities that arise due to low risk and high reward.
Late game is when Ardan is at his weakest, but the huge damage from critical hits lets Ardan remain a significant threat. How well Ardan performs in the late game depends on how well he plays in teamfights.
The main factor that determines how much Ardan contributes to any given teamfight is his ability to surprise and burst down his target. In a late game teamfight, heroes tend to stick together, which makes this all the more difficult for Ardan. The key to late game teamfighting is working together with his team, as bursting down any hero will be difficult for Ardan to accomplish alone. This often means peeling for carries until an enemy is weak enough for Ardan to chase down and kill. Ardan’s Gauntlet placement is especially important, as it has the most impact out of all of Ardan’s abilities in a late game teamfight. A properly placed Gauntlet should isolate enemy carries or effectively peel for your carry. Though these are some general guidelines, specifics on teamfighting effectively with any hero will come with time, practice, and intuition; Ardan is no different in that regard.
While it’s important to participate in decisive teamfights, Ardan can also choose to push turrets in an undefended lane, as he is a particularly effective split-pusher in the late game thanks to his critical hits and mobility. Doing so will force the enemy team to react, though not always optimally. If they dedicate too many heroes to dealing with Ardan’s split-pushing, Ardan’s team can safely take down turrets in other lanes or capture Blackclaw or Ghostwing.
Drafting & Synergy
Being a bursty hero without a strong sustained damage output in teamfights, weapon Ardan is best complemented by a hero with strong, ranged and consistent damage. This can be a common weapon bottom laner such as Kinetic, Gwen, Ringo or Vox, or a crystal middle laner such as Samuel or Celeste. Weapon Ardan’s bursty playstyle works very well with Lance, Flicker, and even Fortress, with all of them having abilities to surprise enemies and keep them within basic attack range to build up for a second Blood for Blood. Though the following are desired from any captain, captains with defensive support for Ardan or consistent stuns can also work especially well with weapon Ardan, as every bit of sustain can help Ardan build towards another Blood for Blood, while stuns are important in helping to lock down elusive targets.
Ardan is likely to win against…
Alpha: Alpha does not have the damage output and sustain to deal with weapon Ardan in a 1v1 situation, especially in the early game.
Ardan: Why is this matchup not neutral, you ask? Unless the enemy is also following this guide, you should come out on top, especially if the build is followed and you have at least the same amount of armor and items. Captain Ardan should also be of minimal threat, as he does not have the CC to be a nuisance and has a barrier that only lasts 2 seconds.
Celeste: Celeste is squishy and therefore an easy target for weapon Ardan. Heliogenesis has the exact same range as Blood for Blood at all levels, so use it to surprise Celestes, who tries to abuse her range. Celeste’s B, Core Collapse, should be the only threat.
Flicker: Flicker cannot out-sustain Ardan and has limited CC to keep Ardan in check, as his A is hard to land and both Vanguard and Blood for Blood help Ardan to escape Fairy Dust.
Glaive: Perhaps to the surprise of some, Glaive cannot out-sustain weapon Ardan. Thus, Ardan should beat Glaive in both lane and jungle as long as he does not get punted into a 1v2 situation.
Gwen: Gwen is squishy enough to burst down easily and even bully in the laning phase as long as the enemy jungler is not rotating with her. Her ult can help her beat Ardan, so make sure your Healing Flask is ready before engaging her at level 6 and above.
Idris: Idris has a very weak early game and is easy to bully. Ardan will also out-sustain him throughout the game.
Kensei: Kensei has been nerfed to oblivion. Ardan can out-sustain Kensei by a large margin and bully him for most of the game, which is ironic when considering he was first advertised as a tank-buster. Oh how the tables have turned…
Kestrel: As long as Ardan plays smartly, he should be able to beat Kestrel due to her squishiness and inability to use her B after taking damage when not building weapon power. Retreat when a trap is in the way, and use the element of surprise. In lane, position yourself covertly to have your minions block her Glimmershots.
Ringo: Ringo is very squishy and has a hard time dealing with burst. The mere presence of weapon Ardan can sometimes be enough to scare Ringo back under the safety of his turret.
Samuel: Samuel is squishy but has sustain at the same time. Initiate with Blood for Blood, then try to avoid Malice & Verdict when chasing.
Skaarf: Skaarf is squishy but can bully Ardan in the laning phase if he is not careful enough. Move unpredictably to dodge Spitfire, and avoid going into basic attack range when on fire. As long as Ardan gets the jump on Skaarf and doesn’t get bullied from long-range, eliminating Skaarf should be fairly easy.
Skye: Skye can kite Ardan well, but Ardan’s kit is built to counter multi-hit attacks like Forward Barrage, allowing Ardan to cast Blood for Blood twice in a row. Furthermore, Gauntlet heavily restricts Skye’s movements options.
Taka: Taka is too weak and squishy to be a significant threat to Ardan.
Tony: The sheer damage on Blood for Blood allows weapon Ardan to out-sustain Tony, but try not to let his A or B land for another CC follow-up from an enemy.
Varya: Varya is squishy and doesn’t have the CC to deal with weapon Ardan.
Yates: Yates has slow basic attacks and does not have the sustain to deal with Ardan. Use lane minions to block his pull, and avoid engaging him when another enemy is nearby.
Ardan is similarly matched against…
Anka: Anka is a strong assassin with high damage and a good kit, allowing her to burst Ardan and get out of basic attack range. However, Ardan can win through sustained damage as long as he has some shield and uses the Vanguard speed boost to keep within basic attack range. Using Book of Eulogies to heal between taking bursts of damage is also key in a lane matchup against Anka.
Baptiste: Baptiste has high damage and lifesteal when his perk is up. Additionally, his B, Ordained, counters Ardan’s mobility. However, Ardan is more tanky and has the damage to keep up with Baptiste. Winning against either weapon or crystal Baptiste should depend on each player’s items.
Baron: Although Baron is somewhat squishy, his B, Rocket Leap, allows him to escape Ardan’s basic attack range and Gauntlet to counterattack with high burst damage. The key to winning against Baron is to surprise him with Blood for Blood and get out of range once you see him cast his B. Vanguard’s move speed boost can be a big help in dodging Porcupine Mortars during the laning phase.
Blackfeather: Blackfeather has less sustain than Ardan in the early game but has more than Ardan towards the mid-late game. Bullying him in the early game is key in this matchup.
Fortress: Fortress is too tanky for Ardan to burst down, and his bleed is a great help to his teammates. However, he doesn’t have the CC to lock down Ardan completely. Fortress himself also has a low damage output.
Inara: Inara is weak when alone, but her B and ultimate make it very difficult for Ardan to stick to his intended target. Avoid Inara during the duration of her ultimate and when she’s with teammates.
Joule: Joule is tanky but cannot out-sustain Ardan. Be careful when laning against Joule, as her B grants her enough range to harass Ardan.
Kinetic: Kinetic can be bursted down but is a menace in the laning phase due to her perk, which amplifies her basic attack damage. Make sure to only engage her when her stacks are down.
Koshka: Koshka cannot out-sustain Ardan in all stages of the game as long as he has been farming consistently well. Regardless, Koshka should be avoided when her ultimate is available. Beware of overconfidence, however, as Koshka’s hit-and-run playstyle can catch Ardan off guard.
Lyra: Lyra is squishy and can be bursted down, but Ardan should always be aware of her range and Bright Bulwark, which hinders all of his abilities to varying extents.
Malene: While Malene is squishy, her Light Ribbons can root Ardan. Wicked Escapade also provides her with survivability against Ardan’s bursty playstyle.
Ozo: Ozo has very high survivability thanks to his perk and A ability. Crystal Ozo should not pose too large a threat, but assess the situation carefully before taking on a weapon Ozo, as he has the potential to sustain through Ardan’s damage.
Petal: Petal is squishy but can kite Ardan to death if he tries to flee. Make sure you can kill Petal within two rounds of Blood for Blood before confronting her.
Phinn: Despite not posing a large threat to Ardan when alone, Quibble’s high base damage and Polite Company’s fortified health work against Ardan in a teamfight. Avoid him during the early game, and go for enemies when separated. Manipulate Phinn’s low movement speed by basic attacking him in order to reduce Blood for Blood’s cooldown if needed.
Reza: Reza cannot out-sustain Ardan, but he has high burst damage and mobility. Avoid his Scorcher in the laning phase and refrain from being in basic attack range when he does land Scorcher. Smart positioning in tandem with Book of Eulogies allows Ardan to bully Reza in lane, but always be aware of Reza’s potential burst damage and position on the map.
SAW: SAW can be tough to fight in the laning phase due to his high basic attack damage and range. Farm safely under the turret and surprise SAW when his stacks are down. Always avoid a fully stacked SAW unless you are confident in bursting him down.
Silvernail: Silvernail has high health for a ranged hero and can be tough to fight if he places tripwires fittingly. Use Book of Eulogies to heal through the laning phase, and surprise Silvernail with an item advantage — sticking to him as closely as possible to maximise your damage per second and avoid being kited.
Vox: Vox has low health for a ranged hero, but his Resonance makes him a nuisance against Ardan in the laning phase when played effectively. Vox will also be able to out-sustain Ardan from the mid-game onwards if given enough farm. Pick engagements with Vox carefully, and use the range of Blood for Blood to surprise him as well as a tool to place constant pressure.
Ardan is likely to lose against…
Adagio: Adagio has almost unrivalled harassment potential thanks to being great at taking and dishing out damage throughout the early and mid game. With Gift of Fire, Agent of Wrath, and the longest base basic attack range in the game, Ardan will find it difficult to compete in the laning phase or engage Adagio alone. Stay safe and farm under the protection of the turret, then look for opportunities to attack with the help of an ally or during a power spike.
Catherine: Catherine’s silence and guaranteed stun can greatly hinder Ardan’s hit-and-run playstyle centered around Blood for Blood. Furthermore, Stormguard allows her to reflect the damage from Ardan’s strong basic attacks and Blood for Blood. Keep an eye on Catherine’s position on the mini-map throughout the game to avoid her and capitalise during her absence.
Churnwalker: Churnwalker’s Torment and Trespass are both great abilities to keep Ardan under fire. Churnwalker also has very high tankiness with Hook & Chain, especially in teamfights. Avoid Churnwalker whenever possible, and instead look for opportunities to burst down carries when he’s too far away in teamfights.
Grace: Grace’s heroic perk and Benediction allows her to bully Ardan in the early laning phase, while her Holy Nova and Divine Intervention can be very disruptive to Ardan during teamfights. Use Book of Eulogies to full effect, and invest in an early Light Armor to negate Ardan’s disadvantage and thrive during the mid game.
Grumpjaw: Grumpjaw’s heroic perk and high base damage on Grumpy allow him to out-sustain Ardan throughout the early to mid/late stages of the game as well as make Blood for Blood barely tickle. Only engage Grumpjaw with the help of a teammate, avoiding him entirely in teamfights in favor of squishier targets.
Krul: Despite being prone to burst damage, the increased effectiveness of lifesteal due to the overall decreases in armor and shield help to negate Ardan’s only advantage over Krul prior to Update 3.8. Place Scout Cams in bushes, and, as with any other melee hero, avoid engaging Krul in single combat.
Lance: Lance’s root on Impale and stun on Gythian Wall help him shut down Ardan and protect his allies with ease. Furthermore, his high basic attack range and flexible ultimate can help Lance win trades against Ardan in single combat, even as a captain. Avoid Lance at all costs, and make sure to have a tool for escape always up.
Lorelai: Lorelai’s stun and zoning potential as well as her ultimate allow her to protect her allies from Ardan very well. Find different angles of attack, and burst down her allies when Lorelai is preoccupied in teamfights.
Reim: Being even more intimidating than Krul, Reim has very high sustain and should be avoided at all costs in favour of squishier targets.
Rona: Rona is a weaker version of Reim and Krul, but should still be treated with respect, as Ardan cannot fight through Red Mist. An effective build on Rona will have a deceptively high amount of sustain through lifesteal. However, Rona is weaker than Ardan in the early stages of the game, making capitalising during these times a priority.
Congratulations, you’ve mastered the art of top lane weapon Ardan! Hop into a match with your newfound skills, and let us know how it goes. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below.