FlashX’s Signature Ardan

Note: this guide was originally written for VaingloryFire, but the team at Broken Myth accepted the opportunity to help me make it better. You’ll find this is a significant improvement over the initial version.

My name is FlashX. I am the roam player for Team SoloMid, who recently won the North American Winter Championships, as well as current reigning World Champions after winning Season 2 of the Vainglory International Premier League. I have been playing Vainglory since September 2014. My highest achieved rank is Vainglorious Silver and our team was the first team in the world to achieve the team rank of Pinnacle of Awesome.

In competitive play, Ardan has been established as my signature hero. In the finals of Season 2 of the Vainglory International Premier League, I made a game-winning steal by “one-punching” Kraken, thus stealing it from Invincible Armada.

While Ardan is occasionally played as a jungle carry, the focus of this guide will be Ardan as a roam. I believe Ardan is effective as a roam hero because of a combination of his ability to deal high damage at the same time as doing a phenomenal job of protecting his allies. He maintains innate tankiness throughout the entire game due to his heroic perk, Julia’s Gift. Ardan frequently makes clutch saves using his A ability, Vanguard, by creating a health barrier on himself or his allies. In combination with Blood for Blood (his B ability), Stormguard Banner enables Ardan to deal massive amounts of damage to enemy carries. Ardan’s C ability and ultimate, Gauntlet, can be used to both protect allies as well as initiate on enemies.

Item Build

Starting Items



Fountain of Renewal and Warhorn are essential parts of Ardan’s kit. They are considered effective in all situations. Utilize Fountain of Renewal when Ardan or his allies become low on health, and use Warhorn to either engage or disengage from a team fight. Also, Vanguard’s barrier scales with 15% of Ardan’s bonus health, so the more health you build on Ardan, the stronger the barrier will become. This is why items offering large amounts of HP are preferred on Ardan.



Supplementing Fountain of Renewal and Warhorn with the best situational items will surely give you an advantage in team fights. A good Ardan will focus on counterbuilding the enemy team, thus allowing him to offer the most utility to his own team. Here’s a brief description of each situational item and why you may want to use it:


[su_spoiler title=”Crucible” style=”fancy”]Best utilized against teams with area of effect (AOE) abilities. Crucible also synergizes incredibly well with Ardan’s kit because of its bonus health, which makes his Vanguard much stronger as well. This item can also be activated to provide a simple health barrier if an ally is close to dying.

Crucible can be effective in protecting your team from Blast Tremor (Catherine), Verse of Judgement (Adagio), and Core Collapse (Celeste).[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Atlas Pauldron” style=”fancy”]Best utilized against teams with high attack speeds. The additional armor, and even the minimal shield gain, will be helpful for making Ardan the frontline that his allies need him to be. This is a strong item because its affect can affect all three enemy heroes if they do not position properly.

Atlas Pauldron can work well against the attack speed of SAW, Ringo, Krul, Blackfeather, Vox, and Rona.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Shiversteel” style=”fancy”]Best utilized against mobile heroes that rely on kiting mechanics. In such circumstances, using a Shiversteel can prevent your teammates – particularly melee heroes – from being kited. Not only does it provide positional advantages, but it also grants signficant health benefits, thus improving the effectiveness of Vanguard.

Shiversteel can be effective against the mobility of Vox, Skye, and Ringo.[/su_spoiler]


Skill Order

[table id=53 /]

Avoid upgrading Vanguard first. Blood for Blood will have a much larger impact on the mid-game if it receives its overdrive first. While Vanguard scales in its damage at a base level faster than Blood for Blood, the latter can be used much more rapidly, making a Vanguard a weaker choice in terms of which ability to upgrade first.

You’ll notice that at level 5 I do not recommend spending a skill point. A unique choice presents itself when all heroes reach level 5: rather than placing a second point into the ability you do not want to max first, you use a tactic called skill skipping, which enables you to put a fourth point in the skill you care more about at level 6, as well as a point in your C ability at the same time. This is particularly effective on heroes where placing a second point in an ability does not provide much additional value, such as Ardan’s Vanguard.

Ability Usage and Strategy


[su_spoiler title=”Julia’s Gift (Heroic Perk)” style=”fancy”]Julia’s Gift is why Ardan is inherently so tanky. He quickly regenerates health during combat and can frequently stay alive in the most impossibe of situations. He will often live through damage-over-time (DoT) abilities such as Ringo’s Hellfire Brew, Skaarf’s Fan the Flames, and even Skye’s Forward Barrage.

While this perk acts as an extra cushion in tight spots, it allows Ardan to be more comfortable absorbing incoming enemy damage on behalf of his teammates.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Vanguard (A)” style=”fancy”]At its core, Vanguard is simple: use it on yourself or on allies who are being focused by enemies or use it to provide a movement speed boost when chasing or fleeing from enemies. With a 13-second cooldown timer at all levels, it is important to be selective in its use. Making these decisions in the manner which most benefits the team will separate the good Ardan players from the remarkable ones.

As a general strategy, avoid using this ability unnecessarily. You don’t want to go into a team fight or get caught by the enemy team without having this ability ready. Just be conscious of where enemies may be lurking and save this ability accordingly. That being said, try using Vanguard immediately at the start of a team fight on the ally who is being focused the most. This should enable your team to turn the fight in your favor by providing a large health barrier to your teammate who needs it most. Also, by using Vanguard early in the fight, you will often be able to use this ability a second time to either chase down enemies or run away.

Avoid using Vanguard selfishly. While each game can vary drastically, I’d estimate that I use Vanguard on allies 70% of the time and on myself the other 30% of the time.  If you need to act as meat shield for your allies such as against a Skaarf, Kestrel, or Skye – then using it on yourself is okay. But if you need to peel for your allies, then use it on them.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Blood for Blood (B)” style=”fancy”]This may be the single most rewarding ability as a roam player. In combination with Stormguard Banner, Blood for Blood forces enemy carries to respect Ardan’s damage even when he’s played as a roam hero. This ability can also be used as a gap closer to activate an Atlas Pauldron or a Shiversteel in appropriate situations. Blood for Blood can also apply a large amount of poke damage and pressure to overextended enemies as well as the enemy laner during the early-game.

Because Blood for Blood acts as a basic attack reset, the common combination for maximum damage output should be: Basic Attack + Blood for Blood + Basic Attack. Also, Ardan quickly regenerates vengeance to use Blood for Blood again while auto-attacking. During team fights, this ability should be used to focus down squishy enemy carries or the target that your team is focusing upon. Try to avoid focusing the enemy roam player as they will often be incredibly tanky and hard to bring down.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Gauntlet (C)” style=”fancy”]Gauntlet be be used in 3 different ways: initiation, protection, or separation. Using Gauntlet in these different ways takes practice and experience, so don’t be concerned if you’re not perfect at first.


Using Gauntlet to initiate is perhaps the most basic and most frequent use of Gauntlet. Use Gauntlet to trap your enemies. With good positioning, ranged allies can stand on the outside of the Gauntlet and attack enemies while they are trapped inside. Many experienced opponents will purchase Reflex Block (or Crucible) so that they may escape the perimeter. With practice, Gauntlet can be used such that it lands directly on top of enemies, thus stunning them immediately. Being able to initiate effectively is ultimately what separates average Ardan players from the best.

As a caution, try to avoid using this ability too early. You need to make sure that allies are in position to immediately capitalize on your trapped opponent(s). At lower levels this ability does not last very long, so it is important that your allies can follow up promptly and prevent the enemy from waiting for the Gauntlet to expire.


While more situational than initiating with Gauntlet, a protective Gauntlet is most frequently used to escape dangerous situations. If Ardan and his allies have been caught out of position, Gauntlet towards safety. Wait for allies to escape through both walls before Ardan himself leaves the Gauntlet.

A good instance of when to use a protection Gauntlet is when playing against an enemy Fortress. When Fortress uses Attack of the Pack, use a protective Gauntlet to allow your allies to kill all of the wolves to prevent enemies from engaging you immediately.

As a precaution, try to avoid leaving the Gauntlet too early. Don’t panic. If you’re using Gauntlet for protection, you need to remain inside until your allies are safe. If you leave the Gauntlet too soon, it will immediately disappear, thus jeopardizing your allies. Wait until your allies get through the Gauntlet, then follow them. If needed, you can also Vanguard to an ally in order to escape.


This is the most complex use of Gauntlet and may often be used incorrectly. At its core, this Gauntlet is best used to separate an enemy team. If an opportunity presents itself such that a high priority enemy carry can be caught inside of the Gauntlet while the other enemies are stuck on the outside, then a separation Gauntlet should be used.

As an example, a common team comp right is Skaarf+Krul+Fortress. Ideally, Krul and Fortress are in the front line tanking all of the damage while Skaarf is in the back dealing all of the damage. A separation Gauntlet would be used such that Skaarf gets trapped on the inside while Krul and Fortress watch helplessly from the outside.

As a caution, try to avoid using a separation Gauntlet if the enemy in focus has a Reflex Block. It is important to take note if this enemy has recently used their Reflex Block in prior interactions. It will be better to use an initiation or protective gauntlet if they do have a reflex block or another reliable method of escape such as Blackfeather’s Rose Offensive.

Learning how to drop a Gauntlet directly on top of an enemy is a difficult mechanical skill to master. Also, many players will only know how to use Gauntlet as a tool for initiation, but with some practice, using it as protection and as separation will become second nature.[/su_spoiler]


Hero Synergies

There’s several roam heroes you can choose from during hero select. If you’re going to choose Ardan, it’s best to know which heroes he has the best synergies with. Broken Myth already has a great article on this topic, so rather than reinventing the wheel, here is a quick reference chart:

jungle companions for Ardan

If you’d like the complete details and explanation, I refer you to the full article.

Gameplay Strategy


[su_spoiler title=”Team Fight Positioning” style=”fancy”] Ardan is a “meat shield.” This means Ardan should always be the front line for his team, absorbing as much damage as possible while his allies apply both damage and pressure to opposing teams. Optimal positioning isn’t just Ardan’s responsibility though. Ardan’s allies need to make sure that they are allowing Ardan to lead the charge into battle. In the event that Ardan and his allies do not have any vision, Ardan should always be the sacrificial lamb when facechecking bushes. Do not be scared to be the focus of enemy damage. If they are focusing you when your allies are attacking the enemies, this is a good thing! Just be careful to not overextend in a manner that allows enemies to damage Ardan while his allies cannot return this damage.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Early-Game” style=”fancy”]

Game Time = 0:00 – 8:00

Starting items
  • Ironguard Contract
  • Halcyon Potion
  • Flare gun

Starting with two potions is unncessary because Ardan will receive health back from the passive ability of the Ironguard Contract – i.e. if a minion has attacked you before your ally kills it, you heal for 120 health.

If you’re unfamiliar with optimally using the Ironguard Contract or the concept of “hyper leveling” in the jungle, I would recommend these two videos, respectively:

 The first engagement

In most situations, both jungle duos will have finished this mirrored rotation at relatively the same time. At this point, an engagement is likely to occur. Use the flare purchased at the beginning of the game in a manner such that it reveals both the enemy shop bush as well as their tri bush.

If you see that your rotation is faster than the enemies’, both Ardan and his jungle partner should shop immediately, then rotate into the enemy shop bush in order to prevent the enemies from shopping. If done successfully, you will have an advantage if the enemies choose to fight because they have not yet purchased additional items. If they do not choose to fight, and rotate up to lane, you should ping the yellow avoid button to your laner to back up, as a gank will be incoming. You should also steal the lower small double camp from your enemy.

As a caution, before pursuing any jungle engagement, take note of the location of the opposing laner. If he has disappeared from lane, it is probable that he is rotating down to join his teammates, in which case it’s best to not engage. Likewise, if you do choose to engage, you will want to keep an eye on the minimap to see if the enemy laner appears to rotate down.

On some occasions, the enemy team may revert to a backwards rotation in which they start from the small double camp and rotate back towards their respective base. If they did, chances are because the enemy feels that they are weaker/slower. At this point, you’ll want to go up to lane to see if a gank is possible. If not, then go back down into the enemy tri-bush.

If the enemy teleported home to shop, you’ll be able to clear their inner medic and bottom doubles before they can make it back in time; take these, then go do your own rotation. If they didn’t go shop, then you know you have the item advantage and can force a fight and steal their entire jungle before going to take your own. You can often discern which path your opponents chose by paying attention to the scoreboard, enabling you to see exactly when they shopped. You could then implement Owens’ guide on distance and movement speed to see how long you actually have from the moment they shop.

The first decision

To invade, or not to invade? That is the question. Different heroes are stronger at different points of the game. Some heroes also scale better throughout the duration of the game. Ardan is incredibly strong in the start of the game, and also scales throughout the game. If Ardan and his ally feel that they have the stronger jungle composition in the early-game, I would suggest invading the enemies. This means going to their back camps where the large healer minion and the large double minions spawn. Not only will you have an advantage from being stronger heroes, but if you prevented the enemies from shopping, you will know that you also have an item advantage. Good synergy is required at this point. Ardan cannot go alone and needs his ally to follow him. If your jungle partner will not follow you in your invasion, you’ll be forced to follow him and go back to repeating the first rotation.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Mid Game” style=”fancy”]

Game Time = 8:00 – 15:00

Item Development

By this point, a strong early-game means that Ardan should have developed Fountain of Renewal and be very close to finishing Warhorn. Ardan has ramped up in terms of tankiness as well as damage output as a result of Stormguard Banner.

Determining Whether to be Passive or Aggressive

Ultimately, team compositions and how well the early-game was played will determine how Ardan and his allies are able to play the mid-game.

If at a disadvantage due to one or both of these factors, Ardan will want to take a more passive approach. Rather than going for objective control and invasions, securing and protecting both his laner and his own jungle should be priorities. Putting a scout trap on the gold mine is also a good idea to be able to contest the enemy team if they are trying to take it.

If Ardan has allies are stronger than the enemy team in the mid-game, then being aggressive is a good idea. In particular, if the enemy team scales well into the late-game, developing a gold and level lead will be important. If this is the case, try and secure both minion mines and then push, push, and push. Taking turrets is incredibly important in developing a gold lead as well as gaining map control. It can often be worth sacrificing a death for a turret because this makes stealing the enemy jungle much easier as well maintaining control over objectives such as the gold mine.

Additional Advice
  • Continue to avoid taking last hits on minions, in the jungle or lane. Ardan will get 75% of all gold that his allies earn from the passive of Ironguard Contract (as long as he is within range), so Ardan’s allies should always be the ones who get the last hit.
  • Avoid overextending. While it is important for Ardan to be the frontline for his team, he needs to make sure his allies are in a position to help him should he be engaged upon.
  • Mistimed or misplaced Gauntlets. This is something that can only be developed and practiced over time. But because of the incredibly long cooldown of Gauntlet, using it effectively is doubly important. Ardan’s allies need to be immediately ready to respond to the use of Gauntlet. However, it is also Ardan’s responsibility to make sure his allies are in a good position to respond to Gauntlet.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Late-Game” style=”fancy”]

Game Time = 15:00 – end of match


The gold miner is replaced by the Kraken when the game clock reaches 15:00. At this point in the game, only rarely will it still be evenly matched. Normally, one team will have developed an advantage in which they are able to secure Kraken and make a strong push towards ending the game.

If your team has the advantage, as Ardan, you should bear the brunt of Kraken’s massively damaging attacks. You will have developed enough health, armor, and shield at this point such that in combination with Julia’s Gift you can likely kill Kraken by yourself, albeit you would do it slowly and this would probably not be the optimal strategy. It is important at this point to have scout traps placed in a manner such that if the enemy comes to contest you that you can see them coming. Flares are also important – if the scout traps get activated that you will still be able to maintain vision.

If the game has gone against your favor at this point, then you will want to do everything possible to stop the enemy team from taking Kraken. With innately high base damage – Stormguard Banner in combination with the Blood for Blood ability – Ardan has a kit that is great for stealing the Kraken. Do not be scared to suicide in order to steal the Kraken. Because of the extremely slow movement speed from Kraken, most often you will have respawned before too many of your towers get destroyed.

Worst case scenario: the enemy team takes Kraken – which they would have likely done anyways – and you still have to deal with it like you would have originally.
Best case scenario: you steal the Kraken, prevent the enemy team from regaining all of the health and energy they just spent trying to take Kraken, and your allies are able to come and assist such that you completely turn the game around.

If at this point the game is in fact still evenly matched, then you will want to wait until a good opening presents itself. The most ideal situation is after you have aced the enemy team so that you can secure the Kraken without fear. However, there are situations where perhaps a sneak of Kraken is possible, either as a team or with one or two members of your team. One of the best ways to ensure a successful Kraken capture is to use Gauntlet in the last few seconds before Kraken is secured. If the enemy team tries to contest, they will need to use a Reflex Block to get through the Gauntlet or else Ardan and his allies will be able to immediately turn on that enemy, likely resulting in a kill.

Protecting your Allies

Ardan’s responsibility as a roam, more than anything else, is to protect his allies. He has multiple ways to do so, whether it be from Vanguard’s health barrier, using a protective Gauntlet to help allies escape, or even using items such as Fountain of Renewal, Warhorn, or Crucible. If he can keep his allies alive long enough while they output damage, team fights will often be in favor of Ardan’s team. While Ardan does have the capacity to output massive amounts of damage, he will still want to protect his carries more than anything else.


While a mere consumable, infusions are one of the strongest items in the game in terms of their cost:value ratio. Infusions offer massive improvements on the amount of both weapon and crystal damage that Ardan is able to output as well as make him massively tankier through additional armor and shield bonuses.

Infusions should be a priority past 15 minutes, especially if the enemy team is buying infusions. The team who has the most infusions will often win a team fight. To maximize the benefits of infusions, the entire team should buy them to create the strongest possible power spike. Also, because infusions only last 2.5 minutes, it is important that everyone on the team uses infusions at roughly the same time.




Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and study my Signature ‘One Punch’ Ardan guide. Every situation is different, and different situations will dictate exactly how to utlize this guide for maximum benefit. This is by no means a definitive guide on how to play Ardan, but purely my interpretation of him as a hero. I hope everyone is able to learn a thing or two in order to improve your own gameplay.

If you have comments, questions, criticism, or any feedback whatsoever, reach out to me on Twitter: @TSMFlashX. Also, be sure to catch my streams on Twitch: @FlashX92.

If you like this guide, you can also check out my previous guide on roam Taka. Even though that guide was written during update 1.14 of Vainglory, the same concepts and strategies apply.

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