Let’s discuss Roam meta ( old captain main returning )

Hello there. Just woke up from my deep slumber a few days ago and took up VG again, some of you might even recognize me. Basically i’m a guy who loves playing Roam and i’ve been playing every Captain hero available from time to time.

The point is, i haven’t touched the game since Silvernail got released ( dunno what patch that was. I don’t even know what patch it is right now lol ). So my Meta game is outdated.
I’ve been noticing some major differences in captain builds. For example catherines tend to get aftershock and the pulseweave way often the they used to.
Also their strength. I’ve tried Lyra for example and left unsatisfied as her heal is miserable now. Ardan seems okay, though i heard that they reduced his barrier time and that his WP side is dead. Haven’t tried phinn, lance, or any other yet.

So to sum it all up in a question, Which roamers do you recommend playing right now? Which ones are YOU playing? Do you pair them up VS / with specific heroes? What do you build for them? Do you have any additional tips? How do you manage your rotations?

Any response is greatly appreciated, especially from Captain mains.
I guess this will be like a mini guide


Lyra is actually the best roam currently. Heal in general was nerfed as it was too powerful, but after removal of the banner that get you HP for killed minions - healing in lane is a big advantage. Also her B is super good now, especially when overdriven and the teleport has it’s place (tho it’s a lot lot better utilised from a PC).

From there san feng is frequently picked (I find him so so for support, but it’s ok), ardan is ok, grace is good, lance is strong, yates is strong, cath is good for roam too, fort is ok with aggressive dive comp, phin is ok, churn is ok, lorelai is ok.

Basically Lyra is on the top alone, then comes yates, lance and cath, then grace and san feng, then ardan, then the rest listed and lastly the rest like tony or flicker. The meta sounds balanced, but it’s really not - Lyra is by far the best from them all, then 2-3 more shine and from there and the rest the gap is big.


I actually find Phinn lacking when it comes to the captain role and I only really see him used to counter Ylva and thats rarely.

VG has several game design issues that keep captains in a bad place.

-Health ratios on everything: I believe that this is the primary issue holding back captain design. It turns even fragile, caster heroes into unwitting tanks. Casters should only be a shade more durable than ranged carries and mages. SEMC tried rectifying this with Lance, Lorelai, and Lyra when they gave them CP ratios, but there weren’t any CP items that provided any worthwhile utility at the time, which simply led to the ratios being ignored (Lance) or turning the hero into an absolute menace (Lorelai, Lyra).

-Health as the primary stat for defensive items: This goes back to my point about casters being tanks. Casters should be back line supports, and should be as or only slightly more difficult to take down than ranged carries and mages.

-Item diversity: The lack of hybrid items and the habit of keeping most defensive effects as actives basically turns captains into active item repositories. Their abilities tend not to be as impactful as activations of Fountain of Renewal or Crucible.

As it stands, the only heroes that can do reasonably well are those who provide team utility from afar. Catherine and Fortress are not popular captain picks because they have to position themselves in harm’s way to provide any benefit to the team. This is fine in teamfights, but weak ranged mages find it difficult to take advantage of.


I said “ok” and this means average, i.e. it’s not so weak that it’s a troll pick essentially. Some players good with him can do good with him, especially with given team compositions.

Lyra Ardan Catherine Yates are top tier captains, Lorelai Phinn Lance are solid picks as well.

Excuse me? Lyra periodt!

That’s that on that!

would not put ardan in the same group as those 3, he is below them where is also grace and lance. Lorelai was nerfed so hard that - yes, they balanced the CP lorelai, but the support is far far from the current top captains + the thing is that right now the ban priority heroes are actually not captains and thus you always got the first top pick available.

Looking back at the Compilation of all Patch Notes, that was almost exactly a year ago, believe it or not! Silvernail came out in 3.6, last August. We’re in 4.5 now, and have had a bunch of new heroes since you last played: Yates, Inara, Magnus, Ylva, San Feng, Caine, Leo, Warhawk, and Miho. Of those, Yates is a strong meta roamer that you might try, and San Feng is actually really good in that role too, if slightly off-meta and situational. Maybe meta, even, depending on who you ask.

Some of the big changes since you last played came in 4.0: Minion Candy, Nullwave Gauntlet, and Ironguard Contract were removed. Ironguard is probably the most important change, and pushed healing roamers (Lyra, Adagio) into greater relevance, and helped cement roamers as mid-lane supports. The contracts now build out of Oakheart :vgitem_t1_oakheart:, as T2 items, and as part of Rook’s Decree :vgitem_rooksdecree:, in the case of Protector Contract :vgitem_t2_protectorcontract:, and Shiversteel :vgitem_shiversteel:, in the case of Dragonblood Contract :vgitem_t2_dragonbloodcontract:. I don’t think many folks are using those as part of an early game strategy anymore, but I could be wrong.

Another big change is Stormguard Banner :vgitem_t2_stormguardbanner: no longer dealing extra damage to non-jungle monsters/objectives (happened in 4.1), and it procs like tensionbow now, on a timer, so it’s meant as a jungler item and not a supplement to roams, generally.

Another change - jungle monsters no longer give ambient gold (and experience, I think?), so there’s even more incentive for supports to assist lane, typically mid, which has more gold than the side lanes.

For tips on specific roam heroes, you might check out the #guides (or request one, actually). We’ve got a comprehensive one for Catherine (Catherine: Builds, Playstyle, and Discussion) and a pretty good one for San Feng (San Feng: Builds and Playstyle Tips), [edit to add: And Lyra!], but we def need some more roam guides. Maybe Yates would be a good one to start… I’ll get on that.

You might also check out idmonfish’s 5v5 overview for a refresher (still relevant!): 5v5: A Year On - Strategy where are we now?


Support Ardan, Top Ardan, Jungle Ardan, they’re all very simple to use yet extremely overpowered. Besides Lyra no suppport can rival Ardan in terms of versatility, utility, sustain and damage (Ardan can also frontline whislt Lyra cant). Ardan has the greatest synergy with capacitor and rooks, his A allows you to collapse on someone or escape dangerous situations, his B deals 300 damage, his ult is literally the best teamfighting ability, late game he’s basically impossible to kill. Ardan isnt strong he’s busted, you cant name a single hero that has all these atributes and yet be so simple to execute.

I can play ardan really effective and main support, so no need for overview of abilities and what they do (or where he is viable, I can also play all the heroes and all positions on decent level). Ardan was busted, but is not anymore after the nerfs + the nerf of A duration from 4s to 2s is super big in soloq 5vs5, till the player you A realise what’s happening, it’s already gone (was really useful for the great lane pressure early-mid, now it still is in team/voice comms). His ult is what 90% of the captains will prioritise for crucible. His B? Decent early, falls off quickly and also after the nerfs is less frequent. He is hard to kill, but easy to ignore as after his 2s A and potentially one ult, it’s just activating items that any hero can do.

Lyra on the other hand got heal or/and decent harassment with A and good double attack for good dmg without getting in the enemy face to eat tons of dmg (even with ardans perk) + her A scales great with HP and can be used for speed boost with small burst heal, she also got her B that is great at any game stage and beast when overdriven, she also got the portal that can be used in many many ways + portal and B = almost ardan ult as effect. Comparing ardan with lyra currently is t5 talk or pure bias towards a hero.

P.S. Lyra also benefits greatly from both of those items. Dealing dmg with A or B is super easy, even if you heal someone with A - if enemy steps on it, bam - dmg. So using the effect of rooks is easy even if not at the frontilne. Capacitors is quite obvious for her and her healing.


Arguably, Capacitor Plate is of questionable usefulness on Ardan. The extra healing only outscales buying another health item if Capacitor Plate is your fifth or last item, and the speed boost from Vanguard is somewhat redundant.

This is really not true, Capacitor plate is a solid late game pick up on almost any captain assuming you already have Fountain, Crucible, and Rooks Decree. Ardan has an amazing synergy with the item, so much so it’s more or less essential. 15% barrier increase on his Vanguard, combined with the usual healing/barrier items already in his build is pretty insane value. What do you propose a fully built Ardan to look like. Fountain, Crucible, War Treads, Rooks Decree… At this point you would not buy Capacitor plate increasing the effectiveness of all other items in the build, and making each a teamwide speed boost, as well as incfeasing the already HP scaled Vanguard size? What would you purchase here lol.

Don’t forget that his perk is healing so it’s also affected iirc

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Hey! Welcome back to the game, as a captain main, I’d be happy to help. A lot of folks have mentioned some good stuff. @HipsterSkaarf’s detailing of the new items is really key to understanding the difference in captain play today. With the items in mind, I’d offer the following as strong picks that have great synergy with :vgitem_rooksdecree: and :vgitem_capacitorplate: :

  • Adagio
  • Ardan
  • Catherine (she’s gotten some nice buffs that has made her very strong)
  • Lyra
  • Phinn

Phinn is my sleeper pick for you. His Polite company combined with :vgitem_rooksdecree: and :vgitem_capacitorplate: gives your allies an INTENSE barrier.

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The extra healing only outscales buying another health item if Capacitor Plate is your fifth or last item

Tell me how this is different from what you said?

Long time Captain main. FYI I’m going to be talking only about 5v5 meta.

  • Items: Itemization on captains has not evolved too much, but their are some trends in high tier play that are noteworthy to keep track of. To adress your point, Pulseweave, Aftershock, and other similar items like Stormcworn or Shiversteel should never to be purchased on the captain, we will get back to these when we get to non captain utility picks. As your teams “true captain” you should prioritize Fountain or Crucible first depending on the hero and match up. In general the only items purchased before your first t3 are t1 boots. One exception is on energy hungry captains, with whom it can work to buy halcyon chargers very early on. This is especially potent on Yates who can take advantage of the mobility to be very aggressive, especially when he is usually so limited by energy. Next couple of items are usually Rooks Decree, War Treads (if you don’t have Halcyon already), and Capacitor plate/Atlas (barrier/healing heroes/non barrier/healing hero). One other niche strategy I have picked up is buying Celestial shroud as my 3rd or 4th items against comps with lot’s of cp abilities to body block, it can really mitigate a pick like Skaarf, and the personal reflex block when building it is nice.

  • Heroes: Many people won’t agree with my opinion here, but let’s get the controversial thing out of the way. Grace, Catherine, Fortress, Flicker, and Lance are no longer primarily captain heroes. In stead they work best as either utility jungle, or top lane. This is for a couple reasons, firstly: The HP barrier/healing focused itemization means that any captain that does not have HP scaling just won’t do as well. The larger factor however is that these heroes don’t contribute a lot to the extended 2v2 in mid laning phase, and because of different factors in their kit, excel with more gold and XP in their pockets, and the freedom to engage enemies in lane or jungle. Diving for damage in mid is easily punished especially when you are under leveled (which the captain always is). Grace can bully in top lane far more than she ever could in mid. Yates, Ardan, Lyra, Sen Feng (his range really helps him here), Adagio, and Phinn are the heroes you should look at from patch to patch as captains.

  • meta: Right now the top Captains are Lyra, Yates, and Sen Feng. If you can’t get your hands on them, Ardan, Phinn, or Grace (still relevant as a captain, just a better top lane) are your best picks. Adagio, can do alright with a coordinated mid lane.

  • non captain utility picks: As mentioned earlier it is quite common to have a second utility pick. This can be traditional captain heroes like Grace top, or something like utility Inara, or San Feng. Builds tend to focus on on hit damage (aftershock, pulseweave, stormcrown), and a couple defense and utility items. A second crucible for the team is often a great idea, and a good way to get HP for Pulseweave. Heroes like Grace can take advantage of the extra gold, and lack of pressure to get fountain/crucible, to actually include CP in a build mid game which captain grace cant afford. This kind of position is my favorite role in VG, because it’s basically captain but with way more freedom and flexibility. Off captain utility has more build and playstyle flexibility than any other role. \

Hope this helps a fellow captain main, welcome back to VG.


I would argue it’s easily a solid 3rd or even second item especially if you don’t need a crucible early on. Your raw barrier increase is comparable to other items, but it also scales fountain, making it a teamwide speed boost, and grants cooldown which few other captain items do rn. I’m saying it’s very very high value on Ardan.

Really helpful insights here. Thanks tons, especially Colton and Hipster.

From what i see, i take it that Rook’s decree takes higher priority than Capacitor plate on most roams? Also, where does Vision fit in all this, last item? Also, is it justified to build Metal jacket / husk and if yes, when?

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Oh yea also, is churnwalker even a thing anymore? XD