In Dominion, he's a strong bottom pick, though he has a lot of weaknesses that can be exploited. On Summoner's Rift, he's a strange pick that nobody knows where to place. We'll talk about either case this week and some things you can do to handle them.
I would embed the Heimerdinger champion spotlight, but the information in it is completely outdated. Unlike the Shaco spotlight, where Shaco was changed but more or less playable in the same way, Heimerdinger is pretty nerfed from his state in the spotlight and most of the info is incorrect.
Heimerdinger is a mage who utilizes deployable turrets to attack enemies. The turrets are effectively allied minions in all respects except that they do not move. They follow all the normal rules for targeting that allied minions do; they won't target champions by default. However, Heimy's turrets will assist him if he attacks an enemy champion in their range.
Heimerdinger's turrets are on a very short cooldown, allowing him to place turrets in quick succession if he has any in reserve. He builds them slowly over time, and can hold up to two at once (if his turret skill is level three or higher). Cooldown reduction affects his build time; this also means that his ultimate, UPGRADE!!!, improves his build speed. This means that destroying Heimer's turrets might lead to their quick replacement if he has any in reserve, but it might also mean that he must wait quite a while to get two of them out if you destroy them quickly after they are deployed.
Heimerdinger's W propels rockets at the three nearest enemy targets in a huge range (1000, a bit less than the range of passive auras and Nidalee spears). If you're Heimerdinger, you want one of those to be a champion; the rockets are expensive in terms of mana, and you don't need them for push. If you're facing him, you want to have three minions between you and him unless he's fired rockets recently. The rockets are his most effective poking tool, so avoid them in whatever way you can. They deal magic damage, so you can block them with Morgana's shield, or with any other shield that would normally stop pokes.
Heimer's E throws a very slow-moving skillshot flashbang grenade. If it hits very close to an enemy, it stuns him for a brief moment. If it hits at all, it deals magic damage and blinds the target. The blind lasts for quite a while and is very good at shutting down enemy auto-attackers in team fights. As Heimer, you want to either save it for defense at close range (it moves slowly and is easy to dodge) or for team fights where enemies are less likely to juke it. It also grants vision of the area in which it detonates for a few seconds and can be used to reveal foes in brush or the fog of war. It is especially effective at deterring melee champions. Avoid diving onto Heimerdinger directly unless you think you can kill him even if he stuns you.
Heimerdinger's ultimate fully heals his turrets, speeds up his grenade, and lets him shoot five rockets instead of three. He can use it to shoot past a greater than normal number of minions to kill a foe with his rockets, and if an opponent engages him, it buffs his turrets to grant movement slow, making it unlikely that foe will be able to escape. Simply having his ultimate makes him build turrets faster and speeds the cooldown of his rocket and grenade, making him passively more deadly. It also speeds up its own cooldown. Because Heimer gets up to 20% CDR from his ultimate, he generally does not need CDR at all on Summoner's Rift (where he will likely get the blue buff) and needs very little in Dominion.
On Summoner's Rift
Heimerdinger has a lot of trouble in Summoner's Rift. As I've mentioned in previous columns, pushing is a bad thing. Unfortunately, Heimerdinger's toolset basically forces him to push his lane. When you place a turret down, either the turret will die to the enemy minion wave or the minions will die to your turret. If the minions die to your turret, the lane gets pushed. Unless the enemy has strong counter-pushing ability, I would not advise placing turrets in an attempt to push out your lane.
A more passive strategy for Heimerdinger involves the use of turrets as wards or to clear jungle camps. This can let him get ahead easily without aggressive pushing, but he will still want to keep a turret available to help him deal with the lane. This also should not keep Heimer from buying wards, as he is very squishy and has few escape tools outside of his stun grenade.
Heimerdinger is most commonly played as a solo mid or solo top champion, though solo mid is a better place for him. Unfortunately, he is fairly easy to harass and gank, which can make a solo lane difficult. Still, there are many Heimerdinger experts out there who can do well despite these drawbacks.
Heimerdinger is also frequently played as a bottom lane support. I do not agree with this at all, as he has few abilities outside of his grenade that are suitable for a support champion. He can place his turrets as wards, but putting them anywhere in the lane has strong potential to rob his carry of last-hits and firing rockets to harass also aids in lane push, which hurts his lane.
Heimerdinger works as either a top or bottom lane champion. I feel that he is more versatile in top lane, as he can use turrets to scout the jungle and his rockets and grenade are very powerful in team fights. He requires a bit different playstyle to be effective than other champions, but when played properly he can create powerful zones of control anywhere on the map, which can then be used as ambush points for your team.
It's hard to deal with a top Heimerdinger; if you find a turret in the jungle, kill it quickly and back off (the enemy team is probably coming for you). If he places turrets in the lane, deal with them as safely as possible to cripple Heimer's ability to put on pressure elsewhere. Diving on Heimerdinger is generally not that impactful compared to a heavy damage dealer; if his turrets are dead, Heimerdinger is much less dangerous.
In bottom lane, Heimerdinger is a strong pusher and can deal with a wide variety of opponents. When I was fairly inexperienced at Dominion, the community generally considered him to be the best bottom lane champion. Now we know he has a number of weak matchups, several of which are among the best bottom laners in the game. He is still considered strong, though he is more of a draft counterpick than a solid overall choice.
Like in Summoner's Rift, Heimerdinger is extremely susceptible to ganks. He pushes hard with his turrets, which opens him up to attacks from enemies coming from the jungle. It can be best if you simply push the lane up and base rather than try to actually siege the enemy turret. If the enemy team has a Heimerdinger in bottom lane and he is winning, don't let him enjoy the victory even if you're not laning against him. Gank his brainy yordle face! If you can give the enemy bottom turret to your ally, it will bring you a lot closer to victory and your bottom laner will love you for it.
Heimer is a team player
On Summoner's Rift, Heimerdinger is extremely dependent on farm. His turrets have poor AP scaling, but they attack fairly quickly and consistently while also shredding armor and magic resist. The turrets are only good if they are not destroyed, though; make sure you have two in reserve before a teamfight starts and don't waste them between fights!
Laying a turret down during a battle decreases the likelihood that the enemy will go after them; for best results you should also spread them out to reduce the chance of them dying to AoE spells. Also make sure you place them a little bit away from your friends, again to reduce the chance of getting turrets dropped to AoE.
Because turrets count as minions, they can be used to block or reduce the impact of certain skills. Abilities such as Blitzcrank's grab or Rammus' powerball can be blocked with a timely turret drop. If you're laning against Heimer as someone like Morgana, make sure you're aware of whether or not he knows this trick. The last thing you want is to waste a Dark Binding on his turret.
Heimerdinger has mana problems. As Heimer you should be very careful about spamming spells, as they are expensive and cool down quickly. Against Heimer, you can abuse this weakness by encouraging him to waste his mana. Destroying his turrets will force him to drop new ones (which costs mana) and you can sometimes bait a less-skilled Heimer's rockets with clever positioning near your minions. If you're in Dominion, make sure you deny Heimerdinger the health relics whenever possible, and if you're on Summoner's Rift, make a strong effort to counter-jungle his blue buff as he is very dependent on it.
If you are playing against Heimerdinger, always be aware of allied minion positioning and only move ahead of them if his rockets are unavailable or you can shield yourself from them somehow. Always count minions against Heimy! You don't want to suddenly be caught with only two and give up health for free. As Heimerdinger, you should do the reverse. Hold your rockets until your opponent moves ahead or he is down to only two blockers. Also, if you know where the enemy jungler is, you may want to pop your ultimate just to get in some free rocket harass.
Always have a backup plan as Heimerdinger. He has few methods of getting out of trouble, so you need to back away from trouble before it gets to you. Ask for clairvoyance before you push, then place a ward so you don't get caught by surprise. If you're in Dominion, you may want to put a turret in the jungle near the health relic so you can see a gank coming. Above all, don't overextend in teamfights; killing Heimy kills his turrets too, even if he revives with Guardian Angel. Don't put yourself at risk unless you've got a good plan for getting out of it!
We understand what it's like to climb the skill ladder in League of Legends. The Summoner's Guidebook teaches you the tools you need to get a competitive edge. Whether you're climbing the ranked ladder, playing Draft Dominion, or getting crushed by intermediate bots, every enemy has a weakness. And every Thursday, Patrick Mackey shows how you can improve improve on yours.