IntroductionUpdated 2-10-12: most relevant change is skill order.
TL;DR: Q max is strong for pure damage, good in lanes in which are very close or you want to push your advantage in. W scales harder for teamfight CC (due to the CDR mechanic) but Q is still very strong in teamfights as well. Levelling E over either of the two means that you are prioritizing saving yourself over dealing more damage, which is a legitimate choice in extended laning situations or with teams that are very bad at peeling for you.
Old: Riven is a highly unappreciated pick right now. Like many other champions who were not blatantly OP at release, I feel that many people took one look at her, tried a generic build that would work on a seemingly similar champion ("tanky DPS" in her case), found that it was extremely underwhelming (due to bad build, lack of skill / comfort with their skillset, and knowing what comps they fit in best), and gave her up. I feel the biggest problem that most people have playing Riven is playing her in the early levels and itemizing her correctly, and if you get both of those right, she can become the hardest carry in the game due to her insane ratios on AoE physical spells and her extremely high single target damage with her autoattack due to her passive.
21 offense is good on Riven for a couple of reasons:
1. If building AD, the bonuses gained from the offense tree (%arpen, crit, lethality, executioner) are too good to pass up - the synergy with executioner and her ultimate, for example, is awesome.
2. The offense tree in general is outstanding for gold value per point, as well as being filled with difficult-to-itemize stats (%arpen, executioner, lethality) that synergize well with Riven.
Note: Get 1 point in Summoner's Wrath if running ignite or exhaust.
Aside from the 21 offense, everything else is adaptable.
21-9-0 is probably the strongest setup in most cases. Due to the fact that the laning phase generally decides the flow of most games even more than Flash / TP CDs below the very top level, I would probably go 21-9-0 with veteran's scars for more lane control now as opposed to getting Summoner's Insight.
Note: as a toplaner who finds herself autoattack the enemy due to her passive at very early levels, I find that the Tough Skin mastery (reduced minion damage) is very worthwhile in top lane. If you expect to get hit by creeps at least 20 times over the first few levels (this is surprisingly reasonable if you go aggressive at level 1 on), those two points have already saved you 40 damage in lane. If you are less passive or do not want to bother, you can simply get more points in Mres or Armor as needed.
I run the armor runepage against heavy physical damage dealers such as Garen and GP in toplane. Combined with a cloth5pot opening and smart play, as long as you are aware of burst potential, you can easily outsustain many of the heavy physical damage dealers that you meet top. Because heavy physical damage dealers generally do not do massive magic damage, I run scaling mres against them. Flat is fine too, it is better in lane. The difference isn't too huge really.
I run the page with flat AD and flat MR against more mixed damage toplaners such as Udyr. Flat AD is a nice stat to have because of the slight scaling for all your abilities, but is easily replaceable with arpen if you are only looking for damage output. When you feel that flat armor quints is not necessary in lane, Mres, flat AD, and Arpen are all viable replacements against a more magic dealing opponent.
I think teleport is the most powerful summoner that a top laner can run if they know how to play with it correctly. It gives you flexibility in early trades against a laner that does not have it because you can teleport back and come back with additional pots and a ward against ganks if you feel that they will be relevant. It also extends your map control to the entire map, giving you countergank presence in duo lane and your team greater dragon control especially if the enemy top laner is not running teleport. Of course, if you run teleport and your enemy is running exhaust or ignite, you cannot completely dedicate to a level 1 trade (which is a shame because Riven's level 1 is absolutely amazing) but as long as you can keep that in mind I usually have very few problems laning with her.
Flash allows for a r -> flash -> (e if necessary) -> w -> auto -> r active combo against a opponent who is low hp. Ghost is not necessary because unless you're chasing an opponent over like 3000 range or something your skills and knockback / stun is sufficient, and if you're chasing people around you're not making use of your low cds and the active on your ultimate. Flash has the most utility and is the best defensive summoner in most scenarios.
Other summoners to note:
Makes your burst in lane more threatening - good against healers and people whom you want to shut down or in close lanes.
More lategame utility than ignite, stronger for immediate lane exchanges than teleport. It has less immediate synergy with her ultimate than ignite, but if you think you will be fighting in the middle of the lane or towards your tower more than towards theirs, then this spell is an excellent choice. (Riven tends to push and win lanes by herself, so ignite tends to have more synergy).
Viable. With GA and large shielding from E, this usually isn't necessary, but it has its time and place.
Falling out in popularity on most champions these days, the fact that riven's e and q cannot cross natural walls means that flash will be able to save you in many situations where ghost would not be able to, as well as being able to seal many kills that ghost would not allow you to over walls etc. Riven has enough mobility (and her ult's particle is so fast) such that most kills she wouldn't be able to get with flash, she wouldn't be able to get with ghost either.
The biggest draw for teleport is that it lets you farm up while having map presence, and farm on her goes very far (as well as your final build being really expensive). Also, when Riven has her first couple of main items built, she becomes extremely difficult to 1v1. Teleporting when a fight has started also generally means that the start of fight cc is used, and gives Riven the clear to go and 1v5.
Teleport is less likely to yield immediate kills than the other combat summoners, but allows Riven to go back if she ever finds herself disadvantaged and to buy and heal and go in, giving her lane power in that sense. If you think that winning lane is more important (lack of dragon coordination, very close matchup, etc.) ignite and exhaust are other strong summoners to run.
Item BuildsI'll go in depth into items because that is where I feel the vast majority of riven players go wrong.
Lots of people have the mentality that they have to build riven as a "tanky DPS" with mallet / warmog + atma and other stuff. Whether this is due to Xpecial's lacking first riven guide (the second is better but I feel ghostblade is a mediocre choice on her) where he just listed random items that characters like Lee Sin could reasonably get or a preconception of how she should be played because she is melee, I do not know.
She scales best with 3 things and 3 things only.
1. DAMAGE. Her survivability and more obviously her damage output scale with this due to her e and her entire kit respectively. The fact that you get free EHP out of the more times you cast your E makes building any sort of health worse and worse the later the game goes on. Her E is so batshit insane that if you get off several E's in the course of the fight it is more effective than jax's passive or the vast majority of skills and passives that give free HP.
2. PURE ARMOR AND MRES. Due to the fact that you get free HP out of building massive AD, then to bolster your survivability all that is left is the relevant defensive stats. Guardian angel is super good because it gives you a shitton of this, and its passive also synergizes very well with her e and
3. LIFESTEAL. If you build tanky enough for step 2, then combined with your e, lifesteal makes you super sustained in fights. You are probably have more survivability with a decent build that contains lifesteal than some dumb atmogs build because you will heal as long as you don't get instagibbed, and with proper AD, an extra 500 damage shield with E will prevent you from being so. It also doesn't hurt that the item that gives the most lifesteal also gives the most AD in the game either.
You don't need the mobility that the ghostblade in xpecial's updated guide gives, as your q and e will let you go where you want in teamfights. You do like CDR, but not to the point where you would get a ghostblade over LW against most teams (if even only 1 or 2 people are building armor you'll probably get more out of LW's greater AD and passive) on a super powerful lategame champ.
She is quite similar to Jax (except scaling from AD only instead of both AP and AD) in terms of getting free HP from offensive stats, and needs to be built as such.
My usual build:
-> -> / / parts as needed (completing the BT first takes precedence over finishing GA) -> -> / / as needed (selling the wriggles for your last item).
The reasoning behind each item is this:
: I have tried various openings, such as dblade, cloth5pot, boots3pot, null mantle 2pot, whatever. except for a select few matchups against some casters, cloth5pot generally seems to be the strongest opening in the vast majority of lane matchups (especially top, where I feel riven is at home). Even against casters, cloth5pot helps against autoattack harass (which is extremely noticeable) and gives the riven player a nice margin of error to work with. In matchups where the opponent goes dblade or boots 3 pot (not giving riven the respect she deserves!) you can win via straight attrition. in cloth5pot matchups, riven's superior damage with no mana constraints usually wins you exchanges as well unless you take abnormal amounts of creep aggro. In general, a very safe, a very strong, and a very direct counter opening to most top laners.
: gives all 3 of the stats that riven loves (mentioned above) and a free ward to boot! This is your laning item, as well as being just a nice little bit of everything until you really start rolling. There is at least one hero that becomes immediately more sustainable than you with wriggles (udyr) when you both get it, but don't give a damn cause you will outscale the bloody hell out of him later. Wriggles will let you farm against any laner as long as you know when to play passive and when to abuse the imba lifesteal it gives. If you have immediate trouble finishing your wriggles, you CAN go dblades and save the cloth for GA later, but you forsake the sustain that wriggles gives (which makes up for her natural lack of sustain: her base hp regen, while great, cannot make up for the sustain that a lot of skills and passives that champs like yorrick and udyr have) as the lifesteal on dblades are much more ignorable than that of wriggles. You don't get wriggles for the immediate damage or impact on teamfights though, but mostly as a method to be able to farm up for your
: godly on her for abovementioned reasons. As soon as you get some stacks rolling on a bloodthirster, you are very powerful in teamfights. Also, if your laning opponent is unfortunate enough to still be laning against you, you can destroy him and then lifesteal whatever meager damage he has dealt to you. You will definetly notice the boost in damage on all of your skills and e as soon as you have completed the BF, and it will only get bigger as you complete your BT.
and : both give very good defensive stats, and both of their passives are great on riven. If your opponent team is full of AD, then you may want to complete the chain vest or cloth armor before completing your mercs (or both!) for midgame fights. If you need immediate oomph in a teamfight because your team is struggling, then you should consider grabbing some of these before finishing your BT or BF; this is however highly suboptimal because Riven's weakest point is when she is farming for her first BF sword, and unless you can make an immediate advantage through winning a teamfight with the increased survivability, it just lengthens the time in which her damage output is mediocre (as she scales from BONUS AD). When she has GA completed and BT stacked though, she is incredibly powerful, doing massive damage and being hard to focus due to her 150+ armor (often hitting 180-200 lategame depending on masteries and runes) and the GA passive combining well with her e and lifesteal.
/ Additional / : More damage / lifesteal. Order is situational, if they're stacking armor because they are terrified of you LW, BT and Iedge are both solid choices if you have the gold as well. I will usually get whichever I can afford if I'm not going or have already completed LW. Neither is usually strictly superior to the other if you haven't sold your wriggles yet, but BT is more affordable and helps surviving more, IEdge is more damage (but I hardly ever feel a lack of damage at this point in the game). After you get Iedge, make sure to start chugging green elixers as it really is a huge increase in crit, and if fights are close (which they generally tend to not be after you finish most of your core) then red pots as well. Chugging all 3 pots is a huge aid when you're ending the game or have your build completed.
: Against enough suppression or CC, you can grab this item in the stead of one of your damage items and use it accordingly. If you have good teammates to peel for you or are skilled at positioning post GA, not necessary in my opinion as the GA is usually enough to deter a team from 100% focusing you without your team being able to stop them or take advantage of the time during which their cc's are on CD. But it does give more room for error and more ability to bait as well. Even if I did get it, I would probably sell it for a damage item end-end game; the additional lifesteal from a BT would usually have more impact on survivability as long as one didn't get taken from 100%hp to 0% instantly.
: When you have a lead in lane, especially against those champions who don't itemize armor early (teemo or whoever) dealing near true physical damage and having additional CDR is a great way to push advantages to further kills or earlier tower kills. Also gives you more midgame presence. If you have the choice between a brutalizer and BF sword though, I would almost always go for the BF sword.
: Good in lane, but midgame wriggles does more for Riven as well as giving her a free ward. I would not stack these with wriggles (would delay the first BT / GA too much), but would get as a replacement for it, especially if I was getting brutalizer. The pros are more burst in lane, some extra buffer HP before your E is completely ridiculous, especially in the lanes in which you need it; valuable in close lane matchups or if you don't have enough gold for a bigger item like a BF sword or wriggles.
Attack speed is nice and does make your combo chaining slightly smoother, but it is not worth giving up an additional bloodthirster for phantom dancer because of the additional survivability you gain from the lifesteal and AD. Due to your insane ratios as well, you will most likely lose out on overall damage by doing so as well (because of her passive and ultimate, she gets so much out of AD, even on pure autoattack dps as compared to pdancer, not to mention her skills). CDR is also nice but not is not as good as flat AD in most scenarios for the same reason: it is also gainable from a consumeable like aspd and blue buff also gives it as well should you be able to steal one at any point. Riven's holy trinity is DAMAGE, RESISTANCES and LIFESTEAL.
Passive: Runic Blade
Riven's abilities charge her blade, causing her basic attacks to deal 5/15/25/35/45/55/65/75/85/95/105/115/125/135/145/155/165/175 (+100% of attack damage) bonus physical damage. Riven's blade may be charged up to 3 times and expends one charge per attack.
Part 1 of why her scaling is so amazing. Making full use of this decides whether your dps in fights is great or godly.
Q: Broken Wings
Riven strikes out in front of her in a short line. This ability may be reactivated 2 additional times.
1st Use: Slashes forward, dealing 30/50/70/90/110 (+60% of attack damage) physical damage to all units she comes in contact with.
2nd Use: Slashes forward, dealing 30/50/70/90/110 (+60% of attack damage) physical damage to all units she comes in contact with.
3rd Use: Leaps into the air and slams the ground dealing 30/50/70/90/110 (+60% of attack damage) physical damage and knocking nearby enemies away from the point of impact.
Cooldown 13 seconds
The numbers may look mediocre but with 240 bonus ad (which is reasonable late game with ulti if you're farming well) and ult on each q does 398 damage. With the fact that it is aoe and it moves your character, you need to learn how to chain this skill with your others to get to the targets that you want to while dealing damage. The third q is the most useful because of its use as a knockback, so chaining two qs and then an e and the last q for a knockback and thus a free autoattack before chaining in your w stun allows for a great mix of cc and damage. The good use of this skill really sets apart good and mediocre Riven players. Due to the fact that the cd resets from the time that you start the combo, this is your most reliable way to keep passive charges up. THe additional mobility that it gives you lets you chain q autos as well.
The usage of this skill in lane determines your power early levels - make sure not to miss them on the opponent!
W: Ki Burst
Riven's sword emits a burst of runic energy that shocks nearby enemies, dealing 50/90/130/170/210 (+100% of attack damage) physical damage and stunning them for 0.5 seconds.
Cooldown 11/10/9/8/7 seconds
With your ultimate on, midlate-game this can do 450-500 damage quite easily. Combined with the range increase that your ultimate gives you, the damage that this skill deals due to its aoe is quite large if used well. The cc to stop interrupts and chase and hold still people fleeing from your might is always welcome as well. In lane it is the bane of enemy champions that have inferior sustain to you when you get your wriggles, and it is a great disengage when the enemy jungler comes round to gank.
With the nerf to W and buff to Q, it has become strictly inferior to Q in terms of DPS. Still a must-level for the decreased CD and greater damage.
Riven does a quick dash in the direction of your cursor and becomes shielded, blocking up to 40/70/100/130/160 (+100% of attack damage) incoming damage for 2.5 seconds.
Cooldown 11/10/9/8/7 seconds
The skill that sets riven apart from other potential hard carries. The fact that she has a low cd shield that scales with AD that also functions as a gap closer / maker gives her lots of flexibility in teamfights and great difficulty to kite or hard engage on compared to other squishy ad champions. Combined with lifesteal, armor, mres, and AD, this gives her great sustain in lane, teamfights, and the ability to focus down somebody with ease.
R: Blade of the Exile
Riven's weapon surges with spiritual energy for 15 seconds, granting her 20% bonus attack damage, increased range on her damaging spells and attacks, and the ability to use Wind Slash once.
Wind Slash: Riven fires a shockwave that deals from 80/120/160 (+60% of ability power) to 240/360/480 (+180% of ability power) physical damage to all enemies hit, increasing based on how much health they are missing.
Cooldown 75/60/45 seconds
The biggest reason for riven's great scaling, the 1.2 bonus ad makes all of her skills and her passive along with increased ranged on her auto and spells solidifies her as an absolute beast when she gets her core finished. The aoe execute function is fun and brutal with enough AD. There are two ideal scenarios that it can be used in: both teams clash, you get a couple of q's and a w off, they take significant damage, your team if it has enough aoe also gets people down low, you ult them, get a kill or two and the others try to scurry away. Second, you attack vital targets (ADs like cait or vayne or kog and a support) and when either try to flash away you ult in the direction they flashed in and the superior particle speed will catch them. Making sure that you use the ult before the active runs out is a must in teamfights, as the damage is huge. Even if it doesn't kill anybody the aoe damage on any damaged target is significant.
Since it scales off of bonus AD like all of riven's skills, this skill gets a huge power bonus after you get a BF item; it has the highest AD scaling in the game on its max damage (1.8x on max damage) and becomes stronger than garen ulti in an AoE after 1 BT.
After the changes to Riven's Q and W, I feel that her Q is sufficiently strong to be leveled first if desired. However, W and E's CDs reduce with level, so there are several different scenarios in which you could vary your skill order.
1. Against pokers whom you would want to run oom / not engage head on at level 1:
You could grab a point in E at level 1 if you are confident in your ability to reaction - E, say, a GP parley or Pantheon spear and make them waste their mana at earlier levels. Due to their passives, engaging full on at level 1 is often suicide.
E @ level 1 and then flexible depending on how hard you want to commit at any given level
2. People against whom you run very close in trades at medium levels:
Rumble / Olaf have good damage at level 3-4 and beyond, Rumble due to his low CD and high base numbers kit and Olaf due to his true damage mechanic on his E. Against these folks, the increased pure DPS that you get from maxing Q is superior to the lower CD on E & W, each of which still has longer CDs than, say, Rumble and Olaf's main nukes.
3. People you would bully regardless of whatever you leveled:
R>W>E>Q for decreased CD on W and E for teamfights and more frequent harassment and overall safety in lane and from ganks
4. You do well and want to safeguard your advantage:
R>W>E>Q after however many ranks of Q you took to gain your advantage, higher ranks of E are stronger defensively than Q
5. You do well and want to push your advantage:
R>Q / W> the other not leveled first > E
Greater damage to force kills more easily
She gains 36% and 40% cdr on her w and e respectively from leveling them from 1->5.
Q will have more damage per sec at all stages of the game, but consistently using your q sets up a pattern of predictability for ganks as well as being less likely to have E and W off cooldown to escape from ganks as well as forcing you to commit to trades.
Everything in this game is risk reward, and if you feel if the reward from leveling any of her skills outweighs the respective risks (weaker in teamfights, easier to gank, more predictable, less mobile, less cc, etc.) then go ahead and do so.
Regardless of what you level you should be fine in most lanes, and in some lanes some skills are better than others, as might be obvious to some enemy laners whose mana you can drain or burst damage dealers who aim to get you low enough to dive in for the kill by maxing E.
You can also do well by maxing w for enemies who have to bring the fight to you to win the lane (i.e. they dont want to trade farm with you) and/or are extremely mobile yet come into melee range to deal damage (renek & lee come to mind).
Q is strong versus those who typical w max builds come dangerously even in early fights yet are winnable if you had a little more oomph early (Rumble or Olaf). In this case you may as well go all in for the 1v1, and probably would want to run ignite or exhaust along with this build.
Early GameRiven's level 1 is terrifying. It should not be played passively if possible. With flat AD quints and the masteries above, your passive gives you 10 additional damage on an autoattack with it charged, each q does 37 damage per hit, and she has 67 base damage on her autoattack.
So before resistances, if she gets a full combo with q auto q auto q auto off, she deals 342 damage total. That is quite a bit. Of course, with resistances and a margin of error of one less autoattack, it will come out to less, but it is still extremely formidable.
As Riven, you want to general take creep advantage level 1 or 2. Even if it means that you eat a little poke, suck it up and push the wave so that you will hit level 2 before the opponent (or at least get rid of the melee minions as early as possible). From there you can push your advantage and go aggressive with your q.
If you hit level 2 before your opponent and have already gotten level 1 damage on him, you can go again and chain in your w when you feel necessary. He should be near dead and forced to pop a pot. By nature of this kind of aggression, you are a target for ganks, so it is good to be wary of where the enemy jungler has started / is at any given time. If you feel the threat of being ganked early is very high, you might even request cvs / wards being put down by your support for toplane. Aside from ganks, there are relatively few lanes that you should lose straight up top lane if you open cloth5pot. The one thing to be wary of is if you run teleport to not go full retard against an opponent with exhaust or ignite, and to know your limits. This requires a little bit of falling and getting back up again (i.e. playing certain matchups until you know your limits and theirs) but once you have a good feel for it you can do well.
An example in screenshots: (some of the timers on the skills may be wrong because I used pause in LoLReplay)
The only thing to worry against most bruisers top is getting ganked, and I requested a cv at GPÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wolves and saw him heading towards his own wraiths and thus am able to play this far out without worry.
Against junglers that are very flexible or can gank very early, you may want to request a ward from your support in top river if you want to be able to exert this kind of lane pressure. If the lane is going to be passive (not to RivenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strength imo) you can forego this and play safe in lane.
Laning matchupsAgainst many typical bruisers and toplaners, Riven has an extremely easy time in lane with the correct runepage. Combined with her high base hp regen (I believe it is the or one of the highest in the game), earlygame runes and masteries as well as her high base stats and stat gains leave her in a very nice position against most pokers.
This list isn't comprehensive, just some of the more common toplane picks at the time of this guide's creation. Please note any difficult lanes in the comment section below, and other players and myself can play and discuss possible adaptations in playstyle or item/runing to fight these matchups.
Notable easy matchups that are considered strong toplaners include:
Renekton & Talon (if you run your armor page, they cannot play attrition with Riven: Renekton's q heal does not make up for the damage that Riven's q and w do at early levels, and if he tries to run boots 3 instead of cloth he will get destroyed very quickly: Talon has difficulty trading and is forced to farm with rake very quickly)
Akali (with the flat AD and MR page, she gets destroyed. 100%; cannot deal damage through Riven's shield at higher levels, or even through her base HP regen at level 1)
Some close matchups:
GP: Be super aggressive when you have the creep advantage. You actually can trade very effectively, even if he gets the lucky Parley crits. Just open cloth+5pots. He will be oom before you run out of potions as long as you aren't just sitting taking free parley hits (getting early levels of e is effective to this end). If you just focus on being extremely aggressive after level 3 (and making sure to use creep waves to your advantage) you can win trades, as with her entire kit Riven has enough mobility and damage to beat out GP's passive or run away as needed; with her stun, she also forces GP to either remove scurvy to continue an even trade at the cost of significant mana or to lose the trade.
Just remember, be careful of his level 1 and 2. His passive makes committed fighting to GP at these levels a nightmare, especially if he has a combat summoner and you are running teleport. In this scenario, get E at level 1 and attempt to shield as many Parrley's as possible. With practice, reaction E'ing his Q is easily doable, and will not only force his wave to push towards you (opening him to ganks) but also allow you to stall the lane until you get level 3 and can be the one initiating the aggression to great effect.
If you are quick enough, reaction E'ing GP's Parrley will make the lane smooth. Just keep a mental count of the Parrley CD and shield right as he uses it. The delay is very short but if you are anticipating it you can shield off a lot of the damage then proceed to hurt him badly.
Pantheon: Seeing what items he has opened and the runes/masteries he's running is crucial to victory in this matchup. If he runs boots 3 pot, his early trades will not be overwhelmingly in his favor and you can play in a normal manner. If he opens dblade, his early trades will be in his favor and his subsequent performance in lane will depend on his early killing or denial of cs for you. Early levels of E, even at level 1 if you feel you need it, can help to run him oom as well as allowing you to pick up cs without taking debilitating damage early on. Cloth5pot and armor runes definitely needed in this lane. Its kind of like playing against a Garen with range, which is really annoying as you might suspect (your w won't prevent his damage from range, which makes getting it at level 2 debatable).
Tigerdyr: You can't let him regen HP and Mana off his turtle stance. The only way udyr can gain a definite advantage pre-wriggles is by having mana to spare to spam turtle and tiger in exchanges. You can run him out of mana by not backing out of exchanges and getting off your combo for every tiger he lands on you with 3q's, passive enhanced autos, and a w if he goes for additional autos or tries to run away. Note the global CD between stances, and throw in the w after about a second if you think he's going to turtle immediately after to absorb damage. As soon as he does throw up the turtle, back up and lasthit: try to punish him when the active shield falls off to maximize damage and to prevent him from autoing with the turtle passive up.
Olaf: If he ever gets the lead, i.e. fed a kill by your jungler or yourself, his true damage makes it tough to keep farming because with low bonus AD your shield can't absorb his e if he levels it first. Early levels are in your favor, and your kill burst potential is higher when you have your ultimate. His damage over long laning is tough to beat though, so you want to go for the kill with the aid of a jungler or with good e's and w's lowering his hp to killable range with your ultimate. Definitely a matchup that doesn't allow for many mistakes though. A matchup in which getting dblades is worthwhile, because his midgame punishes relying on defensive stats, regen, and no HP: rather than buying chain vests or saving up for a BF sword, having additional HP will allow you to come ahead in extremely close exchanges.
Mid GameYou have several options in the midgame.
1. Continue trading farm. Seeing as you scale harder than just about anybody top, this trade usually comes out in your favor.
2. If you have teleport and they don't (whether it is down or if they did not take the summoner): try to push the wave / send your opponent back if possible. If not, then you may take tower damage / lose tower. Use your judgement to see if this is a good trade or not. Ask your team to start dragon, and teleport and win the fight there. If the opponents start a dragon, tell your team to keep a spare ward on them in case if enemy clears the wards and teleport to a ward that is placed during the fight, and clean up.
3. If you both have teleport: will the opponent be stronger than you in a 5v5 fight? Because your w and q and r are aoe, if it comes down to a 5v5 engagement, the answer that may surprise you is that they usually will not be assuming similar farm.
As long as you're farming well, you are progressing your way to the
Late GameShe is stronger than ANYBODY as long as you position and play yourself somewhat like what you really are, the hardest (AoE) carry in the game. Unless you are the absolute tankiest person on your team you don't run in like a "tanky DPS". Let your teammates soak up the engagement cc, whether that be tibbers or galio ultimate. If you can avoid the majority of AoE cc and can get in a position to deal damage, you have done your job. Your e and q give you massive mobility, even through slows. As long as you're whacking something, you are doing your job. If you are whacking a squishy, even better for you. Her single target DPS, while amazing with her passive and ult on, is not her greatest strength. Her AoE damage in q, w, and r can easily add up to the thousands in teamfights with good application.
Even if the team is more spread out, if they are focusing anybody other than you it is usually very easy to land your aoe on 3-4 people with the range increase on her skills from her ult.
If I haven't sold you yet, here are some numbers. With a completed build, I see myself doing 1300-1400 damage crits lategame with passive and ult on, not to mention the 500 damage aoe nuke ministun on w (which is actually incredibly useful in teamfights, if your team has an aoe ultimate it is a really good setup / channel interrupt as well as dumb aoe damage on low cd), 500 damage shield on a super low cd esp with blue elixir and or buff (when you can shield every 4 seconds for 500 damage that adds up VERY quickly), and of course her ult which executes anybody who flashes away from your initial qwe damage or their entire team if they attempt to stand and fight. Lategame, as long as you take away their health to about 25-35%, her ultimate almost always lands a kill with enough AD, even against semitanky champions.
Team FightsDon't just blindly r->qqqweqqweqweqweqweqwe. Getting the most out of lifesteal and your insane 1.8 scaling on your autoattacks is what makes or breaks a Riven player. Of course if you can be autoattacking and using your skills on the enemy Caitlyn or Vayne, do so (and she is really exceptional at taking them down). However, most reasonable teamfights start off with the two teams hitting each other and the enemy ad and support starting off to the side away from you. You can start off with a q or two and your ult turned on, and if the ad ever hits you while you're not cc'd, use your e and the third q to jump on them, autoattack, w, and then try to land your ult on as many people as possible. Don't charge super blindly though, and don't be the first to soak up all of the aoe cc. Use positioning, common sense, and your flash to do what you need to do.
Chaining in autoattacks inbetween q's is optimal in terms of damage output most of the time, because q's cd is set from the first q's activation. However, there will be times you need to get the 3rd q to interrupt a channel or for the AoE knockback. Again, common sense cannot fail you here.
Final CommentsMost games don't run out long enough that you will get all 6 items, but if it ever does and your teamcomp is not terrible, you should win, because you scale so hard. She has incredible scaling, to the point of which trading farm with anybody is a good trade for Riven's team while looking in the lategame, and needs to be played and built as such to get full effectiveness out of her.
Her strength, once again, is not her 1v1 DPS. She does have a good 1v1 kit with her high mobility and CC from the Q knockback and ministun, but many other champions can claim this kind of lategame monster status (Vayne, Nasus, Trynd, etc.) However, unlike these other 1v1 monsters, Riven has a far superior AoE kit; this game is ultimately a team game, and a champion with the ability to dish out monstrous damage to an entire team at a time can set up a situation where an opponent carry will find herself with no teammates if Riven should get her whole spell kit off onto the enemy team.
Please note that the guide is a general guideline to get started for Riven players. I think that trying to list every single possible build for various 'scenarios' is rather silly, as there will be times when players have to learn how to adapt in order to succeed. Because Riven excels at trading against typical bruisers, learning who is an exception to this rule and adapting playstyle and other factors as needed to bring the game to a point at which Riven is stronger than her lane opponent is crucial to growth as a player overall. The builds and skill orders in this guide will work in 90% of matchups toplane, and adapting to the other 10% is both the job and mark of a good player.