I've been a fan of Gragas since he was first introduced. I played him when he first came out, had the occasional good game with, but they were few and far between. I played him after his buff, and still had very mediocre to bad games with him. And now I know that it was all because of the AP builds.
I just played a game with Gragas in which I took the essence of nicosharp's build to heart. It was kind of a goof around game for my friends and I, as our comp was pretty, well, goofy. We had me as Gragas, a Rammus, a Janna, Zilean, and a Kennen. We were facing Pantheon, Blitz, Shaco, Teemo, and a Fiddle. I was laning with Kennen, and we had some nice early game success. Around mid-game I had to take an emergency afk, so I kind of fell behind a little, but by the end I built as follows:
1. Doran's Shield + Pot
2. Boots + Brutallizer
3. Ruby Crystal > Leviathan
4. Ruby Crystal > Rejuv Pendant > Warmogg's
5. Atma's Impaler
6. late game Nashor's Tooth
I went with Cleanse and Ghost for my summoner skills.
While drunk my damage went up over 350, I had over 4200 health, my cooldowns were insignificant, I hit like a big fat truck, and I was very, very sturdy. I ended up going 7/5/12, which is alright, but it was a helluva lot of fun. If I got my mitts on Shaco or Teemo I would absolutely crush them. I didn't miss the Barrels at all, and didn't pick up rank 1 until level 7 or 8. It was definitely easier on my mana. It seemed I was a lot more threatening to my lane opponents, because they knew if they engaged me they were gonna get belly-slammed, and that I was actually equipped to fight in melee, rather than just chucking useless barrels.
One of the most fun games I've played in a long time, and it was great to finally have a good(ish) game with Gragas.