GRAGASWOLF, THE TANKY AP HYBRID
A quick look at a semi-tank build
*** FOR A QUICK OVERVIEW --> SCREENSHOTS AT THE END ***
Author: I’m Bloodwolf, Level 30 with 700+ won games, LoL beta tester since Sep ’09. Been playing for months with a variety of heroes. Gragas is really fun to play, and after much tweaking and testing, I’ve found out a really cool and solid build I’m comfortable with, so I’ve decided to have him be my 1st guide.
Hero: Gragas,The Cask Master
Lore & Skills Description: http://www.leaguecraft.com/champion/Gragas
I will give my personal comments on spells themselves right before the skill build.
Focus of this Guide (A MUST READ):
The intention of this guide is to describe a tankish support role, with some damage output and disruption. You will basically aim for a hero that will accompany your DPS, casters, and main tank if there is one, and will serve as a disrupter/slower/pusher for the team.
I mention the word “support” a lot, even though this hero has no “support” spells per se. He has no heal, no stun, no revive, no haste or direct slow. But if you play him well and use his spells wisely, he will be a valuable team member in regards to the game objective: destroying buildings to win.
How will this be accomplished you say? By being where he’s needed, when he’s needed. Here’s a list of things Gragas CAN DO with this build:
- Push complete creep waves in seconds.
- Tank some damage when needed (he can semi-tank)
- Slow enemy heroes.
- Chase enemy heroes.
- Disrupt enemy heroes groups.
- Initiate fights/ganks.
- Create push pressure.
- Drink lots of beer and still manage to run in a straight line (ok that last one was a joke :P).
And before any of you get confused, here’s a list of things this guide does NOT intend for Gragas to accomplish:
- Be the team’s main tank (although he could do an ok job).
- Be a melee DPS killer.
- Be a chubby caster with ONLY AP damage and CD Reduct.
- Be a jungler (LOL).
If any of the last 4 options mentioned above is what you are looking for, turn away, this guide is not for you.
I. Summoner Spells:
You’ll basically want to go with anything that gives you utility (mobility, initiation, escape, etc) but other options are fine, as described below.
- Teleport: overall good ability for quick defending, destroying towers, ganks, etc.
- Flash: can be used for both chasing and escaping bad situations.
Other good options:
- Clarity: this is specially useful early on, if you go with a heavy Q strat early game.
- Ignite: if you want to be more aggressive and get early AP (w mastery), this spell is for you.
- Exhaust: for increased magic damage (w mastery) and a blind/slow if needed.
- Clairvoyance: a very nice team-awareness spell that can mean the difference between a good teamfight and a bad one. Mastery on it increases it's spammability.
If you feel more comfortable with something else like cleanse or heal, go ahead and pick them. They do not suit my playstyle with this hero, and I have not tested them with this build, but if it works for you go ahead.
NOTE: I recently changed these runes a bit to eliminate AP but give you mana regen and movement speed.
A lot of people will go with “omg why don’t u take lots of CDR you noob?”. Or they might say “take some HP/armor/MR if you plan on tanking, L2P!”. Well, if you remember the introduction, you’ll also remember this is for a hybrid build, and nothing else. So Gragas will get some of that from masteries, but as far as Runes go we’ll put points into magic pen and mana regen. This way you’ll be able to spam your spells a bit more. ANd if you go Barrel Build you can keep throwing them more often since they are a bit mana intensive.
So without further ado, the runes I use on this build are the following:
- Greater Mark of Insight (+0.95 magic pen) x9
- Greater Seal of Replenisment (+0.41 mana/5 sec) x9
- Greater Glyph of Focus (-0.65% cooldowns) x9
- Greater Quintessence of Swiftness (1.5% movement speed)
Total from Runes:
- 8.5 Magic Pen
- 3.7 magic regen per 5
- -5.85% CD Reduct
- 4.5% movement speed
So with 8.5 magic pen (highest you can get from red runes), 3.7 magic ren per 5 (which is a nice number to start with), and -5.85% CD reduction, you’ll be set for early game damage and utility, which helps our big-boned friend in this build.
You want to go with the basic 9 pts in Magic Offensive, specially that 15% magic pen one (unless you want to go for Ignite), and the rest on Utility, focused on CD reduction, mana regen, Flash and Teleport basically (you’ll want to swap Flash with another spell's mastery if that’s what you’re using).
masteries with* are interchangeable
o Archmage’s Savy 3/3 (+0.6 AP per level): this will provide a small but significative AP boost through the game.
o *Deadliness 1/3 (+0.66% crit chance): you’ll really don’t need this for the build, but I take it since I need 4 for the next level and I don’t pick Exhaust.
o *Cripple 1/1 (Exhaust -10 armor/magic res): if you pick Exhaust then pick this one as well.
o Sorcery 4/4 (-3% CD Reduct): very helpful and synergetic with the Utility tree options we’ll take.
o *Archaic Knowledge (15% magic pen): a nice addition to your magic damage.
o *Burning Embers (Ignite +10 AP on CD): if you are going for Ignite, pick this mastery to gain a temporary AP boost.
Defensive: none unless you are going for a main tank build, which this guide does not cover.
o Spatial Accuracy 1/1 (Teleport -0.5 cast delay, -5 sec cd reduct): a must for quickly teleporting where you need it, when you need it.
o Perseverance 3/3 (4% HP & mana regen): this will help you stay on your lane just a bit longer.
o Awareness 4/4 (5% faster xp gain): now, you might differ here and take Expanded Mind instead (I know you Ryze users would think so ;D) but I’ve always found it’s a good thing to reach Level 6 before the enemy (granted you have not fed).
o Meditation 3/3 (+1 mana regen per sec): a small but significant boost for your needed mana regen.
o Utility Mastery 2/2 (+30% longer neutral buffs): this will help you spam your abilities a lot if you go for the mana golem, not to mention the reduced CD Reduction.
o Quickness 3/3 (+3% mov speed): we’ll need this one for our chasing and fleeing.
o *Insight 1/1 (Clarity grants same mana restore to allies): put a point in here if you’re feeling generous and are using Clarity.
o *Blink of an Eye 1/1 (Flash -15 sec CD reduct): if you go with Flash 15 secs can really make the difference between life and death.
o *Mystical Vision 1/1 (Clairvoyance +4 sec, -5 sec CD reduct): this will help a lot throughout the game, as it provides great map awareness, and can be used often enough (thx to brbpoopedmypants for recommending this).
o Inteligence 3/3 (-6% CD reduct): another great boost to your CD Reduct.
o Utility 1/1 (-15% Sum. Spell CD Reduct): one last boost for both Summoner Spells, whatever you picked.
IV. Skill Build:
There are 2 possible paths for this guide. I’ve tried both, and I prefer one over the other for a number of reasons, but I’ll go ahead and explain both. But before I jump into that, first a quick glance at the spells themselves (and the passive):
Happy Hour (2% HP regen on spell cast over 4 secs): this is what helps Gragas self-heal and stay on his lane for a longer time. Every time you cast something, you’ll get back 2% of your max HP in 4 secs. So if you want to keep healing yourself, cast something every 4 secs.
(Q) Barrel Roll (100/150/200/250/300 dmg + AP): this is your harassment tool. This will help you deal some damage and farm quick. In order to hit heroes with this you’ll need some practice and prediction, which I’ll cover in the strategy section.
(W) Drunken Rage (50/60/70/80/90 mana + 10/14/18/22/26% dmg resistance for 20 secs): the mana buff is nice early on, but the kicker of this spell is that it let’s you semi-tank all that damage coming your way. Must be cast every time you can, but good timing will also be needed for some scenarios I’ll cover in a bit.
(E) Body Slam (35% slow for 2.5 secs + 80/120/160/200/240 dmg + 66% base dmg): a very needed and used skill. This will help you keep yourself versatile through the game, and is your main mobility tool. Mastering this will be crucial for our chubby friend.
(R) Explosive Cask (200/325/450 dmg + AP + 20/30/40% AS debuff): a very nice ulti on a low CD. Helps you do tons of different things I’ll cover later as well.
** Barrel Build **
- This focuses on getting Barrel Roll (Q) early and max it out as soon as possible, with one point in Drunken Rage (W) for dmg reduction and mana regen, and getting a few pts in Body Slam (E) whenever possible.
- The objective of this build is to get early harassment in damage.
- The bad thing about it is that when you hit mid-game, you won’t have many points in Body Slam (E), so it’ll be hard for you to both run and chase.
** Slam Build **
- This focuses on maxing out Body Slam (E) 1st, adding 2 early pts in Drunken Rage (W), and neglecting Barrel Roll (Q) until level 7.
- The objective of this build is to get mobility 1st (E scales speed each pt), so when you get to mid-game you can start synergizing damage with spells & items.
- The bad thing about it is that you are pretty much unable to harass or push effectively early game.
V. Item Build:
The core items of the build consist on giving him some AP, health and mana regen. After that we throw in some armor/MR and more mana regen, and adjust as needed.
1 health potion
1 mana potion
Boots of Speed
- Boots of Swiftness
- Rod of Ages
- Innervating Locket
Locket? WTF IS WRONG W U!!!!111one:
The reason why we get Inn. Locket is that it not only helps you regen both HP and mana on each cast, but it also does the same for your allies, providing additional mana regen which we’ll need. Look at it as a mini-Soraka effect xD.
Why Double Catalyst:
These are a great way to kick off mid-game. Since early and mid is where you’ll do most of your leveling (if not all), every time you gain a level you’ll get a nice HP/mana boost for it. Not just from 1 Catalyst, but from both, since it’s Passive is not Unique, so it stacks. And it’ll pave the way for your core items, the Rod of Ages and the Locket.
If you feel you should get only 1 Catalyst and then go for one of the items then go ahead, but you’ll lose the precious double boost for leveling up.
Chalice of Harmony
This sums up the tanky/AP item build. With Sunfire Cape you’ll farm even faster, and do some additional damage when slamming onto enemy heroes. It will also give you more HP and some armor.
The Chalice will help you get even more mana regen, as well as some needed MR.
Rylai’s will give you even more HP, AP, and slow for every barrel you throw out there, not to mention stackable slow on your Body Slam.
Soul Shroud for CD Reduct/mana regen
Banshee’s Veil if the enemy team is caster heavy or you need to avoid some nasty spells
Frozen Heart for additional CD Reduct & armor
Guardian Angel if you are getting focused fired often
Void Staff if you feel you need more magic pen & dmg
Aegis of the Legion for some teamwise armor/MR/dmg (as suggested by some)
What about Lich Bane!!!?
Feel free to replace any of the additional items with Lich Bane. It gives you a nice mov speed boost, dmg after each cast (which we’ll do often) and additional AP/MR.
Just remember that each time you change an item you are trading some benefits for others, as Lich Bane doesn’t provide spell slow, armor, mana regen or flat HP, which is why I don’t pick it for my item build. You could consider switch it with Rylai, since you’ll need the HP, mana regen and armor from Chalice and Sunfire, and Lich can give you more MR and AP.
This will focus on basic and more advanced aspects of Gragas play, using the Slam Build, Teleport & Flash. And playing him as a Support Tank.
VI. Early Game:
Go ahead and pick (E) as your 1st skill. It could not only save you, but you can also use it for a 1st blood if you get the chance. Throw in Flash and you’ll be hard to catch as well.
Our 1st item will be Catalyst, so we’ll start working on it right away. Get the mana crystal and potions. The HP and mana potions are there for when you have spammed your spells too much, most of your health is gone, and you want/need a quick boost on both.
You’ll want to play PASSIVELY (unless you pick the Barrel Build and Clarity). You don’t have many tools to harass with this early, and you are somewhat squishy, so chasing too much might result in minion dmg and early death.
Whenever you get low on health, just use E and run near your tower/ally for a quick 4 sec heal. Keep doing this every 4 secs until you are back to full HP.
Once you get W, start using it whenever is off CD and also as a way of getting some needed mana back. Cast this with E for more healing if needed, and make sure you wait 4 secs between casts so you get the full benefits of his passive. You can tell how much more is left in the healing by looking at Gragas’ auras.
If you think you have a shot at killing someone (i.e. you are in the brushes with your ally and only 1 enemy hero is coming near it), press W with enough time so you get the damage reduction to kick in (you need to wait for the channeling to be fully done for this to work) and as soon as the enemy gets close enough, go ahead and meet him/her with Body Slam. As long as this hero doesn’t have a way to get away, you’ll do enough dmg to kill this player or at least drive him/her back to the base.
When you have about 1200g, port back to the base to get your 1st Catalyst and a pair of Boots. If you manage to stay longer (although unlikely) farm up your 2nd Catalyst.
Proper Body Slamming:
The chubby’s dash is one of the best spells he has. If you are chasing, aim right ahead of where the enemy is heading, so you can land a hit and slow them in the process. Autoattack them once or twice, stay behind them and then E again for another slow.
Now for the KEY ELEMENT in Body Slam. You can go through walls. Yes, it’s true, I’ve seen it, done it, mastered it. As long as the wall is not too thick, you can cross it. This includes pretty much all the walls in the map, except for a few near each base.
This will let you get away easily, by cutting through the forest if you need to. This will also let you cut ahead an enemies path by crossing to where they are heading too, or give you the element of surprise if you ever want to initiate that way.
The key aspect of this is prediction. You have to predict where your opponent might run to. They are usually behind creeps (defensive mode) or in front of them (offensive mode). So you’ll have to determine their changing fight stance every time you want to throw a barrel.
Now, do NOT aim the barrel to where they are at. Unless they are fixated on killing minions or are just plain stupid, 90% of the time they will just dodge before you can detonate if you do it this way. You have to throw it where they WILL BE AT! Most of the time this is right behind them, and if you aim barrels this way you’ll start to hit more and more.
And if you are aiming for heroes, remember to spam Q as soon as the barrel rolls away, so it is instantly detonated the second it stops.
This gets harder when you are not on the same lane (if you are shooting from a side) or if they are good and juke a lot. You have to think ahead and detect the pattern, or just simply cover all options and compromise in the middle of the area for some AoE at least. Just like Cask, this requires practice to get good at. And the kicker is that you have to learn to throw it with enough time to roll it where you want it to be at, and also have time to detonate.
Your Big Cask:
Once you get Level 6, get your Ultimate, and save it for either a gank, saving a teammate or saving yourself. The proper way to use it is to aim for a spot near the enemy, opposite of where you want them to land. Example: if you want them to fly near you, shoot it behind them. If you are saving yourself/a teammate, shoot it in front of them.
Landing R is even more important than landing Q. The tricky part about this is that sometimes enemies flash, they move unexpectedly or you’ll misclick/miss your target. Practice makes perfect, and a good tip for landing this is to watch how the enemy moves. Be patient, and throw it at a right time.
Good ways to tell if an enemy will move:
- they are pushing/killing creeps and your creepline is almost dead
- they are suddenly harmed and are now running to a safe spot
- they are startled/taken by surprise by an ally
- they juke, move left 2 right to avoid skillshots (take note of their pattern!)
Good times to use your Ultimate early game:
- when allies are pushing that low HP tower and that one guy won’t leave (push him away!)
- behind tower huggers to get an easy kill (this is done from a side where you cannot be seen like mid. Throw it in a way that will let them fly towards your teammates).
- if you need to save someone or disrupt a mini-gank party (throw in the middle/front of the gank group).
VII. Mid Game:
If you already got some barrels, and hopefully your Rod of Ages (or working towards it), go ahead and start pushing and being a little more aggressive. You can even jungle occasionally now if you want to.
Help your team push lanes and towers, and work towards the Locket, so you can provide HP and mana regen before, during, and after teamfights. This will help the team keep moving and pushing.
Using your W in Teamfights:
As stated before, you want to use W every time is off cooldown so you'll get the damage reduction. However, being that midgame is characterized by increasing skirmishes and teamfights, you'll probably want to pay attention to initiation, either by you, the enemy or an ally. Remember, you'll need at least 1 sec to chug down that whole barrel before you get the benefits from full damage reduction, so you need to be quick.
If you are caught on a teamfight, or someone jumped you/stunned you and is already whacking at your belly, you have 3 options, and they will depend on the situation:
- If it's a DPS that can kill you quick (Twitch, Ashe, Sivir) you might want to gain some time by Slamming away and then cast W. Or disengage and look for your friends.
- If it's a Tank with not much dmg/burst (Allistar) then go ahead and cast it, then proceed to either engage or look for reinforcements.
- If it's a Caster, it depends. Burst damage heroes like Annie, Veigar/Ryze, you'll definitely want to run away. If it's a squishier, more support-like casters, like Zilean or Janna, you'll have time to cast W and then engage/chase.
The rule of thumb is to know if you have time to cast W or not. If you can get in a bush then do it. If you are probably going to die then run. Cast it if you/your team re-engages.
Now, when a teamfight initiates and a couple of heroes die, but it extends itself and there's a lot of chasing involved, you'll want to time when to re-cast W cause a few secs might make the difference:
- When chasing, save W unless you are cutting ahead of someone and have the time for it.
- When fleeing, def keep running. No time to W if you are low or an enemy can 2shot-you/wear you down quickly.
- If in middle of a teamfight you ran out on it, you want to recast it if there's time or an enemy has been stunned, but avoid/cancel if a teammate is in trouble or if you need to kill someone quick. This is perhaps the hardest part in using W, cause you just wont have 1 sec to re-tank yourself up, and in many cases you will need to.
To jungle/farm well, throw your Q casket in the middle of minions/creeps, Body Slam towards them and hit Q after that. If you don’t get the wave this way, you’ll get them all really low at least. Remember to always throw the barrel right in the middle of the group of minions/creeps. This will assure you maximum damage exposition.
If there is a HUGE wave of creeps coming, you can also throw in your R Cask. This might seem like a waste, but you’ll get lots of instagold and kill maybe 2/3 waves on 1 go. Besides, his ulti is like Rammus’, less than a minute CD with CDR, so it’s spammable enough.
When enemies are near a tower, or if they try to push one of yours, a good way to combo your skills is to W before the battle, then throw FIRST your Q barrel, then while it’s rolling throw your R to the same spot, then hit Q to have both detonate at the same time, then move in with E to whoever is closest to your team/tower for maximum damage and slow.
This last combo requires precision, quick fingers, and good timing to pull it off, so make sure you have practiced it a bit before trying it on a normal game. Not hitting R is one of the worst things that can happen to Gragas, as it makes you lose your main disrupting tool, the AoE Cask.
Getting Ready for Late:
Since Mid Game is all about tearing down turrets and start ganking, Gragas is a good hero for this, since you can either farm up a couple of waves and get away with it if not hard cc’d (Body Slam + Flash), but you can also go hunting with your teammates, by slowing/nuking/launching lonely enemies for your allies (and you) to feast on.
You will also start getting a lot of HP, so you’ll be harder to kill, and will be able to tank a bit if the situation arises.
With Q+E+R the mana golem will be an easy task for you. With your massive HP and growing AP, you’ll get it in no time, and it will provide you with enough mana to keep harassing with barrels very often, as well as ticking down your Ultimate even faster.
It might also be a good idea to get some wards for your team and put a few around dragon/buffs to gain some map visibility. And if the enemy finds you, E away!
VIII. Late Game:
When you get this far, 1st of all remember your role in the team. You are there to push waves hard and fast. You are there to disrupt enemy teams, isolate threats, save teammates/yourself. You are there to survive teamfights and go on, indirectly healing/restoring teammates and yourself as the team pushes towards victory.
After you understand that, we can get on to specifics. There are several things to look for in this stage of the game.
When to Cast Your Ultimate and When Not To:
Since 5v5 fights are a common thing at this stage it’s very important to know what teammate will throw their AoE ultimate 1st, and on what order will they execute them. If your Nunu plans to open with Flash Ulti or your Fiddle wants to Ulti/Flash, shooting your Big Cask in the middle of their strong spell is definitely a BAD IDEA. This also applies to Ultimates from Morgana, Malphite, Amumu, Gangplank, Annie, and pretty much any AoE hero with a spell intended to wear down/cc the enemy while your team whacks at them. The list goes on, so TIME YOURS RIGHT!
Now, a GOOD way to use your ulti here is to let your AoE ally cast his/her, and after his/her spell is done, cast yours. This way you’ll tear apart the enemy group, already hurt, and will make it easier to rapidly focus fire the most hurt, biggest threat or loneliest guy.
Another good way to use your ulti is to save it to initiate on a specific enemy hero. Let’s say there’s a particularly nasty DPS/Caster who has been carrying the enemy the entire game, and if left unchecked will kill everyone on your team before you know what hit you. They are usually squishies, like Ashe, Tristana, Twitch, Ryze, Annie, etc…so just wait for the right time, Ulti the threat towards your team, kill, profit.
The opposite happens when there’s a specific enemy hero that has the ability to stun or disrupt your entire team, leaving your side open for terrible, terrible damage. Examples include Amumu and Malphite for example. Wait for the teamfight to start, but keep an eye open on their tanky disablers. Throw your R away just before they are about to enter in, so you can leave them outside the battle for a few seconds, hopefully long enough for your band to tear apart the DPS/Casters.
Gragas is one of the most fun heroes I’ve played. And getting good with him takes time and dedication, specially if you are not used to reacting quickly with skillshots. But that’s what my guide is here for! To tell everyone who is interested a fun and viable way to make the big guy help his team win the match!
Hope you guys enjoyed it, and feel free to comment.