Hi! I’m Aqua Dragon. I ended Season 4 at Master 1 and I play AP Gnar on my ranked smurf, and am also the co-creator of www.bestbans.com !
I also play: then make guides on them!
Keep in mind this is not meant to be an exhaustive guide. It is meant to outline the basic principle, items, runes, and playstyle of AP Gnar. As such, I won't be delving into why certain customization choices were made. However, my hope is that I will have explained AP Gnar enough that my rationale will be a self-evident extension, and to also allow you to make personal customizations as well.
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Pros and Cons
- Massive spell pen makes Hyper do %HP true damage
- Early and cheap power spikes create excellent lane harass
- Hybrid damage makes defensive itemization difficult
- Prevents Mini-Gnar from falling off late game
- Earlier points in Hop creates stronger mobility
- Heavy synergy between spell pen and Sunfire/Thornmail
- Mega Gnar less tanky than usual late game
- Mega Gnar also less damaging than usual
- Extremely low AA base damage makes farming hard
- Weaker against Gnar's counters than usual
- No inherent health sustain
What is AP Gnar?
Not Gnarly Enough Specification
"Gnar can scale with AP?" Yes; Hyper scales 1-1 with AP and the ult scales 0.5-0.75 with AP.
These AP scalings don't matter. A huge clarification is in order; The only AP item that you get as "AP Gnar" is Haunting Guise and occasionally Abyssal Scepter. In actuality, the build would more accurately be called "Spell Pen Bruiser Gnar", and this is heavily reflected in the item choices and runes.
There are two primary weaknesses with a standard AD Gnar. First, the offensive power spikes take time to reach, which delays the power of Gnar's harass against the opponent. Second, Mini-Gnar loses a large amount of relevancy into the late game, mostly being used as a vehicle to get Mega Gnar into the fight.
AP Gnar seeks to solve both of these weaknesses. First, the initial power spikes are extraordinarily cheap for their power. Because AP Gnar can start boots, reaching Sorceror Boots only takes the cost of a vampiric scepter. For about the cost of a Phage, Haunting Guise can be reached next. This makes the power of AP Gnar's harass much quicker. In addition, enemies are unable to simply stack armor in the hopes of ignoring the damage, as the sheer amount of magical damage easily outpaces any early defensive itemization available such as Glacial Shroud.
Second, Mini-Gnar maintains incredible relevancy into the later game. With even just Wit's End, AP Gnar can easily pierce through 100% of the MR of any target with 70 or less MR, and that only grows stronger with Abyssal. Combined with the attack speed provided by earlier points in Hop, Mini-Gnar functions as a powerful peeler and psuedo-Marksman until it's time to transform into a front-line beast. The synergy continues even into Mega; Sunfire and Thornmail return much more damage with the spell pen available.
These strengths are not without weaknesses, as outlined in the cons. Most significant is that Mega Gnar will not be as tanky or as damaging. However, this is okay. Gnar is not chosen because of the tankiness of Mega (of which there are many better tanks) nor the damage it provides (of which there are many who deal more). Mega is very much about being a CC train and is already naturally tanky and damaging, so trading some tankiness for more Mini relevancy and stronger laning is an acceptable tradeoff.
The Dynamics of Hyper
Because of the higher focus on Hyper, a wholly new skill order is used by AP Gnar. Naturally, Hyper is maxed first. But why Hop before Boomerang?
First, Hop grants attack speed to Gnar, which is increased per point in it. Earlier points into Hop allows for a stronger power surge for Hyper, which can also be used in laning to win trades more favorably. More importantly, the faster autoattacks proc Hyper far faster than the lower CD that Boomerang gets per level up.
Second, earlier Hyper points means movement speed that is more aggressive than usual which allows for easy chaining. This is the same function as earlier points in Boomerang. Having both is excessive for the purpose when Hop's attack speed can instead be increased.
Sugar Item Rush
First decide if you're going aggressive or defensive. Boots for aggressive, Corruption Potion for defensive, and Cloth Armor for offensive/defensive mix. Refillable is preferred over regular health potions because trading is constant, even when going back to lane, and so long-term sustain is more valuable than simply surviving the first lane arrival.
If you need more defense to survive or trade, choose one defensive choice:
If you have already built one of these or you have decided to go maximally aggressive, then continue with:
Continue by getting
After these cores, your damage is set. Continue by building the following situational items.
Build the defensive items as situationally required. Don't be afraid to only build components at a time, as the components offer more raw defensive protection than the full upgrades usually will. I will often build Spectre's Cowl, then Giant's Belt, and then actually finish one of those into its upgrade.
You should not consider getting Frozen Mallet unless you have at least 2 (recommended 3) defensive items.
Similarly, Liandrys is mostly reserved as a last purchase, as it only marginally increases the power of Mini-Gnar, though it serves as a reliable strength boost to Mega Gnar.
Stage of the Game
In the early game, your goals are to
- Harass harass harass!
- Gain quick gold to hit the early power spikes
- Build early defensive itemization instead of Guise when behind
Until your first power spikes, your Hyper procs will sting but won't often be sufficient to fully harass out an enemy. Rush the items as fast as you can.
One of your most reliable Hyper proc'ing combos is to auto for the first stack, and then Boomerang-Auto at the same time when you see an opening. In addition, remember that Hop will gain a Hyper proc. Don't be too aggressive in its use early, but use it for a quick 1-2-3 burst by tossing Boomerang when you're directly above the opponent's head.
Avoid using Boomerang just to harass. Without any extra AD to back it up, the damage it does is rather negligible, and it is better timed for farming hard-to-reach minions and for stacking extra Hyper procs.
Avoid the temptation to chase enemies through a minion wave to gather more Hyper procs. Minions hurt a ton! They will tear you apart far before you get a chance to land the Hyper you need. Remain opportunistic, not greedy.
Your Mega Gnar is still incredibly deadly. Despite lacking initial AD, the sheer base damage of Mega is tremendous, especially Wallop which benefits greatly in its CD from the earlier points in Hyper.
During champ select, if you see that your enemy is a heavy lane bully with little teamfight presence (Trynd, Teemo, Fiora, etc.) consider taking Exhaust instead of Teleport. Simply stopping these champions from snowballing is often sufficient for victory even without the presence offered by Teleport.
As the laning phase winds down, you will start taking on a standard Gnar role
- Roam to help teammates
- Apply lane pressure to prevent the enemy from roaming
- Duel lonely opponents with your powerful shred
AP Gnar is fairly similar to standard Gnar during the Mid game. You have the same goals: roam, push, duel, teamfight. Any information you can find from more detailed Gnar guides can largely be applied here.
One notable change is that your Mini-Gnar is fairly subpar at clearing minion waves. However, because of the early points in Wallop and Crunch, you can instantly clear caster minions with a single Wallop-Crunch combo.
Always remember the extra attack speed that Hop provides. An extra 60% attack speed is tremendous and not to be underestimated, especially in close situations.
Your late game is also similar to standard Gnar, but with more Mini power
- Stick around 80 rage, then auto around the edges of teamfights
- Make big plays with GNAR!
- Peel for important carries by obliterating incoming tanks
Mini Gnar is strong! With several items built by this point, Mini Gnar's Hyper can easily duel ADC's and output as much damage as the other carries on your team. Press the advantage on it as hard as you can!
If you're Mini and have Abyssal and/or Wit's End, remember that peeling for your APC will significantly amplify the damage they are doing to nearby targets. Abuse this to rip apart even the tankiest opponents.
Switch your purpose as the teamfight goes on. While you may be a psuedo-Marksman for the initial portions, be ready to dive headlong as Mega approaches, and then back to a Marksman as the Mega winds down.
Always keep mindful the synergy that Thornmail and Sunfire have with your massive spell penetration. You can deal far more damage than ordinarily possible with them.
This guide was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you all have learned everything you would have liked. If you have any questions, leave a comment or drop a line over at twitch.tv/aquadragon33 ! And be sure to check out www.bestbans.com !