Graves Build Guide by SerenadeMaestro

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author SerenadeMaestro

Graves: Blasting Away the Competition

SerenadeMaestro Last updated on November 5, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 21

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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Hi my summoner name is Azure Altair. I'm a level 30 summoner. I'm not the best player nor the beta tester (my elo is really low.) So I will not pretend to have any authority over this game or how to play it. I bought Graves the day he came out due to pressure from my friends. Normally I do very poorly with carries so i usually take up a tanking or support role, but I ended up loving his play style and began doing well with him. My first two games ended with me 19/3/15 and 24/5/18. What I will tell you is how I play Graves. I hope I make this guide as enjoyable and in-depth as possible, please critique and rate.

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Lore a.k.a Backstory

Malcolm Graves was born in the back of a Bilgewater tavern and left there with a bottle of spiked milk. He survived a childhood in the pirate-run slums using every dirty trick in the book. Intent on building a new life for himself, he stowed away on the first ship to the mainland he could sneak aboard. However, the grim realities of the world forced him to eke out an unsavory living in the underground of various city-states, jumping the border whenever things got too hot. At a particularly high-stakes game of cards, he found himself seated opposite Twisted Fate. They both flipped four aces on the final hand. It was the first time either conman had met his equal. The two formed an alliance, swindling marks at the tables and scrapping back-to-back in the alleys afterward. Together, they ran the streets – stacking chips, decks, and rap sheets.
Unfortunately Graves made the mistake of hustling a hefty sum from Dr. Aregor Priggs, a high-ranking Zaunite official and businessman. When Priggs discovered how he’d been played, he became obsessed with revenge. He learned about Twisted Fate’s all-consuming desire to control magic and he promptly offered him a trade: serve Graves up in exchange for enrollment in a procedure which would grant his wish. Twisted Fate took the deal – both he and Graves knew the stakes of their arrangement, but the offer was too good. Once acquired, Priggs had Graves taken to a special location built to hold men whose crimes – or more precisely their punishments – were meant to stay off the books. Graves endured years of captivity at the hands of Zaun’s most unscrupulous wardens before he managed to escape. One of his fellow detainees introduced him to an eccentric gunsmith who modified a shotgun exactly to his specifications. He named it “Destiny.” After he paid a visit to Priggs, Graves joined the League of Legends with two targets in his sights: Twisted Fate and payback.

“They got a saying in the locker: ain’t got nothin’ but time to plan."
Graves, the Outlaw

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Pros and Cons

Pros / Cons
+Tons of AOE damage
+Amazingly durable for a ranged carry
+Excellent farming and poke
+Able to solo Baron Nashor late game
+Lots of fun to play
+Insane dps and burst damage
+Strong all phases of the game

-Ruined by heavy CC
-Slow initial movement speed (305)
-Prone to ganks before entering combat
-No reliable CC aside from Smoke Screen
-Vulnerable to certain tanks
-High expectations of Graves players
-Will get ranted at XD

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I use the standard 21/0/9 carry build. This maximizes your output for damage. You don't really need Archaic Knowledge because your only magic attack is Smoke Screen

Offense Masteries
Deadliness for crit chance
Cipple Why not? Improve your exhaust.
Sorcery 3 points in this helps with cool downs ever so little, it helps you get down the tree.
Sunder Max this out. Early game, if their carries like lux don't build armor, they're in for it. Your auto attacks will deal EXTRA damage against non tanks due to the total around 30 ArP. That's pretty significant, definitely one of the more important masteries.
Brute Force Meh, rather minor, but it helps. Boost ur q a little.
Lethality Well we'll be building plenty of crit chance, why not?
Havoc Not that important but why not? You'll be critting in the 1000's against carries, adds an extra 40 damage

Utility Masteries
Good Hands You may be asking wtf, I'm a carry, I'm not supposed to die. Okay, go check your match history and go to every PvP match you had. Well unless you we going against noobs or you are pro you most likely had at least one or two deaths. It's better than perseverance, those extra seconds also save u exp and gold.
Perseverance One point is enough, anything beyond that and it is a waste.
Awareness Probably the most significant mastery on this tree that you'll be getting. You level faster, you pwn faster, simple.
Utility Mastery If you end up in a game in which your team completely ignores the buffs, take them. Better yet, steal them from the other team if you know what you're doing. It extends the buff for by 22 seconds. Can help you get those last hits on that fleeing nidalee or kass with the slow on red or allow you to spam your skills for a quick minion farm/murder with blue.

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As for runes I take ArP Marks Greater mark of Desolation, Flat Armor seals Greater seals of resilience, Magic Resist per level glyphs, Greater glyphs of shielding, and ArP quints Greater Quintessences of Desolation This maxes damage output early and late game against carries and tanky champs alike. If you are asking about the defense seals and glyphs, hear me out. Graves is squishy without his passive up. That's why I take defense runes to allow him to deal damage without sacrificing survivability.

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Summoner Spells

I take Exhaust and Flash as summoner spells. The reasons are simple. Everyone wants to be simply left alone as a carry and wreck the other team. The reality is that most likely you will be ganked, poked, assassinated, among other things. Exhaust helps against this. If you get ganked by let's say their Xin Zhao Xin Zhao, and he hits you with his Three Talon Strike, timing your exhaust right after will greatly decrease his output. Assuming you have the right items you can absolutely slaughter him with your damage output. Otherwise you might just die due to his mighty CC spam and auto attacks. I take Flash simply because Quickdraw alone is simply not enough as an escape method. You can dash through many walls but not all walls. Therefore, a Quickdraw+ Flash combo can help you get to safety out of the most sticky situations. Also both combined can make for an effective chase against those with great escape ablilties.

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Grave's Skillset

/True Grit: (Innate) Graves gains 1/2/3 bonus armor and magic resistance every second he remains in combat. This can stack up to 10 times. Graves is considered in combat if he has dealt or received damage in the last 4 seconds.

Sadly, this passive just got nerfed. But it is still great :) An amazing, almost overpowered passive. Basically, every time you hit something or are hit by something damaging you gain armor and magic resistance. This passive basically REWARDS you for dealing tons of damage. They key to using this passive is to keep ATTACKING. Unless you are traversing between lanes to set up a gank, KEEP THIS PASSIVE UP Farm jungle creeps or whatever you need to do, just try to keep this passive up to as close to max stacks as you can without disrupting your progress laning or moving. I can't tell you how may luxs and karthuses I've pissed off when their ults don't finish me, all thanks to runes and this passive. This also makes Graves a very strong 1v1 champ. It even helps you survive ganks as it procs when they hit you with anything damaging they have. Overall one of THE best passives in the game IMO.

: (Active): Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing physical damage 60 / 105 / 150 / 195 / 240 (+0.8 per bonus attack damage) to all enemies in their path. Enemies at close range can be hit by multiple projectiles, but each bullet beyond the first will deal only 30% damage.

Your cannon, your money maker, your "GOOD BYE TO ALL OF YOUR HP NOOB!" While it got nerfed, it still is a powerful move. Its damage has a bonus damage cap of the following: Max Physical Damage: 96 / 168 / 240 / 312 / 384 (+1.3 per bonus attack damage) when all 3 bullets hit your target, otherwise it would be REALLY OP. Anyway it's your all around move. Early game, as long as you don't spam it too much, you can use it to poke. Like a real shotgun in those shooter games, it has maximum effectiveness at point-blank range to punish that cocky Master Yi, Tryndamere, Xin Zhao e.t.c. for getting in your face. Seriously, I have one shotted half hp yis and they yell "WTF!" as I lol them about their failed gank attempt. It is also your main creep wave clearer late game, simply fire this into a group of clustered minions and fire Smoke Screen in. It's overall well rounded utility as a damage move makes it your first skill to max out.

: (Active): Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area, dealing magic damage 60 / 110 / 160 / 210 / 260 (+0.6 per ability power) upon landing and creating a cloud of smoke for 5 seconds. Enemies inside the smoke cloud will be slowed by: 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 % and will have their vision reduced to only what is inside the smoke cloud and enemies attacking them, everything else will look like it is in the Fog of War.

Basically Akali's Twilight Shroud in reverse. Instead of not letting them see what's inside the affected area, they can't see what is outside of it. It's main use is your escape ability and gank initiate. As an escape ability, throw it down where you know the enemy will be, or preferably, an intersection with multiple paths. Then while the enemy is inside, try to quicdraw in a direction the enemy won't expect to get away. As a gank initiate, throw it at your enemy so they can't see. Then signal your ganker, notable ones include Nocturne, Udyr, {{Xin Zhao]], Shaco e.t.c. to charge into the Smoke Screen after your target. Then you two should focus that person down and leave before the target's allies come after you. Note that fairly powerful slow, so you can throw it in the path of a foe to help a teammate get away. Inversely, you can throw it in the enemy's path to make it harder to escape.

:Active): Graves dashes forward, gaining an attack speed 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 % boost for 4 seconds. Attacking enemy units with autoattacks lowers the cooldown of Quickdraw by 1 second each attack.
An awesome ability. A dash and a extremely high attack speed boost. It's essentially a cross between Tristana's Rapid Fire and a dash like Lee Sin's Safeguard Those used to Shen's Shadow Dash should have no problem aiming and using this skill effectively The damage you can put out with this is insane. Easy 2000 to 4000 damage in its 4 second duration against squishies. Should still deal around a 100 minimum to even heavily armored tanks. You can use it to chase or to escape through walls and minions blocking you. Alternatively, you can dash through walls to escape or simply to cross terrain faster. Walls you can dash though include the walls around the [color=#ff0000]Blessing of the Lizard Elder[/color] and [color=#0080ff]Crest of the Ancient Golem][/color (red and blue buff in layman's terms), The walls around Baron Nashor and the Dragon , the cliffs on the sides of mid lane and others. As the icing on the cake, its cd reduces everytime you auto-attack a minion or champion, so you can spam it even more. In fact, with 2.5 attack speed and 40% cooldown reduction (buy elixirs), you can use it every 2 friggin seconds. That's getting a attack speed boosts more than a Phantom Dancer or Sword of the Divine EVERY 2 SECONDS Overall a great ability.

: (Active): Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing heavy physical damage 50 / 375 / 500 (+1.4 per bonus attack damage) to the first target it hits. After hitting a champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes dealing 140 / 275 / 400 (+1.2 per bonus attack damage) physical damage in a cone behind the target.
Your ult is basically a more reliable version of Miss Fortune's Double Up. What it does is that a giant artillery shell (how it fits in the gun I don't know) that hits the first person it collides with. Then, it explodes in a cone shape behind the target, hitting everyone behind them. That means that cowardly yellow carry retreating behind that tank is NOT safe from either this or your Buckshot say bye bye squishies XD.

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Skill Sequence

center]Ability Sequence Order[/center]

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

As for skill sequence I max Buckshot first, grabbing Quickdraw at level 2 and grabbing Smoke Screen at level 3 or 4 depending on the situation. Max buckshot by level 9 and Quickdraw by 13. Finally max Smoke Screen, grabbing your ultimate at every chance possible. The reason for this is to increase your burst damage, you need your Buckshot for poke, and your Quickdraw for mobility and the attack speed boost. The only reasons you would need your Smoke Screen for is its the slow and isolation effect it provides, which it does effectively at level 1.

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As for items they are a variety of paths you can go. Here a few examples of viable items.
Start with:
Doran's Blade or Boots of Speed and potion
First trip back/Early game goal:
Berserker's Greaves and Vampiric Scepter
Mid game goals
Last Whisper and Zeal
Late game:
Trinity Force, Phantom Dancer, and The Bloodthirster
I know what you are thinking, wtf trinity force, isn't that only on people like Jarvan? But it works extremely well with graves. The slow helps you when you are kiting/chasing without red buff. The sheen proc only ups your damage, and it gives a lot of good stats in one item. Try it before downvoting pls. Also, bloodthirster is mandatory on Graves. It gives him even more surviablility. With a stacked thirster and enough damage, you can even solo baron nashor.

Luxury Items
: Zeke's Harbinger Infinity Edge Madred's Bloodrazor The Black Cleaver Guardian Angel
Your final slot is up to you, there are many viable options here are a few.
Zeke's Harbinger I believe that this is highly beneficial and should be on any team. The aura is just too good to pass up. If your team doesn't have this, it would be beneficial to grab this.

Infinity Edge You can't go wrong with this. combined with your Phantom Dancer and Trinity Force you'll be critting for over a 1000 around 60% of the time WITH the Sheen proc. This will ensure that you hit like a truck. Though personally I prefer to get this last because you need the utility from your other items.

Madred's Bloodrazor But this against teams that decide to use plenty of tanky items/champs. While the attack gain is negligible, the passive is amazing for ripping through tanks and squishies alike. Gotta love the bonus armor and attack speed too.

The Black Cleaver If they are really stacking that much armor (ahem, looking at you rammus) you can get a black cleaver to counter it. It helps buy lowering the armor of your target not just giving penetration. So with a good team you can focus down a target with ease, definitely a viable choice.

Guardian Angel Another "WTF!" item. Against teams with half a brain to focus you, this is the answer. It gives you hp, armor, and mr. It can save your life. The stats plus your passive will make you as tough as the average TANK. The passive is nifty too. If your team is smart enough to guard your body, you can come back with a vengeance quickly to enact your revenge. Note that I rarely grab this. But it can help under certain circumstances, like if they are full of carries, you can afford to lose a little damage output to survive.

Mercury's Treads Late game, you will want to sell off your greaves for mercury treads. The reason why is that the ATS bonus is no longer as nescessary since by then you will have a maxed out Quickdraw. They add 25 mr to make you harder to kill and tenacity to help you shrug off annoying CC. A definite choice if they are ap heavy (casters almost always have CC)

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Early Game:
Pretty much the same as most other carries for the first few levels. I personally prefer duo lane though. Basically, start with your preferred item choice and head out. But DON'T WALK INTO THAT BUSH! There is a 75-90% chance you will get jumped and you will die for an easy enemy first blood. Instead play smart and stay by the tower. Passively farm until you reach around level 5-6. Poke as much as you can without going oom. Once you get to level 5 time to start playing aggressive. Blast them with buckshot every once in a while and shoot them before retreating with quickdraw. Do it enough and they may be at 1/2-1/4hp. Then when you know you can go for the kill dash in with Quickdraw and then Buckshot his face and finish with auto attacks as needed. Yay FIRST BLOOD! But mind that I cannot stress this enough DON'T PUSH. If you push the lane you are open to ganks from the other lanes. Instead, just last hit and stay by your tower. That way no enemy jungler is going to go RAWR and jump you.

Mid Game:
Laning phase is over and people from other lanes will be ready to gank you. NOW you can push. But stay smart. Wards win games. Remember to buy a wards with any spare cash you may have. Good ward placement can save your life or end one of theirs. Try to get as many towers as you can. If the lane is pushed, don't be afraid to take one of your buffs or theirs. Just don't get caught. Remember to gank their carries if you can and basically make their life a living hell.

End Game:
If you and your teammates played your cards right, you should be winning. 4-6 items done, time to start snowball to victory. Try to kill them with ganks and surprise attacks so they'll be afraid to leave their base. Farm with your Buckshot+ Smoke Screen combo to clear large pushed waves quickly for easy gold. Once you are done with your build, (includes fully stacked bloodthirster), try to steal baron nashor if you can. Yes I am not kidding. Graves has enough output with a full build to solo baron nashor . Just dodge the acid sprays (bubbles will appear at your feet) with Quickdraw and you should be fine. By now you should even be able to backdoor one or two towers before recalling. Remember to by elixirs with any spare cash you have after completing your build, especially oracle's assuming they have cloakers, a Teemo, or a Shaco.

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Ah, the all important teamfight. Most carries stay in the back and shoot their spells and auto attacks. But oh no not Graves. He likes to get his hands dirty. Start off in the back, you are not the initiator. Let your tank go in first. Once both teams start flinging time to start shooting. Start by shooting Buckshot and constantly repositioning yourself with Quickdraw. If you are not hitting enough to get your passive to max, hit a few minions with Buckshot and continue attacking. It is imperative that your True Grit is up to max to increase your chances of survival in the event they suddenly decide to focus you. When your tank unleashes whatever devastating ult he/she has (special notes to Amumu, Nunu, Galio, and Leona) go in and start spraying bullets. Unleash your whole arsenal to create chaos. When their carry/carries start fleeing behind their tank, send your ult at the tank, or even better yet, the carries themselves if you have a clear shot. If your team knows what they are doing,you should win.

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Extra Tips

Smarcasting is awesome. You can do all kinds of crazy chains with it. You can Quickdraw and Buckshot chasing/fleeing enemies with it. Or you may Buckshot, Smoke Screen Collateral Damage them to quickly burst before running away with Quickdraw. Experiment, and you may find some devastating combos waiting to be discovered.

Relax, getting angry will only increase your chances of making a mistake and dying or worse.

Fight a psychological battle. Taunt them to lower their morale after they committed a failed gank or teamfight. Praise your team mates to raise their morale after they did something right. Just make sure your team doesn't get too cocky.

WARDS WIN GAMEs. I cannot a stress this enough. You should ward up the map so they can't leave the safety of their towers without an *** kicking. Minimum, keep the dragon and baron nashor warded to keep the global gold and exp out of their hands.

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Summary, Closings, and Acknowldegments

Overall, I find Graves a fun champ and a hell of a carry. While he takes some getting used to, trust me, he's worth the ip. His amazing output, utility, and versatility make him an all-round good choice for nearly every team composition. I also have to thank Jhoijhoi for his guide on making guides XD. Well I hope you enjoyed my guide, Good Luck and Happy Pwning :) :
Azure Altair