Graves Build Guide by moos123456789

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 moos123456789

Off-Tank Graves - Tankier than you thought. [S5 Updated]

moos123456789 Last updated on May 3, 2015
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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.



Offense: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

Threats to Graves with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Dr. Mundo Dr. Mundo is easy as he has little to no kill potential to you. Just use your dash to escape his engages, as he has no gapclosers. He might be annoying with his ultimate, but that's all.
Gangplank Stay out of range of his Q, and wait for him to use it on the minions. You'll be building armor against him, so his damage will be lackluster.
Ryze With his new re-work, Ryze has become more of a fluctuating champion as his power spikes are at various points. Try to be careful as he charges his runes, and go all-in if he doesn't have any charges.
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Good day, everybody! I'm moos123456789, and this is my tanky Graves guide. This is the first guide I have worked hard on and have tried to make it look and be as good as it could, and I would appreciate any and all feedback that you would like to provide. Graves is a solid pick for a champion, and thus I have tried to twist his playstyle around a bit to be an offtank AD champion that excels in the top lane.

Without further ado, I present to you, my tanky Graves guide.

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Pros / Cons


+ Great damage output with Buckshot
+ Tons of HP and AD with items
+ Escape and gapcloser with Quickdraw
+ Hard to gank
+ Good engage/clean-ups
+ Amazing mid-late game
Graves is actually a pretty solid pick in the top lane when built tanky. While Graves' Quickdraw is not a very large gapcloser, it is still a very handy skill to escape ganks and dodge skillshots with. Because tank Graves is played in the top lane, most of the champions he faces will be melee, and will be capable to easily kite them. His damage output is also very large, even if you give up damage for health. Graves is also a good participant in teamfights, as his ultimate Collateral Damage deals AoE damage in a cone shape. Overall, he is a viable pick for top lane, and as other ADC's like Vayne and Quinn have started to make their appearances top, Graves deserves a spot up there too.


- Lackluster CC
- Not as much damage as ADC Graves
- Has AP ratios
- Rather high mana costs
- Meh early game
- Long cooldowns early on
While tank Graves is a solid pick, he still has his own downsides like all other champions. First off, he loses additional attack damage stats by building tanky, giving up sometimes essential items like Infinity Edge or Phantom Dancer in return for other items like Warmog's Armor, Frozen Mallet or Blade of the Ruined King. Additionally, he has little to no crowd control, his only form of it being Smoke Screen, which gives a vision-reducing debuff and a 15% slow at rank 1, while it gives a mere 35% slow at rank 5. To top it off, he has an AP ratio on it, effectively making it useless in terms of damage. His early game is not too great as he lacks the tankiness and damage, whereas he only starts to shine in the mid-late game.

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Skill Order

Ability Sequence Order

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

> > >
The first skill you max is, of course, your ultimate Collateral Damage. Each level you upgrade it increases it's damage by a big amount, so you won't want to skip leveling it. Second, you max your main damaging skill Buckshot. It fires three bullets in a cone and deals a good amount of damage to any unit it hits. Third you max your E, Quickdraw. It is a good gapcloser to either escape or chase, and leveling it only shortens it's cooldown, which benefits you. It also gives you a HUGE attack speed boost later on! Last but not least you max your W, Smoke Screen. It isn't a bad ability by any means, you just don't need it early on. Take a point in it at level 4.

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Skill Explanation

True Grit: True Grit is Graves' passive. Graves gains 1/2/3 armor and magic resist for every second he is in combat, stacking up to 10 times. The armor and magic resist bonus increases every six levels. This passive is useful for staying in lane for an extended period of time, which you will do a lot since you are in the top lane. It reduces the damage from lane minions and the enemy champion you're facing by quite a bit.

Buckshot: Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing physical damage to all enemies in their path. Enemies at close range can be hit by multiple projectiles, but each bullet beyond the first will only deal 50% damage.

This is Graves' bread and butter skill. It might have a long cooldown, but the damage it deals makes up for it entirely. It's capable of dealing relatively large chunks of damage, and deals even more damage up close. All in all, a very good and reliable skill.

Tips and Tricks
  • Try to hit Buckshot when you're close to an opponent, as it will deal extra damage.
  • Use Buckshot inbetween autoattacks for continuous damage against a single target.
  • Buckshot is good for hitting grouped targets.

Smoke Screen: Graves' only form of CC, and at that, it's only soft CC. Graves deploys a smokescreen that slows and reduces the vision of enemies, which is actually quite handy. At level 4 you take a skill point in this to hinder any ganks from the enemy jungler.

Tips and Tricks
  • If you are getting ganked, deploy Smoke Screen behind you so the enemies are slowed.
  • While chasing, position Smoke Screen properly so that they are slowed and can't see.
  • Smoke Screen can be used to facecheck any bush.

Quickdraw: Graves dashes a short distance and gains attack speed, increasing with each level spent into it. Attacking enemy units reduces the cooldown of Quickdraw by 1 second.

This is Graves' only escape tool. It allows him to dash a short distance, making him able to escape skillshots or most CC. It's nothing too significant but it really helps Graves.

Tips and Tricks
  • If you are getting ganked, use a combo of Quickdraw and Smoke Screen to have a bigger chance of escaping.
  • Make sure to use basic attacks in between movement to reduce your cooldown on Quickdraw.
  • Use Quickdraw to avoid fatal skillshots or chase enemies.

Collateral Damage: Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing a large amount of physical damage to the first target it hits. The shell then explodes, dealing damage in a cone behind the target.

Oh boy. This ultimate is by far one of the best ultimates for finishing or engaging. The range on this is simply astounding and allows you to practically 'snipe' the opponent if he has low HP. This is what makes Graves so dangerous in teamfights, because of his sheer engaging and/or finishing skill.

Tips and Tricks
  • Use Collateral Damage to engage to catch people off guard, as they usually expect it as a finisher.
  • Make sure to fire Collateral Damage at it's max range, where it can snipe people with the explosion.
  • Collateral Damage is an AoE spell, so try to hit as much foes as possible.

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Runes & Masteries


As Graves, you should go 21 in Offense, and 9 in Defense.

Double-Edged Sword : As Graves, you are ranged and seeing as most champions in the top lane are melee, this is a good choice. It allows you to trade better.

Fury : Fury is self explanatory as Graves makes very good use out of attack speed. I take four points in this.

Butcher : This helps Graves with last-hitting better in the early game. It's worth the point.

Brute Force : Worth the three points, as you get a Long Sword's worth of attack damage out of this at level 18. It might not seem much but it makes a bigger difference than you think.

Feast: Self-explanatory: Gives you sustain, which is much-needed for Graves, as he has no built-in sustain.

Martial Mastery : 4 attack damage for one mastery point? Yes please. Definitely take this.

Executioner : This makes dueling a lot easier as you deal 5% more damage to foes under half health. Worth the three points.

Warlord : You'll be getting quite a few AD items, so this will boost your attacking damage even further.

Dangerous Game : One of the best masteries availible. 5% missing health and mana might not seem much, but it can save you from certain death.

Devastating Strikes : I get only two points in this as this isn't too important, as you mainly go offtank and don't need the 2% extra armor and magic penetration. 4% is enough, really.

Havoc : This is why you get 21 points in the Offense tree. 3% increased damage on top of the 5% increased damage from Executioner is a whopping 8% damage increase. It's definitely one of the best masteries.

Block : Useful for auto-attack reliant champions to block some of their damage.

Recovery : An extra bit of health regen - not bad.

Unyielding : More damage blocking.

Veteran Scars : Yay, free HP. This is a nice mastery, especially for in the early game.

Juggernaut : This increases your maximum HP by 3% - which is amazing for (off)tank Graves, since you'll be building HP items.



Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

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Regular starting item for Graves - Attack damage, health, sustain, everything you need. Coupled with a few Health Potion's, you should be fine.

Very nice Tier 2 boots for Graves. It gives 25 magic resist and a tenacity bonus which reduces the effect of crowd control. The most expensive boots out there, but for a reason. If the enemy team has more than three CC-possessing champions, buy this.

If the enemy team is based around attack damage, buy these. 10% reduction on basic attacks is very nice for Graves, and the armor too.

If you are ahead and feel comfortable going more offensive, pick these. They give you extra attack speed and it will help you with getting off more basic attacks, and thus more damage.

With the recent changes to The Black Cleaver, I feel like it has become a way better item for off-tank champions, and this has given me a reason to make it a core item for Graves. 400 HP, 40 AD, the armor-shredding passive and 10% cooldown reduction all benefits Graves greatly, and gives him a huge damage spike.

This will probably be your fourth item for off-tank Graves. 800 HP and an amazing passive that regenerates 1% of your total HP is quite amazing, as it gives you much-needed survivability, and coupled with The Black Cleaver and Frozen Malletthe passive becomes even better.

Frozen Mallet is the item which gives the second most HP in the game, Warmog's Armor passing it by just 100 HP. This item gives you a 30% slow on every champion that you have attacked, be it basic attacks or spells, and coupled with Smoke Screen and your Quickdraw, enemies won't be escaping from you so soon. You should get this after The Black Cleaver.

A good item, especially for in the toplane, which gives you a passive that lets your spells and basic attacks ignore 35% of their armor. Again, this item synergizes very well with The Black Cleaver, so if you're ahead and feel comfortable giving up some tankiness for it, go ahead.

You might be thinking that Blade of the Ruined King is a weird choice on Graves, simply becasue it isn't used at all on him. But I think it's pretty good, especially after it's buff - the 8% HP damage you deal works with lifesteal, and since Blade of the Ruined King gives you that, you're set. It gives you an HP shredding passive, lifesteal, attack speed and damage. Get this, just like Last Whisper, if you're comfortable with giving up tankiness and are fed.

A very nice item that gives you attack damage, magic resistance and a passive that shields you from magic damage if you're low on HP and another one that gives you more AD the lower your HP is. In my opinion you should get this in the mid-late game, as you will need the magic resistance only there as you will begin to teamfight. If you're facing an AP top lane, consider getting this instead of The Black Cleaver.

Another very nice item that fits Graves in the mid-late game. It gives you a big amount of 70 armor and 500 HP, along with an active that allows you to slow foes for a few seconds.

If you're getting into the lategame and are getting focused (for when you went a bit more of an offensive build, for example), get this item. It gives you 50 armor and magic resistance, which allows you to survive the damage in teamfights longer, and a VERY nice passive which allows you to practically get a rebirth into the game.

Another lategame item, for if there are a lot of skill-shot based champions. Every 40 seconds you gain a shield that ignores the damage or CC of one skill, which is very handy. Get this as your last item if you are getting it as Graves.

Good item for the late game Graves, as it gives 80 AD, 35 Magic Resistance and a free Cleanse. Very useful and synergizes well with a tanky Graves build, as an offensive alternative item.

A very offensive item for Graves. Get this if you are fed and feel very comfortable in lane. It gives 80 AD, 20% lifesteal and a passive shield if you attack at full HP.

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Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells

Flash is one of the main spells that is used by all (with the exception of Shaco and maybe a few more) champions in the current meta. It gives you an escape and a gap closer for if you need to finish off an opponent with one more auto-attack.

Ignite is an amazing spell that gives you kill pressure in lane. If you need to finish off an enemy with a tiny sliver of HP left, this is the spell that will do the trick.

Optional Summoner Spells

Capable of reducing the enemies attack speed and movement speed, Exhaust is a good alternative to Ignite since it allows you to catch up to opponents and make their chance of dueling you much lower.

A nice spell for if you want map presence and to get back in lane faster.

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Frequently Asked


Q: What summoner spells should I take? // Flash, Ignite, Cleanse, Heal and Exhaust are the best offensive options, whereas a combination of Flash and Teleport could work out well too. I usually pick Flash and Ignite, though.

Q: Why off-tank Graves? // Graves is a pretty versatile champion that can be twisted to conform to different lanes. Top lane is one of the lanes Graves is possible to excel in, as he can be built off-tank and still be an important factor in teamfights.

~More FAQ's to come.~

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Hello! It seems like you've made your way to the summary. I'd like to thank you all for taking your time to read this in-depth guide on how off-tank Graves could work. In short words:

Graves might be an ADC, but his versatile kit allows him to be played off-tank in the top lane as well. As other ADC's have been played in the top lane as well, like Vayne or Quinn, Graves is a possible contestant as well, and I hope to inspire you guys to try it out someday.

Please leave any feedback and suggestions in the comments - I read all and I appreciate all feedback I get!

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12/5/2013:Revamped the build!

3/5/2015: Another re-vamp for season 5.