Build Guide by DoctorLock
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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.
When Gragas came out, a lot of people were sorely disappointed. He was classified as a tank, but seemed to lack abilities a tank would use. A lot of people went AP, and were underwhelmed with only two AP scaled abilities at their disposal and mana issues. Even after the patch, people disregarded the giant dwarf, and he more or less faded into obscurity.
I believe this is because almost everyone was and is building him wrong.
Gragas is not a caster. Gragas is not a traditional tank. Gragas is not some unholy mix of the two. Gragas is a tanky DPS, with the added bonus of ranged abilities and a built in flash. We're going to focus on making him fill this strange niche as well as possible.
SUMMONER SPELLS AND MASTERIES
Regarding masteries, I highly recommend 9/21/0. You want the spell penetration, and you want to be tanky. This gives you what you need.
I like Exhaust and Cleanse, personally. Both of these can be improved with your masteries, and having an extra slow plus a blind is nice to stack with your abilities. Cleanse is just nice to have. OK alternatives would be Heal if you aren't too confident, or Ghost if you want that extra mobility.
MAD SKILLS YO
Passive- Happy Hour
With this, Gragas gets 2% of his max HP returned to him over two seconds every time he uses an ability. It's not a lot, but it adds up over time. This coupled with a bit of regen gives Gragas a lot of staying power throughout the game, and also gives you incentive to increase his max HP so that he can heal more.
All in all though, it's a fairly weak passive that I wouldn't mind seeing buffed or reworked.
Q- Barrel Roll
Whenever Gragas is mentioned, the first response is "LOL DO A BARREL ROLL LOL".
As I said before, Gragas is not a caster. The ratio on this is decent (0.9:1), but the base damage is meh and it's very easy to dodge once the other team gets decent boots. On top of this, it eats a lot of mana, especially early game. Spamming this, even with a Meki Pendant or Mana Manipulator, will leave you with nothing to work with in no time. Also, focusing on AP leaves you useless until it cools down. You can reduce cooldowns fairly easily, sure, but a character should ideally never be doing nothing.
I wouldn't say Barrel Roll is bad, it's just not realistic to focus on it early. Also, by the time you've stacked enough AP to make it strong, the other team has likely gotten some magic resist, or is just too strong to care about your little barrels. It's OK, but I don't focus on this ability.
W- Drunken Rage
This is the most unique ability in Gragas's arsenal, and it's painful to see the few Gragas players misuse it. Drunken Rage does three things while active: it reduces all damage received by a percentage, increases your physical damage by a flat amount, and restores some mana. All of these improve with level.
This buff lasts about as long as your typical team fight for a reason- you should have it on for every confrontation. Some people say it should never be off cooldown, but that's impractical. You should pop this whenever your mana is below half, and/or you're about to hit something. If you're just walking down your lane, there's no need to use this unless it's unsafe.
This ability is what made me realize what most people had been doing wrong. Think about what the buff gives you: damage, resilience, and mana. Casters don't need the first two, and the amount of mana isn't even enough for a Barrel Roll. People neglect the awesome power of gaining up to 80 attack damage and 26% reduced damage at any time!
E- Body Slam
This ability works unlike anything else, just like all of Gragas's abilities. When used, Gragas will zoom in the indicated direction, dealing a flat amount of magic damage that does NOT scale with anything, plus 66% of your attack damage, as well as a slow for 2.5 seconds. The damage is split up depending on how many enemies you hit. This means that hitting a crowd of creeps makes Gragas deal fairly low damage, but hitting an individual enemy is like them getting hit by a truck.
There is almost nothing this move can't do. It can move you around faster, it can get you into fights, it can get you away from fights, it can jump walls, it can help you chase, and it leads to all sorts of fun times. On top of this, it has a really short cooldown and low cost, so you can spam it to your heart's content, except maybe at level 1.
I need to bring up Drunken Rage again in order to make a point. The mana you get from it isn't enough for a Barrel Roll, but it is about enough for a free Body Slam, and the damage and defence work perfectly with it. Coincidence?
This ability will be taken at level 1, you will use it all the time, and you will learn to love it.
R- Explosive Cask
Also known as Barrel Roll 2: Electric Boogaloo, this ult has been loved and loathed plenty by allies and enemies of Gragas players everywhere. It's a skill shot that's difficult to apply correctly because of its travel time and pushing of enemies from the center of the explosion. The damage scales 1:1 with AP, and the damage is decent, though a bit underwhelming for an ult.
This ult is, like Body Slam, is only as limited as your imagination. You can use it to save allies by pushing enemies away, you can use it to push them into your team in a Blitz-esque maneuver, you can throw it into a clustered team fight to separate them and isolate foes, et cetera. You can even use it to farm groups of minions (not individual waves though) because the cooldown on it is really short. With no CD reduction, it's only 1 minute before you can use it again, so don't be stingy with these, unlike Barrel Roll.
Use it whenever a situation in which it could be useful presents itself, and you'll learn what makes this ult so much fun.
So now that we have a general idea of what we'll be focusing on (and ignoring), let's talk items.
It's worth noting that with Drunken Rage maxed, defensive masteries at 21, and a fully stacked Leviathan, Gragas takes almost 50% reduced damage. This is what we are aiming for.
I'd say I start with a Ruby Crystal in 9/10 of my games. It builds into two items that are great on Gragas (Phage and Leviathan), and the health allows you to be a bit more reckless with harassment and heal more from your passive.
The other 1/10 of the time I'll start with a Long Sword, but this is only if I'm not worried about the other team at all, and honestly that's pretty foolish. It does make Body Slam hurt a LOT though.
From there, I'll build my Phage or Leviathan, and move on to boots. I usually only grab either Mercury Treads or Boots of Swiftness, and it's entirely dependant on the amount of CC the other team has. A good rule of thumb is to grab Merc Treads if the enemy team has three or more people with CC that worries you. If you can still Body Slam, it's not a big deal. Stuns and fears are the most dangerous, silence less so.
After boots, we grab whatever we didn't build before. Phage and Leviathan are amazing on Gragas, and I almost always buy them early for the excellent and fairly inexpensive start they provide.
Now we build according to enemy team comp. If you're doing fine, a Brutalizer is a good choice for the extra damage and extra abilities. A Tiamat is a great choice since we're more or less ignoring attack speed, and it makes Gragas an even better farmer.
If you're having trouble, consider the standard panic items: Guardian's Angel, Banshee's Veil, etc. Force of Nature will basically allow you to disregard magic damage, and the regen is nice. A Warmog's isn't the best idea since it takes a while to get full, but Gragas is a great farmer, so he can fill one in record time. A Banshee's Veil is actually a rather good item on Gragas for the stats as well as the bubble, so you may want to grab that regardless after you build up your damage.
Remember though, survivability is the most important thing. You aren't really a tank as much as an extremely resilient DPS, but in the late game your role will shift into "that pseudo-Mundo guy who can solo turrets", so taking as little damage as possible is nice. Turning your Phage into a Frozen Mallet at some point isn't a bad idea, as it pretty much makes Gragas an unstoppable chaser. It's entirely possible to catch the likes of Nidalee or Shaco, even on Twisted Treeline.
So you've got a general idea of what to buy in different situations, now it's time to learn some tactics. In this section, I aim to give general combos as well as things that a good Gragas should and shouldn't do at different stages in the game.
You have your Ruby Crystal (or whatever), and are heading to your side lane. With a partner that can put out decent damage and/or stun, first blood is very possible. You have more HP than almost anybody at this point in the game, and your body slam hurts quite a lot. Just make sure to focus the squishiest enemy, and you'll do fine. It's nigh impossible for you to die here unless you're completely careless and let them kill you, since you have loads of health and Body Slam.
If you're getting harassed to hell, back and buy some pots or an Elixer of Fortitude. The Elixir can actually pay for itself with a kill or two, so it's generally worth the investment if you're struggling. Remember, a strong early game is a strong mid and late game. I don't think pots are usually necessary though, what with your passive and Drunken Rage.
When you have enough for your Phage (or Leviathan) and Boots of Speed, go ahead and back. If your partner needs to go back first though, them. Gragas is resilient and self-sufficient enough to handle waiting the minute or so it takes for someone to return, and that's assuming they don't have any fast way of getting back.
At this point, you'll have to look at the map and see what your team needs. If you're about to knock over a tower and/or you own your lane (if you don't, slam them more), push it in before you leave. If you've knocked over the tower already or you're having a ****py lane for whatever reason, go ahead and help other people gank. Gragas is very good at this. Remember that with Drunken Rage, Gragas can knock a tower over fairly easily, and even tank them a bit to finish it off if need be. He also tower dives quite well because he can get in and out before he takes much damage. Alternatively, you can just ult behind them and propel them into your fist. Some of my favorite hiding spots are between the two lane towers in top and bottom. Slamming out of the bushes or through the wall can seal almost any runner's fate.
In team fights, you may or may not want to initiate with your Exploding Cask. It all depends on location and positioning. If you're in an open area such as mid or the river, go ahead and let it fly right away if you're confident you can separate people and pull at least one into your team. If you're ambushing the enemy, you probably don't want to unless you are absolutely sure you can pull them. The issue here is that around this time, people rarely travel alone unless they want you to see them (or they're dumb), and you really want your ult for the team fights. Still, if some poor sap is going to get away, throw an ult and knock them into your team or a nearby wall. Just don't push kills away from your team. Learn your ult's eccentricities in practice games or something, because helping the enemy makes you worse than useless.
Up until now, you've been dealing comparable damage to most other characters with damage focused builds, in large part thanks to Drunken Rage. This has changed now that people are hitting their most important items, so you'll need to adapt. Stick with your team unless you see an easily pushable lane, and help them push as a group. You know those moments where the enemy turret is at 1/4 or so health, but your team doesn't want to touch it because there are some enemy champs camping it? You can be that guy who rushes in head first and knocks it over.
TL,DR: Your focus at this point is to take damage for your allies and push like a bastard. You can still hold your own, but you'll likely lose most 1v1 scenarios now unless you have some sort of advantage, like the enemy carry thinking that they can kill you with half or less of their health. I have murdered so many cocky Ashes this way it is not even funny.
You're a bit more limited with this method of play, sure, but at least you're useful throughout the entire game as opposed to other Gragas builds. At the end of the game, that's what matters.
I realize this build is odd, but it's very effective if you're willing to put some time into learning Gragas first. Something worth nothing is that Gragas is actually more effective on Twisted Treeline that Summoner's Rift, but he does fine on both, sort of like Mundo.
Much like Mundo, Gragas goes where he pleases and headbutts people to death. He may seem to be a bizarre hybrid lacking synergy, but if played correctly can stand toe to toe with most anyone. So grab a brew, a snack and spend your IP/RP (I know most of you don't own him. Shame on you all.), because the booze ninja is here to party.