Build Guide by RainDance
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Gragas is an exceptionally fun hero to play. He is very forgiving, in terms of difficulty, so he will not be nearly as fragile as other fragile mages. Despite his intense ability to tank, he is also an exceptionally hard hitting mage when build for AP.
This guide is how I build and play Gragas as a mage; he's a hard hitting, barrel throwing, drunken brawling beast of a champion! Unlike alot of other mages, Gragas actually deals significant damage to towers and thus works well as a pusher. Late game, when he gets geared, he can easily carry a team to victory.
Terms for this guide;
-Carry: Meaning he starts of semi-weak but towards mid-end game he becomes rediculously powerful with good gear.
-Pusher: Meaning he can push lanes by attacking and killing minions quickly then deal damage to towers via. melee.
-Tank: Ability to soak up damage.
Pros / Cons
As with any Champion, Gragas does have his strengths and weaknesses.
+Fairly tough for a mage
+Very hard to catch with Body Slam
+Very high ability damage, both early and late game
+Pretty forgiving when learning, not too difficult to master
-Not nearly as tough as his tanker builds
-Needs help very early game before he blooms
Items & Build Order
Gragas is very dependent on his gear and there are many ways to build him successfully. This guide focuses on Gragas as a mage, stacking AP gear to make his abilities deal high damage. When building his gear, make sure you build to combat your opposition; you may need to change the order, or completely substitute gear, to deal maximum damage against the enemy.
Generic Build Order: Berserker's Greaves -> Rod of Ages -> Lich Bane -> Deathfire Grasp -> Hextech Gunblade -> Rabadon's Deathcap
I always begin my games with Boots of Speed. Movement speed is essential for a mage Gragas so he cannot be kited or chased. Get your Boots of Speed as your first item, then build them into Berserker's Greaves as soon as you can.
Alternate Boots: Sometimes, it might be wise to build different boots based on what you are facing. Berserker's Greaves will help you push lanes and farm early game, but sometimes you need a little toughness. Ninja Tabi are a good choice if you are facing a high damage champ in your lane. Alternately, Ionian Boots of Lucidity will pay off in later game, but you won't benefit from the attack speed of Berserker's Greaves early on. Sorcerer's Shoes can also work, but again you won't benefit until you get some good gear later on.
This is one of Gragas' key items. It does multiple things for you; higher health, higher mana, and ability power. Don't be afraid to build Catalyst the Protector early, as you will benefit from it in those first few levels. If you are feeling brave, get it before your boots as it will help you sustain pressure in your lane.
It is important to build this item quickly as is takes 10 full minutes to get maximum stat boost from it. The earlier you get it the faster it levels.
Both of these items are semi-controversial on Gragas, but I will explain my reasoning behind them.
Lich Bane is an interesting item with some good stats, but it's real strength on Gragas is it's passive. As a Mage Gragas, you will be shooting off Barrel's like a madman, every time the CD is down. Every time you use a skill, your next physical attack will deal your regular damage plus your Ability Power. This means that late game, you will be hitting that hit for about 600-800. Combine that with the dragon buff and do the math. You hit for ALOT!
Hextech Gunblade is actually an item I like to build sooner than later. The AP and AD are great, the only actual AD item you will have(because your skills do alot for your AD), but it's really strength lies in the Vamping; 20% for both attack and spells. Combine that vamp with his passive Happy Hour and you will regenerate health like a madman. The active portion of the item is also really nice for Gragas as you are fairly fat and slow. Between Exhaust and Hextech Gunblade you should be able to keep them in range long enough to kill them.
Here is your option. I usually prefer one of these two items, depending on what I'm facing. Against more squishy teams, I prefer the Deathfire Grasp whereas against any decent mage tanks(such as Malphite, Garen, or Maokai) the Void Staff will be a good choice to max out your magic penetration.
Your final item. I really like this item for the ridiculous AP, but some games I find it superfluous. You will occasionally have games where you are just not tough enough. I will occasionally substitute this item for a Warmog's Armor or Frozen Heart to give me that little extra survivability. Normally, in games where I face a Blitzcrank or some other really annoying melee toon, I will grab some armor instead of Rabadon's. Your choice. But remember, you will not reach the higher echelons of ZOMGWTFBBQPWNED damage without Reabadon's Deathcap!
Early Game(levels 1-6)
When you start the game, it's generally a good idea to duo with another Champion on your team instead of soloing. I find that Gragas' only real weak spot is the first four or five levels. You will still deal great damage, but will be a little vulnerable to concentrated attack.
Start off with Barrel Roll as your first skill, but get Body Slam as soon as you level. You'll need it for fleeing and chasing. I find that Drunken Rage is not as good until later levels, but I do like to grab at least 1 rank of it early for the little extra mana regen and damage reduction.
Once you hit level 6, you really come into your own and can start to rack up kills!
Mid Game(levels 7-13)
Mid game is a where Gragas starts to really pwn. Between getting your boots and Rod of Ages you will start to notice a definitive improvement in spell damage. Get your Hextech Revolver early to get your spell vamp, the AoE from Barrel Roll will let you regenerate health very quickly.
Do not be afraid to push towers like a boss! You will be hitting them for over 100 damage with Drunken Rage on and when enemy champs show up you can Body Slam away over thin walls or Ghost if you really need to. Gragas has unprecedented GTFO ability.
End Game(levels 14-18)
This is the point where you will be carrying your team! You should have most of your items by now and will be rocking the enemies in most encounters. During off time, such as waiting for enemy champs to reveal themselves or waiting for teammates to respawn, feel free to farm mobs. In 3s it's easy to kill the Lizard, the Dragon is a cinch if you have your Hextech Gunblade as your health regeneration is more than enough to keep you healed through his damage. In 5s, you will need help with Baron unless you are completely geared out. Still, easier to take him with a pal.
Body Slam can be used to hop over thin walls. You can go through most of them in 3s, including the back wall right next to the Nexus. This can be used to either snag that kill that almost got away, defend your own Nexus, or hop through to assassinate the enemy Nexus(especially useful with Lich Bane which will shave off 800-1000 health after you Body Slam through the wall. Keep using skills to get that passive working every 2 seconds!
Explosive Cask is your bread and butter crowd control. The range is not fantastic, not nearly as long as your Barrel Roll, but still decent. When your team has assembled, throw it behind the enemy to throw them into your own line. Apply Exhaust and let your team completely rape them!
Barrel Roll is fantastic for harassing enemies. Mid to late game, you only need four or five good hits to set up an enemy for ganking, sometimes fewer. Against melee champs, it is invaluable. Use it every time the CD is up, which by level 18 should only be around 4-5 seconds. You can also use this skill for checking bushes instead of doing a face check. Though you will not be able to see into the bush, when you detonate it, or sometimes before, less experienced players will run out of the bushes out of instinct.
By and large, Gragas is one of the funnest Champions to play. Definitely explore his tank versions! He is very flexible and you can completely change gears if you need to build differently in the middle of a game.
When you can, try and one vs. one as many champs as possible. Some champs to be wary of, in my experience, include Anni, Maokai, Malphite(his ultimate will dominate you!), and sometimes Garen if you are not careful.
In summary, experiment and play with all of Gragas' builds. You can hybridize him as a mage/tank and build him like Malphite or Maokai to be really tough and still deal decent damage. This works very well if you have no tank on your team.