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Graves Build Guide by Phil Collins

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Phil Collins

Graves: A True American (Bot Lane)

Phil Collins Last updated on June 30, 2012
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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

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Hello there, and welcome to my fourth guide, featuring our favorite redneck ranged AD, Graves. Graves is a unique AD carry compared to others. Instead of relying on staying in the back of fights and shooting people, Graves can burst people down with his abilities and has the ability to run into melee range thanks to his passive, True Grit. I hope you will learn a lot about Graves in this guide, and any feedback and comments are appreciated.

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Pros / Cons

- Great early game
- Tanky thanks to True Grit
- Burst damage
- Huge ATS steroid
- Able to dash through walls
- Utility through Smoke Screen
- Low range for an AD carry
- High mana costs
- Squishy early game
- Difficult to stick to targets
- No hard CC
- Targeted often

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Who is Graves? Why Graves?

Who is Graves?
Our manly AD carry here is a special type of AD carry. Graves gets most of his damage off his abilities and has good built-in defenses, something almost all AD carries don't have. Graves is capable of many things, bursting down opponents, excelling in duels, carrying teams, blinding opponents, the possibilities are huge.

Why Graves?
If you ever need a decent Ranged AD carry, Graves is your man. Graves is a strong pick all around due to his massive damage and utility. Most of the time if you play him right you can carry entire teams to victory. If you ever need someone who can do good DPS, or having good utility, doing good burst damage, being tanky or even a badass looking champion, you can count on Graves to fill up your desires.

When not to play Graves?
Despite having many strong points, Graves has his weak points as well. The most outstanding one is that he is short ranged. This will open up opportunities for the opponent to pick a longer Ranged AD carry to bully you out of lane. Caitlyn is a great example of this. Also, Graves lacks hard crowd control, he depends on the team to have crowd control to make up for his damage. Don't pick Graves if your team has no CC, pick Ashe instead.

However, when all else fails, Graves is never a bad choice.

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Graves is an AD carry, meaning that you will need as much damage as possible. However you will need some defense as well, as Graves is low ranged and will need the extra Armor/MR. So, my rune page would be:


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

I take Greater Mark of Attack Damage for an early game advantage, and easier last hitting.
Greater Seal of Armor to make you harder to kill.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist same as above.
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage same as above.

Why don't I take ArPen runes? Well, I get Last Whisper late game for armor penetration anyway, and Flat ArPen runes would hinder Last Whisper because Flat ArPen is calculated first before Percentage ArPen. Also, Graves' abilities scale off AD, so AD marks/quints will give you a higher burst on your abilities.

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I take 21/0/9 to maximize utility and damage output.

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Skill Sequence

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

I max Buckshot first because it givesVERY HIGH burst damage in lane, and it is the main part of Graves' early game.

I max Quickdraw second for more damage thanks to its ATS steroid.

I max Smoke Screen last because it is already strong at level 1, you only use it for the blind. However I take a second point at level 10 so I can clear minion waves with a Buckshot + Smoke Screen.

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

A great passive for an AD carry, it can really save you from divers and you excel at teamfights and duels thanks to this passive.

Cost 60/70/80/90/100 Mana
Range 700

Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing 60 / 95 / 130 / 165 /200 (+0.8 per bonus attack damage) 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 deal only 35% damage up to a maximum of 102 / 161.5 / 221 / 280.5 / 340 (+1.36 per bonus attack damage) physical damage.

This ability is very good on Graves. You will burst down champions easily with this skill. However, try not to spam it too often as it costs quite a bit of mana. Thanks to its extra effect of dealing extra damage at close range, I usually Quickdraw up to targets and fire a point-blank Buckshot in their face.

Smoke Screen
70/75/80/85/90 Mana
Range 950

Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area, dealing 60 / 110 / 160 / 210 / 260 (+60% of ability power) magic damage upon landing and creating a cloud of smoke for 4 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.

This is a very unique ability for Graves. It is a very strong utility spell that temporarily reduces vision range of the opponents, much like Nocturne's Paranoia. This can make or break fights as you can blind tanks to keep them from saving their carries, or if you are escaping from a gank and you blind the attackers.

Cost 50 Mana
Range 425

Graves dashes forward, gaining a 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 % attack speed boost for 4 seconds. Attacking enemy units with autoattacks lowers the cooldown of Quickdraw by 1 second each attack.

This is a great ability as it will turn Graves into a killing machine thanks to its attack speed steroid. Use this to quickly get into melee range for a Buckshot into the face, to push towers/kill enemies with autoattacks, or to blink backwards/over thin walls to escape.

Collateral Damage
100 Mana
Range 1000

Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing 250 / 350 / 450 (+1.4 per bonus attack damage) physical damage to the first target it hits. After hitting a champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes dealing 140 / 250 / 360 (+1.2 per bonus attack damage) physical damage in a cone behind the target.

This is a great ultimate as it deals HUGE AoE damage in a straight line, and the frontliners will have to think twice about initiating as the Collateral Damage to the face will seriously hurt them. When going in for the kill, burst them with a Quickdraw + Buckshot + Collateral Damage. Fire this off into teamfights when they start to maximize damage output.

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Summoner Spells

I take Flash and Heal

Flash because it is the best out of all summoner spells, you can use this to escape deadly 5 man ganks or to pick up kills you otherwise wouldn't have gotten without Flash.

Heal so you can Heal bait tower divers, or to win early exchanges against the enemy.
Other choices:

Ghost if you think the blink from Quickdraw is enough, or if you somehow hate Flash. Not recommended though.

Exhaust if you think you are going to duel lots of people in game, or if no one is taking it.

Ignite if you're in a kill-lane (Your support is Leona or Alistar).

Cleanse if it seems that they have lots of CC/you think they have more than one exhaust.

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The build I have here is a typical AD carry build, but I will try to explain as much as possible.

You can start Doran's Blade if you have a support with sustain, or Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions if you have a non-sustain support.

I almost always have two Doran's Blades in each game, to maximize my early game advantage and sustain. It will also make you more durable with the extra 200 health.

Take these boots for the increased damage, you will need it since Graves has a bad attack speed per level.

I take this afterwards to survive better in lane.

Your first big item. I used to take Infinity Edge first, but really The Bloodthirster will give you much more damage as Graves does not rely on crit mid game. You will deal a lot of damage if you have been farming this item up well.

Get Infinity Edge next. It will make your autoattacks deal a lot of damage and you can end the game at this point if you've been playing good.

Get this small item next. It gives you a huge amount of stats for its price.

Ah, the double swords we all love. I remember I used to stack these on Master Yi in my level 5 days...

Anyway, get this item after your two B. F. Sword items. You should have lots of crit's thanks to this item, and your ATS can go up to the 2.0 level if you have enough attack speed. The best part about this is the movespeed however, it eliminates the weakness of Graves that he can't stick to his targets.

By now the enemy team should be stacking armor to counter your reign of terror (AKA carrying). Sell your first Doran's Blade and get this to nullify their attempts to counter you.

You should have enough damage already, so sell your last Doran's Blade for this item. Some people may say "Hey you're a carry you should build as much damage as possible!" They are wrong. How many damage can you deal when you're dead? That's right, 0. You will be able to survive fights much more with this item.

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Situational Items

If you're doing bad in lane, build this item to help you survive, or if you want to be tankier. It gives you great stats for a cheap price.

If you think you can survive good without Guardian Angel, get this item to help yourself keep enemies in their place and kill them.

Despite what some might say, it is a bad item on AD carries. If you want to melt tanks, you can just buy a Last Whisper and you will get better results.

I haven't ever gotten this item on Graves, but if they have really fed casters I suppose you can buy it.

God I LOVE this item. Sadly it's more of an item for bruisers so you shouldn't get it, it will gimp your damage since Graves scales better off AD, not ATS.

If you're too squishy early game or you are lacking farm, take this item.

These items are really for melee carries like Fiora. But you can get it. I just don't get it because even though it gives you lots of stats, it gives you little of it.

Great item if they aren't stacking armor, replace Last Whisper if that is the case.

It's a great item overall, but it gives too many stats that Graves does not need. The proc from the passive won't be very useful either since Graves does not have abilities that are spammable/autoattack modifiers, unlike Skarner or Wukong.

If your team has no ignites and they have Dr. Mundo or Swain, etc. Then get this item. Just remember to use its active though.

I rarely get these boots, but feel free to do so if you feel that the extra defense is needed.

Take this item if you think they have too much threatening CC.

Generally though you shouldn't really concentrate on defensive items, as a carry you should be getting damage even though they have an overwhelming type of damage. You should rely on your bruisers and tanks to protect you instead.

So, if you've been dominating all game and you think you don't need extra defense, you can swap out Guardian Angel for a second The Bloodthirster.

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Bruiser Graves?

I've seen many niche builds on Graves in an attempt to build him as a Tanky Bruiser. Personally, I think this method will be unsuccessful as even though Graves gets natural tankiness from True Grit, you are still an AD carry in the end. Meaning that you don't deal damage unless you build glass cannon.

This is similar to why melee carries like Fiora and Tryndamere aren't built like a Tanky DPS. They might be melee, but they still don't do damage without AD carry items. You scale so well, but yet again you don't scale well without items. Graves has two abilities that scale off Bonus AD, and building defenses will mean that you will gimp your own damage.

The reason why legitimate Tanky DPS' can build tanky is because they deal decent damage without items, and they can afford to build some defenses. Unlike melee carries however, they are the ones who soak up damage. If you look at Skarner for example, he can endlessly spam his Crystal Slash each second. Since each Crystal Slash deals around 160 damage, you will be dealing that much damage per second. Skarner also has the highest AD scaling in the game, peaking at 130 AD. Udyr is another great example. His Phoenix Stance deals around 500 damage each time you press that button (The Phoenix proc counts). This is why most Udyr's and Skarner's build very tanky with 1-2 damage items only, because they do high damage without items.

I'm not saying Bruiser Graves doesn't work, it's just a bit of a bad idea in my opinion. I mean it would be nice if you can tank damage while dealing it, but you will suffer through a phrase of dealing no damage since you are building tanky.

TL;DR: Bruiser Graves works, but you shouldn't go for it.

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Early Game

Graves is very strong early game. You should lane with a strong support like Alistar so you can capitalize on your huge burst early game. However in bot lane I just concentrate on farm the most. Always focus on farm in bot lane.

I cannot stress hard enough, FARM FARM FARM!This is because you deal the most damage late game and you will need your items to make you get to late game easier. However don't hesitate to pick up some kills with your support, because you deal high burst early on.

Level of CS (creep score) by 20 minutes:
50 or lower: D:
51-85: :(
86-100: :|
101-150: :)
151+: :D

Try to reach at least 150 CS. For me, I usually reach the 160s by 20 minutes. Granted that I'm not Chaox who can reach 200 CS by 20 minutes, I always try my best to improve.

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Mid Game

Mid game you should have your Infinity Edge by now. Try to control dragon with your jungler, tell your support to ward it. Keep farming and try to take the enemy tower for the extra gold and the advantage. You should be careful as the AP carries are at their most powerful stage right now. Keep yourself from being bursted and you should be fine.

Stay behind teamfights and start chipping away at the closest or weakest target.

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Late Game

Now you should be a god mode 6 items AD carry. When it gets to late game, MAKE SURE TO STAY WITH YOUR TEAM! AD carries play the biggest role late game and Graves is no exception. If you die, it's basically a free inhibitor for the other team, or even a loss for you. Always stay in the back of fights, and remember to tell your support to ward baron.

During fights, wait for your tank or tanky DPS to initiate. Once the fight has begun, immediately fire off a Buckshot + Collateral Damage combo. After that, Quickdraw to join the fray and kill the dying targets. Remember to Smoke Screen threatening champions, like Talon or Nautilus who can wreck carries or entire teams.

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Level of supports you want to lane with

Level: 10

He's everything you want in a support and more. High CC with a heal and tankiness? Perfect for aggressive play at bot lane. Lane with him whenever possible.

Level: 8

Great support to lane with. She can set up kills for you easily and be tanky at the same time. However the lack of a heal cripples this lane.

Level: 7
Good support to lane with. His Dazzle opens up an opportunity for you to Quickdraw + Buckshot. His W can make you even tankier as well. However Taric runs OOM really quickly so you shouldn't play as aggressive as you would if you had an Alistar or Leona.

Level: 8
Great harass and protection. Janna is a very favorable support to lane with thanks to her easy CC and protection. Her shield will make up for her lack of a heal. However she is very squishy so make sure you don't pick fights that you are not confident you can win.

Level: 6
It's great that Zilean can harass well and gives a great movement speed boost, but he's the most squishy out of all supports and he doesn't have a heal. This makes aggression decrease as he cannot fight nor support you in skirmishes.

Level: 9
Awesome support. Soraka will make sure you will never die thanks to her burst heals and her mana sustain through Infuse will allow you to fire off Buckshot endlessly. The only problem is that she can't really assist if you are going in for the kill or if the jungler comes in to gank, as she is not an aggressive support. However this is a small flaw.

Level: 8
She will give you whatever you need. A movement speed boost, a heal, an Armor/MR buff, or a damage buff. Take your pick! She can also set up kills for you if you both perfectly execute a Crescendo + Buckshot + Collateral Damage. This combo is deadly, and will indeed make you very fed. The only problem is that Sona is extremely squishy and she might die very often to jungle ganks or to aggressive supports.

Level: ???
I haven't laned with Lulus recently, I'll update when I find more information.

Level: 6
Kayle can excel in healing and protecting you, but she is quite prone to harassment and she is extremely squishy. Which means if she ults herself you are done for if you start losing a skirmish.

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Bot Lane Match-ups (AD Carries)

Champions you can beat easily:

Ashe should be easy to beat. She's very squishy and cannot lane very well. Try to kill her in lane to prevent her from farming. Remember to tell your team when Ashe fires an Enchanted Crystal Arrow across the map.

Easy to beat. Vayne has a terrible early game, she is squishy and short ranged. Always be aggressive against Vayne to keep her from getting to late game. If you don't, she will hyper carry the game with her insane damage.

Easy in lane. You should harass with Buckshot often since Kog'Maw kinda sucks early game. Just don't leave him untouched or he'll kill everyone late game.

Same as Ashe. Just stay behind minions to dodge his Mystic Shot and you will be fine. Alert your team when Ezreal fires a Trueshot Barrage across the map.

Twitch is very easy to kill. He is short ranged with an extremely low base health. Try to Quickdraw + Buckshot him often. You will only have problems if you don't have vision wards or oracles, but that's about it. Remember to call MIA's often as you never know when Twitch has headed mid to gank.

After some experimentation, it seems that Varus is rather weak against Graves. If you play aggressive and burst him, you will win in trades since Varus relies on sniping and autoattacks, and your Smoke Screen negates them both.

Champions that can go either way:

Should be even. Dodge her Rocket Jump with Quickdraw and fire off a Buckshot when going in for a skirmish. Just don't be too passive because Tristana has huge burst early game. However, you beat her harder in mid game, where Tristana is not good.

Evenly matched. In this matchup I would just farm more than harass. However you can potentially make Corki run OOM by baiting his Phosphorus Bomb and Gatling Gun. THEN you can beat him.

Oh how I hate ditto match-ups. This really depends on who can CS better and who has better runes. You CAN beat the other Graves if you have an aggressive support.

She can be beaten, but don't be too passive or you'll get harassed hard by Double Up. Remember to move sideways or Quickdraw sideways if she uses Bullet Time.

Draven has some really hard harassing techniques, but only if you allow yourself to get harassed. Your Buckshot outdamages him in harassment, so make sure to fire one into his face often. Note that he's pretty tanky for an AD carry, so don't make too much mistakes.

Champions that will beat you:

She will beat you. Boomerang Blade harass just outclasses your Buckshot. In this match-up I usually try to farm often, but you can get some kills if your support is Alistar or someone with CC. Also, be aware not to fire a Buckshot if she has Spell Shield on.

She beats you hard. Despite you being able to burst her down, you really can't reach Caitlyn because her range is too high compared to you. You WILL get harassed and denied farm thanks to that range. Be very careful when laning against a Caitlyn.

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Bot Lane Match-ups (Supports)

Champions that you won't have to worry about:

Similar to Alistar, except "it" has no heal and you can dodge its Rocket Grab. Try to stay behind minions to prevent getting grabbed, and you will be fine. Since Blitzcrank is not that tanky early game, you have the potential to win the lane easily.

He can harass you hard with Time Bomb, but don't forget he is the most squishy out of all supports. Quickdraw up to his face and fire a Buckshot to kill this old man. Try to make him ult himself, then kill his carry.

Also, try to stay near your own minions when you have a Time Bomb on your head. It pushes the lane and your jungler can come in to gank.

Who's this guy?

Jokes aside, Karma should be easy to lane against unless she builds AP Karma. You can be in jeopardy of being harassed, but there should be no problem because Karma is really squishy. Also, if they are building AP Karma they will fall off late game anyway.

Champions that can stand up to you:

She can CC you to death. Try to farm in this lane, because Janna can set up kills for her carry very easily. However she is super squishy herself so you can burst Janna and her carry if you are careful.

She is a very aggressive support, similar to Alistar. You just have to ward the brush and watch out for her Zenith Blade, then you will be fine. Since she has no heals, you can kill her carry if you are careful.

I play passive in this lane. Not because Soraka is an aggressive support or anything, just that she heals up everything you throw against the enemy. If she heals herself however, you can start fights.

Champions that will give you a hard time:

I hate this champion. She may have grapefruits, but I really don't like how Sona can do everything well. She's got a heal, Armor/MR buff, speed boost, AP/AD increase, harass, AND AoE CC? Consider yourself screwed if it's a Sona/ Caitlyn bot lane. She will poke you hard alright. You will most likely lose a lane against her.

He will make your life suck if you aren't being aware. You cannot play too aggressive against a match-up with Alistar in it. Try not to get Pulverized and Headbutted into their tower/their AD carry.

She is a great support, don't try to fight as she will Whimsy you to death. Unless your jungler comes in to gank, don't try picking fights against her.

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Graves Champion Spotlight:

Colbycheeze's Graves First impressions and Guide:

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Thanks for reading my Graves guide, I hope you've learnt a lot about my favorite Ranged AD character, and that you will continue using the manly redneck we all love.

~ Phil Collins

Soon to come:

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Patch Thoughts

League of Legends v1.0.0.140

  • Buckshot Bullet Damage decreased to 60/95/130/165/200, from 60/105/150/195/240. Damage per additional bullet increased to 35%, from 25%.
  • Smoke Screen Duration decreased to 4 seconds, from 5 seconds.

Graves nerfs :/. Well, it was actually necessary to nerf him as he was dealing too much burst from a long range. Now you just have to get into people's faces more often to deal more damage. Regarding the Smoke Screen nerf, it's not that much of a big deal since it's only one second off.

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May 6 2012: Guide created
May 8 2012: Added some changes due to feedback.
June 11 2012: Addded "Patch Thoughts"
June 14 2012: Added changes according to feedback.
June 29 2012: Updated some information that was not corresponding with the correct ones.