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League of Legends Build Guide Author musicesmelife

Heat n Serve's Advanced Gangplank Guide

musicesmelife Last updated on February 7, 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: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

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

Utility: 21

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This is NOT my guide. This is an import of Heat and Serve's Guide from leaguecraft. It is a very good guide and I didn't see it here so I thought I'd share along with some thoughts of my own.

There is also a FAQ section so read that before you have any questions or hate. (No Avarice Blades? WTF?)

The Item build shown here is the CORE build. Please go to the Items section to read what you can buy.

Stuff I changed or added will be in RED.

Also notice that I have changed the leveling skill order of the first 4 levels, Just putting 1 point in Raise Morale at level 1. Please check the General Strategy for more info.

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Advanced might sound like a bit of a stretch, since some teams in high-level games might want a different champion on their team. That doesn't mean, however, that he can't be effective and incorporated into an organized team strategy. In the games that I've played, it has become painfully clear to me how few people understand what role Gangplank plays in a game and how he should be built to fulfill that role. This is in part because his existence as a melee champion is misleading. Gangplank is not a melee carry. His fullest potential is realized by playing him as a ranged support caster. Melee attacking will be a part of your game, but not the central part. Melee will most often take place in ganks on champs that have been disabled by teammates (if they are still alive after parrrley), or in team battles after the enemy team has spent the majority of its high spell damage AOE stuns and slows (which by then, the battle is nearly decided). In this next section, I will explain in greater detail what Gangplank is and why. It's a tedious discussion, I know, but necessary to place the build strategy in a proper framework. If you don't care, by all means skip straight to the build.

Rate or comment this guide if you feel particularly moved to.

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What Is Gangplank?

What Is He Not

A Carry. Why is he not a carry? Put simply, he doesn't have stellar abilities that allow him to carry like other champions do. Twitch has fantastic attack speed and range (and AOE too) thanks to Ambush and Spray and Pray. Same goes for Tristana with Rapid Fire. Corki has ridiculous damage and armor penetrating capabilities thanks to Gatling Gun, and Hextech Shrapnel Shells provides a decent amount of damage augmentation. Master Yi has a boat-load of abilities to help him carry: Double Strike, Wuju Style and Highlander. I could go on like this, but the common thread here is that all of these champions mentioned have abilities that significantly enhance their DPS (damage-per-second) capabilities in battle. The only thing that Gangplank has is Raise Morale, where the passive part pales in comparison to the aforementioned abilities, and the active part is highly dependent on having allied minions nearby (many team battles will take place in the river at Nashor or dragon, or in the woods at lizard or golem or any of the nearby brush). The most common instance where it will be used in a lane when minions are nearby is when your team is pushing a tower, at which point it becomes more of a pushing ability than a carry ability. Parrrley is not DPS, it is burst damage.

Gangplank isn't even that great at being a melee fighter. Even with Remove Scurvy, he is still easily kited by a ranged champion like Ashe, who has a spam-able slow: Volley. Tristana and Corki can easily escape his melee with Rocket Jump and Valkyrie, respectively. He has no targeted stun to hold his victims in place. Lets look at some other characteristics that make melee fighters effective and see how Gangplank stacks up:
- Immunity: Undying Rage, Intervention
- Dodge: Counter Strike
- Ability to close distance on a target quickly: Leap Strike, Shunpo, Spinning Slash, Deceive, Infinite Duress
- Targeted slow/stun: Wither, Two-Shiv Poison, Cryptic Gaze, Dazzle
- Passive lifesteal: Soul Eater, Eternal Thirst
- Stealth (to approach melee range undetected): Deceive, Shadow Walk

Again, I could go on like this. The common thread here to be successful as a melee champion is having any combination of high survivability, distance closing abilities and targeted stuns or slows. Gangplank lacks all of these.

So What Is He?

So what is Gangplank? He is a ranged support caster, capable of high burst damage with Parrrley, but for the reasons listed above, lacks what it takes to produce the great DPS that other champions provide. Raise Morale is a great team buff before a big battle, but requires that the battle takes place in a lane. As such, it is most often used to push lanes/towers quickly. Cannon Barrage is a fantastic supporting spell for team battles. It takes great skill and timing to position this ability properly in a team battle for maximum effectiveness. When done correctly, this supporting damage can turn the tide of a battle in favor of your team. Remove Scurvy simply allows you to fulfill your supporting damage role with less interruption. I will try to keep the remaining sections brief since this is supposed to be an advanced guide and I'm betting you all know the basics already.

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For items, the stats that Gangplank needs to fulfill his support damage role are: Armor Penetration, Cooldown Reduction, Chance to crit, Damage and Health (among other forms of survivability). The described item build attempts to maximize all of these things.

Stage 1 (starting items):


Goals: Farm with Smite and Parrrley. Try and stay in your lane long enough to get to Stage 2 items.
Commentary: Starting mana regen remains about the same. Health regen suffers, but you make up for it with an extra health potion. Early game crit chance is dramatically less than before, but with the right lane partner, you should still be able to grab some early kills, especially now that you have so much armor penetration to start. Melee is quite viable in a lot of level 1-3 situations. Look for when your lane opponents overextend themselves. Most players won't expect Melee + Parrrley + Ghost to drop them before they return to the safety of their tower. Health potions will be your primary source of HP regen for the remainder of the laning phase. Buy more when needed.

Stage 2:

Goals: Use Smite and grab Golem buff. Begin using Parrrley non-stop to farm and harass your lane opponents. Establish lane control. Be mindful of other lanes that could use a Cannon Barrage to gank or push down a tower, or to thwart enemy ganks in other lanes.
Commentary: With the improved damage scaling on Parrrley, I have decided it is most prudent to rush an Infinity Edge. Missing out on chance to crit is okay so long as you can make Parrrley non-crit for a fair amount of damage early on. You can upgrade the Meki Pendant to a Chalice of Harmony, but I find I don't need it that much early. Later in the game, if I have 500 gold laying around, I will upgrade the to a Chalice for a little extra magic resist. Finishing an Infinity Edge fast (before 20 minutes if you can) is the way to go. The faster you get it, the more likely you are to snowball on the enemy.

Stage 3

Goals: Team battles and pushes will start taking place, make sure to Parrrley the enemy DPS and use Raise Morale when appropriate. Use Cannon Barrage once the enemy is committed to the fight. Continue to grab golem buff if possible.
Commentary: Finish that Infinity Edge asap to take advantage of the buffed damage scaling. I chose to get Ionian Boots instead of the original choice of mercury treads because with more CD reduction, you can spam parrley, raise morale and barrage more. Other boots provide marginal benefit to Gangplank at this point in the game. It works well to grab it around the time that your Cannon Barrage hits level 2. Build up your chance to crit by grabbing another Cloak of Agility.

Stage 4:


Goals: The enemy's natural armor should be increasing now beyond your current penetration capabilities. Build a Last Whisper to keep up with their armor growth. Get your crit chance up more by grabbing another Cloak of Agility or Zeal. The Cloak of Agility gives you more chance to crit, the Zeal gives you some movespeed and a number of Stage 5 build options. Try to end the game now with your team, if possible. Your tremendous mid-game advantage will start wearing off. A well-executed Cannon Barrage could help win your team the game here. Winning one big team battle usually results in the enemy losing one or more inhibitors.
Commentary: Basically this part of the game is about grabbing more damage, armor pen, and chance to crit. This is the core build. Most games should end here. If the game doesn't end you will need to make some end-game decisions. Be prepared for Stage 5. HP and survivability will be crucial in this next stage.

Stage 5:

Goals: Games can be decided upon how well you can use Cannon Barrage; Don't let your team down. Your mid-game advantage should be wearing off by now, and you will need a serious HP boost to keep doing damage. Gangplank will need HP and a targeted slow at this point because of his new dependence on doing melee damage in addition to parrrley. Sell the Chalice and grab a Phage. At this point you have several options.

Commentary: In general, you want: Core build + Frozen Mallet/Trinity Force + Phantom Dancer/Other Defense Items. Trinity Force can actually give you a viable damage boost. In my opinion, since the nerf to Sheen, an early Sheen is no longer viable, but getting a Trinity Force in a late game situation could greatly improve your odds of winning. It's obviously all quite situational at that point. Stage 4 will determine how you build in Stage 5.

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General Strategy/ Skill Usage

Notes on Raise Morale

This is a major thing I thought was useful and one of the main changes I made to this guide. I put one level in Raise Morale at level 1 because you can deny creeps. Start off with a meki pendant and at Nexus. As soon as creeps spawn, deny the first melee creep and follow the them to your lane. As soon as cd is up, and your mana should be regenerated too, deny another melee creep. This ensures that you do not overpush with your parrley and allows easier tower hugging. It also denies the opponent exp and money.

Notes on Soloing

Gangplank can be played in a solo lane, but can easily be outmatched by better solos (Annie, Teemo, etc). Strategy for a solo lane can be difficult, since to be a good solo you should be able to do at least 2 things well:

1. Control your lane through sustained harassment
2. Farm minions and maintain gold/xp earnings on par with (preferably better than) your opponent

For Gangplank, #1 and #2 are accomplished through use of Parrrley. Being a melee champion, it is difficult in a solo lane to score last-hits with melee attacks without being harassed into oblivion. It is therefore necessary to stay back at range and use Parrrley to last hit. The problem, however, is you won't have sufficient mana regen to use Parrrley for both #1 and #2. There are several options:

A. Have your team help you get Golem buff to start the match. If another ally needs the buff more, you can...
B. Re-spec with mana regen runes, change item build to support mana regen (not recommended, as you won't need it as much once you are roaming with your team)
C. Focus on harassing (you'll make basically no gold, and your opponent might just out-regen your harassment or use Heal)
D. Focus on farming, neglect harassing entirely until returning to buy "Stage 2" items

I tend to go with options A or D if I am solo-ing as Gangplank. This requires you to sit back and avoid being harassed while still scoring last hits. Once your opponent hits level 6, they will likely be looking for a way to kill you with some kind of spell chain (usually Flash/Ghost/Ignite/Exhaust + nukes/stuns). If you tower hug enough they will get frustrated and leave your lane to gank another lane. Call them missing in action. If your allies heed your warning, your lane opponent will have lost out on gold/xp in exchange for zero kills/assists.

Once you hit "Stage 2" items, you should now be able to harass and farm much more without concern for your mana pool. Your Parrrley can do a surprisingly high amount of damage at this point, and you can quickly swing control of the lane to your favor. Always be mindful, however, of any spell chain that they might send your way. You are still quite fragile at this point.

Notes on Cannon Barrage

If you are on a highly organized team, you can prepare your allies for an incomming enemy ganker and place a well timed Cannon Barrage that may even out a 2v3 gank situation and net you or your allies a kill.

In general, you should always be watching for opportunities to cast Cannon Barrage since you will be the first person on your team to hit level 6. If you hear that "an ally/enemy has been slain" you should immediately check out where all the action is taking place and determine if a Cannon Barrage is warranted.

If you score a Parrrley crit that takes your opponent down to about 200 hp, drop a Cannon Barrage slightly behind them. Their natural instinct will be to recoil back toward their tower upon being crit down to low health. Ghost in and chase for the kill.

Be mindful of Tristana (Rocket Jump), Corki (Valkyrie), Kassadin (Riftwalk) and those champions who have Flash. They can easily make your Cannon Barrage be a complete waste by jumping out of its range instantly. For best results, use Cannon Barrage when your opponents have their escape spells on cooldown. Try to bait them into wasting these abilities and then go for the kill.

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I used to advocate Magic Resist per level Glyphs and Seals. I still think that they are a viable option, however I think for the moment Gangplank is so fatally flawed that no runes can truly save him from caster burst damage. Focusing on mana regen seals and cooldown glyphs at least presents you with some utility in the laning phase. Now that Parrrley damage is physical, the only way you will do any respectable damage with it is to get armor penetration runes. This is because enemy armor naturally increases as the enemy increases in level, while magic resist remains constant.

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Masteries + Summoner Spells


You can go 9/0/21 or 21/0/9 for masteries. Personally, I think I have decided on 9/0/21:

Summoner abilities:

Okay so for some time now, I've had Smite as a suggested summoner spell even though I wasn't jungling with Gangplank. I've finally implemented this long-overdue change and removed Smite as a suggested spell. However, Gangplank still does need an expansive farm to do a viable amount of damage late game. He is heavily reliant on what he can farm in the laning phase of the game. As such, Teleport and Clarity are the best recommendations because it allows him to stay in the laning phase as much as possible and farm.

I most often use this to escape ganks, or catch up to an enemy to deal a killing blow with Parrrley. In team fights, I use it to kite the enemy if they try to focus me. They will quickly give up since otherwise the rest of your team will destroy them. Cannon Barrage should have them slowed, so it shouldn't be too hard to kite them.

Other option:

Exhaust a viable option in a team battle to cripple the enemy physical DPS. Spending one point in improving it can increase the damage you do with Parrrley by reducing the target's armor, but usually, it will just be for one shot. Teleport/Clarity and Ghost are my prime picks most of the time.

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Tips and Tricks

- Resist the urge to use Remove Scurvy just to heal, smart enemies are always watching to see if you use it. They will target you without fear when they know it's on cooldown. If you must use it, use it when no one is looking.

- A well timed Cannon Barrage on a melee champ who is attacking a tower with minimal minion support could kill the remaining minions, slow the champion and allow him to be hit by the tower repeatedly. Combine with Ghost + Parrrley for a guaranteed kill.

- Getting armor and magic resist can make Remove Scurvy more effective than simply getting AP. You can calculate the effectiveness of the heal by the following formulas:
Physical Effective Heal: [base_heal + AP]*(100 + armor)/100
Magical Effective Heal: [base_heal + AP]*(100 + magic_resist)/100
This is another reason why I get magic resist runes and, in late game settings, armor item(s) too.

- Parrrley will not trigger spell vamp, only lifesteal. Raise Moral and Cannon Barrage will trigger spell vamp, however.

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Q: Why no Avarice Blade(s)?
A: They delay your build too much. Mid-game is where you are the most threat, and if you don't have some armor penetration, you will not hit very hard. Cloak of Agility does a better job if you just want crit, but really, to be effective, you need so much more than crit chance. In general, gold-per-10 items are meant for assassin champions that leave the laning phase earlier than normal to begin ganking. You are not an assassin champion, and you will be laning hard until you start 5-man roaming with your team. People flame me a lot for saying this, but you don't need them. With Parrrley and Smite, you farm fine without gold-per-10 items. If the game ends early, all of the earning potential and resell value of the Avarice Blades are completely negated. You should strive to be more effective early game and control the match by being a greater threat than your enemy. The strategies outlined in this guide will allow you to be effective at ALL points in the game, rather than the point when you farm 12,000 gold worth of items.

Q: Why no crit damage runes?
A: So many people focus on crit damage and not armor penetration, not realizing that against a typical 50 armor target, having a Parrrley crit for 3x damage really only ends up being 2x crit damage.
(do the math: 3 x damage x 100/150 = 2 x damage). Armor penetration runes help your early game until you start getting chance to crit from items. Basically, armor penetration gives you the stronger mid game, and you should try to win before late game.

Q: Your crit chance seems low compared to other builds. Why don't you stack crit chance instead of armor pen? Won't you do more damage on average?
A: Short answer: not necessarily. Long Answer: What people don't realize is that high crit chance does not equate to doing more damage with parrrley. You have to actually sit down and calculate the damage that you will do on real in-game targets factoring in at least 60-90 armor on your targets (often much more at higher levels of play). Use my Parrrley Mechanics Guide to do these calculations. The major figure of merits are parrrley crit damage and the expected value of your parrrley damage. The latter is calculated by taking weighted averages of damages on in game targets for parrrley crits and parrrley non-crits using their respective probabilities of occuring. Like so:
~~ Expectation{parrrley_dmg}=(crit_chance)*(parrrley_crit_dmg)+(1-crit_chance)*(parrrley_noncrit_dmg) ~~
Doing so will show you that many builds do less damage than the build outlined in this guide. Parrrley damage is a random variable, statistically speaking. Statistically, you will do the most damage by maximizing your expected value (wikipedia: expectation) of parrrley damage. Sheen/triforce, armor penetration, item damage, crit chance and crit damage all raise this expected value. Crit chance and crit damage are generally (but not always) less effective at this than sheen/triforce, armor penetration, and item damage. Due to the buff to damage scaling for Parrrley damage, I believe that item damage is now superior to getting items like sheen/triforce.

Q: What does this term/phrase mean?
A: I tried to write this guide in a language that even new players can understand. League of Legends is a fast-paced game where there are a lot of terms and phrases that people abbreviate. If there is something in this guide you don't understand, the best thing is to look up its meaning here: