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Graves Build Guide by Urizen

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Urizen

So you say they just exploded? - OP Graves Guide

Urizen Last updated on January 4, 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: 24

Honor Guard

Defense: 5

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 1

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That is all I ask. This is my first guide ever, so please don't expect a god-like guide. I made this guide to help other people that want to try Graves out or want to improve in playing him. Feel free to ask me questions and give suggestion, and always have fun while playing Graves, or any other champion, because it's a game, not a job.

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The first time I saw the champion spotlight for Graves, I thought the idea is AWESOME, but I didn't think he would actually do anything in game. He really seemed useless to me; from my point of view he was a glass cannon that can dash out a bit of damage and be the first one to die. After two weeks, he became free to play, and I tried him out. I already had armor penetration, armor and magic resist runes. I played about 2 matches the first day he was free to play; the first one went well, and the second went even better. I fell in love with the play-style I used on him, and after they took him out of the F2P, I saved up some money and got him.

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- Deals HEAVY damage
- Has a great poke
- Has an annoying harass
- Ultimate is very useful in team fights
- Has a nice escape
- Pretty easy to play, hard to master
- He's a cowboy with a shotgun. Need I say more?

- Gets focused and ganked a lot during mid-late game
- The only CC is a mildly annoying, temporary blindness paired with a slow
- People will rage at you and call you a kill stealer, even though you make most of the damage
- Aiming his Q can be quite difficult at times
- Early attack speed is very low ( must be the shotgun recoil )
- He's balding ( D: )

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Laning and item building


The top or bottom lanes are easier for new Graves players. You can get to know him better and building items is just a bit easier and merciful to you. FARMING is VERY important, always remember that. Your range is medium, so you must try and last-hit the minions. The armor penetration runes come in very handy, as minions don't have a lot of armor; you will deal 'true damage' in physical damage to the minions, so use this to your advantage.


    I like to start with Doran's Blade, as it gives a bit of extra damage and some extra survivability. I usually get first blood when starting with this. The armor penetration runes will help you deliver a nice punch, even if you don't have huge attack speed; early game damage is always a good thing to have, especially with Graves

    The second item is usually the BF Sword for me; it gives you tons of damage, and if you can farm properly, you can get it quite early. After getting it, I usually build it into The Black Cleaver. Some people ask me why I don't go for Infinity or Bloodthirster. Well, the answer for that is simple. If the other team has a bit of brain, they will try and counter you, either by overwhelming you with their damage, or by stacking armor. It's usually the second in balanced teams, and it's always the wiser choice. The Black Cleaver will give you even more, stacking armor penetration. This is very good when there's other physical damage based Champions around you, as the stacks lower the armor in general, which means everyone has a sort of armor penetration. The cleaver also gives you some well-needed attack speed. The best build on Graves is a balanced one, with both damage and attack speed. The faster you hit ( when you have damage ) the better.
    Attack speed shoes come next; I recommend buying the basic shoes shortly after you get your BF Sword, but you can buy them after you get the cleaver, if you're in a hurry.
  • Zeal comes next. You can do a couple of things after you get it; you can build it up into a Phantom Dancer or Trinity Force, or just leave it be and upgrade it later. I usually go for the Phantom Dancer, because the attack speed, critical chance and movement speed all go hand in hand with your Quickdraw since the CD is reduced for every basic attack you do against a minion or champion ( sadly, it doesn't work on buildings ). There's a funny thing you can do late game with a Phantom Dancer and your Quickdraw; when you hit about 1.4 attack speed and level 14-15 ( your attack speed will be a bit higher by then, but around those levels you can spam your skills ) you can use the skill indefinitely. How does it work? Well, it gives you an attack speed buff, and with each hit it lowers its own cooldown. People will go "H4X!!!!!!!!1!!11!!" on you, and seeing the other team's reaction and death is really funny.
  • From here on, it's entirely up to you what you buy. I personally recommend The Bloodthirster or Infinity Edge. If you find yourself in the ****ty situation of needing more survivability, you can either go for 2 Bloodthirsters ( your passive will help you stay alive and get more stacks ) or a Frozen Mallet and a Bloodthirster ( they sinergize well, as one gives you some needed CC and the other gives you nice damage and life steal; a nice combo is slowing them down, with the basic attacks, then using Quickdraw to get closer to them and a Buckshot for max damage; leave the rest to basic attacks).

    That's about it for the Top and Bottom lanes.


  • I recommend you only try to go mid after getting a bit of experience with Graves. You'll need to learn how and when to use his skills, how to last-hit like a pro, how to get that passive going and how to use it to defend yourself against ganks. Some map awareness will also be needed, as Graves is quite vulnerable on the mid lane. Pushing is hard and risky; if you're having trouble on mid lane always request ganks and play it safe till they come; another thing you need to learn is to play it safe ( REALLY SAFE ) when you're low on hp or when one of them goes missing (even if they recall, *******s tend to go in the bushes after coming back )
  • THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN GOING MID is to not buy Doran's items. You must ALWAYS buy items that build into better ones. Start off with boots and pots or a Ruby Crystal/Long Sword for a quick Phage - gives some damage and survivability; with the runes and passive, you should be all right laning and escaping ganks. After the Phage or Berzerker Boots, go for a Pickaxe for some damage, and then a quick Zeal. The rest is in the first part.

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  • The Black Cleaver - This is a great item for ANY DPS Champion, in my opinion. It's especially good for people with little to no armor penetration runes and because everyone gets that nice little bonus. It basically takes out their armor and throws it away. Pretty convenient, eh? The earlier you get this one, the better. Also, try and focus the one with no armor runes on your lane. If you got more penetration that he has armor, the penetration turn into..... TRUE DAMAGE! This one makes people rage really hard, since you can have... say, 81 damage at level 1 and do 100 damage. Try hitting them with your Q up close so you damage them even more.

  • Berserker's Greaves - Many people ask me why don't I get these first? Well, I usually recall once and get Boots of Speed along or before my BF Sword, even if I can buy the full boots in one shot. Seeing all that hard-earned gold go to waste and you not getting any AD can sometimes blow you down.

  • Phantom Dancer - HUE HUE HUE! This one tops off your attack speed. It gives you a nice little speed boost and some well-needed crit. chance. The more times you hit each second the bigger the chance to crit. It also gives you some movement speed; this is very functional as you can use it to run away or chase them down. Chasing people down isn't really needed if you have your ult, because the range might not seem huge because of that arrow, but believe me, it is.

  • Infinity Edge - Erm, I guess you saw this one coming. Gives some nice critical chance and some even nicer attack damage and crit. damage. That's pretty much it. Oh, it help your ult a lot. Not sure if it can crit, but it does INSANE DAMAGE. Most damage I ever did with it was a bit over 1800 :D

  • The Bloodthirster - A nice item; it's the DPS version of Warmog's armor, which means you 'gotta farm it. When this item is "fed" it gives 100 AD and 25% life steal. It only asks for a mere 40 minions, but the bad thing is the bonus is lost on death. GET THIS ITEM RIGHT AFTER OR BEFORE INFINITY EDGE! It gives you even MORE damage and some good 'ol fashioned life steal.

  • Frozen Mallet - CROWD CONTROL! One of the greatest things to have on Graves. Although the slow is a bit... eh... unsatisfying (it's nerfed down to 35% from 50% if your champion is ranged) it gives you a bit of HP (which is always a good thing) and a tiny bit of damage (always welcomed :D).

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Skill Explanation and sequence

  • True grit - This is not an incredibly good passive for a DPS, but it's good. It help you in teamfights, the bane of your existence. If you got armor and magic resistance runes, the other team will go "WTF" when they see your armor with 10 passive stacks, and I'm not kidding. It gives you some survivability. Erm, the last thing to add here is that it gets better; it scaled with 1 armor/magic resistance point at level 11 and 16. So, after 16, each stack is worth 3 points of armor and magic resist.

  • BUCKSHOT, Graves' 'Q' - This skill is awesome. The closer you are to your target, the more damage it does, but Riot was scared of the potential damage so they put a limit to the maximum damage. It still inspires awe when your lane enemy is hit by it. It's basically a poke on steroids. Get this one first and try to get to the edge of their bush as fast as you can. Let them get closer, then BAM! at least 25% of their HP is gone. I got so many First Bloods by using it like this... Good times, good times.

  • SMOKE SCREEN, Graves' 'W' - One of the most annoying skill in this game when it's used against you. The pure rage and annoyance it produces will warm your heart, or maybe that's just me. IMPORTANT: This is your counter to carries with a range longer than yours. It blinds them pretty much like Nocturne's ultimate, but this one is only active to the champions inside the cloud. It requires a bit of aiming and wits; use it on choke points when running from someone, and when laning put it somewhere where the enemy is forced to stay. It does a tiny bit of magic damage, but don't use it to actually harm someone. You can, however use it to steal kills. Be careful, the canister won't just pop out there, it takes it about 1 second to get to the designated spot.

  • QUICKDRAW, Graves' 'E' - This is a really nice skill, and not spamming it is sometimes hard to do. It's a speed boost that cools down with each basic attack, including the ones you do when you activate it. My favorite AD carries each got a speed boost, which is why the second item I get is a BF Sword item. Miss Fortune has one, Xin Zhao has one, Twitch has one (kinda...). I know it is VERY tempting, but don't spam it. Use it near turrets to dash out as much damage as possible and then retreat. This is also the Escape Dash I was talking about earlier. You can use it to jump over thin walls.

  • COLLATERAL DAMAGE, Graves' 'R', or ULTIMATE - The line-thingy used in-game can be quite confusing at times so I made this ( I'm no great artist, so try to ignore that :D ):
    Here's what the....erm... stuff I added represents:
    THE RED LINE represents the actual range of the projectile. Riot always makes the arrow a bit shorter; why? Well, because the image for the arrow has to fit in a box; that box is the actual range, while the arrow must fully fit inside it.
    THE ORANGE LINES represent the AOE/Splash damage the ultimate does. It makes an orange flash. The actual shell isn't very visible and will detonate when it hits a champion, which causes a lot of confusion in the enemy team, especially the first couple of times you use it.
    The main reason I posted this is to represent the AOE damage, for when you're kill hungry and you chase down people. While aiming, try to get the arrow head on them, or in front of them. Casting it takes about 0.5 seconds and the projectile speed isn't too big, but it catches them from behind. If it hits them when they're running, they die. At 16 you deal at least 800 damage with this (you will surely deal more, but this time it's a worst case scenario).




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This is what I use for a long time now, and it rarely failed me

MARKS OF DESOLATION - Ah, Armor Penetration... These, along with the quintessences will make you hit like a truck.

SEALS OF RESILIENCE and GLYPHS OF WARDING - These make you durable, even on their own. When you count the passive stacks in, your armor and magic resistance tend to look more like that of a tank. I focused on the passive with these. The mastery points in def will also help you out. At level 18 with full passive and these runes, you are packing about 110 armor and 100-110 magic resistance. I say that's a great score for this squishy little guy.

QUINTESSENCES OF DESOLATION - These ones go hand-in-hand with the armor penetration marks. They're the bigger brother of the marks and they are always willing to help you out.

The next set of runes is focused on damage, more than everything else.

This set is focused on pure damage. I only tried it once, when I first played Graves, on a friend's account. I was very very squishy so I had to get Frozen Mallet early on, but the rest was good. The early game damage was INSANE and I really think that's what made me love this champion. I'll just give it a brief explanation since I don't really recommend it, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Try this out if you already have the necessary runes or want to play it risky.

MARKS and QUINTESSENCES of Desolation ( the same as before, but from now on everything is different) and GLYPHS and SEALS for Physical Damage. Weird, eh? The final results were 25 armor penetration and 2.52+3.97 Physical Damage. I don't recommend this at all, since the blue and yellow runes aren't made for damage. The yellow ones are best for armor and the blue ones for magic resist (in our case). He basically threw away armor and magic resist for approx. 6 bonus damage. Was it worth it? Absolutely no, in my opinion that's a waste, but he still plays Graves and Nocturne that way, and he's really efficient with them that way.

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Summoner Spells


These ones are pretty obvious... Flash is good for escapes, ignite for kill-securing and first-blood, ghost for escaping and getting to important places fast, and now EXHAUST. Exhaust is important on Graves because using it can give him the edge in any fight. Try using it on their AD carry to slow him down and then destroy him. In late game, timing this spell can mean the difference between a kill and a death.


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Team Work

  • Graves is VERY team dependent for new players and even experienced ones. Your lane partner must work with you. KILL STEAL if you have to. There are great chances you're the main carry, so kills are very important, they will thank you later, so while the game is going on, milk the enemy for kills.
  • If your lane partner or you cant handle your lane too well and don't get at least 2 kills until minute 8-9, gank. This is very important, as a fed Graves can make the difference in any game. A good tactic is to recall while the enemy can see you, then go to the lane you want to gank. They won't be suspicious unless you take too long. You can also do this after you die and respawn.

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Graves is a great champion with a great look and story. He's fun to play and pretty easy to learn. Following my guide won't make you an instant pro, but it will help you get on your way. I recommend this champion to people who know how to have fun, who enjoy gettin' kills, who know that this is just a game and don't take it too far. I had good and bad times with Graves, but I always had fun playing him. I hope this guide will help you out, and feel free to come here and look over it if something isn't clear. If the guide doesn't help you out, leave a question in the comments and I'll answer it as soon as I can.