[Guide] Gangplank - Built like a keg, hits like a tidal wave
Gangplank is probably one of my favorite heroes to play; he has the only deny mechanic in the game, one of the most powerful single target damage abilities in game, an amazing get out of jail free card that is basically 2 summoner abilities (heal/cleanse) with only a few seconds cooldown and finally an ultimate that has the potential to completely disorient the opposing team in fights that can win you games.
This guide is intended to make gangplank viable for competitive play in the game's current meta game. Heroes like Olaf and Garen are dominating games because of how beefy they are while still being able to dish out very good damage. Gangplank is known to most of the community as the one shot wonder RNG glass cannon who can 2 shot anything under 2000 HP once he is able to afford all his items. People also know that he is one of the easiest targets to take out if you catch him in melee range, limiting him to only being able to parley and clean up after what scraps are left in team fights. In my opinion, this build is no longer viable at high level play. With his ult only scaling with AP and unable to crit, it's only real major use is as zone control in team fights in order to out position the enemy team (and if anyone has played many close games, you will understand that positioning is what wins and loses fights.) This build is intended to create a gangplank that can control team fights, carry his team mid/late game just as well as a crit build while being able to stand in the middle of a 5v5 and live to tell about it.
Don't misunderstand though, you are not a tank and if you are focused by 5 people, you will still go down; this is not a tankplank guide. This is also not intended to create a gangplank that hard carries an entire team racking up over half the team kills (though late game you certainly can start to). Finally this is not a guide for a lazy gangplank that spends the entire first half of the game just farming and every minute and a half dropping an ult for another lane's gank.
This is a gangplank that can control early game, mid game and late game in a few unique ways. In early game your deny vs 2 (if they are hero's that won't take your tower in the first 10 minutes) can completely ruin the mid game for not just one, but two heroes on the other team (I can usually get level 5 parley just after they hit level 5 in levels!). Even in a 1v1 you can be 1-2 levels ahead of the other team's solo before you move to mid game. At mid game, you will be able to setup ganks with your ult and phage/lizard (and ghost if necessary). At mid game you will also finish the core item of this build and have damage that will rival any carry currently in the game. Late game you are going to be impossible to deal with; you will be taking down enemy carries in a matter of seconds and even trying to focus you down, it will take the focus of nearly whole teams to do. If a game lasts past the 40 minute mark, I am looking at over 4000 HP and over 300 base damage with ~40% crit and very respectable armor/MR.
Now on to the build.
+18 Armor Pen (I almost always use this)
+8.4% Critical chance (I just find armor pen more useful for consistency, seems to take down the hard carries faster usually)
+175 Health at 18 (I almost always use this, flat health seals are not worth it)
+6.8% Dodge (paired with Nimbleness it can be effective, but I am not a fan of losing HP for an uncommon RNG proc on auto attacks)
+12.6 Flat Armor / +24.3 Armor at 18 (it should add more tank at 18 than 175 HP with our items, but no boost to atma's and HP will protect you from an AP burst too)
+88 Health at 18 (I use this normally or split it with mana regen/5 at 18, not sure if that little health is worth it)
+13.4 Flat Magic Res/ +24.3 Magic Res at 18 (I've been taking this more now in order to survive the early/mid game AP power, late game it's not as huge of an issue though, I like flat magic res best)
-5.85 Flat CDR (I don't feel this is as necessary for this build, sure it shaves a few seconds off ult and some decimal off parley, but parley for me late game is used for initiating onto a squishy to catch him with frozen mallet and lock him in melee range)
+2.79/5 Flat Mana Regen/5/ +12.96 Mana Regen/5 at 18 (The flat mana regen blues are awful, the ones at 18 are overkill for me by level 11 or so, I don't mind throwing 3-4 on along with HP/MR though if I go doran's instead of chalice)
+97 Flat Health (I always use this for early game, just the intimidation factor of having so much HP can deter poking it down and unless you play sloppy you will survive any early ganks; the HP/lvl quints only give you 146 HP at 18 which is just not worth it)
+11.73 Armor Pen (Solid choice if you are confident with your early game survivability, your parley's will be very very scary early game with marks and mastery too)
Some other considerations that I think can work for quints are move speed, damage/lvl at 18, crit chance, flat magic res, armor/lvl at 18. I still think that flat health or armor pen runes are just the most all around useful and fit this build best.
Masteries and Summoner Spells
Ghost (No brainer here, can be used both offensively or defensively, lets you catch anyone who also runs ghost (which is nearly everyone))
Flash (Hurr escape from fail card. Same as ghost it can be used offensively and defensively, though I would take ghost over it if you only want 1 escape; I've netted a few kills just flashing and parleying a low HP hero in lane when he knows my ult is down.
Ignite (Gives you that little bit extra dps to get the kill, effective early game loses a little late game but is still useful. I would recommend not getting the Burning Ember's skill with it though.)
Exhaust (Gives you some CC before you finish mallet and have ult, useful both defensively and offensively, paired with ult and mallet your target is going nowhere fast. Make sure to get mastery on this)
Teleport (Useful for laning well and farming creep waves/joining pushes in the mid/late game; gangplank is not really an amazing push hero or backdoor hero though so to me it really just depends on the game how useful this is)
I've been mixing and matching around masteries that work for this build, but I think I've settled on this:
Offense: 22 points
1/3 Archmages Savy (.20 AP/lvl) or 1/3 Cripple (-10 MR/Armor .5 duration on exhaust, obviously get if you use exhaust)
3/3 Deadliness (2.0% crit chance)
3/3 Sorcery (3.0% CDR)
3/4 Alacrity (+3% AS, left over points, best spot for it to me)
1/1 Archaic Knowledge (+15 MPen, adds a little more to ult damage)
3/3 Sunder (+6 ArPen)
3/3 Lethality (+10% crit damage)
1/1 Havoc (+5% on all damage)
Defense: 6 points
3/3 Resistance (+6 MR)
3/3 Hardiness (+6 armor)
Utility: 2 points
1/1 Haste (+8% move speed on ghost, 1.5s more duration, this is essential for catching and not being caught from others that run it)
1/3 Perserverence (2% mana/health regen, not worth putting 3 points in, the regen boost is barely noticeable still though)
This build focuses first on survivability and utility before transitioning into a solid damage build. We trade high crit rate for more than double the survivability while keeping a non RNG base damage that rivals or surpasses the standard crit build. The point is to be able to jump right in the middle of an engage and close the gap to the other teams dps (which will be squishy, you however will not) to take them out fast and survive long enough to not only do that, but play clean up crew afterward. Obviously you are not just going to blindly charge into an enemy team, but once your tank initiates or your team gets initiated on you need to knock down those priority targets.
First items: (~475 gold)
Doran's Ring (+120 HP, +5 mana regen/5, +10 AP) and 1 HP pot (before you snort and laugh, this gives us two stats we need early game and one that is pretty useless, but it lets you get your core items faster than a chalice/phil stone while providing stats that are important for all of early/mid game)
Meki Pendant (+7 mana regen/5) and 2 HP pots (I use this vs AP heavy teams just for the MR on chalice to justify the gold cost for an otherwise unnecessary item on mid/late game, I am not a fan of philosopher's stone in almost any case)
Basic boots, 2 HP pots and 1 MP pot (I really only use this if I think I will be vs a Garen, otherwise your mana will dry up with just denying and you either need to: recall back and buy mana pots/mana regen item, add mana regen runes or just lose out on a lot of last hits with parley as well as having no threat of harassment to the other side)
Basic boots, 1 HP pot, 1 sight ward (Either used to ward the other side's golem with ghost for a first blood or if you are playing in a dual lane with an aggressive pusher vs an enemy jungle (hooray for being a team player!), obviously though you are going to have real mana issues unless you rune for it or spend the cash you just got on a first blood for an item)
Second item: (850 or 1200 gold, less if you went boots first, ~1325 or ~1675 total gold spent)
Boots > merc treads or ninja tabi (not many stuns or AP damage, go tabi, otherwise merc threads are essential; zerker's, swiftness and sorc shoes are just ever not worth it to me)
Third item: (1315 gold, ~2640 or 2990 total gold spent)
Phage (+225 HP, +18 damage, 25% chance for -30% movespeed for 2.5 seconds) (this gives us some good early/mid stats in HP and base damage, adds an RNG chase ability onto your parley and builds into one of our core items)
Fourth item: (2405 gold, ~5045 or ~5395 total gold spent)
Atma's Impaler!!! (+18% critical chance, +45 armor, +2% of your HP as base damage) (This is the item that you need to get asap come mid game, even at level ~12 with only phage this will add 40 damage on top of the crit and armor. Throw on a red pot and suddenly you are sitting around 200 base damage at fairly early mid game with the HP of a feasting cho'gath! Your ability to farm lanes and neutrals is exponentially faster now, during down time on team pushes and engages, make sure you are farming your butt off and clearing lanes; you will want to be a step ahead of the other side in both levels and items)
Third item again: (1935 gold, ~6980 or ~7330 total gold spent)
Finish your Frozen Mallet (+700 HP, +20 damage and slows for 2.5 on every hit) (With this you go from fairly tough to bring down to being near impossible to bring down as well as being inescapable if anyone gets in parley range)
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh items: This is really where I branch off and fit something here that meshes well with the current game, though I do have my favorite items I find myself using a lot
Banshee's Veil (2715 gold) (+450 HP, +400 MP, +57 MR, spell shield every 30 seconds) (AP heroes will now openly weep at your feet with this item, you will now need to be stunned or held at least 3 times to keep you off their carry (banshees and remove scurvy for the win) and you are looking at over 4000 HP with a red pot (I think I sit around 4188 with this setup at 18).
Sunfire Cape (2510 gold) (+450 HP, +45 armor and 40 magic dps surrounding you) (This is the yin to the banshee yang to me, it offers the same HP, some armor and dps that normally gangplank would have no reason for (but in this build, you should always be in melee range on your target) I still prefer banshee's in a regular game with even physical and ap damage and CC.
Bloodthirster (3200 gold) (+60 damage, +15% life steal, +1 damage/+.25 life steal on kills) (I still prefer this over IE for a damage item, it's cheaper, adds a little more survivability with the life steal and since you are probably not dying all that often if you are playing right, you can hold on to the passive for quite a while)
Other items that situationally can be good:
* Red and Green pots (learn to love them and always keep a red pot on you, I find red pots are a necessity for mid/late game, green pots are really only good late game)
* Infinity Edge (Atma's + IE + crit marks + mastery + base = ~65% chance to crit for a heck of a lot of damage)
* Zeal > Phantom Dancer (move speed and crit are nice, I usually never upgrade a zeal to a phantom dancer though unless the game is just really really long and the dodge is useful enough to justify cost)
* Thornmail (when the fed trist/twitch/anything with good auto attack is tearing you a new rear without the use of a bloodrazer, it's time to get a thornmail)
* Youmuu's Ghostblade (This item synergizes very well with gangplank and on top of it it's cheap. This is a fantastic item to have, but personally I always seem to have a game where another item just fits the current game flow better for some reason. That might just be personal preference or being horrible at timing the active, but on paper this is nearly a core item)
* Aegis of the Legion (if no one else has this, this needs to be on someone for team fights, you might as well grab it)
* Stark's Fervor (This really doesn't fit in the build as well as other items, but this may be a good pick up for a physical heavy team if no one else has it)
* Force of Nature (Very solid MR as well as extra movement speed, but the passive alone will be restoring ~70 HP every 5 seconds on top of the base 40/5 regen. While the regen is not that useful by this late game stage, it can still be a useful item in certain games)
* Moar Sunfires and Moar Bloodthirsters if the game is that out of hand
Conclusion and Advice
This build is not perfect and he can be shutdown like any other hero if you are outplayed or just have a bloodrazer user or two that you can't drop fast enough. Your early game will not be anything remarkable aside from denying, your farming ability is slightly crippled because of mana issues (unless you opt for mregen/5 on runes) and you will likely spend most of your time close to your tower. If you do not know how to last hit creeps at your tower, you need to learn fast (2 tower hits on melee creep it will usually take 1-2 auto attacks from you to kill, ranged creep it takes 1 tower hit and 2 auto attacks to kill or just 1 tower hit and a level 2 parley will usually kill it). The goal early game is to hold your lane from getting pushed, control xp flow to the other team's hero(s) and get in as many last hits as you can safely manage in order to build your core items (it will cost you 5355 gold to finish these with merc threads, 5005 with tabi, 4505 with level 1 boots).
A solid early game will help you build into the mid game where you should start to get dominant. Once you have your level 5 parley, and you are at your peak early/mid game, look to setup ganks with another team mate (or a solo lane if you feel confident). Use your ult to trap them from running back to their tower (I like hiding in the river bush and having a team mate herd them towards it to get away from the cannons). If you can get lizard buff and finish your phage, you will be getting free kills in almost any pushed lane. Once you are able to finish your atma's impaler, you should be sitting around level 12-14 and team fights between dragon, buff control and tower pushes start to take over the game as we go into late. You should have a red pot on you at all times for engagements; it will not only increase your chances of surviving the fight, but with atma's it adds even more base damage. I would hold off on green pots until you finish your next item, the crit and attack speed is not worth it to me until I'm beefy enough to make full use out of melee. Late late game you just keep stacking damage and counter items and stick with your team; if you get picked off and you are the main carry, expect a strong engage and push coming to end the game.
I've played with this build over the course of ~60 normal games and recently started using it in ranked solo queue with ~15 games (~1600 rank, currently 11-4 with gangplank 6/4/10 average kda). I understand that this is not really high elo and it's a **** shoot with a solo queue, but I find that gangplank can hold his own even with bad team mates (as long as the early/mid game doesn't get wrecked). I've had games where I start out at 0/3 or 1/5 only to finish my core items and go 11/7 by the end with a dominating performance. I've also had games where I go 5/1 and finish with 7/8 as the team crumbles in team fights. I will keep playing gangplank to see where it takes me and perhaps get a stronger gauge on exactly how powerful this build is.
This is really the first guide I've ever wrote, let me know if there is anything I'm leaving out or if the formatting and walls of text are too hard to read. Thanks everyone and I hope to see more gangplanks in ranked play!
I find this build is still completely viable, but a few changes I think might work better.
* Armor pen runes are no longer my preferred Marks and Quints
I actually find that just straight damage/lvl Marks and Quints are incredible and really lend themselves to mid/late game power. HP quints are still viable, but they really are still not necessary if you play decent.
* Merc Treads and Ninja Tabi are still my preferred boots, but the new CDR boots can be a strong addition if you feel that you can survive without the added defense.
* Last Whisper is now very viable on Gangplank, especially if we are not running armor pen runes.
The +40 damage and the +40% armor penetration probably makes these the biggest boost to our damage late game. I would probably see it as a core item after atma's and frozen mallet in order to output high damage towards late game.
* Masteries are still all over the place, lately I've been using the 3/16/11 build though which seems ok to me. To each their own, there are benefits with almost every mastery that still synergize with this build.
why would you build pirate this way he has like the best crit skill ever and the whole point of the hero is to have 100% cricital rate so that you can shoot them for like 1500 damage each shot
hes not meant to take any hits, he just needs to get in and get out until he can use his shot again and let your team do the work of taking hits
This guide sounds interesting, and something that I would like to play, especially in regards to the other choice. Playing a character simply for a skill and nothing else is really a waste. (That's to the guy above me)
Hope it goes well for you. I will definitely give this build a try for myself, and do as well as you hopefully.
Over all, I really like your build.
My master setup is 3 / 16 / 11.
3 into the crit skill (It's useless but at least its' something), then the standards in Def for veterans scars. Then I get Perserverance + ghost + EXP + Mana regen in the Utility.
The Mana regen mastery is a whopping 1.00 per. That's 10 per 10. That's huge. Between that, Meki, and Mana regen yellows, I don't worry about mana until I'm ready to go back.
I like your idea of starting phage early. However how does that do for damage? Parrrley isnt' exactly a mystic shot damage wise early on. As cliche as it is, Rushing IE or at least a BF sword helps me a lot more than the paltry HP and slow chance from phage.
If you get IE early enough you are a major force to be reckoned with, crit or no crit. After IE you can safely go Frozen mallet + banshees or Sunfire into atma's.
The problem with tankplank is that unlike Garen or Olaf, or Nasus, he doesn't do that much damage on his own. He has no skills scaling off his own HP like Olaf, or enemy HP like Garen or Nasus. Gangplank needs items. He can farm minions like no other, sure, but games can be broken or made at mid game. With your build it seems like, sure, you'll live, but you won't have enough damage to contribute to fights without ulti, and even with it it's still RNG.
I myself love the idea of a versatile, beefy gangplank dealing damage while having survivability. However, I just feel that the damage has to come first, and then the survivability once you're able to actually be a threat.
For the record, I"ll toss on my item build as well.
Meki + 2pot (2 hp or 1 HP 1 mana)
Pickaxe, Cloak then IE.
Merc treads or Ninja tabi, depending on enemy team. (90% of time merc treads)
Phage -> Frozen mallet OR Trinity force if you think you'll outright win.
Sunfire OR banshees, again, depending on the enemy team and who is their major threat.
All in all, I like the guide and I WILL be trying it out, however, I feel that you need to be a threat mid game or you're hurting your team. Frozen mallet slow + an ulti isn't going to support much afaik.
And I agree red > Green pots on him.
The standard critplank is just not a viable champion when compared to almost any other option.
Let me know how it goes and if you have played the standard gangplank build before let me know how it compares for you.
This was really my other line of thinking with the build, to get the pure damage before the tank and hopefully stay in that mid game window where the other side doesn't have quite so much damage as late game. I agree that a fast ie should be possible to get by level 12 or so and the damage is very worth it at that point.
The problem that I have is that for price of an ie (4080 gold for +80 damage, 20% crit, 250% crit damage) you can have a phage (1315 gold for +18 damage, +225 HP, RNG slow proc) and Atma's (2405 gold for +45 armor, 18% crit, 2% HP into damage which is about +40 at level 12 without a red pot). So you are looking at 4080 gold vs 3720 gold for +22 more damage and 2% more crit with the 50% extra crit damage boost while losing out on +225 HP, +45 armor and an RNG slow proc. It sounds fairly even to me, maybe IE edges it out a bit, but there are a few things that I think phage + atma's bring that IE can't. For one, with the extra ~300 gold you save you can red pot (I know it doesn't last long, but you'll have it for the big mid game team fights). Second, Atma's Impaler is going to only grow in power late game (reaching over +80 damage with two hp items) and gives you the same armor as a sunfire cape. Lastly, that phage is also a part of late game as you are able to transition into that mallet that much quicker which gives you both the much needed CC on top of the survivability and damage from Atma's. To me personally, I find my route to fit my playstyle better for the late game transition.
I will agree though that until you finish that Atma's, your damage is weak and lackluster for mid game, whereas with the IE components (even just the BF sword) will add respectable mid game damage. If your team struggles before you are able to finish atma's or if your early game farm is somehow stifled, then you are looking at a failed build. It does mean you need to rely on your team to hold on to mid game until you are itemized, but in my experience it's a pretty small window that in most cases won't ever be exploited. Yes, in two of my losses I was never able to finish atma's and that could certainly have contributed to the team failing. In the same sense though, could a BF sword and agility cloak have turned a game around over a phage and agility cloak? Probably not, but it certainly is better on paper.
When I originally tried this build centered around Atma's, my thought was to build an HP item or two first then get Atma's when it will be adding 60+ damage for a bargain price. I even tried the warmog's > phage > atma's or sunfire > sunfire > atma's and all that crazy stuff. But the mid game you are absolutely useless for anything other than soaking up hits and ult. The trick to this build is to have atma's up before the game hits mid game, and in order to do that you need to have consistent farm each game to hit your minute/level goal of buying it. I've tried getting it before phage as well, but you usually end up finishing it around level 9 with ~1400-1500 HP and nothing but solo and duo lane ganks are going on to really worry about your tankiness. Phage just seems to add similar damage to atma's at that level, the slow proc is a joke, but when it does hit on those early lane ganks it's incredibly useful. Overall, The build I've settled with just has the right timings for items that will consistently move with the pace of a game and keep you on top come mid game (you are as big of a threat as an ie gangplank with atma's + red pot at this phase of the game on top of the armor and HP from your items, your base damage will most likely be about 2 points off each other.)
I do love your idea about the utility tree for the mana, in fact I'm going to be trying that over the next few games. My early game is just incredibly weak because of the mana, but I just can't get myself to sacrifice my mid and late game potential through runes and masteries to improve it. I've been settling lately on just doing a chalice build over doran's ring, but that means on paper it makes getting my atma's take even longer (though probably in reality the increased mana means more parleys which means more gold, but it's hard to find out how much it really adds). If I can have a consistently strong early game, I can definitely see my mid game and late game strength come faster, but again how exactly can you calculate if certain trade offs are worth it without testing in game over and over.
Thanks again for the input, it's a perspective I hadn't looked real closely at and I think your suggestions can really help to fine tune this build. Hope to catch you in game some day~!
Very interesting builds. I have been trying to get back into Plank and have been having a hard time. I went with Critplank for awhile and then did AuraPlank/Tankplank for a long time with success. Now I feel I need more damage to be helpful and am looking at Deny with a mix of life and damage.
Going to try out the build and I also wanted to give credit to the mature and interesting discussion here!
Edit: Tried out the build a few games today and I really enjoyed it.
Used Nitro's mastery page and Dizzeh's build. Seems to work pretty well as long as you lane with someone that can harass well. My runes are ArPen/Crit Marks, Dodge Seals, CDR Blues, and 2HP/1Crit Glyphs
I tried rushing the BF sword one game and it worked great that game (got 2 kills right after level 6 and bought the BF). If you have a great laning time I'd say go for the BF Sword, but the rest of the time the phage>Atma's provides nice strength that scales well into the rest of the game, without leaving you saving for gold. Definitely buy red pots regardless though =)
I build my runes and masteries around the early game for that reason. I need them, especially if I end up in a 2v1 lane.
Recently I stumbled across a build that focuses on an Early Youmuu's, then Defense and IE later. That interested me a bit as well, as youmuu's builds really easily.
I was able to play two games yesterday with this build and both games ended up being losses mostly because we were dominated early game and had 4 and 5 towers down before I was even able to finish atma's (that and in the first game I was pretty much left to tank).
Oh well, it is a team game after all and if your team can't hold their own, you shouldn't deserve a win anyways...
Early Youmuu's seems like the absolutely ideal early game/mid game starting item, brutalizer is just so powerful at that point. I just don't see the synergy for late game as being as powerful as an atma's build but it could compliment an ie build fairly well (but the gold you would need for that might be rough).
Thanks for the input though, it's been more than helpful. :)
just learn to play him better and maybe you wont have to stack HP and defense to survivbe a fight
if I ever see a gangplank on my team (that I don't dodge) build defense items like this you can bet hes the reason for my loss
Critplank is A way to build Plank. I personally think that it's less versatile, but can work given the proper team combination. I recently ran a crit-heavy (but not pure criplank 'cause I wanted to be useful for more than just one move every few seconds) plank who could reliably get enemies down to about 1/8th health. Between my global ult and the Karthus we had on vent, well, it made things very easy. Pure parrley critplank has a very narrow window of mid-game where he's absolutely terrifying, but is basically impotent before and after that.
Hard carry. Not difficult to play champion. Hard carry. By focusing on this one skill to all exclusion, you're turning your champion into a major carry, a champion who's useless in the early game and highly dependent on farming and feeding heavily to reach certain capabilities, yet with this spec you only contribute a tiiiny bit to your team.
Also, parrley is not sustained DPS. First off, it's not sustained. Because you can only use it every few seconds, basically making your champ useless when it's not up. Secondly, it's burst. It's a ridiculously good burst ability. But in order to really be effective as plank, you need to use your parrley in addition to the rest of your arsenal. What's the point of softening up someone to 1/4 health if you can't finish the off? What's the point of having a huge burst ability that kills any retreating champs if you can't run in and get them to the point that they have to retreat?
At least, that's how I interpreted this entire debate. I normally Anivia/Taric/Gragas and have only recently discovered how much fun Gangplank is, so I've probably only got a few dozen wins with him, so feel free to correct me if I've erred. That said, I'm fairly certain I'm going to just switch to making him my main...
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