[GUIDE] The Ultimate Gragas Tank Guide
+Updated Jan 2014+ - +Checked in May 2014+
++OK, so they massively changed Gragas. Like, a lot. Wow. So, I'm looking into how to do this guy now, since he's super different. Support may work as an all-in stun with damage reduction, kinda like leona. Top may be viable in certain matchups... I'll try to update as soon as I know what works.++
Looking for a tank that you can enjoy playing? You just found one. Welcome to the Ultimate Gragas Tank Guide.
--Top Lane Tank/AD Gragas--
Who am I? I am Kvoth3. I have been gold in all three season of League of Legends. Seasons 1 and 2, gold was top 3% of all players (I'm in NA region). Season 3, I don't know, but I ended in 2nd of 5 tiers of gold, I can't tell you what % that made me. Gragas has been my favorite champ for almost ever, he was the first guy I bought RP to get a skin for (Santa Gragas), and he carried me to gold Season 1, before there was any meta, and when bot lane was 2 random champs who didn't get to go mid or top solo.
Gragas is a champion that was designed to tank massive damage, and who has the ability to dish out some serious pain to anyone who gets too close. This champ is especially powerful in the early laning phase of the game. Once you're done wrecking face early on, Gragas transitions very well into a terrific damage-soaking tank.
The key word here is guide. This is not a walkthrough. I will provide you with my personal style and item build, but don't be afraid to change it up. This will be discussed as we progress through the guide.
Laning and Skill Tips
Solo Lane / Pre-30s
Barrel Roll: Gragas rolls his cask to a location, which can be activated to explode or will explode on its own after 5 seconds. Enemies struck by the blast have their attack speed lowered.
Gragas rolls his cask to a location, which can be activated again to explode or will explode on its own after 5 seconds, dealing 85/135/185/235/285 (+90% Ability Power) magic damage to enemies in the area and slowing their attack speed by 20/25/30/35/40% for 3 seconds.
Drunken Rage: Gragas guzzles down brew from his cask for 1 second, restoring his mana. After finishing, he becomes drunkenly empowered, increasing his damage dealt and reducing damage received.
Gragas guzzles down brew from his cask, channeling for 1 second. He gains 30/45/60/75/90 mana while channeling, and becomes empowered after finishing, increasing physical attack damage by 30/40/50/60/70, and reducing damage taken by 10/12/14/16/18% for 20 seconds.
Body Slam: Gragas charges to a location and collides with the first enemy unit he comes across, dealing damage to all nearby enemy units and slowing their movement.
Gragas charges forward, colliding with the first enemy unit. He deals 80/120/160/200/240 (+66% Attack Damage) (+50% Ability Power) magic damage to enemies in the area and slows them by 35% for 2.5 seconds.Body Slam's Cooldown is reduced by 50% if Gragas collides with a unit.
Explosive Cask: Gragas hurls his cask to a location, which explodes on impact, dealing damage and knocking back enemies caught in the blast radius.
Gragas throws his cask to an area. Upon landing, it deals 200/325/450 (+100% Ability Power) magic damage to all units struck, knocking them back.
Happy Hour: On ability use, Gragas takes a drink restoring 2% of his max health over 4 seconds.
General Skill Order:
This is the order I recommend taking your skills in. Depending on matchups and the variables of the game, feel free to change it up.
R > W > E > Q
- 1Q 3W 1E 1R at 6th level
- 1Q 5W 3E 2R at 11th level
The damage increase from drunken rage can be viewed as a free damage item (for free!) and grows as you level it up. Combine this with the initiation speed and damage from body slam and you are allowed to fight on your terms with a very high early damage output. The attack speed debuff from barrel roll is significant, but I don't feel it pays for itself (from the high mana cost) in every scenario. If your early-game opponent is heavily reliant on basic attacks for damage, take a skill in this at level 3 or 4. If you don't face one, feel free to ignore barrel roll until late. It has good damage, but it doesn't synergize with anything else in the way that rage + slam does.
Early game, Gragas is a champ's champ at dealing damage. I've gotten many first bloods at level 1 because my opponent underestimated Gragas' level 1 damage.
Your first item will depend on your likely opponent in the top lane. Anything between dorans blade or shield, boots + pots, cloth + pots... it all depends. If you're not sure, get a doran's shield. You will likely want the warding trinket.
To damage your opponent to the fullest, you will likely want to body slam into them at some point. Remember, body slam damage scales with attack damage, so make sure you have your drunken rage active BEFORE body slamming, or else you are losing out on potential damage. A rage-powered body slam does a LOT of damage in the early game. Pro tip: Don't fight without activating Drunken Rage first. If you fight un-raged, you are probably going to lose. Throw a Q onto them if they are auto-attacking you a lot in a fight. Otherwise, don't use this skill much at all. Maybe to last-hit a minion or something at range.
Even if they go out of their way to engage you, many folk underestimate Gragas, so you may come out on top even with bad positioning. Why? Because raged-up Gragas is very tough early game. If you are going to lose, use your body slam to jet to safety. Make sure there aren't any enemies between you and your intended destination, or else you will stop short. Are they running away? Chase them down with slam + 2 auto-attacks to their sorry selves and throw down an Ignite as needed. If you can get some bonus money from a few kills early on, you will better be able to transition into tank mode.
Once you reach level six, it's time to bust out the ultimate combo. While the Explosive Cask (R) takes some practice (and luck) in aiming, your goal in the early game is to cask an enemy towards you, follow that up with a body slam now that they are in range, and hit them a few times for a kill. This won't work on every champ out there, but you can get most with it, especially if you manage to hit them into your tower. Want to tower dive an enemy who has low HP? You don't have to. Just cask the low-HP champ out towards you for high damage. Throw down a body slam and you just got a kill, and all it cost you was two (or so) tower hits.
Your ultimate is also a great escape tool for you or a partner if the enemy jungler comes a-gankin'. Remember to lead your target since the cask doesn't arrive instantly at the desired location. The closer the enemy is to the explosion the farther they will fly, so a pantheon or warwick should be easy to blast the full distance away after they stun you or your friend.
General Laning Tips
Barrel Roll (Q): It has a very high mana cost, so I wouldn't throw out more than one barrel per minion wave unless you have some mana regen from runes or items (hey sona, wanna grab a mana manupulator?). You can also use it to hit all 6 or 7 minions in a wave if you place it well. This is useful if you are trying to push a lane to get maximum damage, or if you just want to soften up those creeps. The occasional double last-hit it provides at range isn't terrible either. Generally, however, this skill will be your lowest priority.
Body Slam (E): If the lane is pretty low on champion combat, or if you have high mana, don't be afraid to use body-slam to last-hit minions. The high damage will give you a very easy last-hit for some cash. Want to go out and hit that caster minion? Go hit him and slam back to safety, or slam out quickly and then waddle back before the enemy can react. Aim so that you land right next to them (you can stop the slam short if you click inside the circle) and you should hit just the one minion for full rage-slam damage. You can body slam in a direction by clicking outside the casting range, and this is most useful when trying to go through trees or over ledges.
Drunken Rage (W): Depending on your runes and item combination, your W should be leveled up as much as possible. Typically you will use your rage as soon as the cooldown is up, so that you will get as much passive HP regen and mana as possible. One circumstance in which you might wait to use your rage is right before a friendly gank or teamfight. If you don't want to swig a drink while people are dying all around you, a well timed W can ensure you have Rage throughout the fight. Don't be afraid to use it in the middle of a big fight, though, since you can make up for lost time and catch people with your body slam speed boosting. Also, the damage and damage reduction buffs are important to keep up. Your body slam and auto attack are much weaker without the rage buff, so keep it up as much as possible. You aren't tanky early, so you are relying on high damage rather than high resist/health to win and survive the early lane battles. Once you get a cooldown item you should have your rage up 100% of the time. By this time you have likely transitioned into tank mode rather than hunter mode, so the rage will be more valuable for its damage reduction than its damage increase. In closing, you now have approximately 5% of your gameplay accounted for in the form of pressing your W key as often as you can. Unless you're recalling or walking back to the front lines, hit W as soon as possible to keep it up without a break.
Explosive Cask (R): The cask is pretty simple. You can use it to push enemies into dangerous situations (out of their tower, into yours, into your waiting teammates, etc.). It can interrupt certain abilities like Galio's and Nunu's ultimates, so keep that in mind when the fights go down. This is a great skill for fleeing enemies, or for bouncing back enemies who are trying to flee your team. A body slam + a max-ranged cask can often be enough to bring the enemy back to within your team's slow/stun range, likely ensuring bonus gold for you and your team. Do you see a low-HP squishy trying to stay at the edge but not running away yet? Just cask his face for the kill. Its range is fairly long, so you can reach out and touch folk from a long way off. The knockback effect of Explosive Cask is limited in the jungle or when enemies are up against walls, since they will stop moving as soon as they contact a wall or barrier. I feel like they should be sliding along it, but this never happens, so try to use it in open spaces where they can fly for the most effect. If your team is getting jumped on, this skill is aslo a terrific disengage. Your team gonna lose the fight? Throw your ult down and reset the stage.
Happy Hour (Passive): Do you have 4 seconds before you can pop your rage again? Low on HP? Throw down a body slam into the dirt next to you for a quick 2% health bonus. It's ok to spam a skill (almost exclusively body slam) to regen some hp, so long as you have the mana for it. If you are doing this, make sure to wait for the Happy Hour icon to disappear before you cast the next spell, to ensure maximum HP regen. Spamming E and W (or Q if the other two are on cooldown) can help you to survive ignites and poisons that would kill most champions.
I don't think Tank Gragas runes are set in stone as may be the case with some other champions. So do what works for you.
I like Attack speed reds for early game damage. The 15% increase in attack speed is HUGE when combined with your high damage from drunken rage. You will likely sucker someone into just fighting you 1 on 1 at level 1, and you will win because you deal tons of damage.
The yellows are for flat armor. It's a really solid early-game yellow, to help ensure you don't get bullied out of lane in the critical early phase. Blues are flat magic resist for the same reason. I run cooldown Quints to help keep drunken rage up as much as possible. You could run HP/level reds for a better late-game, but I think the early damage is worth more than the slight HP edge later on. HP quints are very popular and would certainly help Gragas to be even more dominant in the early game, so I can't say those are a bad choice. I love the perma-rage, though, so I use the cooldowns. The 100% rage is vital in my opinion for having an optimal tank. Why? Because it gives huge damage reduction on a tank (yes please). Maybe it's not your thing, or you'd rather get cooldown from somewhere else, like the tanky Spirit Visage. If you did this you could drop some runes for something other than cooldown. Use what works for you. As I have said, this is a Guide, not a Walkthrough, so use what works for you. I'm telling you what works for me, and maybe it will help someone out there realize something that they wouldn't have thought of before. As is the case with any game, playstyle, or player, nothing should be set in stone.
There are many different item builds that make a viable tank Gragas. I will try to explain my ideal item build and a few quality (in my opinion) variations. As always, items depend on who and what you are facing off against.
I advocate a smartly aggressive style with early Gragas due to his high damage, so I like to start with boots + 3 HP pots. The extra speed works well with a high-damage slowing champ, and helps getting out of (or putting enemy champs into) trouble situations at those early levels. It's also good for getting in and out for those quick last hits. The HP pots give you greatly increased survivability. Add in your passive regen and you quickly realize Gragas will not need to recall as often as most champs. Try not to engage incorrectly (duh), but a full on rage-slam into a squishy can leave them screaming for help.
For my optimal build, your early items will be a dorans blade and a dorans ring. Boots will be either ninja tabi or merc treads, depending on the enemy team. The next item to get should be a spirit visage (this can be moved up the priority list if you are facing a tough mage or two in the lane), for the HP and MR. The passive to this baby increases self regen by 20%, meaning your Happy Hour passive increases from 2% to 2.3% per skill used, and also gives you a flat 20hp per 5 seconds in regen (not sure if the 20% makes that a 24hp per 5 seconds or if that's already factored in). Not a huge buff, but a significant one that helps you to stay in the lane. Not only are your more survivable through HP, regen, and MR, but through the cooldown buff, it allows you to have a faster cooldown on rage (Gragas should always be angry from mid-game on).
You will want armor at some point. Randuin's Omen is the way to go. Depending on your lane opponent and your gold income, you may want armor before magic resist. Buy whatever is best for your situation.
Fill out your build with whatever else feels right. I like banshees veil, sunfire cape, or iceborn gauntlet. Trinity Force can be fun if you get a good lead in the early game, but this will vastly slow down your tankiness. Frozen Mallet or Rylais can work too.
(insert math to show how resistances + HP + drunken rage = so much tank)
Red: flat Attack Speed
Yellow: flat Armor
Blue: flat Magic Resist
Quints: flat Cooldown
This gives you 5% cooldown, and with a spirit visage you will have more than enough cooldown to get your rage up 24/7.
Masteries: 8/22/0 - Cooldown and attack speed in Offense, and you favorite 22 defensive.
Some suggestions have been for Ghost in place of Flash. I would have to argue that a champ with such a great escape tool as body slam would be the least likely to need flash. Body slam will let you escape 90% of what flash would, and it's on a short cooldown. That being said, flash is a wonderful spell, so you probably wouldn't do terribly to grab it if you love it.
Ghost would synergize very well with body slam and chasing down folk in all stages of the game. Early ghost + body slam will earn you many rage-powered auto-attacks, and will let you chase and slow enemies for your team to catch in the late game.
If you are just dominating folks early on in the laning phase, don't be afraid to put the game away early. Feel free to rush a tri-force. Blade of the Ruined King could be amazing early-game as well.
If you can't afford the CD runes, or aren't level 20 yet to get them, don't worry about it. Gragas can work well enough without perma-rage. It isn't optimal, but he can still be very strong. Just be careful early-game and buy your Cooldown in items.
Questions? Comments? Grammar Nazis? Want to talk some Gragas? Reply here or add me and we can chat it up if I am free.
Thanks for reading.
*edited due to replies, no locket, spirit visage nerf, heart of gold nerf*
*edited due to gragas nerfs*
*edited due to body slam buff (He's viable top again!!!!!!!!!)*
How do you feel about fitting a locket in there somewhere? Ever try it? It's ridiculously OP on Gragas when combined with Visage.
And just out of curiousity, how much CDR is he getting from your runes?
And I have to disagree on the Ignite, although I admit I've never tried that. But it seems like you can get so much better with Flash...I guess if they removed it, I could maybe see an argument for no Ghost, maybe...if you're depending on slamming through the jungle to escape, or just always being the last (and dead) man out when you lose a teamfight....honestly, you need Ghost at least.
1. Gragas ends up with high HP, so Heal will return a small percentage of it.
2. Gragas has a built in healing effect in his passive.
3. There are summoner spells that would benefit him MUCH more, such as: Ghost, Flash, Exhaust
Personally I run Ghost/Flash, not only because they're a nice escape mechanism for pulling out of a teamfight once you're low (which, as a tank, will happen in prolonged fights), but because they synergize very well with Body Slam and Explosive Cask. With enough CDR, it's also possible to pull off Body Slam -> Exhaust -> Body Slam for 8 seconds of slow.
i like to get ruby crystal first and rush a locket because the hp/mp regen but ive never played ranked with him :/ so i dont know
This is a very misleading guide. Body slam build is much weaker than Barrel Roll in my opinion, especially when the people you fight start humping the creeps to make slam do 50 damage. Mad damage yo.
Not to mention Barrel Roll can safely deny/harass/cs at a distance. Body slam puts you into danger constantly depending on the champion(s) you are fighting in lane. Stronger farm = core items earlier. What's not to like about it?
You need Locket, Visage, and the Strength of Spirit defensive mastery. The rest of your items you build compared to what their team has. Tanks are always reactive in their build.
early barrel without locket will sting.
I don't see flash as being as useful due to the fact that body slam lets you escape 90% of what a flash could be used for. It's not perfect, but I don't like to double up on abilities if I can help it.
I can see ghost being useful. Combine that with body slam and you can chase down almost anyone in the early game. As for Heal, it's great for early body slam fights, and with all of the damage reduction you'll get, it's not as terrible late-game as it would be on someone else (the HP is much tougher to get through on a tank).
As to barrel roll over body slam? I'd have to disagree with that, but it would depend on your playstyle. Rolling barrels would be more passive, as it's a good harass but you probably won't kill very often with it early on; likewise, you won't get killed much early on if you are at a distance. Body Slam is more in-your-face fighting, where someone likely die. I feel the drunken rage buff makes it very likely that your opponent will die rather than you. Reduced incoming damage + increased outgoing damage? Yes please.
You want to go a regen build? Locket + Visage + Force of Nature? Throw in a Randuin's Omen for armor and you're regen is through the roof. I haven't tried this, but I do know Locket is a popular item at the moment, so maybe I'll give it a try. Locket would give the mana to barrel roll harass early to mid game.
The coolown is 10.77% with quints and blues. I believe 20% cooldown will equal the duration of drunken rage, and a tad more will give you rage even during the casting time, allowing rage to be up 24/7.
Best build for Gragas atm is the locket + sv + omen I'm afraid. Also using ghost flash and 21 into utility.
1) Net kills that otherwise would have barely gotten away
2) Be able to dive past enemy lines on occasion to stir up the squishies in the bank.
3) Turret dive much earlier, because you can Body Slam in, kill, and then Flash out.
Even as an offensive spell, it is often times stronger than Ignite on Gragas.
1) It's nice harass, but it's not burst. You likely won't kill anyone with it early in the game. Most people can dodge the majority of them, and are smart enough to recall and heal when they're low enough for you to kill them at a distance.
2) It forces you to build around it. You NEED to grab some sort of Mana item or you'll be constantly out of the fight due to your mana.
Lately I've been building Gragas as:
Cloth Armor + Ward + 2 HP Pots (lets you ward Dragon for your jungler at level 4 without having to Recall if you are bot, or ward your bush at level 4 if you're up top)
Cloth Armor -> Heart of Gold
Boots of Speed
-As time allows-
Boots of Speed -> Mercury Treads
Banshee's Veil (first if AP heavy)
Warden' Mail (first if AD heavy)
Atmas's Impaler (first if not having trouble with AD)
Randuin's Omen (first if having trouble with AD)
Infinity Edge (I rarely actually finish this, before the game ends)
You delay grabbing Randuin's Omen as long as possible to make the best use of Heart of Gold
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