[GUIDE] The Ultimate Gragas Tank Guide
Looking for a tank that you can enjoy playing? You just found one. Welcome to the Ultimate Gragas Tank Guide.
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. At level 30 and ranked gameplay it's best to have two tanks, and this is holds true with Gragas because, while he can soak damage like nobody's business, he has low CC ability.
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.
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.
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. Damage is split amongst units hit.
Explosive Cask: Gragas hurls his cask to a location, which explodes on impact, dealing damage and knocking back enemies caught in the blast radius.
Happy Hour: On ability use, Gragas takes a drink restoring 2% of his max health over 4 seconds.
General Skill Order:
R > W > E > Q
- 0Q 3W 2E 1R at 6th level
- 0Q 5W 4E 2R at 11th level
The damage increase from drunken rage is equvalent to an early damage item (pick, BF, super BF) 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) until its latest levels. 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. How do we best capitalize on this? Buy boots and 3 HP pots for some speed and durability. If you are soloing you will likely want to go barrel rolling, while body slam will benefit you more while partnering. Assuming you are laning with a partner, take Body Slam (E) for your first skill. This is a great escape and chase ability, which slows anyone who gets hit by it. If you hit someone with it, the slow + boots should allow you two auto-attacks on a target before the slow wears off. Body Slam scales with Attack Damage (AD), which is significantly increased by you Drunken Rage (W) ability. Take rage for your second level. The buffed damage to AD combined with the high base damage of body slam will make it very deadly to enemies that overextend. If you have a stunner in your lane, you have no excuse not to dominate early game. Any squishy that gets too close (sona, ashe, etc) will be devastated by a straight-on rage-powered body slam (damage gets split to enemies hit, so don't go for it if they are amongst their minions). Follow this up with two auto-attacks, and a partner's damage, and you will wreck anyone who missteps. Is your rage up? Are they within reach? Go for it. If your partner is with you, then your side should deal much more than you take. One slam + 2 attacks on a Lux will likely force a recall.
Now are you just so close to killing them? Drop an ignite on their backside as they try to run, and get some easy money. 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. If you enjoy watching people rage (or if you just want a kill) then drop your Heal on just before death. This lets you chunk their HP down to almost zero, and by the time you heal it is too late to escape. Are they running away? Chase them down with your boots and slam + 2 auto-attack their sorry selves and throw down an Ignite as needed. These spells really play to Gragas' early strength, and 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? 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): Your barrel roll can be an effective ranged harass for a primarily melee champ (when played as a tank). It can be worth throwing an early level into if your lane partner is also melee. 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. Also, unless you are trying to push or kill two at once, try not to hit multiple minions with body slam. The damage will be split, so the easiest minions are edge minions. 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 avoid this happening. Don't be afraid to use it in the middle of a big fight, 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. When it's early levels still, 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 buy your spirit visage (or randuin's omen) 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 5% of your gameplay accounted for in the form of pressing your W key. Unless you're recalling or walking back to the front lines, hit W at least once every 20 seconds 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.
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. I like to run MPen reds to hit harder early-game with my body slam.*** This plays into my early game dominance very well, helping me to hit harder and net more kills and gold. I like the HP/level yellows to add even more survivability to my late-game. Dodge yellows wouldn't be terrible, especially if you get the Ninja Tabi for some synergy. You could also look at mana regen yellows for some skill spamming.
The blue and quint flat cooldown reduction helps me to keep my rage up most of the time early game, and 100% of the time when I grab my spirit visage. An 18 or so second cooldown gives you a second or two of leeway in the timing of your rage. If you want to knock it up to 19 seconds flat you could probably drop a quint or a few blues and put the cooldown into something else, but the straight cooldown across the board work well for me. 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 Randuin's Omen (like I used to rush before the old Gragas patch). 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 heart of gold and a ninja tabi (mercs if the enemy is CC heavy). Give priority to the heart, and this will give you a solid amount of armor and HP to survive early and mid-game encounters.*** Ideally you can buy the heart and finish your boots at your first recall. The next item to get should be a spirit visage (this can move up to #2 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 15%, meaning your Happy Hour passive increases from 2% to 2.3% per skill used. 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, allowing you to have sub 20 second rage (Gragas should always be angry from mid-game on).
You will follow this with a Banshee's Veil. The all around HP, MR, spell block, and mana make this a must-have. If you can't buy it all at once, priority goes to the Negatron Cloak followed by the Ruby Crystal. After that, it's only a short 1500 bucks to the full item.
Now it's time to grab yourself an Aegis of Legion to round out your tanky self. Now you're giving your team some buffs, and tanking like a boss (like a Boss). You can move this item earlier up if you want/need. It's a great early item, so putting it ahead of Banshee's isn't terrible. Here comes the fun part of my guide.
If you have followed the core build, you now have approximately 60% damage reduction from your resistances. Don't forget your 30% reduction from your Drunken Rage and your masteries (18% + 4%). Performing some Math of Legends and we quickly see that the 40% getting through your items, and the 78% of that getting through your rage/masteries, and we come to the number .312. This means that only 31.2% of the enemy damage is getting through to you! Do you see now why Gragas IS a tank? With the 160-ish resistance you've got, you might as well have around 210 armor AND MR (that's correct, your drunken rage is equivalent to over 50 armor and magic resistance with this item build, and this is a conservative estimate). When was the last time you saw a tank with defenses that high in both categories? Sure a rude Rammus will get over 9000 armor, but his MR will be trash. The same goes for goofy Gallio (ok, you make a better nickname) who stacks MR. With your high resistance to ALL forms of incoming damage, you can tank like nobody's business. Resistances don't mean too much if you've got no HP to back it up. Thankfully we've been stacking HP through Heart of Gold, Spirit Visage, Banshees, and Aegis. Do you have 3000 HP? You can tank over 9,615 damage before you tip over. That means that Xin Xhao with 200 damage has to hit you 48 times before you die. GL HF with that. This is also why I take HP/level yellows. The 155 HP at level 18 comes out to 496 damage that they alone absorb. Not a whole lot, but a fair bit of late-game survivability. This is also why I recommend taking an HP item for your #6 slot.
So you made it to the late-game? Need a 6th item? You have many options. You can turn that Heart into an Omen if you need some more armor, but I strongly recommend going into HP since you already have a very high damage resist. An Atma's Impaler isn't bad if you are tanking well enough and you want to start bringing the pain to your enemies. Rylai's isn't bad either since it gives you HP and AP, and AP stacks very well with Gragas (why do you think we see so many AP Gragas pretenders out there? I'm kidding!) , so your barrels, casks, and slams are hitting for a good chunk now. If you want to go pure tank, I reccomend Warmogs, Frozen Hammer, or Rylai's for your #6 item.
My optimal build is:
Heart of Gold***
Aegis of Legion
#2: Another way to build tank Gragas is to rush a Randuin's Omen, since it gives high cooldown (for perma-rage) as well as armor and HP. If you do this then you will probably want to take Mercury's Treads for MR in place of the spirit visage. Do this if you want to take some different blue or quint runes. I used to rush randuin's omen before the changed the Drunken Rage cooldown, but now I run the spirit visage since it gives me enough cooldown itself. If you take Randuin's, don't forget to use the active!
Remember folks, HP regen does not make a tank! I don't care how much you have, if you are getting focused it cannot be high enough alone. If you want to go a regen tank (this works with Gragas since he has passive regen anyways) make sure you get some resit items. Spirit Visage+ Force + Randuin's won't cut it alone. You need to finish, and the above build (#3) hits your needs. Early HP and regen will be enough in the late-early and early-mid game, but by then the enemies will be getting built, so you need to keep up with your defensive items. You have a passive damage reduction, so lean towards resist items that give you HP!
Red: Magic Pen
Blue: Flat CD
Quints: Flat CD
This gives you 10.77% cooldown, and with a spirit visage you will have more than enough cooldown to get your rage up 24/7.
Spells: Heal/Ignite. Both are for early lane dominance. A fed Gragas is a beefy Gragas (see what I did there?). Heal is also great if you get focused down to near-death. It can be quite demoralizing for the enemy to see your HP jump up when there is no soraka or sona around, and now they have to spend a few more seconds shooting you up as they continue to get shot up (hopefully) by your team.
Some suggestions have been for Ghost or Flash in place of heal and/or ignite. 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 5s 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 have to solo a lane (don't take mid!) then you will likely want to level up barrel roll and drunken rage instead of body slam and drunken rage. Level them up evenly, starting with Q, then W, then E for some escape/chase ability. At level 4 go one more into W, and from then on keep Q even with W (W gets priority). Try to use only one barrel per creep wave because the mana cost is so high. Aim for the center of the minions and you will usually hit all 6 or 7 in a wave. You won't likely want to engage your opposite champion when soloing, but you will get high gold and XP from the solo experience, so it's not all bad. If you really want you could pick up a meki pendant to build into a chalice, but I wouldn't recommend this. If you use your skills sparingly then you should have enough mana to last you.
Below level 30 or just raping face?
If you are just dominating folks early on in the laning phase, don't be afraid to put the game away early. Skip or delay Heart of Gold and get a leviathan. If you ever get to 20 stacks then you are taking 15% reduced damage. Follow the standard build after that and you will not die. You won't get to enjoy it for long as the enemy will likely surrender after all 5 targeting you in the fight. I had a lot of fun with this pre-level 30 before folk got the skill the needed. It can still work in some higher end games, but you really have to be much better t/han your opponents.
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. You might want to go the Randuin's build rather than relying on the Spirit Visage.
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*
****Changes incoming! Will am working on updating this guide! Solo top AD/tank gragas. ***** 7/31/2013
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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