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[GUIDE] Sword & Board Gangplank

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Senior Member


Greetings, LoL community. I've been playing a lot with Gangplank lately and recently wrote a different guide for him which was fairly lackluster, and have had more time to experiment with him and try new builds. I have found one that is particularly effective.

Henceforth, this guide will be arranged into sections which can be CTRL+F'd with the following key.

X01: The thesis
X02: When to pick Gangplank
X03: Runes, masteries and summoner spells
X04: Items with explanation
X05: Play-style
X06: TL;DR

X01: The thesis
Gangplank is a very powerful champion in the hands of capable players, yet it seems he can be pretty difficult to play. I know myself that it can be difficult to place a perfect Cannon Barrage, or be as patient and opportunistic as can be required sometimes. Plank can also be very squishy, which is the primary problem that this guide addresses.

"Oh great, another tankplank build," you say. Hold on a minute, though. We all know that physical melee DPS in this game tends to lack survivability in most forms. Gangplank already has the luxury of a cleanse, but often times that's not enough. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to keep you alive in team fights, because remember, dead DPS isn't DPSing. (unless you're Karthus) Though make no mistake, you will be sacrificing some of the more "lolworthy" damage in exchange for staying alive but you WILL be a threat, still.

X02: When to pick Gangplank
Before you say 'omglulz autopick GP' (which I do on a regular basis in normal queue, mind you) take a look at your team. Should you really be GP? Before you lock in, does your team have a tank? Ample crowd-control? Perhaps some form of support? In most situations, Gangplank is picked for hard physical DPS and the build from this guide is no exception. If the rest of the team is not keen to the fact that you're playing Gangplank and don't know how to build a team around him and if you care about winning, you should pick someone else. Many people in normal solo queue don't care about winning because they just like to play with their favorite champs, and if that's you choose to play that way go ahead, but you will have to be much more lenient with how you build your character to fill in a certain role.

But once again, if you fancy winning, to consider your team's strengths and weaknesses before picking a champion is always prudent. This is doubly true in ranked games, where winning 'matters.' (to someone, anyway) Anyway, onto the technical garbage.

X03: Runes and masteries
So for runes, I recommend the following:
Red Crit chance
Yellow MP5/level
Blue CDR (may experiment soon with increased MR or crit chance)
Purple Crit chance.

For masteries, I recommend taking 3/23/4 focusing on crit chance, what you like in the defense tree, and preservation/improved ghost in the utility tree.

For summoner spells, I find that they are largely preferential, especially as Gangplank. Personally, I take Ignite and Ghost, as I can usually assure myself the first blood with some lucky Q crits and a chase. Also, ignite provides extra damage which you may be lacking in the early mid game compared to other DPSers, and in combination with your passive can be deadly to anyone. However I could see Clairvoyance being used in tandem with his ultimate for some LOL kills, though that may require more points in utility for maximum effectiveness. (note, test a build around this idea) But pick what works for you and your play style.

Generally, you should stay away from Rally, (although I could see its potential with GP and his E in team fights) Revive and with this build you won't need Clarity. Cleanse could be an interesting choice, as it could maximize his escape artist abilities, but IMO would be a waste of a slot.

So before we continue, what you wind up with at level 1 are the following vital stats:

636 HP (not terrible, and SoS will help regen a little)
25.8 Armor
37.25 MR (totaling 831 'effective' health)
16% Critical strike chance

So remember, at this beginning phase it won't be a walk in the park to kill you unless you do something really stupid, but it won't be difficult either. Play safely and carefully, and focus a little more on farming rather than harassing, unless your adversary(s) overextend and do something stupid, in which case you should punish them.

X04: Items
So for this build, you will focus primarily on your defenses, and then your damage. You're no good if you can't last in a team fight, and you will still have to be opportunistic with your engagements. However you will be able to shrug off most AOE assaults, (that aren't sourced by an uber fed champ) land some decent damage, sow some confusion and take some hits.

The core item build:

Chalice of Harmony,
Provides epic mana regeneration, and with this you will likely never have mana regeneration problems again. An early boost to your MR is also welcomed.

Boots of Swiftness,
One of your best attributes is chasing down the other team's fleeing wounded. These help you do that very well, though some might enjoy the added security that mercury treads offer. I haven't done too much experimenting with Merc Treads, but I think his W is sufficient for escaping most circumstances. As long as you don't let the other team blow their load on you, chances are you'll be OK and Merc Treads can't save you in that situation, anyway.

Aegis of the Legion,
The most important item for this build, with this you will be very difficult to kill throughout midgame and especially if you took the recommended MR glyphs for runes. Of course, also providing some additional stats to your team is always nice.

Infinity Edge,
Your primary source of damage. With this your crit should be about 40%, which is pretty hefty.

The sword and the board are the biggest parts. You can take more damage, and you can deal impressive damage. With this build you become a more effective member of your team. It's that simple. Now a quick word about how these items translate into play-style: You should NEVER be the one to initiate a fight, face-check a bush or let yourself get caught in the other team's web. Aegis is there to help you brush off AoE and non-focused attacks. If you get focused, you more than likely will die, so don't let yourself get into that position.

I hate seeing Planks in games who stack Avarice Blades; it does very little for GP in the confrontational aspect. So you're going to crit every time you Q, but who cares if the crits only hit for 150-200 each time? Furthermore, you don't last in fights and you normally get pushed out very easily. If you can't swashbuckle with the rest of the lads and get in some melee hits and apply your passive, what good are you?

Many games will finish after you get the core build. Though there will be plenty of instances where they won't. In that case, analyze your team and how the fight is going. Are you getting focused and killed easily? Get tank items that will mitigate damage from the biggest threats. Is the other physical carry on your team failing? Then get more damage. Your game may go far enough along for you to consider selling your aegis and getting something that will do more for the slot it occupies.

The next item after Infinity Edge is usually one of the following:

Frozen Mallet - Great item. A good buy if the game is relatively balanced and close and you're not being over-focused. Must be paired with...

Atma's Impaler - Another great item. Your damage will skyrocket when paired with Mallet or a Sunfire Cape, but not recommended otherwise.

Ghostblade - If I'm doing pretty well and the other team isn't putting up much of a fight, or the team needs more DPS, I would choose this.

Force of Nature - Recommended only if the team is very AP heavy, or their major damage threats are sourced from a fed AP carry. This thing will make you invincible, especially when paired with...

Spirit Visage - This item is awesome on GP. It boosts the effectiveness of his heal, lowers his cool-downs, and makes him really tough to kill in general. If you have FoN, you will probably never die to an AP character ever again. Sadly though, it's hard to find room for it in this build so I don't usually get it unless I absolutely need to.

Sunfire Cape - I usually choose this and Atma's if I'm facing some heavy threats of AD. Health, armor, and damage per sec around you (and you're a melee character) is never a bad thing.

Banshee's Veil - I don't usually have to get this, but it's not uncommon to find teams that have multiple abilities that can lock-down your entire team. In that case, you will have two GTFO of jail free cards, which is always nice to have.

Other items to consider:

Guardian Angel - If I ever get it, it's in the last slot. A little overkill for him, IMO. Most of the time i just get it for the lulz.

Trinity Force - This can be a great item for GP, but it's so **** expensive so I hardly get it.

Phantom Dancer - Not as good as it was with the dodge chance, but still decent. You'll be really quick, and you'll hit fast and crit often. I wouldn't get this unless you got another damage item after IE, though.

Randuin's Omen - I only really recommend this against a REALLY heavy AD team, which I have a hard time coming by these days. I feel like this item is best left on real tanks, anyway.

X05: Play-style

I start with meki pendant and two health pots.

I typically try to solo top. With your E, you will be able to force your opponent(s) close to tower and tempt them to overextend. You should do the typical denying from base all the way to tower, so to take out two of your own minions. Focus mostly on farming at this stage, but punish those who are foolish to hit you under a tower. Try not to go back unless you can have someone from another lane cover your lane.

Once you have chalice, use your Q on anything that moves. Kill creeps and harass as much as you can. Basically, abuse the **** out of it. Stay aware of the other lanes for using your ultimate effectively. There will be times where you will get first blood or any kill with it, where you will need to use it to save teammates or turrets, or even just push the other team off their turret so yours can defend it. Remember, just because it's on a lengthy CD doesn't mean you shouldn't use it as often as you can. Communicate with your team, tell them you have it and let them know when it's down. Always communicate before you just drop it in someone's lane, so they can be prepared to CC the victim. This could seem like common sense, but in a game and in certain states of mind, your judgement can be impaired when using it without notifying your team. You don't need to notify them in team fights when everyone is present, but from two lanes over, it's a necessity for efficiency. Ventrilo and friends you regularly play with are nice to have when playing as GP.

During mid game, you should still focus on farming in a lane close to your tower. You can do this rather effectively and safely, and you really maximize your gold gains by only using Q for kills. You can still support your team outside of direct combat with your ultimate, but if a fight is brewing try to get there as quickly as possible before it starts or is over. Here's a scenario: You're farming and herp-derping top, happy as a clam, getting 1337 amounts of gold. Your team is gathering outside dragon, and their team is playing peek-a-boo from their ramp. Stop farming, and get your ass over there. It's stuff like that which happens all the time, like when you see their team rally in a lane for a full-on push or you notice someone who is out of position & ripe for a gank that you should take advantage of, and support your team on. Remember, having aegis as one of your first items doesn't mean jack if you're not there to help your team during crucial fights.

For late game, you almost always want to stay with your team. Form up on the tank, and roll out. Allow others to initiate in fights before you choose to. If you have the luck of being on a team with Amumu or Galio, pop your ult as soon as they do, and you will absolutely devastate their team. Engage, and mop up the stragglers. Remember, you'll be tanky but you won't be a 'tank.' You don't really have any built in survivability other than your W and your itemization. And on your W, make sure you use it at the opportune moments where you can get out of something before it proves to be an issue. Once there are five opposing champions hitting you at once, your W won't save you. It's a long cool down and you'll most likely only use it once per fight, so use it wisely.

X06: TL;DR

In synopsis, this build focuses around a GP that is a viable and hearty skirmisher early-mid game, and a durable front-line fighter in the late game. Masteries are 3/23/4, runes are Red and Purple malice, yellow MP5/lvl, and blue CDR. (subject to change) Summoner spells are usually ignite and ghost.

Core build:
Boots of Swiftness,
Aegis of the Legion,
Infinity Edge.

From there it's either tank or more DPS, or both. (both being Mallet/Cape+Atma's)

If you're interested in any of the reasonings or details behind item choices, scroll up. Enjoy.

edited some grammatical errors and added some explanation on 12/24/10

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Senior Member


I just logged off and my game takes forever so check my last game for the score. My team was decent but we didnt push twice after an ace :/ Veigar was 1 shotting their whole team at the end but they wanted to chase MF around the map, of course when they aced us they broke like 4 towers lawl works well but im not sure if I wasnt just kill stealing from the epic 1 shotting veigar. I had the best score in the whole game.

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Senior Member


did a minor update.

I've been using blue MR glyphs and I think they're better than the CDR. This build isn't focused around stacking CDR and so I don't find much of a use for them, but try them out.