League of Legends: True Grit
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
Jason (Hhean) is on vacation so I will be covering this week’s patch. Expect him back in time to review Shyvana! Now let’s get onto it!
League of Legends was recently patched to version 22.214.171.124 which offers various balance changes to champions and tweaks to Crystal Scar, the dominion map. The most important change in this patch was the addition of Graves, the Outlaw.
Graves should be played as a ranged carry focused on landing a lot of last hits and controlling his lane with his amazing ability to harass. His skill set allows him to burst down enemies and provide decent crowd control but Graves is forced to sacrifice positioning to output maximum damage.
His first and main skill, Buckshot [Q] , fires three bullets in a cone damaging all enemies in range. It functions similar to Ashe’s volley except that enemies can be hit by multiple projectiles each dealing lower damage than the last. The projectiles also pass through enemies allowing one bullet to hit multiple targets.
Dealing 240 base physical damage at max level, it is a great skill for harassing and farming due to its low mana cost and cool down. Use it as often as possible during the laning phase to maintain control against your opponent but be careful of hitting too many minions. A pushed lane can be hard to farm against decent opponents.
To deal maximum damage with Buckshot you are forced to sacrifice your position and get in the face of your opponent. This is not something a ranged carry would normally be seen doing but this is where your passive comes in.
True Grit rewards Graves with additional armor and magic resist the longer he remains in combat. At max level it provides Graves with 4 armor and magic resist per stack with a cap of 10 stacks. Graves will be treated as in combat if he attacks or takes damage in the last four seconds. This gives him an advantage over other ranged carries when it comes to survivability but keep in mind that you are not a tank. You will still die fairly quickly with only DPS items.
His second skill, Smoke Screen [W], features a new mechanic that limits vision outside of the smoke. He fires a smoke canister dealing magic damage and erupting into a smoke cloud lasting five seconds. Enemies cannot see outside the smoke cloud and are slowed.
This skill can be used both offensively and defensively. If you are on the verge of death the slow and lack of vision can prevent the enemy from landing that last hit or bait your opponent into traps. It can also allow your team to set up ganks. Your opponents will not see it coming!
Quickdraw [E] is Graves’ mobility skill. It allows Graves to dash forward gaining up to an 80% increase in attack speed. The skill does have a relatively long cool down but it is lowered by one second each time Graves attacks. The range is not long enough to easily get to safety but it can be used to dash through walls if positioned correctly.
Quick Draw will mostly be used to finish off fleeing enemies, provide increased DPS and stay in combat to make use of his passive. This nifty skill will make the difference between life and death in duelist showdowns.
Graves’ ultimate, Collateral Damage, fires an explosive shell dealing physical damage to the first enemy. After it explodes either by making contact with an enemy or reaching its maximum range, Collateral Damage deals additional physical damage in a cone behind the target. The cool down is not very high so do not be afraid of missing. It is better to gamble getting a kill than being afraid to miss and losing the chance to land a kill.
Keep in mind that this is a skill shot so you must be able to aim it correctly. Like all of Graves’ skills the range is not very large which makes it hard to use against fleeing enemies without sacrificing positioning. Since positioning is everything in MOBAs, this is a real hit to his utility. However Collateral Damage deals tons of damage and can be used alongside your other skills to quickly burst down squishy champions and teams. A tank may block the shot for his team, similar to countering Caitlyn’s ulti, but the lesser cone damage will still finish off a hurt squishy.
I prefer having a solo lane to allow for maximum farm but duo laning with a support character can work if the support champion does not take any of your last hits. If your team will not be taking part in a level one fight simply level up Buck Shot as your first skill. I like to hold on to leveling skills until the laning phase actually begins as you never know if you will need to use Smoke Screen to save a team mate or escape with Quick Draw.
You will want to max out Buck Shot as soon as possible but also get one level of Quick Draw and Smoke Screen early on. After Buck Shot I prefer to max out Quick Draw as the increased attack speed offers a significant increase in your DPS. Some summoners prefer to max Smoke Screen as their second skill but I do not feel that is the best option.
Smoke Screen’s main purpose will be to slow and decrease the vision of your opponent. While the slow percentage does increase with level up it makes a lot more sense to increase your DPS so you can fulfill your role as a ranged carry. Leave the crowd control to your team and focus on dishing out damage.
Collateral Damage should also be leveled whenever it is possible.
Graves’ items will focus on attack damage and should not be very different from other ranged carries. The recommended items tell players to build a Trinity Force but I do not think that is a very good choice on Graves. While it does give a lot of stats, it costs a lot and Graves does not make optimal use of all the stats.
It is impossible to have a set build for champions that you will follow every game. MOBA games are very situational and reaction based. However in an average game the following build will work quite well.
Start off the game with a Doran’s blade. This item offers attack damage, life steal and health which is great for Graves’ low health pool. The only con about this item is that it does not build into anything but it will serve its purpose during the laning phase.
Continue to farm until you have enough money for Berserker Greaves. It should not be very hard to land last hits with Graves’ attack animation and you should be done farming your boots quickly. Alternatively you may buy Boots and a B.F. Sword and then upgrade your boots into Berserker Greaves. It depends on how comfortable you are with level one boots and your farm. If you went straight for the Greaves, pick up a B.F Sword later on.
From here you can upgrade the B.F. Sword into a Blood Thirster or an Infinity Edge. You will be getting both by the end of the game so pick them up in the order you are comfortable with. Infinity’s will provide greater damage but less sustainability. Picking the Blood Thirster early on also allows you to farm its stacks if you’re playing smart and can avoid early game deaths.
Movement speed is great for ranged carries as it allows them to position themselves easily to land kills or flee to safety. Therefore a Phantom Dancer is not a bad choice. Pick up the Zeal first.
I hate building as a glass cannon unless you are dominating the opposing team so picking up a defensive item is important. Which item you pick up is dependent on the game. For example if you are constantly getting stunned at the beginning of the fights and die before dishing out any damage, a Banshee’s Veil is great.
The next two items are entirely situational but remember to focus on your role as a ranged carry. Items such as Frozen Mallet, Last Whisper, Madred’s Bloodrazor and The Black Cleaver are some suggestions.
For runes you will want to use flat armor penetration quintessences and marks, flat dodge seals and flat cooldown reduction glyphs. The armor penetration runes amplify your damage significantly in the early game and still help out during the late game while the CD reduction glyphs allows you to spam your skills. Being able to attack just a second earlier can decide the outcome of the entire game. Since Graves has low mana costs you do not need mana regeneration runes. Dodge runes may not seem to help too much but I have been saved countless times by lucky dodges. If you do not like to rely on chance they may be swapped out for flat armor seals.
As far as masteries I like to run a 0/9/21 build as it makes use of my dodge runes and further reduces cooldowns. A 9/0/21 build may also work but keep in mind that if you get the increased magic penetration it will only amplify the damage of your Smoke Screen, all other skills deal physical damage.
After playing around with Graves he seems to be a good pick. His skill set allows him to dominate his lane during the early game but still continue to deal good damage because of scaling ratios and attack speed buff.
However he must sacrifice survivability to maximize his damage output. This means that coordinated teams can lock him down if he gets too close. A good Graves player must be able to decide when it is wise to jump in to deal maximum damage or to stay back and still deal good damage.
I cannot say for sure if he will be a viable competitive pick as he is still very new. It takes time for players to fully understand new champions. If you seem to be dominating easily it could just be that other players are not familiar with his skill set.
As players begin to familiarize themselves with Graves we could see him being a top pick or simply dropping down to a rare pick. Nobody, even Riot, is able to determine how the game will be played in the future.
If you play the game just to have fun I definitely recommend picking up Graves. He is very fun to play because of his skill set and ability to dish out a lot of damage. When playing a game do not worry too much about a certain build or characters strengths, play to have fun.