LoL Graves Guide – Builds, Strategy and Roles

By   /   Jan 20, 2012


Xan Hisam – Graves, the outlaw is a strong, shotgun wielding ranger with higher defense than most ranged DPS characters.

With a passive that increases defense the longer he stays in battle, a quick dash maneuver useful for quickly catching up to an enemy or getting out of battle and strong area of effect abilities in his arsenal, Graves is a balanced ranger and a force to be reckoned with. Graves is classified as a ranger and a carry in League of Legends.

Graves Abilities

True Grit (Innate Passive)
Graves gains bonus armor and magic resistance the longer he remains in combat. This effect stacks every second and goes up to a maximum of 10 stacks.

Buckshot (Q)
Graves fires three bullets in a cone, damaging all enemies in their paths. Targets hit by multiple bullets receive 25% damage from bullets beyond the first.

Smoke Screen (W)
Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area creating a cloud of smoke that lasts a few seconds. Enemies inside the smoke cloud have reduced sight range and Movement Speed.

Quickdraw (E)
Graves dashes forward gaining an Attack Speed boost for several seconds. Hitting enemies with basic attacks lowers the cooldown of this skill.

Collateral Damage (R)
Graves fires an explosive shell dealing heavy damage to the first champion it hits. After hitting a champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes dealing damage in a cone behind its point of impact.

Your Guide To Graves Abilities

  • Graves can dash through certain walls using Quickdraw.
  • The passive bonus for True Grit is not lost as long as Graves stays in combat. Graves is considered to be in combat if he has dealt or received damage in the last 3 seconds.
  • Enemies inside Smoke Screen do not have allied vision and have their vision limited to only what is inside the smoke cloud. Targets attacking them from outside the smoke cloud are visible however.
  • Basic attacks against structures do not lower the cooldown for Quickdraw.
  • Graves deals physical damage mostly. All of Graves’ offensive abilities deal physical damage and have their damage outputs modified by Graves’ attack damage except Smoke Screen.
  • Smoke Screen deals magic damage and damage output for it scales with ability power. Collateral Damage has high range and travels fast.

How To Play With Graves In League of Legends

Graves is a rather easy champion to master. Although none of his spells are locked on attacks, they are all fairly simple to land.

Collateral Damage is the only spell with a long-range and requires slightly more precision than his other 2 abilities, but it’s quite easy even when trying to connect it with someone at maximum range because of the projectile’s travelling speed.

Save Quickdraw for when it’s absolutely necessary and use it offensively only when it’s required to get a kill, otherwise use it to get out of sticky situations.

Graves Starter Build

Early on, balance out defensive and offensive runes and masteries when playing Graves. He should deal plenty of damage and survive a moderate amount of punishment with the following loadout:

Fill all 9 of your slots for Marks with armor penetration. Equip armor per level runes in Seals and magic resistance per level runes in Glyphs. For Quintessences, I’d recommend armor penetration in all 3 slots.

You could however go with a more balanced overall build and equip a Quintessence from one of each of those stats, that is, armor penetration, armor and magic resistance. This should allow your Graves to withstand a decent amount of damage while dealing heavy damage himself.Your masteries should be 21/9/0. Take the armor and magic resist bonuses in defensive masteries followed by the health upgrades.

Follow the attack damage path in offensive masteries all the way down to the final mastery, investing points in critical chance, critical damage, armor penetration, attack speed and life-steal. Since the attack damage bonus only has 3 ranks, you can either spend one point on increased minion damage or on upgrading your summoner spells.

Pick ‘Flash’ and ‘Exhaust’ as your summoner spells. Exhaust can be used offensively for getting a kill as well as defensively to drastically reduce an enemy DPS character’s damage output. ‘Flash’; when used in quick succession with Quickdraw, should make you better at chasing and escaping by helping you quickly close in on an enemy or distance yourself from him for a clean retreat.

Graves Items, Abilities and Tips

Start the game with Doran’s Blade. Return to the shop when you’ve made enough gold to buy shoes and a BF Sword. If you’ve had a bad start and are unable to amass enough gold, I suggest stacking a few more Doran’s Blade(s) until things get better.

Just sell them off when things get back on track and you’re running out of space in your inventory. Next, finish up your boots by upgrading them into Berserker’s Greaves or Mercury Treads; depending on whichever you need more, and buy a Vampiric Scepter.

Convert your BF Sword and Vampiric Scepter into a Bloodthirster when you have enough gold and start making an Infinity Edge. Focus on crafting a Phantom Dancer when done with Infinity Edge. Now create a Frozen Mallet followed by Atma’s Impaler as your final item.

Get Buckshot on level 1 and unlock Quickdraw on the following level. Keep leveling Buckshot when it’s available and spend your ability point on Smoke Screen at level 4. Do not level Smoke Screen any further and level Quickdraw when Buckshot is unavailable for upgrading.

Get ultimate at level 6 and improve it at levels 11 and 16. Max out Quickdraw when done with Buckshot. Upgrade Smoke Screen when you’ve leveled all the other abilities. Keep moving around and last-hit minions as much as you can.

Harass enemy champions with Buckshot and basic attacks when they move into your range. When trying to get a kill on an enemy champion, use Buckshot after closing in on your enemy; preferably without Quickdraw or ‘Flash’, to deal slightly more damage with it.

Time your Quickdraw and/or Flash with your enemy’s escape maneuver (be it ‘Flash’ or any other such ability) so that they don’t escape at low health. If the enemy champion is a ranger, and will deal a good amount of damage if simply attempt to reduce the distance between their champion and yours by running, then use Quickdraw for it.

Use Quickdraw early in a fight if you think you’ll be able to auto-attack enough to get it off cooldown before its needed again. When using ‘Exhaust’ offensively, cast it when the distance between you and the enemy champion is least so that you can make the most of it.

Go to next page for advanced play-styles and build strategies.

Advanced play-styles with different build strategies you can employ from time to time.

Graves Advanced Play-Styles – Build Strategy

Shotgun Trooper (Pure AD)
Masteries: 24/6/0
Take the standard physical damage path in offensive masteries all the way down to the final mastery and spend the 3 points on ‘Havoc’. Get +6 armor and magic resistance from defense.

Runes: Flat attack damage runes in Marks and attack damage per level runes in every other slot including quintessences.

Summoner Spells: ‘Flash’ and ‘Exhaust’.

Abilities: Level abilities in the same way as explained earlier.

Items: Buy Doran’s Blade at the start. By the time you make your first trip back, you should have enough gold to buy a BF Sword and boots.

If not, just purchase boots and return to the lane. At your next visit, you’ll convert the BF Sword bought earlier into a Black Cleaver, upgrade your boots into Berserker’s Greaves and buy a Vampiric Scepter.

Buy Last Whisper pre-emptively so that you’re not easily countered with some armor if things are going well; if not then buy a Zeal. Focus on making a Bloodthirster next and follow it up by upgrading Zeal into a Phantom Dancer.

Make a Last Whisper at this point if you didn’t earlier. For your final item, make an Infinity Edge. You can also swap places between Bloodthirster and Infinity Edge in the build order.

It’s a Glass-cannon play-style and is moderately difficult. It gives you immense firepower along with enough armor penetration to take down even the strongest of tanks in a matter of seconds, however, Graves has almost no defense in this build except for his passive. You die just as quickly as you kill.

The purpose of the all attack damage approach is to give Graves enough damage to kill enemy DPS in just one combo of Buckshot and Collateral Damage. You should be able to take out most enemies in just about3-5 hits by end game.

Your damage output would make you the enemy team’s primary target however, and given your defense surviving should become near impossible. Therefore, you have to position yourself well. Be an opportunist and take out unsuspecting enemies. Stay out of vision as much as possible.

If you are able to get that strong way early in the game, the enemy team shouldn’t pose any threat. Regardless of how good or bad you might be performing in the game, this build should allow you to deal enough damage to get a kill at any point in the game.

Armored Mercenary (Tank DPS)
Masteries: 21/9/0
Take the same path for offensive masteries as before without taking ‘Havoc’ this time. Spend points in defensive masteries that increase health, magic resist and armor.

Runes: Armor penetration Marks and Quintessences, flat armor in Seals and magic resistance per level in Glyphs.

Summoner Spells: Simply take ‘Flash’ and ‘Ignite’. ‘Ignite’ is necessary to make sure you don’t miss kills.

Abilities: Level abilities in the same way as explained in ‘Learning to play with Graves’.

Items: Begin match buy buying Doran’s Blade. At your next visit to the store, purchase shoes and a BF Sword. Upgrade boots to Mercury Treads at your next visit and buy a Vampiric Scepter or complete Bloodthirster if you have enough gold.

Start making a Warmog’s Armor right after Bloodthirster. Once completed, build Atma’s Impaler. When done, rush an Infinity Edge followed by a Banshee’s Veil or Force of Nature depending on the number of disables the enemy team has.

It’s easy and very-effective late game-style. It gives you high health and defense with moderate firepower, enough to make quick work of most enemy champions, however, it leaves Graves lacking in damage output in comparison to other builds. Most of the items in the build are expensive, and it takes a while to get made.

Although a simple and easy way to play Graves, it does require a decent early lane phase with a high creep score for maximum effect, since the items can take some time to be made. Focus on last-hitting minions and mostly ignore enemy champions until a team-fight starts.

Graves won’t be targeted much in this build because of his high health and defense, and if you enter a team-fight as the third or fourth man in, the enemy team might ignore you altogether. Keep auto-attacking enemy champions in team-fights and use your abilities wisely.

How To Counter Graves

Buckshot has moderate range and can easily be evaded by moving back. Try to burst-kill Graves as much as you can, as Graves is better than most champions at prolonged fights.

Stay at a distance, Graves is might be a ranger, but he deals more damage at close range and evading his ultimate is near impossible when standing next to him. Always wait for Graves to use his Quickdraw before going in for a kill, otherwise he might escape.

Don’t stand in Smoke Screen for long and try to get out of it as quickly as you can. Graves only deals physical damage unless he makes items that deal magic damage, so armor works as an effective counter against him.

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