Graves is a ranged champion who thrives by making physical damage. All of his damage is based on attack damage so he is classified as an AD champion. A good portion of the champion’s damage is dealt through auto attacks. He has all the makings of an ADC, yet he is played in the Jungle role.
Graves makes for a significantly better jungler than an ADC due to a culmination of characteristics. First of all, his jungler clearing is both really fast and really healthy. He is an excellent dueler in the early as well as late game. You can take on bruiser champions quite easily in one on one situations in the Jungle.
Of course, there is also the downside of Graves having a hard time trading in the bot lane. This is because his range is very limited as compared to the other marksmen. Furthermore, his auto attack damage is blocked by minions in the lane. He can have an extremely hard time trading due to these limitations.
Graves can also invade the enemy jungle quite often. This is possible because he is able to clear his own camps faster than a lot of the other junglers in the game. As we know he excels at fighting so you are not scared of finding the enemy jungler either.
There are a couple of rune page options available to you when playing Graves. For the most part, the rune page will change with the type of build you are going to make.
Rune Page 1
The most common rune page for Graves is the Precision page with the “Fleet Footwork” keystone. This keystone ensures you are healthy at all times during jungle clearing. This also helps greatly in fights and duels by giving you sustain as well as a burst of movement speed.
Fleet Footwork is followed by “Triumph” and the “Legend: Alacrity” runes. Although, the “Coup de Grace” is by far the most popular last rune, “Last Stand” is also seen from time to time. That completes the primary page.
In the secondary rune page, you have a choice between the Domination page and the Inspiration page. From both of these pages, the best rune choices available to you do not provide any combat advantage. They both offer a combination of utility and gold value.
“Zombie Ward” and “Treasure Hunter” are the runes you go for from the Domination page. While the Inspiration page offers you the “Magical Footwear “ and “Cosmic Insight. “Absolute Focus” and “Waterwalking” from Sorcery are also an option but not as common on Graves.
Rune Page 2
The other option is the “Dark Harvest” rune page. This rune page is primarily taken with the Lethality build path. This is because this build focuses a lot on maximizing your burst damage so you get the enemies within the Dark Harvest range much more easily and quickly.
Following the Harvest keystone, you will take “Sudden Impact”. This rune works really well with Graves’s kit. The champion has an in-built dash which he uses to get close or kite away from enemies. Next, you take the combo of Zombie Ward and Treasure Hunter.
The secondary page options available to you are the Precision page or the Inspiration page. From the Precision page, you will take “Triumph” coupled with “Legend: Alacrity”. The inspiration page offers the same combination as discussed above, Cosmic Insight and Magical Footwear.
Starting and Early Game Items
The first choice as far as items are concerned arrives in your very first buy of the game. What jungle item to buy; “Hailblade” or Emberknife”. Hailblade is much more optimum for chasing or running away from enemies. It steals movement speed from enemies and gives it to you for a duration.
Emberknife is infinitely better for fighting and dueling purposes. It not only deals true damage to the enemy but you also take lesser damage from the challenged enemy. So the difference essentially comes down to what you need from your Smite upgrade.
The “Serrated Dirk” is a highly efficient item for Graves. It is worthwhile to buy this item as your first item even if you are not going to complete an item initially. This is just how big of a damage boost this item gives you. “End of the Line” as well as “Collateral Damage” scale heavily with this item.
Graves is a very unique champion. He has always been a constant part of the meta. Whether that be as a top laner, an ADC, or as a jungler. Part of the reason why he has been so successful is his adaptability. In a constantly changing and evolving game, Graves is one of the few champions to take the changes in stride.
This is the build path that you go against squishy enemy teams. These are the teams that do not have much in the way of tanks or bruisers. You can burst them down and kill them much more quickly. On the other hand, they also do much more burst damage than the average bruiser or tanks. You have lesser time to do damage and as such you enhance your burst damage rather than going for DPS.
The Lethality build path focuses on doing just that. To start off the build you have an odd-ball first item. You go for “Umbral Glaive” as your first item. It is extremely cheap and highly efficient in clearing enemy vision. The second item is your mythic, the “Eclipse”. You can just go for Eclipse as the first item as well.
The item after Eclipse most likely going to be “The Collector”. You can also go for an early “Hexdrinker” if the enemy is heavy on AP damage. Now, the rest of the build depends upon the game situation and also if you went for the Umbral Glaive or not. There are a ton of options to choose from.
“Lord Dominik’s Regards” for armor penetration, “Maw of Malmortius” to deal with magic damage. “Serpent’s Fang” to deal with shields, “Chempunk Chainsword” for anti-healing. “Black Cleaver” for rounding up a ton of very useful stats, “Youmuu’s Ghostblade” for a big boost in damage, etc.
This is the most standard build path. You can go for this build against any type of team composition. The only real downside to this build is that you depend on your auto attacks to deal the bulk of your damage. Graves is limited on auto attack range. Your spells do a lot of damage but it’s not as much as Lethality.
So, in this build path, your first item is actually going to be the mythic item with “Immortal Shieldbow”. The second item can be The Collector if you are ahead in the game and the enemy team does not have tanks. If those conditions are not met then you do not go for the item.
The more standard item is usually “The Bloodthirster”. Graves’s autos do significantly more damage than the average auto attack of a marksman champion. His lifesteal is exceptionally higher. Bloodthirster is a prime item on the champion because of this little idiosyncrasy.
If there are armor-stacking champions in the enemy team, you go for Lord Dominik’s Regards as your third item. “Infinity Edge” is your next item. To round off your build you go for a defensive item in most situations such as a “Guardian Angel”, “Maw of Malmortius”, “Spirit Visage”, “Death’s Dance”, etc.
This is one of the most peculiar build paths you will see. It has been rising in popularity and it is not without a base. The build is highly effective. Umbral Glaive is your first item. This is unusual in its own right but as we have seen before, Graves does work well with it.
The mythic item for this build path is the ”Goredrinker”. This is an outright bruiser item and is just not made on ranged champions. This champion is able to make it work because of his built-in bruiser type of dueling ability and gameplay.
The Goredrinker is often followed by the Black Cleaver. Black Cleaver has always been a cornerstone bruiser item. It gives a ton of statistics, all of which are extremely useful for combat. Chipmunk Chainsword not only adds even more statistics but is made to provide anti-healing when required.
Maw of Malmortius is also a commonly made item on Graves, especially in a bruiser-oriented build. If the enemy is stacking armor, you go for the “Serylda’s Grudge” since it gives ability haste on top of armor penetration. Ability haste is crucial in this build path and as you will notice, it is a part of every item’s individual statistics.
Of course, there is another build for Graves. This build tries to give you the best of the Lethality and the Crit builds. You go for the Eclipse and Collector as your first couple of items. Then you move into the Lord Dominik’s Regards followed by Infinity Edge and so on.
Over the years, Graves has proven to be one of the most important champions in League of Legends. This is symbolized by the fact that he has a victorious skin. These skins have only been given to the most fundamental champions of the game.
For a champion as pivotal to the game as Graves, a brief review is hardly enough to cover all the different nuances. However, thanks to this guide you do get a relatively detailed dive into the different build options available.