Gnar is one of the few champions in League of Legends that has more than one form. There are two basic forms with completely different individual abilities. Moreover, the two forms are also completely different in playstyle and use from one another as well. How do you categorize such a champion as AD or AP?
To understand if a champion is AD or AP, you need to know some basic things. What type of damage is the main source of damage of the champion? What type of damage, physical or magic, should you make to further enhance the champions’ damage?
These are fundamentally the things that decide whether a champion is AD, AP, or a tank. For tanks, it is generally the case that their damage is not enhanced by making any sort of damage. While the latter type of champion benefits from one or the other source of damage.
In Gnar’s case, it is quite clear that he is an attack damage champion as his abilities scale from physical damage. However, once you understand his abilities another thing becomes clear. He is a bruiser champion; a champion that combines damage and tank items to reach their maximum potential.
As you might have guessed, Gnar is an extremely flexible champion. The different forms and abilities are a testament to this fact. The flexibility carries on to not only different playstyles but also gives you the ability to choose between rune pages.
Gnar is one of the few champions in the game that works well with a lot of different rune pages. A couple of the best options as far as rune pages are concerned are discussed below.
Rune Page 1 – Precision Primary
In this rune page, you will take the “Fleet Footwork” keystone from the Precision page. “Conqueror” is also a keystone that is seen on Gnar. The difference between the two is that Conqueror is really only viable if you can dominate a matchup. Fleetwork is an all-around great pick.
The keystone is followed by “Triumph” and then the “Legend: Alacrity”. Both of these runes are pretty much irreplaceable by any other available in their slots. The most you can change in these is to go for “Legend: Tenacity” if the enemy team has a ton of crowd control.
The last rune from this page is the “Last Stand”. You can go for “Coup de Grace” but Last Stand is known to be somewhat more effective of the two. Moving on to the secondary rune page, you have some options available to you depending on the lane matchup.
“Bone Plating” is ideal for a lane where the enemy wants to all-in and get kill threat on you. “Second Wind” is only in case the enemy champ can poke you which is rare since Gnar is a range champion for most of the lane. “Overgrowth” is more common but you can go for “Unflinching” if the enemy has a lot of crowd control.
Rune Page 2 – Resolve Primary
If you are taking the Resolve page as your primary, “Grasp of the Undying” is your keystone. There is no other choice that comes anywhere close to this if you are not going for the Precision page’s keystones. Grasp gives you a good amount of trade and poke ability as well as a bit of sustain for the lane.
“Demolish” is your second rune of the page. Again, no other rune performs as well as this from the given options. This is followed by much the same as discussed above in terms of a choice between Bone Plating and Second Wind. As well as a choice between Overgrowth and Unflinching.
For the secondary rune page, you have more diverse options. You can go for Triumph coupled with Legend: Alacrity, Triumph with Coup de Grace, or Last Stand. Alacrity with Last Stand, etc. Any two runes out of these are viable on Gnar. Having said that, Triumph with Alacrity is the most approved combo.
There is another option for the secondary rune page when you have Resolve as primary. You can go “Taste of Blood” and “Treasure Hunter” from the Domination page. This gives a lot of bonus sustain for the lane and some early game boost of gold.
Starting and Early Game Items
The starting item on Gnar is normally “Doran’s Blade”. You have the range advantage over a lot of the champions you face in the top lane. This is why the champions can use the bonus combat stats from Doran’s Blade to good effect from the early going.
“Doran’s Shield” is also a common starting item for Gnar. However, this is mostly taken when you are either not in a position to bully the enemy champion with your range. Or when the enemy is also a range champion that can poke you in return as well.
The early game items are mostly taken as a way to neutralize the enemy laners’ threat. “Plated Steelcaps” is a common purchase for this. The movement speed helps you maintain distance much more easily and the armor is effective against any physical damage dealing champions.
“Mercury’s Treads” are bought for similar purposes to deal with ability power champions. An early “Bramble Vest” is also not an uncommon sight when you are dealing with bruisers. Grievous Wounds and armor are highly effective in these matchups.
The general build path for Gnar starts with a “Trinity Force” first item as your mythic. “Black Cleaver” second item followed by just getting tanky items for survivability. For armor, you go for items such as “Randuin’s Omen”, “Thornmail”, “Deaths Dance”, etc.
For magic resistance, “Force of Nature” is the most ideal item for a massive boost in defense. However, you also have the option to go for a far more aggressive item. “Wit’s End” is an item that is quite popular on Gnar. The champion benefits from the attack speed and on-hit ability as well as getting magic resist.
These are generally the items made on Gnar. You can swap out the Trinity Force for “Divine Sunderer” if you wish. Both of these items are good. Trinity Force just gives more damage while Sunderer gives more sustain and tanky features.
Essentially, the first couple of items are usually made for damage while the rest of the items are for tank statistics. Wit’s End is often thrown into the mix when you need magic resistance to give both offense and defense. Force of Nature along with Wit’s End is made when you need to stack the MR.
General Playstyles with Both Forms
Gnar spends most of the game in the Mini Gnar form. This form specializes in kiting and keeping the enemy bruisers and melee champions at a distance. The “Boomerang Throw” slows the enemy while “Hyper” gives you movement speed on every third hit on an enemy.
The passive is really the most important thing to keep track of, for both the Gnar as well as other players in the game. When the “Rage Gene” bar reaches the maximum point or becomes red, Mini Gnar is ready to transform into Mega Gnar. Getting the rage bar to the maximum is crucial in team fights.
This is when the champion is at its strongest. Mega Gnar can change the complexion of any fight single-handedly. The ultimate is only accessible when you are in this form. The ultimate, “Gnar!” throws all enemies close to Gnar in the targeted direction. Enemies that hit terrain are also stunned.
The Mega Gnar playstyle is completely contrary to Mini Gnar. During laning phase, you can use this form to go for all-ins and duels with the enemy. In teamfights, you want to get as deep into the enemy team as possible to hit the enemy back line with a ton of crowd control.
As you can see from the description of the ultimate, this is a game-changing champion. One good ultimate can win your team fights even if you are way behind in the game. This is why Gnar is always a threat to the enemy team, no matter how behind he is from his counterpart.
Furthermore, Gnar is just an incredibly safe and solid laner. He can be blind-picked into almost anything. There are very few champions in the game that can be considered losing matchups for him. Combine that with the ability to win games by landing one good ultimate, and you have a very strong champion.
This is also why Gnar is prioritized so highly in League of Legends pro-play. The champ does not have any real weakness.