Table of Contents
Explanation of Talents
Item Build Breakdown
Explanation of core itemization
Late-game itemization breakdown
Situational late game items
Skill orderPlaystyle strategy
Hi there! It's been a long time since I've written an in-depth character guide, about three years I think. Hope I don't disappoint, as I only do this for characters I have down to a science. Now, without further ado...
Grunty is the complete package: mobility, ganking power, a stun/knockback and serious map control all neatly wrapped up in a single hero. Each of his active abilities heavily contributes to the pace of a teamfight, so he works well with just about any team comp. In this guide, you are not playing as the primary carry for your team, but as a nonstop ganker playing mid (which in my opinion is the correct way to use him in competitive environments).
While Grunty is hands down my favorite hero in AoS, it's important to recognize when and where he's at his weakest. In competitive games, you will not scale nearly as well as a carry like Nova at endgame, thus it's important to have a second carry on your team to take it home. Your job is very simple: make space for your team's primary carry and gank the everloving crap out of the opposing team. This is accomplished in several ways:
- Shell the lanes with good rockets as early as possible. If you're playing Toss, it's easier to hit top. If you're playing Zerg, it's easier to hit bot. Keep track of when the neutral camps are clear and always ensure you're firing down a clean lane.
- Use River Racer to dart into the enemy jungle often and catch enemies farming with low HP.
- Harass all three lanes, even if that means just showing up for a minute to take a creep wave and a neutral camp or two. When you go mia, any good team should be freaked out and retreat.
- Take Aeon and Levi as often as you can. You should be able to easily do this alone after you finish your core items and a mid game item. Don't try to take on Levi alone after he upgrades to his final form. Anytime before is just fine.
- Soft push open lanes to force your enemy into positions they don't want to be in. Force them to make bad choices, like engaging while a tower is getting pushed.
Before I go any further with the details of strengths and weaknesses, I want to lay out my build for this use of Grunty. My core items never change, but your mid and late-game items will definitely vary depending on the enemy comp and how farmed you are.
Explanation of talents:
- Might: Synergizes very nicely with your passive during early game for easy last hitting and denying. Great talent.
- Cunning: Increases your damage from both Rocket and the Sliptide Scythe proc. Helps early game burst and DPS later on.
- Fury: Improves your scaling. After you get Machete, increased weapon speed makes farming easier on you and helps improve your sustain due to the Machete leech.
- Veteran: Extra XP, which is huge for your farm. Each game is essentially a race to level 6, no exceptions.
- Fitness: One bad thing about Grunty: you are really quite fragile. This (combined with bonus HP from Machete) allows you to survive early on and farm up.
- Integrity: 9.1% physical damage reduction is really quite nice for the whole game. Goes well in tandem with Fitness. This talent really goes the distance now that physical damage plays a much bigger role in the game.
- Swiftness: Hopefully self-explanatory, but your strongest assets are your speed and mobility. Grunty is meant to be played in a balls-out, cutting-it-close fashion and that extra 6% makes a big difference.
I follow a very strict schedule for my core items, so I'll do my best to outline it here. Obviously if I get an early triple kill or something, I'll grab a more expensive item first, but by far and wide this is the usual order of events:
Item Build Breakdown:
1. Next 550 minerals
5. Next 525 minerals
2. Next 750 minerals
6. Next 850 minerals
3. Next 400 minerals
7. Next 625 minerals
4. Next 325 minerals
Explanation of core itemization:
Besides not being a tank, Grunty's primary weakness is mana consumption. You'll note the absence of the Brilliance talent in this build, so we need to make up for that energy management elsewhere. I do this through Khala Stone and then Ocelot's Revolver. Once you have those two items, your mana problems should be largely diminished for the rest of the game. However, it will still help to carry a mana pot or two during the early-midgame.
I spend my first 550 mins finishing Khala Stone because it provides great sustain early on. I played around with various different early energy items and I feel I had the best results with this one. This is likely for two reasons: its handsomely cheap cost and the fact that it also provides bonus HP and mana (the HP regen is nice too). This item works best when you're low on energy, so when you're in the field don't be shy to fire off some harassing rounds of shotty. The energy will come back quickly.
The next two things you'll need are speed and damaged, which is accomplished through Ocelot's Revolver, Sledgehammer and the Graviton Booster. Use the Revolver effect to deal heavy damage to anyone who challenges you. If you're farming well, combining the Revolver effect with the extra damage from Sledgehammer produces a frightening amount of damage early on, especially when coupled with a rocket and a few shotty shells.
This core group of items opens you up to a versatile number of build orders. You can go in just about any direction from here and your most important bases are covered: weapon speed, sustain and power.
In pretty much every game, I finding myself buying Smoldering Incisor for 2000. It's an amazing bargain and helps you at any point in the game while you figure out what other late game items you'll need. After the Incisor, I have to make a decision on what to do with that Sledgehammer: turn it into a Predator Tusk or go for Pulse instead. I usually favor Pulse, but I'll pick Predator Tusk against heroes like Unix, MK, etc.
Sliptide is almost a must in every game I play with this build. It's the only item in your arsenal that benefits from the Cunning talent other than Rocket, so to not buy this item almost completely wastes the talent. Aside from that, it's a powerful item that grants you everything you need to deal damage and also a not so negligible amount of spell res and move speed.
Survivability is still important, but this is the time for Grunty to really start shocking the enemy with his damage and hard lane pushing. Make sure you upgrade your Incisor to Pyre at some point to take advantage of the cooldown reduction and extra weapon damage. Remember, the more weapon damage you get, the harder your BHM will hit.
Late-game itemization breakdown
Depending on what you're up against, here's how I tend to itemize later on.
- Against standard AA carry: You still get wrecked sometimes due to sheer damage potential at late game, but you can cut down on the pain with items like Retribution's Edge and Galactic. Otherwise, the best advice here is to simply play opportunistically and force the enemy to make a mistake so you can pick somebody off.
- Against heavy INT: After buying Sliptide, I immediately upgrading my Pulse/Predator to FoE/Explosive for the extra HP. I then either work on Galactic or if things are really dicey, I'll go for Phantom Menace.
- Against heavy STR: Finish your Pyre early and then go for heavy DPS before survivability items. These are the games where I delay getting Pulse/Predator in favor for items like Retribution or Khali
- Remember to finish your Pyre and BHM at some point in all circumstances!
Galactic Defender: One of the best items in the game for dealing with caster heavy teams. This provides you with an "oh s@#$" button and also gives you a huge amount of weapon damage and spell res.
Retribution's Edge: A nice way to round out your final item selection. I like that it provides armor to stack with the Integrity talent. You should also be attacking really quickly at this point too, so the crit provides a nice boost to your AA DPS.
Explosive Retrofit: Great item, but pretty expensive.You get a fat load of HP, heavy weapon damage, splash and leech. You'll need this if you're playing against heroes with lots of spawns.
Force of Entropy: If you go the Pulse Hammer route, you'll finish up with FoE. You get a modest improvement in the slow effect and a little more damage, but otherwise this upgrade is almost purely for more HP.
Cauterizer: One of the most situational items, Cauterizer is your meal ticket against heroes like Erekul and Geneva. If your team is really having trouble outlasting the enemy during endgame teamfights, buy Cauterizer and try to get the better initiation during the next fight. This is a very powerful item, but offers you nothing other than damage.
Phantom Menace: I like this item a lot, especially now that it's cheaper, but I usually only get it if I'm being completely overwhelmed by spell dmg. Still, it's amazing for your mobility during late-game when most engagements are taking place outside of the river.
16. River Racer
11. River Racer
6. River Racer
In a word? Aggressive. Aggressive ganking, aggressive farming, aggressive pushing, aggressive map/rune control. I play Grunty either full-time solo mid or in the jungle. Farming is a hugely important part of being a good ganker, so you need to do a quick checklist in your head when you're looking to make a shopping/ganking decision.
- Do I have the HP/mana to survive another neutral camp?
- Am I coming up on a 4 minute interval for neutral spawns?
- I need to shop, but will I fall behind my opponent if I shop during the coming wave?
- Is there an available rune to take?
This is your make or break time and hands down the most important point in the game for Grunty. If you fail here and fall behind, not only will you not be a boon to your team, but you will actually be a detriment. During this time, you want to be clearing wave after wave of creeps and making a run through the jungle to cleanup any unused neutral camps every 4 minutes. Simply put, you need to just straight up outplay the opposing mid. More last hits, more denies, more neutral camps, better rune control, fewer pool visits and DON'T DIE.
Level 1 Rocket deals very little damage and is usually a waste of energy. I don't bother firing off Rocket until I'm at level 3 (with level 2 Rocket), but obviously exceptions can be made if you're ensuring a kill or something of that nature.
Don't waste all of your early energy on cross-map rockets unless you're capitalizing on an opportunity or going for a kill. You always want to shoot a rocket to top/bot when the creep waves meet, as that's when enemy positions are most predictable. Just watch how someone plays for a few seconds and you should be able to make an educated guess on where they'll stand next as they attempt to last hit and deny.
Save at least 40-50 energy so you can use two shotgun blasts per neutral camp (I say 40-50 because you'll recharge the rest with Khala Stone). You should time your shotty blasts between auto-attacks to maximize your DPS. Always try to hit all three neutrals with the same shotty blast for best efficiency and make sure you're standing nice and close to take advantage of your Point Blank passive. Kill Marauders first, as they slow you.
Ahh...mid-game, my favorite time. Starting at level 7, you should have the River Racer bonus going for pretty much 75% of the rest of the game. If you're not in the water, get in the water. If you're in the water, kill kill kill! Your farm will skyrocket during this time, so use your speed and burst damage to get kills, push back lanes and steal neutral camps in the opposing jungle.
As mentioned above, you want to be a force on the map and physically intimidate the other team. Don't let them get comfortable for even a second. The only time they should feel safe is when you're in the pool, and even then you should be firing rockets up the lanes for extra cash and potential gank assists.
You are responsible for killing Aeon as often as possible. You should be able to do this with your core + a midgame item, but you really need to use all of your Shotty charges, Rocket and take advantage of your passive damage. I've cut it very close before when I take on Aeon early (around the 20:00 marker is considered early for me, usually I get him around 22:00-24:00), so you want to make sure you're keeping tabs on the enemy locations. The last thing you need is for someone to swoop in, one shot you and finish off Aeon. I typically set two traps on either side of Aeon before engaging to provide some warning if someone is trying to pick me off.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and this is where we draw the line for our beloved Grunty. Most teamfights take place at the bases during the late-game and you're somewhat weak without your massive speed boost. If you have done things correctly, your primary carry should be able to match your farm and you'll be able to rely on him/her to seal the deal.
This is not to say you're not a credible threat, as you should still be able to deal tremendous damage, you just shouldn't be your team's only reliable DPS. There are simply better carries out there with better late game survivability. If the enemy is stupid enough to try to take you on in the river, you will still be able to punish them at this stage of the game.
Initiation is incredibly important at this time. Use your Rocket to try and pick off stragglers or players making bad decisions. One small advantage can end the game in a hurry at 50-60 minutes.
Grunty is not a gear-dependent hero and can really start mauling people after acquiring Ocelot's Revolver. This means the devil is in the detail, as you need to master all of Grunty's skills and understand how they all complement each other. The full arsenal of shotty, rocket, trap and your ulti is lethal for all but the tankiest heroes.
- Know the most common spots enemies like to teleport home. This is generally tall grass or a few steps next to a safe tower. Be constantly hunting for people retreating with low hp, as cross map kills tend to be the most satisfying ones.
- Be aware of neutral spawns and creep wave locations. It's always rage-inducing when you send a rocket for an easy kill and a neutral camp, Aeon or Levi block your shot. If there are obstacles, reposition yourself.
- Don't outmeta yourself. I can't tell you how many times I've missed an easy kill because I expected a juke or some sort of fancy maneuver. Know who you're dealing with. Good players will make the effort to juke and dodge while bad players tend to run in a straight, predictable line.
- Don't be scared to unload on someone point blank. Rocket is wonderful for picking off stragglers, but the damage is huge if you need to turn the tide of an engagement.
- Rocket deals splash damage. Sometimes it's wise to save your burst until a few heroes are clumped together.
- For maximum efficiency, you want to time your shotty rounds right after an autoattack. This is absolutely key for soloing neuts
- Never put more than 1 point into shotty until the very end of the game. Grunty is a mana fiend and you want to keep his shells at 40 mana a piece for as long as possible
- You don't always need to be directly in front of an enemy you're trying to catch. When trying to kill a runner, sometimes I will shotty them sideways against a wall to pin them while I position myself better
- Shotty is probably the best last-hitting skill in the game. Seriously, be really liberal with it when you're farming. I typically weaken two-three enemies at a time during waves and then finish them all off with a single shell
- Shotty has a very slight range advantage compared to your auto-attack. If you're chasing someone for a final hit, but they're just out of range, fire off a round to secure your kill. Be careful not to blast enemies out of range when doing this.
- You will fire in the same direction of your auto-attack. I usually auto-attack once first to get the proper direction and then I unload.
- You can play great defense with shotty and save your teammates by pushing enemies away. Just be careful not to sacrifice yourself (unless you're saving the carry, of course)
- The river is your domain. Line the edges on the enemy side of the river with traps to discourage enemies from entering
- Set a couple traps around Aeon before engaging him to ensure you don't get ambushed
- Traps give vision of tall grass
- You should have several traps in the enemy jungle, especially during mid and lategame when engagements happen away from towers
- If you're in a 1-on-1 situation, drop a trap during the fight. If you need to retreat, you're covered. If the enemy tries to retreat, he's dead.
- Traps are affected by splash damage, so keep this in mind when you're putting them down during a firefight
- Escape routes, both offensive and defensive, should be trapped.
- When escaping, fire a round of shotty at your opponents while simultaneously putting a trap behind you (toward your escape route). This pushes your enemies back and gives your trap that extra second it needs to deploy.
- Many times, it's faster to run to the water first, and then proceed to your destination
- Own the runes. Every single time you're hopping into your or the enemy's jungle, stop by the runes real quick to see what you get. A regen rune is huge for your farm and allows you to stay in the field and grow stronger
- Punish anyone who moves past the ramps leading into the water.
There isn't a tremendous amount to say here other than "practice, practice, practice" but there are two general ideas when it comes to ganking: a traditional approach (expert skill shots, good understanding of mechanics, etc) and a more clever/meta approach (baiting, learning human habits). Both approaches are necessary to succeed in competitive play.
- Traditional example: Land a long-range rocket while charging up behind your opponent. Auto-attack your opponent first to ensure you're facing the right direction and then shotty them toward your side of the map. Lay down traps in the direction you think your opponent will run prior to engaging to ensure a kill.
- Meta example 1: You observe an enemy trying to deal heavy damage to your tower and notice that he tends to stick around until his creep wave is just about dead. Time a rocket that stuns him and kills the rest of his creep wave so the tower starts killing him instead. This is applying learned behavior to the game to give yourself an advantage.
- Meta example 2: If you're playing against someone that likes to be cute and abuse the tall grass, your response should be to start pre-firing the tall grass with shotty. Again, you observe, learn and apply.
- Meta example 3: You're hanging around with low mana, but a potion in your inventory. Another player assumes you're helpless and goes for the kill, you pop the potion and unload. Surprise!
The #1 thing to keep in mind here is that if you suck with rockets, this build is 100% useless. The entire build rests upon the idea that your spell damage is a major facet of your gameplay, so if you miss regularly you're going to have a bad time.
I've been playing Aeon of Storms off-and-on for about three years now, and many of my best memories are playing IH games as Grunty with the SlimJim crew. I truly feel like Grunty provides one of the most fun experiences AoS has to offer and I encourage all of you to give him a try. You will not find his versatility in any other hero and I feel like his skill ceiling is one of the higher ones.
Good luck. If you run into me in pubs, let's see what you're made of :) My in-game name is simply MartY.
Edited by martY, 13 February 2017 - 12:35 AM.