In a separate article we already answered the question about Red Buff Stacking in TFT and we realized there’s an interesting “relationship” between Graves and Red Buff, so we decided to write this dedicated article and explain why Red Buff Graves is OP in TFT.
Graves’ Ability “Buckshot” in TFT
Graves is one of the few TFT Units that don’t have an Active Spell, instead he has a Passive Spell “Buckshot” which makes his attacks deal increased damage and hit all enemies in front of him.
He fires his bullets in a cone-shape, being able to hit multiple unit, both those in front of him, but also those in the second row behind the enemy’s front line.
What’s even nicer about him is that his basic attack applies on-hit effects on all units he damages. This means any item that applies his effect on basic attacks will be applied by Graves’ attacks as well.
TFT Red Buff Graves
Since his basic attacks apply on-hit effects to all enemies he damages with his Buckshot ability, this also applies Red Buff’s Burn to all enemies damaged by him.
That’s why you will most likely see Red Buff on Graves in a lot of your games. This allows him to apply an AOE (area of effect) Burn to multiple enemies, similar to what a Kennen would do with a Morello, but the advantage of Graves is that he does this with his every basic attack, while Kennen needs to fill his mana bar to use the ulti.
Should you put Red Buff on Lucian instead of Graves?
This question is raised up by those who think about optimizing their items on the units to deal the most damage. I’ve seen some people on Reddit suggesting that in a Gunslingers comp, Red Buff would be better on Lucian.
I think this is because Lucian usually lives longer in fights, because Graves is melee and will always be in the front line, while Lucian will sit in the back and also will use his Ability to dash away to safety.
Also, after using his Ability, Lucian sometimes attacks other champions as well, not only the one he was focusing his auto-attacks before he dashed away (not sure if it’s how it’s intended or not).
But this mechanics would make him a decent option for Red Buff, because he will attack multiple units during a fight.
I think this is very situational and can’t be really proved wrong or not. If more units are grouped together, Graves will do more damage, if they’re isolated, Graves would do a better job with Red Buff. It’s up to your specific situation to decide.
Other Items Great on Graves
Basically any top tier item that applies on-hit effects is great on him.
TFT Graves + Hush – If you put Hush on Graves, he’ll have a 33% chance on hit to prevent multiple enemies from gaining mana (we’re calling it Mana Lock) for four seconds from a single auto-attack (Hush has been reworked in TFT Patch 9.16, it no longer silences, it Mana Locks units).
TFT Graves + Cursed Blade – If you put Cursed Blade on him, he’ll have a 20% chance to shrink multiple enemy units.
TFT Graves + Sword Breaker – A Sword Breaker Graves will have a 25% chance to disarm all the enemies he damages with his auto-attacks.
TFT Graves + Titanic Hydra – This is another top tier item for Graves, because it deals the 10% of his max HP as splash damage to all enemy units in front of him.
TFT Graves + Frozen Mallet – I saw someone recommending this. It seems like a pretty interesting idea. I never tested it though, but I added this to my To Do list in the upcoming normal games, because I think it might work pretty well in a 6-Glacial comp. Theoretically, he should be able to stun all the enemies in front of him, if his auto-attack procs the Glacial buff. I’ll post an update once I tried it.
Don’t put Rapid Firecannon on Graves
While it might seem like a good idea at first, it’s actually the worst item on him probably, because currently it’s either bugged or the TFT developers never thought about this interaction.
Basically, he will auto-attack a unit without damaging it, because it’s out of his Buckshot range. Here’s a clip with how Rapid Firecannon Graves works in TFT currently (Patch 9.15B). It might be fixed in a future patch though.
Updated in Patch 9.16: This has been fixed, so now “Graves now properly gains range with Rapidfire Cannon.“