Hey folks. As one of the lucky few who got an alpha invite, I’d like to write an open letter to the Gazlowe players out there.
You’re playing him wrong.
I don’t mean this as some sort of rage-y critique. It’s an alpha, you could walk straight into the enemy towers and I wouldn’t care. I just mean to counter this impression a lot of people are getting that he’s under-powered. As a laner, he is, definitely. But as a jungler, he is one of the stronger heroes in the game. And I think if you played him as such, you’d change your mind about him.
Let’s provide a concrete example by looking at Blackheart Bay. This is the map where there are two chests that spawn, you break open the chests to get coins, you give the coins to Blackheart at the center of the map, and Blackheart basically just destroys a fort for you. This map has 10 jungle camps– four camps of pirates in between the three lanes on each side, two camps of siege giants on the rear of the bottom lane, three camps of knights, one in a neutral location at the very bottom of the map, two within the perimeter of each side’s base near the top, and a large golem in a neutral location at the very top of the map.
The mechanic of the chests is pretty well understood by players. Blackheart himself yells at you to go get the doubloons from them when they spawn. And players also quickly learn how consequential these doubloons are– pretty much every time you pay Blackheart his fee, he destroys a section of your opponent’s base– I think if you did nothing but pay Blackheart 7-8 times, that would win the game by itself.
What players don’t quite get is that the jungle camps each drop two doubloons as well. Meaning that doing one full clear of the easy camps as a jungler nets you six doubloons– a chest, by comparison, only gives you five. And with the relatively short respawn times of the jungle, having a steady jungler on your team is probably worth as much actually getting the chests themselves. Sure, there’s still the issue of dropping your coins off to Blackheart, but in terms of potential, the jungle has as much to offer as the chests.
Furthermore, a jungling Gazlowe is not a detriment to his team’s chances of securing the chests. In fact, if anything, he might be one of its strongest assets! This is because the Siege Giant, Knights, and Golem camp all spawn mercenaries upon being defeated that pin your opponents onto the defensive. To boot, because the experience earned in the jungle is shared with your whole team, Gazlowe can go a long way in securing your whole team a strength advantage.
Gazlowe has two features that make him an OP jungler. The first is his turrets. These little guys don’t do a whole lot of damage, but they tank like champs. So Gazlowe is really only limited by mana– the turrets act like a form of sustain. And the second feature is his passive– when his turrets are destroyed, he gets some regen and his cooldowns are reduced. The cooldown reduction is huge– Gazlowe’s E is an AOE stun/damage grenade, and when turrets are exploding around him, he can basically spam his grenade and keep a jungle camp stunned for most of the time he is fighting them.
On Blackheart Bay, a Jungle Gazlowe can solo the siege giant camp at level 1. I don’t have the exact timings, but you can start dropping turrets down around the time the creep waves meet. Put your first one down very close to the camp, put your second down right behind it, and so on so that the turret with the shortest remaining lifetime is always the one with aggro. Charge up your laser such that it is fully charged when the camp spawns, and use that to lead off the clear. Then, go in and melee– let your turrets tank and constantly spam your grenade. By the time the first chests spawn, you should be sending two siege giants down bot lane– your opponent cant ignore them and it should give you and your bot laner an easy opportunity to take the bot chest. From there you can clear your side’s two pirate camps (no need to charge your laser, just drop a turret and melee them down). Help contest lanes and deposit doubloons, then go back bot to take the siege giants again. You can clear your way back up top, and after two full clears you’re usually in a position to take the knight camp. Remember always to dismantle your remaining turrets before leaving a camp.
When doing the knight camp, it is very important to kill the sorcerer first. He buffs and shields the knights, and if you don’t DPS him down first, he’ll make the camp a hell of a lot harder. Also, because the knights are melee and the sorcerer is ranged, if you position the turrets to attack the knights, sometimes they will move forward slightly and you won’t be able to catch the whole group in your grenade. Start this camp from the back– drop two turrets next to the sorcerer, and, like the siege giant camp, lead off the clear with a full charge laser.
As for skilling Gazlowe, I recommend taking Scrap-o-Matic at level 1 for the mana regen (with Gazlowe’s cd’s being so short, the extra mana is huge), Minion Killer (your turrets are tanking for you, so reducing the damage camps do to you or increasing turret lifetime isn’t so important), and Mercenary Lord (giants get extra damage, knights get extra health).
I’m not a big fan of Robo-Goblin. It can do a lot to help you take the Golem at the top of the map, but I think taking the top golem should be something you do with your team, else it’s too easy for the enemy team to gank you while you’re clearing it and steal it for themselves. The Grav bomb has a lot of utility in team fights, and it is very hard to pass up. In later levels I like to upgrade the laser, but it’s dealer’s choice– though jungle camps scale, none of them really require you to spec a certain way after the first couple clears.
TL;DR: Gazlowe is a jungler, one of the strongest in the game. He can solo siege giant camps from level 1 if you juggle aggro between yourself and your turrets smartly. The importance of the jungle isn’t well understood by players– on some maps, like Blackheart Bay, it contributes directly to the map’s main mechanic, and in most of them it can secure you an early and decisive advantage. So stop playing him as a laner and saying “Wow, this guy sucks.”