How I make Gabby work
I was goofing around with Gabriella pillage and after getting a feel for it, Ive come up with a different/unique (to my own) playstyle that seems to be a solid strategy. Ive had good success with it in both solo and grouped queues against quality opponents. I consistently have high minion portal xp, guardian dmg and a good kda despite some counter-intuitive ideas. Successful execution will benefit your team immensely as your presence will be felt all over the map. Gab has balance issues, but we wont get into that here. Current as of open beta 1.2
Gabby pillage overview:
Gabby, on paper, is not a bad pillage class. In a 1v1 situation, if Gabby wants to run away she almost always can. This is very beneficial for a role that is often behind enemy lines. Shes ranged with an escape so she can get the medium caches next to the guardian on the helm lane without taking dmg. This makes opening by wave 2 much more likely. Devious Allure can actually be useful in a 1v1 situation. Now admittedly her primary attack is on the low end which slows her down and her secondary is not very helpful to break caches. Nevertheless one of her biggest issues is that she has difficulty securing kills herself. As a pillager she doesn't have to wait for help to come to her, she can be active and seek teammates granting her the freedom to control her own fate. That said, in a 1v1 situation she almost always has to retreat. Its very easy to zone her out so she has difficulty with contested caches.
In a nutshell the strat is this:
- Break caches
- Create (solo or with teammates) wave advantages (player dmg/kills, minion dmg/kills, lane presence, neutrals, etc...)
- Leverage that advantage into time for breaking caches
- Use your movement to stay mobile to create more advantages and carry these over into the next wave
NOTE: When I say advantage I mean with respect to the wave. XP levels and points are not what Im referring to here. Im only looking at wave to wave advantages. Examples: pushing a minion wave to the guardian, dmging a wave to assist your defender, attacking an enemy hero to where their hp is low
I think of the game as 2 parts. Part A is breaking caches. Part B is everything else and I mean this quite literally. As the game progresses from start to finish Part A is 100% of your time and drops to 0%. Vice versa on Part B. This isnt anything new, but my literal interpretation of Part B may be different.
An uncontested caches requires no
explanation. Contested caches are tricky. I define contested caches as
when an enemy is actively attacking you AND trying to deny the xp. Attacking
from long range or even just standing next to you is NOT a contested cache. To me a contested cache means I am in imminent danger. Ive died plenty of times testing this boundary and you will too; dont give up.
This is important because remember Part B of the mindset. I often
literally walk past people like a mindless robot to go for caches.
Recall Gabby has a hard time fighting 1v1, so were not trying to play like a
midnight or blackpaw and bully our way to the cache. We are performing
Part A and 100% ignoring everything else. If they contest you, you run
away. Midnight and blackpaw may be 1v1 fighting champs but Gabby is a 1v1
running away champ. Use this to your adv. They can try to chase
you, but proceed to the next cache/objective. If they contest you again,
run away again. In terms of xp, it is never advantageous to chase a pillager if
you cannot secure the kill. Pillaging does not directly affect the games
outcome, attack and defense does. I once had a blackpaw chase me around for 30+
seconds while i was able to secure a couple caches.
This is pretty simple and is standard for any pillager. It can be summed up as "help your team". Nothing needs to be added on top of that.
Here is an example. Situation: Helm lane has just opened but the defense has not realized it, a full minion wave is approaching the guardian.
I think most people would take adv of the opportunity to do as much dmg to the guardian as possible, likely taking it down. I propose doing the opposite. Ignore the guardian and go break caches. They must choose between defending their objective or zoning you out. Except they cant actually zone you out because eventually that objective will need to be defended giving you the opportunity to break caches. This is an extreme example of leveraging 100% of your advantage into time. In reality I attack the guardian for a little bit then go break caches. Either way the mentality should be the same. Do not triple push a whole wave, push it through the first card of minions then leverage the rest of the time. Do not defend your guardian from the entire wave, kill a few then leverage the rest of the time.
Doing this will slow down your attack and hinder your defense. This however does create a more gradual and sustained pressure making it more difficult for the enemy to recover between waves. You will also help spread the map making space for your team, build a minion portal advantage and with any luck, a level adv. What I propose is counter-intuitive. I too was very hesitant at first because what I proposed was crazy, but after many games my stats justify this strategy. The gradual sustained pressure is sneaky because it is much harder to feel. The easiest example is in the endgame when you barely clear the wave at your 3rd guardian and the new wave is already on its way. The Gabby strat is designed to create that effect earlier.
Utilize Gabby's great movement to
spread the map. Blink a lot (you'll need to get good at blinking).
Because we're not committing fully into any attack or defense, Gabby can show
her face in one lane and appear in another. The idea is to make it seem
like she is simultaneously attacking and defending. Be present in 2 or
even 3 lanes if possible. You dont need to finish any battles, gain the
adv for your team, then immediately leverage that adv into time.
Thoughts and Analysis
I dont think this is better or worse than any other pillaging strategy, but is a lot harder to do. It will take some time getting used to not attacking a free guardian. I had a lot of trouble initially because my traditional role is attack. The blink movement will take some time getting used to as well. I still mess up a lot. It will also take some balls to walk past people to go for caches. In my experience they ALWAYS chase, the better players tend to not chase very far as they realize they have their own job to do. This requires that you prove to them that chasing you is a mistake. Dont mess up your blinks, stuns or movement. That's probably the strongest aspect of this strategy since people dont know how to react to a Gabby running at them completely ignoring everything except the cache. It seems like something a bot would do. She can lure people into misplays and waste their time. Its very annoying.
A solid midnight or blackpaw will have a
more visible impact in terms of kills and securing objectives/space. Gabby
wont have as high of a kda and gabby cant secure obj/space as well. But
since she runs away so well, just run past enemies to the cache and if they
chase she runs away. I cant emphasize how difficult it is to kill a gabby
if she wants to run away. Both midnight and bpaw are better and securing kills so in general they are the safer pillaging choice.
Gabby's movement also gives her a distinct disengage reengage adv. As a
pillager not directly responsible for any objectives, she can choose where she
wants to fight. I often think of my fighting style like a form fitting
glove. I am constantly next to them but always out of reach. That said,
her running away ability is diminished when fighting in a group. DA
becomes absolute trash and her low hp pool can be burst down. Its a delicate balance between spamming blink for mobility and having it and mana available to get away. Ive died numerous times pushing this boundary and I recommend you do as well. If you dont push it then you'll never be able to play to your full potential.
Lastly, you might be thinking why is this even necessary to begin with. This guide is necessary because if you play Gabby with the same route and strat that you would a traditional pillager than 1) just play that pillager instead and 2) you will fail. Gabby's shortcomings are too severe that you cannot plug-n-play her into a non-traditional role. Thats why I specifically tailored her playstyle to try and make it work.
I'll need to play a lot more games with this to be fully confident in this
strat, but from my experience, stats and feel for the game, this strat works. I decided to post this because there has been a lot of frustration over Gabriella's balance issues to the point where it seemed like people were biased against her without even exploring it. It seemed like people were writing her off until the next patch and still werent confident on the upcoming changes. I myself was one of them. Thankfully I didnt listen to myself.
For more on my thoughts see my pillaging guide.