How I make Gabby work

ScifiToiletScifiToilet Member
edited July 2016 in Community Guides

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.

The Strategy

In a nutshell the strat is this:

  1. Break caches
  2. Create (solo or with teammates) wave advantages (player dmg/kills, minion dmg/kills, lane presence, neutrals, etc...)
  3. Leverage that advantage into time for breaking caches
  4. 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

The Theory


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.

Breaking Caches

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. 

Creating Advantages

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.

Leveraging Time

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.


  • ScifiToiletScifiToilet Member
    edited July 2016
    Example gameplay vid


    Screenshots from a losing effort
    As you can see, despite losing 16-10 my stats are pretty decent.  I did not expect 12k pillaging xp as I was playing that game.

    More screenshots from losing

    Post edited by ScifiToilet on
  • kn0ckkn0ck Member
    edited July 2016
    Lol is that me in the screen shot? 

    WAIT LOL, of course it isn't me, my god that ivy has horrendous player damage. I'd have at least 1st or 2nd player damage.
    Post edited by kn0ck on
  • haha nope.  I forgot to include in the forum post credit for the source vid, but I did it in the youtube description.  The vid and screenshots were taken from Serge884's stream AKA R'lyeh. 

  • 1.3 Update.

    The minion dmg buff to Gabriella indirectly boosts this strategy on both offense and defense.  The extra dmg melts guardians to the point where its borderline OP. The style of play remains the same.  Leverage advantages into time, stay mobile and active on the map.  Pillaging traits actually work now, so another indirect buff.
  • Screenshot from a win (shock!) (shortly after 1.3 release).  Unchained Fortress.  Ive purposely not blocked out names since I dont think anyone in the game has anything to worry about. This was a very high level game and everyone in the game is very skilled.  Since it is high level, I want to break it down to show you what I look for during analysis.

    You can see my KDA is not great, but I did get 9 kills and 7 assists for the 8 deaths; couldve been worse.  I died once from a blink mess up, once from an overextension and once cuz I tested edged and he responded well.  The rest were teamplay deaths where I was often going for a trade OR the enemy team played well.  Its hard to stop these types of deaths, but I should try and cut down misplay and overextension deaths.

    My minion dmg is pretty close to our 2nd defender, but notice I only have 13 minion kills. I helped the defense, but I didn't become a defender.  By not stealing minion kills I dont steal coin.  Pillagers can only do so much with coin, its much better in the hands of a defender.  I really focused on just doing dmg.  I'd reset traps or defend the wave really early.  I didnt want to spend a lot of time trying to finish off minions.  At the end the enemy sent T4 trolls and this made the decision very hard to leave as the regen would kick in, but I trusted my team and handed the minions off so I could still control the middle and help the attack. 

    You'll notice my escort xp is about 1/3 of my attackers.  I havent really been paying attention to this stat, but this seems like a decent ratio for a Gabby Pillager (just doing a common sense check, 1/3 defense, 1/3 attack, 1/3 caches? seems ok to me) My 5.3k guardian dmg also is evidence I was able to help the attack. 

    Lastly, 23.6k pillage xp!  Yea this game lasted a long time.  We had a minion portal adv through the whole game.  Eventually, however, the game lasted so long both teams were able to get double T4 portals.  Looking back its hard to decide whether I should have focused more time into attacking or defending instead of continually pillaging.  I didnt want to fall behind in xp and I didnt.  We doubled the enemy pillaging xp, yet I didnt feel the benefit.  Was the HP boost to our minions the difference maker? Maybe, but to me it felt the enemies T4 minions were very strong and if I didnt help we would lose. Despite my reservation, I think the answer is I should have spent less time pillaging in the endgame and more time attacking or defending or teamfighting for position.  Enemy is around 16k total where we are 33k pillage xp.  Doubling this stat is pretty useless and the benefit felt is not doubled.  The HP boost to T4 minions is secondary to actually getting T4 from the experience of this game. 

    Hopefully this was enlightening for you as it was for me. I will play Gabby even better next time. 

  • gameplay vid.  Not the highest quality game, but pay attention to how I put a heavy emphasis on breaking caches, moreso than just helping.  Yet, because Im moving all over the map, Im still able to help out.
Sign In or Register to comment.