THE MISSING LINK
Time marches on for most, but not Gnar. A yordle born millennia ago, Gnar was captured and trapped in true ice, frozen - quite literally - in time. Civilizations formed and fell as the prehistoric yordle vacantly stared on, but nothing – not even true ice – could confine Gnar forever. After breaking free, he wandered Runeterra until he found himself taken in by his yordle descendants. But, as they would soon discover, there’s a beast behind the boy.
- Passive: Rage Gene
Gnar builds up rage in combat. Once he fills his rage bar, Gnar’s next ability transforms him into Mega Gnar, giving him bonus armor, magic resist, health and attack damage at the expense of movement speed, attack speed and attack range. If Mini Gnar doesn’t use an ability, he transforms into Mega Gnar after a few seconds anyway. While in Mega Gnar form, his rage slowly runs down, and once it’s exhausted, he turns back into Mini Gnar. After transforming back, Mini Gnar briefly becomes tired and can't gain rage for a few seconds.
Q: Mini Gnar - Boomerang Throw
Gnar chucks his boomerang in a target direction, dealing damage to the first enemy struck while applying a slow. After striking an enemy, the boomerang slows before returning to Gnar, dealing reduced damage to all enemies in its path. If Gnar catches it, he reduces Boomerang Throw’s cooldown significantly.
- Q: Mega Gnar - Boulder Toss
Gnar launches a huge boulder in a target direction, damaging and slowing the first target in the boulder’s path along with all nearby enemies. Once it’s landed, Gnar can pick the boulder up to reduce Boulder Toss’ cooldown.
- W: Mini Gnar - Hyper (passive)
Every third attack or ability against a target deals percent max health as magic damage. Whenever Hyper triggers, or when Mega Gnar transforms back into Mini Gnar, he gains a moderate movement speed boost that decays over time.
- W: Mega Gnar - Wallop
Gnar stands on his back legs before slamming his fists into the ground, damaging and briefly stunning all enemies in front of him.
- E: Mini Gnar - Hop
Gnar jumps in a target direction and gains a moderate attack speed boost. If Gnar lands on a unit, he bounces, hopping again in the same direction. If Gnar hops onto an enemy unit, he also damages and slows them.
- E: Mega Gnar - Crunch
Gnar launches himself in a target direction, damaging and slowing all enemies he lands directly on.
- R: Mega Gnar - GNAR!
Gnar throws a tantrum, tossing all enemies around him in a target direction. All enemies thrown are slowed and damaged, while enemies thrown into walls, including turrets and base structures, suffer extra damage and are stunned.
Gnar’s a prehistoric yordle best suited to the Rift’s top lane. A transform champion with clear strengths and weaknesses in both Mini and Mega forms, Gnar fights best when he anticipates his fits of rage, and come late game, brawls most effectively as a tank or fighter.
Gnar’s rage meter fills slowest at the start of the game, so mastering his Mini form is key to a successful early game. Fortunately, Mini Gnar has plenty of tricks up his furry sleeves to keep his more fragile form safe from enemy aggression. Boomerang Throw deals decent damage to his lane opponent, and its slow helps Gnar maintain distance and avoid retaliation. Once unlocked, Hyper applies further damage, helping Gnar gain lane dominance with timely basic attacks and repeated Boomerang Throws. Mini Gnar is best off saving Hop as an escape: it’s a solid disengage ability that he can use on lane opponents or junglers as they come in to take him out.
And then there’s Mega Gnar. A brutal beast with significant crowd control and surprising burst, Mega Gnar brings a completely different playstyle to bear complete with inherent strengths and weaknesses. He’s a juggernaut: slow, strong and resilient, and while he delivers a punishing burst of damage, he has little to follow up with. While Mini Gnar is nimble enough to dart around the edges of combat, Mega Gnar thrives in the heart of the fight. After Crunching in to face his enemy top laner, quick casts of Boulder Toss and Wallop should see all but the most defensive of enemies pummeled effectively. He has considerable vulnerabilities, though, particular when being ganked. Mega Gnar has no effective means of escape, and has to rely on raw health and resistances to keep him alive as he lumbers back to the safety of his tower. Things change meaningfully once Gnar hits six and gains access to GNAR! While it hits hard enough, the utility is strong enough to save Gnar’s life - and end his enemy’s - particularly when they’ve strayed close to walls. Bait your opponent into the brush as Mini Gnar, then transform and use GNAR! to smash them into the wall, stunning them as you burst them down with the rest of your abilities. If your enemy’s particularly confident and tower dives, use the ability to stun them against your turret. When trying to survive a gank, simply throwing them away should give you the time you need to escape.
Gnar has three distinct phases during teamfights, each oriented around timing his forms. First, he needs to avoid engaging for a while as Mini Gnar builds up rage, kiting with basic attacks, Boomerang Throw and Hyper’s passive to put a dent in the enemy frontline. Once Gnar’s about to pop, he’s best suited Bouncing in towards the enemy team. Whenever Mini Gnar’s activates an ability with full Rage, he transforms into Mega Gnar while using it, so while the gathered targets might see a small ball of fluff leaping towards them, something very different will land in their midst.
Once Mega Gnar’s landed, his role is to disrupt as much as possible, using Boulder Toss and Wallop to damage and crowd control all nearby enemies. Gnar works best as his team’s tank here, blocking skillshots with his considerable frame and forcing the enemy damage dealers to focus on him. Knowing when to use GNAR! is critical: smart timing can interrupt several enemy abilities simultaneously, while smart positioning can send the entire enemy team crashing into a structure, stunning them all and giving his allies the chance to secure kills.
As Mega Gnar’s Rage meter starts to fade, Mini Gnar’s strengths become an amazing asset in clean-up. He’s fast, he can close gaps with Hop and his basic attacks, which, when numerous enough, trigger Hyper and give Mini Gnar a huge movement speed boost. Add in Boomerang Throw, and Gnar has all the tools he needs to catch and finish off his targets.
Lulu - the Fae Sorceress
Lulu’s kit handily fills in Gnar’s weaknesses and supplements his strengths in both forms. She can shield Mini Gnar with Help, Pix! whenever he’s under attack, while Whimsy gives Mega Gnar all the movement he needs to help him stick to the enemy team and dish out his AoE damage.
Amumu - the Sad Mummy
Come late game, Gnar thrives when he has a primary tank initiator to follow up on. Amumu’s perfect: his Q to R combo locks down enemy teams, meaning Mega Gnar can Crunch in and complement Amumu’s AoE damage with his own.
Orianna - the Lady of Clockwork
The ball delivery system lives on whenever Mega Gnar leaps into the enemy team! Combining Crunch and Command: Shockwave (Crunchwave?) deals devastating damage, and Orianna can follow up with Command: Dissonance, which slows the enemies and speeds Mega Gnar’s otherwise lumbering gait.
Teemo - the Swift Scout
Teemo outranges Gnar and deals enough damage over time with his Toxic Shots to beat him in a war of attrition. The Swift Scout can also blind Gnar in basic attack battles, or turn to Move Quick to dodge everything from boomerangs and boulders to Mega Gnars.
Irelia - the Will of the Blades
Though Gnar can trade well with Irelia over the opening few levels, by level 5, she has all the true damage, sustain, speed and resilience needed to beat Gnar in a fight, meaning the Missing Link has little choice but to farm under tower and rely on jungler support.
Fizz - the Tidal Trickster
Fizz is a problem for both of Gnar’s forms. He’s nimble and powerful enough to burst down Mini Gnar before he has the chance to transform, and Playful/Trickster can dodge Mega Gnar’s considerable power and crowd control, including GNAR!
Gnar, designed by gypsylord
Let’s talk transform!
Transform champions have historically been some of the hardest to balance in League of Legends because they frequently end up with a dominant form: pre-4.10 Nidalee worked best in human form unless she needed to execute or run away, and Jayce happily sits in cannon form for the bulk of his games. Giving both forms unique strengths and weaknesses is meaningless when they can just transform at will to lose the weaknesses they had. Let’s look again at Jayce: How’s a melee champion supposed to fight him in a one-on-one scenario if Jayce can duel just as well up close and has the option to transform into an effective ranged champion?
Here’s the central question we posed ourselves: how can we create a new transform champion that feels fundamentally good to play as and against? Our answer was to make a champion with identifiable strengths and weaknesses in both forms, then limit the player’s ability to control which form they play in. After months of testing, we ended up with the (sometimes) adorable ball of fluff known as Gnar.
So how’s he different? Well, Mini Gnar’s one of the most mobile champions in the game. He boasts good sustained damage and kites incredibly well, but when he does get caught, he dies fast. On the other hand, Mega Gnar is a colossus. He’s tanky and surprisingly bursty, with strong area of effect and crowd control to boot. But he’s slow, meaning his enemies can pretty much get away simply by walking in the opposite direction. Removing control of the transform from Gnar means that he has to anticipate when he’s about to pop (or er... unpop?), and position and prepare to play in a completely different way, adding extra complexity and depth to his gameplay. This also means that – for the first time – learning how to play during the transitions between Gnar’s forms is just as important as mastering the play styles of his two forms.
We’re excited to see what you make of Runeterra’s next champion. Let us know in the comments below!