The Heart of the Freljord - An In-Depth Guide to Braum
Mon 9th Sep 2019 - 7:20pm
Braum was one of the first champions released when I started playing the game and has since become a staple pick in the support role since his entrance into the game. For good reason! He is an extremely versatile support that can go on the offensive, make picks, disrupt fights, and protect your carry. So it's no wonder that, according to GameHaus, Braum is the most picked competitive support in the world! In this guide, I hope to introduce you to all the ins-and-outs of his moves, his build, and his strengths so you can best utilize this unique champion and tear up solo queue.
Passive: Concussive Blows
Concussive Blows is is the bread and butter of Braum's kit. Auto attacking with Braum or landing a Winter's Bite applies a stack of Concussive Blows, allowing Braum and his allies to auto attack the target and apply more stacks. Once four stacks are applied, the target is stunned, takes a burst of magic damage, and takes extra damage from Braum's auto attacks for a short duration. Once a target is stunned, they cannot be tagged with Concussive Blows again for a short time.
Q: Winter's Bite
Winter's Bite is a simple, yet very strong, ability. Braum launches a mass of ice in a target direction, slowing the first target hit and applying a stack of Concussive Blows. This is extremely strong in lane and allows your ADC to easily stack up Concussive Blows and chunk out, or possibly kill, the enemy laner. This ability does not travel through minions, so it is important to play around the sides of bot lane in order to get a clear shot on an enemy laner.
W: Stand Behind Me
Stand Behind Me allows Braum to easily leap in front of an allied champion or minion, granting them both bonus armor and magic resist for a few seconds. This ability typicaly allows Braum to come to the defense of an allied champion, giving them better survivability with extra armor and magic resist. However, Stand Behind Me can also be used as an effective engage tool, especially in laning phase. Casting Stand Behind Me on an allied minion allows you to quickly close the gap on opposing laners and catch them unawares with a Winter's Bite and a few auto attacks.
Braum's E, Unbreakable, turns Braum into one of the single best peeling supports in the game, rivaling Janna and Lulu in their protection. Casting Unbreakable causes Braum to raise his shield in the direction of your mouse cursor, blocking all projectiles (including auto attacks) from hitting targets behind Braum and redirecting reduced damage onto Braum himself. Think Yasuo's W, Windwall, except the shield moves with Braum. Much like Windwall, Unbreakable does not block instantaneous abilities such as Lux R: Final Spark or Swain W: Vision of Empire.
It will reduce damage on Braum himself but allies also in range of the ability will take damage as normal. Unbreakable can also be cast during Stand Behind Me's leap, letting you quickly turn the tides of a skirmish and block damage for your carries. Additionally, Unbreakable gives Braum 10% additional move speed, making it an effective tool to chase opponents or simply get to lane faster.
R: Glacial Fissure
Glacial Fissure sees Braum slam into the ground, knocking up enemies in a nearby circle high up into the air, and shooting out a fissure in the ground that slightly knocks up enemies in a line. This fissure remains on the ground for a few seconds, slowing enemies who walk over it. Glacial Fissure is a great secondary engage tool, greatly disrupting a fight and giving your teammates time to reposition and you time to tag enemies with stacks of Concussive Blows. The slow zone can also be used as a great disengage tool, giving your team precious time to escape a losing fight. Look to use Glacial Fissure in narrow corridors, when teams are grouped together trying to take objectives, or look to use it to peel assassins and engage champions off of your carries, allowing them space to deal damage and win you the fight.
Runes and Summoner Spells
Guardian is the go-to rune for almost all Braum players. He makes good use of the shield gained from Guardian as a tool to sustain through poke lanes and tough matchups and adds a secondary layer of defense for your ADC as well.
As a tanky support champion, Braum makes good use of most Resolve tree secondary rune choices too, typically running Demolish (although Font of Life is also a good choice if you are against a push heavy lane opponent like Sivir) to get good chip damage onto towers and pick up tower plating gold before laning phase ends. Braum, like most tanks, also tends to choose Conditioning as well. However, all choices in this row can be ideal, depending on the matchup and playstyle, i.e. Braum would take Second Wind into poke heavy laners like Zyra, Brand, Caitlyn, and Ezreal, in order to sustain through their poke. You could also take Bone Plating if you plan on engaging often and attempting to kill your lane opponent, as it reduces damage taken during skirmishes and fights. Finally, Overgrowth is far and away the best last rune choice, allowing Braum to scale up and become truly tanky despite the limited income supports have.
The Inspiration tree is the ideal secondary tree to take on Braum. The best first choice would be Biscut Delivery in order to increase your maximum mana and allow you to sustain through lane, and Approach Velocity to increase the potency of your ability to chase down and stun targets with Concussive Blows as well as your ability to protect allies who have been affected by crowd control with a Stand Behind Me and Unbreakable combo.
Choosing attack speed as your offensive stat allows you to auto attack more often and proc Concussive Blows more easily. Then taking armor and magic resist stats allow you to withstand different types of lane opponents. Double armor runes should be taken, however, versus all AD team compositions, as magic resist would be largely useless.
Braum always takes Flash, which is usually paired with an Ignite to increase laning pressure and secure kills. However, you can take Exhaust as well if your goal is to protect your carry and shut down enemy carries' damage in the late game.
Like all melee tank supports, Braum benefits best from starting Relic Shield, and upgrading that into a Targon's Brace as soon as possible. The Relic Shield line benefits Braum by giving him innate tankiness in lane and some health sustain when killing minions, something his kit lacks otherwise.
After Targon's Brace is completed, look to build your boots: Mercury Treads versus a lot of crowd control and AP damage, Ninja Tabis against hypercarries (like Jinx or Tristana) and AD heavy teams, or Boots of Mobility if you are looking to get vision around the map and roam during laning phase.
The typical first core item Braum should build is Knight's Vow. It gives Braum and his linked target increased armor and movespeed near each other and allows Braum to take on a protective role early on in his build. Typically, you should look to link up to your ADC. However, you can choose to link up with another fed member of the team during the midgame to allow them to maxamize their damage. Remember, you can always switch your link, so feel free to be dynamic with your choices.
After building Knight's Vow, look to complete Remnant of the Aspect/Eye of the Equinox. This item allows you one more ward to place before returning to base and makes you tankier with extra health. Be sure to also swap your trinket out for Oracle Lens (sweeper) around this time, or as soon as your support quest is completed, whichever comes first.
The best third core item for Braum is Locket of the Iron Solari. Braum is always looking to be in the thick of things during fights: blocking damage, applying Concussive Blows, and disrupting enemies, so the shield from Locket of the Iron Solari allows him and his team to soak up enemy damage and counterattack. It also adds magic resist to your build, something Knight's Vow and Eye of the Equinox lack.
After building Locket of the Iron Solari, the next best item for Braum is Gargoyle Stoneplate. Much like Locket, Braum uses this item to full effectiveness as a frontline tank, using its active around multiple enemy members to double his health and soak up as much damage as possible through Unbreakable. This item can make you nearly unkillable during late game teamfights, especially when paired with the damage reduction Unbreakable provides, so it should be a staple to any Braum build.
Your last item should mostly depend around the damage makeup of the enemy team, and who's doing the most damage, which should be obvious as you build your last item. Against an AD heavy team or a very strong ADC, build a Frozen Heart. Its passive is very strong against fast attackers, taking away ~400 gold worth of attack speed stats just by standing near them, and increasing your armor to tank more shots, as well as maxing out your CDR at 40%. Against an AP heavy team or a very strong AP Carry (Cassiopeia, Xerath, Veigar, etc), build an Adaptive Helm. In addition to its magic resist and health stats, Adaptive Helm allows you to tank through a lot of repeated AP moves coming from their carries, only adding to your ability to frontline. It also gives you some CDR, allowing you to use Unbreakable more often.
Braum has a very versatile kit for laning phase, and can be either very passive or very active depending on the ADC he is paired with and the matchup he is in.
You'll want to start with Q, as it is your main damage and CC ability, which can give you pressure early on if you are able to catch an opponent out and stun them. Secondly, unless you are trying to cheese out a kill by leaping in and tagging an enemy for a quick kill, you should level up E. It can be used to minimize poke damage you take if you're caught out by CC, or can be used to minimze damage taken by early jungle ganks. Lastly, level up W to round out your abilities. Unless you are losing lane hard and are taking significant damage during laning phase, in which case you would max E, you should max your abilities in this order: Q, E, W, taking points in R whenever possible.
As I said, Braum has the capacity to be passive or very active during laning. If he is paired with an aggressive, lane dominant ADC like Lucian, you should look for Qs whenever possible. Lucian is Braum's number one best ADC, because Lucian's passive Lightslinger, allows him to almost instantly proc Concussive Blows with his double auto attack, and follow up with damage from his own kit. Aggressive Braum play is often characterized by fishing for Qs and quickly following up by Wing to a nearby minion to stack up your passive. Aggressive Braum's are far from self-efficient, but are very effective at setting up opprotunities for their ADCs so dish out damage.
Versus tougher matchups, however, Braum can easily take a more backseat, passive role during laning phase. This is typically characterized by use of Unbreakable to stifle opponent's engages and Guardian to block poke damage. Keeping your ADC safe is paramount if you want to be a passive laner, and Braum's kit is well suited for that, so you should have no problem going even in lane.
Braum counters immobile enemy laners like Varus, Miss Fortune, Ashe, Sona, and Nami. His Q can easily catch them out without any type of dash or movement, and it makes them very easy to kill if their flash is down. He also can look to burst out squishy laners with the magic damage proc granted by stacking Concussive Blows and the high base damage of Winter's Bite. He also is a soft counter to champions with a global or semi global ult, such as Ezreal's Trueshot Barrage, Jinx's Super Mega Death Rocket, Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole, and Nami's Tidal Wave.
Braum is countered mostly by poking, long range mage supports like Vel'Koz, Zyra, Brand, Yuumi, and Morgana, as well as long range laners like Caitlyn. Champions that can deal damage or catch out Braum from out of range of his Q really stunt Braum's chances of being an effective laner. I would suggest banning out Zyra, as she is the most egregious of the counters.
As I mentioned briefly before, Braum likes to be in the thick of things during skirmishes and fights, and he often finds himself being the secondary form of engage, since Glacial Fissure takes a while to fully extend and catch people out.
Braum acts like most frontline tanks, with the main goal of absorbing damage for the carries, blocking any projectiles with Unbreakable, and disrupting the fight with Glacial Fissure. You shouldn't just be looking to sit there and take damage though; you should always be looking to tag opponents with Concussive Blows through your auto attacks and Qs, especially carries.
Don't forget your carry though! Once your Unbreakable goes down in a fight, you should look to protect your ADC with Guardian procs, W resistances, and Locket shield, if needed. You won't want your team to lose the fight because your ADC got jumped on by a Rengar and one-shot, so always be aware of the danger your carry is in during fights and act accordingly.
What Braum may lack in primary engage, he makes up for in counter-engage. Glacial Fissure is one of the strongest tools for disrupting an opponent's engage, and setting your team up for success in teamfights. Don't hesitate to pull the trigger if the fight doesn't quite start on your terms, it might just be enough to give your team the edge in the fight so you might come out on top.
Hopefully this guide can be enough to get you started on Braum. There's more to his kit than meets the eye, and hopefully I've outlined what ways you can best utilize his kit out on the Rift. He's definetely not the most complex champion in the game, but he's stuck around as a top tier pick throughout the years for a good reason: he's easy to pick up, strong throughout the whole game, and versatile in his laning and teamfighting abilities. Braum should be a staple pick for any rising support player, and I hope to see more of him out there on Summoner's Rift. Good luck!
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