Sorry for my hiatus from posting. I know I always say this but I miss you guys and hope to catch up with you all soon. Now, to the matter at hand – Braum.
If you have yet to see this guy there are plenty of other sites that will tell you all about his abilities and show you what he looks like. What I want to do is tell you what he is capable of, or mostly what he’s not capable of.
My first impressions of his game play is that he is a Leona in reverse. Leona’s kit has always been super good at engaging, almost to a fault. Even her defensive abilities often end up being used offensively, even if you don’t mean to. Braum is the opposite. Outside of his Q and ult he has no other offensive capabilities and even the ones he has are somewhat inconsistent.
Because of this, it is extremely hard to be aggressive with him. His dash is generally only reliable to move into and not past the creep line and you have to be able to land his Q consistently, and usually be at close range, to be able to follow it up. You can put some hurt on your opponents with the Q but most other supports and ADCs are capable of harassing Braum and running.
Where he does excel is defending against all ins. All of his abilities are designed to deal with an enemy team that wants to dive into you. He can slow, knock back and absorb a good amount of damage – especially from melee attackers. He is ok against poke comps but seems to have trouble stopping overwhelming amounts of AoE CC. Once his ult is down his own CC is somewhat inconsistent (you need to land it) or it takes a while to activate (his passive). If you are picking a team to fight against him I would recommend going heavier on poke and aoe than on a hard dive/engage comp.
In lane he is great against any melee support who is looking to come and fight you. Where he struggles is against ranged champions who can poke him and his ADC down. Outside of using his abilities there is very little Braum can do to stop a ranged support from poking him. His base defensive values are fairly high, so it does take a while to poke him down, but he can never really stop the steady stream of poke coming his way – especially from long ranged attackers like Zyra or Annie.
My guess is that as players get better at playing him we will see Braums be more effective against ranged supports, but right now most people seem to be struggling mightily. I’ve been using Zyra against him and have effectively been able to freely harass Braum and his ADC. People forget this, but since the Season Four changes mage supports are actually super strong. In most support games where I play Zyra or Sona I am usually one of the highest damage to champion dealers in the game.
What has been keeping these AP caster supports in check is the prevalence of champions like Thresh and Leona. These champions can blow up squishy mage supports fairly easily, even when the Leona or Thresh is not played well. Braum, on the other hand, struggles mightily to engage on these caster supports. What this means is that if you first pick Braum there is a great chance that the other team will pick an extremely pokey support mage that will out damage your Braum, and quite possibly your whole team, by quite a bit.
I think you can sum up my recommendations as follows: If you want to play Braum try and do so against teams that are looking to try and hard engage on your team. Try and play Braum with an ADC who is capable of providing enough poke to keep you in lane. Braum does provide some decent defence to immobile ADCs like Varus and Miss Fortune, even just by being able to handle Leona.
In lane, try and tag your opponents with your Q when you are close enough to them to follow it up. If you are having trouble with that, consider maxing your W so you can dash forwards more or just weather the storm until you get out of lane phase. Braum’s defensive team fight capabilities are not to be scoffed at, but you will likely need someone else to start team fights – ideally the other team.
If you are playing against Braum consider using a mage support who can prey on his lack of offensive capabilities. If you can avoid his Q, and any ganks that come your way, you should be able to out poke him. Champions like Zyra or Annie, who have long auto attack ranges, are really great for wearing him down because they can stay safe while doing so. Braum is naturally tanky so you will use a lot of your mana trying to get him low with your abilities. Instead, get a Kage’s pick item and hit Braum with as many auto attacks as you can, while staying safe.
I would even consider starting with some AD in your Runes or Masteries so you can really poke at him. Only do this if you don’t need defensive stats to avoid damage from Braum’s ADC, who really should try and follow up Braum’s moves with their own poke.
My final verdict on Braum is that he does have some very apparent strengths, but almost all of them are only good defensively. With that said, who knows what the pro players will show us. Braum in other lanes might be interesting, though I think he will be limited by a lack of offensive abilities, and players who are extremely good at the game mechanically might be able to get more out of him than someone like myself.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Riot change him if players are struggling with him too much. I could see them altering him to allow his Q to go through targets. This would give him a much more consistent way of engaging in bot lane and would gave him a bit more presence in top lane with some aoe.
We’ll have to wait and see what Riot decides. For all of his cool animations and, to quote Phreak, “incredible pecks.” I just don’t see this guy catching on for most of us. Pro teams that can put him in 2 v 1 lanes might be able to avoid his weak laning phase and utilize his amazing defensive strength later, but the average player will still get much more use out of Thresh, Morgana, Karma and Leona, as long as the Leona is not played into a Braum. That’s pretty much the only time I would pick Braum to come out the winner.