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League of Legends Champion Review: Braum, the Heart of the Freljord

League of Legends Riot Games

You think you’ve been supporting for the last 5 years? Well, you’re wrong. The newest champion added, Braum the Heart of the Freljord, takes supporting to a whole new extreme. Pick up your shield and follow me, if you want to be the best helper on the Rift.

If you want to see exactly how Braum braves battles bare-chested, look at his official profile. The TLDR version: a burly man with a big shield, plenty of ice, and a deep love of mustaches.

If you’re just jumping into League of Legends and want to know what champions to pick, check out ourbest League of Legends champions for beginners guide.

Get Behind Me!

Before we get into all that gameplay stuff, let’s talk about Braum’s visuals real quick. His mustache is ridiculous and, combined with his bulking body, is reminiscent of circus strongman caricatures from the early 1900s.

But he has the best animations I’ve seen on a champion yet. He has several different punch animations that throw in uppercuts, headbutts, and kicks depending on where the attacker is. He uses his shield like a battering ram when attacking a tower. And when he plants his shield down, he pushes off of it to leap over and smash his fist down on whoever’s on the other side.

Planting his shield down with Unbreakable is the coolest thing Braum does, so you’ll be seeing it often. Like Yasuo’s Wind Wall ability, Braum’s big magical shield wall intercepts enemy projectiles while its active. But instead of deflecting all of them, it directs everything after the first one straight to Braum’s chiseled chest.

The shield also moves with Braum, unlike Yasuo’s. Activating his shield wall and charging the enemy team with your allies running safely behind you is one of the most powerful team fight actions any champion can do in the game. And it’s not even his ultimate.

Break it up

Braum is built for heroics, designed to support in very obvious, flashy ways. In that way, he’s similar to Thresh, who’s one of the most long-standing popular support characters in recent memory.

The Unbreakable charge makes him look like an action-movie bad ass. Stand Behind Me! is equally stuntman-worthy, letting Braum leap to a friendly target. When he does, he’s placed between his ally and the closest enemy champion so that he can take any skillshots headed their way. In addition, Braum and his ally get huge Armor and Magic Resist bonuses for a few seconds.

Concussive Blows is the most flashy assistance that your AD Carries will thank you for every time. The first time Braum punches an enemy (or hits him with his ranged poke ability), it applies a Concussive Blows debuff. After that enemy is hit three more times, by anyone on your team, the victim is stunned and takes a chunk of damage.

That means that your AD Carry essentially has a ranged stun. You apply the debuff and then they proc is from a safe range and go to town. It’s very, very scary and one of the most powerful ways a support player can swing the tide in a bot lane duel. Oh, and it’s not even a full ability — it only takes up his passive slot.

The first time I comboed all of these abilities correctly, I felt like Captain America. Leap to an ally and throw up shield wall just in time to block an Ashe ultimate. Then charge forward, with my Vayne right behind me as I intercept all arrows sent her way. Get the stun proc started from range while Vayne procs it from behind me. An easy kill that could’ve gone horribly wrong if I had missed any of my abilities.

OP or QQ?

Like most supports, Braum’s value and success rate is going to fluctuate heavily depending on how good your AD Carry is. If Vayne hadn’t followed me into that fight, I would’ve died horribly and gotten blamed for feeding.

Braum is a pure support character–three of his five abilities are near worthless without allies nearby. And even the most perfectly timed charges and blocks mean nothing if your teammates aren’t playing well.

The simplest way to say it is that Braum creates opportunities for success, but cannot create success directly. I’ve never felt more useless in LoL than when I tried to fight 1v1 as Braum. Other support characters can scale their damage and contribute something. It took me over a minute to solo an inhibitor–a building that doesn’t fight back!

Shut up and tell me what to do

Buy Braum if you play with a coordinated team or at least a coordinated AD Carry partner. Otherwise, pass on him for now. Players won’t know how to take advantage of the opportunities you create early on, and you’re bound to get frustrated by his inability to do anything alone.

If you do buy Braum, here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Never buy offensive items: Braum’s only non-ultimate ability that deals damage scales off of his maximum health.

2. Unbreakable doesn’t block tower shots: Don’t get overzealous unless you’re ready to tank tower shots too.

3. Hit everyone: The cooldown on Concussive Blows is tracked individually for each victim, so make sure you’re putting it on every opponent in a team fight.

Josh Augustine is a connoisseur of online games in the MMO, MOBA, and RPG style. He currently works as a game designer at Sony Online Entertainment on EverQuest Next. He’d love to talk with youon Twitter.