Graves is an easy to learn yet extremely powerful AD carry. He has the ability to completely change how a team fight plays out, and who he chooses to kill. Last game he will melt the opponents tanks and everyone else.
Taking abilities from other AD Carries and combining them into one, you have Graves, The Outlaw.
Note: Prepare for giant wall of text.
I feel this to be the strongest start. You have the ability to chase your opponents easier and have 3 health potions to help stay alive. I take this even when my support has sustain. If you are running flat AD reds and Quints, I feel as if a Doran's Blade isn't needed as you already start with enough damage to last hit and harass well enough.
Doran's Blade is a great start if you have a sustain support/running Armor Pen runes. Giving 10 extra damage, 100 hp, and 3% lifesteal. You will have enough extra help with a good support to harass better and kill easier. The main downside to a Doran's Blade start is you cannot chase/escape very well. You may lose kills or even die because you simply can't run away fast enough. You will have Flash and your E to get away, but at low levels it may not be enough.
First Trip Back:
I feel this is still the strongest buy you can have. As long as you plan to buy into a Wriggle's, then this is what you need to buy. 2 Doran's Blades gives plenty of extra health and damage, while combined with a Vamp Scepter, you will have ~16% lifesteal. You will not have the ability to start harassing your opponent even better and winning your lane even better. This is the best first trip you can have when buying into Wriggles.
Alternative First Trip Back (Not buying Wriggle's:)
3 Doran's Blades give you 300 extra health, 9% lifesteal, and 30 attack damage. This is a lot of fire power when not buying into Wriggle's Lantern. You will buy buying a faster IE with this build which means winning your lane and becoming stronger faster. You should be finishing your IE before the 20 minute mark and maybe even have bought your Zeal when going the triple Doran's route. Knowing which route to buy when going back depeneds on knowledge and how comfortable you are playing Graves. I don't see the lifesteal nerf being much of a difference of Graves and feel Wriggle's can still be the strongest. Knowing what you need to buy will come through out playing time with Graves and what you can make the most out of.
Only be buying this route is you bought the Vamp Scepter. Wriggle's gives you +23 attack damage, 30 Armor, and 12% Life steal. Paired up with 2 doran's, you will have 18% lifesteal. Wriggle's is a VERY cheap item that makes you win lane. Bottom line. The passive on Wriggle's give you a 20% chance to deal 425 damage to a minion. This means you can nearly 1 shot a wave with hitting the melee creeps once then using your Q on the whole wave and the entire wave is dead. Wriggle's also gives you a free ward every 3 minutes. This means you can place the ward on their blue, your Tri, your river brush or anywhere you need to if your support is low on wards, or you feel something should be warded. This is a free ward that your support doesn't have to buy, and can save your life.
Another thing you MUST do with Wriggle's is force Dragon fights. With Wriggle's, you can kill dragon very fast and always win the fight. If you do not feel good enough to be able to force early dragon fights, skip wriggles entirely. Buying this item means you can make the most out of it and are confident in your play.
When going the triple Doran's route, you can rush a very fast IE. Because you don't need to spend the extra gold into a Wriggle's, you can be buying your boots very fast and IE right after. When going into this route, you should be becoming very farmed, never missing last hits. Once you get your boots, you should be winning any fight with the opponent AD carry. If the opponent buying into a Wriggle's you can be in good shape as you will have a much faster BF Sword.
Mid Game Goals:
When you are ready to start buying your IE, start off buying your BF Sword right as you can. This will leave the IE costing ~2100 gold. if you can manage to stay in lane and farm enough, wait until you have enough to buy the IE. If you can't stay in lane/die, buy the pickaxe then the IE. At this point in the game, it should be very easy to buy the entire IE after the BF Sword very quickly. Once you have gotten your IE you should buy the Zeal as soon as you can. Once you have the Zeal, you need to see if the enemy team has armor. If 3+ people have 100+ armor, you NEED to buy a Last Whisper before you finish the PD. OR If 3+ people have heavy CC or you need the MR/CC Removeal, buy a QSS before the PD. If they don't have armor or you don't need to QSS, finish the PD.
Armor or MR? And final Item:
This is where constantly checking everyone's build comes into play. Melting their armor or keeping yourself alive is what you need to do. After you finish your IE and buy your Zeal, be looking at the scoreboard. Do 3+ enemies have more then 100 armor? If they do you need to buy Last Whisper as fast as you can. Not having the Last Whisper means you die and your team loses. If you buy your LW and then manage to finish your PD, you need to ask, do I need to get more MR/CC removal? If you need MR or they have a lot of CC, buy a QSS. The QSS has 56 MR and a complete CC removal every 90 seconds. This means keeping you alive and killing their whole team. Most of the time you won't even have to buy this. There may even be those game where you need neither of those. This is rare and you will usually always have a LW, but you never know.
Now what about Bloodthirster? This is usually your last item. Once I have my boots, IE, PD, LW and Wriggle's, I buy BT. Now even with the lifesteal nerfs, BT is still a good item. Only losing half of your stacks upon death is a good thing to have. Never to be rushed and usually always your last item, this can do wondering. Most of the time the game will end before you ever even get the BF Sword for this, but games can drag on.
This is my end game build. The only differences you should see in this is if skipping Wriggle's Lantern, which means you will have all of this, (maybe another damage item in place of QSS) or QSS over LW or no BT and QSS. Checking the scoreboard and seeing the enemies build is so important to do. Knowing what they have and what you need means life or death, win or lose. It will take some games before you feel perfect with Graves and know what you need to buy when, and what you need to buy. Experience is all I can say will give you the best results with Graves.
DO NOT FORGET:
Buying them when you can will give you extra health and speed to kill everything. If the game keeps dragging on, do not forget to buy these and the help it brings you is unforgettable for such a cheap price.
Also, DO NOT FORGET RED BUFF. Too many games have I seen the AD Carry not take a red buff all game. Red on Graves is amazing. If it is up, take it, if the enemies are up, take it if you can. You should always be fighting to get a red buff on you for team fights.
Farming like crazy is all you need to be doing here. Not over extending and not doing stupid exchanges with the enemy unless you know for a fact you can win the fight.
While in early game, ask yourself if you are easily winning the lane and winning exchanges. This is what decides your item build. Winning lane and exchanges means you can skip Wriggles. Winning lane yet losing exchanges means just grab a Vamp Scepter and then go into IE. Lose both means get a Wriggles.
Now this is what I have found to work best for me, but the more games you play with Graves, the more understanding you will have on what you need to buy.
You should only be leaving lane at this point to buy or help a small fight that may break out in one of the jungles.
Be forcing Dragon if you have the items for it. You should never be out of lane for more then a minute max. Don't leave lane and stop farming. Unless you are in a large dragon fight, you should be in lane. Try to help in team fights that can break out, but just return to farming and everything will be alright.
Be making sure you are looking at everyone's build as it will tell you if you are buying a fast Last Whisper, a fast QSS, or more damage.
If you have managed to kill the first tower, it doesn't hurt to steal Golems if you are purple side, and doesn't hurt to help out mid. Taking out the first turret means farming can become very difficult as you are pushed up into their jungle and become much easier to gank. Having a constant eye on the map will keep you alive.
This is your shining moment. You will be able to kill everyone in the game and take easy barons. If you go to buy and don't have enough to buy the item, see if you can manage to buy a red or green pot. They will help you stay alive and deal out more damage. Lasting 4 minutes, it can be the best 250g you can spend. Do not forget to have a red buff on you. Your team should be giving you both red buffs unless you have one on you. Taking red around the 20 minute mark makes you a very large threat.
Kill them all.
NEVER start a fight with E. E should only be used defensively. When the team fight break out, try to land your W onto the biggest damage dealer. If you can't land it on the AD carry, aim for the next threat. Denying vision is game breaking and can easily turn the fight into your favor. Try to be landing your Q on everyone, more people it hits the better. Use it on a low opponent or at the start to hurt everyone. If you have an Irelia or someone killing you, land your W onto them, E back and start shooting. Because most of your damage comes from your AA, you need to be positioned behind your tanks and not in the open. Your E comes up very fast once you have your PD, so after the fight has started and a few are dead, use it to catch the running enemy and W onto them for the kill.
You Ult can be used 2 ways. Either land it on everyone for massive amounts of damage to their entire team, you use it on the weak opponents to finish them off. Unless you have saved it till the very end, no matter when you fire off your ult, make sure to hurt everyone or as many as possible. The damage output from it is to high to waste only on one person.
Throughout playing Graves, you will understand the ins and outs of Graves, and where he is best and weakest. Anyone can play Graves and do well, but the people who take the time to learn Graves will kill everyone and use every skill properly to win the fights
Graves is an AD Carry that anyone can learn, yet only the people who take the time to learn him will dominate with him with ease. He is the AD Carry to change the game and do all the damage. His skills combine so more abilities into one, and with the perfect build, will show everyone how amazing he truly is.
Now don't use my guide as a standard way to play him. This guide is how I have found him to be best, and how I personally play him. You may find another item work better, or different runes/masteries really make Graves shine. Let this guide show you how to basically play him, and help understand him.
Use this to understand why Graves can be the best AD Carry to win the game, and raise your ELO