Fortunately for all you wannabe Gwen mains out there, we here at Ginx already have a guide for you. Let’s get to it.
Passive - A Thousand Cuts
Or rather, Death by. Despite being an AP duelist, Gwen’s autos form a core part of her kit and play patterns. A Thousand Cuts is a large part of why that is.
Her Passive is relatively simple - her basic attacks do additional on-hit magic damage based on a percentage of her enemies’ max HP. How big that percentage is scaled off her own total AP.
In short, her auto attacks can make short work of tanks (or a least bruisers) and scale off her AP. She also heals for 70% of the damage A Thousand Cuts deals, offering a fair amount of sustain.
One note of clarification: Gwen’s passive is based on enemies’ HP, not her own. The tooltip has led to some confusion at the time of writing.
Q - Snip Snip!
Gwen’s primary damage ability and another reason why fitting in those auto-attacks will be important. Snip Snip! Has Gwen snipping her scissors rapidly in front of her, with enemies caught in the centre taking True Damage and applying A Thousand Cuts. Ouch.
Here’s the trick, though: the number of times Gwen snips ranges between 2 and 6, scaling off - you guessed it - how many basic attacks you’ve gotten in before activating Q. Fail to stack those basic attacks and you’ll be left with a lethargic two snips… hit that sweet four auto mark and it’s a blistering six.
There are a couple of neat tricks already being figured out by the community for Snip Snip!, foremost amongst them being the fact you can reposition while the ability is active. All the better for hitting that central sweet spot for maximum damage. Pair this trick up with Gwen’s low CD dash on her E, Flash, or even a choice item like Hextech Rocketbelt for maximum style points.
While you might be tempted to max this ability first (and pending numbers adjustments, you might yet), hold off and max Q second, purely because of how strong Gwen’s E is.
W - Hallowed Mist
Gwen’s primary defensive ability. Hallowed Mist creates a zone within which Gwen gains armour and magic resistance, and enemies outside of the Hallowed Mist can’t target her or hit her with abilities. Think Xin Zhao ultimate, but without the knockback or damage.
As an added bonus, Gwen can recast the ability once to centre the mist on her, and this automatically happens the first time she tries to leave the mist. The second time she attempts to leave, or if she’s already recast Hallowed Mist, then it dissipates. Careful leaving your Hallowed Mist too early, basically.
For enemies trying to deal with Gwen, this will be the major cooldown to track. If Hallowed Mist is down, you're golden, otherwise, wait out the Mist or get inside its boundary yourself as long as you’re confident you can take the 1v1. Don’t waste abilities from outside the Mist, and be aware you can get baited into flubbing your engage as long as she holds onto the cooldown.
E - Skip ‘n Slash
Likely your first max. Skip ‘n Slash is a dash that then adds range, attack speed, and additional magic damage to Gwen’s basic attacks for 4 seconds. Even better, Gwen’s first auto attack empowered by her E refunds half of its cooldown.
At max rank, Skip ‘n Slash grants a whopping 80% attack speed on a 9s cooldown that gets halved to 4.5s assuming an auto lands. Considering the ability lasts 4s, that’s near-permanent uptime for those empowered basic attacks and regular dashes all without factoring in any ability haste.
Gwen’s E is fantastic synergy with both A Thousand Cuts and Snip Snip! With how quickly you can stack to that all-important 4 auto mark. As a bonus, you can even cross walls with the dash. Again, max this first.
R - Needlework
Something of a throwback to pre-rework Irelia’s ultimate, Needlework is a line skillshot damage ability that can be recast up to an additional two times… as long as you hit an enemy with an attack or ability within 6s. In short, don’t miss.
Each subsequent recast also has scaling damage - the initial cast throws 1 needle, the second 3, and the third and final throws 5, for a max total of 9. The needles apply A Thousand Cuts and slow all enemies hit, with later casts also having better base damages and AP ratios.
Needlework can be a little tricky to land due to Gwen’s lack of innate cc, but with a good eye, team assistance, or even an Everfrost, Needlework really empowers Gwen’s all-in duelling potential. Remember as well that due to Needlework applying A Thousand Cuts to all enemies hit, you can get a significant chunk of healing off this!
(Picture: Riot Games)
Gwen’s build is looking to be fairly flexible, and there is certainly going to be a fair amount of experimenting going on before concrete favourites emerge. Nevertheless, here are a few likely options.
First up, Gwen’s probably going to be looking towards Press the Attack or Conqueror for her Keystone, with Sorcery or Domination secondary. As for Gwen’s Mythic choice, on paper it would ostensibly be Riftmaker, really indexing on Gwen’s potential to omnivamp her way to victory via A Thousand cuts, and adding some HP to keep this AP fighter in the fray longer.
And yet, it’s unlikely to be that simple. Everfrost is certainly a possibility as well, especially if you need to set up your own stunts due to a team with low cc or slippery targets. Night Harvester and Hextech Rocketbelt are also worthy considerations if Gwen needs more burst and mobility.
As for items beyond Gwen’s mythic, Lich Bane and Nashor’s Tooth have the Hallowed Seamstress' name all over them. Lich Bane makes Gwen’s autos pack even more punch, while Nashor’s Tooth offers more attack speed and more percentage magic damage on hit. Cosmic Drive and its Ability Haste and move speed is another strong choice, and unsurprisingly Rabbadon’s Deathcap, Voidstaff, Zhonya’s and other AP staples are viable as well - what duelist doesn’t like a stopwatch?
There’s also a world where, much like Lilia or Seraphine, Gwen could also run Moonstone into Staff of Flowing Water to offer teamfight utility. Gwen uses enough abilities and basic attacks to get a lot of use out of the combo but doesn’t have quite the same safety as the aforementioned Seraphine or Lilia. Try at your own risk.
As a final note, rumours are swirling around that it’s possible - even preferable - to skip AP, and instead run Gwen as purely on-hit and lifesteal. Blade of the Ruined King, into Mortal Shieldbow/Kraken Slayer, into Nashor’s Tooth/Wit’s End would be your go-to in that case.
(Picture: Riot Games)
Gwen is set up to be a solo lane champion, with a potential flex to jungle. She’ll probably want to be wary of blind picking into certain matchups, however, particularly top, as Hallowed Mist doesn’t much in the way of utility in a melee 1v1, and she can be quite easily stat checked by the likes of Renekton early on.
That said, if you can manage to sustain through lane - or just go mid, where the shorter lane offers more safety - then Gwen can really pump out the damage in extended trades. Your standard combo is likely to be E → 4 basic attacks → 6 snip Q, using W to ward off external cc and amp your resists during trades. To add a little more complexity, consider using E to go forwards to set up for your first cast of R, then weaving autos and subsequent R recasts before finishing up with a max-stack Q.
At this point it’s worth a reminder that while you cannot move while casting Q, you can reposition using movement abilities like E. With a little finesse and practice, this should make it easier to hit that true damage sweet spot or chase down enemies who attempt to dodge away from Snip Snip!
Finally, a word to all those junglers out there. Gwen can full-clear leashless by 3:15 at full HP, no pots used with 1 smite charge left for Scuttle Crab, which certainly makes her viable in the jungle. But, much like Nidalee or Graves, she comes with very limited cc making her ganks lacklustre without set-up. She can certainly clear fast and duel well though, so there’s a very real possibility she joins the currently potent cadre of power-farming junglers.
And that’s our Gwen guide all wrapped up! Go forth a sow (sew?) chaos on the rift once she becomes available on the 14th of April.