Bard Build Guide by SignError
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Against Physical Damage Dealers
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Introduction to Bard One For All Mode
Having 5 Bards on one team may seem like fun. You could have a Rift-wide Amusement Park with 5 Magical Journeys. Two enemy champions can easily be perma-stunned with Cosmic Bindingx5. But when it comes down to it, Bard's #1 Con will be the downfall of such a team: Bard is "reliant on teammates for damage." To help with this, I have 3 more builds to this guide: On-hit Mage, On-hit ADC/Bruiser, and Jungle/Support Hybrid. I'll keep posting more information as it is available.
These are off meta builds, meaning that effectiveness and especially DPS will not be outstanding. But that shouldn't be a problem, because this is for a featured game mode. It's meant to be fun, and not entirely serious. If you weren't interested in that, you would be playing ranked as a more "viable" champion instead of a featured game mode (especially with the season coming to a close).
That being said, please comment in this guide's discussion about how to improve these off meta role builds, and any other special interactions that have to do with One for All Bard.
Teamwork is Key
While playing as Bard in One For All Mode may be super fun after getting to know the champion and reading the strategies in this guide, if your allies are not familiar with him, your team will suffer. Bard has a high skill floor, meaning that it takes a few games to get used to him. Many players play a single game, do poorly and/or get raged at, and quit playing him. That actually happened to me the first time I played Bard. It wasn't until the next time that he was in the free rotation that I tried him again and found out just how fun and good he can be.
This means that if you are solo-queuing, I do NOT recommend nominating Bard unless at least two other players are willing to nominate him. Queuing up with 4 friends who all want to play Bard would be even better. If you are planing on using the strategies in this guide, especially the duo jungle/support hybrids, make sure that your teammates are also in favor.
The Special Interactions of Bard x5
As far is I can tell, there doesn't seem to be anything extraordinarily crazy by having 5 allied Bards on the Rift at one time. Here some comments about Bard's kit abilities in All For One Mode:
Each Bard has his own set of chimes. The chimes of your allies will not be seen on the minimap, and they appear more transparent and sunken into the ground (just like how the chimes of a Bard on the enemy team would appear). Because each Bard has chimes to collect, you will need to work together and cover lanes so that each of you can collect chimes as needed.
Once one Bard lands a stun on an enemy champion, the others can easily follow suit. Try to coordinate your attacks so that you spread out the stuns instead of everyone firing at once.
Lot's of health packets! I would still recommend that every member of the team take this ability first, so that they can each place 3 shrines, mostly in the jungle, recall for mana, and then return to help leash. Other than that, constantly be placing shrines so that there is always an abundance of heals at the ready.
This is the really fun one. A pair of Bards can create a two way portal. When all the Bards work together, they can quickly travel anywhere in the rift. This is great for chases or escapes.
This one can be a little trickier. Say one Bard lands an ult on a target. The others can try to follow suit to extend the stasis duration. But if they're early, the target will still be in stasis and therefore untargetable and uneffected by the next ult. If they are late, the enemy champion may have a split second to dash or flash out of the way. So instead of focusing each Tempered Fate on a small area, I would try to spread them out to a larger area of effect. Of course, that would take and insane amount of coordination, so it may just be easier to save the other ults for a few seconds until another good opportunity arises.
Off Meta Positions and Roles
We are playing a featured game mode, and we are playing as Bard x5. That means that there are at least 6 good reasons why we must think outside of the box in this match. According to the normal meta, we would need a Top, Jung, Mid, ADC, Sup. The support role is more than covered. Bard's Abilities may have terrible AP scalings, but he could still be a Mage on Mid. Any champion can build AD and be an ADC (note that I didn't say any champion can be a good ADC). On top, Bard could build tanky, or damage, or whatever he wants to do. But how in the world is Bard going to be a dedicated Jungler?!? I've seen videos of players trying to jungle as Bard, and it's pretty painful to watch. So that option is out.
We could do without a jungle and just have two Bards on top. But then we leave the entire jungle wide open to the enemy team. The enemy jungler can freely farm, take advantage of all the buffs, and ultimately get fed. This means that no unwarded area in the jungle can be presumed safe for chime collection runs. It also means that all neutral objectives will be lost to the enemy. That doesn't sound very good either.
There is an off meta solution: Have three laners (probably two On-hit Mages and one On-hit ADC/Bruiser), and two players to equally share the Jungle and Support positions. One would get the lower half of the jungle and support bot lane. The other can clear the upper half of the jungle and support top lane. Either of them can also easily cover for mid while he is under siege, backing, or collecting chimes. This also means that you have two smites, giving your team some additional pressure for neutral objectives.
I'd also like to note that I don't recommend having a few tanky Bards try to protect a few glass cannon damage dealing Bards. Each Bard should be a semi-tanky ranged bruiser so that the enemy won't have a clear, easy target to delete and eliminate your main source of damage.
On-hit Mage Role
Bard's kit really only has two sources of magic damage, and each of these has terrible AP Scalings. Adding Nashor's Tooth to this build helps provides some extra motivation to stack some AP. Rod of Ages also provides great stats for late game, when Bards can really shine.
For abilities, Cosmic Binding is the obvious ability to level first, as it is Bard's only damaging active spell. Caretaker's Shrine is also a good pick, as a Bard with this build will have the AP to power up his shrines.
On-hit ADC/Bruiser Role
You might be thinking, can't we just all build magic damage and/or tankiness? Does one of us really need to build ADC? If you don't have some physical damage, there is nothing stopping the enemy team from stacking magic resist to negate the majority of your damage. Also Banner of Command is a hard counter to teams with little physical damage (for more on this see the section Against Magic Damage Dealers).
This Bard should be mainly focusing on farming enemy minions. Meeps can either make last hitting easier, or they can be used for extra poke damage. This Bard shouldn't worry too much about collecting chimes, as he is in greater need of gold for buying items to boost his basic attack's physical damage.
You could try a more traditional AD/crit build, but I think that the on-hit physical damage build will be a little better. The Black Cleaver, as well as the other items in this build, provides a little tankiness, movement speed, and cooldown reduction which are still important to Bard.
I'd still level Cosmic Binding first for the extended stun duration and lower cooldown. Otherwise, I'm not sure if an ADC Bard would benefit more from additional points Caretaker's Shrine or Magical Journey, so it's up to your preference.
Jungle/Support Hybrid Role
As I've previously mentioned, Bard doesn't make a very good jungle, but it's still an important role for securing neutral objectives. I wouldn't be surprised if he has the slowest clearing speed out of all the champions. Jungling can also quickly exhaust his mana and health. So instead of spending most of his time jungling, he can clear a camp or two, and then gank and/or support a lane. He can easily go back and forth between these two positions, collecting chimes on the way.
Clearing only a couple of camps at a time means that smite should always be up while jungling. Ranger's Trailblazer provides the area of effect damage which Bard lacks, and the health and mana regain gives Bard the opportunity to return to lane without recalling. Ranger's Trailblazer is also great for clearing huge minion waves which inevitably form while playing as Bard. Just smite the cannon minion to kill it as well as nearby smaller minions. Frozen Heart also provides Bard with all the stats he needs to take minimal damage while jungling. If up against a magic damage dealing team, this item can be sold late game for more magic resist.
A jungling Bard will need to level Cosmic Binding for stunning jungle camps. Having Magical Journey leveled will help Bard roam between camps and back to lane quicker. It is also a useful escape tool for counter jungling. Each of these abilities should therefore be leveled about equally.
About Countering the Enemy Team Composition
As you've seen, in this guide we go to great lengths to vary the roles and damage output of our team. The enemy team may not do this, instead building similar items and dealing similar damage types. If you see this happening, you can use it to your advantage.
Against Magic Damage Dealers
Obviously, you want to stack some magic resist in this situation. There are two items in particular which can really help you out:
- Banner of Command:
Get it on every single one of your champions, even your ADC. The stats are great, but the active is what really matters. Most players don't know that promoted minions are IMMUNE TO MAGIC DAMAGE, which makes this a terrific item against teams with high amounts of magic damage. For instance, during URF, mages were very popular because of the lowered cooldown. However, if they had no physical damage dealers, they would be forced to resort to their puny mage basic attacks to kill these promoted minions.
A promoted cannon minion that is empowered by Hand of Baron buff will devastate the enemy team. Also, if all 5 of you buy this item, you can promote most of a minion wave, which will push and snowball to the enemy Nexus if left unchecked. To top things off, you get the gold for each enemy minion that your promoted minion kills.
- Wit's End:
This is another great choice because each of the damage dealing builds in this team composition gets its power from on hit effects. By stealing the enemy's magic resist, you take less damage, and your mages hit harder. The item also gives additional attack speed and on-hit magic damage which even the ADC Bard could benefit from.
Against Physical Damage Dealers
There aren't really any tricky builds for this scenario. You just need to stack armor. In particular, stacking armor is great for the Jungle/Support Hybrid Bards because armor will help defend them from jungle monsters too. Dead Man's Plate, Frozen Heart, and Thornmail are all good candidates. Randuin's Omen is a better option when most of the enemy champions are also building critical strike items.
My Example Match of One For All Bard
So after a few matches of One For All as other champions, I finally found a group that wanted to play as Bard. My allies were 4 random players, and we were up against 5 random LeBlancs. None of them probably knew about my guide; however, our builds were about the same as I suggest. We were all fairly tanky, and build magic resist to counter the LeBlancs' magic damage. I tried out my Jungle/Support Hybrid Role. It was a little shaky at first, as expected. I died to Krugs early game, and then I had to solo top for a bit because 3 of my allies were on Bot for some reason (they did get first blood though). Also, one of my allies opted to go ADC, and surprisingly, his build was almost identical to my On-hit ADC/Bruiser.
Ultimately, the Bards came out victorious! Here is the Victory Screen:
It's interesting to note that the player who build On-hit ADC/Bruiser Bard and myself as Jungle/Support Hybrid Bard were the best players on our team.
Here is the link to the match history for that game, so that you can see all the stats and details:
All For One: Bard Vs LeBlanc
One For All, And All For Fun
I hope you've enjoyed this featured section of my guide. Have fun playing the One For All featured game mode for the next few weeks. Don't forget to let me know what you think of these builds and strategies in the guide's discussion section.
And as always, have fun "Roaming the Rift."