Bard is the word.
Threats to Bard with this build
|Braum||Can be poked down very easily and very easy to keep under control for the first 6 levels. You just need to keep your distance against him and dont spam your Q into his shield.|
|Kog'Maw||Low range and no escapes, great source of income as you keep killing his face in lane. If you dont somehow manage to do that then you are screwed lategame.|
|Shen||Easy to poke down, next to no threat when played right on your end. Careful of level 2-3 all in basically.|
Hi I'm Qeeknique aka Börd v2 (No longer Börd), a random poopster nobody has ever heard of. I also happen to be a Bard main who this guide is for. I was never a fan of ranked but in Season 5 I managed to climb my way to Master Tier one what was supposed to be a Bard only account but turned out to be just a Bard main account. I managed to do the same in Season 6. I even got myself on to the Bard top list on lolskill.net I peaked at 25 LP in Season 5 in Master granted I only played 2 games after reaching master. I peaked at 6th Bard in the World on lolskill.net and at my best in Season 6 I had all of my 3 accounts in the top 20. I also have over 800k Bard points across my accounts as of writing this guide. My ladder rank is 1200 as of writing this update of Season 7 to the guide. I havea Twitch Stream and I try to stream occasionally. Come and watch some high elo Bard gameplay.
Bard is a utility and CC focused support who has a reasonably high skill ceiling. Bard has one of, if not the best, kits for utility and there are almost endless possibilities on what you can do with this kit. He can be played in so many ways while still being very effective. I feel like a lot of people who have started playing Bard or thought about it have a hard time understanding how he works or how he should be played. This is the people this guide is made for.
His rather weak laning is compensated by his awesome pick potential, great mobility and roaming ability and excellent teamfighting. In lategame teamfights he can do so many things compared to most supports who focus on one thing like healing, peeling or engaging. Bard can engage, he can disengage, he can peel, he can chase, he can do good damage (for a support) and to some extent he can sustain. A good Bard player can completely decide the flow of a teamfight and can single-handedly win you fights with well placed Cosmic Bindings or Tempered Fates. This however works both ways as a bad Bard player can cost you teamfights by either using Tempered Fate in a such a position that it prevents enemies from taking damage or dying or even worse kills your teammate by leaving them in a bad position. With this guide I hope you too will become the good kinds of Bard.
English is not my first language and there will be typos and plenty of grammatical mistakes. Sorry for that in advance.
Pros & Cons
- Extremely strong teamfigting
- Great mobility for roaming and warding
- Very good damage for a support
- Super versatile as a champion
- Super fun to play
- Can make camping bot lane as easy as it can be with E
- He looks so goofy its impossible to tilt while playing him
- Relatively weak in laning phase
- Extremely skillshot reliant
- His E bugs out rather often and is sometimes hard to click
- Difficult for newer players to wrap their heads around
- Short range on Q and autoattacks
- Can accidentally tilt your ADC by roaming too much
- Very low base manaregen and high mana costs compared to other supports
- Ult is very easy to mess up as a new players
Items & Build
Warding Totem Everybody takes this trinket at the start so as the trustworthy support so do we. It really is the only choice for the start of the game but contrary to popular advice given you dont need to immidiately change to your red trinket after you have gotten your sightstone, only do it around the lvl 7-9 mark. During lane if you have one ward cleared its easier to replace it when you dont need to clear such important places as dragon with your red trinket.
Spellthief's Edge is the starting item of choice here. It offers everything we need for early levels of the lane, some damage, manaregen, gold generation and a passive that works super well with Meeps. No question the best starting item. Upgrading it to Frostfang is very important and should be prioritized right after sightstone or possibly before sightstone if you cant get sightstone in one buy. The upgrade gives you a stronger passive, more AP and manaregen and a stronger passive. Even though generally you dont want to build AP on Bard these stats are great for the early game and laning phase.
Sightstone is an essential item for all supports and should be the first priority buy you get on Bard. But if you cant buy the Sightstone in one go you should upgrade your Spellthief's Edge to Frostfang or get Boots of Speed and a Vision Ward. Sightstone is there to give you vision and safety to make plays and see ganks coming. Sightstone also gives health which is a great stat for everybody, especially on Bard since you have reasonably low range and that leaves you slightly more vulnerable to getting caught. Also ever since 6.17 upgrading to the Ruby Sightstone Ruby Sightstone has become a good option for the support item, more about that just below.
Ruby Sightstone has been a thing tank supports buy for a while now and It was bought for pretty much all supports for a period of time, now the meta is slowly changing towards Eye of the Watchers for casters. But Bard Isnt a caster, or is he? For me the only reason for this is the super early 4th ward as well as the very gold efficient chunk of health you get from it. The active item cooldown reduction is a very minor thing that only affects games a bit later on after you have bought other items so its not such a large part of your decision to buy it.
The negatives to the build are pretty minor, it mainly leaves you in an awkward position where you run out of inventory space pretty quickly or you just end up selling your support item. The Ruby Sightstone also doesnt offer any CDR which is the only stat you absolutely require on Bard. It also makes building some items very awkward as you have to save up as much as 1550 before you can buy stuff like Mikaels if you want pink wards in your inventory ( which you should ). These things dont matter as much in higher level of play or especially in pro play as games dont tend to go that late where supports dont have room in the inventory. The build is also more prevalent on tank supports and not so much on Bard. My conclusion is that I will be buying Ruby Sightstone when I need to be more tanky early on into a game and Eye of the watchers otherwise.
Eye of the Watchers is now the support item of choice for me if Im not building the Ruby Sightstone Ruby Sightstone, I have moved away from FQC Frost Queen's Claim completely. Its a cheap and easy way to get more inventory space and it does give you some cheap CDR. It is very easy to buy because you dont have to buy the Fiendish Codex you had to for the Frost Queen's Claim. The extra ward is great and the other stats from it are pretty neat as well, its just the better alternatve to Ruby Sightstone most of the time and definitely the better alternative to Frost Queen's Claim. It is just a nice way to finish off sightstone and Frostfang quickly and cheaply, this is your alternative to the Ruby Sightstone Ruby Sightstone build and right now its the item I go for most of the time.
I have recently figured out an easy way to get rid of my bad habit of buying potions well into the mid game and spending too much money on them for the lane and that is to simply buy Refillable Potion Refillable Potion for lane. That is not to say I suggest you get it as a starting item as getting poked out at the beginning of the lane is much more crucial than later on but to just buy it on your second or third back, if it goes later than that you should probably skip it. Its a very good way to ensure that you save some money in efficiency in exchange for larger effective health pool during lane.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity are in my opinion just the best all around choice for boots for Bard. They offer you 10% CDR and 10% lower cooldowns on Summoner spells. With the mastery page raising the CDR cap to 45% getting CDR and getting it fast is more important than ever and Ionian Boots of Lucidity give you a good chunk of CDR for the first teamfights. Not to mention Boots of Mobility had their price and stats stay the same while Ionian Boots of Lucidity became significantly cheaper. Locket also got changed in preseason 7 and no longer gives CDR which delays you hitting the 45% cap. Also the lower summoner spell cooldown is really really useful. Remember that there is no penalty for going over 45% CDR, I will gladly hit 50% CDR if I can get the 10% CDR and 10% lower Summoner Spell cooldowns as early as I can.
Redemption is the new go-to support item that was introduced in the latest Preseason alongside a few other items. Its really just a ridiculously overloaded item for super cheap, it has a lot of things Bard finds useful, cooldown reduction, health and regen and most importantly it has a very strong active that offers and AoE heal and true damage beam. Its very very strong during the early teamfights and especially later on as it scales off of levels. Especially with Locket being nerfed and changed this item is the first real item you buy. Even after its nerf its still the best option for Bard 9/10 times in the current meta, there just is no better alternative and the nerf mostly hit its active and specifically during the earlier levels while keeping it the same during the later stages. Buy it first or at the latest as a second item.
Locket of the Iron Solari got changed pretty drastically and now is no longer the must buy item for all supports. Previously Locket was just a great item for almost everybody, it had health and cooldown reduction as well as a ridiculously strong MR aura but alas no more. The item is now a reasonably cheap tank item with a pretty good active for teamfighting and it fits Bard pretty well, the only downside is the lack of CDR from the item, so you will be lacking on CDR while building it.
The item is now 2nd or 3rd in the list and you should consider getting it straight after redemption. The lack of CDR is also one of the big reasons I gravitate towards Lucidity boots and Eye of the Watchers instead of the alternatives. Despite the active being essentially the same as last season its more important to use it more carefully this season as it is the main point of getting the item as well as the active being much stronger now. The item is very strong against AoE teamfight teams and can block ridiculous amounts of damage when used correctly.
Mikael's Crucible got changed along with most support items and is now essentially the same thing as before but without the small healing component in the active as well as slightly lower price. Its basically a get out of jail free card for your carry of choice. You use it to save them from a CC and if you manage to do that they get a speed buff. It is most useful when there is just one fed carry on your team who you need to protect and keep alive from a single CC that is used on him every fight. For example Leona ultimate, Nocturne fear, Rammus taunt, Nasus slow. This item is almost always a decent option to consider.
Boots of Swiftness This is one of your options for boots. They offer you more movement speed than Ionian Boots of Lucidity and any slows affect you 25% less. If the enemy team has many slows like FQC and/or you plan on building Frozen Heart and/or plan to get 40% some other way this is your choice but don't take these boots for the increased roaming ability, thats what Boots of Mobility are for, its not worth it especially after the nerf in 6.11. I would still buy these when going for Frozen Heart but now it would be harder to justify buying them in any other situation. The item isnt bad it just is outclassed by Ionian Boots of Lucidity or in some cases by Boots of Mobility. Your choice of boots is between Boots of Swiftness and Boots of Mobility.
Boots of Mobility are great if you get a big lead during lane and possibly even take the turret out fast. They allow you to roam super fast and help other lanes and ward really deep. The cost is that you need to hit 45% CDR some other way. I get the item when I want to roam and win the game more quickly or if I expect to be building Frozen Heart and dont want to buy Boots of Swiftness, mostly due to lack of slows on the enemy team. Your choice of boots is between Boots of Swiftness and Boots of Mobility.
Banner of Command This item is also got changed recently along other support items and no longer offers AP and is mainly a tank item just like Locket. It now is actually a good source of some tank stats and CDR unlike before and compared to Locket. Another important change is that Locket and Banner dont share a pasive anymore so you can actually buy both without wasting stats. But just like with Locket this is a tank item and not an item that gives utility, only buy this item if you know how to use the active and you need the tank stats.
Frozen Heart is a great defensive item that gives you armor, maan and 20% CDR which is a huge amount for a single item. Its a great option when the enemy team is AD heavy or has many attackspeed reliant champions like Master Yi, Jax, Irelia or most ADC champions. Very good buy on Bard if you dont already have Lucidity boots and you need Armor.
Zeke's Harbinger lost a big chunk of its usefulness with the ADC item rework, most ADCs hit very high numbers of crit chance very early on so Zeke's Harbinger took a hit. Its no longer an item I buy, it needs more testing to see if its viable at all.
Knight's Vow this is a new item that was brought in with the preseason update. Its a tank item that redirects some of the damage your partner takes. Its not something I have tested enough times to say for sure if the item is worth taking or not, Its something I could see working as a 5th or a 6th item after you have some other tank items already.
Banshee's Veil gives you 500 health, 70 MR and a passive shield that blocks any enemy spell that would have hit you. Its only bought when you need to survive a huge amount of AP damage or if the enemy has only or mostly AP champions and you already have Locket or Banner.
Zz'Rot Portal got nerfed quite a bit in the 6.6 patch and is now significantly weaker. It still could be used to help you get Baron by being placed on the other side of the map from Baron or by placing it down on the other side of the map from the lane you are sieging. Its now a lot weaker but can still be used as a gimmick. Dont buy it if you dont know how to use the active, there are more useful tank items to buy.
Randuin's Omen is just a straight up tank item for when Frozen Heart just isnt enough and the enemy has fed multiple AD threats. I almost always prioritize Frozen Heart over Randuin's Omen and buying both is pretty rare but it does happen, especially against full or almost full ad team comps.
Frost Queen's Claim also known as Spooky Ghosts is now a pretty rare sight, the item got nerfed slightly but more importantly the alternatives got buffed. The item in itself is still the same it always was, a slow in a reasonably cheap package. The item is a great source of early game CDR and AP. The item has been overtaken by Eye of the Watchers and is now the secondary option for when I want to accelerate the game and end it quickly, sort of like Boots of Mobility but those situations where I get both are very rare, its usually just Mobility boots. Its definitely not a bad item, it has its uses but even the fact that you have to use the active correctly should be a consideration when deciding if you want to buy it or not. In conclusion buy it if you want to snowball the game or with the new stealth changes if you are playing against Twitch/Vayne.
Iceborn Gauntlet This is probably the biggest one I see people fall in, the item gives you 65 Armor, 500 Mana and 20% CDR and a passive that lets you actually deal decent damage. Little known fact is that the slow on Iceborn Gauntlet barely even registers after the meep slow and is just effectively useless. The problem with the item is that you are paying 2700 gold for an item that is a worse fit for Bard than Frozen Heart which only costs 100 gold more at 2800 gold. Frozen Heart is just all around a better item for Bard, It gives more armor and less mana (Mana being a pretty useless stat on Bard after 15-20minutes into the game) and the passive on it is actually really strong in teamfights. Comparing that to Iceborn Gauntlet which just gives you less armor, more mana and a passive that helps you deal more damage. Dealing damage as Bard is something you shouldnt in my opinion ever itemize for as you will get more damage just through collecting chimes and you are already doing significant damage as a full utility/tank build. Now if we were to live in a world where Frozen Heart wasnt an option or was nerfed more I would probably start building Iceborn Gauntlet as its not a terrible item, just worse in comparison to Frozen Heart.
Rapid Firecannon is one of the more common noobtraps, the item gives you 30% Attackspeed, 30% Crit chance and 5% movement speed. Two of those are next to useless on you lategame. The reason people buy it seems to be the passive which while nice is nowhere near good enough a 2600 gold item with so much useless stats on it.
Talisman of Ascension This newly reworked item is better than the old Talisman but still not that suitable for Bard over Eye of the Watchers or Frost Queen's Claim. The item is mainly for passive laners like Soraka or Janna instead of more active laners like Bard who would much prefer spellthieves.
Ardent Censer Although I havent seen this item built on Bard yet I suspect with the added healing buffs it probably will be. The item in itself is not terrible on Bard but when the healing increase was added on Mikaels Mikael's Crucible that makes it a much better item for Bard. The healing increase and the attackspeed buff on it is not very useful as Bard only really can heal one person in a fight.
Abilities & Leveling order
Traveler's Call is Bard's passive. Bard makes chimes spawn on the map every 50 seconds, starting at 35 seconds. Chimes stack up Bards passive which makes his Meep autoattacks stronger by giving them bonus damage, bonus slow, making the meeps do AoE or giving you bigger meep stock. Chimes also give you mana and some XP and a short boost of movement speed. I think the passive is one of the most creative passives out there and really makes roaming fun and worth while. You should always try to route your way back to lane through Chimes and pick up chimes when warding and roaming.
Click below to see the whole list of stacking chime bonuses
Cosmic Binding is Bard's bread and butter, which is why we take it at level 1 and max it first, the cooldown of it goes down and stun duration goes up. It is used for stuns, damage, a slow and checking brushes. It stuns enemy champions, lane minions and jungle minions when Cosmic Binding passes through the enemy and hits a wall, enemy champion, lane or jungle minion. It is one of the strongest stuns in the game and you NEED to learn how to use it properly. Try spamming it when you start playing Bard so you get the hang of it as soon as possible. Here are a few examples of how bugged and weird the stuns can be.
Or like this
There is also an important aspect to Bard Q Cosmic Binding which is edging the stun. It is basically using the very edges of the stun bitbox to trigger the first part of the stun. For example this stun would stun. Here is a video where i show off a couple of those stuns.
Caretaker's Shrine is Bard's healing ability. We max it last yet skill it at level 2 in lane. We max it last because maxing it offers only VERY slightly stronger heals. Minimum heal goes up by 30 HP and maximum heal by 40 HP per level you put in it and the cooldown is unaffected. You can consider giving W a second level if the lane is rough but any more than that is really a waste. With Caretaker's Shrine Bard can place a healing shrine on the ground that will power up in over 10 seconds. He can have up to 3 shrines on the map at once but can still instacast W on himself or teammates and have those 3 shrines stay up. Caretaker's Shrine is a really small heal for a rather long cooldown and high mana cost compared to other supports. It should mainly be considered as a speedbost as the game goes later because the healing you get from it is so small. Here is an album that shows the differences between the Shrines that are charging and fully charged.
Magical Journey is one the most underrated yet one of the most strong abilities in the game. We max it second for just the fact that it's cooldown goes down and the bonus speed goes up, compared to what maxing W Caretaker's Shrine gives. It allows you to save seconds of walking time for your whole team and allows for great rotations across the map. It also allows for great ganks, you can just portal behind the enemy team and catch them off guard very easily. It can also function as a slow dash over pretty much any wall. A great Bard player will use any and every opportunity to use E and save even the smallest amounts of time for himself and his team. Keep in mind that pretty much every portal can be used both ways, for example if you use it to get out of base you can place another portal to get back into base. Here is another album that shows some of the more useful Bard portal spots. Key word here is trial and error.
Tempered Fate is Bard's ultimate ultimate ability. It is ridiculously underrated and is one of the strongest ultimates in the game. It allows Bard to decide the flow of teamfights, it allows for easy picks, it allows you to save teammates from DoTs or for example Karthus ultimate. I would suggest everybody who is just starting to play Bard uses it exclusively on picking off enemies who are alone or engaging fights with it. When you get a hang of that then try to use it for more complex things. We level it up whenever possible.
Here is an example of how to use to ult to singlehandedly win a fight. And here is another one.
Runes & Masteries
So with the S7 preseason changes we had a couple of new options but essentially no changes to how you choose your masteries. Unless some changes happen this will be the mastery page for Season 7.
Wanderer or Savagery
This first choice is a no-brainer, you wont be last hitting anything and you wanna go fast. We take Wanderer
Runic Affinity , Secret Stash or Assassin
This one is simple too, we wont be getting any buffs from the jungle nor attacking enemies alone for the assassin to be worth it and that just leaves us cookies. Cookies are cool. Secret Stash is our choice.
Merciless or Meditation
So 1% more damage for enemy champions below 40% health or 1.5% of missing mana every 5 seconds? We go for the mana since we dont plan on doing much damage anyways. Meditation is my final answer.
Greenfather's Gift Bandit or Dangerous Game
This is where one of the changes happened and from a quick look you might think that Greenfather's Gift would be the obvious choice but thats not the case. Bandit is much more efficient as it helps you all through out the game unlike Greenfather's Gift which is only useful for lane and a few rare situations, Bandit offers you a steady income and is much more efficient. Bandit is our choice.
Precision or Intelligence
This is an interesting one considering how good Armor and Magic penetration stats are on Bard. Still the magic and armor penetration is not enough when weighed against 5% cdr AND increased CDR cap. We go for Intelligence
Stormraider's Surge , Thunderlord's Decree or Windspeaker's Blessing
Stormraider's Surge is out of the race as soon as you read it, we wont be doing 30% of anyones health at any point of the game. Next up is Windspeaker's Blessing and it sounds really good, stronger heals? heals giving MR and armor? Then you realize Bard really isnt made for healing and that 10% turns your 70 HP heal at level 1 to 77. Such amaze. Now we are left with Thunderlord's Decree . So why is everybody using it right now? Its not because its necessarily that strong, its just that other mastery options are just bad and don't fit Bard. We are going for Thunderlord's Decree .
Recovery or Unyielding
This looks like a much harder choice than it actually is. Recovery gives you nice health regen at the start of the game compared to Unyielding which gives you a decent amount of bonus armor and magic resistance for tanks. But we arent tanks and need some help with our lackluster laning and thus we go for Recovery .
Explorer , Tough Skin or Siegemaster .
Here is the only real hard choice in the whole mastery set up. Explorer makes roaming super fast and helps you with warding. Tough Skin straight up reduces the damage you take from enemies and minions and Siegemaster is just not very relevant as its just not a useful mastery, you dont want to try and be near your own turrets that much. I have been trying Explorer more after small buff they got and right now I run Explorer but switch back to Tough Skin ever now and again.
Runic Armor or Veteran's Scars
Again the first option Runic Armor sounds much better than it actually is, more regen and healing being stronger on yourself sounds good. But its 8% and thats just not enough compared to how strong the 45 health from Veteran's Scars is for the early laning phase. We need the 45 health much more and thus we take Veteran's Scars
Insight , Perseverance or Fearless
Insight offers 15% lowered cooldowns on summoner spells. Perseverance offers +50% Base health regen, +200% when below 25% health and Fearless offers MR and Armor when being damaged by an enemy.With how much fighting goes on in bot lane and how often summoners are blown Insight is my choice and its a pretty easy one considering how little the regen from Perseverance is as well as how you shouldnt be taking damage in ideal situations anyway which also makes Fearless pretty weak as well. Insight is the choice.
Next up are the runes. I have ran many different runepages but with the changes to lethality/armor pen I havent had the chance to come up with a runepage I am 100% confident with so this is just my current feeling and still needs more testing.
Greater Quintessence of Armor
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Greater Seal of Health
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Mark of Attack Speed
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Seal of Armor & Greater Seal of Health
I have gone for a combination of 4 armor yellows and 5 health yellows. This is mostly due to the fact that I get one armor quint and would rather have some health and some armor instead of only armor.
Armor runes are super efficient and very common for almost any role. They help you with trading against ADC and against supports who do a lot of autoattacking. They give you some of those very necessary tank stats.
Health runes are also very efficient and rather common for tank supports and other tank champions. They help you against all sorts of burst and that is very useful on such a short range champion like Bard.
You can go with any combination of Greater Seal of Armor & Greater Seal of Health or just one or the other if you like. This is just what I like to run.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
For Marks I have gone for 4x Magic Penetration Marks. Magic penetration runes synergize really well with Bards early game damage that is mostly AP and with the changes to lethality Hybrid Penetration just doesnt work anymore.
Greater Mark of Attack Speed
The second set of marks will be 5x Attack Speed Marks, they help you in general to just autoattack in lane and more importantly they allow you to autoattack precisely when you want to.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
I went for 9x Magic Resistance Glyphs Magic resistance is a very common rune for many roles and is rather self-explanatory. You take it to avoid the poke and burst from magic damage supports and mid laners.
Alternative would be magic resistance per level but I prefer boosting the early levels and laning of Bard than the lategame where he is already rather strong.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed & Greater Quintessence of Armor
For Quints I chose 1x Movement Speed and 2x Armor. The Armor Quints are to give that little extra safety in lane. Movement speed is for the extra mobility around the map. Alternatives would be 3x Armor, 3x Health or 2x Movement speed and 1x Armor.
TL;DR: A big mish-mash of a lot of things, this is a general runepage that I can run pretty comfortably against everybody and be fine, however there is a more specialized runepage for when playing against melee match ups just below.
The Korean runepage
So I have been stalking the Korean pros/high elo players that play Bard and their rune/mastery pages. What I found out was that almost all of the Korean players who play Bard have some sort of variation of this runepage which is effectively a standard ADC runepage that relies on autoattacking.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed
I have been trying this out many times and I can definitely see why this page would work. Its great vs melee supports because you can just take full advantage of the AD & attackspeed. I would not however recommend this vs poke/sustain champions because you just wont do enough damage to hurt their sustain and poke champions will just land their poke and walk out of your AA range. Something worth noting is that the page got a big buff with the Meeps buff that lowered the time Meeps need to recharge. I recommend taking this page when playing against melee supports and you expect to be able to poke the enemies in lane with relative ease. This page also helps you kill wards easier but in every other aspect this page is almost exclusively for the lane while the page earlier is more useful after lane. The other page is also a more safe choice as it has stats that are useful even if you are unable to poke enemies with autoattacks.
TL;DR: Its a great page against melee supports, weaker against poke/sustain supports. If I was your average support player who plays a lot of Bard but also has extra runepages/IP I would definitely build this page for those melee match-ups. But I dont feel its worth all the IP to buy the page from scratch.
In this chapter I will go over the summoner spells that I use on Bard. The summoner spells I use on Bard are Ignite & Flash.
Like I have gone over before I feel like Bard's laning phase is rather weak and not quite up to the other champions right now. That leads me to go for Ignite which is the more offensive and the more useful summoner earlier on. It helps you massively since you have much more kill pressure and makes you much more of a threat in the lane than Exhaust. There is next to no chance of snowballing a lane with Exhaust on your own, you rely on the enemy to make a mistake and go on you in a bad situation or mess up their positioning. Even though mistakes happen at every ELO we dont want to rely on that.
Flash is for flashing. We all know what it does and its just as necessary on Bard as everybody else. Take it, dont question anything.
Alternative summoner spells
I personally dont take exhaust on Bard, might be because I am very confident in my Q and R hitting the important people and I value Ignite more as a way to snowball the lane. With changes to exhaust in 7.5 it will be less worth it to pick it up and should only be used against specific picks that A. Have an easily spotted burst rotation. B. Are low range enough that you can use it easily. Picks like these would be Zed, Katarina or Kennen to name a few.
In this chapter I am going to teach you the ways I think you should be teamfighting on Bard. They are included in my example video and there are timestamped links to the video in the text.
Peeling for the carry, probably the least suitable, yet the most easy way of teamfighting with Bard as other champions are so much better at this, Janna, Alistar and Braum to name a few. It is the most simplest jobs as a support but Bard doesnt shine at it like others because his ult also protects the enemy from damage while stunning them. I default back to this teamfighting style only if the AD/AP carry is really fed and i cant reach the enemy carry champions easily enough. Example of this is in the video at 0:00 -> 0:30, not much to it actually, i just notice Wukong going invisible and its clear he is going for Jinx with Hecarim and i ult them both in place so Jinx can get in a perfect position with her traps. In general its just you using your Q Cosmic Binding and your ult Tempered Fate on the people diving on your carry to give time for your frontline and carries to reposition and set up skills that need to be set up, works best in tight spaces where they cant dodge the ult and where you can easily Q Cosmic Binding enemies to walls.
Catching enemies / Engaging the fight, this is probably the easiest way to use Bard and his ult Tempered Fate . You use your Q Cosmic Binding, Frostqueen's claim or more often your ult Tempered Fate to catch an enemy who is off guard or you just use your ult to catch the enemy team while chasing them. Pretty simple, i have 2 examples here from 0:30 -> 1:31. The first example is Ezreal not respecting the range of the stun when it first hits a minnion and we clean up the fight afterwards. The second example is Alistar being too far up alone and he gets permaslowed with Meeps and Jinx with red buff and we chase the rest of the enemy team and i catch off 2 of them with my ult Tempered Fate which forced them to stay and fight and we cleaned up the team and won the game.
Zoning the enemy / closing off a corridor, this might not seem obvious to everybody but Bard can zone enemies very effectively especially if the enemy has started to fear the ult Tempered Fate , the threat of the ult Tempered Fate in this case was much stronger than the actual ult Tempered Fate itself. In this example I just closed off a corridor of which the enemy team should have come through to the fight which led to a very favorable fight for us. This same concept can be used to block off escape routes for the enemy team or in most cases make enemies decide between flashing, walking into your team or getting ulted.
These naturally are not the only ways you can teamfight on Bard, they are just how I think people should try to teamfight.
Below are some Bard games from my stream where the game wasnt a stomp either way and had some good plays.
Bard & Corki vs Soraka & Lucian
Bard & Jhin vs Thresh & Jinx
Bard & Twitch vs Nami & Jhin
Bard & Twitch vs Soraka & Lucian
Laning tips & Warding
In this last chapter I will go over some tips and tricks for laning phase and where to ward and when.
Before lane starts you should try to collect 2 of the 3 possible chimes. This is just for the fact that you always want to win the race to level 2, regardless of how bad Bard's level 2 is. The first 2 spawn at 0:35 and the 3rd at 1:25. You should try to collect the first 2 and have the 3rd one spawn near your lane so you can collect it as easy as possible. This can be achieved by staying in this small area for a few seconds when the chimes are about to spawn, that is 0.30-0.35 and 1.20-1.25.
A little trick you can do at the very start of a lane is walk into the enemy brush and Q Cosmic Binding + AA the enemies who are just walking into lane for a very easy chunk and lane control. Here is an example of what i mean from my stream.
Even if you cant or dont want to do this trick at level 1 you should try to take advantage of the level 1 strength Bard has. It is only of the few strong power spikes on Bard. Despite Bard level 2 being rather weak compared to almost all supports you should always always always always push for level 2. Its an easy way to force the enemy away from the wave and zoning them out or just simply killing them if they try to fight despite the level advantage.
Importance of level 2
This is more for supports in general than it is for Bard but I feel it is important enough to warrant 2 paragraphs.
So whats the deal with pushing for level 2? Getting level 2 not only gives you base stats like health and armor as well as any scaling runes give you more stats but most importantly you get to level up another skill that can and in most cases definitely will decide any fights that break out. This leads to the biggest reason you push for level 2, you all-in level 2 or you use level 2 to zone enemies off of the creep wave. The latter being the more fitting one for Bard.
So how do you do it? It is very simple, you autoattack or use your abilities on the lane minions to push the wave, just basically stop sitting in the brush doing nothing like a dirty janna main. It is okay to lose a few CS if the enemy team is trying to race you to level 2 and they have a stronger level 2 (Think Leona, not Janna/Soraka). You will hit level 2 after the first wave and 3 minions from the second wave, usually the melee ones. You should always only push as much as you need to, if you push too hard compared to the other team the lane might end up in a bad position where you can't zone off the enemies or all-in them.Here is an example of how useful just abusing level 1 and pushing for level 2 can be, we got to deny a decent amount of CS and forcing the enemy ADC and Support to trade health for CS.
Collecting chimes is a very important part of playing Bard, they offer you free scaling in terms of more damage and slow on your autoattacks. You should be constantly looking out for when and where chimes are spawning and how you can get to them. This does not mean to try and go for all of the chimes, that is very hard to do. Route your walk back to lane through chimes, this is the perfect time to ward as deep as possible. Do not die for chimes, always keep your E ready so that you can just run away if you see the jungler. If you see chimes in the river or far back in the lane and you plan on getting them, PING and even better type out what you are doing. This reduces the chance of your ADC raging at you when they get caught while you are doing this, it wont remove it completely though, you have been warned.
Roaming is an important aspect of playing any support, but specifically important on Bard. He can and should roam whenever it is possible. A good rule of thumb on when to roam is to ask yourself "Do I have anything to do here?" and "Can I make the roam work?". If you are just sitting there in the lane brush vs a level 3 Vayne and Morgana and your Sivir is full HP and you already have 3 health shrines down, you might as well roam mid. But conversely if your mid laner is Karthus vs a Leblanc then you most likely cant make anything happen. Use common sense and think out possible scenarios on what could happen before roaming, for example in the loading screen or when walking back to lane.
General stuff for lane
Always be on the look out for your own jungler and see if you can help him gank your lane. This is super easy on red side specifically. Here is another album of screenshots where you can get an idea of how to use Bard's portals Magical Journey to help out your jungler on ganks.
Try to keep at least 2 Health shrines charging/charged up but make sure they are just back enough that the ADC can get them without losing CS but not far up that you lose them to the enemies if the lane shifts slightly. But do not rely on the heal shrines to outsustain any other healers, they most likely wont do that.
Warding in lane
Here is a wardmap for standard wards for when playing on the blue side.
Here is a wardmap for standard wards for when playing on the red side.
Warding around objectives
Here is a wardmap for when dragon is coming up, combined for both teams.
Here is a wardmap for when baron is being contested, combined for both teams.
Here is a wardmap for when blue team is sieging for mid 2nd tier.
Patch specifics & Bard's place in it
This chapter is something new I figured I should write out considering how drastically the bot lane and more specifically the support meta has changed in the last few patches and how badly Bard and his role has taken a hit as a consequence. The chapter will discuss the last few patches, what is my view on the meta, the meta champions, what champions I see in my games and how Bard fits into all of this. I will write at least something for every 2 patches, if not more.
7.1 & 7.2
This consists of the last 2 patches but not the latest one that is live right now, so the Zyra and Malzahar nerfs are not talked about here.
The meta and the champions being played
I wont do an exhaustive list that has all of the champions being played, just a sample to give you an idea of what is out there. This also is just a list of champions being played in my soloQ games, my more competitive games (if I have any) and LCS/LCK games.
The meta in these patches has been mostly tanks and duelists top lane (Jayce, Maokai, Camille, Nautilus) , assassins and control mages mid lane (Ryze, Leblanc, Syndra, Corki), assassins and tank-ish (Rengar, Kha Zix, Ivern, Reksai) in the jungle, utility and lethality champions bot lane (Varus, Jhin, Ashe, Caitlyn) and poke and control mages bot lane (Zyra, Karma, Malzahar, Miss Fortune, Lulu).
During this patch the bot lane meta for supports (and to an lesser extent the ADCs) has been dominated by 2 things, poke and pushing power. The lanes have been just a pushing contest to level 2 where an all-in might happen or one duo just being zoned off of the wave, this means that picks who can force an enemy to back off from the wave and/or push the wave themselves are high priority (Malzahar and Zyra). They dominate with lane control and pushing power as well as poking the enemy down.
They are countered by champions who can stop them from pushing, poke back safely or shut down some of their abilities. That means Miss Fortune and Lulu both of whom can both Zyra plants and Malzahar lings very quickly are a good option when forced to play against these champions, Miss Fortune being more of a specific counter during lane while Lulu is weaker in lane but offers more utility later on as well as a specific counter to Malzahar ult.
Support meta is not really influenced by anything else as far as I can see, even if top lane or jungle wont offer your team a tank getting one from bot lane will be really difficult, the only 2 tank-ish champions I would suggest playing in this meta are Blitzcrank and Thresh, neither of whom are top tier but they really are the only options in terms of tank options, and neither is specifically tanky. ADCs also pick a lot of utility and engage with the likes of Jhin, Ashe and Varus which should suggest that vulnerable picks like Zyra or Miss Fortune would be more rare but their damage output during lane makes them just too strong to pass out on.
Bard in current meta
Bard has seen some rough times ever since the last season.
This is mostly due to 2 out of 3 champion styles that counter Bard being buffed, indirectly and directly. First it was shielding and healing champions being buffed with Redemption and so many items giving more shielding and healing power. Secondly it was poke champions just getting buffs with haunting guise being straight up cheaper while Rylais was changed and it became an easier item to buy for a lot of poke champions.
This means Bard is having his weakness exploited (his weak laning phase) even more than before. His laning used to be something that you could rather easily turn around by outplaying your opponents or by having a free lane where you could easily roam (Janna, Soraka) but that is more and more rare. Bard can still survive or even win lane but its getting more and more difficult which his winrate suggests and other champions just simply outshine him in most regards.
I wont be dropping Bard from my champion pool anytime soon but I will be trying out more champions in soloQ and will be playing less Bard unless I see an easy lane. I do hope Riot nerfs champions like Zyra, Karma, Malzahar, Miss Fortune and maybe even Nami so we could see more utility champions which I find much more fun and engaging. But at the end of the day if you enjoy playing Bard you should still play him, its a game after all and meant to be fun.
TL;DR Bard is having a rough time, still playable but not good. Mostly due to poke champions and healing/shielding champions seeing buffs.
7.3 & 7.4 (7.5)
In the last few patches Bard has still been in his same rough spot as before. This means his biggest weakness is being exploited, his rather weak laning. He is being outdamaged and outpushed by strong laning champions like Zyra, Malzahar, Karma or Nami.
The only changes in 7.3, 7.4 or 7.5 that are of importance are the "Catch-Up Experience" changes and exhaust changes.
Exhaust changes will limit the way Karma, Nami, Janna or Soraka can just stall the lane and stop Bard from making plays. While that sounds great it will also encourage champion picks will be difficult for Bard like Blitzcrank, Leona or Nautilus. I think it will be overall a slight bonus for Bard.
Catch-Up Experience was also great for Bard who loves to roam and will easily fall behind in experience. This is an interesting buff for roaming supports in general and will help Bard out.
Another thing worth mentioning (but only barely) was Bards recent buff. His chime speed boost per chime got buffed slightly as well as the maximum speed boost from the chimes. This I think is very insignificant and is not addressing his biggest problem which is still his laning phase.
TL;DR Some good things although pretty minor, at least going in the right direction. Biggest things were the catch-up experience as well as the exhaust change.
7.5 & 7.6 (7.7)
In the last few patches Bard has still been in a pretty bad spot but hes seen some nice changes and they are starting to become significant. Bard is still a pretty niche pick that I wouldnt recommend most people pick up unless they want to learn him inside out. In 7.7 that might change depending on how impactful the passive buffs are to him.
The changes that affect Bard in 7.6 and 7.7 are as follows.
Alistar is not a troublesome matchup for Bard but he is difficult for some of the meta supports to deal with which might change up the meta in Bards favor. We shall see how things unfold.
Bard buffs might actually be really impactful and raise his winrate significantly, his chime scaling will be much stronger and will make him more of a lategame champion than he already is. It still sadly doesnt change his lackluster laning phase but I doubt that will ever happen.
TL;DR Some good stuff in here, will be excited to see how much Bards winrate goes up.
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