The Right Way To Bard:
What to Strive For (in order of necessity)
OTHER support items
Against heavy AP
My strange build path
Threats to Bard with this build
|Nunu||Nunu is a joke. Just cancel his ult if you can (Q or ulti both work) If you do it right, his ganks will end up feeding your ADC like Rosie O' Donnell.|
|Heimerdinger||HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Everything this little bastard does can be counteracted - especially if he's in the middle of his turrets. Q him to one of his turrets, ult him, whatever. Just time it right. Put an end to his retarded evil schemes.|
|Urgot||Lol. If you see this bot lane (now that he's actually viable somehow. . . ?), he literally has nothing he can do if you're up in his face with CC. He has that weird shield gimmick that slows you, but not substantially, or enough to deter you from wrecking him . End his misery.|
Hey there! Bobo113/MonolithyK here with my first guide EVER. I tend to get a little offensive sometimes, but bare with me - humor tends to drive home some of the guide's key points with a stronger sense of reinforcement. Please note that I don't ever mean to offend any persons/parties/etc.
Bard is a strange thing. If Miyazaki forced Tom Bombadil, Magical Trevor, Captain Olimar, and a bowling ball into a steamy four-way, Bard would be the inevitable byproduct. He's this odd, pied piper thing that a Rito engineer threw together, and he's turned out pretty great.
There's no arguing that Bard is unique, but like Rainman taught us, this doesn't mean he's bad. In fact, Bard can be absurdly overpowered in correct circumstances. His strengths are not in direct encounters, but rather behind the scenes. If a Bard is doing his job right, you barely even know he's there.
Unfortunately, guides like this one has to be made - since a vast majority of Bard players can't figure out what puts him on parr with other champs. Players like to give up on him, and say things like, "Meeehhh he can't 1v1 anybody. worthless, gg, ff@20." To all you haters out there: Riot would not have released him if he did not possess necessary strengths and weaknesses. They never release champs without a fair amount of power and counterplay ability. There's a reason Riot has such a clean, professional, and respectable reputation when it comes to game design, clarity, attention to detail, and overall functionality (Except for CertainlyT's Mordekaiser rework RIP). Bard's existence further supports evidence that League of Legends is, in fact, a team-oriented game (although there are individuals of dwindling intelligence who would dare to suggest otherwise).
. . . That being said, there is still validity to some of the ragers' claims. *Gasp*
On the surface, Bard's kit and gameplay is simple enough to understand, but his advanced-level play-style calls for strategies that leave the normal conventional thinking of League. Bard, in my opinion, is the most enjoyable champ to play, yet amongst the hardest champs to fully master. This later comment is the understatement, because Bard can end up inadvertently supporting the other team if you're not skilled enough. Only 1/4 of his active abilities deal damage, and his early heals are barely calculable. Two of his abilities can ace your whole team if done incorrectly, and his cooldowns are absurd. Does he sound like fun? No? Well maybe the rest of the guide can show you that he is, in fact, one of the best champs in the game - but ONLY when played correctly.
So without further ado, here we go.
You know the kind of champ who does nothing but noob things and then wonders why his lane sucks? Well, that was me. Every time something good happened to me, something bad was always waiting round the corner: defeat. That’s when I realized that I had to change, so I made a guide of everything dumb I’ve ever done and one by one I’m gonna make up for all my mistakes. I’m just trying to be a better champion.
Pros / Cons
+ Insane mobility in late game
+ Has the best mobility-oriented kit in the game
+ The escapes tho
+ Can micromanage teamfights in his favor
+ Can help transport even the slowest members of your team ( Mordekaiser *cough cough*)
+ watching enemies enter decoy portals is hilarious
+ Awesome poke/kiting
+ Jungle team fights usually end in your favor
+ Incredible late game scaling
+ CC like a BAUS
+ CC is for "cray-cray"
- Playing as Bard puts a harassment target on your back
- You can be the best Bard on Earth, but people always blame you for their stupid s**t
- His regular autos. omg.
- Base stats are pitiful
- Early on, he's squishier than Toni Morrison's a**
- His heals do little to nothing unless you wait a half century for it
- Upgrading this heal early is utterly useless w/o a TON of AP
- Can effectively f**k his entire team over with 3/4 of his abilities.
- Enemies can cancel heals if placed poorly
- Bad portal placement can end up killing your whole team
- Ult is arguably the biggest double-edged sword in the entire game
Bard's abilities are unique to say the least. Some would argue that they don't work together in any sort of way (he's been called the Shaco of bot lane), but this is not true. Haters also say that he's evidence that Riot is running out of ideas, but I believe just the opposite. Bard is a brilliant idea, concept and all, and his abilities reflect this - adding much needed variety and intrigue to the champion pool.
This ability is what Bard is primarily known for. This ability is also the reason why a lot of Bards are picked off in late game.
ANCIENT CHIMES: Bard's presence causes sacred chimes to appear at a random location on the field, which linger for up to 10 minutes. Collecting a chime grants Bard a brief burst of movement speed out of combat for 7 seconds (stacking up to 5 times), 20 + (1 per minute after 5 minutes) experience, and restores 12% of Bard's maximum mana. Every 5 chimes Bard collects empower his meeps.
MEEPS: Bard's presence attracts small spirits known as meeps to his side. Whenever Bard attacks, one of his meeps throws itself at his target, dealing 「 30 - 465 」( + 20 per 5 chimes collected after 150) (+ 30% AP) bonus magic damage before disappearing back to the spirit world. At 5 Chimes, meeps slow damaged enemies by 25 / 45 / 60 / 70 / 75% / 80% for 1 second, and at 25 Chimes they deal area of effect damage in a cone behind the main target, with the cone's size increasing at 65 chimes. Meeps spawn every 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 seconds and Bard can hold up to 1 / 2 / 3 / 4.
Sure, collecting chimes is time consuming, and in tough laning situations it's hard to get i to jungle to effectively collect chimes, but an effort has to be made. Without chimes, you WILL fall behind. This isn't just because of the mana and experience they grant, but rather the auto attack effects. If you want to farm at ALL in late game, or even provide any sort of damage in team fights, chimes are a necessity. End of story. Also, if other lanes need help, chimes will practically carry you there if you plan your travels correctly.
Also, keep in mind that chimes (particularly in early game) spawn close to where you are geographically, or within your relative area. If you stand in jungle by the river, expect chimes to appear in dragon pit, or in other risky areas. It's not worth an early death to get an extra chime or two. "Do it for the chime" is never a good approach.
This is Bard's bread and butter. This, NOT his heal, is the most essential piece of his arsenal. Take. This. First.
COST: 60 MANA
COOLDOWN: 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7
ACTIVE: Bard fires out a 1500-speed burst of spirit energy in a line, dealing magic damage and briefly slowing the first enemy struck by 60%.
NOTE: After Cosmic Binding hits an enemy, the burst of energy continues through, searching for secondary targets. If it hits a wall or a second enemy, it stuns the affected units, dealing magic damage to the second unit as well.
MAGIC DAMAGE: 80 / 125 / 170 / 215 / 260 (+ 65% AP)
SLOW/STUN DURATION: 1 / 1.2 / 1.4 / 1.6 / 1.8
Ever played a fighting game? Everyone who plays them knows that a wall combo is the best combo. If you can manage to use this skillshot to bind a champ against the wall, it's definitely a more guaranteed stun - over binding two enemies together - especially if leading targets is not your strong-suit. Some people cannot get the concept that some skillshots are slower than others, and leading targets with this ability is essential, because this projectile is slower than a molasses enema. A speed of 1500 is NOT fast. If you use this for a while, you will become a skillshot grand master senpai.
Bulls**t. Absolute bulls**t. At first glance anyway.
COST: 100 / 105 / 110 / 115 / 120
MANA COOLDOWN: 12
ACTIVE: Bard conjures a health shrine at the target location that builds up in power over 10 seconds. Bard can have up to 3 shrines active at once, which remain until visited by an ally or crushed by an enemy.
NOTE: Allied champions who step over the shrine will consume it, healing for an amount based on the shrine's power and gaining 50% bonus movement speed which decays over 1.5 seconds. Enemy champions who step on the shrines will destroy it.
MINIMUM HEAL: 30 / 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 (+ 20% AP)
MAXIMUM HEAL: 70 / 110 / 150 / 190 / 230 (+ 45% AP)
This health pack ability is a lot like Healthcare.gov. You'd think it would be great because of the time and resources put into it, but you don't get back what you were expecting. Not by a long shot. The benefits are s***. A lot of players like to build this ability first - in order to provide packs for the jungler early on (a bit of kiss-a**), but this is what the "tard Bards" do. The ability drains your mana absurdly fast. That mana is better used in lane in the form of his Q, which makes him even remotely threatening, and this mana is scarce without chimes (which you can't collect if you don't have your lane properly intimidated).
Heal pack placement varies on how aggressive your lane is. If your enemies are lane bullies, keep the heals further towards turret. It your side happens to be the pushy side, still keep the heal behind your side of river - be it by the inside wall, or in a bush. You never know when you'll need to run back into it. When mid/late game rolls around, place heals behind your ranks. Know that players find themselves basing their teamfights around health pack placement. Keep this in mind - so that you don't put a pack too far forward.
The heal is only good for a minuscule amount - even if you wait for it to hit its state of puberty. Arguably, it's most effective use, especially during mid game, is for the brief, yet extremely useful speed boost it gives. Upon pursuit of an enemy, it is often beneficial to choose an ally to boost. Often times this can lead to a successful kill, but it all depends on who you choose and when. It takes good judgement to pull this off in the heat of the moment, but it is 1000% worth it.
This ability is probably the reason why 90% of Bard users got interested in him in the first place. Unfortunately, only 5% of the Bards know how to use it to its full potential.
COST: 30 MANA
COOLDOWN: 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16
ACTIVE: Bard opens a one-way magical corridor through the first piece of terrain in front of him through to the other side.
NOTE: Both allies and enemies can use the corridor by right-clicking on the corridor or its exit, with allies receiving bonus travel speed. Magical Journey will not cast unless it will open a corridor.
ALLY BONUS MOVEMENT: 10 / 20 / 30 / 40 / 50%
The fact of the mater is: this ability only costs 30 mana to cast. It is not very expensive to use - other than it's crazy cooldown. A lot of Bard players are super uncomfortable using it, because of its cooldown alone, but you've gotta use it when you have it to make the most of it. Bottom line: you can't forget you own it, and you have to use it on the correct walls. Even if there are extremely long walls to pass through and yell "Weeeeee!"; sometimes shorter walls make more sense for the task at hand. If it's to save your a**, or your entire team's a**, make sure your enemy can't cut you off because of your dumb portal placement. This ability is all about common sense, and a lack thereof can put you up s**t creek without a paddle.
Also, make decoy portals if necessary. If you or your team is being pursued, you can make portals behind you that lead in the opposite direction. The enemy falls for it all the time. Sometimes, even if the enemy has vision of where the end point is, and none of your teammates are there, the enemies end up traveling through them anyway (Weeeeeee!!...?). I don't need to explain why this is hilarious, and often, pulling this off will help earn the trust of skeptical teammates.
This is why most people get butthurt at the very mention of Bard. This ability is very risky, yet it has the potential to be the best CC ability in the entire game. You just can't use it like you would any other ult.
COST: 100 MANA
COOLDOWN: 130 / 115 / 90
ACTIVE: Bard sends magical energy arcing to a target location. On impact, all units — allied, enemy and neutral — in the target 350-radius area are put in stasis for 2.5 seconds, becoming untargetable and invulnerable but also unable to perform any action.
NOTE: Epic monsters and turrets (excluding Dominion turrets and the Nexus Obelisk) are also put in stasis, despite normally being immune to disabling abilities.
Tempered Fate may be the hardest ability in the game. It is also, arguably, more valuable to the team than you are. In some instances, it is more worth while for you to die than to waste your ult on yourself. It is to be cherished, and used only when needed, and you'd better be damn good with it.
This ult is probably best used on enemies rather than on teammates. Sure, stasis can really help in some instances, and you might say something dumb, like, "It's a zhonyas, so I'll use it like a zhonyas." DON'T DO THIS.
I can't iterate this enough - this is mostly meant to be used on enemies. In most instances, it acts as a timeout in mid-teamfight for you to get into position for a Cosmic Binding, or to put down a Caretaker's Shrine for the team - while the enemy is still in stasis (even though it gives both teams time for their abilities to come off of cooldown). It's also extremely useful for turret dives - since Bard can successfully disable a turret for a short time. If you're one of THOSE Bard players that only ults turrets and/or objectives, it has great synergy with the Ohmwrecker active, since you can use one right after the other. If you have good aim, you can completely f**k over an entire team of turret-hugging cowards.
Just remember - this ult takes careful timing and placement. Your lack of aim and/or timing can get your entire team killed. This ult is valuable, but also equally dangerous. It may not have a gigantic cooldown late game, but this doesn't mean you should use it whenever it's convenient. Use your head.
There are a couple of ways to go about doing this, but the following is my preference:
Early on, building for Cosmic Binding is probably the best course of action, because makes his early poke game remotely threatening, and frequent. Its mana cost is relatively lower than many other stuns in the game, and it's Bard's only damaging ability. Some Bard players fall into the trap of building for Caretaker's Shrine to give their jungler a health pack after an early leash, but the mana cost is too steep early on, and the health benefits are deplorable at best. Bard can certainly use that mana in lane to actually make a difference. Plus: his heal requires quite a sum of AP to be efficient. Unless you brought your Veigar runes and masteries on accident, you really can't keep up with the heals of most other supports - at least in early game.
EDIT: If you are concerned about not healing your jungler after a leash, still build Cosmic Binding first to bind the jungle monsters together within the first second of the leash (as to not be the final hit). Stunning these enemies prevents aggro, which in turn, saves the jungler the health that they would otherwise use your Caretaker's Shrine packs for. This will save Bard a considerable amount of mana, and your lane will benefit because of it. This is better all around.
Also, building Magical Journey early on has very little benefits - unless you need to leave lane for emergency chimes/mid ganks. You shouldn't need to do that until about lv. 4 or so, Either way, if you know what you're doing, you shouldn't be that low on mana anyway, so yeah. Just build for Cosmic Binding first, and as usual, your mobility, ( Magical Journey), should be the last thing to be maxed.
In-Depth on Chimes:
Within the in-game interface, there is very little indication of how many chimes equate to a specific effect, and some Bard players are left wondering; "Why are my chimes not causing splash damage yet?!" Well the tool top on his passive does say that the cone comes at 65 chimes, but it's not all that specific about the other chime-collecting benchmarks. Here is a list of collected chime quantities, and the respective effects they produce:
5 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks apply a 25% slow for 1 second
10 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 55 damage (+ 30% AP)
15 Chimes: You can now have a maximum of 2 meeps behind you
20 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 80 damage (+ 30% AP)
25 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks will strike through their target
30 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 110 damage (+ 30% AP)
35 Chimes: Meeps will regenerate every 9 seconds
40 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 140 damage (+ 30% AP)
45 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks will slow by 45%
50 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 175 damage (+ 30% AP)
55 Chimes: You can now have a maximum of 3 meeps behind you
60 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 210 damage (+ 30% AP)
65 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks strike-through units behind the target in a cone AoE
70 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 245 damage (+ 30% AP)
75 Chimes: Meeps will regenerate every 8 seconds
80 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 280 damage (+ 30% AP)
85 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks will slow by 60%
90 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 315 damage (+ 30% AP)
95 Chimes: You can now have a maximum of 4 meeps behind you (Maximum possible quantity)
100 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 345 damage (+ 30% AP)
105 Chimes: Meeps will regenerate every 7 seconds
110 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 375 damage (+ 30% AP)
115 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks will slow by 70%
120 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 400 damage (+ 30% AP)
125 Chimes: Meeps will regenerate every 6 seconds (Fastest possible regen)
130 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 425 damage (+ 30% AP)
135 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks will slow by 75%
140 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 445 damage (+ 30% AP)
145 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks will slow by 80% (Maximum possible slow)
150 Chimes: Meep-amplified auto attacks deal 465 damage (+ 30% AP)
*Note: Every 5 chimes collected after 150 adds 20 damage (+ 30% AP). Dayum.
In all of my days of Bard playing, I have never reached 150 Chimes, but in case you do, just know that even if you build taky on Bard, you have never-ending damage scaling like Nasus or Veigar. Your late game is absurd (especially when it comes to your cc potential) - just something to keep in mind when your early game feels hella weak.
- One of the best summoner spells around, and for good reason. This happens to be an excellent pick for Bard - especially if he blows the rest of his abilities on trying to save teammates. Pick this if you're not creative and/or want to win.
- A support essential. This works wonders with trying to land a successful Cosmic Binding, or shutting down a potentially dangerous enemy carry. This comes highly recommended for just about any supporting circumstance.
- Nope. You have these things called chimes, and they make you go "weeee!" Ghost is for Hecarim and Singed - not you.
- Meh. I mean, if you're the type of Bard that thinks the best way to support is to be scary as s**t, and go for pure AP early on, then go for it. I do not recommend it, but if you absolutely NEED it, I can't stop you, but I will still try.
- I've had ADC's beg me to pack this, because of my roaming, but you move fast enough anyway that it doesn't make too much of a difference. If you roam at opportune times, you never have to worry about leaving your ADC in sticky situations. Not really the best choice, but ok.
- Nope. No cleanse please. If you want a real cleanse, pack Activia.
- If you're tired of your own heal ability ( Caretaker's Shrine *cough-cough*) not being very reliable in a pinch, take it. if not, Exhaust is the way to go. The ADC should be packing heal anyway these days.
- I have seen Bard players pack this, and then build for a Stalker's Blade or a Skirmisher's Sabre instead of a gold item, but they are what I like to call "Tard Bards." This is the kind of Bard you do not want to be.
- Season 4 is over. This doesn't work anymore. For anyone.
Not very standard runes for supporting, but then again, Bard is anything but standard. I choose to add a little AP to my runes so that I can make the most of my pokes, and not rely entirely on the ADC to compensate for two champs' damage. Believe it or not, Bard is a very healthy pseudo-mage support, and his runes can reflect this.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Bard needs to deal SOME damage to even be valid in a duo lane. Your ADC can't do that much damage to multiple targets - especially early on. Bard needs to have at least a little bit of bite in order to successfully kite, or even do away with pesky enemies. Sure, Bard should not be the one to secure all the kills by any means, but their carry can't do all the damage alone. That's an unrealistic expectation for women, I mean, Bard.
Without a little bit or armor/magic resist, Bard is extremely squishy. He shouldn't use scaling runes, since his early game can use all the help it can get. His end game is amazing either way. He's like Singed in that sense - he just becomes strong no matter what (by Bard standards, of course).
Bard can use some love when it comes to in-lane sustain and wellbeing. He doesn't have the base stats of a normal champion, and his masteries can be used across the board to keep him up to parr in a wide variety of categories - including damage. Sure, his mana can be replenished by collecting chimes, but his health is pricy - especially when his Caretaker's Shrine costs so damn much. In order for Bard to stay on the front lines and poke, he needs some kitability, and a little bit of bulk to back him up. His laning phase is far too fragile to put his vitality in jeopardy for a bit of healing bonus and health regen.
Thunderlord's Decree Is by far the best keystone mastery Bard can pack at the moment (as well as everyone else. Seriously.). Some would argue that Windspeaker's Blessing is the most beneficial for Bard, but its benefits are lost on a champion whose healing output can't even COMPARE to many other supports ( Soraka *cough-cough*). Bard's cooldown is much too high, and the rate at which it takes for his packs to "hit puberty" means that you cannot make enough use of this mastery to use it to its intended potential. It wasn't until recently that I came to this conclusion, but I'm not too sad about it, because Thunderlord's Decree is excellent.
I've said this before, but Bard's ideal item path is not standard support material, but it's relatively close. Bard needs a little bit of ability power and defense to be viable, since a champ who can be completely shut down with tenacity is not very useful. Also, his heals do little-to-no good without a decent amount of AP, and he really has no place in team fights if he can't put out a little bit of damage. When I say "a little," I mean it. Don't overdo it.
Ruby Sightstone:All about lane protection (but who uses protection? it ruins all the fun). Also the additional health is a much-needed bonus. Any good support knows that this is the essential item for map awareness, and overall objective domination. A classic.
Boots of Mobility:Of all the supports who benefit from building this, Bard probably benefits more. His out-of-lane wandering is significantly boosted by the passive effect, and whilst collecting chimes, Bard becomes insanely mobile. This is a great way to make your necessary wandering count.
Rod of Ages:Probably the most important item to get on Bard. The earlier you get this item, the better - even if it comes before completing Frost Queen's Claim. Health, mana, and AP increase passively each minute, and has a built-in heal mechanic for each time you level up. RoA works wonders for Bard. Get this.
Eye of the Watchers:This is a wonderful way to compromise the need for both a sightstone, and finding a great way to make Spellthief's Edge useful. A lot of supports begrudgingly built for Frost Queen's Claim - even though they never use its active. It gives great sustain tools, a pretty good income passive, and just enough AP to make it awesome for your poke game. This item really allows for Bard to streamline his build path to adapt to the game - without the arbitrary need for both Ruby Sightstone and Frost Queen's Claim. This is what you build if you have a situational game - in which you need extra armor, or something like that.
Frost Queens Claim:I used to pack this item exclusively - before the awesome support itemization changes for preseason 6. If you still like the active on this item, it's still a wonderful pick - especially now that its active is basically Twin Shadows (RIP). As of 6.1, it is hilariously overpowered. Even in its infancy, Spellthief's Edge, this gives Bard plenty of incentive to kite/poke in lane. Who doesn't like getting gold for being an a**hole?
Wait, wuuuuuut? Yes, this is a VERY odd thing for a support to have, but it is actually a much cheaper and more available alternative to Frost Queen's Claim. It's range amplifier and damage output make your passive-augmented attacks pack a wallop, and the slow is applied via the control vector of auto attack targeting - not on the variable seeking of ghosts. Its cooldown and efficiency make it a great way for Bard to improve his movement speed, gap close, and teamfight output - whilst staying on a budget.
Talisman of Ascension:starting Bard with Ancient Coin isn't a terrible idea - especially since it is a low-risk way of earning gold in lane, and the health and mana regen are quite handy in a very aggressive lane. Recently, it also got a gold buff per minion death. I have taken this before, but I still perfer using Spellthief's Edge - although the active on Talisman is still extremely useful for Bard and his team. If you "gotta go fast," and get "all dem rings," take this.
EDIT: I've done some experimentation with my starting items - purchasing Spellthief's Edge, and selling it for Talisman of Ascension later on. The results were highly beneficial, but I still like my old method. Just know that this build path also works.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter:Even if the passive effect becomes redundant with Bard's Cosmic Binding, it's mainly the AP and health that make this item something to strive for. Not absolutely essential, but it's still a VERY good item to pick up. In a lot of games, however, you may need to sacrifice this for other support items. If there is any item to compromise, it is this one.
Redemption:What an awesome new item. I would recommend getting this somewhere around early/mid game - since it is not too expensive - especially for how quickly its active can turn fights. This is basically a must in the new support meta.
Ardent censer:Not my favorite support item out there, but it still works great with Bard. You need a team with heavy AD to make the most of it, but if you buy it anyway, it is also nice for the mana regen, CDR, and a little bit of AP.
Zz'Rot Portal:If you team has forgotten how to push, this is a necessity. Bard doesn't have a whole lot of split push potential, but this certainly helps, and gives him a bit of armor/MR to boot. This item is also a better pick than Guardian Angel, and gives similar stat bonuses. It's active alone is well worth the gold.
Locket of the Iron Solari:This item is great. I can't stress that enough. It is arguably one of the best support items out there, and a great way to combat rampant enemy AP. It's cost is relatively low, and its active is a life saver. This item is far too good to overlook, but it is not necessary in EVERY game.
Spirit Visage:Great item to buy if an enemy mage is whooping your a**. Bard can really use some CDR, and that's exactly what this item has to offer. This item is on the so-called "vegan menu" - for hipsters and the like. Again, it's not a mainstream pick, but at least you've heard of it.
Frozen Heart:This is an absolutely amazing pick to counter an AD-heavy enemy. This, along with Randuin's Omen can really save your whole team a lot of grief. I would take this over Thornmail any day, because you honestly don't have the health to pack a substantial punch with it, and Frozen Heart works on enemies who aren't even targeting you.
Zhonya's Hourglass:Not my favorite thing to build, nor does it really come up on my list of necessities, but Bard can altar teamfights with syncopating his Tempered Fate and his Zhonya's Hourglass actives. Again, this can go horribly wrong if you're not good with his ult, but it's worth it. Sometimes. In the end, I would mostly build it for the active ability and armor over the AP, but it's not too bad to have all three of these things if it's an all-included package. Just don't build this early. Please. There are more important items to get first.
Lich Bane:EXTREMELY situational, yet it can pack quite a punch. It used to be included in Bard's recommended items when he was originally released, but it was taken off almost immediately, because reasons. It's synergy with Bard's amplified auto attacks can pack a wallop, but it's not what he's good for. This is an item you get only if the rest of your team cannot deal damage worth a s**t, and it's up to the Bard to do it. This is a strategy I call "Allahu AkBard," because it's so ridiculously desperate. Sometimes, if the situation is this dire, I even get Luden's Echo for s**ts and gigs. If it gets to this point, you've basically lost - so you may as well have some fun. Again, only do this if your team deals no damage, or has ZERO teamfight potential whatsoever. Let me make this clear; THIS IS A LAST DITCH EFFORT.
Mejai's Soulstealer:NOPE. Just plain nope. For the record, I've seen Janna players pack this because of the assist stacks, and that was actually successful to some degree, but Bard also needs to have a decent quantity of health alongside his AP - especially if he wants to deal any medium range poke. This is why he builds AP items with health included. Also, beyond laning phase, his need for AP falls to the wayside. I can see why this would be fun, and even a little bit tempting, but avoid this in a real game. People already hate Bard as is - don't paint an even bigger target on your back.
General Role Summary
Bard's main strengths come from a constant pomBARDment of targeted harass via his buffed auto attacks. If you happen to have a Spellthief's Edge, you will get much-needed gold for a vast majority of times you lash out at the enemy ADC. You can afford to just waltz around your minion wave, and auto enemy champs now and then, or cast Cosmic Binding to stun targets at opportune moments. Even such a simple strategy has overwhelmingly positive results.
Note: if you are not properly communicating, stunning a target(s) will encourage your ADC to go ham - even when you don't want them to. It is best to signal when you want a full engage, because carries sometimes interpret your pokes as the means to go in. This lack of communication could get you both killed.
In terms of Caretaker's Shrine, I tend to place one or two health packs between river and my turret - on the wall closest to jungle. In most scenarios, it is quickest to move on the inside portion of the lane - close to river. You will find that health packs placed here are easily accessible, and enemies who attempt to nab them can be easily stunned to the nearby wall. It become a little safe zone - a bank of shrines that you might get used to withdrawing from regularly, and replenishing with new health packs.
Bard is famous for not having amazing kill potential, but he has been known to snag a couple here and here. Bard might have to secure kills for his team if need be, but don't be THAT guy. It shouldn't be your job to carry the whole team (key word: shouldn't), but if your ADC is awful, you might have to step up your game to save your lane, or even your team, from peril. Bard can do marvelous things with a couple of kills (those Q's and autos tho), but he shouldn't be a hog. Also, if you end up getting a lucky kill under your own turret (which happens more frequently that you might think), that is not an excuse to build for raw AP. Let your carry build for pure damage. That's what you signed up for.
Bard is probably the definition of support, and he should be played exclusively so. His most beneficial build path may be different from many other supports, but quite honestly, he was made to do nothing but support. There used to be a time when Riot was relatively open to the idea of support champs being capable of other feats - like Taric/Sona mid, etc. Those days of meta experimenting are long gone. That's a sob story for another day.
Bard has little-to-no potential in solo lane, but his potential with a lane partner compensates for this lack of individual strength, and even manages to go well beyond the bounds of normal duo bot potential.
Bard is the only support I enjoy playing. He adds an interesting twist to the lane, and quite honestly, his lack of kill potential is never really an issue. He doesn't necessarily need kills to be a key member of a team (he doesn't NEED them, but getting a few here and there isn't a mortal sin). Bard players have plenty of fun setting off chain reactions for their team, and watching them unfold as your teammates dominate. You sort-of become a master of puppets - your calculated string pulls and quick judgement calls can turn the tides of any fight, But as spiderman once taught us, this also comes with great responsibility.
Bot Lane Bard Synergy:
- This comp is surprisingly amazing. Everyone knows about the Trist-Braum leap frog tactic, but Bard's synergy with Trist is even more fun. Despite Trist's limited auto attack range early on, Bard can keep away as Trist farms lane with utmost ease. Their collective engage/mobility potential is insane.
- Stale, but it works. Ashe doesn't add anything interesting to the combo, but Bard can certainly make the most of her updated Q with a barrage of CC to spread their cheeks - so-to-speak.
- All that speed. You've gotta optimize jinx's W and E for a time when an enemy is caught out by a successful Bard stun. She doesn't deal the most damage early on, but you can certainly wear champs down if you don't waste all of your mana.
- Farm farm farm. Let Bard kite while Draven stacks. Also, Draven's Stand Aside can push enemies to the sides of lane, and Bard can follow up by Q'ing them into those walls. Pretty great synergy all around - even with gap closing.
- Nooooooo. Avoid this please. PLEASE. Her passive requires her support to be near her in lane, and "wandering" is Bard's middle name. Her stats actually decrease without him there. This combo is no fun for anyone. Don't let this happen - on any occasion. If you do, make sure that you get all the ADC buff items you can (IE: Zeke's Harbinger, Ardent Censer) - give yourself incentive to stay in lane for as long as possible. Make your time out of lane brief, and make it count.
- It's all about pursuits. These two can catch anyone if they put their minds to it. The catch: good luck finding a Quinn these days that actually goes bot lane.
- Awesome burst. If Bard and MF can catch an opponent out with a Cosmic Binding and a MF's Make it Rain, there's a lot of potential to stop an enemy in their tracks for all sorts of damage. The results are devastating, but it takes cooperation.
- this comp is a bit like communism: it works in theory, but it's questionable in practice. There's not a whole lot of synergy going on here. Bard has great potential with ADC's with a little bit of CC, and Ezreal certainly does not fill this niche. This combo should be avoided - since there are other sups who better serve Ezreal's many needs.
- In their face. If Sivir knows how to save her Spell Shield, diving an enemy team becomes super easy, and surprisingly effective. Also sivir's ult, On The Hunt, delivers an excellent venue from which she can take advantage of a successful Bard stun/ult. Overall; a pretty nice combo
- could use more cowbell. Lucian can sure as hell poke and maintain a safe farming distance, but that's about it. Dive potential ends at a Bard Q/ult into Lucian's The Culling. There are better combos, sure, but this one still works fine.
- the stuns are REAL. Varus has excellent E and ult synergy with Bard, but he has to save these abilities for the right moment. This combo is all about timing, but it's amazing if done correctly.
- You need a pretty cooperative Graves player to make this work correctly. Graves has some massive burst, but pulling it off requires Graves to save his load (if you know what I mean) - preferably for a time when your CC is readily available. Pulling it off has amazing results.
- If someone gets caught in one of Caitlyn's traps, you should prep a Cosmic Binding, and she should fire a Piltover Peacemaker in their direction to hopefully stun/slow them again, and deliver maximum damage. Make the most of both of your CC/engage/disengage potential, and bot is practically yours for the taking.
- The plays. Corki has some amazing engage potential, but he can also disengage as quickly as he appears. Within a moment's notice, he can be in an out before you even know it. He's like Twitch, but with a pair of balls. Making the most of his ability for surprise butsecks can land some unforgiving burst upon an unsuspecting enemy.
- Jhin is one of those champs whose strengths require him to keep his hands clean, so-to-speak. He's like a Caitlyn without a proper escape mechanic, and is often caught out for being too greedy. Bard's job is to literally make his lane a shooting gallery - just stunning things so Jhin can nuke them from behind minion waves. But to do this, Bard needs to be tanky, because it is rare that a Jhin will come forward to help.
I'm not going to be humble about this. My juke game is on point - on fleek even. I feel it's about time I share my secrets with the world.
The best getaway tool in Bard's whimsical arsenal is definitely Magical Journey. Using it on a longer piece of terrain is ideal - since it gets the most out of the ability's distance. Keep in mind the fact that enemy champions move 10% slower through portals that you generate. Making your getaway portals longer can get you a much needed head start, and it can give some of your other abilities more cooldown time - particularly Cosmic Binding. If you get to the other side of your portal, and you hear enemies enter your portal behind you, Time a Q against the wall on the receiving end to pin them against the wall, or better, if more than one enemy pursues you, pin two enemies together as they leave the portal. It will look something like a 3 Stooges routine.
Another thing you can do is make decoy portals, but ONLY if your enemy doesn't have vision of you. This can be particularly risky if they see you do it, because you can waste your best escape ability and end up dead. This usually works in bushes - particularly not bushes that are traditionally warded. Only do this if you are confident that they cannot see you, and they do not have vision of the portal's receiving end - sometimes you can even use your Sweeping Lens to see if your fake portal is safe to produce. REMEMBER: if you pull this off, it is the best possible maneuver to shake a team of pursuing idiots.
In case you still have to run, place a Caretaker's Shrine at your feet to give yourself movement speed for a short burst - even if you have full health. Try and look for any available chimes, and collect as many as possible on your escape route. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
*Your ult is a last resort - save it if you can.
Utilizing all of these abilities correctly can get you out of most engages safely. It just takes a level head, and a bit of wit to pull off. It may be tough sometimes, but you can outrun even the greediest, meat-headed Akali or Lee Sin player.
The Difficulty Curve Explained
Bard is all about knowing when to put in, and pull out. As in real life; If your pullout game isn't prime, you're gonna have a bad time. You can also be punished for going in too early, or going in too late. As a Bard player, you have to know the most beneficial times to ult/q/heal/etc. - or you will deal more damage to your team than you inflict upon your enemy if you're not careful. I've heard a lot of people say that the name "Bard" is just "Bad" with an "R for Ult" in it, but the truth is: Bard has amazing potential, but he is only as good as his team, and sometimes, you have to be the best on your team and beyond.
Magical Journey can be a b***h sometimes, but it's not rocket science once you get the hang of it. Many Bard players have worse aim than your average 10 year-old COD quickscoper, and end up making some of the worst portals imaginable - at the least opportune times. In some instances, Bard players make portals that lead his enemies RIGHT to his vulnerable team. Not exactly the best support maneuver. This ability is almost as risky as his ult sometimes, but its payoff is well worth learning when and where to deploy it.
A lot of Bards think it's a great idea to simply throw a Tempered Fate into a teamfight, and hope it goes in their favor. There are more reasons to f**k a cactus than to do this, because most of the time, you end up canceling your allies' abilities in mid-use. No bueno. Many Bards also do this on accident - even when their intentions are good, and for the most part, well thought out. Teammates often waste their ults when they don't see the ult ring around their feet that would otherwise save their lives. Sometimes it's not always best to ult teammates, because freezing certain enemies/objectives can be much more useful. Even when Bards know this general rule, allies will run in on enemies that stand in the center of an incoming ult - even though they the ult will stop the enemy in their tracks anyway. Sometimes, teammates act on impulse, and it is often hard to predict their stupid s**t without proper communication via /Teamspeak/Mumble/Curse Voice/Skype/etc. It's not ALWAYS the fault of the Bard player, but then again, League is all about blaming someone else. It's a League of Legends, not a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
There are not a whole lot of teammates who trust you with this much responsibility, and thus the rage ensues. The haters will be on you like white on Michael Cera. The key is to keep a level head, and just do your thing. Most of the time, if you become involved in proving yourself to your team, you end up making some awesome plays whilst trying to prove them wrong. That's when your team reveres you with saintlike praise, and once in a blue moon, they even apologize for their misplaced doubt. There's a lot of Bard prejudice out there, and it's up to us to play him to the best of our ability, and hopefully clear his name.
Le Magical Journey (With Magical Pictures)
I've been asked to make a segment on where to place the best portals for given situations. With this chapter, I give you a comprehensive map on where to put magical journeys on Summoner's Rift (I may include the other maps - we'll see. . .).
The Yellow paths are the most beneficial paths to take for speed purposes/getaway. These are also the normal paths that you should take for chime collecting/wandering/etc.
The Purple paths are for sneaking around usual ward placement (bushes, drag, etc.), and for making successful fake portals.
The Red paths are things I've seen other Bards do, and you should not repeat them. Seriously (with the exception of the nexus portal - if you can pull it off before homeguard kicks in mid game, go for it).
Getting Out of Base (The fun way)
There are very few Bard players who can effectively utilize the walls within their own base to get to Bot/Top lanes quickly. It's something you shouldn't do unless you can pull it off quickly, because most Bards end up wasting more time trying to make the portal than they do by simply walking the same distance. Here is a step-by-step guide (with magical pictures) on how to effectively make these portals easily, and quickly enough for them to be valid.
Bot Lane:For bot lane, you need to get yourself poised between two fur trees on the bottom part of the spawn stairs. NOTE: even if you click the exact center of the two trees, you will not be perfectly poised between them. You are doing it right.
It should look something like this.
If you look down from the bot lane inhibitor, there is a plant crawling up onto the base wall - with a rather large leaf looming over the rock. Aim just beneath this leaf, close to the tip to get the most out of this portal.
This is what it should look like before you accept the portal placement.
Top Lane:For top lane, by the blue team merchant, there should be a little blue bottle in the top-left corner of the spawn. You are going to want to stand there.
It should look something like this.
If you look at the wall just before the top lane inhibitor, you'll see a series of cracks on the different stone layers of the wall; one on the lighter, top portion, and two on the lower, darker portion. If you aim for the grass just to the right of the furthest dark portion crack, you will make an epic portal.
This is what it should look like before you accept the portal placement.
Bot Lane:For bot lane, you're gonna want to find the top stair on the spawn, and find the area to the right side where a large clump of grass is. Stand on the clump of grass.
It should look something like this.
Next to the bot lane inhibitor, there is a group of purple flowers. There is a part towards the top left corner of the flowers are more dispersed. Aim right where the circle is. This one is probably the trickiest one to get at first, but it's worth it to master.
This is what it should look like before you accept the portal placement.
Top Lane:For top lane, you're going to stand behind the bronze cap behind the merchant ship. It's as far into the corner as you can go.
It should look something like this.
Right by the top lane inhibitor, there is yet another group of purple flowers. You're gonna want to have your cursor on the end of this patch of flowers to make the most of this portal.
This is what it should look like before you accept the portal placement.
Some Strange, Yet Helpful Tricks
Bard's strengths are definitely not up-front or obvious - as most of this guide has explained. Some of Bard's strange little tricks, however, may not be game changing, but can really put you above a lot of other players. These are little things - small nitpicks to your average in-game workflow that will make your lives easier, and maybe a little weirder. Some of these tricks take advantage of the unquantifiable "Human Element" to League - using psychology as a weapon rather than kit mechanics alone. As strange as these tips may sound, they ARE, in fact, rooted in very sound reasoning.
Chime RNG Manipulation:
In the beginning of any game on Summoner's Rift, Bard's first two chimes will spawn in a remote proximity to his location at exactly 00:35 (soon after you are able to leave the starting fountain). This RNG can be manipulated in your favor if you can find specific places to stand at that moment. In order to prevent the risk of encountering enemies in the jungle at lv. 1, it is usually smart to stay on your side of jungle - between the starting camps (gromp or krugs) and your base (unless of course you plan an immediate invade). This will ensure that the first chimes will spawn on your side of the river. This is a great way to optimize safety, and enter lane with a little extra EXP.
*You can also wait around until 01:25 to get the third chime. If you aren't leashing, get it asap. If you ARE leashing, and if you can get it after you leash for your jungler, it will replenish some of the mana cost of your Q. Any chime you can get before lane phase helps.
Maximum Aggro While Taking Turrets:
If you're attacking a turret, and a wave of enemy minions come down lane near you, be sure to try and stun the first two in the line with Cosmic Binding as soon as you see them. Don't let them near your minions. It might sound odd, but this little trick keeps any of your allied minions, who are attacking the turret, from switching their aggro to the incoming minions. It ensures maximum damage on the turret for a few moments. Doing this several times a game will add up over time to ultimately increase your objective taking efficiency. It's a small amount, don't get me wrong, but any little bit helps.
It is a common thing that your enemies like to cancel your Caretaker's Shrine. They know just how long it takes, and how much mana it costs, and loosing a health pack is quite a large setback in the early game.
. . . That being said, If you are confident that your enemy will go out of their way to cancel your health pack, put one in a bush in bot lane. Your enemy may needlessly camp that bush. When your enemy goes near the pack, you can stun them to the outer wall. No matter how you choose to pursue them, you will always have less distance to travel, because you will be in the inside of the lane curve. This is the ideal wall to stun enemies to.
The "OMG! A Portal!" Trick
*This is more prone to work against melee champions.
There will be times when your enemy will have you pinned against a wall with a considerable amount of cc and/or pressure. If your flash is down, your enemy will often expect you to make a portal on the wall behind you (assuming you're not against a wall on the outer boarder of the map). If you want to try an excellent yet risky maneuver, place a portal on the wall behind you, but DON'T go through it. Sometimes, if you're locked down hard enough, and you make a portal, your enemy will sometimes step through it without you. They might also walk into it while attempting to target you.
Keep in mind: the longer the portal you make, the better. Here's why:
1.) There is a higher chance that they will fall for the fake-out. The portal is much more convincing - because it would put more distance between you, and your attacker.
2.) The portal WILL, in fact, put more distance between you, and your attacker.
*This technique is for those who trust their ult skills. Use with caution.
If you are in lane (mostly works for top or bot) and you are pursuing weakened enemies, you may not have to use your ult in the traditional sense. Sometimes, if the area of escape is narrow enough, you can ult right in front of the fleeing enemy as a deterrent, and most of the time, they'll freak out, and walk back into you for a brief moment. Sometimes, all you need is that brief moment - especially if you're against low mobility champions. It is a risky strat, but it is often faster than waiting the several moments for the stasis of Tempered Fate to wear off, and it could potentially eliminate the possibility of your enemy's escape abilities from coming off of cooldown during the stasis as well. ONLY do this if you know your enemy's flash is down, or they are skittish.
Te-he. This only works if you're in queue with a ranked team - especially a pre-made one with people you know and trust. Bard requires a lot of communication to be used effectively. If you don't have this luxury, good luck getting into a game without somebody dodging or AFKing. It doesn't matter how high the ELO - it happens. In their defense (not like I endorse leaving games in any circumstance), there are VERY few skilled Bard players out there, and their anger is often overblown, but not misplaced. Bard players have it rough sometimes, and even for us skilled Bard players, the discrimination is REAL. Good Bard players are few and far between, and I hope this guide can inspire others to join our ranks.
My Track Record/Pwnage Gallery:
I like to think that I'm pretty good with Bard. I get S, S-, and S+ ALL the time, mostly due to the outrageous amount of assists I get each game, but I also tend to end games with positive KDA (with kills that I earn w/o stealing). The collection of images below started as a wall where I could show my mastery progression with Bard, but it turned into a method by which I can prove Bard's worth to skeptics. In a lot of these games, I had to step up my game to save bot lane, and ended up partially (if not completely) carrying the team. Here are a couple of snaps I had to take to silence haters on Surrender @ 20; photographic evidence that Bard does not suck.
You can find it HERE:
Lol Wuuuut? AD Bard?
Remember a few paragraphs above when I said "Bard is probably the definition of support, and he should be played exclusively so?" Yeah, that's still true. However I've been doing some fun experimenting with surprisingly positive results lately.
I've been doing a little testing on the PBE in regards to a well-developed theory of mine. Bard's initial AP scalings are, at best, nothing to write home about. He gains most of his useful AP damage from chimes he collects throughout the game, which give little-to-no benefit until well into mid game. He doesn't exactly get the same CDR or output that he does with a pseudo AP build as support, but what about hybrid?
I'm not referring to a Hextech Gunblade or a Guinsoo's build, but rather a full AD build that still gets bonus AP from chimes. It has actually shown promise in my testing, yet it isn't necessarily something I'm going to run off and try in a ranked queue. It's just something fun to try now and then. Don't take this as a serious new meta by any means - it's just something fun I might stream now and then.
Thanks to jhoijhoi for some of the BBC Code templates! I can do regular old HTML and Markdown pretty well, but BBC is a whole different creature entirely.
Also, special thanks to the following summoners for putting up with me, and/or ADC'ing.