Bard Build Guide by Camadan

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Camadan

Bardgod : A Top & Support Guide [5.24]

Camadan Last updated on April 14, 2015
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 0

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 26


Utility: 4

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Now Airing on NBC: Bard vs Wild

Whichever rioter created the champ Bard must have really liked just roaming around the map. And trolling. But mostly roaming. Typically champs that roam do so for the purposes of ganking, farming monsters(a.k.a. jungler), splitpushing, objective control (drag/baron), and vision control(warding). Sadly, the only purpose of these that Bard is useful for is vision control. He can't gank very well at all early due to unreliable CC and no early game damage (although later on he can decently well), he can't jungle cause is squish and has no early damage, he can't splitpush (no damage, catching on?) and he has little objective control because of ?guess what? no damage and unreliable CC. Sure he can ult the enemy jungler so they can't smite, but besides that and without your own jungler there you are useless in that regard.

Now you are asking, "well what the f*ck is he good for???" Whoa whoa there....never use "good" and "Bard" in the same sentence. What you SHOULD be asking is "what is he FUN for?" Now you are asking the right question.
Do you like speeding around the map like you are a d*mn Nascar driver? Do you like to troll? Do you like to see how long you can stay out in the wilderness before you have to back to base? And MOST IMPORTANTLY, do you like having an VIABLE EXCUSE to do ALL THE ABOVE FUN SH*T when your team starts harassing you after saying you are useless? Then Bard IS YOUR MAN.
The only way to play Bard semi-viably is to cater to his defining strength (and weakness) of having to almost always roam. To do this more efficiently, we will build him in a way that focuses on speed, tankyness and sustain, therefore needing to back as least as possible and roaming as fast as possible. Because of this fact, you might as well call him Bard Grylls, due to the wildman having to spend long time in the wilderness and having to "scavenge resources" in the woods to sustain himself and make his late game more viable. I mean, look at dat BEARD!! This guy hasn't been outta the woods for years man. Thug be lookin like Rip van Winkle over there.
Finally decided to try him out? Well start up that queue and create your own episode of Man vs Wild, with Bard Grylls.

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Why play Bard? (Pros/Cons)

-High roaming potential
-Potentially high utility/CC if used correctly
-Potentially high late game damage if passive fully utilized and game time >50 minutes

-No kill potential early game
-Damage is painfully low until passive stacked a decent amount
-Very squishy early game
-Utility/CC is VERY unreliable/hard to use, only utility/CC in game that can help enemies/hurt allies respectively

Bard is not in a good place right now. He is pretty much useless in the laning phase, has very low damage that never improves until late late game, and has the one of, if not "THE" RISKIEST KIT IN THE GAME which does not offer enough benefit for its potential costs. There are a few tweaks that could easily change Bard's viability from gimmicky to viable (I will touch on these), and I'm sure from his current level of disappointment he WILL get buffed more later on, but as of patch 5.6 he is just not there yet. The ONLY reason to play him right now is that he is simply fun.... and when you actually do WELL (God forbid) you can rub it into the enemies' faces they got beat by a Bard. Yes there are a few things that he MAY do sightly better at than other supports, but in general everything Bard does (that actually matters to winning) a Sona or Nami can do better and (more importantly) more reliably. BOTTOM LINE: He is a blast to play, if you manage to do well with him all the more power to ya but if you want to win and want a decently similar kit just play Sona or Nami with boots of mobility.
[Update 5.7]
Buffs:{ +6 base AD, +4 base Armor, +20 base +(.15 AP) damage on Q (at rank 5), +5%* mana restored per chime }
The base AD and armor stat buffs are pretty meh; Bard's main problem was his weak early game, and these buffs do a little to mitigate that weakness; however, they still don't do much for his uselessness in laning phase apart from letting him die less, and late game they are barely noticeable anyways.
The extra base damage on Q is nice. As Bard's bread and butter skill, this is basically his ONLY real damage before one farms his passive decently, and even then the passive is only useful in sustained fights when one has 3-4 chimes ready to use. The added (.15 AP) scaling is useless, you should never be building AP on Bard unless you are seriously trolling, and even then building AD is more fun and useful anyways.
The increased mana restored on picking up a chime (*between roughly 3% and 10% of max mana increase depending on missing mana, as was previously based off missing mana and now based off max) may seem good on paper, but in reality it is not good; I never had much of problem with mana at all before this buff (and I never even bought mana/mana regen) and the way his old passive was set up one could easily play around that potential weakness of having no mana. The reason I definitely say this buff is bad is because of opportunity cost; because on paper (etc. for noobs that can't handle smart mana conservation) it IS a 'big buff', they now can't add power elsewhere for a while (a.k.a. somewhere where he needed it), power that a good player could actually use.
Bard is actually a little viable now. While still very much bottom pick, I don't think he is the complete "troll pick" he was before, with the added base stats and Q damage. To be honest though, these buffs are simply NOT what Bard needed. Bard is already a low damage, squishy champ early game because of his abilities, and giving him tiny base boosts in these area doesn't make sense. He was never intended to be a tank/sustained damage champion judging from his original stats and abilities, I don't know why Rito is focusing on these aspects all all. He was supposed to be a high-utility roaming support that SHOULD be very squishy and burstable when caught out. The problem is, he doesn't offer much when roaming (compared to other junglers/supports), to either his adc when gone or to the lane teammate to where he roamed to, so the only thing Rito can think of is to make him a meatshield. That is a dumb and illogical solution.

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Bard's W = Only thing standing between Bard and good viability)

THERE IS ONE SIMPLE FIX TO BARD'S VIABILITY : FIX HIS W SPELL! (Rito please read this section if nothing else)

His W spell I think was one of the coolest spells when Bard was revealed, but in actuality is it just flipping useless. I actually remember 1st Bard game trying to build around his W spell (etc. build AP, max it first) but was blown away by how God-awful it was. In my honest opinion, Bard never needed ANY Q damage (including the 5.6 buff to it too), extra base armor or AD, cd on his E (5.6 too), chime mana increase, or any other non-W related useless buff that Rito may put out in the future. He needs only 1 MAJOR CHANGE that will make him viable, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is his W.
W breakdown:
What it is on paper: An very weak [150+(.20 AP)]instant point-and-click heal+speed boost with an optional "health pack" mechanic: can deploy heal at a nearby targeted area and in 10 seconds will become a [230+(.45 AP)] heal+speed boost.
What is was intended to be and why it doesn't work (my own jugdement, only Rito knows): A unique, high skill-cap/troll mega-heal that can also give a little lane-sustain. This "mega-heal" is achieved by placing all 3 (or even 2) health packs in the same exact spot, potentially offering a huge "clutch" heal to a nearly-dead ally at a critical moment. Example== you have all 3 health packs (fully matured) deployed in a nearby brush when a late game teamfight breaks out and a teammate gets bursted to low health. The teammate sees your health packs and manages to walk to them before dying, healing for 690(+1.35 AP), and proceeds to counterattack with a large portion of his health restored... Sadly, this one intended potential strength of this spell is, in reality, waaaaaaaay to gimmicky. It almost will never work, or won't be worth the effort. It takes 360 mana AND a minimum of 14.4 seconds (WITH max cd) to waste standing around same spot placing the heals (and also 10 more to let them all hit full heal), which can be stepped on by enemies if seen, and requires your teammate to WALK TO THEM. In nearly all cases, nearly-dead teammates can't get to them before they get CC'ed and die, or don't notice them at all, or you placed them in a useless spot, or they get pre-emptively stepped on by allies/enemies. Thus making those 24.4 seconds of prep work...useless.
What it is in actuality (how I/99% people I've witnessed use them) and why it works: A speed booster to let yourself roam/collect chimes faster that can also give a little lane-sustain. Yes the reason why this works is because sadly it's the only way it can. Noone (including yourself) wants to wait 10 seconds in the same spot for your health pack to hit maturity after laning, so its only use is as a weak [150+(.20 AP)]instant point-and-click heal+speed boost, same as kayle's, except way worse. Like, so much worse it really isn't worth even going out of your way to use it on teammates. If they are nearby, sure, go for it it, but really it is better used for the speed boost on yourself to get chimes faster. That's just how bad the base heal is. It slightly okay for lane-sustain as mentioned before, but still not great, as you/adc still have to let them sit for 10 seconds before getting their max use and even then they are just on-par with other supports' heals.
Proposed Reworks to make W more Viable:[/i]:
Easy Rework: Change numbers stats, either the heal stats OR the max # of shrines limit, OR employ a Teemo R "charge mechanic". Heal stats should be increased so that the point-and-click heal is only slightly below that of the other support's heals, and the matured health pack heal is significantly higher than other supp heals to justify its 10 second wait time. Max # shrines limit should be heavily increased to at least 10, even more would not be outrageous. This would allow Bard to place them all of over while roaming, making them MUCH more viable, even with their weak heal. Lastly the cooldown could use a charge mechanic exactly like Teemo's R, where it takes the normal cooldown (12seconds) to obtain one charge, Bard can store 3 charges at once, but the charges have no cooldown between uses. This allow one to employ the "mega-heal" tactic [690(+1.35 AP)] much more reliably; you can put down all 3 shrines all at once in the same spot and only have a prep time of ~11 seconds, as opposed to the ~25 second prep time currently. (Note: The charge mechanic would be necessary as opposed to a cooldown change to 1 second, cause then one could just spam the insta-heal indefinitely and that would be OP.)
Dynamic/Awesome Rework: Emphasize the uniqueness of the 10-second wait period and EMPOWER IT, while also tying it in to his very unique passive. See below for reworked W.

Range: 1000 , Cooldown: 12 , Mana Cost: 80/90/100/110/120
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.
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. Additionally, the ally gains the "blessed" buff for 10 seconds if the shrine was fully charged when consumed. Enemy champions who step on the shrines will destroy it.
Blessed: Meeps have come to your aid, empowering your next 3 basic attacks. These meeps' effects are the same as Bard's own meeps, dictated by his current # of chimes.
*Blessed buffs can stack, granting potentially 9 meeps at once to an ally (if 3 shrines are collected at once), though they only have 10 seconds to use all of them. Getting additional stacks of blessed after the first does NOT reset the 10 second countdown, only increases the # of chimes one has. Ex. If you collect one charged shrine, then another charged shrine 4 seconds later, you will have 6 meeps but still only 6 seconds to use ALL of them, including the 2 you just collected, making this spell's best use on a high attack speed ally.
*Bard can use "blessed" to temporarily increase his current meep stockpile limit by 3-9 until the buff ends.
*The holder will lose any remaining meeps after the buff ends, unless the holder is Bard himself, which will retain any leftover meeps as long as his current meep stockpile limit is not yet reached.
MINIMUM HEAL: 10/20/30/40/50(+ 10% AP)
MAXIMUM HEAL: 50/100/150/200/250 (+ 50% AP)

Overall I think this rework of intertwining Bard's passive with his W just adds a lot lore potentially and fun to his W. It has clear moments of power(those 10 seconds of meep attacks+good heal if charged) as well as clear ways to play again it (crush the shrines before they charge/ run away for 10 seconds if they have "blessed"/wait till Bard runs out of mana due to high mana cost/deal with the extra meep damage). Late game though, with Bard having a good amount of chimes this will really be hard to engage against if multiple enemies (3 max) pick up a charged shrine at once, with high damage meeps flying everywhere. Again though, they take a while (~25 seconds for 3 shrines given Bard has max cooldown) to set up and charge, giving you ample time to counterplay.

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Pre-Game Loadout (Spells/Runes/Masteries)

SPELLS: Typical support setup- Exhaust and Flash. Can swap heal for exhaust if ADC didn't take it, heal better early game, exhaust better late game. I prefer exhaust.

RUNES: All Resistance runes except movement speed quints. I take scaling armor seals and scaling MR glyphs and marks, but can take flat ones if preferred. Needs resistance runes to counteract his early/mid game squishiness, not to mention other choices simply have little to no effect on him. Could possibly use MPen marks, but by the point in the game you start to do noticeable damage (>30 minutes) they won't make much of a difference.
MASTERIES: 26 in defensive tree, 4 in utility. Same as above, counteract early game squish so you don't get steamrolled by Leona and Thresh

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Item Build Path

STARTING ITEMS:Spellthief's Edge is just a better item for Bard's roaming playstyle. It gives +2 GP10 unlike the Ancient Coin, and since you are going to be straying away from lane a lot anyways early game it ends up giving you a lot more gold as the game progresses, also factoring in we DO NOT UPGRADE IT, simply a little investment that gives you some early game mana regen. By 15 minutes you will have already recouped the gold spent on it, holding it longer (which you should until you sell it for a 5th/6th item)is just free extra gold. I don't go for the upgraded support items because I think they are just not worth their cost, the Frostblade gives mana regen, cdr, AP and and active which are all useless on early game Bard, Talisman gives mana regen, cdr which are useless, hp regen, ms and ms active are nice but we get enough of both of them from other items in our build.
1ST BACK:You are a support. With Bard's playstyle, the one thing that Bard can always do well is ward, since he has to roam all over the map anyways. Gives some hp too so makes you slightly tankier, which you desperately need.
2ND BACK: No doubt Bard's signature item. You NEED these, otherwise playing Bard is just painfully unfun, and since the ONLY reason to play Bard really is for fun, you are just gimping yourself by getting any other boots/item instead of/before these. Note: You also NEED the alacrity enchantment ASAP. Again, not getting it ASAP = gimping yourself hardcore.
3RD BACK:or You NEED Warmogs. This item is what makes you able to literally never have to back again if you don't want. From this point on you should try to stay out in the jungle/map as long as you safely can before backing since backing just wastes time and at this point you have enough tankiness/sustain to do what Bard is supposed to do--to collect chimes/help teammates CC/ward/not die. As far as as the two Cloaks go, buy whichever type of resistance you need more. Raptor's is usually better as it gives ms, hp regen (great with warmogs) and the same amount of resistance as Negatron for a much more efficient cost, but if the enemies team is mostly AP then obviously go for the Negatron. If you don't have enough for either, just stick with Warmogs, your runes/masteries resistances mixed with Warmogs will keep you alive and sustained in majority of cases.
4TH and SUBSEQUENT BACKS:These first 3 items simply make you a good tank, giving you good resistances, hp and sustain. Is important to note that ZZ'Rot is good since the active is good for pushing minion waves (one of Bard's weaknesses) and also to distract/troll enemies while you are roaming around the map. The last item, a.k.a. the kicker here is the Triforce. If you have 3700+ gold in your pocket by chance when you decide to back and your team is doing decently ok, definitely pick up Triforce as soon as possible. If you team is doing bad, get resistance items first and Triforce last. Triforce is key just because it gives you some good sustain/tank stats (mana+hp) mixed with ms (highly vauable for Bard's roaming) and above all--- SOME DAMAGE!!! That's right boys and girls, with Triforce and farmed passive, Bard will actually do just enough damage that he becomes a slight threat to the enemy team so they can't just ignore him when he doesn't have ult up. Also more damage for pushing/farming minion waves, another weak point of Bard.

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This is the ability that defines Bard. At first glance one may say his E or his R are more defining abilities, and while they definitely are very unique, this passive takes the cake by far. It completely sets Bard's playstyle apart from any other support. Before Bard, all supports pretty much had one goal: to protect/aid their ADC and babysit them for most of the game. With Bard? If your ADC is lucky, he will see you a decent amount for the first 10-15 minutes of the laning phase when outer towers are still standing. After that? He is pretty much independent, or forced to be. This is because this passive REQUIRES Bard to roam all over the map every few minutes to collect his chimes that spawn randomly. These chimes give Bard his only respectable source of damage (+slows) from his kit and is really the only kind of late-game scaling power Bard has, so you HAVE to collect them or else late game you will be near useless..........
Remember when I said that Bard has a VIABLE EXCUSE to be largely useless for a majority of the game? Yea, that excuse is this passive. ADC b*tching that you keep leaving her alone in lane and when you are gone for like 3 seconds to collect a chime in the nearby jungle she gets instakilled? Yup, sorry, blame it on the passive. Top laner angry that you came all the way top from bot lane and had a failed gank? Only reason I'm top at all is for passive, bro. ENTIRE TEAM angry that you are constantly zipping around in jungle every few minutes accomplishing nothing but warding a little and proceeding to get killed by enemy team when they ambush you trying to collect chimes in their jungle, because there's like 6 of them and they will disappear pretty soon? Passssiiiiivveeee........
Honestly they should make a skin called Crackhead Bard and the chimes are little bags of crack, because seriously, this passive forces a somewhat toxic, roaming playstyle onto Bard that he MAY ACTUALLY BE BETTER OFF DISREGARDING COMPLETELY, but at the same time HE NEEDS THOSE CHIMES/CRACK BAGS or late game he will be useless. Interestingly enough, this toxic playstyle is what makes Bard SOOO FUN. It basically lets Bard shrug off his responsibility to the ADC as his/her support and go all commando and sh*t and basically become a second jungler, just without farming monsters, or pushing power, or objective control. So basically a second jungler that can gank somewhat, ward everything, and otherwise just troll the enemy team by popping up all over the map and baiting himself to get chased... Hey, distraction is useful, right??.........
I personally love this passive and the super fun playstyle it forces. However, in its current iteration I think it is simply very very underpowered, due to the time wasted having to collect chimes (and also time likely better spent helping team/babysitting ADC) really outweighs the potential benefit of even collecting all those chimes, a.k.a. they simply give too little damage. The only time this passive even becomes noticeable is super late in the game >40 minutes and at that point everyone has pretty much outscaled you to death anyways. My solution to this passive is simply to make the chimes spawn WAY faster then they do. The current chime spawn schedule will give you roughly 12 chimes every 5 minutes. At 60 minutes, if you COLLECT EVERY SINGLE CHIME, you will get 140 chimes. ARE YOU F*CKING ME RITO??? The passive gives varying rewards for up to 150 chimes, but Rito just trolling us cause you will NEVER GET THAT MANY. Even if a game did last for a full hour, no way in HELL you got every single chime, and if you did, then you wasted so much time (when you could have been doing something productive) that you are 1)in a game where the enemy team is just trolling and intentionlly dragging out the game when they could win at any time, 2)up against another Bard support with the same playstyle as you, 3)in a custom/bot match. Like seriously, most games I only get 75 chimes or less, even when being adamant about collecting them. That's only using half this passive's seemingly intended potential. Rito just released Bard right before April Fools day, then as soon as it's over they buff him ridiculously then laugh at everyone who played him while he was super underpowered.

No lie, I think this ability is pretty d*mn good. Sure it is hard to use/unreliable, but at max rank it is potentially a double Taric stun with half the cooldown. That is great CC if used well. Without the stun, this isn't a remarkable spell by any means. But hey, no champ is remarkable if you have no skill. Except Master Yi. F*ck Yi.
Yup, another April Fool's Day joke. This ability is just complete garbage, one of the worst abilities out there no doubt. Only use for it is at level 1 to set a few down for your jungler so he is off to a good start. Only other decent times to use this is in lane, but the rediclously high mana cost make it unusable. After laning phase, or when you actually may have enough mana/mana regen to use this thing sustainably, it is just useless. It has a laughably bad base heal and after laning noone is going to wait around the same spot while waiting for your heal ball to hit puberty, and EVEN THEN the heal is the same or worse than sona's/taric's/kayle's and debately even sona's. Just awful...
This ability is perfectly fine as is, greatly supplements your roaming playstyle. Once you learn how to use it, it is a very fun spell. Note though that this spell used incorrectly will be pretty much useless in a fight, and may actually HELP YOUR ENEMIES. Yup, a utility spell that helps your enemies. I have seen teammates, including myself, just barely escape death from a teamfight by flashing over a wall, only to have our support Bard E his way over the same wall to escape also and therefore gave the enemy a free flash to pursue us and eventually finish us off. Nice work Bard. GTFO and go back to your crack collecting..... Main tip I can about this spell is that its true potential is used when creating LONG tunnels. For escaping and traveling, LONG tunnels are just way better than short ones. Just practice with this spell and you will see.

This ult man. The definition of "HIGH SKILL CAP". This spell is pretty much the exact same thing as playing Draven ADC. You go big or go home. Just like a skillful or unskillful Draven can influence the outcome of a game, so does this spell. You ever see an "ok" Draven? F*ck No. They either go 2-14 or 28-2. Because the potential Draven has when played well is so much drastically different then the potential he has when played average/poorly that there simply is no "in-between". That is this ult. It is basically a 2.5 second AOE stun that can affect all players, enemies AND ALLIES. Whoa, you may say, putting allies in stasis is WAAAY different than stunning them. Well, no, not really. When you actually see how slow this ult travels and how hard to hit it is, it is very hard to use it to clutch save individual allies from (coincedentally..?) Draven ults, Ez Ults, etc., everything that a zhonya's would be used for. The only circumstances you should consistently be using this for are 1) long range stun to catch fleeing enemies, 2) aoe stun to be used on as many of the enemy team's bruisers/tanks/peelers as possible in a team fight. In almost NO circumstance is it good to use this on a ally. Just don't do it. As far as current state, I like this ult a lot. It is very hard to use and unreliable (almost to the point of gimmicky), making it overshadowed by easy to use disruption ults like Sona or Nami's ult, but I feel it is more rewarding if used right. So no change here.