Karma Build Guide by Pigsy
This build has been archived and is for historical display only.
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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.
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.
Item changes: Components for Will of the Ancients, Blackfire Torch and Wooglets Witchcap have changed.
Season 3 Patch Change: Modification to Masteries and Items.
Refresh on guide after introduction of Blackfire Torch and Wooglets Witchcap into Dominion.
Hooray for Wooglet's Witchcap!
Refresh on guide, Addition of Athene's Unholy Grail.
Made modifications after Morello's change.
Dominion Karma - Close Quarter Supporter Created!!
First of all, this guide is going to be purely for Dominion, as I feel Egypsian_Lover has an absolutely amazing guide for the purposes of Summoner's Rift which is here. However I do feel though that Karma is severely underrated in this game in every mode. This guide is not only for Karma players, but for those who interact with Karma, which is everyone.
One of Karma's greatest strengths is surprise, due to many players lacking the understanding of Karma's skills and maneuvers, her optimum play style requires a strong sense of trust between you and your allies. This means you need an allied team who needs to know how to interact with Karma, and since many people don't exactly know what she can do, one of her greatest strengths turn into a giant weakness. With that said, don't solo queue and auto-lock Karma and expect your team mates to work with you every game. I want to make it clear that you need to either have trusty players to support, or you need to be able to co-ordinate with Public Players and explain what you can do in the fight.
My play style with Karma is as a Close Quarter Supporting AP Caster, which is possible due to easier access to high AP items that is more difficult to come by in Summoners Rift. Karma is a support that uses skills designed for enhancing a team fight, and since Dominion is based more on team fighting, you get to bring out a lot of her uses more often. My aim is to maintain the health of allies with my skills while bursting down all nearby enemies with the large damage AOE's, but doing this in a way that keeps your distance in the fight. This completely complements heroes who need to engage at melee range (Eg: Xin Zhao, Pantheon, Nocturne), or who jump into the fray for tanking (Eg: Amumu, Leona, Alistar).
Pros / Cons
So should you have Karma on a team? OFCOURSE YOU SHOULD SILLY PEOPLE!!
These are the advantages and disadvantages of selecting this character:
- Utilises Defense and Offense at the same time with AOEs, heals, and shields.
- Can provides the same amount of burst as other high tier AP Casters due to high AP Scaling
- Dominion negates Karma's need to farm
- Extremely effective team fighter
- Deceptively Tanky
- Decent defender and very good creep clearer
- Lack of understanding, meaning some people will try to kill you without realising that Karma won't die
- To be played at her best, she requires good team dynamic
- Better at close combat, less effective support on ranged champions
- Lack of Crowd Control effects
- Not the best 1v1 Hero
- Lack of understanding, you won't get to synergise properly with people who don't know how she works.
My Rune Page is rather generic for Karma. It is flexible since in Dominion, you have access to whatever item you need. However, my justification for a complete AP runeset is that you can never go wrong with it, since Karma ultimately needs AP to support and damage, which is going to be your role. The only other items you would buy are heavy armour or magic resistance items if the enemy is either: Heavily focused on one damage type; or if a particular assassin is killing you too quickly (Eg: Talon, Leblanc).
Therefore, my set of runes are:
9 Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
9 Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power
9 Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
3 Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
The only situation that this rune page should change is if you know you want to buy Blackfire Torch instead of Morellonomicon. In this case I would change to the Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction to compensate for the diminished Cooldown Reduction.
Not much to talk about in regards to Masteries.
Similar idea as the Rune Page reasoning: Focus on the AP aspect, which is required every game as Karma. Don't worry too much about the defenses until you see what you are up against.
Skills - Skill Sequence
Before reading my elaborations on each skill, you may want to look at Mantra first as it is mentioned with all the other skills.
Inner Flame (Innate): Karma gains up to 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 / 130 increased ability power corresponding to her percentage of missing health.
This passive can be so powerful, especially when you get your Rabadon on later levels. It may be very tempting to let yourself get to low health so you get the giant AP boost, but do it with caution since you'd be very easy to kill (especially with my build since it is not particularly tanky). For the sakes of dominion though, I feel pretty safe on half health at the back of the fight, but if there are high threat heroes like Katarina, Talon or Leblanc, don't risk it, and let them try to hit you on full hp.
(Active): Karma sends forth a wave of hidden blades from her fans, dealing magic damage to units in a cone in front of her.
Mantra Bonus: In addition to dealing damage to enemies, Heavenly Wave will also heal Karma and her allies in the cone. An additional 5% (+1% per 50 ability power above 25) of health the targets are missing is added to the heal.
This is the skill you always want to be spamming. Whenever it comes back, you wanna make sure you hit someone with it, then run away. With a high Cooldown build and generally no worries for your mana pool, you can just spam away at people if the opportunity arises, even if it is just to clear creep.
Using your Mantra with this skill activates a heal that will recover a percentage of your health along with allies in the cone. In a situation where 2 allied brawlers are charging your enemies, a Mantra+Heavenly Wave is a good defensive option that can be extremely useful to keep all allies alive at once, especially tanks with high health.
Important Note: This skill is not as efficient at continual healing as other characters, and Mantras should not be spammed to maintain health to your allies. At the end game, when ally Max HP is high, your AP is high and allies drop down to low health, Heavenly Wave's burst heal is superior to most other heals. This skill promotes last second healing, meaning you should try to use Mantra+Heavenly Wave together when allies are low. If you have spare Mantra though, don't be afraid to use it out of fight for some team sustain.
Dispite your shield having a higher cooldown and thus, a lower rate of damage, you want to max this skill 2nd since it will give less survivability and less initial burst. Your priority is to keep your ally alive while dealing damage, and a Mantra with Soul Shield will sustain more damage than what the heal can give, unless you have multiple allies on low health.
(Active): Karma creates a beam between her and an ally or enemy unit for up to 5 seconds. Allied anchors move faster and enemy anchors are slowed. The beam deals magic damage to enemies and applies the same movement speed adjustment anchors receive to any champion it passes through for 3 seconds. The beam breaks if the bonded target is stealthed.
Mantra Bonus: Karma strengthens the bond to double the effect of the movement speed modifier.
In some situations, it is hard to pull off Spirit Bond without compromising your position too much. However, when I have the situations where I get to add the damage stack and the speed boost all at once, I feel pretty happy with myself. Spirit Bond is deceptively strong, with good with scaling, and the situations where you get to use it, it increases your outright burst with another large layer of damage, possibly to multiple enemies as well. This skill is also extremely useful for approaching ranged heroes that are likely to kite. More details on things like that later.
(Active): Karma summons a protective shield on an ally or herself that absorbs damage for 5 seconds.
Mantra Bonus: In addition to casting the shield, a surge of energy bursts out from the shield dealing magic damage to enemy units around her target.
This is one of the easiest AOES to land, and there are more situations to hit people with this than you may think (Eg: casting on creep, summoned characters etc). The general situation to use this skill is along with your initiators, letting them get up close and do their thing, while you cover them with several hundred points of shield and crushing enemies with the same amount of damage. At the start of the game, when you are without Cooldown Reduction, you generally want to save your mantra for this skill, and the odd exceptions, throwing out a heal in desperate situations.
Without mantra, this skill is still excellent as it provides a ridiculous amount of shield every 8 or so seconds. Against skills that have a targetting or effect timer (Caitlyn Ult, Karthus Ult, Zilean Bomb etc), you can easily cover the damage output from them. Most cases, its enough to protect the entire damage output.
This skill is also the 1 reason why Karma doesn't die on low health and how she can walk away with a kill and a laugh. A Soul Shield boosted by Rabadon and Inner Fire can easily deal 800+ damage late game while guarding you for the same amount, enough time to follow up with Heavanly Wave bursts.
(Active): Karma empowers her next ability to do an additional effect. Karma gains a charge over time and stores up to 2 charges. The refresh rate is reduced by cooldown reduction and does not progress when having max charges. Both charges may be queued for application on the next 2 abilities. Reload begins when Mantra is activated, not when the charge is applied to another ability.
This is the skill that gives flexibility and conrol over what you want to do in a battle. In a fight, you must generally decide whether you want to be more of an offensive component or a defensive component in combat. Deciding upon that, you will use your Mantra in a way that will promote the chosen facet of the team fight.
OFFENSIVE: Mantra+Soul Shield - This will add the giant burst of damage to your enemies which is really good to do if your ally has engaged a team of 4 or 5 and you can land the burst on everyone. This strategy is more useful for a team that needs to kill enemies quickly or have low health. Going this tactical route also gives you versatility to change one of your following Heavenly Waves into a heal, in case your team took a lot of damage since the cooldown of Soul Shield is much longer than Heavenly Wave.
DEFENSIVE: If you decide that fortifying your team with health and shield is far more important than doing damage, then focus on using a basic Spell Shield on your team's heavily targetted character, and focus on moving into a position that heals your allies and damages your enemies. Their are few circumstances where you want to focus on doing this, but situations where you are abundant in tanks, offtanks or have one VIP that you need alive, then this is the route that you want to go. Champions that can take a beating make more use of the health and shield you give them, especially if the enemy team consists of bursters who fizzle out at the end of the fight.
Using Mantra with Spirit Bond is a completely situational thing, and something you probably won't do much unless you are moving with an ally from nexus back out to battle. The only time you ever want to do it is if you know you wont need another Mantra (because the team fight ended and you are finishing off heroes running away). Even so, it is usually OK to use a basic Spirit Bond so I seldom boost it with Mantra.
An important thing with the use of Mantra is that when you are waiting for the enemy to engage, or looking at engaging an enemy, make sure you use your first charge of mantra so that the Cooldown begins refreshing straight away. In a fight, you can keep your team alive and last long enough for that 3rd mantra to refresh in time and blitz your enemies with a Mantra boosted Spell Shield.
Mantra is really important in combat for the added affects, so trying to keep at least 1 at all times is important. If you have 2 Mantra charges, and you aren't in combat (moving around map, preparing to defend a capture point etc), expend a charge and let Mantra start refreshing if your allies need a heal or a speed boost. I prefer to wait till the Mantra Charge almost times out, just in case I get ganked and need to throw out a Mantra+Soul Shield instead. The main point is that if you have 2 charges, don't be afraid to use 1 up for heals or speed boosts so that your Mantra can begin recharging.
My main skill build maximises Soul Shield first, as it's protective quality is greater than Heavenly Wave in the single burst, and it's offensive qualities are enhanced by a lot using mantra. The heal on Heavenly Wave is also by percentage of missing health, which isn't really that much in the early stages of the game, and difficult to apply on allies as it requires them to be on lower health.
As you level up Soul Shield, keep leveling Heavenly Wave, until you feel you constantly need a speed up/slow, or you find that there will be a lot of opportunities to cast Spirit Bond for damage due to allied/enemy champion composition, or if you just feel you like Spirit Bond that much and are confident with it. This can be at any level, but I recommend maintaining Soul Shield at the highest level possible as it has the highest base stat increases.
I would like to point out that item builds should not be fixed every game, and that you should select items on a basis of what you need as opposed to what should always be getting. My thought process behind it is that if you try to rush AP items, and find you are dying too much, you probably won't be using much of that AP in a fight anyway. That being said, I've gotten away without defensive items, or depending on the Wooglet's Witchcap.
My general start is Boots and Fiendish Codex. This gives you your movement speed and a an extra punch to your skills along with some starting Cooldown Reduction to give you an extra mantra in the first fight. It also builds towards your two most important items: Ionian Boots of Lucidity and Morellonomicon. These items will provide you with all the Cooldown Reduction that you need, which is probably the most important aspect to playing Karma
Blackfire Torch is another option to go for when playing Karma which gives you more offensive presence. Start with Boots and choose between Fiendish Codex, and build into Ionian Boots of Lucidity and work towards your Blackfire Torch by getting Kage's Lucky Pick and then Haunting Guise. In what order you get these two items is up to you. Rushing for the Blackfire Torch will give you more damage potential, but you will be much less of a lifesaving presence. Doing this will also probably result in you using your mantra's for your soul shield for excess damage.
To compare Morellonomicon and Blackfire Torch, here are a list of Positives on each item.
- Slightly higher Mana Regeneration: Although it may seem like a small amount, this Mana per 5 is all you need for dominion consiering you pick up health packs around the map
- SO MUCH CHEAPER: Morellonomicon is a much much cheaper option which allows you to get to your prime AP items or defensive items much faster. Comparatively, the price difference in the items can give you 2 extra Blasting Wands, which is 80 AP more and 2 items closer to Wooglet's Witchcap
- Grievous Wound: The burn may not seem like it is very useful, but if there is a Mundo, Vladimir or Swain, it sure as hell is relief to have. The usage of it is also good on high Lifesteal stackers
- Extra Health: A little health does go a long way, and you get it nice and early with the haunting guise.
- Magic Penetration: The spell pen you get from this means you get to dish some really heavy damage on some of the enemies early
- Passive Effect: Probably the biggest motivator for going Blackfire Torch, the damage output from this is actually quite nicely maximised from Karma's skill cooldowns and the nature of the build. The passive effect will almost always be up if you keep casting Heavenly Waves and Soul Shields+Mantra.
After all the changes to items, I would lean towards Morellonomicon over Blackfire Torch in most situations. Morellonomicon's higher Cooldown Reduction at a almost half the price is too good. This will allow you to utilize maximum mantra capability earlier along with shields and heals that are on par with a Blackfire Torch, since the AP on each are almost equal. This will allow you to begin building for other essential items such as Wooglet's Witchcap or Resistance items you may need.
Health Potions at the start of the game are completely up to you, they aren't expensive or anything, but I'm pretty stingy and I never find I need them when I buy them. On the contrary, I have been in the positions where I know the slow heal of a potion would have gotten me through the fight victorious so whatever you are comfortable with.
After you walk out of the nexus with your cooldown reduction at 35 or 39% (which I'm just going to pretend is at maximum) from your items, you are ready to support any of your allies at the peak of your casting potential. At this point, you will dish a fair bit of damage to a group, and be able to maintain your Shield and Mantras during most of the period of a fight.
You should be building your Wooglet's Witchap next, starting with the Blasting Wands if you can, followed by the Chain Vest and then completion. Now that Rabadon's Deathcap has been replaced with this, this is a great automatic counter to those pesky AD assassins like Talon who will kill you instantly. If you are getting targeted early, feel free to buy the Chain Mail first for some cover.
This item will also provide you some control from AP assassins as well as majority of things you can avoid with the protective activation of Wooglet's Witchcap. Of course, if you know you will be taking a lot of magical damage from the opponents or if an annoying Leblanc is chasing you around, grabbing an early Abyssal Scepter is a good idea, taking the Negatron Cloak first. Now that Wooglet's Witchcap builds out of Blasting Wands, it is very easy to alter your build and interchange between getting armor or magic resistance, however Wooglet's Witchcap's active ability makes it much more versatile and should be the first option in most circumstances.
Get whichever you may need if you are getting targeted too easily. Getting a small start on some resistance will help you live through the initial burst.
Once you get that Wooglet's Witchcap, you will start dealing a fair bit of damage. At Low health, you will have about 400 AP, and deal roughly 500 with Heavenly Wave and roughly 600 with Soul Shield. An Additional 300-400 damage will be from Spirit Bond if you have 1 level in it. Don't let the fancy numbers distract you though, your role is still to support make sure your allies survive while your opponents die.
THE REST OF THE GAME
About the time you get your Wooglet's Witchcap, it's possible for the game to start to end. However some games of Dominion get drawn out especially when there is a mixture of strategies at play (each team sneaking a neutralise/capture on a tower, people playing tower cappers etc). Whatever happens, just continue buying items dependent on what you need.
Wooglet's Witchcap- I have listed this item again since really, it is all your armour requirements. This item, is just amazing. After this item, I probably wouldn't bother with anymore armor since they shouldn't be killing you that quickly with AD unless you are over exposing yourself.
Thornmail- Get this if you are really getting pounded with physical DPS, but they really have to be VERY AD heavy in order to warrant getting this item.
Abyssal Sceptre- Great item, should be your first thought for basic magic resistance as it applies good offensive qualities through AP and MR reduction aura.
Mikael's Crucible- This is a pretty decent choice for an Magic Resistance item for when the opponents have a lot of Crowd Control. Will give you the ability to protect your allies better against CC oriented champions.
Odyn's Veil- Much more defensive alternative but can still add more damage. The activation does rely on you being much closer than you need to be, but it doesn't hurt to have it.
Quicksilver Sash- When a stun keeps preventing you from doing any shielding or healing, you can get this cheap item. I do recommend just staying further away and not getting caught in spells until your opponent have exhausted all their crowd control spells, but it is understandable in some situations that you just can't keep safe.
Runic Bulwark- This item provides both Armour and Magic Resistance which is nice, and building up to it is easy as it keeps to 1 slot by upgrading straight into Aegis of the Legion, and then finishing it off. Nice that it helps the team too.
If defence is not an issue, then you can purchase more offensive items or support items to assist your team with whatever they may want.
Void Staff- If there is a lot of Magic Resistance on their team. Otherwise, getting more AP is more important since it adds strength to the shield and heal aspects of your skills along with damage output.
Will of the Ancients- If there is another ally that will benefit from spell vamp, then this buffs a lot. Even if you run out of things to buy, this is a good choice for the health you get back on yourself when you are on low health.
ITEMS OF NO OR LITTLE MENTION
Frozen Heart- It is a situational item that you can exchange Morellonomicon for. Building this early will give you more mana and more physical protection, but at the cost of the strength of your spells. If you anticipate physical DPS being a problem, then having the Morellonomicon switch for a Frozen Heart can pay off. However, your role is to guard others, so the AP from Morellonomicon will almost always serve that role better.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter- Can be OK, the extra HP, AP and slow is quite good, but you probably won't need the slow that much. You should only buy it if you feel you need the tiniest bit of extra protection just in case, while still acquiring some offensive and support functionality. Most situations will probably only need Wooglet's Witchcap or Abyssal Scepter (or both).
Rod of Ages- While this item is very good for Karma as a whole in Summoners Rift, it takes too long of a Dominion game for its full potential to be useful. Additionally, you want to be bolstering the AP ratios for supporting more than your own ability to tank.
Deathfire Grasp- Deathfire Grasp is not a bad item, but the item and it's components building up to it make it very awkward to build up to. Using this as your Cooldown Reduction item first up means there is a big period of time before you get some AP to assist your allies, and there is an even bigger period of time until you have some Cooldown Reduction for your skills. Deathfire Grasp isn't a bad item, especially in a high magic damage team composition, but other items assist Karma's role better.
Athene's Unholy Grail- This item gives essentially everything you need on Karma: Removes mana issues, cooldown reduction and AP. However, mana is not much of an issue on dominion, and the minor boost in Morellonomicon is still enough to sustain Karma throughout the game. The Cooldown is more beneficial from Morellonomicon, along with the Grievous Wound ability that is useful against big healers.
Summoner Spells are not detrimental to Karma's play style. You can just about use anything in Dominion as long as it helps the team in some way. My favourites though are Flash and Exhaust.
Even though its range really isn't that far, that tiny jump can easily surprise enemies and allow you to land your full spell combo for 2k damage. Positioning is very important for Karma so I get a lot of use out of this skill. This will allow you to get closer to your ally for the clutch casting of Soul Shield and Heavenly Wave, or it will get you out of jams, especially at the top tower using the partition/wall as a obstacle you can maneuver through using flash. Out of all the Summoner Spells, I recommend taking this one the most.
The only reason I like to carry this is that Karma's weakness is when she fights alone. Her damage output to 1 target is still high and her ability to guard herself is still good, but many good 1v1 heroes should beat her if the playing field is fair. Exhaust changes that, and covers that facet of Karma's weakness whenever it happens. It also is a good skill to use during a team fight and you need to neutralise a source of damage from your opponents.
Good spell to have, especially if you have allies good at diving at enemies in a tower (Jax, Amumu, Xin Zhao etc). Throw up garrison, throw your shields up and AOE your opponents away. Great for defending towers as well, if people actually decide to jump you (which they do because they think your Karma~ The One Who Feeds). Garrison and throw up your skills while you kite around the tower.
Not a bad choice for the starting fight to keep everyone alive. The health boost could mean winning the top tower on the first fight. Useful for the continual team fights that you would have through a game of Dominion. Take it if you like.
Promote is actually an ok choice because it helps you push lanes faster, gets you some money, and gives you a giant target to use for your Spirit Bond. I feel it is more necessary to get something like Exhaust over Promote as Exhaust covers Karma's weakness of being caught out alone, while Promote enhances Karma's ability to push, which is already very good. Just personal preference though.
Good if you get targetted a lot. If you know you are going to get targeted with crowd control effects, then it can protect you from being disabled and unable to cast your skills. However, the previously mentioned Summoner Spells are more reccommended.
Revive can be useful in Dominion, and in some situations, can earn you a kill, a tower, or allow you to protect a tower from capture. However, Karma is at its optimum level with allies, and reviving requires you to make the most of the situation the moment you revive, which leaves little room to wait for allies or anything like that. Along with that, it has a huge cooldown. Can be fun, but not reccommended.
Any of the other Summoner Spells are generally unecessary boosts and you will get a lot more out of the above mentioned.
Team Work: Part 1 - General Dynamics
In this section, I just want to point out how I play Karma and the dynamics of the character in a team and general Dominion mentality.
BE WHERE EVERYONE ELSE IS
Karma has good offensive and supportive skill set tailored to fight a group of enemies within a group of allies. Try to be where the cluster fights are as that is where Karma will be most useful. This however, is not necessarily always where you should be, as people will try to sneak behind and capture towers. You should tell your team that you are better within the clustered fights, but that doesn't mean you can't fight off one champion every once and a while.
It then becomes apparent that you will generally be one of the runners to the top Capture Point at the start of the game so you can give your support and burst. Try not to be the one capping mid, as Karma is useful at the start of a fight, and there are usually other heroes better to come in later to clean up.
While it isn't a great idea to play Karma at bottom, she can hold off creep waves fairly well and ensure survival without too much trouble. In most cases though, she will not win bot lane as equally strong pushers and much better 1v1 heroes should be able to hold/dominate.
AWAY FROM THE FOG
While a team fight isn't happening, avoid to stand anywhere near fog or bushes where a pesky assassin can jump out and flop your face with damage. Karma requires a reactionary play style that deals with what situations will be coming. Knowing how many opponents or who is near you is extremely important so you cannot leave yourself exposed. If you are about to head towards another tower and you have an ally there with you that is slightly beefier than you (preferably a tank/offtank), let them walk first so you aren't magically auto killed by some bush stalkers. This gives you more opportunity to decide what you want to Mantra if you get jumped. If a low health burster comes out, you can get away with a Mantra+Soul Shield, but if there are 2 enemies, you may need the Mantra for Heavenly Wave to ensure you can retreat with your ally.
If ever you are walking around on your own, whether you are trying to catch up to allies or its up to you to move to a tower to defend, precast your Soul Shield on yourself before you walk into some bushes, to prevent yourself from being insta-killed. The build for Karma is forgiving for this sort of precaution since your cooldowns are all fairly low.
STAY CLOSE AND FAR
Majority of the time, you don't want to be close to enemies till the split second the team fight begins or unless you are harassing. The difficulty of Karma is making sure you are close enough to land your skills, while making sure that they don't switch targets to you and pummel you instead. Getting this right simply takes practice. There is no idle time for Karma, you should be running in and out casting your skills over and over, as there is really no point to auto attacking. If you get too close and you get into trouble, you have Spirit Bond, Flash, Exhaust and Wooglet's Witchcap to help you survive/stall. Egypsian_Lover's guide has a section on team fight tactics and shows the best positions to land your skills so it is good to take a look at that, especially for Spirit Bond.
Throwing out your Heavenly Wave often for some harass is pretty important. If you can safely land some preemptive damage before the team fight, then why not! Try to save the Mantra for when you need it though. If they keep running towards you, and backing off away repeatedly, throw up a Spirit Bond, speeding you up and slowing them down so you can walk up, throw out a Heavenly Wave, and then move away. Make sure you don't force your team into combat that they have to commit to though. Pre-casting Soul Shield on yourself can eliminate damage return while you are harassing.
If your allies aren't ready to push a tower, prepare for them and push the minion wave for some farm and tower pushing potential. This helps in many ways:
- You get bonus farm to get your AP items faster
- You aren't sitting idly at your tower, or their tower doing nothing
- Essentially defending a tower from push
- If timing works out, your allies will arrive, and you get some minions to push a tower with. This means extra targets for your Spirit Bond and an easier opportunity to neutralise the tower.
TELL YOUR ALLIES TO BE BRAVE
This is important and goes along with having allies that trust you and know what you are doing. I tell a lot of the friends I play with over voice chat just to brave. If they run in, trust that Karma will be nearby to provide any shielding, healing and damage that you may need. However, in public games, it is a lot more difficult convincing someone to jump in when they don't understand Karma, or don't think she can do anything. Try showing off her Soul Shield, as it's raw statistics is far more convincing than Heavenly Wave. When people see that you have an uber shield, they assume that Karma will protect them, and follow up with other funky stuff that they don't know Karma can do.
This is the same as when allies get ganked. There are situations where an ally will get ganked and will be forced to try and run or die fighting. If Karma makes it to the ally to help, a Mantra+Soul Shield and Mantra+Heavenly wave can give enough shield/hp while dealing enough damage to turn the fight around and kill the enemy without a death to your team, provided your ally knows when to be brave enough to turn around and fight.
PROTECT THE PROTECTOR
If my ally dies without any shields/heals for whatever reason, then my role as protector/damager was probably not fulfilled. Make sure you apologise if that happens, because it becomes very difficult for other players to see her use if you don't and just refuse to work with you. This trust needs to be a 2 way street, as Karma needs to be guarded as much as Karma needs to guard her allies. Hence allies with crowd control that can avert attention compliment her nicely so they can't target Karma and she can continue her support safely.
MAINTAIN GOOD COMMUNICATION
I prefer to keep my communication to my allies simple, only specifying when I am ready or not ready to commit (Cooldowns, mana etc). I also remember that I am the support, and that I generally shouldn't be engaging anyone or forcing my team to commit to a fight, as these are all decisions that should be made by our initiators, which should almost never be me. This does not mean you should play silently, only whispering phrases at short intervals like "I'm ready", "On cooldown" or "I'm dead". Talk to the team, but make sure you know your position.
Team Work: Part 2 - Tactics and Maneuvers
A BASIC BATTLE ENGAGE
In general team engages, an ally will use some form of CC and someone (different or same person) will get in close to provide distraction, or melee ranged assault. Your job here is simple, the moment the melee champion gets into the fray, you cast a Mantra+Soul Shield for burst and protection and layer up your Heavenly Wave over the top. If you get a chance, Spirit Bond an ally and start kiting around while casting Heavenly Wave when you get the chance.
Karma and Wukong move towards the enemy. Wukong initiates and uses ulti to keep 3 enemy champions knocked up, followed by continual assault with his skills. Karma comes in and covers with a Mantra+Soul Shield and Heavenly Wave over all the enemies. If the opponents are almost dead, Karma has the option of casting Spirit Bond on Wukong/creep and strafing to land some bonus damage. Following that, you have the option of throwing over a Mantra+Heavenly Wave if Wukong begins to get pummeled, or you can cast a basic Heavenly Wave and wait for another Mantra+Soul Shield as a finisher.
BASIC POINT DEFENSE
If you are covering a point from a push, priority is to clear out the waves of creep while bracing yourself for enemies to plunge themselves at you. Standing on the far side of the tower (or if at top point, the top bushes) is pretty important, making sure you stay back so they have to commit through the tower. Spam Heavenly wave to remove creep so your tower isn't neutralized. If you can, do this in a way that avoids them initiating on you. Once they make the engage, cast Mantra+Soul Shield and keep them in tower range with Spirit Bond and kite them around the tower. If they attack your ally, just keep distance as per usual while casting all your skills to layer up damage/protection. It is good to try and predict when they may engage so you can start using one of your charges of Mantra to begin the recharge on its cooldown.
Karma heads to bot to help Graves defend a push from Evelynn and Renekton. They engage upon the Graves, stunning him and start dishing some burst damage. Karma places a Mantra+Soul Shield to absorb some of the damage and give damage return. Instantly, Karma follows up with a Mantra+Heavenly Wave to give Graves a hefty heal when he is on low HP (which is much more important than waiting for another Mantra+Soul Shield). Graves can begin his damage output while kiting away, which prompts Karma to use Spirit Bond on Graves and position herself past Graves and the enemies so that it triggers the damage and slow from the skill. Note that in this moment, it is good for Karma to expose herself if it means an allied character with damage output can survive and continue to deal damage. You can easily follow this up with your shield on Graves again if they follow him, or guard yourself if they switch targets to Karma. You may even have your 3rd Mantra charge for the fight if you properly used Mantra early before the fight.
A NEED TO RETREAT
Sometimes, you or an ally gets ganked, which is real depressing stuff. When this happens, don't panic and automatically hit Mantra, you may not want to use it for that. If they are weak, or you think you can't escape, go ahead an throw a Mantra+Soul Shield and Heavenly Wave. Try to Spirit Bond whenever you can and use your last mantra either on the next Heavenly Wave or the Soul Shield. You never know how long you last in a surprise gank, because their damage output might have dwindled after the initial burst.
If you feel you can make a getaway, then use your basic Soul Shield, Mantra+Heavenly wave and Spirit bond whoever is best (usually the back person so you can slow all enemies). You can chose to use your 2nd Mantra for Spirit Bond, or heal a bit more with Heavenly Wave, and then followed up with another Soul Shield. If you still die after all that running and stalling, that's unfortunate, but **** happens. Just hope you stalled long enough for an ally to capitalise on your enemies' chasing you.
If an ally is ganked, the idea is same, just make sure you get your Spirit Bond through as many enemies and your ally, to create a speed advantage. If you can't kill them, use Mantra only your Healing Wave.
Karma is at mid tower not far behind a Nocturne heading towards top. As he heads toward the Speed Buff Platform, He walks into 2 Shaco boxes and gets caught up in a chain of fear. Shaco appears with a clone and starts dealing damage and . Karma manages to land Soul Shield to protect Nocturne and clear the Jack in the Boxes with a Mantra+Heavenly Wave, healing at the same time. An opposed Caitlyn appears and starts damaging nocturne, prompting Nocturne to flee. Karma casts Spirit Bond on Caitlyn, slowing Caitlyn, damaging and slowing Shaco and speeding up Nocturne. While backing away, Karma casts another Mantra+Heavenly Wave to ensure Nocturne's safety.
FIGHTING ALONE: KILL OR STALL
It is not recommended to fight alone, but if you are caught off guard, then just do it. Karma isn't too bad in a 1v1 fight. There are 2 outcomes you want when you start a fight off on your own: Kill them quickly, or stall long enough for your allies to arrive. The earlier you can analyse whether you should Kill or Stall, the better so you can organise how you want to use your Mantras.
KILL- If your opponent hasn't got much health, Mantra+Soul Shield for a burst and Heavenly Wave, then land Spirit Bond and maybe cast 1 more Heavenly Wave to finish them off.
If you can't kill them with the last Spirit Bond and Heavenly Wave, it may be wiser to target the Spirit Bond on your enemy directly so you can kite away until cooldowns return for another Mantra+Soul Shield and Heavenly Wave.
STALL- If you know committing to the fight is going to get you killed, but some allies are coming from base, Soul Shield yourself with Mantra, throw out a Heavenly Wave at your enemy(with Mantra if you have lost HP), Spirit Bond the target and run. Every chance you get, use Mantra+Heavenly Wave to keep your HP up, Shield to prevent damage and Spirit Bond to keep away. This is where your Flash, Exhaust and Wooglet's Witchcap come REALLY handy to buy you time for cooldowns. Any one of these can give you the chance to get another Shield or Mantra+Heavenly Wave.
If you keep this up long enough, and your opponent cannot sustain health, you may find your stalling has made it possible to kill the target after weakening him. Otherwise, hope your ally has come just in time to help you. Even if more enemies come along with some allies, A weakened Karma is a stronger Karma, and if your allies protect you, you will give your allies even greater protection.
Karma heads to top tower, spotting an enemy Graves about to cap an undefended point with about half health. Karma runs to Graves, casts Spirit Bond, approaches and uses Mantra+Soul Shield and Heavenly Wave to burst him down to critical health. Taking damage in return from Graves' skills, Karma finishes off Graves with another Heavenly Wave and retains the tower. With only about a third of her health remaining, Karma moves to the brushes above the point to hide, spotting an incoming Nocturne. Nocturne heads towards the brushes, at which Karma moves around into sight beneath the tower. The Nocturne uses Paranoia, warranting Karma to Soul Shield herself and soak the damage taken from Nocturne's ult. Nocturne unleashes his burst through his skills and begins casting his fear, in which Karma uses Mantra+Heavenly Wave for some sustain and Flashes over the wall. While in the brush, Nocturne follows by Flashing over the wall, which prompts Karma to Spirit Bond him and run the back into the tower, throwing up Soul Shield and Mantra+Heavenly Wave. At this point, allies have made it to the tower, which forces Nocturne to back away and Karma's stall is successful.
Team Work: Part 3 - Champions and Partnering
Heroes That Are Good To Support
These are a few categories of allies that partner well with Karma. It will mention what mentality of combat is generally better to compliment the allies you will be directly supporting.
TANKS WITH INITATION AND CROWD CONTROL BUT LOW DAMAGE OUTPUT-
Alistar, Amumu, Leona, Maokai, Shen etc
- Tank Allies have high Armour and Magic Resist that makes the most of Karma's Shield and Heals
- Very good longevity in team fights
- Provides good protection for Karma in return
- Low sustained damage Output
The outcome of this usually means they will begin to target Karma more, so its important for these tanks to rush back to Karma if too much pressure is switched to her.
OFFTANKS WHO ENGAGE WELL-
Jarvan, Irelia, Poppy, Shyvana, Wukong etc
- Excels offensively and defensively, making use of decent resistances and damage output
- The most forgiving for using Mantra combinations
- Doesn't have either the best damage output or sustain in combat (very minor issue)
- Slightly more difficult for Karma to keep away from attack
The positive to come out of this composition is that people are likely to run past your ally and try to hit you, which makes for an easy cast of Spirit Bond on your ally to damage and kite away your enemies. In my opinion, heroes like these are the best for Karma to support as it makes the most of every facet of Karma's support.
MELEE RANGED BURST ASSASSINS-
Akali, Fizz, Katarina, Pantheon, Talon etc
- High burst levels, can eliminate low health champions instantly
- Mantra+Shield allow burst along with protection to buy time for the ally to continue damage output
- Sustainability is extremely low, usually depending on things like shield and spell vamp
- Fights need to end quickly, resilient DPS teams that promote long fights are bad
- Crowd Control effects can halt burst output till its too late.
Similar drawback to fighting with an offtank: there is much less protection for you. Since there is a heavy focus on your damage output, you are left wide open to getting attacked, especially if the assassin has no crowd control. While you are technically still a protector, you will be much more likely to cast Soul Shield on yourself as combat will eventually lead towards Karma. However, don't leave your allied assassin unguarded. Sacrificing yourself in order for your ally to reap all the kills is much more worth it.
Other Heroes That are Hard to Support
Some champions make it a lot difficult for Karma to support, which are mainly the Ranged DPS champions and Ranged AP casters. While you still can give support to these characters, the full potential of Karma is often extremely difficult to utilise, and partnering with these heroes will often force you to put yourself in harms way in order for the ally to survive.
RANGED DPS CHAMPIONS-
Ashe, Caitlyn, Kog'Maw, Miss Fortune, Vayne etc
When you are forced into a fight and are left to support these long ranged heroes, its very hard to land your AOE's on both the enemy and your ally, especially you end up fighting 2 other ranged champions. Try to inform your team that even if you are ranged, try to get a little closer so all of Karma's skills will come to full effect. When that doesn't happen, you have to make a choice:
- Run at the enemy and throw all your burst
- Try to balance defence and offence, spamming your Heavenly Wave at the enemy and Soul Shielding, while landing some Spirit Bond damage;
- Focus and putting your shields and healing on your ally (usually a bad idea)
Most cases, you will go with the first option as it has a chance to divert attention away from the DPS champion, it allows high output of damage, and the chance that your shield won't go to waste and soak some damage.
The 2nd scenario works better if your ally is worth the protection and if they don't try to target Karma. This combat situation makes very little use of your Mantras.
The last situation lets you cover your ally for maximum survivability. The drawback is that if the playing field is even, your ally will have to deal almost all the damage to all the opponents. This only works when your ally already has the advantage.
When fighting along side ranged DPS heroes that try to strafe to keep distance, try to use Spirit Bond more as it will help your ally's movements, and there is an off chance that you may run around and land some damage.
Ranged AP Casters-
Anivia, Brand, Lux, Malzahar, Xerath etc
Champions like these who do a couple of spells and then run off are difficult to support effectively. It's sometimes better to pretend that you are just an AP caster, focusing on dishing as much damage as possible so that you and your allied AP caster's combined damage is enough to kill or severely weaken the enemy. Try to be the barrier for your ally since getting close and using your Mantra+Shield on yourself will deal the damage and make you the tank. Try to maintain maximum distance still, running in and out just like your ally, using Spirit Bond to give you the boost you might need.
Ultimately, try to avoid being stuck in this situation. Get someone to help who can tank, or switch somewhere else to be of more use.
I hope this guide has been helpful in showing how Karma can be played in Dominion. If there are any questions or anything in this guide that you think differently to, leave a message and I'd be happy to discuss or add into the guide.